The American Football League, American Basketball Association and Blog Talk Radio?

Being a Featured Host on Blog Talk Radio there are many times that I have found myself engaged in a spirited, thought-provoking discussion (which are of course the best kind), with an equally passionate individual, wishing that we had been on the air at that particular moment.

Recent examples include my pre-show interviews with Libby Gill, the bestselling author and branding brains behind the Dr. Phil Show, who in reviewing my new book “Your Show Will Go Live in 5 Seconds” made the observation “When I first spoke with Jon to discuss my upcoming guest appearance, that could have been a show in itself.”

A Similar sentiment was also expressed by Bob Nicoll, whose book “Remember the Ice and Other Paradigm Shifts” is an international success that has rung up sales and an ardent following in 20 countries.

Needless to say I was not surprised to find myself in a similar situation this morning with Blog Talk Radio’s Director of Programming Philip Recchia.

In what can only be described as a rapid fire certainty that reflects the confidence of hard earned traditional media experience combined with the enthusiastic expectation of the possibilities of a Blog Talk Radio, Recchia delivered an insightful and balanced view of the social media phenomena.

Very much in line with my own thinking, and of course with all due respect to Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” axiom, while the new media is exciting, it is ultimately as always the caliber of content that creates sustaining value and viability.  In this regard, and extending from and beyond the foundational necessity for quality content is of course the ability to generate revenue.  However, for the majority of those who consider themselves part of the social media revolution, the reference to revenue or the need to justify ongoing existence through a tangible revenue model is the antithesis of the “social” element of social media.

It is this convergence of free spirited, liberal engagement and traditional, conservative practicality that reminded me of the old American Football League (AFL) and American Basketball Association (ABA).

For those of you who can recall 8-Track Cartridges, the 12 cent bottle of Coca Cola (when the beverage was actually made with real sugar, and was legitimately the real thing), and a hamburger from McDonald’s cost 16 cents, you will without a doubt get the connection.

For the ones who consider Star Wars special effects to be somewhat lame by today’s standard, and accept the fact that a plastic bottle of Coke costs what used to be the equivalent of three months allowance I will be happy to explain.

The National Football League (NFL) was the longstanding established league similar to traditional media icons such as NBC, CBS etc.  To suggest that the NFL had a monopoly in terms of being the only place for an athlete with professional football aspirations to play would  be an understatement.

After what to some seemed like an interminable period of unchallenged domination, a group of individuals got together and decided that a new league – the American Football League – was needed if for no other reason than to provide both players and fans with an alternative to a stagnate and overly confident NFL.

It was an interesting experiment in which the likes of the Lamar Hunts and Al Davis’ could carve out a new market of opportunity and at the same time snub the very establishment that refused to grant them access to the gridiron business that is professional football.

From the paradoxical differences in branding where the AFL presented itself as the hip, new “outlaw” league which was reflected in policies such as allowing players to wear long-hair and sport beards and mustaches – the NFL required a strict adherence to a clean-cut family image with no facial hair, to the on-field product of passing on every down resulting in high scoring, shoot em out affairs this was indeed the new frontier for a very old game.

Unfortunately, and despite the fact that the AFL was far more entertaining than the run-laden NFL, the reality of finances meant that the league was in a perpetual state of  uncertainty.

On the other side of the fence, the NFL was feeling the effects of a make-or-break, Hail Mary upstart that was willing to throw whatever amount of money it had (or didn’t have) to lure away top NFL talent.  In short, there had to be a meeting of minds.

The rest as they say is history, as the “merger” of the two leagues and their corresponding styles and attitudes nearly 40 years ago has led to a “product” that has a global reach and influence which I can say with some confidence far exceeded the humble expectations of even the eternally optimistic, balloon loving Pete Rozelle.

There are of course similar stories in the annuls of professional sports such as the American Basketball Association (ABA), and the probably long-forgotten World Hockey Association (WHA) that ironically served as the entry point for one of the all-time greatest athletes in any sport, Wayne Gretzky.

The above reminiscences also bring us back to what BTR’s Philip Recchia and I were discussing this morning.  Specifically, his belief that the tremendous opportunities and spirit of the social media world and related platforms might ultimately be in a better position to realize their full potential through a similar-type meeting of the minds.  At least in terms of the same business principles or mindset that represents the certainty of the established media’s ongoing viability.

Do not misinterpret what I am saying.  I am not talking about a hat-in-hand, Oliver Twist “please sir, I want more” acquiescence.  Right off the bat, and like the NFL, traditional media has itself become somewhat stagnated to the point of dressing-up past hits with what is supposedly a hip, up-to-date look in the hopes of capturing new audiences who now have far more entertainment choices than hours in the day.

What I am talking about is the necessary blending of the best of both worlds to create a combined offering that delivers insightful, thought-provoking and entertaining programming as part of a sustainable model (re all social media platforms ultimately have to make money).

I have asked Philip, and he indicated that he would be open to, being a guest on the PI Window Business Show to talk about BTR and the evolution of social media in general.  Remember to check back here, or visit the PI Window on Business Show Page on BTR for the date and time of the broadcast.

In the meantime, here is a little more information on Philip.

Philip Recchia, Director of Programming Blog Talk Radio

Philip Recchia Director of Programming

About Philip:

Writer-producer Philip Recchia has worked for such leading media organizations as NBC Television, News Corp., Reade’s Digest and Wenner Media.

At present, he is director of programming for Blog Talk Radio, the world’s leading online radio network, which boasts more than 4.5 million monthly listeners, and thousands of programs in categories ranging from entertainment to politics to sports to family to finance.

From 1994 to 1998, Recchia was director of special on-air projects, media relations and editorial services for NBC Cable Networks.  There, he created programming for historic milestones such as the 10th anniversary of the Stock Market Crash of 1987, and conceived the network’s first-ever documentary, “The Great Game: The Story of Wall Street.”

He also created and produced “CNBC Student Stock Tournament,” an educational program for grade school and high school students that yeilded $3 million in sponsorship revenue in its second year, and won a Beacon Award from the Cable TV Public Affairs Association for Best Use of a Web Site in Cable Programming.

In 200, Recchia co-created the on-line financial news network JAGfn.  Produced out of Manhattan’s Chelsea Studios and distributed via the American One Studios television network, JAGfn featured eight hours of original programming that was also streamed live on Lycos and more than 100 affiliate Web sites worldwide.

In 2004, he founded Above PAR Productions, which specializes in video production for individual clients.  A former writer/reporter for the New York Post and Us Weekly magazine, Recchia most recently worked on the development of News Corp.’s, the companion website to the world’s most popular gossip column.  He has also been a writing instructor at New York University since 2002.


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