Monday, October 27, 2008

Radio: The Objectivism of my affections


At least Former Fed Reserve head Alan Greenspan admitted he was wrong.

He’s not blaming our economic meltdown on an imprecise perception of our financial system, which differs from Emmis CEO Jeff Smuylan’s claim of radio’s tribulations being "…. problem of perception, not consumption."

Greenspan’s circuitously put the blame on Ayn Rand, whose Objectivist philosophies governed his decision making.

Greenspan's first wife, Joan Mitchell (no relation to current spouse Andrea), introduced him to Rand’s beliefs.

Poor Alan. Now, he’s finding himself – as he put it - “in a state of shocked disbelief” that financial institutions couldn’t manage themselves without regulation.

Isn’t that the same shocked disbelief most radio chiefs have over the common perception of the present state of the radio industry?

Maybe radio should also blame itself for its credulous confidence in Rand’s Objectivism.

We don’t need regulation. We can be trusted. The industry will take care of itself. How many times were we sold those lines in the early nineties?

Today, we ask ourselves the question, what is worth less – a radio stock or the 1999 Ayn Rand U.S. postage stamp?

(Go with the latter if for no other reason than the illogic of Rand honored by a government bureaucracy with a tax-supported stamp.)

If Objectivism had a theme song, it’d be “Forget Domani.”

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was a much-needed rewrite of the out-of-date Communications act of 1934. It redefined Congressional regulation of the emergent telecommunications industry and allowed for increased competition for development of new services in broadcasting, cable, and telecommunications.

The problem with it was the poorly written, loophole-laden radio revisions, which radically changed rules to favor of incumbent licensees.

The two bumbling idiots President George W. Bush appointed as FCC Chairmen Michael Powell and his successor Boy Kevin Martin - only made its tribulations worse.

Despite deregulation, which the industry claimed would provide radio the freedom to effectively compete against new media - radio stocks have been beleaguered for years.

Flawed corporate structures destroyed radio’s greatest asset – to be local and immediate.

Poor programming resulted in declining TSL. In turn, radio advertising became less effective, and clients went in search of alternative media to sell their products.

Instead of facing those facts radio played the blame game – the Internet, iPods, and video games.

Thanks to the NAB, instead of recognizing new media and technology as allies to work with, they became radio’s enemies.

And radio broods over why Steve Jobs will never put a terrestrial radio receiver in an iPod or iPhone?
*
Facts, schmacts. We’re a few days a way from radio acknowledging the eighteenth month in a row of declining ad revenue.

Were you really surprised when you heard that Interep went belly up?

The radio industry doesn’t even know which horse to bet on in the Presidential race. Years ago, Sen. John McCain did his former “my friend”, former Secretary of State Colin Powell a favor by pimping his son Michael for FCC Chairman job to George Bush. But all bets are off now that Colin’s Baracking the vote. Son Michael broke ranks with his father by endorsing McCain.
*
Just as well. John McCain still believes FM is an acronym for Find Me. Wait, maybe he’s right!

Say hi, how-are- ya to the Radio Communicators Group (RCG). It’s made up of the usual suspects from embattled radio chains and executives from the NAB, RAB, the HD Digital Radio Alliance, and the Holy Beejeebub Mystic Knights of Radio – all of whom are already involved in too many organizations and committees that fruitlessly attempt to put a positive spin on the state of the radio industry.

Groucho once said that he’d refuse any organization that would have him as a member.

Pick an economic indicator – any economic indicator. They’re all showing, as John Fogerty sang, that “we’re in for nasty weather.”

The golden age of rampant buffoonery has come to a close.

And it’s not just radio.

Survival’s all about standing tough. Doom and gloom is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Believe in it and you’ll be history.

Successful radio operators must confront reality and not permit terror take hold. The one emotion that overrides greed is fear.

The recession we’re about to experience should be viewed as opportunity for the most talented and dedicated among us to come alive and thrive.

Just in case you didn’t get the memo - we are in the entertainment business, y’know.

Potential listeners will be drawn by programming and promotions that truly deliver to their wants and needs.

Mediocrity in any product is destined to fail.

It’s time to get the spectators off the field. We need genuine talent and creative programming, promotion, marketing, and sales to survive. Excessive voice-tracking and audio wallpaper formats won’t cut it.

Forget what some of your “not my fault” consultants are telling you. Successful radio will utilize the Occam’s Razor model. Shave away all of the irrelevant assumptions and extraneous information to the bone and work with what is left.

You know and I know that we have too many radio stations. Some of them will go dark and those that do will deserve to.

Those that understand the need to provide entertainment when times are tough will survive and build a firm foundation for the future when our economy improves.

The Jacks and Jills are over the hill. Just like Ayn Rand.
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35 comments:

SplicerNYC said...

Right now, radio is full of people who have the talent to know what to do to fix the problems. Unfortunately, the people in power look upon the talented as mere drones, people to be replaced at a whim because, you know, if they were really smart, they'd be part of the "sales" class that execs seem to come out of these days. However, it isn't Ayn Rand they worship (if any of the sales buffoons have even heard of her) but Karmazin, a disciple of Gordon Gecko. His style of greed was mirrored by many including the genius Hollander Brothers who did a major tag team body slam on CBS Radio.

Radio will never be fixed until certain people are not allowed to ever again rise above their level of competence.

Anonymous said...

"FCC Commissioners Adopt IBOC Digital Radio"

"Short and to the point, Ferree set up the charade by brandishing a logbook of some of the first radio licenses the FCC ever issued..."

http://www.diymedia.net/audio/mp3fcciboc.htm

There needs to be a Congressional investigation into the criminals at iBiquity and the FCC.

Anonymous said...

Hope you're right on this one, John. But currently I stand with the gloom and doomers. Too many good people driven out. Too much deadwood that won't go without a fight until the last drop of money has been wrung out of the business. The energy is gone everywhere.

Me and a bunch of my old friends got together for Saturday poker this weekend, and the stories from the radio guys were astounding. They made following points:

- the churn rate among radio sales reps is higher than ever. Even during these tough times. What does that tell you? Around the table the guys knew of two people who opted out to go work in fast food.

- PSAs are now running throughout the day, even morning drive. Once the political season ends, rates are going down, again.

- Beer and automotive are completely gone, and no one sees them coming back ever.

- And one final comment that I refused to believe, but was assured is absolutely true. On-air talent is begging sales to schedule remotes for both the bonus they get and to BUILD AUDIENCE.

I believe the party's over.

Anonymous said...

John Gorman, you hit this one dead on. I was once a believer in Ayn Rand's philosophies. I even had a license plate "JGALT". It was the rude awakening of learning that just because I knew my limitations of not going beyond my moral code did not mean anyone else would know or care about theirs. What a rude awakening for Mr. Greenspan. Too bad everyone else suffers for his mistaken beliefs in Objectivism.

Anonymous said...

"Flawed corporate structures destroyed radio’s greatest asset – to be local and immediate."

You're giving way too much credit to companies that you yourself say are incompetent! If they're incompetent, how can they in fact destroy anything?

But I also question iof radio's greatest asset is to be local and immediate. Because if that's true, radio is in a whole lot of trouble. Nothing is more immediate than a personal phone call from someone telling me about a problem. Right now, there are cell phone services that will alert drivers to traffic jams on their normal commute route. Radio can't do that. You have to wait for the traffic report to air. And it may not include my specific commute.

Guess who offers this free traffic service? The state government. So you have the state offering free services that compete against live & local radio. And you wonder why people don't listen to radio any more.

Anonymous said...

The flaw in Ayn Rand's Objectivism is that half the world wakes up every morning with the intent of screwing the other half out of everything they own.

Anonymous said...

there is no other reason to listen to radio other than to get news, information and entertainment and commercial radio fails to deliver on all three.

the only radio i listen to today is npr.

the ann rand analogy is a good one and it makes sense. it practice it is doomed to fail. it is predicated on everyone having a moral code. hah! mel karmazin? lowry mays? jeff smuylan?

Anonymous said...

I was not the least bit surprised to learn that Interep would go under. They have been struggling for years.

So Bain Capital now owns another monopoly courtesy of their Clear Channel acquisition.

National Business sucks - love that tombstone.

Anonymous said...

Well, Gman = I will hand it toyou that at least you dont' write crap like that Fred Jacobs coot. This Ann Rand stuff is a little over the top for you. Not in a bad way just not what we expected from you. Too easy to blame a cult for radio problems. It was pure frigging greed and nothing less. I dont' think Rand-o was even a thought in their pea brains.

Anonymous said...

Reagan, Clinton and both Bushes were bought by the radio & TV industry. Reagan set the wheels in motion which lead to Clinton's signing of the Telecom bill. Clinton is the one that put the screws to radio with the TC Bill. Not sure if Ayn Rand had the influence in the radio business that she did with Greenspan and his crew though.

Anonymous said...

What is the deal with Powell and son?

I can't blame Colin. The son has always been a jerk in and out of the FCC.

Fitting for him to do a public endorsement of McCain. Who the hell cares what Michael Powell thinks?

Regards to Ann Rynd. I would be surprised if any one in radio even knew who she was.

Sony ICF-S10MK2 said...

"Well, Gman = I will hand it to you that at least you dont' write crap like that Fred Jacobs coot."

LMFAO!

Funny, every anti-IBOC post on the Coot's site gets put into the spam folder, never gets posted, or gets removed. Same goes for Paragon Media - thought that I could trust them, but finally determined that they are IBOC-shills, just like the Coot. Funny, I haven't seen any posts about HD Radio from those imposters, in a while.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the comments made regarding people in radio not knowing who Ayn Rand is.

If I could I would bet you that every one of the CEOs in the radio industry own, read and display their copies of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

Whether or not they follow the priciples of Ayn Rand is another issue. If anything and like most religions people tend to believe what they want to believe of a philosophy and chuck the rest. Ayn Rand's followers are no different.

Boston Blackie said...

Everything you need to know has been compiled here regarding the state of the radio industry:
http://bostonradio.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

How can radio afford to find talent to turn the industry around. They have ruined their product so badly that they have a fraction of the revenue they were used to coming in. How do you pay for the qualified people that can turn it around?

It may be too late.

Anonymous said...

looks like we're in for nasty weather is putting it mildly would you not say? i would love to be a fly on the wall in any radio chain ceo's office today.

Anonymous said...

Ayn Rand was a stamp collector as a child which is probably how the Rand followers explained away her stamp.

I know many a sales manager that had Ayn Rand's "Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" and had read it.

Now ask me if they really comprehended what they read.

A sale is a sale is a sale and I will do whatever it takes to close the sale. If it is between me and another station I will do everything I can to bury that other station.

Yes, it is called greed. It is also called survival.

Ayn Rand was full of s---t.

Anonymous said...

I have more respect for Alan Greenspan than I do for Jeff Smuylan. An admittance of guilt by Mr. Smuylan would make him an honorable person which I once knew him as. I am not sure what happened to Jeff. I think the ebbs and flows of the business plus his blind trust of some consultants and programmers that took him in the wrong direction with Movin', RXP and other radio formats did not help. Emmis was for years one of the most respected companies in radio. Today it is one of the least and that is a shame. Jeff was and hopefully still is one of the good people in this business that truly cares for his employees.

Jack Lascouli said...

ANDREA MITCHELL IS MARRIED TO THAT OLD GOAT????????? Andrea is pretty good looking for an old broad. How did she ever get mixed up with Greenspan. Oh, I get it?
$$$$$$$$$$$$
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$$$$$$$$$$$$
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$$$Never mind.

Jack Lascouli said...

ANDREA MITCHELL IS MARRIED TO THAT OLD GOAT????????? Andrea is pretty good looking for an old broad. How did she ever get mixed up with Greenspan. Oh, I get it?
$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$$$
$$$Never mind.

I Spy said...

What color is the sky in the world of the Radio Communicators Group anyway?

Just what radio DOESN'T need is another stupid self serving organization.

This is absurd. It is made up of people from other organizations like the NAB and the RAB and the same people who are on a dozen other committees and groups from the various radio chains.

What is this? Who are they trying to fool? Is there fast cash in forming these organizations?

I could not find a web site. If you are starting a new group would you not have a web site to promote whatever it is you stand for?

Is Heidi Raphael the same Heidi Kramer that used to work for you? If so who brainwashed her?

Anonymous said...

John, Anyone who challenges the beliefs of Ayn Rand is okay with me. She spoke for the evil and the corrupt.

Anonymous said...

Did you read where Tom Owens and others at CC were given long term contracts? One of Owens's babies was the Format Lab for HD Radio which created dozens of fresh formats for that failing frequency. Now they only have seven remaining. Want a long term career at Clear Channel? Be a failure. Want to get fired? Be successful. Ayn Rand is rolling in her posh grave.

Anonymous said...

Times are tough but smart radio may find the ways and means to find upcoming or neglected talent and give them the spotlight to perform. If I recall correctly, Mr. Gorman, you and your incredible staff made their debut during Cleveland's darkest hours from the exodus of Fortune 500 company headquarters to the 1978 default. Though Cleveland was in worse shape than any other city in America you and your staff made it shine. There is a lesson to be learned from that which you Mr. Gorman might have even forgotten. In tough times entertainment is the great escape. Those stations that find ways to entertain and go the extra distance will benefit from the rough times. I guarantee it and you ought to know it. I am agreeing with you on Ann Rand. She preached to the greed and ignored those in need. F her.

Anonymous said...

Unlike his mentor Ayn Rand, who as a novelist and screenwriter could have complete control over the outcome of her scenarios, Greenspan operated in the real world, where his rigid ideology blinded him to one of Rand's (ironically) favorite aphorisms, "Ideas have consequences." And how!

danni said...

I honestly have trouble believing radio would have been able to craft a relationship with new media that would have saved it. What kind of relationship could an automobile have with a horse that would not render the horse vestigal. Is the horse going to pull the car? Of course not, the car has more power and can go faster. Is the car going to drag the horse? Why should it? The car does not need the horse. Let the horse die, it's dignity is already gone, why make it suffer?

Anonymous said...

Danni, I heard John Gorman speak at the Shaker Heights Library here a few weeks back. He used a horse and carriage to explain his point. He said Detroit was the horse carriage capital of America. When the combustible engine was invented the horse carriage companies retooled to build automobiles. His comparison is that radio has to become "married" and have full integration to the internet but not in the inefficent manner it is today. He also predicted that radio will find new ways of generating revenue on the internet using audio spots. What he said made some sense.

Ron Paul's ghost said...

I get the picture. Gorman does not care much for libertarians?

Anonymous said...

Did you search for the most unflattering photograph you could find of Ayn Rand?

Anonymous said...

I hope you are right about Jack, Jill, Bob and the rest of them. Not sure if you know this but Jill in L.A. is on the same multiple frequencies that the imiation KROQ alt rock format was on back in the late nineties. It was a bad cheap imitation of KROQ just as Jill is a bad imitation of a bad station Jack. Some frequencies are cursed.

danni said...

I have a tremendous amount of respect for John Gorman. Half of everything we ever did at WEBN in the 80's was stolen from his playbook. But the argument about radio/new media "marriage" is specious at best. In a few years new media will take over radio's turf at a fraction of the overhead. What does radio have that new media needs? Nothing.

Sony ICF-S10MK2 said...

"Clear Channel unveils 'Format Lab'"
April 2006

"Clear Channel Communications said Monday that it has launched a new service that will make 75 new channels available to rival radio broadcasters for use in digital radio multicasts, station Web sites and other outlets... More than 200 programmers and production personnel worked on the development of the Format Lab, and Clear Channel gave them leeway to trust their instincts, rather than rely exclusively on research, says Hogan."

http://tinyurl.com/6g5p6r

"CLEAR CHANNEL PULLS THE PLUG ON SOME HD RADIO STATIONS"
February 2008

"After conducting a survey of 340 HD2 stations to determine their programming needs, the folks at Clear Channel have dumped a number of their HD 'Format Lab' stations due to a lack of demand. According to the Clear Channel Format Lab website, 46 HD stations are left to carry, including stations with names including 'Standing Room Only Showtunes', 'Pride Radio', 'JokeJoke' and 'Wack Comedy'."

http://tinyurl.com/3w7vox

"You Might Like..."

eRockster
Pride Radio:
Verizon New Music
Smooth Jazz
Real Oldies
New Country
Slow Jams

http://www.clearchannelmusic.com/formatlab

Yea, HD Radio is such a success! What a waste.

danni said...

Format Lab? Oh yea, Tom Owens tells a bunch of flunkies to get on the internet and steal everything they can find from net radio. Just a hunch.

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