Radio Lessons #61 – 1311

1311 was an enormous year in human history.

For Christians, baptism has been an important religious ritual since before Christ; cleansing the newborn of the ‘original sin’ and allowing he or she a fresh start in life spiritually.

After the fall of Rome, the church rose to prominence and the practice gained even greater popularity. During the Middle Ages, as the Plague swiftly and mercilessly claimed a third to half of the population, new parents saw a desperate need to have their baby ‘ensured safe passage to heaven’ should it fall ill, as so many did.

Babies were rushed, literally hours after birth, to a Baptistery where the ritual was performed.

Leaders noticed a pattern. A few times a year the number of infant deaths rose dramatically. Naturally, they assumed it was a rise in sin amongst the population that was making God angry. It wasn’t. It was hygiene – or a horrible, lack of hygiene to be exact.

The practice of baptism, from the dawn of religion to 1311, involved fully immersing babies in Holy Water. Holy Water that was only changed every 3-4 months. Babies were rushed from birth and baptized in rancid, diseased water! After the water was changed, babies didn’t die for a while, until…. the pattern repeat itself.

In 1311, Pope Clement V, a new pope with an interest in science and a basic understanding of how nasty bacteria is; asked the council of Ravenna to change the law to allow sprinkling of the infant’s head during the baptism rather than full immersion.

The impact? Europe’s population grew 300% in the following 100 years. You may not be reading this if he hadn’t changed the ritual.

Sometimes you can make just one change, it may seem small and not overly significant in the moment, but it will cause a cascade of actions and reactions that will fundamentally change everything.

What is your 1311 moment?

Is it morning show, or a morning show player?

Is it a shift in music policy or a new benchmark?

Is it something the station or show has always done for no other reason except it has always done it?

Is it a promotion? A logo? A marketing campaign?

Try new things. Be prudent and tread carefully – but experiment until you find the winning formula.  The solution is not always clear, and the learning may seem obvious in retrospect – but that’s ok. It’s having the courage break paradigms and pave a new path that defines greatness.

Oh and spend an extra minute in the shower tonight, just because you can.

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