A winner for “Don’t Tax That Dial” contest


A young lover wants to dedicate a song to be played over the radio to her boyfriend. But all she gets is the sounds of silence. Notice the phrase is not capitalized, like it would be if she had selected the old Simon and Garfunkel hit. [Editor’s note: We realize that if this tune was her selection it would indicated an irredeemably troubled relationship, but we had to use it.] All she can dedicate is silence as in the absence of sound, in a world where the Performance Rights Act has largely chased music off of the radio dial.

WWOT-FM Altoona, PA PD Andy Berkowitz came up with that premise for an anti-PRA radio spot, produced it and subsequently won the NAB’s “Don’t Tax That Dial” contest, taking away two free passes to the 2009 NAB Radio Show in Philadelphia, including two nights in a hotel, plus $2.5K.

The spot will get its first public airing during NAB Radio Board Chair Charles Warfield’s opening remarks at the “Digital Think Tank” super session on Wednesday, September 23, at 2:30 PM.

“NAB has received an impressive number of imaginative entries through the course of this competition,” said NAB Executive Vice President of Radio John David. “We are extremely pleased that the ‘Don’t Tax That Dial’ competition has resonated so well with America’s radio stations, and we look forward to recognizing Andy for his outstanding entry during the upcoming NAB Radio Show.”

RBR/TVBR observation: We find the internet to be a great way to find music — following our own idiosyncrasies – and we can pretty much guarantee that this method is not likely to drive massive sales of any one piece of music. We know our tastes are unique, but aren’t everybody’s, in their own way?

Don’t most of us just burrow further and further into our own music zone when we follow the cues and clues internet music portals toss at us? The truth is that the web is not in any way a substitute for broadcasting when it comes to aggregating an audience with similar tastes. Labels know this, because they still, to this day, beg for airplay.

So why they want to chop their own marketing legs off by making music formats too expensive for a large number of stations is a mystery. It would appear that when Napster made mincemeat of the labels’ business model, it also took a few brain cells, leaving the recording industry capable only of thinking with its wallet, and with but the short term in mind. They may briefly rake in some newfound cash, but quickly enough broadcasters will evolve new ways to use the spectrum and the PRA revenue stream will dry up like all the others the labels have let get away.

It would be better for everybody if the labels were working with radio to get through the current economic difficulties rather than attacking. But unfortunately they just don’t see it that way.