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.

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.

My personal HITS and MISSES (more of the latter…) …

Was the '60 Buick a HIT or a MISS?

The Zino Society, a Seattle based angel investment group holds a monthly meeting where new businesses in search of early round funding have a chance to pitch investors. These companies last night ranged from a Wine Superstore to an eHarmony service for real estate buyers.

It got me thinking about how often I’ve totally MISSED predicting the success of businesses:

MISS: Cell phones? Who needs a cell phone for $500 per month when there’s a phone booth on every street corner?

HIT: But I got cable correct when in the early ‘70s I realized it could dominate the business when it got to a reasonable level of penetration.

MISS: Porsche Cayenne. Who needs a 5,600 pound Porsche? I guess a lot of people.

MISS: Fast Forward, the TV show. This show was strong enough I even got my wife to skip The Bachelor. Love(d) it…but NBC has cancelled.

MISS: The Deepwater Gulf explosion – I thought that would be a short-lived crisis.

HIT: FM – even listening on my folks old Magnavox with the Tuning-Eye oscilloscope I could tell the fidelity was fabulous and stereo would be the killer app for the music crazy boomers.

HIT: World Wraps – couldn’t see that as a viable long term business. I was partly right.

MISS: Edward Bear – the song was “Down in Mexico’ and I hyped it to Number One at the station I was working (no payola, sorry) – it never made it past #68 on Billboard…but did get to #3 in Canada…so – ehh…I wasn’t too far off.

The point of this…? Keep swinging.

Mobile TV – DOA or did I not get the memo…?

Mobile TV - DOA?

I must have missed something. Maybe it was a memo. More likely an email or SMS.

One of our local broadcast groups…Fisher Communications was excited the other day about their mobile digital TV signal…or more clearly, TV on your phone (now being re-branded as your mobile device). Seems that they had been running some tests broadcasting their signal and were quite please with themselves.

Mobile Digital TV is really just another TV channel (or set of them in this case) that utilizes some of the spectrum that the TV stations were recently moved to at great cost and to very little benefit.

A group of almost 800 TV stations, loosely organized as the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) are now in a frenzy extolling the advantages of mobile TV…talking about instant access to weather, breaking news and education (we’re all suckers for that one) on these mobile channels.

I’m sure I’m just confused – but it seems to me that any NEW media delivery that is not browser based is,….well, let me be careful and considerate here…NUTS!

OMVC is going to ask OEM phone companies to cram a new TV tuner into their mobile devices (right next to the Starbucks espresso circuit), get them to work on multiple operating systems, across half-a-dozen carriers (some 3G some 4G) and create a competitor to the carriers own mobile video strategies (such as V-Cast).

Yeh. Right. That’s going to work real well, real fast.

But maybe I just didn’t get the memo.

How’s that working for you Bucko…?

It’s a real Dr. Phil moment. For a decade – that’s 10 full years and then some – radio and TV have been trying to develop real revenue from ‘new media’. Cue Dr. Phil….”How’s that working for you…?”

Few would argue the answer is ‘well’.

The  new media explosion has largely passed tra

New Media Technology in 1954

ditional media – search, SEO, social media, Craigslist and blogs all exploded and largely left radio and TV playing catch up. Certainly, in terms of making a buck at it.

At core, the Convergence model – using traditional media to drive traffic to interactive experiences – has largely been a cultural and sales train wreck.

First the new features we offered clients quickly became a value add…just like the ‘hey we’ll do a remote…or a movie giveaway’ used to be. So radio used the net tools to maintain business, not build new revenue. As a result, the programs were sloppily executed and everyone got wet ‘pissing into the wind’.

A good buddy of mine is scrambling to build vanity sites for a radio groups clients because they’ve so over promised their own website inventory.

Secondly – this new media is a TON of work – both technical and management. The flood of different platforms, small incremental revenue dollars, lack of scalable expenses and soaring expectations from clients push many operators to simply throw up their hands. “Let’s just play the hits and ride this out…”

But – just as Dr. Phil dispenses some good advice – some radio and TV stations are making some real progress and we’ll be exploring some better ideas and success stories this week from Radio Ink’s Convergence Conference in San Jose.

Come Together, Right Now….

Jackson Weaver & Eric Rhoads

The plane was full and it seemed half the passengers were Seattle radio folks heading to Radio Ink magazine’s first Convergence Conference in the Bay Area. What a buzz there was on that plane. The entire opportunity of the Internet was exploding and we were so cool to be riding the crest. It was 2000 – and the bubble was still inflating like a helium balloon at Puyallup. We were going to invent the future of media…and we did and didn’t.

Few would argue the promise has largely passed traditional media – search, SEO, social media, Craigslist and blogs all exploded and largely left radio and TV playing catch up.

So here we are a decade later…and again, I’m heading to join Eric Rhoads and his team at Radio Ink’s annual event in SJO…to a much more pragmatic, business based conference. The conference is to share new revenue producing ideas for radio stations.

Hoping for 3-5% of their revenue from new media – many stations still struggle to build a viable model. There will be ton of good ideas again this year at the Radio Ink Convergence during the week.  I’ll post some of the ideas as I can.   Always welcome your feedback.