April 26, 2006

Encounter with the Chasm

I had a Crossing the Chasm moment this morning, calling in to a drive-time radio program for an on-air interview about Eventful Demand.

It all began a week ago, when the PR firm set me up with an interview at WQAL-FM 104.1 in Cleveland. Originally it was supposed to be last Wednesday, but then I was told it'd been bumped until Monday.

At 6am.

So on Monday morning I woke up at 4:30am, and figured I better not snooze some more as I'd prolly sleep right through my WQAL appointment. So, did email and some research on WQAL and Cleveland and how demands were going in Cleveland and in Ohio in general. Not surprisingly, Wil Wheaton has the lead in terms of number of demands and number of people demanding, but Jonathan Coulton has an impressive demand growing in Cleveland, and I hoped to be able to mention that on the air.

Monday, 6:00 am. I call the WQAL number I was given by the PR firm.

Ring.

"Studio," a male voice says.

"Hi this is Brian Dear calling to do the interview."

"Hi Brian this is Nick," the voice told me. (Turns out it was Nick Smalc, the morning show's producer.) "We're running a bit late, any chance we could do this tomorrow?"

Whatcha gonna do? Of course I said sure. "Sure, no problem."

"Ok great."

"Same time? 6am? Same number?"

"Yes that'd be great."

"Ok, bye."

Fast forward to 5am Tuesday morning. I'm up, doing email, prepping for the interview, checking Eventful Demand this morning, reading up some more on Cleveland happenings. Finally 6am rolls around.

Ring.

"Studio."

It's Nick. "Hi, this is Brian Dear, is this Nick?"

"Hi yeah hey Brian, we talked about this some this morning, and we wanna do this live so people can call in and ask questions." Originally this was supposed to be a recorded interview, and then they would play it when convenient. But now they decided they'd do it live, and have me explain to callers how they could use Eventful Demand to demand whatever events and performers they wished for in the Cleveland area. Cool!

"You're in the PT right?" Nick asked. Pacific Time. "Can you call back tomorrow at 8? Our time?" He couldn't quite bring himself to say 5am PACIFIC TIME.

Whatcha gonna do? Of course I said fine. "Sure, no problem, that would be fine."

Fast forward to this morning. I set my Treo to screech at me at 4:35am. It did. And I somehow snoozed for five minutes. Thank goodness the Treo chirps at you again if you don't turn off the reminder thing. The chirping woke me up and I realized it was 4:40am. Whew.

Fast forward to 5am.

Ring.

"Studio." A woman's voice this morning.

"Hi this is Brian Dear of EVDB, Inc, calling in for the interview about Eventful.com? Is Nick there?"

"Uh, he's in the studio at the moment hold on."

Suddenly I'm listening to the live WQAL-FM feed. Nice and crystal clear. Someone's reading the news. (It is 8am in Cleveland.)

The woman comes back on the line. "What's your name again?"

"Brian Dear, D-E-A-R. This is for the interview about Eventful Demand?"

"OK, let me hold up a sign on the window here at the studio, to let him know you're on the line."

I'm imagining her taking a black Sharpie and hastily writing "BRIAN DEER ON LINE 1" on a piece of paper, and holding it up to the glass, waving to Nick in the studio in a frantic effort to get his attention.

Meanwhile, I'm on hold again, listening to someone reading the news with occasional quips and comments.

And then, the woman came back on the phone. "I guess they're gonna take ya here. Looks like they're passing out the prep sheet."

I wonder what the prep sheet says? I wonder who prepped the prep sheet? PR firm? Nick the Producer? All unknown. Hope the sheet is accurate.

"Are ya ready now?" she asks.

Third time's a charm. "Sure, let's do it," I say.

"Ok hold on."

I'm suddenly on hold again, listening to a crystal clear live in-studio feed. It's so clear I can hear Allan Fee breathing at his mic while Rebecca Wilde speaks. (This is the Wilde and Fee morning drive-time show.) They're chit chatting about this and that and it's interesting to note how they slowly lead up to introducing me. You could tell they're improvising the whole way.

They brought up the fact that SPIDER-MAN III is filming in Cleveland, apparently. I thought, cool, I can use that during the interview (start a demand for Toby Mcguire to do some event in Cleveland for his fans!). They kept talking about this and that and finally they see a way to introduce the concept of "wishing".

"Making a wish. Making a wish," Allan Fee says, in his deep radio DJ voice.

"Make a wish. . . " he continues. Ok now he has a way to introduce this. "If you could make any wish in the world," he says, "what would it be? Well, believe it or not, there's a guy with a website called WWW DOT EVDB DOT COM, The Events and Venues Database, that lets you make wishes...."

Aaaaauuuugh, I'm thinking, WHY WHY WHY did he say WWW.EVDB.COM? Where'd that come from? This is all about EVENTFUL.COM. Aaaaaugh, the curse of two brands, one for B2B and one for B2C.

It was about now I realized I'm standing at the edge of Geoffrey A. Moore's proverbial chasm. I was on one side of it, me and the Web 2.0 crowd, the early adopters, the geeks, the Wil Wheatons of the world, the early adopters, and over across the chasm on the other side was the mainstream, the media, the average Joe, the moms and pops, the kids, the Myspace crowd, the AOL crowd, the WQAL listeners, the regular folks, all 300 million of them.

What are ya gonna do? Gotta roll with the punches. So he asked about what this service was, and I mentioned that the website is EVENTFUL DOT COM and that the service is called EVENTFUL DEMAND, and that it's a tool to help a local community create a grassroots campaign to bring to their city whatever performer or event they wish. The idea is if enough people push, campaign, and petition for it, hey, it might just happen!

"So what are some of the demands you're seeing?" Allan asked. (I don't have a recording of the interview yet, so this is all from memory. I hope to get an MP3 recording from Nick the Producer. If I do, I'll post it online somewhere.)

I told him about the incredible public demand for Wil Wheaton -- at the time I was on the phone, 2100 people were demanding Wil in over 120 cities around the world. Now it's at 2131 and keeps growing.

I kept trying to figure out a way to mention the Cleveland-area demand for Jonathan Coulton but couldn't work it in. Improv! Gotta go with the flow, work in a jab here, a jab there.

Rebecca Wilde smartly brought up the Spider-man III connection, and I said, "Sure! That'd be a great Demand! Get Tobey McGuire to agree to do some lecture or interview some afternoon when he's not required on the film set in Cleveland, and you have an event!"

So far nobody's posted a Cleveland-area demand for Tobey McGuire, but hey, the day's still young.

Allan asked me what were some of the other notable demands, and I remembered that Nick the Producer had mentioned the other day that he heard about the George W. Bush impeachment demand, so I figured, what the heck. "Well, we originally built Eventful Demand in the hopes it'd be a great tool for people to bring about cool arts, cultural events, celebrities, sports figures, interesting people . . . we were surprised that one of the first demands, and it's turned out to be the largest, is for the Impeachment of George W. Bush!"

There seemed to be a momentary silence from the talk show hosts. I wonder if I'd just spoken heresy or not.

"Well, that's great. Again the website is WWW DOT E-V-D-B DOT COM....," says Allan.

Aaaaaaaaaauuuugh, I'm thinking. Nonononononono, it's WWW DOT EVENTFUL DOT COM. Sigh.

Click.

Suddenly there's no sound on the other end of the phone.

Long pause.

"If you'd like to make a call," the Ma Bell lady says, "please hang up and try again. If you need help, hang up and then dial your operator...."

They hung up on me.

I called back.

"Studio."

"Hi um this is Brian Dear again. Wasn't sure if we'd lost the connection or was that it?"

"That was it."

"Oh, ok."

"They're taking calls from listeners to get their wishes," the lady says.

"Ok, thanks. Bye."

Early adopters are from mars. Mainstreamers are from Venus.

Gonna cross this chasm one way or another.

I emailed WQAL and mentioned the domain error, and I heard back in about an hour later from both Nick the Prodcer and from Allan Fee. Apparently, as I suspected, the "prep sheet" that had been passed out to the on-air talk hosts had said WWW.EVDB.COM on it. Allan said in his email that he'd gone back on the air and told people it's EVENTFUL DOT COM not EVDB DOT COM.

All's well that ends well. :-)

Posted by brian at April 26, 2006 08:17 AM

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