Monday, December 31, 2007

Today's image: Are You Ready??? by ssh. Amazing. Thanks for sharing!

"I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it." Vincent Van Gogh

"If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, I will answer you: 'I am here to live out loud.'" Emile Zola

"We are all a product of the choices we make." Albert Camus

Are you ready? Time to turn the page, mark 30 and put 2007 to bed.

Thank you for stopping by, I truly do appreciate the support and encouragement many of you have shown me this past year.

My best wishes to you for a 2008 filled with good health, much happiness and amazing success. May all your dreams come true.

Happy New Year, Cheers!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"It is not so hard to be original, what is hard, is to be original with continuity." Andres Segovia

"Art is what you can get away with." Marshall McLuhan

"Art is pattern informed by sensibility." Sir Herbert Read

Today's image: Red fruit by unneva. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

Thinking out loud: The agency hired to do the new creative for the HD Radio Alliance is GSD&M. Have a great amount of respect for that shop. Still, not a fan of the new Alliance creative. The questions remaining are: Why Peter Ferrara has not announced that GSD&M, a celebrated and respected shop, was engaged to do the creative? Does Peter have research to support the creative? My sense is GSD&M, understanding the critical importance of the initiative, would have suggested the creative be tested before or after execution and before air. If not before air then certainly after a good measure of weight has run to establish some measure of effectiveness. We have an urgent need for transparency. Peter?

Thomas P.M. Barnett: The Pentagon's New Map for War & Peace. Must see video of his presentation at TED. Brilliant!

Friday, December 28, 2007

"The idea seems absurd, but I can find no flaw in it." Johannes Kepler

"Between the idea and the reality. Between the motion and the act. Falls the shadow." T.S. Eliot

"If I don't know I know, I think I don't know." R.D. Laing

Today's image: Blowing in the wind by Zamm. Great shot! Thank you for sharing.

Last of my eight to watch in '08: Richard MacManus & Dan Mason.

Richard is editor of ReadWriteWeb and one of the brightest of today's thought leaders. When Richard says something is important you can bank it. From Richard's list of 2008 predictions..."The online advertising market will consolidate, after the spate of acquisitions in 2007. CPM will continue to dominate for media brands and CPC for niche sites, although there will be experimentation in VRM and other forms of highly specific targeting of ads. Privacy issues will prevent the latter from becoming mainstream though. The much-hyped CPA (Cost per Action) will continue to be a pipe dream, because publishers simply don't want it."

Dan is CEO of CBS Radio. 2008 will be his first full year leading the charge and it's fair to expect nothing less than amazing things. Dan Mason is the goods and this second tour at CBS is just what the company needed. (FD: I have served as a consultant to CBS and to Viacom. Have also worked for Dan. I would include him with the great bosses it has been my honor to serve including the legendary N.L. Bentson, the incredible A.B. Hartman and the great SGM George A. Warren)

Six of the eight previously mentioned - Rob Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett, Joseph Jaffe, Michael Rosenblum, Robert Scoble, Dave Winer. It is my suggestion we all can learn something from each of these guys. Please suggest your ones to watch via comments.

Movie of the year: Juno. Diablo Cody rocks! She just missed being on my eight to watch. A writer you will be hearing about (and reading), gifted.

Blogger of the year: Steve Dahl. The Chicago media rockstar is playing at the top of his game.

Blog to watch in '08: jacoBLOG. Fred Jacobs and crew are posting thoughtful stuff well worth your bandwidth (and it keeps getting better - add it to your reader today).

Asked & Answered: Which video ad format will become dominant? Liz Gannes polls the experts here.

Bhutto's assasination: Thomas P.M. Barnett weighs in here.

Congrats & cheers: Radio programming ace Harve Alan has joined the conversation. Check out his new blog here. Dave Winer debuts his latest product - FlickrFan.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

"Consider the doorway as a metaphor for information, humour a passageway to understanding." Rich Saul Wurman

"Matisse renovates rather than innovates." Guillaume Apollinaire

"It may be those who do most dream most." Stephen Leacock

Today's image: New hat and a hula hoop by fd. Great shot! Thanks for sharing.

More of my eight to watch in '08: He's the marketing guy's marketing guy. While others are talking about doing something, he's doing it while blogging and podcasting about it. He's the juice, the goods. If you like Seth, you'll love Joseph Jaffe.

Just say no: Should you work in commercial radio and if your group is a member of the HD Radio Alliance please be aware of the new Alliance creative set to air beginning 12/31. Does the creative belong on your air? Please listen to it and decide. Fred Jacobs and I have suggested that it not air. We are calling for a time out and a candid industry discussion. Read Fred's post with comments here. My earlier posts on the HD Radio Alliance here, here and here. FYI - to date not one person other than Peter Farrara has stepped forward to defend the creative. Time to take action. Should you agree that the new creative will not get the job done, will not position and promote HD Radio in the right way then just say no. Do let corporate know how you feel about this. Let's not waste one avail with this new creative. The messaging for HD Radio is important. We have an urgent need to be right.

Peter, I again respectfully request you delay the 12/31 start and ask you to please remove the password protection allowing everyone to hear the new creative. What's needed now more than ever is transparency.

Keeping Up - Best of trade coverage, online, '07: Radio - AllAccess Nobody does it better. Joel Denver and his crew are simply the best. TV - Tie - TV Decoder (Brian Stelter), Lost Remote (Bergman, Safran, Johnson, Day et al). New media - Tie - paidContent, TechCrunch.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"Resistance to new ideas increases as to the square of their importance." Bertrand Russell

"Almost all really new ideas have a certain aspect of foolishness when they are first produced." Alfred N. Whitehead

"Yesterday an idea is mine, today it is yours, and tomorrow it belongs to the whole world." Konstantin Stanislavsky

Today's image: supercitrus super collider by Splat Worldwide. Awesome. Thanks for sharing!

Politics as metaphor

When working with broadcast promotion folks we often use the line "Running for US Senate." We use retail politics as a metaphor. The most successful stations (and talent) understand the concept, understand the need to get out where the viewers/listeners are. Hint: they're not in the station. We counsel that email, chat, im, text, blogs and all the other tools are important but showing up is most important of all.

Over the holiday a colleague was nice enough to send along a heads up that Paige Nienaber had written something about politics and station promotion. It's posted at AllAccess under Consultant Tips, here's a taste...

"I've begun to see more and more stations that, for lack of a better term, have pulled the goalie. Have pulled off the streets. And are marketing themselves impersonally and one dimensionally through e-mail and outdoor.

Side note: My niece lives "out west." Her favorite (if a 16 year-old can have a favorite anymore) station was doing a pretty cool promotion. I asked about it when we were on the phone. She replied "I didn't play. They made you sign up for stuff and I really want more spam." (Exaggerated 16-year-old sarcasm is implied.)

Radio has always done a terrific job of embracing new technologies. It's part of being contemporary. And we should. But each new "thing" is just another part of the arsenal. It's not THE arsenal.

Case-in-point: Someone who goes back a long ways with me -- Jo Jo Wright from KIIS in L.A. Phenomenally talented. Phenomenally nice. And phenomenally smart. Every new gimmick that comes along becomes just another facet in his juggernaut to win the world. Ain't no one going to beat the guy. When pagers came out, like every jock between Medford and Maine, he got one. But he USED it. Came in an hour early each day and returned pages. That creates the kind of loyalty that money (contesting) can't buy.

I was at the hotel pool on my last visit to Cox in Honolulu and chatting with the bartender, who was wearing a KIIS shirt. She brought up, totally unbidden, that the best DJ in the world works there, blah blah blah, she'd texted him for something, they traded texts, etc. et al, ad nauseum. Yep. Jo Jo. She sent him a text to enter her sister for something, he texted back, treated her like an actual live human being, bing-bang-boom. End of story. "Greatest DJ in the world" was her term."

Check out Paige via AllAccess (free reg req) or at his site here. Highly recommended! Thanks and bravos to Paige, very well done! P.S. No matter what business you happen to be in you'll achieve more when you and your team "Run for US Senate." It's another case of putting the focus not on getting better but on getting different. Employ one of the secrets used by every successful campaign - create contrast! P.S.S. The next time your team needs a killer idea or a fresh new approach in staging a promotion/event get in touch with Paige.

The play's the thing

Michael Rosenblum is at it again. Writing wonderful stuff you need to be reading. This time on the art of storytelling...

Stop and think about this for a moment.

All across the country, every who is watching the first shot is thinking exactly the same thing at exactly the same time.


This is a pretty impressive trick.

And now you have a moment to capture the audience as yours.

All you have to do is talk to them.

‘To’ them… as opposed to ‘at’ them.

Everyone who is watching this is thinking the same question at the same time - ‘what happened to the dog’.

All you have to do is answer the question.

Read Michael's post, Scripting without paper - 3rd in a series here. Excellent, Michael! Kudos!

They're living closer to the future than we are dept: 64% of online teens (12-17) engaged in at least one type of content creation. 35% of all teen girls blog, 20% of online boys. 54% of wired girls post photos compared to 40% of online boys. Boys do dominate one area - posting videos. As we suggest to clients on the day job - Flickr is to women as ESPN is to men. Read the topline here - Pew Internet: Teens and Social Media

Apropos of nothing: Congrats & cheers to Dan Kois, Lane Brown and the gang at Vulture - behold, Pitchfork's Top 100 Tracks of 2007: A Pie Chart. Genius! Have a look here. Includes link to actual Pf list. Thanks to Rex for the tip.

Ka-ching, Seattle style:'s biggest shopping day was December 10th, 5.4 million items sold, 62.5 items ordered per second.

Lesson already in progress: Scobleizer teaches Google an important lesson in GPC (Granular Privacy Controls). Good going Robert! Read his post with comments here. Smart money says team GR will have this fixed before COB. My sense is this stuff is cohort sensitive; the youth define privacy in a new way, or care about it in a truly different way. The truth would seem to remain the same, privacy is a myth.

Bonus: Nada Stirratt & Jason Witt, two stars of the MTVN Ad Group, do the paidContent interview. Kudos to David Kaplan on a job well done!

"I would expect to see new ad products within casual gaming and interactive video overlays. The third piece is mobile and the fourth is social media open platforms. Last month, we launched a widget program with a fast food marketer that worked across multiple sites and had a 360 degree grab-and-hold experience. One of the things that you can’t do with sales—but that Digital Fusion can do—is tap into viral traffic."

Read the interview here.

More of my eight to watch in '08: A brilliant gentleman with the courage to consistently do and say the right thing. Candor as refreshing (and needed) as that first hot cup of coffee in the morning. He's the guy who gave us blogging, podcasting, RSS and you can wager big, without worry, much more to come. Those of us living in Madison claim him a local hero, a UW grad done good. His river of news concept is but one of his fresh takes on what's next, get this guy into your reader today Dave Winer

Saturday, December 22, 2007

“The best way I made things happen was by saying I could and then it forced me to do it. It’s one thing to keep it to yourself but if you say it to everybody, then you have no choice. It was either that or get out of the business. When you put yourself out on a limb- there’s no choice but to win.”

“If you have the confidence in yourself that you can pull off anything and if you leave yourself flexible enough to bob and weave where you have to... the goal stays the same... How you’re going to get there may change but “Here’s where the journeys gonna end”- How we’ll get there we’ll have to figure out along the way.”

"Everything in life is sales."

Lee Arnold

Today's image: Bare Trees by Fred Winston. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Today's quotations, all by rock radio raconteur Lee Arnold, are from a new writing. The true story of how one gifted radio program director and his staff, with nothing more than a great idea and their own relentless passion, made national news and history bringing The Who to their town. Sex, drugs, and a generous helping of wireless swagger, that radio surname magic one should properly call only by its given name, rock and roll...

WHOoPLA: The Greatest Rock Radio Stunt Ever
by V. Scott Beddome. Highly recommended here. Closed circuit to Beddome: When casting for the big screen accept no other player than Johnny Depp to play the role of rogue warrior Arnold. (FD: In the previous century I served as valet, defense attorney and part-time concierge to the great Mr Arnold)

Bonus: Do you own a rock radio station? If you manage a rock station, should you be in charge of programming, sales or promotion for a rock station, consult or sell anything whatsoever to a rock station (or have need to arrest the attention of the rock radio audience), you'll benefit from getting Lee Arnold involved. This is not to suggest he will be available. Please, don't blame me if he ain't interested. It is only my best counsel for how to end 2008 much better off than you are ending this year, no matter how well you think you're doing. Rock on and good luck. You may find Lee here.

Bonus videos: Seth, Dr Dave and ten other thinkers share their video picks. Well worth the time, check them out here. Kudos to the gang at Twist Image!

Ex-dead tree guy gets it: Bravos to Jeff Jarvis for making the obvious, obvious...

"A newspaper (or, for that matter, TV or radio) company needs to set up a new, hyperlocal company that is designed to go after those 1,000 $100 ads. Let the big, old newspaper and online divisions keep serving and saving those big advertisers. Start a new company that makes small, local advertising its sole focus. That means they need to set up automated systems to accept and place highly targeted local ads and directories. That means they need to come up with new means of selling without on-the-street sales staffs: outbound phone sales, direct response, even local sales network (instead of citizen journalists, citizen sales people), making aggressive use of the promotional power of the newspaper while you still have it. That means they need to have lots of targeted local content without large editorial staffs. That means they need to set up networks with local bloggers and others and they need to encourage more people to join and the way they will do that is by sharing revenue and so these need to be both content and ad networks. This is unproven but I know that this won’t happen in the existing structure from print or even online staffs. It’s hard and its new but — as the Journal now well proves — if you newspapers don’t do it, your online competitors will."

Read Jeff's entire post with comments here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information." T.S. Eliot

"To look is to learn, if you listen carefully." Per Arnoldi

"Knowledge is little; to know the right context is much, to know the right spot is everything." Hugo von Hofmannsthal

Today's image: Wilderness of Glacier & Snow Lake by Heartkins. Amazing! Thank you.

In recent posts I have asked questions about HD Radio. Specifically, the need for an intellectually honest evaluation of progress made, results produced by the HD Radio Alliance.
Previous posts here and here.

My sense is we need hard data before any such evaluation is possible. Earlier posts were a call for disclosure. We have an urgent need for transparency here.

Here is what we do know.

This month marks the second year anniversary of the Alliance formation.

Member stations have invested something north of $400 million in air time to promote HD Radio. Perhaps, the single most significant consumer marketing investment by and for radio in radio history.

It appears that about 500,000 HD Radio receivers have been sold.

The website seems, according to one measure, to be getting approx 33,000 visitors per month.

Should these receiver sales and site visitor numbers prove to be even close to correct it is fair to suggest we have a serious problem.

Either radio is not an effective media to get the message out, the wrong communications channel to use in selling radios and driving web traffic or the messaging is not right. My conclusion is the messaging is wrong, clearly not effective.

The latest development: the Alliance is changing up the creative strategy. My understanding is Alliance CEO Peter Ferrara ordered and approved new creative.

After hearing the new creative I must respectfully suggest it is best that it never air.

I urge Peter Ferrara to order a delay in the launch of this new creative set to air beginning 12/31. We need to take a time out. We need to begin a candid and serious industry conversation about the consumer marketing needed to produce a meaningful result in the HD Radio roll out.

Listen to the creative yourself here.

Fred Jacobs blogs on this issue here. Bravos to Fred!

We can get this done the right way, we can make this happen, make a genuine difference, however we should give this nothing less than our best shot. This new creative does not represent the best possible use of our audio given the challenges at hand and in this critically important initiative the standard must be, without qualification, unconditionally, only the best that we can do. We can do this. Game on.

LATER: Peter Ferrara responds via Fred's blog...

"Fred (an all) –

We're sorry you didn't enjoy the spots. We are working with an one of the top brand building ad agencies in the country that's done great things for clients like Southwest Airlines, BMW, MasterCard, AT&T and the PGA Tour. We explained our challenge, the current status of HD Radio and asked them for their honest evaluation and recommendation.

It's completely natural for all of us in the radio business to bristle at the thought that not everyone shares our passion and commitment to our medium. The truth is that these spots aren't aimed at you and me - and we need to have the courage to engage the folks we're trying to reach in a way that speaks to the way they see it. And when we connect with them on that, authentic level, we can hope to re-engage them in what's outstanding about radio.

In the meantime, all of us in radio's inner circle have an opportunity to trust in the experience and the track record of an ad agency that's been here before."

My response to Peter via Fred's blog...


You're being intellectually dishonest to wit: SW, BMW, MC and AT&T were established brands long before the engagement of your unnamed agency; the proper qualification needed would seem to be a proven track record of successfully launching new, previously unknown, brands in the marketplace - you have provided no such credential with your comment. I again respectfully request you do the right thing and put this creative on hold, take a time out, open a candid and serious discussion with the industry. Should you be right, should you and your agency have the research to prove this approach to be sound, to be the best possible creative needed to get the job done then share it. We can then all move forward together with the knowledge that we are, indeed, doing the right thing."

Update: The HD Radio Alliance creative is now password protected. What is this, high school with money? Peter, we have an urgent need for transparency here. Why would you or anyone else at the Alliance decide to hide your new creative with a password?

Mr Ferrara, tear down this password wall!

At this point, days away from the debut of the new creative, it is disappointing we have not enjoyed the benefits of a more open, serious and candid discussion on this matter. The promotion of HD Radio deserves to be on the agenda of every radio station in 2008. The attitude that Peter Ferrara seems to suggest in his comment reminds me of the line attributed to Groucho Marks, "...who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes." At a time when radio's digital strategy includes betting its life on HD Radio, the Alliance is telling radio professionals "Who you gonna believe, our agency or your own ears." LATER: Peter permissions the new HD Radio Alliance creative. Updates here and here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"What can be done with fewer assumptions is done in vain with more." Occam's Razor. William of Occam

"The fewer limitations the artist imposes on his work, the less chance he has for artistic success." Alexander Solzhenitsyn

"The art of the art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity." Walt Whitman

Today's image: Paris - LeWeb3 by Doc Searls. Fine shot. Thanks for sharing!

Hearing that Doc rocked in Paris @ LeWeb3. Kudos, Doc! Disappointed (along with many others including colleagues in attendance) that Dr. Dave did not get to deliver his talk in Paris. Hey Dave, how about sharing your notes from that scheduled talk via JoHo or your newsletter? Consider this a Christmas wish.

Let me recommend a blog to you. Local Media in a Web 2.0 World by Mel Taylor. First and second tribes of wireless, dead tree guy, dot com stripes. Gotta appreciate a guy that has taken the scenic route. Well traveled in the Philly DMA (maybe he can get you a table at Vetri?). In fact, he's also one of those guys that's worked both sides of the isle, creative (arts & crafts) and commerce (sales). He's also a fellow member of the former major market radio music director dodge. Already added Mel's blog to my Other Voices, go ahead and check him out here. No, really, go ahead. I'll wait here.

Thanks for all of the emails on the posts about the HD Radio Alliance. Please give me a few days to get back to you. Getting everything closed for the year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Adornment is never anything except a reflection of the heart." Coco Chanel

"Delusion is the abandonment of outer reality in favour of inner wish." Alain de Botton

"It is the theory which decides what we can observe." Albert Einstein

Today's image: cold sunday morning by C a f r i n e. Amazing! Thank you very much.

Lost & Found: Back in the day it was a wonderment - to read, enjoy and discuss the latest Release 1.0 (thanks, usually, to the kindness of a friend or colleague that could afford those then expensive writings of the great Esther Dyson). Over the years the issues I did have were lost (if two moves = one fire, my six moves = ?). Now, Tim O'Reilly is offering the entire collection of Esther's R1.0 free online here. Very cool. Kudos to Tim and thanks to Dr Dave for the tip.

Your attention, please: Tom Asacker asks why we scan emails, save the ones we want to spend more time with and then never look at them again - with comments here. This mystery of media consumption must be related to the stacks of magazines and newspapers I'm not throwing out yet.

Internet radio is a DIFFERENT medium: Kurt Hanson gets it right, again...

"Webcasters who take advantage of the characteristics of the new medium — e.g., LAUNCHcast, Pandora, etc. — are, I believe, going to be the ones that see the greatest success in this medium. And right now, the Internet efforts of traditional radio broadcasters (AM/FM broadcast groups, satellite radio companies, etc.) are not playing in that game." More here.

Bravos, Kurt. My sense is the linear experience of broadcast is genetically hardwired.

Radio execs continue to have important and valuable missed opportunities at hand. Take streaming. The majority of stations are doing a terrible job of putting their over-the-air product online.

The simple test is how a station handles stop sets

Failing to simulcast, to insert the commercials as aired, means the streaming will not receive Arbitron credit, granted that's a business decision. However, given that election the result should not be a poorly executed stop set. You've heard them, chopped audio, the use of one boring music loop, repeating the same three, four Ad Council spots, the same one or two promos, or worst of all, dead air (is this thing still working?). Stuff you would never allow to happen on air is tolerated, accepted online. These stop sets are beyond the pale however they do serve to conclusively prove that no one is minding the store. What we have here is a massive failure of imagination for which there's simply no excuse. Online stop sets represent one of the greatest creative opportunities for radio in 2008. Moreover, smart operators will turn this unused inventory into real money. Aside: During my salad days with RKO Radio my mentor the legendary Dwight Case would say "Dave, what you programming people call a stop set, our sales people know, correctly, is a go set."

The cobbler's children have no shoes

That the recognized experts of consumer audio are not leading the online audio charge is, well, practically without any reasonable explanation. Instead we increasingly find the pro-am folks are in the front of that parade. Stay tuned, the whole world is going pro-am before our very ears. For radio to seriously get into the online game we need to, in the majority of cases, take the websites away from the clearly over-worked station folks. This is not to suggest that stations farm out the work, they would be better served by investment, bringing the work in-house and establishing dedicated online teams. With all respect to my friend Dan Mason making the program directors responsible for their websites is at best a temp solution.

PDs in charge will not get the job done, will not move forward the much needed creation of new competitive space, won't move the needle and jump start the revenues that are possible. By the way, our main channel sellers are exactly the wrong people needed to properly monetize our digital assets. One need only look at the job they're doing with the inventory they already have. Certainly there are those rare exceptions but too few to mention. Ok, I'll mention one. Bonneville, Chicago. Schnacke and Horowitz do get it.

While the website should be considered a stand alone business it too often remains an after thought, it should be a collection of prized digital assets. Some of us have been in this movie before. We have a history of doing this stuff. We are treating online assets in the same way an earlier generation of AM guys treated nascent FM. It actually took a change in federal regulation to birth FM (the non-duplication rules). The feds promoted the growth of FM by force of rule making, in the online battle space radio must save itself. This generation's FM guys need to stop treating online like their AM.

Closed circuit to Miller Kaplan: Could we please get current and change that catch all now labeled Network & Other. In the least we need a dedicated line measuring radio's online rev capture. If we can't measure it we can't manage it and we're not measuring it now. Radio has no real idea of where it stands in the growing online spend and we urgently need a performance metric.

Radio needs to get into the export business and out of the import game, that dated 1.0 mindset of attracting listeners to a walled garden. Radio folks continue to talk a good game and then put things on hold. As every good radio manager knows the best way to kill an idea is to find a way for it to cost money. Radio needs to get out of the dangerous sport, the circus side show of dodging bullets and get into the 21st century fight because the battle space is moving, the velocity of change accelerating. The swagger of "Yep, ain't nothing killed us so far" is sounding a wee bit anachronistic.

"There is nothing so exhilarating as being shot at without result" so said Churchill. Radio shouldn't count on that always being the case, it won't be. The good news is there are some bright folks out there, Kurt Hanson included, that can show the way. Game on.

LATER: Mel Taylor weighs in via comments...

"...not to name names....but some in Radio believe that streaming and page view growth equals success. it's a nice start, but will not be enough in a hyper-competitive onlne (sic) space"

Bravo, Mel. Well said. Read more in comments below and at Mel's blog here.

You remember last time

Previously, it was suggested here that it was time the HD Radio Alliance starting sharing receiver sales data (read that earlier post here). Let me now, respectfully, make a second suggestion to Peter Ferrara - please, show us your web site stats. In fact, please start posting them weekly, if not daily. Alliance members have invested about $400 million in promotional inventory and while we have no accounting for how much of that investment actually made mention of domain we do have at least one third party measure of web traffic thanks to Compete.

How would you like to invest some $400 million and get results like this?

33,000 something website visitors per month

$400 million invested, the second most tracked creative on commercial radio nationwide, according to monitors, and radio gets beaten by two dead tree guys including one metro daily?

USA Today ranks #68 (11,739,316), The Chicago Sun-Times ranks #1,101 (1,448,929) and ranks #50,340 (33,103) Ouch!

A single radio station website can easily generate more uvs in a week than appears to be capturing in a month. And to put this into perspective, these results were produced with a major national campaign running.

As my Georgia relatives would say "Something bad wrong here."

These anemic traffic stats would seem to suggest one of two possible causes. Radio is not an effective media for driving web traffic or the messaging is wrong, it's not working. I vote the latter as I know the former to be plainly false.

Lets do the arithmetic. Again, as before with receiver sales data, absent the real numbers we'll make some up. Let's say only one-third of the $400 million mentioned the domain, the url, or $133 million in weight. Divide by twenty months = $6.65 million per month and provided 33,000 visitors per month = $201.51 per visitor. What's that CPM? With all that weight wouldn't it seem fair that at least one million or more people would have Googled it over a year? We can be certain $400 million generated some level of awareness, some consumer curiosity.

What's needed here is a measure of accountability. We need to know what was delivered, what was produced by the investment. Clearly, it's time to fix this. That process must start with transparency, a full disclosure of the any and all available metrics. We can do this, let's get started. Updates here and here.

Alfred I. duPont - Columbia University 2008 News Awards - congrats to the 13 winners, here. Thanks to Larry Shannon and RDN for the tip.

Bonus: NPR diva Susan Stamberg shares the Independent Booksellers' Picks here.

Congrats & cheers: RAB is now blogging RABBlog, kudos to George Hyde and welcome to the conversation. Also, bravos to George for inviting Amy Van Hook and Gordon Borrell to play at RAB 2008, smart moves both. Microsoft bows Stay At Home Servers, bravos!

Monday, December 17, 2007

"The economy of means is founded on the richness of thought." Henryk Tomaszewski

"Imagine a piano having seventy-five different sounds. This is the situation of painters." Salvador Dali

"Elimination is the point of departure." A.G. Fronzoni

Today's image: Fort Pickering Light by StormCrypt. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

Decades ago United Technologies Corporation ran a series of full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal. Here is the text from one in that series.

Let's Get Rid of Management

don't want
to be
They want
to be led.
Whoever heard
of a world
World leader,
Educational leader.
Political leader.
Religious leader.
Scout leader.
Community leader.
Labor leader.
Business leader.
They lead.
They don't manage.
The carrot
always wins
over the stick.
Ask your horse.
You can lead your
horse to water,
but you can't
manage him
to drink.
If you want to
manage somebody,
manage yourself.
Do that well
and you'll
be ready to
stop managing.
And start

More from my year end list - Eight to watch in '08:


"Hip hop is the great American cultural export of my age. Russell Simmons is a god like Phil Spector was a god. Eric Clapton is replaced by Jay-Z.

This revolution may not be televised, but it's already been merchandised.

Identity preservation and youthful rebellion beautifully fused and sold by the video clip." More


"The web is an extremely powerful and plastic medium for capturing information and storytelling. It works equally well in print, video, still, music, graphics and viewer participation. Like any new technology, we have yet to really figure out what to do with it. The day after Gutenberg invented the Printing Press, he could have gone down into the basement and printed The New York Times. All the technology he needed to print a newspaper was now in his hands. What was lacking was the model - the idea." More

Congrats & cheers: Slantly, off the launch pad and live in beta here (& blogging here). The New Radicals, Radar Online names the year's most notable rogues, renegades and rule-breakers here.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"I take a cliche and try to organize its forms to make it monumental. The difference is often not great, but it is crucial." Roy Lichtenstein

"What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you, but I know it's mine." Lennon-McCartney

"My capital is time, not money." Marcel Duchamp

Today's image: Day 4 - 25 Days of Christmas 2007 by Phil Peck. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

How to be creative

A fine writing by Hugh MacLeod...

1. Ignore everybody.

2. The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to change the world.

3. Put the hours in.

4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being "discovered" by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.

5. You are responsible for your own experience.

6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.

7. Keep your day job.

8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.

9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.

10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.

11. Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

For the full list of thirty-one "tips" (and more) read Hugh's entire writing with comments and illustrations here. Highly recommended! Bravos to Hugh!

Malcolm Gladwell: What we can learn from spaghetti sauce

Friday, December 14, 2007

"Perfection has one grave defect, it is apt to be dull." Somerset Maugham

"In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing." Oscar Wilde

"Music is noise submitted to order by wisdom." Puccini

Today's image: Felicidad by jose87. Fine shot. Thank you very much.

All kinds of year end stuff...

The best books of 2007 - Slate

2007 Year-End Zeitgeist - Google

The Year in Advertising - Business Week - Great lead quotation "Advertising is a tax you pay for unremarkable thinking" Robert Stephens

Best website by a radio performer - 2007:
On the day job we counsel broadcasters and others on the critical importance of being alive, always on, on the net. While there are an increasing number of really good station sites (and a few excellent endeavors), good sites by performers or talent continue to be rare. Again this year we find the site of Chicago media star Steve Dahl to be the best of class. Steve and his team have created a truly excellent site. Blog, photos, show logs, podcast, soundboard, video, merch, rss implemented, it's all there. Kudos to Steve for a job well done and bravos for continuing to set the standard. Check out his site here.

The true spirit of Christmas - White Envelope Project

Dick Biondi's 2007 Holiday Toy Drive kicks off this morning. Details here.

Doing the right thing, right now: Fred Jacobs blogs here about Toys for Tots needing an assist from media this year. This is a cry for help that deserves the attention of every broadcaster. Not only does it make good television and good radio, it makes a difference in your community. More info here. My thanks to uber-mensch Fred & his Jacobs Media gang for the heads up.

We all need a coach. Should you be a radio talent ready to improve your act allow me to suggest you check out Jay Mitchell blogging here.

Bonus: Bill Gates on the skills you need to succeed...

"Software innovation, like almost every other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people, and to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs.

I also place a high value on having a passion for ongoing learning. When I was pretty young, I picked up the habit of reading lots of books."

Read the entire article via BBC here.

On the money: My notion is Les Moonves is one of the smartest execs working in the entertainment TV game today. Here are details on his new contract. While his base drops from the $5.6 mil of 2006 to $3.5 mil, his total package is richer. A target bonus of three times his salary ($10.5 mil), an option covering 5 millions shares (est. $35 mil in value using the Black-Scholes model), an annual grant of free shares worth $7.6 mil on each of four grant dates during his contract. He also gets a "make-whole" provision not having to face the higher New York state income tax (Les is a California resident). If he does not get renewed at the end of his deal, which terms Oct 2011, he may elect to become a senior adviser to the firm for $2 mil per year for three years (required to work no more than five days a month, eight hours a day) and a one-time grant of 300,000 shares (worth around $8 mil this month). Using a total package value of $30 mil per year, working 60 hours a week, 48 weeks per year his hourly rate would be $10,500. More detail on this data plus commentary by Graef Crystal here.

Congrats & cheers: Kevin Murphy named SVP/MM for CBS Radio, Detroit. BigThink, off and running in beta.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"The end of all method is to seem to have no method." Lu Ch'Ai

"It's all one to me: opera, painting, drawing, faxes." David Hockney

"Do you think an advertisement can sell if nobody can read it? You cannot save souls in an empty church." David Ogilvy

Today's image: Hands up by m.pastwa; Great shot, cool stencil, thanks for sharing!

More year-end lists: 7th Annual Year in Ideas - New York Times. Books of the Year 2007 - The Economist. The Best of 2007 (Books) - The Village Voice.

They presented yesterday at LeWeb3 and they deserve our attention - Ninemillion.

Bonus: Shopping Guide for the Data-Addicted Lovin my chumby

More music: thesixtyone - a music adventure A new entry in the fold of music discovery sites.

Another fine waste of bandwidth: Take the Traveler IQ Challenge

Writers on strike, or not: AMPTP and the related spoof site. Contrast and compare. Exhibit A on the importance of locking down both the .org and the .com domains. Thanks to Dr Dave for the tip.

Another one of my eight to watch in 08: Scobleizer (now on his way to FastCompany, congrats, and all the best Robert!)

Congrats & cheers: Scott Anger to head up a new video unit at The LA Times. Michael Rosenblum has the back story here. Radio programming ace Greg Ausham is heading to Clear Channel, Lee Arnold, the raconteur of rock, has the detail here.

It's official: Radio talker Jay Marvin is now Guilty by Suspicion

Perspective is worth ten IQ points: Thomas P.M. Barnett offers us exactly the right pov on what's happening with our Secretary of State. Read Rice as the realists' poison pill here. Kudos Thomas! My sense is every candidate for POTUS would benefit from a sit down with Thomas. He is one of the best and brightest, a strategist practically without equal. The gentleman is a national treasure.

Have something to say


Lessons learned on killer content.

While working for the legendary Boone & Erickson I asked them, what makes a great show?

They told me something magic happens when you connect, when you relate on a personal, topical level.

The example they gave me was a stopped clock in a public place. "Did you notice? The clock at 4th and Main has stopped? Yeah, it says 9:30, what's going on?"

Immediately, those that noticed the stopped clock are dialed in (Yeah, what is going on?). Those that were not aware are now plugged in (Yeah, I knew about it). Moreover, the word is out, the game's afoot. Making the audience smart(er) is a wonderful thing.

Rush told me the best advice to give any new talk host is "don't take calls" in the early going. His counsel being...the first goal is to have something to say, you must develop your own voice.

Recently engaged in developing a new breakfast show for TV.

The most difficult part of the work was getting the talent to stop thinking about what they were saying and start focusing on what the audience was hearing and seeing. The now too popular ensemble casting has created a false creative premise, that every player must have something to say, every time.

I was reminded of something the great radio star Fred Winston once shared: "Always employ the butcher's rule - expose the meat, this requires one to cut the fat." Fred went on to suggest the role of the show's lead was "to lead, you must learn to edit on the fly."

Most asked questions of 2007. Asked and answered.

The question that I am most asked by talent, this year and every year, is about how to break through.

How does one get that big job, how do you get the break that puts you into the big show and the big money?

FYI - No matter the profession, I tend to get basically the same question. From managers, lawyers, bankers, accountants, real estate agents, politicians, fellow speakers, sales people, and just about every other professional. The only common theme here is they tend not to ask the question during Q&A but one-on-one after my talk.

My response has remained the same for years now.

It's the same response I gave to two CEOs in the last thirty days when they complained about their stock price.

I quote the gifted performer, writer and comedian Steve Martin.

Please allow me to suggest his brilliant counsel will work, will serve you well, in any line of work.

"Be so good they can't ignore you."

The second most asked question is the one managers ask.

How exactly do we go from good to great?

8 to be great. The eight - proven to be most effective - first steps.

1. Constantly ask the most important question - Why? Think! Remember questions are more important than answers.

2. Learn to admit the most difficult truth, have the courage to say it out loud - "I don't know." This is how learning begins.

3. When people make obvious, stupid mistakes they are usually aware the nanosecond it happens, don't make a big deal out of it. If you must make some mention of it do it quickly, in private and don't bring it up again. If your team is not failing you're not pushing hard enough, not trying enough new stuff. To succeed sooner you must learn how to fail faster.

4. Start catching people doing things right and do make a big deal out of it. Celebrate success!

5. Measure! Metrics matter. Measure against yourself, others in your space, and the larger world around you. Focus on changing the game. Change the denominator, stop fussing around and obsessing (only) with the status quo numerator. Create new competitive space.

6. Have fun. Dare to ask every person on your team "Are you having fun?" Hard work is the given, however, if you, and they, are not having fun, get out. Nothing great was ever achieved without some good measure of fun baked into the process.

7. Stop working hard to get better and start working harder to get different, dramatically different!

8. Listening is more important than talking. Listen. Readers are leaders.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"The works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness." Joan Miro

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Susuki

"Talent without genius isn't much, but genius without talent is nothing whatever." Paul Valery

Today's image: Emotion No. 76 by michelleBlack. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

ZenithOptimedia released their global ad spend projections. Here are selected shares:

Media 2007 - 2008

TV 37.9 - 38.2
27.8 - 26.9
Magazines 12.5 - 12.2
Internet 7.5 - 8.7
Radio 8.1 - 7.9
Outdoor 5.7 - 5.8

SES Chicago Buzz: Where's Yahoo!?

Hearing the first estimates of spend for the 08 election cycle at about $4.5 billion. $3 billion in traditional media. $1.5 billion in direct mail, PR and other. This may be the first election cycle where direct mail reaches $1 billion in spend.

Nobel: Al Gore Acceptance Speech

Bonus: What's your Gmail story? Smart, very smart.


"A company with a strong message may get its story into the heads
of only a few people, and become rich. Conversely, a company with
a bad message may get its story into all the heads, and become bankrupt."
Rosser Reeves

Does your story work?
Does it pull people over to your product?

You have no doubt heard the radio commercials for HD Radio. Are those messages working? Before we can answer that question we need data. My thought is the best data set would be receiver sales. In the last 20 or so months member stations of the HD Radio Alliance have run about $450 million in radio ads. Given the assumption that 500,000 receivers have been sold over that same period would translate into $900 per set sold. Is that too expensive or the stuff of marketing genius? No real way of telling at this point. I'm making up these sales numbers because the actual receiver sales data is not at hand.

My point here is once we have benchmark sales data we can begin to evaluate the effectiveness of the messaging. As it stands now receiver sales data have not yet been published (to my knowledge). This, in my opinion, is a major error in judgment. While the HD Radio Alliance has, arguably, done a good job of raising awareness, it's time to change up the game and get into driving demand, a new and improved focus on sell through at local retail. In 2008 the HD Radio Alliance should go to work with the goal of producing a meaningful sales result. My suggestion being receiver sales represent the only result of any significance. Until a radio receiver is sold the messaging is simply not working, there is no ROI.

With all respect, it's time for Peter Ferrara and his team to do the right thing. Collect and release the receiver sales data on a timely basis. Begin testing the pull of different creative approaches. Let's find out what's working and what's not working. Let's sell receivers. We need to be asking "How many receivers did we sell last week?" and we need to know the answer in no uncertain terms. We have an urgent need for transparency here. We know $450 million has been invested now we need to know what was sold. Going forward we need measures of effectiveness, performance metrics, a good start would be full and objective accounting on set sales. In 2008 let's agree the fair and proper definition of ROI = radios sold. (FD: iBiquity Digital was previously a client of my employer and I worked on the account)

Making a list, checking it thrice: Making the year end list of media folk (and other rock stars) that actually get it. My list of the eight to watch in '08. Let's start with Rob Barnett. Forget everything the guy has done before his current venture. He's just getting started. Barnett tops my list of ones to watch in 2008. You heard it here last. From his blog...

"I remembered the energy we conjured up to start My Damn Channel and the secret sauce that went into the brew. The key ingredients we left out were doubt and fear. We left those two in the kitchen cabinet - just in case anyone from old media needed to stop by and borrow some spice. We cooked with extra servings of badass and positive thinking - we threw in enough angst to keep us from ever going through the motions - because we know that breaking out of our low-rent kitchen and into profits was a mission worth fighting for."

Bravos, Rob! Keep the audacity dialed up to eleven. Check out Rob's blog here and do yourself a favor, add it to your reader.

Word: w00t named word of the year

Congrats & cheers: Sam Tanenhaus who does a great job as editor of the New York Times Book Review now takes charge of the Sunday section Week in Review. MediaVest and Starcom tie, both named Agency of the Year by Media Magazine. MEC Interaction picks up the OMMA Agency of the Year Gold. Microsoft signs, adCenter platform is in - DoubleClick is out. Neal Sabin, EVP Weigel Broadcasting and one of the smartest guys in television gets well deserved NATA&S Silver Circle honors. Radio programming ace Harve Alan on setting up shop, Harve Alan Media will produce solutions from scratch including interactive strategies. Jason Witt named SVP/GM of Digital Fusion, the new MTV Networks digital portfolio.

As close to stealing as you would ever want to get: Rubens 2005. One of those 100% Tempranillo bottles. A nice Spanish red priced at under ten bucks. Another Eric Solomon project. Get yours, while you can. Cheers!

Monday, December 10, 2007

"The future approaches us at 60 minutes an hour." Richard Seymour

"I really believe that everything resides in technique. You can't teach creativity, you can teach technique, and it's from technique that one is able to be creative. This is the terrible mistake of this century, to put creativity first." Vivienne Westwood

"The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigator." Edward Gibbon

Today's image: Zenith - Long Distance by InfraKen. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Bogus Ad Spending Forecasts: Jack Myers makes a good case for revisiting each of the ad forecasting models. Specifically he calls on trade press and Wall Street to stop reporting on the forecasts of Robert J. Coen " if they were gospel." Jack's suggestion is the methodologies and econometric models used by Coen are outdated. Get the detail at the Jack Myers Media Business Report here. From the narrative...

"While Myers projects overall ad spending will stay on the positive side through 2009, forecasts for consumer and trade sales promotion are less bullish, with slight declines forecast in 2008 and 2009. Some of these declines result from re-positioning of Procter & Gamble budgets for in-store marketing as advertising rather than trade allowances. Myers also projects robust annual growth of 15 percent in 2007 and 2008 for event marketing, which is also pulling budgets away from sales promotion. Several major media companies, especially consumer magazines, are targeting event budgets by creating co-branded opportunities for marketers to combine magazine ads with relevant consumer-focused events.

Myers projects the largest declines in ad spending will be suffered by newspapers, which will lose 4.6 percent in ad revenues in 2007, 2.4 percent in 2008 and 4.5 percent in 2009. Broadcast network TV will increase 2.0 percent in 2007 and 3.2 percent in 2008, but Myers believes they will adjust downward in 2009, losing 4.0 percent. Local and national spot TV, which is the greatest beneficiary of political spending, is forecast to gain 13.5 percent in 2008 after declines of 6.0 percent this year. Terrestrial radio will decline 2.0 percent in 2007 and rebound with 2.5 percent growth next year before declining 4.0 percent in 2009."

Kudos to Jack and his team for making the case. We do need to revisit ad spend forecasting. The landscape has changed and is significantly different. As Jack points out most forecasters are projecting 12 categories of spend, his group is projecting 18 including the 12 traditional categories. Chasing an earlier post here's a look at some selected shares of ad spend. Note the slide of broadcast.

Media Shares: 2006 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009

Radio - 9.4 - 9.0 - 8.6 - 8.0
Local & National Spot TV - 12.4 - 11.3 - 12.0 - 10.5
Newspapers - 21.4 - 19.8 - 18.1 - 16.8
Local & Regional Cable TV - 2.6 - 2.8 - 2.8 - 2.7
Yellow Pages (print) - 6.4 - 6.3 - 5.8 - 5.5
Broadcast Network TV - 8.3 - 8.2 - 7.9 - 7.4
Cable Network TV - 7.5 - 7.7 - 7.7 - 7.7

The headline here is Jack projects the ad spend will grow 3% in '07; 7% in '08; 3% in '09. What is interesting is the ad share of the total advertising and marketing spend. 2006 - 30.8%, 2007 - 30.7%, 2008 - 31.8, 2009 - 32.7%. Selected projected shares of marketing spend for 2008: Direct mail - 22.8%, Trade promotion/slotting - 21.6%, Consumer sales promotion/incentives - 18.0%, Event marketing - 2.5%. Detailed schedules here. My thanks to Jack and team for sharing and for his valuable insights. Meanwhile, RAB, TvB and CAB need to get busy, now.

Congrats & cheers: Programming ace and uber-tech-scenester Michael Fischer profiled. Well deserved, long overdue recognition. Inside Radio scribe Mike Kinosian does the honors here. Thanks for the mention Michael!

Bonus: Doris Lessing speaks of a hunger for books in her Nobel acceptance speech here...

"The storyteller is deep inside everyone of us. The story-maker is always with us. Let us suppose our world is attacked by war, by the horrors that we all of us easily imagine. Let us suppose floods wash through our cities, the seas rise . . . but the storyteller will be there, for it is our imaginations which shape us, keep us, create us - for good and for ill. It is our stories that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed. It is the storyteller, the dream-maker, the myth-maker, that is our phoenix, that represents us at our best, and at our most creative."

Australia red: 100% Grenache. Chris Ringland and Lisa Wetherell using fruit from the Barossa valley offer up the provocatively named Bitch Grenache 2006. A strong value for under $10.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

"All art is propaganda; on the other hand, not all propaganda is art." George Orwell

"If a lion could speak, we would not understand him." Ludwig Wittgenstein

"Form is not the goal but the result." Mies van der Rohe

Today's photo: Snow on Dead Neighborhoods by Thomas Hawk. Great shot. Thank you very much!


"Every morning (during the 1950s) advertising doyen David Ogilvy used to pass a beggar in Central Park who had a sign round his neck which said BLIND.

One morning Ogilvy stopped, took it off the man's neck, and wrote: IT IS SPRING AND I AM BLIND. And hung it back.

On his way home he was pleased to notice the vagrant had a full cap."

My thanks to Alan Fletcher for the story.

Bonus: WORJ Getting my vote for rock station of the year.

May I show you something in red: My love of Spanish reds continues. Vina Alarba 2005. Self-described via label as "Old vines grenache." Big, jammy red under $10. Another in the Jorge Ordonez portfolio.

Friday, December 07, 2007

"It is not enough to conquer, one must know how to seduce." Voltaire

"News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress. Everything else is advertising." Lord Northcliffe

"You take one fact, turn it this way and that, look at it in different lights, and feel for the meaning of it. You bring two facts together and see how they fit. What you are seeking is the relationship, a synthesis where everything will come together in a neat combination, like a jig-saw puzzle...In fact, it is almost like listening for the meaning instead of looking for it." James Webb Young

Today's image: a sure sign of winter-pocalypse by pixn8tr. Fine shot. Thank you!

Congrats & cheers: CBS Radio CEO Dan Mason for standing up and providing some long overdue leadership...

Radio is king –- there is no media that can better deliver more targeted, personalized messages to audiences and advertisers"

Read more via Kurt Hanson's RAIN, here. Jeffrey Yorke also offers up the Dan Mason/UBS story via MediaWeek here.

The first tribe of wireless continues to suffer from a crisis of confidence, a tradition born of low expectations and poor self-esteem.

The original, and best of class, medium for reach, radio, created its own problems when it elected to become the first and only media to employ the value proposition of time spent. Radio wasted decades failing to learn, accepting the status quo, content with single digit shares of the ad spend. Each new management cohort ran their mouth about growing the pie. Remotes, endorsements, co-op, recruitment, vendor, non-spot, co-pros, event marketing, online, step right up, it's NTR du jour. These initiatives, however well intended, have failed to grow the business.

We have confused activity with progress

We can thank Arbitron for the coming measurement reboot (PPM) and the related new dawn of selling radio's heretofore most valuable yet hidden asset - reach. It's back to the future and Westinghouse NuMath (kudos to Jim Yergin the brilliant media researcher who first gave us a credible reach tool thirty-five years ahead of his time). Kevin B. Sweeney, founder of the RAB and my sales mentor, was also way ahead of the curve. Kevin taught us to use one and only one Arbitron data point - weekly cume. It was Kevin's notion to use our circulation number in making the case against the dead tree guys. On the day job we continue to employ, teach and coach Kevin's legendary and very effective four-point pitch. Kevin's consultive selling template is still valid, robust as ever. Truth be known too many are merely talking a good game and as my friend and former partner the great Joe L. Floyd used to say "Talk is cheap, whiskey costs money."

Price has become an objection because we have failed to articulate value

The single biggest challenge facing the radio business is remaining a relevant (i.e., valued) advertising and marketing platform. While the radio business continues to produce impressive margins and free cash it has failed to show growth and growth is the bitch goddess of Wall Street. Absent real growth the radio stocks remain unattractive, poor investments. No amount of creative financial engineering will save the radio stocks. The publicly held radio outfits have to save themselves and the work that really matters must happen in the field. The catalyst Farid needs to drive CDL up (free and clear of being a penny stock) resides within his sales organization, or not.

What is demanded today is the ability to consistently articulate and proof a credible value proposition. Facing another year of flat (or down) ad spend radio must reinvent sales. Our sales managers and sellers need a new format. Radio sales is beyond the point of effective reboot, what it needs now is a new OS. We must stop training sellers to make calls they're never going to make. Leadership must stop making excuses and start producing results.

A massive failure of imagination

Leadership must be held accountable for growing share, for driving topline, for producing results. As has been stated here previously, this is an issue of critical strategic importance. The mission and metrics must be focused on changing the denominator. Continuing to invest time and precious resources into driving the numerator simply will not get the job done, in fact, it's a potentially deadly error in judgment. It's not about getting better, it's about getting different. Radically different.

Whereas once upon a time you could count on the sales department to buy the time needed for programming to develop and deliver the numbers, today we too often witness the sales department killing programming. KOAI, Dallas is but one example. After a nineteen year run in north Texas the smooth jazz format was dumped because "sales couldn't sell it" or so I have been told. Iatrogenic format extinction. The error larger than blowing up a three share station the sellers have lost faith in might be keeping a one share station on life support - cluster detritus - because the costs of creating the inventory have been minimized (along with bcf expectations). Then again perhaps these are each results of a modern day Hobson's choice. (Disclosure: I once worked at KOAI).

Radio folks need to stop going to work everyday with the same tired single minded mission of killing the guys across the street. Radio folks obsessed with killing other radio folks is now killing the business where before this activity only suppressed the share of ad spend. Competitive media are not significantly involved in radio's revenue stagnation. The silo is being collapsed thanks to improvements in internecine warfare. Advances in competitive monitoring have actually worked to narrow the field of prospects limiting the acuity required to grasp and understand the full ad spend landscape. The danger here is as national advertisers move dollars away and local online platforms (e.g., Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Craigslist, et al) increasingly capture more local direct dollars - the nightmare squeeze play happens. Fighting for share of fewer and fewer accounts while failing to develop new categories...inertia, attrition and entropy take over (with assists from denial and genetic blindness). It doesn't have to be this way. Radio can and should be a growth business.

We need to face reality as it is, not as it was nor as we wish it to be. Radio enjoys an effective and powerful reach, what we lack are the evangelists who can tell the story, articulate value, under-promise, get the order, over-deliver, keep the client, grow the business and teach others how to do it. We can do this. Game on!

Earlier popular posts on sales here, here, here, here, here and here.

Beauty and truth in physics
Murray Gell-Mann

"A theory appears to be beautiful or elegant (or simple, if you prefer) when it can be expressed concisely in terms of mathematics we already have."

Have a wonderful weekend. See you next week with a brand new show.