Discerning content for Bad Hombres and Nasty Women

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Ed Lemco

Lifetime inspirations often pop up when you least expect them.

Take Ed Lemco, for instance.

My original career was in radio.  I worked as a Top-40 disk jockey (they call it “CHR” now – for “Contemporary Hit Radio”), including stations in Seattle, Chicago and Los Angeles. I enjoyed it, too.  I used to ask people, “Where else can a grown man get paid for having this much fun?”

There’s the rub, though.  The simple fact is that, with the exceptions of a very select few in major markets (and not all of them, either), radio stations are not known for their generosity towards their on-air talent.  This is due primarily to the fact that it IS such a fun job - which at least has some of the trappings of being glamorous - so there’s never a shortage of people who want to do that job.  Oddly enough, the management of most radio stations took a dim view of their announcers making any sort of disparaging comments concerning their incomes.  Statements like, “Jeez, I cashed my last paycheck on the bus,” or “Yeah.  I get paid weekly.  VERY weakly…” never seemed to inspire the sort of chuckles with the Powers That Be that one might hope.

Enter Ed Lemco.  Ed was a real character; a former car dealer who started his own management consultant business.  A true entrepreneur, Ed parlayed a one-man show into Lemco and Associates, an international company with offices in the US, UK and Australia.  He also spent time as the CEO of Motorsport International, based in London, England.  His primary clientele were motorcycle dealers, and he was often referred to as the original “Dealer Advocate.”  He was funny, mercurial, controversial, temperamental and insightful.

Ed invited me to lunch one day and quickly laid his cards on the table.

“Marco (at the time, I was using the air-name “Mark Townsend”), I’ve listened to your radio show now for several years.  I’ve watched you act on stage, and you’re as good – if not better- than anything coming out of New York or Los Angeles.  You’re a real artist in what you do.” 

                (Flattery.  That’ll do me every time.)

“But for every Pablo Picasso out there, there are a million other artists, who are just as good, but who are starving because they aren’t making any money."

Then he said the words which changed my life forever:

"I want to find a commercial application for your art.”

I thought, “Wow.  A ‘commercial application for my art.’  Hmmm…”   I enjoyed radio tremendously, but Ed was offering me a job starting at over three times as much as I was currently pulling down.  I calmly weighed all the options for about five seconds and said “I’m in.”

What followed was an education in the real world of business.  Ed never suffered fools gladly and made it known from the outset that he held nothing but disdain for what he referred to as “Pie-in-the-sky.”  He took great pride in saying that what he talked about was rooted in the real world, and wasn’t some “goddamn pseudo-expert pontificating from the Ivory Tower”  (he had a real way with words).

I worked for and with Ed for several years, and he taught me the Real World of business.  I truly wouldn’t be where I am today had it not been for him.

Ed Lemco passed away on July 15, 2011 in Boston from lung cancer. 

I truly hope you're resting in, boss.  You're missed.

No comments:

Post a Comment