By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Dealers want to buy your car. Paper towels and toilet paper are getting scarce again. Need to replace the dishwasher you KO’d during the shutdown? Lotsa luck. In The Atlantic, Derek Thompson asks: “Is it just me, or does it feel like America is running out of everything?”
“The global supply chain is slowing down at the very moment when Americans are demanding that it go into overdrive.” The pandemic triggered a buying spree, fueled by government relief checks. Too few workers were – and are — working to replenish inventories. COVID has thinned the employee herd — 2021 year-to-date deaths exceed whole-year 2020 numbers in 19 states – and many of those who can work are picky, or wary.
“This is the Everything Shortage”
Even if the world’s conveyor belts hadn’t shut-down during the shutdown, there aren’t enough truck drivers to deliver. Help Wanted: some 60,000 openings in the USA, because the workforce had already been aging-out pre-pandemic. And Department of Transportation pre-employment yearly random drug tests: Say hello to legal weed. Then, like many businesses, driving schools closed. And trucks themselves are hard to assemble or maintain without parts.
One level upstream, what Thompson calls “the purgatory of loaded cargo containers stacked on ships bobbing off the coast of Los Angeles and Long Beach,” where, like everywhere else, there aren’t enough workers.
Spoiler Alert: Tell your young children to stop reading.
Saint Nick isn’t at the North Pole. His workshop is in Asia, and “with demand surging in the United States, shipping a parcel from Shanghai to Los Angeles is currently six times more expensive than shipping one from L.A. to Shanghai.”
Various talking-head economists and exasperated retailers we see interviewed on CNBC urge holiday shopping NOW. Local radio should relate pertinent information, not just the wall-to-wall Christmas playlist FM will dust-off any day now.
Be known for knowing what’s-up, locally
This story has legs. Like the pandemic that precipitated it, the supply chain slowdown is a years-long event which will continue to interrupt and change listeners’ lives; and reward smart advertisers.
- Remaining local DJs, hosts, news people (and podcasters): You will be conspicuous and helpful and quoted (and shared) if you tell stories, and invite listeners to: anecdotal stuff about problems and solutions.
- Sales: Brainstorm this. Which businesses HAVE what’s scarce elsewhere?
I’ll take the tenth caller for a twelve-pack of paper towels…
Holland Cooke is the author of the acclaimed E-book “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” which he humbly describes as “gripping…a riveting page-turner,” available exclusively from Talkers books (click the banner on this page). He is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. And HC hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke