Technology

The Power of Presentation

Take a look at the above picture. If you cannot identify the item, find someone older than you and have them explain it to you. If you know what it is and remember using it, you must be old. If you think it’s a car air filter that sat in a large round can on top of an old V-8 engine — well, you’re older than you think.

For those of us who remember using the Kodak Carousal slide projector, it was a great innovation that made it much easier to sort slides for presentations. This was the era before software and computer projectors made slides obsolete. It was a time before digital cameras; a time when you took film to the drugstore to have it processed.

There was something poetic about the Carousal slide projector that was lost when computers took over presentations. When the projector lit up the screen, the lights in the room would go out. It felt like you were in a movie theater. Then as the presenter advanced each slide, you would hear the gentle clicking of one slide being replaced by another. The whirring of the cooling fan on the projector; the dimmed lights; the gentle clicking with each slide; all these elements together created a powerful cure for insomnia.

While the soothing sounds of the Carousal slide projector might be gone, computer presentations have at least carried forward the ability to put people to sleep. What still holds true, no matter what the presentation technology, is the content of the presentation and its power to persuade, inform or connect with an audience at an emotional level.

If you’ve never seen the Kodak Carousal pitch on the show Mad Men, follow this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suRDUFpsHus. It not only shows you the operation of the projector, but also the power of presentation.

The Work World

Watch and Learn from the CEO

#titles — third in a series

Early in my career I worked for an ad agency as a writer. This firm had high expectations from its creative staff because the CEO was a seasoned art director. Mediocre work was not acceptable. My boss would repeatedly hand my copy back to me and tell me, “You can write better than that.” It infuriated me when I had to rewrite the same ad four or five times. But by the fifth time I grudgingly accepted that my boss was right. The rewrites were making me a better writer, but I also learned ads were more than just words.

The process of finalizing an ad — putting words and images together — was equally tough. I worked closely with the art director to craft an ad that would be memorable to whoever saw it. The Creative Director had to give the final stamp of approval before the ad was considered complete. More times than not, we had to go back to the drawing board to improve the ad. It was a brutal process that made us all better at our craft. But there was one final approval that was the toughest of all — the CEO.

In this agency creative was king and the king, the CEO, was a creative at heart. Everything needed his approval before it left the shop to go to the client. He demanded nothing less than our best. You can imagine my fear as I rode the elevator to the top floor with the creative director and art director to review the ad campaign we labored over for days. This was my first CEO review, but not for the other two in the elevator. No one spoke a word on the ride up, which only heightened my fear.

When the elevator doors opened, we were greeted by a receptionist. “He’s waiting for you,” she told us. My heart rate quickened as the three of us walked into the CEO’s office. A sharply dressed man in a deep blue suit with a stylish tie warmly greeted us. He acknowledged my two companions by their first name, then looked at me. “This is our new writer,” my creative director introduced me. I shook his hand. A firm, yet gentle grip that expressed confidence. He had an air of creative style about him, someone who felt details mattered.

“We can spread out the campaign on the table,” the CEO said. My creative director spread out the ad layouts on the table and the CEO instantly began to study each ad. The silence in the room was almost too much for me to handle as I watched him hover over each ad. When he finally spoke, he espoused creative wisdom, showing us ways to enhance each ad.

“The words and picture should work together,” he remarked. “If I put my hand over the picture, the words should become meaningless,” he added as he extended his hand over the photo in one ad layout. The moment he extended his hand, the watch on his wrist emerged from under his suit jacket. I didn’t hear another word he said.

“Oh my,” I said to myself. “That’s a Gucci watch he has on his wrist.” I stared at the watch and marveled at its sleek design — stripes of pearl inlay with small diamonds where the 12, 3, 6 and 9 would be on a watch. I once saw a pictures of this expensive watch and now here was one right in front of me. I became hypnotized as I admired the design of his Gucci watch while he waved his hand back and forth. “That had to cost a small fortune,” I thought as I stared at it, totally distracted.

“Do you see what I’m saying?” The CEO said to me as I watched his Gucci watch disappear under the sleeve of his suit jacket as he stood straight. “Uh, yeah, I do,” I nodded. “The pictures and words must work together,” I repeated the last line I heard. “Exactly,” he said.

A few minutes later we were back in the elevator with our ad layouts. When the doors closed and we started to descend to our floor, I blurted out, “Did you see his Gucci watch?” My creative director looked at me and smiled. “It’s a very stylish watch. It grabs your attention. It’s memorable just like our ads should be.” I smiled and nodded. He had made an excellent point.

To this day I still remember that Gucci watch on his wrist, waving back and forth. The image in my brain is vivid, as if it just happened a minute ago. I can still see the inlaid pearl strips reflecting multiple colors in the light. I wish I could say the same about the ad campaign we presented that day to the CEO. I can’t remember a single thing about those ads.

The Work World

Flushing Corporate Rank in the Air

#titles — second in a series

Early in my career, I was minding my own business as a lowly writer in the bowels of a large corporation. Suddenly a senior vice president (VP) appeared in the doorway to my office and demanded to know, “Did you write this?!” He was waving the company’s latest quarterly report at me, the one I just wrote that was now in print. “Yes?” I timidly replied as I watched my career flash before my eyes. He stepped into my office, slapped the report on my desk and said, “Great job!” Before I could respond, he was gone.

So you can understand my trepidation when a few months later a different senior VP suddenly appeared in my office doorway and said he wanted to talk to me. I had met this VP a while ago on another story I wrote and he insisted I call him Carl — so he seemed friendly enough. Yet I was still nervous, not knowing the reason for his sudden appearance.

“I see you wrote those articles on that air base project,” he remarked.

“Yes?” I timidly replied, not sure if I should expect a compliment or a scolding about something I wrote.

“Tomorrow morning we’re having a contract signing ceremony at the air base. I want you there to cover it.”

“Tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow. Can you be there?”

“Yes, I can be there,” I responded, knowing it was nearly a four-hour drive. I had visited the former air base development several times for articles in the weekly company newspaper. “I’ll just need to know where on the base I should go after I drive there.”

“No, I want you to fly with us on the company jet.”

“Company jet?” I said in a surprised tone. I had flown on the company jet only one other time. It was to cover an event the CEO was participating in. It was a strange experience since the CEO sat up front with a few other executives while I sat toward the back of the mostly empty air craft. No one talked to me during the flight.

“Yes,” Carl replied. “Will that work for you?”

“Yeah,” I nodded. “It’ll be a lot faster than driving.”

He agreed with me and promptly called the pilot to confirm he had a seat available. “They have one seat left,” he told me as he held the phone by his ear. “It’s the jump seat. Is that okay?”

“Yes,” I nodded. “It beats driving. I’ll take whatever seat is available.”

“He’ll take it,” Carl told the pilot, then ended the call. “Be at the company hangar by 7:30. See you in the morning.”

“Okay. See you in the morning,” I said as Carl left my office. Not being a frequent flyer on corporate jets, I had no idea what the “jump seat” meant or where it was located on the plane. I soon learned that seat had dual purposes.

The Jump Seat

The next morning I showed up at the company hangar and awkwardly stood alone near a large group of finely dressed executives. I felt out of place until Carl walked over and greeted me.

“You made it,” he said.

“Yes,” I replied. “So where’s the jump seat?”

“I’ll show you,” Carl said. “Follow me. We’re boarding.”

I followed him to the jet where the other executives were now boarding through the open door. I was the last one to step inside behind Carl. All the seats were taken except one near the front. Carl sat in that seat and pointed to the back of the plane. “The jump seat is at the very back,” he said as he turned to face the front and buckled his seat belt.

I looked toward the very back of the jet and saw a narrow seat tucked into a small closet with an open accordion door. I nodded and promptly moved toward the back of the plane. As I walked to the jump seat, I noticed some of the passengers started to laugh. I was about to sit down when someone commented, “You know that’s also the toilet.”

I frowned and looked at the vinyl seat, not sure if they were joking or serious.

“Lift the seat cushion,” another executive laughed.

I lifted the bottom cushion and there to my surprise was a toilet. The plane erupted in laughter as I closed the lid, sat down and buckled myself in. The flight wasn’t long, but it seemed to take forever as I endured toilet jokes the whole way.

The Return Trip

After we arrived at the air base it was all business. I covered the signing event, interviewing people involved in the project and photographing the signing ceremony. We had lunch afterwards, then headed back to the company jet for the return trip. I dreaded the teasing I would likely have to endure on the flight home, but reminded myself it was much better than driving eight hours round trip.

I boarded the plane with the others and promptly went to the jump seat where I buckled myself in for a barrage of jokes. A moment later the jokes started. “Hey, hand me some toilet paper,” someone shouted to me. “You need to move, I gotta go,” someone else laughed.

It was at that moment I spotted Carl and he motioned to me. “Come here,” he said. I unbuckled and went to where he was sitting. “You’re taking my seat,” he smiled as he unbuckled his seat belt.

“No, that’s okay,” I replied. “I’m fine back there.”

“No!” Carl insisted. “You sit here. I’ll take the jump seat.”

I reluctantly agreed and sat in his seat while Carl went to the back of the jet and buckled himself into the jump seat. I marveled at how the senior executive on the jet gave his seat to the lowest ranking employee flying that day. With one move he had flushed corporate rank down the drain.

Toilet paper anyone?” Carl smiled as he waved a roll at the others on the plane. There was only light laughter. No one cracked another joke about the jump seat on the entire return trip. This one little act spoke volumes about this man I barely knew.

After we landed, I waited for everyone to exit the plane. Then I turned to look at Carl with his six-foot frame hunched over as he climbed out of the jump seat. “Thanks,” I said to him.

“Thank you for covering the signing ceremony,” was all he said with a smile.

I followed him as we exited the plane thinking this is the type of leader I would follow most anywhere.

The Work World

Peeling Back the Veneer of Titles

The titles people carry can be intimidating. In the course of my career, I often had the opportunity to meet the people behind those titles. Because I worked a lot of years in corporate communications, I would often interact with vice presidents or sometimes a CEO. It didn’t seem to matter if it was a large company or small firm, the title always made me nervous when I first met with an executive. But more times than not, I left with an appreciation for the person behind the title.

This week I begin a series of posts I’ll call #titles where I’ll share a few of these encounters:

#titles – First in a Series

A Leak and Past Trauma Revealed

Early in my career I was a lowly writer in the corporate communications department of a large corporation. As part of my job, I frequently wrote articles for the weekly company newspaper distributed to nearly 10,000 employees. One week I was given the task of interviewing a senior executive at the company headquarters for a story on various overseas projects. I remember being very nervous as I entered his plush office on the top floor. He welcomed me with a warm smile and motioned me to sit on the couch in a small meeting area near his desk. As I pulled out my note pad, he sat across from me in a cushy chair and asked what I needed to know.

I promptly explained that we wanted to do a feature story in the company paper on the company’s overseas investments. I started the interview with some general questions about his background — what I thought were easy questions like where he grew up and what college he attended. Even though I tried several different angles, he avoided talking about his childhood or college years. He started to look uncomfortable, so I finally let it go and transitioned to questions about the company’s overseas investments.

We were about 20 minutes into the interview when his desk phone rang. “Excuse me,” he said. “Sure,” I nodded and silently sat as he answered the phone. I couldn’t help but wonder about the nature of the call as I noticed his face grew more serious the more he listened to the person talking on the other end.

“Oh no, that’s not good,” I heard him say as he rubbed his forehead. I wondered if he was being notified about some tragic event at a company facility. “Okay, here’s what you need to do,” he continued. I marveled at his calmness as he spoke into the receiver. I convinced myself that’s why he held the title “Senior Vice President” over a multi-million dollar division and I was just a writer cranking our corporate messages. He was cool as a cucumber as the crisis unfolded.

“Listen closely,” he explained. “Look under the sink and you’ll see two pipes. Turn the knobs to the right at the base of the pipes.” For a second I tried to envision what this emergency entailed. I pictured someone in a big building full of large pipes looking for two knobs as liquid sprayed all over the place. But then I thought to myself, “Wait, under a sink?” I glanced at him and he smiled at me. “Did that work?” He asked the person on the other end of the phone. “Good. Okay, call the plumber. Thanks.”

He hung up the phone and sat back down in the chair across from me. He chuckled and told me, “The bathroom faucet in my house broke and water was leaking all over the floor. My cleaning person was panicked and didn’t know what to do.” I nodded and smiled back. “Okay,” he said. “Where were we?” I suddenly felt more relaxed around him. I reminded him of our conversation before the phone rang and the interview continued. I appreciated that he openly shared his little plumbing problem with me and patiently explained to his cleaning person how to shut off the water. It said a lot about his personality.

Sad History Revealed

After the interview, I returned to my office and started to put the story together for the next issue of the company newspaper. In the course of researching this executive’s background, I found an article from years earlier where he talked about how his father drove a city bus. He revealed that when he was eight years old, his father was shot and killed when someone attempted to steal the fare box on the bus. I gasped when I read that, thinking how awful that must have been for a little boy.

I suddenly knew why he avoided talking about his childhood. His stern face when I persisted with questions must have been the pain he still felt about this tragic event. I now felt bad for pursuing what seemed like easy questions. It taught me that behind an important title, there is still a person — a person who may be dealing with emotions from past trauma; someone who is dealing with everyday issues like plumbing problems.

Next week: Flushing Corporate Rank in the Air

Perspective

The Minutes That Last a Lifetime

Sometimes we gain perspective on life in unexpected ways. Awhile ago, I was taking care of some business in our small town when the woman behind the counter stared at me for a moment. I said, “Hi” to her, then she recognized me. “Oh, I remember you. You bought my grandparents house.” I nodded, “Yes, we did.” It had been several months since we last talked and every time we did she would share a memory of time spent in the house with her grandparents.

“I have so many good memories in that house,” she said to me. Then she told me how she used to go to her grandparents house after elementary school until her parents picked her up. She recalled how she would sit with her grandfather in a rocking chair and listen to music on a record player that sat on a shelf in the living room. I told her I knew exactly which shelf — “the one that’s deeper than the others and has an outlet in it.” She verified that was indeed the shelf. When I returned home I smiled when I saw the shelf now filled with our family photos.

A few weeks later our granddaughter stayed with us for a few days. She is a very active toddler, but in the morning she likes to sit with grandma or grandpa and snuggle for a bit. It was one of those mornings, as she sat with me on the rocking chair, that I noticed we were sitting by the deep shelf with the outlet. I immediately thought of the memory shared with me a few weeks before from the woman who did the same thing as a kid with her grandfather in that very spot.

There was something about that moment, the realization that history was repeating itself, that gave me the long view of life. With my granddaughter snuggled close looking up at me with a smile, I wondered what she would remember about her time with her grandparents in their home. It made me contemplate how the simplest moments in life can be the most cherished memories.

In the course of our busy lives it is easy to get distracted with the necessities of life. There are jobs to attend to, meals to plan, cleaning to be done, maintenance to complete and lots of other required tasks. Yet we can’t lose sight of the truly important moments that require our full attention. It may be a moment that only lasts a few minutes, but it could be a memory that lasts a lifetime.

Perspective

Mourning a Lost Future

When you’ve lived more than a half century, you find that you’ve attended many funerals along the way. Over that time I’ve listened to many eulogies and shed many tears over the death of friends and family. Out of all of those eulogies, one in particular has stuck with me.

Years ago I went to a memorial service a coworker held for his wife. After a long illness, his wife finally succumbed to her disease. I will never forget the eulogy he delivered for the woman he dearly loved and missed. He said that he grieved the loss of her, particularly their future as a couple. He explained how he would miss her companionship and all the future time together that will never be. He shared about the good times they had together and how there would be no more days spent with her. He brought the whole room to tears.

But then he pivoted his remarks to point us to the past and what it held for all of us. “It’s hard to look back and be grateful for what we did have; to be content with the years we had together,” he said. “I wanted more time together; so much more time. I will always want more, but I am so grateful for what we did have and forever grateful for that.”

These are the words that have stuck with me. It seems I always want more out of life, but can I be content with what I have instead of looking at what I don’t have and what the future might bring? Can I be content with this moment — content with making the most of this moment; content with this day and what it brings? It seems natural to want more out of life, but perhaps appreciating what we have already is enough. It is something I’m still working on years later.

The Last Half Century

Grabbing Fear by the Tail

It’s pretty simple. I don’t like snakes. Some people have a fear of heights. I have a fear of snakes. I’m not exactly sure where this fear originated because I grew up in a colder climate where small garter snakes were the only ones I saw on our farm. I have a hunch it started when my dad bought some property in southern Tennessee.

My dad was a Navy veteran and he loved boating. The land he bought was on a river and he had this idea he would open a marina when he retired. I think I was 13 years old when my dad first took me to visit the property. “Watch for snakes,” my dad told me as we walked through tall grass near the river. “They have rattlers down here,” he added. My eyes instantly grew big as I recalled a picture I saw in the local paper with someone holding a large, eight-foot snake they caught in their garage. “That was no garter snake,” I told myself. My senses were on high alert.

The next day we visited the neighbors who had a house next to my dad’s land. I vividly recall sitting in their living room sipping ice tea as this older man in his 60s began to tell us tales of all his snake encounters. “I shot a big old copper head back in the barn there,” he said between sips of tea as he nodded his head toward the barn behind his house. “It was at least six feet long.” I wondered if the snake grew longer with each telling of the story. That trip made an impression on me.

Fortunately I married a nature lover who is not scared of snakes or most any critter. She rescued me many times after hearing my screams when I uncovered a snake in my garden or in the yard. “It’s just a garter snake,” she would politely smile and reassure me as she picked it up. “Yeah, but it’s still a snake,” I would remind her. Picking up a snake may have seemed like no big deal to her, but to me it’s a pretty heroic act. Pretty gutsy.

Just writing about my fear of snakes is making the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It brings back memories of other snake encounters in the last half century of my life — like the large coiled one I almost stepped on when I was helping portage a canoe over a pile of rocks. Okay, that’s enough of that memory.

More recently I have been working on overcoming my fear of snakes. Last time I visited a zoo I actually walked inside the reptile house. I went up to the glass and forced myself to look at a big snake coiled up under a heat lamp. I looked it straight in the eyes and told myself, “You don’t scare me.” I’m not quite at the point where I would actually pick up a snake by the tail — I’m not sure I’ll ever get there — but I’m making progress. Sometimes you just need to face your fears head on and go from there.

Memories · The Last Half Century

A Penny Seed Packet Yields Life Lessons

Mid-summer in the MidWest. Hot, humid days, warm summer rains and fresh produce from the garden. It reminds me of the summer when I was a kid when my mom first gave me my own row in her garden and a special pack of seeds.

My mom was a master gardener. Each year she planted a huge garden so that she could can enough vegetables to last us all winter. In those days we received a paper seed catalog in the mail around January when the ground was frozen and still covered with snow. It was fun to sit and browse the catalog on a snowy day and dream about spring. Planning for her garden started around March when she ordered seeds via U.S. mail from the catalog. My mom would fill out a paper order form and mail it with a check to the seed company. Weeks later the seeds would arrive.

One year my mom pointed out that the seed company had a special mystery packet of seeds just for kids for one cent. The contents of the seed packet varied — you didn’t know exactly what you would get — which made it fun. I gave her my penny and she ordered the seed packet for me. I don’t think my mom realized that penny seed packet would challenge her gardening expertise.

When the seeds arrived, my mom showed me my special penny seed pack. I couldn’t wait to plant them. When the weather warmed, we set out to plant the garden. I had my assigned row and my mom helped me open the packet of seeds. She stared at the seeds in my hand for a minute. “I’m not sure what some of these are,” the veteran gardener remarked. I was surprised my little one cent seed packet stumped the expert.

My mom helped me plant my seeds in my special row and we waited for them to reveal their identity when they sprouted. Eventually, as the plants matured, my mom was able to identify most everything except one bushy plant that appeared to be a pumpkin or squash plant. When white, gourd-like, saucer-shaped objects appeared on the plant, my mom was mystified. To my surprise she admitted, “I’ve never seen anything like that!”

In those days there was no Internet to help us identify the plant. Even the seed catalog didn’t help. So we took our unidentified object to the 4-H fair where we asked one of the people judging vegetables. “It’s a summer squash,” a judge promptly told us when she looked at it. “What do you do with it?” my mom asked. “You slice it and fry it with some butter in a fry pan,” the judge answered. Based on the face my mom made in response, this was something new to her. I was learning my mom didn’t know everything about gardening and cooking.

Fried squash was not on the menu in our meat and potatoes home. To her credit, my mom sliced the summer squash and fried it up for us, but it was not a hit. Me and my siblings picked at it with frowns on our faces that showed our displeasure with this new cuisine. It may have been the only time she didn’t make us eat everything on our plate.

That summer I think I harvested more than vegetables from my little garden row. I learned not to be afraid to admit I don’t know something even if I think I’m the expert; to not be afraid to seek another opinion; and that it’s okay to step out of a familiar meat and potatoes world to try new things. Sometimes lessons in life come from the places we least expect them.

The Last Half Century · The Work World

How a Stupid Typing Class Changed my Life

In 1975 I was required to take a half-year of typing during my freshman year in high school. “That’s stupid,” I remarked. “I’ll never need to use typing.” I could not see any reason to master a keyboard in a paper and pen world. Despite my grumbling, I endured the class and learned to type 25 words per minute (wpm) on a manual typewriter. At the time, I had no idea how important 25 wpm would be.

Six years later in college, I changed my major to journalism. I soon discovered one of the requirements to get into my first reporting class was to type at least 25 wpm with only five mistakes. Basically I had to pass the typing test or change my major. I knew I could type up to 25 wpm thanks to my high school typing class, but could I do it with five mistakes or less? I still remember the stopwatch ticking as I furiously pounded the keys on the manual typewriter, knowing my future was at stake. One minute later I passed the 25 wpm mark with seven mistakes.

“Do you think you can keep up in the reporting class?” The teaching assistant said as she looked at me after pointing to my seven mistakes. “You have to type stories in class,” she explained. “Sure,” I confidently replied, not really sure if I could or not. All I wanted was to get into that reporting class. She approved me for the class and I soon found out I had a lot to learn.

“I’ve been a reporter for more than 20 years,” my instructor announced the first day of reporting class. “I run the news bureau at the capitol.” I felt intimidated by his experience and immediately feared my mere 25 wpm would not cut it. “First rule of journalism,” he continued as he reached into a large paper bag next to the podium. “The newsroom runs on caffeine.” He proceeded to pull out a drip coffee maker and told us he would provide all the coffee we needed. He made a point not to provide stir sticks to mix in the powder creamer and sugar. “Use your pencil for that,” he explained. “And call me Bill.”

After we all had a cup of coffee next to our manual typewriters, Bill then asked us to type a sentence he had written on the chalkboard. The room instantly came alive with the loud racket of 25 manual typewriters— keys clacking, bells ringing at the end of a margin and the zipping sound of carriages advancing to the next line. The noise made it hard to concentrate.

I was one of the last to finish typing the sentence and when the room was quiet we all stared at Bill. “Did you hear that?” he asked. My fellow students and I looked at each other with blank expressions. “The typewriters?” A classmate finally offered. “Exactly!” Bill smiled. “You need to get used to working in a noisy newsroom full of typewriters, shouting and wire service printers,” he explained.

A few weeks later I entered the classroom before the start of class and everyone was at the windows staring outside. I joined them and immediately spotted the rising column of black smoke from a burning building on campus not far from where we stood. “Well, just don’t stand there,” Bill said when he entered the room. “Go get the story! Be back here in an hour and type up what you find out in an article that will be due at the end of class.” I felt sorry for the fire chief on the scene as 25 inexperienced journalism students descended on him with questions about the fire. We quickly learned how to work under the pressure of deadlines — that breaking news can change your plans in an instant.

The practical things Bill taught in that reporting class served me well throughout my career. He nurtured my writing skills, even though the first few articles I submitted were horrible. He taught me to have a natural curiosity about things, to thoroughly research a story as he challenged me to have more sources in the stories I submitted to him. When I worked in a rambunctious creative department in an ad agency, I thrived on the creative energy displayed in the noisy work environment. Each time I stirred my coffee with a pencil, I recalled Bill’s words from that first day of reporting class. I always appreciated the fact that somehow Bill saw my ability as a writer even when I doubted myself.

If I hadn’t learned typing in high school, I probably would’ve changed my major instead of taking a typing class in college. I would’ve also missed out on Bill’s wisdom and encouragement. Which also means I probably wouldn’t be blogging. Sometimes in life things that seem insignificant — things we are made to do that seem stupid at the time — can prove to be important to our life.

Memories · The Last Half Century

We Now Conclude our Broadcast Day

It’s hard to believe in our connected and always on world that there was a time when television stations would end their broadcast day. It was kind of a cool thing when I was in grade school in the 1960s to be up late watching television and to see the station go off the air when the program ended. I did not get to stay up late that often, but when the station stopped broadcasting content I went to bed.

At that time there were no other options — no streaming service, no VCR tapes, no DVDs, no 24 hour news station, nothing. There was no Internet, no social media or You Tube. In fact, like many homes at the time, we only had one screen in the house — a black and white television in a cabinet that was heavy and not portable. The station would end their broadcast day then static would abruptly appear on the screen.

Some stations were more creative in how they signed off. They would tell you they were about to “end our broadcast day,” then play a video recording of the American flag flapping in the breeze or some other patriotic sequence of images. The one I recall is of a fighter jet flying with alternating images of American landmarks — as if it was flying across America protecting us. Other stations were more abrupt and would just tell you, “Hey! We’re done for the day. Go to bed.” Okay, so they said it a bit nicer than that. If you search the Internet for “end of television broadcast day,” you’ll find a sampling of videos with these sign offs.

Sometimes I get a bit nostalgic for that simpler time when broadcast media would sign off for the day; a time when the phone stayed home and didn’t go with you everywhere. It seemed people accepted the fact that it was okay to be away from media for awhile; okay to be away from your phone. Sometimes I think we should have an “end of broadcast day” on social media where we sign off for the night and give everyone a break. Then again, maybe nostalgia is a sign of old age.

I’d love to hear your memories of “end of broadcast day” station sign-offs. You can share them by leaving a comment. Thanks for reading. I now conclude my blogging day. See you next week.