I met a stand-up comedian Saturday night; he’s a hard-working grind-it-out performer who spends more than half of the year on the road and the rest of the year writing new material. Within every 12-month cycle his act is completely new. He was in town visiting a friend and found his way to Jazzi’s Steampunk Cigar Company, where my wife Christina and I are members, and I was killing an evening while she was at drill for the Army. He’s the quintessential reason I love being a member at Jazzi’s; we meet amazing people from all walks of life, who no matter how different, come together over their bond with the smoke.
As he and I talked, commiserated, and shared stories of being performers on vastly different stages, we both acknowledged that we were doing what we love. “Even the travel?” I asked him, and he said “Rob, man…I love being in that hotel room knowing that the reason I am there is that people have spent their hard earned money to watch me…do you love getting up at 3AM,” he retorted. “Of course I do,” I responded, “In the abstract. I mean not every morning is one in which I leap out of bed, but getting up at 3AM is what facilitates doing what I love on the largest stage available in my industry.”
“Morning drive!” He said with a proud and knowing grin, “You the man. Every morning you the man. That’s exhilarating.” It went on like this for a bit until we tried to figure out what we didn’t like about our careers. I mentioned corporate politics but simultaneously pointed out that since I own the show, I have the ultimate last say so I can’t really complain. He mentioned that some club owners can be shady but pointed out as well that he simply has the power to never return once he discovers their true nature. We talked about employees and payroll and social media and every time embraced all of the so-called negatives of what we do, circling back to all of them being minor nuisances of being blessed to do what we passionately love.
I left, feeling as I usually do when we leave Steampunk; human and connected, something I rarely get elsewhere. But I also felt like he and I missed something; and on the drive home it hit me.
His name is confidential because what happens at the cigar club stays at the cigar club; but I can tell you this; he’s mostly a non-vulgar, slice of life style comedian who works everything from comedy clubs to mega-churches and seems to genuinely love his life. As I drove home, I realized the thing he and I shared the most was our passionate loyalty to the people responsible for our success. We discussed being asked for selfies or being “interrupted,” during dinner by a fan and how much of a burden none of it is; and anyone that thinks otherwise is a selfish ass who doesn’t deserve what he or she has. I’m talking to you Jennifer Lawrence…and Chris Pratt…and Amy Schumer…especially you, Amy…you aren’t even remotely talented, funny, nor creative and should fall to your knees daily anytime some moron claims to in any way enjoy your stolen material you miserable cu…oh, sorry. Tangent.
And that’s when it hit me. The thing I hate about my career, as corny as it sounds, is letting the fans down or leading them astray.
In almost 30 years of doing personality radio, the feeling of failure has never left me after what I consider to be a “bad segment.” The crippling effect it used to have on me subsided a long time ago when I realized that all I can do in those moments is do the best possible segment when we go back on the air in 5 minutes. Plus, I’ve realized over the years that what I consider to be “bad,” is often embraced and loved by the audience. But it still bothers me for a moment.
What’s far worse than that, though, is finding out that a fan genuinely is let down or disappointed; and what makes it even harder is when I can’t do anything about it.
Enter the mysterious case of disappearing RADvertisers. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it kills me; because I know someone is going to get screwed. To be clear; advertisers don’t leave us, we fire them.
In the last 10 years, not one single advertiser has left us of their own volition. Why? Because we get results. Our fans are rabidly loyal and take our word as our bond and happily patronize the places we tell them about, because they trust us.
Because of that, we vet the hell out of someone who wants to partner with us, and we’re usually good at it. Unfortunately, there are still charlatans amongst us. And professional cons, frauds, and liars are really good at masking who they are. Thus, sometimes, we find out the hard way. Worse, we might find out after we’ve already branded our name to theirs and exposed them to our loyal fans. Oh, sure, we eliminate all traces of their existence from our airwaves and online platforms immediately, but the effect of their jingles or our words praising them is still there; and still powerful.
The conundrum is that the old adage is true; there’s no such thing as bad advertising. To loudly announce that we are no longer working with, for example, Fannie’s fish market, is to give Fanny continued name recognition. Additionally, we’d have to make that announcement at least as many times as we had played their commercial previously to truly spread the word; and that, frankly, is just bad, boring, radio.
So, the entire point of this Soapbox is a little soul cleansing; fueled by new comedian friend and a separate email I received over the weekend from an upset listener having a bad experience with a FORMER Radvertiser.
If you find yourself compelled to visit a business you have heard about on the RAD show, I implore you to please, first, go to our “partners” page online (https://radradio.com/rad-radio-partners/) and confirm that they are still listed. If they aren’t, don’t patronize them. If you find yourself asking “hey why don’t I hear that jingle anymore,” or “why don’t they mention that company anymore,” know that the answer is that we’ve uncovered a lie, a fraud, or someone we refuse to have our name associated with one moment longer and that there’s a rock solid reason for it. And know that we are sorry we ever recommended or partnered with them.
We genuinely do the best we can; but sometimes the cretins win. Let’s all work together to not let them.