The folly of planning has historic roots
Frank Cotolo
10 May, 2009
As summer of 2009 approaches, Cotolo Chronicles moves along into the hot U.S. months with no plans but to broadcast. Planning, we have discovered, is a bad work habit, since it takes far too much time, effort and thought, and we like to keep things spontaneous.
We have gone through at least a dozen producers since last year due to this policy. It seems that people who come onto the production team have this concept of organizing the program's content far before the day of the broadcast. When they discover they cannot do that, they quit. We never fire them. We have begun to think that we should not hire any producers unless they commit at the start not to try to do producer duties, like planning for shows.
This anti-planning concept is nothing new, though most radio producers insist that a lot of work needs to go into a broadcast. We are seriously beginning to believe that producers feel that way in order to justify their positions. To "produce", after all, means to create and develop. In order to create and develop, most producers feel they should spend hours preparing. It is a notion that is long overdue to be dismissed.
If you know anything about the history of radio you know that even its inventor, Marchese Guglielmo Marconi, never planned to come up with a machine that could transmit voices to other machines, no less one that would eventually send out a signal that could include the voice of Rush Limbaugh. Marconi's penchant was food, not a radiotelegraph system. In fact, history tells us that he would have invented the radio years before he is credited with doing so were it not for his meal breaks.
People unaware of Marconi's personal life are unaware of his refusal to memorize the term "electromagnetic radiation", which, of course, means "radio waves". Marconi said, according to a distant relative's diary, "All I know is it works and I can't even tell you how I arrived at that".
Marconi only became successful when he began to copy all of the work done fifty years before by people who believed that hard work and long hours of planning would result in a "radio". None of them managed to invent one, though. All of their hard work wound up to be scattered notes and theories that Marconi happened upon and, through no effort of his own, managed to find a way to make them work.
In fact, at the time Marconi invented the radio he was more interested in changing his first name. He hated "Marchese" because it rhymed with the Indian Cross and Circle game called Parcheesi. It was adapted in America and loved by millions. But friends who would say things to him like, "Hey Marchese Parcheesi" and "It's time to play Parcheesi, Marchese" haunted Marconi.
In a letter to his mother that was dated sometime just before the radio was invented, Marconi wrote, "What have you done to me by giving me a name so that everyone can make fun of me? Did you know about this Indian game when you named me? How could you be so cruel, so insensitive, so careless?"
His mother replied by insisting that Marconi's first name did not rhyme with Parcheesi and that people who poked fun at him by using the names as rhymes were idiots. Marconi did not agree, so he dropped his first name and went by his middle name, Guglielmo. Some time soon after that he stumbled upon the elements that, one day, allowed him to invent the radio. Because it all came together so simply, Marconi felt that there was no reason to work at anything or plan anything in order to accomplish something.
So, you see, our show policy is linked with the very nature of the man who invented radio. That is another reason why we are still broadcasting after a decade without any clue of what we will do next.
Frank Cotolo can be found hosting the talk and interview programme Cotolo Chronicles. You can send him an e-mail at this address:
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