Wow, another week in the books. And what a week it's been.
The President contracts COVID, is hospitalized, and then recovers. Meantime, the White House has become a “hot spot.”
Kamala Harris and Mike Pence take part in the second most-watched Veep debate in history (Biden/Palin topped it).
Eddie Van Halen passes away, another tragic rock star death.
The FBI and the Michigan State Police broke up a plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
And now the “election of our lifetime” is just a few short weeks away, and debates are being cancelled, or moved, or something.
And yet, what are we talking about?
The fly that landed on Mike Pence's head for two minutes during the aforementioned debate.
And the Internet blows up, including a couple dozen Twitter accounts that are immediately opened for the fly. And we cannot stop laughing and sharing memes about it.
And the fly was a real, unrehearsed moment that we'll remember forever, long after all the blather about health care and the Supreme Court. It electrified an otherwise mundane debate, another bleak reminder of the political discourse in this country.
It's been a long seven months of working from home, wearing masks, dealing with an angry, polarized political dumpster fire, and figuring out where the country – and our lives – are going from here.
But there's always the fly. And some of the memes that have careened across the Internet are reminders that in these times when anger, frustration, and angst permeate our lives, humor and being in the moment make us feel better.
Just for a few minutes, they relieve the boredom.
Consumers want to get into the act, and thanks to platforms like TikTok, that door is wide open. And brands are figuring it out, too.
A few days ago, I blogged about the guy who lip-synced Fleetwood Mac's “Dreams” while skateboarding and drinking Ocean Spray cranberry juice on a TikTok video that went viral. Think about what that spawned in just hours.
Mick Fleetwood cut his own version.
So did Tom Hayes, CEO of Ocean Spray (who also bought the guy a new truck).
And then when the fly made its cameo on Mike Pence's head, it all came together:
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This idea of being in the moment was then embraced by the TikTok platform itself, a quirky form of self-promotion through self-expression. Because in the same way that it works for radio stations, the online community is all about being right here, right now.
If you've spent any time on TikTok this week – the perfect mashup of fans, video, humor, and currency – you've seen the countless kid guitarist tributes to Eddie Van Halen in the form of their inspired versions of his electrifying tour de force guitar solo, “Eruption.”
TikTok posted its own promo video – a way of reminding us this upstart social site has an attitude and a spirit all its own, somehow not available on Facebook, Twitter, Quibi, YouTube, and the others. I don't remember another social media platform that's done this. Butt that's what being in the moment is all about.
It's also about turning the spotlight on the audience, a technique that almost always works. Real people want to be heard, acknowledged, recognized – especially in emotionally fraught times.
I've been hearing this loud and clear these past couple days, as umpteen Rock and Classic Rock stations have pulled out all the stops for their Eddie Van Halen tributes. And in the process of holding up the mirror to their audiences, they have created radio you just can't get anywhere else.
There's a meme flying around Twitter – and in radio circles, in particular – that once again, rock radio dropped the ball in its failure to promptly and creatively recognize the passing of one of its Mt. Rushmore greats.
That hasn't been my experience.
One client after another has connected with me these past many days to share some of their most creative and touching moments. KSLX in Phoenix quickly designed a tribute bumpersticker, and featured rock luminaries like Alice Cooper and Dee Snider paying tribute to EVH.
Bob Stroud, chairman of the board at WDRV/Chicago, took a few minutes to pay his respects to Eddie in his own unique way.
And then there's KLOS in Los Angeles – Van Halen's hometown – has pulled out all the stops this week. They were still wall-to-wall Van Halen up to yesterday's midday show with Marci Wiser.
And during the course of the last couple days, they've had the likes of Gene Simmons, Taylor Hawkins, Tommy Lee, and others, including tributes by Matt Pinfield and the late Bob Coburn (long-time host of “Rockline”).
There are too many stations to mention, most of whom have done some great radio – when it counts the most. That's what being in the moment is all about.
But all the while, it's been the memories and recollections of listeners, fans that remind us of radio's ability to shine the light on the audience that sets it apart from other music services and platforms. Eddie Van Halen was an international star, but when you're from Detroit, New York, Phoenix, Philly, or L.A., your memories are local, proprietary, raw, and real.
It's about the first time you heard the band played on the radio, the first time you saw them in concert, and the stories you still love to tell.
Whether it's TikTok or the radio, that's the nerve we touch.
Saturday Night Live will do an amazing job with the fly and the debate. But we won't see it until Saturday night. You have to know Lorne Michaels wishes he was working in a medium that's live, spontaneous, and in the moment.
Joe Biden's team gets it, as illustrated by this timely post that went up while the debate was still going on.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 8, 2020
As the pandemic drones on, there will be more of these real time opportunities where radio stations and their best personalities can step up and shine. The fly reminds us about the value of being in-the-moment.
Or buzz off.
OK, one more:
Special thanks to Lori Lewis, Keith Cunningham, Otto Padron, Scott Jameson, Rob Cressman, David Moore, J.P. Hastings, and Don Anthony.
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