Wednesday, June 28, 2006

No Nervous Nellies

I just want to reassure you all -- with all of the show shuffling in the morning block on the BizRadio Network recently—adding Vince Rowe, adding Scott Murray, dropping Scott, moving Vince, less of me, more of Vince, more of me, less of Vince—some assurances are in order at this juncture.

And that’s what I wish to do: Reassure you.

I will be off for a couple of days next week…but there are no plans to add Star Jones to the BizRadio line up.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tuesday's Tales

I spent most of last evening on the phone to Tech Support at Sprint Nextel, trying to resurrect my less-than one year old cell phone from its cranial slumber. Today I will take said cell phone to the closest Sprint Nextel authorized repair facility and barter my first born in exchange for another instrument.

He's been wanting to get his own place anyway...

Could have been worse…have you seen the video clip of the Comcast repairman that showed up at a guy’s house to repair his internet service—and fell asleep on the customer’ couch?!

Turns out the cable guy had called his tech support...and drifted off while he was on hold for repair instructions.


Lots of rain in Washington, D.C. the past few days. Some government buildings have been flooded, including the HQ for the Environmental Protection Agency, ironically, needing protection from the environment.

The fraud and financial bungles involving aid to last summer’s hurricane victims exceeds 2-billion dollars according to an audit by the Government Accountability Office. The GAO estimates that perhaps as much as 21% of the $6.3 billion given directly to victims might have been improperly distributed.
Hmmm, yuh think?
10,000 mobile homes ordered by FEMA and never used now sit at an airfield in Hope, Arkansas, where FEMA is now paying $250,000 a month to store them.

Home sales last month befuddled official number crunchers… The Commerce Department says sales of new single-family homes increased by 4.6% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.234 million units.
Wall Street had been expecting a 4% drop in sales.
I want to know who on Wall Street missed that one by 180-degrees.
Did he or she formerly work for the Department of Energy, estimating fuel inventories?

The median price of new homes dropped to $235,000 in May, down 4.3% from last month's sales price. However, May's price was ahead 3.1% from the median price of $229,200 in May of last year.
Cable is extra.

Monday, June 26, 2006

High-Tech Low-down

‘Scuse me while I vent my spleen about technology, as I ironically post this to the Internet from the comfort of my posh, ex-urban bedroom. You see, I’ve just wasted most of my evening on the phone to Tech Support for Sprint-Nextel, chasing down demons in my cell phone.

Can’t live with them (cell phones, not demons), can’t live without them.



A few weeks ago I noticed my voice messages were really taking their sweet time working from sender through the ether to me. In some cases, my voice-mail was taking nearly two days to reach my phone! I called Tech Support; they diddled some knobs, toggled some switches, and reset my flux capacitor.
Voila!
For about a week things went swimmingly.

People started to act strangely around me, like I’d offended them.
“Didn’t you get my message?” they’d accuse.
“Why didn’t you call me back?” they’d interrogate.
Something was terribly wrong.
I thought perhaps I’d mis-set a setting within the secret confines of my cell phone software, except I never go there.
Kind of like getting lost in thought because it’s unfamiliar territory.

So I called Sprint-Nextel Tech Support. Again.

We re-set the traps.
We re-wound the springs.
We re-combobulated the thingamajigger.
It worked for about a week.

Text messages began to fail to down load.
The phone phailed to ring every time.
It was like the last time I lost my job, and folks were afraid to talk to me.

What was I going to do, spontaneously combust?
Instead, I called Tech Support. Once again.

I’ll spare you the details, but bottom line, they couldn’t fix it, and suggested I go get the phone swapped out at my friendly, close-by, neighborhood Sprint-Nextel authorized dealer.

Yeah, my idea of a quality evening is going to the mall and threading between the clusters of flat-bellied, full-chested teens. At least I am invisible to them now, as is anyone over the age of 26.

The cheerful attendant at the friendly and convenient Sprint-Nextel kiosk in the mall regretfully told me that I would actually have to visit the officially-sanctioned Sprint-Nextel repair location, which unfortunately had closed for the evening, but will be open tomorrow morning, about midway through my Radio show.

I can’t think of a better way to waste my time during the day than by lollygagging in that waiting room. I’ll let you know how the next episode in this epic round-robin plays out. For all the conveniences and amazing advances technology has provided us, only high-tech stuff can truly screw up your life.

In simpler times it was not so.
Your phone didn’t work, you called Ma Bell.
That was the good side of monopolistic telephone empires.
At least when it broke, there was no guess work involved in calling for help.

Same thing when the power went out.
In the dark?
Only one place to call.
Ready Kilowatt and I were good friends.

Technology has even found it’s way into places of worship.
Now you can watch Joel Osteen cavort and genuflect nearly anywhere in the world. At our house of worship, which is not Lakewood Church, we’ve installed a computer projector with which our song services are blazoned across a giant screen suspended over the pulpit. Nothing says Our God, He is Alive like quarter- and eighth-notes three feet tall.

Now going to worship is a lot like going to work.

Frankly, I miss the distinction between the two, and secretly long for the days—I’d probably even settle for water-cooled air conditioning—when you sat in cool, varnished wood pews, and sang praises out of well-worn pages of hand-me-down hymnals.

And no one’s cell phone went off during the prayer.

Managing on Mondays

The Supreme Court is set to rule today on Texas’ redistricting plan implemented in 2004 that re-structured the political balance in the state, and gave Republicans a 21-11 majority in the US House of Representatives…

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett will give most of his $42 billion fortune to five foundations in annual gifts of stock starting next month. Buffet plans to give the largest contribution to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation… I need to make sure Mr. Buffet has our address and correct zip code…

If you think it’s crowded this morning, you’re right: The U.S. population is on target to hit 300 million this fall and it's a good bet the milestone baby — or immigrant — will be Hispanic. As of early yesterday, there were 299,058,932 people in the US, according to the Census Bureau's population clock. The 300 millionth person in the U.S. will likely be born — or cross the border — in October.

I like to look for inspiration on Monday mornings…a story, personality, an event, on which I can hang my ambitions, or a goal on which I can set my sites. An example worthy of repeating to others…Some Monday’s I succeed, and some Monday’s, I don’t…but I did run across a story about a AAA-baseball manager who may be destined for greatness…somewhere between Tom Landry and Bobby Knight.

According to The Associated Press, The manager of the Asheville Tourists, a Class-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies in the South Atlantic League, turned Applebee's Park into a one-man show following a close call at second base in the fifth inning of play against the Lexington Legends.

Lexington's Koby Clemens – son of Roger the Rocket—was leading off second base after hitting an RBI double when Asheville pitcher Brandon Durden tried to pick him off.

Umpire Andy Russell called Clemens safe, and that's what lit-off the short fuse of Joe Mikulik, who blasted out of the dugout and set off a prolonged tirade that he carried all over the infield and into the dugout.

Mikulik's antics wewre launched following an animated argument with Umpire Russell, who threw Mikulik out of the game.

The Associated Press reports Mikulik dove into second base, ripped up the bag and hurled it onto the infield dirt. He threw a resin bag into the bullpen, covered home plate with dirt and then cleaned it with a water bottle, which he finally spiked onto the plate.

Back in the dugout, Mikulik threw bats onto the field, and then stormed his way into the clubhouse, where he re-arranged the lay out by push a couple of water coolers, a chair and a batting practice screen in front of the umpires' locker room.

What really set Joe Mukulik off?

"I just wish the umpire's association would train their young men to have a personality," he said. "I could get two mannequins at Sears and umpire better than what I saw this whole series."

Asheville lost to Lexington, 5-2.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Friday's Follies

Kinky Friedman and Grandma Strayhorn are officially going to be on the ballot in this November’s election. The independent candidates collected enough signatures on petitions to be included in what will be a 5-way race for governor with Democrat Chris Bell, incumbent Gov. Rick Perry, and Libertarian James Werner.

One interesting note: Kinky Friedman’s ratio of signatures validated was higher than Carol Keaton Strayhorn’s…80% of his 170,258 names were certified, compared to 48% of Strayhorn’s 222, 514 signatures collected.

Ah, yes, the quality-over-quantity factor. It's going to be interesting between now and November. By the way, Kinky's name is cool to be on the ballot, but Ms. Strayhorn must prove that her "one tough grandma" slogan is more than that to be legit for the election (see Wednesday's post regarding word legitimacy and the ongoing bastardization of the English language.)

Government scientists are warning Congress that Earth is the hottest it's been in at least 400 years. (Anytime I see those two words back-to-back in a sentence—government scientists—I cringe.) I believe the phrase used invoked the name of Jesus to describe how hot it is: The planet is at hot as it was when Jesus walked the earth.

Others are cringing this morning that the government’s Swift program has been sifting through the bank records of suspected terrorists and sympathizers since shortly after 9-eleven…which may be why no other attacks have occurred on US soil. The quickest way to stifle these thugs is to take away their means of operation, and choke off their funds.

The United States is out of the running for the World Cup, after losing to Ghana Thursday.

Ghana?

Impress your friends at the office, and show them on a map where Ghana is…(It’s on the southern coast of West Africa, between Ivory Coast and Togo), and use the country in a sentence that does not include references to soccer or any short pants sports.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Thursday's Takes

Guess what?

The United States has found 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003, and it’s expected to find more weapons of mass destruction as we continue to occupy the country. These WMD’s were probably manufactured before 1991, and so are not necessarily proof of any ongoing WMD program in the 1990s, which was the pretext upon which the US went into Iraq.

What they do prove, not surprisingly, is that Saddam Hussein was lying through his mustach when he said all weapons had been destroyed.

It also shows was a sham the UN inspection process was in it’s "now we are, now we aren’t" cycles. More like “now you see it, now you don’t,” which most of the time resulted in “now you don’t.”

ABC News is pumping the public for first-person examples of their experiences with Global Warming. I’m not kidding…on the ABC News Website is this pitch:

“We're currently producing a report on the increasing changes in our physical environment, and are looking for interesting examples of people coping with the differences in their daily lives. Has your life been directly affected by global warming?”

First, any journalist worth his/her salt knows better than to ask a question requiring only a "yes" or "no" answer, which in this case may be merciful. Has my life been directly affected by global warming?
No. Next…

Second, the ABC poll presumes the authenticity of alleged warming of the big blue marble we inhabit. Objection, leading the witness, your honor.

Third, how pathetic must it be for a network-level news operation to resort to priming, and then pumping, the public for such a series. Very objective, ABC. No wonder public trust in the major network news operations has eroded over the years.

It’s a critical day for the U.S. in the World Cup. In order to advance the U.S. needs to beat Ghana, and Italy needs to beat the Czech Republic. You know, I'm surprised the World Cup broadcasts aren't being sponsored by Sominex...

I have a terrible time remembering names.
If I meet you for the first time, I will try to repeat your name at least three times to imprint and bond your face with your name. Comes in handy six weeks later, when we’re cheek to jowl in the grocery express lane, and see one another again.
“You’re…?”
“Don’t I know you from…?”
…and we fake it for the next fifteen minutes, pretending to be the best of acquaintances, while we rack our brains to figure out the connection.

I was at the wedding of a friend recently.
Big to-do, too. Italian family of the groom, blending with the already-mixed-heritage family of the bride, Asian and Hispanic.
My bride and I were seated with the only other couple in the room we knew besides the wedded pair, at a table with two other sets of their family friends. And as invariably happens, the small talk turned to the tales of our livelihoods, and my work as a Very Important Member of The Media.

This, of course, impressed the gentleman to my left, who proceeded to solicit my interest in his interests, and the request for one of my business cards.

My late great-uncle, Russ Clanton, always said always carry a business card with you where ever you go, because you never know who you’re going to run into. Well, Rupert Murdoch couldn’t make this wedding reception, but the guy on my left had, and wanted my card, which as fate would have it, I did not have with me. Neither did my bride, who usually packs her purse like a Sherpa guide, prepared for any eventuality.
No card. Nada. Zip.

I wrote my name and e-mail address on the back of one of his cards…which may be why I received an e-mail in follow-up this morning: “Dear Bob...”

I almost laughed out loud…until I realized the gaffe is of my own making, being cardless at a wedding reception where I was one of the three palest guys in the room.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wednesday's Wisdom

President George W. Bush is in Vienna for a summit with European Union leaders. Mr. Bush is pushing for more international aid for the new government of Iraq in the face of troop withdrawals from Japan and Australia, and a cacophony of calls for the same from disgruntled Democrats at home.

One thing George Bush is not is a wimp. He’s more like the Energizer Bunny, Texas style, who just keeps going globally, and going, and going…

Consumer Spending on entertainment online and wirelessly is expected to triple by 2010, to $67-billion, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, and global entertainment spending will reach $1.8 trillion. Ah, there's no business like global show business...

Speaking of entertainment spending, this Fall’s round of election campaigning should be a doozy-- the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has $33.5 million socked away, vs. $18.3 million for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Democrats raised $4.7 million last month; the Republicans collected $4.3 million.
I'm setting up Tivo now.

Last night’s 95-92 decision for the Miami Heat in Game Six of the NBA Finals in Dallas secured their place as the NBA Champions for 2006. Get your t-shirts right here. Coach Pat Reilly never had any doubt the Heat would win--he only packed one shirt and one suit for the trip to Texas.

Dallas Mav’s owner Mark Cuban’s blog is considerably toned down this morning, for a guy who was fined $250,000 for speaking his mind about how the NBA operates.
Guess the NBA never heard of the First Amendment…

One thing is clear: The NBA really needs a dose of transparency in its officiating. I recommend instant replays, and mic-ing the officials for explanations after the whistle blows.

Ironic, don’t you think, that the final game of the Finals was played in the mecca of conspiracy theorists, Dallas, Texas.

Don't like it, fine me.

Which all pales in comparison to the big story of the day yesterday…two American soldiers taken captive by al Qaeda thugs, tortured, beheaded, and their bodies rigged with home made explosives to thwart recovery teams. It took our people 12-hours to retrieve the solders' remains.

That might make you question why we’re Over There…until you realize that barbaric behavior like that is why we’re Over There. Now I understand that the Abu Ghirab incidents were really only efforts to communicate to these bastards in the only language they understand.

Legitimacy of the English Language

One of our executive assistants asked me yesterday how to spell “legit.”

“L-e-g-i-t,” I told her, “but it’s not really a word. It’s slang,” I added.

“Slang? Slang for what?” she asked incredulously, and I could tell by the expression on her face she thought she was being led down the primrose path into the waiting jaws of another infamous Clanton Pun Campaign.

Moi? Au contraire.

“’Legit’ is slang for ‘legitimate,’ which means that ‘legit,’ technically speaking, isn’t,” I reassured her.

The online edition of the Merriam Webster Dictionary does define “legit,” so I guess it technically is a word…but the volume also lists it as a slang term for “legitimate.” So my explanation of an illegitimate word was, ahem, legit.

The English Language is so fun…and vexing.
Last month the Senate voted to make English the “national” language of the United States, a feat which was a bit of political word-play at its finest.

You see, they couldn’t get the measure to pass as the US’ official language. That nuance would have wrought all manner of government propaganda to be published in…English. True to their calling, the politicians inserted a clever phrase, warning that no one has the “right, entitlement or claim to have the government of the United States or any of its officials or representatives act, communicate, perform or provide services or provide materials in any language other than English."
So there.

With all the brou-ha-ha about immigration and concerns of this country being overrun by jibber-jabbering foreigners, I am surprised the stronger version of the law didn’t pass. With all its confusing idioms, slang terms, and homonyms, a sure-fire way to keep the rabble out of the rafters is to require them to speakee Engee.
Habla no Englais?
No entre vous.
No tickee, no Laundry.
Okay, so I am mixing stereotypes.

But it’s so easy to do, because English, like the melting pot that is America, is a collection of Italian, French, Greek, Latin, and who knows what else anymore. The Land of Fruits and Nuts, a.k.a. California, event wants to teach Ebonics as a legitimate…er, legit language in public schools. That state's governor can barely manage intelligible English in everyday conversation.

The latest Rasmussen Survey reveals 85% of Americans believe English should be the mother tongue of the land of the free and the home of the linguistically-challenged…11% disagree with that notion, and 4% weren’t sure. Probably didn’t understand the question as posed in plain English.

Here is an interesting corollary in the Rasmussen research: 56% of Americans now say that immigration reform is a “very” important issue in terms of how they will vote this November. Among those who say immigration is very important, 92% favor making English the official language of the United States.
Verstehen Sie?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Tuesday's Short Takes

Flood warnings are still in effect for the Texas Gulf Coast…Houston was hit with a foot of rain yesterday, and more is on the way today, although most of this system is moving to the southwest towards Corpus

In Dallas, tonight’s a make or break date for the Mavericks, heading into game six of the NBA Finals trailing the Miami Heat 3 games to 2. Tip off 8pm.

Seen Dan Rather lately on CBS?
Didn’t think so. Although he’s listed as a Full Time Correspondent for the network’s 60-Minutes program, he hasn’t been used in months…Today is expected to be Rather’s last as an employee of CBS, moving on to more fertile pastures.
Could he be going to work for Mark Cuban?

CNN reports this morning that if the Presidential Elections were held today, Sen. Hillary Clinton would not win the popular vote. 47% of respondents would vote neither for Senator Clinton or presidential wannabe John Kerry.

48% would not cast their ballot for former Veep Al Gore, who said he’s not running anyway. This week.
Or until Hell freezes over…or thaws…depending upon the thermal theory de jour.

Don’t gloat.
If Presidential sibling Jeb Bush were running, 63% would save their vote for someone else.

That’s if you ask folks for whom folks would not vote for. Ask the question from the other direction, “for whom would you vote?” and the numbers change: Hillary leads with a 22% rating, followed by former New York Gov. Rudi Giuliani at 19%. John Kerry would capture 14% of the popular vote, followed by Senator John McCain at 12% and Gov. Bush with a 9% share.

Good thing the elections are two years away.
Some people have their work cut out for them.

It's the Wright Thing To Do...

The Powers that Be finally “got it” in the longstanding skirmish between Southwest Airlines and American Airlines over the over-protective Wright Amendment that competitively sheltered one airline at the expense of another.
For too long, an artificial restriction against Southwest flying from Dallas Love Field to the places people would like to go without changing planes, or in groups larger than 53-persons, had paralyzed the spirit of free commerce.

Interestingly, Southwest has prospered over the years in spite of The Wright Amendment, showing the “big boys” how its point-to-point way of routing flights, and providing exemplary service at an affordable price, could be a winning formula. The idea has caught on in other places, most notably at Jet-Blue Airlines.

The Dallas Morning News noted that a changing of the minds, a changing of the times, and a changing of the guard were the prerequisites for this historic change. Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, Ft. Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, along with Southwest Airlines Board Chairman Herb Kelleher, and the Executive VP of Marketing at American, Daniel Garton, joined the CEO of DFW Airport, Jeff Fegan, in signing a 17-point statement of intent.

Could this agreement have been reached before now? Obviously not.
It’s fair, it’s balanced, and it’s the kind of multi-faceted solution demanded by a complex issue, that at its core was fundamentally skewed to the advantage of one airport over another.

The government sometimes allows itself to get caught up in such well-intentioned schemes, only to forget over time that the times for such measures are past.

The Telecommunications Act of 1898 comes to mind, originally passed as a 1-cent “luxury tax” on telephone calls to fund the Spanish American War. Although rescinded briefly, it re-emerged as a penny-tax to fund World War 1. That was the War to End All Wars, but not all taxes, and Congress conveniently left it in place, eventually increasing the levy to 3%.

Last year, a congressional committee raised the notion of extending the “luxury tax” it to include all telecommunications, at which point Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum correctly pointed out (screamed) “communication is not a luxury. It has become part of the basic fabric of our social and economic life."

Last month, you and I stopped being assessed this assinine fine for allowing foolish government dictums to continue.
Thank you, Senator Santorum.

Does The Wright Amendment belong on the same shelf as the 1898 Telecommunications Act?
You betcha.

Now that Congress has seen the light (and the results of the Spanish American War) we can only hope they will show true courage, moral character, and a modicum of common sense (if that’s not asking too much) to repeal The Wright Amendment.
Before the end of the year.
Please.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Monday Meandering

NestlĂ© will pay about $600 million for Jenny Craig, the weight-loss company…which should make for strange bedfellows…Here’s the bet: we'll will continue our Quixotic quest to lose weight via prepackaged meals and motivational workshops, while fighting an escalating, national obesity epidemic. And then we’ll all go out for ice cream…

Who blinked in Dallas?

There appears to be a compromise in the wind for the Wright Amendment…as the Dallas Morning News astutely observed, the work-out is a combination of a changing of the minds, a changing of the times and a changing of the guard.

Speaking of Big-D...Dallas is down one game in the NBA Finals after Miami’s 101-100 overtime squeaker last night put them in the series lead, 3 games to 2…but the next two games are scheduled for Dallas, where the Mav’s home court advantage is statistically advantageous…no NBA Playoff teams have lost the final two games on their home courts.

Just when you thought it was safe to turn on the TV, there’s now an official conspiracy to unravel the mysteries of Mayberry RFD, complete with an Ovaltine Decoder Ring, a single bullet, and rumors that Barney Fife fathered a child.

Welcome to Monday.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Quick Takes

Former president Bill Clinton delivered enough speeches in 2005 to earn $7.5 million, based on the numbers his wife, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D), is required to disclose each year.

Those disclosures were released yesterday, and prove that talk isn’t cheap, even when you know what the meaning of is is.

Recording artists no longer need to sell a half million records or CD’s to “go gold.” The Recording Industry Association of America says ringtone sales will be an acceptable standard measure of sales.

There's even a Top Ten Ringtone Hit Parade.

Could a Ringtone Top 40 review show be around the corner?
If an artist's song "goes gold" in ringtone sales, do they get a gold record...or a gold phone?

Why do I feel like I just walked into a sequel to "Blade Runner?"

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Compare and Contrast

CNN.com is running a story that a high-ranking Democratic senator is saying he expects the U-S to start pulling troops out of Iraq sometime this year.

They got the headline wrong, and the analysis wrong, too.

The lead should say a high-ranking Democrat with a big mouth is endangering US forces in Iraq by speculating on when troop withdrawals might occur, emboldening opposition forces in that country by telegraphing our intentions.

"Just a little more time, al-Shamir, and the American dogs will run back to their decadent country and we can once again cleanse our land of the mongrel infidels and return to our old ways."

Senator Carl Levin, the ranking Democrat on both the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, says he believes some U-S soldiers will come home soon, according to the CNN story.

Meanwhile, President Bush is back from Baghdad after his surprise visit to meet Iraq’s new Prime Minister. I love it…you’ve got these windbags on capitol hill running off at the mouth in front of TV cameras, giving the enemy a heads-up when it's going to be safe to come back out of their caves, while the Commander in Chief is actually over there, getting a first-person look, and showing support for the troops in harms way.

Note the contrast.
Compare, and reflect.

By the way Congress got a 2% cost of living increase yesterday, by default. Oh they could vote to NOT receive the automatic COLA pay increase… one congressman tried to initiate a motion to pass on the raise...but by a 249-167 vote, the House rejected a procedural attempt to get a direct vote on the pay hike.

In other words, they voted not to vote on not giving themselves a raise.

The $3,300 annual increase places House lawmakers income at $183,500.

The pay raise also applies to the vice president -- who is president of the Senate -- as well as congressional leaders and Supreme Court justices.

Vice President Dick Cheney, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Chief Justice John Roberts earn $212,100. President Bush’s salary of $400,000 a year is not affected by this COLA provision for civil servants.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Spot Training

The BizRadio Network is all about helping you. Either helping you make money, or helping you tell your story, which, in turn, helps you make money. We do this by painting word images on the radio for you. I like to describe this to groups I speak to as “theatre of the mind,” and once graphically illustrated the concept by asking everyone to close their eyes, and proceeded to describe a somewhat disturbing image of myself cavorting in a lime green leotard.

After I got everyone calmed down, I asked them what they saw as I used words to illustrate the point I was trying to illustrate. I’m sure that the shape and hue of my physique defined in lime-green spandex looked different to each individual as they listened to the words, but the point was that everyone had the same basic idea implanted in their mind’s eye.

We can do things on the Radio you cannot do on TV. Sure, on TV you can be shown exactly what something looks like, but on the Radio…you can be told what something looks like, as well as how it tastes, feels, and behaves, and because only spoken words are transmitting the tactile cues, your brain prompts your memories of associated experiences, and what results is your own personal, private one-act play in the theater of your mind.

Radio has always been great at this, using standard bites of half-minute and one-minute chunks of time…here at the BizRadio Network we’ve gone an extra step to create 2-minute vignettes that allow more canvas on which to paint the word images.

Advertising Age this week discusses an idea at the opposite end of the spectum—one-second “Blink” spots for Radio and TV, and one major Radio group is already working out the math with media mavens for one-second spot units.

AdAge accurately notes that the real value of the Blinks may only be in the publicity they can generate. The idea behind the nano-spots is actually a response to the need to find new uses of a medium that is continuously being asked to show how effective it really is…and whether it can successfully touch consumers in new and surprising ways.

Will it work?
Will it offend?
Guess it all depends on your receptiveness to things like this.

Coke.

What did you just see?
What did you just crave?

I just gave you a “blink”—at no charge to The Coca Cola Company—which planted in your brain a prompt to recall an already familiar icon. That’s going to be the trick—you cannot use a Blink campaign to roll out a new product. The theory will only work with people places and things that are already established.

Madonna.

Fred Flintstone.

Mort Fenortner.

Who? See—only the familiar can sustain a blink campaign. My plumber, alas, is not a household word…yet. But with the right advertising campaign, he could be. Don’t go there, Mort.

The use of Audio Mnemonics is a versatile tactic—in some cases you don’t even need to use words.

Imagine the McDonald's jingle, minus the "I'm lovin' it" language, dropped-in between a couple of songs on any Radio station in America. Intel has been doing this for years, a blink within commercials for high-tech hardware that use Intel chips. AdAge predicts you may someday soon hear a blink for your favorite automobile, featuring the sound of a horn, and simply the name of the car being spoken. Perhaps Pavlov was onto something.

This is nothing new. The National Broadcasting Corporation did this years ago with it’s three-bell chime…which everyone over the age of 50 still associate with N-B-C. You can hear it now, can't you?

Jim Gaither, director-broadcast at Richards Group, says Blinks are not about building brands, but refreshing a brand.

Zest.

See, I just did it to you again. But do we really want to hear about a soap bar between liks of our favorite tunes? And what is the threshold (Zest) for effectiveness (Dove) vs (Irish Spring) irritant (Dial)?

The AdAge article notes that not everyone is convinced national advertisers would want a sound effect thrown into Radio programming. How would you know it's connected to the brand? Would such a tactic lose value for an advertiser?

Some media buyers are already pushing back on the concept, denying anyone in their right mind would pay for a spot one-second in length. Um, did you see some of the ads in the Superbowl this year?? Please...

Which raises the question of pricing…Blink ads could see a markup of 200% to 300% over what one-thirtieth of a 30-second spot might cost. And then you’ve got to deal with the sticky wicket of verification. If a one-second spot runs and no one hears it, how do you know? Another issue for consideration is tracking broadcast spots that are five-seconds or less in length, which defies most technology in place. Would it work, and is it worth it?

Remember that one-second TV spot for Master Lock in which a padlock wass shot with a bullet in front of a bull's-eye? The image of a high-powered rifle shooting through a Master Lock padlock was a Super Bowl ad staple for years, so the icon had been established before the one-second spot aired. AdAge says the actual media buy was small, because most networks weren't set up to handle a one-second ad, but the PR and publicity were worth millions of dollars…and that just may be the unspoken benefit (no pun intended) for some unique product marketer of the future.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Camry Karma

I’ve been cheating.

For the past couple of weeks the Toyota Motor Company has lent me the use of a couple of their newest automobiles in hopes that I would blather on and on and on about them to you, and recommend to all my friends that they buy one. And while I have been conspicuously silent about this escapade, the truth is I really haven’t known where to begin.
It is possible to become somewhat overwhelmed by the paradoxes of luxury and value, stylishness and spartan design, and get lost in it all. Fabulously lost.

The Toyota Camry is not just another cheap import.
It’s not obscenely expensive, at $24, 279, which was the sticker price on the Camry LE we drove around for a week. Even took it out of town for a weekend (see blog on The Rock House).

The Toyota Camry LE is full of surprises: loaded with features, and blessed with some very attractive lines, it looks like it could be a real mean car. And I mean that in a good way. But it drives with the crispness that Toyota is famous for in all of its vehicles, with a quiet, interior, responsive handling, and adequate power.

I would recommend springing a little extra for the V-6 configuration, however, regardless of the MPG rating differences. When I punch the pedal, I want the car to go, not think about how much fuel to miserly meter.

The Camry LE we drove was deceptive. Because it was a the 4-cylinder model, it was a little slower on the up take, and the engine would wind up going through the 5-speed automotive transmission. You must use the Cruise Control on this car, however, or you will get yourself in trouble.

Because of the smooth ride and quiet interior, you can lose track of how fast you’re really going. Sometimes it takes a reminder to keep that speed in check: an attentive spouse in an adjacent, or nearby rear seat position…a glance at the speedometer is always a great gauge of velocity. And then there are flashing lights in the rear view mirror that can serve as a final reminder that the earth beneath your wheels is slipping past faster than it ought.

Would I buy a Toyota Camry if my budget was $25K or less for a four-door sedan I want to drive the wheels off of?
Absolutely.
So, why aren’t I driving one now?
It’s not my bag, man.
This is an automotive review, not a marriage proposal.

From the newly designed nose to sharply detailed rear tail lights, this is a car that can say class without costing you an arm and a leg.

(I saw a black one earlier in the week that just melted me: Dark smoked windows, nice rims, and the cool Camry stance.)

Face it, driving a Camry says something about you: You’re smart, frugal, stylish, and you know the latest Camry is not your father’s Toyota. Besides, in a couple of years, you can always trade it in on a Lexus!

By the way, telling an officer you're a journalist test-driving an unfamiliar car may get you off with a warning in a traffic stop. Maybe...if you're in a Camry.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

"Liberty Belle"

The last time Staff Sgt. John Fox flew in a Boeing B-17G “Flying Fortress” was in September, 1944. It was his first bombing run over Germany…and his last.

Fox’s aircraft, “The Big Gas Bird,” (say that really fast--to yourself!) was shot down over Frankfort, and he spent the remainder of the war in German POW camps. Many other planes made it through the war, and found their way back to the states, used as VIP transports, test-beds for experimental engines, or cut up for use as film sets for TV-series like "12-O'Clock High," and movies like "Memphis Belle."

There has been a welcome resurgence of interest in the stories of WW-2 veterans lately, and The Liberty Foundation, based in Douglas, Georgia, is among those organizations helping to keep alive the memory and the legacy that men like John Fox and the crew of of his plane forged.

The Liberty Foundation is doing this by staging flights of a refurbished B-17G called “Liberty Belle.” This weekend they are in Houston; next weekend, they’ll be in Dallas. This particular aircraft never saw combat duty.

Scott Maher, the media coordinator for The Liberty Foundation, invited me along for the ride Friday. It was stiflingly hot, sitting in the un-airconditioned fuselage that smelled of aviation fuel, grease, and fresh paint. “Liberty Belle” required 14-years of work and $3-million to put her back in flying condition.

None of those details were lost on former Staff Sgt. John Fox, who served as Right Engine Engineer and Top Turret Gunner on his one and only combat mission in 1944.

The “Big Gas Bird” that Fox flew in had survived numerous missions, and many of its crew were about to return home following their run in September, ’44. Sgt. Fox was one of the replacements, and was taking his first flight with what was a seasoned crew.

They were based at Ipswitch, England, and were tasked to bomb a factory in Leipzig, Germany. After dropping their bomb load, they were returning home when their aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft “flak” over Frankfort. Sgt. Fox says he and one other crew member got out of the plane before it crashed, parachuting to an area north of town.

He was captured and taken to the Dulag Luft at Frankfort, and then transferred twice more, to Stalag Luft-4 at Gross Tychow, in Poland, and Stalg Luft-1 in Barth, Germany, on the Baltic. Sgt. Fox remained there until the German surrender in 1945. He says the Germans did not treat him well, and he particularly remembers how bad the food was.

Boeing’s B-17 was an amazing airframe when first flown in 1935. 6,981 B-17s were produced in various models, and another 5,745 were built under a nationwide collaborative effort by Douglas and Lockheed.

It’s still an impressive aircraft today. 14 of the aircraft are still flying, thanks to the efforts of various vintage aircraft enthusiasts around the country.

I mentioned earlier the heat we experienced in "Liberty Belle" as we awaited take off. The B-17 did not have many creature comforts, and when flying at 30,000-feet, the interior of the aircraft could reach –60F! Think of that the next time you’re whizzing along between Houston and Dallas at 30K feet…in a pressurized cabin.

On Friday, John Fox stepped aboard another B-17G for the first time in 62-years. There wasn’t a dry eye on the aircraft as it soared into the sky from Hooks Memorial Airport. Couldn’t tell if it was from the heat inside the plane or the emotion of the moment.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Politics and Business

We received a listener e-mail yesterday from someone with their nose bent out of shape by a segment by one of our hosts this week: (I am printing it as it was received, warts and all)

“It is always a disappointment when I tune in to the BizRadio network expecting business news, but instead get a heaping serving of political commentary. Maybe I'm just speaking for myself, but bizradio is a refuge in a media world that is incresingly polorized, ie liberal or conservative, democratic or republican, etc.

"Bizradio is the one spot on the dial that I can tune into to getunbiased, un slanted money news. We want a radio station that isn'tpolitical. Trust me, there are many, many other radio stations I cantune into for political commentary. And if your hosts continue to breakstation format and offer up thier personal political opinions, I WILLtune into another station.

"Today, Mike Norman and guests were giving nothing but there political views and arguments following the news of Al-Zarqawi's death. Thier political positions were clearly expressed as conservative. It ruins their credability as authorities of the business world by suggesting thier understanding is skewed by political sentiment. My underlying point is, that BizRadio has succeeded by sticking with its format of BUSINESS news and commentary. The station risks alienating and dispersing its audience by introducing political commentary into its format. This would be a mistake. I hope your station takes steps to mitigate this problem."

I hope this writer takes steps to learn the differences in the correct spellings of Their, They’re and There, or at least figures out how to use the spell check for words like “increasingly,” “polarized,” and “credibility,” because his lapse somewhat affects the credibility of his criticism. There's probably a spacebar somewhere on the keyboard, too--it's the long, skinny one at the bottom.

First, sincere appreciation for the recognition that The BizRadioNetwork is an oasis of information in a wasteland of commercialized opinion-mongers on the AM-dial.

Second, you cannot—and should not—separate the reality that politics and business in America are joined at the hip and the checkbook, and a discussion of such issues is not only proper for our network, we would be derelict in our duty by not covering such angles for you.

Third, one of the reasons The BizRadioNetwork is successful is because of the free exchange of ideas we encourage. Our studio phone lines are toll-free, 877-777-7713, and you are welcome to call in at any time, on any show, to express your thoughts, pro- or con-, to any issue being addressed.

It makes for intelligent talk…it also makes good radio.

And don’t forget, “i before e, except after c.” People notice those kinds of things, and they’re likely to form their opinions prematurely when there are two too many errors to weed through.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Coincidences in the Cosmos

The LAPD is beginning to use battery-powered drone aircraft to chase down bad guys and keep an eye on things in the City of Angels…they’re equipped with three types of cameras and provide a live video down link to operators. Cheaper than a chopper, but still a pretty pricey glorified RC aircraft at $25K…

Do you find it curious that former VP Al Gore’s name is not on the movie poster for his global warming movie, “An Inconvenient Truth?” Could it be that Paramount has discovered Gore is an inconvenient barrier to ticket sales for the film?

Now…you tell me if there’s any coincidence to these three stories:
· We just blasted Abu Masab al-Zarqawi into the next dimension, along with 7 of his henchmen, near Baghdad…
· the price of oil dropped below $70
· Iran’s maniacal President now wants to palaver with the West about its nuclear program

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Immigrating Solutions

Grassfire.org is paying for controversial anti-illegal immigration billboards in cities across the country that read “stop the invasion secure our borders.”

People; either you’re a part of the solution or you’re a part of the problem. Part of the problem in solving the immigration issue is the over-abundance of emotion being injected into the discussions.



Passion is a good thing, but so is rationale, and Grassfire’s self-directed PR campaign does nothing but fan the flames in an already incendiary area.
Grassfire offers no solutions…so it becomes part of the problem.

Meanwhile, President George Bush said illegal immigrants who want to stay here should learn English and demonstrate that they are committed to assimilating into American culture.
The President wants strict border enforcement with compassionate treatment for newcomers. That's how things are done in Texas. Little dash of common sense, with a spritz of hospitality.

The Washington Post quoted President Bush as saying immigrants should know there is a legal way to stay, if they are willing to make the effort: "One is to say you got to pay a fine for being here illegally. You got to learn the English language. In other words, you got to repay a debt to society and learn the skills necessary to assimilate into our society. Show us you've been working hard."

Gets back to the solution or the problem equation. Learning English puts you squarely in the camp of the problem solvers…and provides immigrants a much better chance for success as new Americans.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Rock House

Our travels this weekend took us up HWY 36 from Brenham to Temple, Texas. Between Caldwell and Milano, in Milam County, there is an old house at the top of a hill on the east side of the highway.

The locals call this The Rock House, and I am told it was also known as the Beard House.

The Rock House has always fascinated me. It is built of rough-hewn rock, which was carted to the site in the 1890’s by G. W. Beard. On the other side of the hill, behind the house, there was an artesian spring that flowed with cold, clear water.

This house was used as a carriage relay station at one point. I don’t know how old the twin cedar trees are in front of the house, but it is easy to imagine a circle drive arcing off the main trail and up into the yard to the wide front porch.

I would like to research this grand old house further.
If you are aware of any history about The Rock House or Beard House in Milam County, Texas, please post a reply to this blog.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Graduate

My bride and I traveled to Central Texas this weekend for the high school graduation of my oldest younger brother’s youngest daughter. She is going to be a third-generation educator, following the footprints of her paternal grandparents, her mother and an aunt.

College is a given in my family—and my niece garnered enough in scholarships to maybe pay for her first year of school, thanks to the Cheerleader booster club, the Kiwanis Club, and a special endowment funded by the family of the superintendent of schools.

On Friday’s show we discussed the value of a college education thru the lenses of time and money invested--and the return on that investment. Would you invest $60,000 and four years of your life building a business that has a 30 percent chance of succeeding?

Not likely, yet there is research which now suggests 70% of college graduates are unhappy with their job within 5 years of finishing school. Combine that with the cost of an average college education at $60,000 and you’re looking at a $60,000 investment in education that only has a 30 percent chance of leading to a fulfilling career. I don’t like those odds.

Two key ideas emerged from the discussion we had with Luc D’Abadie, who is a recent college grad. Luc is a collaborator with Les and Andrew Hewitt in a project to give graduating seniors a better shot at success by developing their far-sightedness when charting their path through the maze of higher education.

Grades are not what they’re cracked up to be in the real world. Cornell University did a study that ranked GPA 11th on a list of factors important to potential employers looking at college graduated employment candidates. In fact, what school you go to and your major field of study is but a small part of the formula for the most successful college grads.

GPA doesn’t matter as much as passion, according to some pretty convincing data.

Dr. Srully Blotnick tracked 1,500 people for 20 years. He found that 83% had embarked on a career to make money, while only 17% chose a career based on what they loved to do. After 20 years, 101 of the 1,500 had become millionaires, and all but one of those millionaires was from the 17% who chose a career based on what they loved to do.

That passion should be paired with a philosophy that is open to real-life experiences as much as academics in school. Luc D’Abadie describes it as adopting an experience-focused mindset. And here’s the part that applies to all of us—not just college kids: when we step outside our comfort zone, when we network with influential people, when we expand our skill set through clubs and volunteering, our far-sightedness improves, and our chances for success are enhanced. For new college students, real life experience through internships and international exchanges provide invaluable perspectives beyond the lecture halls.

The main theme of D’Abadie’s research is that the pursuit of a career built around passion holds greater potential for success. How many of you are working in a job you never went to school for, but fell into doing what you love to do? Conversely--if you have found yourself laboring in an area that does not inspire you, but pays the bills, are you finding you're not feeling fulfilled by your work?

My niece is pretty passionate about teaching. She’s smart and talented, and never met a stranger. Odds are in her favor she’ll be successful.

One other thought to pass along from D’Abadie’s research: The average college graduate starts his or her new career with $30,000 in debt, and one in ten have over $80,000 in loans to repay. There is a direct correlation between the financial habits developed in college and financial success after graduation.