Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"In the old days when I was turning rockers around, I used to have a saying: Every time the ratings fall, raise the rate card. People became so fascinated by the concept, they'd buy. The thing is, you were negotiating from a hell of a lot better base than when you had the higher ratings. Then, when you got the ratings back, you could raise the rate card again. Again, courage." Dwight Case (from Claude and Barbara Hall's This Business of Radio Programming). Image from 1240 KROY

Another follow-on to the earlier post concerning the David Lee Roth adventure. The decision to terminate.

One of the 2006 recipients of the Broadcast Pioneer Awards, Dwight Case is a gifted gentleman who has done it all and then some. Dwight is a living legend, one of the lions in media's forest, an inspiration to generations of media folks, twice my former boss. During my days as a group guy we established a tradition of showing appreciation for our "business partners" by hosting a gourmet dinner in their honor on the Friday evening of each fall's NAB Show. Each year we raised the bar, the goal to best the previous year's event. The great bon vivant Norm Goldsmith served as our sommelier and confidant - helping to plan each detail of the event ten months in advance. One year, the fall show being in Boston, we decided the perfect venue was Maison Robert then in Boston's Old City Hall (now a Ruth's Chris). Lucien Robert, his wife Martha Ann and their daughter Andree presided over one of the nation's finest dining institutions. When we discovered one of our mentors, the estimable Dwight Case, was attending the show we invited him to the party. At the end of the evening as dessert was served Dwight shared an object lesson.

When, How much, and Why

It seems a manager had been terminated and when telling his wife of his firing she had only three questions. This became the lesson of When, How much and Why. Dwight told us those were the questions, in that order, that one needed to address in any termination.

When - "Today is your last day with the company"

How much - "Your final payroll check will be $$$$, this includes severance of one month's pay, all wages owed you up to and including today and pay out of your accrued vacation"

Why - "We have reached this decision for the following reason(s)..."

Dwight went on to counsel...Once the very serious decision to terminate has been made, you have an obligation to do the right thing, coming to the last meeting prepared to answer, in full, the questions of When, How much and Why. Dwight correctly observed most managers lose control, allowing the final meeting to digress into a marathon of why.

Did you attend NAB 2006? Terry Ottina and the NAB research gang want your feedback, check your email for a survey invitation and get involved.

Please accept our invitation to diss you!

The Starwood Preferred Guest Program needs some fine tuning. In response to a Northwest Airlines email offering me an upgrade in the program of their Starwood partner, I clicked on the link in the email to "activate" my upgrade. I was asked to enter either my Starwood Preferred number or my Northwest FF program number and my email. When pressing confirm after entry of my Starwood-Email combo - I was taken to a screen that said "Sorry, you are not eligible for the upgrade." Entering again using my NW-Email combo I was taken to a screen that said I was approved and moments later came the "Welcome very special VIP to our Super Triple Platinum Whatever" email. Also included in the warm welcome was my new Starwood Preferred number, so it would appear I am now in their system twice, what a mess. Imagine if I had not made that second attempt, imagine how many do not...going away with bad feelings about NW and Starwood. File under - when CRM attacks!


Lee Abrams writes something that you need to read...

"Radio keeps re-inventing itself as if by divine intervention. Radio revolutions then chokes itself through greed, inattention and somehow forgetting the building blocks of the revolution that got them there in the first place.

The following is a list of the key Building Blocks that created each Radio revolution.....followed by the elements that killed each revolution."

Read, and then read again, Lee's post WHAT MAKES....AND KILLS AMAZING STATIONS here.

While I respect Lee, and appreciate his passion, re XM's raison d'etre, I continue to believe that innovative, maverick AM and FM radio folk will again "reinvent" their medium, the first tribe of wireless will again come to embrace the rich potential of audio...anew. XM is another part of the audio mediascape not the end of AM and FM.

Lee's suggestion that the pioneers, the influential wellspring of personality radio (in those first days of post-TV radio reinvention) came from black radio is spot on. My father got his start in radio at the legendary WERD, Atlanta, a station overrun with bigger-than-life personalities.

Let me again state Martin's First Law of Audio Media: All that's important is what comes out of the speakers, everything else is a footnote.

Lots of examples of great radio being committed today...for one, let me suggest you check out the fine art of Brian Kelly now on offer at Milwaukee's WXSS. Another is Bobby Rich who holds a daily clinic on the proper breakfast show at KMXZ. One to watch - Madison's WMGN where Pat O'Neill leads the way. P.S. All deserve better websites, while each is ahead of radio's hoi polloi.

A word to the wise from Horace, a lesson taken to heart, no doubt, by the guys and dolls that go to work each day to commit great radio, Messrs Kelly, Rich and O'Neill included: "Sedit qui timuit ne non succederet." He who feared he would not succeed sat still (for fear of failure, he did nothing). Make something happen, please check this

Bonus - smart guy and longtime friend Fred Jacobs, his Jacobs Media team and invited guests are blogging, highly recommended, here