Thursday, July 30, 2009

Radio: ImPalin

Say what you will about Sarah Palin.

Evidently, there are decision makers and broadcasters that see and hear something saleable, marketable, and influential in her.

So what if trigger happy Sarah hates - even despises the media?

Rather than get mad - I predict she’ll get even with media by becoming a card-carrying member of it.

See, this works both ways. The very thing that saves you can destroy you, too and the very thing tries to destroy you can also save you.

Consider the alternative. Had Palin not resigned as Alaska’s governor she would’ve ended up as the bottom stem of the public consciousness that feeds off of cable talk, E! and Entertainment Tonight before permanently fading away into that limbo of loser VP candidates.

How many former news media targets – as diverse as Al Sharpton and G. Gordon Liddy - have been reinvented as media all-stars?

Rush Limbaugh’s stint as a top forty jock in the seventies and a promotion director for the Kansas City Royals in the early eighties fine-tuned his pitch, which he applied to conservative politics at a Sacramento, Calif. talker. From there, image-makers and talent coaches groomed him to go national. He can deliver any line scripted for him and his flock will believe that it came from his own black heart.

Rush is still, for all practical purposes, the de factor leader of the Republican Party. Quick. Name the real one. See? The only thing the official GOP leader has over Rush is a better generic radio name – Michael Steele.

There’s no lack of image consultants and groomers. Even those negative Palin nicknames - Sarah Barracuda and Caribou Barbie – can be transformed into terms of endearment.

A cleaned-up, sexy-but-not-too-sexy librarian, ready-for-media Sarah could easily pull off a one-two – radio and television. I could see her doing a daily syndicated radio show for whatever’s left of Clear Channel’s impending restructuring and syndication and as a commentator for one of the cable news channels.

The dead giveaway was the couldn’t-keep-a-secret piece in the Clear Channel owned and operated radio industry gossip daily Inside Radio, which hinted of a probable radio deal. Inside Radio is to Clear Channel what Pravda was to the old Soviet Union. Just like Clear Channel is an advocate for great radio the same way hunters are advocates for deer.

Here’s the formula. Extract Palin from the provincial politics of the Alaskan State House to a national stage –a Washington or New York backdrop. If she can stick to a script and sell it like Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, she’ll be a conservative media shoo-in –and draw much-needed women and younger demos into the GOP fold that those long-in-the-tooth talkers can’t reach.

Timing is crucial. How are we going to miss Sarah unless she goes away? Let Letterman and Vanity Fair fade away. Come on, if there were real Sarah scandals they would’ve been unearthed by now.

We’ve had – what – at least three GOP pols in three weeks caught with their pants down around their ankles with women who weren’t their wives? They’re popping up faster than ducks in a shooting gallery. With all those frisky, fun lovin’ Republican fornicators partyin’ down – a has-been ex-Alaskan governor with a formerly knocked-up unwed daughter can’t match their boldface cache.

Here’s my take on the timetable.

We won’t see or hear much from Sarah Palin until her book comes out next spring.

While her memoirs are being rewritten – she’ll be remade and remodeled into Sarah Palin, media princess by the industry’s best image consultants and talent coaches (sorry, I’m not available for this one).

The new, improved Sarah will reemerge to make the publicity rounds to pitch her memoirs. If her handlers pull off the remake/remodel, she’ll parlay her appearances into a daily full-time radio talk show for Clear - or whatever they're called by then – and as a commentator on - come on, what else - Fox News.

Sarah Barracuda and her brass ovaries will be the antithesis of all those Ivy League twits the GOP talkers will advance-position President Barack Obama’s team as.

From there, who knows?

This is America. Richard M. Nixon came back from the dead more times than Dracula – and became our thirty-seventh President.

Can Sarah pull it off? You betcha!

Today’s date is significant for those still employed by Clear Channel. Part of the Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners’ deal with the Security and Exchange Commission to win approval for their privatization of the company was that the company would provide a "generous severance package" to those terminated up to July 30, 2009. As of today, that's history. For more info and the recap- click here. Coming soon to a Clear Channel cluster near you - Musical chairs for middle management.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Radio: Uncoventional

Years ago I was on some long-forgotten panel at a long-forgotten convention just days after the 1996 Telecommunications Bill was signed into law.

At the time, few knew whether their company would be acquiring, be acquired or eventually both.

In radio, we had lived by federally mandated regulations, which limited the number of stations a company could own in a market and in total. Before deregulation, barring a non-compete, one could cross the street to a rival station or move to another market, which could also mean leaving one employer for another. After deregulation, chances are the company you were leaving would end up owning the station across the street.

We were doing our best to feel optimistic about the impending change.

Someone in the audience asked me if I felt it the radio revisions would help or hurt the industry.

I honestly didn’t know, so I quoted Gandhi – “The future depends on what we do in the present.”

Later, I ran into the person who asked the question. She worked at a Triple A station in Vermont. She told me that my answer was a cop out. I told her it was the most honest answer I could offer given the fact that I wasn’t sure about my future or anyone else's.

Well, almost everyone. It was obvious, even back then, that the true winners were the ones unloading their stations for obscene multiples.

It wasn’t long before the radio industry devolved into decadence.

Decadence means losing one’s desire for new quests. It doesn’t mean that you no longer want to survive. You want to – but only by maintaining the status quo with the help of smoke and mirrors.

The small group of surviving CEOs became broadcasting’s boldfacers – the very identity of the companies they ran.

Remember the decadent go-go radio years after deregulation when the surviving CEOs would rush to get their deals together in time to make their latest announcement at one of the NAB convos – and do double-duty as rock star for a day on CNBC?

It was all about who had the biggest and bad-assed deal at the convention. It was sport.

How can I put it politely? The winner was the one that swallowed the most Extenze pills?

And who could forget Randy Michaels, back for that brief microsecond – at least it seems like that in retrospect – when he was CEO of Clear Channel Radio.

He was the guy the wannabees lived through vicariously. He’d get the most expensive suite, hold court with his posse, strippers, and hangers-on and pull the most outrageous stunts and food fights. He was Bluto Blutarsky with Lowry Mays’ credit card.

Remember the 1999 Radio and Records convention in L.A. when he made his grand entrance on a mobile throne, carried by four muscular “slaves?” He was attempting to recreate a Richard Burton scene from Cleopatra – even though he best resembled Elizabeth Taylor after one of her eating binges. Don’t believe me? There’s video. Click here. Or wait. It may be on YouTube in a few days.

(This is not to be confused with another radio convention where Michaels showed up in his boxer shorts, armed with a Super Soaker water gun.)

Last week in Tom Taylor’s Radio-Info, Fig Media president Bill Figinshu suggested rethinking and restructuring future radio conventions. I couldn’t agree more. It was in response to the meager attendance at this year’s Conclave convo in Minneapolis. He said, “The days of PDs, GMs, and high profile personalities jetting into a city for a long weekend of networking, panels, vendor booths, and yes, an occasional cocktail, are over.” Fig cited costs and the lack of available time most in radio have to attend these bloated functions. In their place, Fig suggested regional driving accessible, low-cost confabs in less expensive cities.

Everyone I talked to that attended the Conclave had the same comments. It’s supposed to be about educational training for radio industry, which in these modern times reads like an oxymoron.

What kind of education are we talking about here? How to build the next generation Prophet System? Creative voice-tracking? New opportunities in HD Radio? Come on.

Did you hear the spin Tom Kay, the executive director of the Conclave put on this year’s event?

He told Tom Taylor, “Our mission is education. When we started out 34 years ago, it was our goal to teach any and all who would come to us expecting to learn. Five people. Fifty. Five hundred. It made no difference.”

Well, five, fifty, five hundred – it made no difference? That’s the same kind of math that got the radio industry in the tormented mess they’re in.

The best line that came out of the Conclave was credited to one of the few GMs that attended.

After RAB head Jeff Haley’s stiff upper lip speech that went nowhere, the GM said to those sitting around him, “Radio can’t fold….because, well, it can’t. Can it?”.

Let’s tell it like it is. The Conclave was all fun and games when the labels picked up the tab. They’d even throw in a free Smashing Pumpkins concert or some reasonable facsimile on top of covering most of the costs. Now the long marriage between radio and records is estranged – maybe permanently. And, face it, no one else is going to pick up the tab the way the labels did when radio airplay could be translated into charts its sales people could take to retail outlets.

Like Bob Dylan sang, “when you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose.”

At least the other conventions – whether it was Billboard/Monitor, R&R, Bobby Poe or Jack the Rapper - it was made it brutally clear and honest – we were all in a for-profit business to make money. Period.

Bob Sillerman said it best, “Have fun, make money. Have fun making money.”

The very real problem is that we have legit businesses from radio syndicators to manufacturers who now have to find alternatives to these convos to promote and market their services and wares to decision makers. R&R and most of the tip sheets are gone. The industry can’t afford conventions – and no third party – legit or not - is going to pay anyone’s way.

But I think we need one more big, badass, schmooze-a-thon shebang – and it ought to be this September’s NAB Radio Show.

Fumbles is now nothing more than a historical asterisk. He’s like that third vocalist in Van Halen. I’m in the business and I can’t even remember him. I hear that no one at the NAB is even allowed to utter David Rehr's name at this year’s event. Even his nickname is prohibited.

Since we don’t have Fumbles to kick around anymore, and no one at the NAB is sure of who's leading what, let’s just go for it.

I think the theme ought to be “Radio - That’s Entertainment!

Instead of nametags, attendees should wear black armbands just like athletes do after a member of the team dies.

I’m sure we can come up with some creative ways to make this NAB Radio Show a standout.

Let’s start with the HD Radio Multicast Award Ceremony. Those duped into HD Radio lost their sense of humor years ago, so a pre-recorded laugh track will be installed via Prophet System to insure that all proper lines get the chortles deserved (like the one about the HD Radio Alliance’s new fall campaign).

The best one will be the group heads panel, featuring the usual cast of radio CEOs. Imagine number one John Hogan (he knows he’s number one – even if he doesn’t know what he’s number one of), Lew Dickey (who watched The Prisoner TV series one too many times as a young lad – and fancies himself as his own number one), and Farid Suleman (who has developed a distaste for anything that ticks – including his Rolex – and he can’t get that “Final Countdown” song out of his head), just to name a few, showing up for a panel discussion – and leaning that it’s not a panel they’re on. It’s a group intervention - and from there, it's straight to radio rehab.

The exhibitor floor should be done in a Euro-Asian theme since they’re the only operators that can afford to buy any audio processing equipment for their stations.

It’s regrettable that no one’s invented a combination robo-engineer and icemaker that can keep the HD Transmitter cooled in time for this year’s NAB Radio Show.

Oh, let’s not forget the coattail riding and self-proclaimed inventor-of-classic-rock-radio Fred Jacobs and his Jacobs Media Summit, which he’s managed to embed in the NAB convo. He likes to call it “a great fit.” Those who know Jacobs rhyme it something slightly different. And those who know the classic rock format are aware that it was Dick Hungate who did the format first - long before Freddie flew to Philly to monitor it.

You have to question why Jacobs wants to be so visible at this time. Is it pure ego? Those interested in kicking tires around the radio industry in advance of the fire sales are already making notes of those who have been controlling the medium for the past decade. Are these the people and organizations you want running the business when it begins its turn around? Just asking.

Maybe Fred’s suffering from the moth-to-a-flame Al Sharpton klieg light disease.

We won’t tell him ahead of time but when we wheel Fred in he'll be hooked up to a lie detector that’ll buzz wildly and deliver a zapping taser shock every time one is told.

Now, that’s entertainment.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Radio: The San Francisco treat

Were you surprised that one of the biggest radio stories of the week got so little play?

An FM station in San Franciscothe fourth largest radio market - that sold for $33.7 million in 2004 was just sold again – this time for the paltry fire sale price of $6.5 million. That’s minus $27 million and change in just under 5 years.

Here’s the quick back story.

Joe Bayliss, who’d been a sales manager for AMFM/Chancellor and later CBS Radio, started Flying Bear Media, with the backing of Alta Communications, Tailwind Capital, and Weston Presidio.

Its first and – fortunately - only purchase was a Hip-Hop formatted class A FM, KBTB, licensed to Alameda, Calif., in the San Francisco market. The seller, the Spanish Broadcasting System, wrapped the deal in October, 2004.

Citing an expensive and expansive music research study, Bayliss changed KBTB to a dance music format with the identity - Energy 92.7 – and aimed its promotion and marketing toward the Bay area's gay and lesbian audience.

Eventually, it got calls to match its moniker – KNGY.

Its debut received a large amount of publicity from both the straight and gay press in San Francisco, including these articles from the Bay Area Reporter and SF Gate.

But KNGY generated neither ratings nor revenue – and, last week, the private equity investors took the pipe and unloaded it at a deep discounted fire sale price to Ed Stolz, who used his own money to make the purchase.

Stolz made news a few years back when he attempted but failed to back out of a $25 million deal with Entercom for his KWOD/Sacramento, Calif.

Maybe this fire sale was given little play because it was an isolated case since it was just a single station trading owners?

Just write it off as three smaller and overextended private equity firms that sold off a station to someone with cash on hand.

But isn’t that how these things always begin?

The small guys are the first to get whacked. Private equity backers take the hit, and get out from under a toxic deal by selling it off to someone with liquidity.

Face facts. What right-minded lender is going to invest in a business that’s rapidly down trending in revenue and influence?

You know there are other private equity firms combing old FCC records in search of those who sold their radio stations became overnight multi-millionaires following deregulation when station prices jumped anywhere from fifteen to over fifty times cash flow. They want to unload these properties now. No reasonable offer refused. No, scratch reasonable. We'll take anything.

These firms have to get radio off their books before one of the Terri Schiavo chains - Citadel or Radio One implode – and that Armageddon will happen sooner than later.

It awaits a thaw in the frozen credit market.

You also know there are those we like to call real broadcasters who are awaiting their reentry. Some may even be able to buy back properties they sold for ten cents on the dollar – maybe less.

They have the best seats in the house. They have an unobstructed view of the future radio industry profit centers.

They're not encumbered by that inside-looking-out tunnel vision that’s inflicted those currently trying to wheel and deal their way out of this pit of hell. Most of those running radio today will be faced with the option of stepping out of the frying pan and into a white-hot fire or a bubbling caldron of grease. Either way, it won’t be a pretty sight.

It’s a fact that every economic boom puts the crooks at the top. Somewhere along the way, radio forgot what its business is. Its business, like any business, is defined by the want the customer satisfies when he or she uses the product or service. Satisfying the customer should be the mission of every business. In radio’s case it was the all-but-forgotten listener. Radio also forgot that its only real profit center is a client whose check hasn’t bounced.

The real broadcasters know that this time around terrestrial will have to be matched in unique ways with on-line – and its true audience measurement will be a boon – not a bust for radio. They see the many profitable opportunities that lie ahead for new local, regional, and national revenue streams.

Then there’s the, pardon the pun, big one – the San Andreas Fault of radio chains - Clear Channel. What do you say? Mid-September? Flunking Ethics 101 will be the least of Bain and Lee’s problems. When that one goes, the domino theory will become reality – and the radio will have its own version of the Santa Ana winds fanning the fire sales that will sweep the over leveraged chains.

Yes, this comedy is ending the way it was destined to. Hope you like your radio well done.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Radio on-line: Held up without a gun

I take it back.

The more I immersed myself in studying this Internet radio deal, the less I liked it. Over this past weekend I discussed it with colleagues, friends, and those whose business sense I respect. My conclusion is that it’s a terrible deal for most webcasters.

Start here. Only the largest independent webcasters will survive: Accu-Radio, Radioio, Pandora, and Digital Imported/Sky FM.

These four – and, perhaps one or two others, have effectively negated present and future competition.

Posing as a reformer must be such tiresome work.

Don’t believe the hype. Small webcasters aren’t being saved; they’re being mass murdered.

It’ll be a miracle for even established smaller, single channel independent webcasters like Bill and Rebecca Goldsmith’s Radio Paradise to continue in the long run.

There are thousands of webcasters producing hundreds of different formats. The majority of do it for two reasons – because they can and their love of labor of creating programming. They’re driven by passion – not business.

I’m convinced that the only reason Pandora’s backing this deal is because they didn’t want to jeopardize the $35 million they just raised in venture capital funding. Founder Tim Westergren is being a bit too sanguine if he truly believes he can defray RIAA royalty costs with a subscription service. I doubt he does. Wanna bet that another reason he’s marching like a good soldier to the RIAA’s beat is to keep his current advertisers from bolting?

Tell me if you think there is any fairness to this deal whatsoever.

SoundExchange, the collection arm of the RIAA will take 25 percent of webcasters’ gross revenues – read that carefully gross revenues – not net. And their take is not limited to just what is earned on-air. If a webcaster sells merchandise, for example, T-shirts, coffee cups, hats –25 percent gross – right off the top – will go to SoundExchange/RIAA.

So what if that coffee cup you sold has nothing to do with an artist you played?

Let me put it another way. Should this deal go down, the big four label groupsSony/BMG, Warner Music Group, EMI, and Universal Music Group, through the RIAA, will own a 25 percent equity with independent Internet radio stations that play music controlled by the RIAA.

It makes you wonder who wrote up this deal? Did the RIAA consult with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao of the People’s Republic of China?

I’d like SoundExchange and the webcasters that bought into this deal explicate the difference between it and a protection racket?

Actually, I can. Even a protection racket wouldn’t charge a quarter of total revenues – gross. They want their marks to stay in business. SoundExchange couldn’t care less – unless their plans include help “subsidize” Internet radio through the back door by, perhaps, creating a few pay-for-play schemes to help keep the webcasters’ heads above water. Call it audio water-boarding.

When it comes to dealing with the RIAA – don’t rule anything out. They want both terrestrial and Internet radio to believe that they are still here only because they didn’t kill them off yesterday – and how they behave today will determine whether or not they’ll be around tomorrow.

There is a very real likelihood of most Internet radio stations disappearing, just like that GM or Chrysler dealer that didn’t make the cut, or Tower Records and the Virgin Megastore.

I respect tough negotiators. I have no respect for autocrats.

No one owes the labels a bail out. The labels put themselves out of business when they decided that only important customer was the big box store.

The labels didn’t invent downloading – so they pretended it didn’t exist until the old line retail market withered. Now they’re up the creek and can’t even steal a paddle. But the RIAA knows how to work Capitol Hill better than most. And U2’s touring. Never under estimate the value of a cash bribe or a U2 backstage pass.

The only deal webcasters should consider is one that offers Internet radio, terrestrial radio, and satellite radio the same royalty rate – and that rate must be less than ten percent net – not gross – and only cover income generated from on-air broadcasts.

Once again, the thugs at the RIAA have given us new meaning to the phrase held up without a gun.

It’s not a done deal yet. Keep it mind that robbing isn’t the toughest part of heisting. The getaway is. And no one’s gotten away with anything – yet.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Radio: SoundExchange - Men of Steal

I’m not in love with it but this shotgun wedding of the RIAA and webcasters makes more sense than the prior proposals.

I’d said it right from the beginning. Royalty payments should be based primarily on a percentage of an Internet radio station’s earnings.

If politics is the art of compromise - and considering the players involved, chances are that this is the best deal that could be done for webcasters. At least some webcasters can afford this. It won't do much for future Internet radio start-ups. Those that'll benefit are the existing for-profit webcasters. I don't see a problem with that since they've been fighting this fight for years.

For that shark tank known as the RIAA, it’s not the haul they were hoping to pull off – but it’s still a helluva steal.

Do you want to know how Internet-only radio stations will break to the masses?

When it creates its first air personality.

You want to know how Internet radio will become vital to the labels and artist management?

When it breaks it first million-selling artist without terrestrial radio's support.

In the interim, webcasters with skin in the game will pay the freight and wait.

Let’s get straight to it. The deal with SoundExchange deal defines and establishes three separate classes of what they call pure-play webcasters.

Those are Large, Small, and the ones that have “bundled, syndicated or subscription services.”

Large webscasters are defined as Internet radio stations making over $1.25 million in annual revenues. They’ll be on the hook for either 25 percent of total revenues or a gradually increasing per-performance rate – whichever is higher. The minimum payment to SoundExchange is $25,000.

Small webcasters are Internet radio stations with revenues under $1.25 million – who also have fewer than 8 to 10 million listeners per month. They’re on the hook for a percentage of total revenues based on a sliding scale of 12 percent of the first $250,000 and 14 percent over that - or 7 percent of expenses, whichever amount is highest.

Bundled, Syndicated or Subscription Services will be obligated to pony up the same ludicrous rates the NAB, while under the bass-ackwards leadership of David “Fumbles” Rehr, negotiated in February. Though the rates are a few cents lower than what the Copyright Royalty Board requested, SoundExchange walks with a percentage of the total amount of terrestrial radio station revenues – not just what may be earned on-line.

All of the above classes must keep detailed records of every song played and when – and must adhere to the rules of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

SoundExchange offers a two-fold microcaster such-a-deal.

Internet radio stations that generate no revenue and have few listeners, which make up the overwhelming majority of webcasters, will have to shell out $600 – and will be exempt from keeping records.

For small Internet radio stations with listeners but revenues under $50,000 – you’ll be hit with a minimum $2,000 annual cost of doing business.

Beyond that, it gets complicated and you can bet that only the lawyers will get rich. Click here for the breakdown, takedown, and shakedown.

It could have been worse, it could have been better.

Pandora rushed out their update the moment the deal was done. Heavy users will have to pay-to-listen if they go over a certain allotted time.

So SoundExchange, the collection agency wing of the fee-aholics at the RIAA, which represents labels with notorious reputations for gypping artists out of their owed royalties, will do the collecting and allegedly pass fifty percent, minus administrative costs, to the artists.

We'll see. Like Bob Dylan said, "Money doesn't talk, it swears."

Does it matter what really happened? Not really. Somewhere along the way the RIAA realized they weren't going to sell their pay-for-play schemes to webcasters - and that their original proposed fees would've put the very stations that would expose the most new music out of business. That's when compromise was reached.

Don't fool yourself into believing this is a win for webscasters. What we have here is not the result of democracy but of a kleptocracy.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Radio: Paralysis by analysis

If everyone’s a research expert there are no research experts.

Traditional media, radio included, suffer from a severe case of paralysis by analysis.

If one research study shows radio time spent listening down, counter it with another study that “proves” radio’s reach and frequency continues to expand.

It’s the path of least resistance. Most gravitate and believe research that tells us what we want to see and hear.

It’s called believing your own hype – and it’s lethal.

It’s why many conservative talk show hosts are successful. The converted love being preached to.

That’s where the research business has gone south. No one wants to be proven wrong.

Research loses credibility when it stops asking the right questions at the request of its clients.

There are few things easier to do than manipulate research results. Just ask misleading questions and avoid those too obvious or controversial.

It’s so uncomplicated to generate an eye-opening, smack-you-across-the-face research study to make one believe it’s essential that the consultant or research organization that did it be hired to save the business.

Radio confuses what it wants with what is probable and when in doubt it goes for mystification, not perfection.

These researchers don’t care about the facts. It’s just like guilt is not as common as most people believe. Killers and radio researchers probably laugh as much as anyone else.

I used to enjoy going to industry conventions and gatherings where you’d actually leave with more knowledge than you had when you arrived. It’s not like that anymore. Over the summer, we’ll have a few of those warm-up gatherings like the Conclave that’ll take your time and money, leading up to the big shebang NAB Radio Show convo in September. The usual suspect researchers and consultants will once again team up to present their latest research “findings” for radio. Let me predict. They’re going to tell you what you want to know and what they want you to believe. I didn’t say they’d be factual.

The radio industry purged nearly all programmers, managers, and even CEOs that achieved success with a dose of their gut instincts. There are chains where those challenging on-hand research are considered precarious and insubordinate – even if it’s old, dated, or from another market.

I have another word for these guts and glory programmers and managers. Futurists. They possess the skill to connect dots that haven’t been connected yet and they’ll often go against the grain of traditional research.

Not all industries dislike futurists. The Silicon Valley nurtures them. Steve Jobs locks them up in a room and says, “Create something! Create anything!"

You can’t measure futurist gut and instinct with research. The latter deals with what already was - not what is to be. Gut decisions are supported by running proposals and objectives by those you’ve surrounded yourself with – your colleagues, mentors, and support staff. Gut is measured with competitors and reality checks. Instinct is derived from your knowledge, passion, and – of equal importance – pride of product.

Researchers are terrified of them. Futurists use research as a map – not the end-all. They reference research like MapQuest – making sure they don’t miss a twist or a turn on the way to their destination.

Misleading research also damages the reputation of the radio industry. Take last week’s Media Post headline: Radio Tops with Teens.

Now, read this line circumspectly: Nielsen found that 16% of teenagers around the world consider radio their "primary source" of music, with another 21% identifying it as a "secondary source" of music. But the numbers lag far behind MP3 players -- identified by 39% of teenagers as a primary source of music -- and computers, preferred by 33% of teens.

Around the world. Catch that?

Looking for teens listening to the radio in the U.S.? Try low-income families. Those that cannot afford other means of music delivery have no choice other than free terrestrial radio. They can’t afford an iPod, iPhone or some reasonable facsimile. Prove me wrong.

Who did the research for the NAB and RAB's lame Radio Heard Here campaign? Is there even one person gullible enough to fall for these new promos?

You’ve heard the latest NAB joke, right? There are radios in the heaven of the NAB but no NAB in the heaven of radio.

Who came up with the research that HD Radio on the new model Microsoft Zune will break that medium to the masses? Do you know anyone that owns a Zune?

The headline in yesterday’s on-line daily Ad Age said it best: Jackson's Death Marks Turning Point for Media Players. Radio didn’t deliver the news – or even advance rumors. It broke on and spread on Twitter. By the time radio got around it – that is, figuring out what format to carry the breaking story on and how to interrupt the voice-tracking – it was old news.

It comes down to this. Radio-oriented research has become so tainted and so implausible that it’s not taken seriously by anyone other than those in the industry that want to believe in the improbable.

If radio’s so brilliant why are a half dozen, maybe more, chains in a budgetary black hole and thisclose to bankruptcy?

Maybe the radio researchers are banking on the old saying that even liars, thieves, bankers, politicians, and whores become respectable if they stick around long enough.