Sunday, September 21, 2008

An Optimistic Tone

After attending the NAB and R&R Conventions in Austin this past week, I felt a little different leaving these gatherings than I had in recent years--optimistic.

It was a pleasant surprise.

Sure, there was the normal (and usually empty) rah rah speeches and a certain amount of grousing one would expect from these meetings. However, for the first time in quite a long time I got the feeling something good could be brewing. I listened to and talked to a lot of people and I detected a more determined spirit.

How could this be? August revenue down another 11%. Good people are still losing their jobs. The banking and credit situation is still shaking foundations loose. Radio stocks still at record low levels. Station multiples have declined. Under 25's haven't magically developed a new found passion for radio. HD Radio is still flailing. And "Radio Heard Here" is no more an effective slogan, pitch or campaign than it was last year when it was introduced.

Any one of these things could dampen anyone's spirit. I think what has changed is everything has changed and a certain sense of reality has set in. Act now or your time to act may be very short. And there is lots of action. My fear, while many of the actions being taken (PPM navigation, social networking, etc) are certainly positive for the industry, there is still a crater-sized hole for some forward and dare I say visionary thinking.

Yeah, yeah, easy for me to say...blah blah blah....You might be asking what am I doing to help?

Here are a few things I am involved with:
  • Coaching a fresh new radio show launched on-line by way of podcasts already with thousands of downloads--next will be adding a traditional radio show.
  • Launched a new local Alternative station that is more than 70% current-recurrent 24/7 designed for Millennials.
  • Developing a new commercial strategy designed for both PPM and diaries that defies conventional wisdom and does everything WRONG! So crazy it just might work.
  • A ready-to-launch concept--a talk/entertainment/music hybrid targeted at young adult women 18-44.
There's just a few examples of some things spinning around my brain these days. I bet you have some very good ideas of your own--and that's what we need. Lot's of good ideas. Not all of them will work, but if we try enough new and truly different things we will be a better industry.

Bottom line: it will be new long-term strategies that will win (maybe even attract younger listeners) and not a series of short-term tactics.