If you want to make a hardcore Beatles fan go absolutely apoplectic – and there are millions of them in the world today – there's a 4-letter word that is guaranteed to send them over the ledge:
As the history of the Fab Four – their rise, their heights, their breakup – has been written, there's an antagonist in the story. Yoko Ono will forever be known as the woman who all but kidnapped John Lennon, and lured him away from his mates, Paul, George, and Ringo.
She may be one of the most mysterious, misunderstood figure in the history of rock music. And her association with the demise of the Beatles is right up there with Steve Bartman and the Cubs or Roseanne Barr and…Roseanne Barr.
Yoko is no stranger to being misunderstood. In the more than three decades that have slipped by since her husband was assassinated in front of their home, the Dakota in New York City, Yoko is still very much a mystery woman, often pilloried by morning shows and comedians. Her art and her music has been widely mocked. All these years later, Beatles devotees still seethe about her role in the Beatles' rapid coming apart.
So, it struck me as unusual and more than a little ironic that Yoko posted a truly amazing tweet a few weeks ago – in support of radio. In her own understated style, she captures the essence of the medium:
Radio gives you space to visualize things with your imagination. I love it.
— Yoko Ono (@yokoono) July 28, 2018
And if you open up the comments and scroll down a bit, you'll read one hug and kiss after another in praise of the broadcast medium called “radio.”
The other night I was at a big outdoor barbecue, and I met a very successful woman in the community. When she asked what I did for a living, and I proudly said, “I'm in radio,” she made a face that I simply cannot communicate in words. It was almost like she was saying to me, “You seem like a smart guy – what are you doing working in radio?”
That happens too frequently these days, often from people who know better, who listen to more radio than they care to admit.
Does the broadcast industry have problems, some of which are gnarly and existential? To be sure. But there are also millions of fans pulling for the medium to figure it out, address its excesses, and embrace the future while not forgetting the past. Yoko's tweet – along with the unbridled comments from radio fans eager to express their enthusiasm – should be a simple reminder to all of us in this medium there's a massive audience out there, ready, willing, and able to rekindle their love affair with radio.
If we give them a reason to do so.
As someone who has made a nice living on nostalgia over the decades, thanks to the success of the Classic Rock format, I can attest just how powerful a force wonderful memories truly are for most people. Broadcast radio has that foundation – a medium that was and continues to be part of millions of lives.
Yes, there are serious speed bumps and roadblocks ahead. That massive, up and coming bulge you see coming up fast in your rear-view mirror are Gen Z kids, a generation larger than their challenging predecessors – Millennials. Most of them are not growing up with broadcast radio. In fact, many of them don't know exactly what radio is.
For a member of AARP like Yoko to sing radio's praises is a nice kiss on a warm August day in 2018. But rather than serving as a reminder of the way it used to be, perhaps we'd be wiser to take Yoko's words to heart, and paint a picture of the way it could be for the next generation.
(Just like) starting over.
Thanks to Lori Lewis for sending me Yoko's tweet.
For another happy “radio story” about Yoko, here's a link to a blog post published almost 12 years ago. She was a fan of radio then, too.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.