Stars comes and go. Radio remains.
After nearly ten years in the radio business, I would’ve never imagined I’d cover so much history in the entertainment community. I’ve started to realize three things: life is short, fragile, and the life you’re given is as real as it gets. With the recent death of Whitney Houston, a world renowned entertainer, I started to reflect on the legends lost over my young radio career. I was on-air when we lost Luther Vandross, Barry White, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Teena Marie, Heavy D, Don Cornelius, James Brown, Etta James, and other notables that I’ve probably overlooked. Not to sound opportunistic or cynical, but when we lose a celebrity this becomes a huge moment for radio to shine. One major market programmer brought up a good point, listeners turn to radio during those heartbreaking moments to seek validity, remembrance, and vocal expression. Another programmer mentioned “suicidal celebrities..please not on the weekends”. Both thought-provoking statements and the fuel behind why I work harder during moments of celebrity bereavement for my listening audience.
When news broke about Whitney late Saturday afternoon (2/11/12), I was in the bed resting after a long 50 hour work week. Without a doubt I jumped up, threw some clothes on and ran to the station. We had a part timer on-air, I instructed him to discard the current format and go all Whitney and we carefully dissected the information with great care. I bounced from the production studio, to the office, then back to the production studio several times to make sure our Sunday and Monday morning would have superb coverage too. I quickly mixed down production material with our voice guy and banged out some good tribute promos. When it was all said and done, I was proud of my accomplishments and spent most of the day Sunday monitoring the coverage of other stations in the market (or I should say the lack there of)..I anticipated the lack of coverage from some Memphis stations, but the sweet reward was that our listeners were chopping at the bit to get on-air with our jocks Sunday and Monday. It wasn’t hard to pull off and I know my staff’s dedication to honor Whitney will pay off in PPM results. I’ve seen this happen on numerous occasions, both in the Memphis market and other larger markets as well, radio PPM meters go crazy as listeners rely on us for our immediacy. As morbid as it may seem, I even drafted a celebrity death station policy (not only for the moment, but for the next annual tribute as well)..
So, if you refer to the statements from two highly competent programmers that I mentioned early in this article, I side more with the PD who has the “roll up your selves and get busy” attitude vs. please don’t crook on the weekends, because my hands are tied.