Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Another 590 Gone

My sympathies go out to everyone who was impacted by today's purge.

If you are in the radio business, chances are you know how it feels to get fired. It's happened to nearly all of us--sometimes it's a relief, many times you knew it was coming, and other times it's a complete and utter shock. No matter what the circumstances, getting fired stirs up a wide range of emotions. Over the days and weeks following one's dismissal emotions will shift and change. In many ways being fired mirrors how we deal with death--shock, denial, anger, depression, and eventually acceptance. It's not a fun time, no matter how hard we try to stay strong.

In the old days (not exactly sure when the old days ended) there were other stations and other markets to go to. If you had some talent, chances are you and your U-Haul would find a new radio home. Today, not so fast. Is this it? Are you done with the industry? Do you carry on and set out to find that next radio assignment? This is a tough question in an industry that has been contracting for years now and by the look of things not likely to expand anytime soon--if ever.

I've been through firings--all sides of it. As someone who has been fired, someone who's had to fire people, and someone who has helped people cope with being fired I would like to offer anyone who finds themselves on the outside an ear--mine. If you are interested in a little free career counseling send me an email to this address only: harvealanmedia@gmail.com and I would be happy to set up a call with you.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

People Will Be Talking About This

Already responsible for over 100 deaths in Mexico, more than 75 people sick in New York, more in San Diego and Texas--the potential for the Swine Flu to turn into something very serious, maybe even a pandemic, seems to be possible.

Don't forget to put your broadcasts where your bluster is--keep your local listeners informed. I'm not suggesting hysteria, but something more than a passing mention in a throwaway newscast. Maybe it turns out to be a false alarm--let's hope; but it could be something more. Outbreaks such as this seem so foreign to us here in the USA, thus making us slow to react. The US Government is taking no chances--they have readied 25% of the flu medicine reserves if needed.

Here are a few quick links that will get you to the latest information:
Listeners in your market can easily go to these websites and other national services to get the same information. Local radio has a long history of serving listeners well at times of emergency and I suspect will do so again and provide important information for a specific local area.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Friday Follies

Today, a few different topics.
  • Seems like Twitter has been a hot topic here and it has. Hey, if its good enough for Oprah... Wired has a good article on how to discover and share music on Twitter. If you play new music on your station, I see a couple good reasons to use Twitter as a new music tool. 1-Tweet your new music discoveries (new and potential future adds) to your followers. 2-Search your followers for the music they are hyping. Community baby! Check out the article here.
  • 4G/WiMax will be a game-changer and forever change the mobile connectivity playing field. In a few places it's already here. We've written about this before, but here's a video taking you inside Intel and their WiMax work.
  • Even Clear Channel owned INSIDE RADIO has to admit that HD Radio is in [big, big]
    trouble: HD Radio awareness stagnates.

    Even though millions of dollars have been spent promoting HD Radio, less than one-third of Americans are aware of what it is. A new study concludes 29% of consumers say they’re familiar with HD Radio. The rate's grown little over the last three years

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Twitter Heart Oprah

Or at least they should. In an age of on-demand, you tube, and self directed content Oprah moves the needle like few others could. To follow up on my recent Oprah debuts on Twitter post--courtesy of Mediabistro-Webnewser.
Oprah Winfrey posted her first Tweet last Friday during her show. US Internet visits to twitter.com increased 24% on that day. And when compared to visits from the previous Friday, the site was up 43%. The following chart, with data from Hitwise, shows daily visits to twitter.com from January 1 - April 18.
Hitwise Clickstream data reveals that on April 17, 37% of visits to Twitter.com were new visitors (as opposed to returning). Additionally, the search term "oprah twitter" was the 35th highest search term with the word "twitter" and the 7th with "oprah" last week. Considering that Hitwise data is weekly and that the show only aired last Friday, this is pretty impressive.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday Morning Cool

Check out this device:

From engadget:
It's been nearly three years since the Onyx tickled our imagination, but Pilotfish is looking to completely melt our brains with its latest concept. The Munich-based industrial design firm has just introduced its Ondo music editing mobile, which is half cellphone, half music mixer and thoroughly amazing. In theory, the phone would boast a small mixing panel, three removable recording sticks with internal memory and a bendable center to give music lovers the ability to insert pitch bends and relieve stress. Essentially, the trio of OLED-infused sticks serves two purposes: when installed, they're the main phone panel, and when removed, they can be clipped onto instruments for recording purposes. Afterwards, they can be swapped with other Ondo owners or edited on the fly right on the device itself. Needless to say, there's a better shot at you winning the lottery than seeing this thing hit mass production, but you can feel free to dream by checking the full release, Q&A and demonstration video just past the break.
And here's the promo video:

Hey...I'm a gadget freak...what can I say. Love this stuff.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Cool History of Recorded Music

from Gizmodo

Enjoy. Click on the picture for the full view.

Big Day For Twitter

Oprah has signed on.

Just today Ms. Winfrey signed up and tweeted 6 times during here show.

Now that Oprah, Ashton, and Larry King on board....and me of course...all they need now is a revenue model.

Seriously, Webnewser had this:

Yes, it's happened. This morning Oprah Winfrey joined Twitter (@Oprah) during her show. Her first Tweet: "ASHTON IS NEXT!" was very anti-climactic. Instead of hitting Update, Nate Berkus hit Refresh. So it went to Twitter purgatory. Her first successful Tweet:


Oprah sent six successful updates during the show (9amCT) and none since. She'd already had about 75,000 followers at the beginning of the show. As of 4:30pmET (when Oprah airs in New York), she has 144,000 followers. Many social net-watchers think now that Oprah Winfrey is on Twitter, the platform has officially gone mainstream.

But, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

What A Week!

No shortage of news...
  • Clear Channel managers learn about a new batch of available "programming options" from San Antonio
  • Ascertainment is back...hey let's find out if we are serving our communities--good idea
  • Less wasn't more--PSA's are back
  • Edison Research and Arbitron release a new study that shows young radio listeners are listening less
  • Portable digital media devices are STILL growing and fast
  • 42 million Americans are listening to radio on-line--and lots more competition from non-traditional radio providers like Pandora
  • A heritage AM station in NE PA goes dark...maybe for good
...and on and on and on

Not a great week the for biz really--repackaged initiatives, discouraging research, and short-sighted operators doing more of what they do every week. Certainly, there are positive nuggets mixed in, but for the most part it's pretty cloudy out there. Innovation is practically a dirty word in the hallways of many companies these days.

I feel compelled to repeat myself a little today:
  • Non-stop music machines are not the answer to excite listeners--in the long term even with PPM (long term? yeah, I know)
  • Playing 30 and 40 year old classic rock on stations hoping to attract a passionate following of 25-34's is a losing strategy
  • Ryan Seacrest can only be on the air for some many hours in any given day
  • Why can Top 40 stations play mostly currents and recurrents for women, but most believe that strategy can't work for a "guy" station? (It can, and I am doing it successfully)
  • Talk radio is not about political parties, but entertainment...period. (and no, Limbaugh is NOT the leader of the Republican party...good rhetoric though)
  • Sometime soon we need to commit to attracting some young new voices to our ranks and encourage them to talk to their peers in ways that 50 year old's can't.
  • Commercials are a necessity, how about reinvesting in the process of writing and producing better copy and audio?
I'm sure you have a few of you own. Feel free to contribute.

It's a lot easier when we all assume the position of "get along and go along" but that is not what our industry needs right now. We need a revolution of sorts. Evolution ain't gonna cut in anymore. This type of action won't come from cashflow positive stations since no one will risk that type of upheaval--understood. So we wait. We wait for grim reaper of failure to cast its ugliness upon us, and then...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Who Does What

Pew has been releasing pieces of their study, "Generations On Line 2009" for a while now, but for the first time that I know of they have released a large amount of data including this comprehensive chart of who does what on line.

Among other things, they have a comparison of broadband usage by age group comparing 2005 with 2008. As you can see the growth is huge.

Pew has also made available a number of charts including those included here in this slideshare presentation.

Much of this should be no surprise to you. But it is educational to re-familiarize yourself with where things stand.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A MUST Read!

Trent Reznor from the band Nine Inch Nails talks about the bands new iPhone app and their web strategy...that's working.

Here's a small portion of the story from WIRED:

"I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't think music should be free," Reznor says. "But the climate is such that it's impossible for me to change that, because the record labels have established a sense of mistrust. So everything we've tried to do has been from the point of view of, 'What would I want if I were a fan? How would I want to be treated?' Now let's work back from that. Let's find a way for that to make sense and monetize it."

Over the past year, NIN.com has quietly evolved into a series of interlocking services designed to deliver maximum benefit to the fans at minimal expense to the artist. To build it out, Reznor decided to use off-the-shelf resources — Blogger, Twitter, FeedBurner, Flickr, YouTube — rather than trying to duplicate what other people had already created. "They're going to do a better job than we are," he explains, "and they're going to have a lot more resources to put into it."

I couldn't have said it better myself...and I have.

Read the entire story, watch the video, and see the screen shot here.

Towers and Transmitters

Is the writing on the wall?

Will towers and transmitters, those that transmit traditional AM and FM radio, eventually fade away like a spring-loaded Victrola?

I think so.

Despite the fact that simply turning on a traditional radio and selecting a station is ridiculously simple, easy, and works very well the mobile streaming train has left the station and accelerating to bullet train speeds.

While out and about this past weekend I brought a pair of ear buds with me and "dialed" up a few different platforms on my 2G/EDGE Blackberry Curve and flawlessly listened to a number of different radio stations. It could not have been easier. I can't remember the last time I listened to a radio on a "Walkman" type device outside of a business application.

Transmitters? Transmitters? We don't need no stinkin' transmitters!

When will this take place? I don't know. But the next five years will make even the traditional radio person wonder how much time is left for the tried and true. That I do know.

Think about this, a recent report identified the largest group of Twitter users are people OVER 35! Wait, over 35? Yup.

The mobile device is the most tranformative piece of electronic gadgetry of our time. Not sure any of us thought that would be the case when we first started carrying around those early Motorola brick [in size and weight] cell phones in the early 90's.

Remember, IBM in the early days of the PC thought nobody would want one and passed on being a part of that revolution.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Failure Is An Option

Sage advice and a simple road map to future success.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rumor Mill Buzzing

Interesting buzz on some of the Apple and iPhone fan blogs today.

...it also adds the ability to receive and send (the previous model could only receive) information through FM radio signals which theoretically could be used to broadcast sound into car stereos..without external adapters. It could also be used to pick up FM radio music, news and sports broadcasts on their iPhones and even, in August, on iPods. Read the article here.
We can be certain that Apple will do everything it can to make it as easy as possible to use the iPhone in the car. So it won't be surprising to see an FM transmitter built in as one way to get the job done. Thus far Apple has rejected the idea of including a FM receiver in anything it produces. Will they give in this time? To me, it seems somewhat unlikely based on their past history. Time will tell.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

One Part Recorded Promos, Zero Parts Creative

I was having an exchange with a friend of mine who works for a company that advertises on radio stations and also partners with them for promotions. I had been the conduit that connected him with some radio station folks I know. It turns out that the new business relationship is going well. It was nice to receive a complimentary note, but it was depressing to read of the grim reality of the radio business today from someone who is an advocate for our business.

Here are the germane parts of that note:
...they at least make the effort to be creative in their promotion proposals...no one has the time to be creative. I miss seeing what fun things radio is going to do with [events]...yes, I care how many recorded promos I'm gonna get, but I will always believe good creative sells more than frequency...these days, because everyone is so cookie cutter, any sign of creativity in a proposal TOTALLY stands out...good promotion proposals, we talk about 'em, play the airchecks for each other, and wish our [others] would be a 1/4 as creative.
Need I say more?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Paul Sidney Dies

Most likely a name most are not familiar with--but for me and many of my fellow Long Islanders, we all knew and were fans of Paul Sidney. He founded and operated the quirky little east-end radio station "on the Redwood Causeway" WLNG-Sag Harbor. Paul Sidney was a genuine radio guy and a real character.

WLNG--the station of 10,000 oldies and nearly as many jingles, glorious reverb, heavily processed audio in mono, constant remote broadcasts from all over the Hamptons, lost pet reports, local news two times every hour, and never more than one song in a row. Even 20 years ago the station was a relic--a throwback to a different time. And yet, it was one of the most successfull small market radio stations in the country.

I want to salute Paul Sidney who didn't give a crap what anyone else was doing. He did it his way and was very successful. That station was a model of what to NOT to do and I loved it!

Here is a classic 'LNG ID and Jingle.

Significant...Or Not?

In a recent post I suggested that HD Radio was DOA. I promised that I would blog about a HD Radio unit sales number if one were to be released--it has. This morning Inside Radio had this:
HD Radio milestone: One million receivers are now in use. Three years after the first HD Radio receivers arrived, iBiquity says it’s crossed the one million mark. “We expect that number to grow tremendously in the coming years,” says iBiquity VP Joe D’Angelo. He tells Inside Radio the recent economic downturn has yet to make an impact on sales. At yesterday’s Kagan Radio Summit, D’Angelo noted, “The take-up rate has really grown as prices for receivers have come down.” He says the number of units in circulation should continue to grow more rapidly as HD Radio chipsets have been shrunk to fit into MP3 players and other portable devices. An iPod accessory is set to be released this summer. Even though a dozen other automobile brands are offering HD Radio options, General Motors has yet to commit. D’Angelo says iBiquity has “ongoing discussions” with every automaker, but notes it gets help from suppliers like Delphi who also push the car companies to adopt the technology. The rollout comes as car sales have plummeted. Detroit’s Big Three yesterday reported weak March sales figures. General Motors sales fell 45% last month, while Ford reported a 41% drop and Chrysler had a 39% decline. By positioning HD Radio as a replacement “upgrade” for the estimated 800 million analog radios in use, D’Angelo says, “There’s still more than enough head room for us to grow.”
OK, one million radios "in use?" Not sold, but in use. Putting that vague reference aside, it strikes me that even at 1 million units after 3 years, the number is quite weak. By comparison, it is believed that when Apple released iPhone 3g in the US there were 1 million sold in the first 3 days.

Promising or not? You decide.