You and the Radio Show Steering Committee have produced a valuable event that demonstrates why it’s such an exciting time to be in radio. We are pleased to once again partner with RAB to host the Radio Show. I’m always doubly pleased to work with Erica Farber, and we so appreciate her leadership of RAB. And I want to thank all of you for being here. Your presence signifies your commitment to growing your business and strengthening the future of radio.
As we greet old friends and make new ones during our time here, we are also reminded of some dear friends in radio we have lost this past year.
Because we are in Orlando, I want to mention David Peter Cradick – who touched millions of lives through his nationally-syndicated morning show, “Kidd Kraddick in the Morning.” Sadly, we mourned Kidd’s loss in July… he was a man who had a special connection to Orlando. Each year, his charity, Kidd’s Kids, sent terminally and chronically ill children to Disney World with their families. Kidd’s listeners supported his charity, donating the funds to make these trips possible. The passing of Kidd, and sadly many other good friends in radio this year, reminds us of the power of this great medium… its connection to listeners… and its impact on communities.
Every day seems to bring a new story of broadcasters serving the public in times of crisis.
Sadly, we experienced this earlier this week when a terrible tragedy occurred at the Navy Yard, not far from NAB headquarters in Washington, D.C. At times like this, we know we can turn to broadcast radio and television to help keep us safe. As broadcasters, we share the mission of serving our local communities – providing them with the news, emergency updates, and entertainment that they rely on each day.
This mission keeps us focused on adapting to consumers’ changing needs…so that radio will always be there when listeners need us…on any platform…anytime and anywhere.
John F. Kennedy once said, “For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.”
Indeed, radio’s future lies with the listener, and we must keep looking forward in order to meet their needs. Unfortunately, many businesses are unable to think long-term, focusing instead on short-term gains to satisfy Wall Street… they seem only capable of concentrating on the here and now.
But radio’s success depends on having a long-term vision, too; and we must ask ourselves, what is that vision?
What is the model that will enable us to grow our businesses and fulfill our mission as broadcasters at the same time?
Many in this room are currently working to answer this question.
There are those in the radio business who say streaming is our future. But are there other paths that can also move radio forward?
Increasingly, webcasters are facing challenges as the music industry is pushing for more royalties for streaming music.
It is my hope that both the streaming and broadcast platforms can have a business model that advances the interests of everyone with a stake in the music industry. Recent direct deals between broadcasters, record labels and artists demonstrate that there are market-based solutions.
In thinking about radio’s future, I am reminded of my Eagle Scout days.
Every good scout is taught to leave the campground a little better than he found it; thus, improving the environment for the next group of campers.
Now, if we apply that same principle to the radio business, we must ask ourselves, “Are we positioning our companies to be better than we found them? What investments do we need to make in order to grow better businesses for future generations, and better places for investors to camp their dollars?”
Investing in innovation is crucial to our long-term growth.
Radio’s future lies in our willingness to embrace new platforms and to go where listeners want to go. Now, to that end, NAB is continuing to work with the wireless industry and the government to promote a particular innovation that would greatly serve the public – the inclusion and activation of radio receivers in mobile devices.
Nearly a year ago, Hurricane Sandy struck the U.S., devastating communities along the Eastern seaboard. When cell networks and broadband connections went down for days – even weeks – radio remained on the air. And just recently, when pounding rains caused devastating flooding in Colorado, broadcasters remained on the air around the clock to provide continuous updates and information to their communities to help keep them safe. This was a reminder that radio is an indispensable and irreplaceable lifeline to listeners.
This technology greatly benefits consumers and also provides many opportunities for broadcasters and manufacturers.
NAB Labs – our innovation team – has been at the forefront of developing “hybrid FM radio” and bringing it to smartphones and other platforms.
If you’re not familiar with hybrid FM radio, this technology uses over the-air radio receivers in conjunction with online connectivity to provide listeners with the best of both worlds – through the built-in radio receiver they are able to access their favorite local radio stations, but they also get a more interactive experience… they can view song information, tag their favorite songs and purchase them, or give a station their feedback.
And the interactive opportunities will continue to grow, providing great features for stations, advertisers and listeners alike.
As Erica mentioned, last month we welcomed news from Sprint that two of its smartphones will include FM capability through its NextRadio app.
This is a very exciting development that is the fruition of leaders in the radio business and Sprint working together to provide listeners with a hybrid FM radio experience.
Emmis Communications’ Jeff Smulyan has been a pioneer in this effort.
And like many unsung, pioneer heroes, he has taken his share of arrows in the back to bring this initiative to the forefront of the radio business.
And he is joined by other radio leaders, such as Bruce Reese, Bud Walters and Ginny Morris, who have remained steadfast and committed to developing hybrid FM radio. We congratulate all the broadcasters who worked with Sprint to provide listeners with a great new smartphone option.
This is another way to increase our influence.
Remember, addition, not subtraction, is key to our advocacy strength.
We must be on more than the dashboard.
We must be on the platform of the 21st century…the cell phone.
I urge you to help lead this effort to the extent that your balance sheets permit.
Don’t let our industry pioneers pull this wagon alone.
Hybrid FM radio technology is an example of radio broadcasters rising to the challenge of providing their listeners with more entertainment on-the-go options without any added data or streaming charges.
And because it’s an open platform, all radio stations can benefit from this innovation.
By aggressively looking for ways to integrate the power of broadcasting and wireless to improve listeners’ choices and experience, we are on our way to leaving our businesses better than how we found them.
I’m no longer a scout leader, but I think you all have the potential to be excellent Eagle Scouts.
Again, speaking with one voice in our advocacy also strengthens our ability to secure our long-term vision.
Recently, we heard that performance tax legislation may soon be introduced in Congress yet again, perhaps even as I’m speaking to you now.
But we won’t stand idly by…and as we’ve done in the past, we will unite and stand firmly against any government mandate that threatens’ radio’s ability to serve their local communities.
I have no doubt that our unity will ensure our success.
As your advocates in Washington, we will fiercely guard your ability to serve your listeners and fulfill your vision, and I believe that our vision must include radio’s highest purposes… protecting the foundation of our Democratic ideals – the right to free speech and of the press…delivering lifesaving information during times of crisis…and the music, entertainment and sports that make us feel connected to our communities and to each other.
All of these things are at the heart of what broadcasters do.
You should all be proud of the role you play serving your communities.
There is a reason why even with limitless options for content and ways to access entertainment, consumers continue to turn to broadcasting more than any other medium.
When the power goes out…when disaster strikes… when they seek entertainment, comfort or important news… your listeners know they can always count on you to be there.
My hope for this great business is that as you picture your future and consider the different revenue opportunities that may lie ahead, this vision includes a way to sustain the localism that you so uniquely and critically provide to your listeners.
Woodrow Wilson once said, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement.”
Together, we can make our vision of radio’s bright future a reality.