I am bummed. The failure of our attempt to save Talk of the Town kicked me right in the gut. We lost money, time, and ego, and if you know anything about me, you know that I don’t take losing easily. Losing hurts, and I admit upfront that I am a horrible loser.
I have spent my time reflecting constructively – riding my bike 100 miles, running over 10, and swimming over three in the past 5 days in an effort to process failure.
Like many “start ups” in the postmortem phase, one dissects the situation in an effort to learn from it, and I seem to do this best while exercising.
Here is what we have learned from the demise of Talk of the Town:
Where we failed
We were horribly under-capitalized for this endeavor. In fact, we were non-capitalized for this endeavor. Never do that again.
We were unable to attract commercial advertisers for the show. The advertisement package consisted of in-show reads & spots, website advertising, email newsletter advertising, and newspaper print advertising. Not one business bought in the time frame we needed. We realized that we would have to attract believers in the show willing to take this leap of faith with the show’s mission, and in the end we were unsuccessful.
Internet: $125 month (we needed a robust upstream to broadcast the show)
Software: $1,000 in one time cost.
Software: $5,000 ($399 per month for streaming for 12 months) This was for third party streaming and mobile application licensing fees. Interesting Fact: Talk of the Town became Live365’s #12 ranked talk show in a matter of 6 weeks.
Board Operator: $10 per hour for 2.5 hours a day. 4/5 weeks per month $500/$625 for a month
Website hosting: $49-$65 per month depending on bandwidth used. Streaming requires more bandwidth than other websites.
Sales Commission: a percentage of sales & automobile mileage
Talent/Diva Fees: $600 to $750 per month depending on 4 or 5 weeks per month
Website development: $2,500 & $250 per month for maintenance and changes
Construction of Studio: approximate value: $5,000 of time of three people
Equipment: $1,500 (we were able to get some equip. donated from third parties)
Ozean Equipment & Expenses: $10,000 (Ozean’s existing computers, hardware, software, office, electricity, etc)
We were on pace to raise about half of what we needed to cover just ongoing operating costs, let alone get to a level to compensate talent or upgrade equipment in order to move from a patchwork system to a more professional set up.
Jake and Ward love this community – A LOT.
What many may not realize is that these two worked without compensation and even passed on other financial opportunities to continue the show. Not only that, but they cared so much that they were willing to take the slings and arrows that came with speaking out. They took the bullets so that the rest of us didn’t have to. When people talked of “toxic hate” radio (when they really meant the expression of a different opinion) they weren’t speaking of us. Ward and Jake stood there like men and took it all in order for our community to hear a different opinion.
Local advertisers have not embraced an Internet model of advertising. With limited advertisement dollars available, they choose to spend their money elsewhere. I think they are wrong, but I understand.
Some didn’t like the Internet, digital model and were working on a plan to purchase a small radio station. When trying something new, it doesn’t help when supporters of the show implicitly signal they don’t believe in its form. But, I understand that is business.
We horribly overestimated people’s desire to financially support the show
This is the one I am most disappointed in myself for, because I know better. I spent years in fundraising for political campaigns at the Congressional level. I know the drill. “You have my support – call me.” Then we spend the next three weeks calling with no answer. DAMN IT, I know better than to trust people’s good intentions, but in my thrust to get the project off the ground, I ignored the voice.
Some on the extreme-right blackballed the show
Some on the left blackballed the show
Yep, went there too. From Commissioner Bottcher requesting lists of advertisers to PIO officers warning businesses “not to tarnish their image”, there was a concentrated effort to kill the show.
It was me personally
Some people refused to be affiliated with the show financially because I personally was involved in the show. Shame, it is well known that I had my disagreements with the show – in fact we had some of them on the air. Yet, I realized the over-all good the show was doing, and I was willing to set aside any petty, lingering feelings to help save the voice of the loyal opposition. Shame others couldn’t do it.
Enterprise doesn’t run on appreciation – Or – There are hypocrites among us
Funny, the same people who called the show the most talking of their ‘deep appreciation for the show’ and lamenting the loudest about the show’s demise, never would be bothered to donate $15 per month. In fact, they wouldn’t donate a dime in any form – one time donation, monthly, etc.
In fact a vast majority of the donations received to keep Talk of the Town going were from small donors with limited means – THEIR $15 a month meant a lot.
I would rather someone had said honestly “This Internet stuff won’t work and I am not giving you a dime.” than call the show every other day talking about their appreciation and praising the wonder of Talk of the Town while sitting on their fat wallets.
People listen to Streaming Media
Funny, some of the same people that were the most adverse to the Internet streaming saying or emailing such silly things as “all my friends don’t use the Internet” were some of the most consistent listeners.
What to do differently
In retrospect, what I would have done differently was to advised Ward & Jake NOT to launch the show immediately. I would have advised a period where the show went dark, and we used this time to launch a “Save the Talk of the Town” campaign. We would have collected pledges and only when we raised $x would we have continued with the launch. In fact, Talk of the Town sounds like a perfect kickstarter project.
That process would have saved time, money and fleshed out the scoundrels earlier.
Talk of the Town Conclusion
In the end, while disappointed and a bit bruised by the failure, I am not bitter. I will get over it and move on (may take another 50 miles on the bike). We learned a lot from the experience and collected very interesting data about Internet streaming.
In the end, I hope the show or something similar to it is re-born, because as all political scientists & practitioners know “when the political elites agree with no countervailing opinion, consensus is assumed.”
And at this point, there is no one left to stand guard.