Kids are Spoiled. Do they Know Sacrifice?

English: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, m...

A peanut butter and jelly sandwich

August 1982 my brother and I packed up our pick up truck and I left home for the first time to go to college at Washington State University. We arrived on campus 3 days before the dormitories opened. For two nights I slept on the golf course. It wasn’t so bad, at first. It’s pretty warm, even at night, in August, in Pullman. A dorm administrator took pity on me when I went to visit my soon-to-be home, and let me in to register one day before anyone else in the building. What little money I had was being saved for my books;  and the only thing I had to eat those two days were a couple of peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches and carrots I’d packed with me when I left my Mom’s house. I have never been hungrier in my life then when they finally opened the dormitory’s cafeteria three days after I had arrived on campus.

I made the decision to arrive on campus three days early in order to find a job before all the other students arrived. It worked. I was hired to work in the dormitory cafeteria. It was a job that barely paid my living expenses during my time in school. I wonder how many kids today would make such a sacrifice today.

Years later after leaving college, attending and graduating from a broadcasting-vocational school I was hired for my first radio job in a little town called Raymond. It paid me only $600 per month and I was paid only once per month. During the one year I held this job I lived on my own. I had no phone because I couldn’t afford it.

Beef Top Ramen Contents

Obviously there was no internet back then, so I had virtually no contact with my old friends and family. I lived on Cheerios, Top Ramen, and Mac & Cheese.

Tesco now carrying Kraft Macaroni and Cheese!!...

Having meat of any kind was maybe a once a week treat. Months later the first time I returned home my Mom cried when she first saw me saying, “You’re so skinny!”. During this time I sold all of my ski equipment to pay for food and rent. I was very lonely. I went to sleep by myself listening to one of the only 3 radio stations that could be picked up in far-away Raymond. Dave Niehaus was my Summer-time pal as I drifted to sleep in my room, in the dark, listening to Mariner games from far away.

A box of Cheerios breakfast cereal.

I made the decision to work in this low paying job in this tiny far-away town because I wanted to work in radio and they gave this squeaky voiced 21-year old a chance. After they agreed to let me be the broadcast voice of the high school football and basketball games I know I couldn’t refuse. It was a tough year, but I was living a dream come true. I wonder how many young adults would make the same decision in order to reach for their dreams.

It was a few years later when I was working as News Director of an AM/FM radio station in Moses Lake, WA when I was asked to make another huge sacrifice. I was 24 years old and had moved up in income and stature in the radio business and was truly on my way to making a career. But my life had taken on the responsibility of two others. I was now married and my wife and I had a baby daughter. During one of her weekend trips home to Seattle my wife had been offered a good paying job at a Seattle TV station. It was for more money than she and I could make combined in Eastern Washington. Though my resume was still pretty sparse and I wasn’t confident in my ability to get a job in the big market of Seattle I quit my job and moved back to Western Washington. The three of us lived in my in-laws basement for about 4-5 months until I could find work. When I finally did get a job it wasn’t in Seattle. It was at a radio station in Mt. Vernon, WA. We got an apartment in Lynnwood and for nearly 2 years I commuted North, while my wife commuted South.

I made the decision to derail my private career path in order to help build a better life for my family and to cure my wife’s home-sickness for her family and the city in which she grew up. Though I loved Eastern Washington and really liked my job and my career trajectory it wasn’t a hard decision. I knew it would make my wife happy. I wonder if today’s young people know to make similar sacrifices on behalf of the spouse to whom they promised a life together.

One of the most selfish things I ever did was start my own company. I left a job in which I had struggled to build an income that had grown to 6-figures. It had taken 13 years. Upon leaving the job I was faced with zero income, and no immediate clients. My family, which was now a family of five, had to learn to do without a lot of things to which we’d become accustomed. It took a couple of years of sacrifice before my company brought my income back toward previous levels.

I made the decision to start my own business because I knew I didn’t want to work for someone else the rest of my life and knew that I wouldn’t be able to leave anything behind for my kids when my time came to an end. I also wanted to give my wife the opportunity to get back to doing what she loved, radio voice work. She’d moved away from her talent in favor of jobs that paid well and provided a security the radio industry never has. She is now our primary voice talent for Total Broadcasting Serviceofficial-logo-jpeg-document-size.jpg

My life has never been easy. My parents were lower-middle-income at best, poor at worst, and never provided me with anything outside of the bare necessities. After graduating high school they determined that I was a man and they never provided me anything else, ever. I know others have had it a lot tougher than what I have. Nevertheless, I’m proud of building a life that has allowed me to raise my kids and be happy; to enjoy some niceties.

They say 26 is the new 21. The same as 21 used to be the new 19. Twenty-six is now the age in which kids are becoming adults. Twenty-seven is the age Obamacare no longer allows parents to keep their “kids” on their health insurance plan. And 27 is now the average age in which guys and gals get married for the first time.

I think its sad. Kids have there colleges paid for by either their parents or by our overly generous (and broke) Federal Government. If they get work they expect a middle income lifestyle right away. Too many don’t seem to have any respect for authority. They believe every night is Saturday night. And I wonder if todays kids even know what sacrifice really means.

Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.

Radio’s Failures

Samsung Galaxy Tab showing its Wikipedia article.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

 

This morning as I sat in my canoe while fishing a nearby lake I placed headphones in my ears and listened to radio stations in Los Angeles, Tampa, Detroit, and Chicago on my Samsung Galaxy Tab with Android operating system. It caused me to think of the industry in which I’ve worked continuously since 1985. It caused me to think of radio’s failures.

For more than sixty years pundits have been predicting the death of radio as an information and entertainment medium. They began with the popularity of television. Predictions that radio was on its way out continued with every new audio technology that was introduced since that time. Time and again the pundits have been wrong. Radio has not only survived but thrived through all technology updates, twists and turns. Radio has also pressed on in spite of a constantly changing and finicky population that in the past sixty years grew increasingly young and now grows increasingly old.

Prior to televisions dominance radio was the medium for entertainment, news, and sports for Americans for more than 30 years.  Westinghouse’s KDKA radio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania began successful commercial radio broadcasting in November 1920. And while television had many fathers, and many starts dating back to a time around 1908 the start of coast-to-coast network television in the United States didn’t begin until 1951. As late as 1947 there were 40 million radios in the U.S. and only 44,000 televisions (30k in the greater New York area). While only 0.5% of U.S. households had a television set in 1946, 55.7% had one in 1954, and 90% by 1962. And the death of radio was first predicted.

Try as it might though, television couldn’t compete with radio in two critical areas; immediacy and local community service and/or interest. A radio station could adequately serve the needs of small towns with as few as 2-3000 people. Many still do today. And radio could report the news immediately from almost any location in the world, or right down the street. As early as the 1940s all you needed was a telephone line ultimately connecting you to the radio station or radio network in order to transmit your story. The reports from England by

Edward R. Murrow, pioneer in broadcast journalism

Edward R. Murrow, pioneer in broadcast journalism

Edward R. Murrow back to the United States via radio broadcasts during the World War II Battle of Britain were so dramatic Murrow became a star and a hero. Television couldn’t duplicate such transmission capabilities until almost 10 years later when the same Edward R. Murrow in his show See it Now became the first to show a simultaneous broadcast from Atlantic and Pacific Coasts.

Radio became a staple in the assembly of automobiles beginning in 1922. According to the book “Chronicle of the American Automobile over 100 Years of Auto History,” it was possible to buy a 1922 Chevrolet with a Westinghouse radio installed. But by the 60s 8-tracks and then by the 70s cassette tape players were introduced and radio’s death knell was sounded again. The tape players were small and convenient enough to fit into cars. So, of course, why would people listen to radio when they could listen to their own selection of audio tapes. Only…they did.

Portable listening devices, like the

Members of the Sony Walkman line of products; ...

Members of the Sony Walkman line of products; photo by Marc Zimmermann

Sony Walkman in the 1980s and the Apple iPod in 2001 were also supposed to provide enough listening choices to the average person that radio would not possibly survive. Only…it did. In fact, in a study published on our company website, Total Broadcasting Service, an October 2011 Arbitron survey indicates that radio is still the dominant device listened to in cars over CD players or any other device.

Sadly though, radio and the Federal Government began the slow burial of my beloved industry in the mid-1980s. Automated equipment made it easy and cheap to run a radio station. So station owners began sacrificing the live real human being radio personalities in favor of pre-recorded, pre-planned formated music stations. I worked for one myself in 1986-1988. I was News Director at KBSN AM/KDRM FM Moses Lake. KBSN was a live, local, full-service radio station with personalities, music, news and sports and it was very successful. KDRM played soft-rock, adult-contemporary music off of huge reel-to-reel tape machines all day and night. The only time the music was interrupted was when pre-recorded commercials played 4 times per hour for 3 minute breaks. Or when my own voice was inserted into one of the commercial breaks with a prerecorded newscast. KDRM was boring to the listener. But because it was so cheap to operate more and more radio station owners put-out a boring product.

By the 90s satellite technology had grown to such a level that radio networks began airing national radio programs at all hours of the day and night all over the country further eroding radio’s other advantage over all other mediums, local-community service and/or representation. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 opened the door for corporate raiders to sweep up radio stations in small towns and large cities. Since 1934 no single entity could own more than one AM radio station, FM station, television station and newspaper in a single media market. After ’96 they could own as many as their bankrolls could allow. While such deregulation was a boon to capitalism and in line with the principle of free-markets, it was a horrible blow to democracy. It eliminated the voice of thousands of small business owners in communities all over our great country and left us with a few selection of flavors for radio listening, and news chosen for us by corporate big wigs thousands of miles away from the listeners they were supposed to be serving.

Not surprisingly the continuing elimination of people from broadcasting erodes the talent pool from which real live honest to goodness radio personalities are selected and groomed. Remember when all radio voices had a vocal quality that was special? Remember the classic full sounding, warm radio voice? Today I hear narrow high treble, low bass voices with little poetic quality. I am horrified to hear a reporter on Seattle’s KOMO AM 1000 with a lisp, a clearly audible lisp. Before the days of political correctness we called it a speak impediment.

Radio Tower Graphic

Radio Tower Graphic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even with the advent of mobile internet technology terrestrial radio (that’s a modern term referring to old-fashioned radio) still possesses the same advantages over television and even the internet that kept it alive through the past sixty years of frontal assault from technology and government. It can still be more immediate and local than any other medium. These are valuable and marketable attributes, but they’re attributes corporate owners no longer recognize and government officials no longer seem to value. Until they do I’m doomed to spend my life growing old listening to audio over the mobile internet from cities far far away on devices that cost me hundreds of dollars, rather than good quality local radio announcers bringing news and sports from my own town on radios, small convenient, quality, inexpensive radios. Radio is free and can be listened to free on comparatively inexpensive devices. Let’s hope as Americans we won’t learn to take it for granted be you a radio station owner or a radio listener.

Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.

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