Friday, November 21, 2008

Andrew Aswhood / "BJ Hunter"

Sad news out of Los Angeles last week, my friend Andrew Ashwood passed away. Andrew was putting up a strong and couageous fight against cancer but suffered a massive heart attack last week and did not recover. Andrew was only 51. Most recently he was the Vice President/General Manager & Executive Producer of the FOX Sports Radio Network

You may not know him by Andrew, but you may have known him as by his radio name, BJ Hunter. Andrew and I worked together in the 80's at KOOL AM & FM. He was the Program Director and Morning Drive jock and I was the Local Sales Manager.

We had a lot of good times together at KOOL. And there were a lot of GREAT radio stories from that time. I'll share a couple that can be published....

Andrew was an innovative PD who always had BIG ideas to get publicity for the station. As the wall was coming down in Germany, he decided that he wanted to do a live broadcast from Checkpoint Charlie at the border of East and West Berlin. It was the "Rock the Block" promotion. He came to me and asked me if I could trade the air fare and hotel for the trip. I said I would try, but if I did, I wanted to go on the trip. Needless to say, I was able to trade out a great hotel in Berlin and first class tickets on TWA for the trip. Ten of us packed our bags and were off to Berlin for the live broadcasts. A great promotion, lots of publicity for the station and a lot of fun. To this day, that trip is one of the highlights of my life.

A second story that is memorable, which my friend Bruce Olson our National Sales Manager at the time disputes, has to do with over selling commercials on the radio station. At that time in the 80's we were only running nine - ten commercials an hour. Bruce and I had a habit of over selling the station on the weekends. It was always a constant battle to get Andrew to allow us to run the extra spots. So we would have to plead with our General Manager to let us have the extra inventory. Ultimately, the GM would say, "BJ... just run the &^%$%* spots". The irony of this story is (and this is where Bruce and I disagree) that when we oversold the station it was to only twelve units an hour (Bruce thinks it was more like 20). Twelve units was a ton of spots back then, but is the norm or even on the light side today.

There were also, the limo's, the staff retreats, the KOOL Cafe, trips to Arbitron and a lot more. Andrew was a smart and innovative broadcaster and a fun guy to hang around with.

Here is the Obituary from the Arizona Republic...

Ashwood, Andrew
VP and GM of FOX Sports Radio, died of a heart attack November 13, 2008. He was 51. Once known as "BJ Hunter" in his days as a DJ at KWTI Milwaukee and KOOL FM in Phoenix, Andrew later became Program Director at WQAM Miami. A natural leader, Andrew took over as PD, and then Operations Manager, at News Radio 1200 WOAI in San Antonio, where he developed a passionate affinity for the Spurs. In 2003 he joined FOX Sports Radio where his "DARE to be Great" motto helped give the network direction as its affiliate base tripled in size. A lifelong Green Bay Packers fan, Andrew inspired co-workers and friends, constantly reminding them that "Winning is the Only Option," his unique adaptation of Vince Lombardi's "Winning is the Only Thing." Shortly after his 50th birthday, Andrew married the love of his life, Sandra. Unfortunately he was diagnosed with cancer 3 months later, and fought valiantly for a year and a half, before suffering a heart attack on Monday. Andrew's unwavering positive outlook on work, on sports, and on life, carried over into his fight with cancer as he promised it would never beat him. Ironically, it did not. Andrew is survived by his wife Sandra Ashwood, his mother Mrs. Helen Ashwood, three sisters, Ann Ashwood, Lorry Stiles and Amy Ashwood Checcinato. He is also survived by his nephews and nieces; Chris and Spencer Stiles, Rebecca, Zacary, Anthony, Hannah and Abby Piper, Andrea and Marta Checcinato. The family is extremely grateful to the staff at M.D. Anderson & City of Hope for their loving care of Andrew. Services will be held on Friday, November 21, 2008 @ 2:30 p.m. at Forest Lawn Mortuary, Old North Church 6300 Forest Lawn Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90068. In lieu of flowers, donations to 'City of Hope the Andrew Ashwood Fund' would be appreciated. Published in The Arizona Republic on 11/20/2008

Click here to see a tribute to Andrew by San Antonio Sports anchor Don Harris.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What is a Cohort? It Must be a MBA Term...

Fran, I and the girls traveled to Tucson this weekend to witness the commencement ceremony for the Executive MBA 2008 graduates at The Univeristy of Arizona's Eller College of Management. Our friends Holly Capps and Kristi Staab were both graduating. It was a great honor for us to be there with their family's to celebrate this great accomplishment and watch them walk across the stage in their caps and gowns to receive their hard earned diplomas.

As you know, I like to include speeches on my blog that I think are particularly meaningful, insightful and enlightening.

Holly was chosen by her Tucson cohorts to deliver the student address. Holly hit it out of the park.... A Grand Slam! Her address gave us insight in to what it is like to be a successful and busy executive and study diligently for fourteen consecutive months to reach the milestone of obtaining an Executive MBA. Her comment's were entertaining, informative, addressed camaraderie and most importantly came from the heart.

This is what Holly had to say....

When people hear we are graduating, there is one typical response: “Already? Man, that went by so fast!”

Perhaps for those around us, the past 14 months did go by quickly. However, a lot can (and did) happen in those 14 months.

Here’s a sample of what happened to the Tucson cohort:

3 of us got engaged
2 of us got married
3 babies were born
2 of us lost loved ones
7 of us took new jobs
4 of us moved
1 of us had major surgery
1 of us became an American citizen
2 of us got glasses
6 of us got stronger glasses
14 of us leave with more gray hair than we started with
9 of us leave with less hair
6 of us developed a nervous twitch or stutter
1 of us developed stress-induced Irritable Bowel Syndrome

And it’s not just our brains that got bigger in the program: collectively, we gained 169.38725 pounds.

When our class thinks about the best memories from our time together, many of us think about our International Trip – there can’t be a better way to see Bangkok and Shanghai then hanging out on buses and planes with 60 of our closest friends. As you’ve probably guessed, we shared many laughs together – some at entertaining professors, some caused by late nights and stress, and most of it at our own expense. We laughed when we figured out the professors and staff were all included on our class email list. We laughed when group presentations went…well…less than perfect – we labeled those times “learning opportunities for the rest of the class.” We laughed about professors, our mistakes and our gaffes. We laughed in McClelland Hall, at the Marriot, at Gentle Bens and at the Dubliner. Bottom line: we laughed. And we laughed together.

Top 14 things we learned during the Eller Executive MBA program, at no additional charge:
14. It is totally possible to pull a fast one using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

13. We can become intolerant and crabby when we’re deprived of sleep over a period of say…oh, I don’t know…14 months.

12. Time in the restroom can be vital to reading your homework. Don’t be ashamed to take it with you.

11. Your colleagues are the best resources you can get. Some of them have great ideas and others serve as shining beacons of what NOT to do.

10. No matter how much you try, you may not get everything done to your complete satisfaction. You have to learn to accept the best you can do in the time you have to spend, and move on.

9. Multi-tasking: We can eat, study, eat, participate in class, eat lunch, go for a walk to the 7-11, eat while listening to lectures, break for a snack, listen to more lectures and head out for dinner. What an expansive skill set!

8. It is totally possible to be stressed out and enlightened at the same time.

7. Chickens prefer contacts over spectacles.

6. Averages are useless: With one hand in boiling water and the other hand in ice water, on average, I am comfortable.

5. Pirate jokes…lots and lots of pirate jokes.

4. It is far more painful to have a hangover during MBA classes than it was in undergrad classes.

3. You don’t have to pay taxes on things you launch into space.

2. We can do more and push ourselves farther than we ever thought possible.

1. Most everything in business is a guess.

As you’ve probably noticed, we’ve picked up a few new vocabulary words along the way. You’ll be hearing them often…we’ve paid a lot to get them and they make us feel smarter. Here is a small sample of our favorite new words and phrases:

• Arbitrage
• Pedagogical
• Value proposition
• Iteration
• Launch the biscuit
• Photovoltaic
• Pro forma
• Greenfield & brownfield
• Ideating, which is followed by winnowing
• Open the kimono
• Fungible
• Sunk cost
• Pivot Table
• Extracting consumer surplus

And my favorite new vocabulary word:

• Cohort – they started calling us that on the first day of the program
  • Definition: a group of subjects with a common defining characteristic
  • But over the last 14 months, we learned what it really means: “those who will stick by you through good times and bad” or in short “family”

Job well done!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm Going Green

Last week our dryer broke. We were in a bit of a panic. You can only imagine how much laundry accumulates when you live in a house with three women. The laundry was piling up as we were waiting for for the repairman to come out and fix it.

Then it dawned on me. We live in Arizona and it is HOT out side. What do we need a dryer for? We have our own Solar dryer in the backyard and it doesn't break down and it is extremely energy efficient.

I was reminded of the days when I was a little kid and used to visit my grandparents here in Cave Creek. My grandmother had a washer but no dryer. She would hang everything up on the clothes line behind her house. The warm breeze coming off the mountain would dry the clothes. Then there were the summer vacations on the lake in Wisconsin and my mother would hang up all of our clothes to dry. Most recently, we were in Italy and every where you went people hung their clothes up to dry.

If it was good enough for my mother, grandmother and the Italians, then it is good enough for me. We don't have a clothes line in the backyard but we do have a pool fence that goes the length of yard. It is a modern day clothes line.

Jordie and I did the laundry, took it out of the washer, threw it in the basket, walked out in the yard and started hanging up the laundry on the pool fence. All of the jeans and towels were neatly draped over the top of the fence, the shirts, blouses and t-shirts were put on hangers and looped over the top of the fence, underwear and socks were on top of the fence as well. The only problem I had was that the wind blew some underware and socks into the pool, I will have to get clothes pins next time!

Interestingly enough, it took about the same amount of time to dry as it would in the dryer. The clothes smelled fresh (no fabric softener) and since half of the clothes were already on hangers, time was saved in the long run because I did not have to take the shirts out of the dryer and hand them up.

Most importantly, I was doing my part in conserving energy!

If it were up to me, I'd forget about the dryer and not repair it. I'm sure I would get a bit of resistance from Fran and the girls.

Four hundred and seventy dollars later our four year old, state of the art, computerized, digital GE dryer has a new motor in it. Fran and the girls are happy. I've decided to go GREEN and let nature dry my clothes.

All kidding aside, I have become more energy contentious this past year. There is a great channel on cable called PlanetGreen started by the discovery network. Check them out and check out their website here. We all need to do our part to conserve.

I'm driving a Honda and hanging my laundry out to dry.... It's a start!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Marketing Lessons From Barack Obama

I'm sure as time goes on there are going to be a lot of articles, books, blogs etc. written about how Barack Obama won the election.

Today, Fred Jacobs had an insightful post titled "Taking It Personal" about how the Obama campaign embraced personality and warmth combined with digital technology including email and text messages to intimately reach out to his supporters.

If you were an email or text subscriber to the Obama campaign you periodically received personal messages from Barack Obama and other members of the campaign keeping you up-to-date.

Read Fred's post here:

I also read an article today in this weeks Ad Age by renowned marketing expert and author Al Reis detailing how Barack Obama and his campaign out positioned all of his opponents in this years election.

He says that .....

"Nov. 4, 2008, will go down in history as the biggest day ever in the history of marketing. Take a relatively unknown man. Younger than all of his opponents. Black. With a bad-sounding name. Consider his first opponent: the best-known woman in America, connected to one of the most successful politicians in history. Then consider his second opponent: a well-known war hero with a long, distinguished record as a U.S. senator. It didn't matter. Barack Obama had a better marketing strategy than either of them".


Reis identifys key factors that he felt led to the marketing victory.

1. Develop the ultimate slogan and stick with it.
2. Simplicity - Keep it simple. Obama Chose "Change"
3. Consistency - Tell the voters over and over again what you are about. In Obama's case, "Change"
4. Relevance

Read the entire article here:

Obama's strategists and advisers would make great consultants for radio stations. They get it! They have taken basic customer service principals along with a strategic positioning statement, then integrated them into a viral, interactive marketing campaign. You know what the results are. Broadcasters, advertisers and marketers can learn from Obama's victory.

Old Technology vs. New Technology

At MEGA we brand ourselves as "Old School". It doesn't get any more Old School than this! You've got to watch this video. It is great. Thanks to Clayton for passing it on to me.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The BEAT...... The Valley's Classic Hip Hop....

At 9:27am this morning we launched The BEAT on 92.7, 99.3, 101.1 and 93.5 in Flagstaff. Needless to say, we are all very excited about our ground breaking new format. The response we have gotten from listeners and clients has been spectacular.

Here is the press release that was sent out this morning announcing the new station.

(480) 994-9100 Office


The BEAT Debuts on KNRJ FM Playing Classic Hip Hop Music for Valley Listeners.

November 3rd, 2008 (SCOTTSDALE, AZ) – Sierra H Broadcasting is proud to welcome 92.7/99.3 The BEAT to the Valley! The first radio station of its kind anywhere, The BEAT will feature the pioneers of Hip Hop. Including the Sugarhill Gang, Jay-Z, Kurtis Blow, Outkast, Run DMC, Notorious B.I.G., Grandmaster Flash, Doctor Dre., LL Cool J, 2Pac, The Beastie Boys, Snoop Dogg and everything in between! The best Hip Hop over the last 30 years finally has a radio home in Arizona on 92.7/99.3 The BEAT!

The BEAT is a music intensive radio station that plays only the biggest Hip Hop Classic hits from the 80’s and 90’s! The BEAT is about good times, parties, friends, family and lots of fun!

“The BEAT is truly something unique for listeners across Arizona,” said Beau Duran, Program Director of The BEAT. “For the first time ever, all of the great hip hop that Generation X grew up with will have a home on one radio station. This is the start of a new national trend!”

“This is what listeners want to hear and we are excited give it to them,” said Michael Mallace, General Manager of The BEAT. “The BEAT is a perfect compliment both musically and demographically to MEGA 104.3 our heritage Old School station. The BEAT will provide a great avenue for advertisers who want to reach the active 25-40 year old consumers.”

The BEAT covers the Phoenix metropolitan area on 92.7/99.3 and 101.1 FM and can also be heard in Flagstaff and Northern Arizona on 93.5 FM. These four different signals expose millions of Arizonans to the pioneers of Hip Hop.

Sierra H Broadcasting is a privately held, locally owned and operated corporation that operates two radio stations, KAJM-FM and KNRJ-FM, in the Phoenix metro area. With translators throughout the state, these two formats: The BEAT 92.7/99.3/101.1 – “The Valley’s Classic Hip Hop” and Mega 104.3 – “Arizona’s Old School Station,” also entertain listeners throughout Northern Arizona including the Flagstaff, Payson, Prescott and Sedona communities. The BEAT and MEGA can be heard world wide on the web at and

For more information, visit “The BEAT” at


Saturday, November 1, 2008

As Much As Things Change... Nothing Changes At All

When I was a kid in high school, I was very fortunate. Our high school, New Trier West in Northfield, Illinois had a 100 watt FM radio station. It covered a large part of the north shore of Chicago. The friendships that were fostered at WNTH 88.1 FM in the mid 70's have continued for more than 30 years. We were a bunch of guys that had one thing in common. We ate, drank, breathed and slept the radio station, sometimes at the expense of our classes and grades, to our parents dismay. We were passionate, we wanted to learn about radio and broadcasting we had a love of music, electronics and most of all, we wanted to have fun!

Through the years we have all gone off in different directions and careers. Some still live in the Chicagoland area and some of us have moved out west. What is so special is that we have maintained our friendship through the years.

At this point, I must note that I am the youngest of the group. I will turn 49 this month. The majority of the guys have already turned 50 or are turning 50 this year. With that said, we thought it would be great if we all got together in Las Vegas for a weekend to celebrate everyones 50th birthday. A mini high school reunion if you will. We have done this periodically through the years and always have a good time.

This year it was no different but a bit more symbolic. As I get older, I get a little more sentimental as I cherish the times we all get together. We had the big weekend last week. Telling you that it was a great time would be an understatemt. It is hard to explane because we really did not do anything that was out of the ordinary except share each others company.

I'll share some hightlights in a minute.

First, a little insight into the group.... There were nine of us. The group from Chicago included Alan who travels around the country and the world selling electronic components, Loren who is an attorney specializing in realestate, Steve who is a doctor (MD), Kenny is a financial adviser and Bill is a CPA, accounting software consultant and now a pain (back) management specialist. Roger and Scott came from Southern California. Scott manufactures dance shoe's and costumes for dance schools around the world and Roger is a voice actor / actor and producer in Los Angeles. Tom came in from Portland and he is the former Chief Engineer of a number of television stations and now runs a media monitoring business in the Portland Area.

On with the story... We met and stayed at the Paris hotel in Vegas on Friday evening. We all look the same, some of us a little heavier, some of us with gray hair, some of us with no hair and then some of us with all of the above! We had drinks and caught up at the bar. Scott had arranged for us to go see Elton John that night. How symbolic was that? When we were growing up Elton John was at the top of his game, his "Good By Yellow Brick Road" album was one of the biggest albums of the 70's and we played Elton John songs all the time on WNTH. The concert was great! We came full circle! As a side note, both Loren and I agreed that "Grey Seal" off the "Good By Yellow Brick Road" album is one of our favorites!

The next day we did things that we would never do if we were with our wife and kids. We went to the Atomic Testing Museum and then went to an indoor shooting range where you could shoot just about any type of handgun or riffle. I didn't shoot, but I was the official photographer. There were some very interesting people at the target range! All and all a great day. It was capped off by a relaxing couple of hours at the pool hanging out in the jacuzzi and in lounge chairs talking and picking up where we had left off the last time we were all together.

Growing up we would hang out, go to the movies and always end up the night having pizza some where. The places I remember were Jakes, Carvelle, Yesterdays and Barnaby's. It was fitting that we went out for a nice Italian dinner. Once again, Scott came through and suggested that we go to Il Mulino at the Forum shops at Ceasar's.

A fabulous choice! This could be one of the best Italain restaurants I've ever eaten at. Instead of stuffing our faces with pizza, we were gorging ourselves with fine northern Italian cuisine. Back in the day we would share cheese, peperoni, sausage and veggie pizzas. At Il Mulino we were sharing Grana Padano (cheese), bruschetta, garlic breads, country bread, focaccia, chicken Parmesan, veal, ravioli, shrimp fish and more. And just like 30 years ago we told stories laughed and had a great time.

One of the more comical and telling events of the evening was right at the beginning after we sat down. The waiter brought over the menus. It was so dark and the printing was so small on the menu that none of us could see. We all had to borrow Steve's pocket L.E.D penlight so we could see what to order. I guess our eyes are not what they used to be. As always, Steve was prepared and there to save the day!

I have known these guys for more than half my life and I realized a few things. First, it doesn't matter how long it has been since we have seen each other or spoken, we just pick up where we left off the last time. And for as much as everything changes, nothing really changes at all.

When I got home, I looked at the girls and see them with all of their friends. I wonder who they will be friends with 30 plus years from now. I only hope that they are as lucky as I have been.