Thursday, December 28, 2006

Photo credit: Australia 2006 by Ron Fell

Some may know him as a photog and certainly he is, others may be aware he works with the Raiders' broadcast team, he has for decades, many will recall his years at The Gavin Report where he was the writer, associate editor who became the publisher, owner. Everyone who knows him would agree: Ron Fell is a class act and a mensch. Then, there are those of us who know the back story. Know about his salad days with Metromedia and NBC in the bay area. Ron Fell, the wunderkind who programmed KNBR, the youngest Program Director in the history of NBC. To be certain, we can all learn something from Ron Fell. I am blessed to know this great gentleman, privileged to know him as a friend, honored that he was best man at my wedding. Thanks Ron for allowing me to share some of your outstanding photography. Stay tuned readers, more on the way.

Support the Commons: An important email today from Larry Lessig, read it here. Larry tells us that CC is still short of their $300K goal. Should you be involved in any creative endeavor my suggestion to you is please get involved, support the Creative Commons initiatives. CC is doing work that matters. I encourage you to please give what you can today. Donation info is here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Having to be right shackles your mind.

People are culturally conditioned to have to be right. The parents are right, the teacher is right, the boss is right. Who is right overrules what is right. Couples have huge quarrels about considerations that are forgotten as the struggle for who is right rages on...having to be right becomes a barrier to learning and understanding. It keeps you away from growing, for there is no growth without changing, correcting, and questioning yourself.

If you have to be right, you put yourself in a hedged lane, but once you experience the power of not having to be right, you will feel like you are walking across open fields, the perspective wide and your feet free to take any turn. John Naisbitt

Today's quotation from Naisbitt's most recent work - Mindset! Reset Your Thinking and See the Future, end note Mindset #4, Understanding how powerful it is not to have to be right. Amazon info here. Along that same line of thinking: There is usually more than one right answer.

Rex Sorgatz, formerly of Minneapolis and now a clever dude about Seattle offers up his 30 Predictions for 2007 in Media/Pop/Tech including...3) Apple. Apple buys Last.FM. Finally. And iTV is a hit. Finally. And the iPhone? Nope, never. Why? Cuz the iPhone is like God -- if it really existed, you wouldn't care that much. Check out Rex's entire 30 here. Rex's inventory of 2006 lists, an excellent collection in progress, is here

Best of 2006; take two - Best site by a radio talent:, Steve Dahl's site serves as an excellent example of how to do a site right. Blog, forum, program archive, photo gallery, online shopping, it's all there and more. Bravo Steve! Visit Steve Dahl here.

Welcome to fly over land: Suits from the city spend $530 mil for Strib. Avista Capital Partners of New York buys their first dead tree outfit, the Star Tribune, Minnesota's biggest daily. Newspaper folk selling their most troubled, or at least most challenged, assets to private equity groups is now vogue. Because the suits don't know what they don't know they might just succeed (i.e., not smart enough to know they can't win). Strib coverage here LATER: Now hearing Avista paid 7.4x cf (industry avg valuation approx 8.7 cf, some deals have been done at 10x and higher) and it means the boys got a deal on the pricing. ALSO: Rafat cites AP as source for McClatchy CEO saying the company collected more than $1 billion in cash flow since the 1998 purchase.

Can you tell the difference between a Real Reporter and a Parrot? Excellent post by Google's Peter Norvig all about lazy reporters here.

Many thanks for the kind words on the new blog design. My thanks and bravos to uber-cool designer Todd Dominey of Atlanta - I am now using his "Scribe" design. All about Todd here.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Photo credit: Morning Road by Chicanery In WI. Excellent shot, bravo and thanks.

"As a media historian, what I understand about the emergence of new media is that they don't wipe out old media but they force them to adjust in some important way, so there is a rearrangement of the panoply of media. The publishing companies are like the oil companies in relation to solar power or hydrogen. They know that it's got the potential to destroy their monopoly so they are trying to control it, they buy up the patents and try and manage the transition. But they don't really know where it's going, they don't have much of a vision of how to adopt to the new digital universe." Adam Bellow

Adam has seen the future, read about his new role as pamphleteer via CJR Daily here. Reinventing the book for the 21st century, interesting concept, good luck Adam!

400 year death spiral continues: E&P's Joe Strupp reviews 2006 and notes the newspaper "budget wizards" have a need to nail down two things: "how to make money on the web and whether to charge readers." Strupp's Top 10 Newspapers Industry Stories of 2006 here. (Closed circuit to Joe - ring up Adam, and reach out to Jeff Jarvis).

Newsosaur makes a good call: Alan Mutter puts up some good reading about the recruitment category of classifieds. A comment from the research gang at Borrell is spot-on...“When the history of Internet advertising is written, recruitment sites will undoubtedly dominate the first chapter,” says Borrell. “In 12 years, these sites have grown from a few job boards to hundreds of niche competitors. Online recruitment now accounts for 25% of Internet advertising.” Check out Alan's entire post, Online tops newspaper job-ad sales, here. My second dot com job was working in the internet classifieds space. The worldwide classifieds annual spend is, generally, estimated to be about $100 billion (combined offline and online). Nothing but upside going forward. My sense remains finding and retaining the right talent will becoming ever more difficult. Put recruitment, and HR, on the 2007 reboot list.

2007 forecast; prediction #1: After having a strong year in 2006, outdoor will have another great year. As outdoor folks continue the digital migration of their assets compelling new value propositions will support ad spend growth second only to online. The street will rediscover good outfits like Lamar. The first tribe of wireless would do well to rediscover their own very special "out of home" value proposition (big upside in creative collaboration at the local level, visual + audio = unique engagement). My pov is Lamar may also be a perfect takeover candidate.

Best of 2006; take one - Top Five Best TV (pro) blogs: Those blogs a broadcast video person could not live without, blog and blogger noted. Lost Remote (Steve Safran), TV Newser (Brian Stelter), BC Beat (Higgins, a gentleman others can only succeed never replace), PublicEye (Vaughn Ververs) and Eat the Press (Rachel Sklar). Honorable mention: PoMo Blog (Terry Heaton is, arguably, the media essayist of the year).

Cuban to Broadcast TV: Wake up!
"Last year I said that Disney was brilliant for breaking the logjam and selling their shows on Itunes. This coming year, 2007 will be known as the year Broadcast TV leveraged HD to create a golden age of TV with huge gains in ratings vs non HD networks, or it will be looked back upon as the year Broadcast Networks blew it." Read Mark Cuban's Internet Video and how the Broadcast Networks are Missing the HDTV Opportunity, here

Steve Gillmor sings it his way here, Joel Spolsky provides translation replete with back stories and commentary here. Come on Steve, bring back the Gang! Bravo to Steve for his unvarnished take, Joel for the insights and to all involved in one of this year's best year-end geek posts.

Paul La Monica, media biz guy over at CNN Money: Best & Worst media stocks of 2006 wherein Martha's Omnimedia, Marvel, Comcast and Dr Malone's Liberty Media and CBS get their propers, here. Paul also suggests the private equity folks could take a bunch of trading symbols off the market next year and he may just be right. CC Outdoor combined with Lamar in a take out?

Legendary leader, broadcast pioneer, Dr. Frank Stanton: "thinker and doer" Variety obit here. Norman Horowitz writes...

I can only think of the "good old days" when a network like CBS, and executives like Bill Paley and Frank Stanton could stand up to the congress and the president from time to time in order to continue to report to America just what they thought was going on.

Frank Stanton will be missed, not because he died, but because he "stood for something important," during his life and only let the feds push him around some of the time.

Bravo Norman, well done! His entire post is here

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Photo credit: Adorn by Thomas Hawk. Very cool, cheers and thanks.

We're closing the offices for the year.

Let me take this opportunity to say thank you and express my sincere appreciation for your support. To you, the reader of my humble blog, I send best wishes for a blessed and safe holiday.

Back to blogging next week with another round of best of lists and 2007 predictions. Add your voice, your 2006 bests as well as your predictions for the new year ahead - please make use of the comments feature at the bottom of this post.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Photo credit: field fog by McBeth. Very cool image, thank you.

"Badmouthing competitors diminishes you. Period." Tom Peters

The always engaging Tom Peters offers up some great advice in his 100 Ways to Succeed #78
Bravo Tom!

Michael Arrington reviews the bidding on Google's Audio initiative. Read Google Audio Ads Snag with comments here. (Closed circuit to Google: the most opportune window for your beta is Q1, when the first tribe of wireless will appreciate the assist. Your Q4 launch was ill-starred). Also...Google's radio ad tests hit early snag - analyst via MarketWatch's Ben Charny here

Trump to Tara: You got your second chance. Bravo to the Donald, smart move giving the kid a break. Very few understand how to take advantage of an opportunity the way the Donald does and he gets the wood - every single time - check tomorrow's news stand.

Quincy plays hardball: CBS hires Michael Marquez as VP Strategy and Corporate Development. Michael will play a role in the new CBS Interactive division. Congrats to Michael. Kudos to Quincy Smith on a very smart hire. (Look for a bunch of "A" as in M&A)

"Hard to know when buzz is more than just noise" Ann Powers writes an excellent article Buzz Vertigo in the LA Times...

"WHAT is in flux is that imaginary portal where an artist makes the leap into public consciousness. There, where perception and reality don't quite match, time and space themselves are being messed with. In some cases, the very ground where music once emerged has been abandoned."

Bravo Ann - well done! Read the entire article here.

Dan Gillmor to Time: US, not YOU. Fine post Dan, Bravo! (word around midtown this morning is a round of holiday layoffs is coming to Time, Inc.) Nora Ephron offers up her take on being named POY here

Listen up: 10 Most Played Ad Age Podcasts here

The book folks love or hate: What Sticks: Why Most Advertising Fails and How To Guarantee Yours Succeeds by Rex Briggs and Greg Stuart. Amazon info here
Which reminds me of my mentor, the great Kevin B. Sweeney. Back in the day Kevin would hold training sessions on Saturdays and Sundays. He also gathered the sales staff before and after each business day. During one of his Saturday sessions he declared "Advertising fails!" and went around the room asking each of us "Why?" It was an excellent exercise, one that got all of us thinking. Kevin was famous for pushing us to the edge, while his approach could be harsh each of us who knew him were made better by his teaching, by his rants, by his "don't settle" get out there and make something happen attitude.

Get your list on: Pitchfork's The Top 100 Tracks of 2006 here

A few right, a whole bunch wrong: Lots of emails on my 2005 year end post. Let me answer to a few of my dead wrong items. I thought that Mel and Howard would put on the shows of their careers and in the process move subscription media ahead - wrong. Both guys failed to deliver the expected collective tour de force. Les Moonves would hit the trifecta and bring home successes in entertainment, sports and news - wrong. My suggestion that Katie would join the CBS fold generated a good number of emails with the same forgetaboutit vibe, here's a cut from one "You have proven yourself to be an idiot and a total hack, Katie will never leave NBC and everyone working for the company knows this to be the whole truth. btw, you suck." David Faber would jump from CNBC - wrong. My sense is the brain remains on Roger's short list for the launch team @ Fox Bidness Channel. At least one broadcast license revocation hearing would move forward - wrong. The big regulatory issue, concern of this past session turned out to be parental control.

Take the survey: Media Life invites your opinions in their The Year in Media poll here

FCC private briefing for clients of Bank of America? You decide, story from AP here, Consumers Union blog post here

Monday, December 18, 2006

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk, Book and Wine
Outstanding shot, kudos and thank you.

Let me please suggest a book and a wine, each gets my highest recommendation.

The book: Beautiful Evidence by Edward Tufte. Amazon info here

The wine: Pol-Roger, nonvintage brut Champagne. At less than $50 an excellent first night value.

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." Carl Sagan

Brian Lamb
is, again, fighting the good fight. Brian has written to incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting her to give C-SPAN control of the House video. Not one good reason to turn the request down, however, stay tuned for business as usual. Bravo Brian! LA Times' Editorial on the issue, C-SPAN gets real, here. Please join me and write to your representative and to the incoming Speaker.

The consistently amazing Lee Arnold got in touch suggesting a good read by MarketWatch writer Frank Barnako...

"By the end of next year, you might be able to listen to any of thousands of Internet radio stations on your iPod or Zune." Thanks Lee, can't wait to hear your audio! Read Barnako via Lee's blog here

Time magazine finally comes around: You being Time's Person of the Year. A TW staffer writes to me "Got it! You equals N=1, we are down with that" Well, OK, and thanks.

Good advice is never cheap, cheap advice is never good: The brain trust, or at least one genius, at Air America comes to the understanding "that the radio component of this requires a radio professional". Truly a Homer Simpson "doh" moment. Hey guys, it ain't rocket surgery. Air America could yet be a major success provided they hire some skilled radio folk. Coverage of the latest from NYT, Elizabeth Jensen and Lia Miller on the case, here (thanks to my friend in the city for the email on this).

How Art Can Be Good a new essay by Paul Graham...

I wrote this essay because I was tired of hearing "taste is subjective" and wanted to kill it once and for all. Anyone who makes things knows intuitively that's not true. When you're trying to make art, the temptation to be lazy is as great as in any other kind of work. Of course it matters to do a good job. And yet you can see how great a hold "taste is subjective" has even in the art world by how nervous it makes people to talk about art being good or bad. Those whose jobs require them to judge art, like curators, mostly resort to euphemisms like "significant" or "important" or (getting dangerously close) "realized." of the reasons artists in fifteenth century Florence made such great things was that they believed you could make great things...The idea that you could make great things was not just a useful illusion. They were actually right. So the most important consequence of realizing there can be good art is that it frees artists to try to make it. To the ambitious kids arriving at art school this year hoping one day to make great things, I say: don't believe it when they tell you this is a naive and outdated ambition. There is such a thing as good art, and if you try to make it, there are people who will notice. Read Paul's entire essay here (my thanks to JoHo for the tip).

Friday, December 15, 2006

Photo credit: Bravo 99 GWL Traffic Lights Kudos and thanks, cool pic

"2007 will be THE turning point year in the struggle for local supremacy, and those who do not address it immediately will find themselves being nothing more than content creators feeding the same companies that have descended upon us to pull money from our local markets. Not everyone will survive a shift in media power from content companies to those that aggregate content, and while I suspect we might see attempts by mainstream media companies to fight it, the two need each other. And make no mistake, this is all about money, serious money." Terry Heaton

Bravo and kudos to Terry Heaton on another excellent post. Terry writes about three trends he reasons to be significant in the new year...

  1. The big media story of 2007 - the discovery (or rediscovery) of what is meant by the word "community."
  2. Internal and external pressures to bring creation, control and maintenance of a local media's website into the operation of the local media company instead of farming out the responsibility to third-party providers.
  3. The shift of the internet's center away from text and towards video.
Read Terry's entire post, TV News in a Postmodern World, Part LXIII, 2007: The Battle For Local Supremacy here

Since 2000 I have been writing and talking about the significant issues broadcasters have an urgent need to address, those have included the three trends referenced in Terry's writing.

My final post of 2005 offered some random notes including a list of 2006 HOT and NOT items. A full scorecard later, got some right, got a bunch dead wrong, but mentioned as HOT were social media and video. In that same post...

"Having significant capital committed and not acquiring the ABC Radio assets, a private equity group will acquire a major radio group not now nor previously for sale." But I had no idea it would turn out to be Clear Channel.

Just off the road and back in the office playing catch-up. My thanks and congrats to team Arbitron on a simply excellent Fly-In, the best ever! Lots to share in a coming post.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"Listen to this - every day at precisely five o'clock that man gets up from his desk, puts on his hat and his coat, and goes home...Think of the extraordinary self-discipline that requires!" David Ogilvy

The great Mr. Ogilvy was speaking of the work habits of a copywriter he admired (in some respects), astonished by working habits that differed from his own. The ad legend was fond of lists, here is one from a talk to the staff...

The qualifications I look for in our leaders are these:

  1. High standards of personal ethics.
  2. Big people, without pettiness.
  3. Guts under pressure, resilience in defeat.
  4. Brilliant brains - not safe plodders.
  5. A capacity for hard work and midnight oil.
  6. Charisma - charm and persuasiveness.
  7. A streak of unorthodoxy - creative innovators.
  8. The courage to make tough decisions.
  9. Inspiring enthusiasts - with thrust and gusto.
  10. A sense of humor.
Pops for Champagne is always in season, it may just be the finest champagne bar in the country. Now located in a new home in Chicago's River North neighborhood - 601 N. State at Ohio - Pops is a triple hit - bar, retail shop and live Jazz club. Congrats and cheers to Tom Yerhay on his uber-hip new venue. Like many, I have great memories of times spent at Tom's original Sheffield location, his stand of some twenty something years. Highly recommended.

"Perspective is worth ten IQ points": Last week someone mentioned GM had announced they will factory-install pay radios in about 1.8 million vehicles next year. In making the comment they said to me "this is the beginning of the end for AM and FM." My sense is this is actually the ending of the beginning for pay radio. To put this in context. GM will sell about 8.3 million vehicles, worldwide, in 2006. The number of cars and light trucks sold in the US in 2006 estimated to be 16.5 million. GM enjoys a 24 share of US market, about 3.96 million units sold domestically, a bit under half of their total sales (data: Plunkett). The back of the envelope math would seem to suggest GM is putting pay radios in about 45% of their vehicles. GM is paid for those factory-installs. The ability to purchase a pay radio service does not equal a purchase no more so than having the ability, the utility, to order PPV in your household via your cable provider equals a purchase. Further, having the hardware and an active subscription does not equal listening. Let me suggest, for discussion purposes, the total number of factory-installed pay radios is equal to about twice the GM 2007 installs or 3.6 mil, that would translate into a 22 share of domestic vehicles sold. Now compare these numbers with the number of AM/FM radios installed as standard equipment - let's be conservative and say a 90 share of vehicles = 14.8 mil. After market and portable sets are a factor here but setting hardware issues aside the critical metric remains listening.

I love HBO. During my days as an MSO there was never a shortage of providers offering product but no provider better at delivering great product and value to our subs than HBO. Moreover, they were the best marketing people in the premium pay game. Today they enjoy about 28 mil subs. Being available in a household, even when you are great at what you do does not translate to purchase. As good as HBO is, and in my opinion they are the best, they are successful in reaching and retaining a minority of cable households after decades of offering excellent product and marketing better than all comers. No matter how good pay radio is, even if it is the best radio on radio, the potential subs, those with hardware, will always out number the paids. The paids, even if they listen exclusively to pay radio, will continue to be out numbered by those listening to free local radio.

I'll spot both pay radio services a combined pay base of 28 mil subs the same number of subs it took HBO decades to build. Should that happen pay radio is, at best, the HBO of audio. A modest, small player in the world of today's wireless audio. Not that there would be anything wrong with reaching such a distinction but the odds it will happen ain't good. The road ahead for pay radio is anything but fun, the fun part of the roll out is officially over. Howard making the rounds on the late nights pitching the service might make another dent but that's all it will be, a dent. Welcome to the world of paid content Mel, welcome to a brawl with no rules (my thanks to Tom Peters). It won't be enough to put hardware into vehicles or to get a paid, those will turn out to be easy compared to keeping the paids, getting a competitive share of listening needed to support advertising sales and paying off your debt. Mel might just be in exactly the wrong place at precisely the wrong time. Three possible sign posts up ahead: Reorg under protection of bankruptcy, One or none - merger required to survive, and New business model.

Free local radio remains ubiquitous, over a billion sets in use, over 90% of the US population tunes in each week. The challenge ahead for the first tribe of wireless, as a great many others have already written, is to get back to basics, back to the fundamentals. Time to get pathologically competitive about creating great audio. All that's important is what comes out of the speaker (or for video what's on the screen), everything else is a footnote (including pay radio in 2007). Game on. My thanks to Dr Gary Hamel for the quote about perspective.

The trends are rolling, good luck to all. On the road, forecast is for light posting.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Photo Credit: claus convergence by phantom kitty. Tis the season. Very cool comp, thanks for sharing.

"If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us! But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind us." Coleridge

Previously on N=1:
Posts about the genesis of AC radio and about programming to Arbitron methodology. Heard from Jim Smith. "Jukebox Jimmy" was, in my opinion, the greatest music director in the history of WLS. At one point many semesters ago I became one of the many music directors to work across the street from the estimable Mr. Smith. Truth be known, Jim Smith, during his day, was the only Chicago music director that really mattered, the rest of us simply labored in his considerable shadow. If Jim didn't add a tune at WLS it wasn't a hit in Chicago, period. As an MD, I learned a bunch from the study of Jim's weekly chess moves; what titles he played, how he played them and, importantly, the titles he didn't play. He is also an accomplished programmer, consultant and media researcher. Jim shared some comments on the previous posts referenced above. Don Shafer was programming AC on WTAE before Ted Atkins arrived says Jim. And Jim would know. Don's success prompted KDKA to make some changes including the hiring of a bright young college grad as music director, the very same kid who later came to be known as Jukebox Jimmy. Jim also said his first introduction to the techniques of programming to Arbitron methodology was made by Buzz Bennett, years before Jhan Hiber was on the scene. My sense is Jim is likely 100% correct on both points. Don Shafer deserves far more credit and so does the legendary, much storied Buzzy Bennett. Jim also spoke about attending one of the gatherings put together by the great Bob Hamilton of Radio Quarterly Report fame. It was during one of those after-hours sessions, Jim tells me, that discussion turned to gaming Arbitron and Buzzy held forth. Too bad those gatherings are no more, many of us learned the craft via a rich oral tradition akin to the passing down of American Indian tribal customs. FYI - it was Bob Hamilton, who was the very first radio person to go online. His Radio Star publication and service the first pub to walk away from dead tree stuff way back in the early 1980s. Still recall dialing up to read Bob at a then blazing 300 baud. Thanks for sharing Jim, appreciate you making the time to get in touch and set the record straight.

Well played: Speaking of WLS. Kudos to Scott Shannon for bringing back The Silver Dollar Survey. Scott's Chicago team features images of the vintage survey on the 947 TrueOldies Channel web site. Brilliant!

He rocks around the clock, again: Dick Biondi hosted his annual 32-hour Toy Drive this past weekend. The event was, again, a major success. Dick is nothing less than a force of nature. Amazing, gifted performer! Congrats and Cheers Dick! (closed circuit to Scott Shannon - very cool vo work on those bumpers).

Nobody does it better: Bruce Reese promotes Drew Horowitz to EVP of Bonneville. A well deserved promotion for one of the great general managers working in the craft today. And, he's a mensch. Cheers Drew!

Audience as auteur: Jon Pareles writes at NYT...

"Low-budget recording and the Internet have handed production and distribution back to artists, and one-stop collections of user-generated content give audiences a chance to find their works. With gatekeepers out of the way, it’s possible to realize the do-it-yourself dreams of punk and hip-hop, to circle back to the kind of homemade art that existed long before media conglomerates and mass distribution. But that art doesn’t stay close to home. Online it moves breathtakingly fast and far."

Kudos Jon, well done! Read all of Jon's article, 2006, Brought to You by You, here (thanks to Dave Winer for the tip)

The widget in your future: Alex Williams, one of the SplashCast crew, does the crystal ball number and looks into the future - My Widget Predictions for 2007 here

Creating their own must-see appointments: Nielsen data says among 18-49 year olds with DVRs, 76% played back broadcast network shows, 85% played back cable and syndi programs within two days. 50% of all prime-time tv usage is via DVR playback. At least we are going to be getting the raw data - thanks Nielsen! Nielsen Preps Data Launch via ADWeek here

Which reminds me: BBC gets it. They allow me to playback the great Bob Harris when I want and, I do (especially his killer Saturday night program on Radio2).

The lists posted here last week have generated a lot of lists from readers. Thanks for sending them along. Here are two...

In building a firm foundation for Success, here are a few stones to remember:

  1. The wisdom of preparation.
  2. The value of confidence.
  3. The worth of honesty.
  4. The privilege of working.
  5. The discipline of struggle.
  6. The magnetism of character.
  7. The radiance of health.
  8. The forcefulness of simplicity.
  9. The winsomeness of courtesy.
  10. The attractiveness of modesty.
  11. The inspiration of cleanliness.
  12. The satisfaction of serving.
  13. The power of suggestion.
  14. The buoyancy of enthusiasm.
  15. The advantage of initiative.
  16. The virtue of patience.
  17. The rewards of co-operation.
  18. The fruitfulness of perseverance.
  19. The sportsmanship of losing.
  20. The joy of winning.
Rollo C. Hester

  1. Do more than exist, live.
  2. Do more than touch, feel.
  3. Do more than look, observe.
  4. Do more than read, absorb.
  5. Do more than hear, listen.
  6. Do more than listen, understand.
  7. Do more than think, ponder.
  8. Do more than talk, say something.
John H. Rhoades

If you have a book reader on your holiday list:
Now reading some simply wonderful fiction and I highly recommend it for the reader on your list. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The book spent five years on the Spanish bestseller list, a great deal of that time at number one. It is the most successful Spanish novel since Don Quixote. Lucia Graves has translated. Next up, I'll attempt it in Spanish. Amazon info here (Paper, <$20, an extraordinary value).

Excellent wine value:
2004 Cycles Gladiator Syrah. My love affair with Syrah continues unabated. This one is a winner from the LA County Fair, a jammy red, BIG fruit notes, from the CA central coast. About $10.

Thanks for stopping by. Make something amazing happen this week!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Photo credit: Dawn at Lake Waubesa by WisDoc. Great shot, thank you.

"Love the talent; love the show (even if it's tough love)" Nik Goodman

Don't know Nik but a client of our firm in the EU sent along one of Nik's writings; a handout used at his presentation during the recent NAB ERC in Rome. Nik's "Top 10 Talent Tips - How to manage talent" is well done and recommended. Download Nik's PDF courtesy of the NAB here. Visit Nik's site here. Bravo, good job Nik! One suggestion: rather than how to "manage" please consider how to "lead" talent. Not sure talent can be managed. In my experience managers who want to manage someone are well served by managing themselves first and managing things (e.g., P&L) second. Congrats and cheers to Teri Rabel and her team on another excellent NAB ERC! See you next year in Spain.

Hugh MacLeod rolls on with his manifesto collection - one that caught my attention by Doug Emerson is headed Don't Look Back, here is a taste...

"Metaphorically, the next jump is coming quickly from the future to the present and the past jump is unchangeable history.

Focus on the next hurdle with all of your power of concentration. The time for analysis of what happened is later, when the round is over. Too often, we get hung up on what has happened instead of what is happening right now. We know that we can't change history but that doesn't stop us from dwelling on it...

Understand the importance of today, here and now. Focus and ready for progress. When thoughts meander back to “knocked rails” from previous experiences, the chance of losing focus heightens and history repeats.

Don’t Look Back." Excellent counsel, bravo Doug! Thanks for sharing Hugh. Read the Don't Look Back Manifesto here.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"It's about working with a great staff, in a great market, for a great company, with a great franchise. The great ones eventually figure it out." Fred Jacobs

Fred Jacobs and his Jacobs Media gang do good work and, as it happens, do a good blog as well. Yesterday Fred posted about the important role environment plays in the success of a media property. Fred cited Google trend data for Howard Stern and Opie & Anthony in making his case going on to use another illustration - the conditions of success related to pro athletes..."Sometimes athletes - and DJs - don't realize the difference that a new environment can make - good or bad. In market after market, we see jocks get greedy, leave a great station and killer situation for something less wonderful. And most of the time, their results pale in comparison. And conversely, we see personalities move to a great station and finally thrive - after years of mediocrity. That combination of player, coach and team can make all the difference in the world." Bravo Fred! Well said. Read Fred's entire post here

My sense is "casting" plays a critical role in the success of a show and of a station. The art of casting can be complex, a calculus of multidimensional functions including not only "place" but as well those most mercurial of variables - timing and luck. Some talent fail to "travel" well. Robert W. Morgan, one of the great performers of Top 40 radio, famously failed in Chicago. A great player in the wrong situation. Steve Dahl continues to be very successful in Chicago and a significant anomaly when one understands his is the only show attracting a competitive audience on an otherwise ratings-dead station. In Steve's case he is the player coach and his co-stars and support staff the team. A great player making the best of a situation on his own, against all odds. Rick Dees was WHBQ, a household name in Memphis, and he failed in his first LA run at KHJ. Another great player in the wrong situation. Fred's suggestion that the combination of player, coach and team is effective while certainly true is, in fact, a most rare circumstance. Casting a show, casting a station and providing the ongoing leadership (and positive environment) needed for creative people to do their best work remain fundamental but often elusive collective keys to success. It is never as easy as it looks and success can sometimes happen as a result of compounded failure, a fine example is the relentless hard work of Drew Horowitz and Barry James that led them to creating the perfect morning show for WTMX; Eric and Kathy are today the Chicago morning show but it was a long hard road and years of failed shows before Drew and Barry scored big. A failure to act can also produce unexpected success - not deciding is, in reality, a decision with consequences (e.g., Wally Phillips placed as a temp in morning drive until management could find a qualified performer, lucky for all involved that they failed to find a replacement).

Not only a good idea, a truly great idea: Catch people doing something right! Tom Webster and the Edison Media Research folks are in the hunt, a talent search for "30 UNDER 30", the thirty best young talents in radio under 30 years of age. Read all about it and get involved with your nominations here. Congrats, kudos and bravo to Tom and team Edison.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much." William Swanson

Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management:
unwritten rule number 3

"It is common, especially among those assuming positions of responsibility for the first time, to avoid decisions and thus the risk of criticism. No one enjoys criticism - either having to justify one's decisions or, on occasion, acknowledge error. But there is also a risk in avoiding decisions. Small problems now can fester and grow into big problems later. Opportunities today can disappear tomorrow. Remember: problems are not like wine and cheese; they do not get better with age.

By all means, don't be rash, but do make decisions. That's why you were given the responsibility in the first place. Calculated risks may be appropriate. However, be thoughtful: do not make the same mistake twice. You will learn from your many decisions that turn out well and you will learn even more from the few that do not. During one of my early appraisals, my manager said "I do believe this young man has made every mistake once, but never twice." I hope he was exaggerating a little, but you get the point.

I can tell you that some of my most criticized decisions eventually turned out to be best for the company."

Enjoyed a fun dinner last night with my friend Lee Harris. We had a good meal with fine service at Lombardino's. Never had a bad meal at Lombardino's, the place is consistently good. Kudos to Marcia and Patrick O'Halloran and crew
Romaine lettuce tossed with croutons, Parmigiano-Reggiano
& lemon-anchovy dressing, garnished with an anchovy,
olive tapenade & a hard-cooked egg $6

Tis the season: Forecasting 2007 ad spend. Steve King, CEO at ZenithOptimedia says the online spend will increase 29% from 2006. He also suggests local radio will grow 1.5% (on the day job we are projecting 1.6% as written here previously, about triple the growth we forecast for TV, the single most troubled measured media next year) and a 2% increase for the dead tree guys. More from Stuart Elliot via NYT Troubling '07 Forecast for the Old-Line Media but Not for the Online here

Exactly wrong: The NBC News team buried the lede. It is not that there were fewer commercial interruptions it was the simple, unique point of difference that there was MORE NEWS. The greater story count and more minutes of news is a very strong position, one that CBS and ABC would probably fail to address. Sometimes you are not looking at the forest or the trees but the bark, lost in the daily press of detail. As Gary Hamel says "Perspective is worth 10 IQ points." The most valuable perspective is to understand what is happening, or not happening, on the viewer's side of the screen.

Exactly right: John Battelle writes...

"What does this tell us about how these major media companies are thinking about interactive? Well, I'll go out on a limb here. I think the moguls are thinking along these lines:

1. Interactive is now a very important, profitable, and growing business.

2. We can't afford to not view this as strategic to our future.

3. We need someone running theses sites who is not an interactive "cowboy," it's time to grow up and treat it like any other major piece of our conglomerated business.

4. Therefore, I need "one of my own" running these businesses, and I expect them to deliver just like the folks who run my radio, TV, print, and/or other major asset groups.

5. "One of my own" is someone who lives and breathes my world - the world of Very Large Media Companies that Own A Boatload Of Intellectual Property Assets and have Massive Investments In Huge, Controlled Distribution Networks.

A perfectly logical and reasonable train of thought. And I'm not about to predict that AOL, Fox Interactive Media, or CBS Digital are going to fail because they've hired new blood. I am sure the folks who are now running these properties understand the depth and breadth of the shifts occurring in the Major Media Company businesses - but are they going to be empowered to do what they need to do to truly win in their respective markets?" Read John's entire post here

Bravo John! Well said.

Tis the season 2: The days of the year end lists have arrived. Here's a good one by ZDNet's Mitch Ratcliffe Best business and technology books of 2006 here (my thanks to Scobleizer for the tip)

Mike Phillips, the tributes: A web page is up with links to various tributes honoring the great gentleman programmer here (my thanks to those who sent it along)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Real people are surprising. The process of getting to know the characters, of discovering the qualities and flaws that define them, and then discussing these discoveries with other viewers creates a simulation of community that most people don't find in their everyday lives. That may be a sad commentary on the way we're living, but it's not the fault of these shows, which unearth a heartfelt desire to make connections with other human beings." Heather Havrilesky "Three Cheers for Reality Television"

Of course, Heather is right. The real inside baseball issue here is...if we (media) do our job people will talk about us. Reminds me of something the legendary Gordon McLendon was fond of telling his managers "Get people to talk about your station" Great advice. What exactly is your station doing that has people talking?

They come to work to commit great radio, they come to play: The obvious answer to the question - Why do more people listen to 103.7 KISS FM than any other Milwaukee music station? Brian Kelly and his team are getting it done. Their latest online recap of the KISS $10,000 Fugitive promotion is right where it should be - on the main page - kudos & congrats to all involved. Now that is what getting people to talk about your station is all about. Check it out here

Media Person of 2006: The voting is closed, the totals are in. The I Want Media judges have made their decision. We are told Bonnie Fuller voted for Chad Hurley, Lou Dobbs got the Ken Auletta vote, and Scott Donaton picked IWM's very own Patrick Phillips but the honor (and any related hardware and swag) goes here for the winner

Peter Morville writes about Information Architecture and Information Architects, excellent post with comments here (thanks to JoHo for the tip). btw, highly recommend Peter's book here, the perfect stocking stuffer for the hard to buy for media manager on your list.

Our pal Simon Cole has done it again - more game changing innovation. Starting early next year London radio listeners will be able to download tracks in real-time as they hear them. The tracks are delivered both to the listener's digital receiver and to their internet account. Brilliant! Bravo to Simon and the entire DMD team. More here

Bonus: Hugh MacLeod is posting manifestos over at his place and he invites yours, here's the beginning of one from Seth Godin...

"Does it take 500 words to change things?

Probably not. It probably takes less than a hundred, plus a secret ingredient.

The secret ingredient is your desire to actually do something about it. To take action, to believe that it’s worthwhile, to confront what feels like a risk but really isn’t. The secret ingredient is to ignore excuses, abandon procrastination and stop looking for proof." Good reading, check out Hugh's manifesto archive here.

Bonus2: Hear all about it: Dave Winer, Peter Rojas and Jason Calacanis discuss a cool, fresh rebooted future of podcasting enabled by a new podcasting client - the so-called RWC Player or the XPod. Bravo to Dave, Peter and Jason for sharing. Interesting ideas, especially for those serious about alternative audio distribution. Highly recommended (35:15, NSFW, language) - CalacanisCast Beta 7 via MP3 file here

My sense is Dave's suggestion that broadcasters would provide content feeds is spot-on. Moreover, the proposed device might make a perfect collaborative channel for one of the "local" initiatives (e.g., GoogleMaps, Yahoo! Local or the latest ASK venture). Jason's idea of a digg style vote up, vote down architecture could be made to work with one or more of the local initiatives and live in a geographically sensitive context via RSS and Wifi. Local is the killer app. Good stuff - Keep the audacity dialed up guys.

Monday, December 04, 2006

"Goodwill is the one and only asset that competition cannot undersell nor destroy" Marshall Field

Doing research on a writing (and talk) about "The Basics" and found the following: "Rules for Business Success" by Rothschild...

  1. Carefully examine every detail of the business.
  2. Be prompt.
  3. Take time to consider and then decide quickly.
  4. Dare to go forward.
  5. Bear your trouble patiently.
  6. Maintain your integrity as a sacred thing.
  7. Never tell business lies.
  8. Make no useless acquaintances.
  9. Never try to appear something more than you are.
  10. Pay your debts promptly.
  11. Learn how to risk your money at the right time.
  12. Shun strong liquor.
  13. Employ your time well.
  14. Do not reckon on chance.
  15. Be polite to everyone.
  16. Never be discouraged.
  17. Work hard and you will succeed.
And another..."Ten Success Rules" by Herbert N. Casson...
  1. Put success before amusement.
  2. Learn something every day.
  3. Cut free from routine.
  4. Concentrate on net profits.
  5. Make your services known.
  6. Never worry over trifles.
  7. Shape your decisions quickly.
  8. Acquire skill and technique.
  9. Deserve loyalty and co-operation.
  10. Value character above all.
Barry Diller's ASK team jumps into the $31 billion Local Search space. Congrats & Cheers! More via Techcrunch, AskCity Launches. It's Cool. here

New WSJ redesign launches Jan 2: Read all about it - Julia Hood interviews WSJ's Paul Steiger via PRWeek here Bravo Julia, well done!

Digital wireless & The Old Fashioned lunch: My thanks to Michelle Vetterkind and Linda Baun for inviting me to a working lunch last week. These ladies are heading the ongoing promotion of digital broadcasting in Wisconsin and have a terrific grasp of the subject matter. Lunch on the square at one of my favorite joints The Old Fashioned.

Oxford 7 85 06: Bob Fass is a living legend, he comes to life Thursdays at midnight on Pacifica's outlet in the city. Marc Fisher writing in the latest issue of the New Yorker profiles the audio artiste of Radio Unnameable. Online audio here. The Bob Dylan audio is a gem. Kudos to Marc on a job well done, congrats to Bob on the well deserved notice.

Keith Turner leaves NBC Universal: After Randy Falco's departure, to AOL, now comes word that Keith, who heads ad sales at NBCU, is also moving on (unknown whereto). Word around midtown is an announcement will happen this week. All the best to Keith!

First timers: Had dinner at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, new here in Madison. High marks for the room and the attentive service - the attitude of everyone on the floor was very good. Food and attitude way above average - not excellent but still a strong value for the price - we'll go back. More info here

Could not have said it better dept: My thanks to the always uber-cool Dave Logan, a recent email as written...

"ps. Casino Royale is beyond great. Radio needs to take a lesson on rebooting legacy content from producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. What they've done with this franchise is brilliant."

Hey Dave, agreed - you are 100% correct but why stop with the first tribe of wireless, all media can take an object lesson (or two) from this incredible work of reinvention.

Friday, December 01, 2006

"Consumer is a name originated by a marketing genius to describe a statistical abstraction. Customer is a living human being." Stanley Marcus

Stanley Marcus was America's Merchant Prince and one of the very few totally original gentlemen that I ever met and came to know (thanks to my days with CBS in Dallas). His book Minding The Store is a gem of priceless wisdom. "There is never a good sale for Neiman-Marcus unless it's a good buy for the customer."

Which reminds me of the Tea Steak House in Tea, South Dakota. There is not a better burned meat experience on the planet. This exceptional little establishment is located in the middle of nowhere (about ten miles outside of Sioux Falls) but I found it thanks to my pal Joe H. Floyd. The Tea Steak House breaks all the rules and puts down a plate that one never forgets, this is the "good buy" Stanley Marcus talks about come to life. But don't take my word for it, check out what road food guru Michael Stern has to say about it here

Dave Winer and Robert Scoble get all Microsoft on us. Is Microsoft Driving Innovation or Playing Catch-up with Rivals? via WSJ here. Bravo to Dave, Robert and WSJ good job! Here's a taste of Dave's proffer...

"The problem is that the computer industry was never meant to be dominated by one company, but it's tantalizing, they came so close, only to be dethroned by the next layer of technology, which never comes from the market leader, it usually comes from the users, who, having been locked-in, finally figure out how to get unlocked. For too many reasons, when they (Microsoft, and IBM before them) try to cement their win, they end up the ones in cement and the market continues to grow around them, driven by the inexorable Moore's Law.

Today the dominant vendor in software is Google. How do I know? This morning their calendar service went down, and all of a sudden I could see how dependent on them I had become. That's why Microsoft stock is in the dumps, and why Google is riding high, but of course, they're repeating the same mistakes Microsoft and IBM made, and will eventually be unseated when the users take control again, as they are certain to do.

Innovation is the province of users."

While I understand and certainly respect Dave's take my sense remains Microsoft is in an excellent position to introduce game-changing innovation by dent of sheer weight of available resources. While I agree with Gary Hamel that incumbency is way over-rated and in today's environment almost meaningless in predicting sustainable success, let me suggest that Microsoft might just be one or two leaders away from becoming the disruptive organization required to produce products and services of dramatic difference (since Dave invoked the name of IBM let me offer Louis Gerstner as exhibit A - elephants can be made to dance, it's a leadership issue and Samuel Palmisano as exhibit B). My experience as an IBM Business Partner (WAF staged on the AS400 for Citibank) happened during the last days of the "old" IBM and was not a fun time nor the E-Ticket ride advertised. Today IBM does work that matters because they had the courage to walk away from business as usual, they had the guts to change. It continues to be vogue to bash Microsoft, to discount their work as nothing but "chasing tail lights." Could things be better than they are? Of course. Low hanging fruit abounds (e.g., it continues to puzzle me why MS Office Live is not able to support Microsoft shopping carts to enable our online commerce, I'm forced to look elsewhere and I don't want to - btw - if the MSOL team wants a backwater beta for commerce I'm raising my hand, let's do it!). Nonetheless, I'll continue to cast my lot with J Allard, Ray Ozzie, Steven Sinofsky, Joanne Bradford, Satya Nadella, Bob Muglia, Kevin Johnson and Jeff Raikes. Smart people with access to resources needed can do amazing things and they can do them almost overnight; my pov is Microsoft is far from down for the count as many now suggest, in fact, my feeling is the best work of Microsoft will be found on the horizon, further down the road ahead.

In the advertising and advertising sales businesses Microsoft, Yahoo and Google continue to innovate. Our little retail store here in Madison is turning out to be a great real world lab to watch the progress. We are using a Microsoft Office Live website, Yahoo Local, Google AdWords, Google Coupons (via Google Maps), local broadcast, local print, database and direct mail. This mashup of dead tree, wireless and interactive works beyond our expectations and it keeps getting better and better. It is sometimes easy to forget - we are living in the dawn of interactive innovation - the best is yet to come. My pov as written here before is Microsoft, Yahoo and Google will each crack the code on advertising and ad sales at about the same time. For our little shop it's a wonderful ride, a good experience.

Meanwhile, in the forums section of WSJ where folks are discussing the Dave & Robert writing they are also featuring a poll - "Which company is the biggest driver of technological innovation today?" with 2,139 votes in so far the results are...
  1. Apple 33%
  2. Google 29%
  3. Another company 16%
  4. Microsoft 10%
  5. IBM 9%
  6. HP 2%
  7. Yahoo 1%

Snow here this morning, 2 to 5 inches expected, off to deal with it. Have a wonderful weekend!