Thank you very much.
"To take a photograph is to participate in another person's mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time's relentless melt." Susan Sontag
The earlier post about the ABCs of PDs - late 1970s has involved me in a number of interesting conversations these past days. The quest this round - name that rock radio programmer - wherein we search for the PD(s) of the ABC FM San Francisco O&O KSFX, circa late 1970s.
Jim Smith was the first to weigh in and while we have not yet connected live we have e and voice mailed. Sean Conrad says Jim was the most likely to have programmed KSFX in the late 1970s. The ever assiduous Mr. Smith adds "Bill Todd was replaced by Roger Skolnick in 1977. Gloria Johnson moved from WRIF to program KSFX at about the same time replacing Sean Conrad." The always resourceful rock ace Lee Arnold checked in after chatting up Ben Fong-Torres ("I dunno. The station was pretty much run out of ABC in New York...John Catchings became PD when it went Top 40") and John Catchings ("...believe it was Eric Christensen who recently retired after a long career as Sports Producer for KGO-TV"). Dan Kelley, one of rocks' young turks, was in touch to say Jeff Finch was "...more than just a newsman; he was very versatile - and also served as a jock on the station. And a very good one at that...he moved on...NBC's SOURCE....WDAI...was a great radio station." Dan would certainly know, during the station's best years in rock he was a local.
My sincere thanks to Jim, Lee, Dan and the many others who reached out with suggestions and comments. My sense is we should "go local" for the definitive answer. Perhaps the very best of men Ron Fell or the Duke, Dave Sholin can enlighten us further.
So what have we learned? Some lessons here.
The first tribe of wireless has done (and continues to do) a really poor job of preserving our history. As George Burns once said to me "the industry has failed to create any body of literature." In the main, he may well be right, however, I commend George for his excellent contributions of scholarship over the years.
The first tribe of wireless continues to do a really poor job of recognizing and celebrating the best and brightest, the real heroes. How is it possible that Bill Drake and Rick Sklar have not been inducted into the major Halls of Fame? Deaths in the family also need attention. As one programming rock star said to me yesterday "There is something seriously wrong...one example...when Thom O'Hair left us the trades failed to pay any tribute, did not show the proper honors Thom had earned and certainly deserved." Absolutely correct. No excuse good enough; one of the pioneers of rock radio, an icon, passes without a single feature story in any trade. It's a safe wager, as a group of professionals we will probably never be accused of doing an exemplary job in showing respect for our elders.
Read more about my friend Thom O'Hair thanks to Ben Fong-Torres here. Learn about the radio station that dared to call itself the Jive 95 here. Read a memo from a legend to his air staff here. Want to learn more about the legends of wireless? If you are not a regular reader of Bob Shannon @ Joel Denver's AllAccess may I recommend you become one. Read Bob's column - All Them Big Dogs - free reg here. Now on offer, part two of his Fred Winston profile. One you do not want to miss.
Congrats & cheers: Marv Dyson, a rock star and the best dressed gentleman in wireless, on being named Broadcaster of the Year by the Illinois Broadcasters. Well deserved! More here.
Someone sent me this link yesterday. It's a post by Jaye Albright. Laura Ellen Hopper, I Wish I Had Told You Something. Thanks Jaye. Know how you feel, I wanted to say some things to Laura Ellen too. My mistake was thinking it would keep, it could wait.
It's a damn design flaw, no one gets out of here alive. Moreover, there's a very serious and ongoing shortage of good Hollywood endings in this deal.
In response to the question "How are you", Dwight Case would always say "I got up this morning, a lot of guys didn't, how bad can it be. I'm great, how are you?" On the occasion of accepting his honor as a Broadcast Pioneer in 2006, Dwight said "I've never had a bad day in this business." Want to know the truth? He never did. The gentleman is an inspiration. I love Dwight Case and appreciate all he has done for me, my family and my career.
Take a moment today to make a list.
Your wish I had told you list.
Pick up the phone and make the call.
Send an email.
Walk down the hall or across the office.
Make it the last thing you do before leaving work today. Make it the first thing you do when you get home tonight.
One day, a day sooner than you can now image, you will not be able to tell someone how you feel.
Don't put it off.
No, it can't wait another day.
Today is all you have.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Jennifer is a New York TV producer and word around midtown is she's written a good read about breakfast television. I'm hearing it's one for this year's beach bag. Bravo Jennifer! Check out her book blog here. Amazon info here
"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it." Edith Wharton
"The efficiency of most workers is beyond the control of the management and depends more than has been supposed upon the willingness of men to do their best." Sumner H. Slichter
"Nothing is impossible; there are ways that lead to everything, and if we had sufficient will we should always have sufficient means. It is often merely for an excuse that we say things are impossible." La Rochefoucauld
Congrats & cheers: Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff, named co-chairs of NBC Entertainment (and the studios). Adrian Holovaty checks out of WaPo online and into the cool new hyperlocal startup EveryBlock. Tisa LaSorte promoted from director of new media to brand manager for Emmis Chicago. Microsoft on their very cool Surface initiative. As first suggested here earlier last.fm has been sold to CBS. Cheers to the scrobbling master Richard Jones and his talented crew! Richard blogs about it here. $280 mil cash got the deal done, Staci dials you into the biz details here. Duncan Riley offers up some color with comments via Techcrunch here. Les deserves credit, another smart move. Quincy and his CBS Interactive team are white hot at this point and certainly the midtown team to watch. This move puts Dan Mason's CBS Radio miles ahead of other radio groups.
Spend $120 mil to make $1 billion? That's the back of the envelope arithmetic on the investment made by Comcast in their content portal and their projected return over the next five years on that investment. Still time for broadcast to get in the game. The local online ad markets are robust and only getting better. Get yours.
The ABCs of PDs - late 1970s: Lots of emails about my mention of ABC radio yesterday. The WDAI staff when Bill Todd was PD included MD Mary Klug and ND Jeff Finch. Other folks in the ABC FM group of those days...The WRIF PD in that era was Tom Bender, MD Gloria Johnson, ND Carol Coughlin, Fred Jacobs was research director. At KLOS Tom Yates was the PD, MD Dabar Hoorelbeke, ND David Heller. At KAUM the PD was Bruce Johnson. The WPLJ PD was Larry Berger. KSFX? Not certain who the bay area programmer was. I'm sure Jim Smith, Lee Arnold or Fred Jacobs could help fill this in. Tom Bender and Fred Jacobs still being involved with WRIF must be some kind of industry record. WRIF is one of the greatest stations in the nation. It deserves much more attention than it gets.
"To create suspense provide the audience with information." so said Hitchcock; kudos to Fred Winston for his clever use of the tease here.
WLS Big 89 Rewind: Photos, video, audio, here.
Laura Ellen Hopper has passed. A legend in California radio. She was there making KFAT happen and later gave life to KPIG. Our thoughts are with her husband Frank.
Red wine: Love the wines of Spain. May I recommend a red made from 100% Grenache. Vina Borgia 2005, Campo de Borja. About $6.00, drinks like a $30 wine. Kudos to Whole Foods for introducing Spanish wines to their offerings.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Cocktail at Sunset
"El ojo del amo engorda el caballo" Spanish proverb
"The eye of the master fattens the horse" says the proverb. When the boss is not involved workers may be less than productive. Seems an apt quotation for today's discussion.
Any reading of radio's performance in the top five markets is enough to give one pause.
Change and Emmis.
Emmis tells us their #1 priority is turning around New York and LA. In LA, their ad spend to support MoVin represents the single largest promotion expense in the history of the company. While silent on Chicago, the stations there remain challenged and without a programming chief after two PDs were summarily dismissed.
Change and CBS.
Dan Mason comes home to CBS Radio, his first day in the office two senior officers are cashiered. In Dan's first weeks failing stations in San Francisco and New York change formats.
Change and ABC?
Farid no doubt wonders about his soon to be AM group. While CBS' three AM properties in New York, his former charges, are each billing 50 something mil, WABC is putting 20 something on the books. In LA, Clear Channel's KFI is writing big business but KABC plays far behind. In Chicago, WGN and WBBM-AM each put high 40s on the pad meanwhile WLS fails to produce 2 mil a month. Clearly, ABC radio has got some catching up to do in sales. The exception to this observation, of course, is the exemplary job Mickey continues to do with the firm's bay area properties.
Change is good. Stasis is bad.
In recent years it has become acceptable for a station to fail and to continue failing without change. For example, a perfectly good FM signal in a top five market was allowed to produce a failing ratings performance without any readily apparent consequence. And this happened not once, not twice but for years. At one point, CBS' three full-powered FM stations in the city were each failing to break a two share but no one really seemed too concerned. Book after book. Stasis. It's what happens when you take your eye off the ball. When you decide not to decide. When you permit yourself to rationalize failure and settle.
These are the results and unintended consequences of a massive failure of imagination. The dangers of being lulled into a false sense of competence, the key words of resignation, assent and acquiescence..."it is what it is." Inertia is a force of nature and a difficult one to confront. It's hard work to think, to stand up and challenge industry dogma. Kipling may have said it best "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you. If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you. But make allowance for their doubting too."
What we allow, we encourage. As ratings failure was allowed, revenue expectations were diminished. To preserve and grow bcf, radio became - without recourse - a penny precious enterprise and no longer the spendthrift venture of nickels and dimes.
Stations in the top five markets are the canaries in radio's coal mine.
Time to reboot the bad radio. Time to end the benign neglect, the tolerance and acceptance of mediocrity. That playbook ain't working. Time to unlearn. The reboot starts with leadership and attitude. Begins with a respect for the fundamentals, the drivers of ratings and revenue - nothing less than excellence in programming and sales. Disraeli said "Mediocrity can talk; but it is for genius to observe."
The really cool thing is radio is nimble, audio being the most agile of measured media.
Bravos to Rick and Dan. Congrats to Farid. Cheers to all. They will fix their broken stuff. They no longer have any other choice. It will take the eyes of the masters to fatten the horses.
Congrats & cheers: Kipper McGee on a wonderful, memorable and simply amazing day of great radio on WLS - The Big 89 Rewind. Having fun on the radio, now there's a fresh approach! Kipper gets it. When every other station is fielding the B team or running some banal best of to fill out the holiday hours, that's the perfect moment to unleash the fresh A team and write some history. The play's the thing. Bravo to the players: Larry Lujack, Tommy Edwards, Fred Winston, Chris Shebel, Jeff Davis, John Landecker, and Tom Kent. Lyle Dean, Les Grobstein, Linda Marshall, Catherine Johns, and Gil Gross. Stay tuned. Jeff Davis has audio via podcast on the way.
Bill Todd has passed. I knew Bill during his Chicago days when he led the charge at WDAI. Mel Phillips remembers Bill here. My thoughts and prayers are with Bill's wife Tina and his daughters Ashley and Nikki. Should you wish to join me and send a check to Tina, you'll find the info here. She is also asking for folks to send along any photos they may have of Bill. Bill was a good man. A successful performer turned skilled and savvy programmer. He worked at ABC during the days when programming was prized, when their PD ranks were filled with smart people like Bill. While it might be hard to imagine today, ABC was also once home to great sellers, the ABC stations were nationally recognized and respected for their exceptional sales organizations. ABC stations, much like the RKO stations of that era, were market leaders in ratings, revenue and attracting the best people. Bill Todd was one of those gifted and special enough to have worked for both RKO and ABC. Back in the day that was most rare, a small club of the industry elite, the best professionals and akin to making the short list of the short list.
Perspective: James H. Duncan, Jr writing in his Tenth Anniversary Issue of American Radio ranked the leading groups of 1977, 12+ weekly cume was the data point...
5. Capital Cities
Jim also provided the nation's leading stations ranked by 12+ TSA AQH, Spring 1977, only one FM made the cut...
By the Spring of 1986, using the same metric, the majority had become FM stations; only four of the 1977 group appeared again in the '86 top ten...
The Spring of 1991, same data point...
3. WPAT AM & FM
There is simply no good reason why you should refrain - make something amazing happen this week.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Photo: Ron Fell
"...change has changed. No longer is it additive. No longer does it move in a straight line. In the twenty-first century, change is discontinuous, abrupt, seditious...for the first time in history we can work backward from our imagination rather than forward from our past." Gary Hamel
Two topics, two outcomes leading off.
Programming and sales.
Ratings and revenue.
Enjoyed a terrific conversation with Bob Griffith yesterday. Prior to his current post with Google, Bob served with distinction in a variety of executive positions. A storied broadcaster, Bob is now playing at the top of his game helping broadcasters to understand and play in the brave new world of digital.
Bob related a recent conversation with Dwight Case. Dwight said radio was missing an opportunity by being focused on content. Radio should instead be focused on programming. He said there's a material difference between content and programming. He's right. The dynamic Dwight, a person I'm blessed to call a mentor, once said radio was a simple business. "Get the ratings, sell the advertising." The Bob Griffith take away is "Play the hits. Sell the spots." Wiser than a tree full of owls those two. Lest my friends and colleagues working in TV sense an affront, let me add the difference between radio and TV really comes down to the cost of separating the commercials and little else.
On to some related loose ends. Topics previously lost in the press of daily affairs.
Two popular myths: American youth are no longer listening to radio. US radio is failing to create programming for young people, almost every station is targeted 25-54. These generalizations may not be patently false, however, they are not entirely correct. I remain a glass is half-full guy.
One need only look to Milwaukee and the results of the Winter book. No question, the youth of Milwaukee have a favorite station and it's clearly WXSS, 103.7 KISS FM. Brian Kelly and team have done it again. 18-34 pers total week, KISS is #1 delivering a 14.4, second place posted an 8.8; 18-34 women total week, KISS is #1 scoring a 19.9, second place putting up an 8.6; every daypart is #1 in the station's target demo (18-34 women): AMD 17.8, MID 19.0, PMD 21.8, EVE 24.4; let me add, his KISS team is also #5 25-54 women total week. Brian's other station, 99WMYX, also delivered exceptional numbers finishing #4 25-54 women total week. No need to post KISS' incredible teen numbers. Want to learn how he's doing it? Brian is holding a clinic on the air this Friday evening beginning at 6pm central. Don't miss it if you can, listen live online.
Please keep in mind, hits are not the norm. Hits are anomalies. Brian Kelly and team are a wonderful anomaly!
The complete job description for PDs can be reduced to six words. Deliver numbers to the sales department.
Back to the countdown. Are these same youth also failing to watch TV? No shortage of folks fronting that case. But, again, let's look at the facts. Idol, the #1 TV show again. On the last day of voting this season - 74 million votes. Cumulative voting total is now 609 million. Something tells me Bob Sillerman is going to be eating better than you and me this weekend.
It's a shame these pesky details get in the way of all the elegant arguments about the death spiral of TV. Of course none of this is meant to suggest things are not changing. As Dr. Hamel has suggested, it's much bigger than that - change has changed. The velocity of change today is practically impossible to grasp. The facts are youth targeted broadcast is getting fewer at bats. Seems to me that's a front office problem.
Let's keep the myth ball rolling: The oldies format is dead. My thought is one, all or some combination of the following players are at work. The unproductive sales department, the incompetent PD, the timorous GM and the group guy not invested with average intelligence. These are the principals in format euthanasia. Occasionally the voluble consultant or research genius is also culpable. Listeners don't kill formats managers do. As PJ says "In all of art it's the singer not the song." The oldies format is dead where it is being done badly. Execution is the issue.
While it is true that listeners can stay away in droves, management is still responsible when listeners fail to show up. Sometimes new formats just don't work no matter what the research suggests. Getting listeners into the tent is a station job. First, one must have a credible show on offer. Spending money to promote a poor or me-too product (i.e., a bad show), is simply wrong headed and yet it happens.
How many times have you watched a TV show debut, walked out at the end of a movie or spent thirty minutes listening to a new format and said "What were they thinking?" or "What was that?" The audience will find a good show; the show itself is the best possible promotion. Investing resources to advertise a show before it's ready is an error of strategic significance. Too often the hype, promos and creative driving the ad campaign is actually better than the show. The trailer that is better, more entertaining and interesting than the feature may get you a killer opening, word of mouth will rule and punish on merit thereafter. Raising expectations and inducing trial too early can be fatal. The recent case study would be Couric.
Good advertising makes a bad product fail faster as the brilliant Bill Bernbach famously said.
Getting folks to give your show a second chance, another trial, is almost an impossible mission. You only have one chance to make a first impression; initial perceptions and the related associations can be lasting. People value, trust and defend their own data.
Fast forward, a sneak preview: Get Sharpton into the bullpen. It's coming and our pal Al is the perfect guy to pitch this one. How the people meter killed Urban (if not ethnic) radio. Hearing this one on a daily basis now. Short my Radio One.
What we need is effective leadership. Wanted: The intrepid PD, the indefatigable DOS and GSM, the courageous GM, the supportive group executive that understands their job is serving the field. Required: Intense, industrious, dedicated, pathologically competitive warriors.
Are you as tired as I am of hearing conference calls loaded with graduate level dog ate my homework? Excuses, we don't need no stinkin excuses. The considerable acumen of Nancy Havens-Hasty is not needed to understand radio remains in decline. Man up or stop doing the calls (they are not required you know). Congrats and kudos to Jeff Smulyan. His last call was brutal but he gets major points for veracity. "These are challenging times" he said and later "You always learn the great lessons in adversity." My money is on Jeff and Emmis. They may not win them all but Jeff, Rick and their team are in it to win it.
Which brings me to today's favorite station pinata - the sales department.
In my experience we are expecting too much from our sellers. We have changed process and best practice in every department except sales. We expect sellers to function at the expert or master level of multiple complex disciplines. Transactional. Retail direct. NTR. Online. Non-spot. Event marketing. We too often demand that they produce or they're out without providing the proper prudent investments in training and support.
While it is true, as the great Goldsmith always taught, "If they're not helping you, they're hurting you," leadership has an obligation to improve every sellers' chances for success.
Fred Jacobs wrote this week about the common sport of station folks handicapping how many days their new sellers will last. My opinion is every new hire deserves better. We can start by hiring the right people. Used to be the most under-appreciated person on staff was the traffic director, today that title goes to every new seller and any other seller not making their number.
Before someone emails me about body counts, 25 - 45% seller turnovers and no one being out there please talk to a retailer. Turnover at US retail is running at 75+ percent annually. Retailers never have a good day, I know, I live with one. The job is not hire and fire, the job is hire and develop. That's a very different and much harder job.
Our sellers also deserve a product that can be sold with a straight face. A product they can be proud of representing. Sending sellers into the world to monetize a 1.2 share is what it is. Stop expecting miracles when your ratings suck. You don't need a better sales manager to make your month when your dayparts are in fractions you need David Copperfield. Making your month without numbers is an illusion. In these situations we need to give sellers and sales leadership a better performance, better product and better ratings. Ever notice that the great sellers seem to almost always work at highly rated stations. WLTW has one helluva fine sales organization so does WTMX. Programming has put a good looking, desirable apple on the shelf. Programming has created a market of value. Sales now has something to sell.
Here then, the secret. The code has been cracked. Should you not be winning, should you not be having the best year ever. Look for what's missing and my experience tells me...
What's missing is the fun.
Programming fails when performers aren't having fun on the air.
Sales fails when sellers aren't having fun on the street and returning to a club house that is less than positive, totally supportive and always encouraging. Did we somehow forget? Sales is dealing with rejection. We need to help them through the fire. Daily.
Once everyone understands there are only two departments - sales and sales support, the mission becomes clear.
The team obsessed with driving the top lines of ratings and revenue wins. When they're working harder than they've ever worked before their food tastes better, they get a good night's sleep and they come to play.
Programming and sales.
Ratings and revenue.
The fundamentals: All that's important is what's on the screen(s), what's coming out of the speakers. Everything else is a footnote. Everything.
It starts with fun. Dial yours up to eleven and get into the game. Before COB today, catch somebody doing something right.
Go for greatness!
Bonus: Charlie Munger - The Psychology of Human Misjudgment, a lecture at Harvard Law
Bonus 2: Steven Wright, may or may not be the real Steven. No matter, Twitter on dude! What is another word for Thesaurus? Well worth the jump.
Looking for a really good read? Please permit me to highly recommend: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Thanks for reading. Your comments always welcome. I'm out for the holiday, back next week. Have a fun, safe holiday.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Photo: sunsmoke by Karmalize. Very cool. Thank you very much!
"Goodwill is the one and only asset that competition cannot undersell or destroy." Marshall Field
"As soon as a true thought has entered our mind, it gives light which makes us see a crowd of other objects which we have never perceived before." Francois de Chateaubriand
"If the world is cold, make it your business to build fires." Horace Traubel
CBS, again most watched. CBS is saying when the numbers are in they will show them #1 in prime for the fifth-straight year. NBC finishes fourth for the fourth-straight year. In the 18-49 demo Fox leads 5.23 mil, CBS 4.85 mil, ABC 4.55 mil and NBC 4.05 mil. Michael Janofsky has more at Bloomberg here.
CNN to deliver more local. CNN buys a minority share of Minneapolis based Internet Broadcasting giving it access to the local news content of some 70 stations. Emily Steel has the story for WSJ here. Cory Bergman has a good overview with comments at LostRemote here. The end game is local, that's the ultimate destination of online wired and wireless. My thought is the dead tree guys are still leading online local. TV is playing catch up while radio is not yet in the game. Still seems a perfect opportunity for broadcast to lead development of local online.
Now that CNN Pipeline is free they should ring up Dave Winer and learn about his Checkbox News concept. Rather than mess around with their main page, an idea certain to rattle the powers that be, CNN would benefit from putting Dave's idea into play as a part of the new and free Pipeline. The notion that someone at CNN will decide what "local" stories are linked "on merit" preserves an obsolete editorial control. Give me, the reader, control. For example, let's say Minneapolis - St Paul is one of the 70 IB local CNN affiliates. Give me the option of electing "local" Twin Cities stories. Let me also decide the topics of interest (e.g., Twin Cities entertainment news or Twins baseball).
Please stop telling me what the top stories are and please start giving me what I want.
To have access to 70 streams of local content without making 100% of that content available and easy to get would be missing a major opportunity. Dave's Checkbox News concept might be a solid solution that takes advantage of Pipeline's already cool technology and creates real value for the reader. While you're at it, where's my "local" widget?
Congrats & cheers: Bob Shannon on his excellent writing about the great Fred Winston. Bob's writing, All Them Big Dogs, is available on AllAccess.com (free sub req). Dave Sifry and team on the latest refresh of Technorati. Six months in the making, read all about it here. Pandora + Sprint = personalized radio on your phone, very smart. Details here. The gang at Feedburner on getting a cool 100 million from Google, Michael Arrington has the details with comments here. As was said here yesterday, big dogs eat first and they eat till they're full.
Sir Paul vid debuts on YouTube: Smart. Back story via ET here. Catch the vid Dance Tonight @ 5pm eastern today.
Thank you very much: Ron Fell, the best of men, checks in with photos to share. He's just back to the states after a trip to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore. Watch this space for Ron's pics, coming soon. Thanks Ron! Mark Levy, the RAB's cool young turk of training, for his kind words about A Great General Manager. Thanks Mark!
Mileage may vary: Attempted to purchase The History of Rock and Roll CDs yesterday. Submitted all the info. Directed to a page saying I would be getting a confirming email. No confirming email as of this morning. No charge to my card yet. Hate it when the cart fails to work as advertised. Hey Bill, you're losing $$$. Will try it again. Should you be interested in getting your very own copy of this uber-cool commemorative audio, here's the place.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Photo: Stella by Thomas Hawk
Very cool capture.
Thank you very much!
"Johnson well says, 'He who waits to do a great deal of good at once will never do anything.' Life is made up of little things. It is very rarely that an occasion is offered for doing a great deal at once. True greatness consists in being great in little things." Charles Simmons
"In great straits and when hope is small, the boldest counsels are the safest." Livy
"The art of using moderate abilities to advantage often brings greater results than actual brilliance." La Rochefoucauld
The History of Rock and Roll: Bill Mouzis has a commemorative CD set on offer. A share of proceeds benefit charity. Beginning today at 3pm Boss Angeles' time (pac) place your order at Bill's site here. Robert W. Morgan narrates the Pete Johnson written opus, engineered by Bill Mouzis. In 1969, during the watch of legendary genius Ron Jacobs, 93 KHJ presented this 48 hour history making special. More info here. Please join me and order yours today; a strong addition to any serious audio collection (and it benefits some good work). My thanks to Claude Hall for the tip. Thanks too to Bill for making this available, very cool.
Black Swan? Lots of buzz on the new Nassim Nicholas Taleb writing, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. NPR TOTN info here. NYT Book review here. It makes a book list by Tom Peters here. Amazon info here. I did enjoy Taleb's previous book, Fooled by Randomness and highly recommend it. Speaking of buzz...Feedburner!
Kudos: Chicago programming ace Elroy Smith is stepping down. He joins the greats that have made a difference in Chicago radio including Lucky Cordell, Lee Michaels and Marv Dyson. He's certain to do more great work. All the best Elroy.
Congrats & cheers: The Library of American Broadcasting honors the "Giants of Broadcasting." Those honored this year include Cathy Hughes, Diane Sawyer, Dennis Swanson, Joseph Flaherty, Dennis FitzSimons, and Charlie Rose. Also honored are the late, great John Blair and another we lost, the charming wit Tony Malara, forever our favorite master of ceremonies. Howard Lindzon, Adam Eland, Jeff Marks and the star of the show Lindsay Campbell all headed to the big time, CBS acquires WallStrip. Check out today's vid wherein Lindsay is escorted out of Black Rock "We're here to save your network" (nice cameo Quincy).
Connecting the dots: "If the ad networks are just playing an arbitrage game, then they will not survive in the long run" so said Gokul Rajaram project management director for Google's AdSense. He's right on the money. He also believes indies can survive by adding value to publishers in a sustainable and scalable way. Bravos Gokul! OMD's Temeka Kee writes Google Inches Toward Comprehensive Online (and Offline) Ad Solution here.
Google Proposes Innovation in Radio Spectrum Auction, a writing by John Markoff via NYT here. Kudos John, well done! The bottom line...there is plenty of spectrum needing more diverse, innovative allocation and Google's concept would seem to provide opportunities for real depth in practical shared distribution.
Alpha is the new beta: Operator 11. Smash or trash? You decide.
Hope he's wrong, but my sense is he's right: Michael Arrington is a bright guy. If you are not reading Techcrunch put it in your reader and give it a week. Read his post - Silicon Valley Could Use A Downturn Right About Now - with comments here. Danger, Will Robinson! Dave Winer weighs in and agrees with Michael to wit: "As they say, you can't throw a pot sticker into a crowd without hitting a budding entrepreneur with a pitch. The place is crawling with get-rich-quick schemes." More Dave here. Bravos to Michael and Dave. There is a late 1999 vibe out there and lots of cash parked on the sidelines. Reminds me of something the brilliant Gary Hamel once said "Money makes you stupid. Lots of money makes you really stupid." This remains a year of amazing opportunity for the real deals. The danger is the enticement of easy money. The sketchy business model. Dave Winer's superficial pet food example is only too real. Sales and profit are very, very important, don't leave home without them. When the team is more concerned about, focused on, preoccupied with the next round rather than obsessing on sales and profits, trust me, you're in the wrong outfit. Word to the wise - do not make a move without paper that includes a bullet-proof exit.
Thank you very much but you just can't motivate others. A bunch of emails on yesterday's sales manager post. One example: "Hey, did you forget about being a motivator, duh?"
Well, no. Motivation was discussed and dismissed.
Granted, a great leader should have the ability to inspire, to encourage, to incite but even the greatest leaders are not able to motivate. Can't be done.
People motivate themselves.
The real enemy of the dead tree guys - the dead tree guys."I'm talking industrywide mismanagement among print-media companies -- both glossy and newsprint. I'm talking Detroit-in-the-'70s, with no Lee Iacocca in sight." Simon Dumenco writing in AdAge, Are Your Shoes Tied? Then You're Smarter Than Many Print Execs. Bravo Simon! Read the entire article here.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Cartoon: Only Talented People by Hugh MacLeod. Wicked good. Thanks Hugh!
"Action without study is fatal. Study without action is futile." Mary Beard
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed." Albert Einstein
"Of course, it is not the employer who pays wages. He only handles the money. It is the product that pays wages and it is the management that arranges the production so that the product may pay the wages. " Henry Ford
During a talk last week about sales, some good Q&A on the attributes of a great sales manager. We started with a list of forty or so characteristics and reduced to one dozen. Here is the brief...
Characteristics of the most successful sales managers:
- The ability and the desire to learn
- Excellent communication skills with an emphasis on listening
- Broad, well rounded interest
- Risk taker
- Strong bias for action
- Effective coach
- Creative collaborator; Brings out the best in others - subordinates, peers, support staff and superiors
- Respects feedback; evaluates all activity using metrics and measures
- Focused on "the gap" (the reality of where they are now and the goal)
Kudos: To ABC programming ace Kipper McGee for borrowing WABC's now famous holiday "rewind" idea and making it happen on WLS this Memorial Day. In the cast, our charming and delightful Uncle Lar, Fred Winston, Lyle Dean, Chris Shebel, John Records Landecker, Jeff Davis and Tom Kent. More info here. Make a note of it and catch the live stream.
Next New Networks. Duncan Riley offers up a good overview of what is being called "micro television networks" via TechCrunch here.
And then there was ValueClick: The last remaining third party monetization engine with a competitive footprint. Perfect asset for? Viacom + CBS. Murdoch. Time Warner. I'd like to see Barry Diller's IAC get it. Of course, as my friend Mark Niblick likes to say, big dogs eat first and they eat till they're full. Don't count out Microsoft, Google or Yahoo. Stay tuned and don't make much of the FTC notification - this too shall pass.
"It's a tough balancing act, supporting free speech while opposing on-air racism. It is heartening, though, to see entertainers who can walk the line." Ben Fong-Torres offers his take on JV & Elvis and edgy broadcast content here. Bravo Ben! Well said.
Taylor On Radio-Info: Veteran trade scribe Tom Taylor bows online here. Bravo Tom! Welcome to the online world and good luck. Why the 1990's email subscription? Suggestion: RSS! Feed those readers.
Speaking of trades for the first tribe of wireless, here's a Compete SnapShot of the race...
BBDO - the rite stuff: Emma Hall writing in AdAge - Do You Know Your Rites? BBDO Does. After nine months with a sample of 5,000 in 26 countries the survey says...
Women in Colombia, Brazil and Japan are most likely to apply makeup in the car.
49% of Chinese eat on the way to work (the global average is 17%).
92% of Mexicans start their day with a shower or bath (Americans 86%, global average 74%).
Spanish and French eat the highest percentage of meals at home - 42%
Make something amazing happen this week!
Sunday, May 20, 2007
"Be extremely careful in the accuracy of your statements." William Swanson
Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management: unwritten rule number fifteen...
"You should be passionate and inspiring, but what you say must be true. People are counting on your words for information and may act on what you tell them. When you say something, you want people to be able to 'take it to the bank.'"
Elizabeth Spiers is the subject of Friday's Jon Friedman MarketWatch post, Blogger Spiers knows where old media go wrong. In this latest installment of his wits of May series Jon writes "Old media have suffered self-inflicted wounds, Spiers contends, because they prefer to jump on a trend instead of trying to come up with something wholly original. Their mentality seems to be to throw money at a problem, rather than daring to be different." Bravo Elizabeth! The legendary founding voice of Gawker is scary smart and her take on old media is spot-on. The focus of old media is too often on getting better when they should be getting different. Kudos to Jon on another good writing. Hey Jon, why stop the series in May? You're on to something.
What is your mobile strategy? Back of the envelope arithmetic: about one billion internet users, about one billion TV households, about 2.5 billion mobile customers. MediaFLO USA now live in 27 domestic markets with video content partners including ESPN, CBS, FOX and NBC. They are using the Verizon platform now and others are coming including ATT. They're broadcasting using channel 55 nationwide. They will reach millions. Opportunity for radio folks: they will offer audio. The killer app will be designed for mobile rather than any content re-purposing. Think obvious, topical, local. Why wait? Team up!
Saturday, May 19, 2007
"Nature knows no pause in progress and development, and attaches her curse on all inaction." Goethe
"We are always paid for our suspicion by finding what we suspect." Henry David Thoreau
"People count up the faults of those who keep them waiting." French proverb
What a week. Microsoft spends $6 billion to buy aQuantive. Microsoft's Chris Dobson tells the NYT "It puts us in the game." Miguel Helft and Eric Pfanner have the story, Microsoft to Buy Online Ad Company. The online ad bidness is booming. Michael Arrington writes up his usual good coverage here. Lost in the noise was Microsoft's alpha launch of Popfly.
This after Google buys DoubleClick, WPP purchases 24/7 RealMedia and Yahoo! adds RightMedia. Rafat offers up some perspective on the indies remaining here and another take here. My sense is it's only the beginning (and only one part) of this year's major M&A wave.
The resume reinvented: TalentSpring. Very cool. Bravo!
Tom Peters: "Don't do it unless it's fun...Make it fun...Make it fun for others...Act as if your life depended on it; your professional life does." Read TP's post, 100 Ways To Succeed #90, here. Highly recommended, Bravo Tom! (Readers of this scribbler will recall "Are you having fun?")
Sky show tonight: Look for the waxing crescent moon paired with Venus tonight. An incredible sight to behold. More info here.
Bonus: Get your very own theme music with a little help from MethodMusic, a Pete Townshend venture. Josh Catone has the details here. Hurry - free until July 31.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Photo: Free Fall Down Into Nothing by Thomas Hawk. Great shot! Thank you.
"Next to knowing when to seize an opportunity, the most important thing in life is to know when to forego an advantage." Benjamin Disraeli
"The most important part of every business is to know what ought to be done." Lucius Columella
"My principal business is giving commercial value to the brilliant but misdirected ideas of others." Thomas A. Edison
What if someone found a photo of yours online and used it, without your permission, to make money. Discovering this would it not be fair for you to complain?
Rebekka, a respected photog and icon in the Flickr community, appears to have this problem. Her images are posted on Flickr, the popular sub of Yahoo! She posted comments complaining about this theft on her Flickr pages only to have the comments removed by Yahoo. As my Georgia relatives would say something bad wrong here. BBC News coverage here. Thomas Hawk offers his pov here. Flickr has offered an apology. Sometimes we forget. We are all making this stuff up as we go along.
Thank you very much: Enjoyed two great lunches this week. In Cleveland, with the amazing and gifted Tom Kent and his wonderful wife Karen. In Madison, with the charming Lindsay Wood Davis, a very bright fellow. I'm blessed to know such good people.
New and noted: Cara welcomes Chicago writer Rick Kaempfer to Cara's Basement. The podcast here. Info on Rick's book $everance here.
Bonus: WORJ is on, thanks to Lee Arnold. Listen via Real Player here. Highly recommended.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Photo: Untitled by M e l o d y. Fine shot! Thank you very much.
"...I'm trying to change my last name. I don't want to trade off my son's success." Mel Karmazin
Classic Mel taken from the Nancy Hass writing, Siriusly Speaking (brief. Interview), in the premiere issue of Conde Nast Portfolio. Congrats to Joanne Lipman, Thomas J. Wallace, David Carey and the Conde Nast pubs gang on their good looking new book (btw, the Advance interactive guys also rock!). Kudos to Nancy on the Mel get.
Been a long while since I last took a ride on Continental.
At Chicago's O'Hare early yesterday morning I went to the ticket counter and requested they print me a boarding pass for a later segment originating at another airport. The Continental counter agent said "You can do that online or at the airport of departure." I told him I was aware of that but asked if he would please print me a boarding pass for the segment. "I know you don't have to do this but I would really appreciate your help. Is there any room in First?" He printed the boarding pass and upgraded me, at no charge, in the process.
Congrats & cheers: Continental Airlines on a great job yesterday - I'm impressed. Every person on their team was polite and in a good mood. Put to the test by last night's weather which messed up their schedules into O'Hare (ATC issues not Continental's) - they were on it. Giving customers information and updates about what's happening is important. Doing it with the right attitude - and Continental did just that - is priceless. Bravo!
Which reminds me. Three lessons learned over decades of business travel.
Respect & good manners win!
Never underestimate the power of the gate agent, especially when they have "gate control" of the flight (beginning, generally, 30 minutes before scheduled departure).
Never underestimate the power of the counter supervisor or senior agent. The best way to get to them is never to ask for them directly. Make a request of the agent you draw. The majority of carriers have limits of authority in place. If your agent is not able to make something happen they usually "ask for help" rather than giving you a flat unconditional "no."
You don't ask, you don't get. Ask.
I have lost count of the number of times gate agents have upgraded me to first (or business class on international segments) at no charge. This happens without regard to my frequent flyer status with the airline - see Continental above. Be polite. Smile. Ask.
One night I excused myself from the table at a black tie dinner during the final minutes of the program and went - not to the men's room - to La Guardia for a ride home. Standing in black tie before the gate agent and holding a coach ticket I said "happy to be of service to you in the first cabin tonight." She smiled, laughed and the game was on. I did serve coffee in first and later the second coffee round in the main cabin. Big fun thanks to a very cool gate agent and a flight crew into the bit. Also got to do the bu-bye thing at the front of the cabin when my fellow passengers deplaned. And...another no charge upgrade to 2B.
The 800 number is your friend when the flight is canceled.
Do join the line at the counter and call the carrier's 800 number immediately. The "system" auto re-books customers when a flight is canceled. Your new best friend answering the 800 number can make things happen. Always ask what options you have including other carriers.
O&A Q&A: Lots of emails about the suspension. O&A made the national radar thanks to two bits: the Sex for Sam 3 stunt that put them off the air and a "homeless" guy's voiced rape fantasy.
What you say is less important than what people hear. The always on freak show at work.
Tony Schwartz taught us that lesson many years ago. Here's the back story on the famous TV spot that ran only once. Decades before Apple's 1984 there was a far more powerful image, there was Tony and Daisy.
When sales is preoccupied with "managing inventory" content does not become an issue. It's spots and dots ruling the day. When sales is preoccupied with generating dollars (and not making their numbers) content putting any revenue in jeopardy will not be tolerated. The dollars are always dear. Nothing new here. It was ever thus.
The O&A suspension has everything to do with the merger matter now before law makers and regulatory. Having the rape bit in the news cycle is tsuris the pay radio guys just don't need.
If anything, the late 90s were an ad spend anomaly that allowed, no, make that excused outrageous on-air behavior. Every manager was a genius, even idiots made their numbers, some even had record years. You had to have a detailed plan to get out of the way of the money, it was raining orders daily. Those were the days too many managers woke up on third thinking they had hit a triple. But senior management took their eye off the ball. Benign neglect. More from an earlier post here.
Bonus: When I grow up I want to work in advertising.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Cartoon: Great ideas by Hugh MacLeod. Simply outstanding Hugh. Thanks much!
"A goal without a plan is just a wish." Antoine de Saint-Exupery
"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." Dwight Eisenhower
CBS gets in the game: "We can't expect consumers to come to us...It's arrogant for any media company to assume that." Quincy Smith, CBS Interactive prexy via the WSJ writing by Brooks Barnes - Can CBS Put the Net Into Network? Bravo Quincy! You guys need to add audio from Dan Mason's group to your "Rolling Thunder" initiative, it's the critical missing piece in the tag line of your CBS Interactive trade ads. Audio will also provide significant younger reach and a strong depth of demo. Quality audio is a value adding asset you have that others do not. CBS should create "CBS to go" content widgets that can be used by O&Os, affiliates, or any and all other web producers. Kudos to Brooks, well done.
Quincy said it right. He gets it. He's the A student that deserves today's gold star.
The deadly combination holding back most media firms from making any real progress is hubris and the ignorance of inexperience. Phyllis Theroux said "Mistakes are the usual bridge between inexperience and wisdom." It's learning to succeed sooner by failing faster. CBS is fortunate to have Quincy in the lead.
Is It the Woman Thing or Is It Katie Couric? How's that for a headline. It's the Bill Carter writing in today's NYT here. In this 6:30pm dog fight with $540 million up for grabs my money remains with Rick Kaplan. If The CBS Evening News can be turned around Rick is the person that can get it done. However, not having a studied "Plan B" is less than wise. CBS would be smart to get Michael Rosenblum dialed into their conversations. First about fixing the Morning Show, second about the bigger strategic issues. Let me also suggest you get Dave Winer into the mix. Dave's "Checkbox News" concept has real potential. Personalized feeds for news junkies would be very cool. Further, getting news fans into the mix at the beginning of the editorial process could provide valuable feedback ("We're working on these stories, please check the ones you are interested in learning more about"). Kudos to Bill on a well written review of the bidding.
Congrats & cheers: Keith Summa on joining CBS as senior producer. Brian Williams and NBC for the first Tony Blair get.
Midtown buzz: At the risk of making this an almost all things CBS post let me just say WallStrip and throw in the name of Lindsay Campbell.
Before folks take their eyes off the ball and get all caught up in the multi-platform dance it's wise to remember the fundamentals.
Please permit me to say it again.
The play's the thing.
All that's important is what's on the screen(s) and what's coming out of the speakers...everything else is a footnote. Everything.
Make something amazing happen this week!
Sunday, May 13, 2007
"Radio touches people in very special ways." Rick Shaw
Photo: WTVJ, NBC 6
After more than 50 years behind the mic the great Rick Shaw has stepped down from his full-time morning show duties. Rick said his last morning show goodbye this past Friday. NBC 6 story here. It has been my good fortune to know and learn from Rick since the days we first worked together at RKO. Rick is the perfect gentleman and an outstanding broadcaster. All the best Rick!
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Photo: Spring Flowers Series 50
Cool pic, thank you!
"Presentation rule: when something appears on a slide presentation, assume the world knows about it and deal with it accordingly." William Swanson
Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management: unwritten rule number five...
"Don't think that what shows up in a presentation is private. It will come out. Accept this as a given, and deal with this fact up front. As a leader, when people try to convince you that something you are looking at on the screen - proprietary, competition sensitive and so forth - will never leave the room, assume it already has and deal with it accordingly.
In fact, assume that it will be published in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times or The Washington Post. And always maintain an atmosphere of total integrity."
Recently the day job has me involved in a number of new initiatives where an NDA is required. After decades of work in the confidential activities of startups, turnarounds, acquisitions and divestitures my sense is William Swanson is correct. As a practical matter the NDA is not worth much. It does serve to memorialize the sensitivity of the situation, it does put all parties on notice creating a record in the process but it does not prevent disclosure. Further, it does not provide for any realistic remedy. Seems to me you either trust those involved or you don't. Swanson is right. Total integrity, always.
Congrats & cheers: Paul Gallis, Clark Weber and Jim Scully on a simply outstanding event! The Chicago's Music Row reunion was one to remember, a rare moment filled with bold-faced names. The magic of the gathering was the diversity, the depth, the rich mix of those attending. Different generations from different career paths coming together. New kids on the block, folks at the top of their game, and pros from all walks hanging out with true legends. A heady time for us mortals in attendance. Many played catch up, others met for the first time. Fun for all attending. Art Vuolo rolled video and is certain to release one if his commemorative DVDs. Paul tells me the official photog will have pics to share soon. If you happened to have been at the event and have pics to share please send them (jpeg) to Paul at Chicagosmusicrow (at) gmail (dot) com.
While in Chicago enjoyed an incredible dinner with the legendary Fred Winston. Fred has a knack, a gift for discovering and sharing really exceptional small rooms; he finds places packed with character and overflowing with amazing food. The groceries were terrific and Fred's company purely one-of-a-kind. Tom Kent said it best recently. Referring to the Robert Redford character in the film The Natural, Tom said "Fred is the Roy Hobbs of radio, he is the best that ever was."
Speaking of Redford his first Sundance Cinema opened here yesterday. As a former theatre circuit owner allow me to say it is one beautiful property. Kudos and cheers to Redford and company. Dean Robbins has the back story via Isthmus here.
Where is the line? Who draws it? It's the topic of discussion. Imus, Sharpton, O&A, JV & Elvis. How far is too far? What should the consequences be? My suggestion is the marketplace is the best arbiter and should be in all cases not involving violations of the law. It's a shame, too many operators are afraid to stand up today. What is needed now more than ever is for operators to stand up in support of their performers. We need operators who understand the importance of doing the right thing, standing up to defend their way of doing business. Operators willing to allow the marketplace to decide.
Leadership must take responsibility. Performers don't just go off the rez by themselves. In my experience this most often happens as a result of benign neglect. What management allows it encourages. Performers need guidance, need coaching, need direction, need to understand where the boundaries are (even the ones we draw in chalk, having a show road map on a magic slate is far better than no understanding). The Imus, O&A and JV & Elvis incidents each represent a failure of leadership. Consistently, the #1 complaint of performers is "no feedback," the #2 complaint is "when feedback is given it's negative." The secret is to catch performers doing something right. The process begins with a deep understanding of standards, expectations and consequences.
The operating practice "not to offend" was born in the earliest days of broadcast. From his new book, Same Time, Same Station, James L. Baughman writes "They (CBS & NBC), in effect, collectively signed a social contract by entering radio. They would curtail their freedom of expression - laboring not to offend the moral guardians - in exchange for continued access to the great audience of radio listeners...Television's first generation of executives and producers understood radio's basic commandment: the moral sensitivities of any significant portion of the great audience must not be upset. That 'portion' might not represent most viewers. Indeed, a minority adept at letter-writing wielded extraordinary power...Broadcasters were expected to behave...Remarked the actor and producer Desi Arnaz, 'You are coming into their house." ("The Mother of Television", pgs 15, 25).
The notion of being "an invited guest" in someone's home, the once accepted operating mindset, may now seem quaint, indeed anachronistic. Too often it remains the single perspective of law makers, regulators and the gang of self-proclaimed media watch dogs. Work done or positions taken in the name of protecting our children has become a popular, albeit potentially chilling, cause celebre.
Perhaps the lesson learned is the power of the freak show. The monster that must be fed. The always on world of the 24-hour news cycle. Sound bites driving storytelling without the homework of proper context.
Closed circuit to TV producers: Stop calling Al Sharpton. The man is a hack past his best used by date. Granted having him comment on matters of race is the quick and easy solution to getting a "black pov" into the mix but here's the deal - Sharpton has a pattern, he does not speak for others but only for his own benefit. Hint: neither Jessie, Tavis, or any other single public figure speaks for or represents the community. What's needed here is clear. Do the homework and develop a stronger, more relevant rolodex of qualified thought leaders. You should not be waiting for a race issue to invite persons of color to join the conversation. When the talking heads are all white and male you have lost your way.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
"I do have a great deal of sympathy with the people who run printing presses because I think they're screwed...the people who do news and the people who fact check it have great futures ahead of them." Craig Newmark
My thanks to Staci D. Kramer of paidContent for today's quote. It's from her coverage of the NAA National Convention in New York here.
In Chicago for the Paulie Gallis Music Row Reunion. Our favorite media scribe Robert Feder headlines today's column with the story. Very cool Robert!
Monday, May 07, 2007
"...stories about Obama have been attracting too many racist comments" Brian Montopoli
Today's quote from Brian's writing CBSNews.com Turns Off Comments on Obama Stories here.
Cory Bergman has discussion with comments here.
Congrats & cheers: Steve Dahl again delivers the only competitive 25-54 numbers on WCKG (Winter book). Bravo Steve! But wait, there's more...CBS would be wise to make an arrangement with Steve to sell his web inventory. According to Alexa it seems Steve's site captures more page views than the WCKG station site. Steve does a great job with his site, whereas the WCKG site clearly needs some serious attention. Steve also appears to generate more uvs than the station site. Here's a Compete SnapShot:
Uber-mensch Dick Rakovan checks in to advise the great John Rook will be attending tomorrow's gathering in Chicago. See you there Rackets!
Robert E. Ingstad, Jr has passed. Bob was a second generation broadcaster and a good man. During my consulting days of the last century I advised stations that competed with Bob. In my experience his stations were always well run and strong competitors. He also had a gift for attracting smart and talented people. Many accomplished broadcasters began their careers or sharpened their saws at an Ingstad property. An original in every sense, Bob will be missed. Services have been set for May 10 in Valley City, North Dakota. Our thoughts are with Bob's wife Jan Marie and his children.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
"These are great days. They are trying, difficult, dangerous. But they are great days." Sylvester L. Weaver Jr., 1953
My thanks to James L. Baughman for today's quotation. Taken from the opening of chapter 5, "Mr. Spectacular," of his new book Same Time, Same Station.
We can all learn something from Pat Weaver, the gentleman, genius, ad man and NBC programming chief, who invented The Today Show and The Tonight Show.
Weaver taught us much, he was one for backing bold moves. Lesson: the solution to getting on the ratings radar is daring to get different rather than trying to get better.
Which brings to mind today's TV morning shows.
My sense is it's time for MSNBC to call off the morning show auditions and get different; give up their morning program to the whims of a real TV revolutionary - the brilliant Michael Rosenblum.
Michael, in my opinion, represents exactly the kind of new attitude that Pat brought to the game. He dares to be different. Michael's fresh ideas and unique pov are what MSNBC needs rather than yet another rehash of today's conventional morning format. Hiring the right readers is incremental not innovative. Same goes for last place CBS and CNN.
Stop trying to get better and start getting different.
My schedule at this years NAB did not allow me to attend Michael's session. The Jeff Jarvis video below shows a taste of Michael's usual unvarnished take. His comments in the video from this year's NAB/RTNDA Vegas meet are spot-on. "Katie Couric, 14 million dollars to work 22 minutes a night reading what someone else wrote for her. If we took the 14 million and hired...140 people at $100,000 a piece..."
In the words of Michael, "To do list for the broadcasters: Burn it to the ground."
He goes on to suggest the web is the place where breaking news should be and "...the website is your focus group, the website will tell you what everybody wants to see...you wouldn't have an executive producer on eBay"
While I do not believe you will get any takers for the 6:30 show, the odds are much better for a shot at mornings. MSNBC, CBS and CNN are excellent candidates. CNN Headline should consider giving Michael one of their prime slots - nothing to lose by doing something completely different. Each would benefit significantly from such a smart, bold move.
I highly recommend you check out this brief video (less than 2 minutes) and bookmark or better, put Michael's blog into your reader.
Closed circuit to MSNBC, CBS, CNN, et al: Engage Michael before Rupert does. Closed circuit to Michael: Thanks for the email.