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Ramblings | blog.deanland.com

Ramblings

...Ramblings

Old Movies and Early TV

When I was a kid, growing up in New York City, the television landscape was a rather different vista than the fare available at this time. There were the three major networks, of course, with headquarters in the city, and each had (and still does) a flagship station right here. NBC's The Tonight Show was the one and only late-night offering; it, of course, emanated from New York City.

Growing up in New York City, it was an easy assumption that this was the center of the universe. Surely it was the financial capital of the world. Yes, Washington, D.C. was where the President sat, but The United Nations (a more nascent entity when I was a kid) was in New York. The President, like other world leaders, traveled to the big town when he would address the UN.

War heroes, astronauts, World Series winners, and the like, were feted by ticker tape parades. These occurred in New York, as did the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, down Broadway, and/or at the end of Broadway in lower Manhattan.

TV shows came from New York. Broadway, the real and true legitimate theatre, was a subway or car ride away. Again, more fuel for the thought that New York was the center of civilization, the capital of the world.

The broadcast fare on the non-network TV stations was a world away, so different from the somewhat homogenized programming available now. Of course, two of New York's "independents" are flagships (and anchors for national ad placement) for emerging networks The WB and UPN. The Fox Network owns and operates Channel 5, and can truly be considered the legitimate "fourth network," thanks to Murdoch's largesse, bankroll, and his keen understanding that Football and Baseball could serve as entrÈe into the world of the real web-style (that's an old paradigm broadcast term) broadcast network.

Sports gave Fox promo power, audience draw, a base from which to build, and the opportunity to position itself as a bona fide contender. By "Contender" I mean for ratings, ad revenue, and national attention.

Back when I was in the Broadcast World I did some Radio Research and New Tech work for News America New Media. They get a lot of bad press and name calling, due to their ownership of the New York Post, and the bare breasts shown daily in their papers in the UK. Be that as it may, I never worked with or for a more professional group of honest, top notch, caring, open-minded people. The Murdoch people were, one and all, a great group of people. Smart, keen minded and witted, no bullshit, cards-on-the-table, straight shooters. It should always be so good!

They also understood my role as an independent consultant, and made a point to prepay my expenses as I undertook some exciting and rather intricate research and development projects for them. Whew! They understood my needs, and made sure I was both comfortable and without undue distraction or economic concern as I conducted these extensive, challenging, grand-scale projects on their behalf.

Anyone who has been a consultant, particularly a self-employed one, or the operator of a small consulting or research firm, knows the value of a good client. I've been very fortunate in most cases. But I've also had my share of difficult clients, slow pay types, those who choose to stiff the small guy, and those who figured they wouldn't pay me or my firm, as we were small potatoes, and how could we retaliate? Clients the likes of Murdoch (and a man named John Marshall, too, who ran one station in South Carolina) are the ones who maintain -and sometimes restore-one's faith in the decency of people doing business.

One of the reasons I left the Radio business was due to the collection problems I was dealing with. Too often my energies were directed toward getting paid. This made the work less enjoyable, the effort less worthy. My company's work created millions of dollars in revenue for our clients. One particular client, in a top ten market, a major American city, was anything but timely and brotherly when it came to paying their bill. And our work, guidance, and intense efforts completely turned around this property, taking it from an also-ran to a top rated contender. We'd done research, implementation, dealt with internal issues and union matters. These efforts managed to make what others had written off as unsalvageable become a profitable, popular, viable broadcast entity.

How did this client thank us? By proving to be as slow-pay an account as we ever had, and by ending the contract when we got them their highest ratings in a ten year period. After the contract was over, it still took ages to finally collect all that was due.

Other changes in the field (read: deregulation, Reaganomics, the business becoming the darling of Yellow-Tie Wall Streeters who didn't know diddly but could and would act all smug and righteous as they bought too high, earned huge commissions and ultimately destroyed broadcast properties) also contributed to my leaving. They paraded around broadcast conventions looking all interested and involved, despite the fact that the parlance of radio was really no different to them from Swahili. When the investments died, those Yellow-Tie guys had all gone on to being smug and arrogant about whatever the next "darling category" may have been.

Concurrent personal affairs were also at an all time low. It was time for a change. In the long run I am happy for the change. That's a very long "long run," one full of fear, desperation, uncertainty, and finally a light at the end of the tunnel.

Funny thing about it all... I love what I'm doing now, and the people with whom I work are a great bunch. But just lately, and I mean like in the past month or so, two friends of mine from the Radio days have gotten in touch. One is buying a station and wants my input on running it. The other, who began as a staff member at one client and grew to become a very close friend and trusted business colleague, has some strategy issues where he's working now, and wants me to to come aboard in a specialized consulting capacity.

I feel like Michael Corleone in Godfather III(Ebert on GIII). "Just when I thought I was out they pull me back in"http://members.tripodasia.com.hk/FamilyS/godfather.wav">!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
But I digress (how unusual, you say!).

And now I will stop for the moment, and shortly resume. Dang! I might even get back to the original theme. Sometimes it appears that I suffer from the "writer's strain of ADD."
Or maybe it is just a little blog-indulgent fuzzy focus. This is the benefit (?) of not having someone else as an editor. Maybe better put, the result of no editor!