A Bigger Yes
January 6, 2020
The last radio station I worked for went off the air this week.
I worked there back in the days when the jocks would connect with the audience.
We listened to the same music, went to the same concerts, rooted for the same teams, felt the winter chill together, and welcomed the spring back along with all that it promised was coming to the North Coast.
We'd grown up with Dick Goddard, Captain Penney, Kid Leo, and the Cardiac Kids.
Now stations are programmed by consultants from out of town. Even traffic reports are phoned in from people who've never driven the Inner Belt and couldn't tell Dead Man's Curve from Collision Bend.
It's been twenty-five years since I hosted "Cleveland After Dark" on the WAVE and things change.
Things change 'til they cease to be.
The Plain Dealer scales back their local coverage so much that hardly any one remembers why they subscribe any more. They cut back the days they publish so much that we no longer have the habit of stopping for the paper.
Then again, there's got to be a better reason than habit for reading the paper, listening to the radio, and all of the other things we do.
The bigger "yes" that guides us.
My yeses are different than yours.
Habit is what keeps us doing the same darned thing when our yeses have changed.
The first professional radio station I worked at was magical. The jocks picked their own music. The jocks listened to each other's shows. We could pre-sell a track as the song that Jim debuted earlier because we'd heard it and we knew our audience had heard it.
We cut ads for "getting Rocked at The Wreck" because we'd been to see bands there and for the free weekly paper that was "available on better cigarette machines near you" because we'd picked up our copy while out earlier in the day.
I was raised on Cleveland radio stations like M-105 and WMMS just a few years earlier. By the time I was working at WERI on the Rhode Island shore M-105 wasn't M-105 any more and WMMS had added Billie Jean to its playlist and changed forever.
Bernie Kosar's Browns weren't the same team as Brian Sipes'. When the Browns fled Cleveland to become Baltimore's Ravens the NFL said that we could keep the colors and the name.
Nothing's the same. We keep doing what we've always done out of habit.
That's not a good enough reason.
We go to that same restaurant and order that same meal even though it doesn't taste as good as it used to.
Change is hard.
We don't even notice that we need to change.
And if we change, what do we do now?
This is the time of year that we often commit to change. We decide to change quickly in drastic ways.
We almost never succeed.
I haven't made resolutions for years. Instead, I've followed Chris Brogan's lead and chosen Three Words to shape my year.
There's often a theme for each year's three words.
Not so much what they are about. More the world they come from.
This year's three words come from the world of audio.
It could be that the WAVE has gone away and been replaced by something that gives me no more than Pandora, Spotify, or Apple Music with more ads.
It could be.
I loved being on the air. Even more, I loved editing audio.
It started in Rhode Island, cutting commercials and editing the tape with razor blades and laying the edits in on the editing block and smoothing the tape across the splice.
Years later Chuck and Tom introduced me to my first four track machine. I still cut audio like that. I have my music tracks and voice tracks and mix them just like I did then. Except now I'm editing on my Mac. On my iPad. On my iPhone. How long until I'm editing on an Apple Watch.
So my three words.
Each one seems to impact the others. I started to write about one and found it required talking about the others.
I'll cycle through them a couple of times in the next few weeks.
Maybe I'll change them and re-record as I edit and mix.
Maybe along the way I'll find my yeses have changed.
Maybe, just maybe, I'll have the courage to change what I do based on the new yeses.