Category Archives: Drew’s Ramblings

2017 Memorial Day Sales, Home Depot Ads, Etc.

Memorial Day sales! They’re everywhere! The Memorial Day ads are already blaring from your radio speakers. Who will spend the most money and run the most commercials? The Home Depot seems a likely candidate. Home Depot was radio’s top advertiser during the week including Memorial Day 2016. If you thought you were hearing a lot of Home Depot Memorial Day Sale ads while at the cabin or the beach last year, it wasn’t your imagination. According to Media Monitors, and InsideRadio, The Home Depot ran 71,630 spots between May 30 and June 5!

Lowe’s is another strong radio advertiser of Memorial Day sales. They were in 5th place last year. Apparently, people like to get out and do their home improvements during the final weekend in May. Since Memorial Day weekend is also great time for people to work on their cars, O’Reilly Auto Parts and AutoZone also rank high on this list. One big Memorial Day advertiser of past years that you likely won’t hear much from in 2017 is hhgregg. That company is going out of business, closing all 220 stores. If you do hear any hhgregg ads, it will be for their liquidation sale, now in progress.

As we approach the holiday, what are YOU hearing for Memorial Day Sale ads? One thing for certain: with all these spots running on local stations, it’s a good sign that terrestrial radio is far from dead!

iPhone 7, Headphone Jack 0

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few days, you no doubt are aware that Apple has released the long-awaited iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Like most people, I immediately noticed what the new iPhone doesn’t have: a headphone jack. This is a problem. Especially if you’re an audio junkie like me. Wherever I go, I am constantly streaming radio stations or other sources of music and news. I need a headphone jack.

In fairness, Apple does include a lightning to 3.5mm headphone adaptor at no extra charge. But the added weight is cumbersome. Another problem is that you cannot charge the iPhone 7 while using the adaptor. The preferred option is to use Apple’s new wireless AirPods in place of headphones. That is, if you don’t mind spending an additonal $159. I do.

Me? I’ll keep my tried and true Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime. If the headphones go out, I can buy a new pair anywhere for around $10. If the charger goes out, that’s universally available for less than $10. And since it’s “old school”, it has a removable battery and microSD card slot. Two important features that neither the iPhones nor the newer Galaxy models have. Yeah, I’m cheap. But I’ll stick with what works for me.

Learn from Greta: Make Copies of Your Stuff!

Last week, Greta Van Susteren suddenly departed FOX News after more than 14 years. I didn’t see that one coming. Speculation is all over the board as to why she chose to take advantage of an exit clause in her contract. This morning, Greta posted on her Facebook page that she hopes FOX will give back all the personal photos and video from her GretaWire blog. Apparently, she does not have copies of these items.

If there’s one thing I learned in 16 years of broadcasting, it’s this: always, always, ALWAYS protect what is yours! Make backups of anything and everything you use on-the-air. Regardless of how long you’ve worked at a station or how good you are, the day WILL come when you are unexpectedly escorted out of the building. If you’re lucky, you’ll be given a box and a few minutes to grab what you can on your way out the door. After your departure, the first thing the company will do is delete all reference to you from the station website, Facebook page, etc. All of your passwords will be changed and you will no longer have access to anything. It is as if you never existed at that organization. Good luck in getting your materials back once this happens.

I believe Greta is one of the few honest journalists in the business today. I wish her well and hope she surfaces at another network after being “benched for awhile” as she put it. As for the rest of us, let’s make this a learning experience. Always back up and protect your stuff!

Why Do People Confuse Labor Day & Memorial Day?

Labor Day and Memorial Day do have some things in common. They’re both summer holidays. They are both observed on Monday. Most people get both Labor Day and Memorial Day off from work. If you worked in radio back in the day, this was definitely NOT the case! But that’s fodder for another of Drew’s Ramblings on a different day.

Labor Day and Memorial Day are actually opposite holidays. Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer while Labor Day signifies the end. More importantly, these holidays are designed for completely different purposes. Labor Day was created to honor working people. Memorial Day is a day to pay tribute to those who died while in the military and serving our country.

I am amazed at the number of people who confuse these two holidays. Every Labor Day, people will ask “What are you doing on Memorial Day?” Or, the ever popular “Do you have to work on Memorial Day?” On Memorial Day, of course, they inquire as to Labor Day activities. I guess for many people, both of these holidays are simply a day to be spent grilling burgers and drinking beer. Kinda sad when you think about it.

For the record, Labor Day is observed on the first Monday in September. Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May. When Memorial Day rolls around next year, take notice of how many people make reference to “Labor Day.” It ain’t pretty, friends.

The GM Who Forgot His Own Station’s Frequency

I was talking to a long time radio buddy yesterday. As it often does, the conversation turned to owners, program directors, and general managers whom we had worked for back in the day. There was a small station in our area who had a notorious GM. This guy really loved the bottle. His drinking escapades were well known throughout the local community as well as in radio circles statewide. His frequent tirades and outbursts were legendary. I won’t mention any names so as to protect the guilty.

In the late 1980s, cell phones had just become the latest status symbol. The GM had one installed in his car. Which meant he would now call the station every half hour to “check in” and make sure everything was okay in his absence. One day, he heard a song that he didn’t care for at all. He immediately hotlined the jock and demanded to know why he was playing “this (expletive deleted) hard rock!” His station’s format was a blend of country and 1950s/60s oldies. The song which had drawn the ire of the GM was a classic rocker. Jock insisted he was not now, nor had he ever played the song in question. GM continued: “You’re a liar! You’re fired! Get your (expletive deleted) and get your (expletive deleted) outta here. I’ll be there in 10 minutes!”

Upon arriving at the station, the GM was greeted in the parking lot by the PD. His car was still running. PD asked what the problem was. While the GM was ranting and raving, the PD glanced at his car radio. He then said “Uh, (GM’s name), you’re listening to ninety five point NINE. We’re on ninety five point FIVE!” 95.9 was the frequency of the classic rock station located about 30 miles southeast.

GM enters the building. Walks into air studio and mumbles something about “you can stay” to the jock. GM then disappears in his office and closes the door without saying another word.

Hurricane Katrina Remembered 11 Years Later

Ocean_Pointe_June_2007

11 years ago today, Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Whenever August 29th rolls around, it’s a sad day of remembrance and reflection for everyone who was affected. Especially those who lost friends or family in this massive storm.

I wasn’t there, but I came way too close for comfort. I left 27 days earlier. If I had stayed, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. The apartment complex where I had lived for the past few months was located right on Front Beach in Ocean Springs. It was completely destroyed. I’m sure you remember seeing TV news footage of the Biloxi/Ocean Springs bridge. Nothing remained except support pillars and broken slabs of pavement. That bridge was less than 1 mile from my place. I used to walk across it several times per week.

Even though this was prime beachfront real estate, it remained undeveloped after the hurricane. There were plans for condominiums. The condos were actually planned before the hurricane. But after Katrina, the cost of insurance became astronomical, IF you could get insurance at all. This photo is where my apartment stood. Two years later, it looked exactly the same as it did after the storm. Five years later, it was still undeveloped. I haven’t been back to visit since 2010. But I’m guessing it looks pretty much the same. Hurricane Katrina was a horrible experience for everyone involved, both directly and indirectly.

Kmart In-Store Music Tape Christmas 1974

Here is one of the most bizarre things I have ever come across on YouTube. Someone has unearthed a reel-to-reel tape containing Kmart’s in-store Christmas music from 1974:

The music selection changed very little over the years. I worked at Kmart during high school (1980-82) and remember hearing many of these same songs. The “Kmart is all the things a great store should be” jingle was still in use then. Announcer voice sounded the same. “Smoking is not permitted on the sales floor. For your safety and convenience, smoking is permitted only at the snack bar.” By this time, the reels had been replaced with large gray cartridges. They looked like a severely oversized 8-track tape. Playing time was 2 hours. Then, the song sequence would repeat. If you were a Kmart employee, you knew every song on the tape and how often it would play during your shift!

Emmaville Minnesota’s Store Cafe & No-Tel Motel

As a kid growing up in the suburbs of Minneapolis, I always looked forward to weekends “up north.” This meant 2-4 days at our family cabin on Lower Bottle Lake near Park Rapids. The actual amount of time spent there depended on whether or not Dad could get an extra day or two off of work. Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day weekends were the best, of course. In northern Minnesota, nothing beats summer holiday weekends!

One of the highlights of a cabin trip was the Emmaville Store. In those days, it was a simple convenience store with 2 gas pumps in front. If you needed gas for the lawn mower, boat, or snowmobile and didn’t feel like driving an extra 12 miles to Park Rapids, you would stop at Emmaville instead. Later, the Emmaville Café was added to the complex. I was a big fan of their All-You-Can Eat Taco Bar, first on Friday and then Tuesday nights.

No_Tel_Motel

Possibly Emmaville’s most interesting tourist attraction is the No-Tel Motel! No, it’s not what you’re thinking 🙂 Rather, it’s a simple but comfortable 4 unit motel. If a motel room isn’t big enough for your family, they also have a 3 bedroom cabin. Want to rough it without really roughing it? Try the Emmaville Campground. Rates are reasonable and it’s a great place to relax. Last time I checked, motel prices at Emmaville were significantly lower than rooms in Park Rapids.

When you see this sign, you’ll know you have arrived! Next time you’re vacationing or visiting in northern Minnesota, be sure to check out the Emmaville store, café, and of course the No-Tel Motel.

A Day in the Life of a Domino’s Pizza Delivery Guy

Nearly every radio person has had other jobs at one time or another. Sometimes, this is to supplement the ridiculously low radio salaries. Other times, it is because one is “in between radio jobs” (the polite term for “I got fired”) and needs money NOW to pay the bills. As was the case with me back in 1986. For approximately 2 months, I delivered for Domino’s Pizza of Shakopee, Minnesota.

Dominos_Name_Tag

This was really not a bad gig. I was given a regular paycheck plus cash nightly as reimbursement for my car expenses. I drove a 1973 Buick Century which only got 12 miles per gallon, but the price of a gallon of gas in 1986 was only 90 cents. It all worked out. Delivering pizzas was still a safe way to earn a living back in those days. Saturday nights were the best. Most of my deliveries were to house parties. People would invite you in and tip you well. There was no shortage of drunks making “bad orders” (nobody home) on the weekends, so lots of free food for the crew to enjoy. If a pizza was undeliverable, it came back to the store and we got to eat it! “Crew pies” were a Domino’s Pizza fringe benefit that we all looked forward to. Oh, and the free name tags 🙂

Something New: Drew’s Ramblings!

Even true Radio Geeks like us have lives beyond radio…right? Because life in the radio world is kind of slow right now and there’s not much going on, I have created a new category topic: “Drew’s Ramblings.” Alternatively, the long title could be “Drew’s Irrelevant Non-Radio Ramblings.”

Consider this the “pot luck” of Radio Geek Heaven. You never know what’s going to turn up on here! The only stipulation is that it will NOT be about radio. If I come across something that I think may be interesting to the group, I’ll post it here. I’m 52 now, so I figure I better start posting this stuff while I can still remember it all!