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The lesson of Star Wars

Thirty years ago today a little science fiction movie sneaked onto a mere forty screens (compared to the 4,000 showing the new Pirates of the Caribbean flick).

That little movie was ambitiously titled Star Wars. And though it debuted a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there will be few movie fans of a certain age reading this who don’t have crystal clear recollections of what it was like to sit in one of those packed theaters, mouth agape, as that massive Imperial Cruiser first crawled down the screen.

So, 30 years later, what’s the lesson for radio in the phenomenon that Star Wars sparked?

I think it is this:

If you care about something, if you put your whole heart and soul into something, if it’s something that others will care about as much as you, if your personality and the personalities of your talent are palpable every time a listener tunes your station in, if your creations deal with the struggles and cares and hopes and dreams and joys of your audience, then you have touched a nerve rarely tapped and your audience will reward you. You have created a legend.

If, on the other hand, your creations are technically sound but soulless, if the fun is gone from what used to be your passion, if you’ve long since given up taking risks because the odds of being canned are too high, if the brands you’re building are more about what your computer contributes than what you do, if your bosses encourage mediocrity, if there’s nothing worth talking about on your station, if your aspiration is to rise no higher than a hundred brands exactly like yours

…then maybe it’s time for you to find your “force.”

Maybe it’s your turn to hear Han Solo say “You’re all clear, kid. Now let’s blow this thing and go home.”

Happy 30 years, Star Wars. And Happy Memorial Day.

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