Saturday, March 28, 2009

Change of venue for Society of Professional Obituary Writers Convention

The Society of Professional Obituary Writers will still hold its 2009 Convention April 23-25, 2009, in Charlotte, N.C.

But the venue has changed. The new convention site is Dunhill Hotel, 237 N. Tryon St., Charlotte, N.C.

It's around the corner from Mert's Heart and Soul Restaurant - about a 1-minute walk according to Google maps - where the convention kickoff dinner will be held April 23.

To register for the convention, go to

To get a special convention rate on a room at Dunhill, contact Leah Collier at

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What could it mean?

This morning I received an e-mail from a woman in the military asking this question: "What does (MBBF) mean after a child’s name on an obituary?"

Any ideas?

Thank you.

Larken Bradley

Friday, March 13, 2009

Slight change in SPOW Convention speakers

Scott Karp, CEO of, will speak at the 2009 Society of Professional Obituary Writers Convention instead of Josh Korr, a Publish2 editor.

Online reservations now available for SPOW Convention

Picking up the telephone is no longer the only way to reserve a room at the 2009 Society of Professional Obituary Writers Convention hotel.

Residence Inn has provided a direct link for us, which includes the code for the SPOW rate, or as the hotel calls it the "Pro Obituary Writers" rate.

Everything you need to know is on our Web site's Convention page. The hotel stuff is near the bottom of the page.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Obituary channel approved in Canada

CRTC approves obituary channel
Quebec entrepreneur seeks backing to bring death notices and tributes to the small screen

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
March 11, 2009 at 1:00 AM EDT

GĂ©rald Dominique is hoping there's room on Canadian airwaves for yet another specialty channel – one that would be all death and illness, all the time.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has for the first time approved an application to move forward with a channel dedicated to paid obituaries and notices of illness.

The French-language channel, which would air in Quebec, amounts to a TV version of the paid death notice pages in newspapers, giving families the chance to have sound, music, photos, video, text and other testimonials broadcast about their loved ones.

Mr. Dominique, 44, the Quebec entrepreneur behind the plan, first applied for the channel last summer and hopes to title it Je me souviens, or “I remember.” The phrase is also the official Quebec motto.

“The goal of this channel is to tell stories,” Mr. Dominique said. “How many stories are lost all over the world each year? Great stories about people's lives. Those are the stories we hope to tell.”

Mr. Dominique believes some 56,000 Quebeckers die each year. With baby boomers aging, he thinks that death – and the services that go with it – is something of an industry on the rise, inadequately served by existing tribute and memorial services.

“I felt the need to do more,” he said.

He said the TV death notices will cost about the same as they do in newspapers, and hopes one day to extend the service in English to the rest of Canada. The concept may also include longer-form obituaries – features done on public figures and aired at no charge to their families – as well as the paid classifieds.

Although offering the chance for multimedia memorials, Mr. Dominique anticipates the majority of notices will be text only, displayed on screen and read aloud.

“The service would be dedicated to the broadcast of obituary notices, notices of hospitalization and messages of thanks and prayers, mainly in alphanumeric format, that would be read on air,” the CRTC approval notice reads.

After being granted CRTC approval on Feb. 26, Mr. Dominique now hopes to find a financial backer, and sign a deal with a cable distributor before a launch.

“I would need some help,” Mr. Dominique said. “But if the planets align, I should be on the air in July.”

In addition to paid notices, Mr. Dominique got CRTC permission to run six minutes of national advertising in each hour, although he'd asked to run local and regional ads.

The concept of a 24-hour channel devoted to death and illness notices first came from Europe. Etos TV launched last year in Germany, offering TV and Web-based death notice services, and was billed as the first station of its kind.

According to European media, it cost about the equivalent of about $16-million to launch, backed by a group of German funeral directors.

But Canada's directors have no part in Mr. Dominique's initiative. Suzanne Scott, executive director of the Funeral Service Association of Canada, said her group has discussed backing a single website devoted to online memorials – of which dozens operate independently – but never a TV station.

“It's going to be interesting to see whether it does have legs, because I don't foresee people sitting there everyday and watching,” Ms. Scott said. “But to have it on television, are you going to say: ‘Watch Channel 247 at 4:57 p.m.?' I don't know.

“I'm not sure it's something people in Canada are going to jump on, but I could be completely wrong.”

With a report from The Canadian Press

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Convention speakers, Registration form, Hotel reservations

We've got information for you about speakers, registration and hotel reservations for the 2009 Society of Professional Obituary Writers (SPOW) Convention at the Residence Inn Charlotte Uptown, 404 S. Mint St., Charlotte, N.C., April 23-25, 2009.

Let's mention the hotel reservations first, as the deadline for making them at a discounted rate is March 23.

The hotel is holding a block of suites for SPOW for Thursday through Saturday, April 23-25, 2009. All suites have such features as fully equipped kitchens and high-speed Internet access.

Studio and one-bedroom suites have one queen-sized bed with a single sleeper sofa. Two Bedroom Suites have one queen-sized bed in each bedroom and a single sleeper sofa.

Special SPOW Convention rates are $109 per night for studio and one-bedroom suites; $149 per night for a two-bedroom suite. Rates quoted include complimentary breakfast, but do not include tax. Hotel tax is 15.25%, parking is $10.00 and both are subject to change.

Guests are responsible for making and paying for their own rooms. Write to if you'd like to share a suite and split the cost with another convention goer.

Reservations must be made by phone. Convention attendees should call 1-888-511-5087 and request a room with the Society of Professional Obituary Writers no later than March 23, 2009. All major credit cards are accepted.

Convention sessions will be held at the hotel. Room rates do not include convention registration.

For convention registration go to our Registration page at:

The event starts with a Thursday evening get-together at Mert's Heart and Soul Restaurant. Meet at the hotel lobby between 5 and 6 p.m. for shuttle to Mert's for dinner at 6:30 p.m.

Professional development sessions are set for Friday and Saturday. On Saturday, the 2009 SPOW Awards for obituary writing will be presented and the convention should end by 3 p.m.

Cheryl Carpenter, managing editor of The Charlotte Observer and a Poynter Institute writing-coach lecturer, will be our keynote speaker.

Matt Comer, editor for Q-notes Online, the Carolinas multimedia LGBT news source, will address handling online obits and will participate in a roundtable discussion on diversity.

Scott Karp, CEO of Publish2, will speak about link journalism. Register for a free Publish2 account at Register by March 31, 2009, and learn how to become eligible for valuable prizes. For sweepstakes details, go to: .

Tim Bullamore, a freelance obituary writer for such publications as The Daily Telegraph of London, will discuss his obits-related doctoral work at Cardiff University.

Gerry Hostetler, our local host, will talk about how her career evolved from obits clerk to obits columnist for The Charlotte Observer.

More information is available at the SPOW Web site - Additional details will be posted there and here on the Obituary Forum blog - - as they become available.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Paul Harvey and "the rest of the story."

Obituaries for Paul Harvey, the legendary seemingly immortal radio reporter/commentator who died Feb. 28, 2009, at age 90, were published and broadcast across the United States and likely around the world.

Radio and television obits featured audio of Harvey's distinctive and familiar voice giving his signature sign on - "Good morning, America. This is Paul Harvey. Stand by for news."

They also offered Harvey's "jump" to Page 2 of his stories - "And now the rest of the story" - and his sign off - "This is Paul Harvey. Good day."

But countless newspapers with Internet presences missed the opportunity to make their online versions of Harvey's obituary more meaningful to the public.

Because of the marvelous means of multimedia available to them, they can no longer forgive themselves for not providing online readers with samples of audio and/or video of people like Harvey.

Kudos to the New York Times for posting links to easily accessible audio (WGN Radio) and video (YouTube) of Harvey delivering news stories his way with facts followed by his point of view.

And kudos to WGN for a Web page full of some of Harvey's most poignant reports and familiar phrases, as well as excellent radio obituaries by Doug Limerick and Gil Gross, comments from colleagues and listeners and much more.