November 30, 2015

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4/2/01 The Wisdom Of Skinny
Did you notice how skinny this issue of my magazine is? NOTE: Be sure to hold this issue of Radio Ink parallel to your face at all times, because if you accidentally turn it edgeways, it may disappear.
I've learned a lot in the past ten years. For one, I've learned that Optimism wears the same clothes when it comes as a mortal enemy that it wore when it came as your best friend.
When you fall into the disgusting habit of staring Reality in the face and fail to be optimistic about your future, you don't take the risks that are a necessary part of success. Big-time winners are those who charge through all the roadblocks, believing that they can achieve the impossible. Oddly, that's exactly what all the losers believed, too. Optimism is a powerful thing, even when it's wrong.
When I started this magazine, optimism blinded me to the realities that stood between me and my success. I ignored those who told me I was a fool to take on powerful publications like BROADCASTING. I was warned that I would "lose everything that I owned," and that I had chosen a battle that could not be won. Optimistically, I refused to believe that I would not succeed. As a result of my blind optimism, I was able to put a copy of Radio Ink on virtually every Radio manager's desk in America and pick up subscribers in 42 more countries around the world.
That same optimism almost killed the magazine. Ten years ago, while still fighting for every page of advertising and every new subscriber, the economy started to tank. “It'll get better,” I said, “The downtrend won't last.” But it did, and as it got worse and worse, I remained perky and optimistic as my business withered all around me. Sage advisors were telling me daily that I needed to cut my expenses in half to save my company, but half seemed to me far too drastic. When I finally listened, I had burned through my cash and was barely hanging by a thread.
I decided to fold the company. I wanted my father to be the first to know. I told him, "If I can’t continue to produce a high-quality publication; if I'm not creating the best possible product, then it's obviously time to close." Surprisingly, Dad said, “Son, what matters most is that you stay in business. Don’t worry about how skinny you and your magazine and your staff become. Even if you personally have to write and design the whole thing by yourself and can publish it only a couple times a year, it's still better than going out of business.” I followed Dad's advice, cut my staff to just four people, and we survived '91 and '92, though it was the most difficult thing I've ever done.
Recently, when the economy began making ugly noises, my optimism once again got in the way but, thankfully, for a much shorter time. You hold a skinny magazine because we've tightened our belts and doubled up on all our duties. If the economy turns around next week and the birds once again begin to sing, you'll find me dancing in the street to their beautiful tune. But if the skies continue to darken above us and the sun doesn't shine for years, Radio Ink will still be here.
I hope you will be, too.
— B. Eric Rhoads

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