In the spirit of full disclosure, the writer of this article was an AT&T employee until a little over four years ago and left on good terms. The interview was done on an AT&T Mobility phone with no dropped calls/ This writer has also known Kevin Slimp for about two years. He was featured in Across Tennessee in a May, 2010 article here.
The first time you meet Kevin Slimp he acts like he has known you for years. The Knoxville newspaper consultant, who also gives seminars on technology and taking care of the customer, seems to have never met a stranger. Due to his cheerful persona when he goes after a company he does it with a disarming smile. Despite the smile, or maybe because of it, his words burn like uncut sulphuric acid. Could Slimp’s approach to business become the future of customer service?
Last week’s post featured intracity and intrametro commuter rail in Tennessee. It can be read here.
On the eastern seaboard between Washington, DC and Boston, fifteen trains are scheduled headed north on weekdays, fourteen are headed south. In Tennessee passenger rail is much less utilized. Amtrak makes twice-daily stops in Memphis and Dyersburg on their way to Chicago and New Orleans. But generations ago rails tied cities together.
Back in 2002 EBay was just under eight years old when author Marc Hartzman released his book “Found on EBay” showing what people were willing to sell and, even more strangely, what people were willing to buy in what he called “the world’s online yard sale.”
A John F. Kennedy lawn gnome, a necklace made of goat’s toe nails and a jar with on pickle left were some of the items in the book given over to total whimsy.
Now another eight years have passed. EBay is more than the novelty it was in ’02. It is now an institution. The odds of someone stopping by your garage sale in Dyersburg and getting excited about the autographed picture of Peter Marshal are slim. But put the same picture on Ebay and somewhere in the world a collector of vintage game show memorabilia may have found their holy grail.
So what turns up when “Tennessee” is put in EBay’s search engine?
Seventy five years ago the Tennessee Valley Authority helped bring electricity to rural areas of the state for both residents and economic expansion. It is perhaps a flawed comparison, but the new electricity is broadband.
And the new TVA is C Technology of Nashville, a nonprofit corporation trying to fill broadband in the underserved areas in Tennessee. “We are work at the intersection of internet education and economic development,” says Paul Van Hoesen, director of C Technology.
(Halls) – There is something worldly about this town of about 2,200 in Lauderdale County.
In an old Post Office at 109 South Church Street in Halls, plus at another location on Main, Murray Hudson, antiquarian, carries maps, globes and art from history. Globes range in sizes from golf balls to beach balls.
“We have just cataloged on our website 30.300 maps, 14,000 books and prints and 1,600 globes,” he says. He says the oldest item is from the 1490’s.
The Dyersburg native became interested in old geography when in Oxford studying Metaphysical Poetry. “I passed a book and map print shop most every day,” he says. “I wanted something relatively inexpensive, historical, and ornamental and that you can carry. I bought 52 maps for about 80 pounds.”
Every October at the University of Tennessee- Knoxville, Kevin Slimp puts on a two and a half day program, the Institute for Newspaper Technology. This past month when I mentioned I was attending and the words “Newspaper Technology,” a Facebook friend quickly responded “isn’t that an oxymoron?”
In addition to the two and a half day course, he travels for seminars and is one of the most sought after speaker in regards to the future of newspapers.
Tara Milligan has many memories of growing up that involve McMinnville’s Three Star Mall. She remembers her parents dropping her off at the movie theater and allowing her to walk with friends to the mall. She remembers spending “hours at a time” at The Sound Shop, browsing tapes and CD’s. There was the time when a Nashville station broadcast the morning show live from the mall and she and the rest of the cheerleaders got to cheer on TV. There was her job as a senior in high school at JC Penny’s. “We had a real strict old-school manager who made sure we were always dressed properly,” she remembers. It was and still is a voting location. “I went with my boyfriend, Patrick Graves who is now my husband, when he voted for the first time in the 1988 Presidential election. Then we went and bought REM’s album Green which had just been released.”
(Jackson) – It is a short walk- one minute, six seconds- from the baggage claim area to a car parked in the free (yes free) parking lot at Jackson Tennessee’s McKellar- Sipes airport. This can be a forgotten one amongst Tennessee’s six airports with regular passenger service, but the city of Jackson, Madison County, the Chamber of Commerce and the Jackson-Madison County Airport Authority, have hopes for the tiny airport known to pilots and airline employees as MKL.