I Took Payola in the Summer of 1988

I’m not proud to admit this, but in the summer of 1988 I accepted payola.


The whole thing reminds me of a dramatization I’d once seen on TV.

A record executive tried to coerce a DJ into playing a record. After he refused, they started playing hardball with Johnny Fever, a popular disc jockey at the Cincinnati radio station, WKRP.

Johnny Fever was the logical choice to break in the new music to his listeners.

He continually refused their payola: money, coke, hookers, candy. Fever was the epitome of radio ethics and the record company heavies could not break him. There was no way that Johnny was going to spin their records.

Years later, after the payola episode had long since retreated to the back of my memory, I was working at the Sam Goody record store in the local mall. 17-years old, a poor high-school punk always looking for an angle.

Then, one day at work, the phone rang.

“Thank you for calling Sam Goody at the Laurel Center! This week, the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing is on sale, album or cassette, for $7.99. Goody Got It! This is sales associate, Shawn Collins, how may I help you?”

“Hi, this is Brad* from Arista Records. How are you doing today, Shawn? Is it busy down there at Sam Goody?”

“Uh, yeah, I guess it’s sorta busy.”

“Well Shawn, I get the impression that you know what’s HOT in music. You’ve heard of Taylor Dayne, right?”

“No, I don’t know that one. Is that, like, classical music, or something?”

“Ha! Ha! Anyway Shawn, I was wondering if you could do me a little favor. Would you be the person that reports the Top 20 album sales to Q107 and WKYS?”

“Uh, yeah. Usually that’s me.”

“Great! Say Shawn, what type of music do you listen to… R&B, Hard Rock, Country?”

“No, I don’t really like that kind of stuff. I’m into the new stuff, like Siouxsie & the Banshees, Psychedelic Furs, you know?” I had no idea where this was leading, clueless about what was going on.

“How about I send you a package with the new Church tape and some other promos?”

“Uh, that would be great.”

“Okay Shawn, and then maybe you can do that little favor for me,” his voice sounding more serious. “When the guys from the radio station call for the Top 20, why don’t you replace #17 with the Taylor Dayne record. Then, move it up a couple of spots each week until it gets to the top.”

That week, when the radio stations called, I planted the Taylor Dayne record at #17. Nobody questioned a thing. The folowing Saturday, my first package showed up. I got my Church tape, plus the new Patti Smith tape.

Eventually, Taylor Dayne did reach the top of the charts. If you bought some of her music back then, I helped trick you into it.

The whole experience provided me with cynicism and music. I still have some of the vinyl I got during that summer, but the tapes are long gone.

*I don’t remember what the name of the guy from Arista was.

Did You Get This Cool, Free Affiliate Summit Shirt, Yet?

We recently had a new t-shirt designed, and it’s available for anybody who wants it for free (the shipping and the shirt).


The shirt is an American Apparel 50/50 Tee, and it’s available in sizes from small to 2XL.

You might be thinking, “Hey, that looks sort of like the Seal of the President of the United States.” Yes, sort of.

The actual inspiration was the Ramones logo, which was inspired by the Presidential seal. The original has an American eagle holding an olive branch and thirteen arrows in his talons.

The Ramones replaced the arrows with a baseball bat (and a bunch of other modifications), and we replaced the baseball bat with an iPhone.

Get your cool Affiliate Summit eagle iPhone t-shirt.

Recap of ShareASale ThinkTank 2014 in Charlotte, NC #ThinkTank14

I just got back from ShareASale ThinkTank 2014, which took place October 19-21, 2014 at the Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge in Charlotte, NC.

shareasale-thinktankShareASale ThinkTank is the annual conference for ShareASale affiliates, merchants, and vendors.

The first day started with a golf tournament at the Golf Club at Ballantyne, followed by a Scotch, Wine & Cheese get together for the attendees.

I got in late and missed this one, because I was finishing up the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in NYC, but I made it in for the Welcome Reception.

Day two started with some breakfast and a series of breakout sessions, followed by a merchant hotseat and then a networking lunch.

Lunch was followed by a series of Private Affiliate-Merchant Meetings, where dozens of companies got face time with a bunch of current and future affiliates.

I liked how they incorporated signs this time around to indicate whether a merchant was available to chat.

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After the meetings wrapped up, we had some free time to explore Charlotte, and I headed out with a group to try some local BBQ. Verdict: Texas > North Carolina.

Everybody got back together for a Game Night, where we all played industry trivia, pool, ping pong, slot car racing, and more.

This was followed by a piano singalong and more networking into the night. Some of us got so caught up in the fun that we celebrated with a human pyramid.

Human Pyramid #thinktank14

A photo posted by Kim Rowley (@shoppingkim) on

The final day kicked off with yet another tasty networking breakfast, as well as an entertaining and informative keynote from Missy Ward, Co-Founder of Affiliate Summit.

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And then there was the closing ShareASale “Things We Need to Fix” session. This is an open forum, hosted by Brian Littleton, President and CEO of ShareASale, where attendees are able to share their thoughts on improvements and changes.


I’d like to give a big thanks to Brian Littleton and his team for a top notch event that was filled with productive business, some really useful tips, new friends, and good times.

Check out the Tweets from ThinkTank with hashtag #thinktank14.

Thanks for Your Support for the 2014 NYC Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

I walked 39.3 miles (my RunKeeper app said it was even more) with the Affiliate Marketers Give Back team in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in New York City this past weekend.

Finish Line at the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

I ended up at the #6 overall individual fundraiser with $17,157.92, and our Affiliate Marketers Give Back team raised and donated $40,406.61, which will fund research to find a cure or prevention, as well as programs that enable all patients to access quality care. A key priority is the medically underserved, including low-income, elderly, and minority individuals.

The first day was Saturday, October 18, and we got together before sunrise on the west side of Manhattan.

Opening Ceremonies for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

Walking up the West Side

The early start kicked off a marathon walk that was supposed to be 26.2 miles, but the route was mis-marked, so we ended up walking some bonus miles. It was a really neat way to see New York.


We finished the first day of walking on Randall’s Island, and I was really happy to make it the whole way without any blisters, but I did manage to mess something up in my right knee.

Mile 26


The second day, Sunday, October 20, started before sunrise with a breakfast in the dark morning. We loaded up on some carbs and protein before setting out for the remaining 13.1 miles.

I hit the medical tent to get my knee wrapped and to gobble some painkillers before we set off. That was a little tough to leg out the final day, but I did manage to escape without a single blister – my strategy of Injinji toe socks, as well as Body Glide and Blister Shield, kept my feet in good shape the whole time.

Unfortunately, the blister goblin was not as kind to Tricia Meyer.

Getting blisters popped

I figured our miles would be longer the first day, because the route was not labeled correctly, but RunKeeper tallied more than 13.1 miles for us on the second day, too. Whatever the total was, it felt like a lot of miles.


In the late morning of the second day, we hit the finish line, and that was such a satisfying and emotional moment. All of the training and fundraising and everything lead up to that happy moment at the end.

We didn’t get to enjoy it too long, though. We had to race back to the hotel and clean up for a flight to Charlotte, NC to go to ShareASale ThinkTank.

Before we left the finish line, I stepped back over to get a shot of my hat at the finish line. It was a hat my mother-in-law, Maria Sanchez, gave me a few years before breast cancer stole her away. I wore it for the whole walk to keep her with me as I walked in her memory.


In the end, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in NYC raised $7 million dollars, and I was proud to play a role in that.

Thank you so much to everybody who supported me through donations, positive thoughts, texts, etc. Also, I’d like to give a big thank you to the Affiliate Marketers Give Back team.

It was a lot of fun to spend all that time getting to know the folks on the team better.

And a big thanks to Avon and all of the volunteers who made this all happen. What a giant undertaking, and it ran so well, and they took such great care of us.

What an inspiring, humbling, wonderful, emotional, and transformative weekend.

All money raised by the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is managed by the Avon Foundation for Women, a 501(C)(3) public charity that funds a comprehensive network of programs and services dedicated to serving breast cancer patients and their families through five areas of the breast cancer cause: awareness and education, screening and diagnosis, access to treatment, support services, and scientific research.

Introducing the Speaker Faculty for Affiliate Summit West 2015

The speaker faculty for Affiliate Summit West 2015, taking place January 18-20, 2015 at Paris Las Vegas in Las Vegas, NV, has been finalized.


The keynote speakers will be Chad Hymas, President of Chad Hymas Communications, Inc., and Noah Kagan, Founder of AppSumo.

Jon Levine, Director of eCommerce of All Inclusive Marketing, will be the conference emcee.

And there are over 100 other speakers covering analytics, bloggers, conversions, email, Facebook, FTC, Google, lead generation, legal, mobile, pay per call, productivity, SEO, social media, startups, WordPress, and more on the Affiliate Summit West 2015 agenda.

Check out the list of speakers for Affiliate Summit West 2015.