Monday, March 31, 2008

What, Me Wait?

If you are thinking that "one way media" will stage a comeback with under 30's (and older, frankly) once they get tired of all that downloading and social networking nonsense...think again.

Some highlights from this NY Times story:

We Want It, and Waiting Is No Option
By DAVID CARR

The need to hold media that you consume — the physical purchase — is going away ,” said Clay Shirky. Mr. Shirky is an adjunct professor at New York University’s graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program and the author of a new book, “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.”

...the Web is not competition for traditional media, but a completely different system that empowers both groups and individuals, a place where choice is not only an option, but an imperative.

...the idea that someone would buy a physical object that contained a finite number of songs arbitrarily selected by someone else seems quaint.

“Forget 15-year-olds; my 4-year old saw a show on broadcast television at our baby sitter’s house and asked to see it again when she went back there,” Mr. Shirky said. When told it wasn’t on television right then, she asked, ‘Is it broken?’ ”

“Storytelling is a hard problem that is cognitive rather than technological,” he said. “It requires a specific set of skills, and there are business models that enable storytelling, but maybe don’t require the whole manufacturing or broadcasting business that goes with them.”

...
It
seems silly at a time of hulking, glorious in-home entertainment centers to watch a show on a 13-inch laptop...

“It’s the classic quality-is-king mistake,”
he said. “Remember what audiophiles said about MP3, that it would never last because the quality was not there. But
past a certain threshold of quality, most normal people don’t care. The ability to share files was actually far more important. Good enough was good enough.”

So maybe changing the equation isn’t so much a matter of throwing out old media as adjusting to hybrid models that enable an infinite inventory on a digital shelf — embracing, rather than trying to control, choice.

While this article doesn't specifically talk about radio; there is so much of this article the applicable to radio. Our business is the ultimate "one way" medium and unless we continue to work towards unrestricted interactivity our fortunes will continue to shrink.

Everything we do going forward must be focused in two areas: entertainment (not just 10 songs in a row with limited interruption) and on-demand content & connectivity that our fans can access anywhere, anytime.

This seemed worthy of repeating......
the idea that someone would buy a physical object that contained a finite number of songs arbitrarily selected by someone else seems quaint. In our business the "physical object" is our radio stations. If we are to continue to play the hits (yes, the hits are the hits) we have to offer something more. Entertainment content will not please everyone, but without it the non-stop music machine will continue to erode...pleasing fewer and fewer listeners since they can get those hits on-demand--elsewhere.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Is Your Website Good Enough

...to win the 2008 best radio website award from the Web Marketing Association?

here's what they are looking for:
  • Design

  • Ease of use

  • Copywriting

  • Interactivity

  • Use of technology

  • Innovation

  • Content

The radio award is one of 96 industry specific categories. Check out their site for all of the entry details Web Marketing Association

Here are the past Best Radio WebAward winners:
2007 Avenue A | Razorfish XMRadio.com
2006 BubbleUp Ltd. Radio Margaritaville
2005 Bonneville Intl. Corp Classical 102.1 KDFC
2004 live365 Live365 Internet Radio
2003 WBCL Radio Network WBCL Radio Network

International judges from a wide variety of industries and positions will be judging the competition.

Is your your site ready to be judged? Win or lose, the most important thing is a content rich site that complements and enhances your unique station brand.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cramer On Clear Channel

This afternoon on Cramer's Stop Trading feature on CNBC he talks about the Clear Channel deal and what he thinks might happen. He thinks that the banks buyers remorse will not hold up in court. It's an interesting piece given Cramer's recent pontification on the value of the radio broadcast industry.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Where The Twitter Watch Never Stops

Do you Twitter? People are Twittering right now--down the street and around the world and you can watch it all take place in real time.

Take a journey with me to Twittervison 3D. Watch the globe spin to locations around the world and see what people have to say and what they look like (if they posted their photos).



Maybe you're in Las Vegas...see what your neighbors are Twittering with a street level map.


A few things came to mind as I was looking at this on my computer screen.

Wow, now everyone can be "big brother."

Don't write anything you wouldn't want someone/anyone to see.

And to bring it into the radio world...if we can get real-time Twitter reports down to your neighborhood; why can't we get accurate radio ratings? Maybe the future of radio ratings is just a widget away?

40 Years In The Future 1968-2008



Doing a little blog surfing and ran across a very fun site. Interesting article from 1968 about what our lives would be like in 2008. Read on...

40 Years In The Future

The single most important item in 2008 households is the computer. These electronic brains govern everything from meal preparation and waking up the household to assembling shopping lists and keeping track of the bank balance. Sensors in kitchen appliances, climatizing units, communicators, power supply and other household utilities warn the computer when the item is likely to fail. A repairman will show up even before any obvious breakdown occurs.

Computers also handle travel reservations, relay telephone messages, keep track of birthdays and anniversaries, compute taxes and even figure the monthly bills for electricity, water, telephone and other utilities. Not every family has its private computer. Many families reserve time on a city or regional computer to serve their needs. The machine tallies up its own services and submits a bill, just as it does with other utilities.

Money has all but disappeared. Employers deposit salary checks directly into their employees’ accounts. Credit cards are used for paying all bills. Each time you buy something, the card’s number is fed into the store’s computer station. A master computer then deducts the charge from your bank balance.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I Read the News Today-Oh Boy....

Clear Channel Buyout In Trouble (Reuters)


Report: Clear Channel Deal Collapsing (AP)


Clear Channel Deal Is Close to Collapse (WSJ)

Today, one has to feel badly for the employees of Clear Channel--they've had better days. Much better days. After enduring wave after wave of cuts one has to imagine that many were anxiously awaiting the potential closure that the privatization deal promised. Not that there were any guarantees mind you, but certainly the hope of a new chapter. Some were hoping for a payday from their company stock purchases, 401k contributions, and stock options. Something that looks very uncertain now.

Today, one has to feel badly for all of us in the radio business. If this deal ultimately fails, it will hurt our industry--and bad. If the biggest radio company with some of the most famous stations in the US can't make it happen what will be of the value of radio properties across the street?

What do today's events tell us about the future? What will become of the largest group of stations? Will it be business as usual? [Whatever that means in 2008]

Right now, there are more questions than answers, but I suspect we will learn a lot more about what it all means before the "end of the first quarter."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Marketing and Product Converge

Here's a worthwhile slideshow I encourage you to read, digest, and SHARE.

Kudos to the creator, Ryan Moede of the socialmediaworx blog. He is a Digital Media Strategist at Viget Labs and has created a wonderful slideshow that illustrates today's marketing and product realities.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Chrysler Motoring Forward


Chrysler has announced it will be bringing in-dash internet to Chrysler products...fast.
Initially the user will need a wireless phone subscription to access the Internet, because the system relies on the signal from cellular towers. The company hopes to provide full coverage without a separate mobile phone line in future, however.
But there is more to this story. It's not a radio story, but one of how a troubled company in a troubled industry is changing how it operates and deploys new ideas and technologies.
Working and thinking like a small company is how Chrysler hopes to weather the current economic storm. We told you just last week about Chrysler’s plan to implement new technologies and product updates on-demand rather than waiting for product refresh cycles, and now it looks like one of the first implementations of the fast-moving method with be the addition of in-car web access to its lineup.

Chrysler hopes to be the first maker to sell vehicles equipped with on-the-go access. BMW announced its own in-car Internet access plan in late February this year, but will only be rolling web-enabled cars off its assembly line at the end of 2008, and even then only in Europe. Rather than wait for its factories to gear up for the production, Chrysler will be sending the units straight to the dealers to be installed. Once the factory installation is ramped up, they will take over for the dealers, according to the Washington Post.

The move is not just focused on bringing extra features to Chrysler cars, but also to Chrysler dealerships. Robert Nardelli, Chrysler CEO, said “We’re aggressively moving to capture more of the customer service and parts business by focusing on what dealers need to increase their profitability.”

Bravo!

Chrysler is the first US automaker to jump into what will be a rapidly growing segment of standard equipment--in dash internet. And while that's a story by itself; I think it is noteworthy that this old line company, under new management, is adjusting its operational mentality to try to be nimble and responsive. A move that could change the company's fortunes going forward.

It takes courage and vision to make these moves...the same two words that need to fuel the radio industry in the months and years to come.

You can read this and other motoring stories at Motor Authority

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I Can't Resist!

With all of the radio folks, myself included, bloviating about Cramer's radio comments I shamelessly bring you the Mad Money widget!

If nothing else, try the sound board.

Add Widget!

And The Winners Are...

AT&T, Verizon and Echostar and NO Google.

Get ready, the march of nationwide high speed wireless rolls on.

Airwaves Auction Winners Named
Thursday March 20, 9:52 pm ET
By John Dunbar, Associated Press Writer

AT&T, Verizon Wireless Dominate in Record Airwaves Auction
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The two largest cell phone companies dominated bidding in a record-setting government airwaves auction, according to results released Thursday.

AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless combined to account for $16 billion of the $19.6 billion bid in the auction, an Associated Press analysis of Federal Communications Commission data shows. Verizon Wireless bid $9.4 billion and AT&T $6.6 billion.

The results raised concern that the auction failed to attract any significant new competitors to the cellular telephone market to challenge the dominant companies. For example, Google Inc. was not among the winners, meaning the search engine giant will not be entering the wireless business.

One new entrant, Frontier Wireless LLC, owned by direct broadcast satellite television company EchoStar Corp., won nearly enough licenses to create a nationwide footprint. Frontier bid $712 million, according to FCC data.

The spectrum was made available thanks to the nationwide transition to digital broadcasting. The hope is that consumers will benefit from more advanced wireless services such as high-speed Internet access. The money raised will be used to help public safety programs and offset the federal budget deficit.

There's more details available just click here for the rest of the story.

It's interesting that even with it's deep pockets and a never ending hunger for expansion Google didn't make the cut.

Think about what has developed thus far in the wireless world and then close your eyes for a moment and imagine what the media landscape is going to look and SOUND like once these licenses turn into reality.

Maybe it's not the best idea to close our eyes. Way too dark and scary in there.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Biggest Concert Events Are Right Here!

At CITIBANK of course!!!

It's not a new phenomenon, American Express has been doing event promotion for years. Tied to my Citi Credit Card I got this email offer today:

Private Pass is your exclusive access to the best entertainment.

When it comes to electrifying events and VIP treatment, Private Pass is your ticket. Citi cardmembers can select from a wide variety of categories, including concerts, dining, sports, shopping, and more. Check out all the premium events at www.privatepass.citi.com

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Jonas Brothers - $29.99 Fan Club Membership Offer and Pre-sale Tickets!

Jonas Brothers
Official Fan Club Membersp OfOer and Pre-e-sale Tickets for Upcoming Summer Tour


Citi cardmembers can purchase memberships to the official Jonas Brothers Fan Club – Team Jonas - at the special offer price of $29.99!

Team Jonas membership includes an exclusive welcome gift, frequent contests and giveaways (including meet & greets with the band), behind-the-scenes and backstage video of the boys, and the chance to buy four concert tickets per membership before seats go on sale to the public.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Duran Duran - Pre-sale Tickets For Citi Camemembers!

2008 RED RPETEMASSACRE NoNorth American Tour
Pre-sale Tickets for Citi cardmembers

After an unprecedented 10-show run on Broadway, and the release of their latest critically acclaimed studio album – RED CARPET MASSACRE - musical innovators Duran Duran announced details of a 22 date North American tour that will begin in Vancouver, Canada on April 29th and end inew York witith two spectacular ccertr at Centralal Park’s Summerstage at e e end of May.

Citi cardmembers get exclusive access to pre-sale tickets in select markets.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Chicago & The DoobiBrothehers – Pre-sale Tickets!

Chicago & The Doobie Brothers
Cheadadlining Tour


Get accesto o tickets rst tith your CiCiti credit card! Exclusive pre-sale for Citi cardmembers is available now in select markets.

Two of America’s longest running and most respected classic rock bands join forces for a 2008 summer tour!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Poison – Pre-sale Tickets!

Poin 200808
Live Raw & Uncut Summer Tour
With Special Guests Dokken a Sebebastian Bach


et t access tickecs first witwith your Citi credit card! Pre-sales for Citi cardmembers in select markets begin Thursday, March 20th at 10AM local time.

The summer tradition continues with Pon’s “s “Live Raw & Uncut Summer Tour” with special guests Dokken and Sebastian Bach!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mary J. Blige & JAY-Z – MARY J. BLIGE & JAY-Z – SPECIAL EVENT AND NEW PRE-SALES ADDED!

SPECIAL EVENT: JAY-Z Dress Rehearsaerforformance
The Fillmore Miami Beach, March 21

Use your Citi credit card to purchase tickets to a solo JAY-Z dress rehearsal performance at The Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleasoneaterter in Miami Beach, FL on Friday, March 21.

Mary J. Blige & JAY-Z
Heart of the City Tour


New shows have been announced in Atlantic City, NJ and Denver,. G Get access tockeckets first thete shows witwith your Citi credit card. Pre-sales for Citi cardmembers begin Thursday, March 20th, 10AM local time!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
True Colors Tour – Prale Ti Tickets Availablow! w!

Truolors Tour ur 2008
Cyndi Lauper
The B-52Joan Jet
Joan JetJett & The Blackhearts
Wanda Sykes
and host Carson Kressley
Plus spec be guest to be announced!


Get access to tickets first with your Citi credit card! The True Colors Tour will hit the road again this summer wing an excitinp ofw line-up of legendary and up and coming artists.

Pre-sale for Citi cardmembers live now for shows in Houston, TX at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on June 21st and in Dallas, TX at Superpages.com Center on June 22nd!
Something for nearly everyone.

A couple things struck me about the Citi offer:

How cool it would be for the average person to have access to these events without having to jump through hoops to get it despite having to pay for it.

And how it seems that over the last few years special events like these seem to have dramatically declined or disappeared from the promotional arsenal at radio stations. Just my perception of course. I'm sure there are stations doing great events. It's certainly not possible to know every station and every market.

Surely the changing relationship between radio, the record folks, and the concert promoters has been a major factor. Not to mention the "Spitzer Chill" that befell the industry not long ago.

Seems like a good time to post a new poll...please take a minute and let your opinion be counted.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Imagine When It's Really Portable

Arbitron and Edison Media Research pre-released their annual Infinite Dial 2008: Radio’s Digital Platforms study today with some compelling stats:
  • 13% of all Americans 12+ have listened to on-line radio during an average week: 33 million up from 29 million. Nearly a 14% increase in just one year.
  • Social networking sites have attracted 24% of all Americans (those who have a profile on social networking sites) and nearly two-thirds (63%) of on-line radio listeners have a profile on sites like MySpace, Facebook, Linked-In and others.
These numbers paint a very conservative, yet vivid picture of what the media landscape is likely to look like in the years to come. Dare I say, going forward it will be difficult to be in the radio business without being on-line--streaming, social networking, connecting listeners with clients in new and creative ways, etc.

This is not going away, it will only get bigger and more omnipresent. Take these numbers to heart and prepare now for the inevitable and exponential growth that is just around the bend.

Movies Without Pictures

No Joke!
At-work listening? That appears to be the target of this website. Nearly 1500 movie titles already available. The player comes complete with a stealth button which replaces the player face with a spreadsheet.

Am I missing something here?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Have You Heard Of Hulu?

Meet Hulu...
Movies, TV, and a social networking component all in the same place-on demand and FREE!
From their website:

Hulu's ambitious and never-ending mission is to help you find and enjoy the world's premium content when, where and how you want it. We hope to provide you with the web's most comprehensive selection from more than 50 content providers including FOX, NBC, MGM, Sony Pictures Television, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, and more to deliver premium programming across all genres and formats, television shows, feature films, and clips. Watch full-length episodes of current primetime TV shows such as The Simpsons and The Office the morning after they air, classics like Miami Vice and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and clips from Saturday Night Live, Nip/Tuck, and others. Hulu also offers full-length feature films like The Usual Suspects, Ice Age, Three Amigos!, and The Big Lebowski as well as clips from films such as Napoleon Dynamite, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Devil Wears Prada and many more. Hulu is free and ad-supported — available anytime in the U.S.

Hulu was founded in March 2007 and is a joint venture owned by NBC Universal and News Corp. In addition, Hulu has closed a $100 million investment from private equity firm Providence Equity Partners. <--------yes, the same people that just bought Clear Channel's TV division
The selection is pretty amazing and they add new content every day. If you missed SNL Saturday night, no problem it's on the site the next day. Bill O'Reilly's Talk Points Memo, no problem, there it is. Available to share on your website, email, or link. As you will see later in the post you can even edit a show down to a short clip that's easy to share.

I haven't watched a movie yet, but the TV shows have very short commercial interruptions that seemed like a small price to pay for all this for free. Sounds a lot like the radio model--except for the length of the breaks. You can also buy any episode or movie you like enough to own.

Traffic to Hulu has been growing fast; already attracting hundreds of thousands of unique users.

Content is king and Hulu has amassed of lot of it including WKRP in Cincinnati. Check out this hilarious clip...I laughed 'til I hurt.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Friday Chuckle

Posted on You Tube from budmanandbooger

Thursday, March 13, 2008

No HD Radio Spin

I hate writing about HD Radio. Why? Because there's really not much more that can be said. Thus far, the free market has spoken. Virtually nobody cares. It's like beating a dead horse. Could it turn around? Ahh sure, anything is possible.

OK, so why bring it up? Good question.

My friend and former colleague Mark Ramsey, President of Hear2.0 and Mercury Radio Research, was at the Radio Ink convergence conference in San Jose and wrote an excellent post on this very subject and I thought I would share it with you. The conference was more about what can and should be rather than what never was.

From Mark Ramsey and hear2.0:

Black Friday for HD Radio

This week's Convergence conference in San Jose was a terrific gathering of broadcasters and their partners who feel radio's best days might very well lay ahead. No sticks in the mud, these. Rather, folks with brains and vision and a plan, or at least the hopes of developing one.

This was no place for spin doctors and conventional wisdom. So I was not surprised when Kurt Hanson spoke on radio's future with an emphasis on radio's inevitable future on the Internet.

Nor was I surprised when Kurt veered left to discuss - and dismiss - HD Radio.

What fascinated me was the reaction.

Any room full of broadcasters is full of HD radio doubters, nowadays. But the vibe in this room was remarkable for the eye-rolling and audible snickering that greeted virtually any mention of HD.

Kurt disassembled HD's premise by dividing the total number of radios now in circulation by the markets in which those radios live and other relevant assumptions (I did something like this a while back myself). He arrived at the conclusion that the average HD radio advertiser in any given market could reach more prospects by standing at the bottom of their driveway and handing out fliers.

In a panel session immediately following Kurt's, the lone iBiquity spokesman filibustered on his talking points, spitting one after the next, but the effort seemed surprisingly desperate. You could almost hear the sweat forming on his brow as he reiterated his case, oblivious to the thrashing that had just occurred.

Although he described himself as Kurt Hanson's "evil twin," the feeling in the room was that he was at least half right.

It left me feeling that a corner had been turned. That broadcasters understood new media presented scores of new opportunities, few of which had anything to do with selling newfangled radios to consumers who don't want or need them.

This should create great hope for those of us in radio: Hope that good ideas really will rise to the top. Hope that we're too smart to be taken in by pyramid schemes. Hope that those with a vested interest will be revealed for what they are. Hope that those with the interests of broadcasters and listeners and clients at heart will create the kind of future those constituencies demand and deserve.

All along, HD radio was designed as the industry's counterpunch to XM and Sirius. As the satellite titans near a merger (which I do believe will happen and could come any day now) in order to save themselves, as satellite's control over one pocket in the dashboard accelerates, as another pocket opens up for all-things-Internet, HD radio will rapidly dim into obsolescence like the technological also-rans which preceded it.

All technology is transitional, but some never make it to the transition.

In this new media world, opportunities are actually less about "convergence" than about emergence. Chaotic storms of passion bring audiences together. Their whims and tools and discussions allow them to take the driver's seat. We are and always will be in service to them.

HD radio was always about what the industry wants, not about what consumers want. That's why it was doomed to fail from the start.

And, unless there's some remarkable consolation prize embedded into the satellite radio merger decision, that day shall be Black Friday for HD radio.

Encouraging!

Today CBS Radio launched a new top 40 station in Houston and from the story/press release on All Access it looks like they had all their ducks in a row--HOT 95-7 will launch with a full complement of digital applications, including streaming audio, text messaging, online communities, podcasts and downloads.

Rumors become reality as CBS jettisons Smooth Jazz KHJZ/HOUSTON in favor of Top 40/Mainstream HOT 95-7 under OM/PD JEFF GARRISON.

In addition to the on-air programming, HOT 95-7 will launch with a full complement of digital applications, including streaming audio, text messaging, online communities, podcasts and downloads. Listeners can log onto www.hothitshouston.com for the complete interactive experience.

GM LAURA MORRIS, said, "We've built HOT 95-7 for the listener. We don't pick the hits; they do. Every hour, listeners can vote for the top hit of that hour and we'll play the song at the top of the next hour. We'll do that 24 hours a day ... it's the first and only station we know of giving listeners that kind of control."

GARRSION added, "We're about today's new music, celebrity artists, pop culture, lifestyle and trends ... whatever is HOT now. We're online, on demand and in touch with the pulse of the next generation of radio listeners."
Nothing on the website appears to be "under construction" and the stream worked well including the interactive "vote for your favorite song" function. Very nice! For a station looking to attract a young audience these enhancements need to be standard equipment.

I'm not here to shill for CBS Radio, but instead to use what appears to be a smooth launch as an example of what is necessary to do it right in 2008. Now, I only listened to the station for 1 piece of imaging and 2 songs, so I won't comment on the programming.

And...

Another Smooth Jazz station bites the dust. Subtracting a handful of still-successful SJ stations the format looks like it's cratering. Yes, it's been aging for a number of years now and yes, the format strayed from one of it's original mantra's of being not only smooth, but fresh and yes, the definition of what made up the Smooth Jazz coalition has shifted. But no, the format which adds a unique and historically successful flavor to the radio dial doesn't have to die.

More on that another day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Social Media Not a Fad


That according to Disney President and CEO Bob Iger. Broadcasting & Cable Magazine has the story on-line today. Iger was addressing the attendees at the McGraw-Hill Summit in New York.

He criticized media executives for their skittish view of the multiple-platform approach to delivering content.
“Brand managers look at technology with a deep-rooted aversion,”

“People take a protectionist view of it, but we’re projecting the brand versus protecting the brand.”
And check this out:
Iger spoke of using technology to “completely change the perception” of the Disney brand when he took over in 2005. He forecasted $1 billion in digital revenue for Disney this year, up from $750 million in 2007.
Quite impressive for an old-line company to project 25% revenue growth in a very important sector of their business.

But here's where Iger shows his true understanding of where things stand in today's media world:
Iger stressed how social media was far from a Gen X or Gen Y fad, but in fact a part of everyday life for children. He said the computer will soon supplant the television as children’s screen of choice. “In the years ahead, broadband on the computer will be the primary source of entertainment for kids,” he said. “It’s just as important to them as the TV set now.”
And I would go so far to say that the word wireless should be included when talking broadband. One also could project that the traditional "computer" for today's kids will not be the typical box we use today and manifest itself in a much more portable form...maybe hand held and portable? Exactly.

As you read through this it's hard not to draw the many parallels between Iger's vision and plan for Disney and what the radio industry needs to accomplish.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who Should Own Radio Stations?

From the same Dow Jones story reporting on the Clear Channel deal and the company's future comes this:

Last summer, Reps. John Dingell, D-Mich., and Edward Markey, D-Mass., chairmen of the House Commerce Committee and of the Telecommunications Subcommittee, respectively, expressed concern in a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin about the increasing role of private equity in media consolidation.

And Michael Copps, the senior Democrat on the FCC, has repeatedly stated his misgivings about the number of deals in which private investors have been involved.

My question to Mr. Copps and to our distinguished representatives in Washington is, who should own radio stations? They don't seem to care for the public market and they have "misgivings" about private equity--who's left?

The Future of Clear Channel

Dow Jones reported today that managing director Richard Bessler of T.H. Lee Partners went before the House Telecommunications Subcommittee and gave us all a glimpse into what Clear Channel will look like in the future.

"Clear Channel Communications Inc.'s (CCU) future path would be "best served" by focusing on fewer radio stations in fewer media markets"...

...said in prepared opening remarks..."that he thought Clear Channel would do well by deconsolidating itself".

"This streamlined approach, in our view, enables Clear Channel to more efficiently deploy and market its digital offerings in the face of competitive challenges from other digital platforms."

Sounds to me like Clear Channel will be a vastly different and smaller company once the deal closes. After reiterating that he expects the deal to close the market responded by sending shares of CCU up more than 6%.

What will be sold off, what he means by "more efficiently deploy and market digital offerings," and what it means for the remaining terrestrial products is not clear. But what we can be sure of is that more bone-crushing change is afoot.

12 years after consolidation began in earnest we are now starting to see the unwinding of some of these deals and I believe many more to come. Only time will tell if this turns out to be a good or a bad thing. Some would argue it could only be good; but I say temper those sentiments until we see the end results. My hope is we see investors come to the table with the desire to make a lot of money(I am a capitalist after all), but, also a desire to rethink, reinvigorate, reinvest in the medium that is capable to engage one's mind in ways a picture can't. To quote that cheesy network radio commercial, "people judge you by the words you use."

I don't know about you, but when I hear a voice on the radio (or podcast) the first thing I try to imagine is what that person looks like. I'm always wrong!

Happy Anniversary


It was 10 years ago the first mp3 player was released by a tiny Korean company. Soon to be followed by countless others, some of which you may be familiar with. Of course, this invention ushered in a new era in portable on-demand music that changed everything! (not to minimize broadband speed and an infinite amount of content--free and otherwise on the 'net)

From Engadget:

Odds are, you take your iPod or Zune for granted. You probably don't think about the crazy technological advancements we've made, but take a ten-year look back at the world's first MP3 player -- the MPMan F10 -- and you'll get a sense of just how far we've come. Manufactured by Korea's Saehan Information Systems, the device was launched in March of 1998 at CeBIT, and went on sale in the Summer through Eiger Labs for $250. The player featured 32MB of flash memory (which could be upgraded to 64MB via mail-in scheme), connected to PCs via parallel port, and had a miniscule LCD for playback info -- but it laid the groundwork for the tech we have today. Following the MPMan's release, Rio unleashed its PMP300, which received a warmer reception and all-but eclipsed the F10's status as "first" amongst players, likely due to the company's well-known (and groundbreaking) legal battle against the RIAA. Still, first is first, so help keep the MPMan's rich history alive, and celebrate its ten-year anniversary this month with campfire songs and story-telling. Check out the archived read link of the original Eiger Labs site for a wild and wacky trip through time.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Brand Yourself

How one presents themselves plays a huge role in shaping what others think of you and determines how they interact with you. How we communicate, both verbally and through our body language, greatly influences our success or failure.

With all of the changes taking place in our industry I thought this video had some helpful guidelines on effectively communicating YOU--your personal brand. Whether you are employed or looking for your next opportunity I think it's worth viewing. The video is hosted by communications coach, Carmine Gallo and was originally published on BNET.

Click here to watch the video

Sunday, March 9, 2008

In-Dash Web *update*

A few weeks ago I wrote about BMW beginning to offer in-dash internet service in Europe and one can assume here in the US a short while later. The service will be provided and billed directly by BMW. It's fully functional and as this video demonstrates, there's little it can't do. Let's go to the video tape courtesy of CNET

video

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Evolutionary Commoditization

I was reading an article by the CEO of a business consulting company named The Imagine Companies. There was a paragraph I thought was pretty powerful and worthy of sharing:

Commoditization is the evolutionary process that reduces all products and services to their lowest common denominator. The Commoditization Trap is the situation businesses find themselves in when their focus is mainly on the product or service they offer instead of a quantifiable difference between their product and their competitor’s.

Let's use music radio as an example:

Focus = the music

Quantifiable Difference = what's in between the music

Competitor's = every other way to hear one's favorite songs

Click here to read the entire article.


Friday, March 7, 2008

What's A Chumby?

From Their Website:




For $179.95 (shipping included) this device appears to do everything except brush your teeth for you. Internet radio content is provided by Shoutcast which features thousands of Internet only and terrestrial radio stations.

Can't speak to how it works, but if it does even half of what they claim and does it well this could turn out to be a popular device. To my eyes this may be the first wifi clock radio that doesn't have that "just out of the lab" Heathkit look.

Yes, I called it a clock radio because that is what it will be replacing on the nightstand.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Year Was 1978

And WYNY (now Hot 97) was a successful AC station in New York and every Friday night (at midnight) they aired a special show.

*A Talk Show*

Dick Summer was the station's late night jock, and once a week he did a pseudo quiz show called MOUTH VS. EAR--he would have his studio filled with a cast of characters (The Mouth) and they would take on the listeners (The Ear). It was a very fun show. Can't tell you what the ratings were, but I can tell you I listened every week. I even called in with a question! Hey, for a kid in high school wanting a career in radio this was a big event.

It's hard to imagine this type of show being on an AC station today--even at midnight. A Friday night show with no music...fagetaboutit! This wasn't the stations only foray into non-music, entertainment programming. WYNY was where Dr. Ruth began her hugely successful sex advice show on Sunday nights that later went national.

Maybe it's time to start thinking about going back to the future. Is it time to be, as my favorite news anchor Shepard Smith likes to say, "fearless and unafraid?"

Dick Summer has a website, blog included, and he posted an old aircheck of MOUTH VS. EAR. Check it out. It includes an intro from his podcast, clips from the show, plus I did a little editing for us ADD radio types.


video

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Change

That's the big buzz word this political season. We've heard it before and this year is no different. When one reads the polls or sees "man on the street" interviews on TV that's the central theme time and time again.

Of course we need change...the world is fluid and requires constant change just to keep pace. Change is inevitable. Of course, positive change isn't always so easy to achieve.

Now, let's put that in the context of radio. Radio is certainly changing as we all have experienced or witnessed over the last number of years. What has this change yielded our industry?

  • Lower revenue
  • Less risk taking
  • Fewer people
  • Shorter time horizons to achieve success
  • Fewer stations deliberately targeting listeners that are the future of our industry (12-24)
  • Chasing future PPM riches with more Oldies stations
  • Public market rejection
  • Individual radio stations as a commodity among clusters
  • Belief that the "music machine" concept will save us
There's more, but you get the idea. Please understand, I am not suggesting that the industry itself caused all of these issues--we are experiencing a change in the natural order of things. My questions center around our reactions and actions.

When is the good stuff going to start to happen? Is it going to happen at all? If it does, will it start at the top or will it happen from the bottom? Who will have the courage to be the "agent of positive change?"

I just hope it happens. I have my doubts, but yet remain optimistic that out of the fog a resilient and growing radio industry will emerge on my cell phone, computer, dashboard, and yes through that big stick in the sky.

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend (also in radio) and I was laying out the schematic for a new format that I believe would have a good chance for success. In fact, I have three new formats developed that I believe could work. My friend told me I was naive to believe that creative, fresh, new, and UNPROVEN would have any chance in today's environment. Of course, he was 100% correct.

I am undeterred. I am in the business of creative, fresh, and new. There's still plenty of success to be had with the tried and true...all I am saying is let's take some of those less successful commodities and give something new a chance to work.

Before you say it, yes, there have been new formats launched that have been successes. How many of those new formats were based in the current day and not a new version of oldies or talk the way its always been done? Right.

innovation + creativity + time + funding = a new chapter of success for radio?

I believe so.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Internet Is A Copy Machine...

And central to much of radio's problems.

I discovered the blog of Kevin Kelly-The Technium and wanted to share some of his words with you. Who is Kevin Kelly?

"Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine. He helped launch Wired in 1993, and served as its Executive Editor until January 1999. He is currently editor and publisher of the Cool Tools website, which gets 1 million visitors per month. From 1984-1990 Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a journal of unorthodox technical news. He co-founded the ongoing Hackers' Conference, and was involved with the launch of the WELL, a pioneering online service started in 1985. He authored the best-selling New Rules for the New Economy and the classic book on decentralized emergent systems, Out of Control. "

These three sentences illustrate radios problems--particularly MUSIC RADIO:

When copies are super abundant, they become worthless.
When copies are super abundant, stuff which can't be copied becomes scarce and valuable.
When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.


I think this makes a great deal of sense.

He goes on to say:

In a real sense, these are eight things that are better than free. Eight uncopyable values. I call them "generatives." A generative value is a quality or attribute that must be generated, grown, cultivated, nurtured. A generative thing can not be copied, cloned, faked, replicated, counterfeited, or reproduced. It is generated uniquely, in place, over time. In the digital arena, generative qualities add value to free copies, and therefore are something that can be sold.

How much of this type of content is on our air or websites?

Here are the eight keywords he refers to:

*Immediacy
*Personalization
*Interpretation
*Authenticity
*Accessibility
*Embodiment
*Patronage
*Findability

These eight qualities require a new skill set. Success in the free-copy world is not derived from the skills of distribution since the Great Copy Machine in the Sky takes care of that. Nor are legal skills surrounding Intellectual Property and Copyright very useful anymore. Nor are the skills of hoarding and scarcity. Rather, these new eight generatives demand an understanding of how abundance breeds a sharing mindset, how generosity is a business model, how vital it has become to cultivate and nurture qualities that can't be replicated with a click of the mouse.

In short, the money in this networked economy does not follow the path of the copies. Rather it follows the path of attention, and attention has its own circuits.

Careful readers will note one conspicuous absence so far. I have said nothing about advertising. Ads are widely regarded as the solution, almost the ONLY solution, to the paradox of the free. Most of the suggested solutions I've seen for overcoming the free involve some measure of advertising. I think ads are only one of the paths that attention takes, and in the long-run, they will only be part of the new ways money is made selling the free.


He closes his essay with the following:

There is still a lot to learn. A lot to figure out.

Let me close this post by saying: there is still a lot to learn. A lot to figure out. I tried to pluck out some of the key points from his article and present the gist of his message for these time-crushed times. The eight keywords have full text and explanation in the article. I urge you to click here and read the entire piece-time well spent.

I would love your feedback on this and everything I write in this space-agree or disagree. All opinions are welcome. Thanks for the dialog.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I Wasn't Surprised

When the news broke on Friday about the sweeping major market changes taking place at the former ABC, now Citadel stations I wasn't surprised. It was hard not to see it coming.

You can rest assured this is not the last of the radio industry downsizing.

Our rapidly changing landscape combined with shrinking revenue call for change. But what are we changing to?

Let me suggest that whatever that change is it include the following four attributes:

  • Creativity

  • Curiosity

  • Connectivity

  • Interaction

Take a moment and apply each of these attributes to whatever you think is hot, cutting edge, viral , or whatever. If its good content, these words work every time.

If radio stations have good content, these words will work every time.

And attract listeners.

Can You Afford Not To Be Podcasting?

As I sat down at the keyboard to write a post on why every radio station should be podcasting; I decided that first I better do some research and unearth a few stats to support my forthcoming arguments.

You already know that podcasting is still in its infancy and you also know that it is expected to experience exponential growth over the next few years.

I ran across an interesting piece that suggested that podcasting was most like the print media (huh). They also pointed out how radio, unlike nearly every other media, is not an on-demand entity (hmm). Yes, you can turn it on any time and get something coming out of the speakers, but not specific on-demand content. You can see where I am heading with this. Check out the article from EndgamePR:

Seven Ways that Print Media is like Podcasting
Mar 2nd, 2008 by Steve

Something occurred to me today. While there are obvious similarities between podcasting and the broadcast world, in many, many ways these two types of social media are actually more like print media than radio or television.


Here is a list of seven ways that print media is just like podcasting:

1) There’s no governing body in the United States that regulates who can own a newspaper or magazine.
The reason for this is that anyone who wants to can start a print publication. If you like, you can run a newspaper or magazine from your mother’s basement. Ironically, this is the stereotype of a podcaster or vidcaster … a guy living out of his mother’s basement.


2) Newspapers and (particularly) magazines can fill a very small niche and be successful.
Think of all of the special interest magazines you’ve seen. I’m sure you’ll find one for people with chronic ingrown toenails if you look hard enough. Podcasts, meanwhile, are almost by definition a niche medium.


3) Once you publish something in print, it’s out there forever.
With the exception of reruns and a couple of other situations, radio and TV broadcasts hit the airwaves once and are gone forever. Newspapers, magazines, and podcasts can stick around forever if you have enough storage.


4) Magazine and newspaper readers can choose to subscribe.
Readers subscribe to the print publications they want, and it’s delivered right to them. If they prefer, they can skip subscribing and just go out and get it themselves. This is a huge similarity with audio and video podcasting.


5) Magazines and newspapers are extremely portable.
You can easily take your newspaper or magazine to work, the gym, or even into the bathroom. You can do these things with radio, but it’s pretty tough with television unless you’ve got a small portable … and my eyes aren’t good enough to see those tiny screens anyhow. Plus, once the digital TV broadcast switch happens in the U.S., all of those portable TVs that use “bunny ears” are going to be paperweights anyhow.


6) Magazines and newspapers are available when you want to consume them.
Television has solved this problem with DVRs. Traditional radio … not so much.


7) Magazines and newspapers are easy to share.
When you’re done with a magazine, you can give it to the guy or gal who has the cubicle next to yours at work. If you like a podcast, you can email the link to a buddy. Try to do that with a traditional radio show.



Interesting observations.

Are you creating content good enough to compel listeners to download you?