Entries Tagged as 'buffalo'

hurricanes are not blizzards and other lessons from hurricane matthew

hurricane flags

People are nice. Mother Nature, sometimes not so much.

People have been calling and texting us during the weekend and in these past few days making sure we are OK in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, which started last Friday and moved up the east coast over the weekend. Many states were hit but it seems North Carolina got more than it’s fair share of damage. Worse, fatalities here are in the teens and may still rise.

Our experience was misty rain all day Friday. Significant and steady rain ALL day Saturday (around 5″ in Cary to a high of about 9″ in Wake County, where we live). Sunday was sunny, cool and breezy, like nothing ever happened — Mother Nature’s way of clearing up the atmosphere.

We did not see much TV over the weekend so we didn’t see how the national news was portraying the storm in our area. It seems much of the talk was about eastern North Carolina so I can understand people’s concerns about us. We are in Cary, NC, just outside of Raleigh.

Hurricane Matthew 2016

As you can see by the amateurish graphic (made by this amateur) we were on what turned out to be the safer side of the storm. But as you can see, safe by not much. People nearer to I-95 and east were hit much harder and some rivers have yet to crest but will almost assuredly to do so, causing still more damage in those areas.

Knowing that hurricanes are much more damaging than Blizzards (especially in areas built to combat and recover from blizzards like Buffalo) doesn’t prepare you for the uncertainty that hurricanes bring. Indeed, the weather folks were often citing the hurricane’s ‘cone of uncertainty’ — which follows not only the expected track of the storm but also a significant area around the track where the storm could unexpectedly alter its course.

We are fine and we are glad. But we are also thought-filled about the folks to the east, STILL dealing with mess, destruction and even death. It’s just another day for us.

Not for them. Not for a while.

Here’s one place you might be able to offer some help to those folks who need it in eastern North Carolina.

Thanks for checking in.

giving newbies a chance in broadcasting and voiceover

Susan Hunt Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame 2016This poor woman. She had no idea what she was about to unleash onto the world of broadcasting over 35 years ago.

This woman’s name is Susan Hunt. Yesterday it was announced that she is being inducted next month into the Buffalo Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame.

It is a deserving honor. Not because of the television work she has done for HGTV, PBS, Discovery, The Travel Channel, ESPN, HBO and the Golf Channel among others. That work is terrific and worthy of recognition.

However, Susan Hunt deserves to be in the Hall of Fame because she gave me Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame Class of 2016my first job in broadcasting. It was an internship but for me it was a start. Given what she had to work with when this high school junior walked through the radio station door back then, though, she should receive something more like a medal. With any luck and maybe some therapy, she’s long forgotten the experience.

The year was 1980 and my brother Michael knew Susan and her family. He also knew of my budding interest in broadcasting and he knew that she was making her own way in broadcasting, at that time as the morning radio news anchor at WFXZ-FM (Foxy 93….I know, it was the 80’s).

Anyway, one night my brother and Susan got to talking. He told her about me, his younger brother still in high school, who wanted to get into broadcasting. She needed an intern in the morning. A contact was made, a deal was struck: I’d intern at the station, the station wouldn’t pay me and that’s broadcasting in a nutshell.

I knew nothing about journalism, radio news or even broadcasting. If there was a way to measure “less than nothing”, that’s where my media knowledge at the time would’ve really ranked.

And my high school was barely any help in this internship matter. The media teacher there, who would go on to be my business partner for a time and a groomsman at my wedding, tried to put something together resembling an internship but the high school guidance office was used to “forming” doctors and lawyers, not broadcasters. At the time, school alumnus Tim Russert wasn’t “NBC’s Tim Russert” yet (and he was a lawyer by trade anyway).

But in I jumped, with both my inexperienced feet, getting up at 4:00 am to get dressed and get the bus and be at the station by 5:45 for 2 or 3 times a week (I think). It was my first time listening to the farm reports on the radio (that’s how early in the morning it was – only me, farmers and chickens were awake). To give you a sense of when all this took place, the night before my first day in the Foxy 93 newsroom was the night John Lennon was assassinated.

Newsroom is a rough term, almost as rough as the term “radio station”. This place was a run down 2 story house at Main and Summer streets in what was, at the time, not the nicest of neighborhoods.

I could not have cared less about the building or the high school course credits. I was working at a radio station – learning the hard way – from somebody willing to give a newbie a chance. And that made all the difference.

The chance that Susan Hunt gave an ignorant. 17-year-old kid in 1980 helped clarify for him what he wanted to do with his life. That’s a pretty cool gift.

A communicator, a broadcaster, a voice over talent – it would take time, trial and error. But the success I’ve enjoyed might not have come as quickly or at all without that chance.

We all need that chance in our careers.

Likewise, for every chance we are given, we each should remember to offer that chance to someone in return.

Thank you, Susan, for my chance.

our meetup group can beat up your meetup group

Heard Around Buffalo is a monthly meetup group of Western New York-based professional voice-over talents

Heard Around Buffalo is a monthly meetup group of Western New York-based professional voice-over talents

In the spring of 2013, I made some phone calls that voice-over talents Dan Lenard and Leslie Diamond probably wished they wouldn’t have answered or at least would have let go to voice-mail. But they answered the call. They always do.

I wanted to put together a group of truly professional voice-over talents who were running voice-over businesses. There are some great performance-based voice-over classes in Western New York and I have attended them and learned plenty. But mixed with some pros in those fine groups are people who are honestly not working in the voice-over industry…they’re thinking about it, they’re toying with the idea or they’ve got a voice-over gig…once.

For me, I needed to get together with fellow professionals who not only faced voice-over performance challenges and were great to run scripts with but who ALSO could also focus on the other NINETY PERCENT of being a voice talent – the BUSINESS of voice-over.

With Leslie and Dan, I knew they would understand. They are past attendees of FaffCon, an unconference for professional voice talents who get together once or twice a year to talk about and share best practices on the complete spectrum of being a voice talent — normally a very individualistic business practice. They’ve each directly experienced the professional benefits of the FaffCon experience and could easily see the benefits of doing something somewhat similar (but not exactly the same) on a local level.

Leslie named us Heard Around Buffalo. Nobody owns it, nobody profits from it. It’s just a bunch of voice-over folks sharing the wealth together.

Well in a year, we’ve grown nicely with many great Western New York voice talents participating and we have welcomed to our group visiting voice talents from as far away as California, South Carolina, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and even Canada (or maybe especially Canada, since we all have so many friends there and they let us come up to their Meetup groups in Toronto as well).

In addition to myself, the other regulars include Dan, Leslie, Chris Nichter, Fred Filbrich, Alexis Williams, Glad Faith Klassen and Jen Deyo.

If you are a professional voice-over talent in Western New York and you want to check us out, look here.

why voice-over meet-up groups are so valuable

A meeting on the Buffalo, NY Voice-Over Meetup group (from l-r) Robert W. Taylor, Leslie Diamond, Dan Lenard, Chris Nichter, Peter K. O'Connell, Jen Deyo, Fred Filbrich, Randye Kaye amd Glad Faith Klassen

A meeting on the Buffalo, NY Voice-Over Meetup group (from l-r) Robert W. Taylor, Leslie Diamond, Dan Lenard, Chris Nichter, Peter K. O’Connell, Jen Deyo, Fred Filbrich, Randye Kaye and Glad Faith Klassen

Voice-over talents are a closeted bunch.

Meaning whether in our homes or studios, we spend a lot of time in booths (closets) churning out voice stuff.

It’s great but who do you bounce business, technical or performance ideas off of if you work by yourself? Where are your checks and balances coming from?

It was 2009 when my friend and fellow voice-talent (the lovely and talented) Doug Turkel invited me out to his Voice-Over Mastermind Group in Miami, FL. So I hoped in my private jet that afternoon and join Doug and his pals for what was my first official meet-up group. As with most things Doug, it was terrific.

From that moment forward, I wanted to start some kind of group like that in Buffalo, NY.

But Mrs. audio’connell and I had a child. And another. And another. A bunch of FaffCons later, I still didn’t start my meet-up group. Then finally, after attending a voice-over class that just wasn’t filling my needs, I did what all good leaders do to get things done.

I delegated.

See, I was not going to be able to organize a meet-up group with my family and professional commitments. I’m the guy that had always put this stuff together but this time it wasn’t going to happen and I knew it. But it didn’t mean stuff couldn’t happen. With the advent of FaffCon, more Buffalo voice talents attended together, we realized the power of what we could do and we all wanted to do it.

So I contacted local voice talents and fellow Faffers Dan Lenard and Leslie Diamond and said “help”.

Leslie offered up her house, Dan made some calls, we shared notes on who to invite (lots of people) and in August 2013, we held our first meet-up. I think 5 people showed up. I was stunned there weren’t more with so many talents around.

What I came to understand was that these were the committed ones, the ones who wanted to try. And our monthly meetings have been going on since. And growing!

Our troupe now includes: Robert W. Taylor, >Leslie Diamond, Dan Lenard, Chris Nichter, Jen Deyo, Fred Filbrich and Glad Faith Klassen.

To be clear, this meet-up is not like my traveling lunch dinner tours that Bob Souer and I have made famous over the years.

The Buffalo Voice-Over Meetup Group created our own agenda: reviewing successes, talking about challenges, picking a specific industry related topic and everyone just sharing info. Sometimes one of us volunteers to talk about a subject we know a little more about. We take notes….and we work on scripts. We group direct and one on one direct.

And we remember that we are not alone. Our families may sometimes question our career choices but in a meet-up, we are among those who get it. Meet-up members understand the incurable disease of voice-over performance. And for just those few hours every month, you get to talk shop where nobody looks at you funny. Usually.

They are fragile eco-systems, these voice-over meet-up groups, because they live and die by the quality of the talent (performance and business-wise) in the group. It should be a group, not something led by one individual. Plus people come and go…the success of every meeting is not guaranteed. Which is why everyone who is in an on-going, effective and most importantly interactive meetup group should be very thankful. I know I am.

why buffalo niagara sales and marketing executives really matters

Dear BNSME Members,

You are a part of a successful, historic and exclusive professional association that sales and marketing executives in bigger cities can only dream of joining because they just don’t have the resource that we have here (a resource we sometimes take for granted).

Like the region whose name we share, the Buffalo Niagara Sales and Marketing Executives has been a precious gem for our active and involved members since 1942. While other professional associations have sprung up and died off along the way, BNSME’s unique tools for enhancing the professional development of our talented members has kept the association thriving for over 70 years.

BNSME is so special because, by design, it’s not for everybody – only those individual who have achieved business success and are continuing to thrive in their careers can be members. Our members must meet a specific executive criteria, they must be sponsored by a current BNSME and their application must be voted on by our board of directors.

The critical result of this vetting process is that our BNSME members get to network with and learn from their true peers. Executive-level men and women who have closed the big deals, who have interacted with top business leaders around the world and who have faced similar business and organizational challenges. Over these past seven decades, our members have often supported each other as trusted professional resources that they might not have ever enjoyed without their BNSME memberships.

Leads are established here, business gets done here, and lifelong friendships are fostered here today, just as when the association began. I know this for a fact because I have received and shared leads, closed deals and made lifelong friends directly as a result of my membership. But it’s not because I tried to plaster every hand presented to me at a meeting with my business card and an elevator speech.

What’s my BNSME secret? How come I can walk into a BNSME meeting and be known and welcomed by almost everybody there (unless I haven’t met them yet)?

I am actively involved in BNSME. Committees, dinner meetings, events…I’ve joined, participated and I’ve interacted.

I continually reach out to the new faces I see at meetings and I reconnect with the familiar faces. I focus on them…their lives, their likes and their challenges. I try to listen more than I talk (which, as an Irishman, is no small task for me).

In short, I try and treat each member the way I would like to be treated. I try not so much to make a contact as I do a friend.

As we all know, when given a choice, people would rather do business with friends.

Not always am I perfect at it but I’ve only been a BNSME member for 24 years, I still need to work at it.

I was reminded of all this today and encouraged to share my thoughts while attending a BNSME past presidents luncheon. That’s a picture (above) of just some of the association’s past leaders…you’d be hard pressed to find more loyal supporters of the BNSME mission than this group and I’ll guarantee you’d easily make a friend or two as well from that group.

The gentleman (in the truest definition of that word) in the blue blazer seated in the above picture is not only the longest tenured member of BNSME, he’s also one of the greatest sales and marketing executives this city has ever had and the greatest friend BNSME has ever known. No one in BNSME ever secured more members, chaired more committees or helped more people professionally and personally.

Every person in that picture, as well as many more who were sad they couldn’t attend, owe Bob Sommer an unfathomable debt of gratitude for sharing his talent and his time with BNSME. The association was and still is one of his great passions. We are lucky to have him in our group.

So as you think about your career and how Buffalo Niagara Sales and Marketing Executives can be an important part of it…maybe consider how Bob has built his respected and beloved reputation within BNSME (hint: the answer doesn’t involve longevity). Maybe some of his examples can help you make the most out of your BNSME membership experience.

I hope it does because I know it can.

Best always,
– Peter

wben buffalo adds a frequency and maybe a new logo

So word came down on Twitter today (isn’t that where all news comes from that isn’t already on Facebook…what newspaper?!!) that heritage AM station WBEN/Buffalo was going to be simulcast on another station in the Entercom cluster, WLKK-FM (107.7). The Lake, as the station was known, hadn’t really moved the needle among listeners or advertisers.

So now WBEN will be heard on AM 930 and FM 107.7 – with this news came what seems to be a new logo. Variations of the old WBEN logo have been around for a decade or more.

The new logo – if it is indeed the final version – is bad. Vague city scapes and big call letters (meant to infer how the station covers or engulfs the city with its coverage) never work. They also reproduce badly in newspaper ads and on the web.

I listen to the station and I don’t have to look at the logo so I suppose I shouldn’t care – except it’s a logo and I notice these things. You’d hope a station group as big as Entercom would have a bit more graphic moxie to produce (or even steal from another one of their stations in another market) a logo better than this one.

Maybe this new logo is just a draft.

Kinda like this one I whipped up pretty fast: