Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Radio: Rehr-ended in Las Vegas - A translation



Here's National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO David K. "Fumbles" Rehr's opening keynote address from yesterday's 2008 NAB Show in Las Vegas This is a translated transcript of his remarks, which confirms that what was said in Vegas should've stayed in Vegas.

He begins -

I'm delighted to see everyone.

Translation: I’m delighted that a few of you still have money in your budget to blow on…er…go to these events.

I hope you are enjoying the NAB Show - this year it seems we have more to see than ever before.

Translation: We have more of the same – just a lot more of the same.

Some people might think that, as head of the National Association of Broadcasters, I might not like that upstart YouTube. The truth is - I am intrigued by YouTube. It's funny. It's offbeat. It's free. I mean, where else would you find things like this?

Translation: This newfangled Internet stuff is all so new to me.

I think we can all agree, what you find on YouTube is a different world - It certainly is a different world for me. And it raises this question for radio and TV broadcasting. Because of YouTube, because of the internet, because of cell phones and iPods …is our model broken.

Translation: It’s not our fault, it’s theirs.

Has technology and cultural change made us no longer relevant?

Translation: Always blame something else for our problems.

Look at this. If you go to YouTube's Web site, it says, "YouTube-Broadcast Yourself."
They use the word "broadcast."

Translation: They still use old media terminology. See, we’re still relevant!

They obviously don't think the word is outdated… or tired… or irrelevant. But the question is, do we? We know that the world has changed. Consumers have more options than ever before. The media landscape is rapidly changing. We're being buffeted by forces larger than our industry. Some in the business are a bit disoriented. Some are overwhelmed by the changes taking place. Frankly, some are not optimistic about broadcasting's future.

Translation: The word isn’t outdated. We are.

I can tell you, serving as president of the NAB is the most exciting job I've ever had. I love it.

Translation: I don’t have to drink on the job. Do you know how many F.O.P. cards I went through when I was working for the booze hounds? On the other hand, this job is driving me back to drink.

Every morning there is a new challenge and a new opportunity ahead. But broadcasters… and you know this; broadcasters can be a bit of a cynical bunch. And I'm afraid, that some people in this business have been staring so long at the door that's closing, they haven't seen the new door that's opening. The digital door.

Translation: Yes, we’re still pushing HD Radio. My dear friend Peter "Sgt. Bilk-o"Ferrara tells me that we’re getting closer to our saturation point. Any day now.

If we don't believe in ourselves, how do we promote our future? How do we promote our business and our valuable content?

Translation: It’s pretty bad when we don’t believe in the business we’re in.

Let me start today by talking about what is happening in the radio business. This article appeared in Business Week earlier this year by an interesting writer and blogger named Jon Fine.

The headline reads "Requiem for Old-Time Radio." He quotes a media analyst who bluntly says, "The model is broken." With almost bittersweet regret, Mr. Fine writes, "You loved radio for opening up a world; you hated it for falling behind what was actually going on."

He recalls radio with fondness. He says, "I recall huddling with it long past bedtime, the volume set low, hoping to hear something I loved…

You're in bed with the lights out, the music and the DJ's voice going straight into your brain, the images created are yours alone."

Translation: There is nothing more soothing than the sound of a DJ saying, “and now we kick off another ten in a row…” or “less talk, more music,” or “today’s best music,” or “more music, more variety,” or “your number one hit music station,” or……even better - dead air - when the Prophet goes out of whack and your engineer is across town at one of your other stations that crapped out.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is romance... that's longing... that is a connection. Listeners still want what they've always wanted. Technology hasn't changed that- it has just changed the devices of delivery. This is not to diminish the challenges or uncertainty of the radio business. In fact, I think one thing that's changed is that many in the industry have been so worn down by the battles and buffeting, that they themselves have forgotten the magic of radio. But we have not forgotten.

Translation: Those slogans sound even better in HD.

Last year, NAB commissioned a branding study on radio. And this began with a very thorough research project. We talked to everyone. We fielded a dozen consumer focus groups and interviewed over 5,000 Americans - young and old, all across the country. And what we learned was fascinating and inspiring. Some of it is no surprise, at least to most of us. Radio remains relevant.

Translation: In our branding study we said to our respondents, “Repeat after me. Radio remains relevant.” They did. See? They said it, not us.

The first thing we learned: nearly everyone said they rely heavily on radio for the information and entertainment they want or need every day.

Remember this from the movie, Sleepless in Seattle?

(Roll Video)

(Did Rehr just violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act with an unauthorized use of a digital video clip? Just asking.)

Translation: Now, don’t confuse me with the facts. Sleepless in Seattle was released in 1993 – three years before the Telecommunications Act’s radio revisions were signed into law. You know and I know that if Nora Ephron wrote this today they’d lose the radio. There hasn’t been a movie done in the past decade that has had a positive spin on radio. Hey, don’t blame me. It was either this or a WKRP in Cincinnati clip.

That is the magic of radio. For years, we've been saying local, local, local. And that's true, but we have a new wrinkle. We also learned from these consumers that being local, in and of itself (sic), is (sic) not what defines radio's value. It's the accessibility and the connection with radio personalities. And it's being everywhere and available to everyone. A radio is not a jukebox.
If you're listening to radio, you want to hear a human voice sharing that same moment in time that you are. There is power in that personal bond. A CD doesn't have that connection. An iPod doesn't have it. No, our model is not broken.

Translation: I didn’t say it has to be a live human voice.

In fact, when you look at Arbitron data, what you find is that in a world of ever-growing choices, radio continues to add millions of listeners each year. Last March, it was estimated that 232 million people listen to radio in a given week. This March that estimation is up 3 million people …to 235 million. No, radio's business model is NOT broken.

Translation: Yes, I know that many of those 232 million might have been in a place where a radio was on – but – reminding you of N.A.B. rule number one - don’t confuse me with the facts. In this case, it’s that hearing a radio on and listening to a radio are two different experiences.

But, we do have challenges and we have to address them. We learned from our research that many listeners acknowledge that they take radio for granted precisely because it's so pervasive. The public's love of radio is still there, they just need to be reminded of it. We need to reignite that passion.

Translation: Who wrote this? This sounds like Dr. Phil talking about relationships.

In anticipation of radio's centennial, we launched a major effort at the NAB Radio Show last fall to reignite the public's passion with radio. The initiative is called Radio 2020 - 2020 being the centennial celebration of radio, and also representing the clear vision we have for our future. NAB, working with our industry partners, intends to reposition radio in the public's mind.

Translation: By 2020 we’ll be retired and it’ll be someone else’s problem.

First, technology. We are going to make sure that radio is incorporated on every new gadget, everywhere-especially mobile, hand-held devices.

Translation: From can openers to ketchup bottles – we want radio on everything. Now, we just have to figure out how to get people to turn the radio part on.

Second, the survey found that people want new, unique content. They want niche channels.

Translation: I was going to say people are sick of the same old….but 'niche' is such a cool word.

This brings me to the great possibilities of HD Radio. There are those who said HD Radio would never make it-too expensive, too few stations, too this, too that. That attitude is changing. Ford, Mercedes, Volvo and BMW are just a few automakers that have made major announcements about offering HD Radio in their vehicles. And radio stations are stepping up to offer the programming to support new multicast channels of HD Radio. We still have a lot of work to do on this, but we are certainly headed in the right direction.

Translation: We know that in this case the naysayers are absolutely right about HD Radio…but never forget N.A.B. rule number one: Don’t confuse our listeners, our clients, and the press with the facts.

Third, we have to build for our future. Armed with what we learned from consumers in this survey - and with what we know about our business and the changing landscape - we have to act now to ensure radio prospers well into the next century.

Translation: Well, I know we’re already in the next century – it’s just that radio hasn’t caught up with it yet. So we're still partyin' like it's 1999.

Fourth, we must reignite our consumers. We need to remind them why they love radio.

Translation: I know he is now a traitor after recording “Radio Nowhere,” but as Bruce Springsteen once sang, long before his music was banned by Clear Channel, “you can’t start a fire without a spark."

With Radio 2020, we are reminding people:

  • That radio is accessible and everywhere they are. Translation: Of course that doesn’t mean they’re turned on and being listened to.

  • That it's simple and convenient to use- there is no CD to change, nothing to download, nothing to subscribe to, no playlist to build and nothing to recharge. Translation: There’s nothing – period.

  • That it's available to everyone, regardless of their education or economic status. Radio is a great equalizer, a great unifier. Translation: Most stations are equally bad regardless of format.

  • It reaches out to you no matter what your status or station in life. Translation: Unless it’s the HD Radio signal, then you’ll be lucky to get any kind of signal reach.

  • Ladies and gentlemen, as aggressive local broadcasters we are going to make radio new again. We will be reinvigorated. We will remind our listeners, and ourselves, of the value of this great medium. The campaign is called 'Radio Heard Here' and you'll hear more about it at the Radio Luncheon tomorrow. And it's going to be great. Translation: ‘Heard’ is past tense – when radio used to be great.

(We’ll skip the television portion of the speech and move quickly to the end….)

Today, I have chosen to talk to you about the future of broadcasting, but I don't want to ignore the aggressive advocacy efforts taking place on your behalf in Washington, D.C. As you know, we have a team of government relations advocates and legal professionals that are addressing more issues than ever on Capitol Hill and at the FCC. We have a board of directors that is more engaged than ever.

Translation: You should see the bills we're getting from our lobbyists!

Let me give you just the highlights from Washington.

Performance Tax - Nearly 200 members of Congress are standing with us against a performance tax on local radio. Translation: That is until the RIAA opens their war chest….

XM - Sirius Merger - Twelve state attorneys general and more than 80 members of Congress have written the FCC that the XM - Sirius merger is not in the public interest. The Justice Department's notion that the two companies do not compete is simply absurd. If combined, these two companies will control more spectrum than the entire FM dial.... Think about that for a minute... Translation: I know that the best thing that could happen to radio is the XM-Sirius merger. We already know what lack of competition has done for radio (pause for laughter)….but we need something to blame our declining ratings, revenue and time spent listening on.

Localism - More than 1,000 broadcasters and their public service partners have written to the FCC to showcase station's localism efforts. We're working to make sure that the Commission does not place unnecessary requirements on broadcasters that would actually hamper stations' efforts to serve their local communities. Translation: And we will also start our new campaign to make sure that voice trackers from distant cities can adequately replicate local accents.

Rest assured, we are advocating on your behalf, and we have the will and perseverance to succeed. But in truth, we could win every battle in Washington and it wouldn't make a bit of difference if we - you, me and fellow broadcasters - don't believe in our own future.

Translation: What’s that saying about winning the battles but losing the war?

We must believe in it. We must act upon it. We must celebrate it. As some of you know, I have four young children. And my youngest son, who is 5, is fascinated by space travel; in fact, he dresses up like a Star Wars storm trooper nearly every day... But recently this made me think - when astronauts leave our atmosphere they are knocked around by tremendous G-forces before they enter space. That is sort of what broadcasting is feeling right now. We are between the realms. Not quite out of one realm and not quite into the other. And that can be an uncertain, bone-rattling, teeth-jarring ride. But I have no doubt that we will pass through the turbulence.

Translation: And just like space flight, we've increased the number of un-manned radio studios.

We can not let up on the throttle. We can not doubt. Because to truly reap the benefits of the digital age, we must move forward without looking back. This is an opportunity to reinvent our business. But we can't accomplish change without hope and a renewed spirit. We must embrace our digital future and all the possibilities that come with it. We must aggressively promote this great broadcast medium of the future.

Translation: Let’s not look back at all the HD Radio campaigns that have failed. Let’s just keep coming up with more of them. Even a blind squirrel….you know what I mean.

And if we believe in broadcasting...if we believe in ourselves...and if we believe in our future…then we will prosper in the new digital era.

Translation: Cher, an artist that was broken by radio (I know it was back in 1965 – but…) once sang, “If you believe…” Now, let’s sing a long.

Thank you. God bless you and God bless America.

Translation: Thank God that’s over! I need a friggin’ drink.

----

The Buzard turns 34

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your translating skills are perfect. Then again you were far too kind.

Anonymous said...

Fumbles took the longest time to say absolutely nothing. The speech went on forever. Even the penguins that usually get caught up in the speeches were looking at their watches and wondering when it was going to end. Fumbles can take five minutes and stretch it to an hour. Someone should teach him the basics of radio starting with diareah of the mouth.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, Rehr is a teetotaler. The way you know he's coming to an NAB event is the caterers will stock TAB at the bar. You know, the pink cans. Generally a single TAB, since he's the only one who drinks it. God knows where they find it, probably fly it in from 1977 in a time machine. Is it any wonder he thinks radio is still relevant?

Anonymous said...

John Did you notice the logo behind Fumbles on the photo you used in today's blog?

The Coot. How fitting. The only one missing is Ferrara for a triple play of con men.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it was just me. When I heard Rehr speak he did not really promote HD radio as heavily as I thought he would considering their latest "launch".

Rehr does deflect blame to everything except his own industry which makes him a poor leader. All he is is their mouthpiece.

Anonymous said...

John, the comments are dead-on.

So, let me get this straight--radio people actually pay money to attend conventions and listen to people like this for inspiration? Why?

Was there any laughter from the audience during Rehr's speech, or did most in the audience just drink the Kool-Aid?

There is absolutely nothing relevant about radio today. It's about as 'relevant' as passenger railroads in America.

As a former broadcaster, I must ask--why would anyone work in this business, or support the BS of people like this who have infected what used to be a worthwhile business?

Anonymous said...

Let me do my translation of your translation:

Everything was so much better when I was in broadcasting.

Everything that's happened since I left has sucked.

The people who have jobs in radio now don't deserve them as much as I do, so I will make fun of them to show how much smarter I am.

I have a bunch of ditto-heads who will agree with me no matter what I say.

And all I have to do is say something negative about HD Radio and that guy from Florida will post a comment here.

I used to enjoy going to the NAB when the company picked up all my expenses. Now that I'm self-employed, things are just not as much fun.

I wish things would go back to the way things used to be, and all these new people would just go away.

Paul Vincent Zecchino said...

Mr. Gorman -

Your comments describe that enchanting blend of braindead cynicism and trucculent incompetence which permeates NAB/iNiquity/BigRadio like bile throughout an end-stage cirhhotic.

HD is long over the cliff. Those who cynically embraced it now seek more iBLOC lemmings to follow them, so as to spread the liability - and stupidity.

Why do HD zealots fly into coluratura hystrionics whenever someone mentions HD's jamming?

What a mess. Not to mention, a fine opportunity for small local stations interested in serving their audience without gimmicks, live and on the level.

Paul Vincent Zecchino
Manasota Key, Florida
15 April, 2008

midsize & content said...

Funny how the small independent community oriented stations still make money while the mega-chains are in the poor house. Funny how the small independent stations did not buy into the HD radio hype and are financially healthier for it while the mega-chains are licensed up the wazoo with price increases forthcoming and audiences not.

Paul VIncent Zecchino, T.D. said...

Why's that guy, posted above me there, say every time he sez something negative about HD, 'that guy down in Florida will post a comment'...

What's this cat's point? What's he mean, negative? Hey, aren't I an equal opportunity HD truthteller? Post anything about HD, positive, negative, or chartreuse and I'll jump at it.

Why not? What can I say? HD's just one of those things, inspires me there, you know?

Re, down Florida? Didn't an 80's groups say it best?
"Ahm gon' cut off mah leg in Florida,
and dance one legged
off inna rain..."*

Dr. Paul Vincent Zecchino
Manasurfers Key, Florida
15 April, 2008

*-'Movin to Florida'
c. 1987, "The Butthole Surfers"

paul vincent zecchino, T.D. said...

PS -

Howzabout this, slogan?

"Fumbles & HD - they go on forever"


Lemme know, whatha think.

Dr. Zecchino,
down Florida, there
Ides of April

Anonymous said...

This may be the wrong place to put this, but I'm in the middle of a book about Clear Channel that I highly recommend.

ISBN: 0571211062
Title: "Right of the Dial -- The
Rise of Clear Channel and the
Fall of Commercial Radio"
Author: Alec Foege

It's an eye-opener. I didn't know HALF of this stuff!

Anonymous said...

That book mentioned above is brand new, out this week.

Anonymous said...

The book above is more preaching to the already-converted Gorman dittoheads, who believe what they want to believe. Surprised he hasn't written his own review yet.

Anonymous said...

It certainly is well source-documented. That's usually the sign of a good research effort, and it's anything but boring!

Anonymous said...

Will reading this book change anything?

If the answer is no, that's usually a sign of a waste of time.

paul vincent zecchino said...

The Rise and Fall of Clear Channel? Thanks for the tip.

Doesn't the book sound like an eye opener? Hasn't radio under qWeer Channel devolved to a BigKorpseorate killing field of mass firings, dull faire, and endless HD 'carny shills'?

Does it seem author Foege serves the public by alerting them to the looting of their airwaves by some Texas sign company?

Remember Ladybird Johnson's highway beautification program?

Put things on a time line, so say good investigators, and truth becomes manifest.

"The Right of the Dial - The
Rise of Clear Channel and the
Fall of Commercial Radio" by
Alec Foege.

Why not pick up a copy?

Sounds as if the truth at last emerges. Why does the HD Bund fear the truth? Don't their overblown hissy fits pitched whenever we question their HD 'carny shill' tell us much?

Are they nervous because they realize truth frees the innocent and always finds the guilty?

Do they realize BigRadio will - as do all larcenous command economy schemes - collapse beneath its bloated weight?


Paul Vincent Zecchino
Manasota Key, Florida
16 April, 2008

Pro-radio anti-NAB said...

John, All kidding aside, you made some excellent points on Rehr's lost in space speech. I don't hear personality on music radio. I hear those liners - and some even worse. I don't feel any connection between the jock and the music. I didn't realize why until you mentioned it. Unmanned studios. No matter how you try you just can't synch voice tracking with music and make it sound live or sincere. Radio must get back to live and local or wifi and internet radio will kill terrestrial within the next five years. When free standing internet radios or worse iPhones and iPods with internet radio access become commonplace if radio doesn't rebuild itself now it will be urban renewal later.

Radio exec fed up said...

Who is his speech writer? It reads like it was written by some bad copywriter. Too long, no substance. The same old story. A few new slogans, a few recycled slogans, all filler and no substance. The radio industry has some bad figure heads right now and none are worse than David Rehr. He makes a laughing stock of radio and makes us appear in even worse shape than we really are. Does he believe that Radio 2020 and all the other newly released radio promotions are going to draw young people back to radio. David, let me spell it for you. C-O-N-T-E-N-T. Thank you.

selling time for a dollar & a dime said...

Unmanned space flights....you got Fumbles good with that one.

Is the radio industry aware of how it looks to the ad community? If I were selling against radio I would distribute Rehr's speech (sans your comments) to every client on my list. I would also show them the NAB 2020, HD radio and other inane radio industry campaigns to show how inbred and corrupt the industry has become. The only reason I will not to do that is because I AM SELLING RADIO. At least I am trying to but our leadership vacuum that starts with the NAB and continues with nearly all of the major radio chains makes us look dated and bloated. I have shown your blog to a couple of clients that "get it" and understand radio does have potential.

Anonymous said...

To: David Rehr
Re: Your speech

If radio isn't broken why does Wall Street feel otherwise?

I await your comment.

Signed,
Someone that took a bath with Clear Channel stock

Anonymous said...

He speak with forked tongue.

Anonymous said...

Rehr’s speech is just the tip of the iceberg of fun at NAB so far this year. First, Tim Robbins’ gives a keynote basically telling broadcasters to get their heads out of their asses. Attempts at suppressing his speech backfired. See Advertising Age for the highlights.

Then, we have the Arbitron/Edison numbers out on HD Radio. Highlight: fewer people know about HD today than did a year ago. Not only does that reflect on the public’s interest in HD, but raises all sorts of questions about how effective radio advertising is, since HD was by far the biggest advertiser on radio in the last year. Can you imagine how much business that report cost the IBOC vendors at NAB?

And, as previously reported, both Avid and Apple dropped out of the show this year. Forget about whether the broadcast industry will survive, will the NAB’s cash-cow of a convention survive?

Anonymous said...

"If radio isn't broken why does Wall Street feel otherwise?"

Have you watched Jim Cramer lately?

Wall Street doesn't like ANY stocks right now.

We're in a financial depression.

Yet the radio haters think it's only radio that's going through these problems.

They don't see the huge economic problems the entire country is facing, funding an expensive war, an entitlement population that wants the government to pay for everything, and taxpayers who are fed up.

If you're going to bring up Wall Street, take the blinders off and look at the big picture. Radio doesn't look as bad as the airlines, auto, and even the telecom industries.

Anonymous said...

Radio was doing bad when Wall Street was doing good. Clear Channel, CBS, Citadel, Cumulus stocks were sinking during an otherwise bull market. You cannot lump radio's lost fortunes on Wall Street. Radio began digging its own grave a dozen years ago. How many radio stations ADDED staff to handle the INCREASED VOLUME of business? Let me rephrase that. Can you name a top ten radio chain that HAS NOT "downsized"?

There has been NO increased efficiency by thinning the work force. On the contrary. The quality of programming has fallen and along with it the ratings. The answer to radio's woes was to hire an unlimited number of salespeople. That was a brilliant idea, Mr. Karmazin and you had Mr. Hogan and Mr. Dickey and everyone else who knows nothing about long term gains following your "lead". Each cluster had dozens of salespeople that did not know the first thing about selling radio which made our business look even bush league, uninformed and dated.

Call those who criticize the state of the media "dittoheads" (hardly original since that one originated with a recovering Oxy addict) and radio-haters. Maybe you have even convinced yourself they are, too. I think the most passionate supporters of radio are contributing to this site and making intelligent comments and contributions.

Radio still has a chance to recover but to do so it will take some major changes and among them more owners having fewer radio stations and more RADIO people back in radio.

This isn't meant to be a get you back comment. But those of you who actually believe what David Rehr said on Monday and support his latest "Radio is here" or whatever it is called deserve to get what is coming.

We don't need slogans, we need action and fresh blood and creativity to turn the radio industry around.

PocketRadio said...

anonymous said...

"Yet the radio haters think it's only radio that's going through these problems."

"RAIN: Consumers, Wall Street Not Buying HD"

"Admit it. You’ve secretly wondered why the radio industry has invested so much in HD radio. You’ve secretly wondered what the big payoff is. Here’s some advice if you still have a job in radio: keep it secret and don’t wonder out loud. In fact, you probably want to be seen gulping as much HD Kool-Aid as you possibly can, lest your name appear on one of those increasingly numerous slips that are coloring the halls of radio stations in Pepto-Bismol pink... There is no apparent revenue model for HD Radio. So what's the play here? There doesn’t seem to be one."

http://tinyurl.com/3cqnyq

Anonymous said...

Their new campaign is something out of a Saturday Night Live skit.

Was there not a single voice of reason speaking up in advance of the NAB releasing the details to their lastest embarassing campaigns?

Radio is doing so well Clear Channel refused to send any engineers to the NAB. They were told they could go if they paid their own way but their time off would be charged as vacation.

What does that say about the state of the radio business?

Anonymous said...

Their new campaign is something out of a Saturday Night Live skit.

Was there not a single voice of reason speaking up in advance of the NAB releasing the details to their lastest embarassing campaigns?

Radio is doing so well Clear Channel refused to send any engineers to the NAB. They were told they could go if they paid their own way but their time off would be charged as vacation.

What does that say about the state of the radio business?

Anonymous said...

"Will reading the book mentioned change anything?"

If enough people read the book, maybe things will start to change. Only simpletons believe that a single event provokes great change in the typical scenario.

Anonymous said...

Mr President, Fm music Radio is a jukebox. And listeners don't feel any connection. Mr President stupid sir, the voice we're all waiting to hear doesn't say anything! Unless of course you count those generic promo liners, voice tracked artist intros and who can forget weather and traffic reports. The voice we're all waiting to hear doesn't say anything. And that voice in the future will be saying the same drone like dribble to 50 markets. Mr. President, local doesn't really matter any more. So let me get this right.. As long as it's available anywhere to anyone just about any device will work!
So if satellite radio offers free ad supported channels, that’s available to anyone and is everywhere that could replace radio. Because being local doesn’t matter any more.
Dam I thought the local thing was radio’s last great hope..
Mr. President have a drink on me.
I’m so glad I’m out of radio and can now sit back and just laugh..

And regarding Clear Channel, evil and greed make nice bed partners.
If you told me employees got raises. I’d say these guys aren’t bad. But under their
run more jobs were eliminated and incomes actually shrank. And Cox, Renda and others
followed their leadership. Because of Clear Channel the industry went backwards and stopped investing in their most treasured asset, talented creative people.

I’m sure now that times are tougher for Radio the Mays family and alike can only drive a new Mercedes every-other year. After all, if they’re asking their people to make sacrifices under these challenging times it’s the least they can do! The truth is CLEAR CHANNEL IS FREAKING OUT, watching their golden parachute being flushed down the drain and is playing every dirty-trick in the book so they can to push this deal through to Bain Capital LLC and Thomas H. Lee Partners And when this deal goes through the Mays family will take the money and run. If you told me every employee will get a nice bonus after the sale I’d say these guys aren’t bad.. but that won’t happen. Ex-Clear Channel employees will be lucky to have a job and likely will have to deal with more cuts and suffering.

Hitler did a few good things for Germany. Built nice highways and even was instrumental in working with manufactures to create the VW bug so ever man could drive on his nice highways. Though in the end this mad mans quest for what mattered most power and himself led to more people suffering and losing their lives.

Clear Channel isn’t evil, they’re greedy and like a mad man they will do anything to protect what matter most. Themselves. The new spelling for one way is Clear Channel.

Anonymous said...

"we need action and fresh blood and creativity to turn the radio industry around."

The only fresh blood you care about is your own. If anyone else gets a gig, they'll be fodder for the same group of haters. No matter how creative they happen to be. It's all a bunch of sour grapes.

Anonymous said...

"If enough people read the book, maybe things will start to change."

If lots of unemployed former radio people read the book, the only thing that will change is an increase of the number of anti-CC blogs like this one.

And since the only people who will buy it are those who are already haters, it will have no impact on anything.

Anonymous said...

"Radio was doing bad when Wall Street was doing good."

Wall Street hasn't been doing good since before the last Presidential election. Which was about when radio also started having problems with stock price.

"How many radio stations ADDED staff to handle the INCREASED VOLUME of business?"

The size of the business staff at these companies has grown. The folks who were fired were mainly on air folks. There has never been a shortage of ad sales people in stations. Just a shortage of clients.

"The answer to radio's woes was to hire an unlimited number of salespeople."

You wanted them to add staff to handle increased business. They did. What's your problem?

"I think the most passionate supporters of radio are contributing to this site and making intelligent comments and contributions."

They'd serve their cause and the industry more by starting their own businesses and showing how radio should be done, rather than criticizing those who actually do the work. Talk is cheap and easy. It takes real brains and courage to put your ass on the line and get something done.

"more owners having fewer radio stations and more RADIO people back in radio."

Fine. Let's start with you. Raise some money and buy a few stations. I can give you a few frequencies to start with.

Anonymous said...

"And since the only people who will buy it are those who are already haters, it will have no impact on anything."

As if those "unemployed radio people" (maybe thousands of them?) don't have friends and significant others and spehres of influence. LOL!

Keep denying and smokin' that shit, jack

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree at least a little bit with that last person who posted only in that radio did a terrible public relations job when going about eliminating all those positions. That fact combined with hiring an unfortunate lot to operate the largest company in the industry for a time, a group who reveled in stomping all over those who were about to lose their jobs (or who did lose them), This arrogance appears to have come at some price. It's one thing to eliminate jobs but then to joyously revel in it is beyond galling.

No Victory in Vegas said...

They are soooo out of touch here in Vegas. I would love to put some of the conversations I have been involved in on You Tube. You would not believe how out of touch and I mean OUT OF TOUCH the broadcasters are here. Some are like moonies,convinced that HD radio is the savior. No one talks about content, programming, creativity. The NAB is an alternate universe of think-alike people who are completely out of touch with the realities of how one uses the radio medium today. If these people stay in charge of radio, forget it. It will be over. Those few who know the truth are afraid to speak up knowing that their opinions would get drowned out by the Kool Aid drinkers. There are some radio execs who came to Vegas who should stay in Vegas. Please don't come home.

Live from LV said...

I concur. It was an ostrich convention. Lots of heads in the sand. Lots of people that refuse to face facts. These are not the people to lead this industry forward. David Rehr is a joke. His speech was warmed over old news. Just what we need. Another campaign to bring people back to radio. Everything about it right down to the logo is bush league. HD radio did the usual talking the good talk. Some of the early believers are now having second thoughts. Revenue stream? That got a few chuckles. Lots of foreigners cashing in on the weak dollar. It was a good excuse to come over to the states and hit the casinos. No new ground was broken, no problems were solved and the heads of our industry decision makers remained stuck in the sand.

A would-be radio listener said...

As a radio listener and someone who is not in the music business and strictly a fan I have to agree that the radio industry is out of touch with what consumers want from radio. We don't need radio. We will listen if you provide programming we like. We will not listen if you don't. We don't know or care about your HD radio or other campaigns. Just give us better quality stations and we will listen more. I found this site through John Gorman's "The Buzzard" book blog. Maybe some of you radio people should listen to old tapes of WMMS and how they served their community and broke all ratings records doing so.

Anonymous said...

"As if those "unemployed radio people" (maybe thousands of them?) don't have friends and significant others and spehres of influence. LOL!"

If they had any kind of influence, they'd still be employed.

Anonymous said...

>>If they had any kind of influence, they'd still be employed.<<

Influence manifests itself in many ways. For example, this great blogsite influenced the likes of you to get on here and read/comment.

Anonymous said...

Far from being a hater rant, this blog does a far better job than all of the trade publications that have failed to report on the misery done to their business by radio consolidation -- the one notable exception being Inside Radio when Del Colliano ran it.

Anonymous said...

The radio industry lives in a vacuum of denial. I believe Peter Smythe and the other CEOs convince themselves that it is not really as bad as it truly is. From the state of the medium to revenue radio is in serious trouble. The radio trades gloss over and paint a happy face on the business. Nothing could be further from the truth. As you say, fish stink from the head.

Anonymous said...

"the trade publications that have failed to report on the misery done to their business by radio consolidation"

There is no shortage of media attacks on consolidation. From within and without. Most of it, however, is based on emotion and not facts.

Traditional radio still makes tons of money, and still has 94% of the population listening, much to the dismay of the haters and bloggers who dream of its collapse. You can get those facts from unbiased sources. Sure, radio isn't growing by as much as Google, but there's no reason to believe things would have been different had Gorman still been in charge.

The real point is not attacking the powers that be, but actually building new media. Blogging and complaining won't get any of that done. At the end of the day, it will take lots of money to fix radio. Who will pay? The bloggers? I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Radio is not making enough money to support itself and service debt. If stations were healthy they wouldn't be cutting to the bone. That's not emotion. That's a fact.

If radio was healthy it would be adding people to handle promotion, marketing, live around the clock airshifts in this 24 hour America.

The result of radio cutting staff is a product that is a shell of its former self. It's not radio having more competition. It's radio making itself less competitive.

Gorman spoke at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame two nights ago and he said something that radio folks don't like to hear. He agreed that radio has competition with ipods, satellite radio, internet radio, video games, and all the other old and new media excuses - BUT he also said that whatever medium is delivering the best entertainment or information will win. He is absolutely right. If radio provided what it once did in the way of being an entertainment media instead of a voice-tracked, schedule-and-play collection of formats more people would listen longer. Gorman also cited a Cleveland Arbitron where a tenth of a point separates one station from the next and defined that as no one having a favorite radio station. THE ENTIRE HALL NODDED YES. 94% of the population may be listening (I doubt the accuracy of those NAB generated figures) BUT THEY DON'T LISTEN TO ANY ONE STATION LONG ENOUGH TO SATISFY CLIENT NEEDS. No one has a FAVORITE station anymore. Even the few radio people in the crowd agreed.

The ad community is not getting the bang it once did for the buck spent on radio and have allocated money spent on radio in new media. Radio stopped delivering and clients went elsewhere.

This blog has become an open ended forum of people with a wide variety of opinions and that is good. I credit him for doing this blog. He obviously cares about the medium. He isn't slamming radio. He is slamming the mismangement of radio. There is a BIG difference.

Anonymous said...

The last anonymous says "If stations were healthy they wouldn't be cutting to the bone. If radio was healthy it would be adding people to handle promotion, marketing, live around the clock airshifts in this 24 hour America." This in reply to the prior anonymous who says that "Traditional radio still makes tons of money, and still has 94% of the population listening."

But if traditional radio makes tons of money, it can make many MORE tons by not spending any on adding people "to handle promotion, marketing, live around the clock airshifts." Why waste that money on salaries when you can automate, cut staffs to the bone and pocket even more of that cash?

At least in the short term. In the long term, this is the kind of scorched earth policy that cares nothing for a future beyond the end of the next quarter and conducts itself in a state of perpetual panic. It builds nothing, invests in nothing.

It's not just radio. Much of the wealth created in the U.S. in the last couple of decades has come from gaming stock prices, acquiring companies and stripping their assets, cashiering their workers and pocketing the money. It's capitalism on steroids.

Anonymous said...

I think it's amusing that more than 120 congressmen have signed on to a bill opposing the FCC's belated, meager efforts to rein in voicetracking and syndication and de-localization of radio. I didn't think you could get 120 people in one room that would support what consolidation has done to radio. Apparently you can -- on Capitol Hill.

Anonymous said...

"Radio is not making enough money to support itself and service debt."

I think you need to be specific when you make such a statement.

Lots of radio stations are very healthy, and a lot of them have paid off their debt.

"If radio was healthy it would be adding people to handle promotion, marketing, live around the clock airshifts in this 24 hour America."

First of all, lots of radio stations, even those owned by big conglomerates, are live and local 24/7 with full marketing and promotion staffs.

Second of all, those stations who've cut back have done so because they're targeting niches that can't support full 24/7 staffs. It's not the 80s any more. Everyone doesn't like the same music. Also, they're transfering a lot of their resources from on-air to online.

"The result of radio cutting staff is a product that is a shell of its former self. It's not radio having more competition. It's radio making itself less competitive. "

You have to focus on what audiences want. As they've demonstrated, they don't want or need 24/7 airstaffs. They want interaction. That takes different resources.

"BUT he also said that whatever medium is delivering the best entertainment or information will win. He is absolutely right."

He's wrong. The public has clearly demonstrated that they don't care about the "best." They are satisfied with lower quality mp3 sound in small speakers, they prefer jukebox streams to hosted ones, and they want the ability to customize their content, rather than have it chosen for them by PDs and air staff.

"The ad community is not getting the bang it once did for the buck spent on radio and have allocated money spent on radio in new media."

That's not what the facts say. The facts say that the ad buyers have simply limited what they buy to radio stations that deliver the most numbers, not the best programming. So if you're an unhosted music station that's #1 in NY or LA, you'll be #1 in billings.

Anonymous said...

"I didn't think you could get 120 people in one room that would support what consolidation has done to radio."

It depends on how you ask the question.

If you do what FreePress did and ask "Do you like consolidation in radio," they'll say no. But if you ask "Do you listen to W-Lite," they say Yes.

Same with syndication. Say all you want about how bad it is, but it's been a fact of life in radio since the 1920s. When you look back to the radio shows people remember from the golden age, they're mostly all national shows.

What radio needs to do is learn from TV and cable. The public wants names they know, and content they can share. Very little of it is available from local radio. But it's all available from national shows.

By the way, I'm not aware of any new FCC rules that would outlaw voicetracking or syndication.

Anonymous said...

"He isn't slamming radio. He is slamming the mismangement of radio. There is a BIG difference."

This is an anti-CC blog. Look at most of the stories, and they have nothing to say about management or mismanagement of particular stations. It's all attacks on CC.

Meanwhile, I live in market where three big companies, Citadel, Cumulus, and CC all own stations, and CC is killing them. In fact, even though most of the CC station is either VT'd or syndicated, it is #1 in the market, beating stations that are live & local 24/7. And has been that way for several years. The other stations have replaced their PDs, morning staffs, and spent tons on promotion, and can't touch this CC station. The point is that if you give the people what they want, it doesn't matter if you're syndicated or VT'd.

Anonymous said...

"I didn't think you could get 120 people in one room that would support what consolidation has done to radio."

"It depends on how you ask the question."

On Capitol Hill, the question is asked... "Would you support what consolidation has done to radio... for a campaign contribution?"

"Same with syndication. Say all you want about how bad it is, but it's been a fact of life in radio since the 1920s. When you look back to the radio shows people remember from the golden age, they're mostly all national shows."

This is a bit of selective amnesia that forgets how the network model fell apart in the 1950's and how local radio kept the medium from dying altogether. The consolidation/syndication/voicetracking model is like 1940's network radio -- in 1956. It's on its last legs. The question is whether it will take radio down entirely this time.

"What radio needs to do is learn from TV and cable. The public wants names they know, and content they can share. Very little of it is available from local radio. But it's all available from national shows."

Putting aside the question of whether radio can win doing anything that a medium with pictures also does, the fact is that with the internet we are awash in content from other places -- something that wasn't true 30 years ago. Localism is what's missing. Do what the other guys DON'T.

"By the way, I'm not aware of any new FCC rules that would outlaw voicetracking or syndication."

There have been tentative proposals to require human beings at stations 24/7 and look at bare-bones minimum local programming requirements. This is what has the broadcasters and their lobbyists
screaming like stuck pigs.


Same with syndication. Say all you want about how bad it is, but it's been a fact of life in radio since the 1920s. When you look back to the radio shows people remember from the golden age, they're mostly all national shows.

What radio needs to do is learn from TV and cable. The public wants names they know, and content they can share. Very little of it is available from local radio. But it's all available from national shows.

By the way, I'm not aware of any new FCC rules that would outlaw voicetracking or syndication.

Anonymous said...

"This is a bit of selective amnesia that forgets how the network model fell apart in the 1950's and how local radio kept the medium from dying altogether."

It's also selective amnesia to ignore that TV is what killed the network model. And the local radio model is dying out now, mainly due to competition from the internet and other national media. It's time for something new in radio, because the local thing simply isn't relevant anymore. And everyone knows it.

Localism is what's missing. Do what the other guys DON'T."

Offering sushi because the others don't is not going to get me to eat raw fish.

Localism isn't missing. Most of the radio stations on the air now are live and local most of the day. But the public isn't listening for localism. That's not the draw. It may have been when they had no choice. But it's not now.

"There have been tentative proposals to require human beings at stations 24/7 and look at bare-bones minimum local programming requirements."

Having human beings at the station and putting them on the air are two different things. NPR stations have been doing this for years. They have bodies sitting their manning the console, which is airing programming from Washington.

The FCC has had a long history of refusing to get involved in programming. And focing stations to air things won't make people listen. THAT is the bottom line.

Anonymous said...

You are missing the point. It is LOCAL - AND CONTENT. Sure there are plenty of local hosted shows but how many have compelling CONTENT?

The problem with most local radio is that it lacks CONTENT.

I would also have to say that if you have Clear Channel clusters in your market you are listening to a lot of voice tracking whether you know it or not.

Anonymous said...

"The problem with most local radio is that it lacks CONTENT."

In your opinion.

The real problem is that original creative compelling content is expensive to create and difficult for 14,000 radio stations to do individually without any help.

The fact is there simply aren't that many creative people. Just as there aren't enough great athletes to fill all the pro sports teams in this country. Most teams are lucky to have one great player. I think there maybe only one or two great air talents in any given market. What do all the rest of the stations do with their air signal? We know the answer.


"I would also have to say that if you have Clear Channel clusters in your market you are listening to a lot of voice tracking whether you know it or not."

If *I* can't tell, and the audience can't tell, what does it matter? The goal is to be #1, not to be local. If you can be #1 with talent from another market, you have something your competition doesn't, and that gives you an edge.

Anonymous said...

"The goal is to be #1, not to be local."

It's easy to be number one if you own #2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Then it's just a matter of getting all the stations to stay in their lanes.

While radio focuses on winning a rigged contest, it misses the greater picture of audiences leaving for other media. As with TV in the 1950's, the question becomes "What can we do that they can't?" Local is the only answer that makes sense. It's not a novelty to be national or international. THAT is already all over the web.

"The real problem is that original creative compelling content is expensive to create and difficult for 14,000 radio stations to do individually without any help."

Somehow 11,000 stations did this in the 1970's, most with very little help from networks or syndication, which were basically moribund at that time. Of course, radio has made it harder and harder for talent to be creative and compelling by progressively boxing them into a liner card mentality before relegating them to voicetracking altogether.

Anonymous said...

Everyone just keeps coming back over and over to this great blog. Keep up the great work, John!

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree with the comment that there are not enough creative, talented people to maintain radio localism and creative content. On the contrary there is an abundance of creative talent and a large percentage of them aren't working or have left radio. Some temporarily and some permanently to find outlets for their creativity. Radio remains a great illusion that plays on imgaination. Gorman had something on here a few months back about Stan Freberg and cinematic production. If you haven't read it yet you should. The problem radio faces in the not to distant future WILL be a lack of creative talent given that the major chains wiped out the farm team opportunities small markets present. Pick a name, just about any name of the top air personalties of today and you'll find that they honed their craft in a small market and at a young age. If radio doesn't correct its problem now those frequencies WILL be worthless tomorrow. Let me ask you who will replace your syndicated heroes when they retire or run out of steam?

Anonymous said...

Right on about the Tab. It used to be that only teen age GIRLS drank Tab. Undoubtedly some devoted or more likely terrifeid little staffer buys it for him at some lcoal store. Can't get it through normal wholseale channels.

Anonymous said...

"It's easy to be number one if you own #2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Then it's just a matter of getting all the stations to stay in their lanes."

If it's so easy, why is it so hard for CC to be #1 in Philly or DC, while it's so hard for CBS to be #1 in NY or LA. Just because they're all big companies doesn't mean there isn't a lot of very tough competition. And then you get Howard University, that has the #1 station in DC by airing a morning show produced by Clear Channel. No, nothing is easy, and you can't make assumptions just because you don't like the players.

"While radio focuses on winning a rigged contest, it misses the greater picture of audiences leaving for other media."

You're misreading the data. They're not leaving for other media. They incorporating other media into their diet. Very small number of people who use no radio. The goal then is to catch them when they go to other media.

"Somehow 11,000 stations did this in the 1970's, most with very little help from networks or syndication"

It's not the 1970s any more. And there were 9000 stations in the 70s. About a third of them were automated FM stations that carried music formats from Bonneville and Schulke in the 70s, and TransStar and Satellite Music Networks in the 80s. It wasn't all live and local, and it wasn't all original or creative radio.

"Of course, radio has made it harder and harder for talent to be creative and compelling by progressively boxing them into a liner card mentality before relegating them to voicetracking altogether."

Show me the liner card that tells people to call college atheletes "Nappy headed hos." In the last year we've also had DJs threaten children with violence on the air. Maybe you've heard of a guy who calls himself Star. I'm sure that was really compelling radio.

Anonymous said...

"There is an abundance of creative talent and a large percentage of them aren't working or have left radio."

Just like homeless people aren't unemployed. But they also don't have jobs. You're playing with language here.

If these people had listener bases that made them valuable, another broadcaster would have picked them up. Or if they had talents that were truely original, they would have been offered jobs in other markets. I think a lot of people overvalue their own talents, as we've seen from these reality TV shows. Have you seen all the contestants who've told Simon that they can sing? He shugs his shoulders and says "Next."

There is a much larger farm system now than there ever was. Just a quick scan of YouTube or MySpace, and you'll see a whole lot more talent than you'd ever find working at some AM daytimer in Idaho. That's your farm system. If one of those people can do something that gets a million hits, they're a much bigger star than anyone slaving in the minor markets.

Anonymous said...

"Just like homeless people aren't unemployed. But they also don't have jobs. You're playing with language here."

I disagree. We all know of talented people who are on the beach or doing other work but would prefer to be back on the air. I mean talent not some Ohio school of broadcasting weenie who thinks he/she is better than she really is.

"If these people had listener bases that made them valuable, another broadcaster would have picked them up. Or if they had talents that were truely original, they would have been offered jobs in other markets. I think a lot of people overvalue their own talents, as we've seen from these reality TV shows. Have you seen all the contestants who've told Simon that they can sing? He shugs his shoulders and says "Next.""

This is my judgement not theirs. There are plenty of people on-air right now voice-tracking that have all the soul and personality of a rock.

"There is a much larger farm system now than there ever was. Just a quick scan of YouTube or MySpace, and you'll see a whole lot more talent than you'd ever find working at some AM daytimer in Idaho. That's your farm system. If one of those people can do something that gets a million hits, they're a much bigger star than anyone slaving in the minor markets."

That isn't radio and radio is not the only medium. I believe we will see tv/film stars-hosts come out of You Tube and My Space. It is inevitable. Radio is different. It's audio only. It's communication and being able to paint a picture with words if done correctly. I grew up in Cleveland with the original WMMS which is where Gorman came from. His jocks were all unique personalities that delivered the same message, slogans, in their own style. It is like "Proud Mary" by CCR and Tina Turner. Same song performed two different ways - equally as strong and powerful and recognizable. What radio lacks today are personalties. The Howard STern wanttobees or Hip Hop jox threatening body harm to their rivals are cheap imitations of nothing and whoever put them on the air should have their motives questioned.

Anonymous said...

"We all know of talented people who are on the beach or doing other work but would prefer to be back on the air."

Sure, but only on THEIR terms, making top salaries in a big market with no interference. Sorry, but the 80s are over.

"Radio is different. It's audio only. It's communication and being able to paint a picture with words if done correctly."

Look...you're overthinking this. Entertainment is entertainment. Whether it's on the radio or anywhere else. One of the challenges I give broadcasting students is to paint a picture WITHOUT words. Try and do that.

Anonymous said...

On content issues, the last thing anyone in radio ownership/management can be accused of these days is OVERTHINKING.