November 27, 2015

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10/08/07 My Speech: Whatís Wrong With Radio

Following my last editorial about predictions for radioís future I received a call from the National Advertising Federation and a request to speak at an upcoming event. For a brief moment I shuttered at what would happen if I told advertisers the truth. Would they abandon radio? Would my feelings about what radio needs to do to cement a solid future be misconstrued as weakness? Would my comments be perceived as a betrayal of the industry?

I accepted the invitation because savvy advertisers already know the realities you face, and many of them face the same realities with a different twist. And they expect hype, which I donít do well.

The following is the opening to my speech:
Iíve spent my life in the radio industry. I started out on the air and went into programming, then consulting, then station ownership ó all of which lead me to a radio trade magazine called Radio Ink, which Iíve owned for more than 20 years.

I suppose you would expect me to tell you all the great things about radio. But my job is not to be a promoter of radio ó my job is to be an agitator. The role I play is to help those in the radio industry to see the future, and to jump up and down waving my arms until they pay attention. I read hundreds of blogs, reports, and trends to see how they will affect the industry I serve. I am obsessed with the future, and Iíve been blessed with a great track record of accurate predictions. Still, every time I scream and shout about a new trend, no one listens. Itís human nature. Few people embrace change. Few believe they can redirect trends.

What you wonít hear from me today is whatís right with radio. Iím not here to sell you on radio. If youíre using radio, you already understand its strengths and weaknesses. If youíre not, itís probably because you donít believe in radio. Iím not here to change your mind. There are thousands of radio professionals around the country who can do a better job telling you whatís good about radio. Most wonít tell you whatís wrong with it. Thatís what Iím going to do today.

It may seem odd that I would go in this direction, but my own advertisers will tell you that Iím the first one to speak up if I think they should be spending money with a more well-suited competitor. My credibility is all I have, and selling you something you donít need just makes me look bad. When weíre done, I hope youíll have a better feel for how you can use this information to your advantage, because most of these trends are impacting all businesses. There are lessons to be learned. Letís get started.

To my readers: Before you freak out and call me a traitor, please understand that advertisers expect me to hype them. They are used to being lied to by media reps who always claim to be number one, always have the best audience, and always are the best place to advertise. I suspect they will listen more carefully if we start with the truth, which always comes out anyway. In the end, I will have them excited about radio.

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