Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"I think luck is the sense to recognize an opportunity and the ability to take advantage of it. Every one has bad breaks, but every one also has opportunities. The man who can smile at his breaks and grab his chances gets on." Samuel Goldwyn

Lots of chatter about Beck's run on HLN including some goofy ratings inflation (e.g., "he's beating King"). Here's a quick overview of last Friday's 25-54 in both the 7p and 9p hours.


Shep 254
Blitzer 203
Hardball 92
OTM 58
Beck 51


King 240
H&C 238
Cramer 92
Beck 34

The first weekend box office is rolling out for radio. Big winners in the city are WLTW, Z100, and the SBS pair. CC takes top cluster honors, 4 of their stations achieving a 3.0 or better. Others that made the 3.0> cutoff include the Emmis trio, the SBS pair, and one each for CBS, ABC and InnerCity. The three CBS FMs came in under a 2.0, clearly the underdogs in this spring meet. I stand by my previous take on the incredible and continuing success of WLTW...

That the #1 billing station in America is seen by many as invincible, considered by so-called experts to be an impossible to challenge incumbent, this lack of imagination alone may say everything about radio's current state of affairs. Kudos to Jim Ryan, he has done more than create a great radio station, he has somehow convinced his competition to serve an unprecedented new role, that of financier, their charter to willingly capitalize his continued success. The entire post is here.

Also from the city...

So another foul-mouthed, miscreant misogynist makes headlines for spewing venom over the public airwaves. What else is new? Most of these lowlifes get away with it by hiding behind the First Amendment. And the rare few who get public wrist-slappings just lay low for a while, only to return more obscenely rewarded than before.

But, as repugnant as they are, these morally bankrupt millionaires can't be held solely responsible for taking the money and running (off at the mouth). The lion's share of blame must be placed at the feet of the broadcast industry itself.

The crux of the issue was captured in an editorial cartoon in these pages on the morning after the most recent jaw-dropping debasement. Two fat cat executives at Clear Channel Radio are having a private conversation. A computer screen in the background reveals a graph depicting soaring profits. Suit No. 1 says, "There's a lot of publicity about our hip-hop deejay threatening a little girl with sexual violence." Suit No. 2 responds, "So we can increase our ad rates?"

I know these guys. I worked for them. They would look the other way at any kind of perversion that helped them squeeze a quarter of extra profit between last quarter and this quarter. It's in their interest. But that is not what the framers of the Constitution had in mind, nor is it what the founders of Federal Communications Commission meant by the phrase "public interest."

Pete Fornatale in the NY Daily News here

Bringing the framers into this might be a bit much Pete. We have a leadership problem, no question. Let's start with the program directors. A PD job description can be reduced to six words - deliver numbers to the sales department. In doing the work of that charter they need to use their own good judgment and protect the license because without it there is no business. As part of my day job I work with performers, talent both broadcast and cable. The number one complaint of talent has remained the same since my first days in the trade "no feedback", the number two complaint is "when there is feedback it's negative."

A great many of the problems from recent years can be traced back to PDs not doing their jobs or not knowing how to do critical parts of their jobs. What we allow, we encourage. Absent leadership talent will go off the rez. Absent a tone set at the top, station folk will approach their work with a mindset of compliance without regard for compassion or creativity. Radio, at its best, is a creative art that demands creative leadership. The majority of PDs working today have no clue how to work with talent, directing and coaching creative people are skill sets well beyond their reach or in some cases even their comprehension. Cheers to CC for showing Star the street, they should also "exit" the producer, PD and perhaps the GM. If a strong PD and an effective showrunner had been on the case Star would have been saved from himself and the audience saved from his obscene behavior.

I'll agree with Pete on one key point but with a change in language. Pete, the faceless "industry" is not responsibile, specific managers are responsible. Those managers involved should be held accountable. I have written previously about these leadership issues, specifically about music radio here, and on talent here and here. Your comments are welcome.

From this morning's excellent Robert Feder column, he interviews Robert Murphy...

Q. How come radio sucks?

A. Because it's being run by a bunch of 'tards. I don't think there is any denying that the takeover of stations by huge national conglomerates has taken its toll on the creativity that once drove radio. Years of piling on more commercials and spending less for talented employees -- both on-air and managerial -- has taken its toll, even if it upped the profits. And the new competition from satellite, HD, Internet has most managers making decisions based on panic. I hope they don't totally kill the radio star. Read Robert's entire writing here