Friday, June 30, 2006

"View skeptically any show whose concept takes longer than ten seconds to explain." Brandon Tartikoff

What examined the national ratings performance of one radio format and found fewer than ten stations had achieved, sustained significant ratings success and discovered only three of those stations were rated #1 25-54. Can it be called a "successful" format? That's one of the topics being discussed as station and group execs begin the annual budget dance. The Edison Research guys have reviewed the ratings data for the so-called Adult Hits format and their findings are interesting. Recently celebrated as the ratings panacea of choice, Adult Hits is beginning to look a lot like a reboot of oldies rather than the game changing innovation its proponents once brashly suggested (e.g., "you don't want to be across the street, there is no way to defend your station, prepare to be destroyed"). It is good to see Bonneville getting their well deserved props. Two of the three Adult Hit stations rated #1 - KPKX and WARH - are well programmed live and local Bonneville properties. Kudos to Sean Ross on another well written brief "What Are Adult Hits' 25-to-54 Winners Doing Right?" here

Your comments and observations are always welcome. Have a wonderful, fun, safe holiday.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

"...Sure, historians may one day conclude that nobody but Jack wanted to hear "The Heat Is On" (ever), and that anyone with common sense and sentient ears should have doubted any programming formula that suggested otherwise, but what difference will it make? By then we'll all be dead."
Greg Milner

Writing in Slate, Greg Milner puts forward the argument that "a radio format is a lot like our president."

About Jack he says...

"On the surface, this tactic is a yellowed page from the Gen X anti-marketing handbook, the "you're too smart for our corporate tricks, so we won't even try" approach. The format's name, Jack, springs from the same semi-ironic anti-corporate impulse that led United to spin off a budget airline called Ted. But Jack takes this to a whole new level by not even pretending to pretend. Who cares what "you" want? Jack's slogan is "Playing what we want." Ten years after the 1996 Telecommunications Act destroyed the quaint notion, enshrined by Congress when it created the FCC in 1934, that the airwaves are a public trust, we've arrived at the perfect slogan for the age of media deregulation—"Playing what we want" is a corollary of "Owning what we want." Jack provides a phone number for listeners to call and leave messages to be played on the air—but don't bother making requests, he sometimes says, because he ain't playing them. The first time I heard that, I wondered why anyone would think that a station manned by a 24-hour Jack-bot would play requests. The only possible reason for Jack to state the obvious is that he wants to rub our noses in it. Read Jack Is the Decider here

Milner's attempts to disparage fall short. Putting aside his tenuous connect-the-political dots, let's talk Jack. While the New York Jack may not, one year after launch, be a success, one could make the reasonable business case that the station is not an abject failure either. It all depends on how one defines success. Running close to a million cume with a significantly lower expense base the station might be producing an attractive operating income. I have no idea, they don't provide me with the month end flash. The real question here should the approach being used by WCBS-FM producing at the full economic potential of the asset? The format is working in some cases - KCBS-FM, by every account, seems to be a major success. My feelings about the format are on the record, however, CBS Radio deserves better than Milner gives. My sense is Milner also misheard the intent of Jack's pronoun usage, alternatively his omission may itself be intended as further slight. While it is not always a popular notion, commercial radio stations are commercial enterprises operating in a free market. Every operator has the same goal, attract an audience that advertisers will pay to reach and do so at the lowest possible cost to produce the highest possible yield. Ain't nothing wrong with that. Along the way the good operators do good in their communities and there are a great many good operators. Operators want to win. The radio programming you hear just like the TV programming you watch is, in the majority of cases, the best programming money can buy. This holds true across all media. Every motion picture gets green lighted because someone believes in, or buys into, the picture's box office hit potential. In the same way that every NFL team starts the season hoping to be in the playoffs, if not the Super Bowl, those in the media arts are swinging for the fences - it's in the job description. In the final analysis the audience is the decider. Allow me to rip a title (other than Frey's Heat is On) from Beverly Hills Cop and suggest that Greg get a New Attitude. Use the scan button Greg, there's a lot of good, and some really good, radio out there. The very cool thing is you, as ever, are the decider.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

"A good basic selling idea, involvement and relevancy, of course, are as important as ever, but in the advertising din of today, unless you make yourself noticed and believed, you ain't got nothin." Leo Burnett

The Egg-Lemon soup and Eggplant at Roditys were remarkable. George, our waiter, attentive and polite. A picture perfect Greek Town lunch made better by uncommon company...Paul Gallis and Kipper McGee.

Paul continues working on his tell-all book. A gifted storyteller, Gallis is one of Chicago's great oral historians (read: Terkel). Kipper, the young turk of audio auteurs, his ingenious touch can be heard on WLS (his current project). Kipper asked Paulie about the Chicago vaudeville scene and we were off to the races. Paulie's regalement continued, stories about George Wilson, Ralph Atlas, Tony Bennett, Dick Biondi, Sam Holman, each and all priceless and vivid. Roditys, Gallis, McGee, and a June day in Chicago - Sine Pari!

Later, stopped by the State/Lake building - the new street level Channel 7 studio is functional and simply beautiful; tight, solid design. While at Pru2 dropped in at CBS Radio to see my dear friend, the always engaging, affable Fred Winston, an incredible talent at the top of his game. The new B96 offices and studios are exceptionally well done.

NBC made the very savvy move of hooking up with YouTube (Rupert should have been there first). Sara Kehaulani Goo does a good job covering the story over at WaPo here

Bonus spoiler: How does Mindfreak Criss Angel pull off his levitation illusion? Go behind the curtain via YouTube here (while it lasts)

BMW is so very smart and their marketing keeps getting better and smarter. Now they are underwriting the uber-cool TED videos. Watch/listen/download David Pogue's talk here. Check out the other 2006 TEDTalks on offer here. Bravo Adobe, BMW and TED! Highly recommended. Sir Ken Robinson talking on education is wonderful (e.g., "All kids have tremendous talents and we squander them pretty ruthlessly"). The very same abuses are happening, too often, with talent at work in media today. Creative people do not want or need to be managed, they want and, often, need to be led. It starts with creating the right environment, setting a positive stage, one that encourages performance. To get results begin with this challenge...catch them doing something right. Any rank dilettante can, and typically does, catch a talent doing something wrong and makes a federal case out of it; such behavior is the mark of a talentless hack. Don't be a hack. Should you feel the need to manage someone, manage yourself.

Closed circuit to CBS' Sixty: While you're in the process of recasting, hire Jon Stewart to replace that muppet Andy Rooney, please (btw, trust me, Steve Hartman is NOT the guy for that job).

Here's the starting gate for the fall sweeps. The weeknight news race (Q2 data via NBC and TVNewser):

Total viewers: NBC: 8,157,000 / ABC: 7,464,000 / CBS: 6,999,000

25-54 rating: NBC: 2.2 / ABC: 2.1 / CBS: 1.8

Homes: NBC: 5.8/12 / ABC: 5.3/11 / CBS: 4.9/10

You call it. Win, place and show in the fall sweep. Total viewers
Brian, Charlie, Katie
Brian, Katie, Charlie
Katie, Brian, Charlie
Charlie, Brian, Katie
None of the above
Free polls from

Monday, June 26, 2006

"Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself." Charlie Chaplin

Reading, again, Richard Saul Wurman - InformationAnxiety2. So much good thinking, highly recommended...

"My expertise has always been my ignorance, my admission and acceptance of not knowing. My work comes from questions, not from answers." Amazon info here

Liz Hoggard covers a panel at the International Ad Festival in Cannes ("Is making drama an answer to the advertising crisis?") via The Observer here (thanks to Jeff Jarvis for the pointer). Jeff's very own take on the state of advertising, and a good one, is here.

I'm probably one of the last but I'm over slashdot and a confirmed digg convert - liking their redesign a lot, digg v3 is tight. Bravo and congrats to Kevin Rose, Jay Adelson, Daniel Burka and the entire digg team. And from digg this morning...

Microsoft says Google is for girls. Check out your url at the Microsoft adCenter Labs here

From Edward Wasserman writing in the Miami Herald...

"...Pruning news staffs has become a managerial routine, and shedding higher-earning -- meaning, longer-serving -- employees a mark of fiscal prudence. They're getting six months', maybe a year's pay, and they're gone. So are their Rolodexes, their intuition, the stories they did or meant to do and their deep familiarity with their communities.

With the growth in journalism positions concentrated in the burgeoning Internet sector -- where the focus on attracting the youth demographic is at its most intense -- the new jobs that are opening up are likely to be filled by people a generation or more younger than those being shown the door at old media operations.

...It made me realize that managing generational change is a delicate matter of achieving a balance of memory and energy, the seasoned and the fresh, certainty and skepticism. It's a matter not of lowering costs, but of carefully calibrating a newsroom culture. And it's a challenge that, I'm afraid, is being blown."

Read "Newsrooms becoming prematurely young" here

Claude Hall writes...

"Someday soon, someone is going to mention KHJ and not mention Ron Jacobs. Someone is going to mention WABC and not mention Rick Sklar. Someone is going to mention WDRC and not mention Charlie Parker or Bertha Porter. Someone is going to mention KILT and give the credit for the success of the station to JohnnySomebody instead of Bill Young. Will there be any protests? I wonder if anyone will really care. Except me." Hey Claude, you can count on a bunch of us to join you, we got your back on this one. A significant number of folk care about preserving the real history and celebrating the real stars of the wireless show biz dodge. Read Claude's weekly column and ongoing serial fiction here

Which reminds me. Someone told me RCS had "invented" computerized playlists. Give me a break. The first time I used a computerized playlist was 1970. Working for Turnpike Broadcasting, a division of DCI (Dawson Communications Inc), headed by the always amazing Lynn Christian and his programming wizard Charlie Whittaker (inventor of the CBS Young Sound). One of the nation's first FM broadcast groups - way ahead of our time (way too much in fact).

Kudos to Alan Patricof for having the smarts to invest, via his Greycroft Partners, in Rafat's very cool enterprise. Congrats to Rafat & Company. More here

Congrats to Eddie Fritts. He has opened shop (Fritts Group) and joining him are Kathy Ramsey and John Lively. Eddie has also signed CBS, News Corp and Vonage as clients. All the best to you Eddie!

Chris Anderson, author of one of this summer's must reads (The Long Tail), gets the I Want Media interview treatment here. Bravo Patrick - well done!

Thank you Amazon! One can finally pre-order the long awaited Beautiful Evidence by Tufte

Startup 2.0, building a profitable enterprise in nothing flat...The challenge: One Week, 500 Dollars, An Awesome Product. Follow the story beginning here. Cool idea, good luck guys.

Michael Copps, FCC commish at Supernova2006...on net neutrality and other matters...

"As the FCC grapples with these issues, the commission needs more input from small and medium sized enterprises, as well as the large high tech firms. Decisions without you are most often decisions against you." Check out all of the session notes here.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

"Most of the time, we should thank our lucky stars when things don't work out. Mistarts and failures are the key to creative efforts." Richard Saul Wurman

The Google AdSense team entered the CPA (cost-per-action) market on a "test" basis - very smart move. Getting into the affiliate business seems a natural next step in solid value creation. David Jackson provides an overview ("Google Launches ValueClick Killer") here.

Congrats and cheers to Dave Winer. BloggerCon IV is a smash. Doc's notes are here.

Kudos to my friend and colleague Jeffrey Myers (we met and first worked together during our salad days at WBZ). Jeffrey is a principal of Personal Selling Principles (PSP) and served as the lead in creating the Media Sales Institute. Jeffrey is a gifted and amazing gentleman, he is making a difference in the future of measured media. We are blessed that his great talents and efforts are focused in training and development. From the media release...

The first NAB Education Foundation (NABEF) and National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) Media Sales Institute at Florida A&M University, saw 24 candidates successfully graduate upon completing the program in May. The ten-day program is designed to prepare graduating college seniors for a career in media sales. Personal Selling Principles (PSP) served as the developer/facilitator. Full release here.

Closed circuit to NAB: Bravo! LOVE SmartBrief, excellent debut! Hats off to Adam Mazmanian, Dennis Wharton, et al. This is simply another early indicator that the David Rehr era is off to a wonderful, smart start. NAB members get signed up for SmartBrief here, highly recommended.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

"The judges' decision, if correct, suggests radio advertising must be sorely lacking in fresh big ideas. It's a sad state of affairs."
Lewis Lazare

Lew is talking about DDB/Chicago again taking hardware at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes. He writes...

"It probably says more about the state of radio advertising and the prestigious International Advertising Festival in Cannes, than it does about DDB/Chicago's "Real Men of Genius" radio campaign for Bud Light, which for the second year in a row nabbed the Grand Prix in the radio category. No one can deny the "Genius" campaign is full of strong comedic writing, but the festival allegedly is all about celebrating what's big and fresh in advertising. The "Genius" campaign, in fact, has been around for a number of years. The judges' decision, if correct, suggests radio advertising must be sorely lacking in fresh big ideas. It's a sad state of affairs. Great for DDB, of course, but sad nonetheless." Read Lew's column here

I love the Real Men campaign, it is truly inspired creative but I agree with Lew's view, please not again. Congrats to the DDB/Chicago gang, may they win again next year with fresh new creative for yet another account. Respectfully disagree with Lew's call on the bigger picture; the state of radio advertising is actually better than ever, in my opinion, witness this year's Mercury winners. Perhaps IAF needs to cast a bigger entry net?

The Dan Rather exit, a dog's breakfast. Hard to imagine how it could have been made any worse than it turned out to be - for all involved. Dan certainly deserved better. Not going to argue with the decision, 44 years is a good long run, however this one goes down as a classic case study in how not to end a relationship. It is not what they did but plainly how they didn't do it. As Sean's second at bat (the first being his homerun Katie announcement) this was a wild swinging strikeout. CBS comes off completely tone deaf on this occasion. Where was Bing, er...Gil...on holiday or out to lunch (at Michael's of course)? That Les was MIA is no surprise. My sense is the vets of his news shop have been estranged since the night of November 10, 2004 when the desk made the poor call to break into CSI: NY with the flash on Arafat's passing (a screen crawl would have been the more prudent, smarter move). FD: I first met Dan during my days as a CBS affiliate, while I have not always agreed with him, I like and respect the man. I am also on record as a longtime fan of Les, perhaps the best mind in network television today, but he and his team messed this one up. To paraphrase Murrow, has CBS no decency, sir.

For those keeping score, this marks another poorly managed high-profile Viacom "exit" the two, at least, prior to this being Heyward and Karmazin.

No Place to Hide. Not just the name of the good read by Robert O'Harrow, Jr. but a title also fit for this laugh out loud (and scary chilling) video with audio via the ACLU here. (Thanks to my pal Larry for the tip).

Hearing that John Sebastian had a killer trend in Chicago. Congrats and cheers John! Any such improvement would be the result of John's work product and certainly not the format alone. Imagine what Dave Logan would have achieved had he been given the opportunity in New York - now there's a missed victory. To quote PJ "In all of art it's the singer not the song"

Good things happen to good people. Gary Saunders promoted to APD at KKDA. Well deserved, congrats and cheers Gary! (Long way from 1080 Metromedia Place).

The Anthony Mason package on Rather was well done. Bravo Anthony! He talks about it thanks to Vaughn Ververs (good job Vaughn!)...

“You’re writing the story first,” he said. Then, “you’re writing for the front office, you’re writing for the critics. You’re also writing for the people you work with, your colleagues who are going to judge it in their own way and then, lastly, you’re writing for Dan.” And you’re considering “how each of those audiences are going to perceive the story” -- and asking whether it is “truthful and fair” to each, said Mason. Read Vaughn Ververs' Writing The Rather Story For The "Evening News" here.

Speaking of CBS TV, it is great to hear John Leader reading the book again. Kudos to the folks that made it happen; John and your network have never sounded better.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"It is not the voice that commands the story: it is the ear" Italo Calvino

Word around midtown this morning has it that today is the day. Dan Rather and CBS will announce Dan is leaving the network after 44 years. Dan's contract is up in November. What's next? Harvard? HDNet? His News & Guts startup?

Look for a piece by Anthony Mason on tonight's Evening News, a tribute on Friday.

Dan Rather Signs Off. Sean McManus makes the announcement here

UPDATE: According to Rather's assistant Kim Akhtar, Richard Leibner, Rather's agent, will be releasing a statement later today.

UPDATE 2:According to CBS spokeswoman Sandy Genelius, Rather was given the opportunity to comment in the release and chose not to do so. More via Vaughn & PublicEye here

UPDATE 3: McManus told the Los Angeles Times' Matea Gold: "We just couldn't come up with a schedule of assignments on '60 Minutes' that was satisfactory for both him and CBS. There's nothing disrespectful whatsoever in that we've tried to do this in a very fair and equitable way, knowing that we couldn't come to an agreement on a contract extension. It was an ongoing process that from our perspective was as cordial, lengthy and respectful as we could have made it."

Max Robins writing at B&C says...So what's really going on here? It's obvious that the CBS brass think Rather is radioactive. The National Guard fiasco only encouraged Rather's many critics on the political right, and with the youthful Couric set to take over at the CBS Evening News in September, nobody wants the old guy to hang around and kill the buzz. More here

Connie Chung has now done it all and her MSNBC farewell proves it, WHAT was she thinking, why didn't the show runner kill this at the concept stage and save her? The video via YouTube here

Sean Ross has posted a well written first take on what he is calling African-American News/Talk...

If that format finally takes off after more than two decades' worth of attempts, WAMJ will be the station that made it possible. And even in a market with plenty of well-entrenched local personalities, and even given the strength of market leader WVEE (V103), it's hard to imagine that an FM station with Steve Harvey and Michael Baisden will not do something.

Bravo Sean! Thanks for putting this one on the radar. It would be KISMET for WAMJ to lead a format breakthrough, Atlanta being the birthplace of legendary WERD (btw, the station where my dad got his first job in broadcasting). Read Sean's A Breakthrough For African-American News/Talk with comments here

Monday, June 19, 2006

"Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity." Christopher Morley

Who is Brian Maloney?

Last week that was a question waiting on my voicemail, the subject question of more than a few emails. People were talking, Brian's writing on the state of talk radio had been distributed by Inside Radio. "Never heard of the guy" seemed to be the collective opinion. This morning we are told, via Inside Radio, that he is a blogger, fill-in talk host on WRKO and now a columnist for IR. In today's The Mike Kinosian Inteview, here, it says "In terms of traffic and links from other sites, is generally, according to Maloney, among the country’s Top 300 blogs..." Top 300? Wow - how did I miss this guy! Never been a fan of blog lists but, ok, there is probably a list of political bloggers out there that ranks him in their Top 300. Reality check: Alexa says his 3 month avg rank is 176,434 and his 1 week avg rank is 252,101 (data here). To be fair that ranking is of all websites not just blogs so on to Technorati. He is the 3,085 ranked blogger so maybe Inside Radio lost another zero in the final editing. Again, to be fair that's all blogs tracked by Technorati (data here); Brian could be one of the Top 300 blogs in some list and I'm certain that he'll share that source in one of his upcoming columns. I'll share my take on his state of talk radio piece in a later post.

Friday, June 16, 2006

"We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing." R.D. Laing

"I challenge you...come up with a new sound, a new blend, that reaches the masses, it's time for radio to take a chance, to change, to go after something new...Radio is going to have to become more compelling...create a bigger magnet to draw people to it and stop running people away from it with boring, bs got to take a chance, you got to try something" Lee Michaels

During my years in Chicago Lee Michaels' WBMX was a guilty pleasure, one of my favorite stations whenever Lee was in charge. Now, thanks to Sal Amato you can enjoy a discussion about Chicago radio back in the day and the real story about one of the greatest stations in Chicago history, Lee's WBMX. The quote from Lee above comes from the discussion. Jump into the days of The Hot Mix Five, Famous & Ross, Doug Banks, Rush & Division, P.S. Chicago, Faces and two and a half hours of behind the scenes stories that changed everything with the legendary Lee Michaels, Frankie Hollywood Rodriguez, and Armando Rivera here (NSFW - language). Bravo Sal! Thanks Lee, Frankie and Armando - good stuff, highly recommended.

Lee has never been given his propers, the recognition he so rightly deserves. He remains one of the few programmer's programmers, one that left a mark, made a significant difference not only in Chicago but in the business at large. Lee gets "the art" - his stations always had a crisp currency, an honest vibe directly from the street, the man is blessed with the most important skill set required of a great programmer, he understands how to listen. He is now at work reinventing talk radio and I wish him all the best. His finest hour has yet to come - stay tuned.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." Howard Aiken

Lee Arnold is a mensch. A Milwaukee-based serial entrepreneur, Lee is a deft raconteur, a scary smart creative and a gentleman blessed with an acuity in all matters of pop culture. We had the chance to catch up yesterday and Lee was in his usual rare form - the man is a force of nature. If you or someone you know is looking to get radio's attention Lee is the go-to guy (especially if you are in the music industry); should you own or manage a radio property that has not reached its audience potential, you'll benefit from involving Lee; should you own or manage a business you need to check out his merchandising/promotions company. Finally, if your venture seeks to do business with boomers Lee is an accomplished subject matter expert on that monied cohort and his good counsel stands ready for hire. You'll find Lee on the web here

Umair Haque understands the real opportunity for media folks...get deep into what's happening at the edge...

Put another way, It is the expected value of attention of consumers which PageRank is supposed to, somewhat accurately, compute. But as long as there's no real competition in search (and let's be honest - there really isn't), Google can keep shifting the costs of this arbitrage on to consumers.

As Scott puts it, "the media business has been reduced to pure transaction". That's a brilliant statement - he's exactly right. In fact, his statement parallels Mark Pincus's very nice analogy from a few months back - Google as Wal-Mart. The dynamics are very much the same: scale economies are achieved by shifting costs elsewhere; at the expense of consumers, quality, etc.
More from Umair's "Industry Update - The People vs the Googleverse" here

Jeff Jarvis is writing about the Tribune situation. My sense is this is shaping up to be another Knight-Ridder scenario. Jeff's take is here. On share buybacks I vote with Jeff and Gary Hamel...what a complete lack of imagination...the good doctor said some years ago...

Share buybacks are one of the simplest and perhaps most simpleminded ways of unlocking shareholder wealth. Fresh out of ideas? No compelling investment opportunities? No problem! Take the cash being produced by today's business model and return it to shareholders...

...If downsizing was the quick fix for corporate obesity, buybacks have become the instant cure for slow-growth syndrome...

..."Here" buyback CEOs seem to be saying. "We don't know what to do with the cash. You take the money and go see if you can find some better investment opportunities." Of course this is exactly what a CEO bereft of new strategy ideas should do! But it's no more sustainable than selling off assets...

...Unlocking shareholder wealth is a lesser challenge than creating new wealth. Stewards unlock wealth, entrepreneurs create wealth.

Thank you very much for the emails on my recent speaking engagements. One that deserves an answer...

It was about time someone said out loud what many of us have been thinking 'Hey Mel, STFU' What was the part about Shakespeare, missed getting the entire thing...what again was the challenge you issued??

My literary allusion regarding Mel Karmazin was...Mel will never be a Henry V, that is, a truly exceptional leader (at one time, an achievement I was almost certain he would reach). Rather, in my experience and opinion, he has become more of a Henry IV character. Bill Carter's book sums this view up when he writes about a Viacom executive who said "We would get tubed every year by Mel's operation, radio." The tragedy here is the one division Mel deeply understood is the one that was left in the worst shape upon his departure. Carter also writes
"Karmazin baffled many other Viacom executives. 'Mel would say, I don't want to watch any shows,' one senior Viacom executive said. 'I don't want to meet affiliates. I don't want to go out after six at night. That's it. I like coming at four-thirty in the morning.'...But longtime Viacom veterans grumbled that Karmazin's radio group was dragging down the company's stock price." Sad stuff. Hard for me to imagine a Mel that would not have a rabid interest in shows, certainly not the Mel I once worked for and admired. Things change as do people. He could have been a contender and....may yet make a come back.

My open challenge to Mel - the first tribe of wireless has shown the world its numbers, real radio listenership is an open book (280mil weekly reach), show the world your listenership numbers or shut up already. The sat radio folk throw around their subscription numbers which have nothing to do with usage, that is, actual listening. Lots of fuzzy math being used or so it seems. In discussing sub counts I used cable as a practical example. VH1 may have 60 million subs meaning their channel is "available" in 60 million homes, however, it does not mean those homes are watching, the majority never have, perhaps never will.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

"There is a lot more to running a marketplace than getting a lot of listings...there is trust and safety, and payments and reputation. That stands eBay in good stead." Meg Whitman

Doing some late spring cleaning and found a copy of another United Technologies ad, classic...

Let's Get Rid of Management

don't want
to be
They want
to be led.
Whoever heard
of a world
World leader,
Educational leader.
Political leader.
Religious leader.
Scout leader.
Community leader.
Labor leader.
Business leader.
They lead.
They don't manage.
The carrot
always wins
over the stick.
Ask your horse.
You can lead your
horse to water,
but you can't
manage him
to drink.
If you want to
manage somebody,
manage yourself.
Do that well
and you'll
be ready to
stop managing.
And start

Heading to Chicago? The James is the very cool Chicago hotel property of the moment. Congrats and kudos to Danny Errico, Brad Wilson and crew on making Travel + Leisure's "The It List" debut. From T+L...

What do you call an upstart brand that blends the cheeky tone and smart looks of design hotels with the user-friendliness and affordability of mid-level chains? We call it a welcome relief. Stephen Hanson's first James hotel, in Scottsdale, Arizona, was a runaway hit. Now the restaurateur-hotelier is shaking things up in the Windy City. The 297 guest rooms are inviting exercises in mid-aughties minimalism—dark-wood platform beds, leather cube stools, cocoa-brown carpeting, slate-tiled bathrooms with brushed-chrome and marble sinks, and an orchid placed just so. Amenities, however, are anything but spare: in addition to Wi-Fi and a 42-inch plasma TV, each room has a stereo with an iPod dock. ROOMS TO BOOK Any of the 550-square-foot Loft rooms, which have views of installations by Chicago artists. DON'T MISS A cut of dry-aged beef from Kentucky's renowned Creekstone Farms, at chef David Burke's Primehouse, the hotel's requisite steak joint. (This is still Chicago, after all.) T+L here

See you at the J Bar this summer. More on the hotel here. (Thanks to the always dialed-in Lewis Lazare for the tip here)

Leading creative collaboration! PR impresario Steve Rubel makes an interesting proffer...rather than reacting/responding to a published column (ala WaPo, et al), Steve suggests folks offer up their povs in advance of a column's creation and publication. He will then, subject to his selection and possible editing, include comments/contributions in his AdAge piece. The subject of his writing: BitTorrent, more info here. Real-time collaboration it is. Bravo Steve, smooth concept.

When lawyers attack. Paul Heine writes...

In the latest wrinkle in the legal battle over the “playing what we want” slogan, Bonneville International Corp. has filed a counterclaim against SparkNet Communications seeking to cancel the consultancy’s trademark on the slogan. More via Billboard RadioMonitor here

Good for Bonneville! It seems to me that trademarking language and, further, making claims that the combination of certain words have special, unique powers requiring protection would seem to require some degree of supportive evidence. Of course I might be wrong. The last I checked only three of the so-called "what(ever) we want" stations were posting competitive numbers (1 of CBS, 2 of Bonneville). The simple truth may well be found in common sense; there is nothing magic or special about SparkNet's slogan(s) and the ratings performance of their clients might just be exhibit A. If what you are paying for, if what is being "protected" is not producing results what are you paying for? What are you protecting? Moreover, the essence of the Jack approach, it seems to me, is still too clever by half. Programming 101 - Slogans alone don't make engaging, arresting, entertaining, memorable nor winning audio, what comes out of the speakers does; each and all of the elements have a cumulative effect and affect. The three successful stations may, perhaps, share one uniqueness and it has little, if anything, to do with language and everything to do with being well programmed. For the largest DMAs, the Spring sweep results will mark one year since the Jack attack began, let's carefully examine the record once it's available. Truth will out.

A Brit's pov on net neutrality, Adriana Cronin-Lukas writes...

The telecoms and cablecos are heavily regulated and their cries for free market are false. The industry is already warped and the argument against net neutrality based on the desire to keep government out of 'markets' is misplaced. More here

The Communications, Consumers' Choice and Broadband Deployment Act of 2006 (S. 2686). Net neutrality is but one issue, such as it is and not completely addressed, in the Senate bill. The House bill done the action is now headed to the Senate. My sense is nothing will happen until next year - perfect timing for you to NOW contact your members and be heard. Latest here. Today's panel before the Senator Stevens' Committee here

Monday, June 12, 2006

"If everything seems under control you're not going fast enough" Mario Andretti

Two hundred liters of Diet Coke + more than five hundred Mentos =
very cool video here

Congrats and Cheers to Robert Scoble on his next excellent adventure leaving Microsoft for PodTech

Friday, June 09, 2006

"Define results for your position that will make a difference. How can you make the greatest contribution based upon your strengths? Establish goals and set deadlines for them." Peter Drucker

Dennis Lyle and Debra Gray did an exceptional job creating and staging their very successful IBA2006 convention in Springfield. The new Lincoln Museum is an incredible facility and was the venue for a wonderful opening night reception, dinner and awards presentation honoring Gary Fries and Dick Biondi. I presented, part of a panel on HD Radio led by Erica Farber, along with Dave Robbins, Gary Fries, Mike Moffitt, Dick Zaragoza and Gene Ferry. Great to see Bud Walters, Dick Rakovan, Drew Horowitz, John Gehron, Bill Stakelin, Jerry Schnacke, and David Rehr. Caught two sessions, Paul Weyland and Dan O'Day each made strong presentations. My thanks to all involved, honored to be invited.

iPods beat beer in campus survey
Top 5 "In" things on campus - Spring 2005 vs Spring 2006

iPods 59% 73%
Drinking beer 72% 71% NA 71%
Drinking other alcohol 65% 67%
Text messaging 59% 66%
Source: Spring 2006 Lifestyle & Media Study, Student Monitor

More via USA Today here

Was Craigslist blocked by Cox Cable? Not exactly. The story by Tom Foremski here with comments; LR's Steve Safran is on the case - read his interview with a Cox Cable spokesperson here

Are you a Veteran? You should check your mail. Got the letter from R. James Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, advising that my name, social, and date of birth was likely stolen along with the personal data of some 26.5 million of my fellow Veterans. If you are a Veteran and did not yet get the letter you can get more info here and by calling 1-800-333-4636.

Congrats to the 2006 Radio Mercury Award winners! Listen to the winners here

Catching up in the office, more later.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

"I'm not just any disc jockey. I'm the best there ever was." Larry Lujack

Thanks to John Rook for the reminder, today is the birthday of our charming and delightful Uncle Lar. Visit ReelRadio, here, become a subscriber and enjoy the work of Larry Lujack, truly one of the greatest performers ever on radio. Larry's clever use of snark, wit and sarcasm is without equal. Moreover, he's a class act, a gentleman. Lujack's Clunk Letter of the Day, Animal Stories and Mr. Lujack's Addresses to the Nation represent performance art of the most rare and finest quality. More on Larry here, hear him weekdays here. Happy birthday Uncle Lar.

More from Lee Abrams...

AVERAGE SUCKS/EXTREME RULES: Ever been to Ben's Chili Parlor down the road?It is a dive...a dump....and it's magical. It's extreme. Give me Ben's over a nice clean Denny's anytime!! The point: Amazingly good or Amazingly bad---who cares, as long as it's amazing. Anything but average!!!! Lee understands and appreciates "the art", read more here. While he is spot on about a good deal of stuff, and I respect him for that, he's dead wrong about "local"; local is the heart, if not the soul, of the ultimate game changing innovation. Yahoo, Google and Microsoft each have a deep understanding of the power of "local." btw, Ben's is local, Denny's is national. Local is a beautiful thing.

Direct from MIT, research on aluminium foil helmets (my thanks to Kevin Metheny)...

It requires no stretch of the imagination to conclude that the current helmet craze is likely to have been propagated by the Government, possibly with the involvement of the FCC. We hope this report will encourage the paranoid community to develop improved helmet designs to avoid falling prey to these shortcomings. Headline - Surrender, You're Doomed. More, including pics, here

Monday, June 05, 2006

"When you're transforming a company, and you're really trying to drive fundamental change, early success is both your best friend and your best enemy." Louis Gerstner

Image at left - the back of my business card. The creator, Hugh MacLeod, blogs here and sells his very cool "blog cards" here. My card always gets notice and always rave reviews. Highly recommended, do get yours.

Lee Abrams is blogging...

"JUST DO IT!: No cheezy claims . No "Most Music" "Best Mix" "Never a Bad Song"........Those claims have no credibility. Just deliver the goods and our fans will know."

Bravo Lee! Lee's "AFDI" is excellent counsel, make something happen! More here, here and here

Dave Winer writes...

"Imho, the web is a platform for idealism. It's not a conversation, it's not a business model, it's so big it's basically everything having to do with human knowledge and communication, at least for the forseeable future. Let them have Web 2.0™, it's not important. What is important is that the users are running the show, and if you want to get behind that, be a user, and leave it at that." Exactly, the two point oh rights debate is a waste of bandwidth, nothing to see here, let's move along, please. More Dave here

Doc Searls' Reboot8 presentation here, well done! Doc gets right to the point in this slide here. His pics from Reboot8 here. The event, by all accounts, was tight - program is here. Stowe Boyd provides a solid review here. Check out Stowe's Reboot8 presentation here, also very well done!

It was Stowe who wrote in an earlier post "I personally am not tired of conferences. I am just tired of tired conferences. Particularly the ones with the same group of twenty talking heads saying the same twenty things." Bravo! Exactly the problem with most all conferences these days.

TNS data indicates total media spending in Q1 is up 5.2%, while radio is down (local -1.1%, national -0.2, network radio -3.5%). NAA reports $615 mil in newspaper online ad sales in Q1, up 34.9% from one year ago. Dead tree guys continue to lead MM in developing online revenues. Lots of $$$ and opportunity ahead for those willing to abandon what is not working and get into the game. More from paidContent here

Katy Bachman, always a good read, writes about Fox News Radio...

"Traditional radio news services like ABC and CBS might want to take a word of advice from CNN and MSNBC: Don't underestimate upstart Fox News Radio." More here

Bonus: Got a half hour to find out more about yourself? PersonalDNA has a free personality profile on offer here

"...the key to success is focusing on the three to five battles that really matter" From Must-Win Battles: How to Win Them Again and Again.

Any must-win battle, the authors write, needs five elements: It must make a real difference, be market-focused, create excitement, be specific and tangible, and—of course—be winnable. “One reason the management teams sometimes do choose must-win battles that prove to be unwinnable is that they assume the competition will not react to what they are doing” More

Here are my five "must-win battles" for any serious media enterprise...

1) Ratings 2) Revenue 3) Talent development 4) Online development 5) Community service

Future of the Internet...

The biggest shift over the next ten years will be one of attitude, as our mindset of "going online" is replaced by one of "being online". This change has already started...

By the year 2016, no one under the age of forty will remember a world without personal computers. The average twenty year old will find it hard to imagine a time when there wasn't any email to check or Web sites to visit. When we reach this point, even the novelty of the term "Internet" will have long since faded to join such golden buzz-words of yesteryear as "space age" and "atomic"...

The Internet generation of today will eventually give us the Citizen Kane of the 21st century. Michael Pinto via the PBS show NOW, more here.

Friday, June 02, 2006

"The future we're living in isn't just like the past."
Dave Winer

Dave Winer's blog is a joy to read. A software pioneer he founded UserLand Software and has since made a number of significant contributions (e.g., blogging, outlining, scripting, RSS, XML, SOAP, podcasting). Never one to hold opinion in reserve, Dave speaks his mind. Rather than play nice or get along to get along, Dave's writing is fraught with raw emotion, passion, and a rare unvarnished candor. Opinion, his opinion, and those others that get his attention are front and center without excuses. You may find yourself in agreement with Dave only to discover in the next paragraph a guy who could not be more wrong. That, is the very cool essense of Dave Winer. You may find his blog here.

News in the broadcast trade this morning concerning the continuing explosive revenue growth of Online (versus the slow growth or declining revenues captured by broadcast). The solution is to abandon what is not working, to face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be. Change up your game. The key metrics on your dashboard need to remain ratings and revenue, your approach to each needs more attention. "You must be the change you want to see" Gandhi

A lot of good news out there, folks having really exceptional years, enjoying record success. Far more are not. Ratings are off, sales are a struggle. For these folks things are only going to get worse. They are using the same approach and working harder expecting to achieve a different, positive result. It will not happen. A colleague sent me an email this morning with an excerpt from one of the trades. The item about the CBS stations now on the block and their said to be poor condition. The common 1990s corporate strain of anorexia is fatal. The solution, in part, is to abandon price based costing and embrace cost based pricing. How much does it cost for you to create an avail? Profit-maximizing strategies alone will not grow the business, whereas topline-maximizing strategies will serve to enhance profit by simple consequence. It takes courage. Faced with declining toplines, the only solution is change. It is impossible to save your way to success. One time savings create one time comp gains and nothing more. Success requires investment even if that means a fresh re-deployment of the same resources. The first step is to get the most out of what you are investing rather than investing more or investing less, invest different!

Benchmarking against your own silo is not only increasingly irrelevant but potentially dangerous. Managers focused on "beating" the market when that means focusing only on aggregate like media rather than the much larger total ad sector are unneccessarily putting their enterprise in harms way . A manager writing "The market was down 5% but we were down 1%, so we beat the market" should be cause for a sit down and reality check especially when "the entire market" may actually be up 3.5%. Managing decline is a fool's errand. This holds true in product as well. The PD who fronts "the format is down" or "the network gave us another weak lead in" as rationale for poor performance requires an awakening if not a new posting.

The clarion call: PDs need better sellers, SMs need better numbers. Group heads and GMs need to put a stop to rationalizing failure. Accepting "special Olympics" metrics (i.e., only having to best your numbers) is a symptom of end stage mediocrity. Parity in physics should demand parity in ratings delivery, one based upon established market standards (if one class B can consistently deliver a 4 rating, a 1 rating by any another class B is simply unacceptable failure, one without excuse - in this case for a PD to deliver a 1 rating to sales only to say "it is what it is" is rationalizing failure, it's maleficence)

Asking PDs to get better numbers with the same resources imposes limits. The resources, team and competitive environment may have combined to achieve the sweet spot - delivering an in demo rating of 4.0; to then ask that, under the same conditions, one must reach a 4.5 or 5.0 while irrational is still possible. To suggest that the 4.5 or 5.0, once achieved, can be maintained without revisiting investment is to discount the competition, the possible blessing of a "good statistical bounce" and the common sense alive in any good judgment. The calculus needed to understand where you are, your starting point, and the arithmetic needed to ascertain your effectiveness is to track your cost against performance. How much are you spending to achieve one target demo rating point? How much investment is required to deliver one occasion? What is the six book trend? Where are you going? How much "head room" do you have in your business model? What, exactly, would have to happen to reach and maintain #1 rating in your demo? Winning is about cume, occasions and effective leadership of a creative enterprise, all else is stage craft, politics, vanity, the intrinsic noise of research, the requisite dance of commerce. Measure your PD by not only what's on but what is not on and why. Very important: What new stuff is in the pipeline?

Asking SMs to get better numbers with the same resources imposes limits. The resources, team and competitive environment may have combined to achieve the sweet spot - delivering a new record high rev month and a related record rank in Miller-Kaplan. To suggest that a SM can continue, indefinitely, to grow topline with the same inventory and the same numbers while irrational is still possible. The calculus needed to understand where you are, your starting point, and the arithmetic needed to ascertain your effectiveness is to track your revenue against all market revenue. How many of the top 100 newspaper advertisers are on this month? How many of the top 100 television advertisers? Cable advertisers? Outdoor advertisers? Online advertisers? Yellow pages display advertisers? What is the twelve quarter trend? How many new advertisers are on this month? What is your trend in new business development? How are each of your sellers performing? What is the quality, quantity and result of each call? How much of their time is spent actually selling? What, exactly, is your plan to develop new revenue? to develop each seller to their full potential? Winning is all about driving, obsessing over, topline while keeping a firm grasp on COS. It's about knowing the value of all your inventory not just prime and putting every avail to work, 24/7. Price becomes an objection only when one fails to articulate value. Creating your own demand is key. SMs should be measured not only on what they bring in but what they walk on and why. Very important: What new stuff is in the pipeline?

"If they're not helping you, they're hurting you" Norm Goldsmith
If your PD or your SM is not producing results, not helping you to reach your goals then stop wasting time with double secret probation and other progressive discipline tools - just let them go and hire the leaders circumstances require and opportunity demands. Field an "A" team. Go big or go home, go for greatness and stop tinkering in the margins.

All that's important is what's coming out of the speakers or on the screen, everything else is a footnote

On the day job I am blessed to work with great teams, truly gifted people. We are obsessed not with getting better but with getting different. The business book we give to all new clients is Michael Lewis' Moneyball. You can only manage what you can measure, the secret is to measure the right things, to pay attention to what is, and is not, happening. To make daily changes as needed, to question the status quo, to abandon what is not working. To celebrate small success and build on them.

Bonus Susan Crawford's FAQ on Net Neutrality here. Bravo Susan, well done!

Your comments are always welcome. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

"What about The Chucker?" Fred Winston

Legendary performer Fred Winston weighs in on Bob Shannon's List of 100 and makes an excellent point - "Bob has done a really good job on his list but one could also create a list of 100 performers that have made significant and lasting contributions, for example...What about The Chucker? Bruce Bradley? Dan Sorkin?" He's right, of course. You could also create a list of 100 managers (GMs, PDs, NDs, SMs, CEs, et al) that have set into motion best practices at the core of what we continue to hear via wireless today. Your thoughts?

And the emails roll in. Always more emails than open comment posts (appreciate and respect those prohibited by company policy to read and/or post blogs). Here's a sample of the in box:

"Shame on you Dave, pubcasters get no respect AGAIN" "Dude, what's with all the dinosaurs? Not one Internet bcast??? What about Soma or KPIG? Get into the 90s will ya" "Same old same old, YAWN, what about O&A the boys a major corporation is betting the farm will rescue them from the abyss?" "Research has fundamentally changed broadcasting did you guys miss that or sleep through it?" (Actually Jim Yergin and Jim Seiler are on my list and Bob has included folks who are known for using survey research to their advantage/Dave) "almost all white males, have we made no progress" "Dave, you need to provide a 'key' to understand your proposed additions, really, who ARE those people?" "So whom do you suggest gets cut from Bob's list to make room for your alleged superstars or did I miss that part?" "the list leans pop, FM and programming types so isn't Bob talking about pretty much a pd-centric view to the exclusion of the guys and gals that make it all happen - S A L E S!" ""What about rising stars? Enough with the history museum relics" "Too many lists too many awards too many tributes not enough celebration of substance. Why not a list of those deserving to be fired the jerks that have screwed up radio or a dead pool list, idiot managers on the bubble?" "Please get back to writing something that does not waste my time, what is this turning into radio's version of PEOPLE magazine, stop it!!!"
"LOVE IT, thank u for sharing BS's awesome column" "Looks like another old boys club to me"