"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong." H.L. Mencken
"When everyone sings the same tune, the words are unimportant." Stanislaw J. Lec
"Love and art do not embrace what is beautiful but what is made beautiful by this embrace." Karl Kraus
Today's image: curses by
Execution not excuses wins the day
A farewell to Howard & Mel
The final curtain draws nigh for pay radio. While it's possible to make reasonable cases in defense of a wide variety of "how" and "when" scenarios, it appears the "if" argument is all but off the table. Getting the capital to deal with debt and operating expenses will require more than the spreadsheet arithmetic and clever feel good pitch considered coup d'eclat in the last century. New rules of engagement: the uber-cool cash user has fallen from grace along with the trade craft of financial engineering. Now framed in the context of a macroeconomic calculus driven by a consumer led recession, credit crisis, auto industry melt down and weak ad market, making arrangements to pay down debt and getting operating capital to survive is a whole new game, one requiring a solid plan and execution without excuses. Moreover, the ethos, pathos of a Dickensian 2009 will favor those trading in back-to-basics essentials over peddlers of the ostentatious and discretionary. Budget is in, luxe is out.
For Howard and Mel a fresh reading of Henry V and a serious study of history seems appropriate. Stern and Karmazin are engaged in their own battle of Agincourt with Mel cast in the role of the French commander Charles d'Albret. As it happens, the terrain will again play a decisive role. This time around Henry V will be played by hundreds of little guys. The big aging acts of Howard and Mel must somehow be made to prevail in the brave new world of agile little guys who live and dream in perpetual beta. The value proposition of pay radio (and related business model) must be reinvented, convincingly sold to financiers, subscribers and advertisers. My sense is the show will go on for pay radio at least for a while. Mel can buy some time playing from the bottom of the CEO deck, the bankruptcy card.
For broadcasters who were once considered players it's a sad ending.