Thursday, December 17, 2009

Radio: It's the same old song

Please understand that it’s as monotonous for me as it is for you to keep harping on the same old subjects day after day, week after week. You want to read it as much as I want to write it. Yes, Dickey, Suleman, Hogan, et al continue to coast and boast while their empires crumble.

In today’s agitated cutthroat media market, competency is expected and faultless implementation is tolerable. If you believe that, you’re burnt-beyond-recognition toast. The decisive competitive advantage is passion and desire. Success is achieved by creativity and understanding the marriage of art and commerce.

The reports coming from the major radio chains whiff of extreme anxiety. They can’t afford any more distressing news. The chains are doing their best to block their dire news from hitting the trades.

Look, politicians do it. Other CEOs do it. Even Tiger Woods in his own way did it until he went from nailer to nailee.

Heading off bad news at the pass is standard operating procedure, but it risks dispersion of the real negative information to an even larger group, which in due course draws even more attention to crises old media is facing.

Down slightly is the new up. Failure is rewarded. That’s radio logic. It’s also radio nowhere.

I’ve been hearing per inquiry spots on the top-rated morning drive shows since the beginning of the month. Some stations are doing commercial-free (and billing them as such) workdays.

Year end or decade end - take it any which way. It has the same melancholic ending. Radio is in far worse shape today because of mediocre leadership, an inability to plan long term and identify new competition, and a refusal to replace the dated components of radio programming.

John Hogan was wrong. Less is less is the new less is more.

Remember, radio’s dormant, not dead. Once we get the spectators off the field, the pros can get back to the game at hand.

I’ll be back in a few days.


The early days of TV simulcasts

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lie of the Tiger

You can sum up damage control straightforwardly.

When you dig yourself in a hole - the first thing you do is stop digging.

Or if you’re Tiger Woods - know the difference between a sand trap and quicksand.

Tiger Woods is damage control gone wrong.

I have a friend who covers the PGA for news organizations.

A few years back, when everyone was talking up Tiger as the world’s greatest golfer - and a fine role model, he told me that if word got out on what he was really like - he’d be toast - and wouldn’t know how to handle it.

When Tiger turned 21, Charles Pierce did a piece on him in GQ that touched upon his penchant for hot babes and dirty jokes.

Following the GQ piece he refused to do informal interviews, claiming that he couldn’t understand “tabloid scrutiny.”

When your 21 and single and you can pick and choose from a bevy of golf groupie babes. You’re a kid. It’s expected.

You don’t know Jack if you think Arnold, Gary, Tom, Lee, Bobby, Ben, and Sam didn’t partake in the spoils of the links back in their early days, too.

Sports? Come on. That’s where the real toned and slim babes are. Even rock stars fantasize on sports sluts.

In the fifties, when it was an honor and privilege to cover national politics, Sen. John F. Kennedy had an understanding that reporters would refuse to even tell their closest friends outside the business about the bevy of beauties he was bedding.

For over a decade, Tiger knew that the PGA would permanently bounce and blacklist any reporter who’d dare tell Tiger tales.

But there comes a time.

Tiger, you’re 33. You’re married with two young children. For their sake, if not your own, you should know better than do flaunt your groupies, especially when they’re down a few notches or two from a decade ago.

Tiger, come on. You’re doing hostesses and waitresses from casinos, strip joints, pancake restaurants - and two porn stars? Tiger, you’re slumming in rock star regions! Maybe you prefer your groupies pierced?

You can’t blame Tiger for succumbing to the fantasy that he could get away with these trysts but, in the end, what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas. Or New York. Or Atlanta. Or Newport Beach. Or Bay Hill.

If I had an endorsement deal with Tiger I’d demand a refund. Here’s Tiger projected to surpass $12 billion in career earnings next year - 90 percent of that from endorsements - and he’s throwing Ambien - the prescription drug for insomnia - a freebie?

Number two of eleven - and counting - mistress Rachel Uchitel told the press that Tiger turned her on to sex on Ambien. “You know, you have crazier sex on Ambien,” she said. “You get into that Ambien haze.”

Want to bet against Tiger selling more Ambien than Nikes in the past twenty-four hours? Didn’t think so.

How many guys called their doctors this morning for an Ambien script?

Chances are calamity started with Tiger’s wife Elin sensing the scent of other women - and ended with a damage report covering everything from a fire hydrant to her marriage.

Tiger may be one of the greatest golfers in the history of the game but a member of the 32819 zip code chapter of Mensa he’s not. You don’t call one of your eleven back door honeys and leave a voice mail saying, "My wife went through my phone and may be calling you....."

Who’s responsible for this admission impossible? Whoever talked Tiger into that “transgressions” line should be off the payroll. You don’t admit to something ambiguously - then run and hide - and, worse, cancel an appearance at your own tournament!

Now, and for the foreseeable future Tiger will be smack dab center in our public consciousness. What his handlers have to worry about is that he doesn’t end up on a lower stem that feeds off Entertainment Tonight and E! where hyperbole is shoveled out by the ton.

How about Tiger Woods, Steven Tyler, David Letterman, and David Duchovny doing a togetherness PSA for sex addiction?

Nearly everyone in radio at one time or another will be faced with crisis management and damage control. It comes with the territory.

My advice? Come clean, tell the truth and be transparent. If you’re not you’ll be hunted like Tiger - and the incident will spin out of control.

Either that or blame it on the Prophet System.