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September 13, 1996     Cape Gazette
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September 13, 1996

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BUSINESS & REAL ESTATE Cornerstone's "Sessions" features televised local bands By Dennis Forney What do you get when you combine a region rich in rock and blues bands with a top-flight pro- duction studio and a hungry "new rock" radio station? You can see and hear the answer on WMDT's channel 47 at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21. That's the date and time for the first airing of "Sessions", a half- hour television program, profes- sionally produced in Georgetown, focusing primarily on bands from the Delaware and Maryland beach areas and from Salisbury and Seaford. The first "Sessions" will feature Blue Junction, an Ocean City and Salisbury blues band, and the Sal- isbury-based rock band Taste. Over the course of the next thir- teen weeks, "Sessions" will fea- ture such bands as Tom Larsen, Love Seed Momma Jump, Blue Miracle, Red Letter Day, Geckos, Gingham Shmuz, Robert Light- house and many more. In addition to featuring the orig- inal music of the bands them- selves, "Sessions" will show off the audio engineering work of Dominick Mammana and the state-of-the-art audio and video production facilities and talents of Rick Greenberg's Cornerstone Media Productions in George- town. Out in front of the cameras, along with the bands, will be The Coast's (FM95.9) Gnuman [pro- nounced newman], host of the sta- tion's 7 p.m. to midnight "new rock" program. As part ot his broadcasts, Gnu- man features a segment he calls "Found 'Em First" spotlighting the original music of local bands. "It was Dom and Rich's idea to have me host 'Sessions'," said Gnuman, "because I focus on local bands. Our radio station decided to get involved in the pro- gram because we're hungry and innovative." Pete Weidlein also played a part in conceiving the program. The Coast, 95.9, put up money to get 'Sessions' under way, along with Cornerstone Productions and Parts Plus Auto Stores which also signed on as a prime sponsor. Together they've purchased WMDT's half hour time slot, from 11:30 p.m. to midnight - right after the Saturday night news - for 13 weeks of "Sessions". Cornerstone's production facili- ties include a high-ceilinged, black-walled, sound-proof studio with special lighting and back- drops and the army of micro- phones, cables, and cameras nec- essary to professionally record the live sessions central to the pro- gram. Adjoining audio and video engineering rooms house hun- dreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment necessary to bring it all together. The "Sessions" format will include an introduction from Gnu- man, two original songs from each of the two bands featured, and interview segments involving band members. Local clubs will also be fea- tured. Videos of the bands play- ing their songs will be shown to audiences in various clubs around the region and audience members will then present live comments on what they've heard. To make "Sessions" commer- cially viable, 13 advertising spots are available during the course of Dennis Fomey photo Shown in the studio of "Sessions" are 0-r) Dominick Mam- mana, Gnuman and Rick Greenberg of Cornerstone Media Productions. the program for businesses hoping to reach the audience Greenberg expects to be watching the pro- gram. "We have advertisers like Outten Brothers Furniture, Thompson Music, Ron's Mobile Homes and Redi-Call, and there are spots still available," said Greenberg. "Anyone interested can call us at 302-855-9380." "My goal," said Mammana, "is to promote unsigned local bands and get them the exposure they need to get a record deal. Rick wants to constantly improve his music video productions, and The Coast is hungry and showing the initiative. We think it's a combi- nation that viewers will enjoy and be good for all involved." Employees pass up valuable retirement benefits When you think of the role an employer plays in an employee's life, one may consider an employ- er as simply the person who pro- vides a way to earn a living. Employees today, however, tend to expect their employers to play a larger role, one that includes help- ing them to meet their retirement planning responsibilities. Employees expect 37 percent of their retirement income to come from their employers, the same percentage they expect their indi- vidual savings will provide, according to a recent retirement and financial planning survey. A vast majority (80 percent) of the 809 employees surveyed said their employers offered retirement and pension plans. Despite the wide availability of retirement plans, and their impor- tance as a source for retirement income, most of the employees said they do not participate in their employer plans to the degree they could. Only 67 percent of employ- ees who had a plan available to them said they participated in it. Eight in ten employees were eligi- ble to participate in their compa- ny's 401 (k) plan, but only two- thirds did. Is this the situation at your com- pany? Do your employees rely on you to provide a retirement saving vehicle, yet still you lack full par- ticipation in your plan? By exam- ining some of the data from two Merrill Lynch surveys, perhaps you can find ways to help employ- ees take better advantage of the retirement benefits you offer. Employer responsibility In the employee survey and a companion survey of 400 benefits managers completed in August, 1995, both employees and bene- fits managers said they believe that ideally retirement income should come in relatively equal proportions from personal sav- ings, Social Security and employ- er-sponsored plans. : Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. The rate of per- sonal savings in the United States averages only 4.5 percent of dis- posable income. It is estimated that baby boomers are saving at about 40 percent of the rate they need to in order to maintain their cmrent standard of living in retire- ment. Government benefits may not FINANCIAL FOCUS make up the difference for this generation. Few benefits man- agers have confidence that the Social Security system will pro- vide employees with the same lev- el of benefits as that of current retirees. An overwhelming major- ity of benefits managers surveyed (86 percen0 said they believe the government will eventually cut back on its Social Security and Medicare programs. Employers have a special responsibility to help employees meet their investment and finan- cial planning responsibilities. Employees must do their share; almost a third of employees lack a comprehensive understanding of available defined contribution plans, according to the managers surveyed. Employers, however, can help employees investigate options and participate knowl- edgeably in their retirement plans. Misunderstanding 401(k) The 401 (k) plan is among the most popular employer-sponsored retirement plans, yet a full third of the employees eligible to partici- pate in 401 (k) plans don't enroll, the employee survey showed. Benefits managers say the most common reason that employees do not participate is their belief that they do not have enough money to participate. The second most common rea-: son is lack of understanding of how the 401 (k) plan works. Man- agers said that nearly one-fourth agers said that nearly one-fourth of employees do not participate in available 401 (k) plans simply because they do not understand how the plans work. And, while benefits managers typically report that their firms match up to 15 percent of contributions, employ- ees believe that companies match only 8 percent. In recent years, employers report that they have expanded the range of employee investment options within 401 (k) plans. At least half of today's plans offer five investments, while half of the plans four years ago offered just three investments. An increase in choices can be to your employees' advantage, but only if they know how to make well informed investment choices. The tool of education With the continuing shift from defined pension plans to defined contribution plans, individuals have to make more investment decisions than ever before. Three- fourths of benefits managers responding said their firm's employees have the responsibility of selecting and directing their investments under company-spon- sored plans. But the employee survey revealed that many employees feel unprepared to make such choices. While 80 percent of employees said educational materials or assistance could help them make better investment decisions, more than half said their employers pro- than half said their employers pro- vide no educational materials. The recommended response for employers is to provide the kinds of educational opportunities and tools that employees say will help them make better choices. Employees overwhelmingly favor individual counseling and semi- nars as effective means of helping them make retirement and finan- cial planning decisions. Brochures, newsletters, video- tapes and audio tapes were also mentioned as helpful materials. Benefits managers agreed that seminars are the most effective means of communicating, but only 68 percent say seminars are frequently used. A full 76 percent of benefits managers surveyed listed manuals and brochures as their primary means of communi- cations, with personalized state- ments the second most used means. To remain competitive you or the benefits manager of your com- pany should also know what other companies offer in the way of benefits and services. You should strive to retain qualified employ- ees who have a keen understand- ing and appreciation of company benefits and can pass their knowl- edge on to newer or less experi- enced employees. Daniel D. Tidwell is vice presi- dent and resident manager of Merrill Lynch private client group, Rehoboth Beach. For more information call 227-5135. Daniel Tidwell