Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Proud “Tree Hugger”

Has it really been 39 years since we first celebrated Earth Day?

I am proud to say that I was among the many Americans who participated in the first demonstration.

On April 22 1970 we gathered in Washington D.C. in support of this National Day of Observance of Environmental Problems. Of course, even in this peaceful demonstration we all received criticism for our ideals and concerns. Much like the debate over Global Warming today, Earth Day was seen as a bunch of hippie “tree huggers” gathered to smoke pot and party. Nothing could have been further from the truth or the facts.

Approximately 20 million Americans participated, with a goal of a healthy, sustainable environment. Earth Day 1970 was held coast-to-coast with massive rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

In just two short years….by 1972 Earth Day had become a world wide effort to recognize that the need to improve our environment was a real and valid concern.

U.N. Secretary General Waldheim observed Earth Day with similar ceremonies on the March equinox in 1972, and the United Nations Earth Day ceremony has continued each year since on the day of the March equinox (the United Nations also works with organizers of the April 22nd global event). Margaret Mead added her support for the equinox Earth Day, and in 1978 declared:

"EARTH DAY is the first holy day which transcends all national borders, yet preserves all geographical integrities, spans mountains and oceans and time belts, and yet brings people all over the world into one resonating accord, is devoted to the preservation of the harmony in nature and yet draws upon the triumphs of technology, the measurement of time, and instantaneous communication through space.”

At the moment of the equinox, it is traditional to observe Earth Day by ringing the Japanese Peace Bell, a bell donated by Japan to the United Nations. Over the years celebrations have occurred in various places worldwide at the same time as the celebration at the UN.

In 1991 while Program Director of WBOS-FM in Boston and in tandem with Adam Klein (a remarkable Promotions and Marketing director) we sought to bring together Bostonian's to celebrate a Earth Day. Together with the City of Boston we created the Earth Day Concert and Festival held on the Esplanade in Boston.

This would be a FULL DAY celebration of our planet with hundreds of environmental exhibits and FREE music from artists such as Ritchie Havens, Arlo Guthrie, Marc Cohn, Roger McGuinn and so many, many others.

The day was blessed by a wonderful Native American Indian Chief who prayed for sunshine and fresh air. Local and National members of Congress and Senate would speak, as did many wonderful celebrities. The first concert in 1991…gathered between 25 and 50 thousand concerned citizens.

The Earth Day Concert and Festival became an annual event and by 1995….with sun shinning and the air clean more than 150 thousand would attend this peaceful celebration of the Earth.

Sadly, WBOS-FM was purchased by Greater Media in the late 1990’s who’s brilliant leadership decided that the sincere efforts to bring together Bostonian's to celebrate the Earth should become a commercial venture. The President of Greater Media called me a typical “Tree Hugger”. I was so PROUD TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED as a TREE HUGGER by such a pompous ass and was relieved to no longer work this bumbling idiot.

Greater Media renamed the event WBOS Earth Fest. Of course, the music continued to be free and the crowds continued to come…..but the message was muddied among the commercialism.

Today as we observe Earth Day we can be proud of the international grassroots activism linked through the Internet, the over 5,000 environmental groups and the hundreds of millions of people in a record 184 countries and coordinated by the nonprofit Earth Day Network, according to whom Earth Day is now "the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a half billion people aka TREE HUGERS every year."

Happy Earth Day!

Inside Studio A………I’m James Herron

Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.

(stats via Wikipedia)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Art of Listening

Do you ever get the feeling that your questions, concerns or worries are falling on deaf ears by those of whom could provide a solution?

Many times you feel like you’re beating head against the wall. It can be so frustrating. I’m sure you can think of many examples. Here’s the classic one for me; You call a business with a concern and are placed on hold….. “Your call is important to us….please stay on the line for the next available operator” ....this then goes on and on….sometimes it’s just unbearable....and you finally give up.

Funny, when this occurs I always visualize a phone bank with flashing lights “on hold” and operators talking and laughing among each other about the latest episode of American Idol or something...all the while completely oblivious to the callers on hold.

A person or business which is accessible and sincerely listens and then is responsive is a rarity today.....and yet there are exceptions!

I’d like to share just such an exception with you.

Webster’s Dictionary defines listening as the following:

1: to pay attention to sound

2: to hear something with thoughtful attention or give consideration <listen to a plea>

3: to be alert to catch an expected sound.

Dr. Larry Nadig Ph.D. a Clinical Psychologist says ~

“Expressing our wants, feelings, thoughts and opinions clearly and effectively is only half of the communication process needed for interpersonal effectiveness. The other half is listening and understanding what others communicate to us. When a person decides to communicate with another person, he/she does so to fulfill a need. The person wants something, feels discomfort, and/or has feelings or thoughts about something. In deciding to communicate, the person selects the method or code which he/she believes will effectively deliver the message to the other person. The code used to send the message can be either verbal or nonverbal. When the other person receives the coded message, they go through the process of decoding or interpreting it into understanding and meaning. Effective communication exists between two people when the receiver interprets and understands the sender’s message in the same way the sender intended it.”

As a Voice Actor I uses many professional resources to market my services. They range from an Agent, Casting Director, WEB Page, Internet Voice Acting Services and of course good old fashioned word of mouth. is a superb on-line service which provides a one stop resource for clientele worldwide searching to find talented Voice Actors. I have been a member of for many years. My business has been sincerely enhanced by the excellent service offered from for both clients and Voice Actors.

Several days ago, made a change to its “home page” which (in my opinion) changed the successful dynamic and “sizzle” of the service they offer. The change involved removing featured talent which included pictures and links and was replaced by a simple informational page.

In fact, the change was such a concern to me, I wrote a lengthy email and then followed it up with a phone call to David Ciccarelli CEO of

I was immediately connected to David without delay or being placed on hold for ever. When connected with David, I was met with gracious concern for my criticism.

We were engaged in conversation for what felt like an unlimited amount of time. David spent the better part of our time with patience listening to my concerns and suggestions. He indicated that the changes had made based on research and testing. He did acknowledged my concerns and sincerely appreciated my suggestions and ideas.

When we concluded the call I had a better understanding of the changes and felt David was very gracious and professional.

I remained concerned about the change to the home page.

I wrote several more emails and included Stephanie Ciccarelli co-founder and PR Director, Laurynda Pasma the Product Development Director in addition to David Ciccarelli. Boy, I really vented my concerns. I shared a few examples of why I remained concerned including a research study I had discovered about "change for change" sake. I guess I was beginning to think my emails were becoming irritating...and was reasonably certain I would never receive a response.

I immediately received a warm response from Stephanie Ciccarelli. She was very gracious to me and while offering support of the revisions made to the home page…indicated that she and the Voices Team appreciated my candor and concerns. Here’s a portion of Stephanie’s comments -

“In fairness to David, you have given him a very narrow window in which to implement any of your suggestions. If you have been following the conversation on VOX Daily, you know that we are considering adding a link to the Featured Talent listings, it's just a matter of where on the home page and how it would appear. In the past, we had used images of people on the home page and know that it works. We're still exploring how we may do this while ensuring that the website performs to the best of its ability for both voice talent and clients hiring them.”

David, Stephanie, Laurynda and entire team could have chosen to ignore my concerns, not taken my call, and thought of my concerns among the more than 107,000 users of Voices as just a “blip” on the screen…and forged ahead with blinders on.

Instead, they choose to do the right thing and sincerely listened.

I’m confident I was not the only Voice Actor from whom they heard with concern for the changes. But I certainly was made to feel I was the most important and thus will remain loyal and grateful always.

The home page has now returned to its original layout.

As you can imagine I highly recommend and wish to commend and thank David, Stephanie, Laurynda for the professionalism and excellence each demonstrated.

Inside Studio A……………I’m James Herron

Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Flip The Help Switch

A few weeks ago I witnessed Brian Williams of NBC reporting that many Americans (and viewers of the NBC Nightly News) were fatiguing on all the bad news heard day in and day out and that viewers wanted to see and hear good news too! Well, NBC took this criticism seriously and began devoting the end of each newscast with a segment entitled “Making a Difference”.

Each evening NBC and Brian feature several stories of “Random Acts of Kindness” from Americans throughout our country. Several times, I’ve been moved to tears at the amazing selfless acts made by our friends and neighbors. (You may view many of the stories aired on "Making A Difference"...see the link on the right).

I got to thinking….what if each day…each of us performed at least one random act of kindness? I’ll bet most of us do so already, but if by making this daily plan paramount ….as routine as your grocery list..... could we change a life?

Eggs, milk, cereal, random act of kindness, laundry soap….

Imagine the possibilities? Imagine the difference we may make in the life of someone in need?

Last week, I responded to requesting an audition for a business in Cleveland Ohio. When I reviewed the details of the project and the business…I noted the client indicated;

(Paraphrasing) “Due to the economy our business is really struggling. This commercial is our last attempt at advertising to hopefully generate enough business to continue to provide our service to our customers and keep our staff employed“.

I could not help but flash to the NBC “Making a Difference” reports and the many wonderful ways people have helped one another.

I sent in my audition and I included a note to the client in which I indicated that my services had been offered at no charge. A few hours later, the client contacted me in amazement. “No one has ever offered such a thing for me… she said. Thank you so much!” Hearing her sincerity really made me feel great, too.

I voiced the commercial with the knowledge that this business owner was extremely grateful for my service and talent…..but was also relying on me to help make a difference with her business.

Maybe you viewed this past Sundays (April 5th) CBS “60 Minutes”. One of the featured stories was that of a public hospital in Nevada which had to discontinue treating cancer patients (without insurance) because of a lack of funding. Believe me, this was truly a heart wrenching story showcasing several (among many) average Americans who literally may die because of they have no way to pay to receive essential treatment!

One of the Physicians who had been treating patients at the hospital (which was no longer offering the service) decided to take matters into his own hands and open his own service for cancer patients. He invited all the patients who had been displaced by the public hospital to receive help at no charge. “Pay what you can” he offers. “We’ll take care of you”. He has jars and boxes throughout the city asking for donations too. It is selfless people like this physician that may be the angels on Earth.

I guess for many of us it takes a catastrophic event such as the collapse of the world economy to flip on the “help” switch inside.

Will you flip your help switch to on?

Will you take my challenge? Make a “Random Act of Kindness” into one of your daily routines?

Let me know your stories too…I’d love to share them.

Inside Studio A ……. I’m James Herron

Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.