This year's Talkers convention turned out to be a lot less painful than past conventions, because I didn't pay a lot of attention to the panels. The panels were mostly the usual overcrowded discussions with the usual aimless arguments and stuff we can hear from the same people on their shows. The trick to these things, I discovered, is to not take what they say on the panels very seriously (well, except for one aspect, but I'm saving that for "The Letter"). You have to think of it as a talk radio social gathering. It didn't hurt that because of the rapid growth of "The Letter" and this blog plus the picture at All Access, a lot more people know who I am and recognized me. I can't hide anymore.
Not that I want to hide much; you get more beer if you actually show up for the parties. There was plenty of beer. Lots of good conversation, too, and it's nice to have the opportunity to meet in person people with whom you only have an e-mail relationship. I missed several people because there wasn't time to get to everything, and I had to turn down an awesome dinner invitation because I'd already arranged another awesome dinner engagement. And I even got a spectacular endorsement from ace talk radio consultant Holland Cooke in his speech. I could get a big head from... okay, a BIGGER head from all this attention.
The actual topics were the usual: general confusion over "FM Talk," debating over "women's talk" (including some great sniping between Daria Dolan and Grace Blazer, plus the added bonus of snarky heckling by Sally Jessy Raphael, who's shopping a show; if she does on the show what she did on the panel, I'd listen), typical headscratching over podcasting and satellite and "the future." There was the requisite panel of a bunch of hosts talking mostly abouyt stuff you can hear them say on their shows every day, a chill-inducing "God Bless America" from Ronan Tynan (everyone in this country should experience hearing him sing that close up and in person at least once), a rather odd and emotional speech by George Takei accepting the "Freedom of Speech Award" for Howard Stern, and cameo appearances by Jerry Springer AND Al Sharpton. And there was popcorn, since the lion's share of the festivities took place in a movie theater. I thought for a fleeting moment about drifting into "The Omen" or "The Da Vinci Code" in the adjacent theaters, just to say I did, but I refrained.
So, what did I learn? Not much. Just that it's best to treat the conventions as a party and a way to get reacquainted with folks you don't see more than once or twice a year. And it's best to try and ignore the content of the panels, lest your blood pressure rise even more than it does from the popcorn. But I'll make one exception, which I'll get to in "The Letter." Look for it in an e-mail inbox near you later this week. (And, yes, right here, too)