Philadelphia Inquirer

The Marketing Genius of Peter Gelb
July 24, 2008

My friend, Goldberg, had a subscription to the old Metropolitan Opera on West 40th St. For years he sat next to a lady whose husband, on the other side of her, fell asleep through most of every performance. When the Met moved to Lincoln Center, Goldberg decided he’d had enough and informed the lady he was giving up his seats. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed having two men sleeping with me for the past 20 years.” Now—at age 72—I have become hooked on opera. Who’d a thunk it? Typical Opera Experience Opera was never my thing. Several years ago, my wife,

‘The New Yorker’ vs. the Obamas
July 22, 2008

I’ve written a number of times that one way to deal harshly with unfriendly media is to deny access: Issue no press credentials. Force them to stand with their noses to the window pane and regurgitate the same AP or Reuters stories that all the other cheapskate newspapers and magazines use. That the Obama campaign has denied access to The New Yorker is delicious. I have 104 days to make up my mind, and I’m still not sure about Barack Obama or John McCain. Will this be yet another presidential election where I go into a voting booth holding my nose and pulling the

A Four-Day Work Week?
June 19, 2008

The idea that Microsoft, Intel, Google and IBM have banded together to figure out how to deal with the information overload they made—the glut of e-mail, instant messaging and cell phoning that we’re all drowning

The Supreme Insult to Me From Jeff Bezos
June 17, 2008

An old client and friend, Gordon Grossman, former circulation director of Reader’s Digest and a brilliant magazine consultant, has retired to a life we can only dream about. He spends much of the year traveling the world on luxury cruise ships. Last week I received the following letter from him: Very good, balanced article on the Kindle. I’m an unabashed enthusiast, and would sooner go somewhere without my credit card than my Kindle. The reason I got it is because I’m very, very tired of lugging something like 60 pounds of books on the three- or four-month cruises we take every winter. It does

Pounding Moonbeams ...
May 22, 2008

When self-righteous people—in government and business—make self-righteous statements that have a total disregard for the truth, my teeth itch. These last two weeks have been a field day for folks who have what Hemingway called a “built-in, shockproof s**t detector.” An example is President Bush’s lecture and scold to the World Economic Forum on the Middle East at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, four days ago. He said: Too often in the Middle East, politics has consisted of one leader in power and the opposition in jail. America is deeply concerned about the plight of political prisoners in this region, as well as democratic activists

What Can You Profitably Outsource?
May 6, 2008

In more jobs than I care to remember, my single objective was efficiency: How could the most value be created for the least cost, and then sold to delighted customers and eager prospects at the highest profit? When I read last week that two Philadelphia TV stations—Fox29 and NBC10—are going to test the possibility of sharing video footage, I was intrigued. The idea that competing news gatherers would pool their resources is a breakthrough! For example, CBS and CNN spend millions of dollars on equipment and personnel gathering news in Iraq, mostly going after the same stories, interviewing the same people and doing stand-up

Clemens v. McNamee: Who’s Lying?
February 21, 2008

In 60 years of watching television, I never saw anything like it. At one end of the witness table facing the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sat perhaps the greatest pitcher in baseball history, Roger Clemens, winner of seven Cy Young Awards. With short haircut and dressed in a conservative blue suit and rust-colored tie, Clemens was articulate, forceful, and sounding wounded and angry. At the other end of the table was sports trainer Brian McNamee: thin, with small eyeglasses, small mouth and projecting thin chin. He answered the questions from Congress in a monotone. It was a contentious, nasty hearing. At

Are You Surrounding Your Market?
February 12, 2008

Last October, my wife, Peggy, and I invited our good friends Paul Goldberg and Joseph Dipper to lunch in Chicago, where we were all attending the DMA Conference. The hotel concierge recommended NoMI on the seventh floor of the Chicago Park Hyatt. Our table by the big window overlooked the iconic Chicago Water Tower, constructed in 1869 of Joliet (Illinois) limestone blocks and one of the few survivors of the 1871 Great Fire. Everything about the restaurant was world-class—the décor, service, food, wine and vodka (Grey Goose). Dining doesn’t get any better than that, and I would recommend it to anybody who has plenty

Should Congress Shut Down eBay?
February 6, 2008

I have a huge file on the European Union and the myriad ways bureaucrats in Brussels insinuate themselves and their personal agendas into every facet of business and life. They dictate what can and cannot be done in terms of work rules, consumer marketing, competition, the media, nannies, light bulbs, data and so much more. In November, the EU issued a directive on noise abatement that included how loud symphony orchestras are allowed to play. Last week I read the story of how the state of Pennsylvania wants to shut down the thriving eBay auction business of single mom Mary Jo Pletz, which enables

The Dangers of Bifurcating Your Business
January 14, 2008

In 2007, ABC News and Charles Gibson squeaked out a victory over Brian Williams on NBC. Both left Katie Couric of CBS a distant third. When Charles Gibson was a host on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” I liked his loosey-goosey, laid-back demeanor and obvious ease as an interviewer in front of the camera and bantering with Diane Sawyer. With the switch to ABC’s “World News Tonight,” where he replaced the urbane, upbeat Peter Jennings, Gibson seems to have purposely changed his “Good Morning America” persona. At first he became the kindly country doctor of my childhood—Hop Allison—who used to make house calls. Lately I