I generally brace myself when February rolls around – it doesn’t have a great track record of bringing the best of times, in my experience.
This year was different.
February treated The Chronicle okay. In spite of continued grim economic news, we’ve signed on new advertisers. In spite of the media’s general belief that readers have super-short attention spans, we’ve gained new readers – and you might have noticed that we don’t always write short.
Yeah, this sounds pretty self-congratulatory. I can’t help it. Each business, nonprofit or professional who spends their advertising dollars with us or contributes via our Tip Jar, each person who spends some of their time reading The Chronicle – when they have a hundred other things calling out for their attention – is a precious thing to us, and we celebrate that unabashedly.
A lot happened in February, including several things we’re doing aimed at spreading the word about our publication. For our sixth monthly milestone message, here’s an update on what we’ve been up to.
“Er, uh…we’re on the radio!”
After being off the airwaves for more than a year, Lucy Ann Lance launched a new radio show in late January on WLBY, 1290-AM. The show runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday, totally focused on people and issues in the Ann Arbor area – she’s had some great interviews, including one that revealed exactly where she stashes her cellphone for handy access.
On Jan. 31 Dave and I did an in-studio interview for the show, and since then I’ve been doing a regular segment with Lucy Ann sometime between 11:30 and noon each week. It’s great fun talking with her about what’s going on in the community and what we’re covering in The Chronicle, but I’ve got to say the downside is my discovery that I can’t speak more than a few words without injecting an “um,” “uh,” or “er.” Let’s just say those speech mannerisms get amplified when recorded, and my limited radio experience makes me admire Lucy Ann’s talents all the more. You can hear for yourself: Lucy Ann and her business partner Dean Erskine post digital recordings of each show on their website, or tune in to listen live on Saturday.
What we’re doing on Facebook
When we went to the WLBY studios, we took our camera along and snapped a few shots to put on The Chronicle’s Facebook page. Bill Tozier kindly formed The Ann Arbor Chronicle group, which about 250 people have joined so far. Like any club, being a member should get you something. We’re just not sure what.
One thing we’re doing is posting some behind-the-scenes photos that don’t get posted on The Chronicle, like this one of Dave and Lucy Ann. (Why is one of the microphones green and the others brown? I have no idea – but I picked the green one.)
So if you’re on Facebook, check out The Ann Arbor Chronicle group and join us! And drop us a line with suggestions about what we can do with or for group members, aside from photos with goofy captions.
Decidedly ungoofy is a new feature that appeared on our site in early February: Skyclock. We think this clock is supercool, but even more so because an Ann Arbor inventor designed it. Though he’s been working on the concept since the 1960s, John Rosevear launched the Skyclock company in 1986, and contacted us late last year asking if we’d be interested in putting his clock on our site. That was a no-brainer. We are all about watches and clocks. (You’ll find Skyclock at the bottom of the righthand sidebar, and if you only read The Chronicle by RSS feedreader, you probably haven’t seen it yet. Keep reading by feedreader, but once in a while check out what you might be missing.)
There are several remarkable features in Skyclock, chief among them the fact that it indicates the periods of dawn and dusk each day. You can also set it to show as a 12- or 24-hour clock, and it has both an analog and digital readout. Nice.
So nice, in fact, that it’s also a piece of art. You can see for yourself at the University of Michigan’s Jean Paul Slusser Gallery, where the work is part of an exhibit called “Imagining the Universe,” which runs through March 5. (The gallery is located at UM’s School of Art & Design, 2000 Bonisteel Blvd. It’s open weekdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday from noon to 7 p.m.) Tracy Davis of the Ann Arbor News did an article on John and Skyclock that was published over the weekend. We’re glad to see his work is getting the attention it deserves.
Our First Ad: Burns Park Players
We spend a lot of time thinking about advertising, and usually we’re not the ones placing the ad. But that’s exactly what we did in February, and our first-ever ad for The Chronicle appeared in the program for this year’s Burns Park Players show, “Annie Get Your Gun.” Since we’re all about community, this quintessential community effort seemed like just the right place for our first ad, and we had a lot of fun putting it together.
We also enjoyed reading through the program before the performance, initially for the cheap thrill of finding our own ad, then to check out the other businesses and individuals who also supported BPP. Most of them were professionals or small, local businesses like ours, who clearly value the “community” aspect of community theater. The Burns Park Players are just one of myriad examples in which people come together to create something unique and memorable in this small slice of the world. We’ll be looking for more promotional opportunities like this in the coming months.
Speaking of advertising, we’ve had several local businesses and individuals join our ranks of advertisers over the past month. As always, we encourage our readers to give all our advertisers a shout out and, if they sell products or services that you need, we hope you’ll throw your business their way. If you like what you read on The Chronicle, you have our advertisers to thank for keeping us in business. We certainly thank them, too.
Advertisers who joined us since our last monthly milestone message are: Acme Mercantile, Ann Arbor Biscuit Co., Ann Arbor SPARK, Ann Arbor State Bank, Arbor Teas, Blue Nile Restaurant, Community Farm Kitchen, attorney Robert Dawid, Fingerle Lumber, Four Directions, Grafaktri, the Main Street Area Association, attorney David Nacht (promoting his WLBY radio show), and therapist/life coach Nancy Quay.
Interested in being part of this venture too? Let us know.
Some final thoughts
It’s hard to believe it’s been six months since we started down this road. Since then, there hasn’t been a lot of good news about the economy in general, or the media industry in particular – in fact, a lot of the news has been downright depressing. Just last week, owners of the Rocky Mountain News decided to shut down the paper completely, and major metros like the San Francisco Chronicle are on the ropes. Closer to home, obviously, the Ann Arbor News and Detroit dailies are struggling as well, as we’ve noted here before.
And yet, despite the challenges in our industry and the certain difficulties to come in our economy at the local, state and national levels, I remain hopeful. I’m hopeful because so often I encounter people who aren’t being beaten down by bad news. They have a vision – like John Rosevear or Lucy Ann Lance – and are working every day to make cool things happen in our community.
We’re trying to do the same. I hope you’re enjoying the ride as much as we are.