February, 1995: February usually is very busy for me, and this year was no exception. The month began with a trip to Nashville to speak at the Association of Music Personnel in Public Radio (my second appearance there).
Due to odd airline schedules, I found myself with almost an entire “free day”; I spoke in the morning but did not leave town until the following day. I cajoled a couple of desk clerks into suggesting a restaurant worth leaving the hotel for, and they recommended Bro’s Cajun Cuisine (Murphy Road & Cherokee — this was before they moved to their larger, fancier digs).
I took a taxi for the two-mile ride. Bro’s looked like a typical diner from a movie: 10 tables, very informal. In fact, it was the first restaurant I’d encountered that instead of having napkins for its customers put a roll of paper towels on each table. And forget about asking for a non-smoking section.
To my great disappointment, a sign inside Bro’s indicated they serve jambalaya only on Wednesdays; this was a Friday. On a hunch, I asked if they had any left over from a couple of days earlier…and they did. (Jambalaya gets better with age.) Not the best I’ve ever had, but worth the 2-mile walk back to the hotel.
A few days later I flew to Vancouver, B.C., to work with Brad Phillips and the air staff of CISL/CKZZ. On the first day we had an air talent seminar for the entire staff. On the second day I got up very early and sat in — silently — on the Z95 morning show.
(More and more stations had begun doing it this way. The first day gives me a chance to work with the entire staff while allowing the morning hosts to become comfortable with the idea of my being in the studio the next day. Actually being in the control room with them leads to structural insights & ideas that I wouldn’t get by listening from my hotel room.)
Brad had a brilliant technique for handling complaint calls: When a listener would call with any kind of complaint, the receptionist was instructed to put the call through to Brad immediately. If he was in a meeting, the receptionist was instructed to interrupt the meeting so Brad could take the call. What a great way to communicate that you truly do want to hear from your customers when they have a problem.