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Adventures With The First Law of the Jungle!

Roger Skoff tells how nothing is ever as simple as it seems…

Do you know what the “First Law of the Jungle” is? No, it’s NOT “Kill or be killed”; “Eat or be eaten”, or anything even remotely like that. (What are you, Mowgli? Some kind of a Rudyard Kipling fan?) The First Law of the Jungle is really “No matter what it is, it will take twice as long and cost twice as much”, and the Second Law of the Jungle is that the First Law is probably optimistic, and it will really take or cost a whole lot more!

AR-jungle1.jpgI first found that out back more than twenty-five years ago, when I was writing for Sounds Like…Magazine. The magazine was not too many issues old at that point and, although it was growing, it wasn’t growing fast enough to satisfy its Publisher, Jeff Goggin. To be helpful, I (innocent as I was at the time), suggested that in addition to the regular magazine, which was purely consumer-oriented and had the magazine industry’s customary long lead time before publication, he should also publish a “quick-turnaround” monthly newsletter for the industry, only. That should, I said, have no advertising, be subscription-only, and be about six pages long, packed with industry news and gossip.

“How long could a thing like that take to produce?” I asked him; “Certainly not more than just a very few hours a month, and think of all the people who would want to subscribe!”

He liked the idea so well that he said “Sure, go do it”, and all-of-a-sudden, I found myself Editor of Sounds Like…News. I also found out very quickly that, instead of just a few hours a month, it was taking me – between getting-in all of the information from the contributing writers; selecting which items to run; editing (or, as was often the case, re-writing) them; and laying-out and preparing the newsletter for publication – at least a full week every month, and often more!

That was my first exposure to the publishing side of this business, and I must tell you that now, when I see an Editor and his Staff who can chunk out, not just a six-page newsletter, but a full one-to-two-hundred page magazine every month, and do it consistently and on-time, I’m mightily impressed! (And the idea of actually getting out a full-service newspaper, with multiple departments and probably just as many pages, and doing it EVERY DAY leaves me completely in awe!)

Another herculean task that one doesn’t really think about, and has no comprehension of its difficulty unless he actually has to do it is putting-together and operating an audio show. 

AR-jungle2.jpgWith the proliferation of local and regional audio shows that we’ve seen in recent years, it’s easy to think that “doing” one must be pretty simple, and involve, at most, a relatively small number of basic tasks repeated over and over again for the number of exhibitors and show attendees.

Well, as it happens, that’s absolutely not the case.  I recently got involved with the California Audio Show, which will be running in San Francisco from August 14th through 16th this year. Constantine Soo, the Show’s owner and Promoter, called me to ask if XLO, my old company, would be interested in participating. When we spoke, I told him that, although I could certainly understand his interest in having XLO as an exhibitor, I had sold the company more than a dozen years ago and no longer had any direct involvement, other than to do a little occasional design consulting or, as was the case at T.H.E. Newport Show, to put in an appearance and help out a little at XLO’s exhibit room. 

We continued talking, though, and one of the things that came from it was that Constantine invited me to appear, along with some other manufacturers (or in my case, former manufacturers), on a panel discussion about cables, probably, in light of their “controversial” nature,  to be called something weird like “Cables: Threat or Menace?”.

No, I’m just joking; there will be a panel discussion, though, and I WILL be on it, but the name will certainly be something different and more appropriate. (“Cables: Voodoo or Snake Oil?”, maybe) What I’m NOT joking about, though is that it turns out that Constantine has MAJOR plans to make this year’s California Audio Show (the sixth ever) the very best ever, and has engaged my old pal Jim Arvanitis to be his new Show Manager and to make it all happen.

Jim is a former “cheese” at Kenwood; at KRK (a huge name in “Pro” speakers); and at Sony, from which he took early retirement a while back, and, like so many other guys who dream of just “kicking back”, he eventually found himself itching for a fun way to put his skills, talents, and contacts back into the service of the audiophile community. For Jim, that turns out to be The California Audio Show and, working with Constantine and a new and greatly augmented Show Staff, he’s shooting for the goal of increasing show participation by both exhibitors and attendees a full 50% THIS YEAR, and, over time, to make the California Audio Show the biggest, best, and best attended regional show in the country.

AR-jungle3.jpgTo do that, Jim has told me a little of what’s going to need to happen: For one thing, he has attracted some of the very best High-End audio manufacturers in the country, and is still signing-up more. He has set up panels, seminars, and discussion groups on any number of subjects, including expert presentations on the state of the art in recording and music storage; room acoustics; the “cables” panel that I will be appearing on; and many more. He has also either signed-up or is now in the process of completing his negotiations for a broad range of live-performance music – everything from pop, to classical, to jazz, featuring artists from all over the country. He has arranged for some really first-rate “door prizes” and on-site sales, and has gotten at least one well-known record label to provide a special discount coupon program for Show attendees. In addition to more conventional exhibits, High-End personal audio of all kinds ― headphones and everything to play through them or to use them with ― will be present in force, as will, possibly, even some of the very latest high-performance gaming gear.  And on, and on, and on…

All in all, Jim tells me that the Show is going to be huge, and he and the Show staff are already rolling out the biggest program of advertising and promotional support that it’s ever had. Even so, there are still a whole lot of things left to do and – never forget the First Law of the Jungle – “whatever it is, it will take twice as long and cost twice as much” it’s going to be a major achievement to get them all done in time. 

If Jim and his troops can pull it all off, this really WILL be the biggest California Audio Show ever, and, knowing Jim, it’s my guess that he’ll find a way to do it. In any case, I’m going to be there to watch audio history being made. Why don’t you come, too?

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