A Death In The Entertainment Family

Forgive me, but I’m about to get very personal with you. And, as with almost everything else, I’m going to use my personal feelings to talk about something I love: showbiz.

A family member was placed in hospice care a few weeks ago. I’m not talking about a human being, of course. I’m talking about a radio station, or said more appropriately in these parts, an entertainment brand. I’ve been thinking a lot about – well, everything – lately, and I’ve come to two sets of observations, both of them painfully obvious and yet not, all of which can be summed up by this reality:

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Engagement 101: The Boss Answers To The Fans

One of the more remarkable things I’ve read lately is a piece that showed up in the New York Times last week in which Dean Baquet, the Times’ Executive Editor, answers questions from readers about changes to the way The Gray Lady is restructuring her editorial department, eliminating the copy desk and shedding some editors in the process.

There are two really important takeaways from the piece. The first is something I’ve been telling you about for years. The second will surprise you, but it shouldn’t.

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Your Brand Is A Soap Opera. Deal With It.

A friend of mine sent me this incredibly entertaining Rolling Stone piece called “The Slow Death of the Great Wrestling Promo”. You should read it.

Of course, you didn’t take your mother’s advice to eat your vegetables when you were growing up, so I doubt you’ll take my advice now. Here’s a two-part summary with a my comments in italics…followed by my real point, which is only tangentially connected to Rolling Stone’s point:

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The Revolution Will, In Fact, Be Televised…With Radio Simulcast…And An App

In 2016, the revolution is so far along already that you can watch it on “television” every single day. You can listen to it via “radio”. And, as (almost) always, there’s an app for that. You can read about the revolution on whatever digital doohickey your read news on instead of an old school newspaper.

The most amazing development to appear already in the new year comes from print. Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes is telling his next story, “Belgravia”, in serialized novel form…via an app. With the change in medium from printed page to digital app, “readers” will get a different experience, including audio, music, video, character portraits (including a character family tree) and maps of Belgravia.

For fans, that means they’ll receive a much more complex, and presumably engrossing, product than would come with a printed book. Do you realize what this means for professionals? It means jobs.

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The Jetsons Future & The Era Of Media Convergence

To see the future of show business – really, of all business – you need to look to the future you’ve already seen. Surely you remember The Jetsons.

George, Jane, Judy, and Elroy had those massive video screens in every room of the house. They watched “television” on them. They made “phone calls” on them. They ordered dinner, did their banking, and pretty much did the majority of their life business via those screens. They even had smaller versions of them in their spacecars, on their wrists, and pretty much everywhere else they looked. How do you think they received the content that they watched on all those screens? Today, we call it broadband Internet, or in our spacecars – er, connected cars – wireless broadband.

We are moving from a world where content is delivered via broadcast to a world where content is delivered via broadband. Luckily, that can be a very good thing for you.

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Harry Truman Knows How Quickly Media Convergence Will Arrive

Change is coming. Distribution of content via broadcast is being replaced by distribution of content via broadband. It’s an era of media convergence, when the barriers between traditional forms of media – television, film, radio, print – fall and we simply have “media”. It’s an era leading to what I like to call The Jetsons Future.

The Jetsons Future is loaded with new and exceptional opportunities, and we’re all going to be presented with lots of opportunities to fail as well as to succeed. Consequently, we’d better be prepared for change before it comes, and changing is coming. If you’re asking the simple one-word question, “When?” the answer is…possibly much faster than you imagine.

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Broadcast Media: 99.5% Less Dead Than You Think

Once upon a time, a doctor told me I had a slightly elevated cholesterol level on my blood test with these lame words: “Mr. Hoffman, we’re all terminal. Some of us are just programmed to check out earlier than others.” Until recently, I’ve only thought of those words when telling someone about what bad people skills sound like.

These days, I think of those words every time I hear another death knell about the future of radio. I’ll leave you to find your favorite screed on that subject; I’ve spent enough time on client calls addressing the issue. (Hence this post.)

Here are two simple realities:

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You Can’t Be A Personality If You Don’t Let Your Fans Know You As A Person

I’d like to tell you a story about the sudden, complete transformation of a performer.

Once upon a time, I programmed a very personality-heavy radio station. While everyone else was shutting up and playing the music, we were aggressively getting in the audience’s faces with lots of personality. We also had record numbers for a radio station that had been around since the Johnson administration and we absolutely owned Men 25-54 in our market. Every talent on the radio station was very high-profile.

Except for my midday guy, who always said, “[My fans] don’t care about me.” He couldn’t have been more wrong, but I didn’t think he’d ever drop his defenses long enough to find out.

One sentence changed everything. Instantly. One day, he turned on the mic and said it.

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You Don't Have To Steal This Book

If you like reading my thoughts on the future of media and entertainment, you’ll also be reasonably fond of the book I’ve written. Better still, you’ve got a few days to get it for free.

Yep, unlike my cousin Abbie Hoffman, who I’m not related to in any way that I’m aware of, you don’t have to steal my book. You can download it for the low, low cost of absolutely nothing through this Sunday, February 21st. (After that, it’s a wallet-draining $2.99, which is the price that Kindle Direct Publishing not-so-subtly suggested I attach to this world-changing tome, and who am I to argue with an algorithm created by Jeff Bezos’ minions?)

The bottom line is that, while I’m certainly looking forward to the tens of dollars that may well come my way thanks to this nifty creation, I’m a lot more interested in having you read what’s inside and, hopefully, pass it on to others as well.

You can find the book at

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You Are 60% Banana: Surprisingly, This Has Ramifications For Your Career

That headline is not a joke. Our DNA is primarily plantain.

Now think about this: y’know that schlub you deeply regret having to work with, the one you have nothing in common with? You two share 99.9% of your DNA. (Don’t worry – you’re also 99.9% genetically similar to all other human beings – including [insert name of your favorite person ever here] – so things could be worse.)

Here’s the point: things are actually a whole lot more alike than they appear. You think you have next to nothing in common with them, but you’re 99.9% the same as the Pope, a Kardashian, a Trump, a Clinton, and that jerk who dinged your car in the parking lot and didn’t leave a note. Let’s pivot to showbiz.

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