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Saturday, April 12, 2014

End of an era...

I put an old friend to sleep.  No, not a four legged friend, but a daily journey that I had taken for more than a decade.

And truth be told, I think the journey was finished a long time ago.

When I left the People's Radio Network/United Broadcasting Network back in 1996, a number of affiliates asked if I'd continue doing a show for their stations.  Initially I did a midday hour that played off the name of my voiceover business, Voice At Large.  But after a time I retooled the show for an early morning hour, and rechristened the show American Sunrise. Just before November 11, 2001, I had the show structured and ready to go...and the challenge of 9-11 was our first crisis.  At that time our Internet distribution was brand new.  I don't think anyone else was doing it.  Today it's all the rage.  We taught stations how to use FTP and now it's second  nature to a lot of people, particularly for morning features.

I don't know exactly when things started to slide dramatically, or if I just was tired, but Sunrise hadn't really been the same since 2012 when my wife and I divorced.  Or if it was the taking off of  One thing was for certain:  If I had been paying attention, I would have really noticed what happened when I went to the Philippines in 2013 to get married.  That, in retrospect, should have told me all I needed to know.

Our readers were so excited to know about my trip, our marriage, our honeymoon.  I blogged about the trip while still covering events a half a world away.

Listeners to American Sunrise said...and asked...nothing.

I came back from the Philippines, got someone on to do us new voice work, new bumpers, the whole nine yards.  I thought, yeah, let's do this.

We had a bump when we came back in November, but it went away fast.  I added a show blog with links to the stories we talked about.  A blog that no one visited.  The stats to the web page -- where people used to listen regularly, showed the truth.  No one was listening.  Meanwhile our daily online blog about local news was seeing explosive growth.  2000 to 2500 unique visitors a month, averaging 7000 visits and 16000 pageviews.  In a county of 10000.

Three weeks ago I got the renewals for the web page and hosting.  I looked at how much it was going to cost, and how much revenue we hadn't made for a long time, and decided to hang it up.

I gave the notice to my stations, and most of them were sad, but they understood.

I considered doing a last show and a goodbye.  I didn't do it.  Instead I played comedy cuts.  I accidentally played a very funny Shelley Berman bit.   But forgot that in that bit Shelley said "G*d d@mn it."  In the old days the phone would have rung off the hook.  No one said anything.  Good or bad.  I knew at that moment I had made the right decision.

It's sad when there's no room for the middle of the road anymore, and truthfully, we strode that middle very well.  I was the last holdout of the Reform Party line.  Fiscal conservatism, but socially libertarian.  We used to call that kind of thinking Freedom.  But too many of the Conservatives in America today hold to a strict Christian viewpoint, and can't tolerate anyone who tolerates Gay Marriage, social libertarianism, personal responsibility (as opposed to legislated morality) or anything that doesn't toe the Christian Conservative line.  The same people who want to enforce a Christian America are the same ones who rail against Islamic Law, failing to realize that both Islamic Law and Christian Law are both abhorrent to a free American Society.

Last week I began doing a 15 minute morning news and commentary on our local station here.  I know it can't hurt our online operation, and will probably cross-pollinate each other to build something special.

I know people are listening.  It's refreshing to have people stop me on the street and wanna know what I was thinking when I said that.

And after all, isn't that what it's all about?

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