TMRO: Honest criticism and a path to strengthen

In the corporate world, it is frequent that a company over-extends itself, then begins to stumble (losing market share, losing revenue, losing customers, and staff gaining internal stress).

I am an outsider to TMRO, with absolutely no insight into what’s going on within TMRO, and therefore I am definitely not one to presume anything, nor should I. But to my un-informed eyeballs, it seems that TMRO is experiencing something similar, and is stumbling.

First, let me apologize for the harsh review below. Painful words are difficult for me to say, and I understand how they might be painful to hear.

My uninformed personal perspective:

  • I have experienced steeply-declining interest over the last 6 months in watching TMRO, and I have steeply-increased looking elsewhere to satisfy my space-geek addiction.
  • There has seemed a sharp decline of TMRO-interviewer robustness and professionalism. While some TMRO-interviewers have risen to this key role very well, others have not - as demonstrated by their increasingly less-than-compelling typical reply to an expert-guest statement being something similar to “wow awesome” or “wow that’s cool” ; sometimes using un-international and off-putting SoCal (southern California USA) slang.
  • The totally unforgivable separation by TMRO of SpaceMike. Of all the TMRO people-assets, SpaceMike was THE one who provided the solid foundation. I say “unforgivable” above because it absolutely does not matter if you were mad at him, or if he was mad at you. A Director of any company is totally responsible for sustaining their star performers; their people-assets. SpaceMike is a stellar performer, and in many eyes he remains irreplaceable. Whatever rough time TMRO perceived they were having was the total responsibility of TMRO-Directors to smooth out and resolve. Again; unforgivable. From my uninformed perspective, a big failure on the part of TMRO.
  • The totally failed opportunity for TMRO to extend beyond SoCal culture to embrace the world, and the incorrect perspective that everyone (your audience) accepts the sometimes juvenile SoCal way of talking, presenting and interviewing. Associated with this, the unwillingness or inability of TMRO to involve any non-SoCal interviewer or correspondent from any emerging space-region such as India, UAE, nor even the more established regions such as EU, Russia or Japan. A true missed opportunity.
  • The dejected poor state of TMRO Community. When was the last time TMRO staff posted anything there? Does TMRO ask their guests to post, or to be available via Community? Does TMRO ever use Community to inform their citizens? Does TMRO even promote Communities any more? Some of your hopeful citizens have posted inspiring topics, often only to result either in silence by TMRO or unhelpful replies that only contain a big string of images.
  • The TMRO introduction (with fan-fare) of LOS, weeks ago, followed by… … … nothing that I am able to perceive. Ouch, that is painful to see.
  • Episodes cancelled at the last minute, with little effort by TMRO to inform their patient audience people standing by (another gap in TMRO using Communities).
  • And of course, the unforgivable total silence by TMRO during the once-in-lifetime 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch and landing. Perhaps I missed it, but I have seen no mention nor hint from TMRO (Community, Discord, personal twitter accounts) recognizing this global event.

There is more in my thoughts… but I think I should stop now.

The result of the above, and of other negative trends in my mind, is (quite unfortunately, and from only my personal view) that TMRO has drifted into irrelevance. Something seems wrong. But maybe I (and other interested people) can help renew and strengthen.

Wheww…

When a business over-extends, sometimes they re-trench, ignore the situation, and continue to drive their bus down the wrong road. I truly do not desire TMRO to have a result like this.

A stronger company-response to stumbling would be to honestly recognize it, then second; possibly seek out the last time things worked well, analyze objectively, and to look for ways to repeat those happier days.

Here are some suggestions to begin discussions.

First, please let me apologize for presuming any condition above that is incorrect. If I am totally wrong, off-base or otherwise crazy, please push back. But now, here in TMRO Community, we strive to begin an honest discussion on how to strengthen TMRO. For consideration and discussion:

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

It was fun, but stop all the isolated, numerous shows. This both confuses and puts extra work onto your audience. Revert to one weekly show with News + Interview + unstructured-time balanced as appropriate for the happenings of that week.

Reduce Operating Costs.

Reduce costs (staff, physical and recurring costs). I continue to be amazed that TMRO can afford the commercial space their Patreons pay for. That seems like a big cash draw. And I must honestly admit that while it is nice, I recall better days and more insightful/passionate interviews back in the pre-office days. So what am I saying? Think about simplifying. TMRO excellence does not rely on expensive commercial office space; it relies on the passion of your staff; period.

Look in the mirror.

Stop the SoCal jargon and the narrow view. Stop the lackluster interviews. Stop TMRO hosts from replying to your expert-guest-statements with that painful-to-hear “wow awesome”. Provide some level of professional development for your interviewers to result in strong, compelling host-guest interactions.

Eliminate certain existing TMRO hosts (or eliminate all, and have them re-qualify to join – a painful approach sometimes used with good success in the business world).

There is a fine journalistic line to balance. Proactively, out-of-the-blue asking a guest if they have ever experienced gender-bias or racism is not professional, objective journalism; it is inserting your personal agenda at your discretion. Do not misunderstand; if any topic arises, discuss it; just don’t artificially inject an agenda that you have with no prompt. Yes, some social topics are quite important and need discussion; but think about why your audience tunes in to TMRO (and the answer is probably not to listen to you talking about politically-charged or counterproductive topics injected by your agenda).

Today (yes, today) is the opportunity for TMRO to extend outside SoCal in favor of the world. How to start? Find ONE correspondent (I look back in previous Community threads and see names) from Europe, India or UAE, and get them to deliver a live or pre-recorded segment. Repeat. The result will be positive, you will ignite sparks around the world and your audience will be compelled.

TMRO Directors step up to the plate.

Whatever it takes (apologizing, talking, re-aligning, recognition, embarrassment… whatever) a company Director has to be strong enough to re-build any broken relationship with a key asset. Re-connect with SpaceMike. Talk. Admit mistakes. Renew. Re-build that foundation. Bring SpaceMike back as a pillar to the TMRO foundation.

Return to better days.

Seriously strive to find ways to get the passion back. Learn how to deliver compelling interviews with expert guests. Please eliminate the SoCal baggage (language, perspective and politics) in favor of the world. Your audience would truly rather see two people passionate about Space with a webcam broadcasting from their garage than see a costly studio, ineffective interviews and political activism (ooops… sorry, I know you stated elsewhere that there is no activist politics at TMRO, but I would like to ask you to honestly re-evaluate).

You all have day-jobs.

The broader TMRO Community also needs to realize that TMRO Directors and staff have day-jobs; some of a quite demanding nature. The TMRO audience is really in no position to dictate anything. But… we can discuss in hopes of strengthening and improving.

Summary:

In my own (probably wrong) view, TMRO is stumbling. The good news is that with honest analysis and discussion, the future can still be great! I certainly do not have all the answers.

TMRO Community (yes, that’s you), please correct my errors in analysis above, provide your own suggestions, and post your thoughts and discussions here.

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I think you make some great points but I think some of your argument is under minded by much less important aspects.

I think the most important part is that the frequency of shows has not been there and the shows that have been there have had low community engagement.

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Hi, I’m Australian.

That’s totally fair, we should have done better regarding Tweeting and posting about cancellations. People set time aside for us and we really do value that.

We’ve had some pretty shit luck lately with guests. We had one literally cancel hours before the show, and for another, the PAO office for a certain Agency didn’t respond until it was too late to get approval. However, there is a bit of a fatal flaw in our guest confirmation process that had been hindering us - we recently moved to confirm guests to our hosts 7 days in advance so they could have time to prep properly. We wanted to make sure our hosts had time to research, plan appropriate questions, write notes, and create a story throughout the interview - because we wanted to continue to deliver high quality, engaging interviews that our audience had come to expect of us.

I actually don’t confirm guests until 7 days out. Problem? Guests would need to reschedule but because it was already past the cut-off date for host-prep we’d just cancel the show. Now that you’ve pointed this out, probably makes more sense to ask hosts to prep with 4-5 days notice instead of 7. (And to be completely honest, I didn’t see an improvement in host performance with the extra notice anyway)

Thank you for taking the time to give us feedback. Sometimes its hard to recognise that something you love isn’t quite working or being as successful as you want. These ideas and criticisms will ultimately make the show better.

Since leaving the US I haven’t had the time or motivation to work as much on the show as I used to, and I hope we aren’t suffering for that.

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Hi Lisa. Thank you for the reply. Yes, I think you might know the intent of my statement. I recall you and I communicating a little bit; my thought being to keep eyeballs open for any opportunity to cast a net over a non-USA space-geek who could become a candidate-TMRO-correspondent (for example, while you were at the wonderful Global Space Conference in UAE).

There continue to be opportunities like that for TMRO to engage correspondents from around the space-geek world, rather than SoCal (also rather than an Australian who lives/lived in SoCal for x months). You know, my suggestion is a loose network of TMRO-correspondents on-the-ground near (or in) emerging space regions, who deliver a live or recorded report back to TMRO when appropriate. Talk about an absolutely great way to fulfill one of the TMRO Strategy/Mission statements: “We are global, not just the USA”.

Years ago, an old boss told me as I was stumbling to execute a complex endeavour… “just start”.

All… please keep the discussion going! The result will be a stronger TMRO.

Thanks for your perspective Freda, I know a lot of us involved have read this and I appreciate that you didn’t hold back. Speaking for myself, I agree with a lot of what you have to say, there are a few things I don’t agree with, and there’s a fractional amount that we just can’t change because that’s the way it is. However, as I said, there’s a lot I agree with, and even the things I disagree with, I’ll be taking to heart.

It’s always good to have yourself rattled when things aren’t working like they should, and this was the right time to do so, and we’re beginning to make the moves on it.

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Many thanks Jared for the good reply. I am encouraged, and feel the future of TMRO is good!

Yes. This would be bloody awesome!

With the live shows it didn’t make sense to bring in hosts from around the world due to Zoom delays, but with news this absolutely makes sense. Perhaps we could approach non-US space influencers and ask if they’d like to cover a story for news in their region - that would be a truly global show.

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I think the global network thing is a good idea. It’ll expand the brand of TMRO all over the world, and it would let some people who are into space and journalism to express there talents to a great broadcaster.

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Another thing - Put the Space News at the Top of every Space episode, and put LOS as it’s own segment at the end. You could also have space traffic, space weather and any other not in studio stories pre recorded, and halfway through, you switch to a live version with Jared let’s say talking about the story, and once he’s done you could ask him questions like what does this do etc etc

You could as a trial for 1 show maybe at the end of Orbit 12 just go back to the original format of Orbit 11 (ie First segment in Duta’s room, second segment in the observation lounge with an interview, and then the third segment answering questions).

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You’re referring to the SoCal jargon.

I’m not an expert for US jargons, but I noticed a change in jargon, too. But I’m not sure wether it’s SoCal or the young YouTube jargon that we hear. TMRO audience seem to be mostly space geeks already, and most of us have numerous other sources to keep ourselfs up-to-date. Many of the shows changes seem to be appropriate to reach out to a new, younger audience, that has not been converted to the “Church of Space” yet.

If all changes to TMRO during the last couple of months had attracted just person to the wonders of the current developments in space, I think it was worth it.

To me personally, the whole SoCal/YouTube slang is deeply annoying and made me turn off the show quite a few times. But as I said, there is no need to preach to the converted.

Mabye the team could let us know if there has been a shift in the intended audience? I’m sure many members of the TMRO community will be glad to support your goals.

There is one wish from my side: stop saying “awesome” so often. That would be… um, well… awesome?

One last thing: I miss Space Mike, too.

@GLTCprincess So after today’s live show (12.26) is After Dark back? Is LOS still a thing? Will we hear the clapping for After Dark as well next week? Or am i talking complete jargon :laughing:

After Dark really isn’t a thing, we were just hanging out for a bit post show. That will likely stick around, but the idea of extended interviews that we post as a separate show is gone. We just did a Letting Off STEAM show with Cariann and I today!

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