Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Never write when you can talk. Never talk when you can nod. And never put anything in an e-mail" Eliot Spitzer

Americans love lists. American media understand this and offer up lists of every variety. Lists and awards abound. The nature of any list, and I'll include awards here because awards are nothing more than another type of list, are almost never fair. The lists offered up by American business and trade pubs can be especially unfair. Creating lists of the best or most important or most-admired business leaders is a mission fraught with peril. However, creators often hedge their bets since there seems to be no limits (or even commonly accepted rules) on creating new and improved lists. Accordingly it is possible for Carly Fiona to top list after list of great business leaders one month, suddenly vanish from those lists and then reappear at the top of some other list ("Top business leaders on the loose...what will they do next?" or "Execs falling off this year's list"). Riding high in April and shot down in May, that's life. I write here not to be unfair to Carly but to make a point. The list bidness ain't as easy as it might first seem.

But as even the blind squirrel is sometimes able to acquire the acorn, list makers do seem to get it right on occasion. In a moment of clarity they set the record straight listing a deserving or highly qualified individual inexplicably ignored or overlooked previously. Each new list provides for this opportunity. I don't like lists that appear to lack the rigor of serious standards for qualification while pretending to be serious work; they would be better served telling it like it is "here is my or our purely subjective opinion take it or leave it." I dislike the inclusion of individuals be they business leaders or bloggers or film editors at the exclusion of others without a proper disclosure of the rules or the knowledge that there are no rules. But such is the nature of any list. Most are merely popularity contests, parlor games at best, the stuff of amusement not any serious study.

Then there are the lists of media professionals. The Radio Ink Lists are in this group and the Radio Ink folks have just released their "55 Best Managers in Radio" list. Earlier they called this list "50 Best Managers in Radio" and "Best Managers in Radio". The latter was still 50 but not in title and they also appended that list with a list of ten most-admired corporate managers. I congratulate all those listed this year and rather than ask why the number 55 is so important or again name names not on the list that certainly deserved to be there...I would prefer to tell you a story. I'll share that story in my next post.

Perhaps Jimmy deCastro was right..."Radio is high school with money."

P.S. Taking my post to heart...My Other Voices blogroll is a list of those blogs I personally read at least weekly, some, not all, as many are not yet on the blogroll due to my lack of labor (and the convenience of my Bloglines feed); the Morning Coffee blogroll is just that, my daily reads. The only rule is I read the blog and like it. Do you have a blog to suggest that I've not listed - let me know and I'll share it here - thanks!

Any list of the best marketing and advertising writers working at a daily would have to include Lewis Lazare, yesterday he writes on the Donny Deutsch book...

Deutsch exposes himself as something of a hypocrite. First he waxes ecstatic about how being a television host has given him easy access to all kinds of bold-faced names he never thought he'd meet. Then, he quickly does an about-face, and insists he has never been impressed with celebrity, and that he really admires the simple folk he grew up with in Queens.

We suppose lucky rebels from Queens just assume they can have it both ways.

Lew's entire writing is here. I agree with Lew on the Deutsch book...disappointing. If you will imagine that I have access to the set of CNBC's one and only true star, the amazing Jimmy Cramer, watch me now push JC's "don't buy" button three times and, if you must have the book, suggest you wait for it to hit the clearance won't be waiting long.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

"It has been my observation that great leadership can have an electrifying effect on the performance of any corporation" David Ogilvy

The iNDemand online buy for their Howard Stern vod product is live. The text ad in B&C's email (issue preview) directs traffic here. The big missed opportunities here..."Send to a Friend" lacks function...a mouse-over reads "Coming Soon". The "I Want Howard" page should work but lacks the data population required to search by zip...the end result is the user is asked to "please call your local cable operator" while also failing to capture any contact info, engage the potential customer or direct the viewer to their Register page and form. Perhaps they are logging the zip requests to help their sales team talk to the MSO community about demand but I would not bet on it. Poor design, half-baked effort; the good news...they can fix the pages with some thought and minimum effort. They should employ two creative for the MSO (the target of their B&C buy) and one for consumers, the pages now up fall short, they suffer from a lack of focus and message discipline.

Howard Stern on demand website fails to demand

In my experience the best sites...

Encourage you to share news - make it easy to tell a friend (exactly what the Send to a Friend feature should now be doing)

Always directs you to another page - no dead end pages (the I Want Howard search may create dead end pages)

Encourage you to provide contact info (e.g., email) to get the conversation started (the Register page needs to get major attention, much more play - they should offer unique can't buy it premiums in a sweepstakes - Meet Howard or Howard autographed swag, free month, cool downloads or bonus content et al to prompt word of mouth and drive sign-up)

Provide a clear and simple way to buy the product or service as part of your first visit.

The iNDemand Howard Stern pages fail in these critical measures. Very cool idea - ripe with potential, very poor execution.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship... the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth." Peter Drucker

Doc Searles has written something that deserves your attention. Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes is Doc's masterful call to action...

This is a long essay. There is, however, no limit to how long I could have made it. The subjects covered here are no less enormous than the Net and its future. Even optimists agree that the Net's future as a free and open environment for business and culture is facing many threats. We can't begin to cover them all or cover all the ways we can fight them. I believe, however, that there is one sure way to fight all of these threats at once, and without doing it the bad guys will win. That's what this essay is about.

Please allow me to encourage you to read his writing here.

After reading Doc I suggest you check the following links, you may find a member of congress that represents you or not; let me suggest you contact them with your thoughts concerning any potential law making regarding your access to the internet

House Energy and Commerce Committee - members - here

House - Staff Discussion Draft of Broadband Legislation- 70 page pdf - here

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee - members - here

Further using the mailing address of each Committee please share your thoughts with the following staff...these are the hard-working "behind the scenes" experts who will help members to understand the issues and to shape the discussion. I am certain each will welcome a fresh pov.

Mr. Howard Waltzman - Chief Counsel for Telecommunications and the Internet
House Energy and Commerce Committee

Mr. Will Nordwind - Counsel and Policy Coordinator Telecommunications and the Internet
House Energy and Commerce Committee

Ms. Johanna Shelton - Minority Counsel
House Energy and Commerce Committee

Ms. Lisa Sutherland - Majority Staff Director
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

Ms. Christine Kurth - Deputy Staff Director
Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee

Mr. James Assey - Minority Senior Counsel for Communications
Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee

Thank you!

"We all have a tendency to use research as a drunkard uses a lamppost - for support, not for illumination" David Ogilvy

The dead tree guys embrace Google Base. From the official Google blog...

"'s business model is built on providing employers with as many avenues as possible to connect with job seekers. Feeding our jobs to Google Base further extends our distribution network, providing employers with added support in marketing their open positions." - Richard Castellini, VP of Consumer Marketing,


Please DO NOT click on the big red button - fair warning, however, should you insist...ok to look but DO NOT click once you get here (thanks to Scobleizer Bunny and his significant other)

"They copied all they could follow, But they couldn't copy my mind. And I left 'em sweating and stealing, A year and a half behind." Kipling

Google Base is alive, you need a Google account to check it out here. Played with it for a bit this morning. Cool map product integration. They have made the wise move of putting their vehicle vertical on page one. As one who worked in the online classifieds dodge I can respect and appreciate what Google is doing (with propers too to Craigslist and eBay and Yahoo). Congrats to the Google gang on your debut. Now to really make it cool...give me the option to import some audio to entertain me while I search.

Windows Live is also alive, in beta, you need a Hotmail or MSN account. No disrespect to the MS Live team, I know it's early, however, not seeing anything - yet - that would take me away from my Google homepage. Check out what is perhaps a very early version of Live here.

My sense is innovation is at work here. Google and MS and Craigslist and eBay and Yahoo will each create fresh new competitive space by competing to make their products the best of breed. Will the dead tree, broadcast, cable and wireless folks study (and learn from) these initiatives? Will they step up their efforts and creativity? What is badly needed here is some leap frog via some game changing and unprecedented creative collaboration...Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"Big dogs eat first and they eat till they're full" Mark Niblick

Marv Dyson is a great broadcaster, a gentleman, a wit and gets my vote for best dressed. Media scribe Robert Feder headlines Marv in today's column...

"With the recent infusion of $17 million from the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Fund, Dyson's Urban Radio Communications is poised to double the number of properties it owns and become the nation's second-largest African-American-owned radio company.
Dyson, who turns 68 later this month, formed the company with Kevin Wagner, whom Dyson hired out of high school (and the Altgeld Gardens public housing complex) as an account exec at WGCI."

Read Dyson keeps busy building new empire here. Congrats to Marv, cheers to Robert.

All that's fit to drink

Fred Winston and I have been talking about food and wine almost every week for decades. We will begin to share as we opine on wine in a new collaborative blog Your Wine Cellar set to debut this weekend. First up - wine for your Thanksgiving table. We intend to share our finds, the best wines for your wallet. Link here later this week.

Over at Slate, Daniel Gross offers up his view of the noise about a Knight Ridder sale. In reviewing the suspects he writes...

"Financial buyers—leveraged buyout and private equity firms that are less concerned with synergies and more concerned with balance sheets—likewise wouldn't seem to have much interest in Knight Ridder. The notion behind an LBO is that you take on lots of debt, buy a company that has reliable cash flow at an attractive valuation, use cash flow to pay off debt, and then sell it several years later. And here, newspaper companies present two problems. The cash flow of newspapers is not reliable and may decline over time. Second, in order for the original investors to cash out, financial buyers have to sell the company to someone else down the road. Assuming trends continue, who would want to pay a premium for a bunch of newspapers in five years' time?"

Good call Daniel. Read the entire column here

Invited to participate in the Sphere beta - still in stealth - thanks guys.

Bravo! Can't say enough good stuff about the new Peter Morville book Ambient Findability - highly recommended

Writing over at TheDeal, Richard Morgan...

"Memo to media moguls: Get over it.

Get over your need for control. Get over the fear and fealty you've instilled in your subordinates for all those years. And get over the top-down decision-making process that has characterized mass media companies since they first arose in the 19th century.
It's not that a new media order wants you out of the way. It's just that you and others atop the intellectual-property food chain are about to see that chain inverted. In fact, if you're really worth your Gulfstream G-200, you're leading the inversion. You're already out there, a la News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, snapping up online assets that you and your peers didn't know existed (and which may not have existed) a few short years ago.
Why you're so keen on acquiring these assets is obvious. You're desperately trying to keep pace with the online migration of readers, viewers and listeners who were once yours, all yours. If you fail, then you'll be left behind as an old-media company stuck with a decaying model that at some point will no longer sustain your business. "How long will the tinkering continue? Perhaps until a generational shift produces managers with sensibilities of a kind Murdoch himself described in his speech to the newspaper editors."

"Like many of you in this room," the 74-year-old said, "I'm a digital immigrant. I wasn't weaned on the Web, nor coddled on a computer. Instead, I grew up in a highly centralized world where news and information were tightly controlled by a few editors, who deemed to tell us what we could and should know. My two young daughters, on the other hand, will be digital natives." And it is to these digital natives that, more sooner than later, moguls like Murdoch are destined to bow." You may find the entire writing here

Sunday, November 13, 2005

"Poor showmanship, lack of ability in spotting talent, and a conservative, unimaginative business approach will not reap big profits" Dave Sholin

My friend Ron Fell has written a tribute to legendary broadcaster Bill King, you may find it here. Ron is one of the great gentleman of the world and I am blessed to know him. He is the gadget guys gadget guy, always on the leading edge. He also happens to maintain a residence in two of the greatest cities in the world...his native San Francisco and Sydney.

Steve Rubel and Joseph Jaffe offer up a fine weekly podcast, check out Across the Sound here. At the end of this week's cast they invite comments on how long the podcast should be while saying ATS is now running to 45 minutes. My sense is Steve and Joe should let content be their guide. 45 minutes is not too long when the show is engaging, topical and offers a fresh pov.

Peter Drucker, one of the greatest intellects, thinkers and writers on business in our time has passed - a great loss. Perhaps the only living person who will match Drucker's incredible and amazing insight will be Tom Peters. Find Drucker on the web here. TP on Drucker here

The Philly Prophet, the one and only Jim Cramer, was profiled on 60 tonight. Uncle Dan did a fair job. As I have said here previously, JC is the goods, the single best biz show on television period paragraph. Since there is not a CNBC website you'll need to navigate MSN Money, part of the MSN domain, to get anything on CNBC or Cramer. (Closed circuit to MSN - this sucks, fix it please) Not yet a Cramer fan? This is a simply outstanding Gary Owens used to say "don't miss it if you can" on CNBC, read his CNBC bio here. (Closed circuit to MM - get a chair company to sponsor the chair - "we are the only people who build a chair that is not afraid of JC - bring it").

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"Truly great companies aren't built by the greedy, but by the passionate" William Gurley

Howie Kurtz writes up Mary Mapes the old school way...he lets her run her mouth...

She is disdainful of Moonves, the CBS president who ordered the outside investigation. "He doesn't know journalism from dirt farming," Mapes said. In the book, noting that Moonves courted and then married "Early Show" anchor Julie Chen, she writes: "I used to say everything Les knows about journalism had been sexually transmitted. Now I know even that hasn't taught him much."

She says Viacom, CBS's corporate parent, threw her overboard because Chief Executive Sumner Redstone feared regulatory retaliation by the Bush administration.

Linda Mason, a CBS News senior vice president, said Mapes was fired because "her basic reporting was faulty. She relied on documents that could not be authenticated -- you could never authenticate a Xeroxed copy. She led others who trusted her down the wrong road." Viacom acted because its executives were "stunned at the report" and concerned about restoring CBS News's reputation, she said.

Read the entire column here. Les has done an excellent, make that brilliant, job with entertainment, his team will fix non-entertainment is my bet. Viacom is waking up to the new opportunity rich marketplace; In addition to supporting, encouraging major change Sumner Redstone also understands the incredible future of gaming, as few others do. Joel Hollander is getting Infinity moving in the right direction after being handed a dog's breakfast.

More in the 400 year death spiral of the dead tree tribe

Bob Baker writes...

I don't know about you but I'm tired of listening to our obituaries. I ACCEPT death: Everybody dies sometime. If newspapers are going to die, as most "smart" people seem to think, let's go down swinging. Let's go down like the Texans at the Alamo. Let's publish the best, most interesting, most audacious stories we can, on our own terms. Let's not be businessmen. Let's be artists. Let's put our art--the stories we love to write, edit and publish--on the market and see who buys it.

Let's be all the things we love to read. Let's astonish our audience. Let's stop asking our readers what they want. Let's remember, as Frank Capra, the great director, once said, that "the audience doesn't know what it wants--until it sees it."

Read all of Bob's writing here

The Scobleizer Bunny weighs in...the Gates email, the Ozzie memo

Robert Scoble offers his pov, links and the comments here.

Check out the Nov 4 Gillmor Gang ("Disruption Gang") wherein the gang takes on Robert Scoble. Find it here. Every media company needs to stay fresh on these issues, it is way beyond the time that this was elective; Vista, LIVE, the entire issue of internet services disruption, what YAHOO and GOOGLE are doing..each and all merit your attention NOW.

Terry Heaton, always a good read, does "get it"...

It's not all or nothing. This is by far the biggest block to real progress in the face of the media 2.0 disruption. We hear things like "mass marketing is dead" and we react negatively, in part, because we intuitively know that's simply not true. There will always be mass marketing approaches to business in our world — even if they're smaller in scale. What Umair Haque calls the "blockbuster" events necessary to create mass audiences are and will be fewer and farther between, and that should be a concern to any mass marketer.

Do we have to drop ALL mass marketing to succeed in a media 2.0 world? I don't think so, but we do need to develop methods and models that work in an unbundled, individualized media world, and these are definitely at enmity with mass marketing practices. We can and we must learn them, however

We need to strike the words "always" and "never" from our language, because this is vastly more complex that simple black and white explanations would have us believe. That said, "getting it" includes a little willingness to explore extremes despite how we feel about them.

Read all of Terry's post here

Server is too busy

Above is the message returned (twice) when I attempted to sign-in to check mail at; no fancy marketing language, no graphics, no apology, no please try again later, nope, just...Server is too busy. For some things in 2005, user experience included, there just ain't no good excuse, none.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"Initiative can neither be created nor delegated. It can only spring from the self-determining indivIDual, who decides that the wisdom of others is not always better than his own" R. Buckminister Fuller

Eric Nuzum, a manager at NPR, has written an interesting commentary concerning public radio (Biggest audience gainers focus on the basics of good radio)...

Finding new listeners is laudable, important work and buzzworthy in public radio during recent years but it's a terribly inefficient way to build audience.

Making new listeners into regulars is a long haul. It takes significant investments and patience. New listeners are difficult to catch and far more difficult to keep. If you doubt that, think about your last experience with the scan button on your radio. How many stations captured and lost you in a matter of seconds?

While new-listener initiatives pay off over the course of several years, there are audience-building initiatives that can show results in weeks or months, strengthening service to current listeners.

Mr. Nuzum goes on to write

A stations most efficient means of expanding its audience is to convert fringe listeners into core listeners. A core listener is someone who uses your radio station more than they use any other radio station across a seven-day period. That's it.

Fringe listeners? They are everyone else. Everyone who isn't a core listener is a fringe listener.

Core listeners are the backbone of a station.

While I agree with his suggestion that stations exhibiting ratings growth might just be those that "practice better radio" and agree that so-called core listeners are critical to success (Jim Seiler was the first to demonstrate this using his theory of "heavy users", Arbitron later confirmed Seiler's theory creating the P-1 construct), however, I must respectfully disagree with his notion on building audience. The hamartia here is "finding new listeners is...a terribly inefficient way to build audience" Exactly wrong. Growing the two toplines (ratings and revenue) delivers the best return, further, let me suggest growing those toplines should be nothing less than job one at every station. Rather than characterize Nuzum's review of the Arbitron data as a near miss case of apophenia, I applaud his attempt to make sense of the data and offer the advice once given me by the great intellect and legendary media researcher Jim Yergin "cume and occasions provide the best insight." This is not to say that programmers should not be focused on getting proper listening credit, growing share of listening or putting state-of-the-art tools (e.g, OES models for messaging) to work to deliver the best possible ratings performance. The fact of the matter is optimization of your current reported listening, while very important, has practical limitations, it is finite. The wise avoid the deception, the illusion, the seduction, the inherent dangers of a one dimensional "loyalty" focus and, instead, prefer to invest attention and resources on the new romance...inducing trial; the creative, pathological obession with building new listenership and new dollars. I encourage you to read Eric Nuzum's writing here and let me know your thoughts.

Here's a good read...Mike Janssen's article "Audience growth stalls for public radio system" here

The issues raised about public radio's growth and lack of growth have been a topic of discussion in our ongoing Media Leadership Series. One of the most popular discussion tools used in the series are "The Great Leader" monographs. Here is a cut from the radio program director monograph first published over a decade ago.

A Great Program Director

A Great Program Director understands that radio is a ratings driven business and delivers winning numbers to the sales department. A Great Program Director is an advocate for target listeners; a champion for P-1 listener wants and needs. A Great Program Director puts research to work to stay in touch with her/his target. A Great Program Director understands the incredible powers of imagination, knowledge, creativity, attitude, focus and technology. "The play's the thing" so said Shakespeare, and A Great Program Director knows that great radio is great theater. A Great Program Director is a leader, a coach, a director, a businessperson. A Great Program Director values "people skills" and is devoted to being a good and fair person with a reputation for creating a stimulating, positive and challenging environment for creative individuals. A Great Program Director knows building a great radio station is a marathon with no finish line; the price of success is always more competition. A Great Program Director is decisive, a strategic thinker, an excellent listener, a person who "hears" ideal radio playing in her/his head and strives to put that station on the air every set, every quarter-hour, every day. A Great Program Director is a competent fiduciary and accepts responsibility for diligent planning and prudent allocation and care of the company's most precious resources - talent, time and cash.

My friend, the brilliant media researcher and author, Roger Wimmer has posted the entire monograph on his website here

Should you be interested, you may also find another in the monograph series, A Great General Manager here

Thanks for the recent emails regarding "Mommy, please make them stop the boring pledge drive." Because of the positive feedback, this will certainly be an important part of our 2006 Media Leadership Series.

Jeff Jarvis makes note of the latest bulletins in the 400 year death spiral of newspapers here

Inside Microsoft - Above Top Secret - Leaked Bill Gates' email

The Bill Gates email & Ray Ozzie memo make mighty fine reading. Bill says "...a new business model has emerged in the form of advertising-supported services and software" while Ray writes "Today there are three key tenents that are driving fundamental shifts in the landscape...

1. The power of the advertising-supported economic model
2. The effectiveness of a new delivery and adoption model
3. The demand for compelling, integrated user experiences that "just work".

Ray's third tenent brings Jerry Semel to mind...Jerry said "people want something that just works" and "I never cared how it worked, I just pushed the on button".

In my experience, people don't care about the technology, they do expect "the utility standard" - as we used to call it in cable tv - "they turn it on and it works, they pick up the phone and they get tone, no exceptions" It's all about the technology being transparent, it's all about the user experience. Period.

Thanks to Dave Winer for sharing Bill's email, Ray's memo and for offering his usual keen and fresh pov to wit

"One thing about MS culture, even after all these years, there's a core inside that's hard, it's willing to change in order to win. Good for them."

Bravo Dave! You rock; let the conversation begin. (Closed circuit to Google - you'll benefit inviting Dave into your it soon) You will find the Microsoft docs via Dave Winer here

Reading Tom Evslin? You may now preorder his hardcover book via Amazon here. Tom says he will autograph preorders. Should you not be dialed in...I highly recommend his writing, now a blook (sic),, you may read this well done whodoneit here. Please allow me to suggest, should you not be reading Tom's non-fiction blog, taste this and a post that rings true to me (given my telephony/MSO days of fighting the RBOCs), Tom's take on the SBC-AT&T get together here. Bravo Tom, well said!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

"We make a considerable step forward, it seems to me, when we use a system of broadcasting which promises that the mediocre will not survive" Lewis Hill

Without regard to his political beliefs, a great many of the suggestions made by Lew Hill in his 1951 writing "The Theory of Listener-Sponsored Radio" merit the attention of today's media professionals. "Listener sponsorship is an answer to the practical problem of getting better radio programs and keeping them" wrote Hill. "The play's the thing" so said Shakespeare, it was ever thus. You may find an excerpt from Hill's writing here

Michael S. Malone, the Boswell of Silicon Valley, writes...

Let me make a prediction. Five years from now, the blogosphere will have developed into a powerful economic engine that has all but driven newspapers into oblivion, has morphed (thanks to cell phone cameras) into a video medium that challenges television news, and has created a whole new group of major companies and media superstars. Billions of dollars will be made by those prescient enough to either get on board or invest in these companies. At this point, the industry will then undergo its first shakeout, with the loss of perhaps several million blogs — though the overall industry will continue to grow at a steady pace.

And, at about that moment, Forbes will announce that the blogosphere is the Next Big Thing for investors.

Michael brings a wealth of experience and, most importantly, he brings perspective. As the good doctor Gary Hamel has said "perspective is worth ten IQ points" You will find Michael's writing, an ABC News commentary, Silicon Insider: Forbes Fumbles the Blogosphere here

While we're at it allow me to recommend yet another Fred Wilson post. Fred has seen the future of media and offers "The Future of Media (aka Please Take my RSS Feed)"...

Leaving aside the rights issues, which I know are large, if I were a television executive right now, I'd take my content, microchunk it, put a couple calls to a video ad server in the middle of it, and let it go whereever it wants to go, safe in the knowledge that whenever the show is viewed, I'll get to run a couple 15 second spots in the middle of it (which I could change whenever I wanted to and which I could measure).

This is where media is going and its not going to be stopped. Read the entire post here

LA Theater Works offers up a fresh production of the classic "War of the Worlds" the H.G. Wells writing, adapted by Howard Koch. Leonard Nimoy, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner and fellow cast members from the TV series “Star Trek” recreate this classic science fiction thriller, which became known as the “panic broadcast” when it first aired in 1938. Via 89.3 KPCC Radio here

From the writings of the legendary genius Larry Haeg ("Haeg's 10 Program Concepts as Proposed to Arthur Hall Hayes")...pure gold...

2. If we are doing things the same way today as we were last season, we are behind the times. Find a better way to reach the same objective.

3. The best promotion for building audience is the sound we are making on our air right now. Guard that air. Make the sound "right". You can't correct it later.

10. Ideas are our stock in trade. Contribute new ones without fear as to who will get the credit. As we pool ideas and fit them to the most appropriate personalities and programs, all of us will prosper.

Friday, November 04, 2005

"Wealth is not gained by perfecting the known, but by imperfectly seizing the unknown" Kevin Kelly

Frank Bell is a good broadcaster, a gentleman who knows his trade. He sets the record straight on those pay radio folk to wit...

Fresh Research About Satellite Radio Listening

Regardless of how Arbitron proceeds with the proposed change to include language prompting diarykeepers to write down their listening to satellite or internet radio, it's important to understand how much satellite radio listening is actually being reported right now. This information is helpful to put into perspective the far-reaching claims of the XM and Sirius PR flacks who have pretty much convinced the mainstream press that terrestial broadcasting is over the hill.

While examining Pittsburgh Summer 05 diaries in Columbia this week, I calculated how much time Pittsburgh diarykeepers were reporting listening to satellite radio. The results should get the attention of any person or organization who has invested money in XM or Sirius. These findings may also provide insight as to why Arbitron, in its quest to develop new revenue streams, feels compelled to prompt diarykeepers to report satellite listening.

Of the 3340 in-tab diaries for Pittsburgh's Summer survey, a grand total of 42, or 1.26% of the sample, report any type of satellite listening. These 42 diaries include every mention of XM (21) , Sirius (17) or "other" (5) satellite channels. The individual service numbers add to 43 because one diarykeeper reported switching from XM to Sirius in the car, which I'm not sure is technically possible.

Based on the glowing reports from mainstream media, you might assume people were in love with their satellite radios and spent most of their day listening to all these wonderful options. In reality, they spend relatively few quarter-hours with any kind of radio. Here are the details:

XM -- 895 quarter-hours, or .0037 of all radio listening (.37%).
Sirius -- 412 quarter-hours, or .0017 of all radio listening (.17%).
Other -- 73 quarter-hours, or .0003 of all radio listening (.03%).

Total Satellite Usage -- 1380 quarter-hours, or 0.57% -- barely one half of one per cent -- of all radio listening in the market.

These percentages were derived by dividing each service's unweighted quarter-hours by the Summer market total of 242,335 quarter-hours. They are not "shares" in the traditional sense, but do provide a real-world perspective on how listeners are behaving.

Strictly for comparison, KQV-am, a local news/talk station, generated 2512 raw quarter-hours, or .0104 (1.04%) of all radio listening. In the Summer 05 market report, their quarter-hour audience is 2700 persons, worth a 0.9 share.

My suggestion is that any broadcaster examining diaries should take a moment and get the facts about what is actually happening with satellite radio in their home market. It would also be helpful if Arbitron would provide the percentages on a market-by-market basis so we know what the baseline is before they modify the current diary language. Then terrestial broadcasters can start generating their own press releases!

Bravo Frank! Well said. The pay radio folks are using fuzzy math, the same kind of goofy argument that some pay tv guys have used...the "sub" case wherein the sub number is presented rather than any viewership stats. A cable network may well have 20, 40, 60 million subs - while that number does represent home penetration - that number is no indication of viewership. HBO is an excellent cable network, many would say the very best, they have around 28 million subs, their biggest hit shows pull viewership numbers that are small compared to hit shows on the big four. Your own home is a great example, how many cable channels are available to you, how many do you actually watch, how many did you actually order (beyond channels in whatever tier you purchased)? Easy to understand why a cable network would chose to talk up being in 20 million homes rather than address their 200,000 nationwide viewership. There are very good reasons why many cable nets run paids at night and on the weekends. Easier to understand why the pay radio guys want to keep everyone focused on subs, set sales and the respective growth percentages (when starting at zero the stats do seem amazing - what a bidness!!!). Not so fast...when the street finally gets a look at the pay radio ratings "the party's over"... how fitting...that line is one of Mel's favorites.

Meanwhile, Captain Kurt has the Motley Fool take and his always fresh pov, here

Got a nice email from the legendary John Long. John is one of radio's best and brightest. You may find him on the web here. John's writing Puttin On The Hits deserves the attention of any serious student of the media.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience" Admiral Hyman Rickover

Congrats and kudos to Joel Hollander, Infinity's CEO. Today, Joel along with David Goodman and Rob Barnett hosted a webcast concerned with their new Free FM initiative. Joel's comments on the importance of "patience" and "risk taking" in growing product, his counsel to staff to "go on the offensive" rather than play defense and his pledge to remain "aggressive" in 2006 are to be commended. Patience is exactly what is needed to ensure creative success. You may check out the 19 minute webcast here

Cool site of the moment is digg, check it out here. The dudes, Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht, also produce a keen video podcast and audio podcast...Diggnation. Check out the audio here (FeedBurner), find the video here. From their latest, episode 18..."the end user really doesn't care about technology" Bravo dudes - exactly correct!