My day job was spent in broadcasting. I retired two years ago from my firm Broadcast Management Strategies, which is a management consulting practice, and I was actively involved in the launch of, and am currently helping run, WVMO (98.7 FM), which is a 100-watt, Low-Power FM (LPFM) radio station in Monona. WVMO is what I like to describe as “deliberately tiny.” We focus on being insanely local—if there’s something going on in Monona, you’ll hear about it on WVMO. The station has no advertising and is “community-owned, locally programmed and volunteer-driven.” The audio quality is fantastic—audiophiles love to tune in!—and although our geographic footprint is limited, we have a big Internet listenership. We may be a little radio station, but we are, very much, a REAL radio station.
I belong to a three-generation broadcasting family and was one of the architects of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Awards program, which has become one of the premier broadcast awards programs in the country.
In addition to my professional life, I enjoy living with my wife Amanda, the love of my life for the last 45 years, and have three kids: Hannah, a photographer (whose photo of John and Schoep went viral and who’s also a respected “fisherperson”); Molly, an academic advisor at UW College of Ag and Life Sciences; and our son Jordan who’s a filmmaker.
My most memorable caffeine was the time I thought I was having a heart attack after drinking too much coffee! My wife and I were members of a group known as the Amazingrace Family and ran a coffeehouse and concert production company in Evanston, Illinois and then Eugene, Oregon. Oregon is dark and dank for months at a time and I drank a lot of coffee to deal with the weather. One day I was driving John Prine—who was a friend from Amazingrace in Evanston—to a concert and I felt so terrible that I thought I must be having a heart attack. I drove to the hospital, the doctor checked me out and asked how many cups of coffee I’d had that day. My response: “Oh, about 12.” His advice: Stop that! Which I did.
My current caffeine of choice is a decaf Americano with an extra shot of decaf espresso and a lot of room for cream. I have about three of those a day.
My favorite place for caffeine is Java Cat on Monona Drive. Not only do they know exactly how I like my coffee, but it’s a great neighborhood gathering place.
The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is, first of all, my wife Amanda, with whom I never seem to get enough time. Then, I think I’d choose W. Edwards Deming. He was the management genius of the 20th century and the person who first expressed the thought, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”—a sentiment that I absolutely agree with and one that I’ve applied throughout my career. We’re currently using this approach at WVMO to both track and to prove we’re delivering what the community wants.
Deming was a brilliant social scientist. He brought management ideas from Japan and tried to share them with the U.S. auto industry, but they rejected him. So Deming went back to Japan, to Toyota, and showed them how to make better use of their original concepts to improve product quality. The U.S. auto makers eventually came around—Ford was the first with their “Quality is Job 1” campaign.
World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: How to convince non-believers that climate change is real. I’d also like to find more ways to make Monona an even better place to live than it currently is. It is a wonderful little city, with a terrific future ahead of it.