I went to RadioShack (NYSE:RSH) on Monday for help fixing my radio.
I'd ripped its AM antenna. A RadioShack guy took one look at the tiny plug receptacle where the antenna had once connected and said, "We don't carry anything like that."
"What? RadioShack can't help me fix my radio?"
That's when the assistant manager, Trevor, noticed the needed plug was similar to one on a battery pack for a wireless phone.
Who knew a battery pack could be used as an antenna? I'm telling you. This guy was like MacGyver from the 1985-1992 action-adventure TV show, who could make anything out of anything.
Saturday Night Live's recent MacGyver parody, MacGruber, is more likely to come to mind when you think of the Fort Worth, Texas, has-been of a retailer. But Trevor saved my radio.
Now I can stay up listening to "Coast to Coast with George Noory," the overnight AM show that compellingly explores UFOs, ghosts, Bigfoot and other paranormal phenomena that I find more believable than RadioShack Corp.'s (RSH) turnaround story.
RadioShack should make Trevor its next CEO. Julian Day, who has been fumbling around with the electronics store chain since 2006, on Monday announced he would step down as chairman and CEO in May.
Jim Gooch, who is chief financial officer, will replace Day as CEO, as if Gooch knows what to do next with this struggling chain.
The management change followed a warning about fourth-quarter financial results that drove RadioShack's stock down as much as 13% on Monday. Go figure. Suddenly margins on wireless handsets are shrinking, and they didn't see it coming?
Still, I wouldn't write off Day and Gooch as total MacGrubers. They've kept RadioShack viable for years during a time when it should have gone the way of Circuit City. They've done battle with everyone from Best Buy Co. (BBY) to Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and remain standing.
I thought RadioShack would soon be out of business in 2006 when then-CEO David Edmondson resigned after the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that he'd lied about a college degree on his resume and corporate biography, and was headed for trial on his third drunken-driving arrest.
I had this same thought in September 2006, shortly after Day took the helm, when RadioShack informed 400 employees they'd be laid off, and did so in a blast email.
"The work force reduction notification is currently in progress," the email read. "Unfortunately your position is one that has been eliminated."
Somehow, this sort of efficient, technological progress never caught on. RadioShack might have done better in this economy had it changed its name to slashajob.com, where just one push of a button tells thousands of workers where to go.
Instead, RadioShack tried to change its name to "The Shack." No radio. Just shack.
Sometimes a name change is a good idea. In 1935, The Shack was called the "American Hide & Leather Co." It also used to be called Tandy Corp. And until the 1995, it was called Radio Shack with a space in the middle.
Unveiling the elimination of the space, then-president Leonard Roberts called it, "a bold, assertive and confident new Radio Shack logo that links together the two words: RadioShack."
I think the 2009 name change was supposed to be like, you know, Kentucky Fried Chicken becoming KFC. But changing the name didn't change the problem.
RadioShack's problem is that nobody knows what it is.
Is it the 7-Eleven of electronics retailers?
Is it just another strip-center shop selling mobile phones?
Or is it, as a reader recently suggested to me, a place for all your radio-controlled toy car needs?
Despite looming threats from big box electronics retailers as well as Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and other players on the Internet, RadioShack's stock has long levitated on takeover rumors. But with Day stepping down without a deal to announce, it probably isn't merger fodder, either.
At least, Trevor still knows what RadioShack is about. He'd be a much better CEO. At least he knows how to improvise and actually fix things.
(Al's Emporium, written by Dow Jones Newswires columnist Al Lewis, offers commentary and analysis on a wide range of business subjects through an unconventional perspective. The column is published each Tuesday and Thursday at 9 a.m. ET. Contact Al at email@example.com or tellittoal.com)