Sunday, February 1, 2009

Radio: Fire Fumbles!


Over 100,000 lost their jobs this past week.

Why wasn’t David “Fumbles” Rehr, the President and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters among them?

"I did a lot of things that were mostly right."

Fumbles didn’t say that. That was Governor Rod Blagojevich at his impeachment trial in Illinois.

But it reads just like an archetypal Fumbles line, doesn’t it?

Fumbles, you should’ve taken your cue from Boy Kevin Martin. Some former FCC Chairmen are considered distinguished. Boy Kevin was extinguished.

The Boy ran his own little fiefdom at the FCC with a blithe lack of accountability. Fumbles, you continue to run the NAB with a blithe lack of accountability.

The radio industry was in critical condition even when the economy was still considered healthy.

Did you really believe bad news would go away if you ignored it?

Your solution to the industry’s anguish was to claim “Radio Heard Here” as a triumphant campaign that’s restoring listener awareness for radio. Tell that to Arbitron.

Fumbles, how does it feel that you’ll forever be known as one to helped put radio in the grip of a malaise from which there seems to be no relief? Your leadership isn’t leading to anything worthwhile.

If anything, a reverse magnetism has metastasized between the radio industry and its listeners.

The recent “re-engineering” (Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan’s idiom) moves by the major radio groups would have one believe that the sole purpose of running a radio chain is to manage the bottom line – and to do so effectively, one must eliminate talent, innovation, content, and sales people that make too much money or have limited experience.

One agency head I talked with this past week compared radio to a creaky old house left to neglect.
*
The reality is that some radio stations will go dark. They’ll have to. Do the math. There are too many stations and not enough revenue to go around.

You can’t build on a future without a farm team. Does Clear Channel really believe they have a five-year plan with Ryan Seacrest? Does Clear Channel really believe Rush and Beck will translate to the next generation? Do you think Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee are tormented by their severe case of buyer’s remorse?

Fumbles, instead of taking advantage of the great convergence to the Internet, you pushed HD Radio like a man possessed by demons. It has proven to be a bitter failure and a costly mistake for the radio industry – and you still continue to push it.
*
Did you read Deloitte's State of the Media Democracy survey? If not, you should. The study shows that three-fourths of Millennials - those between the ages of 14 to 25 and the demo that’s vital to radio’s present and future ratings and revenue - consider the computer their number one entertainment device.

During the years that “legal payola” determined most current music radio playlists, terrestrial radio ceased being a soundtrack to popular culture. Instead of playing music its audience wanted to hear – radio played music from the labels that spent the most money to be heard. As a result, 80 percent of Millennials listen, search, and download music from the Internet.

If the major radio groups you represent weren’t so myopic, they would’ve invested in social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook when they were affordable. Today, 73 percent of Millennials socialize on-line.

Let's put it another way. In November, Facebook had 200 million unique users and MySpace had 100 million. That’s cross-promotion the radio industry lost!

Instead of investing in sites that could augment their stations, the radio groups went on a quest that’s best defined as “the group that dies with the most number of stations wins.” Ain’t that the truth!

Maybe that’s why Millennials rank radio at the bottom - fifth in having the most impact on their buying decisions. That puts radio behind TV, on-line, magazines, and newspapers.

Poor Fumbles. Even on the rare occasion he gets something right, he gets most of it wrong.

Take his new campaign to get radio on mobile phones. 59 percent of Millennials and 33 percent of all consumers use their mobile phone as an entertainment device.

Last week, Fumbles went into another one of his letter-writing frenzies and fired off a wordy one to T-Mobile USA President Robert Dawson to thank him for the FM listening capability available on the Nokia 7510 model. Fumbles is now pleading with Dawson to get FM on all T-Mobile units.

I don’t know how many Nokia 7510’s on the market but, Fumbles, there’s far more interest in the iPhone and other models that provide Internet radio capability. True, CBS Radio, Clear Channel, Citadel, and the other usual suspects are streaming what they believe to be their “best” terrestrial stations on line – but they are in competition with stations worldwide – from better- programmed terrestrial radio stations in countries where radio is still a profitable business – to unique Internet-only radio stations featuring every conceivable format. Then there are sites like Pandora that will create a radio station based on specific musical tastes and preference.

Now, before the terrestrial radioasauruses claim I don’t know what I’m talking about again, click here for Bob Lefsetz’s Lefsetz Letter and his p.o.v. Lefsetz is a music attorney and consultant to the music industry. He loves his industry as much as I love mine. He started the Lefsetz Letter in May, 2005. At first, the old school record labels and music executives tried to pin him as a gibbering gadfly for new media. Now, it’s become a must-read for anyone in the music industry.

Is there anyone that believes that the Fumbles version of the NAB can fight the RIAA’s Performance Rights Act, which will force radio to – how about this for a reverse play – pay-to-play music? If that mouse of a negotiator Fumbles is still running the show, they’ll be a glut of news-talk radio formats by the end of the year.

Fumbles, I don’t want to belabor on why it’s time for you to go. Over the past couple of years, I’ve provided more than enough reasons. Let me add one more I haven’t brought up before.

Meet your next FCC Commissioner. Julius Genachowski. He’s no Boy Kevin. Genachowski and President Barack Obama were classmates at Harvard Law. He’s a stanch advocate for net neutrality – meaning that on-line service providers shouldn’t be allowed to confine or influence the right to access service by a rival owner. It’s a regulatory concept. You can read about it here.

Yes, get used it, Fumbles. It used to be that when corporate interests collided with the public interest, our votes no longer seem to count. Now, the Objectivists and the Libertarians are officially out of favor on Capitol Hill. There will be regulations, when and where needed.

I’m sure even you’ve got it figured out by now that President Obama knows radio and it’s on his radar screen.

Radio stations are still federally licensed. How about a rule where a company must return a license if it cannot afford and chooses not to keep a station on the air? If you can’t pay the mortgage, you lose the house. If you can’t afford the station, you lose the license. What’s so unfair about that? Successful stations will be superior competitors, not controllers.

We live in a world where it is imperative to be connected and radio must reflect that in real time.

Though it suffers from a tarnished image, radio still has the ability to dominate listener gratification the way Google dominates search.

Radio is a business and the same rules apply. Customer service cements relationships.

Real broadcasters won’t have a problem with Genachowski but the pretenders will.

Fumbles, if the radio chains are dumb enough keep you hangin’ on, here’s a new line you can use to promote your product: Do not attempt to adjust your radio. This is the way radio sounds today. And forget domani.
----

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that David Rehr did not resign from the N.A.B. when Kevin Martin announced his exit from the F.C.C. Chairmanship.

Rehr is going to find himself in unchartered waters opposed by some brilliant, talented forward thinkers. He will truly be that fish out of water.

Rehr cannot comprehend new media and how to merge it into the old.

Of course Rehr is the basic mouthpiece for the radio and television industry and that group still has not figured out that they are destroying their own business with one part greed and one part fear of the future.

scaber nestor said...

Hi, this migh be a bit Off-Topic.

But from Febr 9th to March 1st we have started what we hope to be a global media boycott due to the new laws that allows the media industries to control what, when and who we listen to, watch and purchase.

if you want to help spread the word, write about it and link to one or any of the blogs liosted on my blog.

Thank you.

Niklas Starow
aka
Scaber Nestor - By government monitored blogger.

http://scabernestor.blogg.se/2009/february/3-week-boycott-on-the-media-industries-attemp.html

Anonymous said...

The NAB has always been a club for spoiled brat radio owners. At one time or another most of the radio groups threatened to pull out and some like Karmazin did. It has been a dysfunctional organization. It's obviously had clout at the right levels over the years. Today it is paper tiger serving dying industries that refuse to grow up with the times.

Anonymous said...

John, Maybe the new broadcasters that will buy up properties when the fire sales occur will opt NOT to join with the NAB. Maybe it is time for a new organization.

I don't mean to call on your age, John, although you are a young thinker. You have been around long enough to remember the NRBA before it became part of the NAB.

How about a radio only orgnanization to lobby for real radio causes staffed by creative and innovative thinkers.

Anonymous said...

"Fumbles, instead of taking advantage of the great convergence to the Internet, you pushed HD Radio like a man possessed by demons. It has proven to be a bitter failure and a costly mistake for the radio industry – and you still continue to push it."

Who's still pushing this scam? iBiquity's top-heavy 100 person payroll must be costing investors about 1,000,000/month, not including utilities, rent, travel expenses, payola to the FCC and Rep. Dingell, etc.

Getting FM radio onto cell phones, mp3s, etc isn't going to make any difference, nor is streaming on the Internet - with Pandora, Slacker, and Last.fm available, who would bother listening to programming on radio. Fumbles is trying to take advantage of the 2006 WARN Act, then eventually will try and push HD into these devices - just like iBiquity trying to force HD into SIRI receivers. No one wants radio, anymore, and that is why Fumbles and Struble are having to resort to litigation.

Radiobliss said...

Well, the exciting part is it's time to start a new career or get an entry level job in radio. They may not afford the old but anyone new now knows their are countless options for where to work, if you can take an entry level job and get trained at Radio Connection for radio. This is the time to do that. They place you in a radio station that is near you to train you on the job you want. Now is the time to start new. http://www.radioconnection.com

Anonymous said...

John, I am with you on the overhaul and it should extend to the Animal House known as the RAB, too. We are in the 21st century. Rehr and most of the radio groups are stuck in the past using old tired old methods to explain and even save the old radio medium. I am with you that radio is not dead but needs reinvention and additional platforms. As long as Rehr is running the NAB radio will continue its last place showing among media. The blame has to be shared with the NAB board which is just as backward thinking as Rehr. We need either fresh blood or a new organization that can address what radio is today and what it must become in order to be successful into the next decade. Your comments are timely.

Anonymous said...

You allude to the fact that internet radio is the future of radio, which I totally accept. Yet you continue to believe that the concept of a station has some relevance. The future is independent programmers running their own stream, connected to advertising networks and contractors who sell time. The "radio station" is dead.

Anonymous said...

The NAB needs a new leader. One with knowledge of new media. Both radio and TV need net migration. TV is slowly figuring it out. Radio is completely oblivious to its problem. That is compounded by the 'head in the sand' attitude of the NAB and RAB that any problems ignored will eventually go away. The 'concept' of radio is sound. Its execution post-Tele Act of 1994 is not. I fear that as another poster mentioned is that the NAB board is as behind the times as David Rehr and others at the organization. Maybe it will take the 'fire sales' and new owners to force change. Rehr is also a loyalist Bushie which is not a good fit with Obama's FCC.

Anonymous said...

John Did you hear that Randy Michaels and his ex Jacor/CC cohorts are eliminating the local news section in the LA Times? They de-localized radio and ruined it and now they will do the same with newspapers. Randy Michaels is the grim reaper.

Techman said...

Gorman - Don't be overly ready to crown Steven Jobs as the new king of media and the iPod the new radio. This is from Mobile Devices Today:

A recent report done by Philip Redman of Gartner revealed some interesting information. The report, titled "U.S. 3G Networks Deliver Less Than Expected", goes into great detail about the current 3G network that we're using and why it's not as great as it sounds.

Redman stated:

The "Big Four" wireless network providers market their wireless throughput as "broadband," which is generally defined as download speeds greater than 1.5 Mbps and upload speeds faster than 250 Kbps. Although the theoretical rates of the technologies the providers are using can achieve these speeds, actual mobile network averages are generally between 300 Kbps and 700 Kbps lower for many reasons. In turn, the network providers don't guarantee these speeds, but advertise that they can provide "up to" advertised speeds.
The most surprising bit of news from the report, however, revolves around the iPhone 3G. This device uses current 3G technology, but is actually limited to speeds no faster than 1.4Mbps. That means your iPhone is not capable of "broadband" connection as explained by the excerpt above.

Anonymous said...

Right on, my brutha! How can this empty suit still be collecting a paycheck? Just another area in which the radio industry has proven to be more short-sighted than Mr. Magoo.

Anonymous said...

Your often-used analogy of fish stinking from the head holds true for the NAB and RAB, too. They are a reflection of their members so is it any wonder why those organizations have no influence and are looked down upon with the same contempt as used car salesmen? This is what deregulation brought us. David Rehr must go that I agree but until we have changes in radio ownership I am afraid the next boss will be cut from the same cloth as Rehr. Radio is hopelessly lost when it comes to the internet. If Rehr remains radio will end up paying a performance tax on its terrestrial signal. Replace Rehr with someone who understands the twenty first century and NOT another mouthpiece for these radio luddites. PLEASE!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

rehr is no match for the labels. he can cry like a baby about foreign ownership labels all he wants. it means nothing. the riaa and the labels will bring up payola, not identifying songs played and pull out enough internal radio memos to tax music radio back to the stone age. say goodbye to music radio if rehr remains in charge of the nab.

Anonymous said...

To Scaber Nestor. A boycott? Do you know how much radio listening has dropped in the last decade? You don't have to boycott radio or TV or any "old" media. They are all dying due to neglect and top-down decision making. What is your point on taking it global? and don't you realize that this blog is considered "media" too?

Anonymous said...

So among the studies showing the growth of online radio..
Radio unplugs from streaming content.. How can this be?

I guess for Renda Broadcasting it's still 1970. I have to admit it was a great time to be alive. What else can anyone say about Renda Broadcasting. Most would agree with the continued growth of Ipod and internet usage that perhaps living off towers alone isn't a wise decision. The RIAA fees killed one broadcaster, so Renda Broadcasting has stopped all webcasting of music..

In general broadcasters deserve an (F) for internet programming and a complete lack of vision. The same can be said for HD...

Sellers haven't done a good job selling web programming, perhaps because their focus is spread very thin... and because clients see little to no value. They don't want it..

Clients buy stations in the top ten, because they want the most bang for the buck..... But a radio station website or streaming isn't even considered...unless it's added-value..
It's dead space!

Meanwhile, in 07 before our recent depression, new media, web revenues beat radio. In the meantime, more and more traditional media dollars are being shifted to web campaigns. What do advertisers want, that radio and Renda can't seem to figure out?

Maybe somebody in radio should ask them!

Anonymous said...

John, you've been told on several occasions to leave your politics at the door. You look increasingly stupid being a cheerleader for the same people who have been caught not paying taxes, getting sweetheart deals on their mortgages in exchange for dumping their bad mortgages on the government, getting free limousines from your cronies and getting in on sweetheart investment deals. You think he's getting a free limousine because someone just wanted to do something nice for his friend? Obama's gonna get hundreds of millions in speaking fees after his term is up, like Slick Willie did. You think it's for his oratory skills? LMAO! And these are the DEMOCRATS YOU CHAMPION I'm talking about. Give it a rest and stop acting like some 60's flower child, there's too much money there, they are all corrupt. Okay, not all, just 95% of them.

Anonymous said...

I believe you are missing Gorman's point. It is true he takes a liberal approach and does not hide that fact. What he is saying is that for the last eight years the F.C.C. was a paper tiger. It did not address technology issues and it turned a blind eye to many of the radio mega-deals. (Clear Channel in San Diego for example) Radio is well behind the curve in new media. Had it embraced the internet for streaming audio and lobbied against the DMCA fees the industry would be better off. HD Radio proved expensive, unprofitable and is now a costly albatross around the radio industry's neck. It appears that the new F.C.C. chairman is pro-active toward new media which could be of great help to radio. The problem with David Rehr is he represents another time and another place just like Kevin Martin. Look at Europe and Asia's radio versus ours. We are well behind the technological curve.

Anonymous said...

Forget the politics. Gorman is saying that the NAB completely missed the DMCA signing in the mid 90s. Radio and the NAB that represents it was not thinking digital. They were taken by surprise with the performance tax and have no means of fighting it. How will Rehr answer to probed and proved payola at radio, not announcing songs and other programming and promotions faux paus regarding tickets and free goods in exchange for airplay that it has commited against the record labels. The labels are well documented. Rehr is not.

Anonymous said...

I am your case study. I can get internet radio on my IPhone. I can plug it into my car radio and listen to my IPod library or internet radio on my car radio. Since I have been listening to internet radio I have no desire to listen to any AM-FM radio other than NPR for local and national news and weather. Most of the stations in my city feature canned automated announcers for much of the day & evening. You could call me a former AM-FM radio listener except for NPR which does commercial radio no good. I have found some good internet exclusive radio stations that play a large variety of music. I have found more music I had not heard before that I like in one week than I heard for the past two years on my FM.

Anonymous said...

Agree w/everyone on Rehr. I would not want him negotiating for me.

Anonymous said...

you said it. take away the relationships and radio sales people having nothing to sell. believe me. you cannot sell these numbers cold calling. with cc eliminating top billers and refusing to train a new generation they have effectively given themselves a fatal blow. regarding david rehr. what has he ever done to the betterment of the radio industry? ill answer that. absolutely nothing.

Anonymous said...

John Gorman you are full of crap. That is the kindest thing I can say. You love to stir up the pot and point blame at others. The fact is that this world you live in is not inhabited by most of us. We do not live and die by our computer or our Ipods or our internet radio stations. Most people listen to terrestrial radio and for long periods of times: hours not minutes. I don't know what shit you are trying to pull with your scare tactics about new media and fire sales. THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY FIRE SALES. RADIO PRICES WILL GO UP NOT DOWN. The only reason radio stations are not selling is because there is no credit to be had by the lending institutions. It has nothing to do with no one wanting to buy radio stations. Lew Dickey is ready to buy radio stations now. Radio is a lot healthier than newspapers, tv, or computers. I don't believe a word of that study. It's propaganda from your internet radio station army or your a-hole followers. All you do is issue scare tactics. RE:the NAB. Why on earth would you call for even one person to be fired. Mr. Rehr has done wonders for our industry. Would you rather have Eddie Fritz back, Mr. Gorman? Enough of your bull. Go play with your internet radio station while the rest of us continue to listen to terrestrial radio for long periods of time.

Anonymous said...

Thank You Mrs. Rehr!

Anonymous said...

Gorman Is GOD!

Anonymous said...

Gorman isn't God but he does know what he is talking about. I never gave the N.A.B. that much thought but it is true that Rehr is the mouthpiece for the members which means he is just following whatever Dan Mason, John Hogan, Mark Mays, Lew Dickey, Farid Suleman, Peter Smyth and the others request him to do. Since those gentlemen are content with the status quo I expect little change. I do not see the N.A.B. trying to find a replacement for him and if they do I highly doubt he or she would be a liberal or a Democrat. I think the N.A.B. will continue on their current course no matter who their mouthpiece is.

Anonymous said...

"How about a rule where a company must return a license if it cannot afford and chooses not to keep a station on the air?"

First of all, the rule exists.

Second of all, lots of companies have already done it.

And no one has applied for the old licenses. Hundreds of old licenses that have been turned in that no one wants.

I know of one just outside Washington DC. It's there for the taking right now. Hey Gorman! Why don't you apply for it?

Anonymous said...

There are three reasons why stations play "the same songs over and over again:"
1) Arbitron rewards it
2) Playing a huge variety of songs -- especially challenging songs, songs people do not know - is never going to be rewarded
3) There aren't that many people -- compared to the total population -- that want to be challenged

Most of America (shrinking but like watching a beach erode) is average. They aren't rich, they aren't snobs, they love American Idol. They like radio too though there's no doubt we are effing it up bigtime

I'm just sick of "radio plays the same shit over and over again." Find me ten stations (start with KFOG) that's consistently top 5 25-54 playing a huge variety of songs and lots of new songs people don't know and I'll shutup.

Anonymous said...

John..you are being too kind about Ryan Seacrest. I listened to his tape delay show. I wouldn't give him one year let alone five. It is a second-rate predictable morning show for the pop princesses and dumb blondes. Elvis Duran another 'act' CC is syndicating is another predictable show using dated posts and features. Clear Channel has to be the "yes men" capital of media. How could anyone agree to this vapid dated anti-content?

Anonymous said...

Maybe someone can clear this up. I hear that owners whose stations have gone dark are given a grace period to get back on the air? Can anyone clarify that? I have also heard that the F.C.C. can step in to allow the license holder to keep the station in a variance. Does that mean that Clear Channel and CBS and other major chains can petitition the F.C.C. to keep their properties but the small independent owner loses out? I do hope the new F.C.C. is fair to all and not just to those with connections to the White House which was clearly the case over the past eight years.

Dunn said...

Anonymous said...

"John Gorman you are full of crap. That is the kindest thing I can say. You love to stir up the pot and point blame at others. The fact is that this world you live in is not inhabited by most of us. We do not live and die by our computer or our Ipods or our internet radio stations. Most people listen to terrestrial radio and for long periods of times: hours not minutes. I don't know what shit you are trying to pull with your scare tactics about new media and fire sales. THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY FIRE SALES. RADIO PRICES WILL GO UP NOT DOWN. The only reason radio stations are not selling is because there is no credit to be had by the lending institutions. It has nothing to do with no one wanting to buy radio stations. Lew Dickey is ready to buy radio stations now. Radio is a lot healthier than newspapers, tv, or computers. I don't believe a word of that study. It's propaganda from your internet radio station army or your a-hole followers. All you do is issue scare tactics. RE:the NAB. Why on earth would you call for even one person to be fired. Mr. Rehr has done wonders for our industry. Would you rather have Eddie Fritz back, Mr. Gorman? Enough of your bull. Go play with your internet radio station while the rest of us continue to listen to terrestrial radio for long periods of time."

Yet another poster child for those that helped contribute to the demise of terrestrial radio as part of the U.S. communications scene in early 21st century America.

Anonymous said...

Well "Dunn!"

Anonymous said...

This is from today's Inside Radio:

***Dark stations jump two-thirds.
There are 235 stations currently off the air, a 68% increase over a year ago. There was an increase from stations that say they simply cannot afford to keep the transmitter on any longer. There is a bright spot. The pace seems to have slowed.***

What I want to know is how many if any had to turn their license back to the F.C.C.? Is there anyone reading this or John Gorman that could check this out? If these people are allowed to keep the license even after they shut it off there is something wrong with our F.C.C. I remember the rules used to be that you would have to turn in your license if you could not run the station.

Anonymous said...

I think most of the stations that went dark are either AMs in depressed markets or FM translators and not the actual station. Randy Michaels may have a couple too.

Anonymous said...

No - Michaels DOES NOT have a "PAIR!"

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... "John Gorman you are full of crap."

Running scared, little boy? Radio is in the toilet and headed for bankruptcy! LMFAO!

Anonymous said...

"Fumbles, instead of taking advantage of the great convergence to the Internet, you pushed HD Radio like a man possessed by demons. It has proven to be a bitter failure and a costly mistake for the radio industry – and you still continue to push it."

I think it is Bob Struble that is possessed - I bet that he is obsessive-compulsive about his little HD Radio baby. I heard that Struble has a real temper and that he has tantrums, if things don't go his way. His disreputable company harrasses the automakers, retailers, and broadcast owners, to buy into his scheme. Struble must be a mad-man, as he is the one probably pressuring Rehr.

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