Planata Advertising & Design
Once a full service advertising agency and web hosting service, I’ve now semi-retired PA&D to an in-house creative design agency. While not trying to be too busy, I’m still working in-house for some great organisations and companies—keeping their brands active across whatever media platforms are appropriate.
I started my career in cable television, working alongside cable pioneers as the Advertising & Marketing Director of Vision Cable in New York and New Jersey. On weekends I was the “Jesus Freak” air personality, Steven Joseph, on NBC’s WYNY-97FM. As the cable industry consolidated, I then moved into radio sales at New York’s 970-DJ. But it was falling in love and starting a new family in Luxembourg that brought Planata Advertising & Design to the Grand Duchy. – Steve Planata
I love television. It was only natural for me to be in cable television. I did everything from door-door sales all the way up to being a system level Advertising & Marketing Director. I got to be on the ground level of cable advertising sales. I orchestrated land rights to build cable plant through the backyards of wealthy homeowners. I was privileged to participate in the launch of pioneer cable channels such as CNN, MTV, ESPN and so many more! I was interviewed by TV Guide. I helped put together the 1-800-OK-CABLE marketing cooperative in New York, which later spread nationwide. I loved being a part of creating the technology for being able to deliver targeted advertising simultaneously across New York metropolitan cable systems. I never wanted that career to end, but the consolidation of the industry during the Reagan deregulation era unfortunately happened to a lot of people.
I was involved in radio from college on. While working at my university radio station, I decided to cut a demo for a radio show featuring the new music that was emerging from the Jesus Movement of the 70’s. I had heard that New York’s NBC FM station was flipping their format from news to music, so I sent the demo to them. Within a few days I got a phone call from the PD of the station asking me if I could start that weekend! Masterpeace aired on WYNY-97FM for ten years.
In addition to Masterpeace, I was producing radio programming for a number of ministries. These shows included:
- Power Radio in Saarbrücken, Germany
- Tell Them, for the FGBMF
- HarvesTime, for Harvest Church in Greenwich, CT
- Promotional spots for Bethany Church, NJ
Masterpeace ended at WYNY around the time the station changed format to Country Music. A new door opened up at the CTN Cable Network, where I VJ’d Contemporary Christian Music videos for another ten years on the television show PoweRock.
After a long absence, I briefly returned to radio at New York’s WWDJ 97, where I served as an account executive.
Advertising & Design
My very first piece was designing a mock record album cover in a fourth grade art class. We were given packs of fancy papers, foils, and transfer lettering. The good result blew the mind of the art teacher, and it was then that I learned I had an eye for this sort of thing.
Long before I ever got into the business, I was designing posters for local rock concerts, church bulletins, and a few newspaper ads. All of that experience came to my benefit when I was working at Vision Cable. The sales manager had me do the weekly ads in the local papers and soon after upper management moved me up to the Advertising and Marketing position I held for about a decade. This gave me lots of hands on knowledge of the industry. Major agencies such as Grey Advertising and Ogilvy & Mather where trying to learn all they could about the new medium of Cable TV. The flow of knowledge went both ways, as I learned the business from some of the best advertising minds in the industry. I honestly learned more from these associations than I ever learned from my books at university!
Upon relocating to Luxembourg to be married, I continued the work—free lancing and consulting for some of my former cable television clients in the States. The business then started to transition to local clients in Luxembourg, and Planata Advertising & Design was the result.
A profitable “sideline” during my cable days, I recorded many a voiceover on radio and television ads. Most of the ads were for a production studio in NJ, but I was also called on at the radio station, and voiced some of my own projects as well. I probably would have liked to continue doing voice work in Luxembourg, but I unfortunately do not have a good proficiency of speaking any of the local languages well. I am sorry about that.
My first computer was a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A. It taught me what I needed to know about personal computers. I had already learned Cobol and Fortran from my college days, so it was a real treat to experiment with this.
Once the Mac Plus came out, it was game over. I was a certified Apple fan not only because the Mac was amazing, but because it was revolutionising my workflow at the cable company. Just owning the Mac may have actually been another reason why I moved up so swiftly at the company. In any event, I’ve owned quite a few Apple products in my life, and I’ve had little disappointment from any of them. Unboxing a new Apple device is always a treat. The day the iPhone was introduced—words can’t describe the wonder!
Raised in a church family, I knew what church was. And I knew that church wasn’t exactly relating to the world we were living in at the time. I was saved at the age of ten, and I loved Jesus—but church—not so much. When the Jesus Movement began in the 70’s, I was drawn right into it. I went to Christian coffee houses, attended street rallies, promoted local Jesus Music concerts, and began the Masterpeace radio show on Y-97. The church was turned upside down, and for a time, the world was paying attention to it. What had been a primarily exclusionary place, all of a sudden started to break down the barriers to belief. Everyone started to feel more welcome at church. The church hymns were replaced with choruses of contemporary music. Woodstock-like events became commonplace. It was one of the most amazing periods of growth for the modern evangelical church. Long hairs, short hairs, and shirts & ties were all coming together at church. The only change that was demanded was a change of heart. It was beautiful.
I still love Jesus, but today’s evangelical church troubles my heart. I truly don’t understand what it is trying to do to itself now. The barriers appear to be going up again. (There are of course, wonderful exceptions.) The evangelical church appears to be demanding conformity to a conservative lifestyle in order to belong. The music is becoming less relevant again, and hymns are coming back to scare the politically correct public away. The marketing of the church to the outsider is becoming harmed by conservative politics that are being raised up as a barrier to belief. I actually saw a quote from a well known evangelical leader who said that it is not possible for a liberal to be a Christian. To him I say, yes it is. The outsiders and believers are liberals and conservatives and independents. To position the church as a bastion of conservatism, is to remove more than half the potential reach from any effort to bring the good news of Jesus to the world.
“The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.” ― Frank Lloyd Wright