Archive for the ‘Radio’ Category

Service of Saying “No” When Asked for a Recommendation

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

In the middle of the night I tuned in to Frank Morano, host of “The Other Side of Midnight” on WABC radio. Morano and listeners were discussing how to get out of giving a recommendation especially if your words wouldn’t be flattering.

Morano mentioned a colleague who developed a technique so he’d never have to refuse. He would tell the caller he’d get back with him/her, that he was in a meeting or on the other line and to please call again–and he’d specify a day and time–and he’d keep doing this until they’d give up.

The overnight host shared one of his experiences when he wasn’t comfortable working with a person who’d asked him for a recommendation for another job. He happily gave a first-rate one just to get rid of him. A banker friend described similar scenarios where he’d pass along to another department someone who didn’t fit his by inflating the value of their work because firing someone was both difficult and a time sponge.

One listener said he would tell a person why he/she shouldn’t give his name to a prospective employer because he wouldn’t be able to say nice things. He had a gruff, blunt though pleasant way about him and I think he had actually done that. I couldn’t.

A polite way out of it would be to say you never give anyone a recommendation. If you work for a corporation perhaps you can say the legal department forbids you to do so.

How would you duck endorsing someone whose work ethic or skills lack praise? Have you done this? If you agreed to recommend them what words did you use?

Service of Fakes: Phony Laughter Doesn’t Cheer

Monday, July 20th, 2020

The first “fakes” post in 2016 was about food. A bunch of others followed on various aspects of fakery mostly published in 2019.

Laughter has been a most welcome part of my life. If I’m at a restaurant and see people at an adjacent table doubling over in hysterics I enjoy the scene even if I don’t know what’s tickling them. However just as I don’t like the aftertaste of faux sugar–I’d rather not have any diet ice cream, cookie, yogurt or soda–I don’t react well to pretend laughter.

Since the pandemic started, the weekday morning talk show hosts I listen to on a commercial NYC radio station increasingly roar at nothing hoping to achieve a cheery atmosphere. I realize they are trying to mitigate these calamitous times but their mirth is phony and the triggers childish–often mean-spirited–hardly worth a mild chuckle. NPR isn’t exempt. On one of its Saturday morning programs involving a host and a few participants the grating, forced mirth of one of them, shrieking at every sentence uttered by the others, pierces my eardrums and annoys me in equal measure.

I laugh all the time without being prompted by soundtracks while watching programs on Netflix such as “West Wing,” “Call My Agent,” or “The Gibson Girls;” favorite vintage movies like “Auntie Mame” on Turner Classic Movies or while reading a book–The Gentleman from Moscow these days.

An exception may be the late night show host-comedians Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers or Jimmy Kimmel. They might need an audience soundtrack as their pandemic format suffers without the jollity of a live audience.

Does hearing someone laugh–even if the person is faking it–cheer you? What makes you laugh these days? Is there anything that you should like or appreciate that you don’t because it’s ersatz or fake?

Service of Second Careers Started Later in Life

Monday, December 11th, 2017

Folks are living–and remaining vigorous and creative–much longer than before and are reinventing themselves after award-winning careers, sometimes doing both at once. Here are three inspiring examples.

The Voice of Radio

I listen to “Len Berman in the Morning” on WOR 710 radio. Len made a name for himself as a beloved TV sportscaster before he hung up his mic for a few years. Three years ago he launched a radio program to wake up the NYC metro area with a partner.

He’s the star now in a tough market, a flourishing generalist–and a gentleman–in a medium that is his to dominate with his guest co-hosts sharing thoughtful, funny, honest—but not disrespectful—fast-paced commentary.

He mentioned on-air the other morning that although he’d been offered another sports TV gig when he left NBC, he didn’t accept it. He must have been waiting for something new and exciting—and certainly challenging given the punishing length and time of the show, 6 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Since becoming the principal player, he seems to be having a wonderful time.

 Fitting Furniture

Michael Miller in the American Fine Craft Show Brooklyn Museum booth

I first met Alexandra and Michael Miller at my client’s American Fine Craft Show at the Brooklyn Museum where they exhibited furniture. Before I saw their whimsical tables and sideboards in person, I’d worked with images of their work that they describe as “handcrafted furniture featuring marquetry and inlay to create imaginative visual stories.” These hinted that the Millers were hip 30-something designer-artisans. They are the former–hip–but not the latter. Before launching Everyman Works, LLC two years ago, they designed and sold prints for packaging, illustration, interior décor and textiles around the world.

So where did furniture fit the picture? “Our decision to open the business came from the outcome of an injury,” said Alexandra. “Michael was convalescing and bored with reading and jigsaw puzzles. He decided to do a bit of marquetry, something he’d enjoyed as a boy. Having made the piece, the idea of applying it to a small table took hold and when it was finished, we both knew there was the germ of a good idea in front of us. Using a contemporary approach to an ancient craft was intriguing.

“We didn’t always dream about doing this; we never thought we could do it better than anyone else; and we were pretty certain we wouldn’t make a lot of money! However, the desire to create is deeply entrenched in us both. Our imaginations and design abilities are, as yet, no less diminished due to age – so why not use them,” said Alexandra.

“Our friends and colleagues were at first astonished and then supportive; our family incredulous and then anxious! They asked ‘Why, are you doing something so risky at this time in your lives?’”

As to the future of their business, they hope “that everyone would have a piece of Everyman Works furniture in their homes!!!” Alexandra added, “Seriously, we hope to keep designing to our own truth; encourage others to view furniture differently; and to make enough money to remain independent for as long as possible.”

Fudge Sauce for Thought

Francine Ryan

Francine Ryan founded “Francine’s Outrageous Fudge Sauce” in October. She continues to be president/CMO of The Ryan Group, a thriving enterprise which she describes as “Not an ad agency. A solutions agency.”

For a decade Francine gave the sauce–she created the recipe–to clients as a holiday gift. She now sells it at high end venues such as the Golden Goose Gala in Garden City, N.Y. and the Monmouth Conservation Foundation holiday event in N.J. There India Hicks, Princess Diana’s bridesmaid, former model and owner of a lifestyle brand, was one of her many customers. (Hicks later posed happily with a spoonful of sauce for posting on Instagram and purchased the sauce to take with her to England – perhaps to serve at dinner with her godfather, Prince Charles?) “Once potential customers get a taste, 75 to 90 percent will buy a jar,” Francine said.

Francine Ryan, left, with India Hicks

The business is a family and friends affair. “One son in law signed me up for an LLC; a dear friend is trademarking the name; another son in law is building a website, a son and daughter work on sales and marketing and my husband, who named it, designed the label and is contributing the creative for the website.”

Her friends were enthusiastic with one exception, a fellow in the food business. He asked: “Why are you doing this at this stage of your life?” She replied: “Why not?”

Another, who dresses some of NYC’s most prestigious retail windows said “What an incredible idea,” admitting that she was jealous and also wants to do “something that’s mine.” A grateful recipient of the sauce agreed with the second friend and reminded Francine that Stonewall Kitchens, now owned by Heinz, was started by two men selling blueberry preserves at fairs in Maine. A former editor of a major magazine said “It is absolutely fabulous and I’m not putting it on ice cream or anything else except my tongue.”

It’s far too soon in the life of this fledgling business for Francine to predict far into its future. For now she envisions applying for certification so she can sell at Farmer’s Markets in upscale environs, at more events, and perhaps at select retailers where customers can taste the sauce on ice cream. She’s also looking into a local commercial kitchen to produce more jars from bigger vats. Currently she produces 100/day. Want to order a bottle or two? Call 917-796-7586 or email

This successful marketer of sophisticated products and concepts glows like an ingénue when she watches the reactions of people tasting the sauce. “It’s the best feeling in the world when only you can make something that people are mad for. I can continue as long as I want to; I love stirring the vats and having my family involved.”

Do you have a dream second career in the back of your mind at a time you might otherwise be considering hanging up your work gloves? Can you share the names of others who have similarly ventured into uncharted waters?

Service of Deep Breaths: What Do You Do To Relax?

Monday, November 7th, 2016

There are so many polls taken and reported these days that I can’t recall which the WOR 710 Radio morning show hosts Len Berman and Todd Schnitt were referring to when they said that only 2 percent of respondents had no opinion about how they felt about this year’s presidential election. The majority were “disgusted.” The bulk are also stressed about the election outcome tomorrow, which was a call-in topic of this morning’s show.

So no surprise when the conversation Friday led to how the hosts and news director Joe Bartlett relax. Bartlett and Berman said by playing golf. Schnitt said scuba diving, skiing and shooting at a range.

Depending on my mood, where I am or the time I have, for me it could be shopping for gifts, walking on a beach late in the afternoon, being absorbed in a great show or movie, reading chapters of a Calvin Trillin book–he’s hilarous–sitting quietly in a place of worship without a service going on or chatting with friends who make me laugh.

What takes your mind off your troubles at work, at home or concerns about the world’s conflicts?


Service of Extras

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Morning radio talk show co-host Todd Schnitt recently shared his frustration when he was unsuccessful at persuading the server at a well known NYC juice bar chain to top off his $8 smoothie with what was left in the blender container. He noticed the container in a lineup by the sink. Its fate was to be washed after its contents were tossed. He’d taken a big sip of his drink to make room.

Len Berman, his co-host on the WOR 710 morning program and the news director, Joe Bartlett, asked Todd if he’d gotten what he’d paid for. He said, “Yes.”  So that’s it then, they concurred: They didn’t feel he should have received a bonus.

Executive producer Natalie Vacca agreed with Len and Joe and added that had she managed the branch, she’d have suggested that staff use the extra for samples to bring in new customers. Someone observed that at Starbucks there’s little if any leftover and that the manager at the smoothie place should better train the staff in portion control to avoid costly waste.

According to Yelp, there are no more Brigham’s luncheonettes in Boston though Wikipedia notes otherwise. In its heyday, when I lived in Boston, branches were sprinkled throughout the metro area. The restaurant’s milkshake/frappe was spectacular and it came in a large glass, served with  what was left in the metal blender container–the equivalent of almost another full glass of the ambrosia, my favorite being coffee or strawberry.

There are some businesses in which extras continue to happen. Waiters will surprise guests with a free dessert or after dinner drink. At The Perfect Pint, a pub at which I ate lunch quite often this summer, my friends and I received a free second glass of iced tea or Coke, something I’d not before experienced in NYC. [The food is terrific here as well.]  Last night we had dinner at Mckinney and Doyle in Pawling–delicious as always. My husband was adding the tip to the credit card receipt when the hostess came with a second one. She said, “We owe you $20–here’s the correct bill.” Turns out that wine is half price on Wednesday night. We welcomed the nice surprise!

In public relations, many provide extra services, such as a tweak of a client’s letter or other small project not covered in an agreement yet not big enough to upset a budget applecart.

Is a business wrong minded to give extras? Do customers appreciate them or take them for granted? Do you appreciate them?

Service of Strangers Knowing More About You Than Your Family Does

Monday, June 15th, 2015

I wake up to Len Berman and Todd Schnitt in the Morning on WOR 710 Radio, a welcome addition to the NYC media scene since January. Last Thursday Schnitt, [on the right in the photo with Berman, at right], said he’d deleted the Uber app from his Android phone because he didn’t want to give the company access to his address book nor did he want the company to know his location even if he hadn’t opened the app. He said the latter intrusion will happen in July. Schnitt said he takes yellow cabs to work every morning at 4a.m.–the show runs from 6 am to 10–and plans to look for a different car booking company, like Lyft.

I asked a friend (in her 20s) what she thought about all this surveillance, shadowing and privacy invasion. She said, “I always just think/sort of joke around that my iPhone knows more about me than I do. The other day my phone told me how long it would be for me to get to Columbia [University] from midtown — I never put that in as a home address or anything. The phone just sort of figured out on its own that I was there a lot. Creepy. 

“As for Uber,” the recent Columbia Journalism grad student continued, “there was that ‘God view’ feature which gave away a users’ location. Not sure if that is still in use. It makes sense to a certain extent so the driver can find you but access beyond that they shouldn’t have—such as your contacts’ info!”

According to Insurance Journal, “The car booking company now more clearly tells its customers it can pretty much track everything they do while using the Uber app, after facing criticism over privacy, especially its use of a tool called God View enabling the company to know where its riders were at any given moment.” Eric Newcomer, who wrote “Uber Discloses Expanded Customer Data Tracking,” continued: “the firm said Uber needed to make sure it was clearer and more transparent, rather than significantly altering its existing policies.” The [law] firm referred to is Hogan Lovells.

“The new privacy policy is clear,” wrote Newcomer. “…The company can read text messages you send to drivers, follow your location as you ride in an Uber and store your address book on its servers. Customers can find the policy on the app and the company’s website.”

Newcomer reinforced what talk show host Schnitt said. He wrote: “With the new update, which takes effect July 15, Uber can ask permission to track a rider’s location even when the application isn’t open.” And “Uber retains permission to hand over data to third parties. If a rider is using Uber for business, the startup can turn over data to the rider’s employer.”

Remember the prehistoric slogan about customers always being right? At Uber the drivers rate customers. If you keep a driver waiting, if you aren’t as polite or friendly as a driver expects a passenger to be, you’ll get a bad grade. Why does this matter? If you are looking for transportation at rush hour or after an event, you very well might be left waiting on the curb.

Sidebar: Why did Uber hire the law firm in the first place? According to Newcomer: “Uber hired Hogan Lovells after the company faced criticism for prying into journalists’ private lives.”

Uber, available around the world, has caught on like wildfire [though it’s encountering legal glitches in France, Germany and South Korea according to]. In February alone, according to, the company attracted $2.8 billion in venture capital.

Is the public so in love with clever technology that it accepts every–and anything–from a company that’s expert at it? Have you used the service? Will you continue to after July 15?

Service of Collateral Damage: Fallout from Joan Hamburg’s Unceremonious Firing

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Joan Hamburg. Photo:

Joan Hamburg. Photo:

There are few great ways to divorce or fire a person though some are better than others where collateral damage is concerned.

Two weeks ago the grande dame of New York City radio, Joan Hamburg, was unceremoniously fired with no warning minutes before the taping of her weekend broadcast. She asked for the chance to say goodbye to her listeners of over three decades and instead was immediately shown the door as though her employer feared that she’d delete a database.

joan hamburgHad they listened to this elegant woman they would have known how fair, compassionate and ethical she was, hardly the type to do damage. She was the moderate voice when she shared the microphone with foodie Arthur Schwartz years ago. While he would bash a restaurant, [I appreciated his insight and he was probably spot-on], she would either think of the tiniest positive thing to say about the place or in some way temper his observations.

Cindy Adams in her New York Post column claimed that the firing was part of “the war on journalistic women.” A New York Women in Communications [NYWICI] colleague felt that she was treated this way because of her age—79 according to David Hinckley–noting that this country has no patience with older people. NYWICI gave Hamburg a Matrix Award in 2006, the same year as Jill Abramson who was recently fired from The New York Times. [Is there something in the air?]

In the Daily News Hinckley wrote “Joan Hamburg, canceled by WOR after 35 years, says listeners deserved a goodbye,” and quoted Hamburg that these listeners are “tired of angry guys screaming at each other” and that “she had ‘a wonderful run.’”

When I left my job at a publishing company years ago I didn’t want a going away party, [I despise goodbyes], but there was one anyway. A friend told me that the party was really for those remaining at the company, which made sense. Those who fire might think of those left behind as well.

Hamburg told Adams: “If they want new merchandise…it’s their candy store.”

That it is. But what about the collateral damage to employees and customers of this store? “There but for the grace of God go I,” must be running through the heads of staff. Hamburg’s fans are outraged at the lack of respect shown someone they admire. What were they thinking? What do you?

Service of What is Good Company?

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

A book Kathleen Fredrick is reading, “TIME TO BE IN EARNEST: A Fragment of Autobiography,” by P.D.James, inspired this topic, a crucial one indeed.

Fredrick, a writer and retired editor, was interested by this excerpt: “James says that the Conversatione** was an enjoyable and welcome experience and: ‘I was reminded of the conversation between Mr. Elliott and his cousin Anne Elliott in PERSUASION: “My idea of good company, Mr. Elliott, is the company of clever and informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.’ ‘You are mistaken,’ he said gently. ‘That is not good company, that is the best.'”

[James had attended a ** Conversatione on Culture and Society that gathered 80+ representatives. The three-day event included people from church, finance, the arts, academia and journalism.]

Here’s what I think: I am blessed by family and friends who are articulate and opinionated and make for great company because they freely share their thoughts. Sometimes I can’t wait to hear what they think! Conversation is never dull.

I like visiting businesses–restaurants, stores, doctor’s offices–where staff at least appears to be interested in my company.

It takes effort and energy to be good company. My parents had a neighbor who would say “Give a good time,” when, as a kid, I was going out with friends [she didn’t mean what you may think]. Our family had an old friend whom my great aunt criticized because she didn’t add to the conversation-didn’t share-though she might ask an occasional question.

I’ve become increasingly good company to myself which wasn’t always the case. There are things I love to do alone such as visiting a craft fair. I go at my pace, don’t have to waste time exploring a booth of no interest to be polite to a companion and don’t have to cringe when my friend or family member expresses negative comments at high decibels about someone’s work or prices while standing next to them.

However I prefer going to a movie, concert or play with someone so that I can discuss it afterwards. If I’m alone at a hotel I put on the TV for company. At home, I add the radio, especially in the morning or if I can’t sleep at night. And I like to work in a place with others around me.

Whom or what do you consider good company?

Service of Sound Bites

Monday, September 26th, 2011

A radio newscaster reporting on the hour from a reputable network Saturday morning explained the stock market dip last week as having been caused by Europe’s shaky economy and banking industry, then dashed off to another subject.

Am I Rip Van Winkle? What about grievous problems in the US on both the job and real estate fronts with solutions batted back and forth by politicians whose eyes are no longer on the ball but frozen in simplistic party slogans or directed toward their own reelections?

How many more seconds would it have taken to say, “….on top of stagnant job stats and decreasing real estate industry sales here at home.” [It’s always easier and more palatable to blame someone else, but that’s not the point.]

Television and radio news helped hone the sound bite syndrome that’s been cut in half by Twitter, Facebook and texting. Concurrently we’ve watched the national attention span reach the depth of a photo caption or length of a one-column headline. Under such constraints, accuracy is especially important. Increasingly, people believe what they hear and rarely question.

The “make it simple and be quick about it” trend may be the feather that sinks our shaky ship. Millions accept positions such as “Tax the rich and jobs are doomed,” without thinking through the ramifications. Wouldn’t it be grand if true? Leave things as-is and life will be back to dandy while we face zero pain to get there?  Tax wise nothing’s changed of late and we’re still in an economic mess with no new jobs. Proof enough?

The scariest part is that all a person-any person–with a microphone, computer or pulpit has to do is repeat a slogan often enough and it becomes fact.

Past nodding “That makes sense,” the “don’t tax the very rich” proponents haven’t dug deeper. Do they question the motives of most of those who chant the phrase? My bet is that the loudest voices don’t want to pay $1,000 more of their $ half million a year income. Let some dummy who can’t afford a canny accountant pay!

Isn’t another missing part of today’s education learning to question what you read and hear? Is that because there’s no time for either teaching or doing that?  Are my observations as simplistic and inaccurate as my criticisms of our sound bite mentality and shallow thinking process?

Service of Charity

Monday, January 18th, 2010

I wasn’t always this cynical, but I can’t help but cringe every time I hear a radio or TV station tell me to go to their web site to find legitimate resources that accept money to help Haitian earthquake victims. I similarly flinch when I see retweets of announcements that this or that organization, publisher or business is launching or supporting a fundraising drive.

For one thing, some of the stations that are promoting these “good works” are the very ones most of whose hosts can’t bear to part with a penny in taxes on their bloated incomes to help others. They celebrate the “free market system” that removed all the constraints that previously held banks, insurance companies and others in check, encouraging a dynamic of greed which in part accounts for the financial earthquake the world currently experiences.

So I smell a rat when they ask their listeners and viewers to go to their web sites-I see them translating each hit into future advertising dollars.

Can’t you just hear it? “Look at how generous and wealthy our audience is! Advertise with us and the same riches can be yours. Why, through our web site, we are responsible for collecting $X million to help this tragic situation,” all said with appropriately pious, self-righteous expressions. “Aren’t we wonderful?”

But that’s not all. In past crises, such as the horrendous tsunami in South Asia  in  2004, I donated money directly to a charity I knew was legitimate, only to be bombarded for years after with so many marketing pieces that I became frustrated and angry. I am certain that the cost of producing and mailing these pieces far exceeded the amount of my donation. I didn’t give money to support fundraising.

There are legitimate, truly well-meaning people and organizations. President Obama has charged Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush to bird dog disbursement and implementation as well as fundraise and help untangle the horrific crisis in Haiti. They hope to help a country down on its knees to stand tall on solid infrastructure. They, too, have a web site– Maybe this is an answer?

What’s a person to do if they want to support a cause, but at the same time they don’t want to add to the self-aggrandizing initiatives of a company or subsidize a fundraiser’s marketing department? Any ideas?

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