When you’re having fun

I started working for Learfield Communications on June 4th, 1984. When that rolls around again it will The Big 20. Annother one of those “ends in zero” anniversaries. I kept all of my pre-computer calendars (Day-At-A- Glance, Day Timers,etc). That first month it was one of those desk blotter/month calendars. Lots of memories. On my first day, my predecessor –Jeff Smith– presented me with a list of projects-in-progress. An interesting snap-shot of the regional, radio network business in 1984. We were trying to get programming cleared in Kansas City and St. Louis. We called them “custom casts” and they worked for a while. We organized a series of debates between the candidates for governor (we fucked up the broadcast). We cooked up a statewide public opinion poll that got us a lot of ink (not all good). But my favorite project was a series of daily, one-hour talk shows featuring shills for various associations. On Monday, somebody from the Missouri Chiropractors Association; on Tuesday an optomotrist; on Wednesday a podiatrist; etc. Station managers just laughed at me. Rule One: Don’t let commissioned sales reps cook up your programming. Looking back, I must say I’m surprised how little our networks have changed. For some reason, I’m reminded of something Charlie Warner said. Your method of distribution defines the nature of your business. That was true back in the days of land-lines and analog satellite distribution and it’s sill true as we move more and more content to the web. Maybe it’s all about band-width. Radio stations have a bunch and you can move a lot of data over those frequencies. Factor in that those frequencies are rare commodities, granted by the FCC. No competition. Fast forward to a world where any DJ/reporter/entertainer/you-name-it can reach an audience. New ball game?

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