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O’DAY’S TRAVEL WOES, ISSUE #1: Removing 50 Pounds of Snow With A Back Scratcher

Years ago I began writing a monthly newsletter that I mailed to my clients. It was called OH! One page promoted the various seminars I offer to stations, groups and associations. The other page chronicled my “adventures on the road.”

Well, it began as a monthly. Then it was maybe 8 times per year. Then 6. Then…less often.

In theory, I still write them and send them to my clients. In reality — Well, I think the last one was published almost exactly one year ago.

People seemed to love the issues in which terrible things happened to me during my travels. (Almost being arrested on an airplane in Düsseldorf; spending a week in Latvia without my luggage, etc.)

In fact, once I published an issue in which no misadventures occurred. One of my oldest friends sent me angry email: “Nothing bad happened to you in this issue. Why are you wasting my time??”

I do still plan to keep (cough) writing them. But perhaps you’ll enjoy watching me relive miseries of days gone by. So I’m going to try reprinting one issue per week — first removing most of the self-aggrandizing folderol. In this first issue, not a lot happens. But trust me: You won’t believe some of the (all true) future installments.

February, 1993

For some reason, February usually finds me in the coldest climates imaginable. On February 1st, the Maine Association of Broadcasters (at the instigation of Bill Devine and Carolyn Sumner Hood) brought me to Augusta to conduct How To Create Maximum Impact Radio Advertising in the morning and The Dangerous Air Personality in the afternoon.

The turn-out was quite good…although I’m told it would’ve been better if the state hadn’t been hit with a blizzard that weekend. When I picked up my rental car in Portland, I noticed that Hertz had thoughtfully attached a little plastic ice scraper to the visor — about the size of a small back-scratcher.

When I went to retrieve my car from the hotel parking lot two days later, however, I discovered it was under two feet of snow. There I was, wearing my R&R bomber jacket and tennis shoes, trying to remove about 50 pounds of snow with a back scratcher. (The hotel was more prepared than I; they had a broom available for just such a situation.)

The following week I got smart and headed South…for one day, at least. I was a featured speaker at the Association of Music Personnel in Public Radio (AMPPR) convention in Orlando, speaking on The Personality of Public Radio.

When I first was asked to speak to a public radio group in 1991, I wasn’t sure how well my crass, commercial broadcasting background would be received. In the next year-and-a-half, however, I spoke at two more public radio conventions and conducted in-house seminars for two public radio stations (one classical music, the other “world music”).

Just shows once again that broadcasters have much more in common with each other than our intramural squabbles might lead an outsider to believe.

I said I got smart for one day. A few hours after finishing my talk in Orlando, I grabbed a jet to Minneapolis; talk about climate shock. The Minnesota Broadcasters Association’s Jim Wychor brought me back (for the third time), this time to conduct a special half-day radio programming seminar (Power Phones and Radio Self-Promotion: How To Manipulate the Media).

Jim picked a great hotel for the convention: The Minneapolis Hilton & Towers. One of the best hotel staffs I’ve ever met.

The only glitch came when the hotel provided a box lunch for attendees on Tuesday. Both Joe Bonura (a sales trainer who preceded me and who seems to be a nice guy) and I had a wonderful idea: Why not save the MBA a few bucks by taking a box lunch (for which we each had a ticket) rather than eating in the expensive restaurant?

Only problem was…The box lunch turned out to cost the MBA $14 apiece. Oh, well. We tried.

Speaking of Wychor, if you’re ever within hollering distance of Jim he’ll insist that you check out the Pavek Museum, a wonderful repository of broadcast history. While noshing my breakfast in the hotel room, I read a fascinating account in the museum’s newsletter of the history of KSTP. It was so engrossing that when I finished, I knew I’d feel guilty if I didn’t join the museum.

February 20th saw the premiere of the world’s first PD Grad School, in Dallas. We picked what WAS a terrific hotel for it: The Radisson Hotel & Suites. (As you’ll see in a future issue, subsequent hotel management changes turned it from terrific to terrible.) Again, a top-flight staff.

Finally I asked the night manager why everyone seem so highly motivated to serve the guests. The answer surprised me: “Every shift manager has the authority to act immediately on any situation involving a guest.”

So that’s why nobody told me, “You’ll have to wait until the morning/Monday/ Labor Day when so-and-so is back in the office.”

I was uncharacteristically nervous that weekend, because I was about to give my first live presentation of a brand-new seminar: The Psychology of Management.

Hey, wait a minute! Maybe — I said maybe — O’Day knows something about radio, but isn’t he drifting away from his knowledge base??

Well, the secret’s out. I have….Gee, this is hard to admit….I have…an education. My degree is in psychology. I’ve always been interested in “why people do the things they do.”

In fact, what really made me consider such a seminar was a suggestion from Gerald Getz, GM of WKRZ/WILK in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He brought me in twice — once for a programming seminar, once for a commercial copywriting seminar. And at one point he said, “Why don’t you do a seminar for managers and program directors on why people behave the way they behave?”

I thought, “Why not, indeed?”

Still, this was the first seminar I’d conducted without the benefit of audio examples (which serve both to illustrate the specific principles I present and to keep things lively & entertaining). And it was the first I’d done that went beyond the bounds of what we put on our airwaves. So I was nervous. I’m delighted to report that I wasn’t driven from the stage by a torrent of thrown fruit.

Before returning to Los Angeles, I stayed an extra day in Dallas to conduct an in-station seminar for public radio station KERA. General Manager Mark Boardman and Program Director Jeff Luchsinger invited their colleagues from two or three other stations.

This marked another first for me: The first time I’ve conducted a seminar while suffering from laryngitis. (I think it’s the first time I’ve ever HAD laryngitis.) Everyone was very nice to me anyway; I think they felt sorry for me.

A couple of weeks later Mark sent me a great t-shirt, along with copies of each attendee’s evaluation of the day. I think this one is my favorite

“I was instantly impressed with Dan’s approachability. I liked his casual dress and style. I was also impressed by his knowledge of the radio industry, specific markets, his love of radio.”

I hope this puts to rest those stubborn rumors that I’m not a spiffy dresser. It just happens that I affect a “casual dress and style,” all the better to maximize my approachability. And it has nothing to do with the fact that neckties cut off the circulation to my brain.

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