You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.
Carly was right. Those were the good old days. These aren’t.
But it’s never going back to the way it was. Never. Get over it.
Clear Channel is bailing stations en route to privatization and CBS radio’s dumping out of unprofitable markets.
It confirmed what many of us knew already. The radio industry was never supposed to be that large and with so few players.
Actually, the radio industry had the wrong few players.
Of those running radio chains, some believe themselves to be gods – and demand that the programming, marketing, and managing of their stations must be created in their own image.
English novelist John Galsworthy once said, “Idealism increases in direct proportion to one's distance from the problem."
Let’s scan the past decade. The only post-deregulation winners were smaller chains and the mom and pops that sold their stations to Chancellor/AMFM, Clear Channel, Radio One, and CBS for mind-boggling multiples. They were in such a buying frenzy to acquire properties that they neglected to notice that real estate wasn’t part of the deal. Often, the seller kept the transmitter real estate or sold to a third party. Buy the house, rent the yard and driveway.
Their business plan? Buy ‘em now and figure out what to do with ‘em later.
Problem: They never figured it out.
When the time is right, I want Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. to buy radio stations. Lots of them.
Murdoch knows efficient programming, marketing, and the importance of innovation far better than most running radio today. You program what’s best for your audience – not the shareholders. They’ll come to love you when you hire the best people and let them do their jobs, and – surprise – show profit.
Many brains are more effective than one.
I know a lot of people that work for Fox. They don’t complain about their jobs. They’re encouraged to be creative, take chances, and maximize opportunities.
At work, they smile.
So what if he owns a sizeable portion of the world’s media from books and magazines to cable and Internet?
Wikipedia his name and the list of media-related businesses he owns worldwide will go on forever.
Big business isn’t the problem. Poorly run big business is.
Rupert gets it. He hires the right people in the right positions – and provides them with support – not fear, which has become radio’s m.o.
When faced with a quandry – as he did with the Fox network a couple of seasons back when ratings tanked for a season – he didn’t order a St. Valentine’s Day massacre. He he had his team identify the problems and correct them.
Take MyNetwork TV, which was cobbled together in just a few of months to fill the void for UHFs that found themselves networkless when the WB and UPN merged. They experimented with telenovas – inexpensive prime time soap operas, starring controversial actresses of yesterday-year like Bo Derek and Tatum O’Neal.
It bombed. But, unlike what you’d expect from most radio chains, fingers weren’t pointed, heads didn’t roll, and sacrificial lambs weren’t slaughtered.
Instead, net affiliates were told, “We’ll try something else.” That buys confidence.
There are no sacred cows. There are no fall guys.
I’m not implying that no one ever gets fired at Fox. It’s just that there’s a lot less of “firing your own mistakes” over there.
Murdoch gets grief for owning the Sunday News of the World and the daily Sun – both sensationalistic tabloids – but he also owns the London Times. I have no problem with that.
Who says you can’t own more than one format?
If there’s one person with the ability to reinvent radio and marry it to new media, it’s Murdoch. He beat his competition to MySpace. Try as they may to sue him for copyright infringement, arson, and anything else they can hang on him, it’s obvious that his competitors are frightened, jealous, and furious with themselves for not doing it first.
Viacom unceremoniously kicked its split-division CEO and President Tom Freston to the curb for trying to resusciate the eMpTV networks while Murdoch snatched up new media, including the aforementioned king of all social networks.
Fox already dominates cable with regional and national sports channels, movie channels, racing, action sports, and it’ll launch its Fox Business Network in October. That’ll be a good fit with Dow Jones, which he’ll also be assuming control of shortly. Expect CNBC’s current deal with DJ not to be renewed.
Question number one: How long will it take for Fox Business to pass CNBC?
Question two: How many CNBC anchors, hosts, and reporters will make the jump to Fox when their current deals are up?
Let’s channel poet and philosopher George Santayana who once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Three words: Cable News Network.
Murdoch has had his problems. There’s the L.A. Dodgers, TV Guide, the Boston Herald. I’m sure there are a few more. I think. Oh, yeah – the New York Post. Or does that deal have everything to do with intellectual property?
No one ever accused Murdoch of not taking risks. That’s how he made his fortune.
There are those that believe he was late to television, cable, print, sports, and new media.
Wrong! He was right on time.
Rules number one, two, and three for the world’s most successful companies:
1. If it ain’t broke, break it, and fix it better.
2. Timing is everything.
3. Never believe your own hype.
You can’t always pinpoint him politically. He’s leaned G.O.P. – and backed Bush in both elections – but now he’s rumored to in Hillary’s camp. Oh, the dichotomy!
Murdoch and radio? It’s just my opinion. We could use a rising tide.
I don’t have a clue as to Murdoch’s assessment of the radio industry – but what does it say to Wall Street if he – and other respected media moguls who are currently on the sidelines - choose not to get involved?