Sheri Lynch: Still In Control of the Show
Updated: May 31
One of our biggest podcast episodes was back in October of 2017 when we had Sheri Lynch on the show to talk about taking control of the Bob and Sheri Show. By control, that means retaining things like digital rights and having autonomy over your brand. The episode has remained popular over the years because of the number of radio people who have considered taking a similar jump. In fact, it is one of the episodes that I have recommended people listen to rather than me explaining what she stated so eloquently.
Last month, The Bob and Sheri Show ended its run on flagship WLNK in Charlotte.
In this episode, Sheri Lynch returns to talk about that departure and how the team has spent nearly 4 and a half years building a show that could withstand this. Sheri cuts through the BS and shares her opinion about how performers need to be thinking about the future and what they can do to lay the ground work for the next ten years of performing to the world.
We also talked extensively about the one time they went on Facebook to do a live hit and listeners loved it so much, they decided to do it every week. Here is a version of the latest instalment.
Where else can you hear Bob and Sheri?
Have you checked out the Oddcast? It's a whole lot more of Bob & Sheri and one that I subscribe to. Years ago we talked about doing an episode on Canadian killers and the best I can say is that episode is still in development - and some of the best podcast episodes are. This show is a great example of going beyond repurposed radio and building an audience outside of the broadcast area.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:00:01
The Sound Off Podcast The podcast about broadcast with Matt Cundill starts now.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:00:01
You know, it's been over 1300 days since we last spoke with Sheri Lynch on this show. Our previous episode is one of the most popular in the catalog, and if you listen to it, the episode is a blueprint for taking ownership of your content and breaking out on your own as a radio performer. Consider this episode to be part two. This episode might go a while. How you been?
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:00:36
It, it is uh, this this (wince) Oh, my God.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:00:38
Last month, the relationship between The Bob and Sheri Show and its flagship station, WLNK and Charlotte, came to an end. So what does this mean for The Bob and Sheri Show, its affiliates, and the show's future? Nothing, really. And that was the plan all along. Sherry lynch joins me from her home in Charlotte, North Carolina, where it's been too long between conversations.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:01:02
I knew the month of April would be a chaotic feeding frenzy because I've been planning, as you know, to leave the link for a very long time. But planning the divorce and then actually getting divorced, April was insanity. And then all the oh, my God. Yeah, it's just been crazy.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:01:21
Were you planning a divorce from WLNK?
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:01:25
I was alone on the team in wanting to leave. I felt like it was a relationship where no amount of romantic getaways or marriage counseling was really going to fix what was broken. When you've worked in an environment where you've had, like, six owners in five years, there's no strategy. There's no continuity. You're in a burning building, running from one burning thing to the next, and everyone's yelling and waving their arms. And I'm detail oriented. I'm a Capricorn. I like to have a strategy and a plan. I like to have a fucking idea of where we're going. I don't like to wake up every day on a new reality timeline. And that's what it felt like. I felt like it was time to go, time for a change, that we were not going to be able to salvage this relationship. And I was right, but I was outvoted. One of my goals in going independent was to be a better company and to treat people with more respect than I had seen in the business. And so this isn't a dictatorship. And there were good reasons. People made good, compelling arguments for why you don't want to jump. You don't want to jump from one station to another that you take damage you don't recover from. But it was just exhausting. And I like the CEO of Urban One very much. I think he's a great business guy and a great radio guy. But their plan for WLNK made no sense to me. For Bob and Sherry, it also made no sense to me. For 2021, I had been on my knees praying that Intercom wouldn't exercise the option to pick up our show and renew it. And when they missed their option deadline, I opened a bottle of really fancy wine and celebrated. That should tell you how miserable I've been.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:03:17
What is that bottle of fancy wine? What country is it from? What color is it and how much did it cost?
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:03:23
A gorgeous bottle of 2000. I'm trying to think if it was a 2009 silver Oak Cab, not some gazillion dollar bottle of wine, but around here my regular go to is a Costco Malbec for 699. This was probably a $75 $80 bottle of wine, and I sucked it dry and shoot on the Cork and celebrate it and knew that losing that flagship station was going to be difficult, emotional and a pain in the ass and everything else. But change is always hard.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:03:58
Why were there so many owners over so many years?
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:04:01
Oh, you got me. So the challenge that they had in Charlotte was, you know, they had three stations, but that's not a real cluster. And in radio now they're cluster selling. So you've got a company that has Chris hits and country and Urban and whatever your advertising needs are, they have a way to meet them and they can price it differently because they can sell across a cluster. Everyone that has owned what urban one now owns in Charlotte had three stations that were two stations originally and then three. These are good radio stations with incredible employees and heritage and all of that. But there's no getting around the fact that it's difficult to sell and be successful when you've got two and you're going up against an entity that has five or seven business realities. One of the things I've been saying to my team and anybody that will listen to me is I don't think the Gulf between the reality of the business and the consumer experience of the medium has ever been wider and more difficult to bridge. What is happening in the business is staggeringly different from what people who use radio and love radio experience. I think that we don't give one. We don't give the audience enough credit for how plugged in they are and how engaged they are. But the realities of our business are such that it's very difficult for radio stations to do the kind of radio that they say they're doing this real, live and local community engaged radio. It's really hard to do that now because the economics dictate that you get employees the hell out of that building can't pay them. It's an insane time right now to be in radio. It's an insane time and not a good time to be an employee who's counting on a continuing and steady paycheck.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:06:12
Well, you haven't been employed by a radio station since about 2017.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:06:16
Praise, yes, and for that reason. So I don't have an MBA, I have an MSW, I'm a social worker, and I am not a psychic or I'd have won the lottery by now, but I just felt absolutely convinced that the future for people like me, talent content creator was not going to be inside a corporate situation. My days of being a pampered, chop poodle were over that the economics just no longer made sense. And so I knew that if I wanted to continue, I had to get out of there and be independent. And I think that was the best idea I've ever had. Honestly, it's why I'm still in radio. I think that a lot of people in my position need to be rethinking how they define work and how they think about themselves as a commodity and what kind of value you can bring. Because I'm seeing heartbreaking, devastating things happening to people in our business. The people that still have jobs are getting their pay cut to the bone. And, oh, my gosh, it's just such a hard time. It's such a hard time. And I'm not here to trash corporate radio because I'm very sympathetic to the economic challenges and the competitive factors that have only been amplified and accelerated by the pandemic. But at the end of the day, we are all responsible for ourselves. You can't expect to just be pampered and cared for and protect it anymore. You have to grab that freaking steering wheel or you're going right off the cliff.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:08:07
You know, you and I were sitting on the floor in Anaheim at Podcast Movement, and you were telling me in 2017 about this, and we had a podcast shortly after, which is still one of the most listened to episodes in the series of 250 some odd episodes.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:08:23
Matt Cundill (host) 00:08:24
Most of the time, people say, Well, I'm thinking about going out on my own. And I said, well, you have to start with the episode with Sherry. And I know it's four years old, but everything you say in that previous episode is still relevant to today. But if we go back to our conversation in Anaheim, you left. You cease being a radio employee. You went into business for yourself. You bought the show, essentially, and then you took all the things that you can control about your brand with you and then continue to build your brand. Does that sound reasonable?
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:08:55
I can't believe we did it because that was the dream. And when you say it, it sounds like, well, that sounds very complicated and exhausting, but that is exactly what we did. So we had something that we had met that a lot of people on the talent side of the equation don't have is we had a way of generating revenue. So because our show was syndicated and has been syndicated for almost its entire run, we could give up our corporate paychecks and benefits and take a stab at feeding ourselves off of our network radio revenue. So that was the difference maker for us. If you are even, like top flight talent in a great market with incredible skills and experience and chops, you still have to solve that revenue problem. If you cut yourself off from the corporate world and go independent. How are you getting paid? So that is the first thing that people who are thinking about going out on their own have to figure out. As much as we've all gotten used to working in radio, being expected to work for free, you can't actually live on free. You have to be able to generate an income.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:10:11
When I heard the news that you were let go from WLNK, I thought, oh, crap, poor Sherry. And then I thought, no, wait, she's built for this moment. This is the entire reason why she did what she did and why Bob and Sheri went out on their own.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:10:26
I think we talked about this last time. It took about a year and a half of negotiating to get everything that we want. It all in one place and out. And then there we were, a scrappy little start up running an established business. We had no time to get up to speed. We had to learn on the job how to run this business while moving at top speed with no resources. So that was the first challenge. But I knew from midnight on July 31, 2017, because that was the moment we took over. I knew that the clock was running on that radio station in Charlotte. And my first primary goal was, how do we build this business to survive without this affiliate, this flagship? So that was the first thing that my business partner, Tony Garcia, and I focused on was, okay, we need to make it completely and fully independent from the mothership, from a revenue standpoint, and then everything else can follow from there. By the time the decision was made, we had built it. We had the luxury of having four years to build it out to where having a station in Charlotte did not matter for us. From a business standpoint. Now, you've got your ego right. You got your hometown pride. You have your feelings. But from a business standpoint, we were okay without it. And I was the one who triggered the meeting that led to that decision, because I just felt like, folks, I know this is radio and we struggle with adulting in radio, but we have eight employees in five States who need to go to bed knowing they're going to wake up. Okay? So let's just cut the bait and go. It was such a moment, Matt. You never know how you're going to feel. I've spent my entire adult life doing this job and my entire adult life as a working person going to that place. So you don't know how you're going to feel when the words are out, like, hey, we're done here. We're over. I walked out of the building, and I felt just as light as a balloon. I floated to my car, and that's when I knew for sure that my gut was right. My instincts were right, and my decision was right. It was just time.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:13:01
Did Bob have the same experience?
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:13:03
No, he didn't, but for very different reasons. So Bob was an established player in radio and television when I met him. And he has had an incredible career in radio and TV in that market. And he's like a hometown legend. And in August of 2021, he would have marked 50 years in that building. He started as a teenager working for WBT, the big news talk station, jumped to television, then came back to radio. And I met him after he came back to radio that second time. For Bob, that building was a touchstone know, that was the one constant in his life. Job changes, relationships, divorce. He lost two children, and that building was a safe place. It was a place where he could come and put that grief aside and escape it. That building meant so much to him, and he was unceremoniously chucked out like, honest to God, the trash gets a bigger send off on Tuesdays than Bob Lacey got. And that hurt. He had a lot of emotions around that that I completely respect. And we ended up Tony and I and our director, Heather FIR, our director of digital, ended up going to Bob's house and staying at his house for the whole weekend. And we just stayed up late drinking wine and telling stories and talking and laughing, and we had a little wake for the place, and then we moved on.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:14:50
And you're not gone from Charlotte because you've reappeared at K 104.7. Oh, my gosh.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:14:57
So can I just tell you? So K 104.7 is a Beasley radio station. The program director is a freaking radio legend. Jack Daniel. I have one in my whole career to work with Jack, and I had just resigned myself to. Well, our paths are not going to cross. I'm just never going to get a chance to work with Jack Daniel, John Reynolds, Bill Shannon. These are radio people that in the Charlotte market, people talk about with reverence, whether it's other radio folks or advertisers business people in the community. I used to just go, what must it be like? You know, what must that be like? And a lot of the folks at the Beasley corporate level were people I worked with under the greater media years, like Heidi Raphael, for example. Buzz Knight was with Beasley for a while, and I adore Buzz, so I knew these were really good people. This is a great company. It's a female led company. And I would Daydream about, what would it be like to partner with Caroline Beasley? Well, that's never going to happen. And then when we took the show independent, I would say to Bob, all right, perfect world, anything's possible. And we would go 4.7. We would love to be, why can't we be on that radio station? And so when the decision came to separate from the link, we were very lucky that the management team at K had the same feeling. And best of all, and this was really important to me personally. When we first sat down to talk to them about bringing the show to Kay, they were adamant that there would be no headcount change. I don't want to see anybody lose a job. That's one of the negatives of being in syndicated radio. Often when we come in, somebody's going out. So ideally, my favorite situation is a radio station where the program director is doing mornings and running three radio stations. And we save that PD having to get out of bed at 04:00 A.m.. That's my favorite dream scenario. But with Beasley and Charlotte, they were really clear, hey, these folks that we have on the morning drive, they're great people. They're great radio people, and we're going to keep them. We value them. And they were actually and this is going to sound like total bullshit. I'm just making this up. When the news broke that we were leaving our former station, it was Phil Harrison, Mel Myers, who were doing mornings on Kay, who went to management and said, it's going to sound crazy, but what if Bob and Sherry and I can't even tell you what it feels like to go into that situation feeling like you're already part of a family and a team and you're all pulling in the same direction. It's a Kumbaya moment like I haven't had in radio in a long time.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:17:50
You know, it's really good for the market. When you think of a Heritage morning show, if it disappears, the tuning disappears altogether because so much of your audience goes, well, I'm not listening to the radio anymore.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:18:03
Well, and it's especially interesting right now. So I'll share this with you because I think that a lot of radio people don't want to hear this, and it makes them so upset and uncomfortable and even angry. But let's be in reality for a minute. Early in the pandemic, we partnered with Jacob's Media on some pandemic research, wanted to get a snapshot of where our people are. They working from home, are they frontline? Are they essential? How are they using media in this completely unprecedented time? And we learned something that was fascinating and terrifying. The combination of the lifestyle changes forced on our audience by the pandemic and by the explosion of competitive options for radio streaming and podcasting and all of that, and the fact that our former radio station could not sustain a coherent format for more than a minute. One day you would tune in and it's Journey, and then the next day you tune in and it's Post Malone, and then you come back and you're listening to Nickelback, and then it's Alicia Keys and it was chaotic and the audience was exhausted from it. We ended up migrating about two thirds of our listeners to the podcast platform. And I looked at that and thought, well, they're not coming back to broadcast. Not easily because it's just like anything else. If I'm given the choice of three network TV stations and Netflix and I can set my DVR, my watch to catch young Sheldon, or I can watch any damn thing I want anytime I please at my own leisure on Netflix. The consumer behavior piece of this is huge. Once consumers, aka listeners, discover the joy and the power of demand listening, they listen to the music they want and only the music they want. They listen to the content they want and only the content. And it's on their schedule. They are completely, 100% in control. They don't come back. And that wasn't a fascinating thing to see in the pandemic. Then we partnered with Jacobs again about six months later, and it was holding true. So one of my great joys in partnering with Beasley and Charlotte is when we sat down to talk, I said, Guys, I just need to be super transparent with you about this Bob and Sherry audience. We can migrate them day part to day part, but I can't ask people that have been listening to us in the morning to switch to a different day part and never again download a podcast. That's not the world we live in anymore. And Bill Shannon, he was already there. I was braced for the long, sad radio faces when you even mentioned something that isn't radio. But they were there. They were like, yeah, we get it. We know. We understand. And the relief, I felt like, oh, my God, these are adult business people in radio. I'm dizzy. I need to sit down. And so I could tell right from that conversation, that okay. I'm with a group of people that understand that the world has changed. And once the world changed, once the world changes, it doesn't go back. Nothing ever goes back.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:21:50
Yeah. There's a lot of companies that try to herd cats in order to get people to listen. You mentioned Intercom. They've been trying to drive everybody to their app for many years. I found it a frustrating experience that I can't get my favorite radio stations through tuning because they took the radio stations off there Virgo what happened to me. I no longer listened to those radio stations. And I found something else to listen to.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:22:13
That's the thing about you have to it really does come down to. And this is a challenge for radio. Radio is an interesting business because the people who love radio and the people that are left in radio at this point are evangelical. Like, we are the true believers. We are the people that did the time and temp and talked up records into hairbrushes as kids. Right. We are the passionate lovers of radio. But the love of radio can blind us to the realities of the business and the competitive landscape. Listeners are consumers who have a multitude of choices, and they are going to make the choices that most suit their needs taste and convenience. And it doesn't matter how much we beat our chests about how great radio is. The consumers are going to do what they're going to do, and our survival depends on accepting that.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:23:12
And we're in an interesting moment right now because I don't know how many of us are accepting that humans are interesting in that you ask them, well, how many podcasts you listen to? Well, about six podcasts. And how many radio stations do you frequent? Well, six radio stations and your apps on your phone. Six apps on your phone get most attention. That's what we do. We gravitate to the places where it's easy for us to reach out.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:23:37
You know, here's the thing. I understand radio stations that make the decision to play 14 songs an hour. I get you. I hear you, boo. I got you now. Good luck with that because people have other ways of getting the music that they want. And then we've got a demographic problem in radio. Right. Who has a passionate relationship with radio, Gen Xers and boomers. As soon as someone wants to talk to me about programming to 17 year olds, I'm like, I'm sorry, I need to go now. I don't have enough life in front of me to give you that time. Good luck with it. I hope you succeed. I can't wait to eat my words when suddenly Zoomers think that radio is fun, and they put down their streaming and their phones and start waiting for a radio station to play their favorite song so they can record it. Those days are gone. Radio needs to be responsive to the way people consume media now. And I don't know what those answers are, Matt. I'm here with my thing, doing my thing, trying to make the best decisions and the best guesses. I have no idea what the rest of the industry should do, but I do know this playbook that's not the one to be picking up right now.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:25:05
In just a second. More with Sherry, we talk about syndicated radio, life in the pandemic, advice for people who want to break out on their own. How is the Bob and Sherry show structured internally, and I'm not done asking about the Charlotte departure, by the way. You can connect to everything Bob and Sherry on our email@example.com. In the meantime, just sit there, be pretty the sound off podcast. What are your business meetings like? There's air checks out there. There's less talk about the show, but then you've got this other side of what you have to manage, which is your business meeting. So who's in the meetings and what are you all talking about?
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:25:45
We actually do a lot of stuff at Bob and Sherry. In addition to the daily radio show, we have a couple of podcasts. We do a ton on the digital side with social. We have a subscription based newsletter where we do a ton of contesting. We do more contesting in the average quarter than some radio stations do all year. We did more contesting in the Pandemic than my former station in Charlotte did in like three years because we don't have to work our way up and down the corporate chain getting approvals. Right. So our meetings are great fun. We pitch ideas, we figure out, you know, the best angle, and then we deploy almost immediately. We don't just talk a good game, and then nothing ever happens. We're able to actually move it. Here's how the company is structured. It's me and Tony, Garcia and Bob. And then we have our director, Max. We have our new producer, Doc, who is amazed balls. We have another producer, Steven, who's based in Colorado, who handles our podcast stuff. We have a killer admin wizard based in Pennsylvania named Ashley. We have an incredible business manager who's based in Georgia, who worked for everyone from Jefferson pilot to CBS. She's just incredible. And then we have a handful of contract people that we have under contract that help us with designing ads and all of that sort of thing. And everybody's voices include it. All ideas are welcome. We tell people when they join our team. Welcome to Now Media. We try never to say no. So if you have an idea there's something you want to try or experiment. If you think you can improve on something, the answer is yeah, let's give that a try, because I think a lot of folks who have worked in radio for a long time, you can see that there's a little bit of a SAG. Their spirits are maybe not broken, but exhausted, because the answer is always no. There's no money, there's no permission, there's no approval, just no. We try to say yes, and we get ahead of ourselves a lot. We're such a small team, but we're doing so many things. Like during the Pandemic, I wrote a really fun cookbook for crazy cat people, and we asked listeners to participate. So we have people all over the country sending us in pictures of their cats going nuts in their kitchens and all of that. And we published a cookbook in the middle of the Pandemic that was a partnership between us and our audience. So projects like that, we have the freedom to do that, and everybody gets a vote. And it's made the job, which is super difficult, especially right now. It's kind of joyful because everyone feels like they're contributing and that their ideas are valued.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:28:56
I think one of the best things about setting up the company, the way you set it up, but you never have to worry about moving.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:29:04
Yeah, that's the other thing. And just recently, I've seen some folks in our business who I really care about find themselves in a position where they had to make maybe not a great deal because they could not relocate their families. And that's just the nature of radio. But it's been such a great I'm very lucky. My career has been a little bit of a fairy tale because I've gotten to stay in this place where you see me. But my show is all over the world. I owe that to some really visionary management that I had supporting us early in our career. Nobody does this alone. And I was lucky. Luck is so much a part of it. I tell people that all the time. Bob always argues with me, luck has nothing to do with it, baby. Luck has so much to do with it. So much lucky timing. The people that we encounter along the way who course correct us or show us that this idea is the one to pursue and not that one. People who inspire you and support you. So much of that is luck. And we've been lucky.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:30:20
Tell me about The Pandemic, because one of the things I've really enjoyed is watching your Facebook lives. Sometimes with a cocktail all getting together and the interaction with the listeners. I mean, to have a Facebook Live of 7800 people, which happened a few times, that's an extraordinary amount of people to pop on and say Hi.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:30:40
In the very beginning of The Pandemic, we made the decision, first of all, that we were going to find a way to keep the show going. And we knew a lot of people in our business who went on sort of a Corona vacation. They were working from home and they didn't have the capability to continue to broadcast, but we did. And The Pandemic, in a weird way was a blessing for us, Matt, because it forced us to completely and fully sever from the mothership and go independent. And it gave us enough runway to figure out the technical challenges. So in that way, again, that's lucky. Just lucky timing. But we were talking to our listeners. We've always been very engaged in social media. I mean, I mind everybody's business. I'm all over people. Right before you and I jumped on, I was posting on some teacher's Instagram how much I like what she posts. I've never met this woman, but I really feel these people out there. And we said, what if we're all cooped up in our houses and nobody can go anywhere and everybody's depressed? Let's throw a virtual party. And it was going to be a one time thing. So we had no idea what would happen. We were like, we'll just go on Facebook Live. It was the first thing we could think of. And everybody bring a drink and we'll have drinks together. And from that first one, it just took off. And people were like, okay, well, we'll see next week. And we were like, we just were going to okay, well, we'll do it next week. And then we did it the next week, and then we did it the next week. And then we thought, all right, this is super awesome. Let's keep doing this. And we started reaching out to people that we know and said, hey, we do this like little goofy, virtual happy hour. You want to come on and hang out. And people like the comedian Jeff Dunham, he was tired of being cooped up in his house in Texas. He was like, absolutely, I'm coming. So we've had singers and songwriters and comedians and all sorts of awesome people come on and play music and tell jokes and tell stories and give our listeners let's bring the world, let's bring a club party experience to you since none of us can go out anywhere. And it's just been a blast. It's been so fun.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:33:08
Do you have any favorite affiliates that you've signed up in the last little while? Because, I mean, my favorite, as you know, is Holton, Maine. That's the first time I got to listen to you is when I would drive past there going through New Brunswick on my way back to Montreal. And that's where I first heard Bob and Sherry and Lo and behold, you've got three now in Maine, including Camden. But do you have any new affiliates that you signed up to go, wow, I'm in.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:33:31
Well, I was super excited when we added Albuquerque for a couple of reasons. New Mexico is one of my favorite States in the whole country. It's just so incredibly beautiful. I have driven New Mexico East to west and west to east probably half a dozen times in my life. That's how much I love it. And, of course, Roswell, because, you know, I am with the aliens. I'm a believer. And the program director at our station in Albuquerque is a gentleman that I'd worked with in the past who I really liked, Chris Abrams. And it was like old home week to be able to reconnect that's. One of the other cool things about syndication is this business is a small town and you work together and then you separate and maybe you never see each other again. But we reconnect with folks a lot. Albuquerque was a huge gap for me for that reason. I have family in Minneapolis. That was huge. I have family in Ventura, California. That was huge. I started my TV career in Wilmington, North Carolina. That was huge. It's not BS when I say, like, I'm really attached to all of our stations. We have a station, an I Heart station in North Dakota. And the program director there is just one of my favorite women in the whole wide world. And she and I were on a Zoom not that long ago, just commiserating about radio in the pandemic and life in the pandemic. And these are my people. I can't even imagine my life or career without these folks. So it's been pretty awesome, even with all the challenges.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:35:16
So shout out to Z 94 and Alison.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:35:21
Yeah. And you learn a lot. I've learned so much prepandemic Matt. We traveled a lot. I've just crisscrossed the country, visiting stations and meeting people, and I've never had a single encounter where I really didn't learn something that stayed with me about this business and different perspectives on what radio means to people in different communities. That has been the best thing ever. Because if I only knew what I could see and experience where I live, if I only understood radio as a listener, it would not be the same thing as understanding what radio means in a community where a station might only have a couple of full time employees and seemingly they work 24/7, but they know everybody in town and they're engaged and connected with everyone in town. And the pride that you feel and being part of that community, that is humbling. And it keeps you from, frankly, just turning into a giant dickhead, which is an easy thing to do in our business.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:36:35
Five years from now, are you going to look back at this pandemic time and would you be able to say that the pandemic accelerated your departure from WLNK?
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:36:46
I will look back on this pandemic. So professionally and personally, the pandemic is two different things for me. Professionally, I am in debt to this pandemic in a lot of ways because it forced our hand and forced us to figure some stuff out that we needed to do and we had no incentive to be as aggressive as we had to become. It also reminded me at a time when radio is not the sexy medium right now, right? I mean, you know what I'm talking about. It's not the shiny new toy. That podcasts are for people and screaming.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:37:27
Well, it's no clubhouse.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:37:29
Oh, it's not clubhouse. Yeah. Radio is that old standby from your grandparents age, right? It's not a sexy, shiny new toy. But one thing that the pandemic really brought home for us at the bottom, Sherry Show, is folks, especially when they're isolated by circumstances, crave and need human connection. And we have listeners. I just get all emotional when I think about it. Who, for example, are with us for our weekly happy hours and we are the only social outlet they've had in the pandemic. If you live alone and you work from home, what's this past year been like for you? You think about that, right? What's this year been like? It's been incredibly difficult. And we are reminded that the medium of radio is this incredible thing. It's so human and emotional and meaningful. We really connect as human beings through this medium. Now, the business of radio whole different conversation. The medium of radio, just this incredible thing. The pandemic was a big reminder of that. So a lot of good things came out of that. Did it accelerate our departure from the Charlotte station? I can't speak for what the new owners of that station, what's in their head? I don't know. But for us, it helped my team catch up to me in terms of being ready to leave. And I would say that it probably did accelerate their decision making process because, let's face it, freefall might be too strong a word for what a lot of radio stations are experiencing. But in a world where businesses are shut down, there's no sporting events, there's no movies, there's no concerts. You're not doing community events. People are not buying jewelry, maybe. And all of that impacted the sales departments of radio stations and has been incredibly stressful. So, yeah, no doubt that the pandemic was a factor for them, but that's their movie, not mine. And I genuinely wish them well. That's not bullshit. I genuinely wish them well.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:39:59
How did you manage to keep the news of the Charlotte departure and the effect it has on the whole show away from all the affiliates? Because it's not just one radio station in Charlotte. There's so much out there. And, of course, then you're starting to get all the blowback on social media. Where are you going? How can I listen to you in Charlotte? And then people from across America are looking going, what's going on?
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:40:20
Oh, yeah. Okay. Wild story. I knew at the end of March that our last day on that radio station was going to be Friday, April 30. And the new management said to me, how do you want to handle that? And I was like, you know what? We're just going to do our show like we always have until Friday, April 30, and then we're going to be gone. I didn't want any drama. I didn't want any negativity or any ugliness. I just didn't want it. So that was the plan. And then they terminated an employee who was very unhappy and leaked it to the local press. So I took my daughter to visit a College and was on the road when my phone started blowing up. And, you know, there's a rumor. Can you confirm? Can you can? Oh, my God, no. You are not following me onto this College tour. So Tony and I talked about it, and we were like, well, we didn't mean for it to go this way, but now we have to deal with it. So we took their call and talked to the press, and the story blew up before I was even back from touring Seaton Hall. And it's an unusual feeling that I don't recommend to get a push notification on your phone announcing that you've lost your gig. That's kind of horrible and surreal and also hilarious at the same time. And of course, when the news broke, it looked to people who didn't understand or know the way we were structured, like the sky was falling and that it was over for us. I didn't want to be unpleasant because I have a lot of people that I care about who work at the former radio station. I did not want to be negative about it. And so we just tried to ride it out. We dealt with our listeners one on one. We're not going anywhere. It only affects this market, blah, blah, blah. It was really challenging for Bob especially. That kind of attention was really difficult and very surreal. And of course, I knew that we had been talking to other companies and did not want to say that because I thought it would be more dignified to take the high road. But up here on the high road, your nose will bleed, buddy. This air is thin. The high road got a little challenging at times, but it all worked out. And you know what? Again, we didn't mean for the story to break the way that it did. We didn't mean for any of that to happen, but it ended up being the best thing. So you trust the universe to know better than you do. It was chaotic. We had our hands full for a couple of weeks.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:43:31
Where is your daughter going to College in the fall.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:43:34
Okay. So I'm really proud of her mom brag time. This is my daughter, Karen Mia. She's an incredibly hard worker and incredibly diligent student. Her whole life is dance and homework. She was offered a scholarship at Seaton Hall and another scholarship at Watford College, which is in South Carolina. She wants to be a prosecutor. So we visited both schools, and it's not fair to Newark, New Jersey, that it doesn't look its best. At the end of March, it was like being in a Sopranos episode. And that Wafford when we visited there looked like the set of a movie about College. And I also think Matt that maybe Carry Me wasn't ready to be quite so far from home. Seaton hall is about a 1314 hours drive. Wafford's about an hour and a half. So I'm very proud to report we have a Wafford terrier in the house now. I'm super excited for her.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:44:35
You were talking about a College tour that has sort of gone a little bit wrong, where something unexpected came up, and the only other one I could think of was Meadows Sopranos College tour when Tony headed up to Maine and then ran into an old gangster.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:44:51
Had to whack a guy, right?
Matt Cundill (host) 00:44:53
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:44:54
I was so angry that this leak to the press and this drama with that former radio station intruded on my weekend of touring Seaton Hall with my child, I was sideways. And, you know, the Philly. I keep the Philly in control. But when the Philly comes out of me, I'm like, I'm looking for a fight. I was really unhappy about that because it cast a shadow over the weekend and my phone just blew up for three solid days. But it all worked out, and it worked out for the best. Our plan to just let it quietly fade off into the sunset was probably a terrible plan. It's a good thing that it didn't succeed.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:45:42
Tell me a little bit about the podcast you have going on. I mean, I heard the podcast that I had to listen to, which talked all about your departure from the radio station. That was one of the more recent ones that I've listened to. But podcast is coming out. You've also got Fun Size.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:45:57
Yeah, we do. We create a ton of content here, both audio content and written stuff and video and all of that. We're pretty ambitious for a small company, the podcast we really, really love because again, recognizing the changing landscape of commercial radio, I don't have to agree with twelve songs an hour to understand why that's a strategy. But that's not what The Bob and Cherry Show does. We're not going to talk for three minutes an hour and play music. That's just not what we do. So the podcast is two things for us. The regular Daily Bob and Sherry podcast is a free floating digital affiliate, and people use it that way, in fact. And it's a little bit alarming the degree to which some people have shifted completely to the podcast away from broadcast. But again, it comes down to consumer expectations. If you tell people you're something, you got to be that thing. You can't tell people we're playing your favorite songs from the 90s and then roll up in there with a horse with no name. You have to have a musical image and then deliver on that for your listeners, or they go find Bobby Cherry on the podcast. The podcast allows us to do the kind of spoken word content that just doesn't really have a home anymore in commercial radio. So we really love it. It's more who we are as storytellers. And I can't imagine not doing it honestly. There are just so many things that don't belong on the radio that belong in that space. And we love it as you know, Matt, because you know me like I'm a giant podcast listener and have been for forever. Love, love, love could listen all day long to people talk and telling stories. And so, of course, it would make sense that we would be in that space, too. And we're doing some things podcasting that are we're experimenting with some things that are interesting. We're doing regionalized advertising in our main Bob and Cherry podcast and experimenting with that in addition to the national stuff that we do with Westwood One. I would say this to people that are thinking about going out on your own. You'll never work harder and you'll make less money than you think you can live on while working harder than you've ever worked. But the freedom that you get from that is not just the freedom to quit early and go get a haircut. The freedom that comes from that is the freedom to follow an idea and to experiment and to risk failing without losing everything, because not every idea is great and not everything you try is going to work. And that knowledge that, well, let's throw it out there. And if it doesn't work, it doesn't work and it's not. The end of the world is incredible. And how many people working inside a corporate situation can say that? Usually when Tony and I are batting an idea around, we go, well, it's the worst that can happen. It won't work. Let's put it out there and see what we get. That's like play as much as it is work. We all know people that have so many wonderful ideas and they're exploding with creativity and energy, but there's no outlet for it. There's no home for any of that. When you're out on your own, you can do that. You just have to understand that you're going to work hard.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:49:44
There are an awful lot of people who are in radio who are listening to this. What do you want them to know?
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:49:51
Well, I just want to tell my fellow radio people, don't wait for permission and don't wait to be asked to dance, because that's probably not coming. Permission. Definitely not. And don't wait for somebody else to invent it and show you the way. You may have to be the person that finds the way. When I think about, like, okay, how could someone who has no alternative revenue stream, how could they begin this process of going out on their own? I mean, there are some strategies that you could look at, you could incorporate or become an LLC, and then the radio station contracts your services, and that leaves you the freedom to own your digital rights to do that podcast that you've been daydreaming about to go out and pursue. Like, I know a lot of radio people are also becoming experts in the social and digital space. When you're your own thing, you can go out and you can do all of that. Nobody owns you. Nobody can say, no, we own that, and you're not allowed to have that. And for corporate radio, you're welcome. Because if you have great creators that are not on your books as salaried employees and employees receiving benefits, everybody wins here. They have their freedom and their creativity and their ability to go out there and beat those bushes and earn a living and you have reduced expenses. Human beings are the most valuable resource or radio station has and the most expensive resource. And there aren't enough human beings working in radio now. And that's a problem. And I think we all can hear it right. As creators, it's on us to find the way. It's not on them to show you the way. They're not going to. It's on you to find the way. And I promise you, it's worth it. It's just hard. But you know what's hard? What's hard is going to a job every day with your heart in your throat because you're not sure if today is going to be your last day. That's hard, too. And so when you look at those two flavors of heart. I'm working and I'm busting my ass, but I'm chasing the things I believe in and I'm chasing my dreams. And every now and again I'm bringing something home and I can feed the family versus I wake up every day with a sick feeling that today could be the end. Which kind of hard are you up for? Pick your flavor of hard, and then you know where you are. So that's what I would say to my fellow radio people. Figure out which version of hard you can live with, because there's no escaping it. It's one or the other.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:52:34
I think the second version causes cancer. Not a scientist nor a doctor, but I think the stress will kill you.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:52:44
I agree with you. I think we all know an awful lot of really wonderful folks in this business whose health has been destroyed. It's not good for you to work every day with your heart in your throat. How can you be your best? And the problem, Matt, is that when people we have a situation now, and it's true in other industries, but we're talking about radio. We have a situation now where people are so overburdened and so scared and so stressed out. They're in constant fight or flight mode. And when you're in flight or flight, you can't be creative. You're just trying to survive. Right. So how many days and weeks and months and then years. Can you sustain fight or flight, no matter how much you love the medium of radio? And I get that it's not sustainable. The thing that I say to people is try to not let how much you love radio as a medium blind you to the realities of radio as a business, because the two are very different things. If you love the medium of radio, good, because you won't survive long without that love in this business. But the business and your love of the medium, they're never going to meet, they're only going to continue to divert. You've got to take care of yourself. You've got to accept that the model is changing right in front of us. And if you don't believe me and I don't know how you could not look at the trades, wait for the push notification that tells you X number of employees were laid off today by such and such company. Look at the world of the whole explosion in voice tracking. Pay attention. This is really happening. This is not a drill. This is happening. It's not too late. But what you're doing every day scared out of your mind, you can't sustain.
Matt Cundill (host) 00:54:44
Sherry, thanks so much for being on the podcast. I totally appreciate it. And I love having you on.
Sheri Lynch (Guest) 00:54:49
I'm so glad to see you, Matt. And I have to say, the pandemic has been good to you. Your skin looks amazing. You're bright eyed and alert. As the vet would say, you look like you've had not a bad run of it? Hopefully? You're not a seeding? Inferno? Of madness? That you're concealing?
Matt Cundill (host) 00:55:03
It's just a ring light and a shade? The sound of podcast is written and hosted by Matt Cundill Produced by Evan Surminsky Social media by Courtney Krebsby Op Another great creation from the soundoff media company imaging courtesy Core Image Studios there's always firstname.lastname@example.org.