Brilliant minds think alike – iPod/Smart Radio

September 9, 2009

Apple finally put an FM receiver in an iPod.

Of course Apple upped the game by making it “smart radio” with itunes tagging and 15 minutes of live pause. Excellent news indeed.

This whole “Smart Radio” thing sounded familiar to me – so I checked back on this blog’s archives and found the source of my deja vu.

This post of mine in December 2006 about the promotion of HD Radio.

In 2005 I submitted a :60 promo and over-all marketing idea to the HD Radio Alliance as part of a contest they were running.

My idea was based on positioning HD Radio as being “Smart Radio”.

My promo [mp3 file] for KFOG in San Francisco served as a template for an idea easily customizable by any other station’s offerings.

Of course my idea not only didn’t win, it received not a single comment from the Alliance.

But the reason was obvious. As you can read in that post – my promo was aspirational.

It was all the things I WISH I could have said about HD Radio, but couldn’t because it just wasn’t true.

HD Radio in reality, was a boondoggle created not to improve the listener’s experience – but to make Radio Companies feel like they were “doing something” against XM and Sirius Satellite Radio.

So here we are – 4 years later and rather than any Radio company making radio “Smarter” (read: better) – it’s Apple that does it with a fraction of the features.

I mean come’on radio – I’m on the friggin payroll for crying out loud.

And I am by no means the only one in this biz who has thought up stuff like this. There’s dozen of people.

I’m not claiming to be ahead of the curve.

I’m claiming Radio companies are way behind the curve.

So when you feel like catching up radio – remember – you’re already paying me.



HD Radio Marketing is easy . . .

December 1, 2006

it’s just making the product live up to the marketing that’s hard.

Mark Ramsey at Hear 2.0 answers the latest report about another $250 million pledged to promote HD radio. Mark’s most excellent point –

You can’t expect to win over an audience for a new technology when the motivation for the existence of that technology is based on the needs of an industry rather than an audience.

Back in 2005, the HD people ran a $10,000 contest for radio promos selling HD Radio.

Encouraged by others to enter the contest – I asked myself – how would I promote HD on my radio station – KFOG.

I would talk to our listeners in language that speaks to THEM rather than pumping sunshine up the backsides of the HD execs and it would address how this whole new HD idea would improve our listeners FAVORITE RADIO STATION – not “radio” in general or generically.

So I made a KFOG promo and entered it in the contest. Obviously, it didn’t win or even get acknowledged.  Too local probably.  They awarded the prize to a cute promo that probably made the HD execs and radio insiders feel great about themselves – but wouldn’t sell a single radio.

At least not on KFOG.

Ok – I’m not bitter – really. 😉

Anyway – the really sad part is – I wish I could’ve run my promo on KFOG back then.

Even today, a year later I still can’t run it. Not in good conscious anyway.

I couldn’t run it then, and I can’t run it now because we can’t make the claims made in the promo true (claims that were demanded by the HD people to be included in the copy)

That’s the biggest problem with HD – it’s all marketing (mostly bad) with very little substance (even worse).

I’ve LINKED to the KFOG promo for your enjoyment.

I’m pretty sure I know how to talk about HD with our listeners more effectively than the national “discover it” stuff – but the product actually has to deliver before I do.

I believe it’s going to depend on individual radio stations to make HD relevant to their listeners.

Right now – we’re not set up to do that and another $250 million in inventory wasted on promoting “HD Radio” generically isn’t going to do that either.

This promo has been sitting on my Hard Drive, waiting to become true for over a year now.

Maybe 2007 will be the year the HD radio people will call me and scream with joy – “You can finally run the promo! It’s all true! It’s all 100% true! ”


Exploding Media

September 14, 2006

From Jeff Jarvis at Buzz Machine

Exploding TV: Who needs a tower?
Read More:

LostRemote chronicles the fall season’s evidence of TV’s explosion:

* ABC streams its primetime shows.
* ABC offers free iTunes downloads of season finales.
* NBC streams its primetime shows.
* CBS offers shows free on video-on-demand.

TV is starting to “get it”.

Where’s Radio?

The New York Times takes a look.

Ramsey gets Godin on Radio

August 23, 2006

Mark Ramsey has one of my favorite blogs Hear 2.0– let alone “radio blogs” and today is an excellent example why –  he interviews Seth Godin about radio.

Solid Mark.

Radio, slide over and make room in the car

August 17, 2006

FMQB is reporting about (but not linking to) to a new study from J.D . Power about options people say they want in their cars

A new study from J.D. Power and Associates asked consumers what new options they would like in the next generation of automobiles. Over half of those surveyed expressed an interest in the ability to play “non-standard audio files” in their next car via a USB memory key, if there was a price point of $100.

“non standard” audio file?

Also for the same amount, 58 percent said they would like an in-vehicle computer hard drive, allowing them to store music files in their car.

Write this off as simply another version of a 12 disc changer at your own risk. Like an iPod is just another version of a Walkman TapePlayer.

Among iPod owners surveyed, 60 percent said they would pay $150 to have connectivity for their iPod in their next vehicle.

That price is ridiculous – but it highlightes how motivated some people are to get more options for audio entertainment in the vehicle.

The auto – once radio’s exclusive territory is going to keep getting more and more crowded.

So – is getting our brands into “non standard audio file” format sounding like a good idea YET?

Satellite Smack-down

August 16, 2006

Roars of joy and glee are ringing out in terrestrial radio quarters nation-wide today as the Sat-casters finally get a long overdue reality check from the mainstream press.

The Wall Street Journal covers the SatCasting business (it’s behind a subscription wall) and it isn’t pretty. Basically – they’re bleeding cash, overpaying for content, inflating subscriber numbers, loosing subscribers, and not getting enough new ones. Looks like a sinking ship.

Yeah!!! Let’s CELEBRATE!!! Let’s bump commercial loads up again!

Let’s cut active music libraries down another 30%!

And let’s voice track even more major day-parts!  From out of town!!

Let’s centralize more programming! Yeah!!!

What . . . . ?

Isn’t that EXACTLY what our mind set was when there were NO competitive sources for audio entertainment?

Satellite radio’s greatest gift is to terrestrial radio. It helped wake up the industry that was running on AUTO-PILOT and screwing listeners in the process.

Here’s something you won’t hear radio people cheering about – EVERY single one of Sat Radio’s initial criticisms about terrestrial radio were true.

And the proof that WE know they were true is shown in how there isn’t a single one of those complaints that terrestrial radio hasn’t tried to improve.

I think it’s also safe to say that terrestrial radio has a bit of Sat-caster envy.

How else can you explain our current HD effort which seeks to litter the radio dial with dozens of totally canned – un-passionately “programmed” juke-boxes of Satellite like “music channels” in EVERY market?  The sat-casters put at LEAST 1 person PASSIONATE about the music in charge of each channel.

HD Radio isn’t the best thing to happen to radio since FM – Satellite Radio is.

It forced a lot of lazy people to up their game. Competition tends to do that.  Radio desperately needs competition.

HD Radio – radio incubator

August 14, 2006

Fred Jacobs today, recounts a session he participated in at Conclave this year and talks about an issue I’ve addressed in a post title “Growth – where’s it coming from”. Using HD as a Radio Incubator. I think it’s a great idea – but I’ve also expressed concern about our industry’s stomach and williness to innovate.

From my original posting –

When CBS Radio created a pod-casting station here in San Francisco on a little AM signal no one even listened to – the response I witnessed among many radio insiders was amusement and ridicule.

We have no R&D effort in radio and even if we did – it appears we’d end up cutting it down with scorn before we were even able to learn anything new.

HD Radio offers us an unprecedented LIVE, local and national RADIO LABORATORY – to TRULY experiment – try brand new ideas – mix chemicals we would never mix on our “real radio stations”.

We have an opportunity to break ALL the rules – to question EVERY one of our “radio 101″ sacred cows in a LIVE environment with MINIMAL cost and next to ZERO RISK to the main business in the short term. How amazing is that!

Instead it appears that we’re looking at these HD side channels as “terrestrial” versions of Satellite “channels” (blues channel, jazz channel, salsa channel, etc…) that will be “allocated” by a central authority – and not as places to discover and INNOVATE tomorrow’s brand new mainstream radio products.

Consider this – all of the RULES radio has won with in the past – were based on a RADICALLY different audio entertainment environment. We don’t know it all anymore. 

Moving forward we need to start making new rules  -and they can forged BY US in the experimental Radio Test Kitchen called HD Radio.

But will we?

Or are we content to let other devices, serives and providers tell US how to entertain people with sound?
In Fred’s post – he relays this info

It became clear there was agreement that we need to focus on content, but content costs money. And this is not a time when radio can invest heavily in its product. Talk about a Catch-22.

I’m not sure what I missed – but if there was agreement that CONTENT was the answer – yet everyone is UNWILLING to invest in content – it really can’t be the answer – can it?

Or, it’s an answer to an irrelevant question – like – how can we make sure this medium is still dominant 10 -15 -20 years from now?

To which the answer would probably be – uhh I don’t understand the question – or – what does that have to do with me hitting my quarterly?

If Fred is right – and there is agreement from prominent radio executives that we need to focus on our product – but we WON’T actually invest in the product – than please tell me how this business is NOT dysfunctional and doesn’t in fact deserve to take a beating?

Do we REALLY think we can somehow AVOID reaping what we sow?