Sunday, March 16, 2008

Meeting the hand that feeds you...

I probably have a tendency to pontificate a bit too much on the seemingly warp-speed changes that occur in our chosen profession; unfortunately, many of them are not favorable. One of the things that I grapple with is the "less-than-personal" aura that things have taken on, due to technology, etc. So, I always get a small rush whenever I get to actually meet a client of mine from some long-distance locale.

I've been the voice of WJBC in Bloomington, Illinois for several years now. R.C. McBride is the program director and he is one of those guys with whom I simply felt at ease around, even over the phone. Having worked at KDKA for 5 years, I certainly have a "thing" for the long-standing, community-minded full-service radio station. WJBC is every bit of that and more. And for a young guy like R.C. to harbor many of the same feelings that I have about a station's role in the community, its importance, and its overall effect on news and talk in a particular town, I immediately sensed back in 2004 that we were going to hit it off. It also doesn't hurt that he's a DIE-HARD Cubs fan, and any fan of baseball is a fan of mine . (or "mine" of "his", or something like that.)

But, we've never met. Until yesterday. R.C. is also an accomplished play-by-play man, and amongst his many duties at "The Voice of McLean County" he's also behind the microphone for the Illinois State Redbird women's basketball team. The Missouri Valley Conference tournament was held this weekend in my neck 'o the woods, so we finally hooked up! It was great to link up a face with a phone-voice!

In talking to him about WJBC, I'm reminded that, aside from traffic situations and, to a certain extent, salary...there isn't much difference between WJBC and KDKA. He would often-times pick my brain while I was at KDKA about promo ideas and such, almost in a sense "deferring" to me, due to the fact that I was in "the big city" and he was in "little Bloomington-Normal". And after talking with him over the past several years, I still stand by what I said to him during our initial conversations: market-size is simply irrelevant. The weather information that's important to some grad student driving from his apartment over to Illinois Wesleyan University is the same info that's important to some credit manager driving in from Monroeville through the Squirrel Hill Tunnel into downtown. (although as any Pittsburgher would tell you, there's generally not a whole lot of movement in the Squirrel Hill Tunnel during rush hour!) I know he probably doesn't believe me now just as he didn't believe me then, but I would not hesitate to say that the folks at KDKA could learn a thing or two from WJBC. It's a sharp operation, and R.C. is a sharp programmer.

Oh, and my "less-than-personal" aura also became disrupted by a phone call from Chris Stevens, the programming grand poobah at Rock 105 in Joplin, Missouri! He called to (and you'll like this) "just say hi and to see what was going on". Wh- wh- what!!?? "Muttley" is knockin' 'em dead in the southwestern part of the "Show Me" state, so that's good news. (and bad news for other Joplin-area stations!) It was very nice to hear from him!

Two in one week? Whoa! Maybe I need an "aura-adjustment".

It's only 11 o'clock and I'm already salivating over this 22-ounce "bomber" of Hoppin Frog I.P.A. from my adopted hometown of Akron, Ohio. (how they achieved distribution in this part of the globe, I'll never know, but I'm a better man because of it.) Everything they brew is solid. I wish the job-prognosis was as good for the Rubber City as the beer.

Two weeks till Opening Day. Yes!


* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at

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