Monday, December 31, 2012

Farewell To The Past, High Hopes For The Future

As I sit looking at the clock and the under twelve hours left in 2012, I'm struck at how much this has been a year of change for me, and just about everyone around me.  While change can be daunting, frightening, and unnerving, I welcome and embrace it and am very happy about the changes I've experienced in the last year.

It would be presumptuous and egotistical to go over every event of the year that's about to end.  Some of those recollections would take me to a very dark place, and others of them will only make me seem like a braggart.  Suffice it to say that I started the year unemployed, stayed that way for longer than I ever have, and was blessed with a truly incredible job opportunity in June.  I have a great feeling of professional satisfaction, inner peace, and much less stress than I have had in a very long time, and for all of that I am grateful.

I'm also grateful for my friends, the few dozen people who I can honestly call my REAL friends.  Those who have supported, encouraged, and comforted me in the bad times and celebrated with me in the good times.  I've learned who my true friends are and gained new respect for the value of friendship.  I can't begin to name all of these "Real Friends" individually, but I do hope you are reading this and you know who you are.  You've been my invaluable support network, seen me through some of the lowest points in my life, and given me strength to go on.   For that, I think you with every fiber of my being.  

I'm grateful for the opportunities that lie ahead.  Working with John Tesh in the new world of content creation and social media is perhaps the most exciting and challenging job I've had.  Leaving the radio industry after 37 years was difficult in some ways, but incredibly easy as I look at the future of content and media and see the changes in the business I've loved for as long as I can remember.  Being able to continue to raise my family in St. Louis is a blessing, and I don't know of a better place for my family to flourish.

For the first New Year's Eve in a very long time, I can honestly say that life is good.  I'll be sad for a moment at Midnight when Dick Clark isn't there to bring in another year, but I'll be happy, excited, and invigorated as I spend that moment with the people I love and think about the amazing things that await me and those who are important to me in 2013.

As the New Year approaches, I leave you with my very best wishes for a healthy, happy, prosperous 2013 and with these words:
A happy New Year! Grant that I 
May bring no tear to any eye
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I've played the friend,
Have lived and loved and labored here,
And made of it a happy year.
~Edgar Guest
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Saturday, December 22, 2012

It Can Now Be Christmas

Forget the calendar, forget the weather outside, forget the lines at the stores.  It takes one thing for it to OFFICIALLY be Christmas for me.  Darlene Love singing "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" the iconic song from the 1963 LP "A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector".

Darlene love performs the song every year on The Late Show With David Letterman, and she did the song Friday night.  As usual, she NAILED it, something that was no easy task when she recorded it at the age of 22.  But she's 71 now, and she has all the fire and energy of any one of today's disposable pop divas.

In case you missed it, here's the video of the performance courtesy of CBS:

A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records
If you ask me, it simply doesn't get better than that.  But if you want to hear the original song in the glorious mono "Wall Of Sound" that Phil Spector created, here is is for your listening pleasure.

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Darlene Love on Grooveshark

NOW it can be Christmas.  Merry Christmas and best wishes for a wonderful 2013 from all of me to all of you!
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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Four More Years Or FORTY More Years?

This is a post adapted from one of my Daddy Diaries blog posts for

This is not a political rant.  We don’t do political rants on  But it does have to do with politics, and it’s something that’s been on my mind as a Dad. 

The election is over.  The ads are off the air.  The robocalls have stopped.  The hate has (sort of) begun to recede.  It doesn’t matter who you voted for, I hope you voted.  If your people won, good for you.  If they lost, I’m sorry.  If you didn’t vote, you missed your chance to do something that could have made a difference, and that’s a shame.

We all have a challenge ahead of us as parents now that the election is over and we can concentrate on our lives and families.  Think of OUR parents, whether they were from the World War II era or the Vietnam era.  They all worked hard, often for the same company most of their adult life, to make sure WE had a better life than they did.  They knew the world could be better and tried their best to make it that way, not always for them, but always for us, their children

Despite their best intentions and hard work, the world may not be better for their children, otise known as US, than they would have wanted it to be.  It’s not their fault, it’s not our fault, there’s no time to be pointing fingers to whose fault it is.  As someone I used to work with often said, “it is what it is”. 

Every generation has wanted the next generation to have a better life than theirs.  I don’t hear people of my generation talking about that very often, often because we’re trying to figure out how to make our own lives better and not thinking about our children.  It’s a new world in a million different ways, ways our parents could have never predicted.  It’s not simple, it’s not perfect, but it is what it is.  And it’s the world our kids are growing up in, the world we’re supposed to be making better for them.

So we’re finished with all the partisanship and electioneering for four more years.  What about the next forty years?  Or the next eighty years?  What are you doing to make sure the world that our kids inherit from us is better than the world we live in right now?  Stop and think about it.  I’m guessing you can do more.  Let me know how you’re going to make the world better for your children, and THEIR children, in the comments below.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Leading Social Media Blogger Says "Hire Mark Edwards"

One of the most listened to voices in the Social Media world belongs to Sarah Evans and her blog Sarah's Faves.  Sarah has become a leading Social Media thinker and has just joined the company Trackly as Chief Evangelist.  She's well known in Public Relations and Social Media circles as an innovator, big thinker, and one of the best and brightest in the online world.

Sarah handpicked three people who should be working in Social Media or Public Relations and posted their stories on her blog.  I was honored to be one of the three people she thinks should be hired, and here's what she had to say about me and my work.

NameMark Edwards

How to Create Real Relationships With Social Marketing
Mark Edwards
Dream job titleEmployee. I’m able to help in so many ways that I’ll let you, the employer, decide how I can help you best and what to call me. Three adjectives that describe youexperienced, innovative, connectedIf I’m hired by your organization I willbring unmatched experience, knowledge, enthusiasm, and new levels of success to you.
What kind of  culture are you looking for? An environment that has energy, teamwork, and a culture of cooperation. I’ve worked in small offices, huge offices, and alone. The culture of the organization I join should foster creativity, no matter how many people are in the office.
What’s your most impressive professional accomplishment?  What about personal? Almost singlehandedly and secretly building and launching a brand new radio station, including a full suite of social media outposts and a marketing plan, in 18 days last year in Kansas City. Personally, I’m most proud of my three incredible sons. You can’t do anything more important than being a parent.
How many years experience do you have? 27 as a content creator, brand manager, and marketer using a score of traditional and new media resources.
Where should your ideal job be based? St. Louis, MO because it’s the best place I’ve ever lived to raise a family.
Are you willing to relocate? YES, Chicagoland would be my first choice, but I’ll go anywhere for the right job. I can also use the miracle of the Interwebz to work from World Headquarters in St. Louis.
Want to hire Mark? Email him at edwardsmark@gmail[.]com.
It's truly an honor to be recognized by a heavy hitter like Sarah, and yes, I'm available now for full time employment or project work through Mark Edwards Worldwide.   If you'd like to talk about how I can help your organization, please use any of the methods in Sarah's post to contact me.  You'll be glad you did!
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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chicago vs. Chicago. No, Not NATO, Cubs vs. Sox

I'd normally post this on my Official Major League Baseball Blog, but they don't like video embeds over there, so you can enjoy it here.

On the eve of the Cubs/White Sox series this weekend, New Era Caps and Funny Or Die have released the second video in their "Chicago vs. Chicago" series.  In case you missed the first, here they both are for your viewing pleasure. 

And yes, I'd pull out my own tooth to see the Cubs in the World Series.
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Sunday, May 06, 2012

Some thoughts on media.. | Om Malik

Some thoughts on media..

Earlier this week, at (*) The Guardian’s Activate NYC 2012 conference I shared some of my thoughts about the future of media. Craig Kanalley of The Huffington Post has a good summary of the day, but here are some of the key points I was trying to make during my chat with Max Robins of the Paley Center. 

  • If you had no history and asked how a gourmet food/travel magazine would look today, I would say it would be like Foursquare 
  • I love things like what Paul Berry @teamreboot is doing w/ @lererventures what @BuzzFeed is doing.
  • Media industry innovation won’t happen at big companies.
  • We need Madison Avenue to start innovating. the whole ecosystem needs to be revamped.
  • Media mergers don’t work out because the person who does the deal leaves, and their replacement doesn’t share the vision.
  • Short term thinking is pervasive throughout American society and business.

If you want to watch the video, has proceedings from the day. 

* The parent company behind the Guardian owns a small stake in GigaOM as a result of our acquisition of paidContent. The invitation to speak came long before we made the deal to buy paidContent.

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    Some brilliant thoughts from the very smart Om Malik. I especially agree with the third bullet point.

    Posted via email from Mark Edwards 3.0

    Friday, April 20, 2012

    Inspire Me Today-The Uncut Version

    Earlier this week, an essay I wrote was published on the website  You can find the essay, or as they call it "brilliance", here.  As will happen with my writing, my original essay was a little long, so it had to be edited to fit on the website.  

    I've had truly heartwarming and incredible response from friends and complete strangers as well, so I thought I'd share the entire unedited essay along with some photos to add to the prose.  So, for your reading or deleting pleasure, here is the complete essay I wrote for Inspire Me Today.

    I was born, as they would say today, visually handicapped. Back then it was called a burden on society. The doctors call it optic nerve atrophy, acute myopia, and severe astigmatism, with a few other maladies thrown in that have been healed.

    What it comes down to is that I can do everything any other person can do except drive. That means I've had to adapt my life in countless ways. And I've learned that if you don't adapt, and often adapt quickly, you'll be miserable, filled with self-pity, and not be the person you were meant to be. Here’s how I came to realize I needed and came to use a skill set that few need, but is invaluable to those who need it.

    Me and my parents before I started wearing glasses
    I started wearing glasses when I was six months old in 1960. Back then it was almost unheard of for someone that young to wear eyeglasses, especially since they were made of heavy glass, incredibly uncomfortable to wear, and expensive. But my parents and a very special group of doctors wanted to do everything they could to give me as normal a life as possible. So they put me in eyeglasses, gave me thousands of eye drops during my youth, and most importantly told me over and over again that I could do anything I wanted and be whatever I wanted to be.

    The key to overcoming physical or psychological challenges is simple, but very hard to learn. If you want to do something, get something, or be something badly enough, you can’t let other people or old thinking get in the way of your goals. And you can never give in or give up.  Once you do, you’re defeated and you’re headed towards a life of boredom and depression.

    In the early 1960s, school districts wanted to send people with low vision to the state’s School for the Blind. In those days that's what they did with children with special needs, shipped them off to an institution so that they wouldn't distract all the “normal" kids in the public school system. A very few bold, deeply committed parents, as in mine, refused to accept that option and fought almost to the death to get their children enrolled in regular school and keep them in the public school system, a truly extraordinary position to take in those times. Now of course, almost every student is allowed to be "mainstreamed" into the public school system regardless of their disability.

    You’ll learn a lot of hard lessons over the years. You’ll develop skills that are stronger than the physical boundaries you face. How not to get rattled by teasing and verbal abuse. How to not feel guilt or shame when you have to use friends and public transportation to get around. How to NEVER be embarrassed by your condition, no matter how “different” you come across to others. If they choose to see you in a different way than you and the people who really know you do, it’s THEIR problem, not yours.  You can choose to just chalk it up to the ignorance of others or you can be an advocate and educate people to how to deal with others who aren’t just like themselves.

    But the most important thing you’ll learn, and sometimes it’s the thing that takes the longest to really sink in, is that who you are is not defined by what you can't do, who you are is defined by what you can accomplish. And, you can accomplish just about anything you want if you put your mind to it. Yes, there are things that need special accommodations. There are even some things that some people just will never do. But if there's something that you really want to be able to do, I know you can find a way. It's all about thinking you are gifted by the abilities you have and not penalized by the abilities you don’t, learning to adapt, having a support network of friends and family who believe in you almost as much as you believe in yourself, and not being afraid to try something at least once. 

    In 2010, I got to live a dream. The Chicago Cubs let me throw out the first pitch for a game at Wrigley Field. I couldn’t see the catcher sixty feet away, but I guessed where he was and got the ball close to home plate.  I believed, others believed, and it happened. If you want something badly enough, you can almost always find a way to make it so.  It sounds like Pollyanna, but it is the truth, whether you choose to believe it or not at this moment.

    There are so many people who don't have what they consider to be a perfect life. Regardless of the cause, the truth of the matter is that NOBODY has a perfect life. If you keep that in mind, you can learn that there are no reasons that you can't accomplish almost anything you want. Yes, you have to make accommodations, you may have to do things in a less graceful manner than your friends or co-workers, and you might fail the first time.  But you CAN do it and prove to yourself and those around you that you have strength, commitment, and self-awareness that far outweigh any physical challenge you’ve been given to deal with.

    I have three children, and two of them have what the politically correct call "special needs". I’ve told them from the time they could understand me the same thing my parents told me: Don't let anything or anyone get in your way or make you think you can't be or do whatever you want. 

    And when life throws you that curve ball, just figure out how you’re not going to let it hit you.

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    Thursday, April 05, 2012

    Chicago vs. Chicago, The Arguments continue

    Here we are on Chicago Cubs Opening Day, and I just ran across a commercial from New Era on that is the first in at least two looks at the ongoing rivalry between the Cubs and the White Sox.

    I've had far too many of those conversations with my friends who choose to like the White Sox.  Someday, they'll come to their senses.
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    Wednesday, April 04, 2012

    Who Is Mark Edwards?

    I was speaking with a potential client yesterday and she asked me to describe myself.  I did, and it made me think that there's another way to describe who I am and what I've done and can do.  So, here for our viewing pleasure is the Official Mark Edwards Word Cloud.

    Get to know me better at!

    Thursday, March 08, 2012

    Hanging with Don Draper

    One of my favorite shows, Mad Men, returns to AMC on March 25.  If you don't know about the show, just click on the link right above to learn what it's all about.  Along with Homeland on Showtime, it's easily one of the best shows on TV.

    The incredibly creative Melissa Wasserman, the VP of Marketing at AMC and a former co-worker at Viacom back in the day, came up with a campaign called "Mad Men Yourself" a couple of years ago.  The idea is that you could make yourself look like the 1960's figures in the show and use the artwork as your Facebook or Twitter icon. I did that, and have used the artwork almost exclusively as my visual signature around the Interwebz since then.  

    Since I have some time on my hands, I've been messing with the all new Season 5 Mad Men Yourself app and have updated my look a bit, to recede the hairline and spiff up the way I dress.  You'll get to see the new icon floating around the web soon.  

    Part of the app is that you can make scenes of you with the Mad Men cast.  Here I am having a cocktail with Don Draper, my hero on the show.
    I'm enjoying Maker's Mark, not sure what Don is drinking.
    That's kind of cool, but here I am after having an ice cold Pepsi with Jon Hamm, the person who IS Don Draper last summer.  Sorry it's a little blurry, the radio station had kind of a cheap suit camera to take the photo with.
    Courtesy KZPT
    So which looks better?  The cartoon Mark and Don or the real thing?

    Don't answer that.

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    Tuesday, February 28, 2012

    Happy Leap Year!

    Like Presidential Elections, a Leap Year strikes every fourth year.  I was explaining why we have Leap Years, found myself confused, and turned to the Interwebz for this video explanation.

    This guy's channel says he explains complex things.  I think I'll as him to explain why so many potential employers don't return my calls or e mails.

    Enjoy all the fun of the quadrennial Leap Year.  Remember, this is NOT the "green beer holiday".  That one comes on March 17th.

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    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    The Night Radio Became Irrelevant FROM MARK EDWARDS WORLDWIDE

    This entry is reposted from the Mark Edwards Worldwide blog.

    A fallen tower, no more effective than a

    radio station that doesn't let its listeners

    know what's going on in their world
    February 11, 2012 will always live in my mind for two reasons.  First, the tragic loss of Whitney Houston, one of the greatest singers I've ever heard and in the same league as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and other iconic singers throughout music history.  But that's not the only thing that happened that night.  It's the night that radio, as a medium, proved itself irrelevant because Houston's untimely death happened on a Saturday night, a time when the majority of American radio stations look like this.

    Nice studio, but nobody is in the chair. Automation is in control.
    It doesn't have to be that way.  Over the years, the companies who own radio stations, especially the biggest companies with the biggest stations in the biggest markets, have been forced by economics and debt to run much, and in many cases, most of their programming using automation and a practice called voice tracking, where a faraway Air Personality records the things said on the radio days in advance.  Many local radio stations only are live weekdays from 6AM-7PM, prime time for advertisers, and a growing number of stations are moving to automation in parts of that time period as well.  And few if any stations have a real contingency plan for situations like the death of Whitney Houston.

    Whitney Houston 1963-2012
    So what does all this have to do with February 11, 2012?  Plenty.  Whitney Houston's death was announced shortly after 8PM Eastern that evening, and thousands of radio stations were already running unmanned from empty buildings, airing voice tracked local-sounding shows if they were lucky, but most likely broadcasting pre-recorded oldies shows, reruns of talk shows that aired already, dance mix shows assembled days or weeks before, or some other kind of "it's Saturday night and nobody is listening" content. And without a contingency plan or someone willing to take control of their stations in times like these....

    What they weren't running in most cases was the news that one of music's all time greats had died in a bathtub in Beverly Hills.

    I'm not making this up, I heard it.  While updating the story on The Music Meeting website, I listened to the streams of over 100 radio stations, in multiple formats, with multiple owners, and in markets ranging from New York City to Minot, North Dakota.  Less than a dozen of those stations either played Whitney Houston's music or talked about her untimely passing.  Yes, there is an argument that a Country station shouldn't talk about the death of a pop star, but Whitney Houston was bigger than a normal pop star, she was a Pop ICON.  Every radio station should have at least mentioned her death.  Or at least that's what I think.  You can tell me I'm wrong in the comments below.

    Sadly, people who were in charge of the few radio stations who did do something about Whitney Houston's death were busy giving themselves high fives and not helping the other stations in their local cluster or chain to get the word out.  Here's a tweet from a Boston radio programmer.

    Proud of @Kiss108 and @JAMN945 - on live tonight with Whitney tributes @iHeartRadio

    So who DID cover the death of Whitney Houston best?  Who stopped everything and devoted all their time to the biggest pop culture story in a very long time?  CNN and Piers Morgan.  The network's Don Lemon told the story on the air that he had finished his usual Saturday shift and as he was leaving the CNN Center in Atlanta he got the word to go back upstairs to the CNN studios because Whitney Houston was dead.  Lemon had no time to prepare for the story but did a tremendous job of covering it in the early moments as the news was literally being fed to him in his ear and he was reading it from his Blackberry.

    In time, Piers Morgan showed up from his Los Angeles studio.  He was on his way to the annual Clive Davis pre-Grammy party at the same hotel where Whitney Houston died.  Along with his showrunner Johathan Wald, Morgan did a tremendous job of doing interviews with Houston's friends and entertainment business heavyweights, getting live reports via phone and from reporters on the scene around Los Angeles, and telling the story of Whitney Houston's death with respect, sensitivity, and compassion.  He and the CNN team did what radio used to be great at no matter what time it was, clearing the decks and providing complete coverage of a story that certainly was news, but was also pop culture and certainly would be the only thing people would be talking about for days, probably weeks.

    It isn't too late for radio to reclaim the position as the "go to" place when a musician or pop icon dies, or even when severe weather hits.  

    We all remember the stories from last summer of radio stations who waited too long to broadcast severe weather alerts because there wasn't anyone in the studio to quickly get them on the air. With a little thought and a commitment that starts at the top and filters down to the entire radio station staff, radio can be ready to deal with whatever comes up, no matter when it happens.

    If you're a radio owner, manager, programmer, or the newest "Baby DJ", here are some things you can do now to be ready for the next "big thing":

    • Make a written plan, with copies in every studio, the engineering department, every department head's office, and on the station's computer network with plans on what should be done in the case of big events, including severe weather, serious local news event, major power outages, national emergency, national news, news of interest to each station's listeners (by format and location) and more.
    • Decide who has the authority to interrupt regular programming to get the news on.
    • Know what resources are available to each station: other stations in the cluster, local news partners like TV stations or newspapers, national news networks, and local experts on different types of mayhem and pop culture.
    • Have a plan for someone to come into the radio station to deal with the situation.  Whether it's a tornado warning or the death of an artist, someone on staff should be on call at all times to drop everything and do what Piers Morgan did as soon as he learned that Whitney Houston had died.
    • Work with sister stations in nearby markets, especially larger markets, to see if they can help you get content on the air when you can't do it yourself.
    • (Sorry, this may make engineers and some Managers cringe) Investigate a way to get on the air from outside the station when the studios are unstaffed.  Can you use a remote control and code to break into programming via telephone?  Do you want to get fancy and do it over the internet?  Can the news/talk station in the cluster, the one most likely to have people on staff for the most hours, take over the air of all its sister stations?
    • Don't forget, radio is now more than just radio. What's the plan to update text message subscribers, social networks, and your website?
    • Finally, discuss with all the stakeholders in each station what qualifies as important enough to break in to each station.  Music format can help you decide how big a star from another format should be before you break into a totally different format.  There may be other considerations as well, like what if someone from your area is in the news or passes away?  Sometimes there's no set answer for this question, but thinking about it will make the decision to interrupt or not interrupt much easier.
    I still believe that radio can fix many of the things it has messed up over the last few years.  One of them is reclaiming the place in listeners' minds as the first place to go for the latest news and information.  What do you think?  Please feel free to comment below.  Let's come up with some ideas every radio station can use.  
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