Monday, November 12, 2007

LED ZEPPELIN, DESIGNING REVOLUTION, IDIOT CULTURE AND MERLE HAGGARD'S WISDOM

LED ZEPPELIN, DESIGNING REVOLUTION, IDIOT CULTURE AND MERLE HAGGARD’S WISDOM


LED ZEPPELIN: we have launched a dedicated Led Zeppelin Channel. Not easy to put that one together as there are 3 managers, 1 lawyer, and a record company. I had to work phones overtime to get this one closed…and lost sleep along the way.
Despite all that—It’s done and will be very cool. On channel 59. Our production SWAT team went over the top to make this in sync with Led Zeppelins vibe---Mystical, thunderous, magical and wide screen. We are also a major income source for anyone on E-bay and musicstack.com selling Zeppelin stuff that the band will approve us airing. Lou Brutus our resident creative go-to guy is the PD. It’s not easy doing these things…but rewarding for XM, me and most importantly the bands’ fans.

A 24/7 celebration of the music and magic of Led Zeppelin. A handcrafted channel dedicated to everything Led Zeppelin, including studio albums, rare and archival concerts, interviews, and listener interaction. A continuous and mystical radio voyage into the past, present, and future of the mighty Led Zeppelin.


A lot of new FM stations called "Fresh". More stations that sound like detergents. And of course there's NOTHING Fresh about these stations. In fact other than slogans they're pretty stale. More lies. And one wonders why FM's have declining credibility in today's environment. they should just call it Fabreze.

Revolutionizing media isn’t about dumbing it down…it’s about re-thinking it so more people will embrace it.

Integrity and Quality are timeless concepts---but the definition has changed since the days of Cronkite and Murrow. I see where some try to “bring back” quality and integrity, but fail to do it on 21st Century terms.

Every aspect of Radio, Local TV and Newspaper content has been dramatically improved and updated…except by the newspapers and TV stations themselves. Weather is BETTER on the Internet…Business News is BETTER on Bloomberg…etc… Time to get in the “better” game.

Cell phones re-invent themselves every six months. While that re-invention is often technology driven, Joe Citizen doesn’t care. All he knows is that these things in their lives keep improving. Local TV and Newspapers haven’t noticeably improved in decades. Time to get in the “ongoing improvement” game. Compared to the glory days of newspapers when things changed on a slow basis…things today change practically daily. To stay in sync, the SWAT mentality needs to be engrained.

Revolutions are about “we”. The leaders need to engage EVERYone. And EVERYone needs to engage the cause. You are either WITH the revolution or AGAINST it. You will either be embraced by the company and win or the company will beat you. No middle ground. If you are IN—cool—Bear down for battle. If you are OUT---Cool—Good luck with your future. Just figure out where you want to be… Middle ground wastes EVERONES time.

Need to create FANS not just users. Fandom isn’t necessarily a sports or music thing. Fox News has FANS.

It would be revolutionary in itself if management talked to the general staff in real talk not business speak. In fact, I think most business speak creates an eye roll effect upon the rank and file. Verbal empathy instead of “the voice from the top floor that doesn’t understand me”


I like slogans to help flight this kind of thing—or HOPEFULLY inspire thinking that’ll help move things forward:


AFDI” Actually F-cking Doing it. (Executing on ideas and big plans rather than having the big off-site, developing exciting plans…then absolutely nothing happens)

“PASSION CHARACTER & MUSCLE” The Big Three (Executing with passion…Character – where it’s done with style…and Muscle. Today’s media not a place for the timid)

“THE MTV INTERIORITY COMPLEX”. (Radio suffered from this. I imagine in other media there’s an Internet Inferiority complex---a thing where the idea that you are old and tired permeates the building and that the OTHER guys are where the excitement is)

“CLICHÉ BUZZER” (installed. Three buzzes and you’re fired…to de-condition and liberate people from tired clichés)

“MEETING TIMER” (installed in conference rooms so meetings don’t go on and on –to the point of painfully unproductive). Long meetings are OK---as long as they aren’t long for long sake.

“AVERAGE SUCKS” (Yet, it seems to be acceptable and even encouraged...)

“THE REVOLUTION WILL BE TELEVISED” (Never used this, but it might be good around TV stations)!

“DEXTER MUST DIE” (Dexter was a morning show tape we got “Dexter in the Morning”—It was SO incredibly lame that Dexter became a poster boy for everything wrong with radio…I imagine there are Dexter examples in Print & TV)

“UNDERSTAND THE PAST TO DESIGN THE FUTURE” (nod to the importance of understanding and respecting the past…but using the past to DESIGN the future rater than dwelling on the glory of the old days or the problems of the present).

“MISSIONS NOT JOBS” (Want a “job”? Fine…not here)

“SHOWS NOT SHIFTS” (pet peeve---DJ says “Got to do my shift”. Factory workers do shifts, DJ’s do shows. Even if they only read a liner card an hour—it’s STILL a show…Even if he’s only playing songs…it’s still a show. “Shift” strikes me as disrespectful to the idea of entertaining and/or informing people).

“BANNED WORDS” (‘Out of the Box” is a good example. It is SO overused, it doesn’t mean anything)

“CREATIVE BATTING AVERAGE” (Come up with 100 ideas on how to make something better…if only 30 are good—you are an all star---.300 Hitter. Most people are batting .000---content with sitting on the bench and not swinging for the fences with new and better ways to do things)

“WORLD WAR 2” (It took the American GI’s to battle the forces of evil in WW2. Nowadays, there are a different kind of evil out there---BAD MEDIA. Gotta be the GI’s of the Media War. With an attitude that “if we don’t do it” America will fall into evil hands of junk culture.


The last trip to New York included spending an hour on air with Opie and Anthony. Earlier that morning they said I was interesting in print but boring on the air. Oddly enough I was there an hour later so they let me try to redeem myself. I probably AM boring on the air…maybe not. That evening, I flew Eric Logan and former RIAA chief Hilary Rosen back to DC in my plane. First time for Hilary and of course it was another miserable flying night—bumpy and in the clouds and rain the whole time. Eric and I kept peeking back to see if she was OK. She was sleeping. Good. Back in DC, we landed at about 1am. Eric had his car there and left and Hilary had a car service scheduled to pick her up. NO car service in sight. Drover her around the airport for 45 minutes while she was talking to the driver who had a limited command of English….trying to figure out where he was. Turned out he was INSIDE the airport security ring. He buzzed a buzzer at a private gate with a thick Middle Eastern accent and they buzzed him in! Now this is a high security area you need a special ID to get into. He buzzed…they let him in. Huh!!?? Well…he wasn’t a terrorist, but that is not good.

IDIOT CULTURE. Interesting comments from Carl Bernstein:

GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) - A culture coarsened by celebrity news is to blame for inadequate public affairs journalism, Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein told a group of college preparatory students.
Newspapers are devoting fewer resources to issues of importance such as the Iraq war and potential abuses of the U.S. Constitution, the former Washington Post reporter told students at the Brunswick School on Thursday.
He said more resources are being devoted to the lifestyles of celebrities such as Donald Trump and Paris Hilton.
"The problems we have in news and journalism are about us not doing our job well enough," Bernstein said. "The ideal of providing the best available version of the truth is being affected by the dominance of a journalistic culture that has less and less to do with reality and context."
Bernstein, 63, said he believes an "idiot culture" is partly to blame for the dysfunction of political life in the United States.
"You can't separate the appetites and demands of the people themselves and what they are given," he said. "The blame simply can't all be put at the feet of those who present news."
Bernstein and Bob Woodward are known for their work at the Washington Post in the 1970s when they broke numerous stories reporting on the Watergate scandal that eventually drove President Richard Nixon from office.
Bernstein is promoting his recent biography of presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., the Democrats' leading candidate.

…then there’s these words of wisdom from Merle Haggard about…..life.
What I've Learned: Merle HaggardSinger, 70, Redding, California8/23/2007, 11:11 AMI've lived at the very end of what must have been a wonderful country.They've left the redwoods up alongside the highway so we'll think they're all there. But go up in an airplane and you'll see that they've clear-cut everything behind.The kids just don't know how big the tear on the rip-off was. If they had any idea, I believe they could do something about it. But it may be too late. We'll see. They're smarter. They can talk to one another. I don't look for a politician to bullshit his way in this time.When I was nine years old, right after my dad died, my mother got me some violin lessons with this big heavyset lady. It took nine lessons before this lady said to my mother, "You're wasting your money. He's got too good an ear. He's not going to fool with learning to read when he can play something that he hears on the radio." When I heard her say that, I knew I had something.We weren't thieves by nature. Pranksters. Practical jokers. We were without a car one time, Dean Holloway and I. We just went out and started borrowing cars. Sometimes we'd bring 'em back. Put gas in 'em. Clean 'em up. Leave a little note: THANKS FOR THE CAR. Like the Phantom.I'm in a very small percentage of people ever in the joint who beat it. It's like 2 percent of 2 percent. If you've ever been to the joint, you're going back.I'll tell you why it's different when somebody else is singing "Mama Tried": They're reading the words. I'm telling the story.I got out something like nine that morning. February 3, 1960. There's a big metal security device at the main door coming out of San Quentin. When they open that door, it comes up and you have to step over it. Just as I was stepping over that device, a Hank Snow record came on. "The Last Ride." My foot just stopped in midair. The song was coming from a radio near this guard who was standing there with his gun. He said, "What, did you change your mind?" I said, "No, that's a really great song." I stayed there and listened to the rest of the song.Couldn't have done the music without it. Wouldn't have thought of it. Wouldn't have been part of me.Willie Nelson is an idol for me. The music is sort of immaterial. Willie is seventy-four. A lot of people don't realize how healthy he is. He doesn't eat any strict diet. But he doesn't eat very much of anything. He understands the value of water.Seventy is a big mark. I'm feeling good. But Bing Crosby felt good, too, and he came off the eighteenth hole, just kind of laid down in the grass, and that was that.Freedom is what prohibition ain't.I probably had as bad a sex urge as anybody when I was younger. I remember an old guitar player, Eldon Shamblin, told me, "When you get pussy off your mind, you can go ahead and learn something." Isn't that great?Willie Nelson's the one who told me the reason it costs so much to get divorced is because it's worth it.I remember going to a dance when I was a kid - my older brother took me in. Roy Nichols was playing. My brother said, "Hey, there's a little guy in there playing guitar. He don't have to pick cotton or go to school." Roy Nichols became my idol on the guitar. Many years later, he went on to play for me for half price. But he and I could never look directly at each other. I never knew why. At first, I thought it was because I admired him too much. But it was Roy, too. Anyway, late in his life, Roy had a stroke. Paralyzed him on one side. Right down the middle. Half of his nose he could blow, the other half was dead. After his stroke, I went over to Roy's house. He looked me right in the eye and said, "Look here: I love you." I got chills. He said, "That old shit went down the hole with this stroke."They got laws for the white man and laws for the black man - we all know that.Lefty Frizzell said you don't have to experience everything to sing about it. But you've got to believe it.I think what we're lacking in music today is it seems like all the good stories have been already taken. "Stardust" has already been written. "Your Cheatin' Heart." "Imagine." God almighty, lightning may never strike again like that.If only somebody could come up with something different - start a new trend. Real music. If only somebody could sing a song, had something to say, had a good melody, and could do it in person, without help from any electronics. I think the people would go nuts. It's bound to happen. There's got to be a guy out there somewhere. A natural.

…Thanks Merle.

8 Comments:

At 10:03 AM, Anonymous Bryen said...

Lee -
I appreciate your blog and it is exciting to get a glimpse inside of the XM machine and please continue to do it because a lot of people are very proud to be included in your train of thought.

I am however a bit derailed when you speak of how plain and bland FM is. I agree with you but I also see that happening to XM. You dropped "On The Rocks", "Special X", "Luna", "Music Lab". These channels alone were what defined the different of which you speak. XM20, XM74, etc all are what you can get on FM. The above mentioned channels are really what made a statement as to being different and what you intend to do.
Granted you are a business but at the same time I wish that XM had stayed true to their morals. I really feel that it has dropped off.

Please consider that and bring a few of them back to show that XM can walk the walk.

 
At 12:54 PM, Blogger Bobby said...

On behalf of many millions of Led Zeppelin fans around the world, thank you for the effort it took to create the Zep channel. I plan on spending many a day soaking it in...

 
At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with the first response. In some areas, XM has slid back toward mediocrity. Granted, many XM stations still strive for excellence, but some have backtracked over the last couple years in terms of their breadth of playlists- BPM, Ethel, Boneyard. Even IT, the flagship program for many of us 5+ year subscribers has been downsized this year- a couple decades have almost 48 hours shaved off from previous years. You can't help but hear the "play it safe" philosophy driving these changes.

 
At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lee, I would have to say I'm a little disappointed by a Led Zeppelin channel. While I cannot refute their greatness and influence, they had a total of 8 studio albums. And 99% is already played on XM between 3 stations. I guess we will start hearing repeats of material by about 8PM the first night of the channel. This move smacks of Sirius influence. The first poster named 4 stations that were dropped and now we're getting more repeat programming. Music Lab was a low rated station but it was done wrong. Lumping progressive and jam bands was a mistake. Maybe that could have been fixed before starting a Zeppelin channel. Of course, I am just a listener, not a radio guy so I don't know the ins and outs of your industry.

 
At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Mark G. said...

I love Zeppelin, but don't most Led Zep fans have the albums already? I do!

I think a channel dedicated to 1 artist is a bad idea.

You could program every single Zep song and what do you have? A very small list and that includes rarities and bonus tracks. I smell the burnout from all the way from the West Coast.

... and Lou Brutus is the P.D.?!?!
Isn't he the same person who has over seen the shrinking playlist and song repetition on the Boneyard?

:Shaking my head:

What happened to the XM that wanted to be a creative alternative to FM Rock Programming?

I want the huge playlists, creative programming, and a channel that plays a lot more than just the hits. The Boneyard is officially stale.

Lee, I've lost faith in XM.

...but it's never too late to turn things around is it?


Mark G.
Stevenson Ranch, CA

 
At 12:14 AM, Blogger NorCalMurph said...

Normally I would say the one artist format stinks. However Zeppelin is the best band of all time. So I forgive you on this one. Thanks Lee, keep fighting the good fight!

 
At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lee, I was planning to email you about sweeps that Warner Bros and Zannel is giving out. It is for one pair of tickets to go see Led Zeppelin live in concert in London. For further information please go to www.zannel.com/ledzeppelin.jsp. If you feel this is a spam then I apologize for it and please delete this comment, thanks.

 
At 11:42 AM, Anonymous paul adams said...

I wasn't a fan of Merle's 30 years ago. We were at political opposites. But time does what time does when you listen and adjust. You find that SEPERATE is somewhat of an illusion.

What do I love about this guy? He's real. Real. And that is refreshing. I don't hear real much on the commercial airwaves. The paradigm of how music is made and distributed is changing. It's like the damn wild west out there! An open field where anything can happen.

My friend Dave played many years with Ray Charles. He believes the record labels are done. I'm not sure I believe that, but I do see them running like rabbits trying to adjust (Look at Sony).

As fast as they dance and try to find tricks to stay at the top of the hill - it may be an irony that if they just focused on what is real - like Merle Haggard, all would be well.

Merle, James Taylor, Phillip Glass, U2, Peter Gabriel, John Adams, Pat Metheny, Bela Fleck, Terrance Blanchard, Dylan .....

It is real. And ya know, real may not do well at times, but it's never going away. It doesn't die.

 

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