Friday, September 7, 2007

NAB: It's Your Party

Something big is supposed to happen at the end of the month - The National Association of Broadcasters convention.

You’re David Rehr and it’s your party.

You see, before you left beer for broadcasting, the NAB was a wild, big ticket event.

It was the kingpin media con-vention where major chains revealed their newest acquisitions.

Now, it’s all about shortfalls.

You’re David Rehr and it’s your party.

No one will argue that the single most important mission in the history of the NAB was deregulation and – glory, hallelujah - it got done.

But the NAB was so focused on radio deregulation in the 1996 Telecommunications Bill that it missed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which was signed into law two years later.

You’re David Rehr and it’s your party.

Hope you were clued in on that AFTRA problem that temporarily crippled terrestrial radio streams.

While VC’s were shoveling money at anyone who wanted buy radio and the NAB was popping cases of Dom, AFTRA pulled off a deal to bonus talent in commercial radio and TV spots that were also simulcast on an Internet stream.

The rules went into effect in October, 2000 but the NAB missed it because it was engaged in political in-fighting that rivaled Eastern Europe after the wall came down.

Stations were unknowingly charged for simulcasting spots on their stream. Talent on those spots had to be paid $220 for the creation of the spot, and an additional $660 for Internet rights for one year.

Clients insisted the liability was radio’s since it was their stream.

Those six dreaded words: That was not in the budget!

(TV was another headache starting with $1,500 bonus to talent for spots shown on their Internet streams for one year.)

You’re David Rehr and it’s your party.

And wouldn’t you know it. History repeated itself.

While you’ve been focused on funding lobbyists to outwork Mel and stop the XM-Sirius merger, the RIAA’s gotten a whole lot closer to collecting royalties for airplay of songs on terrestrial radio.

Let me rephrase that. The RIAA wants to tax your music. What started out as a non-issue has become a very real threat. And it shouldn’t have gone that far.

They claim radio no longer breaks new music.

The RIAA has their choice of quotes from the heads of Clear Channel, CBS, and so forth – all saying they’re not in the business to sell music.

It’s equal opportunity thrashing. Tit for tat. Rat for rat.

You’re David Rehr and it’s your party.

You have to wonder if the RIAA will exempt Grey’s Anatomy from royalty payments. It’s broken more hits than radio this year.

We used to joke that if the records weren’t free we’d be all news.

Now, it’s no joke.

You’re David Rehr and it’s your party.

Your members are crying out for leadership in the radio industry.

Some believe that we haven’t had a leader since Randy “Ben Homel” Michaels.

I don’t disagree. If it weren’t for Randy, a whole lot of real broadcasters wouldn’t have been able to sell their stations at highly inflated prices.

And now some of those sellers will get to buy them back for a fraction of the price they sold them for.

The greater fool theory lives. Just ask Clear Channel.

$500 million’s a lot to drop if that deal with BainCapital and Tommy Lee unspools.

Once the quarterback; now the tackling dummy.

You’re David Rehr and it’s your party.

It’s still a great convention. Small market owners get to ride elevators, stuff like that.

You’re David Rehr and it’s your party.

It was a lot easier when you were beer lobbying and Heinekin was the enemy.

Now, who is it?

The iPod?

Satellite radio?

Or did Steve Jobs just put satellite radio out of business with his new iPod?

And did Steve Jobs cross Internet radio into the mainstream?

And is that good or bad for terrestrial stations that stream?

(Hint, hint: Content, content!)

Were you really awestruck when Jobs didn’t add an HD radio to his new iPod?

I hope not.

You’re David Rehr and it’s your party.

You’re running an industry that keeps making the same mistakes over and over and over.

Think of all the meetings and seminars over the past decade on how to do radio right.

So why is radio still using those slogans and sweeps from ten years ago?

And still using the same consultants?

(We’ll save that one for another time.)

Your David Rehr and it’s your party.

Did you hear about the radio account executive who died and went to Hell? He became an HD Radio salesperson.

One more? Did you hear that Radio & Records is changing its name to Streaming & Downloads?

Don’t laugh too loudly. That may not be a joke.

You’re David Rehr and it’s your party.

There’s the session where that coot will claim inside information on how kids use media in their bedrooms.

He even gave it a creepy name – The Bedroom Project.

I wonder if Chris Hansen will be in the audience?

Hate to clue the coot in. If you don’t already know how your kids are using media – anywhere, anyplace, and at anytime - you’re too late. Five years too late.

Let me predict the future. The coot will come up with excuses; there’s more “things” competing for their time; blah, blah, woof, woof.

Your David Rehr and it’s your party.

You have quite a cast of characters lined up.

There’s Steve Sinicropi. We can’t wait to see his act.

It’ll help if he stands on his tip toes and a half dozen phone books.

We wondered what became of him when his buddy Jeff McClusky shuttered his indie promo company’s doors.

He was like Oates without Hall, Messina without Loggins, Sonny without Cher.

Now, he has new reason to live. Comic relief.

First, he resurfaced as VP/GM of Cox Radio’s FM two stations in the bustling metropolis of Greenville, S.C., market rank #89.

He wasn’t comfortable in large markets.

Then he became the Chairman of Arbitron’s Radio Advisory Council. His job is to yell, “Down here, down here,” and throw temper tantrums at Arbitron for any perceived shortcomings of its new Portable People Meter.

I know people who want to go to the NAB just to see the little guy rant and rave about the Arbitron PPM. He makes a lot of noise for a tiny person.

They say he loves his new role.

He promises to keep his head firmly to the ground – as opposed to the grind - because he’s closer to it than most.

How about that quote Sinicropi gave Arbitron CEO Steve Morris about Arbitron providing a deduction in their monthly bill if the company falls below the minimum threshold of it’s 6+ metro sample size target for the panel?

“This is step one in a marathon, Sinicropi said. “It’s a big long step, but there’s a lot of work to be done before it’s all finished.”

There’s a joke in there somewhere. Maybe a dozen.

You’re David Rehr and it’s your party and you can cry if you want to.


Worked for Sinicrapi said...

Sinicropi. I wondered what happened to that r.b.

Randy Newman wrote that song about him.

Anonymous said...

Greenville is Market #60.

Sinicropi fired Gorman in Detroit.

Gorman has not had a radio job since.

Detroit Diesel said...

I was working at WWJ when Gorman, Marcheson, Mitch Todd and the K-Rock staff were there. Gorman and Marcheson had it with that crazy GM Rich Homberg and resigned. Just about everyone left after that. Steve Sinicropi came into the station right after that and changed it to Extreme and that lasted all of three months.

Anonymous said...

John you hit the nail right on the head. The NAB had some internal management stuggles and it was during that time the DMCA was passed and AFTRA sneaked through that new contract. I am willing to give David Rehr a fair shot. So far I would give him a C+ grade. The radio court will decide at the convention.

Anonymous said...

John...Love your blog and your opinions. The NAB should take heed. They need to be focused on everything that could affect radio. Like the rest of us in radio the NAB needs to learn multitasking and have the ability to take on more than one project at a time. I agree that they are spending too much time on satellite(is it really that important?) while the RIAA is looming large with their royalty threats.

Anonymous said...

I read where the coot is supporting the Arbitron PPM because his station showed up well in Philadelphia. Is there any end to his shallowness. You are right he did come up with a creepy name for his study. I told a couple of women in the office. Their replies were the same===Ewww.
Coot is a cute name.

Anonymous said...

if gorman hasnt worked in radio who was that setting up an oldies format at my station and a talk format at another a couple of years ago?

Anonymous said...

"Were you really awestruck when Jobs didn’t add an HD radio to his new iPod? I hope not."

The slimy HD Radio Cartel did manage to sneak this in:

"And the good ideas keep on coming..."

"So let me understand this... HD radio has been reduced to being a storefront for iTunes? So I listen to my HD radio, tag the songs I like, download them to my iPod, and listen to my iPod rather than my HD radio, right?"

Anonymous said...

I am flabbergasted by the number of owners that still believe in HD radio or at least that is what they claim. Maybe they have to justify the licensing fees for Ibiquity and the dollars spent on new equipment. How did they sell this? To my knowledge there is no date when radio must give up its present frequency for HD. Did Ibiquity sell this as something that was definitely going to happen? If it were to change frequencies it would be death for terrestrial radio. Even with HD TV there is cable and equipment you can buy for analog TVs to receive HD. Those that cannot afford new TVs may go that route but do you believe someone would do the same for radio? You have a generation of young adults, my son and daughter included, that never listen to terrestrial radio. The older one stopped listening five years ago except for occasional sports if he is not near a TV and the younger one never listened. Radio is never been part of her life but she manages to keep up with all the latest music. Radio has a problem that should be addressed at this convention and it is how to reinvent itself to a younger audience or is it too late? To my daughter radio is something old people listen to.

Anonymous said...

At least the NAB understands the "enemy" isn't the iPod, satellite radio, the Internet, or the DCMA; it's LPFM for crying out loud! On third-adjacent channels, no less! The biggest threat to radio in decades! And that highly-flawed MITRE study needs to be ripped up and thrown away! Call your congressman!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't stop laughing at your comments about Sinicrapi (that is what we called him). You probably heard the one about working for John Tenaglia was like a daily root canal? Working for Sinicrapi was like a daily hernia operation with food poisoning thrown in. I lost track of him (I wasn't looking low enough). I can only imagine what a you know what that you know what is making of himself with Arbitron.

Anonymous said...

I am not attending the NAB this year. I have an option to but decided against it. I can put the t&e to better use and investment. Anything I need to see and hear will be available on the net. The parties - been there done that. The awards banquet - been there done that. Networking - the only ones networking are out of a job or about to be. I didn't buy an award so I know I'm not getting one. The bragging rights fade quickly.

Anonymous said...

He is David Rehr and I think the only subject that will be talked about is that sellers can't sell and buyers can't get the financing to buy. He is David Rehr and the difference between a convention of radio and TV owners and operators and real estate company owners and operators is - well there is none! He is David Rehr and hen doesn't see the NAB being much of a party this year.

Anonymous said...

If you're going to make fun of someone's size, you really should be sure you're other people aren't talking about yours.

Anonymous said...

"If you're going to make fun of someone's size, you really should be sure you're other people aren't talking about yours."

You must be a disgruntled broadcaster.

Anonymous said...

Here is where the NAB goes wrong.

They talk about more LPFMs and adding more AM stations. There are already too many radio stations. Some should go dark.

Face the facts. An independent research company should study markets to determine how many radio stations best serve it.

I think everyone would be surprised with the results.

victim of circumstance said...

we are out of touch with listener reality. we stopped our music research. we use research from one of our stations in a major market not our own. this despite the fact that the musical tastes of my market have little to do with that station. as a result three down books. who gets blamed? i don't have to answer that one.

this is the end result of the nab winning deregulation. eleven years later our industry is a mess.

david rehr should cry at his party.

Anonymous said...

victim of circumstance said...

"this is the end result of the nab winning deregulation. eleven years later our industry is a mess."

Unbelieveable, that the broadcast industry is banking on such stillborn technology as HD Radio:

As Mark Ramsey stated, HD Radio is just a distraction to the real problems at hand. Too bad, that iBiquity sucked in so may radio groups, and now, iBiquity may be reneging on rebate offers:

Financial problems?

Anonymous said...

I for one am pleased to see you recognize Randy Michaels for what he really is. He is a carpetbagger brilliant enough to fool even the Mays family.

He is responsible probably more than anyone for the decline and fall of this industry.

When I read in Radio Info that someone said we had not had a leader like Randy Michaels that should be considered good news not bad.

When radio was good said...

JG - I know this isn't the right place to post this but I think you should see it.

“In lots of ways the call letters and the stations mascot character, the Buzzard, are actually hurting rather than helping ME. Because younger people don’t get it and older people will never hear it the way it once was… When people see our van with the call letters they holler and scream, but I believe it’s because of something that happened 30 years ago and not because of what is on the radio right now.” - Bo Matthews

Ive been there said...

The N.A.B. is for station owners and vendors (and hookers for some). It does not serve, help or in any way provide guidance to the programming side of the business. The only jocks that show are those out of work and most can't afford to pay to attend and instead hang by the entrances and exits like beggars in Bangladesh hoping to get a second to pitch one of the Armani Suits for a job. It is exactly what it should not be.

Anonymous said...

Is it true the hookers at last year's NAB convention said business was high but tips were low?

Anonymous said...

After perusing your blog I read an article about the NAB wanting to block wireless internet and other wireless transmissions (what is radio & tv). They want to stifle anything that means progress.

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