Publisher Perspective – NAB 2007 and Radio's Future


"No time to either sing praise or be critical but the time is now to think about the balance of the decade." This observation was from the NAB 2005 Philly convention. Since ’05 nothing has changed and no less improved. Execs came to Charlotte as they did in Philly seeking guidance in areas of HD Radio, sales, management ideas, and how to turn their websites into new money generators. In 2005 they went to Philly seeking help for the balance of this decade. The only difference from Philly to Charlotte is that they are seeking guidance and help right now going into 2008. Nobody can wait until 2010, much less wait for results until 2020. 

Many did not receive what they came for–which was a quick fix answer because there is none. Why? Radio leadership at the top is still stuck in 2005. The leaders I talked with spoke and looked real tired because during the past 5 to 7 years they have created no value for their shareholders/investors and it has beaten them down. Learn from the past and ask if radio is better off today.

Statements at NAB ’05 Philly 
"We still stink at marketing ourselves. There is promise in HD, and the industry has about 2 years to get its act together…Otherwise, HD is going to smell like AM stereo." – Bill Figenshu of FigMedia1
"The web is our entrée to the future. If radio becomes a website medium and [stays] an in-car medium, then it’s got a shot." – John Parikhal of Joint Communications

Statements at NAB ’06 Dallas (group heads admit they don’t see anything that will change)
"Trying to make lemonade out of lemons by continuing to buy back stock."- Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays
"What happened to radio is that it lost its hipness,"- Greater Media CEO Peter Smyth
"I don’t think that radio has lost its hip factor," – Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey

Statements at NAB ’07 Charlotte
"Radio is the only industry that tended to fight its fights in public." – Bear Stearns analyst Victor Miller
"We need to change the perception of this industry". – Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan
"If Industry leaders don’t go to Detroit and the big box stores to make their case, then radio will just have to settle for whatever they want to give the industry." – Cherry Creek Radio CEO Joe Schwartz
"Radio 2020, our roadmap to building radio’s future. The primary goals include innovation to meet changing consumer demands and reigniting consumer interest in radio."- NAB President David Rehr

Guidance for 2008 to 2010 and start now
If you sit and wait for someone else to do the heavy lifting for you then it is easier to just pucker up and plant your lips on the back of a tailpipe and breath in. If you did not experiment this year with ideas then do so now.

1. HD and Websites must be established as separate divisions inside your organization.
2. Hire young creative people inside our business to develop this content and presentation.
3. Give those creative people the freedom to make their mistakes to succeed just as we did in developing FM in the early ’70s.
4. 2008 is the beginning of developing quality content–not tonnage with HD and Web radio.
5. Webradio: add video to your sites and learn from the YouTubes. Get interactive with radio using video.
6. End Cluster Management and Programming. 1 GM and 1 PD can not do it all well.
7. Sales – National needs a complete overhaul. Local must get target-specific with solutions to ad clients. Ratings and CPP is not the answer.
8. Revenue from HD and the Web is a Full Time Job. Part timers need not apply. And, do not make these divisions part of your current sales managers’ responsibility. Establish new teams.

Why do I state these quick points? – Because I too am faced with making these improvements inside the RBR/TVBR organization–but I’m not waiting for 2010. We are doing it now in 4th qtr. for 2008. Our media is running on a two-year business cycle and 2008 begins a new cycle with new challenges. Content is King and Presentation is Queen with the Ace in your sleeve being Creative people with vision–especially the young as they have no fear. If you have a comment, send it with your photo to [email protected] 

Success to each of you in 2008

Jim Carnegie
Publisher & Editor

See any pattern here?
Do yourself a favor and click on the date links to re-read these reports.

No perfect storm to sink radio values 09/22/05 RBR #186 

Publisher Perspective NAB 2005 09/26/05 RBR # 188

No magic bullet for radio 09/21/06 RBR #184

Publisher Perspective NAB 2006 09/25/06 RBR #186

Time to speak with one voice 09/27/07 RBR #189

Radio 2020 09/28/07 RBR #190