A while back, Bonnie had asked us to share our story with our nursing-based business. I guess I'm going to do just that now. Apologies for the long delay, Bonnie. I just knew that it was going to take a bit of time and emotional energy to write. This, indeed, is a success story! One with a very rich and sad history.
Warning: It's long!
My wife, Amy, and I are the proud owners of a small production company. This years marks its 10th anniversary of existance!
Since 1993, the nursing world has had a business friend called Muse-Med, Inc.
. Most people know us as "Too Live Nurse". TOO LIVE NURSE
(TLN) is the brain-child of two very talented people: Rick Glasener, RN and Robert (Bob) Diskin, RN. I guess around 1991 to 1992 they met each other by working in the same hospital. Rick, at that time, was an ICU nurse. Bob was either an ICU nurse or worked as an ICU float nurse. Rick, a musician, was interested in performing and getting gigs. Bob, prior to nursing, had a long history as an actor on stage, on television and in film. As a matter of fact, he held union cards for all three mediums (Actor's Equity, etc.). As most people involved with the performing arts know, getting steady work is tough in this business. Bob used to joke that it was his agent's idea to become a nurse. . . for steady income.
Bob had a nack for writing songs. . . in particular, writing lyrics. He was a genius lyricist! While in nursing school, Bob used to write lyrics to help him with memorization and understanding concepts. He wrote lyrics to drug information, microbiology. . . and ACLS protocols! Well, one day Bob got together with Rick and performed a few of his songs with their co-workers. Their co-workers gave them wonderful feed-back! It is my understand that a co-worker dared them into writing/producing an album of ACLS songs! They did!
So marks the beginning of "Rockin' to the Algo-Rhythms", TLN's most successful album to date! Successful in poplularity; successful in $$$$$!
So marks the beginning of Too Live Nurse!
Around that time they were producing their first "Rockin' to the Algo-Rhythms" album (there are, in actuality, three versions of this album, thanks to the AHA for updating the protocols!), they decided to incorporate! It was a fun joke in their eyes! It was a "Let's See if We Can Do It" kind of venture. So, in 1993 they contacted their lawyer friend who helped birth Muse-Med, Inc! Since that time, all business has been on the up and up! All taxes are paid. All royalites of non-original songs are paid. And, probably most importantly, all original songs are owned and copy-righted by Muse-Med, Inc. Why they chose to become an S-Corporation is beyond me. It would have made more sense and ultimately be cheaper to become an Limited Liability Company ("LLC"). But the S-Corporation is still in existance. . . stocks and all. Since that time, Muse-Med, Inc has made some pretty nice cash $$$!
Interestingly, shortly after produding their first "Rockin' to the Algo-Rhythms" album, the American Heart Association did a major change to the ACLS protocols! Enter Amy and myself! Around that time that Bob knew he had to re-write and re-record the album (the first album had only been out for about a few months!), he and Amy were involved in a musical theater production for a local community theater. She mentioned to him that I had a small recording studio . . . and that I was a relatively new RN (graduated in 1992). Bob, wanting to utilize as many RN's as possible in his new-found business, hired Zuul Studios (my recording studio's name) to help produce and record the newer "Algo-Rhythms" album. Amy was utilized as a back-up singer for this album. Since the later part of 1993, Amy and I have been involved with Muse-Med, Inc and all of its ups and downs!
Besides producing albums, TLN produces live shows. Bob was a performer at heart! Rick wanted to perform his rock music! As a matter of fact, for the longest time TLN was known as "The RN's of Rock!". The first few gigs were local. Bob and Rick performed pretty alone for these gigs. As TLN grew, Amy and I became more involved with the performing process. Although Rick and I were the "musicians" (Rick played guitar and I played keyboards), our "instrumentalists" were pretty much "canned musicians" coming from a CD and CD player which Rick and/or myself recorded specifically for live performances. Bob and Amy were the singers. (FYI, the singing is always live!) As time went on, it kind of became the Bob and Amy show! They worked well together on stage. . . both as TLN and in local music-theater productions. To Amy, Bob was her stage-performing "soul mate". Indeed they both looked and sounded good together; both with complementary performing and humor styles. Quite frankly, we all worked well together. As TLN matured, Rick and I took turns composing, arranging and recording the music (with Bob as the primary lyricist, of course), and we all had our "moments of 'diva' glory" on stage! Happily, besides selling albums (within a few years time, we had produced two more albums. . . both nursing-humor based), we were getting more gigs!
Enter the Journal of Nursing Jocularity
I can't mention Muse-Med, Inc/Too Live Nurse without mentioning the Journal of Nursing Jocularity
(or the "JNJ"). Around the time Rick and Bob was creating Too Live Nurse, a nurse by the name of Doug Fletcher, RN (who used to do E.R. nursing) was creating the "JNJ". The JNJ was a humor magazine for nurses! Not only did Doug/JNJ produce a magazine, "they" produced several humor-focused nursing conventions during this time period. Doug, through the JNJ, was instrumental in helping TLN grow and mature both as a business and as a performing group. I dare say that Doug and the JNJ was instrumental in helping to foster/advertise/"spot-light" a number of nursing humorists/performing groups which helped lead to their success. I'm hoping that some of you who read this thread will remember this magazine. It was one of a kind! During its hay-day, it reached over 20,000 to 30,000 readers/subscribers!
Thanks to Doug and the JNJ, TLN was getting more gigs! Many of the gigs were with "Nursing, Healthcare & Humor" conventions held by Doug and the JNJ. I hold precious memories of the JNJ conventions! We had a blast! And the crowds loved us! And we got more gigs (with other organizations) and we sold more albums! And we made some $$$! Who's Got the Keys?
At this point, I need to tell the story of Who's Got the Keys?
In all honesty, the "hay-day" for both TLN and the JNJ was the mid-1990's (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997). One important function of the JNJ was that it brought people together. In particular, nursing humorists. Around 1995 to 1996 a woman by the name of Georgia Moss, RN (a nursing-humorist who was involved with and contributed to the JNJ) had suggested, during one of the JNJ conventions, that a nursing musical-comedy be written. The TLN shows are basically mini-musical-comedies, so this was not a foreign idea to Bob. Doug Fletcher, being the man who likes to see ideas become a reality, thought it was a great idea! So a small army of us got together to write the world's first "Broadway Style" musical-comedy about nursing and the current state of healthcare titled, "Who's Got the Keys?". Although many minds helped create this musical, the official writers of this musical are:
Bob Diskin, RN; Doug Fletcher, RN; Georgia Moss, RN; Clifford Kuhn, MD; Larry Brennon, RN; Amy Fiebke; and myself (Edward Fiebke, RN).
This musical premiered at one of Doug's (the JNJ's) nursing humor convention held in Anaheim, California in early June of 1997. We performed this musical to a roaring crowd (receiving a standing ovation!) at the Grand Ball Room at Disneyland
where the convention was held! Truly, this marked a high point for most of us if not all of us! As composer/arranger and musical director, this marked a high point for my musical career! A lot of work went into writing, recording, producing, advertising and performing this particular musical for this particular nursing convention of the JNJ. Of note, the cast of 23 performers, with the exception of three people, were mostly Registered Nurses! WGTK was a success!
But not necessarily a financial success. Doug, unfortunately, spent a lot of money producing this musical. A lot more money than he imagined, I dare say. And although several hundred people came to see the show. . . and showered us with standing applause after the show. . . Doug was hoping (financially) for several hundred more audience members. Reality: A new show is a tough sell!
Despite a lack of financial success in 1997, it was clear by the audience reaction that the show had potential for further performances. After a major re-write of a couple of scenes, a decision was made to perform the show in a theater in up-state New York, near where Bob, Amy, Rick and I lived called The Theater Barn (a well known and well respected theater which was provided to us cheap. . . we know the owners!). Opening date for the 1998 production of WGTK was May 1st! Again, lots of promotion, rehearsing and production work went into play for this particular project. Ticket sells were going well! Most of the performances were sold out, as a matter of fact!
In an effort to sell more tickets and support a nursing rally in Albany, New York, Doug, Bob, Georgia, a perfomer by the name of Diane Rumsey, RN and a friend of Georgia's - Debra Woodbury- decided to travel to Albany on the morning of May 1st, 1998. The plan was to have Bob play a song or two from the show at this rally and help promote the show. . . and provide OUR support for this nursing rally!
To be honest though, we had tried to talk them out of going to this rally the night before. Dress rehearsal was a bear! Lots of fried nerves. Lots of pre-show jitters. Everyone was tired. Bob, as director and performer, was exhausted! That night, we tried desperately to talk them out of going to the next morning nursing rally. Ticket sells were great! People needed their rest. Bob needed his rest.
Still they went.
And on the way over, traveling to the f**king nursing rally, on May 1st, 1998, on the DAY WGTK was to open at the Theater Barn
, they were all killed in a dreadful car accident. "They" being: Bob Diskin, Doug Fletcher, Georgia Moss, Diane Rumsey, and Debra Woodbury.
Life sucks sometimes!
Needless to say, WGTK was cancelled that year. A lot of lives werre changed. Families were without mothers. Families were without sons & daughters, brother & sisters. Friends were gone. Co-writers to a wonderful show were gone. Fellow performers to a wonderful show were gone. Businesses were without business partners. Life Goes On
Life for Amy and myself was really hard for the few years after May 1st, 1998. On a personal note, I suffered a emotional break-down which I've never experienced before and hope to God I never experience again. I also went through about 3 jobs within a year's time to boot until finally settling down with my current job. Amy cried every day. . . for months. . . FOR MONTHS! She had her own emotinal break-down too. Gone were our friends, our business partners (Doug, Bob, Georgia and myself had formed a very short-lived company called Narc Keys, LLC
to produce, promote and handle all business affairs of WGTK.). Gone were our writing and performing buddies. Gone was a creative team that will never be duplicated.
Bob was especially close to us. A dear friend as well as a business partner. Interestingly, about three months before the accident, Bob had gifted us a percentage of stock into Muse-Med, Inc as a way of showing his appreciation for our years of support and creative contribution. Up until then, Amy and I were on the books as "hired hands". Because of this gift, Amy and I were actually business partners involved with the S-Corporation of Muse-Med, Inc. We were damned proud, grateful and happy for this gesture by Bob!
After the accident, business decisions had to be made. Rick wanted out of the business. Sadly, he wanted out BEFORE the accident. After the accident, he definately wanted out! So. It was either Muse-Med, Inc die along with Bob Diskin, or someone had to buy into and run the business.
On 2000 (don't remember the exact date) Amy and I became sole owners of Muse-Med, Inc and Too Live Nurse.
What happened to WGTK??? Well, a small group of use formed a non-profit company which produced the musical several times between 1999 and 2001! It really is a nicely written show! People who saw it loved it! Standing ovations after almost every show. Who's Got the Keys?
lives on. The humor of Doug, Bob, Georgia and Diane lives on! Any "profit" from this show goes to scholarships in their honor.
Our plan is to produce the show again within the next couple of years. It is a big production which does require a lot of time, energy and money. But we have the resourses and backing to produce the show yet again. It's just going to have to wait until Amy graduates from nursing school. Amy is now the director of the show. She's taken the show to new heights of production quality and laughter! Talented woman my Amy is! Talented crew of performers who loyally work with us when we produce the musical!
How is Muse-Med, Inc/Too Live Nurse doing??? Good question!
We're doing great! Admittedly, being a businessman is not my cup of tea. Amy handles most business issues including contract negotiations for TLN performing dates.
Since 1998, we've produced another album. It's actually an updated version of an already existing album titled Ineffective Individual Coping - The Second Edition
. We're still working on the next ACLS album titled, Rockin' to the Algo-Rhythms III
. It's been a slow process producing that particular album. Bob was the main lyricist. His talent is sorely missed with regards to writing lyrics. We're sloooowly getting it done, though. Hope to have it finished by this fall.
Oh. . . we're getting lots of gigs! Too Live Nurse lives on! We've got a least a half dozen confirmed gigs this year alone! Of course, there are two new performers for TLN. They are Richard Lapo, a good friend of ours and of Bob Diskin, and Ed Martin, RN. Both seasoned performers. Both very talented and very funny!
Lastly, we won an award!!! The Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH
) provided us the 2002 Doug Fletcher Award for Excellence in Therapeutic Humor. Other people who received this award are Patch Adams, the late Steve Allen, Sr. and Jerry Lewis! Bob Diskin's humor. . . our humor . . . is recognized and appreciated!
Our shows are ALWAYs warmly recieved. We make people laugh. Our crazy brand of humor provide stress reduction in the form of laughter for healthcare professionals! We're different than when Bob Diskin performed for TLN. But we're good. More polished, thanks to Amy talented writing and direction! I still write, record and musically direct the music. I'm also the "sound man" who sits in the back of the audience, listens, and makes sure my loving wife and the troupe sound good during the performances.
Despite the horribleness of May 1st, 1998, Muse-Med, Inc/Too Live Nurse is succeeding as a growing business. I would say that within the next couple of years, both Amy and I will have to make the ULTIMATE
business decision. Do we make this 100% full time?!?!?!? As we produce more albums and as we book more TLN shows, 100% Generated Income
from Too Live Nurse to our household is very, very possible!
Cheers to you all!
Ted Fiebke, RN - President Muse-Med, Inc/Too Live Nurse
P. S. Since 1993/1994, Too Live Nurse sold most of its albums via the internet. It is my understanding that we are one of the first few nursing-based businesses to utilize the internet in this manner. A nice piece of history to share with you.
Here's Cory, our business mascot!