Klein’s Korner: How The Hobby Can Learn From The World Of Radio
As some of you are aware, in addition to sports cards and collectibles, one of my great passions is listening to old radio airchecks and the great disc jockeys of our past and present. Recently the program director of WPLJ, which was one of the great New York radio stations of my youth passed on. Now the name Larry Berger may not mean anything to you, but he was very unusual as he would actually host his own radio show to talk to actual listeners about what they liked or did not like about WPLJ. Truly rare for someone in management to actually talk to their listeners but that was one of the reasons WPLJ was able to survive for what is now almost 50 years and thrive during most of that time.
One of my friends produces a show for Rewound Radio which featured various WPLJ airchecks with music but also had one of Larry explaining why WPLJ made the seemingly impossible transition of taking an “Album-Oriented“ station to a “Contemporary Hit Record” station. Larry actually came on and explained in what some of us would say was excruciating detail the reasons for the change. As a note, before they became New York’s Best Rock they were Rock ‘n Stereo. John Zacherle is pictured here and he was truly a New York Legend. As a note he had a big hit in the late 1950’s with “Dinner with Drac”
Now think if you are a card dealer and you don’t change your inventory and your cards become stale to the collecting public. I know Rob Veres, Pat Blandford of Kevin Savage Cards and other buyers have told me stories about going into stores which seem as if time stood still for 25 years. Yes, there are stores, probably decreasing in number, which don’t use the internet or social media as much as they should. Yes there are dealers who have not purchased a card in 10 years and are just dealing with constantly reduced inventory.
But here is the answer, even if the purchases are light, all dealers should always be looking for affordable ways to increase their inventory so their customers can see new cards available. How many times do you look in a showcase and the same cards are in the same showcases every single show? Some rotation of what is in showcases or tables are always good. I’ve mentioned the time I spent being the dad for the Red Sox fan five-year old but because of how my office and home was set up, the only cards I could bring with me were my 10-25 cent cards and I could not bring my normal stock. Well, after about 3-4 shows, many buyers who love those cards felt they had finished and I truly was going through the world of diminishing returns. So, I get that on a personal level with my own inventory. I do have cards available to add to those and will add the new Hall of Famers when they are selected in January. Those activities will give me some new inventory in those boxes.
I finish the WPLJ tribute with this image of Pat St. John who one can still here doing a 1960’s music program on Sirius XM each weekday. Pat has been a broadcaster for more than 50 years and how he has adjusted to all these changes is something we in the card hobby can look at for inspiration. He’s still very good at talking to each listener as if this was a one on one conversation.
So we can be like some radio formats which never evolve or we can be like WPLJ which in the best tradition of Larry Berger, continues to adapt to changing time.
For more from Rich Klein, follow him on Twitter @sabrgeek.