Saturday, February 28, 2009

Paul Harvey

Paul Harvey--radio's most famous newsman has died.

The writing, the trust, the storytelling, the voice, and the ability to sell products like no other.

Make no mistake about it...listeners trusted Paul and they felt like he was a close friend. If it was good enough for Paul Harvey, it was good enough for them. Advertisers would pay a kings ransom for a live read on his newscasts.

--page two--

Paul Harvey knew how to tell a story and it wasn't just the writing. He was a master at bringing stories to life--no matter what the subject.

I salute a radio legend-Paul Harvey.

Good Day.

Imagination from Microsoft

An interesting video that illustrates some of what might be just around the corner.

<br/><a href="" target="_new" title="Future Vision Montage">Video: Future Vision Montage</a>

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Facebook Figured Out Who Is Boss

The USERS (for us radio folks substitute LISTENERS) of course!

This appeared at the top of my FACEBOOK page today:

Now I know Facebook got smacked around pretty good after changing their content policies and had to do something. But very quickly they figured out that the rules that govern the use of the site could easily become their undoing and they swiftly took action to remedy the problem.

The users reacted, the media reported, and people in droves stated using their iPod and listening to Pandora more. Oooops....I mixed two stories get I will leave the "mistake" intact.

You can read Facebook's blog about what they are doing here.

Whether, in the end, Facebook policy is truly influenced by the users remain to be seen. At least for now they are paying some needed lip service to their BEST customers. They don't want to find out what happens if they cross them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Backstage at Apple's App Store

After more than 30 million Apple App Store downloads there's some pretty interesting data about the apps that people buy vs. those which are free, the kind of apps they download (sports, games, etc), and how ad supported apps are working in the real word. Among other things, I found the statistics about usage once an app is downloaded enlightening--although not too surprising.

Some things to think about as radio forges forward with its digital plans.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Updated The Look And A ???

Thought it was time to give the blog a fresh coat of paint. Changed out the colors and hopefully made it even easier to read. What do you think?

While I have you...with so much happening (much of it bad) in our industry I thought this would be a good time to throw out a question:

What worries you most about the future of over the air broadcast radio?

As always, if you would like to remain anonymous that is perfectly fine.

The three top things that concern me. [in no particular order]
  • What is the future for music radio?
  • Where will tomorrow's new talent come from?
  • Will radio's financial health improve?
I hope to hear from you.

Thanks for checking out the blog!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

NBC's Today Show Gives Up Control...

To it's web users.

The days of telling your customers what they want is over...has been for some time. Sure someone has to create the content that people might want to consume, but from there--leave it to them.
"We've made it easier for millions of consumers to find and share more of what they love about,"
Mediabistro's Webnewser has the story:

Today3_2.19.bmpAs part of a new look, now allows users to customize the sections you want to know most about. Want to know more about Weather & Travel? Move it up. Want to know less about Fashion & Beauty? Move it down. There's also more video, interactive features and featured options at the top of the page including the "allDay," blog; "Photo features," showcasing spectacular images; the "Participate" section and the "Concert series" section.

Today2_2.19.bmp"We've made it easier for millions of consumers to find and share more of what they love about," said Catherine Captain, general manager of "The new site puts consumers in the driver's seat, giving them the ability to customize the page so they can get the number of stories they want, in the order they prefer."

The cleaner look spans the width of the page and does away with an orange background that dominated the previous design.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Web Coupons for Radio?

With radio advertising revenue in steep decline, here's a suggestion that could be attractive to dormant advertisers. It's also a terriffic on air and on-line opportunity for radio stations to build web traffic for station and affiliated sites (and on-line sales too).

According to eMarketer and comScore, the coupon category and specifically coupon web sites experienced 32% growth between October and November of last year. Consumers are always looking for good deals and one can imagine with some many people feeling the pinch of the current economic conditions this is more true than ever.

Top 10 Website Categories Among US Internet Users, Ranked by Growth in Unique Visitors, October & November 2008 (thousands and % change)

Radio has a long history of helping advertisers move product off shelves--something retail advertisers very much need right now. Advertisers could use ad time to direct listeners to special coupon sites (stand alone and linked from the main station site) to get great deals on merchandise they need and want.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Radio Inspired By The App Store?

You might have noticed the Apple iPhone app store is it's own thriving community. And growing every day. Already chock full of apps--now at 15,000 according to Apple. As they say, "there's an app for everything." All under Apples roof and control.

It's all about the content--NOT the hardware--even though the hardware is beautiful. It's all about giving you more reasons to use it, want it, and evangelize it. Oh, and spending money making it do exactly what you want it to do.

In radio's case, millions and millions and millions of people have our hardware only to experience a diminishing level of stickiness (compelling content) especially on music stations outside of morning drive...sans Ryan Seacrest, John Tesh, Tom Kent and some talented locals who remain in place.

The only thing, in my view, that will keep music stations vibrant in the years ahead is interesting and entertaining content around the songs. Strangely, dead roll segues also play a role, depending on the format. [our content must also be platform agnostic, another reason the rethink how we do it]

While staff reductions are a reality, [a reality that is not going to change any time soon] the time is now to start trying ideas that are not dependent on traditional radio DJ's. Certainly, a statement that will not be popular with jocks looking for work or even those who are still working. These ideas are not going to come from the accountants who are insisting on the cuts, but the creative minds that still populate radio stations across the country.

In a strange way, this very tough time in radio business may be the best thing to happen to radio--forcing us to do it different.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bill Clinton Speaks On Fairness

Politico has the story.

Clinton wants 'more balance' on airwaves

Even though no member of Congress has scheduled hearings on the Fairness Doctrine, it remains on a hot topic on both liberal and conservative shows.

Today, radio host Mario Solis Marich asked former President Bill Clinton if it was time for "some type of enforced media accountability."

"Well, you either ought to have the Fairness Doctrine or we ought to have more balance on the other side," Clinton said, "because essentially there's always been a lot of big money to support the right wing talk shows and let face it, you know, Rush Limbaugh is fairly entertaining even when he is saying things that I think are ridiculous...."

Clinton said that there needs to be either "more balance in the programs or have some opportunity for people to offer countervailing opinions." Clinton added that he didn't support repealing the Fairness Doctrine, an act done under Reagan's FCC.

In the past week, a couple Democratic Senators, Debbie Stabenow and Tom Harkin, have both spoken favorably about the Fairness Doctrine, or holding hearings on radio accountability.

Good Enough?

Every few weeks it seems there is another survey done by Pew, Arbitron/Radar, and others reporting that some 90% of Americans still use radio. Fair enough.

Use it for what and for how long? I think that 90% number is misleading--by design. That number sounds so big and impressive. Start digging down, start looking at trends and patterns, and really examine usage (and passion) trends for those 30 (even 35 or 40) and under and you might have to stop looking before it becomes too much to take.

We all know it.

Some of us are trying to do something about it, but in many cases our efforts are falling on deaf ears as more and more people continue to be sidelined in our rapidly shrinking industry. It doesn't take a full staff to operate a jukebox and collect quarters.

It's never too late to innovate. It's never to late to bring good ideas to life. It's never to late to engage in appropriate R&D to better understand how to best develop new relationships. Please note I said relationships...not hardware. Hence: why HD Radio has been a MISERABLE FAILURE.

It's never too late to inspire passion. Never.

Radio has had some truly amazing highs, but in many/most cases its simply been "good enough." That is until good enough wasn't good enough anymore. For some radio will always be good enough. There will always be an audience for good enough. I hope we,collectively, can be better than good enough. We have to...our town now has many more games.

Here's a presentation taking a look at 50 youth marketing trends for 2009. Much of what is suggested in this outline can be applied to over the air broadcast radio and its on-line digital stablemates.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

And Now From The Other Side

In my last post you read the op-ed piece from Bill Press and his opinion from the left regarding the fairness doctrine. Now, from World Net Daily, an article that looks at the issue of the Fairness Doctrine as well as a possible newspaper bailout--from the right's point of view.

After you read this article and the piece from Bill Press, please take a moment to answer my poll questions in the right-hand column.

News bailouts threaten freedom of press
'You can't expect a watchdog to bite the hand that feeds it'

Posted: February 10, 2009
8:39 pm Eastern

By Drew Zahn
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

Floundering media and news conglomerates have expressed interest in accepting government bailout money, leading some to object, arguing that strings attached to federal funds will subvert our nation's freedom of the press.

Brent Bozell, president of the media watchdog organization Media Research Center, contends that if a news company – even a bankrupt

one – accepts taxpayer money, it can no longer be trusted to hold government accountable to the people.

"How in the world can [a] paper propose to be a watchdog for the public when it's had conversations about being bankrolled by the government?" Bozell asked in The Philadelpia Bulletin.

"When a media outlet proposes a bailout, it proposes to put itself under the authority of the entity bailing it out," Bozell said. "Therefore, if it's a government, the media entity proposes to become an arm of the government."

Bozell was reacting to news that the publisher of both the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News has been in discussions with Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell about a potential government bailout of Philadelphia Media Holdings, the company that owns the newspapers.

"If newspapers are to play the vital role they do in a democracy," said Philadelphia Inquirer publisher Brian Tierney, quoted in his own paper, "then they cannot be put into a special line where they alone stand barred from receiving the economic development dollars that are available to every other business in the state."

Reuters reports a similar situation in Connecticut, where State Rep. Frank Nicastro, D-Bristol, petitioned the state government to step in and help save The Bristol Press and The New Britain Herald after their parent company accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, though the papers have since been purchased by a new owner.

And as the nation's largest news conglomerates face increasing, startling losses, some worry that these major corporations may turn to the federal government, much as banks and the auto industry have. But at what cost?

In an editorial titled "How About Tossin' a Bailout This Way," Jeff Ackerman, publisher of the Grass Valley, Calif., newspaper The Union joked, "If Congress bails out the newspaper industry, we'd also promise to be a lot nicer than we have been to various politicians."

Yet compromising the free press is exactly what many are worried will happen if government tosses a bailout to the media.

Former reporter and editor Paul Janensch, now a journalism professor at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, summarized for Reuters the problem with media companies accepting government bailouts:

"You can't expect a watchdog to bite the hand that feeds it," Janensch said.

Digby Solomon, publisher of The Daily Press in Newport News, Va., told Reuters, "The whole idea of the First Amendment and separating media and giving them freedom of control from the government is sacrosanct."

The precedent for blurring the separation of press and state, however, has already been set.

The bailouts begin

Last fall, according to a Bloomberg report, the U.S. government agreed to insure as much as $139 billion in debt for GE Capital Corp., the lending arm of the giant conglomerate General Electric, which also happens to be the parent company of news provider MSNBC and television company NBC.

Two months later, MSNBC debuted a promotion for election night coverage with the tagline "The Power of Change," prompting Fox News columnist Jim Pinkerton to comment on the motto's similarity to Barack Obama's campaign slogan, "Change We Can Believe In."

"I think it goes right to what MSNBC's up to as a strategy," Pinkerton said on a Fox News broadcast, suggesting MSNBC's tenor had moved to the political left, especially with the prominence of the opinionated MSNBC host Keith Olbermann. "Now, for a $139 billion guarantee, I'd consider, I'd probably go more, I'd probably go all the way over to the Olbermann/Maddow territory."

GE, however, isn't the only media-owning corporation that has faced desperate financial times recently. Under $12 billion of debt, the Tribune Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Baltimore Sun, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December. The news conglomerate McClatchy Co. reported a $21.7 million loss for the fourth quarter of 2008. And over a six-year period this decade, a company deposition revealed, Hearst Newspapers' San Francisco Chronicle lost money at the rate of $1 million per week.

In September, an editorial in Editor and Publisher further warned that a newspaper bailout was gaining credibility with the press: "[Those] talking up a government bailout also include such respected newspaper veterans as Seattle Times Publisher Frank A. Blethen and editor-turned-academic Geneva Overholser," wrote the magazine.

The strings attached

Companies that have turned to the federal government for relief, however, have also found restrictions placed upon them. Banks that accept bailout dollars, it was revealed today, will be required to limit executive compensation packages and surrender stock to the Treasury department in exchange for "capital injections." As WND reported, the president's proposed stimulus package restricts school campuses that accept building funds from permitting "sectarian instruction" or "religious worship" in structures built or modernized with the federal money.

Although no plan currently exists for the U.S. government to bailout additional media corporations, the president has already announced an agenda that may indicate the kinds of strings potentially attached to a news company bailout.

Last summer, in denying the presidential candidate's support of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," Obama's press secretary said, "Sen. Obama supports media-ownership caps, network neutrality, public broadcasting, as well as increasing minority ownership of broadcasting and print outlets."

As WND reported, the president's position is almost identical to a liberal think tank's plan for closing the gap between the number of politically conservative and liberal radio talk shows. The plan, in essence, is to mandate additional leftist programming in the name of "diversity" and "localization" and "ownership caps" without ever needing to use the red-flagged phrase, "Fairness Doctrine."

In June of 2007, a think tank called The Center for American Progress, headed by John Podesta, co-chairman of Obama's transition team, released a report titled "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio," detailing the conservative viewpoint's dominance on the airwaves and proposing steps for leveling the playing field.

"Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system," the report reads, "particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management."

The report then demonstrates how radio stations owned locally, or operated by female and minority owners, are statistically more likely to carry liberal political talk shows.

To accomplish the Center's strategy, the report recommends legislating local and national caps on ownership of commercial radio stations and demanding radio stations regularly prove to the FCC that they are "operating on behalf of the public interest" to maintain their broadcasting license – both steps parroted in Obama's agenda.

Radio, however, may not be the only news outlet that sees restrictions tied to bailout money.

Prior to the election, Obama's press secretary suggested the president's plan for "diversity" included both "broadcasting and print outlets."

And in 2004, according to an Accuracy in Media column, Obama advisor Podesta argued publicly that the American public was being duped by TV news stations owned and operated by big corporations and Rupert Murdoch's Fox News. His answer to getting a more politically liberal viewpoint on television was, again, mandated diversity in ownership.

Though it has since been removed to pave the way for Obama's White House website, his transition website,, further echoed the diversity plan.

"Barack Obama believes that the nation's rules ensuring diversity of media ownership are critical to the public interest," read the agenda page of "Unfortunately, over the past several years, the Federal Communications Commission has promoted the concept of consolidation over diversity. As president, Obama will encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation's spectrum."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bill Press Writes Fairness Doctrine Op-Ed


More from Bill Press and another call for the return of the fairness doctrine. Audio courtesy of Politico.

Many people I talk to keep telling me that the Fairness Doctrine or the 2009 equivalent is not going to happen. Dead, they tell me. Maybe. But I have my doubts.

I feel compelled to continue writing about this until there is some form of resolution. This is NOT an ideological argument--I am not opposed to Progressive Talk or any other talk for that matter. My bottom line is that I do not want the government involved with programming. And no, I am not suggesting patently offensive or obscene (whatever that is) programming should make it to the airwaves.

Bill Press wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post to make his pitch for fairness on the airwaves. I think he is wrong...see what you think:
Another Right-Wing Conspiracy in Washington?

By Bill Press

Sunday, February 8, 2009

If you're looking for a break from those conservative voices that dominate talk radio, take time out today to listen to local station OBAMA 1260 AM. You'll hear the progressive voices of Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, Lionel -- or, during morning drive, my own "Bill Press Show" -- providing welcome relief from the constant Obama-bashing by Rush Limbaugh and others. Unfortunately, today's the last day you'll be able to do so.

As reported by The Post [Style, Feb. 2], Dan Snyder's Red Zebra Broadcasting Co., owner of OBAMA 1260, has announced plans to jettison all progressive talk and replace it with pre-recorded financial advice programming.

The commercial use of public airwaves is supposed to reflect the diversity of the local community, but that's not how it works in Washington. On the AM dial, WMAL (630) features wall-to-wall conservative talk. So do stations WTNT (570) and WHFS (1580). For the past two years, OBAMA 1260 -- even with a weak signal that cannot be heard in downtown Washington -- was the exception. No longer. Starting tomorrow, our nation's capital, where Democrats control the House, the Senate and the White House, and where Democrats outnumber Republicans 10 to one, will have no progressive voices on the air.

Or maybe one.

To mollify critics, Red Zebra has said it will add Ed Schultz to its conservative lineup on 570 AM. This means Shultz will be outgunned in this market by at least 15 conservative talkers: Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Chris Plante, Michael Smerconish, Michael Savage, Andy Parks, Fred Grandy, Bill Bennett, Monica Crowley, Bill O'Reilly, Dennis Miller and Lars Larsen. No matter how good Schultz is, that's not a fair contest -- nor a fair use of the public airwaves.

Unfortunately, what's happening in Washington reflects what has happened in one city after another across the country. In Miami, Clear Channel recently dumped progressive talk for sports: Clear Channel stations made the same move in San Diego and Cincinnati. Sacramento abandoned progressive talk for gospel music. In fact, according to a study released by the Center for American Progress and Free Press, there are nine hours of conservative talk for every one hour of progressive talk.

Why? Station owners complain they can't get good ratings or make any money with progressive talk, but that's nonsense. In Minnesota, independent owner Janet Robert has operated KTNF (950 AM) profitably for five years. In Madison, Wis., WXXM, 92.1 FM, just scored its highest ratings ever. And KPOJ in Portland, Ore., soared with progressive talk from No. 23 in market ratings to No. 1. Nationwide, progressive talkers Randi Rhodes, Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller have proven that, given a level playing field, they can more than hold their own in ratings -- and make money for their stations.

In fact, the only reason there's not more competition on American airwaves is that the handful of companies that own most radio stations do everything they can to block it. In many markets -- witness Philadelphia, Boston, Providence and Houston -- they join in providing no outlet for progressive talk. In others, as in Washington, they limit it to a weak signal, spend zero dollars on promotion and soon pull the plug.

Companies are given a license to operate public airwaves -- free! -- in order to make a profit, yes, but also, according to the terms of their FCC license, "to operate in the public interest and to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of issues of public importance." Stations are not operating in the public interest when they offer only conservative talk.

For years, the Fairness Doctrine prevented such abuse by requiring licensed stations to carry a mix of opinion. However, under pressure from conservatives, President Ronald Reagan's Federal Communications Commission canceled the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, insisting that in a free market, stations would automatically offer a balance in programming.

That experiment has failed. There is no free market in talk radio today, only an exclusive, tightly held, conservative media conspiracy. The few holders of broadcast licenses have made it clear they will not, on their own, serve the general public. Maybe it's time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine -- and bring competition back to talk radio in Washington and elsewhere.

-- Bill Press

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Another Grammy Awards Telecast

...and other coast to coast request made by Neil Portnow, the president of NARAS, for performer royalties. The same announcement was made on last years award show.

The case has been made many times why traditional radio should continue it's long standing performer royalty exemption. If legislation were to be passed now can you imagine the devastating economic impact it would have on radio stations across the country. One can only speculate, but it's safe to assume if would be very ugly.

After hearing Mr. Portnow speak I visited the NARAS web site to see if the was any additional information. Indeed there was:

GRAMMY Town Hall Gets Radioactive
February 7, 2009

Event provides a forum for political leaders and music professionals to discuss Performance Rights Act
Chris Morris

Members of Congress were joined by music industry representatives for a lively GRAMMY Town Hall discussion on the pending Performance Rights Act on Feb. 6 at Petree Hall in the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Re-introduced to both houses of Congress Feb. 4, the Performance Rights Act — H.R. 848 — is the latest iteration of a bipartisan bill that aims to secure a royalty for terrestrial radio airplay for vocalists and instrumentalists. While satellite, cable, and Internet broadcasters pay such a royalty, terrestrial radio stations are currently exempt under federal copyright law. The bill is being supported in the Senate by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and in the House by Reps. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Jane Harman (D-Calif.), Paul Hodes (D-N.H.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), and John Shadegg (R-Ariz.)

Three of the House bill's cosponsors — Reps. Blackburn, Conyers Jr. and Issa —appeared on the GRAMMY Town Hall panel, moderated by Recording Academy Vice President of Advocacy and Government Relations Daryl P. Friedman. They were joined on stage by vocalist and former Supreme member Mary Wilson and artist manager Simon Renshaw, and in the audience by Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier, 51st GRAMMY nominee Josh Groban and R&B vocalist Sam Moore.

In his opening remarks, Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow boiled down the importance of the legislation: "Great recordings like [Jimi Hendrix's] 'Purple Haze' and [Steve Miller's] 'Living In The U.S.A.,' you all know those songs. They've been staples of radio since they were first released years ago. But the total royalty payments over these decades to these artists, to their band members, and their producers totals less than this — I have a penny here. That's right, it totals zero."

Rep. Conyers, a member of the House of Representatives since 1964 and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, noted that similar legislation has been introduced in 24 consecutive congressional sessions, and has never been passed.

"This is going to be a serious struggle," he said. "It's going to take not only the artists and the supporters of artists, but it's going to require people in the labor movement to come in with us. It's going to require the civil rights movement to come in with us. It's going to require people who never thought about this as a serious issue — our campuses, our intellectuals — to come in with us."

Rep. Blackburn pointed out that the issues at the heart of the bill cut across a wide spectrum of concerns: "It is an economic issue, it is a jobs issue, it is a trade issue, it is a private property issue, it is an individual issue for millions of entertainers like Sam [Moore] and like Mary [Wilson]."

Rep. Issa added, "Very clearly the [terrestrial] broadcasters…have fought this legislation successfully, but I believe that the business models that are working — in satellite, cable, let's not forget satellite television, and the Internet — these models have proven that the success or failure of the model is not based on whether they pay something to both the songwriter and the singer and the instrumental players and so on."

Wilson pointed out that the Supremes' first No. 1 hit "Where Did Our Love Go" has been in constant radio rotation since 1964. Drawing a laugh from the crowd, she said, "All the times that that record has been played on the AM and FM stations, I [could] probably have retired on some island."

Renshaw pointed out that America is one of the few developed countries that does not pay musicians a radio performance royalty. Consequently, he said, "The money that is paid by international radio stations and monies collected internationally by foreign performing rights societies, those monies don't get repatriated to America. So you have tens of millions of dollars every year that are collected by performing rights societies in Germany and Australia, France, England, everywhere…those monies end up in what they call black boxes. The money just disappears, and nothing ever comes back. Hopefully, when this legislation passes, there's going to be a huge transfer of money that takes place."

With the floor open for questions, Billboard Editorial Director Bill Werde noted that one broadcaster estimated the cost of the Performance Rights Act to the radio industry at $7 billion.

Rep. Conyers replied that the figure couldn't be calculated definitively. However, he added, "What difference does it make? We want some justice here…we're talking about correcting a wrong that has gone unremedied for too damn long."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Standard To The Airwaves

Get ready folks...for at least a discussion of bringing "fairness" to the airwaves. Today on the progressive Bill Press Show, Mr. Press discussed the issue with Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow.

The senator suggests, "it’s absolutely time to pass a standard” to bring “accountability to the airwaves”, by holding licensees accountable." They are both upset that progressive talk stations have gone off the air in Washington, San Diego, Miami and other markets. She asserts it's not right and something needs to be done about it.

Oh really?

Neither Press or Stabenow suggest anyone be taken off the air, but it was quite clear she and Press believe if there are conservative voices on the air in a particular market it's only right that liberal voices have a station of their own. She then goes on to call the conservative voices liars. Hmmmm.

You can hear the entire interview here.

I support the basic premise that voices of differing viewpoints should have the opportunity to be heard. But should it be the role of the federal government to insist they be heard or if a station owner has a conservative talk station they must also have a liberal one? That is exactly what was suggested this morning.

Let me take a big leap here. Any station group or owner who programs a progressive talk station and was doing so successfully, both in sales and programming, would not take consider taking that station off the air no matter what their personal politics are. Period.

Let's encourage voices on all sides to be heard by creating compelling and entertaining programming that can amass enough of an audience to be profitable. That is what commercial radio is all about--to have enough money to support the cost of the programming and to make a profit for the owner.

Don't think something like this can't or won't happen. Think again. With the House, Senate, and the White House controlled by the Democrats, why couldn't it? This is not a partisan statement, just simple logic. If the Democrats want it to be it will be. When the Republicans were in control they same rule applied.

Simply stated, no matter what your personal politics, we do not need or want the government to start making programming decisions. Right?

Monday, February 2, 2009

It's Not If, But When...

This story leads me down a path I'd rather not travel. I will leave the rest to you...

IBM develop 'most realistic' computerised voice

Scientists at IBM have developed a computerised voice that is almost indistinguishable from a human.

The voice is made even more convincing because it has been programmed to include verbal tics such as "ums", "ers" and sighs.

Computer experts at IBM have invented the technology to be used on telephone helplines, satellite navigation systems and even on cameras or iPods.

It is so sophisticated that the devices will be able to pause for effect or cough to attract the users' attention, spelling an end to the irritating monotone voices that have become a part of everyday modern life.

Andy Aaron, of IBM's Thomas J Watson research group speech team, said: "These sounds can be incredibly subtle, even unnoticeable, but have a profound psychological effect. It can be extremely reassuring to have a more attentive-sounding voice.

"When you are on the telephone on an automated service helping you fix your computer or buy insurance, this could make the difference between being a happy customer or hanging up and cancelling a service."

The new technology, called "generating paralinguistic phenomena via markup in text-to-speech syntheses", has only recently been patented.

Mr Aaron said: "We are almost at the point where the voice is indistinguishable from a human, but that is not our goal. We don't want to fool anybody."

The software will even be able to react to a situation, telling us to "shhh" if they are being interrupted or coughing to gain attention.

It will also include an algorithm that can "learn" to add expressions at the correct point in a sentence.

Mark Gretton, from the satellite navigation manufacturer TomTom, said: "There is definitely scope for using non-word prompts to remind stressed-out drivers to take a turn, or simply pay more attention."

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Commercials Suck...

Unless they are as anticipated as the content on the Super Bowl.

The spots are so popular they are featured on the NBC website--Right next to "Matt Lauer interviews the President"

And on Hulu, NBC and News Corps co-owned TV and Movie content site, the same thing. Not to mention many other sites I found embedding the spots and allowing viewers to vote for their favorites.
Interactive, on-demand, and front and center. Hmmmm.

Wonder what might happen if there was an injection of "creative" in radio spot creative--good writing, multiple voices, real sound effects, and no zaps and explosions. Afterall, commercials take up, in most cases, at least 20% of every hour.

Are there ANY spots on your station you would place on your website with a big sign saying, "listen to me?"