I can’t remember whether it was a consumer electronics or video company that hosted a press conference featuring Dick Clark at the Ed Sullivan Theater in 1991, but I can remember the conversation I had with him. I wormed my way up to him after the press conference and asked if he would consider acting as an advisor to a newspaper my husband Eliot and I wanted to publish. It was a newspaper for teenagers written by teenagers. Remember, this was way before we all knew about the Internet.
I explained the entire concept. Teenagers would write about the world and local politics, education, current events, pop culture, entertainment, fashion, music, and sports. He listened courteously and immediately told me it would not work.
The world’s greatest authority on teenagers had squashed the idea that Eliot and I were working on for months in a matter of seconds. We already spent a lot of money on focus groups, a dummy layout, business plans, advertising presentations and editorial staff assignments.
I was devastated. I tried to reason with him. We thought it was a natural. In fact, during the time of our research we discovered that there was another group trying to do the same thing. How bad of an idea could this be? We thought teen reporters writing for other teens was just brilliant.
I remember looking straight into Mr. Clark’s eyes for some reassurances. He simply said that the majority of teens don’t read and nothing in the world was going to change that. One more time, I pointed out that our concept was the solution. Teens writing for each other would be groundbreaking and they would learn about topics they never before explored.
No matter how long I talked, Mr. Clark was not going to change his mind. He continued to keep his eyes focused on mine. The more he looked at me, the more I wanted to just run away and pretend the entire discussion never took place.
I told him that I still thought he was wrong and that I would get back to him with our progress. Needless to say, the project went no place fast for a number of reasons. Before he left our little huddle he said, “May you go with God Speed.” For years I wondered why he said that and what it meant. I looked the phrase up yesterday and realized I never got back to him to tell him he was right, but I think he already knew it.