Newsletter, January 2008

You guys made my 2007 a very happy and productive one. The year marked an important personal turning point, from my previous 38 years in the business as an employee to a free agent. Some might think I was crazy to launch my own business at my tender age, but my wife has a lifelong saying: “If not now, when?” And its corollary: “In 10 years, you can be x + 10 years old, or x + 10 years old and a lawyer, novelist, sailor, teacher etc.” Smart lady, that Kathy!

I have loved every minute of the past year, because of you and your talented and ambitious staffs. I love working with young people (and some of you oldsters as well). I love teaching in a Socratic style where selfdiscovery is the mode of learning. And, I love helping organize the creative process so it bears and sustains fruit. I’ve learned, the hard way, that anyone can have an idea. But few know what to do with that idea to make it work and make it last. Among the interesting projects I worked on in the past year are:

  1. Marketplace – recruitment of its new Managing Editor.
  2. The Story – Daily narrative journalism program produced by WUNC and hosted by Dick Gordon.
  3. The State We’re In – Radio Netherlands’ and WAMU’s new weekly show about human rights and treatment.
  4. How’s the Family – Piloting a weekly MPR magazine and an ongoing news desk on the relationship between children and parents.
  5. Capitol News Connection — Daily news coverage of congress for public radio stations throughout the U.S.
  6. From Scratch – Entrepreneurs program on NPR’s Sirius Satellite Channel.
  7. Justice Talking – NPR’s weekly program on the law and social justice.
  8. Hearing Voices – helping with its CPB application.
  9. Shoofly Audio – Children’s audio magazine.
  10. Blue Highways – Magazine program about rural America.
  11. CultureCast — Daily arts and culture newscast with ArtsJournal.com

I have worked with Iowa Public Radio and Oregon Public Radio on new network talk shows, WUWM on refinements to its daily talk program Lake Effect and Twin Cities Public Television. I’ve also consulted with Congressional Quarterly; with Soundtreks, a new company created by veteran producer Bruce Gellerman; and with my old friend Fred de Sam Lazaro, correspondent for PBS’s Newshour, on his new Project for UnderTold Stories. I made a fascinating visit to the Eureka Ranch in Cincinnati to brainstorm about inventions. In the year ahead, I will be working with Great Lakes Radio Consortium on The Environment Report. And with mental_floss – looking at a new national radio series based on the funny and entertaining magazine “where knowledge junkies get their fix.”

I hope to keep in touch and continue to work with you. Beyond the obvious “business benefit” of such continuing relationships, I feel passionately about helping to ensure that working with me leads to the result you want. It is no good to either of us if I am a 1-2 day wonder, parachuting into town, delivering highminded profundities and then vanishing from sight. Success is in the execution of good ideas, and I think that working with your staff, showing them how to turn their plans into every day reality, is crucial. This can and should be done economically. The heavy lifting will be done by your staff. But, I’d like to be involved in helping continue to motivate them by showing them that quality is possible, every day, on every show.

Please let me know how I can continue to work with you. And, thank you sincerely for being the early adopters who helped me launch my new business. I greatly value our friendship and … I’d better quit now before I get totally mushy.

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