Big Media Shrugs?

June 29, 2006

According to this pie in the sky column on MSBNC – big media is no longer that concerned with owning even more traditional broadcasting outlets like TV and Radio station and instead are turning their attention to the internet.

Please.

While it’s true SOME radio groups like Clear Channel are focused on the web (which means they are focused on creating unique content) other radio companies – like the one I work for Cumulus – appear to have no interest in the internet and ONLY interest in buying more radio stations.

I’ve been thinking lately that the radio industry is about to break apart into wings. Not sure how many totally but there will be CONTENT PRODUCERS – and MEDIUM OWNERS and a few that do both.

Long term growth is in content creation in my view – particulalry content that can be leveraged across MULTIPLE mediums.

There will come a day (perhaps 30 years) when you hear – “radio station? I remember them)

It’s not a slam on “radio as audio entertainment” it’s a slam on a business model that we’ve allowed to become intrinsically married to a century old technology.

Owning physical radio stations is gradually becoming quaint – even if you own them all.


NAB = Need Another Barrier

June 22, 2006

According to THIS Radio Billboard Monitor the NAB has conducted it's own tests of FM transmitting devices (FM Modulators) people use to play iPODs and Sat radio signals onto nascent sections of the FM spectrum. 

  • As for the results of those tests, NAB spokesperson Dennis Wharton says, “Our tests showed that 13 of the 17 wireless devices (76%) exceeded field strength limits set by the FCC. Six of those devices exceeded the FCC field limit by 2,000%. One device transmitted a signal that was 20,000% stronger than allowed by FCC rules. Many of the devices also transmitted signals that were substantially wider in bandwidth than permitted by the FCC, resulting in potential interference to 1st and 2nd adjacent channels as well.”

I'm probably alone on this one – but this seems really petty. 

Is this what the NAB is good for?  Do they do ANYTHING to actually make what comes off our wonderfully government protected transmitters BETTER – or serve the listeners and communities BETTER? 

Or are they only concerned making sure potential competitors have obnoxious burdens and barriers to climb over. 
The truth is – most of those FM Modulator devices suck anyway  – even if they are operating at 2000% over the FCC Limit. 

That fact, in and of itself causes me to assume that the original power limits set by the FCC were probably arrived at by recommendations of people like . . . ohh I don't know  . . . say – the NAB?  

Afterall – it was the NAB that made sure the charter granting Satcaster sthe right to deliver audio content over satellite DID NOT ALLOW any local generated content of any kind.  So for them to have a say in how much power these Modulators could transmit wouldn't surprise me at all.  

The NAB is about 1 thing – making sure the Government erects and maintains high barriers and absurd conditions on ANYONE seeking to compete in the wireless audio delivery business.   


Irrelevance of Ubiquity

June 22, 2006

I don't know why exactly- but some radio folk love to trot out the stats about radio's ubiquity in modern life. Yes – it's true – there are radio devices EVERYWHERE. And some 200 + million people listen to the radio at some point during any give week. So what?

Seriously. What benefit does this create and for whom? Radio as a medium reaches everyone. Woo hoo. But let's distinguish that these claims are always about the DEVICE – a radio. Never about anything specific the device actually does.

There isn't a single radio offering or company that can claim access to ALL 200+ million people who had a radio turned on today. Not one. So what does the devices "ubiquity? matter?

On the local level radio's "ubiquity" means nothing

Why do I care that people in Broken Spoke, WY own radios when I live and work in San Francisco? In fact – chances are pretty good that even many people in the San Francisco Bay Area can't hear my station with their radios because of the terrain and where they live.

What good is "ubiquity" again?

It's a meaningless concept used to help people feel good about the "concept" of radio. The reality is however, the ubiquity of the medium speaks about everyone collectively, yet benefits no one individually.

How pointless is that? We can't sell radio's ubiquity. You can't trade on it – so stop talking about it. It's wasted breath and it obfuscates larger more important issues – like how do we deepen our connection with the people who are actually USING OUR product?

Our product is not the device – our product what the device enables people to hear.


Old Thinking / New Thinking

June 21, 2006

I read a lot of comments from radio people and a great many seem to defend all the conventional points of view.  There's nothing universally wrong with that except when it's universally applied.  Not all conventional points of view are still valid. 

In fact – we're in a weird spot right now.  A precipice if you will.  ,-) 

It's a spot where "convention" still works in most cases – most of the time.  But increasingly it's proving to be inadequate if we care to look just a few years into the future.    We are at the threshold where old ideas and modes of thinking are beginning to crumble.  People who strictly adhere to those ideas are finding themselves increasingly confused.   

This post isn't labeled "OLD VS NEW".  To me it's not a question of either or – it's BOTH/AND.  Old thinking isn't rendered useless.  But strict adherance to the "way things have always been done" is going to be.  

My Boss once coined a phrase "respect for the past – curiosity for the future".    Yes – many of the things we've researched about "proper radio" still hold true.  But for how long?  And how attached to those ideas are you really willing to be as the entire media universe is beginning to make some radical changes? 

Let's not JUST ASSUME those observations will continue to be true moving into the future – when nothing else about the media landscape will be the same.

As I run into these kinds of issues I'll post about them to demonstrate my points.  But for now – let's just try to be aware if we're defending old ideas as a conditioned response because we've "always know this to be true" – or because the ideas really do hold up in the new game we're entering.  


Limited future for “selling :60s”

June 21, 2006

With Google now adding CPA (cost per action) to it's roster of advertising tools – the internet is conditioning people to only expect to pay for results from advertising .  

What does the future of "selling 60s" look like when advertisers are only willing to pay for results?


Hell is Freezing Over

June 21, 2006

Clear Channel currently appears to be the only Radio company that gets the future of this business.  

Not something I would've said 5 years ago when all they could see in the radio business was it's collection of radio transmitters. 

But recently (the past 2 years) the company has slowly begun the process to re-build it's image AND it's actual business.  It's beyond PR at this point.  They are making significant changes in their very business model. 

They may still be the crap company to work for at the station level we've all heard about – but at least there are some people there who get that the future of audio entertainment extends FAR BEYOND the Radio transmitter.


My Bold HD Radio plan is a mistake.

June 21, 2006

I've posted on a few radio blogs on the topic of HD Radio.

To answer the problem of "adoption" I've said that Big Radio should take a few million $$ out of it's Billions in revenue and buy 10,000 -15,000 HD Radio sets to be used in big attention getting national and local give-aways.

Want to promote the idea of FREE radio? How bout giving a load of them away?

 Get the radios into the hands of influencers – the sneezers – the people who will talk about it and spread the word.

I've always said the caveat is the radio has be something worth talking about – otherwise the only thing that gets "sneezed" is more bad news.

Well, according to this Washington Post story about 1 reporter's not so great experience with his HD Radio – Big Radio should not waste the money on buying any of the current radios.  Same goes for consumers.