Battle of the Talk Conventions: Lots of rubber chicken dinners


First, I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I have been asked which one should be considered if anyone is budgeting for it. If you haven’t noticed there is a three-way match in the making and I am not talking WWE. It is between three contenders vying to be king of the Talk Radio convention, seminar, whatever. Contenders: Aircheck’s Talk Media Conference, R&R’s Talk Radio Seminar, and Talkers New Media Seminar. Hey, I like all three of the publishers. I got an email from R&R publisher Erica Farber stating, "Jim, can you believe there are now three Talk conventions? Crazy!"  Then I looked at my calendar for this year to see what other events are scheduled. That list is longer that a roll of Charmin TP.

Like I said, I don’t have a dog in this convention fight, and what I write will piss off a few people, but RBR does not do Kumbaya.

I ask what are they vying for?  Who has the best rubber chicken dinner? Who can give out the best award? Please, not another gathering of Talkers giving each other awards and otherwise living up to that Talker moniker, but with all the words ultimately boiling down to just three letters:  SOS.  Real issue – We face a recession – the real key issue that Talk Radio and Radio overall is facing is getting recognition and ad dollars in the real business media world.

Myth: Talk radio is hot and everybody knows it. Fact: Talk radio talent is hot, but they must get in front of ad clients and agencies and get them to advertise.  Wonder where the $20 million in ad bucks that NBC lost on the Golden Globes were reallocated?  Right this second, clients and agencies are looking for price, value and ROI. Why?

Competition is fierce and Talk radio and radio should be learning from the TV writers strike. The financial and ratings toll it is taking is a disaster, including gutting the Upfront.  01/22/08 TVBR #14, NBC reaffirms its upfront dump and doubts are big for years going forward.

I am not singling out Talk Radio with three conventions, as it seems everyone has a conference, summit, and the list goes on and on. I ask this: What are Talk Radio programming suppliers and Radio doing to capitalize on TV’s mega problem? Nada! They are sponsoring rubber chicken dinners at conventions and the funny part is, it is to the same people/attendees.  Duh?  If it were my money I would be tossing it around like a manhole cover.

Reminder time – RBR reported on pacing figures and it was not pretty as our headline stated: "National pacings dismal for Q1." If you think those stats hurt, then it is our recommendation you do not rewind and view the details. But if you feel you must then hold on to your hair, view these Pacing Numbers, again.

A really Big Problem if you are a Kumbaya sponsor –  the recent firings by Emmis and CBS Radio, then add to the list the Clear Channel spending freeze – Do you really think that any of these conventions, or Kumbaya events, are in station and company budgets this year?  I don’t think so.

CBS radioEmmisClear Channel

If a company has committed to be a sponsor or booth exhibitor, ask this question – are you going to get your ROI? If you took a WAG, which stands for Wild Ass Guess and said NO then my recommendation is get out of that commitment yesterday. 

Think outside the box for your talent, programming, company message -there are other stations outside the USA.  How do you market to a station in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, etc. – the web with video and audio – it works.

Take those dollars you have committed and put it into product marketing, talent development. Video is playing the most important role in the digital media world. You probably have a website – use it. And think outside the box for your talent, programming, company message – it really is true that the whole world is within reach – and the web, with video and audio – makes it accessible.

A key is driving traffic to your website.

#1:  Over 97 million people watched the Super Bowl.
#2:  Super Bowl commercial – Over 2 million clicks to check out’s Danica Patrick post.
#3:  And they’re still going there, continually adding to the millions who watched the godaddy video. (Shhh, bet how many just went to see those videos on godaddy site)
 #4: Viewers are going to the web for content and spending money.
#5: Either you have the vision or what Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz wished for applies – 
#6:  It is time to rethink, reinvest in marketing campaigns in audio and video. Or, you can continue with conventions – oh yeah – or conventional behavior like buying paper, print marketing ads…
#7:  Or invest in digital marketing. Self-fulfilling, yep, honesty – you bet. 
#7: Me, I got out of printing paper, don’t do Kumbaya, but invested our hard earned cash into the Web and digital.

Banks have got the money, which is why Willy Sutton robbed them. RBR invested in electronic delivery and the web as that is where the readers, viewers, and money are – it ain’t going away.  By the way, many call it new media – it is not new – it has been here for 10 years, but it is new to many. The key point –

2008, Talk Radio (and all companies) has this one chance to bring the entire radio business to a new recognized position if the owners, program suppliers, networks etc. market, brand, advertise, and position the Talk talent before the money buying media powers. Redeploy money from two of those conventions and allocate into marketing. Want to be relevant? Then be visible. Time to stop the lip service one liners we’ve all have been hearing and reading.

A few conventions are good, but pick your event for ROI. When you make a choice, market it for a splash and then market to the GMs, GSM’s, PDs, Engs, etc. to get them to choose your sponsored convention by giving them an incentive to attend the event you have invested in.

Last, before this year really gets going, reevaluate your convention commitments. Readjust that money into marketing and move as fast as possible with Content, Video with electronic delivery and partner with the web.

If you do not market, then all that each of us in radio will see or take home by the close of this year will be doggie bags with all the convention leftover rubber chicken dinners and by then all you will want to do is choke that chicken.

Agree post your comment – Disagree post your comment – Let your voice be heard

Success to all this year,
Jim Carnegie
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