Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Radio: The NAB Radio Show - Philadelphia Fiefdom

Radio gets no respect.

Even in the City of Brotherly Love.

NAB Radio Show conventioneers woke up this morning to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer that reads Radio should pay those who make it rich.

The answer to the question is “yes.”

The question – Did the National Association of Broadcasters fail to do advance p.r. with the local media for the NAB Radio Show?

The answer to the question is “yes.”

The question - Did the Record Industry Association of America not forget?

The RIAA kept it live and local by merely inciting a small local indie music production company, Philerzy, to compose a prudently timed and positioned op/ed piece on the evils of the radio industry.

How many radio groups own stations in the Philadelphia market? Not a single one thought of commissioning their promotion and marketing department to work the local media and promote the NAB Radio Show as a constructive event?

The NAB has been planning its Radio Show convention in Philadelphia for – what? - over a year now? You’d expect the NAB would've spent a few bucks for some upbeat advance p.r. on their event.

After all, it squanders millions with the Radio Advertising Bureau on its worthless, pointless, no results "Radio Heard Here" promotion while continuing to hype the dead-on-arrival HD Radio swindle.

That’s okay. The NAB Gang of Four will blame the p.r. bumble on Fumbles. Chalk it off as just another one that David Rehr let fall through the cracks during his brief reign as NAB Capo di tutti capi.

Amazing. Yes, it’s going to be that kind of week.

The NAB should've hired Judy Collins to sing "Send in the Clowns."

So the official meeting mode is one of guarded optimism. We keep hearing the economy’s already hit bottom and now we’re slowly and cautiously rebounding. Radio stocks are slowly uptrending. Billing should be back to normal any day now, right? R-r-r-r-r-r-right.

Now, repeat after me. Farid and Citadel are an exception, not a rule; Farid and Citadel are an exception, not a rule. Got it? Good. Keep saying it until you believe it.

Another one. If you’re reminded that radio listening, sales, and stock prices went to hell long before the economy tanked, just keep repeating the word bellwether – as in that’s what the radio industry is to the economy.

Yes, I hate to say it. Radio continues to mire in denial.

Dickstein Shapiro proclaims that radio is still profitable (But, shhhhhhhhh! Only if its many debt issues can be resolved) so we’re as good as being back in black.

Entercom CEO David Field even mentioned a potential for radio revenues to hit double digits next year. With ham like that you’d expect a side of eggs.

I’m not exactly sure what radio plans to sell or to whom. The last time I checked one out of six U.S. consumers, who make up 70 percent of our economy, are either unemployed or underemployed or have taken have taken pay cuts.

The free spending days are over. Consumers are trying to save whatever they can. The average home is now worth a third less than two years ago.

The only consumer upticks we’ve seen came from government induced “cash for clunkers” and tax credits for environmental home improvements. Put another way – the only money that circulating in our economy right now is government money. You say housing is up slightly? It better be considering we’ve propped up Fannie and Freddie. You say the financial sector is showing growth? It better be. We’ve propped up the banks, too.

You're kidding yourself if you don't believe the banking system is still fragile. We still haven't seen bottom with commercial real estate yet. Those deals were bundled and packaged together like the subprimes and sold off to investors a few years back, too.

There are some realities radio just fails to recognize. What if we go through another double-dip recession, for example? Just asking. Have an answer?

Here's the facts, kids. Some radio groups will be history. Consider this NAB Radio Show their last hurrah.

Look at Farid. He’s about to have his suit cleaned with him in it.

How many other stations will get dumped by owners due to heavy debt, tight credit, and falling values?

Some radio CEOs are so long in the face that they look like hound dogs. When the valuations really hit the skids they’ll be the hounds of silence.

I think we'd be better off if the NAB set up a makeshift morgue in one of the ballrooms. It’s better to get the body count done before credit begins to flow. It’ll provide opportunity for new groups and those former broadcasters who’ve been sitting on the sidelines waiting for the moment when the adults will take away stations from the children who’ve broken them.


Anonymous said...

"Some radio CEOs are so long in the face that they look like hound dogs."


Here's something for Bob Struble that I found doing an SEC EDGAR search on iBiquity:


"We are currently broadcasting 24 FM stations and two AM stations in digital, or high definition radio (HD Radio)... The economic benefit, if any, to our stations that have converted to HD Radio currently cannot be measured. Any future economic benefit to our stations as a result of digital conversion is not known at this time."

"Saga Communications, Inc."

"We also continue the rollout of HD Radio™... It is unclear what impact HD Radio will have on the industry and our revenue as the availability of HD receivers, particularly in automobiles, is not widely available."


"We currently utilize HD Radio® digital technology on most of our FM stations. It is unclear what impact HD Radio® will have on the markets in which we operate."

The blind, stumbling march continues.

Anonymous said...

Sad but very insightful.

Anonymous said...

If I read RBR or Radio Ink I am told that happy days are here again in the radio business and there is room for growth. If I read Tom Taylor, Gorman Media or Jerry Del I am told that the radio industry is in a state of denial and this is the most depressing NAB convention in history. Who am I to believe? I put my trust on those willing to provide an honest appraisal. Gorman, Taylor and Jerry Del Colliano deserve credit for not driniking the Kool Aid. In Tom's case I give him credit because he has advertisers who have complained to him in the past (I worked for one) about his occasional negative (read truthful) comments. Jerry is Jerry and Gorman is one of the better programmers and consultants around and knows the ins and outs between programming and sales better than most. What this industry needs is a steady dose of HONESTY if you ever expect it to turn around.

Anonymous said...

John, You are on a roll. Your best yet. David Field - with your ham and eggs comment and Farid getting his suit cleaned with him in it! Love your stuff. Keep telling it like it is.

At the NAB Funeral said...

LOL. The radio industry does not want to be confused by the facts. I'm all for the makeshift morgue. There are a lot of walking dead around here. Great blog. I will show it around. Love Farid's suit.

Anonymous said...

Every year the radio show moves into some town, and every year they refuse to work with the local media. And most years they get a black eye for it. Usually the headline is something like: Can Radio Survive?

A couple of pages of advertising would go a long way to making sure the gratuitous negativity is kept out of the paper. But I guess that's too much brainpower for the NAB to muster.

Brad said...

I live in the Philly suburbs. It is absolutely incomprehensible to me that these folks didn't do ANYTHING to at least put a positive spin on the industry to the general public (or in this case people living in the Philly DMA). It's the same old same old. Please let operators who know what they're doing in LOCAL markets return to try an take the industry into the digital age. If not, you might as well simply put the industry out of its misery. NOTHING CHANGES.

Anonymous said...

One thing is certain. This convention proves that those who are in charge of the radio industry should get out of it and leave it for those true broadcasters that know what it takes to be successful and competitive in the twenty first century. The Trade-o days are over. The owning everything just to own them days are over. It will take real operators with real responsibility to turn this pitiful industry around.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what alternate universe RBR and Radio Ink are in. The Dickstein-Shapiro conference was a disaster if you ask me. So we have a couple of radio cheerleaders making noise surrounded by those who know better. This industry is not coming back until there are major ownership changes. I can't even stomach seeing the faces of people like Dan Mason anymore. enough is enough.

Anonymous said...

It's the NAB Radio F-U-N-E-R-A-L. Nothing "SHOWY" about this one. Lots of frowns on the clowns.

Anonymous said...

Forget radio. It's dead. Why aren't more of you, Gorman included, talking about Kurt Hanson's event today. He positions it as an anti-NAB without saying so but it is another example on the new media afficianados donning their own blinders. Look at who is putting it on. Triton. Triton just bought Ando which bought Spacial. Now one company owns it all. Who is the investor in Kurt Hanson's RAIN, Accu-Radio and Audio4Cast? Triton. Who is tied in with Triton? Mike McVay who is also involved in Hip Cricket? Are you still following this? It's the same old song and the meaning is still the same.

Anonymous said...

"I don't know what alternate universe RBR and Radio Ink are in."

Don't forget Radio World

"Lots of frowns on the clowns."


Anonymous said...

Jennifer Laine's Audio4Cast is not part of Hanson's empire but they are an item as a couple so it is all in the family just not the way anonymous 11:19 portrayed it as being.

rfburns said...

Man - did I miss something? I thought iBiquity and the Alliance were going to save radio. Silly me.

Anonymous said...

If none of these radio "titans" do any substantial outside marketing for their properties (they don't), why would you expect that they would do positive outside marketing (interviews, advertisements, etc.) for their own industry convention?

It never crossed their minds. They do not think that way.

Anonymous said...

i feel i accomplished a few things by not going to the nab convention this year. i saved money and i did not get depressed by this business. instead i made a point to call on a few clients and make a couple of deals which both turned out very well. i am an independent operator up against a few groups in a medium size market. it has been a struggle. i continue to sell us as live and local and in touch with the community we serve and it is beginning to pay off. if i had gone to the nab i would have missed a great opportunity to close two deals that helped make me a tidy profit this month.

Anonymous said...

Gordon Smith was not exactly thrilling either. This is the most non-non-NAB convention to date. It almost makes you miss Fumbles. At least you could laugh at his jokes even if he didn't think they were.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if this is old news, but I just heard it. The NAB is cancelling its European radio show this year. Wow. European radio was always much stronger financially than US. Must be really bad over there.

Anonymous said...

I had heard that the NAB cancelled their European show. That is bad news for U.S. vendors like Telos-Omnia who depend on foreign sales since U.S. radio can't afford any further upgrades. This really shows how bad the industry is doing and that there is no area of the radio business that isn't feeling a serious pinch. Wonder why this was not mentioned at the Dickstein meet?

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you something. If the NAB says this convention was better than last year's they are full of it. This has to be the lightest attended convention ever. The hound dog comment you made was so accurate by the way. Gordon Smith did not inspire me either.

Anonymous said...

Children they were. Immature owners. None worse than Lew Dickey I might add. A special circle in hell awaits that man and his family.

Anonymous said...

I will be curious to see what the NAB board presents Gordon Smith with. What will his marching orders be? After hearing him speak I cannot believe he will be any match for the RIAA or any other anti-radio organization. He may have friends on the Hill but that isn't enough. He is non-partisan which is both good and bad. It can work against him with Republicans who he didn't lend support to and he will still be an outsider among Democrats.

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Anonymous said...

You mentioned "cash for clunker". Apparently when the data was crunched, that wasn't enough to salvage August. Check this out:

Anonymous said...

>> What this industry needs is a steady dose of HONESTY if you ever expect it to turn around. <<

Here's some honesty:

Brad said...

was at the NAB show and one of its side forums yesterday. Forget about the latest figurehead, he's essentially a non-entity to what really matters to the industry, and even forget about the performance royalty tax issue. Of course it's critical to the financial future of companies, but again the industry misses the point that they are so far out of touch of what consumers want, even if there was no tax in the future, it's beyond common business logic and embarrassing. The one clear element to me is that this industry is FINISHED. Nobody has a clue about how to take the industry into the 2nd decade of the 21st century's digital revolution. I'm also convinced now more than ever that even if local operators get back in the game somehow, they WILL NOT be the saviors either. This industry simply DOES NOT HAVE A CLUE. I mean, jeez, look at this quote uttered yesterday by Rick Cummings of Emmis:
“We must embrace the digital world, because that’s where the young people are.”
You're only saying that now in the 4Q of 2009? The statement was relevant in 2003 - SIX YEARS AGO. Enough said. RIP terrestrial radio.

Anonymous said...

Whine! Whine! Whine!

That's all John Gorman can do! No solutions...Just Whine!

Apparently Gorman used to be a player in the industry and is upset that it has left him by the side of the road.,,,and all he can do like a little child is Whine!

Brad said...

Hey anonymous who posted at 12:53, would love to hear your solutions. I shared (or least attempted to) some of mine with a few folks at the NAB show yesterday, and to further illustrate the point that the industry doesn't have a clue, which John's blog clearly and entertainingly manages to detail, the usual response I received was a blank stare for a few minutes as I explained some of the digital concepts, then a half-sincere, "Well, it was nice to meet you," before running off to network with somebody else.
Again. love to hear your ideas.

Anonymous said...

Brad, maybe I don't have all the solutions....but I don't whine about the problems like John does.

Jerry Del COlliano has some great solutions and a "to do" list for the NAB at:

Take a look at those.

the industry doesn't have a clue, which John's blog clearly and entertainingly manages to detail...

Maybe the industry doesn't have a clue, maybe they are finding their way, maybe they are lost....but all John does is seem to WHINE about it!

I think John used to be a player in the business, and now he's a disgruntled radio person who has been left by the side of the road...and now all he can do is complain.

While I don't have anything against you Brad, John seems to be playing to the cheap seats and has amassed a lot of "commenters" who are in the same boat. Misery loves company I guess.

Realistic said...

Brad & Anon 3:22.

Maybe you're Jerry. Maybe your not. I don't care. I read Jerry's thing. It is past tense too. If you say Gorman whines, well Jerry does to and he writes about it daily.

Let me get passed that. Where you and even Gorman missed the boat is the RAIN summit. The people at the NAB are history. Gorman was right about Last Hurrahs. What he did miss along with you was that Triton Media, Kurt Hanson, Jennifer Lane, Mike Mc Vay and quite possibly even Jerry Del Colliano (he was hanging around with these people too) cut a deal that will make it cost prohibitive for any independent internet radio operator to get into business. The big guys locked it up by cutting a deal with Sound Exchange. Radio will not be able to afford to stream in another couple of years either.

While you complain about Gorman providing detailed critiques about the financial set up of radio as much as programming and marketing you just gave a free pass to someone who will contribute to the sounds of many being in the hands of the few.

Anonymous said...

While you complain about Gorman providing detailed critiques about the financial set up of radio as much as programming and marketing you just gave a free pass to someone who will contribute to the sounds of many being in the hands of the few

Please don't misinterpret me as saying that Jerry Del Colliano is the future of radio...he's another whiner.

I just gave that ONE article I pointed to as an example of what the NAB should be doing to try to turn things around.

I didn't mean to give the impression that Del Colliano is any's just that ONE article that I thought was good.

Brad said...

Realistic, How do you know "I missed the boat at the RAIN Summit?" I was there at the Hard Rock for the entire event!!!! Why I even asked a question. Imagine that? I thought some of the online and on-air audio products were pretty neat, but I failed to come away thinking that what I saw was going to be the next great digital answer for the industry.

Jeez, Realistic, why not just go throw out a statement without even considering it first. That makes a lot of sense. NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING. I keep my life real. My name is Brad that is what I post. To even insinuate I might be hiding behind another name, well let's just say that is the same "fake" type of thinking that's plagued the folks in the radio industry. They don't keep it REAL either!

Anonymous said...

i was there too but got a different impression and not a good one. these guys were as full of themselves as radio was at the first nab after deregulation when the party never ended. they did it in a different and sneaky way. they locked up internet radio for themselves. cut their own deals with soundexchange and blocked everyone else out. triton media "owns" kurt hanson's rain and accu-radio and jennifer's audio4cast. what you witnessed was a group of internet radio broadcasters who just f-ed over every other streamer from live 365 to any independent owner/operator or anyone who hoped to be of internet radio. they already f-ed over terrestrial radio by taking advantage of david rehr's ineptness and coercing him into making a deal for the nab which will kill streaming of terrestrial within the next 3 to 4 years. if you were at the hard rock you met the villains who will be dominating the industry for the next few years unless the ftc or someone investigates their monopolistic and anti competitive ways.

Brad said...

I agree with most points of the RAIN attendees, having not known prior to the comments on here about this insider deal that seemingly does not benefit anyone trying to stream music. Any insider deal is unfortunate, and my opinion of some of the speakers at RAIN has drastically changed based on what I am reading here. However, I am involved with non-music programming which also has a diverse digital future.

Anonymous said...

I was disappointed to learn that Hanson & company had their own agenda all along. I was hoping they would be politically active and work out some reasonable choices for internet only broadcasters. Now I see they were just working out deals for their group and leaving everyone else out in the lurch. What is worse is after studying this Ando-Triton deal and how it was put together I see what a ruse this was on the part of the particpants. Add me to the list of those singing that Who song.