Yesterday's post about Netflix hitting a speed bump came up on one of my many Zoom calls yesterday. A friend scoffed that while Netflix, in fact, had its worst first quarter in memory, we shouldn't be shedding tears anytime soon over the fortunes of this SVOD giant. As he admonished me, “They'll be around forever.”
If you believe that, you perhaps were skipping class all last year, because 2020 was a cruel object lesson for nearly all of us that life, careers, fortunes, businesses, industries, and entire countries are, in fact, transitory.
For millions of us, the demise of Blockbuster Video in just a few short years is a harsh reminder that in the world of media and entertainment, success is fleeting. Many of us remember those “Blockbuster Nights,” perusing VHS videos (and later, DVDs) trying to find the perfect movies for the kids, date night, or killing a long weekend.
Lori Lewis sent me one of those dynamic Twitter videos that graphically shows the rise and fall of Blockbuster, from one store in 1986 to up to nearly six thousand – and now back to one.
Blockbuster stores over 30 years:pic.twitter.com/rDfiO07525
— Jon Erlichman (@JonErlichman) April 17, 2021
Ironically, there's a new documentary, The Last Blockbuster, that is getting strong reviews, celebrating that last remaining store. It's a Kevin Smith film, and the irony is that it's showing on (wait for it…)
In a recent interview, director Taylor Morden had this to say about Blockbuster's fortunes, as well as all the other “things that would never go away.”
“I never thought Blockbuster would go away, or Toys R Us, or Circuit City. After making a movie about how one of the biggest companies in the world went away, I am fairly convinced it could happen to any company. Nothing lasts forever.”
I thought about all this yesterday while watching session after session at the All Access Audio Summit. It was one of the best conferences – virtual or otherwise – I've had the pleasure of attending.
Because it put the spotlight on the zeitgeist of the moment: survival in 2020.
Whether it was Perry Michael Simon's survival guide for podcasters, Joel Raab's session featuring Country star, Jason Aldean, or Steve Reynolds/Steve Oshin's session about life after getting fired, the conference touched on issues virtually everyone in radio has been thinking and feeling.
But perhaps none was better than “Light at the End of the Tunnel,” a one-on-one conversation with Lynn McDonnell – former record exec and now life counselor – and Kevin Ryder, ex-cohost of the “Kevin & Bean Show,” an institution in L.A. radio for decades.
For any personality who believes they've gotten a rough deal – or even screwed – by broadcast radio (and doesn't that cover just about everybody?) – McDonnell's tête-á-tête with Ryder was revealing, riveting, and honest through and through.
As you probably know, Ryder isn't just an accomplished air talent. On KROQ, he was one of the most successful in the history of Southern California radio, inducted in the Radio Hall of Fame in 2019. But when Bean left the show that same year, a reformed show was unceremoniously let go precisely when the COVID lockdown began.
After a year of wandering round the desert during the Year of COVID, an old friend – Doug “Sluggo” Roberts – introduced him to KLOS PD, Keith Cunningham. The two debuted last month on KLOS, and this chapter has a happy ending.
But Kevin's story of being crushed, regrouping, and ultimately, redemption is a more important psychology session than anything else you'll see in radio. Why? Because it's a reminder it can happen to anybody at anytime without warning.
But life is like that, global pandemic or not.
Maybe we all just needed a year like 2020 to remind us what's truly important.
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