October 9, 2006

Back in May – Susquehanna, the company that owned the radio stations I work at (KFOG/KSAN) was sold to Cumulus Media for about 1.2 Billion.

To raise that kind of cash Cumulus had to bring in several private equity investors and let them own 75% of the company.

For 1.2 Billion, Cumulus got to control 36 radio stations in major markets like San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and other medium markets and about $300 million in annual income. Pretty big deal.

In part of the sale process, CEO Lew Dickey came by and gave us his best CNBC styled CEO address about the wonderfulness of radio and the radio business and – in one comment – he laughed off the internet “bust” as a challenge to radio. I’ve been bothered by that ever since. I thought it lacked a full appreciation of reality. I remember thinking that Google was no company to laugh off.
Now, just a few minutes ago, 1 website – Google, just bought another website – YouTube – for the equivalent of 1.65 Billion in stock. What they really bought was an audience – over 100 million video views per day.
In 2005 – Google made over $6 Billion in income – and over 3.5 of it was gross profit. More than any radio company.

The internet is clearly the next place to use, consume and create audio and visual entertainment. There’s a lot of money to be made – and Google is extremely well positioned to begin selling AFFORDABLE, TRACKABLE advertising into radio, AND online video.

Am I the only one for whom the idea of only buying radio transmitters is beginning to seem . . . . quaint?


Consumer Generated Advertising

August 23, 2006

I’ve already outlined HERE my negative attitude towards corporate promotion of “consumer generated advertising” as a way to “get consumers involved in our brand”.

My sole exception was for consumer generated advertising that happened ORGANICALLY – that wasn’t solicited BY a company – but occurs genuinely because some USER really liked the product or service and wanted to express that preference.

Of course – that type of CGA rarely pops up on it’s own (a message to us perhaps?)

How about this “Consumer Generated Ad” for Starbucks found on YouTube.
I find comfort knowing that real people will use the liberation of media to take shots at the system of mass marketing rather than sheepishly prop it up.

BTW – I think Starbucks is trying to get this ad pulled.


Can/Should Radio do Video?

July 28, 2006

This little bit of news announcing the Sony’s widely popular Playstation Portable now accepts RSS feed enclosures for video podcasts and blogs got me thinking.

With the internet channel open to anyone to deliver any kind of content – why should radio limit itself to only producing AUDIO?

Radio seems largely content to sit on the podcasting sidelines because it’s “can’t podcast the music”.

So . . . nothing is stopping us from videocasting. Morning show stunts – man on the street bits at big station events – MAYBE WE EVEN CREATE ORIGINAL VIDEO PODCASTING IDEAS? GASP!
It’s another dimension to extend the station and personalities brand BEYOND the radio – to engage listeners in another way.

It may not “move the Arbitron needle” in the same “direct” way “30 Trips in 30 Days” might – but it HELPS greese the skids to make moving the needle easier.

What if the station video podcast the actual 30 trips in 30 days trip? A handful of 5 minute episodes posted on the station website so that everyone who didn’t win can get a taste of the fun.

Decent Video cams can be had for less than $500. Digital video editing and production is free with every mac – and countless other options on the PC.

Digital video online is becoming bigger than digital audio. Radio shouldn’t sit out.