Motley Fool co-founders Tom and David Gardner revisit and discuss conversations, predictions, and lessons from 20 years ago. They've got: 

  • Jim Sinegal on competition and growth.
  • Meg Whitman on eBay's acquisition of PayPal.
  • John Antioco on Blockbuster's bright future.
  • Roger Ebert on Blockbuster's imminent demise.
  • Loretta Lynn on growing up poor.
  • Sir Bob Geldof on the futility of bribery.
  • Mike Veeck on creative marketing.

To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool's free podcasts, check out our podcast center. To get started investing, check out our quick-start guide to investing in stocks. A full transcript follows the video.

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David Gardner: For three years on AM radio, Coast to Coast, a live call in back in the day. My brother Tom Gardner and I hosted The Motley Fool radio show, Saturdays three hours through the afternoon. Thanks to our celebrated producer, longtime fellow Fool, Mac Greer, celebrated. We at least celebrate the guy. We did dozens of interviews with bright lights from Jeff Bezos to the San Diego chicken. Our profile then rose higher when with Mac. We transitioned The Motley Fool radio show from the world of AM radio to national public radio. For several years we were an NPR show and we began to bring in even more amazing guests. Well, that was then, this is now.

We eventually transitioned our on-air presence from radio to podcasts, which we've loved bringing you for more than a decade and counting. But what should never be forgotten? The interviews we did with celebrities major and mostly minor from back in the day. It is a deep vault of audio gold. In this fourth episode of the recurring series Blast From The Radio Past, our first return to this series since before the pandemic, we go back in time to listen in once again to the wisdom of Costco Founder and CEO Jim Sinegal, say, or to Loretta Lynn. Mystery Science Theater 3,000 style a little bit as we listen again and opine. A special treat for you this week, the gang's back together, my brother Tom Gardner, our producer, Mac Greer, and me, and you, only on this week's Rule Breaker Investing. 

Welcome back to Rule Breaker Investing. Hey, Tom.

Tom Gardner: Hey, Dave.

David Gardner: Hey, Mac.

Mac Greer: Hey, David.

Tom Gardner: Hey, Mac, I have a question for you.

Mac Greer: Fire away.

Tom Gardner: Was three hours of live radio too much for America to handle?

Mac Greer: I think arguably probably two-and-a-half hours, too much prime.

David Gardner: Well, it's a delight to be joined again by this Motley two-some. We three gentlemen, we're going to go back through clips from old Motley Fool radio shows, people still well-known today, most of them living, and we're going to have fun reflecting on the past. Mac, the theme that you have selected, this is the fourth episode in the series, as I mentioned at the top, what is the theme Mac that you're bringing Tom and me and all of our listeners this week?

Mac Greer: David, the theme is 20 years ago. Most of the interviews we're going to here are from 2003, a couple are from 2002. Let's go with 20 years ago. But if you don't like that theme, I have a couple of other themes. Visions of the past, visions of the future. That's your second choice.

David Gardner: That sounds like a national geographic special.

Mac Greer: Thank you. The third theme, always a solid go-to, more things that people said on Fool Radio.

David Gardner: Tom, can you pop either of those?

Tom Gardner: No, I think I like 20 years ago because 2003, the markets might be a little bit similar to where they are today, the Nasdaq in disarray technology companies. We'll be hearing from people who were experiencing a market similar to the one that we're experiencing today. I like it.

David Gardner: Well said. Gentlemen, I do want to say, I may not be the only one, or maybe I am, but I went back and listened to our most recent version of this Episode 3. The date was February 11th, 2020. Sounds like about a month before we closed our offices and the world shutdown. That's what we did. At the time, and I think a lot of people are expecting an update Mac now, three years later, at the time, there was a lot of discussion at the start of that podcast about the ownership of the following URL, and I would say Internet domain property, I think it may have been Tom who all of a sudden just started talking about who owns Who owns Mac Greer maybe? But as it turns out, at the time anyway, Mac, nobody owned Tom, you exhorted our listeners to go out and buy it, register it. Mac, any updates?

Mac Greer: David, I am really pleased to announce that to absolutely no one's surprise, it is still available. So is wide open.

David Gardner: That surprises me, Tom, because, in a way, I think that is a testimony to maybe the lethargy or alienation of our listeners, not a single person, not a single one, nine bucks. Well,

Tom Gardner: Think of all the missed opportunities of great venture capitalists who had the chance to invest in [Alphabet's] Google and passed on it. I don't think it's unusual that a lot of people wouldn't see this one yet. But someday, we'll look back and remember that in the month of March in 2023, somebody heard this conversation and realized, I can make a life, a career out of

David Gardner: Indeed that may happen this time. We'll see.

Mac Greer: Tom, you mentioned missed opportunities, so I need to confess that one other thing that came up on our Last Blast From The Past is that Tom at the end of the show challenged me to book Queen Elizabeth. Well, I'm here to say that that is probably not going to happen, and it's for obvious reasons now. But I also want to tell you that the reason that we never booked Queen Elizabeth is that, well, it was completely for lack of trying. I have forgotten about Tom's request, and so that didn't happen. But later in the show, we are going to hear from someone who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth.

Tom Gardner: I think about Queen Elizabeth the way, you hear Warren Buffett say, I will continue to manage Berkshire Hathaway 10 years after I've died, and I think that Queen Elizabeth continues to rule at this stage and so we can commune with her here. The only thing I want to observe as we now venture forward into the 20-year look back, is this is for those of you baseball fans, this is a baseball reference that will connect with about 2.4 percent of our listening audience right now, and that's high for me actually. This is a Luis Tiant windup to getting the show started. I think we've done a really nice job of revisiting a couple of different angles, and now the picture is leaning forward and about to release the pitch.

David Gardner: Love it. Tiant who turned himself, he turned his back to the batter, looked at the centerfield wall as he went into his motion toast the pitch.

Mac Greer: Maybe he had a head bob even.

David Gardner: I feel like we're going to get distracted by baseball, which by the way promises to be about 23 minutes faster per game because of the pitch clock this year. But friends, speaking of clocks, I think we should stay on the clock because Mac, how many clips do you have for us this time?

Mac Greer: We have around nine clips.

David Gardner: Wow, we should get started. Mac, what's clip number 1?

Mac Greer: Clip number 1 takes us back to March of 2003, so this very month 20 years ago. Costco Co-Founder and then CEO Jim Sinegal was our guest on The Motley Fool radio show. We asked him about competition and growth.

Tom Gardner: Jim, why would a consumer pay a fee to join Costco when let's say she can go to Walmart for free?

Jim Sinegal: Well, I think the value proposition in it. Clearly, the customers are voting at the cash register and our numbers, as you know, in the US, we average over $100 million in revenues, and one of our Costco warehouses, that's the customer voting at the cash register. They see the value. You notice I didn't mention low cost, I said value. We offer great quality products at the best prices around.

Tom Gardner: There is a very active debate among Wall Street analysts and different members of the investing community that follow the business of retailing, and that debate centers around whether or not the market for superstore warehouses is oversaturated in the US today.

Jim Sinegal: We hope our competition believes that. In our view, we can continue to grow our business and we will continue to grow our business. We think there are a lot of opportunities for us to continue to grow, and we think that the roughly 300 warehouses that we have in the US at the moment, is certainly not maxed out, we at the moment feel that we could at least double the number of Costcos in the United States, and of course, we think we can continue to grow on an international basis as well.

Mac Greer: David and Tom, here is the 20-year update. Costco stores in the US now, 584-ish, so they have almost doubled. Worldwide, they have around 848.

David Gardner: I'm just checking the stock Mac, it was somewhere right around. I'm going to say about $40 a share then it's at 489. Things have gone pretty well for Costco over the last 20 years.

Tom Gardner: Well, Costco was my first recommendation in Stock Advisor, this all comes full-circle. There were a couple of bad ones in between here and there but it's nice to have that one. I don't know if we all know this about Jim Sinegal, but he was orphaned as a child and his mother readopted him when he was around 10 years old. The basic decision she made apparently wasn't financial ones. You couldn't afford it. I do wonder how much that's woven into his philosophy about I want to make life affordable for people.

I want to bring them financial stability because really Costco members see it as more than home to product. It's a philosophy and it's a subscription. So it's not a bunch of one-offs here and there I make this purchase, it's a partnership between Jim Sinegal and fun fact trivia question for anyone at home. Jim Sinegal stepfather Giuseppe Siniscalli is how he gets the name Sinegal because Giuseppe Siniscalli changed his name, last name to Sinegal in the US and that's Jim Sinegal's stepfather. He's adopted by his mother and stepfather and I think the age of 11. I mean returned from the orphanage at the age of 11.

David Gardner: Wow, Tom, you are rocking serious Sinegal knowledge there. It's almost like you knew this clip was coming.

Tom Gardner: In fact, I didn't, but you know what is amazing.

David Gardner: That was even more impressive. I know you didn't because we want to tell you.

Tom Gardner: What is amazing is two things. A research team that does remarkable work and the power of Google just to double-check real time.

David Gardner: Speaking of Google, Jim Sinegal is still living today, age 87 guys, that was 20 years ago. He was 67 as he spoke. Before we move on to number 2, Mac, one thing that has always been distinctive is that synagogue continued to answer his own phone, right when you were booking Jim Sinegal for The Motley Fool radio show, you didn't have to go through his peeps.

Mac Greer: The very first time I booked him was 2002 and I talked to this guy for like four or five minutes and I'm like this sounds like this may happen. Then I finally noticed probably about five minutes into the conversation. I think that will work and I realize I am talking to the CEO  I have been talking to the CEO the entire time He answers his own phone and I had no idea. I thought I was talking to their IR there some publicist. That speaks just volumes of Sinegal. We've had the opportunity to get to know him a little over the years. He's come to our member events and he is the most humble. He's just wonderful. I I'm a Costco fan through I'm a consumer, I'm an investor, love the company.

David Gardner: Top 10 living founder, CEOs guys, maybe.

Tom Gardner: I would have to say, I have a question about that follow-up question, but my follow-up question for you to ponder on as as I reflect on something as Mac just said is, what is the other founder CEO, the other leader that we've interviewed talked to you that we know that most reminds you of Jim Sinegal, who is like a sibling to Jim Sinegal and the business where I'd like to hear what you think I have an idea of that myself. Mac, I do recall that when Jim retired, he said something like I don't have to take Mac's calls anymore.

Mac Greer: He actually compared me to a contaminated milk scare when he was at Fool HQ, someone asked him about like what was the challenge you had to deal with, and they had some contaminated milk. Then at some point he said that was worse than Mac or worse than dealing with Mac calls. I took that as a compliment.

David Gardner: Tom, who does Sinegal remind you of?

Tom Gardner: Jack Bogle. I think they both build something at scale that was consistent subscription essentially, and that was designed around lowering costs for the consumer than they both had huge impacts on a very large audience.

David Gardner: Love it. They were both playing the long game and you think about the performance of Costco right up to the 20 years leading up to that interview. Mac and now the 20 years after.

Mac Greer: Okay, let's move from Costco to eBay. Now, back in 2002, eBay acquired a little outfit called PayPal for 1.5 billion in eBay stock. That was shortly after PayPal's IPO. In 2003 eBay CEO Meg Whitman was on The Motley Fool radio show. We talked with her about the PayPal deal.

David Gardner: In as plain English as possible for listeners of The Motley Fool radio show who may well know eBay but not really understand PayPal. Can you just in a couple of sentences, explain the strategy why buy PayPal?

Meg Whitman: Well, PayPal was in many ways the standard for buyers and sellers paying each other on eBay before we acquired the company. In fact, over 50 percent of listings, the sellers offered PayPal. That's because PayPal was and is an incredibly easy to use mechanism for relatively small dollar transactions from an individual to a small business or an individual to an individual. It enabled people like me to be able to accept a credit card, when I put things up for sale on eBay or except money from one PayPal account to another PayPal account.

Mac Greer: David and Tom as you know, eBay spun PayPal off in 2015. We look at the market caps today. eBay coming in around 24 billion, PayPal 85 billion.

David Gardner: Indeed that's where I was going to start us Mac because we play the market cap game show on this podcast, it's remarkable to think that PayPal is now three times the value of eBay. I mean, they both done really well and when you add it up, it comes to over $100 billion of value. A reminder, the Internet really was for real back in 2002-'03. As left for dead is it often was by Barron's magazine and a lot of things, I would say financial commentators who thought that the Internet was toast. Tom.

Tom Gardner: Well, in PayPal was over $300 billion market cap about a little bit less than two years ago. It's down from North of $300 a share to $75 a share today. It along with a lot of companies of its ilk, have really gotten shlacked here over the last 15 months. That is the 20 year return to where we were back in 2003. A lot of great companies, we're looking at their stocks down 50 percent, 70 percent. One of the many mistakes that I made over the years, why not revisit it very briefly. In fact, you can edit this out if you'd like to. I remember writing an article where I compare to eBay to Amazon and I said I think eBay is going to win this one because they're not carrying any inventory. That's the beauty of the eBay model is just a platform. They don't have to take any responsibility for logistics. They don't have to get lawn furniture into a warehouse and then deliver to somebody's house that'll never quite work.

Mac Greer: I love that, Tom, because I remember for years just feeling that eBay was superior to Amazon, and I use the phrase lighter business model. I'm now realizing, you know who also has a lighter business model? A business that doesn't really have any business. 

Tom Gardner: Is that what you're saying about eBay.

Mac Greer: I'm not saying that.

Tom Gardner: I think this is a David G. investment point. I don't want to speak for my brother, but in comparing a lighter business model to a larger consumer audience model, probably a good idea to look at the latter. If you can really captivate tens and tens and tens and hundreds of millions of people, you can give up a little bit of margin to get that type of audience.

Mac Greer: Knowing what we know now about how this has played out for PayPal and eBay, was it a mistake for eBay to spin off PayPal?

Tom Gardner: Yes, they should have spun off eBay.

Mac Greer: I got to think about that.

David Gardner: Speaking of spinning off, Meg Whitman has spun off into becoming today's US ambassador to Kenya. You may remember she tried to run for governor of California. She spent a lot of money. She did not win. Jerry Brown defeated her. The election was the 2010 election. She spent a lot of money. But Tom, we always enjoyed Meg. We got to meet her some. I remember we had suffer with her once. Everybody talks about our divided country, but the Democratic President, Joe Biden, appointed the Republican, Meg Whitman, to be ambassador to Kenya.

Mac Greer: I think we got to give her serious credit for the PayPal acquisition. Everyone talks about Bob Iger and Marvel and Pixar and Lucasfilm. I get it. But let's give Meg Whitman a lot of credit for PayPal.

Tom Gardner: Speaking of Bob Iger, Meg Whitman came from the Disney Company. Let's move on to clip number 3, Mac.

Mac Greer: Guys, if you're like me, back in 2003, you are probably relaxing on the weekend and maybe you are making it a Blockbuster night. Blockbuster was the dominant movie rental company at the time. Now, we interviewed Blockbuster CEO, John Antioco, in July of 2003. At the time of this interview, Blockbuster had a $3 billion market cap and the stock had beaten the market over the previous three and five years. In this interview, you're going to hear a blockbuster CEO, John Antioco, talking about competition and technology.

John Antioco: A lot of people look at the video world and think it's competitive. I could say, what businesses isn't? I think some of the competitive fears in our businesses are overblown because it's the perception of this technology will one day, maybe someday soon, wipe out Blockbuster. We don't believe that's the case.

Tom Gardner: Why don't you believe that?

John Antioco: A couple of factors. I think the biggest factor is when you look at the movie business over the last 10 years, all of the new channels of distribution have essentially been incremental. Home movie, if you will, was a 10-billion-dollar business 10 years ago; it's 22 billion today, and it's going over 30 billion over the next 10 years. That's because both retail and rental movie consumption has grown, pay-per-view has grown, VOD will enter the business, it will grow. It's just not going to be a situation where the next channel is going to wipe out the previous ones.

David Gardner: I loved the incremental, the analysis that every previous technology has been an incremental shift. Mac, I think that's a hall of fame, top 20 quotes from Motley Fool radio show history.

Mac Greer: Yeah, I feel like it's when you're watching the horror movie and you can see the killer before the people in the movie can. You want to say, he is behind you. In this case, he, of course, has no idea that Netflix is going to start streaming in 2007. That's only a few years after this interview. To his credit, I think it's easy to think Blockbuster did no innovation, but it's how you define innovation and it's how fast you think the future is going to come. Earlier in the interview, he talked about how they did this big revenue sharing with the movie studios and that changed the experience at Blockbuster because it used to be that you'd go in and there weren't many tapes available. Then once they started sharing revenues with the studios, they always had your movie in stock. In that regard, Blockbuster was innovative, but probably shouldn't have written off technology that quickly.

Tom Gardner: The pace of change is picking up, I think. I don't think I'm unique in that view. We've lived together in Motley Fool history and audio history through the emergence of the Internet and the replacement of magazine, magazine stands, and print newspaper. I remember being in a business media meeting of a bunch of executives, and everyone there went around the table like, I will never cancel my print subscription to The Wall Street Journal. That was a unified thing, and it got to me. I was like, I don't subscribe to The Wall Street Journal, but i enjoy it. I enjoy the paper, I just don't have that subscription.

It was like, OK, Motley Fool, we see you competitively. But point being, these things move fast and they're moving faster now because you don't have to make as much investment in infrastructure. One of the major changes that's happening right now is migration to the cloud. Some organizations are going to try to migrate over eight years; that's a little bit Blockbuster like; others have already migrated. I think moving quickly into the cloud is a very smart move. I do want to make one reference to this interview. I'll just leave it out there and we can refer back to it. If anyone can tell me, if you can compare and contrast the voice John Antioco to Irwin Mainway; Irwin Mainway, that's what I asked you to reflect on.

David Gardner: Who's Irwin Mainway?

Tom Gardner: You will have to try and answer that by the end of this show. If you cannot, I will answer it for you.

David Gardner: Speaking of voices, I do want to say, I feel like my voice has changed from some of these clips. Mac, I'm an older male now. I don't like the way my voice has changed. I like my youthful voice.

Tom Gardner: You don't like it?

David Gardner: I like youthful Dave.

Mac Greer: It's all good.

David Gardner: You know what I love? I love that you asked him whether Blockbuster could be put out of business. That was such a perfectly timed money question, and looking backwards, visionary.

Mac Greer: Having heard the CEO of blockbuster, I know what you're both thinking. You're thinking, that's fine, but what did Pulitzer prize-winning film critic, Roger Ebert, think about the future of Blockbuster? Well, you are in luck from our 2002 interview with Roger Ebert.

Tom Gardner: Buy, sell, or hold, given the encroaching technologies, Blockbuster?

Roger Elbert: I would sell.

Tom Gardner: Why?

Roger Elbert: Because I think that electronic means of transmission are going to eventually replace the trip to the video store. I think Blockbuster itself is investing in that area. I think there'll be video-on-demand that will come in by satellite or Internet. On the other hand, when video stores started, everybody laughed at them, pointing out that lending libraries have gone out of business. Video stores are very popular because people do like to leave the house and go to the video store. It's the same as every office has a coffee machine, but people want to go out to Starbucks, and in a way, both Blockbuster and Starbucks are selling the same thing. They're not selling coffee, they're not selling videos, they're selling the trip to the store.

Tom Gardner: Now, you're just convincing me this is a buy, Roger?

Roger Elbert: Well, it may be a hold.

Tom Gardner: A beautiful head right before our eyes. But we know what he led with. Sell.

David Gardner: He did, and video on-demand, I guess that came along and replaced things from a satellite standpoint. But then it all became streaming anyway. But don't you love how on-point I think Roger Ebert was there. It's also funny to think about how he was saying that we enjoy the trip down to the store; that's what it's all about. I still do agree with that, guys, when it comes to Starbucks.

Mac Greer: I totally agree.

David Gardner: But clearly the world doesn't feel that way about renting videos.

Mac Greer: I totally agree with that, and I felt that way about blockbuster back in the day. I tend to be indecisive. When I lived in DC, there'd be many a night where I would go to Blockbuster. I would spend 1-2 hours looking for the movie, [laughs] and then I realize I don't need a movie anymore because I've used that time already, and I would just leave the store. I think I'm part of the problem or I was part of the problem.

David Gardner: Maybe buying the mega bag of M&M's, or peanut M&M's on the way out; that's where they made their money, guys.

Mac Greer: Exactly. Guys, if you went to Blockbuster back in the day one movie you may have rented is Coal Miner's Daughter. Now that one best picture in 1981 and that was based on the life of country music legend, Loretta Lynn, who died last October. Now, she was the first woman in country music to become a millionaire. She had 24 number 1 singles. She had 11 number 1 albums and she had one appearance on The Motley Fool radio show back in 2002.

Tom Gardner: Well we're going to go backwards in time to your upbringing for the start-up of our conversation, you grew up in a log cabin in the mountains of Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, a coal miner's daughter. What was your opinion of your father's work and the money he provided the family?

Lorretta Lynn: I thought everybody live that way so it didn't even affect me as far as how we lived, how poor we were or anything like that. I thought everybody was like that until I got away. Then I knew I was poor. 

David Gardner: Loretta by age 13, you were married to a man, as it turned out, you'd be married to for almost half a century, by 17 you had four children, is that right?

Lorretta Lynn: Yes and I had them all in school by the time I was 21. Then when I came to Nashville, I was 27 when I started singing and I got pregnant, and had twins so I said to my husband, "Hey, you better do something because the next one is going to be a litter." 

Tom Gardner: Now how did you make ends meet through all of that?

Lorretta Lynn: Without money? It was very hard. My husband got a job at a filling station making $1.10 an hour and the Grand Ole Opry was kind enough to let me on the Opry every Saturday night and I makes $17 to be on the Opry and if I did the second song I got three more dollars. Boy, did that come in handy.

David Gardner: What a phenomenal American dearly departed 90 years of age when she died last October. I love that interview Mac, I knew she had a lot of kids. I didn't remember she had four kids by the age of 17. Just an incredible American story in a lot of ways. Sometimes we hear about those in the middle of the country being a little bit more disaffected, rural populations, especially not being as connected in. But while that was certainly true of Loretta Lynn, guys, she brought a sensitive cheerfulness and humility and I would say positivity reflecting back on her youth, I guess it's easier when you've had 42 singles and you made your first million dollars. But what a phenomenal life.

Tom Gardner: True grit. Loretta Lynn, true grit, I'd say and that was one of my favorite Motley Fool interviews in history. No question. I have a few others and I'm wondering if Mac's going to bring them forward today.

David Gardner: I hope so.

Tom Gardner: Even if he doesn't there'll be other shows where we reflect back on some of the amazing interviews, for example, sitting in Spanish class. Father McBride, can you guess where I'm going with this one?

Mac Greer: I know where you're going with this. We don't have that clip, but we have another clip.

David Gardner: Fans of sir Bob. We won't give his last name. Fans of the man will be glad to know that we did cover that on a previous episode very Googleable, so it's out there but Mac doesn't bring back the same stuff each time, right Mac?

Mac Greer: Yes.

David Gardner: It's always something new from the deep vault of audio gold.

Tom Gardner: I've never heard you celebrate Mac like this. I think he's qualified in some way. Like finally this time, Mac. 

Mac Greer: I need no celebration. We have one more clip from that Loretta Lynn interview that I want to share where she talks about celebrities and their financial problems.

Tom Gardner: We're always done when we hear that someone like Billy Joel is filing for bankruptcy, how does that happen?

Lorretta Lynn: Who is that?

Tom Gardner: When we heard that Billy Joel.

Lorretta Lynn: Is he a rock and roller?

Tom Gardner: Yeah, well, he's got his rock and roll tuned. Maybe he's throwing a country song in there somewhere, but he's basically a rock and roller.

David Gardner: How about Willy Nelson? We hear Willy Nelson goes bankrupt.

Tom Gardner: How can Willy Nelson go bankrupt? Are there people taking advantage of these musicians?

Lorretta Lynn: Let me tell you what happens. They go spending their money on foolishness and they have a great time. I don't think I have to say more but this is what takes their money.

Tom Gardner: Now, Loretta, are you telling us that you've never spent a dime on foolishness?

Lorretta Lynn: Well, you know, after Doodad, about a year as goofy as heck, and so I'll ask the home down here at Hurricane meals and moved into a house I have in Nashville and I went out with my little granddaughter and she's crazy too. So me and her went out shopping and I bought a full-length mink coat. I've never worn that coat, never worn it. I guess I ain't been no place to have to wear it.

David Gardner: Foolishness, guys. I think she was using small f when she talked in that interview.

Tom Gardner: I got confused in that reference.

Mac Greer: My favorite part of that was debating whether Billy Joel was a rocker which I would say, no. I like Billy Joel, but I think no, he is not.

Tom Gardner: It froze me. I wasn't sure how to respond to that.

Mac Greer: It was a good question.

Tom Gardner: I was trying to recall if he had a country song.

Mac Greer: Well, guys sticking with music, we're going to move from Butcher Hollow, Kentucky to Dublin, Ireland. Bob Geldof's was the leader of The Boomtown Rats, which he started back in Dublin in 1975. He's perhaps best known for his humanitarian work with Band Aid and Live Aid efforts to fight starvation in Africa. He was knighted for that work by Queen Elizabeth. He's also an author and successful businessman. Now we have the chance to interview him back in January of 2002 and he talked about the challenges and starting a then music newspaper and how that led him to music.

Bob Geldolf: In the afternoons when I was trying to get this paper thing happening it was impossible. I tried to get 11 phone lines in because people had to phone in with their free ads and then I charged for the display ads. That was the game. I couldn't get 11 lines. I could get one line, so I was actually not 20, I was 19 so I went to see the minister responsible for telephones, who was a great Irish intellectual called Conor Cruise O'Brien, who's still is and one of our great writers, but it's typically are is that they get to be a ministry. Hello. I get to see Conor Cruise O'Brien and he said, "I think it's a great idea, young man," and I said, look, I'm taking 11 people off on employment here. He said, "I can do nothing for you at all. It's going to take five years to put 11 phone lines," and I said, minister, what do I do? He said, "Try and bribe one of the unions," so I actually did.

I called up two guys who appeared to be in probably two of the 60 unions who control telephone lines in my area and brought them out to this 3D lame dinner. Because I'd really didn't have much money. I'd never bribed anyone and I didn't know how to introduce the subject. I didn't have any money to bribe them with and they were saying, "No, there's no way we can put in 11 lines. We might be able to give you a one in two years." I said, "Well, lads, have you ever been to Benidorm?" Benidorm I don't know of an equivalent, but what's a really bad resort where families go really cheap, really tacky, really crap. Well, there's one in Spain called Benidorm and I said, have you ever been to Benidorm guys and they said no and I said, well, maybe you should go. Listen, I've got some tickets. You could bring the wife and they were just looking at me like I was completely nuts. 

Tom Gardner: Was that the first and last bribe of your life?

Bob Geldolf: Yeah, forget it. I was hopeless at this so that was the end of that. Hey, I went into music.

Mac Greer: That clip never aired on the radio show because for the NPR Show we had to take long interviews and edit them down so that's the first time we've ever aired that.

Tom Gardner: Wow, you edited that out.

Mac Greer: Yes.

David Gardner: But it reappeared.

Mac Greer: Yes. I know.

Tom Gardner: 20 years for that.

Mac Greer: That's how good Bob Geldof was, is there was just too much to choose from.

Tom Gardner: The many things that Bob Geldof is great at is naming children. Do you know the names of any of his children?

David Gardner: I don't.

Tom Gardner: Anyone like to take a shot?

David Gardner: Mac. 

Tom Gardner: Little Pixie Geldof.

Mac Greer: Little Pixie.

Tom Gardner: Peaches Geldof. Fifi Trixibelle Geldof. Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence Geldof.

Mac Greer: Oh my gosh.

Tom Gardner: Those are the four daughters of Bob Geldof. A creative genius on many fronts.

David Gardner: I just loved the minister telling him to bribe. I mean, just thinking quickly back through the 10 commandments. I don't remember. Thou shalt not bribe. I'm thinking that was legit.

Tom Gardner: It seems to me we should do a better job of celebrating people who are truly deeply intellectually engaged in the world around them. If you think of where the Boomtown rats, Bob Geldof and all of the things that he's chosen to be involved in. At any point along the way you could take another side of some position that he's taken. But there is somebody who has thrown himself into the world in an attempt to make it better. The aim of The Motley Fool is to make the world smarter, happier, and richer. I celebrate the foolishness of Bob Geldof today.

Mac Greer: Yeah.

David Gardner: Beautiful. This is definitely a cliche guys, but Bob Geldof 71 years young.

Mac Greer: Guys, as we wrap up baseball season gearing up, there's a lot of change with the 22nd pitch clock. It got me thinking about change agents in baseball. It got me thinking about an interview we did with baseball promoter Mike Veeck, the son of the legendary Bill Veeck. Now if you don't know the name Bill Veeck, he's best known for signing Eddie Gaedel in 1951. Gaedel was three feet, seven inches tall. He made one played appearance. He walked on for pitches. Now, Mike Veeck is Bill Veeck's son. He's the co-owner of several minor-league baseball teams. Well, he had his own creative attempts at marketing back in March of 2003. This month, 20 years ago, Mike Veeck talked about his most famous promotion, Disco Demolition Night.

Mike Veeck: In 1979, the White Sox, were not really a very exciting ball club to watch that, they had a rescheduled twinight doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers on July 12th. There was a disc jockey in Chicago, by the name is Steve Doll, who had started blowing up disco records on his morning broadcast on WLUP. The first time I heard it, I call him up. I said, would you like to do that in person? We schedule it for Thursday night, a rescheduled, a rainout, a twinight doubleheader, and invited everybody in Chicago to bring a disco record getting for $0.98 and 100,000 people came to 35th and then shields, 100,000 people.

We had 60,000 people inside, 40,000 people outside. After the first game, we blew up 12,000 Donna Summers records and KC and The Sunshine Band, which was great theater until 10 or 15,000 kids decided to appear magically on the field. As some of your listeners might imagine, it's very difficult to play the second game for doubleheader with 15,000 people on the field. We forfeited the second game thanks to a tremendous performance by Sparky Anderson. The next day I was gone. I didn't know what a slow news day meant until Friday, 13th of July 1979. But the date, shall we say was very appropriate. I didn't work again until I went to Tampa bay 20 years later.

David Gardner: A phenomenal thing to think back on. Mac, I really had forgotten Disco Demolition Night. I definitely remembered having Mike Veeck on. I think he'd written a book about how business should be fun or your corporate culture should be fun. That was our extensible reason for having him on our show back then, but yeah. Wow.

Tom Gardner: Anything that's going to blow up Donna Summer albums, I'm glad it failed. That never really resonated with me. The whole concept disco sucks. I just don't quite get that. Maybe I'm an island. I don't know, but that one I was glad that that one fell apart out there.

Mac Greer: I agree. I have a soft spot for disco. If a Bee Gee song comes on, I listened to it much to my wife's chagrin, but I have a soft spot for the Bee Gees.

Tom Gardner: Well, the Bee Gees may be an outlier. I think you don't have to love the Bee Gees to love disco. I remember at one of the Bee Gees apologized. This will be like 15 years ago. One of the Bee Gees bros came out, "I'm sorry for what we did."

Mac Greer: Mike Veeck, essentially, as he said, gets excommunicated from baseball. But he comes back and to his credit, or maybe to other people's chagrin, he is still at it. But this time, no disco, no demolition, it's a much quieter promotion.

David Gardner: Another Mike Veeck promotional idea, mimes performing incident replays between innings talks about that Mike.

Mike Veeck: That's my all time favorite. We hired five mimes. I didn't realize that in Central Park, mimes jump out of the bushes all the time. People don't kill them. They just are intrigued by them. We had a close play in St. Paul in the fifth inning, as I recall, five mimes jumped up on top of the dugout, recreated the closed play at first and there were 6,329 people sitting there in absolute stupefied silence. It was tanking beyond belief when suddenly a kid in the front row threw a hotdog, the crowd followed suit. Pretty soon they were throwing everything that wasn't nailed down at these mines in the seventh inning, they said something that wasn't mime like. We sold 26,000 hot dogs to a crowd of 6,000 people, which is gastrointestinal impossible. It was quite a night. The following year, we tried to come back with a mime is a terrible thing to waste, but the mimes will not come back.

David Gardner: What a fantastic storyteller Mike Veeck is. I was checking just to see how many majorly baseball games, by the way, have been forfeited. That doesn't happen very often, but on August 10th, 1995, the Dodgers gave out baseball's to paying customers as they enter dodgers stadium for a game against the Cardinals. The fans by the seventh inning, we're interrupting the game, throwing baseball's onto the field again in the bottom of the ninth. I'm reading that from Wikipedia. First Dodgers, batter Raul Mondesí was called out on strikes rejected by home played umpire. Tommy Lasorda runs out. He's abusing the empire, the Dodger fans fueled by a series of close calls, again threw their souvenir baseball's onto the field that Cardinals just left due to safety concerns.

Tom Gardner: I remember seat cushions at one point, some game everyone was throwing their seat cushions on the field generally. Probably a good idea to be very thoughtful about what you hand out to 28,000 people who also have access to concession stands. 

David Gardner: It's all coming down to freebies that you're giving people as they walk in your state and be careful what you hand out.

Mac Greer: That may not have been his most misguided idea in another part of the interview that we won't air. But he talked about vasectomy night and how the idea was that you would get a free vasectomy and that promotion never happened. In fact, it only lasted about an hour because the outcry was so intense. But I love Mike Veeck because he just goes for it.

Tom Gardner: Well, I would say Mike Veeck is an unbelievable promotional mind. If you think about it. I mean, maybe there is Veeck incorporated. I'm right now on his Twitter page, so I see that he has a Twitter account, but if anybody needs a promotional idea, obviously, that would have been a great subscription business for him to run. Just, what's your industry? What's your product? Who are you trying to reach? Then I'll just send you three ideas, and I recommend being very careful about all of them.

David Gardner: I love that well, we're very near the end of our time, but Mac, I asked you this last time, it was again about three years ago, just before the pandemic when we lasted Blast From The Radio Past. I asked you and I'm going to do it again right now Mac. Why did we do this week?

Mac Greer: Well, I don't know if my answer has changed much because I think everyone has a story and we're all about making the world happier, smarter, and richer. You hear these insights and you hear how people are thinking at the time. For me, it brings to mind that old adage about history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. Understanding history, understanding how people saw the future back in 2002, in 2003 makes us smarter today.

David Gardner: Love it. It also lets us show off a deep vault of audio gold. Tom in particular, Mac started rocking things that never aired. He's sitting on an even deeper vault than I realized.

Tom Gardner: It's a very powerful position to be in, to be able to select what you want to bring to the world. It makes me think that what we previously called The Motley Fool radio show, and where as it was built as the two brothers David and Tom Gardner. This is actually all been about Mac Greer. Mac Greer has been controlling everything that you've experienced in Motley Fool audio. That's why someone, please I plead with you to step forward and on behalf of Irwin Mainway, someone take on I'm leaving that mysterious people can Google Irwin Mainway and relisten to the show, the interview with the Blockbuster CEO.

Mac Greer: How do you spell Mainway?

David Gardner: M-A-I-N-W-A-Y, Irwin Mainway, and John Antioco AKA and listening to some of their voice, I heard some similarities there, but all of this could be brought together on a single URL,

Mac Greer: If someone buys, to me, that is both a sign of the apocalypse and it's a very bearish sign. It means we have more money to burn than we even thought.

Tom Gardner: Even Mac Greer himself won't purchase

Mac Greer: It's not worth it. I know the guy and he's overrated.

David Gardner: Well, one thing is for sure here, in conclusion, guys, I'm not going to let three years pass before we do this again. The fourth and our long-running beloved Blast From The Radio Past episodic series. Well, I want to thank my brother, Tom. Tom, thanks.

Tom Gardner: Look forward to seeing you again in less than three years.

Tom Gardner: I want to thank Mac Greer, our celebrated longtime producer, Mac. You made this show. Thanks.

Mac Greer: Thanks David Gardner, go Astros.

David Gardner: We three turn and thank you for suffering Fools gladly this week. Have a great week ahead. Fool on.