Those who know me have heard it before: it’s sad to see where radio has gone.
When I first stumbled into the field, I was a college sophomore trying to figure out what to major in, at the University of Washington. It was expected of you to have figured out a major by the start of your junior year, but I had been taking general classes to meet the basic requirements, but no real idea of what I wanted to do.
At the time, the working plan was marry the high school sweetheart after graduation, go to work for the airlines in ticket reservations or something and live happily ever after. Most of the way through my sophomore year, the high school sweetheart decided this wasn’t for her and plans changed. Suddenly, I had to get serious and think, “What would I really like to do?”
Bob Carey, who lived down the hall, had gotten involved at the University of Washington radio station, KCMU. “You can actually do THAT as a college major?” I asked. Yep, it was a Communications degree, with an emphasis in Radio and Television. Why I didn’t get involved with television back then is a long story for another blog. I looked into radio, decided it was for me and the next 30 years of my life I’ve spent working directly or indirectly with that imaginative medium.
But as our nation’s economy has gone south and technologies evolved, radio became less of a priority. As numbers shrank, owners panicked and did money-saving things that–you guessed it–eroded the numbers even further. Soon, programming was at the bottom of the checklist, and profit sailed to the top of the “What effects decisions around here” mentality.
Recently, another group of hard-working, passionate Sandusky employees were handed walking papers over at Smooth Jazz. It’s now a convoluted format that’s targeted at a demo that is barely interested in radio. Good luck on that.
There are those quick to say, “sour grapes” for my criticism of radio. But at a time when people need more communication, more interaction, more use of their imaginations, sterile, targeting-stereotypes-instead-of-people programming fills the airwaves. I know at least a dozen of extremely talented communicators out of the profession because there is no room in the inn. Now, add Dianna Rose to the list. The Smooth Jazz evening host worked the other side of the building when I was there, but we still got to see each other occasionally in the halls and have stayed in touch since. She wrote a great farewell letter to the Sandusky troops this week and I thought I’d share some of it here:
Dearest Sandusky Staff,
My last day in the office will be this Friday, January 28th.
What an amazing 12 years it has been! I remember as if it were yesterday…November 1998 while attending the NAB…that I found myself interviewing for the position of Music Director/On-Air with Carol in the old Belltown studios. I remember meeting Casey, and Marti and Matt hangin’ out at the front desk. Two months later I was driving up from Los Angeles and making Seattle my new home.
When I started at Sandusky: Murdock-Hunter-&-Alice and Dave Wingert were on KLSY while Barry McKay ran the ship along with MD Bob Brooks (who hadn’t moved to KIXI yet); Frank Shiers was on-air at KLSY and KWJZ, AM 1150 was KSRB, Tom McGinty was heading Warm, Diana’s daughter Jamie was 3½ years old(!), Scott Paine was Director of Marketing, John Nixon had only been here nine years….and Bennie wasn’t even here yet! (I KNOW!)
I have fond memories of all the crazy-fun Halloween and holiday parties…the amazing potlucks – Marc will have to find another vegan to tease! 🙂 Plus weddings, a memorial (Alice), many baby showers (including my own!!)…long chats with Helen D., Sue G. and Diana C… the invasion of razor scooter…Diana’s ‘Lobby Chat‘ staff newsletter (I kept some…they’re at the front desk)…and celebrating a LOT of great ratings books from KWJZ (yes, we used to kick some serious butt in this market!!!)
Some professional highlights – Vacation-A-Day broadcasts from Maui, Jamaica and Barbados, meeting/presenting Marcel Marceau, hosting a Mexican Riviera cruise for our listeners. Plus, 12 jazz festivals, the Aquarium concerts, too-many-to-count shows at Jazz Alley, R&R and Gavin conventions (some of you old-timers can explain to the youngins’ what R&R and Gavin are), PAWS Walks, the Argosy themed cruises.
Half of my nearly 25 year radio career has been with KWJZ. While in Los Angeles, a two-year run was typical for me before a format flip, so 12 years is something to be proud of. I am especially proud to have worked with Carol Handley, talented jocks, great sales and promotions staff, and such incredible musicians. And also to have met 1000’s of devoted listeners.
Nathan & I will miss the Sandusky family.
Best of success to you all.
Not much more to say except “a very classy exit”. Wrong format, I know, but very well done Dianna.
Better order these while you still can.