Friday, February 8, 2008

Book Preview

For anyone who may not have seen them already, there are several chapters from my book Blogging Heroes available online in PDF format. The chapter that interviews Chris Anderson is right here at his blog, The Long Tail. Have a look--it's a good sample!

In the interview, Chris notes that, "I do my best thinking via my blogs." Here are quotes from a few other bloggers I interviewed for the book:

* "For me, the future of journalism is blogging."-- Mary Jo Foley, All About Microsoft
* "One of the true beauties and powers of blogs is that they can give voice to people who are not heard."-- Frank Warren, PostSecret
* "When I look out at the blogosphere, I don't see lots of inconsequential blogs. I see lots of possibility."-- Gina Trapani,

Crosley Broadcasting Goes on the Air with Television, 60 Years Ago

Today (February 9) is the 60th Anniversary of Crosley Broadcasting’s first regular commercial television broadcasts. WLWT, Cincinnati’s Channel 5, went on the air on February 9, 1948. Here’s an artist’s rendering of the Crosley Broadcasting facilities as seen from the air. This site was on Chickasaw Street in University Heights.

I'll be sharing some photos of early Crosley television activities over the next couple of weeks.

Crosley's initial experiments with television began in 1939, with TV demos at the Carew Tower and inside the Crosley Pavilion at the Chicago World's Far. (Crosley was partnered with DuMont at the time.)

HDTV Converter Box Coupons

A bunch of people have asked me about the Federal government's HDTV converter box coupon program, and TV newscasts are pushing it hard, but I assume a lot of people are hearing about it but not getting the details. For those who are interested, the deal is that the Feds will give you one or two (maximum) coupons for $40 off a digital TV converter box. But you have to use the coupon(s) within 90 days of when they're mailed to you. I figure the retail end will mark up prices when the coupons start coming in.

For info, call: 888.388.2009 Or go to and apply online.
Download a mail-in coupon at
Or write: TV Converter Box Program, P.O. Box 2000, Portland, OR 97208.
Remember: The coupon expires 90 days after it's put in the mail to you, so don't request one until you're ready to buy.

I think Powel would have come out with a converter box that would undersell all the rest, even with coupons. "Buy CROSLEY! No coupon necessary!"

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

WLW and Sponsor Stunts

One of Crosley Broadcasting's biggest moneymakers was Ruth Lyons. On radio, and later on television, her show commanded network rates from advertisers, so huge was her following. The sponsors didn't mind, because when she spotlighted a product, people bought it. She would often involve sponsors' products in stunts--more so on television. In the 1950s and 60s she gave away cars (Hello, Oprah!), threw sponsors off the show (until the next day), and made sure everyone in every audience went home with a nice prize.

Paul Dixon, who preceded Lyons with a morning show, did similar things, but in his own way. Which is to say, he did stunts for their own sake. He had a gimmick called "Kneesville" that he used to get women in the audience to wear short skirts and displaly their legs. When "hot pants" came into style, he designated one show "Hot Pants Day," and had all these lovely young women in the audience wearing extreme short-shorts.

Today I happened across a reprise of a Tyra Banks show in which she and a bunch of women took off their jeans. I was immediately reminded of Lyons and Dixon. Why? The incentive for the strippers was a new pair of custom-fit jeans from a specific (and oft-mentioned) manufacturer. It was a great gimmick. For the cost of a few dozen pairs of jeans the sponsor got lots of valuable expsoure (just like Pontiac on Ophra and Chevrolet on Ruth Lyons' shows). And as with Paul Dixon, the audience got a show--men in one sense, women in another. (To round things out, Tyra Banks is carried by NBC, of which network WLW was a founding associate.)

(If Dixon and Lyons are unfamiliar to you, you may want to have a look at the book Cincinnati Television, by Jim Friedman.)