Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In Case You're Interested

Mel Karmazin made appearances on Opie and Anthony and Howard Stern Show to discuss the now completed Sirius/XM Merger.

Thanks to the always excellent New York Radio Message Board for the audio links!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

50 Years Ago This Year: The Birth of the INTERNET

This is a fascinating, detailed, and a great read (and listen).

Thought I would share this story from Vanity Fair.

How the Web Was Won

Fifty years ago, in response to the surprise Soviet launch of Sputnik, the U.S. military set up the Advanced Research Projects Agency. It would become the cradle of connectivity, spawning the era of Google and YouTube, of Amazon and Facebook, of the Drudge Report and the Obama campaign. Each breakthrough—network protocols, hypertext, the World Wide Web, the browser—inspired another as narrow-tied engineers, long-haired hackers, and other visionaries built the foundations for a world-changing technology. Keenan Mayo and Peter Newcomb let the people who made it happen tell the story.

by Keenan Mayo and Peter Newcomb July 2008

This year marks the 50th anniversary of an extraordinary moment. In 1958 the United States government set up a special unit, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (arpa), to help jump-start new efforts in science and technology. This was the agency that would nurture the Internet.

This year also marks the 15th anniversary of the launch of Mosaic, the first widely used browser, which brought the Internet into the hands of ordinary people.

Add Magazines To The List...

Of declining traditional media.

As reported in

Friday, July 25, 2008

AM on FM - More Evidence

As the spring 12+ ratings roll out I tend to glance over the numbers in the trades. I seem to gravitate to the markets that I have been involved with--which over the years has been more than sixty. So when the Providence, RI numbers rolled out I was taken aback to see WHJJ-AM so far behind WPRO-AM. PRO-AM was at the top of the ratings, #1, and 'HJJ down at 14th.

History: WHJJ-AM was a station that Bill Hess (now VP Programming at Air America) and I resurrected some years ago from mostly paid programming to respectability with compelling local shows and a top notch news department. [I think even the PRO-AM guys would admit that WHJJ was a strong competitor back then.] Success came 25-54, besting PRO more than a few times. Never could overcome the power of the Red Sox, however!

So what's driving Pro to the top of the ratings? --Something that has not happened since Salty Brine was the morning man. F-M baby!!! It should be the next big thing...for AM News-Talk stations. And in some markets in might be the only thing to save them.

Markets like Washington, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Indianapolis and others have had success migrating their heritage AM stations to FM, sometimes as in the case of Providence--an AM/FM simulcast, or simply launching the format on FM like has been done in Boston and here in Minneapolis. Of course, public radio has been broadcasting, news, talk and information for years on FM. And in many markets very successfully.

Over the next number of years we will see every market with a N/T station on FM. I think there's room for more spoken word formats on FM--lots more. And it will happen. Maybe not out of desire, but necessity. In most markets the AM band is a road less traveled and much older than FM (and that's aging too). This trend is not likely to change.

There will be more hybrids--music and talk formats mashed up together. Talk shows that play music and music shows that talk. In many ways this philosophy flies in the face of current thinking and is opposite of what a research tool such as a format finder might indicate. Remember, people can only adequately react to what they know and it's simply unrealistic to expect an average person to be able to imagine, "what if" when it comes to something they have never heard. Additionally, how people say they behave isn't always a mirror image of what they actually do when nobody is watching.

If you are operating a station that is the fifth or sixth station "hyper-focused" on targeting women 35-44 or men 30-39 and achieving so-so results the day will come when your best option might just be to reinvent, create and succeed with something you never imagined could be. It takes guts and vision. That is for sure.

There in no hugely successful business person I know of that has not has his/her share of failures. I like to say, "if you haven't failed you wouldn't recognize success."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fairness Doctrine Poll Results

Final Poll Results:

Smaller, Disposable, Lots of Potential Applications

Paper-based transistors could end up powering disposable electronics, paper displays, smart labels, smart packaging, bio-applications, RFID tags, among other things.

Sometime in the not to distant future devices like the iPod will look clunky. The amount of processing power that will be able to be produced in a mini-micro environment will continue to accelerate. As fast as the technological advancements have been the fast lane has only recently been paved.

Very intriguing.

The full story here

Monday, July 21, 2008

HD Radio

How many HD radios were sold in 2007?



(embarrassing, but I don't want to say that)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Not Your Average Radio Guy

Howard Stern has done what few radio talents have achieved during their careers--gotten super rich. So rich in fact that CNBC's High Net Worth show did a feature on Howard and soon-to-be wife Beth Ostrosky. (See the video below)

No sour grapes here. Just admiration for a guy who started out with a dream of being on the radio, worked really hard, had talent, had a vision, found his UNIQUE space, and had a good agent. A little good luck didn't hurt either.

You may be thinking, given the state of the radio industry today that achieving Stern level success is a fool's game. I think not. Despite the cuts, the all-music formats, and the gloomy outlook I believe the days of superstar radio talent are ahead of us. In the years to come as music becomes even more commoditized radio will be FORCED to look to talent to keep the medium alive and thriving. The specific delivery system won't matter.

Sure, some of this superstar radio talent may come from Hollywood--stars taking to the microphone and trying to make the difficult transition to radio. It's way different talking live for 3 or 4 hours than scripted TV talk shows, sitcoms, or movies. Casting will be key. Look at "failed" Whoopi Goldberg--she tried to make the move to radio and it didn't go so well. From the beginning I thought she was miscast. Whoopi's strengths did not mesh well with breakfast table happy talk; instead she should have been dishing strong opinions and politics mixed with her unique comedic skills. Now, we have a show!

Don't think for a minute that there are enough celebs to fill all of the hours with great entertaining radio. Tomorrow's star will be coming from many different places--including local talents who have a knack for comedy, conversation, information, and engagement. What's special about your personality? Can you write? Can you connect? How are you different from everyone else? Those with the answers might just get the big break.

Here's a hint: even if you are currently in a tightly regulated format take some initiative and start producing entertaining podcasts on your own. Start a personal blog. Share your podcasts on iTunes and other podcast distribution sites. Take your future into your own hands. See the forest through the trees as they say. (***before enbarking on a blog and podcasting endeavor make sure you are not violating your current employers rules***)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What Store Would You Go To?

Here's a Riddle:

You want to buy an got to the mall and there are two stores about 100 steps apart...both stores are selling the same item for the same price...the only difference between the stores is the one has a line 50 people deep and the other has no line at all. What store would you go to?

If we were talking about anything other than an Apple 3G iPhone the answer would be simple. But since we are talking about Apple and iPhones don't count on too many people going to the AT&T store.

Read on for a story of unbelievable brand loyalty to Apple, the iPhone, and the Apple stores that sells them. Can you think of anything else that evokes this kind of passion.

Blog post from Engage in PR

Brand Loyalty Can Be Blind

I’m preparing for a long drive from Boston to Austin with the dog starting this Friday and want to make sure that I’m properly stocked up, which meant a trip to the mall yesterday to purchase a FM adapter for my iPhone. I figured that the best place to purchase said product would be at the friendly Apple store at the CambridgeSide Galleria in the People’s Republic (funny only to folks from the area, sorry). Obviously I’m aware of the iPhone mania happening right now, but figured it had been more than a day so things would go smoothly.

There was a line about 50 people deep at the Apple store and according to the folks inside it had been like that since opening on Saturday. Each person was waiting up to three hours or more to get the iPhone 3G. Fortunately for me they had created a separate line for those folks and those of us with iPhone classic, a Mac or, shudder, an iPod, could go right in and do what we needed to do. Ten minutes later I’m walking out of the store still giggling to myself at the people in line, but also understanding it a bit as an iPhone user and lover of 2.0.

Here is the rub folks…100 steps from the Apple store was an AT&T store with a HUGE display of iPhone’s waiting to be bought and ZERO people in line.

My wife was the first to notice and we both laughed a bit at the insanity of waiting in line at the Apple store for the same phone you could have at AT&T in four less hours. Sometimes brand loyalty is blind, but in effect that is the power of proper branding. When you do it correctly you create a systemic need for people to be with you, buy from you, support you and defend you. It didn’t matter to those people that they were waiting hours for the iPhone; they wanted it and the only proper way to purchase the phone would be from Apple itself.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Think Small and Get Big

If we can wrap our minds around the following statement:

"consumer behavior is now about active participation and not passive consumption"

We will have a better chance of finding our way to continued prosperity in the future.

In this presentation radio and TV are given credit for creating two key elements of modern culture (clicking the picture will provide a larger view)Radio is credited with creating the celebrity oriented society and television is credited with homogenizing the culture. Some may not like this characterization, however. As you scroll through the slides be on the lookout for the NEW look of both radio and television. You can probably guess what it looks like.

There's quite a bit to learn from this presentation authored by Jeremy Abbett as we experience and live through the Mobility Era.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Nader's Nuts!

Listen for yourself.

So to follow Nader's twisted logic Don Henley, Rhianna, Faith Hill and every other music artist that benefits from the exposure of being played on the radio should pay rent to "the people." Well then. That might even things out when it comes to the performance royalty battle that is on-going.

Here's the full text of the letter sent to Mr. Limbaugh from Mr. Nader:

Rush Limbaugh
The Rush Limbaugh Show
2 Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10121

Dear Mr. Limbaugh,

The Associated Press reports your new contract with Premiere Radio Networks will enrich you with at least $38 million a year over the next eight years. You are making this money on the public property of the American people for which you pay no rent.

You, Rush Limbaugh, are on welfare.

As you know, the public airwaves belong to the American people. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is supposed to be our trustee in managing this property. The people are the landlords and the radio and TV stations and affiliated companies are the tenants.

The problem is that since the Radio Act of 1927 these corporate tenants have been massively more powerful in Washington, DC than the tens of millions of listeners and viewers. The result has been no payment of rent by the stations for the value of their license to broadcast. You and your company are using the public's valuable property for free. This freeloading on the backs of the American people is called corporate welfare.

It is way past due for the super-rich capitalist--Rush Limbaugh from Cape Girardeau, Missouri--to get himself off big time welfare. It is way past due for Rush Limbaugh as the Kingboy of corporatist radio to set a capitalist example for his peers and pay rent to the American people for the very lucrative use of their property.

You need not wait for the broadcast industry-indentured FCC and Congress to do the right thing. You can lead by paying a voluntary rent--determined by a reputable appraisal organization--for the time you use on the hundreds of stations that carry your words each weekday.

Payment of rent for the use of public airwaves owned by the American people is the conservative position. Real conservatives oppose corporate welfare. Real corporatists feed voraciously from hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate welfare gushing out of Washington, DC yearly.

Whose side are you on? Freeloading? Or paying rent for the public property you have been using free for many years?

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader

When Fair is Anything But...Fair

The Fairness Doctrine in my view should not be reinstated. Period. This is an issue I feel very strongly about. If the goal is to destroy highly opinionated (and yes, one-sided) content on radio stations, this should do the trick. Why is this necessary?

I believe:
  • Let the free market decide what programming gets on the air
  • Reinstatement would be detrimental to both the left and the right
  • With few exceptions, programming decisions are apolitical
  • Bottom line managers would air bird calls if it would be profitable-and they would be right to do so
  • It could effectively hasten the death of opinionated talk radio
  • The financial burden of managing "fairness" could prove to be a hardship for an industry that can't afford it
  • Does fairness apply to politics only? Will atheists demand equal time on religious stations? Will anarchists demand equal time on stations that talk about law and order? Will ethnic stations be forced to air other ethnic views? How fair is fair?
  • What would be the penalty for lack of fairness? License revocation? Fines?
Last I checked, life isn't always fair. And that's OK. I suggest to those who feel slighted by "lack of access" create better and more compelling programming. Prove you can attract an audience and the airtime will be yours. I speak from first hand experience having hired and managed talk talent from both sides of the political spectrum. Make no mistake about it--this push is 100% political. It's not about talent, audience satisfaction, revenue, industry stability and growth, and most all it's not about fair. Simply put, this is about silencing political opponents.

This blog is not about politics and never will be until the government starts hinting that programming needs to start conforming to some bureaucratic ideal.

I have posted a new poll on this issue and as always invite your opinions.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Top Secret Radio

I love to talk, so when Matt Dubiel from the radio blog site Top Secret Radio called and asked to interview me I readily agreed.

Aside from being a really bright programmer and radio guy he also conducts a fun interview. We talked about many of the things I write about on this blog and then some. Towards the end of the interview Matt asked me to predict the future of our business this year and beyond. Check out the interview right here and hear what I said.

Thanks to Matt for the chance to about everything from Prince to Pedicures to Podcasting!

MP3 File

Monday, July 7, 2008

Starbucks Brand Watered Down?

Recently Starbucks announced is was shuttering 600 under-performing locations to try to get their sagging balance sheet back in order. The premium coffee brand is feeling the heat from investors and customers alike.

Not only are things not going so well for Starbucks, but there are people who are rooting for their downfall. How could this be happening to Starbucks--arguably one of the hippest, coolest, well respected brands ever? Was it the rapid growth, the soft economy, new competition, product issues, or the natural cycle for what amounts to a casual dining restaurant brand?

A recent Reuters article on the subject illustrates how consumer sentiment has turned on the coffee giant. Here are a few quotes:
  • "I'm so happy. I'm so not a Starbucks person," said Melinda Vigliotti, sipping iced coffee at the Irving Farm Coffee House in New York. "I believe in supporting small businesses. Starbucks, bye-bye."
  • "Amen," chimed in Keith DiLauro, a local caterer. "They went too big, too fast."
  • "Starbucks was a cool brand, and then all of a sudden it's not a cool brand," he said. "There's this new global consciousness that is out there that can suddenly shift."
  • Indeed, said Pye Parson, who hails from Seattle and works at Birmingham's Crestwood, "Once it went corporate, it wasn't Starbucks anymore."
  • "The people that work there are very pleasant, but the stores are devoid of any kind of real charm or personality," he said. "They push a button, and a machine does everything from grinding the beans to brewing the drink."
They found some positives comments too:
  • "It's convenient," said Anthony Castro, sitting in a Starbucks near his job at New York's Museum of Modern Art. "I know what to expect."
  • In Birmingham, Crestwood regular Gary Adkins said he felt Starbucks gave employees good salaries and benefits. But now Starbucks' plans call for cutting up to 12,000 full- and part-time positions.
  • Not everyone felt strongly. "It's just coffee," said Marc Poulin, a systems administrator at Zibetto Espresso Bar in New York. "If I was an investor, I'd care."
Here's the link to the complete article.

I couldn't help but think as I was reading this story that radio station call letters or companies could be substituted for "Starbucks" and we would not be too surprised. Let's face it, if Starbucks can fall out of favor so can radio. This quote is worth repeating:
  • "The people that work there are very pleasant, but the stores are devoid of any kind of real charm or personality," he said. "They push a button, and a machine does everything from grinding the beans to brewing the drink."
Now, let's change it up a little:
  • The DJ's are very pleasant but are devoid of any kind of real charm or personality. They push a button and the computer does everything.
The good news is that radio stations and their on-line stablemates are living and breathing entities that start every day with the opportunity to deliver content that was better than what was on yesterday. Or we can be just another provider of audio entertainment in a sea of audio entertainment providers.

What's better about your radio station today?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Lost Beatles Interview

Came across this of on Trendhunter of all places--a TV interview from 1964. The video portion is not viewable but the audio survived and was aired on BBC4.
From the BBC:

"Helen Shapiro presents the story of a lost TV interview with the Beatles recorded in April 1964 and recently found languishing in a rusty film can in a garage in South London."
It's an interesting piece on two levels. The obvious--hearing the very young Beatles talking about their experiences and music as they were living it back at that time. And the not so obvious--the packaging, a 30 minute program, produced and aired on the BBC. Not something common here at home in the US.

Take a listen for yourself right here: The Lost Beatles Interview on BBC4

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

More On How the Game Has Changed

I know you get it. We all get it. Media has changed, It's not going back to the way it was. Things will never be the same. Blah, blah, blah. Now what? Glad you asked.

Keep exploring the possibilities, open your mind to what could be, and read through another excellent presentation on the social networking change wave we are all living and working through.
The pictures above are from this excellent slide show that follows. One of the slides in the presentation asks, "what can you do for that community." The answer: be useful. Through the radio lens I believe that to mean give your listeners things they can only get from you. Unique attributes that define your purpose--entertain, inform, interact.

As always, your feedback is welcome.