Cartoon image of an elderly man with white hair and a bushy mustache, wearing a colorful sweater. He is comically frustrated, shaking his fist at a fluffy cloud above him against a clear blue sky. His expression is exaggerated, depicting humor in his frustration.

Standing Still or Falling Behind?

Get with the times.

Hello friends. Since the last time we last spoke, I’ve gotten older. I hope the same can’t be said for you.

*slides on 1.75x reading glasses*

Getting old is no fun.

That said, getting older is more fun when you embrace the future. My mentor at 92.5 WBWI-FM, Mike Elliott, always said, “If you don’t keep up with the times, they’ll pass you by.”

My dad, now in his late 60s, regularly sends me articles about technology innovations and new business practices.

YouTube screenshot of a Simpsons video. Someone is holding a newspaper that says "Old Man Yells At Cloud" with an old man appearing to yell at a cloud.

The same can’t be said for everybody.

When I started at my first commercial station (104.5 WSLD) in 1996, one of my jobs was ensuring the station’s satellite automation system was running correctly after I got off the air.

In 2000, I moved to the West Bend radio stations. They had an even more sophisticated automation system. It ran on Windows ’95. 👴🏼

This system allowed us to do what is called “voicetracking.” Voicetracking means that every part of the day can be recorded by the radio personality ahead of time and made to sound like it’s live.

One day, Mikey and I visited a radio personality friend of his, whom he had worked with at the oldies station in Milwaukee. We were looking for someone to voicetrack the midday segment between 10a and 2p.

Mike asked if he’d be willing to take on this role. The guy became enraged and said that automation was ruining the radio industry (Aside: I would argue that the Communications Act of 1996 ruined the industry, but that’s for another article). That was the end of the conversation, and we left the store awkwardly.

Don’t Get Mad at Technology

That moment in a Verlo Mattress store has stuck with me for almost 20 years. This person was so incensed that technology was taking people’s jobs that he didn’t take the job in protest—self-fulfilling his own prophecy.

We’ve seen this other times as well:

  • “You won’t always have a calculator handy.”~Teachers in the 1990s
  • “Digital cameras will be the death of photography.” ~Photographers in the early 2000s
  • “Automobiles will ruin the horse and buggy trade!”~ Horses (probably) in the late 1800s

We’re also seeing that now with Artificial Intelligence. Yes, there are some really dumb applications of AI right now. If you follow me on LinkedIn, you’ll know that I have a beef with some of their inauthentic AI applications (such as their canned AI responses, lifeless AI-written business articles, and AI-generated “top experts” section).

Whether we like it or not, AI is part of our future. It’s here for the long haul. Those who fight against it—like those who fought against digital cameras, horseless carriages, and electricity—will get left standing at their own Verlo store, mumbling under their breath.

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