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.
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.
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.