Wednesday, May 07, 2008

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; the essential is invisible to the eye." Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"An original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate." Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand

"Comedy is the blues for people who can't sing." Chris Rock

Today's image: Certain Angles by Celine C. Awesome shot. Thank you for sharing.

Today, we welcome Joel Denver as special guest blogger. As my readers from radio are no doubt aware Joel is president and publisher of All Access. Previously, Joel served with distinction as a talent and programming executive at a variety of major market radio stations. From baby dj to one of the industry's most successful entrepreneurs, Joel has been celebrated for his dedication and passion. He and his organization have consistently demonstrated generosity in their support of important continuing professional education programs for industry. Joel was the founding sponsor of The Conclave College making that event possible. He writes in response to yesterdays writing by Kelly O'Keefe on the subject of Radio 2020 and the Radio Heard Here campaign.


Well done! You have laid out some grand ideas and thoughts -- and I would like to see more detail on these bulletpoints:

*Encouraging users to fully explore the variety of content available to them

*Stimulating usage in new ways and places

*Generating positive discussion about radio - particularly among young listeners

*Communicating progress in content, technology and education

*Developing and supporting a growing community of radio evangelists

Our industry is long on broad generalities and is often short on specifics or actionable moves that will make a difference.

We are long on AM -- what I call "apparent motion." Look, we're doing something -- it may not work, but we're doing something.

I've been in radio since 15 years of age and my passion for it is unending. It's all I've ever done is be involved with radio.

I am, however, not a fan of window dressing. Unless what's in the box is as pretty as the fancy outside packaging ... well you know the punchline here.

Also, I'm not a fan of not knowing when to cut losses -- as in the current direction we are taking with HD Radio.

That's blashphemy, I know -- but there, I've said it.

If these formats on HD are so great, why aren't broadcasters putting them on standard AM or FM frequencies where they can be heard?

Maybe they should!

The unit sales of HD Radio is slow -- and in a tight economy how many folks are going to rush out to buy a new radio? Is it essential?

The truth is there is an intern programming many of these HD stations -- cutting their teeth learning how to use a Music Master, Selector, or PowerGold -- and the overworked PD hasn't the time to devote to teaching them the fine points of it all.

Suggestion: Let's focus on fixing the content on AM & FM to raise ratings and revenues and rebuild confidence in our content to keep younger listeners using radio for years to come. Let's make radio essential again!

And, let's focus on using the Internet to help spread the power of radio -- everyone has a computer, and the beginnings of Internet is already in your cars!

Thanks for your time!

Joel Denver

Thanks to Joel for his comments. Join the conversation. Add your comments. [Related: original post by Kelly O'Keefe here, today's guest blog first appeared as a comment here]

Bonus: Your tax dollars at work. Census Atlas of the United States

Congrats & cheers: Randy Michaels named Tribune COO.


hannah said...

Joel Denver rocks. He's right. We need less lip and more vip getting totally serious about the situation. Don't be talking the talk unless you got what it takes to walk that walk.

Anonymous said...

Joel pretty much covered the bases. Only one major disagreement with his article. I'm a small group operator. Growing up as the kid I pushed my dad to get into FM. His opinion (and the industry standard of his day) was FM was a money pit, only a fool would put hard earned cash into it. And so it was for years as we watched others put on FMs in our towns. Of course, they all failed a some went dark. My dad would say "See, told ya." He was right about one thing - timing. My gut is that is what we see today with HD and online. The guys that are doing them are treating them like the FM of old. Getting into the game on the cheap. If you are old enough you will remember most of the FMs were automated and very poorly done automation. A "live" FM in all but the biggest markets was a non-starter. Until the law made us we did 100% simulcast. For you kids reading this we just put our AM on our FM. No one was listening by the way. My dad has passed on. Our group owns AM and FM stations and we do ok. Joel forgets what got us here. He forgets crazy kids like me who are turned on by opportunity. Kids who you will not put on your #1 FM, they ain't good enough. Those kids will still kill to be a part of the online and HD stations. There's nothing wrong with kids doing it, nothing wrong with automating these new borns just to get a line in the water. One more thing. Joel is right in spades about putting exciting new formats on the big sticks. We're live and local and we also carry some network shows. We try our best to serve our community. We're accused of changing formats too much but that's the way we make a living. The guys that should be leading the way that used to make waves first with the new are the big guys in major markets and Joel is right on this they don't do anything new anymore and that is a tragedy. Thanks for letting me ramble. Thanks to Joel and to Kelly. You both have given us things to think about.

Anonymous said...

Good thinking Joel. That Rupert Murdoch guy is quoted somewhere earlier in this blog as saying FOX is focused on three missions "Entertain. Inform. Inspire." That quote hit me the wrong way when I first read it but the more you think about it..American Idol entertains and inspires kids that want to be singers. The Simpsons entertains and inspires young artists that dream of creating their own cartoons. Faux (sorry) News informs and inspires young Geraldos (heaven help us).

The bottom line for me is this.

What is radio doing (using the Murdoch model) to entertain, inform and inspire?

Please approve this comment Dave. My thoughts are bigger than my lame (completely harmless) political asides. Thanks for this forum (sucking up to get approval)

chris said...

Joel has earned applause for this article. Good job. The perfect example used in the article is the state of AM radio. "Apparent motion" is an excellent description for whats happening or more like NOT happening. In our cluster the AMs are on the air for only one reason - run those spots and that's why we keep them on the air with all the lame network programming. Our AMs have zero budget and these are good signals that were once big time stations. So the answer is what? Spend money on the AMs? That dog don't hunt.

leah said...

You done good Joel. Dave - FYI - thanks for putting this on the blog vs leaving it inside comments. It's a personal thing, I don't, as a rule, read comments on any blog so I would never have seen Joel's comments.

This all comes back to the same thing and that's content. Platforms and distribution systems seem a far distant second to quality of content. Radio (and all old media) are geeked up on the internet right now and to no good end. Why? Everyone is focused on the platform and not on what's going on the platform.

Until we get focused on creating cool content we're not going anywhere with these platform investments.

To my way of thinking everyone is rushing to build this incredible venue, spending the big bucks to get it just right and then when they use the venue to stage local garage bands or high school drama class productions they dismiss the investment. The people are not going to buy tickets to a bad show more than once and when they come to associate the beautiful venue with poor shows they tell their friends and no one goes. The owners can then say "Yeah, this was a mistake, this town's not ready for a world-class venue like this one." EXACTLY WRONG. It starts with product.

Anonymous said...

Joel is right and wrong on this one. Right that we need to fix content on AM & FM. Wrong about HD Radio. Our AM & FM is analog. HD at this time our only digital option. One thing is for sure. You put that right programming on and people will listen to it on a weak signal AM daytimer and yes they will buy a new radio but they got to get something for it not the (sorry) sub par programming we now broadcast or worse some automated HD jukebox. I'm with Joel let's fix it.

dave said...

Interesting couple of posts. Kelly and Joel are kinda saying the same thing because both believe in investment. Bring it on.

Anonymous said...

Dave you sly guy. One step ahead of me. I agree both gentleman are calling for investment. As a market manager responsible for what a certain Nobel winner once called "the lock box" there are finite funds available. We need to establish priorities, set goals and objectives and decide how best to invest. New dollars? No, think reallocation of dollars. Joel and Kerry are recommending big bold moves. Joel calls it fixing. Kelly refers to it as diversity. Either way it brings risk into the game and my boss hates risk. Here's one way of looking at this. We all need to act like Jerry Lee stepping up to risk it all every single day. But that's only my opinion. Enjoyed both posts. Thanks to Kelly, Joel and the guy that promised his take but let us down (I kid).

dave said...

My thanks to all for the comments. My apologies, I was intending to reply to Kelly's thoughtful post and then Joel's thoughts became available. Closed circuit to the last anon - think you slipped up and said Kerry when you meant Kerry must be that lock box thing (I kid too)

Anonymous said...

Compliments to Joel. Good thoughts. Nothing to add but thanks to David.

thebuyer said...

Dave, as a working member of the dark side of the media game just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed the posts of today and yesterday. Very informative. Ad Age, Ad/Media Week, etc. have done the usual headline news coverage of this new NAB/RAB/HD thrust but the detail here was big time helpful to this buyer. Good luck to the radio guys!

Anonymous said...

Two of our three FMs are in the top five 25-54 book after book. Our third is in the top ten and the weak sister. We have one station to "fix" but having all three in the top ten is a pretty big win these days so we continue onward as is. Agree with Joel up to a point. Programming on AM is not a problem, sales on AM outside of sports is one putt requiring Tiger skills. Don't have those and don't think we will anytime soon. The elephant in this room ain't programming folks, it's sales. Ooops, there I'VE said it! Sales is the problem, sales is the cancer, the lack of sales is killing us not the product.

Anonymous said...

Martin, yours is the sublime sorbet of media blogs. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Joel has told it like it is.

Kelly has inspired us.

Now who wants to talk to my clueless and quarterly performance obsessed CEO whose stock is under water?

Anonymous said...

Not going to agree with Joel on HD but giving him his due - a damn good commentary. Bravo!