Saturday, June 30, 2012

Now, It's All About The Connection.....Ummmm....Always Has Been!!!

40 years in this business and, of course, I've witnessed lots of changes. I'd say some of the biggest coming in this decade, so far, with the addition of PPM Ratings, social media and the ever-increasing world of technology. With PPM, programming philosophies and promotional plans have changed in some cases. With several years of the new ratings system under our belt, we are beginning to see what may breed success in such an arbitrary situation. All I've been hearing is that the connection to the listener is crucial, as if this were some new found method. Folks,connection to the listener has been the main reason for any radio station's success since the first signal was detected!! Think of some of the legendary personalities - Wolfman Jack, John Landecker, The Real Don Steele just to name several. They all had that connection and they all did it in short spurts. I grew up listening to two amazing top 40 radio stations - WFIL in Philadelphia and WABC in New York. I would put any of those personalities in a PPM a diary world...heck, in a world where you etched your favotite on a stone tablet. No matter what the measurement, these stations would win. They connected. I don't think I ever heard George Michael or Cousin Brucie talk for more than 20 seconds any time but they connected. They knew what to say, how to say it and when to say it. They spoke the language of the listener. So what's changed????? NOTHING!! I suggest you find a way to listen to some of these legends (WFIL archives can be found at You'll hear what I'm talking about. The connection has ALWAYS been there!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Spelling Bee II - Who Was More Nervous?

The Saga of the Spelling Bee continued with Spelling Bee II - our girl competed this past weekend with 39 other middle school champions for the right to go to D.C. and be a part of the Scripps National Bee.
As I awoke the day of the spelling bee, my stomach had that churn that I used to have the morning of a game when I played football. Our girl was as relaxed as I've ever seen her. Sure, she was doing some last minute studying but just as cool as a cucumber. Dad? As we got closer to our departure time, I was getting closer to feeling like jello.
The event was a 3-hour extravaganza and our girl managed to make it into the 6th round as the 12th final contestant and then "spelled out" , as they say, on the word "cravat". She was the picture of calm and confidence everytime she stepped up to the mike. Meanwhile, back in the parents' room, Dad was a bundle of nerves until her last round.
Couldn't have been prouder of the girl. She did all she could and kept her cool throughout. What I discovered after this all ended was what was really important to me, day in and day out. There were some technical issues dogging our stations that same day but my mind was totally on the success of our girl. I really didn't give those station problems a thought once she hit the stage. I don't think any ratings success, soldout concert or big revenue month gave me as much exhiliaration as seeing that little girl giving everything she had in a very special competition.
I realized that, finally, I think the priorties are right. It took long enough!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Believe, Part 2!!!!!

This is a quick addendum to my last blog. Of course, we were excited the entire weekend about our daughter's spelling bee win but, lo and behold, we found out yesterday, it wasn't to be!!!! Yes, that's what I said. Seems that one of the classes (8th graders) were, inadvertently, omitted from receiving a word study sheet. Some of their parents complained about the lack of fairness and so our girl had to be informed yesterday that had not YET won, all of a sudden. She was to face the winner of the 8th grade spelling bee - she being of 7th grade stock.
The rug pulled out from under her, she got the tears out of her system early yesterday afternoon and went right back to work studying those spelling words. She knew there may have been something unfair about all of this but she rose above the issue and went to work for the face-off which was to occur this morning.
The kicker was how she ended her bedtime prayer last night asking God to do well. She NEVER prayed to win.
Fast forward to today and the call came again - She WON again!!!! She had to face a pretty decent friend to do but she did it graciously and confidently. She, not only, believed, but she showed all of us that the spirit of the competition was most important to her. Winning or losing was not the issue for her as much as a good performance.....and that it was!!!

Monday, January 16, 2012


You know you've stopped growing when you've stopped learning and the key to that is recognizing the fact that you can learn from just about anyone - young, old, male, female,etc. I can say that, recently, I learned something very profound, yet simple, from a 13-year-old daughter, to be exact.
For the past two weeks, my, now, not-so-little one was preparing for her school's spelling bee. She qualified by finishing second in her homeroom class so she was one of about 25 students participating in this middle school spelling bee. I watched as she studied those words. Her mom and I helped her but she had some trouble with a few of the words but she stayed the course and kept working. Last year, she made it to the second round but was eliminated rather unceremoniously. The eventual champion wound up good enough to win the regionals and make it to the National Spelling Bee in D.C. He was, once again, in this tournament so, from her parents' standpoint, we knew it would be a tough haul for her.
As the spelling bee got closer, she continued to study but also pronounced to us that she was going to win this spelling bee. Why? Her reasoning was that she really wanted a medal (Side note - she has always been impressed by the medal I received for running a half-marathon a few years ago so that has been on her radar since then.). She was determined to win. As far as her mom and I were concerned, we were proud of all of the preparation she was doing but we knew that she was up against some tough competition. We would be happy just for her particpation.
Unfortunately,for me, this spelling bee was scheduled the same time as my annual trip to St. Jude's Children's Research Center so I was going to miss being there in person. The day of the spelling bee I, honestly, expected to get a text from her mom, at some point, saying she was eliminated but gave a great effort. I was prepared for that. What I wasn't prepared for was the ecstatic phone call I received from my daughter telling me she had WON that spelling bee. She beat the most intelligent child in the class AND the defending champion. She was going to represent her school in the regional spelling bee which is one step away from the big one!!!! She put in the necessary preparation and she said she would win and she did.
On my way home from my trip, I thought about how determined she was to win this spelling bee. She believed in herself so much that she carried that confidence, and her hard work, to the top spot.
This has nothing to do with competition. As I thought long and hard about it, this had EVERYTHING to do with believing in yourself and your abilities. Follow that plan and you can accomplish just about anything. I learned that, again,.....this time from a very excited, proud 13-year old. BELIEVE!!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hats Off To This Coach

As most of us guys sit down to watch a weekend of NFL playoff football, we are glad to have everything we need nearby - food, drink, remote control.....the basics. I would like to note that one football team, playing this weekend, will be without one of the players it really needs to advance to the next round in these playoffs. That team is the Pittsburgh Steelers and that player is safety Ryan Clark. His Steelers are in Denver Sunday to play the Broncos. The last time Clark played a football game in Denver, he lost 30 pounds and needed his spleen and gall bladder removed. He was actually afraid he was going to die. That was 2007. The Steelers were there again in 2009 and head Coach Mike Tomlin held him out of that game (the last time, by the way, Clark was out of the lineup for a game). You see, Clark has a sickle cell trait where extreme physical exertion at a high altitude can attack a body's organs and, as most of us know, Denver is a mile above sea level.
The difference between the past two times the Steelers were in Denver is that Clark is now the team's leading tackler (100 tackles in the season......that averages to about 6 per game and that's alot!) AND this game is a PLAYOFF game. Well, Coach Tomlin (a native of Denbeigh and graduate of Denbeigh High School, by the way) is making the same decision he made in 2009. This time, though, he is holding out his best defender from his team's biggest game of the year...a game where a loss could cost an individual player in the thousands of dollars and a team alot more. Why would a coach with so much on the line keep his best defender out of the game? Why not take the chance? Without Ryan Clark, the Steelers may be at a decided defensive disadvantage.
Coach Tomlin said that this is way above "any football game" as he put it. He said he wouldn't play his own son under these conditions and, if he wouldn't do that, then he would do the same for any player, especially Ryan Clark.
Imagine that!! A football coach makes a "life" decision instead of a "game" decision. Mike Tomlin let everyone know his priorities, his team's and his player's. I was a Mike Tomlin admirer prior to this. Today, I became a Mike Tomlin fan. Coach, thanks for showing us what's really important.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mom and The Ring

As most of you have gathered by now, today (12/22) is my birthday. Been around for a while but I seem to remember most or all of them and what happened during each. BUT - one birthday, for obvious reasons, is, absolutely, the most memorable. The year - 2003 - was not a particularly good one. The early part of that year I lost my mom to Alzheimer's and later in the year my marriage of 17 years came to an abrupt end. Going into Christmas of 2003, I was not exactly the happiest person.
Now, to set the rest of this all up, I have to take you back to the mid-70's when I was an impressionable young DJ in South Georgia. My mom and dad would occasionally come to visit and my dad and I would usually manage to squeeze in a golf game. On this particular day, it was very humid so I would always remove my college ring for fear of my fingers swelling when I played in that type of weather. That day, I placed the ring in the gold cart's open glove compartment. After we completed the round and started gathering our belongings, I noticed the ring was missing. My dad and I searched and searched, retracing step after step, but to no avail. I left a message at the front desk of the pro shop just in case the ring was found. This was my college graduation ring complete with fraternity insignia on the stone. I would have to say it was one of my most prized possessions. Unfortnately, nothing came back to the pro shop (or, at least, we thought) so my ring was gone for good. For close to 10 years, my sweet mother tried to get the ring replaced as a birthday gift but the expsne was just too much because it was a ring that had to made. None from 1972 were in stock. At one point, mom told me that she had tried but had to give up so I guess I just moved on from there and the ring became just am memory to me. Now, mond you, mom always.....and, I mean, ALWAYS, had to make sure I had a great birthday, as close to Christmas as it is.
Fast forward to early December 2003. I was single again, living alone. I come home from work one night to find a letter in my mailbox from the Penn State (my alma mater) Registrar's office. My first thought was that I owed the school money somehow. I opened the letter and noticed a handwritten note attached to an official letter from the registar which said "We think this ring may be yours. The inscription described in the attached letter closely resembles your name from that graduation year." Imagine my anticipation!!!.....after all these years!! I read the handwritten note from a man who lives in Rome, Georgia who says he found this ring and he wanted to get it back to the rightful owner. Now, the anticipation was turning into sheer joy. I knew I needed to find this person right away. The next morning I was able to get a phone number from information and I called and this very man answered. Turns out he lived next to the golf pro of the golf course in that South Georgia town back then. The gold pro found the ring on the course and saw that it was a Penn State ring. Well, his neighbor (this man) was a Penn State grad, so he brought it to him thinking he would be able to find the owner in a much, quicker fashion. The man held on to the ring and vowed to find the owner for quite some time but, then, life happened, and the ring wound up in a box for 18 years and 3 moves. Then, in the fall of 2003, while watching a special news story about a Vietnam veteran who was reunited with his fiance due to a found engagement ring, he decided to find the rightful owner of the class ring. Which brings us to the day we talked. He promised he would mail the ring that day (December 15th to be exact) and he did. 5 days later, I arrived at home to find a box in my mailbox postmarked Rome, Georgia. I couldn't get that box open fast enough. There it was - my 1972 Penn State class ring and my name inscribed on the inside. I tried it on and it fit as if I'd never lost it. I had my ring back - this time for good.
As I reflected on the events of the past week, I began to realize something which hit me, like a hurricane, head on. My mom always wanted me to have that ring as a birthday present and, here I am, just a day and a half before my birthday and I have the ring.......on the first birthday I won't share with my mother. But, knowing this four-foot-eleven, one-hundred-pound dynamo, I'm guessing that her first order of business with God was to make sure I got that ring on my birthday. Mom continued to make my birthday as special as ever. I believe that as how it happened and always will. Too many coincidences....too many events relating to it.

So, if you've lost someone close to you recently, or for that matter, ever, rest assured, you haven't "lost" them. They are there with you, watching over you, helping guide you through life. Since that day, I have felt my mother's presence on a daily basis. MY guardian angel. Who is yours?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Can We Just Play The Game?

Over the past several weeks, I have gotten, increasingly, annoyed with the athletic "celebrations" I have viewed with various sporting events - primarly, football, but not confined to that sport.
I have always been of the "act like you've been there before" attitude when a player scores a touchdown on the football field BUT I will give them a general pass because I know that's the ultimate for any football player. What really gets to me are the celebrations after minor, almost miniscule, accomplishments. I see a player tackle another after a 1-yard gain and that player dances around as if he'd found gold. That's similar to a mechanic opening the hood of an automobile and high fiving everyone in the shop for doing that. I see this type of celebration over and over.
Then, there's the trash talk. The incomplete pass in football is, pretty much, a non-event once it happens but how often do I see opposing players "jawing" at each other on the way back to their respective huddles. Can we just play the game, folks?
All of this celebrating and trash talking came to head, in my mind, with an unbelieveably embarassing baskteball games last night between Xavier and Cincinnati Universities. Unnecessary celebrations....unnecessary words with opponents. The game has to end with 9 seconds left because both teams were so out of control. It was a street brawl....not a basketball game. This is what we've been reduced to and I believe my profession is somewhat responsible for it. What highlights do we see these days? The slam dunk in basketball.....the excessive end zone celebration in football....the major league baseball player standing an admiring his homerun instead of just circling the bases. Do ratings mean that much? I'd ask the coaches to get control of things but some of them are just as guilty. Ever watch a college baketball game and the "theatrics" of the head coach? Can we just play the game?
Then....I sense some hope from one individual. How refreshing was it to hear the speech of the 2011 Heimsan Tropy Winner for college football? It wasn't about him. It was about his school...his teammates. It had to be one of the most inspirational award acceptance speeches I've heard in quite some time. Robert Griffin III, you give me a reason to believe that the future may be brighter. You play the game!!!