Thursday, April 30, 2009

Back In The Swing Of Things

I go out of town and look what happens; the people who hate the mayor complain the rules of engagement have changed when he starts firing back; students and non-students at Kent State try to burn the street down (gee, that's so 70s...); Chrysler takes the road to bankruptcy...oh, and more people get the boot from a certain big radio empire.

Any surprises in the above?

The story making the rounds today is death threats supposedly flooding city hall by some who signed recall petitions, now upset the mayor's supporters are tracking them down and trying to get them to change their minds. The good-natured clerk who took the calls didn't exactly describe a flood, more like a trickle (definition: under five) calls she got from city hall critics who didn't exactly cotton to having their opposition tracked down to this point. That's what I call hardball politics, hardly a surprise from supporters of the mayor who don't like the recall. I wouldn't call it dirty politics, however; those signatures on those petitions are public documents.

You wanna dance with the big boys? Don't be surprised when they step on your toes.

On the KSU riots: as I write this the esteemed president of Kent State and Kent's city manager are holding a news conference to discuss their plans for keeping the peace this weekend. Would've been nice to have seen Dr. Lefton take a more up-front approach after students and non-students alike turned Saturday night into an episode of Burn This last weekend, but I guess mere mortals should be happy we get at least this much.

My favorite coming out of this: Commerce, as expressed by a KSU student who knows a good thing when he sees it. At left is just one side of the t-shirt he's selling via Facebook as well as here on eBay for a mere $15.00 to help remember when beer-fueled riots at Kent had nothing to do with Laos or Cambodia. Many thanks to former RCRG news anchor/reporter Shelley for the tip -- and I'm very proud the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Golden Flash Nation.

Here's hoping the proceeds go to the bar bill. Or a PR course for the big bosses at the University.
On Chrysler: this whole thing makes me sad. The Twinsburg stamping plant is just four miles from my house and represents 600 jobs in Summit County and a huge chunk of that city's annual budget. Aside from the normal greed of losing tax money, it should be noted Chrysler has been a damn fine partner for plenty of local initiatives in northern Summit County, as most auto manufacturing operations are in their respective communities. There are an awful lot of people who went to college and took a non-auto career path because their mothers and fathers worked at auto plants in this country, and there's probably no greater engine for the power of America (other than a World War -- let's be honest) than the domestic automotive industry.

I don't know the answer other than more of us buying more of the cars they make, but all the pro-buy America rhetoric aside it's our buying decisions, joined with big business and big union short-sighted manufacturing decisions, that led us down that path. It won't be fixed by marketing.

Which brings me to my friends up and down the road in the radio industry. Much has been reported the past few months as big broadcast companies slice jobs and try to convince audiences it'll make the product they rely on stronger. This is the ultimate insult to any listener with a brain, and I still think all of our listeners have lots more brain power than the marketing gurus give them credit for.

We know when you take local people off the air it means we aren't getting anything remotely resembling something relevant anymore. It doesn't take an MBA with a side order of marketing to understand we're getting a raw deal from someone doing news, or talking about community events, or even delivering a weather forecast from a thousand miles away and two days ago.

We struggle with the same issues in our own business model here in Akron, and I'll be the first to admit we don't always get it right. But the argument over what to do should start with "what's in this for the customer?"

If we are truly serious about establishing credibility with our listeners then shouldn't we be prepared to correctly pronounce the cities they live in, and give them information they need to protect themselves, their families, and their property when storms/natural disaster/man-made tragedy threaten? These questions matter, and not when the smaller spokes outside the hub have to deal with an emergency. We used to have managers in the broadcast business who seemed to understand public service should be more than just a box to check off on a government filing, not the current crop of "metrics analysts" who pass for news ownership.

Has it really been that long ago when radio learned this painful lesson after a quartet of kidnapped aircraft froze the nation?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Don't Blame The Hogs!

What's in a name? If you raise hogs, sell bacon or have anything to do with porcine commerce then the entire past week has been hell. It's enough to make Babe the talking piglet blush.

We started out with swine flu -- figures, since the latest strain of flu virus apparently came from some kind of odd mutation between humans and animals and back to humans again, and bird flu was already taken. We could have called it the Mexican Flu, which is what Israel and other middle east nations wanted to do, but the couple who own the only Mexican restaurant in Beirut objected.

Warning note on above: sarcasm is part of this posting.

I suggested in a Twitter tweet this morning that we rename it the Steinbrenner Flu because the entire baseball world gets the sniffles every time the Yankees sneeze. Besides, how can any Indians fan not enjoy the discomfort of the owner of the Bronx Bombers forever remembered with the name of a bug that provides headaches, nasal running and intestinal discomfort?

Unfortunately, there wasn't a groundswell of support for that one.

Now we go back to geography and since the Asian and Russian flu are taken we'll use North American, according to the CDC. The State of the Ohio weighs in with a news release noting they are using the catchy phrase "H1N1, formerly known as the swine flu" when describing the virus.

Bob Evans would be happy, may he rest in peace.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Posting When It Matters (The Shelby Post)

Been awhile since posts -- and yes, I am aware you can post from anywhere at anytime but between vacation and the annual RTNDA@NAB Convention it's been a whirl.

That said, however, I did find something worth posting today. It has nothing to do with swine flu (done that) or the current state of affairs in radio (OhioMediaWatch is doing a fine job on that front) but it is a bit of happy news that should make my pals at Summit Racing happy.

From the Associated Press comes word that a 1965 Shelby is going on auction for $15 million. That's 15 MILLION dollars for every throaty rumble.

You KNOW you want to listen and watch!