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A Cold, Harsh Reality For Radio



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(3/11/2013 6:55:59 PM)   Flag as inappropriate content
After Phil Abram of GM's outright denial of plans to drop in-dash am/fm radio, I'd suggest that RadioInk do better due diligence on their "experts" who will make up RadioInk's next conference.
Total hogwash, but the false fire alarm did serve to flush out some anti-radio malcontents and their dead wrong predictions.

- Mel
(3/11/2013 3:10:31 PM)   Flag as inappropriate content
Eric:

I just read your piece about AM and FM leaving the dash of cars and I have some observations.

A few years ago, I opined that the end of music as a radio format is nigh. Between ASCAP, BMI, SEASAC, Soundexchange and the record industry’s jihad on profitability and the fact that technology is rapidly rendering the “program director” obsolete, how many variants of country and rock can there be which will attract listeners. (For that matter, can you ever again imagine a circumstance where Mr. Carlson would take some cocaine from a morning DJ on the take?)

At the time, people told me I was nuts and that music will continue to be the format of choice.

If what you are reporting is actually the case, I see two things happening.

First, the number of local radio stations will rapidly decrease as the jukeboxes become less and less relevant and thus economically non viable.

Second, those of us who are actually in the local content creation business will have some additional opportunities.

Clear Channel and Sirius have already given away the store in their pursuit of peace in our time with the record industry so I don’t see anything but grief on the horizon when it comes to royalties of all types.

So it looks as if we will have to create relevant content and then distribute it over as many platforms as we can master from am and fm to the web to smartphones and tablets and perhaps, devices which have yet to be built and sold.

One thing we do need to do is to get the FCC to recognize smartphones and tablets and other as yet unborn but similar devices which get their signals out of the air as radio receivers for contractual purposes. I say this because many networks are simply going to bypass local stations on the internet and I would certainly want the negotiating position of telling them they cannot compete with me in my local market. They may choose to go around me but they may not.

An example of that is NASCAR. I used to own the official radio station of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Once we learned that about 50% of the 150,000 people in the stands had a radio tuned to our station on race day, that fact became a potent selling point for the broadcast. Today, NASCAR distributes a smartphone app which, for $25 a year, allows you to get the network radio broadcast without the benefit of my commercials. Were I still the owner of that station, I would certainly negotiate with the Performance Racing Network (which I still maintain a great relationship with) to allow me to cover the local breaks on those feeds which go through the smartphone app.

Given the ability of a network to insert local spots in satellite feeds, local stations should be demanding the same kind of network compensation we used to get from NBC and CBS (when they were actually NBC and CBS) even in the smallest markets. I know of markets where Tractor Supply and Home Depot have pulled their spots from the local station because they get split copy spots from the long form programmers. The thought occurs that if the local station is not getting anything from local advertisers and the money is going to a programmer, then perhaps it is time to renegotiate the deal.

And part of that renegotiation should start with the internet feed.

ESPN seems to want to replicate its dual revenue stream business model (advertising sales and operator income) on radio. And they pitch ESPN.com in almost every break. Either they’re looking ahead to the day that nobody listens to them on a local radio station or the operators are so desperate for ESPN that they’ll put up with a national programmer leaching away their listeners over the long haul while they pay for the privilege.

What’s wrong with that picture?

The long haul answer is probably a mix of solutions. First, fewer signals. That will take care of itself as operators go broke with the wrong business models. Second, more innovative and local content. That will take some imagination from people who are still standing. Third, innovative agreements that make sense between national and local operators such as network compensation or local splits on national internet feeds of programs. And, fourth, some technological innovations together with some changes in the main studio rules to acknowledge that the FCC cannot make intelligent staffing decisions for commercial radio stations.

If AM and FM were to disappear from car dashboards, we should be able to send our content on alternate routes. But something tells me that if we keep our content relevant, the protest among car buyers will be so strong that it won’t happen in our lifetimes.

Fred Weinberg

- Fred Weinberg
(3/11/2013 2:31:57 PM)   Flag as inappropriate content
When did I become unemployed and why was I not informed? If "Mystic" means employed on-the-air, I will consider all offers when on-air constitutes meaningful work for a grownup.
This can also serve as notice to programmers attempting to reach other adults.
As to the snide "canuck" remark: I'd call the guy out if it wasn't so damn cold. :)

- Ronald T. Robinson
(3/11/2013 2:11:51 PM)   Flag as inappropriate content
Can someone gag Ronald T. Robinson for 6 months? Nothing like an unemployed Canuck to make you barf.
- Mystic
(3/11/2013 2:02:17 PM)   Flag as inappropriate content
60% of people do NOT have a smart phone - so how will they get their tornado warnings while driving around in a car? Broadband is not cheap - radio is still free. I just don't get their thinking - radio doesn't cost automakers that much.
- John Caravella
(3/11/2013 1:41:44 PM)   Flag as inappropriate content
Interactive,the internet is, radio is not.Talk radio somewhat interactive, music radio not so much.The feedback loop in the radio communication model is gone,the internet has a feedback loop.The decision makers of the radio industry lack understanding or choose to ignore the science of a proper communication model.The next generation of radio owners will move into the void with the proper knowledge and skill set to return radio to serving the community needs,to become a true PICON radio station.
- VIC CARR
(3/11/2013 12:59:22 PM)   Flag as inappropriate content
Why isn’t this matter being talked about from the business side? If a we migrated our listenership to the internet, the performance fees would kill us! Thousands of small broadcasters would surely go away. Will entire markets just go dark with nothing but big corporate streams? What does the FCC think about hundreds and hundreds of small markets and towns suddenly being underserved? What is radio going to do to prevent this? Viacom stands to make millions from this decision. I smell a rat.
- Mike


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