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.

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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.