Dick Clark has a speech impediment and his face is slightly disfigured. Both are outcomes from a severe 2005 stroke that would have ended most broadcast careers. But not Dick Clark. Every December 31st, there’s still a Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Clark, 82, debilitated dialect and all, still hosting, still desperately clinging to his title of “America’s Oldest Teenager.”
At first I felt bad for him. I mean here’s this one-time broadcasting giant who now sounds like a cross between pre-stroke Dick Clark and Charlie Brown’s teacher every time he opens his mouth. And what’s worse, he doesn’t seem to get that he sounds terrible (Just stating the obvious people, don’t get mad). But despite his health, despite his speech impediment – he just keeps on. What really amazes though it that keeps ABC putting him in front of the camera now for the 6th straight year since his stroke.
That makes no sense to me at all. In our society, someone with Dick Clark’s sort of speech impediment has a tough time getting a job at McDonald’s, yet he keeps getting asked back to host ABC’s NYE coverage. What the F*#k is up with that?
But just a few minutes after the famed ball over Times Square dropped, my epiphany followed suit.
Before this New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, I’d never really thought much of Dick Clark. I’d never thought bad of him either. But in all, I’d never appreciated him to be more than a familiar voice. But after thinking about it, I get that Clark’s been far more meaningful. From 1957 to 1987, Clark graciously brought his American Bandstand party into America’s living rooms, inviting generations of teens and pre-teens to join him along the way. For his first show in 1957, he interviewed Elvis Pressley. From that point on, he continued bringing us to the same Rock n’ Roll party week after week. He even took the time to introduce us to his friends, some of the greatest musical acts of their respective generations.
If you were born in the 1980s, I don’t expect you to get Dick Clark’s persistent presence. But for the rest of us, Dick Clark was one of the first people to bring us really close to the music we loved. And that means something.
Before Facebook and Twitter, there was always the affable, hospitable and never rude Clark connecting us to the best music and musicians. In our day, we didn’t have social media feeds. Hell, a lot of us didn’t even have MTV. But for so many, Dick Clark was there getting that job done being the “Fan-page” connection to all our favorite artists.
So here’s what I think, and this is a testament to the power of being an authentic brand. Even though his age is obviously catching up to him. Even though some naysayers wish he would hang it up, the unsung legend of Clark’s hospitality lives on for the rest of us. In fact, Dick Clark has done NYE so well,for so long that it wouldn’t the same with out him. That’s why I, for one, wish him well and hope he’ll be back next year.
Why? Because Dick Clark has always been the host with the most and he’s always let us in to his party. To me and millions of others who’ve enjoyed his programming through the years, that’s just why the f*#k they still let the guy on TV.
I believe businesses that develop similar stories of authentic, consistent generosity, will create loyal customers who stick through thick and thin. And perhaps one day, years from now, people will surely ask: “just why the f*#k do they still buy from that company?”