Tuesday, May 06, 2008

"You can fool all the people all of the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough." Joseph E. Levine

"To imagine is everything, to know is nothing at all." Anatole France

"If passion drives, let reason hold the reins." Benjamin Franklin

Today's image: Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) by nick russill. Great shot. Thanks for sharing.

Today, we welcome special guest blogger Kelly O'Keefe. Kelly writes about the Radio 2020 initiative and Radio Heard Here. My suggestion is Kelly's writings, including this one, are must-reads on this subject matter.

At the NAB convention in Las Vegas, an announcement was made about the first stage of a multifaceted campaign aimed at contributing to the vibrancy of the radio industry. A lofty goal, to be sure, but a worthy cause.

The radio industry is home to some of the most passionate professionals I’ve met in any industry. Radio is important to Americans and important to America. It provides the most convenient, portable and easy-to-use way to engage with fresh entertainment and information content of every description.

When I was approached to help with this effort, I was honored to play a role. The folks I’ve encountered in the radio industry are smart people. They see the opportunity to make radio better, and they recognize the need to communicate more frequently, with greater transparency. They are listening, acting and investing to ensure that radio’s future is just as storied as its past.

The recommendations we made to the NAB and RAB are more oriented to behavior than marketing. The plan entails four initiatives that have been published broadly:

  • Accelerating technology integration
  • Improving playlist diversity
  • Educating the next generation of broadcasters and advertisers
  • Engaging consumers through broader communications

Three out of four of the objectives involved tangible actions aimed at enhancing the brand. This won’t surprise any reader of my writings, or any of my clients or students. For over 15 years I’ve been writing, speaking and teaching about the fact that in terms of brands, actions speak louder than words.

There is a clear call for increased innovation in content and more support for new technology. I find it disconcerting that many of those who call for technology innovation from the industry also attack virtually any new technology introduced. Any technology investor will tell you that the road to adoption is full of bumps. There is a reason the books on this subject bear titles like Inside the Tornado.

The fact that it is difficult to develop and market new technology is no reason to stop developing it. Every effort that brings new thinking to the radio industry should be celebrated and every innovator supported. Standing still is not an acceptable strategy for this industry, and this brings me to my comments on the marketing campaign.

There are a number of goals for the marketing campaign; they include:

  • 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

The Radio Heard Here advertising is only one of the elements developed to help achieve these goals. We’ve launched blogs that report on industry innovation, online communities aimed at encouraging creatives who work in the radio medium, and influencer outreach efforts to ease communications across the spectrum of broadcasters and support companies.

We are also engaging people within the industry, by preparing electronic and physical mailings to provide tools to thousands of radio stations, and asking them to play a role in the campaign.

So far, we’ve heard far more praise than criticism from broadcasters. The campaign is being developed by some of the most talented people business, and with the rollout taking place over the summer and fall, there is much more to see and hear. As we move forward to contextualize the words “Radio Heard Here” I’m confident that the work will win over fair-minded observers. Of course we will continue to listen, learn and adapt.

One thing we shouldn’t listen to are the comments from those critics who believe the radio brand is irreparably damaged, and therefore any campaign that leverages past equity is doomed. One such commentator says, “Radio has become a negative word.” This is simply not true!

Both the research and the listening data suggest otherwise. The only group that thinks “radio has become a negative word” are people within the industry who read too much from these critics.

Like anything, radio can be better, and the industry should be tireless in its efforts to make it so, but there is a great pool of positive equity that should not be squandered based on the rantings of a few critics.

The risk of moving away from a trusted brand is significant. Just this year, NASCAR admitted that its attempt to move away from its core loyalists was a costly mistake. They are refocusing on their historic strengths. Sound familiar? We heard the same thing after Wal-Mart fired the marketing department that tried to take them away from their core focus. They believed (rightly) that the brand needed freshening, but their actions (wrongly) involved trying to move away from any familiar imagery. Even Coke once gave in to the cynics who thought the brand had no relevance to young people, only to launch New Coke with tragic consequences. They have now returned to the shapely logos and bottles that customers of all ages love.

No less respected brands than Starbucks, Budweiser and Apple have ventured away from their core equity, only to steer back to familiar imagery. (Yes, they all have their critical blogs, too.)

Rather than reinvent radio's brand, in the true spirit of radio, we are engaging in storytelling, through visuals, video and most importantly, the spoken word. And we’ll be inviting broadcasters and listeners to participate.

A simple example of the power of these stories can be found in words on Michael Castner’s blog. He comments on a video interview we produced about Dick Lewis and his work during Hurricane Katrina, saying: “It was an amazing education of what can happen when companies come together for the good of the community. It is a story that very few have heard.”

So I’ll close with one last thought inspired by Michael Castner’s words. Every day, radio stations come together to make great things happen for their communities; imagine what can happen if they come together to tell their own stories? If any of us can play a small role in making that happen, it’s worth the thick skin we will have to grow to get there.

Thanks, Kelly. Appreciate your efforts in continuing this important conversation. I encourage N=1 readers to share this writing via email or link. Your comments are welcome. Please, join the conversation. [Related: Radio Heard Here, Radio 2020, Radio Creative Land and Kelly's blog here. Also - My earlier post on Radio Heard Here]

Congrats & cheers: Kurt Hanson and team AccuTunes, winner of the Webby for Best Radio (People's Choice). BBC World Service also wins in the category. Rob Barnett and team My Damn Channel walk with three for You Suck At Photoshop. Others taking home hardware include Flickr (3), digg, PostSecret (4), Huffington Post, Chow, The Onion (7), Epicurious, TED (3), New York Times (8) and Flock. All the winners here. Star Googler Elliot Schrage joins Facebook as VP Communications & Public Affairs. Amanda Congdon returns, bows sometimesdaily in beta, natch.


Kim said...


Kelly deserves major props for this. His first response (that I know) to his critics and he makes a very good case. Sensible and forward thinking. He does leave me wanting more (sign of a good marketing guy). One line grabbed me "community of radio evangelists". Very 21st century grasp of the situation. Cheers to Kelly.

Rogers McMillan said...

Amid the noise of so many rants about this finally a well thought out item. Very refreshing. Kelly makes his points clearly and without snark. Dave, kudos to you for consistently posting some of the best reading to be found in the blogosphere.

From your UK fan club, Rogers

Anonymous said...

impressive and very cool

thanks david

Anonymous said...

kudos to kelly

big ups to dave

discussion w/o personal attacks, bashing or childish rant

could this be a new trend


lydia said...

Kelly, points well made. When you're done with radio could you help us out in TV? We're getting killed over here. ;)

Anonymous said...

Good post and all but a little thin on specifics. Kelly, when are we going to get more detail? You must admit to painting with a very broad brush in this posting. Good luck!

Joel Denver said...

Kelly ...

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, Pres./Publisher

Dan Kelley said...


Until I read your blog tonight, I didn't know the name Kelly O'Keefe. Thanks for the turn on. Kelly's words were right on.

As commenter Kim noted above - the line "community of radio evangelists" really hits home.

Radio has a great story to tell.

Kelly points out that the only group that thinks "radio has become a negative word" are within the industry. I'm certain that's mostly true.

Where's the "swagger"?

Most of the critics have simply consumed too much of the Kool-Aid from the promotional efforts of XM, Sirius and Apple.

I might suggest that our industry leaders spend more effort to promote radio's strength inside their own operations. The workforce needs and requires the motivation more than ever.

Building a strong positive attitude within (or "swagger") will provide the evangelists the industry needs to tell our story and respond to the naysayers.

Its been a tough time for many of the industry's best and brightest. They have to believe again.

Thank you Kelly and thank you (again) Dave.

dave said...

Via email:


Been meaning to email you about this for a long time. Today's post got me fired up. First, way to go Kelly!! Finally an adult response to the hacks. I am sick and tired of getting emails and links from out of work ustabes. Chest pounding about how damn wrong the entire world is. Give me a break. If you were as smart as you say you are then you'd be rich or running one of the majors, shut up and get a job. Second, way to go Joel Denver!! Now there's a stand up guy who gives a damn and let me add the only trade we got left worth reading. R&R? RBR? IR? FMQB? That radio-info mess? They all suck, no they really really SUCK! Thank goodness Joel is thriving. Third, way to go Dave!! You do a great service to our business and for my time the biggest ROI online. Love it when you call it a conversation, hey IT IS, we used to have these discussions in bars. Remember Joel and Dave? What happened to our business getting together? There was NOBODY at last years R&R and I mean NOBODY. We don't hang out anymore and that is really sad. Back to you Dave - Your daily quotes are killer, your constantly passing on stuff that makes me and my team look really intelligent - links, videos, etc, etc. Love your writing too. Best blog out there period the end. So that's my two cents or more like a nickel, sorry.

Highly respected major market broadcaster, name held in reserve by request

TJ said...

Intelligent conversation now there's a wild new concept! Thanks guys. This is totally interesting stuff. I'm pumped. Look forward to the things coming down later this year.

ps Count me as another fed up with the blowhards running down the business that puts food on the table for my family, pays our mortgage and is putting two kids through university. Delcolliano, Gorman, Ramsey and their ilk need to just shut up and move on. They are the know-nothing know-it-alls.

Anonymous said...

ain't the internets groovy love this blog

this is an awesome posting

thank you Kelly for an inspiring vision

Anonymous said...

Thank you Kelly. I learned more in this one article than everything else I have read on the subject and now I get it. Sounds totally exciting.

dave said...

My thanks to all for comments. To those that follow let's please keep it on subject.

Anonymous said...

Rise above the noise, invite the key player to tell his own story in his own words, provocative. Cheers to Kelly. Thanks to David for again doing what our trade press consistently fails to do - enable intelligent discourse on matters important to our future.

alena said...

"there is a great pool of positive equity that should not be squandered based on the rantings of a few critics"

You nailed it Kelly. Thank you for imparting the vision one obviously born of careful study and appreciation for our industry. Your passion for this project shines through. What do your students think of radio? Of this project? Will/Are they involved?

Anonymous said...

Kelly - I agree with Joel Denver. Radio is too short on specifics for its own good. A TV commercial from back in the day says it..WHERE'S THE BEEF. Your ideas sound cool the proof is in the specifics..THE BEEF. Will there be radio spots? Can production directors and voice guys pitch that work? Thanks for listening.

Anonymous said...

Read this on All Access and had to click. Kelly you didn't get the memo. You are suppose to run radio people into the dirt, call us all idiots, tell us to run for our lives, the Chicken Little jive. You give us some credit and hope. I'm printing and saving. Thanks Joel and all a part of this awesome article.

somegroupguy said...

Kelly - thank you sir. I'm emailing this to all of our stations. Dave called it. Your words are a must read.

Philip said...

David, another excellent posting. It is always a good idea to get the opinions of those outside the box and this is the secret sauce of the O'Keefe writing. He brings fresh eyes and ears to our situation. We are too close to see the forest for the trees as trite as that sounds it is none the less truth. His optimistic stance (saying nothing of his very positive tone) is precisely what we need. My hat is off to O'Keefe. Staying tuned for more servings of this gents grounded and circumspect view point. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

ditto most of what has been said

kelly seems to get it he is not yet tainted by industry conventional wisdom and the key word is yet

will the powers that be listen and open the wallet to make this dream come true?

hope so

good luck kelly

thanks dave for another youre making me think again dammit posts

lisa said...

Dave, thank you for raising the bar again by inviting such a clear headed thinker to put up an alternative to the same old same old industry chatter. Most interesting. From what Kelly is telling us here the best is yet to come. Not to be critical but shouldn't the NAB dedicate web pages to this work (better - an entire web site)?

dave said...


Thanks for your comment. There are dedicated sites live now. My apologies for not featuring related links, will get those up under Kelly's writing. For now, please reference these:




and Kelly's blog


We do have some good questions here. Perhaps, we can get Kelly to do a live chat?

Anonymous said...

Finally someone with the guts to stand up and say WHY NOT? We are guilty to dreaming small dreams. Mr. O'Keefe challenges us - as I read it - to dream big dreams and go for the gold. I say its he's right and it's damn time. Thanks!

kurtis said...

awesome article

Anonymous said...

Hate to bust up the love fest but too much pie in the sky in this article. Somewhere between the senseless rants of the tiny number of bloggers who have the brass to sign their names and the high minded suits (you make this group Martin) there lies the truth. The message boards are as close to honesty as we get these days and they are packed with pain. Layoffs, people forced to work without even the chance of a raise some taking on second and even third jobs to pay the bills. It ain't all honey and sunshine out there guys. Did you ever stop to think that the NAB's real agenda is to pay you to get out there and put a big happy face on another bad year. Let them eat cake. Throw them some hope and keep them paying those dues. Sorry but this does not get my motor running.

dave said...

For the record, I am not being paid by NAB, RAB, HD Radio Alliance or by Kelly O'Keefe or any other parties associated with the Radio 2020 and Radio Heard Here initiatives. Further, my employer is not being paid by any party associated with these initiatives. This is my personal blog free from any restrictions or conflicts unless stated. I stand on my track record of doing my best in making full disclosure as needed and appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Dave, we have all seen you speak at various conventions and conferences. So when it comes time to promote industry backed things you seem to side with industry. Item - you said in your earlier post that state and metro associations got to be in the mix a don't leave home without them type of remark. Do you not admit some you scratch their back and they scratch yours going on here??

Kelly, good job!

dave said...

Anon, "you seem to side with industry"

I offer my opinion and if that happens to side with industry (which I read as being the majority, some consensus or in the least the so-called party line) so be it.

Yes, I am paid to make speeches. This is an open secret. Sometimes I even promote those in advance here. My "don't leave home without them" remark is intellectually honest in the context of the piece itself (i.e., imo this initiative needs to be grassroots in nature and state/metro associations are already there, it's what they do). You seem to suggest I am guilty to pandering or sucking up. Sorry to disappoint you. I'm just blogging here. This wouldn't even qualify as writing, it's not, it's just blogging. Wait, gotta run, it's an IM from one of my many handlers.

Alec said...

Totally on board with this. Congrats to Kelly on a job well done. Right on time too. Not been much detail in the trades about this.

OMG, Dave, you don't do those speeches for free?

It needs to be said again this blog is the best. You lead the league. Rock on.