Yep, the fans in the stands are off from last year’s conference as the RAB gathering this week in Orlando experienced the same drop off as many conferences so far this year. No doubt conferences yet to come before the close of the 2nd quarter will likely see low attendance as well.
The good news I have to report from Orlando – the inspiration at this year’s RAB – is the energy level – the high caffeine from the younger demo working in our radio business. People working at the local level, some of whom paid their own way here, are the sliver lining in the cloud of doom. They are eager to take over, literally, the entire radio medium just as many of us seasoned veterans were when we were in our 30s. They already have a full understanding of the value of cross-marketing of the analog signal with the Internet. The problem: Not getting 100% commitment from ownership to engage the Internet.
To the planning committee and Chairperson Sheila Kirby – you done good. It was different this year getting Andy Stefanovich, Senior Partner at Prophet and founder of Play. He did not stand in front of the microphone delivering a boring speech. This guy is another caffeine high and was interactive with the audience – having attendees participating by answering questions, laughing, shouting, as he worked the crowd delivering helpful radio ideas. Stefanovich’s act was the opening at breakfast as well as the working lunch, again different from years past. I liked his attitude and especially liked it when he told attendees to get “Disruptive” and always “Get Under the Hood” to see what makes the machine run.
What you did not see – you got it – the majority of RAB board members or executives and or staff from their groups. I counted four (4) board members. It seems most of the board was flying in only for the board meeting scheduled late Wednesday, 3/18/09. Hopefully these board members will think back 20 or 30 years when they were young and eager to take over the medium just as many attending this year’s RAB. These young people are eager to improve the business called radio because to get into radio you’ve got to have passion.
There is hope for the future.