Monday, February 11, 2008

"You never go farther than when you no longer know where you are going." Goethe

"If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite." Blake

"Always go to other people's funerals; otherwise they won't go to yours." Yogi Berra

Image: Passeggiata by massfell. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Leave it to some that blog to tell you that James Cramer trashed radio, the business, when, in fact, Cramer was talking down radio, the Wall Street investment. His talk was titled "It's over for Radio Stocks" - my emphasis. With all due respect, I disagree with the comments of those blogging Cramer as having delivered news of radio's death. Those bloggers are missing JC's bigger point, they're plainly wrong, it's radio equities that suck not radio. Owning broadcast and cable assets, bought right, remains a very good business.

You will run into some that would have you believe otherwise - they may say radio is dead or at least well on the path to last rites; they have lots of suggestions for how to run things in the end of days. My suggestion is you ask these so-called experts (via comments) 1) what groups have you run? 2) what groups have you owned (your name being on an FCC ownership report) ? 3) what groups have you worked at during an IPO? Ten to one odds, answers in the affirmative will be one or none and being on the payroll during an IPO without being an officer or principal don't really count. Case closed. Bloggers pretending to have the skills required to run a group are just that, pretenders, wannabes if you prefer, nothing more.

It reminds me of talent second guessing management and ownership over beers, everybody is an expert, everyone a genius with the solutions, everyone excepting the guys charged with minding the store, the guys responsible for making the payroll that buy those beers, the guys on the hook to pay down the debt. Yeah, it looks easy, trust me, it ain't. (Catch the JC video here)

Longtime readers know I'm a big JC fan boy, much respect here for Ski Daddy. Those same folk know I've been down on radio stocks for years now. Radio stocks, cable stocks, big media stocks are all out of favor with the street. It's a growth thing, no growth = no respect. Growth being the bitch goddess of Wall Street.

So, no matter what some have said, Cramer is not down on the radio business, he's down on you putting your money into any of the traded radio securities. He's right.

The first tribe of wireless is faced with a great many challenges this year. The traded firms are in an especially bad position. Imagine being asked to change a flat while continuing to maintain course at 55 mph. It's never been done before. The odds are not in your favor. This is the trap of being focused on changing the numerator. The more effective solution set would seem to be one focused on changing the denominator.

Related: Fred Jacobs on the JC video and the state of radio affairs, read Fred's take here.

What gets missed in some of these discussions is perspective.

Radio, as a business, is much more than just the traded outfits. The traded companies get the ink, most of it negative, the hard working and often successful privately held firms, public broadcasters, and community stations get little if any attention or recognition for doing things right. Exhibits abound...Bonneville, Greater Media, Midwest Family, Jerry Lee, etc. The radio trade pubs need to change it up, get into the ongoing business of celebrating folks doing the right things rather than the continuing and too often one dimensional, obsessive focus on the crisis, the ugly meltdowns at the traded companies.

From AdAge - As Giant Retailers Reel, Marketers Gird for Worst...

"Marketers are doing the one thing that they should not be doing right now," said Zain Raj, global practice leader-retail brands at Euro RSCG. "They are out there trying to promote and discount their way to growth. When you have a consumer-confidence issue, it's not about spending less money, it's about spending any money. Marketers need to say 'Here's why you need these things.'"

"You've got to play offense. Now is the time to be aggressive and go out and get market share," said Mike Boylson, exec VP-chief marketing officer, J.C. Penney. The retailer remains committed to the biggest launch in its history later this month, an exclusive brand created in partnership with Polo Ralph Lauren called American Living that will be supported with a splashy campaign debuting during the Academy Awards.

Others are trying to do more with less. ""People are going to have less disposable income, so that's going to change the way we do advertising," said Jose Docabo, senior advertising manager for Home Depot. "We're also going to have to get more creative with less budget."

"Retailers need to take part of their budget and block and take part of it and experiment," said Ric West, exec VP-marketing promotion and production at Sears Holdings.

Read and entire article here.

Going mobile: Next generation of Microsoft innovation focuses on mobile consumer. Release here. Smart, very smart.

Bonus: Kelly O'Keefe

RAB 2008, Atlanta: Doug Zanger Blog, Audio stream

Congrats & cheers: Eric Straus on the agreement to sell his startup to info here.