Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"If you rehearse with an actor who is trained to play every evening, something new starts to happen, an intellectual process. That process can be very good, but it's very dangerous for filming because you have something in his eyes suddenly. He's becomes conscious of what he's doing - he must do it intuitively." Ingmar Bergman

The genius, sage of Stockholm and Chicago radio legend Steve Dahl appear to have something in common. Both have suggested the best performances come as a result of failing to rehearse. This is a notion experience has taught me to respect. Each performer should come prepared to play but it is not wise to prepare, that is to rehearse, play itself. There is a positive creative tension in the moment unknown. While a palpable, visceral sense of the obvious is alive among the players, each knowing their role, the wild card remains each player's action or reaction in the coming moment. The spark that is truly creative performance is awakened by interaction and sometimes even by the silence, the lack of interaction, in the unknown moment ahead. The best performances come in an authentic, spontaneous and collaborative moment when the sum of performer contributions far eclipse (beyond any possible rehearsal) the significance and impact of any one performer acting alone in the moment. This collaboration, in fact, serves to make the star...a star. Rehearsal for the sake of process jeopardizes the moment of actual performance and most often leads to an "overcooked" affectation.

Mika Salmi gets a bigger office at MTV, but not the biggest. Elizabeth Spiers has the inside via DealBreaker here

Amanda Congdon gets the upgrade. Announcement coming this week that she will sign with one of the major networks. Very cool, congrats and cheers Amanda. BW coverage here

PPM chatter: A good share of emails and questions at recent talks about PPM and the recent finding regarding retention during commercial breaks. First, perspective...

The diary is a recall instrument. Participants are first made sensitive to their listening. Awareness and cognition are involved. Literate behavior prompts recall. Literate behavior is key. Participants must also complete paperwork and mail it. Alternatively, they may submit an inventory of listening using a browser based online facility beginning in 2007. Awareness > Cognition > Recall > Literate behavior

The PPM is a passive instrument. Participants are first made sensitive to their listening. Awareness and, to a lesser degree, some cognition may be involved to the extent participants need to be aware to carry and dock the instrument. The habits of carriage and docking are key. Awareness > Passive Capture

Recall and literate behavior are not required in the world of PPM as it relates to station identification. Participants no longer need to know, remember or recall the name, call letters or dial position of any stations listened to. Station identification becomes messaging concerned with branding and as such is a tool in one's communications portfolio and no longer directly related to measurement optimization. A brave new world indeed.

Now to the issue of listening during commercial breaks...

Measures of "hearing" may involve a certain minimum use of cognitive process however measures of hearing are not indicative of any degree of attentiveness.

Because something can be heard, is audible, does not mean that you are paying attention to the sound or noise.

This is the leap not taken in using the PPM data to measure listening during commercial breaks. The data did not claim that people listened to the commercial matter however what it clearly indicated was the majority of people did not punch out, that is tune to another station at the start of the break. While some others are saying this is not possible, their claim being listeners always punch out, well, they're wrong. The facts simply do not support their case. If anything the data suggests a much higher degree of listener "commercial tolerance", far more benign than the stuff of old programmer myth, previously trusted anecdotal evidence, or any of the so-called conventional wisdom on the subject.

The facts, the data, would seem to suggest radios were most often left on stations without switching when commercial breaks began and during the duration of the breaks. However, this does not suggest participants were listening or attentive to the commercials played. Further, to my knowledge, there are, at present, no measures of relative volumes (i.e., it remains possible participants may have reduced the volume during breaks). We are also not able to measure any coincidental non-radio audio activity (e.g., cell phone usage).

The mission of the programmer changes dramatically with PPM. From getting into the head of the potential participant (cognition to drive recall and literate behavior) to actually getting heard, penetrating the "listening places" of the potential participant (hearing behaviors). While PPM offers the first capture of listening or properly "hearing behaviors" contemporaneously it fails to provide insight into issues related to attentiveness, that is, actual attentive or engaged listening. That said, I remain a fan of PPM. Please keep in mind this is PPM 1.0, and we are certain to see refinements and improvements as we gain time in the field and exposure to the data. If the pattern of the early Houston data sets hold we should consider dusting off those slide rules first made popular decades ago by Jim Yergin's Westinghouse Nu-Math. Reach, radio's real and powerful hidden strength, will be evident as never before - and that's a good thing boys and girls.

An aside: in my talks I often ask folks to draw both sides of a penny or the face of their watch (without looking). In well sold out of home markets I ask them to draw at least two billboards they see daily. Less than 50% are able to successfully draw a penny or their own watch face. Less than 25% are able to draw more than one billboard, landmark signs yes, billboard advertising, no. The point is because we are able to see and sometimes have reason to look at something it does not follow that any descriptive information is "stored" or remembered. The truth is most things are just not important in that way.

Happy Halloween

Monday, October 30, 2006

"The first - and usually the best - opportunity for successful change is to exploit one's own successes and build on them. Problems cannot be ignored. And serious problems have to be taken care of. But to be change leaders, enterprises have to focus on opportunities. They have to starve problems and feed opportunities."
Peter Drucker

Brian Lamb
, subject of the cartoon image, was honored this past weekend by The American Newswomen's Club. Brian, president and CEO of C-SPAN, is a national treasure deserving of much recognition. He does work that matters. The ANWC 2006 Benefit Gala was a great success (by all accounts - sorry we missed it). Our friend and former colleague Jim Bohannon served as emcee/auctioneer for the event. Bob Schieffer closed yesterday's FTN with a commentary commending Brian. Bravo Bob! Well done. First met Brian during my watch at Washington International Teleport (WIT) where C-SPAN was a client. Brian has always been the perfect gentleman. Congrats and cheers to Brian and to his C-SPAN team. Love BookTv, not a weekend without it!

Bill Figenshu
now leading the charge at Softwave Media Exchange sent along a response to part of an earlier post where I said "Kudos to Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. Each is dedicated, in some important way(s), to inventing the future of advertising sales." To which Fig says...

A few questions,

after 9 short months,

Has placed over 150,000 spots on the air?

Who has 40% of the USA radio audience in just 8 months? (12+ million listeners.)
Who has over 1,300 Major/Medium market radio groups registered?
Who has placed revenue on 15 of the top 15 groups?
Has 41 of the TOP 50 radio stations in the US as a partner?

Who has launched/developed a

-Political platform for radio?
-Flighted revenue platform for radio?
-An automated direct response & remnant platform?
-Cable TV platform?
-Broadcast TV platform?

That would be...Software Media Exchange - SWMX.COM

Check out our electronic advertising platform here. Sure it's a shamless plug. But we are growing by leaps and bounds! The broadcast industry is embracing one of it's own. It's in our DNA. Not a part time job.

If we were Google, we would be considered a huge success. But look at it this way, we're leaders in e-media advertising sadly "we suck at search!"

Thanks for getting in touch Fig, thanks too for the update on your latest venture. Good luck and keep us posted. Fig is a smart guy and a good man, I remain a fan. (FD: Fig was a client of mine in the last century and we were colleagues at Infinity/CBS). Meanwhile, Sara Kehaulani Goo provides a Google update, A New Advertising Engine, via WaPo here. Thanks Sara, good job! Jefferson Graham writing in USA Today, Google ad sales outpace all comers, provides a good review of the bidding for the $100 billion local ad market here. Good piece Jefferson. (FD: we use Google AdWords for our retail store and love the program, very effective)

The DePaul Journalism Challenge: Rewriting the Future of the American Newspaper. Check out the winners here.

Dave Logan, ever the uber-cool media exec and always well read creative noted a WaPo piece about MySpace and writes..."Is there anything more fickle than an American teen?" Read the well written Yuki Noguchi piece In Teens' Web World, MySpace Is So Last Year here. Thanks Dave.

Should that eagle fly: This morning's WSJ reports Clear Channel's founding Mays family could make more than $1.1 billion plus $80 million in severance pay should a new owner ask that the family exit.

Interested in military strategy? Here's a must-read: Colonel Thomas X. Hammes, USMC (Ret.) has written a brilliant book on the state and future of military strategy. Col Hammes posits we are living in the world of 4GW (fourth-generation warfare), the only type of war America has ever lost (Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia). Highly recommended. Amazon info here. (My thanks to Thomas P.M. Barnett for suggesting the reading)

New & Improved? You decide: Rob Barnett kicks off Rob Barnett Media here. Flash? Well, if you must, OK. Index page title is "Rob Barnett Will Disrupt Media," at least he is setting the bar high. Go for it Rob - Cheers and good luck. Jerry Del Colliano is writing again, this time via his blog, here. Jerry is using that little TM marking on his page title "Inside Music Media." OK. But did he really file on it? It's not showing up on the fed's database. No matter, good luck Jerry, cheers and welcome back to the world.

Winer Wisdom...

"At first, the Internet, the market dominated by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Amazon (and others) was about the web, a publishing environment, then it became two-way, and search developed as a core but adjunct feature, much as the OS of a personal computer is part of the package, but the spreadsheet, word processor and other productivity apps are really what it was about. There will be new technology enterprises that make the search engine as humdrum as the desktop OS is today. Bet on it and win. Think that all innovation must come in the form of applications of search and you'll be left in the dust." I'll continue to bet with Dave Winer; Bravo Dave, more here

Thursday, October 26, 2006

"Part of the art of the play is to introduce information in such a way, and at such a time, that the people in the audience don't realize they have been given information. They accept it as a matter of course, but they aren't really aware of it so that later on, the information pays off. It has been consciously planted by the author."

"One of the things I learned when I studied acting is that the content of what is being said is rarely carried by the connotation of the words. It is carried by the rhythm of the speech and the posture of the speaker and a lot of other things. All conversations have meaning."
David Mamet

Lots of chatter about Clear Channel going private. The short hand version here

Music blog StereoGum to get investment from The Pilot Group (venture led by Bob Pittman)? More here. Congrats to all involved.

John Mainelli, former New York Post writer, previously consultant and WABC programmer named program chief at CBS Radio's Free FM in the city. Congrats and cheers to John and to CBS. A full-time programmer is exactly what the radio station needs to get off the ground.

The great Bernie Dittman of WABB, Mobile fame has died. A gentleman, a good broadcaster.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"...rates aren't higher due to one reason: Lack of courage." Dwight Case

Dwight Case, president of RKO Radio, talking to Claude Hall way back in 1976. The days when folks talked about "rate integrity"; a time when a sales manager's reputation was developed, in part, from the orders s/he walked on. Fast forward to 2006, the days of the avail as blood sport, pricing for share, pricing to survive the month, pricing to keep one's job. It seems ad supported measured media have become obsessed with optimization. The daily mission: get better, work harder, do more with less. However, the most important question should be - are we getting better at a game that is no longer relevant, better at a game being played less and less? As Norm Goldsmith once asked "Are we training sales people to make calls they are never going to make?" The recent sales issues at Yahoo are but one symptom of the tempestuous waters just ahead in 2007.

The solution is not to get better, the solution is to get different, to get into a different mind set, a new and different game. To begin we need to look at the business in a fresh way. We need to develop new share, new markets and nothing less. The dated intramural metrics are hurting more than helping. Rather than measuring performance against each other (e.g., Miller-Kaplan = radio v radio), we would benefit from a "big picture" perspective. The real world as it looks from the buyer pov. Broadcast sales managers have lost their way, lost their perspective when the single focus becomes competitive, the order of the day becomes stealing share from the other guy, when the monitor becomes principal driver of calls and activity. The marathon of intramural switch pitch wherein lower rates and valued added become the closing tools of choice. A sales team driven by compliance rather than compassion. We now have an urgent need to change the denominator rather than continuing any further neurotic obsessions with the numerator. The incremental born of iteration holds no real promise of a better tomorrow. In fact, it's a waste of critically important bandwidth or as Nicholas Negroponte has said "Incrementalism is the enemy of innovation."

Let's look at the BIG picture for a change. Broadcast v Total Ad spend. Electronic v Dead tree. Until electronic, including broadcast, gets focused on building aggregate business, creating new share, something we have never had to do previously, the danger is we will continue to be distracted in those activities required to hold share or manage share decline. What needs to change are the standards, the expectations and the metrics we use to measure performance. We need to redefine success. This will require effective leadership, imagination, investment and courage. It's work worth doing, work that matters. Game on.

Kudos to Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. Each is dedicated, in some important way(s), to inventing the future of advertising sales.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


START being wrong and suddenly anything is possible.

You're no longer trying to be infallible.

You're in the unknown. There's no way of knowing what can happen, but there's more chance of it being amazing than if you try to be right.

Of course, being wrong is a risk.

People worry about suggesting stupid ideas because of what others will think.

You will have been in meetings where new thinking has been called for, at your original suggestion.

Instead of saying, 'That's the kind of suggestion that leads us to a novel solution', the room goes quiet, they look up to the ceiling, roll their eyes and return to the discussion.

Risks are a measure of people. People who won't take them are trying to preserve what they have.

People who do take them often end up having more.

Some risks have a future, and some people call them wrong. But being right may be like walking backwards proving where you've been.

Being wrong isn't in the future, or in the past.

Being wrong isn't anywhere but being here.

Best place to be, eh?

From The world's best-selling book by Paul Arden

A very cool new look and feel: check out paidContent Congrats & Cheers to Rafat

Firefox 2 is on the way. Can't wait? Download a preview release here

Monday, October 23, 2006

"Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple." Barry Switzer

"There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot." Steven Wright

"When the paddy wagon comes, they'll take the good girls with the bad." Archie MacAllaster

"Will the headline make you want to read the first sentence of copy, and will the first sentence of copy make you want to read the second sentence? And you go right straight through the piece of copy. It ought to be at the very last word when the reader wants to drop off." George Gribbin

Today's image, t now on offer at ThinkGeek (thanks to the Steve Safran and the LR gang for the tip).

Howie Kurtz is asking the right questions. In today's WaPo piece headed Tightened Belts Could Put Press In a Pinch...

"Times Publisher Jeffrey Johnson was ousted this month when he refused demands by the paper's parent, Tribune Co., to cut the newsroom staff from 940 to about 800. Five years ago, the staff numbered 1,200. And anyone who thinks investigative projects are unaffected by such corporate slashing doesn't understand the business."

"Newspapers and networks face the same dilemma: too many people doing other things with their time, from Web-surfing to podcast listening, or simply losing interest in news altogether. Some of these customers are consuming the companies' wares online, which is great for exposure but doesn't produce the revenue needed to support long-form reporting. If this erosion continues, it would be bad news for serious journalism, and good news for corrupt politicians."

Well said Howie. Bravo! Read his entire writing here

To succeed sooner, fail faster: Google seems to be failing in their legacy media initiatives (e.g., dead tree, first tribe of wireless). But, please, it is way too early to make a definitive call. My sense is Google, Yahoo and Microsoft will each crack the code at about the same time. Donna Bogatin over at ZDNet has been chasing the Google story for some time. Get her latest read, Google failing to snag $116 billion print, radio, televsion ad markets, here. Bravo Donna, well done.

"Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart" Henry Clay (via Tom Peters). Tom Peters offers today's object lesson in the use of Weapons of Mass Politeness. Worth more than the minute of your time it will take here. Bravo TP! As my mom used to say "There is never an excuse for bad manners."

Jeffrey Zaslow, writing in today's free WSJ, offers up an interesting take on the folk that cable rock star Tammy Haddad calls "street meat" those rising star pundits, here. (Closed circuit to MSNBC, Tammy is the perfect person to help reinvent all of the firm's cable assets).

Seth shares secrets, ten of em, including...

4. Irrational, strongly held beliefs of close advisors should be ignored. It doesn’t matter if they don’t like your logo.

5. If it makes you nervous, it’s probably a good idea.
If you’re sure you’re right, you probably aren’t.

6. Focusing obsessively on one niche, one feature and one market is almost always a better idea than trying to satisfy everyone.

Check out all ten here.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"Our basic argument is as straightforward as it is urgent: when it comes to thriving in a hypercompetitive marketplace, 'playing it safe' is no longer playing it smart. In an economy defined by overcapacity, oversupply, and utter sensory overload - an economy in which everyone already has more than enough of whatever it is you're selling - the only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand for a truly distinctive set of ideas about where your industry should be going. You can't do big things as a competitor if you're content with doing things only a little better than the competition."

"This book is devoted to the proposition that in business...the smart can take from the strong - that the best way to outperform the competition is to outthink the competition...Mavericks do the work that matters most - the work of originality, creativity, and experimentation. They demonstrate that you can build companies around high ideals and fierce competitive ambitions, that the most powerful way to create economic value is to embrace a set of values that go beyond just amassing power, and that business, at its best, is too exciting, too important, and too much fun to be left to the dead hand of business as usual." William C. Taylor & Polly LaBarre

Quotations above by Taylor & LaBarre from their introduction to Mavericks at Work. Amazon info here. Check out their blog here. Just started the book. So far, so very good.

Things learned on the way to learning other things: More words of wisdom from the great Rosser Reeves...

"You know, only advertising men hold seminars and judge advertising. The public doesn't hold seminars and judge advertising. The public either acts or it doesn't act."

"I think a great many copywriters in this business earn their living because they haven't been caught."

"It's a cliche of the business that if it's a good campaign sales go up, and if it's a bad campaign sales go down. Well, that isn't true. We know that you can run a lousy campaign and sales will go up. You can run a brilliant campaign and sales can go down - due to other factors in the market."

Lots of breaking news to share/reflect/comment on since my last post.

When bad stuff happens to good people, sometimes they deserve it: The Edelman PR - Wal-Mart blogging mess. I have a good deal of respect for Edelman but this Wal-Mart thing was clearly way over the line. David Weinberger has a very good read on the situation and comments including one from Richard Edelman here. It's all about transparency and will be forever more. What to do now? How about the truth, the whole truth and nothing but. David writes...

I personally think there are two fundamental roles for PR in the new world: Transparent advocacy and facilitating open, genuine engagement among customers and companies. Transparent advocacy means that the agency argues for its client, providing useful information to people who want to receive it. Genuine engagement means the agency helps its client participate in the Web conversation honestly and frankly, whether that's through employee blogging, customer forums, or ways yet to be invented. Just as the agency can be a transparent advocate for the client on the Web, it should be an advocate for Web values to the client, counseling the client to be frank, honest, and open to criticism. (An agency may also create publicity stunts, but there's nothing particularly webby about that.)"

Read the entire post with comments here. Bravo David!

btw, where was Steve Rubel in all of this? Steve - if you were somehow involved in this effort before the news broke then shame on you (you know better Steve). Read Steve's comments and others in the wake of mess aftershocks here. Steve, what did you know and when did you know it? LATER: Steve responds in comments, he was not involved.

Jeff Jarvis, known for his share of good ideas, posits his four point blogging pledge...

  1. No one can buy my editorial voice or opinion.
  2. No one can buy my editorial space; if it's an ad it will clearly be an ad.
  3. No one should be confused about the source of anything on my pages.
  4. I will disclose my business relationships whenever it is relevant and possible.
Bravo Jeff! Well said. The Wal-Mart lesson of last week writ large: Let the reader beware. Read Jeff's entire post here.

Joe Mandese over at MediaDailyNews writes about analysts downgrading the outlook for ad spending...

"Interestingly, advertising growth seems to be tracking real [gross domestic product] growth instead of nominal GDP growth, as it did in the past plus some," writes Merrill Lynch ad industry analyst Lauren Rich Fine in a report released early this morning. "This supports our belief that media no longer enjoys the benefit of above average rate inflation, rather the opposite where increased competition & measurement is putting pressure on rates." Read Joe's writing here.

At the day job our take continues to be 07 is going to be one very, very difficult and different kind of year for ad supported measured media.

Other povs from eMarketer on the ad spend here and on Google's share of ad spend here.

Great talent, very smart hire: Myke Julius, the legendary urban poet and media rock star, signed by KKBT, Los Angeles. Brilliant move on the part of Barry Mayo and Kevin Fleming. Myke is the goods. Myke's page at KKBT here. Congrats and cheers to all! Lucky owner - Radio One.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Steve Dahl delivers winning numbers on an otherwise all but dead radio station. Congrats and kudos to Steve who posted another fine performance in the Chicago summer book. He won against all odds.

Steve's achievement is especially remarkable when you examine the numbers in context. 25-54 adults - Steve ranks #8, WCKG ranks #26 overall. In the target, 25-54 men, Steve ranks #6, WCKG ranks #21 overall. These ranks are based on cume, and measure actual weekly reach.

Reviewing the other dayparts:

Morning drive - 25-54 adults #35, down 81% from a year ago. 25-54 men #29, down 80% from a year ago.

Middays - 25-54 adults #25, down 36% from a year ago. 25-54 men #23, down 40% from a year ago.

Evenings - 25-54 adults #26, down 40% from a year ago. 25-54 men #15, down 28% from a year ago.

The simple facts are Steve outperforms the radio station and outperforms every daypart. It is fair to say that his is the only successful program on the radio station. Moreover, without Steve there would be no radio station. It is as if, for now, Steve presides over one of Chicago's long time favorite restaurants with the unexpected burden of being located in a once tony neighborhood gone bad (gratuitous restaurant/food analogy). Spoken word FM is a format of unprecedented potential but it is, by nature, talent driven. In WCKG's case one person really has made a radio station but that's not a wise business move. Further, it's a very poor long term bet. Clearly, the failure at WCKG is one of imagination. The good news is it's radio, it can be fixed and WCKG can still become one of the most successful stations in the market and in the nation. What's needed to make that happen is leadership.

LATER: Lots of emails about WCKG and Steve Dahl. I'll address the most frequently asked subject - why cume rather than AQH rating? Please allow me to preface. It's a summer book. The quarterly report of least importance (in buying). Cume is the base data, the foundation, of all other estimates. It is cume that provides an indication of what happened in AQH. For example it helps us understand the construction and composition of listening - were more folks listening less or were fewer folks listening longer or were about the same number of listeners listening in about the same way? The actual number of listeners can decline at the same time your AQH estimate increases. It is also possible, given share compression, for a stations AQH share to fall as the station's rank position improves. The single most important programming estimate is cume, reach. When stations or programs first begin to fail one sees a pattern of decline in occasions and time spent per occasion. During this decline in time spent cume may appear to remain stable. The tipping point is cume loss. When listeners go away after first listening less and less. When the person who listened five days a week cuts listening to one day a week the cume remains the same. Therefore, it is important to understand the relationships of cume to occasions and to time spent per occasion. Cume loss is fatal. Stable or growing cume is always favored as it permits cume to be "managed." What other estimates would give us a fuller understanding of what is and what is not happening at WCKG? Occasions, time spent per occasion and mutually exclusive cume for starters. In the context of at least five data points we could begin to develop a working hypothesis, we could start to understand what's going on inside the AQH estimates. It is reasonable, using only the cume estimates at hand, to suggest that Steve Dahl enjoys a loyal following. Moreover, his performance is exceptional because he is not given the advantage of other successful programs on the station, the benefit of so-called audience flow. That is, he is probably creating his audience practically from scratch each day. A bunch of email about my comment that Steve was the station. For the record, about 71% of the station's total weekly target audience delivery happened during Steve's Monday thru Friday show (Summer est). All the more reason to applaud his performance and to get busy fixing the station. I hope this helps you to understand my use and preference for cume estimates in creating a "first look" at what happened with one station in the summer book.

Jamie Diamond is a rock star so why is this happening? Our retail store is changing banks to JP Morgan Chase for two reasons. First, Jamie Diamond. Jamie is one of the very best minds in the banking trade. Second, my employer, the professional services firm, banks there and we love it. But so far our "retail" experience has been a chocolate mess. It took weeks to get a sales person from the bank to come in to sign us up and we were begging to give them our account. Now we find out we need to pay hundreds for new credit transaction hardware. JP Morgan Chase is not yet small retailer ready or so it seems. We'll give our new salesperson another week then we'll move up the food chain. I'm still betting on Jamie - someone up the line will get it. Stay tuned.

Just got the email from Lawrence Lessig. Larry announcing the official start to the second annual Creative Commons fund raising campaign. Larry writes...

"Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation, dedicated to making it simpler for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. We provide free licenses that mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share the work, or remix the work, or both share and remix the work, as the author chooses."

Please join me and make a contribution to Larry's good and important work. Learn more here, donate here. Good luck Larry, and thanks for the update!

Mike Phillips was a great program director. A gentleman of rare gifts, talent, and grace, Mike passed away Monday almost without notice. His career was filled with many successes and very little recognition. He was not one to take a bow, a man who preferred plural first-person pronouns in a business too often dominated by the first-personal singular.

Mike Phillips first achieved success on the air. No doubt he could have enjoyed a long and very successful career doing just that. But Mike was never one to settle. Never one to accept things as they were when the moment was ripe with the possible. He became the programmer's programmer. Not only at the station level but at the national level as well. For a while he worked at a research firm where he helped others to achieve success. Paul Drew often suggested we remember the second word in our PD title, Mike lived this. He had a deep understanding of the simple truth - all that's important is what comes out of the speaker. Mike knew everything else was a footnote. Mike Phillips was always setting the bar higher, he was bored with par. He was a director of great radio. I am told he once said to a talent "I build the stage, YOU guys are the stars."

In the last decade of his career he was at the helm of KRTH. It was yet another incredible success story and his last great run. It was there that Mike was finally and properly recognized but it was not to be the applause of his industry. Mike was never to receive the collective praise and industry honors his long and successful career had more than earned him. No matter, Mike was never concerned about such things. In a craft sometimes filthy with ego and self promotion Mike always took the road less traveled, the high road. His light touch, rich sense of humor and relentless quest for perfection were consistent. He was happy working behind the scenes, a master of the art, the gifted impresario unheralded, he devoted his professional life to listeners and staff. Mike Phillips did work that mattered, he made a positive difference in each and every situation. It is indeed fitting that Mike ultimately received his recognition in a quiet, personal and very uncommon way - at the bank. After decades of selfless hard work and dedication Mike finally got paid. He was able to quietly retire as a man of means. Let us remember this quiet, gentle and extraordinary man.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"The imagination is the medium of appreciation in every field...the only thing that makes any activity more than mechanical. Unfortunately, it is too customary to identify the imaginative with the imaginary, rather than with a warm and intimate taking in of the full scope of a situation...the difference between play and what is regarded as serious employment should not be a difference between the presence and the absence of imagination, but a difference in the materials with which imagination is occupied." John Dewey

Bill Moyers
interviewed in The Boston Globe, talking about his doc "The Net at Risk"...

"Now they’ll be rewriting the Telecommunications Act. If the big companies have their way, in the dark of the night behind closed doors, they will gain the power to own not only the pipes of the Internet but what goes into those pipes. Giving control of content and access to big corporations will mean that the Internet, the most revolutionary democratic phenomenon of our time, where all of us are equal, will slip through our fingers. I did this documentary to say, Hey people, pay attention. Something is about to happen that will be very hard to change."

Perhaps Bill is right but it seems to me whatever the so-called "big companies" have in mind they will attempt to accomplish in daylight practically before our eyes. Read the Harvey Blume interview here. (Bill also talks about the role of PCB as "heat shield to protect public broadcasters"). Also some of the Moyers video and some details on how your senators are likely to vote over at Save the Internet here

Monday, October 16, 2006

"I think a great ad campaign will make a bad product fail faster." William Bernbach

Simply profound. One of my favorite quotes from the estimable Bill Bernbach.

Here now more classic Bernbach...

"I want to say...that I think the most important element in success in ad writing is the product itself. And I can't say that often enough. Because I think a great ad campaign will make a bad product fail faster. It will get more people to know it's bad. And it's the product itself that's all important and that's why we, as an agency, work so closely with the client on his product - looking for improvements, looking for ways to make people want it, looking for additions to the product, looking for changes in the product. Because when you have that, you are giving the people something that they can't get elsewhere. And that is fundamentally what sells. Now if you add to that a very skillful way of conveying that advantage, you're ahead of the game. But no matter how skillful you are, you can't invent an advantage that doesn't exist. And if you do, and it's just a gimmick, it's going to fall apart, anyway."

"So we never kid ourselves about the magic of advertising. The magic is in the product. And that's why we think clients are so very important; we think we are fortunate with the clients we have. And I want to add further, we don't care who makes the ad better. If a client says to use something we never thought of and it makes a better ad, we more than welcome it. We're not arbitrary, at all. We just want the greatest ad possible. Because in the long run that's what counts. You sell merchandise and everybody's happy; you could have the greatest service in the world and if that merchandise doesn't sell, there's going to be dissatisfaction."

Failure to launch: Air America's apparent failure to manage the toplines of ratings and revenue is made far worst by their inability to capitalize the enterprise (or in the least live within their means). The failure of Air America does not indicate the true potential of progressive radio, it only serves to confirm the considerable problems of their approach and ultimately the failure of their leadership. $20 million is a terrible thing to waste. Read pages from the Chapter 11 filing via The Smoking Gun, here. All involved would be wise to consider the counsel of the late, great Dr Hunter S Thompson "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

Run that by me one one time: Mark Cuban who made his fortune by selling a company that never made a dime is critical of the Google purchase of a company that has never made a dime?

The wood, the dirt, the Lloyd: Lloyd Grove shares tales from the gossip dodge...

"The most satisfying gossip column offers a dollop of drama, conflict and misbehavior, along with a dash of hypocrisy and humor. It views this complicated world through the prism of personality — and makes things, if temporarily, accessible and comprehensible. It also — and here, arguably, is the socially redeeming part — is the great leveler, demonstrating that the rich and famous have as many foibles as the rest of us. And it shows that we're all in this together as members of a human community, even if it's whispering behind someone's back." Read Lloyd's LA Times piece here

At least 149 iPod killers have failed to make a dent. A review of the bidding by Richard Menta looking into the iPod Killers for Christmas 2006 here

Q scores name Rachel Ray most likeable: King World commissioned study of 1,800 folks puts Ophrah's latest find in first place. Ty Pennington of Extreme Makeover fame ranks second. Miss O ranked 6th. Others making the cut include foodies Paula Dean, Giada De Laurentiis, and Emeril. Others named - Sean Hannity and Dick Clark. Release here

More topline more often: Fred Jacobs and Saga's Steve Goldstein offer their take on the Arbitron/Coleman study "The Impact of Commercials on the Radio Audience" here

Few things worse that bad research: UW-Madison NewsLab has failed the smell test again producing a flawed study. The solution is simple - transparency, now. Three step solution...

  1. Circulate drafts of Q design for comment, suggestion
  2. Circulate details of sample design and methodology for comment, suggestion
  3. Circulate raw data captured for comment and analysis
NewsLab is a great idea. The flaws indicated in the B&C opinion writing, here, are simply beyond the pale. The wonderful news here - there is a quick and honorable solution that begins with opening up the process. It's the right thing to do. Kudos to B&C and NAB for bringing deserved light to the obvious problems with NewsLabs' work product. The Bernbach quotation heading this post is relevant here because editorial trumps paid space. (Closed circuit to NewsLab, drop me an email using the contact me link on the right column of this page, I'd enjoy working with your team to correct these issues - your mission, your work is important and needed).

Another killer weekend: Following the weekend in Spring Green, a weekend in Lake Geneva. The Abbey has been reborn, very nice, while The Grand Geneva (former home to Hef's Playboy Club & Resort) remains in fine shape. On the wkend before last - We do miss the bar that once overlooked the Wisconsin River just outside Spring Green - it has become the FLW information center. Wyoming Valley is one of the most beautiful places in the state. We passed on the food offered at the info center and headed to The Shed for some good tavern grub and an update on the Pack.

Cass Sunstein: Surveys have advantages over experts. Prediction markets have advantages over surveys. From Amazon...

"Prediction markets aggregate information in a way that allows companies, ranging from computer manufacturers to Hollywood studios, to make better decisions about product launches and office openings. Sunstein shows how people can assimilate aggregated information without succumbing to the dangers of the herd mentality--and when and why the new aggregation techniques are so astoundingly accurate." Interesting new writing by Sunstein Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge

Karnitschnig & Delaney are on it - the YouTube copyright issues, writing at WSJ...

"YouTube looks to be on relatively firm legal ground," said Fred von Lohmann, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. But, according to John Palfrey, an intellectual-property professor at Harvard Law School, media companies will argue that YouTube shouldn't fall within the safe-harbor protections of the copyright law because, among other reasons, YouTube is deriving direct financial benefit from the infringement. Read Media Titans Pressure YouTube Over Copyrights via WSJ (sub req) here

Very cool idea - pay your staff to blog: Josh Quittner the editor of Business 2.0 says...

"We're doing something that is novel for Time Inc. Our bloggers will be directly remunerated on the basis of their traffic. They'll be paid a modest CPM. Time Inc. will sell advertising on the individual blogs. So the bloggers will get to participate in the revenue they generate."
Read the Patrick Phillips' Quittner interview via IWM here. Bravo Patrick, another job well done. Hats off to Josh for a practical solution that rewards performance.

Solution, the counterfeit coin puzzle: Weigh coins 1, 2, 3 and 4 against coins 5, 6, 7 and 8. If they balance, weigh coins 9 and 10 against coins 11 and 8 (we already learned from the first weighing that 8 is a good coin). If they balance, we know coin 12, the only unweighed one, is the counterfeit. The third weighing indicates whether it is heavy or light. However, at the second weighing, if coins 11 and 8 are heavier than 9 and 10, either 11 is heavy or 9 is light or 10 is light. Weigh 9 with 10. If they balance, 11 is heavy. If they don't balance, either 9 or 10 is light. Assume that at first weighing the side with coins 5, 6, 7 and 8 is heavier than the side with coins 1, 2, 3 and 4. This means that either 1, 2, 3 or 4 is light or 5, 6, 7 or 8 is heavy. Weigh 1, 2 and 5 against 3, 6 and 9. If they balance, it means that either 7 or 8 is heavy or 4 is light. By weighing 7 and 8 we get the answer, because if they balance then 4 has to be light. If 7 and 8 do not balance, then the heavier coin is the counterfeit. If, when we weigh 1, 2 and 5 against 3, 6 and 9, the right side is heavier, then 6 is heavy or 1 is light or 2 is light. By weighing 1 against 2 the answer is gained. If, however, when we weigh 1, 2 and 5 against 3, 6 and 9, the right side is lighter, then either 3 is light or 5 is heavy. By weighing 3 against a good coin the solution become evident.

Bonus: Repetition is learning dept. A Dave Winer writing worth reading again here

Saturday, October 14, 2006

"Don't be timid: speak up, express yourself and promote your ideas."William Swanson

Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management: Unwritten rule #12...

"If you evaluate yourself from the perspective of your manager, you will see that you are valued most for your contributions. It is not bragging to express yourself and your ideas vigorously - so long as you are prepared to support your ideas with logic and facts."

"Be your own champion. Some managers invite discussion to see where your "head" is on a matter."

And the answers to the pop quiz in Friday's post are:

  1. 29
  2. 44. 28 huskies with four legs each plus 44 penguins with two each, making 200 legs total.
  3. I am 40 and my daughter is 10.
  4. Apples and Oranges. Keep in mind each box is mislabeled. Whatever you pick from the Apples and Oranges box will inform you what the other two contain. Say you pull an orange from the apples and oranges box. Then the orange marked box contains apples, and the apples marked box holds apples and oranges. This is the perfect example of a simple problem we complicate by overthinking.
Thank you for all the emails. And for sharing some cool puzzles. Here's one from my pal in Helsinki...

You have twelve identical looking coins, one is counterfeit. The counterfeit is either heavier or lighter than the rest. The only scale available is a simple balance. Using the scale only three times, find the counterfeit.

Good luck! Solution in the next post.

Friday, October 13, 2006

"A well-crafted instruction is a gift - both to the giver and to the taker. It can connect us to information, technology, and knowledge itself. A successful instruction permits high performance by inspiring attention and sparking understanding. Giving instructions that perform is a craft and needs to be recognized as such. The ability to give and follow them offers boundless rewards. With it, you can master machines, increase productivity, and inspire others to action." Richard Saul Wurman

Image, UW Madison's Camp Randall, a tribute to this weekend's homecoming. Thanks to Tierney100 via The Isthmus Pool @ Flickr

Edward Tufte
has produced another brilliant work. Beautiful Evidence is the fourth work in his expected quintet. From his introduction...

"Evidence that bears on questons of any complexity typically involves multiple forms of discourse. Evidence is evidence, whether words, numbers, images, diagrams, still or moving. The intellectual tasks remain constant regardless of the mode of evidence; to understand and to reason about the materials at hand, and to appraise their quality, relevance, and integrity."

"Beautiful Evidence is about how seeing turns into showing, how empirical observations turn into explanations and evidence."

"Making an evidence presentation is a moral act as well as an intellectual activity. To maintain standards of quality, relevance, and integrity for evidence, consumers of presentations should insist that presenters be held intellectually and ethically responsible for what they show and tell. Thus consuming a presentation is also an intellectual and a moral activity."

Reading Tufte reminded me a bit of Wurman. Specifically, Wurman's Follow the Yellow Brick Road. One of the major challenges in writing good copy is providing good instructions. The same is true in the design of collateral, the design of web pages, the design of attended telephone prompts. Which led me back to Roman and Raphaelson - Writing that works:
Chapter 2 - Don't mumble and other principles of effectve writing...

  1. Don't mumble
  2. Make the organization of your writing clear
  3. Use short paragraphs, short sentences - and short words
  4. Make your writing vigorous, direct - and personal
  5. Avoid vague modifiers
  6. Use specific concrete language
  7. Choose the right word
  8. Make it perfect
  9. Come to the point
  10. Write simply and naturally - the way you talk
  11. Strike out words you don't need
  12. Use current standard English
  13. Don't write like a lawyer or a bureaucrat
  14. Keep in mind what your reader doesn't know
  15. Punctuate carefully
  16. Use facts (and numbers) with restraint
  17. Write so that you cannot be misunderstood
Wanna play? Some puzzles for you to think about, solutions in the next post. Give it a go!

  1. If 29 frogs catch 29 flies in 29 minutes, how many frogs are needed to catch 87 flies in 87 minutes?
  2. At the zoo there are penguins and huskies. In total, there are 72 creatures and 200 legs. How many penguins are there?
  3. I am four times as old as my daughter. In twenty years, I will be twice as old as she. How old are we today?
And the all-time favorite from my 2006 tour...

Three boxes are marked "Apples," "Oranges," and "Apples and Oranges." Each marking is not correct. You may select only one item from one box - no feeling or peeking allowed. How can you correctly ascertain the contents of each box from that single selection?

SEO rocks! Gratuitous self-promotion dept. Our clients are ranked not less than third in search results on Google, Yahoo and MSN. Yeah, us! Hint: Should you not be ranked on the first page of search you have a problem.

Air America - banko - announcement later today.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

"Presidential campaigns are about storytelling. A winning presidential campaign presents the candidate's life story to voters. A losing campaign allows someone else to frame that story."

"A candidate who runs principally on his or her biography is acutely vulnerable to the accusation that this biography is embellished. Such a candidate, in other words, is a fat target for the Freak Show. One signature of Freak Show politics is a fixation on personality and alleged hypocrisy. Another is the ease with which shrewd political operatives can manipulate the Freak Show's attention to hijack the public image of an opponent."

Mark Halperin & John F. Harris - The Way to Win

The new Halperin and Harris book is a good read. The authors suggest we live in a new world of media, media become Freak Show. They share "trade secrets" and offer up sharp, well reasoned behind the scenes analysis sure to be of interest to any political junkie. An important read for serious students of media. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"There is no great trick to doing research. The problem is to get people to use it - particularly when the research reveals that you have been making mistakes." David Ogilvy

Ogilvy was a giant, a lion in advertising's forest. We can all learn something from this great gentleman.

Ogilvy on hiring: "The paramount problem you face is this: advertising is one of the most difficult functions in industry, and too few brilliant people want careers in advertising. The challenge is to recruit people who are able enough to do the difficult work our clients require from us.

  1. Make a conscious effort to avoid recruiting dull, pedestrian hacks.
  2. Create an atmosphere of ferment, innovation and freedom. This will attract brilliant recruits.
If you ever find a man who is better than you are - hire him. If necessary, pay him more that you pay yourself."

The latest issue of The Economist features an outstanding cover story - "The search for talent. Why it's getting harder to find." Adrian Wooldridge has done an excellent job in creating his brief, a special survey of talent section in the book headed "The battle for brainpower." Adrian writes...

"Talent has become the world's most sought-after commodity...the shortage is causing serious problems...structural changes are making talent ever more important. The deepest such change is the rise of intangible but talent-intensive assets. Baruch Lev, a professor of accounting at New York University, argues that “intangible assets”—ranging from a skilled workforce to patents to know-how—account for more than half of the market capitalisation of America's public companies. Accenture, a management consultancy, calculates that intangible assets have shot up from 20% of the value of companies in the S&P 500 in 1980 to around 70% today."

Highly recommend this writing. Recruiting, developing and retaining talent is a critically important job at every creative enterprise. Next to planning (doing one's homework), recruiting and development offer the best ROI of any activity. The smart kids are continuously recruiting. Read more of Adrian's special section here

Google buys YouTube, critics surface. Nothing brings out the wags like the $1.6 B acquisition of a company that has yet to make a profit. The point that folks are missing is Google is not in the search or traffic business, they are a high tech media company in the advertising business. My sense is the Google gang will make it work. Watch.

Google Coupons: Cheers and congrats to the Google Coupon crew. Using the coupons for our retail store and they work like a charm. Another Google job well done!

One or none. Not enough for two pay radio guys. Jimmy Cramer, master of the lightnin round, has said that Mel needs to pick up the phone and get something done or risk being gone. JC is spot-on, again.

Oklahoma: Wunderkind Phil Hall spotted...at work...teaching - leading a programming workshop for OAB this week. Bravo Phil! Expect big things to come for Mr Hall.

The little Indiana company that could: The #1 iTunes affiliate is Yahoo, #2 is Emmis. Congrats and kudos to Jeff, Rick and the Emmis Interactive team on a job well done.

"Try something!" The long standing battle cry of Tom Peters. Tom uses House (arguably the best written and certainly one of the best acted dramas now on screen) in making a brilliant case about leadership, to wit:

House/Hugh Laurie

Newtonian!!!!! (Experimental method is sacred!!!!!!!)
Acknowledge, even revel in what we don’t know
Crystalline clarity of reasoning
Intuitive leaps (often wrong, but acknowledges that error is the key success driver—e.g., Brilliant Failed experiments)
Breathtaking speed! (Fast tries. “Fastest ‘O.O.D.A. Loops’ win”—John Boyd)
Action! Action! Action!
Test! Test! Test!
Failures acknowledged instantly (as important as success;
next try starts immediately without fanfare)
Carefully controlled experimentation-Hypothesis tests (e.g., stop all drugs, add back one at a time)
Problem-centric, not patient-centric (Life = Puzzle-solving)
In a (life or death) rush, yet orderly about the scientific process
Aggressive risk taking (What’s the alternative?) (Can appear reckless to others)
Exudes inspiring confidence (especially when the success odds are low)
Sky high staff standards
Doesn’t suffer fools lightly (especially bosses)
Hates ... routine/paperwork/problems that don’t enhance his understanding
Students as scientific peers (but demands loyalty)
Constant, impromptu mini-Brainstorm sessions (Thinking = Cool)
Calm though life and death at stake (must view-measure
results of experiments as cleanly as possible)
Egocentric (but allow data to sway—or reverse—opinion)
Tenacious! Relentless!
Obsessed! (rotten at “work-life balance”)