A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

If you work in media and live in Memphis, last week was a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad week. On Tuesday, we learned the Commercial Appeal let go 17 more employees, perhaps in a cleanse before they sell to Milwaukee’s Journal Media next year. Included in this purge were longtime reporter Lela Garlington and more recent hires Timberly Moore and William DeShazer. Award winning photographer Karen Focht was also cut.

Thursday brought the latest revamp of the printed-paper complete with a “We’ve Changed” headline. Yes, you changed but it’s a case of too little and too late.

On Friday, Entercom abruptly changed formats on 94.1 from Classic Hits to Country and in the process let go on air talents Willie B and long time Memphis favorite Steve Conley. Just over two years ago, this same station removed another fan favorite, Karen Perrin, saying the station was taking a new direction. As a “power listener” of the station, the only change I noticed was a tag line, “Your Life, Your Music.”

Both broadcast radio and print media have had a hard time adjusting to the new digital world. Print hasn’t figured out how to compete online and still make any money. Radio has a similar issue in that almost any music can be heard online without advertisement at little or no cost. Getting that coveted 18-34 demographic is harder and harder to do when that age group has grown up streaming music.

Unfortunately, some really great journalists and broadcast talents are suffering because the corporations running their businesses haven’t caught up with the changing landscapes.

Instead, the paper will continue to cut good people only to find that investigative journalism suffers and Entercom’s 94.1 will become the fourth country music station in a market that can really only handle one. Don’t forget, Memphis is the capital of the Delta, where Elvis and rhythm and blues rule. Leave country to middle and east Tennessee.



GET READY MEMPHIS! Great ad campaign or just annoying?

ImageFor weeks and what felt like months, Memphis radio listeners have been subjected to a huge radio buy running a commercial about a guy intrigued by billboards up around town saying “It’s About Time” and “Get Ready Memphis.” He prattles on about how he can’t wait to find out what it’s all about and the ad runs so often, I think I’ll scream when it comes on.

Since the campaign started a few weeks before Easter, I assumed it was for a Christian organization.  It reminded me of an ad campaign that ran in Memphis and all over the country in the late 1970’s called “I Found It.”

It had bright billboards all over town proclaiming “I Found It” and I think it even had a smiley face. Radio ads backed it up. When the reveal came, the “it” was Jesus and the organization behind the campaign was Campus Crusade for Christ. They came to our door at home to “share what they found” and my hilarious mother told them, “We are Episcopalians,” before slamming the door in their faces.

So when Easter came and went without a reveal, I was curious. Maybe this was a civic organization promoting a better way for Memphis. It could be promoting civic pride and love for Memphis. Okay, I can get behind that, even if the commercial annoys me. I’m all for anything positive for our city.

This morning, the reveal commercial began running and the campaign is for a car dealership. I won’t say who they are because I refuse to give them any more publicity, but if you live in Memphis, you know who they are and probably bought a car from them before, I have.

I don’t know who their agency is, but I’d be embarrassed to be a part of that team.

What could have been a good way to bring a city together ends up being a crass way to get people to go to a revamped car sales website. Gross.

And I know there are those who will say any ad is a good ad if people are talking about it and I’m talking about it. I couldn’t disagree more. Maybe there was a time when that worked. Today’s consumer is too savvy for that. They have grown up having ads pushed down their throats and have learned to discriminate. That’s why social media has become what it has.

People look for community and for messages they can trust. Get Ready Memphis? And it’s for a new way to buy cars?

What an effing disappointment.

Through the eyes of our kids

Meet my daughter Yates and her BFF Ciara. In this picture they are dressed up to go Trick or Treat last Halloween. Like most best friends, they spend the night at each other’s houses, they giggle at things this mom doesn’t get, they have cute catch phrases they say simultaneously and they finish each other’s sentences.

They are 9 years old.

As most 9 year olds, they have been taught in school all about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, but they do not understand how his death in the city of Memphis ripped this place apart. Nor should they. They deserve to live in a community that embraces them and all its children.

Instead, they live in a community that created two school systems that represent the best and the worst of those who live in the city and those who live in the county.

Over the last few months, since the Memphis City School board voted to surrender its charter, I have read a lot of the worst side of this community as people comment on Facebook and Twitter. Frankly most of the comments have been downright hateful. The adults in this community have resorted to name calling, race baiting, political maneuvers and lawsuits to “do what’s best for the children.”

Of course, often one’s view of what is best depends on your address in Shelby County.

I am a Memphian.

Born in Methodist Central Hospital. Reared in Central Gardens. Educated first in a small Episcopal school down the street from my house and a graduate of Memphis Central High School.

Although my address today is in Germantown, when people ask where I am from I say Memphis. Not Germantown, not Shelby County, Memphis. And I love Memphis.

My daughter and her best friend attend a Shelby County School. They love their school. It has wonderful teachers, a strong administrative staff, lots of activities and highly involved parents. It’s the kind of school I wish for all students in the community.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a school like ours and they should.

We have an opportunity today to do what is best for all the children by working together for the future. No one has all the answers so set aside your fears and listen.

To those in the county, Memphis is not a scary place to be feared. Crime exists in every metropolitan area, not just Memphis. You are missing out on the cool funky vibe of Memphis and the best and warmest people if you’ve never been inside the loop. There are children there who need your attention and time.

To those in the City, many who live in the suburbs are transplants to this area. When they moved here, they trusted a real estate agent to put them in a nice home with good schools. And like a good real estate agent, they put them in the county because it’s an easy sell. So give them a break, they have never had the opportunity to really know Memphis. Show them why this city is referred to as the City of Good Abode.

There has never been a better opportunity to embrace all our children. Let’s use this time not to tear each other down with hateful words and misplaced assumptions but to get to know one another and find the best in all of us to help our children. Because they don’t know our history, they don’t know state law, and they don’t really care.

They deserve our best. Let’s give it to them.