Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Fear is the mortal enemy of creativity." Alex Bogusky

"Originality is deliberate and forced, and partakes of the nature of a protest." Eric Hoffer

"When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something...That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things." Steve Jobs

Today's image: Bart1 by Banksy. Great work. Thank you for sharing.

Minding the Gap

For those of us working in measured media, we are living in times of incredible disruption and, it seems to me, equally incredible opportunity. The question needing attention is how do we make the best of our present circumstances? How do we most effectively navigate the gap, from our past analog successes and through today's rough waters to the brave new digital frontier?

Elizabeth L. Eisenstein has provided us with an excellent guidebook. The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (Amzn). Her writing does an outstanding job of helping us to understand how technology can trigger dramatic and unimaginable change. Let me also suggest a fresh reading of Marshall McLuhan. Stephanie McLuhan and David Staines have produced an exceptional book pulling together McLuhan lectures and interviews in Understanding Me with a forward by the great American writer Tom Wolfe (Amzn)

In giving my talks on social media this year I have mentioned some conventional radio station jobs (e.g., the overnight, midday and part-time weekend disc jockey) using the metaphor of 15th century scribes (inspired by the brilliant Michael Rosenblum). Getting a job working for the church as a scribe was about as good as it could get way back in the day. It was the ultimate job security, working for the rock solid employer of choice. And then, everything changed. Working as a liner reading announcer now seems an anomaly, an occupational accident of pure chance. In the not too distant future winning a bar bet suggesting that people once made a wage good enough to support a family and buy a home by simply playing music (and little more than reading formatted remarks four times an hour) will be, well, practically impossible.

My father was a musician and did some work in radio. When TV came along the musicians union told its members that their radio jobs would be safe. When it was suggested that radio would replace live musical performances by playing recordings - the same phonograph records available for purchase by the listeners - the union said "Radio intends to play the same records that the public can buy and play whenever they wish? It will never work." To my knowledge, there are no musicians on staff at any radio stations today. By the way, my dad reinvented himself. He decided to end his successful career as a musician and band leader, he took a flyer and went off to play the records. He never looked back. Johnny Martin had the audacity to ignore the conventional wisdom and the accepted rules of the day, he helped to put on the air the first black owned radio station in the nation, WERD in Atlanta. It happened this month in 1949.

Don't Keep Calm and Carry On

The important challenge of broadcast managers today is minding the gap, building a bridge to the digital future and that's a mission that will require first creating a magnet, a culture that fosters innovation. Broadcasters must attract the best ideas.

While there is certainly a lot of talk about the challenges and problems of our current situation there is far too little discussion and resources focused on actual solutions. Too often activity is being mistaken for progress. There's not enough implementation, experimentation, effective execution. We must adopt a dead serious bias for action. Discovering solution sets should be the proper focus most deserving of our attention. Please permit me to again say ... It's not about getting better, it's about getting different. It's all about shifting focus from the numerator to the denominator.

As it happens we have an app for that today. Edison Media's Tom Webster recently presented a wonderful webinar - A Small, Good Thing - on behalf of the Conclave. You may access a recording of Tom's webinar, here. Word to the wise - put Tom's blog, BrandSavant, in your reader, it's here. [FD: I serve on the board of the Conclave. Let me also thank and credit moleitau for his killer image shown here above left]

Bonus: Cool kid Alex Bogusky has some good writing on offer - Creative directors are in the business of professional insanity - well worth your bandwidth, here.

Wait, there's more: Still feel the need to read? Check out what I've been reading via delicious, here.

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