Friday, December 30, 2005

"The important thing is to identify 'the future that has already happened' - and to develop a methodology for perceiving and analyzing these changes." Peter Drucker

"The future exists today. It's just unevenly distributed." William Gibson

Time to mark thirty and put this blog to bed for 2005. Some random notes.

Love him or not Mel is so money. Look for Mel to make more great copy next year as he continues to gin up the street on subscription media. Expect Howard to stage the most outrageous and creative stunts of his career...the MSM will eat this up and provide continuous team least one member of congress will not be amused; comments and actions by members of congress and the FCC, in response to no more than three wackjob constituents, will serve as the accelerant which generates the biggest press of Howard's career. The pace of sub sales while hot in Q1, decline in Q2. Mel signs a seven figure deal involving inventory within podcasts, online streaming, online ads and live/recorded reads on the Howard channels. The business press will write this up as the moment podcasting became commercially viable. The always amazing Karmazin does get a deal done with Apple - not satradio on iPods but Howard on iTunes. Mel will continue to successfully dodge the real issue - how many actual users (listeners) vs number of subscribers.

The Arbitron PPM data will serve to explode one industry myth after another. The data will prove, without reservation, pledge drives to be harmful to the health of pubcasters. Public radio and TV stations will be forced to admit...almost everything they know is wrong. Commercial radio programmers will face the challenge of a generation...getting people to actually listen...the skill sets developed in targeting the diary and recall will prove to be way less than adequate.
Yergin's Westinghouse Nu Math becomes the rage as reach comes into vogue.

Microsoft Vista will be a success. v2 and v3, as ever, will be much better. Mr Softy will also lead the "reinvention" of interactive ad markets albeit in starts and stops. Redmond will take the lead in a revolution among MSOs introducing a suite of very cool set top box apps. EPG will come into its own in 2007.

Having significant capital committed and not acquiring the ABC Radio assets, a private equity group will acquire a major radio group not now nor previously for sale.

Battery life will continue to hold back major innovation in handheld devices. The handset market, especially telephony/data will have a good year next year but a truly great 2007.

A couple of broadcasting's bold faced names will suddenly "retire" having tired of the almost impossible tasks associated with being public in another slow growth year.

One of the three business cable channels will hire Joseph Jaffe to comment on the advertising markets. Jeff Jarvis will host a short lived weekend slot on MSNBC. Keith Olbermann and Jimmy Cramer are recognized as major video stars while their respective channels continue to disappoint. David Faber jumps to ABC, Bloomberg or FBC after a dozen years on CNBC.

Les Moonves will hit the trifecta - CBS will win the entertainment, sports - and for the first time - news battles. Both the new CBS and Viacom equities will do well without regard to the early negative reviews by analysts and biz writers. Katie joins the fold.

CBS posts best ad revenues per viewer for 2006, MTV networks top the same metric on cable.

At least one broadcast license revocation hearing will move forward before cooler heads prevail.

A media research guru with strong academic credentials will expose a much discussed set of "national findings" for what they actually are...statistically invalid guess work derived from a series of focus groups.

Fred Wilson will walk away from the VC world and join Time Warner writing in Time as music critic at large, Jann Wenner makes Fred an offer he can't refuse...hiring him to lead a dramatic reinvention of Rolling Stone.

Joel Hollander reveals "second season" deals with Robin Williams, Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais and, via KYOU, a previouly unknown podcaster who also happens to be a successful bay area mortgage banker.

Hot: RSS, AJAX, WiFi, headhunters, social media, video and vo ip (thanks to broadband), Live Web, David Rehr, Scoble, digg, Nick Denton, Opera, Pierre Bouvard, Wikipedia, interactive media ad sales, podcasting, Joel Denver, Firefox, Diller, blogs, Whole Foods, Dave Winer, Washington state wines, Mark Masters, talent, Kurt Hanson, Google, Drew Horowitz, Peter Morville, Pixar, Stu Olds, AOL, Ed Lambert Jr., MSOs, Deal or No Deal, "family friendly cable", Tom Peters, Tom Kent, P&G, WSJ, Icerocket, Bob Shannon, John Battelle and The Week.

Not: Web 2.0, newspapers, Delta airlines, MSNBC, CNBC, Air America, RBOCs, talentless hacks, the motion picture industry, RIAA, each and all of the current blog and podcast ad networks, jockless radio broadcasting, Tony Danza (due to loss of key DMAs), most Dems in the midterms, DRM, and TiVo.

Having no inside information please allow me to suggest most (and more likely all) of the above are dead wrong. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

“The magic is in the product…No matter how skillful you are, you can’t invent a product advantage that doesn’t exist. And if you do, and it’s just a gimmick, it’s going to fall apart anyway…Getting a product known isn’t the answer. Getting it wanted is the answer.” Bill Bernbach

Phil Boyce is a smart guy. The ABC AM group is blessed with some of the best and brightest programming minds on the planet including Phil. Those facts make a recent WABC decision difficult to understand. The decision - run some hours of WABC's morning drive show commercial free (the stated purpose being to impress and attract former Howard listeners) is not, in my opinion, a good business move. There is nothing wrong with commercials and listeners expect them. The Howard fans, above all other morning listeners in the city, have demonstrated a significant tolerance for commercials. The real issue here would seem to be...will Curtis and Kuby appeal to Howard's listeners and in what numbers? The number of commercials played by Curtis and Kuby will not change their act nor is it likely to make them any more appealing to a Howard fan. So why do it? Why introduce a strategy that can not be sustained, an approach that costs the station money? What does it say to your audience when you present this as a novel benefit only to later take it away? What does this say to your advertisers? Is there not a way for them to participate in this very cool promotion?

The bigger question may well be - will Howard fans listen to AM radio? Perhaps recent history can offer some insight. What audience was shared by the two shows and the two stations over the past year? What is the twenty-four month history of AM usage (cume, occasions, TSL) by Howard listeners? Finally, it seems fair to ask...what is the objective? How many former Howard listeners need to sample and convert to Curtis and Kuby partisans for the exercise to be considered a success? How do we measure success?

My thought is any promotion worth doing always involves one or more clients. Stations should always make money with their promotions without exception. I'm reminded of the great retailer and legendary genius Sol Polk. One day in the last century I went on a sales call in Chicago with Kevin Sweeney. The legend Sol had wanted to meet the legend Kevin, we were in. Before we could pitch Mr Polk our "exciting promotion" he explained what he expected whenever he invested in "a promotion." He told us a story. In a purchase of Westinghouse white goods he arranged for the seller to include free copies of a new cookbook written by Betty Furness then a popular actress and Westinghouse spokesperson. He had done his homework with the help of a young seller on his floor and discovered the 1926 D quarter was worth three times its face value to collectors. He used his newpaper advertising - paid for 200% by his vendors - to run an ad saying "Available now only at Polk Brothers the new Betty Furness cookbook. This book is not available in any Chicagoland stores but it is available for a limited time at Polk Brothers for the amazing price of one coin - one 1926 D quarter." Polk had obtained the cookbooks at no charge, made money running the advertising, mobilized Chicagoans to find the rare coins and bring them into his store. He created goodwill with his customers (the books flew out of the store), created traffic and had a good sale of white goods. After telling us the story he motioned to an assistant who opened a rather large old fashioned floor safe. His assistant revealed a bankers bag filled with the coins collected in the promotion some 20 years earlier. His assistant then provided the going rate for the rare coins something like $5.50 each as I recall. Sol leaned back in his chair, directed his attention to us and said "now gentleman...please tell does your promotion work?" By the way today one of those coins is worth hundreds of dollars. Going forward...if a promotion is worth doing...let's agree to find a way to emulate Mr Polk, let's make some money in the process.

Kevin Sweeney was a great mentor to me, he once counseled "why would you waste your time doing anything that does not make you money, breaking even on a promotion suggests to me that the promotion expense was too great or you didn't sell smart or, in the most likely case, both." Before his Curtis and Kuby promotion is staged my bet is Phil Boyce will come up with a much cooler idea. Stay tuned.

"Safe advertising is the riskiest advertising you can do" Bill Bernbach

A friend sent me a link to and when I arrived what was waiting was the image you see here and nothing more.

Perhaps I just don't get it but this seems to be a major missed opportunity. Should the CBS Radio gang be moving away from the call letters they should have their web person remove them from the page title. This single web page could be dramatically better, could actually play a key role in getting out and spreading the new message, could generate $$$. The page as it is = a dead end, a wasted moment, a lost victory. Simply put...the page does nothing, nada, zilch, zero. You are given no reason, no incentive, no excuse to ever return. Worst of all a unique moment passes and those that may have the site bookmarked are left to wonder "what happened?" Welcome to the 21st century, the web matters, it's no longer optional.

This page reminded me of the Bernbach quotation used above. It came to mind because it was easy to imagine someone saying "just put the new logo up, that's safe, we'll deal with the site later." My thanks to Joseph Jaffe for citing the quote in his book along with these gems...

"Rules are what the artist breaks; the memorable never emerged from a formula"

"I warn you against believing that advertising is a science"

"Logic and over-analysis can immobilize and sterilize an idea. It's like love - the more you analyze it, the faster it disappears"

More later.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

"The value of your product is in inverse proportion to the cost of customer aquisition" Shelby Bonnie

Lucky Chicago - they now have an eatZi's!

Century Shopping Centre, 2828 N Clark Street

This is an exceptional concept - food meets theater. Another great excuse for us to get to Chicago soon. I love eatZi's!

Couple of emails about my CBS Radio posts re Jack. The flavor is "how can you be a fan of Jack???" I'm not. Don't care for it, never have, I invite you to read my previous writings on this issue here, here and here

One of the most valuable lessons for any media organization is to discover the price of creating each avail. Once you establish the price of creating an avail you will sell smarter and, typically, improve your operating margins. You may then focus your sellers on selling the avails that produce the best margins. In reviewing formats you will find that jockless stations produce bigger operating margins for the simple reason that the single largest expense - labor - has been eliminated, this is not to say jockless is a solid long term strategy - it ain't.

My apologies if you have emailed me without reply - seems the new spam filter is much too aggressive - hundreds to get through.

Two excellent ways to burn bandwidth, here and, thanks to joho, here

Dave Winer looks into the future here

Jason Calacanis predicts here. Fred Wilson puts up a collection of predictions via - brilliant, bravo - jump to it here

Check out the year in audio - highly recommend #4 - via BlogPulse here

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2005

"Technology will be the great ally and lurking enemy. For every threat it raises, it will also bring an accompanying opportunity for those who wish to see the possibilities. Skipping ads may prove to be the norm, but avoiding experiences could be the exception. Above all, content will remain king - now more than ever." Joseph Jaffe

"They (salespeople) must want to grow, learn and try new approaches. Otherwise they become good players in a game that's no longer being played." Norm Goldsmith

Joseph Jaffe's book "Life After the 30-Second Spot" deserves your attention. What makes this writing so refreshing and such important reading is Joseph's candor...

"The bottom line is that we've built an entire kingdom on old data, unchallenged theories, and faulty methodologies. We've lost track of the original meaning and purpose of advertising"

Jaffe does more than offer examples of what's not working, he suggests practical steps and solid counsel on how we can begin to "rethink advertising." Over the next few days I'll post a fuller review, my suggestion is buy the book - highly recommended. Also - check out more of the uncommon wisdom on offer at Jaffe's blog here

Terry Heaton offers his thoughts on 2006...

It's a very dangerous time for any broadcaster to be making assumptions based on history.

But the biggest problem for broadcasters is their crumbling core competency and the shrinking value propositions they offer to both viewers and advertisers. The natural ability of the Internet to distribute unbundled media is disrupting broadcasting's basic business, and that will accelerate in 2006.

Most broadcast companies have responded to the disruption by forcing their mass marketing value propositions into the situation (it's what they know), but most are finding that such a response while creating some revenue opportunities doesn't produce the kind of scale necessary to make up for the kinds of losses to their core business that they're facing.

The irony is that the same disruptions that are eating away at the business of broadcasting offer tremendous opportunities, if broadcasters could simply rise above defending their old turf and play a little offense in the new stadium.

Heaton gets it - Bravo! Read Terry's entire writing here

Terry's writing brings to mind the notions of my friend Norm Goldsmith. Norman, on the subject of sales people, often said "If they're not helping you, they're hurting you." His commentary on media sellers and sales leadership is spot on, check it out here

Lots of email regarding my posts on Infinity/CBS Radio. Some text from one such email...

"...wake up and face reality Dave, Infinity is a big failure, one stupid 'global' decision after another beginning with their failed Jack attack, continuing with pinheadeded vanity spending (the Ad Age buy) and ending with the tepid Howard replacement strategy. How can you continue to defend the gang that couldn't shoot straight?"

Serving as the CEO of a measured media firm in 2005, especially one that's public, was no day at the beach unless you were leading online properties (e.g., Google or Yahoo). My view is 2005 will be remembered as the year leadership finally heard the wake up call, the last year leadership invested precious time in the creation of graduate level dog ate my homework excuses; 2006 is full of great promise and amazing opportunity, it should be the year we let go of the assumptions that continue to hurt us, it should be the year we take bold action and stop doing what we have always done. 2006 is the year to unlearn.

With regard to my thinking on CBS Radio/Infinity. I give Joel Hollander high marks for doing something, for being decisive and taking action. To be certain the outcomes have been mixed, however, on balance, my sense is CBS Radio/Infinity is better positioned today than they were one year ago. Joel has put CBS Radio on the offensive, has encouraged measured risk taking, has put an end to the previous "business as usual attitude" at Infinity, that's all good and long overdue. Leadership is responsible for results, that's the five word job description. While the Jack approach has yet to catch on in New York and might never equal or exceed the earlier success of WCBS-FM, Jack is, in fact, an early ratings, sales and operating margin success in other CBS Radio markets. One need only compare and contrast the Dallas market where the company ended five years of poor performance in flipping to Jack. On the Howard is amazing to me how folks can have an opinion regarding shows not yet heard. The one exception being Rover. Joel has made some clearly unpopular decisions and while some of those decisions may prove to be wrong or less productive than expected there is still reason to celebrate the end of stasis. "Stasis in the arts is tantamount to death" so said Charles Marsh and for too many years Infinity leadership allowed stations to fail by doing nothing. WNEW is the poster child for what went tragically wrong at Infinity in years past - neglect, denial and a complete failure to provide leadership took a valuable company asset "off line" for years. The Ad Age insertion got agency folk talking about Infinity a not all together bad thing. Goodman and company have taken control of the agenda, another refreshing first for Infinity this year. Success in the creative arts begins with attracting and retaining the best and brightest people - the recruitment of Jhani Kaye serves as an excellent example of why 2006 will be the year Joel gets CBS Radio on the right track.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

"Our task is to stop seeing old failings everywhere and start seeing all the new opportunities before us, to exploit the future" Jeff Jarvis

CBS Radio has recruited Los Angeles media legend Jhani Kaye to program K-Earth, a simply outstanding move - congrats, kudos, bravo, cheers!

Jhani is the architect of one of the greatest success stories in radio history - the legendary KOST radio. He built the storied station from scratch.

There are very few that CBS Radio could have recruited to lead the mission of successfully reinventing the K-EARTH of Bozzi, Hamilton and Phillips fame and among those few Jhani Kaye is, without question, the best, the most qualified, in point of fact, the perfect executive to lead that charge.

Good luck Jhani!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them." George Bernard Shaw

Back to the future for CBS - Bravo! My money is still on Joel Hollander - good man.

Back home after the final 2005 road trip. Lots to blog about once I clear my desk at the office.

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Never write when you can talk. Never talk when you can nod. And never put anything in an e-mail" Eliot Spitzer

Americans love lists. American media understand this and offer up lists of every variety. Lists and awards abound. The nature of any list, and I'll include awards here because awards are nothing more than another type of list, are almost never fair. The lists offered up by American business and trade pubs can be especially unfair. Creating lists of the best or most important or most-admired business leaders is a mission fraught with peril. However, creators often hedge their bets since there seems to be no limits (or even commonly accepted rules) on creating new and improved lists. Accordingly it is possible for Carly Fiona to top list after list of great business leaders one month, suddenly vanish from those lists and then reappear at the top of some other list ("Top business leaders on the loose...what will they do next?" or "Execs falling off this year's list"). Riding high in April and shot down in May, that's life. I write here not to be unfair to Carly but to make a point. The list bidness ain't as easy as it might first seem.

But as even the blind squirrel is sometimes able to acquire the acorn, list makers do seem to get it right on occasion. In a moment of clarity they set the record straight listing a deserving or highly qualified individual inexplicably ignored or overlooked previously. Each new list provides for this opportunity. I don't like lists that appear to lack the rigor of serious standards for qualification while pretending to be serious work; they would be better served telling it like it is "here is my or our purely subjective opinion take it or leave it." I dislike the inclusion of individuals be they business leaders or bloggers or film editors at the exclusion of others without a proper disclosure of the rules or the knowledge that there are no rules. But such is the nature of any list. Most are merely popularity contests, parlor games at best, the stuff of amusement not any serious study.

Then there are the lists of media professionals. The Radio Ink Lists are in this group and the Radio Ink folks have just released their "55 Best Managers in Radio" list. Earlier they called this list "50 Best Managers in Radio" and "Best Managers in Radio". The latter was still 50 but not in title and they also appended that list with a list of ten most-admired corporate managers. I congratulate all those listed this year and rather than ask why the number 55 is so important or again name names not on the list that certainly deserved to be there...I would prefer to tell you a story. I'll share that story in my next post.

Perhaps Jimmy deCastro was right..."Radio is high school with money."

P.S. Taking my post to heart...My Other Voices blogroll is a list of those blogs I personally read at least weekly, some, not all, as many are not yet on the blogroll due to my lack of labor (and the convenience of my Bloglines feed); the Morning Coffee blogroll is just that, my daily reads. The only rule is I read the blog and like it. Do you have a blog to suggest that I've not listed - let me know and I'll share it here - thanks!

Any list of the best marketing and advertising writers working at a daily would have to include Lewis Lazare, yesterday he writes on the Donny Deutsch book...

Deutsch exposes himself as something of a hypocrite. First he waxes ecstatic about how being a television host has given him easy access to all kinds of bold-faced names he never thought he'd meet. Then, he quickly does an about-face, and insists he has never been impressed with celebrity, and that he really admires the simple folk he grew up with in Queens.

We suppose lucky rebels from Queens just assume they can have it both ways.

Lew's entire writing is here. I agree with Lew on the Deutsch book...disappointing. If you will imagine that I have access to the set of CNBC's one and only true star, the amazing Jimmy Cramer, watch me now push JC's "don't buy" button three times and, if you must have the book, suggest you wait for it to hit the clearance won't be waiting long.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

"It has been my observation that great leadership can have an electrifying effect on the performance of any corporation" David Ogilvy

The iNDemand online buy for their Howard Stern vod product is live. The text ad in B&C's email (issue preview) directs traffic here. The big missed opportunities here..."Send to a Friend" lacks function...a mouse-over reads "Coming Soon". The "I Want Howard" page should work but lacks the data population required to search by zip...the end result is the user is asked to "please call your local cable operator" while also failing to capture any contact info, engage the potential customer or direct the viewer to their Register page and form. Perhaps they are logging the zip requests to help their sales team talk to the MSO community about demand but I would not bet on it. Poor design, half-baked effort; the good news...they can fix the pages with some thought and minimum effort. They should employ two creative for the MSO (the target of their B&C buy) and one for consumers, the pages now up fall short, they suffer from a lack of focus and message discipline.

Howard Stern on demand website fails to demand

In my experience the best sites...

Encourage you to share news - make it easy to tell a friend (exactly what the Send to a Friend feature should now be doing)

Always directs you to another page - no dead end pages (the I Want Howard search may create dead end pages)

Encourage you to provide contact info (e.g., email) to get the conversation started (the Register page needs to get major attention, much more play - they should offer unique can't buy it premiums in a sweepstakes - Meet Howard or Howard autographed swag, free month, cool downloads or bonus content et al to prompt word of mouth and drive sign-up)

Provide a clear and simple way to buy the product or service as part of your first visit.

The iNDemand Howard Stern pages fail in these critical measures. Very cool idea - ripe with potential, very poor execution.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship... the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth." Peter Drucker

Doc Searles has written something that deserves your attention. Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes is Doc's masterful call to action...

This is a long essay. There is, however, no limit to how long I could have made it. The subjects covered here are no less enormous than the Net and its future. Even optimists agree that the Net's future as a free and open environment for business and culture is facing many threats. We can't begin to cover them all or cover all the ways we can fight them. I believe, however, that there is one sure way to fight all of these threats at once, and without doing it the bad guys will win. That's what this essay is about.

Please allow me to encourage you to read his writing here.

After reading Doc I suggest you check the following links, you may find a member of congress that represents you or not; let me suggest you contact them with your thoughts concerning any potential law making regarding your access to the internet

House Energy and Commerce Committee - members - here

House - Staff Discussion Draft of Broadband Legislation- 70 page pdf - here

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee - members - here

Further using the mailing address of each Committee please share your thoughts with the following staff...these are the hard-working "behind the scenes" experts who will help members to understand the issues and to shape the discussion. I am certain each will welcome a fresh pov.

Mr. Howard Waltzman - Chief Counsel for Telecommunications and the Internet
House Energy and Commerce Committee

Mr. Will Nordwind - Counsel and Policy Coordinator Telecommunications and the Internet
House Energy and Commerce Committee

Ms. Johanna Shelton - Minority Counsel
House Energy and Commerce Committee

Ms. Lisa Sutherland - Majority Staff Director
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

Ms. Christine Kurth - Deputy Staff Director
Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee

Mr. James Assey - Minority Senior Counsel for Communications
Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee

Thank you!

"We all have a tendency to use research as a drunkard uses a lamppost - for support, not for illumination" David Ogilvy

The dead tree guys embrace Google Base. From the official Google blog...

"'s business model is built on providing employers with as many avenues as possible to connect with job seekers. Feeding our jobs to Google Base further extends our distribution network, providing employers with added support in marketing their open positions." - Richard Castellini, VP of Consumer Marketing,


Please DO NOT click on the big red button - fair warning, however, should you insist...ok to look but DO NOT click once you get here (thanks to Scobleizer Bunny and his significant other)

"They copied all they could follow, But they couldn't copy my mind. And I left 'em sweating and stealing, A year and a half behind." Kipling

Google Base is alive, you need a Google account to check it out here. Played with it for a bit this morning. Cool map product integration. They have made the wise move of putting their vehicle vertical on page one. As one who worked in the online classifieds dodge I can respect and appreciate what Google is doing (with propers too to Craigslist and eBay and Yahoo). Congrats to the Google gang on your debut. Now to really make it cool...give me the option to import some audio to entertain me while I search.

Windows Live is also alive, in beta, you need a Hotmail or MSN account. No disrespect to the MS Live team, I know it's early, however, not seeing anything - yet - that would take me away from my Google homepage. Check out what is perhaps a very early version of Live here.

My sense is innovation is at work here. Google and MS and Craigslist and eBay and Yahoo will each create fresh new competitive space by competing to make their products the best of breed. Will the dead tree, broadcast, cable and wireless folks study (and learn from) these initiatives? Will they step up their efforts and creativity? What is badly needed here is some leap frog via some game changing and unprecedented creative collaboration...Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"Big dogs eat first and they eat till they're full" Mark Niblick

Marv Dyson is a great broadcaster, a gentleman, a wit and gets my vote for best dressed. Media scribe Robert Feder headlines Marv in today's column...

"With the recent infusion of $17 million from the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Fund, Dyson's Urban Radio Communications is poised to double the number of properties it owns and become the nation's second-largest African-American-owned radio company.
Dyson, who turns 68 later this month, formed the company with Kevin Wagner, whom Dyson hired out of high school (and the Altgeld Gardens public housing complex) as an account exec at WGCI."

Read Dyson keeps busy building new empire here. Congrats to Marv, cheers to Robert.

All that's fit to drink

Fred Winston and I have been talking about food and wine almost every week for decades. We will begin to share as we opine on wine in a new collaborative blog Your Wine Cellar set to debut this weekend. First up - wine for your Thanksgiving table. We intend to share our finds, the best wines for your wallet. Link here later this week.

Over at Slate, Daniel Gross offers up his view of the noise about a Knight Ridder sale. In reviewing the suspects he writes...

"Financial buyers—leveraged buyout and private equity firms that are less concerned with synergies and more concerned with balance sheets—likewise wouldn't seem to have much interest in Knight Ridder. The notion behind an LBO is that you take on lots of debt, buy a company that has reliable cash flow at an attractive valuation, use cash flow to pay off debt, and then sell it several years later. And here, newspaper companies present two problems. The cash flow of newspapers is not reliable and may decline over time. Second, in order for the original investors to cash out, financial buyers have to sell the company to someone else down the road. Assuming trends continue, who would want to pay a premium for a bunch of newspapers in five years' time?"

Good call Daniel. Read the entire column here

Invited to participate in the Sphere beta - still in stealth - thanks guys.

Bravo! Can't say enough good stuff about the new Peter Morville book Ambient Findability - highly recommended

Writing over at TheDeal, Richard Morgan...

"Memo to media moguls: Get over it.

Get over your need for control. Get over the fear and fealty you've instilled in your subordinates for all those years. And get over the top-down decision-making process that has characterized mass media companies since they first arose in the 19th century.
It's not that a new media order wants you out of the way. It's just that you and others atop the intellectual-property food chain are about to see that chain inverted. In fact, if you're really worth your Gulfstream G-200, you're leading the inversion. You're already out there, a la News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, snapping up online assets that you and your peers didn't know existed (and which may not have existed) a few short years ago.
Why you're so keen on acquiring these assets is obvious. You're desperately trying to keep pace with the online migration of readers, viewers and listeners who were once yours, all yours. If you fail, then you'll be left behind as an old-media company stuck with a decaying model that at some point will no longer sustain your business. "How long will the tinkering continue? Perhaps until a generational shift produces managers with sensibilities of a kind Murdoch himself described in his speech to the newspaper editors."

"Like many of you in this room," the 74-year-old said, "I'm a digital immigrant. I wasn't weaned on the Web, nor coddled on a computer. Instead, I grew up in a highly centralized world where news and information were tightly controlled by a few editors, who deemed to tell us what we could and should know. My two young daughters, on the other hand, will be digital natives." And it is to these digital natives that, more sooner than later, moguls like Murdoch are destined to bow." You may find the entire writing here

Sunday, November 13, 2005

"Poor showmanship, lack of ability in spotting talent, and a conservative, unimaginative business approach will not reap big profits" Dave Sholin

My friend Ron Fell has written a tribute to legendary broadcaster Bill King, you may find it here. Ron is one of the great gentleman of the world and I am blessed to know him. He is the gadget guys gadget guy, always on the leading edge. He also happens to maintain a residence in two of the greatest cities in the world...his native San Francisco and Sydney.

Steve Rubel and Joseph Jaffe offer up a fine weekly podcast, check out Across the Sound here. At the end of this week's cast they invite comments on how long the podcast should be while saying ATS is now running to 45 minutes. My sense is Steve and Joe should let content be their guide. 45 minutes is not too long when the show is engaging, topical and offers a fresh pov.

Peter Drucker, one of the greatest intellects, thinkers and writers on business in our time has passed - a great loss. Perhaps the only living person who will match Drucker's incredible and amazing insight will be Tom Peters. Find Drucker on the web here. TP on Drucker here

The Philly Prophet, the one and only Jim Cramer, was profiled on 60 tonight. Uncle Dan did a fair job. As I have said here previously, JC is the goods, the single best biz show on television period paragraph. Since there is not a CNBC website you'll need to navigate MSN Money, part of the MSN domain, to get anything on CNBC or Cramer. (Closed circuit to MSN - this sucks, fix it please) Not yet a Cramer fan? This is a simply outstanding Gary Owens used to say "don't miss it if you can" on CNBC, read his CNBC bio here. (Closed circuit to MM - get a chair company to sponsor the chair - "we are the only people who build a chair that is not afraid of JC - bring it").

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"Truly great companies aren't built by the greedy, but by the passionate" William Gurley

Howie Kurtz writes up Mary Mapes the old school way...he lets her run her mouth...

She is disdainful of Moonves, the CBS president who ordered the outside investigation. "He doesn't know journalism from dirt farming," Mapes said. In the book, noting that Moonves courted and then married "Early Show" anchor Julie Chen, she writes: "I used to say everything Les knows about journalism had been sexually transmitted. Now I know even that hasn't taught him much."

She says Viacom, CBS's corporate parent, threw her overboard because Chief Executive Sumner Redstone feared regulatory retaliation by the Bush administration.

Linda Mason, a CBS News senior vice president, said Mapes was fired because "her basic reporting was faulty. She relied on documents that could not be authenticated -- you could never authenticate a Xeroxed copy. She led others who trusted her down the wrong road." Viacom acted because its executives were "stunned at the report" and concerned about restoring CBS News's reputation, she said.

Read the entire column here. Les has done an excellent, make that brilliant, job with entertainment, his team will fix non-entertainment is my bet. Viacom is waking up to the new opportunity rich marketplace; In addition to supporting, encouraging major change Sumner Redstone also understands the incredible future of gaming, as few others do. Joel Hollander is getting Infinity moving in the right direction after being handed a dog's breakfast.

More in the 400 year death spiral of the dead tree tribe

Bob Baker writes...

I don't know about you but I'm tired of listening to our obituaries. I ACCEPT death: Everybody dies sometime. If newspapers are going to die, as most "smart" people seem to think, let's go down swinging. Let's go down like the Texans at the Alamo. Let's publish the best, most interesting, most audacious stories we can, on our own terms. Let's not be businessmen. Let's be artists. Let's put our art--the stories we love to write, edit and publish--on the market and see who buys it.

Let's be all the things we love to read. Let's astonish our audience. Let's stop asking our readers what they want. Let's remember, as Frank Capra, the great director, once said, that "the audience doesn't know what it wants--until it sees it."

Read all of Bob's writing here

The Scobleizer Bunny weighs in...the Gates email, the Ozzie memo

Robert Scoble offers his pov, links and the comments here.

Check out the Nov 4 Gillmor Gang ("Disruption Gang") wherein the gang takes on Robert Scoble. Find it here. Every media company needs to stay fresh on these issues, it is way beyond the time that this was elective; Vista, LIVE, the entire issue of internet services disruption, what YAHOO and GOOGLE are doing..each and all merit your attention NOW.

Terry Heaton, always a good read, does "get it"...

It's not all or nothing. This is by far the biggest block to real progress in the face of the media 2.0 disruption. We hear things like "mass marketing is dead" and we react negatively, in part, because we intuitively know that's simply not true. There will always be mass marketing approaches to business in our world — even if they're smaller in scale. What Umair Haque calls the "blockbuster" events necessary to create mass audiences are and will be fewer and farther between, and that should be a concern to any mass marketer.

Do we have to drop ALL mass marketing to succeed in a media 2.0 world? I don't think so, but we do need to develop methods and models that work in an unbundled, individualized media world, and these are definitely at enmity with mass marketing practices. We can and we must learn them, however

We need to strike the words "always" and "never" from our language, because this is vastly more complex that simple black and white explanations would have us believe. That said, "getting it" includes a little willingness to explore extremes despite how we feel about them.

Read all of Terry's post here

Server is too busy

Above is the message returned (twice) when I attempted to sign-in to check mail at; no fancy marketing language, no graphics, no apology, no please try again later, nope, just...Server is too busy. For some things in 2005, user experience included, there just ain't no good excuse, none.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"Initiative can neither be created nor delegated. It can only spring from the self-determining indivIDual, who decides that the wisdom of others is not always better than his own" R. Buckminister Fuller

Eric Nuzum, a manager at NPR, has written an interesting commentary concerning public radio (Biggest audience gainers focus on the basics of good radio)...

Finding new listeners is laudable, important work and buzzworthy in public radio during recent years but it's a terribly inefficient way to build audience.

Making new listeners into regulars is a long haul. It takes significant investments and patience. New listeners are difficult to catch and far more difficult to keep. If you doubt that, think about your last experience with the scan button on your radio. How many stations captured and lost you in a matter of seconds?

While new-listener initiatives pay off over the course of several years, there are audience-building initiatives that can show results in weeks or months, strengthening service to current listeners.

Mr. Nuzum goes on to write

A stations most efficient means of expanding its audience is to convert fringe listeners into core listeners. A core listener is someone who uses your radio station more than they use any other radio station across a seven-day period. That's it.

Fringe listeners? They are everyone else. Everyone who isn't a core listener is a fringe listener.

Core listeners are the backbone of a station.

While I agree with his suggestion that stations exhibiting ratings growth might just be those that "practice better radio" and agree that so-called core listeners are critical to success (Jim Seiler was the first to demonstrate this using his theory of "heavy users", Arbitron later confirmed Seiler's theory creating the P-1 construct), however, I must respectfully disagree with his notion on building audience. The hamartia here is "finding new listeners is...a terribly inefficient way to build audience" Exactly wrong. Growing the two toplines (ratings and revenue) delivers the best return, further, let me suggest growing those toplines should be nothing less than job one at every station. Rather than characterize Nuzum's review of the Arbitron data as a near miss case of apophenia, I applaud his attempt to make sense of the data and offer the advice once given me by the great intellect and legendary media researcher Jim Yergin "cume and occasions provide the best insight." This is not to say that programmers should not be focused on getting proper listening credit, growing share of listening or putting state-of-the-art tools (e.g, OES models for messaging) to work to deliver the best possible ratings performance. The fact of the matter is optimization of your current reported listening, while very important, has practical limitations, it is finite. The wise avoid the deception, the illusion, the seduction, the inherent dangers of a one dimensional "loyalty" focus and, instead, prefer to invest attention and resources on the new romance...inducing trial; the creative, pathological obession with building new listenership and new dollars. I encourage you to read Eric Nuzum's writing here and let me know your thoughts.

Here's a good read...Mike Janssen's article "Audience growth stalls for public radio system" here

The issues raised about public radio's growth and lack of growth have been a topic of discussion in our ongoing Media Leadership Series. One of the most popular discussion tools used in the series are "The Great Leader" monographs. Here is a cut from the radio program director monograph first published over a decade ago.

A Great Program Director

A Great Program Director understands that radio is a ratings driven business and delivers winning numbers to the sales department. A Great Program Director is an advocate for target listeners; a champion for P-1 listener wants and needs. A Great Program Director puts research to work to stay in touch with her/his target. A Great Program Director understands the incredible powers of imagination, knowledge, creativity, attitude, focus and technology. "The play's the thing" so said Shakespeare, and A Great Program Director knows that great radio is great theater. A Great Program Director is a leader, a coach, a director, a businessperson. A Great Program Director values "people skills" and is devoted to being a good and fair person with a reputation for creating a stimulating, positive and challenging environment for creative individuals. A Great Program Director knows building a great radio station is a marathon with no finish line; the price of success is always more competition. A Great Program Director is decisive, a strategic thinker, an excellent listener, a person who "hears" ideal radio playing in her/his head and strives to put that station on the air every set, every quarter-hour, every day. A Great Program Director is a competent fiduciary and accepts responsibility for diligent planning and prudent allocation and care of the company's most precious resources - talent, time and cash.

My friend, the brilliant media researcher and author, Roger Wimmer has posted the entire monograph on his website here

Should you be interested, you may also find another in the monograph series, A Great General Manager here

Thanks for the recent emails regarding "Mommy, please make them stop the boring pledge drive." Because of the positive feedback, this will certainly be an important part of our 2006 Media Leadership Series.

Jeff Jarvis makes note of the latest bulletins in the 400 year death spiral of newspapers here

Inside Microsoft - Above Top Secret - Leaked Bill Gates' email

The Bill Gates email & Ray Ozzie memo make mighty fine reading. Bill says "...a new business model has emerged in the form of advertising-supported services and software" while Ray writes "Today there are three key tenents that are driving fundamental shifts in the landscape...

1. The power of the advertising-supported economic model
2. The effectiveness of a new delivery and adoption model
3. The demand for compelling, integrated user experiences that "just work".

Ray's third tenent brings Jerry Semel to mind...Jerry said "people want something that just works" and "I never cared how it worked, I just pushed the on button".

In my experience, people don't care about the technology, they do expect "the utility standard" - as we used to call it in cable tv - "they turn it on and it works, they pick up the phone and they get tone, no exceptions" It's all about the technology being transparent, it's all about the user experience. Period.

Thanks to Dave Winer for sharing Bill's email, Ray's memo and for offering his usual keen and fresh pov to wit

"One thing about MS culture, even after all these years, there's a core inside that's hard, it's willing to change in order to win. Good for them."

Bravo Dave! You rock; let the conversation begin. (Closed circuit to Google - you'll benefit inviting Dave into your it soon) You will find the Microsoft docs via Dave Winer here

Reading Tom Evslin? You may now preorder his hardcover book via Amazon here. Tom says he will autograph preorders. Should you not be dialed in...I highly recommend his writing, now a blook (sic),, you may read this well done whodoneit here. Please allow me to suggest, should you not be reading Tom's non-fiction blog, taste this and a post that rings true to me (given my telephony/MSO days of fighting the RBOCs), Tom's take on the SBC-AT&T get together here. Bravo Tom, well said!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

"We make a considerable step forward, it seems to me, when we use a system of broadcasting which promises that the mediocre will not survive" Lewis Hill

Without regard to his political beliefs, a great many of the suggestions made by Lew Hill in his 1951 writing "The Theory of Listener-Sponsored Radio" merit the attention of today's media professionals. "Listener sponsorship is an answer to the practical problem of getting better radio programs and keeping them" wrote Hill. "The play's the thing" so said Shakespeare, it was ever thus. You may find an excerpt from Hill's writing here

Michael S. Malone, the Boswell of Silicon Valley, writes...

Let me make a prediction. Five years from now, the blogosphere will have developed into a powerful economic engine that has all but driven newspapers into oblivion, has morphed (thanks to cell phone cameras) into a video medium that challenges television news, and has created a whole new group of major companies and media superstars. Billions of dollars will be made by those prescient enough to either get on board or invest in these companies. At this point, the industry will then undergo its first shakeout, with the loss of perhaps several million blogs — though the overall industry will continue to grow at a steady pace.

And, at about that moment, Forbes will announce that the blogosphere is the Next Big Thing for investors.

Michael brings a wealth of experience and, most importantly, he brings perspective. As the good doctor Gary Hamel has said "perspective is worth ten IQ points" You will find Michael's writing, an ABC News commentary, Silicon Insider: Forbes Fumbles the Blogosphere here

While we're at it allow me to recommend yet another Fred Wilson post. Fred has seen the future of media and offers "The Future of Media (aka Please Take my RSS Feed)"...

Leaving aside the rights issues, which I know are large, if I were a television executive right now, I'd take my content, microchunk it, put a couple calls to a video ad server in the middle of it, and let it go whereever it wants to go, safe in the knowledge that whenever the show is viewed, I'll get to run a couple 15 second spots in the middle of it (which I could change whenever I wanted to and which I could measure).

This is where media is going and its not going to be stopped. Read the entire post here

LA Theater Works offers up a fresh production of the classic "War of the Worlds" the H.G. Wells writing, adapted by Howard Koch. Leonard Nimoy, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner and fellow cast members from the TV series “Star Trek” recreate this classic science fiction thriller, which became known as the “panic broadcast” when it first aired in 1938. Via 89.3 KPCC Radio here

From the writings of the legendary genius Larry Haeg ("Haeg's 10 Program Concepts as Proposed to Arthur Hall Hayes")...pure gold...

2. If we are doing things the same way today as we were last season, we are behind the times. Find a better way to reach the same objective.

3. The best promotion for building audience is the sound we are making on our air right now. Guard that air. Make the sound "right". You can't correct it later.

10. Ideas are our stock in trade. Contribute new ones without fear as to who will get the credit. As we pool ideas and fit them to the most appropriate personalities and programs, all of us will prosper.

Friday, November 04, 2005

"Wealth is not gained by perfecting the known, but by imperfectly seizing the unknown" Kevin Kelly

Frank Bell is a good broadcaster, a gentleman who knows his trade. He sets the record straight on those pay radio folk to wit...

Fresh Research About Satellite Radio Listening

Regardless of how Arbitron proceeds with the proposed change to include language prompting diarykeepers to write down their listening to satellite or internet radio, it's important to understand how much satellite radio listening is actually being reported right now. This information is helpful to put into perspective the far-reaching claims of the XM and Sirius PR flacks who have pretty much convinced the mainstream press that terrestial broadcasting is over the hill.

While examining Pittsburgh Summer 05 diaries in Columbia this week, I calculated how much time Pittsburgh diarykeepers were reporting listening to satellite radio. The results should get the attention of any person or organization who has invested money in XM or Sirius. These findings may also provide insight as to why Arbitron, in its quest to develop new revenue streams, feels compelled to prompt diarykeepers to report satellite listening.

Of the 3340 in-tab diaries for Pittsburgh's Summer survey, a grand total of 42, or 1.26% of the sample, report any type of satellite listening. These 42 diaries include every mention of XM (21) , Sirius (17) or "other" (5) satellite channels. The individual service numbers add to 43 because one diarykeeper reported switching from XM to Sirius in the car, which I'm not sure is technically possible.

Based on the glowing reports from mainstream media, you might assume people were in love with their satellite radios and spent most of their day listening to all these wonderful options. In reality, they spend relatively few quarter-hours with any kind of radio. Here are the details:

XM -- 895 quarter-hours, or .0037 of all radio listening (.37%).
Sirius -- 412 quarter-hours, or .0017 of all radio listening (.17%).
Other -- 73 quarter-hours, or .0003 of all radio listening (.03%).

Total Satellite Usage -- 1380 quarter-hours, or 0.57% -- barely one half of one per cent -- of all radio listening in the market.

These percentages were derived by dividing each service's unweighted quarter-hours by the Summer market total of 242,335 quarter-hours. They are not "shares" in the traditional sense, but do provide a real-world perspective on how listeners are behaving.

Strictly for comparison, KQV-am, a local news/talk station, generated 2512 raw quarter-hours, or .0104 (1.04%) of all radio listening. In the Summer 05 market report, their quarter-hour audience is 2700 persons, worth a 0.9 share.

My suggestion is that any broadcaster examining diaries should take a moment and get the facts about what is actually happening with satellite radio in their home market. It would also be helpful if Arbitron would provide the percentages on a market-by-market basis so we know what the baseline is before they modify the current diary language. Then terrestial broadcasters can start generating their own press releases!

Bravo Frank! Well said. The pay radio folks are using fuzzy math, the same kind of goofy argument that some pay tv guys have used...the "sub" case wherein the sub number is presented rather than any viewership stats. A cable network may well have 20, 40, 60 million subs - while that number does represent home penetration - that number is no indication of viewership. HBO is an excellent cable network, many would say the very best, they have around 28 million subs, their biggest hit shows pull viewership numbers that are small compared to hit shows on the big four. Your own home is a great example, how many cable channels are available to you, how many do you actually watch, how many did you actually order (beyond channels in whatever tier you purchased)? Easy to understand why a cable network would chose to talk up being in 20 million homes rather than address their 200,000 nationwide viewership. There are very good reasons why many cable nets run paids at night and on the weekends. Easier to understand why the pay radio guys want to keep everyone focused on subs, set sales and the respective growth percentages (when starting at zero the stats do seem amazing - what a bidness!!!). Not so fast...when the street finally gets a look at the pay radio ratings "the party's over"... how fitting...that line is one of Mel's favorites.

Meanwhile, Captain Kurt has the Motley Fool take and his always fresh pov, here

Got a nice email from the legendary John Long. John is one of radio's best and brightest. You may find him on the web here. John's writing Puttin On The Hits deserves the attention of any serious student of the media.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience" Admiral Hyman Rickover

Congrats and kudos to Joel Hollander, Infinity's CEO. Today, Joel along with David Goodman and Rob Barnett hosted a webcast concerned with their new Free FM initiative. Joel's comments on the importance of "patience" and "risk taking" in growing product, his counsel to staff to "go on the offensive" rather than play defense and his pledge to remain "aggressive" in 2006 are to be commended. Patience is exactly what is needed to ensure creative success. You may check out the 19 minute webcast here

Cool site of the moment is digg, check it out here. The dudes, Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht, also produce a keen video podcast and audio podcast...Diggnation. Check out the audio here (FeedBurner), find the video here. From their latest, episode 18..."the end user really doesn't care about technology" Bravo dudes - exactly correct!

Monday, October 31, 2005

"Most people think money is the key to reducing risk. Preparation is." Mark Cuban

Dave Weinberger has offered up what may well be the all inclusive disclosure list, check it out here

Nathaniel Daw mashed up Plato's Republic with cuts from Quentin Tarantino's work, a fun read here (via Corey Doctorow)

Infinity has - no doubt inspired by Target's New Yorker buy - purchased all of the ad pages in Ad Age. Joseph Jaffe thinks the creative is somewhat less than effective. Read his post "Infinity lives up to its name - endless clutter and endless crap" here. Odd that the buy did not include the Ad Age Daily email, noticed CFO had the banner ad this morning. Hey David the Crain tribe owes you and Joel a make good. I must respectfully disagree with Joseph being informed by perspective - Infinity has come a long way in a short time. Great to see that Joel is making things happen on his watch. Bravo to the Infinity gang!

While in New York earlier this month I heard Howard and...he was sounding great, never better.

Truth be known creating and sustaining a great radio show is hard work. Creating and sustaining a great morning show is an act that requires the players to suspend the laws of nature, to engage in a daily recreation filled with traps and Mr Murphy always around the next corner laying in wait to potentially trash the performance. The biggest single challenge facing most every great radio program...keeping the crack management team away, removed from the process. Nothing kills creative endeavors with more efficiency than management out of their depth and insisting on providing "input" when their only credential is title. Great managers are worth whatever it takes to keep them, they inspire great performance.

Who's your daddy? A Blog family tree is now in progress, check it out here, good work from the commissar at acepilots. Robot Wisdom was the first blog I recall. The first broadcast person "on line" was Bob Hamilton back in the day of 300 baud

Terry Heaton delivers the mail...

While I agree with John that there are individuals within the mainstream trying to innovate, I just cannot believe that real change will come from within. This is not some wild belief that I carry; it's based on my day-to-day experience in dealing with people in media companies, especially those in high places. The essential problem is that there just isn't time for the "story as old as business itself." We cannot play "business as usual" in the face of these types of disruptive technologies.

The constant anthem expressed in this blog is that collapse will come upon the mainstream like a thief in the night and that one day soon, these same high placed executives will wake up and everything will be gone. You may think I'm overstating that (because, after all, they're still making a lot of money), and that's fine. I think what's happening in our culture is far bigger than most people realize and that our economy is a lot weaker than most suspect. I would love to be proven wrong.

I have been guilty of flaming the fires that separate, and I accept any criticism that comes along about that. In real life, I'm much more into bringing people together than in dividing people. The anger and passion expressed here isn't intended to be personal. But mass media is dying, and I have a lot of friends embedded in the bowels of the ship who deserve a seat on the lifeboats. Every day that goes by in which legacy media companies refuse to invest time, energy and resources into new business models is another day with the lifeboats firmly attached.

So while some mainstream writers take potshots at bloggers (e.g. Forbes), and bloggers bite back with their own brand of condescension, the collision course with the iceberg remains locked into the ship's steering mechanism.

Perhaps the real enmity is between those with eyes to see this and those without, regardless of their position in the media world. This, I think, is what's being expressed by Rafat, Jarvis and others when they lament the lack of passion for change in the agendas of conferences such as the ONA.

Well said Terry. Read his entire writing here

Today's best waste of bandwidth? Put Albert Einstein to work at a blackboard, check it out here

Sunday, October 30, 2005

"Operate as if you are in perpetual beta" Tim O'Reilly

Turned comments on today. Your thoughts are welcome.

Ten Steps to a Hugely Successful Web 2.0 Company is an excellent post by Charles O'Donnell...

1. Solve the smallest possible problem (that is still big enough to matter) for the user and know exactly what problem you're trying to solve. Google's first and primary job was very simple: Help people find stuff. They didn't start layering on everything else until much later. Brad calls this the "narrow point of the wedge." Its the easiest, simplest version of what you're trying to do... the smallest bite your users will ever have to chew--small enough to get hooked on very easily.

10. No one sucks. I hate it when someone says that a whole service sucks. Now, I say it myself, I'll admit, but what that does is it teaches you to discount and generalize, and probably miss a lot of small opportunities that add up. Now, I think Ofoto sucks versus Flickr, but people still use it. Why? There's got to be something there. AOL sucks... or does it? They still have 20 million users, so it can't entirely suck. You should look at every competitor and take the best of what they do right and do it yourself, even if that's only one thing and the rest of their service sucks.

Bravo Charles - well said. Read the entire post here

Bill Gates speaks at IAB's Engage in London...

He said the next challenge would be to take advantage of ubiquitous wireless, super-fast internet connections. Advances in computer hardware had been a "miracle" but high-speed internet connections would accelerate the pace of change even further. Computers would become almost invisible, he said, integrated into everything that we do. "In some ways the computer just disappears into the environment. All these devices will be hooked up to the internet and the internet will not have any speed limitations. And these devices will be a lot cheaper than they are today," he said.

Magazines and newspapers would eventually become redundant in their existing form, with interactive, personalised content delivered to handheld devices. "A lot of the reading that's taking place, the richness to be able to call up anything will take over," he said.

Read the full article via The Guardian here

Jay Rosen has done an outstanding job of covering the Judith Miller - New York Times debate, you may find a collection of his posts here

Corey Bergman offers up some fine coverage of ONA here, here, here and here. Thanks Corey. He does make two very good points "where are all the students?" "where are the local station people". My sense is this is a leadership issue; no good reason why both groups should not be attending and well represented.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

"Look for what is missing. Many know how to improve what's there; few can see what isn't there" William H. Swanson

My sincere thanks to Mr. Swanson for his kindness in sending me a copy of his "Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management". The above, Unwritten Rule Number 4, is taken from his powerful little book of wisdom. It goes on to state "Always think about what's missing; it's amazing what you'll find." At the end of his book he says "People sometimes ask me what I believe are the essential qualities of leadership. To me the qualities of leadership boil down to: Confidence, Dedication, Integrity and Love...true leaders don't just have these traits - they apply then and instill them in others." Great stuff! Exceptional book!

John Battelle has posted his interview with Google's Omid Kordestani, a good read...

Is Google a technology company or a media company?

We're absolutely deep in advertising, but let me clarify. The difference between us and our competition is that we innovate through applying technology. The angle of a media company is you're packaging content or advertising inventory. We look at ads as commercial information, and that goes back to our core mission of organizing the world's information. When people in the media world hear this, they say, "What are these guys talking about?"

What do you see as the future of advertising?

The measurability of online advertising will extend broadly to all areas of media. You have companies spending billions of dollars on television. As more and more consumers adopt technologies like TiVo, I think you'll be able to have much more useful forms of advertising -- more targeted, more measurable, and with new pricing models. Just imagine if we made it possible for our advertisers to quickly publish relevant ads that could range from the local plumber on one end to Super Bowl commercials on the other.

Read the entire interview here

Bob Shannon continues to amaze. This gentleman of exceptional skills and considerable gifts has decided to favor us with fresh servings of his smart writing. This time around he is posting must reads at Joel Denver's site AllAccess (free rr). Check out Bob's fine work "All Them Big Dogs" located in the Career Tools section of Joel's site. Thanks to Joel for adding this killer content and thanks to Bob for sharing more of his very cool pov. We can all learn something from Bob Shannon.

When Craig Newmark recommends a book, I buy it. Ambient Findability is by Peter Morville and Craig writes...

I just read the book, and recommend it. Peter deals with big issues that we're all struggling to grasp. the notion is that the web is place which is a network of places... and how do we think about that, or get around. O'Reilly tells me it is on back order, check it out here

Great to get emails from WCCO Stars Denny Long and Mike Lynch. Both of these gentleman are at the top of their game and they are each a joy to listen to. Via Infinity's RadioMat this morning I was able to catch Denny along with the great (and always uber-cool) Charlie Boone and news ace Bruce Hagevik. Also heard his royal highness The King having a discussion with my old pal and odds maker to the odds makers Morgan Mundane. Thanks for the tips Morg, I now need to run to the ATM. Great radio, it just does not get any better. My understanding is WCCO is #1 in cume and aqh share in the just released Arbitron, congrats and cheers to Wendy Paulson and the stars of her show. As Paul Drew often said "Being #1 requires no explanation"

Our new favorite hotel in the Twin Cities is Graves 601 Hotel, a fine property with the worst possible name. Here's a cut from Zagat...

“Cool comes to Minneapolis” via this “gorgeous” property whose “ultramodern” decor scheme and “dim lighting” make some think they’re “walking into the film The Matrix”; rooms outfitted with “comfortable beds”, plasma TVs, high-speed or WiFi access, baths with Hermès soap and “awesome” rain showers, and the “great bar” at Cosmos restaurant, are all “très

Our highest recommendation, a very cool experience indeed. Avoid the high rack rates and get a very good deal by booking via their site which you may find here

We enjoyed our stay at the property during a recent trip to the cities to catch the latest Cirque du Soleil production Corteo. We remain in the debt of Infinity honcho and mensch Wes Spencer who encouraged us to go and was our guest at our first Cirque du Soleil production many semesters ago. "It's a circus without elephants" he said.

Fortune's David Kirkpatrick writes...

I’m pessimistic that large old-guard media organizations will be able to compete effectively in such a software-driven world. The Yahoos, CNETs, Googles, and MSNs—coming as they do from their roots in software—are likely to have fundamental advantages. It will probably turn out to be considerably easier for tech companies to turn themselves into media companies than for media companies to become savvy about tech.
Of course, the old media can always buy or rent technologies that have been developed elsewhere. But those who develop their own will be the ones with a competitive advantage in a world of fickle consumers and constant change.

Ongoing expensive research and development will be critical, but the very concept is anathema to most media companies. Today’s big media companies try to differentiate themselves with the quality of the news, information, or entertainment that they deliver, not with how it is delivered. The problem is that now they need to do both.

David is correct. How serious a firm is will be reflected in their budgeting and spending for cap x, r&d and talent; the acid test of a firm's resolve will be revealed in the magnitude of these investments most importantly their tech investment. I give Infinity CEO Joel Hollander high marks for the major progress he has made in this area since the first of the year. Joel is reimagining - to steal from Tom Peters - an Infinity that is way different from the one Mel ran. Read all of David's writing, Big Media's Challenge - Taking on the Tech Giants, here

Friday, October 28, 2005

"Incrementalism is innovation's worst enemy" Nicholas Negroponte

Vaughn Ververs deserves high praise for his post this morning "The Elephant In My Room"

For some, whether or not Public Eye speaks out on Memogate has become a litmus test of our seriousness, guts and honesty. I think that's sort of silly. Our mission at Public Eye is to facilitate discussion, answer questions and open up the process at CBS News, not to offer my opinions in a straight “ombudsman” fashion.

Still, the question comes up over and over and lurks just beneath the surface of almost everything we do. The reality is that this week’s change of leadership at CBS News brings the issue to the forefront once again. A new account of the episode, written by former producer Mary Mapes, is also due to hit bookstores shortly. So I’ll try to address it here, offer some of my personal thoughts and, hopefully, help to answer some of the questions.

Bravo Vaughn!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

"Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance but to do what lies clearly at hand" Thomas Carlyle

The page title says "Official Google Blog", the content makes mighty good reading, check it out here

It's official - I've been Flocked and I think I like it. Congrats to Flock CEO Bart Decrem and his gang. Rather than contributing extensions for Firefox they are using the Mozilla project codebase to build a totally new browser experience. Check out and download the developer preview version here. Read Bart's blog here. I remain a rabid fan of Firefox (presenting using Beta 2) but welcome the fresh pov. Good luck Bart & company!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

"Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics" Military shibboleth

The above quotation I learned while in uniform; the latest writing by Robert D. Kaplan offers another version, one I rather prefer..."Amateurs discussed tactics, and rank amateurs discussed grand strategy, while professionals discussed logistics" (Imperial Grunts, pg 228)

My suggestion is measured media leadership is obsessed with tactics and strategy and too often fails to grasp or even appreciate the practical, real-world logistics now in play.

Andrew Odlyzko, Director, Digital Technology Center at the University of Minnesota, and 26 year veteran of Bell labs, serves up some interesting speculation, to wit

  • Content is not king
  • Streaming real-time multimedia is not the future
  • Intelligence, costs and revenues will continue to migrate to the edges
  • Rates of change: Technology - Fast, Consumer habits - Slow, Industry dogmas - Slowest
  • Faster-than-real-time video file transfers: cater to human impatience, enable transfer to portable devices, enable far simpler networks and already dominate
  • Flexibility of the Internet is enabling innovation that bypasses misleading industry dogmas
  • Build it and they may come, but always in their own sweet time
  • Painful restructuring in store (telecom)
  • Industry hobbled by misleading dogmas (telecom)
  • File transfer for local storage and transfer to other devices the most natural evolution
  • Long historical tradition of overemphasis on content
  • Connectivity has traditionally been valued much more than content
  • Social connectivity very important but neglected
  • big and important, it is just not as big or as important as connectivity

Please permit me to suggest these telecom issues are also relevant and merit attention in any serious discussions about measured media. Agree or not with Andrew, his pov is well worth your bandwidth and consideration. You may find his home page here

Lots of email regarding the earlier post on hiring. Chasing the same subject matter, here is an excellent point made by Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO, Fox News Channel via

What's the primary thing you look for when you're hiring?

I can't stand negative people. Negative people will bring you down. Life's tough and then you die, and the first 100 years in the ground is just the beginning. I mean, it's just not a good time to get depressed–it's gonna, it could get worse later. And if you can't manage to be positive in a job interview, chances are not great that it's going to get better anytime soon. If you run into people who are negative, and always telling you that the cat got ran over, and you couldn't get the car started and you've got a cold, the suits are idiots and life isn't fair, you know, you need to get away from those people because they will suck you under and hold you down and drown you. Read the entire piece Q&A with Roger Ailes here

My recent counsel to a young manager asking me what to look for when hiring...

21 hiring tips to help you to hire the very best talent

  • hire on attitude (see Ailes above)
  • hire smart people (as Bruce Johnson said "you will never teach someone to be smart")
  • hire "over-qualified" people whenever possible
  • hire "tie-breakers", the people with drive, initiative, tenacity and imagination
  • hire folks preoccupied with today and tomorrow, avoid those who want "yesterday" back
  • hire those that understand they are responsible for producing results without credit, without excuses or reasons
  • hire the hard-working, those with a history of making things happen, those known to get things done (work ethic can not be taught)
  • hire folks that answer "I don't know" when that is the most appropriate response in the interview, seek the intellectually honest, those able to make unvarnished candor effective
  • hire those that former employers say "gave us their best efforts"
  • hire people who are decisive
  • hire people with a sense of humor
  • hire people who say they love what they do and claim to have fun at what they do
  • hire the curious, those that speak in the language of possibility, those with a dream
  • hire those willing to admit their last big failure and share what they learned from the experience, always hire resilience
  • hire those that respect flexibility ("Flexibility is the highest attribute of human intelligence" so said Bob Henabery or as Aristotle wrote, the ability "to entertain a thought without accepting it")
  • hire those that grasp simplicity as the solution to complex problems
  • hire those that do their homework, those that consistently take measured risks
  • hire those who understand execution without urgency is, most often, action plagued by process
  • never hire any person with a history of being "unlucky" (wise advice also from Bruce Johnson)
  • pay attention to their questions and to their listening skills
  • hire those that use plural pronouns in greater number than personal pronouns, seek those that speak using verbs

Finally, in the initial interview make every effort to let the candidate do 85% of the talking. Allow the candidate to finish a response, then wait, let the moment fill with silence and allow them to fill that void. Avoid the temptation to sell the opportunity and/or the company. Those activities are best left to the second or third interview. Immediately after the first interview write down your impressions, go with your gut - how does the candidate make you "feel?"

Andrea Mitchell's book is a fun, smart read especially if you work, have worked, or dream of working as a reporter. Bravo Andrea!

Monday, October 24, 2005

"To be a media company, technology is in the core of it – what you must excel at...Yahoo is all about content...I see us as a 21st century tech company that drives great media. I don’t think you can be one without the other" Terry Semel

My thanks to Scott Krisner for his coverage of Web 2.0 Conference from which the above quotation has been liberated. You may read Scott's summary of Terry Semel's session here, and his writing about Barry Diller's session here. Congrats to the O'Reilly gang for a simply great conference. See you in San Diego next March, more info here.

Mark Hall writes about the Diller session, specifically about the issue of "talent" being discovered via the new forms of online media, a good read which concludes with...

But as many others have noted, ad nauseam and better than I, the online medium is not at all about that. It's about conversation. Participation. Remixing. Democratization. It's about us talking to us. For all the many good things that come out of this new, collective medium, I am not sure it makes the best home for talented people, and their works. There are and remain other media that remain better suited for that: the short story, the novel, the film, the interview show, the essay to name but a few. (Oh, and digitization of those things and distribution online is just that -- distribution, not a new medium).

The point of all this is that the cheerleaders and operators of these new platforms should stop being so defensive when folks like Diller say it's not likely they'll become showcases for great, undiscovered talents. He's right. Concentrate on the other things that the medium is good for -- its ability to foster new forms of conversation; to allow us to find and to share information about specific things more efficiently than ever before; and to connect us and bind us together in new ways that harness our collective talents. Points well made Mark - bravo! Read all of Mark's post here.

A few words about the NAB Radio Show.

Seth Godin's keynote was a disappointment. For years I have admired and respected Godin. My sense is...while short on any original thinking, Seth is strong in the creative repackaging of important tenets and collected wisdom. His advice to the first tribe of wireless...make the product so exceptional that people talk about one of the so-called basics of the biz and certainly nothing new. As this premise relates to broadcast, it may have been McLendon who first said it way back in the fifties "get people to talk about your radio station." Granted, word of mouth or buzz may be fresh new themes for some sectors but are, in fact, rather old hat for electronic media. Regarding Godin's statement that we are in the fashion business. Others including Drucker and Peters have successfully used fashion as a metaphor. During the eighties our film buyer at Midcontinent Theaters always said we were in the "business of the moment", that picking films was "exactly like picking hit fashions off the runway." While I would rate the Godin presentation low on any original content, insight or take away, I would give him above average marks for an entertaining presentation.

Lots of good discussion, all but a few of the panels were lightly attended.

Scott Donaton, Editor of Advertising Age, offers up...

Underscoring a Marketing and Media Industry Leadership Vacuum

Will someone other than David Verklin please stand up?

I mean, really, is there a single other human being who has been as much of a leader, visionary, a force for change and a voice of optimism in the marketing and media industries over the last 15 years? The answer is no, and that’s remarkable, as a statement on Verklin’s talents and as shameful commentary on the leadership vacuum.

Lack of public stands

I’ve heard many executives articulate the challenges facing their industries and offer daring, innovative solutions one-on-one. But most of them don’t have the guts or willingness to take a public stand, because corporate won’t let them or the industry wouldn’t rally behind them or rivals might twist their words to gain competitive advantage. The ideas go nowhere -- or, worse, are voiced only in the confines of trade -- association boardrooms, where they die with a muffled whimper.

To which Joseph Jaffe responds...

He continues to expound on the fact that executives “don’t have the guts or willingness to take a public stand” for a variety of corporate, legal and political reasons.
Finally, he ends with a call to action that “we need to recruit a few more just like him, explorers to map the way forward.

“Who’s signing up?” Donaton asks?

I am, Scott. I am. That’ why I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for 3 ½ years. That’s why I wrote the book. That’s why I am challenging you…as Managing Editor of one of the foremost advertising trade publications to recognize my efforts and make sure the industry knows about my message.

This isn’t motivated out of self-interest; it’s motivated out of passion.

It is why I am calling you out to determine whether you are just like the people you are criticizing, or in fact, if you are different. It’s easy to throw stones from up high on your pedestal. You have a mouthpiece and a megaphone…but along with that voice, comes responsibility as well.

Agree that we have leadership issues in the media and marketing communities, however, I do not agree with Scott's pov that one and only one qualified person (David Verklin) is speaking up and offering an engaging vision. At issue would seem to be "leadership by example" since talk remains cheap or at least requires less investment. Joseph is correct to raise his hand and call Scott out. Stay tuned.

Great trip to New York last week. More later this week.

Claude Hall, Mr. Vox Jox himself, begins another online novel, check out Chapter One of his latest "Hill Country" here