Here’s what I want to know.
How does one get a job like the one David "Fumbles" Rehr has?
You get to preach to the converted, greatly exaggerate and even outright lie to Congress, and count heads knowing that you’re getting a substantial piece of the action.
I kept reading and rereading Fumbles’ comments at last week’s NAB confab. Every time I did, I learned less.
Start with what the NAB’s going to spend your money on - Radio 2020.
Cue up Peggy Lee. “Is that All There Is?”
Is that all there is/ Is that all there is/ If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing / Let's break out the booze and have a ball /If that's all there is
There was that threat to Internet and satellite radio, “We will beat you!” and how HD Radio is “really taking off now.”
Whoops, sorry. Those quotes were from the 2006 NAB convention. We've come a long way in one year. Haven't we, Fumbles?
Did you happen to read the Ad Week piece on radio? It came out a couple of days before the convention opened.
My first reaction was that Fumbles hired some p.r. firm to work the trade to time the story for his Charlotte bash.
After all, what could be better than a pro-radio article in an advertising trade to kick off the NAB with?
It should’ve been the perfect open.
But you didn’t hear anything about it, did you?
Don't you just hate those industry pieces that open with: Radio has fallen on hard times. Not exactly ‘fire up the troops' material.
Ad Week called upon analyst Jim Boyle from CL King & Associates, who said, "It appears the out-of-favor sector, in the eyes of investors, may see soft revenue for several quarters to come."
The article also read, There are also plenty of new media players out to eat radio's lunch. While it's difficult to quantify, buyers say some dollars from radio budgets have been reallocated to new media.
Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!
Here’s the link: http://www.adweek.com/aw/magazine/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003645282
Chalk it up as another in a series of Fumbles’ follies.
And speaking of follies, let’s get back to Radio 2020.
Fumbles calls it a cooperative effort between the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) and the HD Radio Alliance.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Fumbles predicted that Radio 2020 will reposition radio for a long, successful future, claiming that it is the result of an in-depth research project, which analyzed hundreds of reports through phone research (“do you like a lot, like somewhat, like…..”) and focus groups (“mark on the sheet like, like somewhat, like….”).
How were the respondents selected? Are you familiar with radio? Yes. Have you ever listened to radio? Yes. Did you ever hear a commercial on radio? Yes.
Then there was the on-line research…..oh, sorry. They didn’t bother researching those who were on-line.
And how did Fumbles interpret the results?
"Participants in the focus groups overwhelmingly stated that radio is very important in their lives," said Fumbles. "This was confirmed in the survey data as well. More than 80 percent believe radio is very important. And, nearly all said they rely heavily on radio to easily connect to a diverse world of entertainment and information, no matter where they are. This confirms what we've known all along: Radio matters to listeners."
Okay, Fumbles. So what’s this Radio 2020 all about?
"Radio 2020 will not only address radio's greatest challenges, but will also guide us on how to explore our greatest opportunities," Fumbles pontificated. "Radio's value lies in the fact that it's accessible -- it's everywhere and portable. It's the one medium where everyone can freely and easily connect to a diverse world of entertainment and information, anywhere and everywhere."
That doesn’t mean they’re listening but let’s not confuse the Radio 2020 campaign with the facts.
Fumbles announced that the next phase of this “exciting” (his words, not mine) campaign will market consumers through radio, print ads, and the Internet…..no, I take that back. No Internet. Just radio and print.
Don’t knock it. Look how successful the HD Radio Alliance campaign on radio and in print has been for that product.
Another one of Radio 2020’s goals is to create initiatives to foster new radio sales talent. They should call it In Search of potential young salespeople that don’t have an MP3 player or listen to streaming audio.
But I digress.
One of the many meaningless goals Fumbles announced was to “ensure that radio is on new, emerging technologies. It's our job to make sure broadcast signals are available on every gadget, everywhere."
This is different from the line Fumbles used last year when he predicted that the next model iPod would include an AM-FM radio.
Question. What did radio do to deserve this loser?
I have to admit that Fumbles does have his fans.
"As this plan has come together under David Rehr’s leadership, the findings and recommendations are amongst the best work I’ve seen in all media positioning," said Fumbles disciple and RAB President and CEO Jeff Haley. "Radio is a universal medium in its accessibility and content choices, even more so now that we are expanding onto additional distribution platforms. Advertisers are taking notice and we can build on that momentum by delivering a unified message about Radio's importance in Americans' lives."
And if that’s not enough, Fumbles trotted out the limping Peter Ferrara, President and CEO of the highly successful (That’s a joke, son) HD Digital Radio Alliance. He called Radio 2020, “a call to action about our future.” He added, “Our industry is robust with fresh ideas, new technology and amazing opportunity. Through this initiative we can work together to demonstrate radio's incredible value and relevance to the American consumer."
Robust? Don't you mean frail, ailing, feeble, weak? New technology? Oh, you mean HD Radio...got 'cha! Riiiiight! Amazing opportunity? Got me there.
Radio needs a right now this minute plan.
Fumbles, do the math.
You’re saying it's going to take thirteen years to turn radio around?
Google just turned nine.
The iPod just turned six.
How many of today's radio industry leaders will be attending a NAB convention thirteen years from now?
Will there even be a NAB as we know it five years from now?
I must bring this one up. I got a half-dozen e-mail bulletins from the various pro-radio trades on Ford and HD Radio, which the way it was written would make one believe that every Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury will be equipped with an HD Radio. Read carefully - it's an option! So is SYNC. Never heard of it? You should. That’s another option offered by Ford. Let’s see which one will be most appealing to consumers.
Could someone give me the Vegas odds on how many dozen HD Radios will be installed in Fords over the next twelve months versus SYNC?
How about Sprint's new Xohm, which could put Internet radio in every.....let me save that one for another time. Too much information for one day.
Fumbles confirmed one thing. The NAB, the RAB, and, of course, the HD Digital Radio Alliance exist in a bubble oblivious to the world around it.
Don’t they remind you of time bombs? What’s bad about bombs, though, is that they may take a few people with them, too. In their case it could be an entire industry.
What wasn’t discussed at the NAB confab is far more crucial than the dog and pony show Fumbles put on.
How about right brain versus left brain, design versus commerce, sales versus creativity, truth versus lies. I could go on and on – and I will but enough said for today.
Sure, there were the obligatory discussions on the integration of radio and the Internet. The problem was that no one knew what they were talking about.
Let’s just say when someone asked at the NAB info center if there was a meeting on the marketing of creativity, he was met with the answer, “what?”