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The Thing.' What Arthur Godfrey can teach you about immediate online video success

'The Thing.' What Arthur Godfrey can teach you about immediate online video success. A (mostly) laudatory look at the man who brought intimacy to media.

Author's program note. I can see Arthur Godfrey's domain so very clearly in my mind's eye. It was my grandmother's kitchen, a place of succulent smells and apple- pie order, the care and feeding of her extensive brood her primary, her only objective.

There on the counter, under the wooden cupboards filled with the essential ingredients for one gustatory triumph after another, was the radio. It was oblong, plastic, two shades of brown I recall, turned on promptly and early every day, the clear signal that a brand-new day had begun, a day for which we would be ready... thanks to her ample meals... and the upbeat chatter of Arthur Godfrey, who cheered her at her labors, made her chuckle and nod her head in perfect agreement as he delivered some sage advice or admonition, always candid comments a long-time friend might make... or a joke that just missed being blue... but wasn't.

The radio brought so many on-air friends to the spotless kitchen on Belmont Road, people like Gertrude Berg, Amos and Andy, Ralph Edwards, Stan Freberg, Bob and Ray, Fibber McGee, The Ol' Professor (Kay Kyser), but none more eagerly awaited or more warmly welcomed than Arthur Godfrey. This article tells you why, and if you're one of the burgeoning number of people worldwide who want to stay home and profit from online media (like I do) you'll attend to every word in this article as if it were celestial writ, explicated just for you, as it most surely is.

But first the music, wacky, humorous, written by a wag (Charles Randolph Green), sung by a wag (Godfrey), always sung raucously by its listeners, who often had to be shushed by grammie who could be counted on to mind our wavering manners. It's called "The Thing", and you'll find Godfrey's 1950 version in any search engine.

In a moment you'll be tapping your feet to the silly little ditty, smiling. That was Arthur Godfrey's talent... and it made him rich, the friend of presidents, and the buddy and pal to folks everywhere who regarded him as the signal companion and confidant of their often difficult and isolated lives. He had a good time dreaming up what he dished out to America; he was sure you'd have a good time listening to it... and he was right.

'"But this is what he hollered at me/As I walked into his shop/ 'Oh, get out of here with that (knock, knock, knock)/ Before I call a cop'."

Facts about Arthur Godfrey (1903-1983).

Arthur Godfrey came near to not existing at all. You see, his mother Kathryn Morton Godfrey was from a wealthy family from Oswego, New York. Her family was adamantly opposed to her marrying an older Englishman. Not only was he significantly older; as a sportswriter and expert on surrey and hackney horses, they deemed him rackety and unstable. She married him anyway. Arthur was the first of five children, forced by circumstances to work before and after school. He left home at age 14 to ease the financial burden on his parents, ultimately lying about his age (15) to enlist in the Navy.

He was learning perhaps the most important thing self-made people must master, that he could do what was necessary to thrive, could take lemons and turn them into lemonade... and so long as he kept people smiling, there was nowhere to go but up. It was a supremely important thing to learn and until the notorious day he forgot himself on air, he used this insight to achieve colossal wealth and the affection of a great nation.

What he needed was what every successful person needs... a break. He got it when he persuaded the folks at Baltimore station WFBR (now WJZ AM) that he'd be the best announcer the world had ever seen. They probably didn't believe his bombastic assertion but that was irrelevant. Godfrey believed it. And that's what counted. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair and changed the way smart cookies like Godfrey used media to maximum advantage.

Pre-Godfrey media: Rigor Mortis, pompous twits, unbearably dull and deadly.

As Godfrey was perfecting his folksy style (a lifelong endeavor), mainline media were boring the nation and the world witless. The announcers, for instance, adhered to the regulation stiff, formal style. It was affected, conceited, flatulent, presumptuous, pretentious, self-centered, self-important, arrogant, egotistic, flowery, fustian, grandiloquent ... and in case you missed the point, high and mighty, highfalutin, all so proper... and excruciating.

This was most epitomized by John (Lord) Reith who in December 1922 was hired to be the managing director of the British Broadcasting Company, arguably the most important media outfit on Earth, the voice of the empire on which the sun never set. He wanted employees to look as grand and stately as the imperium they served. Thus he wheedled and intrigued until January 4, 1926 he imposed a dress code on BBC radio announcers. They must wear evening dress to match the formal dress already required of performing artists. He even forced war correspondents to wear neck ties.

In this way the adamant positions of each side were set; Reith stood for High Culture (think Wagner) and Civilization (think Lord Kenneth Clark); Godfrey wanted to show the folks a good time, some crooning, Ripley's "Believe It or Not" type news features, jokes, double entendres, puns, riddles, all financed by sponsors like Chesterfield cigarettes and Lipton tea..

Godfrey had a very special relationship with these sponsors. At the beginning of his career, he played it straight; he read the sponsor's copy as they wrote it. However, at some point he had a crucial brain flash. He started to tease the sponsors, poking fun at them. Of course those folks squirmed and were concerned... but then an astonishing thing happened. Godfrey teased... sales went UP!

People knew their "Old Redhead" was teasing, liked him better for taking the wind out of the stuffed shirts, and bought because he told them so, bluntly, honestly, with tongue in cheek. It was a revelation Madison Avenue noted and ran with all the way to the bank. Here are some other insights we owe to Godfrey and his continuing education about enhancing the power and influence of media; intelligence you can use right now as you build your international empire at home with online video marketing, no evening dress and polished pumps required!

1) Relax. Your audience will take its cue from you.

2) Look at the camera, and talk directly to your audience. (Here we have the advantage over Godfrey because online video marketing gives you the actual names of all people tuning in. This builds relationships fast.)

3) Laugh. Laughter is infectious. Godfrey was the master of human mirth and merriment. You can hear it in his voice; your audience needs to hear it in yours.

4) Tell jokes. But make sure they are in good taste. Godfrey was always pushing this envelope. I'd suggest you didn't.

5) Have quiz questions and contests. Give small prizes and give them often. You want to foster interactivity every chance you get.

6) Invite special guests to come on your program. Variety is the spice of life.

7) Sing. Godfrey was famous for bursting into song at a moment's notice. He had singing talent. I don't, but I get a lot of credit for trying (and a few "don't quit your day job" comments).

8) Cry. Arthur Godfrey was one of the first major media personalities to cry on air. When describing President Harry S. Truman's car in the 1949 inaugural parade, he fervently said in a choked voice, "God bless him, President Truman". He then broke down in tears and moved America. I say along with Vice President Hubert Humphrey, "A man without tears is a man without a heart."

9) Experiment. Godfrey learned his craft from the bottom up. As he did he experimented to see what would best enthuse the members of his vast audience, gaining their attention... and keeping it. You will need to experiment, too.

10) Never condescend to your audience or the staff that assists you be as good as you can be. Talk to them, yes; confide in them, yes; embrace them with true affection and love, yes. But never talk down to them or forget, these are the people who made you as great, rich and influential as you will be if you follow these directions. Sadly, Godfrey did just that to a singer named Julius LaRosa. What he did is a lesson to us all.

It all started with a missed dance lesson.

Like so many of the rich and famous, Godfrey had his share of nostrums and craziness. For instance, he insisted that all the on-air members of his "family" take dance lessons. His "boys" didn't like this demand, viewing dance as they did as effeminate and a waste of time. Julius LaRosa certainly thought that way, and he missed his lessons, to Godfrey's fury and rage.

Problem was, LaRosa was good looking, a crowd pleasing singer (for all that his talent was thin), and soon to be recording star, with a little number called "Eh, Cumpari". LaRosa's fan mail soared, soon outdistancing Godfrey's. Godfrey didn't like any of this one little bit, and so on October 19,1953 paternalistic Godfrey fired LaRosa on air, to the astonishment of LaRosa, his record producer and Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea. They saw Godfrey's teeth, and they were sharp. That reality didn't go along with his carefully crafted Mr. Nice Guy image, friend of the people.

America knew you didn't treat underlings the way big shot Godfrey treated LaRosa. Maybe Godfrey wasn't such a nice guy after all. That was the beginning of the end.... and the most galling thing about this matter was that Godfrey had done it to himself, a point he never accepted.

It goes without saying, of course, that you won't make this big boo-boo yourself when you're a video star, graceful, agile, the master of nuance, a "natural" who makes the world a better place every time you come up.

How can I be so sure? Because I will work with you in my online video marketing class... and the most astonishing thing of all, is that I'll train you for FREE. For all the details contact the Dealer noted below. You are about to become one of the world's stars, The Thing the world aspires to be and which you will soon exemplify, you lucky dog.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc. a web-based company providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses for the last 20 years. Republished with author's permission by Vaurn James <a href=""><...

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