The celebration of our nation’s 246st birthday is a powerful lesson of focus, common ground, and emotion.

Over the last several decades in my other life, I’ve served as a semi-professional public address announcer for major league spring training and minor league baseball. That’s lots and lots and lots of dizzy bat races, seventh inning stretches, and National Anthem performances.

Do you know what I enjoy most? It’s when my voice is the cue for veterans and active service members to rise and be acknowledged for their sacrifice for our country. There is no applause that is louder.

What does that mean for your radio station?

A few years ago my friend Bryan O’Neal discovered that on your birthday you can take the ferry for free on the 26-mile journey from Long Beach to Catalina Island.

When you get there they give you a special birthday ribbon to wear. The moment you put on the ribbon you become special. Total strangers are transformed to friends with a “Happy Birthday!” greeting everywhere you turn.

But that’s not all. You see, Bryan isn’t the only one who knows about Catalina Island’s birthday promotion.

So every day of the year dozens and dozens of birthday boys and girls share Catalina Island with total strangers that just so happen to share the very same birthday. Of course they don’t come alone. Each has brought along family and friends to celebrate their big day.

So, not only did Bryan become special, his family and friends became special, and the other people with the same birthday became special, along with all of their family and friends. Instant community! … formed out of what could have been simply a bunch of strangers walking around an island.

My Pyromarketing friend Greg Stielstra puts it this way: “If you help your customers feel special, they won’t be able to resist telling their friends.”

We have hundreds of thousands of people that listen to our stations that have important things in common. Successful stations focus on those things. Celebrate those things. Invite them to stand and be applauded for those things.

We’re all Americans! That’s the reason that the cheer for the veterans is loudest.

Happy birthday, USA!