Another dust biter…

It’s all a bit too much. The influx of music players, iPods, downloads and YouTube has really usurped radio’s place in the music exposure hierarchy. Add to that the uncertainty of performance royalties that radio seems destined to pay the record companies.  Then there is the decline in teen listening which presages the diminished impact of radio on the next generation.

Music radio is in trouble.

AM News Moving to FM Band

So today another FM station begins simulcasting it’s AM News/Talk brethren, WSB, the big Cox talker in Atlanta.

Just as Top-40 created a rebirth of radio in the 50s – FM rock created an entirely new series of formats and business models in the 70s – now we’ll see news and talk migrate to FM at a rapidly increasing pace. And we’ll also see the continued deterioration of both the value and audience level of AM stations.

A prime example is KNRS – Clear Channel’s talker in Salt Lake City recently moved to FM – replacing a long time AC format. The audience largely moved – but the former KNRS AM – a big signal at 570 now barely shows any audience and has removed another reason to listen to AM radio.

Cox is smart to stay ahead of the curve in Atlanta…we’ll see much more of it in the months to come.

Isn’t it time we Made some money…?

It was an aside…but a buddy at an NBC affiliate recently told me, “Yeh…we do about 3-4% of our revenue from digital media (his phrase not mine)…but most of it is accounting.  I’m not sure how much we really sell that is pure digital media…”

Value add in hot markets

As an industry, both radio & TV stations have struggled to make money with ‘new media’ – too often it’s a value add necessary to get share or even on the buy.  Radio has had ‘promotions’ thrown in for years…and TV has had spin or trips…now it’s new media that polishes the buy. 

I don’t want to hammer the reasons or castigate anyone for narrow thinking – because in truth it’s pretty daunting. 

The list from loyalty marketing to mobile and social media could all be their own business units and no one has the time or resources to do that.  Furthermore, the business has been collapsing around our ears – and while the slide has stopped, it wasn’t new media that hit the brakes.

A couple of  thoughts…

1) Step away from the station!  Not all marketing solutions have to be portaled (newly invented verb) from your website.  Most stations have websites as cluttered as a fishing dock at an Alaskan marina on opening day.

2) If you’re going to be in the content business – better make sure it’s unique. That’s not easy – most TV stations have the same news -but, for example,  at KOMO (Seattle) and KATU (Portland)  TV they are developing local neighborhood content that is often user-generated.  That’s unique – and they are making some money from it…also unique.

3) Please keep it simple.  Most of your audience are Luddites – embarrassed they don’t know more about technology.  This is particularly true outside of the tech islands of San Jose, Austin, Chicago, Boston and Seattle.  Think about the audience in Amarillo and Evanston….

4) Whatever you do – make it work on the web before you take it mobile.

5)  Bring someone in who knows the ‘new media’  business on an interim basis…this is TOTALLY self serving , but it’s a strategy more stations are looking  at as they realize it IS time to make some money. 

Good hunting…

The Lord Taketh. Look at these pix…

Some of us are just plain wierd…and nodding in assent is ok – but I love radio towers, and most of all the old AM towers for high-powered stations. Many are architectural throwbacks to the 40s – deco towers really. 

One such complex is the array of towers for WWVA in Wheeling, WV. The market is of no particular significance but a recent windstorm blew over all three self supporting towers. Here’s the before… 

WWVA before the big blow

But 70 to 100 mile an hour winds create issues… 

Aerial post windstorm - WWVA Towers

Pretty amazing – and a reminder of how little we really control.

Love the one you’re with…

“If you can’t be with one you love, love the one you’re with…” 

OK…Stephen Stills was a little opportunistic but you can’t fault his pragamatic solution.  And advertisers fling with social and new media is fabulous, but where do they turn when then want results.  TV.

For the past few years, if it weren’t for bad news there’d be no news at all in TV and radio. Both media have been pundited (a new verb?) to the curb just under the trash hauling signs.

Mr. Stills in his youth

But the pundits don’t buy media – and TV has been back strong lately – CBS TV just reported being up 31% – and even radio ain’t doin’ badly.

So for all the new media blather – social media explosion and tombstone carving going on – a funny thing happened. The clients needed results NOW and know that TV and radio have the power to deliver.

It’s that simple.

Fast, relatively cheap and easy to implement.