Thursday, January 24, 2008

Radio: Anti-social networking


I read that headline on Tuesday’s Inside Radio, too: Forget Facebook and MySpace. Radio jumps on the social networking craze.

It went on to list an unaccredited – but carefully worded – prediction that radio station social network sites could – emphasis on could – become a solid revenue source. Solid as opposed to what, I ask.

Rule of thumb. When a prophecy is passive and unaccredited - delete it.

The article – first of three – went on to tell how over a dozen Clear Channel websites already employ social networking – actually a social network component. If we are to believe Clear Channel’s statistics - its social networking beta test resulted in over 150,000 registered users since its launch last April – and its users uploaded more than 300,000 photos. Only one station, Z-100/New York, was mentioned. Clear Channel didn’t provide the markets or calls of the other participating stations.

It also revealed that a number of non-Clear Channel stations have produced their own social networking sites – like the Cumulus-owned 99X in Atlanta.

But didn’t they change format a few days ago?

According to Inside Radio, users can interact with one another and with personalities in chat rooms. Can’t wait to see how one interacts with a voice tracker.

Inside Radio doled out a lot of minutiae but few facts.
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Let’s move quickly to the office of Clear Channel/New York on-line programming czarette Zena Burns. She was quoted in Inside Radio (which is owned by Clear Channel, did’ja know?) saying, “Terrestrial radio is all about community. It’s what our iPods don’t have.”
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Guess she never heard the line, “What’s on your iPod?”

Burns was a former editor of Teen People.com, which folded.
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I read a statistic that a third of iPod users are between the ages of 6 and 10 – but I digress.
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The Inside Radio piece continued to explain and define what a social network sites are as if they were just invented yesterday.

And what, pray tell, do they say gives a radio station’s social network an edge? It’s local!

Could someone please translate to San Antonio it’s radio that needs to be local – not social networks.

Radio was the original social network. Back in the fifties and sixties when Tommy dedicated a song to Debbie on top 40 radio – that was social networking. As music got more defined with FM radio – those listening to the same niche formats experienced social networking.
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I’m not trying to discourage fresh thought and innovation but it would be nice to return to reality for the moment.
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Maybe it’s just me. But if you’re trying to combine social networking with radio – why are your playlists hopelessly out of sync with popular culture?
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I also read that piece in Inside Radio this morning (I’m giving them way too much free press) on the CBS-owned Last.fm site. Quincy Smith, who runs its interactive division said, “Radio and Last.fm talk a lot.” That means CBS Radio is using Last.fm data to discover new artists. In the old days – pre-Telecom – we hired skilled programmers and music directors that understood the culture because they were part of it. Now, you’re just eavesdropping. You may collect data on what’s being listened to – but do you know why it’s being listened to? And if you have to ask what Last.fm is – you’re not qualified to be in music radio and should leave the building immediately.
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12 to 34’s are not listening to the radio. I repeat – 12 to 34’s are not listening to the radio. How do you expect to get them through a radio as a portal to your social network when it’s not part of their lifestyle?
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Another question, if I may.
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How are you going to sell your social network to advertisers? Better, still - who’s going to sell it? NTR is such a pain.
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When you’re talking mix and match – old and new media – there’s a misalignment of critical metrics. What’s your pitch when the metrics don’t match up? And speaking of metrics – we don’t even have a standardized version of metric measurement.
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This recalls the ancient history days of radio ratings services: Arbitron (then Audio Research Bureau), Hooper, and Birch. Someone’s had to really screw up big time to give validity to another.
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Whatever the case, the media buyer wants to connect its clients with people.
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A successful social network provides advertisers the opportunity to talk with – not just to people. There’s a difference.
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Here’s the problem-o. There’s no clear-cut method to identify and measure the difference….yet. Pull that one off and you will get advertisers following your lead. Easier said that done, of course.
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A radio station social network web site? How behind the times is that? Can you change their mind? What happens if you actually get enough respondents and all of them complain how bogus your playlist is? You’ll have un-sold your radio stations due to your clueless programming and marketing.
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Those I talk to in the social network development circles got a chuckle from the Inside Radio piece, because radio is so, so, so out of touch with popular culture.
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I don’t mean to rub it in because, chances are, you had nothing to do with this decision but do you realize that for the cost of a half-dozen HD radio studio conversions, your radio chain could’ve bought Facebook a few years back? That head-start could’ve provided you with the knowledge you need to program to today’s cyber savvy.
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It’s true that the uncool can always become cool again. But what are the odds of radio pulling it off?
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I’m more concerned with the answer to this two-part question: What’s on your iPod and did it have anything to do with hearing the song on the radio? Start there.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

You cannot be serious. Clear Channel doing their own social network site - how long will that last? I swear that company is mess - top to bottom. I hope their employees can find better jobs because the incompetence of their management falls on their shoulders and they take the heat.

Sam said...

I agree with your statement that radio should have financed face book. It was a natural progression for radio and there could have been opportunties for licensing and promotional links. Alas, they invested in HD radio. Maybe when the next round of owner/operators i.e. real broadcasters take over the business we will have better decisions being made.

Anonymous said...

You mean to say that Murray the K and Cousin Brucie were the original social networkers? Actually you are absolutely correct. Radio has been adrift from his audience for years. The younger they are the less radio serves them. They forgot who brought them to the dance in the first place. How many generations have grown up without the need for radio? An alliance with an existing social network would help. I would not trust CBS or Clear Channel to set up their own social network. The kids can see right through that one.

Talex said...

Radio has lost the kids. They are not coming back. Best case for radio is that they pick up on it later in life. What radio should do is tie in with an existing social network and aim it for the adult demos. The adults that grew up with top 40 in the 1960s and FM AOR in the 1970s and 1980s would be open to a social network serving their needs and that could be tied in with radio. It cannot be lip service or done cheaply. A commitment has to be made.

Anonymous said...

It is too late for radio. When wireless internet becomes standard everyone will migrate to internet radio. You will not need a radio station to stream. Already the best internet radio stations are the independent ones.

Anonymous said...

The radio industry doesnt understand the internet, social networking and never will. Clear Channel turns to s#!t everything is touches and this is no exception. You would have thought Inside Radio would catch the 99X mention since they are supposed to be up on such things. Propaganda is an art. That leaves Clear Channel out.

Get rid of the Coot campaigner said...

G-Man I wish you were consult our station. We have the Coot from Detroit who wants us to "stay the course". He will always be an outsider looking in. I think our GM and group mgr is getting wise to his antics. I have already mentioned you and told our mkt mgr to read your blog. Did you know that he does not circulate his blog to his clients?

Zena-phobia said...

Zena Burns is perfect for Clear Channel. She understands the web as well as they do. She is a know it all double crosser and will end up being one of Clear Channel's biggest nightmares. They deserve each other. She treated people horribly. Just like CC does.

Anonymous said...

When ever I read about PPMs not being able to get a decent sample from young demos I have to wonder if what they really mean is that they are not getting enough respondants to say they listen to radio - period. Same problem as diaries. It's conceivable that the only time the younger demos listen to radio is when they are in a store or workplace that has a radio on. Otherwise they are not listening.

Anonymous said...

What's radio? Is it that thing that plays commercials interrupted with music?

PocketRadio said...

"Radio was the original social network. Back in the fifties and sixties when Tommy dedicated a song to Debbie on top 40 radio – that was social networking. As music got more defined with FM radio – those listening to the same niche formats experienced social networking."

Back in the 1960's we all had pocket-radios glued to our ears, and AM radio to pick up the latest top-ten, but no more:

"JUNE 7, 1969, STORY"

"Back in the late 1960s, it seemed like I spent every waking moment that I wasn't in school (and even some moments when I was in school) glued to the radio. I lived near Washington, DC, and mainly listened to three radio stations: WEAM (pronounced "weem") at 1390 AM, WINX (pronounced "winks") at 1600 AM, and WPGC (pronounced "dubbyapeegeecee") at 1580 AM and 95.5 FM. During that time, these three stations played a lot of Neil's songs, but I always thought they could play even more."

http://members.aol.com/litmanrs/jun071969.htm

Sadly, radio can never be the same.

PocketRadio said...

"Lost.fm"

http://insidemusicmedia.blogspot.com/2008/01/lostfm.html

Interesting post by Jerry.

Vic in SD. said...

What does the term "NTR" mean? My Ipod has no less than 10 days of KOREAN pop music on it, and NOPE, I didn't hear it on the radio! I was so driven away from Hip-hop, and from another article on PPM, I see no one else listens, either! Let's talk about Citadel! What a goofy bunch of clowns! Was "the Why-Man" born before Jesus, or just after? They deserve to be in the "90% Club"!