The news that the film, Quadrophenia, is being released newly restored on Blu-ray and DVD today brought back some vivid memories of why being present is so important. More on the film in a moment.
As PDs and GMs are being spread all over clusters – and half of America – it is becoming more and more difficult for many of them to touch the bases, make key appearances, and let the staff know they appreciate everyone’s hard work.
Why is it important for managers to be visible at key station events all over town? As Woody Allen is famous for saying:
“80% of success is just showing up.”
That’s a quote I often use in presentations at state broadcaster associations, broadcast conferences, and during market visits because it rings so true. Whether it’s starting a new workout program, greeting a new station staffer, or connecting with your family and friends, “being there” is a big part of what really matters in life. And even though we have Skype, Google Hangouts, email, Facebook, texts, and tweets, there is no substitute for just personally showing up.
But it’s not easy, especially in the time-pressurized environment in which we live. If you work for an active, visible radio station, chances are good that the street team and the jocks are making market appearances most days of the week.
And your presence as a manager goes a long way in acknowledging everyone’s efforts, as well as learning by watching your audience interact with your brand.
But we all have lives – or at least we should – so how can you possibly show up for everything? Well, the fact is, you probably can’t. But if you’re smart, you can show up for the most important events, and put in an appearance.
This is an art that I have perfected over the years, and it started with my time as an employee at WRIF in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. We were an incredibly active station – and I don’t mean tire store remotes. WRIF was a big brand even back then, and our goal was to have presence and to make an impact wherever and whenever there were people showing up at a lifestyle compatible event.
The plus side was that I was an off-air PD at a single station, so eat your hearts out those of you who are saddled with multiple brands, air shifts, and voicetracking assignments. But even with that “light load,” I often found myself pretty spent at the end of the day, especially staring at an event scheduled that night.
So I got good at showing up midstream, making sure I said hello to the sponsors, the airstaff on hand, and anyone else who needed to know that I cared enough to be there. A quick beverage and maybe a snack, and I was out in the parking lot headed home. If someone asked whether Fred was there, enough of the right people recalled having seen me earlier in the evening.
So that brings me up to the premiere of Quadrophenia in Detroit. Because it was a music genre film (we had no idea what it was about in advance), we very much wanted WRIF to be the sponsor station. So we fought hard for the premiere which allowed us to give away the entire theater, and we had a jock on hand to do a brief pre-film meet and greet.
In those days, WRIF hosted a lot of movie premieres, and like bar nights, concerts, and other big events, you just couldn’t physically sit through them all. So on this night, my plan was to be in attendance to look the audience over, say hello to the person from the movie agency, watch our personality do his intro, and then slip out the side exit once the film began.
Drive-by expert that I was becoming, I sat in the front row but way on the right – 10 feet away from the exit – planning on making my discreet escape.
The jock greeted the psyched up crowd, the lights got low, and Quadrophenia began. And I was immediately mesmerized because here was a film that vividly gave you the feeling for what British youth was all about right at the epicenter of “The Invasion.” The cast was a bunch of no-names – except for Sting who has never looked cooler before and since – and they played their roles so seamlessly that it didn’t’ seem like acting. It was the Mods versus the Rockers and the birth of British rock n’ roll, accompanied by teenage angst like I’d never seen it before. And suddenly, that concept album Quadrophenia took on a context and started making sense in a whole new way.
Two hours later I was still in my lousy front row seat unable to leave the theater because the film was so riveting. So it turned out to be a botched drive-by but one I was thankful I had the chance to be a part of and enjoy.
I’ve probably seen Quadrophenia at least 10 times over the years, and it is still fresh, revealing, exhilarating, and one of the best films about rock ‘n roll you’ll ever see. Yes, I’m a huge Who fan, but this is a movie that I can highly recommend you purchase or rent, especially now in its newly restored state.
The moral to the story? Sometimes when you simply intend to do that quick drive-by and merely put in a token appearance, you just might end up enjoying yourself, your station, your staff, and your audience.
But you have to show up first.