Sunday, June 5, 2011
590 MIGHTY MEMORY #462
PHOTO INDEX: BOB WOODY, BLOG EDITOR DAVID YONKI IN MIDDLE AND BERT AYERS TALKING STRATEGY OVER WITH WOODY BEFORE A TWIN VALLEYS NEWS CONFERENCE.
WOODY, ME AND THE TWIN VALLEYS
In 1987, Bob Woody, by that time running the Ad Agency had a big idea. He felt that there was this big wall between Lackawanna County and Luzerne County and felt that something should be done about it. He was the ad agency for the Sheraton Crossgates at the time and the GM of that property was working as a volunteer as head of the tourism board. Bob wanted to bring the two regions together and took his idea to the chambers of commerce who were lukewarm to the idea. So he formed his own committee of people and it was called The Twin Valleys Committee. The first group of members were himself, as chairman of Lackawanna County and me as Chairman of Luzerne County. Board members were Bert Ayers, Lee Flynn, Rene Laspina (you already see how this is going don't ya!!) Dick Mackey, Dale Rapson from Pocono Downs, an older sales
rep from 22 who's name I don't recall, Mike Raymond from WSGD FM and Lisa Lebonson from Rock 107, a few hotel operators as well as some other people who came and went. The meetings were held every Friday at Pocono Downs at 10AM. If you were late, you had to give a reason why you were late. If you weren't coming at all, you had to send what Woody called "an emissary". Your emissary did not receive your voting power if we decided something, but the responsibility of the emissary was to make certain the absent person knew what went on at the meeting. The committee's charge was to bring the two cities together via a media message that we beamed to ourselves first and then hopefully to outside markets. The advertising would come through the Ad Agency (which got 15%) and most of the TV advertising wound up at WNEP TV (the sales rep (Lespina) got 15% commission for her efforts. Media sales reps populated this committee in the hopes of getting "a buy" from the Ad Agency. Some did, some didn't. (Right those without emissaries did not). In October of 1988 we pulled off this big event at Pocono Downs where we had all the radio stations lined up, crafters, food guys, etc. About 2000 people came. Then we had a tuxedo clad dinner at the Downs where 250 people came to enjoy the races. We were generating some excitement and some good publicity. Like any group or committee, the more people contributed, the more they wanted to give their input. Bob took some of this input as criticism. Less media people started showing up and less started sending "emissaries". The straw that broke the camel's back came in March of 1989 when we were having our weekly meeting at Pocono Downs. When Bob spoke, he wanted the entire attention of the room. Dale Rapson had given us the run of Pocono Downs for all of our meetings every week for about 2 years. One day, during a meeting, while Bob was speaking, Dale's beverage guy came in to take Dale aside to the back of the room and speak to him about an emergency at the Downs. Both went to the back of the room and began to confer. Woody stands up and says to Rapson, the guy who had been housing and feeding us for free, "Uh, we can't have two meetings going on here at once. Can you either take that outside or send in an emissary?" As soon as I saw Rapson's face and look of incredulity, I knew the next time we came to the Downs we were going to be paying admission. That afternoon, Woody's assistant called and said the new meetings were going to be held at Perkins in Pittston. The Twin Valleys concept lost a great deal of steam after that and eventually died a peaceful death. But a few months later Bob contacted the committee members who stuck it out through the end. He wanted us to meet a friend of his from Edison, New Jersey.
NEXT TIME: WOODY AND WERNER-the next big thing.