Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Some things to read ...
Here is some of the latest news from the 2008 campaign.
Dan Rather and Joe Klein talk about the primary campaign and the piles of money needed to compete: ["Rather: $1B is the one to beat in 2008"].
Congressional Quarterly has this about the cost of security: ["Tab for 2008 Candidate Security Could Soar, But Secret Service is Mainly On Call"].
Broadcasters are gleeful over the cash that they'll be getting, especially with a front-loaded process: ["Primary Cash Up For Grabs"].
Chuck Todd is writing for MSNBC now. Here is his latest on the campaign: ["2008 is not one campaign"].
The Hill, Todd's former employer, is reporting that Gov. Mike Huckabee is being pushed to run for Senate in his home state, noting that long-time Democratic Senator Mark Pryor is retiring: ["Some push for Huckabee to run for Senate, not president"]. Huckabee, the only Baptist minister running, isn't really turning on the evangelical sect. So, maybe he will opt for this instead.
As I have stated before, I don't want to get into national polls. They are really irrelevant. But there are some numbers deep inside this one which reveal some interesting trends - including evangelicals supporting pro-choice Republican Rudy Giuliani: ["Blacks Shift to Obama, Poll Finds"].
This guy says if Ralph runs again in 2008, he'll be with him: ["Pariah or Prophet?"].
The Peace & Freedom Party of California is looking for a candidate: ["Peace and Freedom Party Begins 2008 Presidential Search"].

Here are some state polls from Strategic Vision which show no surprises this early in the process.

In Wisconsin, Democrats leaned this way: Clinton 36, Obama 21, Edwards 17, Undecided 15, Clark 5, Biden and Richardson 2, and Dodd and Kucinich with 1. Republicans went with Giuliani at 26, Thompson - the former governor there - at 22, McCain and Undecided with 15, Gingrich 8, Romney 6, Brownback and Tancredo 2, with Gilmore, Hagel, Huckabee and Hunter with 1.

In Georgia, Giuliani led Republicans with 28, McCain 21, Undecided 16, Gingrich 14, Romney 8, Tancredo 4, Huckabee 3, Brownback 2, with Gilmore, Hagel, Hunter, and Thompson at 1. Democrats went with Clinton 28, Obama 25, Edwards 18, Undecided 17, Clark 5, Biden 3, Richardson 1, and Dodd and Kucinich with 1.

Lastly, these bloggers are also keeping track of things:
["Lost Nation"]
["2008 Central"]

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Dow slide
Wow, how about that Dow Jone Industrial Average slide today? I was totally clueless to the slide until earlier this evening when I saw a post on Drudge about it. Surprisingly, I didn't receive an update from the WSJ, which regularly sends out alerts via email. However, they have this pretty good overview of what the hell happened here, with a really cool chart too: ["Markets' Slide Spotlight Risks"]. This will probably be in tomorrow's newspaper since it is postmarked with that date. Loudmouth Jim Cramer has his take here: ["How the System Failed Us Today"]. And interestingly, Drudge is even being blamed for some of it: ["Did the Drudge Report Help Tank the Stock Market?"]. Also from Drudge, here is YouTube video from CNBC, the business cable station, of the plunge: ["YouTube"].

Tonight, I got to watch a bit of Frontline's "News War: What's Happening to the News," the second of two parts, about the dismal state of the news business. I missed the first part, but this week's edition highlighted some of the issues surrounding the cuts at the Los Angeles Times - with editors standing up to the companies executives who are trying to gut staff while returning 20 percent returns. It will be on Thursday on NHPTV's Channel 11 in Durham and then on PBS's cable stations overnight and tomorrow.

In case you missed it, WCVB-TV's "Chronicle" did a bit on the history of local radio in New England and it is now on Google Video: ["Happy Birthday Radio"]. It has some pretty cool old radio audio from the past.

One of the reasons I haven't been blogging a lot is because I've been reading a lot lately and job hunting aggressively, which is taking a lot of my free time. I hope to catch up on some things later this week. I have a slew of links to put up. Interestingly, the links become less relevant as time goes by. Funny how that happens.
Romney's Giuliani moment
The Boston Globe is reporting this morning that they have received a 77-slide PowerPoint presentation on Romney's campaign strategy noting that the "electorate is not where we need to be to succeed": ["Document shows Romney's strategies"]. Nice catch. Nice catch indeed. Running against France. Too hilarious. Dan Kennedy calls the campaign "morons" and is suggesting that the Globe put the entire thing on the Web: ["Apparently not a parody"].

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Democracy in Action?
I received an email last week about this event, which seems pretty interesting especially in light of how the presidential candidates are running their events so far in the process. I meant to post it when I first got it but I spaced it. What can I say, I've been busy. So, here it is now and hopefully any of the people who read this blog on a regular basis who might be interested in going will go and check it out:

On Sunday, Feb. 25, from 5 to 9 p.m., a Democracy in Action Conference will be held at Colby-Sawyer College's Ivey Center in New London. The event will take place at Clement Hall. The conference is "participatory training on how to effectively question Presidential Primary candidates." There will be some issue workshops too. The event is sponsored by a bunch of local leftist groups: PrioritiesNH, NH Peace Action, the American Friends Service Committee, the Carbon Coalition, and Colby-Sawyer Coalition for Peace & Justice. For more information, contact Erin Placey at or call 224-2407.

These groups have had at least one of these conferences before. I don't know how the attendance was to that event but if they are holding more of them, it probably went well. But I wonder if this conference is really necessary. Maybe it is. I don't know. I would think that most of us would probably know how to ask a question of a presidential candidate if given the chance.
But the "rockstarization" - yeah, I just made that up - of the presidential primary season, so far, is a bit worrisome. They aren't rock stars - they are public servants. And the whole point of having a "New Hampshire Primary Experience" is to be able to have it. We need to be able to talk to these people, shake their hands, and have more than just a few seconds of time with them [it doesn't have to be much more than a few seconds but it should be]. The experience needs to be more than just a passing, fleeting moment, and not just for the connected and the contributors. And not in some phony controlled atmosphere like a "listening" session or an auditorium [like any of these people are really listening to us anywho ...]. Not this early in the process at least.
But that is what we are getting right now ... with press releases even fibbing about the turnout numbers [one of the oldest PR tricks in the book, BTW ... like somehow we can't see it or we don't know how many people fit into the Christa McAuliffe Auditorium at CHS, Hillary Clinton campaign ...].
Compare that process to the house party on Ridge Road in Concord which Joe Biden attended before Christmas.
At that event, Biden actually spent about 30 minutes working the room, shaking each person's hand, and chatting with them for a bit before talking to the gathered crowd in the living room. Guess which one the attendees were probably more impressed with - squinting at Clinton from 30 rows up or looking Biden in the eye?
Now don't get me wrong, this isn't an endorsement of Biden over Clinton - or anyone else - in the Democratic primary. Bloggers haven't nicknamed Biden "Sen. Joe Biden, D-MBNA" for nothing. In my mind, on some of the bad things over the last seven years, like the Iraq invasion vote, the Patriot Act vote, and the Bankruptcy Bill, both are unacceptable elected officials [according to a Google search, Clinton blew off the bankruptcy vote, an even worse act than showing up and voting for the thing, in my mind]. In fact, thinking about it now, Biden is probably worse, having voted for a lot of bad legislation forwarded by Hillary's husband: NAFTA/GATT/WTO, the first terrorism bill put together after the Oklahoma City Bombing, and the 1996 Telecom Act, which deregulated and created consolidation in the media industry and at the same time, destroyed local broadcasting [Hillary wasn't in office for any of these things but she was publicly supportive of them].
But the point isn't primary politics or public policy; it is primary process. And at least Biden and others are talking to folks one-on-one while Clinton is having stadium shows, literally out of touch with the voting public.
Crossposted at Area603

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

We Are All Jose Padilla
Guest Perspective/Ralph Lopez

Dear Americans,
I write this to you in outrage as an American. It has just been released that Jose Padilla, an American-born
citizen with the same rights as you or I, who was never charged with a crime, given a jury trial, or any other of his birthrights under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, has been tortured to insanity during his time of detention, most of it incommunicado by order of George W. Bush, president of the United States.
As the government has declared the prerogative of doing this to any American, it is nothing less than my duty to declare my resistance, and to declare that I have not relinquished my Bill of Rights, be it for the War on Terror or any other war. In the event of an arrest in which I am guaranteed the rights that are mine by birth as an American, I will go peacefully. In the event of an arrest in which it is intended that I be declared "enemy combatant" by the federal government, I am bound, by the blood of all those who died on soil bearing names like Omaha Beach, Utah Beach and Juno, to resist with all the force at my disposal.
I will not fail the courage of forefathers who died fighting forms of government which claimed the same prerogative which George Bush now openly and arrogantly claims. I know full well my country's glorious history of loving freedom, and my generation will not fail in its turn.
The politicians will make light of this momentous revelation on Padilla, and feign ignorance of the import. But We the People understand full well the meaning. Now we are all Jose Padilla. The press has belittled the importance of the historic Padilla case and feigned ignorance of the import as well. But our rights will not be made a mockery of.
I am granted great privilege by history and coincidence of birth to be alive and an American at this time of greatest peril to this Constitution, which embodies the greatest hope against darkness and tyranny that the world has ever seen. It is a privilege to be alive to participate in her defense with all the blood and treasure that are mine to command. No president has attempted what George Bush has attempted, unlimited authority not only to detain, but to torture to insanity as well, without trial, without charge. In the words of our great forefathers, don't tread on me.

Ralph Lopez, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Yale Class of '82

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sunday night 2008 roundup
Here is some of the information circulating tonight.

The Boston Herald has this AP roundup: ["On the 2008 Trail"]. I missed Gingrich on "Fox News Sunday" but he might be correct about the boredom thing. I did catch a bit of Willard on "This Week" and I don't think he did that well. He danced around a lot about previous positions and voting for Democrats just a couple of years before his run at TedK. So much dancing, in fact, that at least one major Republican blogger is dropping Willard: ["I'm Giving Up on Multiple Choice Mitt"]. Ouch!

Al Gore rules out a 2008 run, again: ["Gore rules out bid for US White House in 2008"]. I guess, at this point, everyone should leave Gore alone. Every reporter under the sun has asked him if he is going to change his mind and he hasn't indicated that he would. So, he probably won't.

Here is a pretty good piece about California moving up its primary early, with a surprise as to the real reason why: ["Early primary -- too much, too soon?"]. I do agree that California moving up to Feb. 5 would be a disaster for a long-shot candidate. But, it might not be, especially when you consider the free-for-all which is going on right now. In addition, there is a very liberal streak which runs through California - so a guy like Kucinich might actually get a good chunk of votes. Back in 2004, Kerry pretty much had the thing sewn up by the time California voted on March 3. So, his 64.5 percent of the vote - compared to 20 percent for Edwards and 5 percent for Kucinich - isn't a good indication of what might happen in 2008. Back in 1992, Bill Clinton eked out a win against Jerry Brown, even though he had the whole things sewn up too. Interestingly, in the poll which accompanies the article, 53 percent believe there is a better way to spend the $90 million which is what the primary will cost the state. Wow. Here is a pretty good overview of the situation in Florida - which is also moving its primary up: ["Florida: 'Sunshine' will rise again"].

Friday, February 16, 2007

More 2008 links
First off, congrats to Belmont, Mass. gal Angelique Pirozzi who has been named to Hillary Clinton's Iowa caucus team: ["Clinton Campaign: Announces Iowa Senior Staff"]. I know Angelique has done great work in the past so this is pretty good news for the Clinton team.

It looks as if Gore isn't going to run unless something major happens: ["Al Gore's Presidential Guessing Game"]. By major, I mean brokered convention major. But with as many as 10 candidates and the primary schedule shifting all over the place, this is unlikely to happen.

A Lawrence, KS paper has started a coverage blog for Sen. Sam Brownback: ["The Brownback Report"]. These kinds of feature-like hard news presidential campaign projects have been done for many years. But with the Web, they have become a lot more accessible to people outside a newspaper's circulation area.

Edwards' new N.H. coordinator has been named: ["Edwards picks head of New Hampshire office"].

The Christian Science Monitor has this overview of potential firsts in 2008: ["In 2008 race, many firsts are possible"]. There have been other articles written like this one before. However, the CSM piece has charts!

Giuliani names Mass. team: ["Mayor Giuliani announces Massachusetts Leadership Team"]. While Romney tries to counter some of the bad press he has been receiving in the state: ["Massachusetts Leaders endorse Gov. Mitt Romney"].

Gov. Bill Richardson is the first one to jump on the diplomacy with Iran issue: ["Diplomacy, Not Attacks"]. Is this a play about the issue or an email gathering program?

American Research Group released some southern and western polling numbers earlier this week:

Dems: Clinton 44, Undecided 23, Obama 13, Edwards 11, Clark and Dodd at 3, Richardson and Vilsack at 1.
GOP: Giuliani 31, Gingrich 25, McCain 19, Undecided 16, Romney 3, Huckabee 2, Brownback, Hagel and Hunter at 1.

GOP: McCain 45, Giuliani 21, Undecided 18, Gingrich 11, Brownback 3, and Romney with 2.
Dems: Clinton 33, Obama 24, Undecided 22, Edwards 13, Richardson 4, Vilsack 3, and Clark and Kucinich with 1.

Dems: Clinton 40, Undecided 18, Edwards 16, Obama 15, Biden 3, Clark, Richardson, and Vilsack 2, with Dodd, Gravel, and Kucinich with 1.
GOP: Giuliani 37, McCain 21, Undecided 21, Huckabee 14, Gingrich 3, with Gilmore and Romney with 2.

GOP: Romney 40, McCain 21, Undecided 15, Giuliani 13, Gingrich 6, Hagel 3, Thompson 2, and Brownback and Hunter with 1.
Dems: Clinton 31, Undecided 20, Obama 18, Vilsack 16, Edwards 9, Dodd 3, Biden 2, and Clark, Kucinich and Richardson with 1.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

2008 Link Roundup
OK, it has been a bit of time since we had a roundup. There is a ton of stuff going on. Almost too much stuff. So far, the 2008 campaign is too fast. There are too many candidates. It's too early. All the states are front-loading their primaries and caucuses which means there will probably be two nominees by this time next year. That isn't such a good thing. This process needs to be vetted and, as I've said before, the New Hampshire experience needs to be brought to other states. On to the headlines.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the conservatives. You've got Romney, pulling a Kerry ["Mitt's game plan looking like a flip side of Kerry's"], and other guys like Brownback and Huckabee trying to figure out a way to derail Guy Smiley: ["Brownback, Romney spar for GOP conservative base"]. Willard also gets a pounding from some of his "home" state's elected GOP leaders: ["Mitt's '08 bid fails to win Mass. praise"]. And he also gets beat up by Ginny Buckingham over at the Herald: ["N.H. should shun our fiscal phony"]. Some Jews aren't impressed: ["Jewish Group Blasts Romney Over Launch"]. And Tufts Republicans are mixed about Mitt too: ["Romney announces presidential bid, Jumbos' feelings mixed"].

Giuliani's briefing book makes the Web: ["Rudy Giulani's Vulnerabilities"].

Huckabee continues to get beat up by the Arkansas press: ["Huckabee foes take fundraising head start"],

The Al Gore troops aren't backing down: ["Supporters push Gore to run in 2008"].

Congressional Quarterly has this pretty good piece about the early process: ["'Front-loading' States Bump Forward Presidential Nominating Process Ever Earlier"]. This columnist in Waco makes some good points noting that the third parties haven't even forwarded their candidates either: ["Too early for presidential race"]. Alabama makes a play: ["Early primary would make state a player in 2008 campaign"].

And President Bush even weighs in on the whole thing: ["Bush vows he won't be 'pundit-in-chief'"]. Yeah buddy, on the way to the rubber room with all this Iran talk.

["Kaine to Back Obama's Bid for the Democratic Nomination"]
["McCain steals endorsement from Romney's backyard"]. Payback is a bitch, I guess.
Rep. David Dreier goes with Giuliani.

I'm not going to post any non-state polls. National polls are useless. They don't show the voters, pundits or junkies anything. The primaries are about winning states. The final election is about winning states. So random, national popularity polls are just a waste of money and time. Therefore, I'm not going to post them.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

RAB07, Day 3

Well, it was another long day of great events at the RAB convention. Because I got up and out late and the Quality Inn shuttle was on another route, I missed breakfast. But at least I was able to get a glass of juice and hear keynote speaker Jon Coleman of Coleman Insights of North Carolina talk a little bit about the impact of radio commercials on listening audiences. He threw out a ton of numbers about audience retention during ads with a case study performed on Houston radio listeners. With a new PPM system, the Arbitron rating system tracked how people listened to radio in that market and it found that even with advertising breaks as long as six minutes, 92 percent of radio listeners didn’t change the channel when the ads came on. This goes against what agencies and even radio programmers perceive to be as the norm, closer to 60 to 65 percent. Arbitron’s new PPM, or Portable People Meters, is a new way of measuring ratings, which can track exposure to any broadcast signal. The Arbitron Web site describes the PPM as "The Portable People Meter is a mobile-phone-sized device that consumers wear throughout the day that works by detecting identification codes that can be embedded in the audio portion of any transmission."
I’m totally fascinated by data and behaviors so I found this conversation really intriguing even though I didn’t take any notes. I’ve seen the presentation previously and knew that I could just post the study here on the site later on today.
If you are interested in reading the entire study, click here: ["What Happens When the Spots Come On"].

There weren't a lot of roundtable discussions at RAB but I did get to attend one with three different female general sales managers talking about how they got into the business and what they look for in sales reps. "Advice from the A-Team: Practical Skills for Today's Radio GSMs" was the title of the talk and it was moderated by Erica Farber, the editor of Radio & Records Magazine. The talk was hosted by the Radio MIWs or Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio but Farber was nice enough to note that it wasn't going to be a female-centered talk and we guys who attended would be more than happy to hang around. It actually turned out to be a really good session with a lot of good information.
The three panelists were from three different sized markets but seemed to have similar experiences about just falling into radio. Jacqueline Schillereff of WNOR in
Norfolk thought she was applying for a DJ position when she was first hired as a sales rep. She then had to shift gears and try to convince her future boss that she was cut out for sales. Years later, she is the GSM. Judy Lakin is a GSM from a station cluster in Houston and started out as a marketing assistant. She then got interested in radio sales, working for Clear Channel in Dallas, then a small mom and pop station in Austin - where she earned twice as much money - and then for Cox where she is now. Ginger Nimmons works for East Texas Radio Group of Longview and she went into radio after running her own restaurant for seven years and getting burnt out from the experience. After running into her former radio sales rep. at the grocery store, she was convinced over lunch to try it out and she loved it. Nimmons later realized that she didn't want to be at the bottom of the heap and did everything she could do to get a better position and now, she's the GSM.
The conversation turned to a bunch of different topics including what are the best things to look for in new employees, how do you motivate the team, and tips on how to stay on top of your game.
Schillereff said she thought one of her strengths was her ability to pull people together as a team while Lakin said it was important to always be a leader. Lakin said she stayed on top of her game by multitasking and leading a balanced life while being passionate about her work. Nimmons said she looked for new ideas and also requested more vacation time when she got her promotion so that she was able to have more downtime for herself. Schillereff said discipline and controlling how you act at all times, staying balanced, and exercising. You are the energy you project, she said.
All three agreed that it was important to be a caring boss and to go the extra mile when commending employees for good work.
There was also some discussion about how to deal with a situation when you have a maniac for a boss. Schillereff said in those situations, it was difficult to establish a positive culture in a business environment with a leadership change. Nimmons said there was so much tension at her company when she first started because management had fired the morning team after 15 years on the air and clients were really mad about the situation. However, she saw the entire situation as an opportunity to improve herself. If you want to do it bad enough, you will find out how to isolate yourself from the stress, she said. Lakin suggested weekly meetings behind closed doors with difficult people.

After a good dose of femininity, I thought it was time to get a little masculinity into the program. So I attended "Maximizing Your Revenue," which was hosted by Sean Luce of the Luce Performing Group. I've seen Luce before and he is a really good speaker. Luce is cocksure and has a presence about him that exudes confidence. He's quick and he looks you straight in the eye while bringing home his points. While at the same time, he isn't cocky or arrogant. He does a good job for his clients and he knows it. Luce wants you to win too and you can sense that.
After some bouncing disco music and a quick aerobic workout, Luce got down to business, showing us all about these new campaigns he has been working on to boost radio and Internet traffic in
British Columbia. With an Internet portal, an FM radio station has been able to drive thousands to its Web site and is billing top dollar to advertisers. At the same time, the company has created a marketing program with car dealers and some contests to drive money away from newspaper and into Internet. Luce also shared a number of documents with the group, including his Customer Marketing Profile sheet, to gain access to customers, Honda giveaway promotion, and played a couple of inspirational videos to drive home the point that you can't succeed if you don't give it your all.

After lunch, and a slightly depressing speech by Mercedes Ramirez-Johnson, about losing her parents in a jetliner crash where she was one of only four survivors, I decided to take a break for a bit before the next session, "Survivor: Radio 2007," with Kevin O'Brien of Broadcast Adventures.
O'Brien had a very thorough presentation which he surmised would help us rap up everything after a very productive convention ... and he was right about that.
Some key points: Radio needs new, better, and renewed leadership; Management positions have become less creative and more administrative - while hinting that this should change; and Leadership has no title, meaning everyone should be a leader and should represent the company in a positive manner, from the station manager to the lowly part-time weekend board op.
Change can happen when we least expect it so be prepared for anything, he said. Open your eyes, know what you need to know, keep your skills current, and keep your options open without abandoning your core. He also suggested that selling advertising was a disaster and sales reps. should be more focused on helping clients market their entire business. Get away from "radio promotions" and instead do a "retail promotion." Have customers utilize different ad times with different ads. Use the 60s to tell their story while the short ads can reinforce the company's core message.
Consider the "grief-to-gross" ratio of everything whether it is advertising, prospects or employees, O'Brien said. Some folks aren't worth the time and grief. Think less about the wedding and more about the marriage, whether you are taking a job, hiring a new employee, or bringing in new clients. At the same time, use three words to focus your career: Right, Better, Fun. If you're always doing the right thing, you'll be alright. If you're always doing the best thing, you'll be alright. And if you're having fun, there's no better career.

After the last session there was a wrap up get together at the upstairs bar at the Hyatt, up one floor from the lobby of the hotel. One of the great things about these gorgeous hotels is the architecture. Tons of open glass, waterfalls, and I would imagine, amazing views from the rooms. I got a free beer from one of the stations and sat down for a few minutes to chat with some folks. Most of the people were RAB staffers hanging out just chatting. I later played a game of pool by myself and went over to sit for a few minutes in a lounge area with couches. Before I sat down, I recognized the three people as people I had had lunch with: A guy from Australia, a guy from Idaho, and a woman who attended the seminar separately.
We got to talking about things and about Betsy Lazar's talk from the lunch before. I had mentioned that I had some stuff on my blog and gave the site to the Australian guy. He saw the Politizine name and looked up and said, "You're Tony!" Not realizing it, but I had talked to this guy, Simon Vella, back in December about the NAB and RAB radio conferences. He had read my postings about NAB and wondered if I had any experience with RAB and whether or not it was worth going to promote his interactive wireless company.
The company is called dload []. So both Vella and his American affiliate Richard Rene, came to the event this year to check it out. We all had a laugh about how weird it was that we had all sat together at the lunch previously and we didn't know we had already talked via email. I guess if I was a bit more curious, I would have found that out at lunch. But we were all so hungry I didn't think anything of it.
We talked a little bit about the dload concept - basically, a digital database marketing rental for radio stations about listeners via wireless phones interaction - and some other stuff before they had to take off. I will check out their site when I have a bit more downtime.

Tomorrow: It's Dealey Plaza and the Book Depository and then I head back home.

Friday, February 9, 2007

RAB07, Day 2
Well, Day 2 has been a tad longer than the first day, with a 6 a.m. start for the first session of the day.
On Thursday, I missed John DiPietro's talk, "Surviving & Thriving with the Sales Manager from Hell," because I attended Holland Cooke's talk instead. However, John was nice enough to repeat the bulk of his talk at an early morning session for a handful of folks he called "winners" for just showing up that early to hear him speak. This John DiPietro is not to be confused with the other John DePetro, the alleged "independent man," who was fired from WRKO a few months back for calling Mass. Green-Rainbow Party gubernatorial candidate Grace Ross a "fat lesbian." DePetro has apparently landed back in the cozy arms of WPRO in Providence where he was a talker for quite a number of years. Also interesting is that the DiPietro of RAB once called me after reading some of my comments online at the board about the DePetro situation.
Any-who, DiPietro had some good advice in his talk not only for sales reps. but also managers not wanting to become managers from hell: Commonsense and courtesy; smiling; and not to add caveats and criticism after saying something good to an employee.
I also liked these lines: There is a crisis in the radio industry. When the industry began answering to Wall Street, issues of local control became out of control. He also suggested that if you follow the crowd, you end up in line. Another snappy comment: If everyone does a little bit more a whole lot more gets done. And another: Winners do more than whiners.
To win over customers, sales reps. should learn about the businesses they are trying to sell to and not just with research. Go offer to work in the business with the owner to get a feel for what they are trying to do and what they go through in any given day. He also suggested trying to get appointments with busy business owners during odd hours, like 7 to 9 a.m. or 4 to 7 p.m., with the understanding that just dropping by may not be the best time for the client.

The theme of RAB this year is "Opportunities are on the horizon: High Tech, High Touch, High ROI [or return on investment]" and you could tell that while there is a lot of hope for the business, there is also a lot of fear. But Jeff Haley, the new chairman of the RAB, opened the breakfast with some staggering statistics.
Despite what is being said about radio, 140 million people are listening to radio at any given time in the morning. Sometime during the last 24 hours, 194 million listened while 230 million listened during the past week with another 30 million listening online. And yet, even though 29 percent of a person's time is spent listening to radio, radio only receives 7 percent of the overall amount of money spent on advertising. That is an eye-opening statistic right there. Haley called radio "sponsored audio content" and said with new platforms, integration and innovation, radio should be able to increase advertising by the billions. He also noted that the RAB, NAB, and HD Radio Alliance were creating a synergy between the organizations to increase the size of the industry and preserve its future. The groups will be doing all they can to change the perceptions advertising agencies and marketers have of radio, because it is a strong and effective one-to-one medium which engages listeners emotionally. As one example, Haley pointed to the recent "Don't Almost Give, Give." campaign promotion, to increase awareness about volunteerism and non-profit donations as proof of that. The campaign aired on 500 stations with 22,000 spots and during that time, the give site had a 60 percent increase in Web site traffic.

At breakfast, I didn't eat alone, as sometimes happens. I had a nice chat with some folks from Idaho and later, an RAB VP joined us for part of the talk by Dennis Burrus of Burrus Research Associates. I had noticed his handout sitting on the chair before I sat down to eat and it listed about 60 different study topics he had been involved in. Puzzled, I looked at it saying, What the heck is all this? Burrus' topic was "Futureview: Creating and Sustaining Competitive Advantage" and it was pretty amazing. The basic theme was that there were soft and hard trends and everyone would have to understand what the future situations could be by growing from change.
Why is the windshield bigger than the rear view mirror?, he asked. Well, because the visible future can be predicted. There are known cycles, season changes, etc. which are expected. But analyzing soft and hard trends is different.
Hard trends are based on the physically tangible information, like demographics. For example, baby boomers have most of the wealth and growth of the economy, he said. In the next 10 years, because the boomers are aging, there will be a shift in the stock market. Another example: Government regulation. The government implemented a new policy where corporations have to assume email is a corporate document and must keep a record of it. He wondered how long it would be before the government required companies to record and save all phone conversations since the phone, like email, is more frequently being sent over IP. It could be considered a legal document, he said. Now wonder if you had invested in storage capacity before the implementation of the email backup provision.
Burrus also believes in strategic planning not just to stretch goals or understand finance but to figure out what companies are doing in the marketplace to decommodify their products. Radio isn't an "old media," it is a "timeless media," he said, adding that radio isn't just a device. In times of uncertainty, we must ask what we are certain about, he noted, while adding that the change curve is so powerful that companies had no other choice but to be prepared to see the future for what it is. Make audio the centerpiece of an integrated package of media options but don't base the mission on an inward focus. Companies will survive by integrating their processes - shopping at the mall and e-shopping; radio and Web sites, for examples - while at the same time, serving the customers instead of themselves. Burrus talk was really good and made me think about things a little more deeply than I had previously.

After the breakfast, I attended a talk by Sheila Kirby, of Interep, and Susan Novicki, of Morrison & Abraham in Boston, called "New Revenue in a Digital Age." There was some pretty good stuff here but it wasn't much different from a previous talk I attended by Kirby at RAB last year. Kirby did an overview of the business currently while Novicki talked about some different ways of looking at the future.
Kirby noted that the market was becoming so fragmented with entertainment choices - almost too many - that marketers had to get creative with hope they presented proposals and ideas. However, digital media combined with traditional media can create a myriad of marketing choices, she noted.
Kirby quoted Einstein: "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."
Kirby said while media is in the midst of change, there are both threats and opportunities, with each threat allowing for a counter process - Internet radio can be combated with HD Radio; mp3 sharing can be taken on with sponsored station Podcasts; etc. She suggested that stations not spend money on a "top seller" but instead hire a Web designer to work on creating a site which is user friendly and loaded with content options. On-air staff should have MySpace pages and station Web sites should have blogs and forums to build better relationships with listeners and drive traffic to company Web sites. Kirby noted that AT&T is making $1 million per day on cellphone ringtone downloads and there was no reason why stations couldn't offer downloads. Cellphones will be the ultimate entertainment device, she said, mentioning that CBS has entered into an agreement with Nokia for a "visual radio" interactive program to be installed in some phones. She noted a statistic that 50 percent of Internet radio users were over 35 years of age, and predicted that XM and Sirius satellite radio would merge, a safe bet if you read the trades or WSJ.

I then attended a talk by Kirk Donovan of Donovan Enterprises, a behavioral science from Georgia. The topic was "AdSense: The Behavioral Science of Advertising" and it covered a bunch of stuff. Personally, I'm interested in these kinds of things because I'm interested in what makes people tick and how they react to things. Advertising is a component of that ... making the buyer buy something and why that process happens.
Donovan noted that 85 percent of advertising is ineffective or not as effective as it could be and it has been this way since the dawn of advertising. He used an example of car dealers who spend a lot of money on newspaper ads but were reaching a limited audience. Studies show that only 1 percent of people in the United Sate are looking to buy a car each day. So dealers are spending thousands of dollars on a full-page ad in the paper while only reaching a small percentage of the people reading the paper because the car-buying audience is limited. Car dealers should cut that ad in half and spend the other half on radio to reach more people over a longer period of time than that one page did.
Donovan used a fish analogy to help sales people and managers get more ads: Find out where the fish are and find them for your client. Go after fish with what they want and understand the bait. Also understand that you must move around the lake to find the fish. Also remember how many lines you have in the water. Consumers have so many choices that it is getting harder to influence people. That means that sales reps. have to be more aware of their own skills because the business is changing every day. Nothing will sell the product, it will only tease the customer to come into the store and look at the product. Just because it is a good deal doesn't mean a customer will buy it. But if reps. build realistic expectations they will have retention with clients.

Right before the “AdSense” talk, I ran into Jeffrey Myers of Personal Selling Principles of Maryland and we had a nice quick chat before his talk on profiting from diversity. Myers is one of the good guys in this business. He is always friendly and smiling, and exudes confidence and enthusiasm for radio sales and getting young people involved in the sales field. At the Job Fair at the NAB Radio Show in September, we were seated next to each other and talked a fair amount about the business and other things. I watched how he handled people and promoted his product, along with a Media Sales Institute program he is also promoting. I attended his seminar at the RAB06 event, so I was familiar with his work already before getting to talk to him. It was so good to see him this time around and to hear that he was doing so well.

At lunch, Betsy Lazar, a media and marketing operator of General Motors, gave the key note speech: The Consumer is in the Driver’s Seat.
Starting the presentation off with a Q&A, Betsy put some slides on the large television screens and asked members of the audience some loaded questions: Which car company’s manufacturing plants ranked first in initial quality by J.D. Powers & Associates? Which car company has more models which get 30 mpg to the gallon on the highways? Which car company will have the most hybrid models available in 2007? Which car company was voted the industry design leader by its peers? Of course, the answer to each was GM. And yet, GM was still not seen as a leader in the business by consumers. So, Lazar said, the company is trying to shake things up. We are going to alter our course with a great sense of urgency.
As a marketer, Lazar pointed to a bunch of things which the company was doing to market themselves. They are spending $100 million on radio, which doesn’t include local buys, in order to drive customers to the company’s Web site. The company was using brand positioning for its vehicle lines and using different ways of promoting the company. They are also using creative natural sound – like ones from 911 calls – to promote the companies OnStar service. They also used Sean Hannity as an outlet to promote their quality standards and the number of American workers who work for GM during interviews and links to Hannity’s Web site. They also worked with a station in
Los Angeles to promote a Survivor-like drive across the country, to Miami, with a number of contestants. The last one remaining will win a car. Lazar also presented advertising promotions with WAAF in which the Chevy Cobalt was promoted at beach gatherings and also a DJ in Atlanta doing an ad-lib bit to promote the Chevy Tahoe.
Lazar suggested that radio people think about the end result and not just the starting point. She also made three other points: Increase focus on research and accountability; speed up digital integration; and develop partnerships with other media.

After lunch, I headed over to “Extreme Radio Commercial Makeovers” being presented by Jeffrey Hedquist of Hedquist Productions of Iowa. Hedquist presented a slew of ads for us to listen to and then reconstructed the bad ads into good ads as part of an online contest he hosts called The Sow Ear Awards, the Worst Radio Commercials in North America.
One of the great things about Hedquist’s presentation – beyond the good information – was his dry wit. He was full of clever jokes and light humor which really made the seminar fly right by.
Some of the suggestions Hedquist made were: When using dialogue or scripted banter between audiences, make it realistic. Don’t use station staff … the listeners already know those people. Use actors. Try a one-sided conversation over the phone like Bob Newhart used to do. Don’t use hype or screaming, like car dealers and furniture retailers do. It is more powerful to let the listener have the opportunity to make the decisions. The ad shouldn’t be about the clients, it should be about the potential customer.

Later on, I headed over to the Wide Orbit tech talk to get briefed on their traffic and billing software. I mostly went because they were having a drawing for a free trip for two to San Francisco and there weren’t many people in attendance so my odds were pretty good. I’ve seen the software before and it is pretty impressive. The presentation, however, was a disaster. There were several technical glitches and the VP of sales didn’t seem to have a comfort zone for the product and kinda stumbled through the process and the glitches. It wasn’t all his fault; he was having difficulty pointing to things on the big screen. The woman running the computer presentation seemed to have a better feel for it which is probably because she once worked in radio trafficking.

It was a long day and I got a lot done so I decided to have a quick beer and some munchies and mingle a bit before ending the day.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

RAB07, Day 1
The first day of RAB turned out to be a good one with, not surprisingly, a lot of useful information about what is going on in the business and how to improve the bottom line. The most amazing thing about a lot of this information is that it can be used in almost any sized company and not just in radio.
After registering and checking out the exhibition hall, I grabbed all the latest editions of the trade mags: Advertising Age, MediaWeek, SmartMedia, and Radio Ink, which featured Jeff Haley, the new chairman of RAB, on the cover. I didn't read any of the articles - I will do that Saturday night on down time - but I did take a quick spin through them.
I then rifled through the bag I received to check out all the pamphlets and other materials which were included. Most of the material was stuff I've seen before: Lots of promotional handouts about traffic and billing systems, a whole lotta folks trying to sell radio stations things that they may or may not need, and Holland Cooke's great newsletter, which I should probably subscribe to at some point.
However, there was something different in there this time, a promotional catalog from a company called The Monster Mural. This company produces blank murals for special events which a radio station hangs on a wall and then has kids paint inside the lines. They have birthday themes, patriotic themes, zoo animals, and all kinds of other things. Wow, what a neat idea, I thought. Then I saw the price tag: $500 to $1,200 per kit. For bigger radio stations, this isn't a big deal. But for small ones, it could be. A neat idea though.

I attended three of the seminars. The first talk I went to - "Winning Habits: Getting Back to the Basics of Radio Sales" - was presented by Jerry Frentress of Frentress Sales Training of Louisiana. I liked Frentress' style - humorous and pointed without being overwhelming or obnoxious. Right out of the box, he asked for empathy: He was recovering from a recent stroke and apologized ahead of time if he mangled his words at all. He did trip over a few, but other than that, we would have never known the guy had had a stroke. What a trooper.
Frentress also was nice enough to have his entire PowerPoint presentation printed out for everyone, with blank spaces near keywords so we could guess the answers. Typical sample: "_______ at the phone!" The answer was "smile," with Frentress noting that a receptionist should always smile because you never know who could be coming in the door. While on the phone, sales reps. should pretend clients are in front of them. One rep. he knew kept a mirror on her desk to look at herself to see if she was smiling. That kinda stuff.
"Winning isn't everything. Wanting to win is," he stated, quoting Vince Lombardi. Frentess also stressed improved training, extensive prospecting, and the proper use of body language and communication during the sales process. He said you needed passion and enthusiasm in order to succeed. Do you look like what a business wants to invest in? Are you professional?, he asked.

Rhody Bosley of Bosley & Associates in Maryland presented "Improve Your Closing Ratio" with a bit of wit, a bit of it dry, and a thorough overview of the sales process. Bosley got his start in radio with the late Curt Gowdy at WCCM 880 in Lawrence, Mass. of all places, and then later settled in Baltimore for a good stretch of time. An order a day keeps the boss away, he noted, and then presented some basics about marketing, prospecting, and sales. He then proceeded to The Six Cs of Marketing: Customer, Characteristics of the product, Core Constituencies, Competition, Channel, and Communication, and then explained why each one was important to the sales process.
Bosley noted that if sales reps. ask the right questions, they will come to the right answers to close the sale. He also stated that radio stations are consistently behind the curve when it comes to marketing to retailers. Bosley said that if you walked into any store right now you would find spring items on the shelves waiting to be sold, not winter items. Well, possibly some closeout items. But retailers are looking to sell spring stuff now, not winter stuff.
Upon exiting the meeting, I began chatting with a guy involved with Hispanic radio marketing in Dallas. He said he found Bosley's talk "a waste of time." "I didn't learn anything," he stated. While I thought the talk was a bit dry, I think there was a lot of good information there.

Holland Cooke was next, presenting "Revenue, Right Under Your Nose." I really dig this guy. Since I've seen him on C-Span and at other conventions, I know of his work. He is really funny and pulled out a whole bunch things out of the hat, noting that almost all of them had been done before. Cooke also admitted that the ideas weren't all his own but stations were all using the ideas.
He pitched creative ideas to get dentists on the air, how to and not to promo professional sports teams and how to use gender numbers to promote different aspects of your station. Cooke called repeating Rush and Sean on weekends an insult to listeners with listeners often stating that it seems like programmers are assuming that no one is listening on the weekends. He suggested some of the syndicated home improvement shows or paid programming or brokered time strategies with lawyers and others to boost revenue and localize content.
Cooke had some colorful slides including a bus billboard for a furniture store called Sofa King. The tagline? "Our prices are Sofa King low!" Say that three times fast and you will get why it was so hilarious.
Cooke also went on a little rant about HD Radio, calling it the AM Stereo of our time, or rather, a bomb. There are a 1,000 HD Radio channels but are there 1,000 receivers yet? Noting that the transmitters were extremely expensive, he wondered why anyone would want to buy HD radios to hear multiple channels broadcasting the same old formats. This is something I agree with completely. Cooke pointed to one example of a station which allowed teenagers to come in and broadcast whatever they wanted on the HD channel, no parents allowed. They interacted with a Web site and poof, Very cool stuff. Find him on the Web here: ["Holland Cooke"].

Later, I had a couple of beers and some munchies and got to chat with Cooke for a bit, who was ingratiating and friendly [not surprisingly], along with a Wall Street Journal radio rep. and a guy from ABC Networks, before heading back to the motel.
White all over
Well, I'm on another short business trip. This time, I'm back in Dallas for another radio convention put together by the Radio Advertising Bureau. I went to this one last year and it was also held in Dallas [Three trips to Dallas in less than a year, hmm ...]. It was scheduled to be in New Orleans but Hurricane Katrina ended that and the RAB folks moved it to the airport in Dallas.
It's basically three days of intense training about radio sales, sales management and marketing. I learned a ton of stuff last year and it easily kept me going through 2006. This trip will probably be the last one I take for awhile since I won't be at my current job for long. Depending on where I end up, I may try and get to future NAB shows. The Vegas shows are very impressive - so much to learn and look at. But unless you spend the whole week there, you can miss a lot. Last year, I spent one whole day in a job fair and the rest of the time, I was on the phone dealing with work crap "... the printer isn't working; the Internet's down ..." so I didn't get to take in too much of the show. In addition, taking the five-hour flight from Manch to Vegas pretty much blows an entire day. So, with the big show, you have to plan ahead and take the extra time to get in and settle in so you can take in the entire experience.
The next radio show is in Charlotte, North Carolina in September. I could potentially drive to that one with the family. We also have family in South Carolina, so you kill two birds with one stone. However, that is a ways off. The 2006 Radio Show was less impressive in 2006 than in 2005. Lots of good management training and information but not a lot of vendors or services to learn about.

After thinking long and hard about whether to cancel this trip or not, I decided to go. I had already paid for everything on the trip but meals and cab fare, so what the hay? You can never have too many skills and I've found that training is one of the most important things which workers, especially creative types, can get. It is also one of the things most workers actually never get. In addition, I don't know where I'm going to end up next. So everything I learn here could help along the way. It isn't a bad investment in yourself and since I do things on the cheap, it isn't a very large investment either. I booked a room at the Quality Inn two miles from the Hyatt Regency-Reunion hotel where the event is taking place, The difference in cost? $140. Or, $560 over four nights or about what I paid for the conference admission fee!

The airline trip wasn't too bad. The two empty planes I was on were nice because I had the chance to kinda stretch out a bit and relax. I didn't feel like I was in a can of sardines which is what usually happens. I wonder if that is because I took an afternoon flight out of Manch instead of a morning flight. Just a thought.
I could've done without the two-hour layover in Chicago but it gave me a chance to get a quick sandwich and listen to some tunes on the computer. I really wanted a salad but they were really expensive - one place had a Greek salad for $9.25! I know it is winter but one of the few benefits of globalization is winter produce!
While playing some tunes, I realized that I have almost 2 gigs of songs on my computer, either downloaded from or copied from CDs I have. I couldn't believe all the stuff I have. For the first time in a long time, I sat back and took the time to listen to some of my favorite music. One of the neat things about having downloads versus CDs is that you can skip around a bit. You don't have to listen to one artist for 13 songs. You can listen to two songs and then jump over to someone else. I haven't quite figured out how to properly set up the Windows Media Player playlist function but I will. It will almost be like having a new mix tape every day.
The new Sony in-ear headphones I bought with Best Buy gift cards I received over the last year [thanks Christine and Stacey] blocked out most of the airplane noise. This helps a lot. I probably won't go as deaf as fast. The previous headphones which came with the Panasonic .mp3 player I have were pretty junky - hard plastic which were too big for my ears - so a lot of background noise seeped through. This meant that I had to turn the headphones up louder to hear the music on the plane. With the new ones, I can leave them at a reasonable level. In addition, these new ones have higher bass output which helps to keep the .mp3s from sounding too tinny.
The arrival in Dallas was delayed due to a late takeoff at Midway. A bunch of New York planes were coming through. This pissed off at least one passenger on our flight - a guy with a southern drawl who, before taking off, was bragging on his Bluetooth headset about the 90 minutes worth of drinking he was going to be doing at a local bar before crashing. It was so high school. The guy could be shoveling manure somewhere or digging ditches. He isn't; he's on a plane and will soon be in the bar! Stop complaining already.

One of the neat things about flying across the country is looking out the window at the country. I've noted this in earlier posts which you can read on the "Best of" listings. On previous trips, there wasn't any snow. Sometimes, there was some in the mountains. On this trip? Wow, snow was everywhere. The cold snap across the nation made it white all over, especially when traveling from Manch to Chi-town. As we came in on approach to Midway, the farmland was striking. In contrast to the browns and greens of previous seasons, the landscape of Illinois was almost entirely white, peppered with very small clumps of trees. In some cases, there were rows of trees, usually along a road or signifying a property line or border. All I could think about was all the things which were probably growing over this entire vast space of land. With the exception of fish, almost our entire food supply comes from large tracts of land like the ones I saw on Wednesday. It makes you think about things when you are up in the air looking down on such land.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

2008 Roundup: The Nader Edition
Yup, he's back ... Well, maybe: ["Nader leaves '08 open, slams Hillary"]. It's funny that this story would make headlines today. I was just thinking about Ralph Nader yesterday and how I had not even seen a token story about whether or not he would run again After doing a Google, I hadn't really seen much, just promotion for the new documentary, "An Unreasonable Man." And then, poof, there it is. The token story. I like the fact that Nader noted Sen. Mike Gravel's campaign as an alternative to Hillary and some of the other candidates.
But is Ralph getting soft in his old age? Joshua Franks, the guy who wrote the excellent "Left Out! How Liberals Re-elected George W. Bush," seems to think so, after he finds out that Nader is back hobnobbing with The Nation folks again: ["Unsafe in Any Seas"]. Along with the new documentary, Nader also has a new book, "The Seventeen Traditions," about his upbringing along with tips for modern parents.

McCain gets into bed with the enemy: ["McCain's Advisers Once Made Ads That Drew His Ire"]. There was a bit about this in Vanity Fair or some other place, I don't remember, recently. But with Mike Murphy not available, I guess you have to look elsewhere.

Where's Sen. Paul Tsongas' panda bear when we need it?: ["Clinton Promises to End War if Elected"]. Oh, so this is what Nader was talking about. How Nixonian: Support the war and then campaign against the war with a solution to end the war which probably should have never been approved in the first place. Pathetic. She is like John Kerry all over again. Yikes!

And here's Willard Mitt Romney taking a shot at Hillary about Iran: ["Romney says Sen. Clinton 'timid' on Iran"]. Note to Mitt: Very few people in this country are truly worried about Iran. Do some polling and you'll learn something. The only folks who are worried about Iran are a handful of neocons and defense contractors. The rest of us out here don't give two figs about Iran. In addition, the majority of people of Iran are not interested in war either. They are interested in broadband Internet access, their cell phones, dancing in nightclubs and having a good time. Maybe it is time to come up with a real plan to solve these problems which doesn't amount to killing thousands of innocent people with money our government doesn't have.

Speaking of defense contractors, check out this story about the requested Pentagon budget for FY08: ["Record $622 Billion Budget Requested for the Pentagon"].
“It is the highest level of spending since the height of the Korean War,” said Steven Kosiak, a military budget expert with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a policy analysis organization here.
I missed "Meet the Press" today but John Edwards was on and talked about a lot of things, including health care: ["Edwards: raise taxes for healthcare"]. I'm beginning to wonder about weekend news and whether or not anyone is editing the stories which get logged in. It isn't "healthcare" it's "health care."

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee seems to have a press problem, especially from a couple of locals who know him all too well: ["Arkansas Underdog"].
Mike Huckabee's campaign will be history soon, too, unless he learns to cool it. Which may not be possible for the Huck, given his showman's personality and rhetorical impulses. The man is a Baptist preacher and former radio broadcaster who may secretly yearn to be a stand-up comic. He can't pass up an opportunity to say something that sounds clever at the time, but then comes back to haunt him on Tim Russert's show. Our advice: Be careful out there, Brother Huckabee. Your presidential campaign is one careless wisecrack from being over.
I'm intrigued by Huckabee every since I got to meet him in Newington back in 2005. I found him to be unsettling ingratiating ... like Bill Clinton is ... except I didn't feel like I had to wash my hands after meeting the guy. He has accomplished a lot in Arkansas - especially considering what messes Jim Guy Tucker and Clinton left for him. It will be interesting to see what Huckabee brings to the trail while campaigning.

The New Hampshire Union Leader has an interesting angle ... trying to find office space in Manch!: ["Presidential race for real estate"]. Donna Brazile thinks Gore may run in 2008 after all: ["Gore ex-campaign chief wishes on her star"]. Meehan to leave Congress? That's the rumor: ["Meehan seen on short list for UMass"]. This kinda makes that Massachusetts redistricting piece I wrote a few weeks ago look even more interesting.

Yeah, it's early. But what the heck:

KOTV/Tulsa World in Oklahoma released a poll Saturday showing first, that the continuing mess in Iraq will be a key issue of 2008. On the GOP side, John McCain got 25 percent, with Rudy Giuliani at 17, Condi Rice at 16, and Newt Gingrich at 14. Over on the Dem's side, 28 percent picked Hillary Clinton, with John Edwards getting 23, Barack Obama getting 14, and Al Gore in fourth with single digits.

ARG has polls from Iowa and New Hampshire:

Iowa Dems: Clinton 35, Edwards 18, Obama 14, Undecided 13, Vilsack 12, Biden, Clark and Kucinich at 2, Dodd 1, Richardson 1, Gravel 0.
Iowa GOP: Giuliani 27, McCain 22, Gingrich 16, Undecided 15, Romney 11, Hagel 5, Huckabee 2, Brownback 1, with Gilmore, Hunter, Pataki, Paul, and Thompson at 0.

NH GOP: McCain 27, Romney and Giuliani at 20, Undecided 15, Gingrich 11, Hagel 4, Brownback and Tancredo at 1, with Gilmore, Hunter, Pataki, Paul, and Thompson at 0.
NH Dems: Clinton 39, Undecided 21, Obama 19, Edwards 13, Clark and Richardson at 2, and Biden, Dodd, and Kucinich at 1. Gravel had 0.

Survey USA had this New Hampshire poll earlier in the week: Giuliani 33, McCain 32, Romney 21, Other 11, Undecided 3; Clinton 40, Obama 25, Edwards 23, Other 9, Undecided 3.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Finally, snow!
There is finally some serious snow here on the ground in New Hampshire. After getting a sprinkle here and a dusting there, Mother Nature decided to dump a good portion of white stuff on our lawns last night. This is how it is supposed to look in December AND February. But Thank You for finally bringing some winter beyond just the cold temps.
People I know jokingly referred to Christmas 2006 as the first global warming Christmas since it was balmy. Finally getting a few inches of snow, in February, and I guess we could begin to call this the first global warming winter. We'll all have to just enjoy it while we can because it will be spring soon.
Blogging burnout
Janice Brown has a bit here which we should all take a second look at: ["It's a Crazy World: Fighting Blogger Burnout"].
I meant to write about this before. And, I must admit, I'm guilty, as charged. But I've been busy with other things, like life. I also recently questioned in my own mind, for the first time, what I am doing with my own blog Politizine. Sure, it's one of those silly, philosophical moments. Not to sound like Vice Admiral James Stockdale or anything but What is it? Why is it here? Why am I spending time with it? More on that later ... when I figure it out.
Over the past few months, I've been thinking about how important "time" is, in a general sense. It has been an inner battle: What has to get done, what needs to get done, what should get done, what should get ignored, etc. I've also been thinking about time during the process of thinking about financial budgets, time budgets, organization/reorganization, and how much time is spent doing even the most menial of tasks. Going through an overall life overhaul - which sometimes happens to people when they are thrown into unexpected [or expected] circumstances - brings on these thoughts. It is often looked at as a negative but I've been finding the whole process quite positive.
To be honest, I've never actually thought about time in any way more than the usual cliches: There isn't enough time in the day; life is so short; etc. It is one of the reasons I rarely wear a watch and haven't for about a decade. Sure, I have a phone that has a calendar and set reminders for a day's tasks go off at the correct time. It also has a clock. And I've owned watches in the past. I like them. They look nice on the arm. But I don't really worry about what the time is when I have an electronic reminder. In addition, my mind and body has a magical way of knowing what time it is. I get up in time to get in an early workout almost every morning. No alarm - it's just time to get up. Stomach grumbles? It's time to eat. I don't need a clock or watch to tell me what to do.
I have, however, really begun to think about time in a metaphysical way though. The thoughts have been about more than just being 40-plus, staring at retirement and death, or wondering why I'm still at work when I should be home with my family, etc. It is about being. It is about seconds passing by. It is about feeling fulfilled. It is about the little things and the big things, like quality of life. It is about existence.
Here is a silly example that I've been thinking about: I like eggs, especially for breakfast. But as I was cooking one a couple of weeks ago, I began to think about how long it takes to prepare an egg the way I like to eat them. I like them hard fried, with ham and cheese, melted, on toasted bread, or what is now known as a breakfast sandwich. Each morning after my workout and quickly skimming the papers, I make a sandwich.
But have you ever realized the amount of time it takes to make one of these sandwiches?
I turn the stove on, spray a small frying pan with Pam cooking oil, dash some pepper, and wait for the pan to heat up. It takes a few minutes to get good and hot. I throw some bread in the toaster and set the timer for six minutes [I like the bread toasted somewhere between burnt and not]. When the pan is hot - tested by holding my hand above the pan to feel for heat - I crack an egg and drop it into the pan and it sizzles. I then take a spoon and gash the yoke so it bleeds so it will completely cook through and wait. I then get out a couple of slices of ham and a slice of Swiss and put them on a plate, waiting for the egg to be cooked.
After a few minutes, the egg is finally cooked on one side, I flip it over and then throw on the ham and cheese on top of the egg and cover so the cheese can melt slightly. By now, the toast is done and I take it out of the toaster and put it on the plate and wait. Finally, the egg is finished, the ham is cooked, and the cheese melted. I throw it all onto the toast, cut the sandwich in half, and wait for it to cool a bit before eating. The entire process takes between 10 and 15 minutes. All of this for a sandwich and I haven't even eaten it yet. On Sundays, I try to cook up a brunch-like breakfast, with some Demoulas hash and toast. Sometimes, I will make an omelet instead of frying the eggs, which takes a lot longer than the egg sandwich.
So I'm thinking about all of this the other day - while finally getting to eat the sandwich - and I realize that I'm spending about two hours a week just cooking eggs. That is more than 100 hours a year ... to just cook some eggs. Imagine how much blogging I could get done during that time! Seriously. If I just ate some cereal, it would take me all of 2 minutes to prepare and maybe another 5 to eat and wah-lah, more time!
Last week, I tried something new: I did the dishes which I left from the evening before while the egg was cooking thereby getting two major things done at once! Multi-tasking: The power of a new generation. It still doesn't bring back the time spent preparing the sandwich but at least this way, I get more done. Now if I can just figure out a way to cook the egg, do the dishes, and blog at the same time, I would be golden.
At this point you're probably thinking, How silly is all this? What a waste of time to blog about a fried egg sandwich. But seriously, these are the things that sometimes go through my mind, especially with my new found obsession with time.
I've gone through thinking about these formulas before. The most recent one was during the last gas spike when I was commuting to Massachusetts for work. The car I owned at the time, a miserly Civic, thankfully got about 35 to 38 highway miles to the gallon. This meant I only had to fill the tank up about two to three times a week in order to get to work. When the gas prices went up, the cost of getting to work rose too, without any addition compensation. I began to think about my spending and realized I was spending the same amount of money as a gallon of gas on one Big One coffee at Dunkin' Donuts. Since I was buying two Big Ones per day - one in the morning for the road and one in the early afternoon during a break - I was spending about $4 per day on coffee. That's $20 per work week [$1,000 annually] or about what a tank of gas was going for at the time. All of that on coffee. Yikes.
But I was getting nailed with higher gas prices and needed to figure out how to pay for the extra 30 to 40 cents a gallon. Well, the DD runs went. I started making coffee at home and later, at the office [It helped that our admin found out we could order coffee on our corporate expense account]. Instant savings and the money for the extra gas costs magically appeared.
Now, the larger point is that gas should actually only really be $1.50 a gallon or so and I shouldn't have to cut my coffee expenses to pay for higher gas prices. But I did and it was OK because I can make coffee which is almost as good as Dunkin' anyway.
All in all, time, coffee and gas prices, all get a little intriguing. Balancing out what is important in life is the great puzzle of our lives. Figuring out how to do it successfully, the ultimate goal. When someone figures out how to market all this to us multitasking, multimedia, Type As, I think they will have struck it rich ... and then they can go relax on a beach somewhere earning 20 percent.
Crossposted at Area603

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Lite-Brite Jihad
I'm truly amazed about this Turner Broadcasting prank to promote one of its Cartoon Network programs totally going out of control and the reaction to all of it. But, unlike all the government officials who are outraged by the promotional stunt - and the media excitedly covering the incidents - I'm actually a tad surprised by law enforcement.
It is clear that in the wake of 9/11, government officials have lost all common sense when it comes to these types of things and we clearly have to look at this as a policy and as a people. How anyone - a passerby, a police officer, a homeland security or government official - could confuse Lite Brite boards as a terrorist attack is beyond words. It is one thing to be safe. It is quite another thing to be foolishly safe, holding up traffic throughout Boston to the Lite Brite Jihad, which was clearly a prank or a promotional stunt.
Are we really that scared? Do we have to now force companies like Turner Broadcasting to contact all law enforcement entities to let them know when a publicity stunt or promotional event is going to occur? And why are these guys involved in the marketing of these things being arrested? They were doing a job. Are they the only ones to be arrested, for a promotional gimmick? Will someone at corporate be punished for this or will it just be the freelance marketeers?
Over at the list, a debate has been raging about FCC licenses and other things related to punishing the network for this prank. Since they are a cable network - and not a broadcast entity - the FCC is going to have some difficulties with that. But, it was an interesting discussion. One person did note, after I questioned the dragnet, that "Someone called WBZ radio tonight and said IEDs have four parts: power, switch, low density explosive, and high density explosive (something like that). These devices had the first two, at least. Supposedly one of the devices looked very convincing." Others likened this to the "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast.
One good thing which has come out of all of this is the fact that homeland security and law enforcement officials quickly moved to prepare everything for what seemed to be a legit concern. Congratulations to them. In some ways, we can all be thankful that all of these preparations have proven to work. But I just wonder if this is actually the way we want to go in America.