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The official, unexpurgated, continuing chronicle of the misadventures and miseries that befall Dan O'Day on his world travels.

This record almost always is posted at least a year after the events recorded therein, due to the time it takes Dan to recover (at least partially) from the emotional scars inflicted upon him. At times this requires hypnosis and/or psychotropic medication.

#74


SINCE LAST WE SPOKE....

May 18 - 20, 2001:

 

This return visit to Stowe, Vermont, as a guest speaker (GUARANTEED 5-STEP SYSTEM FOR CREATING RADIO COMMERCIALS THAT GET RESULTS and PROGRAMMING YOUR STATION’S WEBSITE) for Al Noyes and the Vermont Association of Broadcasters was marked by an exceptional rarity:

 

None of my four flights was cancelled, and all left and arrived on time.

 

Upon hearing the news, the F.A.A. immediately announced a full investigation.

           

A year earlier, I had reserved a rental car with Hertz to get me from the airport in Burlington to Stowe. As always, I had reserved a 4-door sedan.

 

But when I had gone to the parking stall assigned to my reserved vehicle, I found they had a minivan waiting for me.

 

I didn’t need a minivan, and I had no desire to drive one along Vermont’s mountain roads. Returning to the Hertz counter, I was told, “We upgraded you.”

           

“That’s not an upgrade,” I replied. “It’s a minivan.” Fortunately, they were able to find a sedan for me.

           

This time when I checked in at Hertz, I told the clerk, “Last year I asked for a 4-door sedan and you gave me a minivan instead. I assume that’s not the case this time.”

           

The clerk checked the computer and then flushed, embarrassed. “Actually, you have been given a minivan. Is that alright?”

           

“No, it’s not. I don’t want a minivan. I want a full-size, 4-door sedan, just like I was promised.”

           

“I’m very sorry, sir, but we don’t have any left. I can, however, give you a compact.”

 

I always reserve a full-size 4-door so that A) I can easily load and unload my luggage and B) I don’t get blown off the highway in the wake of passing truckers.

           

“No, I don’t want a compact. I want a full-size, 4-door sedan.”

           

The clerk sighed and then grudgingly said, “The only available sedan is a Mercury Grand Marquis.”

 

I wasn’t familiar with that model, but a customer next to me in line said, “That’s a very nice car!”

 

It turns out that Hertz considers it to be a “premium” car. A sedan, with four doors. But before they would give that to me, first they had to try to pawn off either a minivan or a subcompact on me.

           

To get to Stowe, I fly into Burlington and rent a car for the 45-minute drive. I had done this two or three times previously, and I knew the driving wouldn’t pose any problems. That is, until I saw the sign:

 

“US Highway 2A — Detour.”

 

It took me 45 minutes just to cover a mile or so; it was worse than Rush Hour back home in Los Angeles.

           

Once on the highway, however, things picked up. I was sampling the area radio stations when I happened to tune in to the end of a newscast, followed by a 30-second commercial, which was followed by...silence.

 

Now, to radio folks two seconds of “dead air” is considered a long time.

 

Five seconds of dead air constitutes a major screw-up.

 

But absolute silence continued to be broadcast over my car radio for 10 seconds...20 seconds...30 seconds.

 

This was getting interesting; how long would it last?

           

It lasted a full minute.

 

Then, without explanation or introduction, a classical guitar piece began to play. I like classical guitar. I enjoyed the piece.

           

The song ended. Then....30 seconds of silence.

           

Followed by the sound of a tape recording being rewound on-the-air.

 

Followed by...that same classical guitar piece.

           

The second rendition of the song ended.

           

Another 30 seconds of silence.

           

Another on-air rewind.

           

A third playing of the guitar piece.

           

Then 30 seconds of silence, and then the tape was rewound again. But this time it was rewound longer. Rather than stopping at the beginning of that same song, I counted four speeded up tones, each marking the start of a separate track. Then, the first of the four songs began to play.

           

By this time I had changed directions, winding through the Vermont hills, and the signal was fading.

 

I tried desperately to find out what station I was listening to.

 

I wanted to call the new jock or board operator responsible for what I had just heard and say, “You’ve just had the absolute worst on-air experience you’ll ever have. Relax; it can only get better from here.”

 

May 24, 2001: Today marked the beginning of a travel schedule only a fool would attempt. If everything went according to schedule (doubtful), here’s what the next couple of weeks would look like.

           

May 24: Leave the house at 8:45AM for a 10:15 flight to Kamloops, British Columbia (Canada), via Vancouver. Gerry Siemens had arranged for me to speak at the British Columbia Association of Broadcasters’ convention.

           

May 25: Present HOW TO GET RICH VIA RE-ORDERS in the morning, PROGRAMMING YOUR STATION’S WEBSITE in the afternoon. At the end of the second seminar, rush back to the airport for a flight to Vancouver and then back to L.A. With luck, I’d be home a little after midnight.

           

May 26: Leave the house at 2:30PM for a 4:15 flight to Nuremberg, Germany, via Paris. Reach my hotel in Nuremberg at around 6PM the next day (May 27). Unpack, go to bed.

           

May 28: Present RADIO SALES MAGIC (a full-day seminar for radio salespeople). Bayerische Landeszentrale fuer neue Medien (BLM)’s Peter Fürmetz and  Stefan Sutor had arranged for me to be the keynote speaker at their annual radio conference.

           

May 29: Present HOW TO CRITIQUE AND COACH RADIO AIR TALENT for BLM.

           

May 30: Leave the hotel at 9AM to catch a 10:40 flight to Los Angeles (via Paris and San Francisco.) Arrive at home at around 8PM the same day.

           

May 31: Leave the house at 7:45AM for a 9:20 flight to Casper, Wyoming (via Denver). Rent a car, drive to the nearby town of Douglas. Reach hotel room around 5:15PM.

           

June 1: Present THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MANAGEMENT: How to Motivate Your Staff to Peak Performance, for Laura Grott and the Wyoming Association Broadcasters.

           

June 2: Present HOW TO CREATE MAXIMUM IMPACT RADIO ADVERTISING in the morning and my GUARANTEED FIVE-STEP SYSTEM FOR CREATING RADIO COMMERCIALS THAT GET RESULTS in the afternoon.

           

June 3: Leave the hotel at 8:45AM for a 10:45AM flight back to L.A., reach the house at 5PM.

           

June 4: Leave the house at 6:45AM(!) to catch an 8:15 flight to Philadelphia, where a car will be waiting to drive me the 90 minutes to Atlantic City, New Jersey, reaching the hotel at 6:15PM.

           

June 5: Present a full-day version of AIR PERSONALITY PLUS+ for Phil Roberts and the New Jersey Broadcasters Association. At 5:30PM, a car picks up me at the hotel and drives me to Newark for an 8:15PM flight to L.A.; reach the house sometime after midnight.

           

June 6: An entire day free of travel!

           

June 7: Leave the house at 5:45AM(!!) to catch a 7:15 flight to Springfield, Missouri. Arrive 3:25PM. Rent a car, drive to Branson, reaching the hotel at around 5PM.

           

June 8: Present HOW TO CREATE MAXIMUM IMPACT RADIO ADVERTISING for Don Hicks and the Missouri Association of Broadcasters.

           

June 9: Present a full-day version of AIR PERSONALITY PLUS+.

           

June 10: Leave the hotel at 9:30AM for an 11:26 flight to Los Angeles, reach the house at 5:15PM.

 

So, that was the plan. The reality was as follows.

 

Kamloops, B.C.:  The flights were more or less on time, and the seminars went well. The only problem occurred as I prepared to leave the hotel.

 

My last seminar ended at 4:00, and I had arranged with the restaurant for them to have a sandwich waiting for me at the Front Desk not later than 4:15. I knew there would be no food on the flight from Kamloops to Vancouver, and I knew I would be starving.

 

Aaron, the restaurant employee, assured me the sandwich would be packed and ready for me to pick up at 4:15.

           

“I don’t want to sound paranoid,” I said, “but is there anything else I need to do to make absolutely sure that at 4:15 that sandwich will be waiting for me at the Front Desk?”

           

“No, sir. I’ve made a note of it right here, and it will be waiting for you at 4:15.”

           

I conducted the afternoon’s seminar.

 

I stayed a few minutes to answer last-minute questions from attendees, then went directly to the lobby.

 

It was 4:30.

 

I told the desk clerk I was there to pick up my sandwich.

           

“What sandwich?” he asked.

           

“The one that Aaron in your restaurant assured me would be waiting for me here 15 minutes ago.”

           

The desk clerk called the restaurant, engaged in a brief conversation, then hung up and said to me, “It’s on its way right now.”

           

Hmmm. Now, why would that be? It was supposed to have been delivered 15 minutes ago, and now it’s “on its way.”

           

It took me 10 seconds to walk over to the restaurant. I told the hostess I needed the sandwich that was supposed to have been delivered 15 minutes earlier.

 

“They’re making it for you right now, sir.”

 

She turned and walked into the kitchen. I followed her, reaching the kitchen just in time to hear her tell the cook, “We’ve got a rush order on a club sandwich.”

           

Forget it. I’d miss my plane if I waited. But let the world know that when employees of the Kamloops Best Western tell you something, they’re lying.

 

Nuremberg, Germany: My trip to Nuremberg required a change of planes in Paris. As I waited in the gate area in Paris, a recorded announcement came over the loudspeaker:

 

“A reminder that smoking is strictly prohibited inside the terminal.”

 

Everyone around me was smoking. Everyone.

           

The two days of seminars went quite smoothly.

 

Day Two was standing room only; over 200 people showed up, whereas only 115 had been expected.

 

Even though perhaps 20% of the audience listened to the session via headphones, using simultaneous translation, everything went swimmingly.

 

(The biggest challenge of speaking to an audience via translators is that when I say something that I think is humorous, the audience doesn’t laugh until 10 seconds later.)

           

The event was capped by an outdoor party at a medieval castle. When we arrived at the castle, we were greeted by employees dressed in medieval garb...playing bagpipes! I’m sure there was some logical reason for the bagpipes, but no one seemed to know what that explanation was.

 

Next Issue: The incomparable excitement of Douglas, Wyoming....

 

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