By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — No matter how young you are, this will make you feel old: The New Millennium began 20 years ago. We heaved a sigh of relief when Y2K didn’t plunge us into darkness. But there was new suspense as that year ended: hanging chads.
Who CAN’T wait to kiss-off 2020?
With the holidays looming, and as we are prepping perennial year-end retrospectives, it’s easy to wonder what-the-heck-NEXT? As though the last 20 years weren’t transformative…
2001: 9/11! iPod was born, George Harrison died.
2002: Figuring that, after 9/11, we were all going to die, I bought a sailboat. And what they say about “the two happiest days of your life” is true.
2003: The USA invades Iraq; seven astronauts perish as shuttle Columbia disintegrates re-entering the atmosphere.
2004: Facebook was born; Ronald Reagan, Marlin Brando, Rodney Dangerfield, and Superman — Christopher Reeve — died.
2005: Hurricane Katrina killed 1,836 Americans; and we said goodbye to Johnny Carson, Richard Pryor, and Pope John Paul II.
2007: iPhone. Virginia Tech shootings. The subprime crisis triggered Global Recession.
2008: The Great Recession; and President-Elect Barack Obama.
2009: Swine Flu. And RIP Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ted Kennedy, Walter Cronkite. And, for the last time, Paul Harvey told radio listeners “Good day.”
2010: The biggest oil spill in history slimed the Gulf of Mexico; and iPad and Instagram debuted.
2011: The Occupy Movement set up camp. The world population hit 7 billion, minus Osama bin Laden.
2012: Sandy Hook and Hurricane Sandy; Trayvon Martin is shot dead, and George Zimmerman goes free; President Obama is re-elected; Dick Clark and Whitney Houston die.
2013: Boston Marathon bombing; Edward Snowden releases classified documents.
2014: Don Pardo and Ben Bradlee passed away. Robin Williams committed suicide and Philip Seymour Hoffman OD’d.
2015: Riots in Baltimore after Freddie Gray dies in police custody. SCOTUS: Same-sex couples have a Constitutional Right to marry. Cancer claims Leonard Nimoy; and ya didn’t have to be a Yankees fan to tip your cap to Yori Berra.
2016: Shooter kills 49 in Orlando gay nightclub. Donald Trump elected president.
2017: Hurricane Harvey whacks Houston, costliest in US history. And several thousand die in Irma and Maria.
Others: Jerry Lewis, Hugh Hefner, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, J. Geils, Tom Petty, Don Rickles, Roger Moore, and MTM…who really could turn the world on with her smile.
2018: Bill Cosby goes to prison. George H.W. Bush, John McCain, and Penny Marshall go to heaven; Whitey Bulger goes to hell.
2019 seems like forever-ago.
It wasn’t uneventful. Boeing’s 737MAX still hasn’t made a comeback; mass shootings continued, the president was impeached, and the weather got even wackier. But we were still going to baseball and football and basketball and hockey games, and movies, and weddings and funerals.
And they heard about it on radio.
Unless they didn’t. Because Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston died after afternoon drive, many stations where their music was core sounded oblivious because automation had taken over for the evening. Less-robotic competitors where DJs broke format and made a big deal had listeners calling each other, and sitting, stunned, in parked cars with the key on accessories.
Talk radio? It doesn’t take a pandemic and/or crashed economy and/or these past four years to be relevant and compelling and engaging and self-explanatory and habit-forming. And if your station is still locally hosted, it’s where local accents weigh-in as we follow the bouncing ball.
Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of the E-book “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books (click the banner on this page). And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America. Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke