Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited." Albert Einstein

"The method of the enterprising is to plan with audacity and execute with vigor." Christian Bovee

"Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely." Auguste Rodin

"I think most music will soon be free"

Chris Anderson has posted an interesting item on the music biz from which I have liberated the quotation above. Chris goes on to say...

"And for those who say that this avenue is only available to artists at the head of the curve, such as Madonna and Radiohead, I'd point out that the other group poorly served by the labels are those at the bottom of the curve, the many thousands of bands who fall below the radar of the hit-driven majors. I'd argue that they, too, have nothing to lose by letting their music go free, nothing to lose but the prospect of becoming indentured to companies stuck in last century's model of monetizing music" Read Chris' post Everything in the music industry is up (except those plastic discs) here. Kudos Chris, well said.

Steve Rubel offers up a solid writing on where we are today. The Web 2.0 World is Skunk Drunk on it's own Kool-Aid. Worth the jump here. It is feeling a bit (too much) like 1999. It's great to have the Prince of PR back in the hunt. Serve up the candor Steve. Meanwhile, speaking of refreshing unvarnished candor, Dave Winer shares the gift of perspective and reminds us #1. Remember to have fun and more. Thanks to Steve and to Dave!

Today's image: Sunrise with Ducks II by Peter Bowers. Beautiful shot. Thank you.

Monday, October 29, 2007

"The shortest distance between two comedians is a straight line." Ron Fell

"Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws." Douglas Adams

"Strive for brevity and clarity in oral and written reports." William Swanson

Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management:
unwritten rule number fourteen...

"It takes longer to write cleanly and crisply. It shows respect for the time of others when you do.

Learn to type with your thumbs on a Blackberry-like device. That will really discipline you to use shorter sentences and shorter words.

As you grow in position and assume roles of increasing responsibility and complexity, you truly appreciate those who communicate with brevity and clarity. Their emails, notes and reports will get read! Conversely, and sadly, good ideas in hard-to-open packages wrapped with complicated bows may be overlooked."

Going mobile: Empowering People through Mobile Technologies in Developing Regions, A presentation by Nokia's Joe McCarthy via slideshare here.

Radar Quiz: Fox Business Anchor or Porn Star? Take the quiz here. Kudos to Neel Shah. I scored 7 correct out of 10.

Steve Dahl delivered the mail. Changes at CBS Radio in Chicago. Steve to mornings on WJMK (JackFM), Monday, November 5.

Congrats & cheers: Rob Barnett and his My Damn Channel crew on their two nominations in the TV Guide Online Video Awards competition. Jacki Kelley joins Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia as sales chief and Yahoo! loses another player. Newser principals Patrick Spain and Michael Wolff on their formal debut tomorrow.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Leadership is the wise use of power. Power is the capacity to translate intention into reality and sustain it." Warren Bennis

"Genius is nothing but a greater aptitude for patience." Benjamin Franklin

"It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment; in these qualities old age is usually not only not poorer, but it is even richer." Cicero

Today's image: Autumnomatic by Thomas Hawk. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Links recently gathered and not yet shared...

Happy Day, emoticons that will make your day (if the video Happy Day Drive By does not load do check it out).

Marisha Pessl

The rejection letter: Chris L. Jensen

communications skills a video by zefrank

Magic Card Trick
: Thanks to Zeek

Bonus: Clearification

Friday, October 26, 2007

"Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it." Lou Holtz

"Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be." Kurt Vonnegut

"There is always room at the top." Daniel Webster

Today's image: Fall Sunset Splendor by Bill Shannon. A killer pic caught at sunset in Columbus. Thank you very much.

Two chances to win: Four of the six CBS radio stations in Chicago are posting revenues which place them among this year's top ten billers. WBBM-AM ($33 mil), US99 ($20 mil), WXRT ($16 mil), B96 ($16 mil). Two properties represent significant upside potential: WJMK ($8 mil) and WCKG ($5 mil). The combined billings of WJMK and WCKG fail to reach the billing of either WXRT or B96. At this point it is fair to suggest getting better is not the solution but rather getting different. Time to position the assets (and the portfolio) for 2008. Tis the season. Related: The wayback machine - 1991 billings. WJMK $10.2 mil, WCKG $11.4 mil. The #1 biller in 1991 was WGN - $43 mil, #2 was WLUP - $19 mil. WJMK was the #8 biller, WCKG ranked #7.

Rules for Management Innovators

  • To solve a systemic problem, you need to understand its systemic roots.
  • At least initially, it's easier, and safer, to supplement an existing management process than supplant it. (Run the new in parallel with the old.)
  • Commit to revolutionary goals, but take evolutionary steps.
  • Be clear about the performance metrics your innovation is designed to improve.
  • Start by experimenting in your "own back yard," where the political risks are the lowest.
  • Whenever possible, rely on volunteers.
  • Diffuse potential objections by keeping your experiments fun and informal.
  • Iterate: Experiment, learn, experiment, learn.
  • Don't give up: Innovators are persistent!
My thanks to Gary Hamel for this morning's brief, taken from his latest work - The Future of Management. Highly recommended. Amazon info here.

Bonus: Dave Winer
via Twitter "if you're scared to hear what people really think you're not prepared for the world you live in." Made my day, Dave! Bravo and thanks.

Congrats & cheers: Respected Pac NW broadcaster Dave McDonald down the I-5 and back to Portland where he will, again, manage the CBS radio portfolio.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence; go for greatness." Johnny Martin

"We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible." Chretien Malesherbes

Mr Softy gets Face time:
Kudos to Team Redmond on getting the deal done. Seems most folks were dead wrong when they gave the advantage, and best odds, to Google. Now Microsoft wins the day with $240 mil in equity and an exclusive third-party ad deal. The quick back of the envelope arithmetic says Facebook's evaluation is in the $15 billion range. My sense remains there are major three players in the ad space (and more to be named later). Google leads. Microsoft is the fast follower, as ever. Yahoo is the sleeper. What is your Mountain View strategy? You do have one, don't you? Your last meeting in Redmond was when exactly?

The wayback machine: It was way back in the winter of 1996 that my then employer purchased hundreds of copies of a hardcover book written by the founder of MIT's Media Lab. Among our professional staff the book was a big hit. Being Digital by Nicholas Negroponte is an edited version of eighteen articles first published in Wired. We sent the books to major players in the broadcast space our clients included. Over a lunch in his office I presented a copy to Dan Mason. The difference between Dan and others that were provided with the reading? Dan spent the time to read it. In fact, years later he told me he had studied it. Smart guy. Today, I noticed that Michael Rosenblum, another smart guy, is chasing Negroponte's writing with his latest post Internetski here. Kudos Michael, right on the money! Closed circuit to NAB staff: Book Rosenblum for the Spring show, now.

Doing the right thing: For eight years in a row, no less. Jeffrey P. Myers founder of PSP (also a pal and former CBS colleague), continues to do exceptional work. His firm helps organizations to improve their performance by developing their people. Great to hear that the RAB has again engaged Jeffrey. This time around he and his team will present materials from PSP's celebrated Media Sales Institute.

Congrats & cheers: Programming ace Tom Poleman signs again with CC and remains ops manager of Z100 and SVP, Programming for CC properties in the city. Beantown's Baron of wireless networks Gary Bernstein named programming prexy for Syndication One. Chicago entrepreneur and wireless whiz Chris Witting launches TalkZone.com a 24/7 online talk radio net. Programming ace Andy Bloom returns to the wireless dodge to helm product at WIP. Wunderkind Jamie Friedman named associate publisher for Pursuits, WSJ's new glossy book.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging." Hank Aaron

"You can't win until you learn how to lose." Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

"When you lose, you're more motivated. When you win, you fail to see your mistakes and probably no one can tell you anything." Venus Williams

Today's image:
Late Fall Rose by Fred Winston. Great shot. Thanks for sharing.

Great Program Directors deliver numbers to the sales department: Kudos to programming ace Brian Kelly and his team on another exceptional performance. 103.7 KISS FM posted #1 Teens, #1 18-34 Women, #1 18-34 Men, and #1 18-34 Persons. The station delivered a 50.0 cume rating with Teens and a 40.5 cume rating with 18-34 Persons (so much for the continuing myth that the youth market ain't listening to any audio that's wireless). Moreover, Brian's two stations KISS and 99.1 WMYX were both in the top five 25-54 Women. CHR and Hot AC done right are winners, Brian and his team understand how to do just that (as too few others do). Brian Kelly delivers, again, he's the goods.

The unlimited (almost) bandwidth of youth is the answer: Doc writes about Facebook and time spent. My sense is this is a cohort issue. Doc goes on to suggest bringing down the wall. I agree. Further, as has been written here before, they need to get into the export business and out of the import business (as only access).

"The big challenge for Facebook, as it has been for AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple and everybody else who ever ran a walled garden, is to make their “platform” something that sits on the Net and the Web, not something that substitutes for it. Facebook’s mail, for example, is a substitute. If there’s a way I could get Facebook mail with my IMAP or POP client, I’d rather do that. (Can you, by the way? I doubt it, but I dunno.)" Read Doc's entire post here.

The play's the thing: Michael Rosenblum asks..."It's called The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. But it's not called The New York Times with Tom Friedman. Why is that?" My thought is to quote PJ "In all of art it's the singer not the song." This is especially true with the first tribe of wireless. Talent-driven radio programs (and stations), generally, tend to be more successful, consistently, than those that offer up some bland generic brand. Steve Dahl provides a good exhibit that makes this case. Steve continues to deliver great numbers book after book and does so on an otherwise dead radio station. The audience is tuning in for Steve, they are loyal to Steve not to the station. Years of numbers have proven this to be a fact. Steve is a star, an artiste, he has developed a following that has little (and one could make the case - nothing at all) to do with the radio station around him. He remains a success against all odds and that is one definition of rock star talent. The play's the thing. Moreover, Steve has proven the efficacy of the format, he has confirmed the validity of spoken word on commercial FM. The problem at WCKG is not the format, the problem is execution combined with a massive failure of imagination. It's about casting, providing direction, creating a positive creative environment, setting a stage for greatness. It's a leadership problem.

There is a significant delta between personalities and disc jockeys and yet another between disc jockeys and announcers. Voice actors v. announcers, a grand canyon of difference. The same holds true with TV talent. The reader v the rock star. Almost identical story line-ups (excepting soft), one show wins, one shows loses. Like you I have sat in focus group sessions and watched as one reader gets dialed up and another dialed down delivering the same story. One weather guy wins another loses. At the end of the day, all other things being equal, people listen to and watch those they like (and in some cases those they love to hate). There is no logic to any of these decisions, these preferences and behaviors. People are not rational, they don't do things for any reason but their own.

Personally, I prefer working with rock star talent, they dramatically improve your chances of winning. When I hear that a certain talent is "difficult" it's music to my ears. Typically, it means they care about their work. "The rocks go with the farm" as my friend Larry Bentson is fond of saying. Great talent is a pleasure to work for. They can't be managed, they demand to be led. Read Michael's post The "Talent" Trap here. Bravos Michael for continuing to offer up interesting subject matter of merit.

Almost related: on the day job we have done a number of perceptual studies on the media sales process. One of the most interesting findings is that the highest "rated" media sales professionals are consistently those that are "most liked" without regard to any other single attribute, skill set or variable. All things being equal or even unequal media buyers buy from the people they like. This finding is consistent in market after market. You could say the same about bloggers. There are bloggers and then there are Bloggers. While I might not always agree with Dave Winer his blog is, consistently, a good and smart read. Same with Dr Dave and Michael Rosenblum. Agree with them, or not, they provoke you to think! Bandwidth well spent. I must admit to being one that enjoys Michael's "Burn it to the ground" thesis because he dares to question practice too far past the best-used by date. The bonus is he offers up an intellectually honest and practical alternative.

Kudos: Jess Lee, Google Maps Project Manager offers up Southern California fire maps here.

Congrats & cheers: Salman Ullah the Google corp dev ace leaves to found a venture firm, Copper River Partners. Scott Herman named EVP, Operations and Michael Weiss hires on as President of Sales, both for CBS Radio.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"With money in your pocket, you are wise and you are handsome and you sing well too." Yiddish proverb

"I've never been poor, only broke. Being poor is a frame of mind. Being broke is only a temporary situation." Mike Todd

"If you want to know what a man is really like, notice how he acts when he loses money." Spanish proverb

Failing faster:
Viva Laughlin canceled by CBS after two episodes. The VL premiere delivered 8.8 mil viewers (CSI gave the debut a 20+ mil viewer lead-in). Related: Which Critic Can Say the Meanest Thing About 'Viva Laughlin'? via Vulture here.

Nobody likes it but the viewers: Nielsen releases the 2006-2007 season numbers. The total average time a household had a TV set tuned was 8 hours and 14 minutes per day, the same amount as during the 2005-2006 season and a record high. More here.

Team NASA: Discovery launch successful; orbit altitude reached in less than ten minutes. What can your team achieve in less than one quarter-hour?

If Edison were alive today: Mel Taylor puts forward an interesting what if. He's chasing the innovative work of Michael Rosenblum. "While the many inventions of Edison are monumental, he also had a knack for skillfully working the system and strategically lobbying for change, no matter how engrained and powerful the incumbent players and mindsets were.

The similiarities (sic) of that situation, with the challenges of the evolving media landscape of today, were ‘over the top’ obvious." Read Mel's entire post here.

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Successful leaders make sure that they succeed! They are not afraid of strength in others. Andrew Carnegie wanted to put on his gravestone, 'Here lies a man who knew how to put into his service more able men than he was himself.'" Peter Drucker

"Success and rest don't sleep together." Russian proverb

"You cannot motivate the best people with money. Money is just a way to keep score. The best people in any field are motivated by passion." E. S. Raymond

Todays image:
Vine Grapes by Elenapaint. Outstanding. Thank you!


Let's revisit one of those words. The difference today is we will employ the considerable intellect of two gifted guys. First, Gary Hamel, to wit:

"Modern management isn't just a suite of useful tools and techniques; it is a paradigm, to borrow a sound bite from Thomas Kuhn's overused argot. A paradigm is more than a way of thinking - it's a worldview, a broadly and deeply held belief about what types of problems are worth solving, or are even solvable. Listen to Kuhn on this point: '[A] paradigm is a criterion for choosing problems that...can be assumed to have solutions. To a great extent these are the only problems that the community will...encourage its members to undertake. Other problems...are rejected as metaphysical...or sometimes as just too problematic to be worth the time. A paradigm can, for that matter, even insulate the community from those socially important problems that are not reducible to the [familiar] puzzle form because they cannot be stated in terms of the conceptual and instrumental tools which the paradigm provides.'

We are all prisoners of our paradigms. And as managers, we are captives of a paradigm that places the pursuit of efficiency ahead of every other goal. This is hardly surprising, since modern management was invented to solve the problem of inefficiency." From Gary's new writing - The Future of Management. Highly recommended. (Amazon info here).

Second, Michael Rosenblum. Michael writes...

"There is an old expression that says ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

What happens in fact is that invention comes along, and it messes up everyones way of doing things, so they want it to go away. They bury it. It wrecks their lives. Executives in corporations put off dealing with new inventions until their tour of duty is over. “Leave it for someone else… I don’t really understand it” they say.

Ice, of course, is our classic example.

Once a massive industry, it was rendered obsolete in a stroke when refrigeration was invented.

No one in the ice business wanted refrigeration, and almost no one in the ice business ‘got’ refrigeration.

All they ‘got’ was unemployed."

Read Michael's entire post Frozen Assets here. Put Michael's blog, here, into your reader. Highly recommended.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." Samuel Beckett

"It's not whether you get knocked down; it's whether you get back up." Vince Lombardi

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly." Robert F. Kennedy

The lesson is...to succeed sooner we must learn and understand how to fail faster.

Today's image: Morning Illumination by WisDoc. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Bonus: A Vision of Students Today.

When I graduate I will probably have a job that doesn't exist today

I did not create the problems but they are my problems

The excellent new video by Michael Wesch and his students at KSU. Bravos and kudos to Michael and his students! View via YouTube here. Jump into the conversation here. This new video is the second in a series of three. In the event you missed the first video (The Machine is Us/ing Us) it's a must see via YouTube here. Professor Wesch talks about the key issues put forth in the first video (e.g., "everything is connected", "hello world, in 19 seconds"), video here.

Wesch has also posted another new video Information R/evolution. It chases a bunch of the thoughts and writing of Dr Dave. Video here.

Great comment on the new video by Tim Bulkeley via SansBlogue (It's not what we're teaching, it's HOW we are teaching)...

"More striking and visceral though, for me, was the opening of the video which sets the scene and poses the issue in an empty classroom! The environment in which we teach (onsite classes) is alien and sets up a model of information which is no longer true! Information is no longer scarce, no longer “out there”, no longer even ordered and organised the same way. It is not what we teach, it is how we are teaching that is the problem!

What teaching in the 21st century needs is not “better/more use of technology” - though that would be nice, nor (surely people do not actually believe this!?) students who are “as well educated as we were”, but simply new ways of doing and being. Many of our deep-rooted assumptions are enshrined in material forms, “class” rooms, whiteboards, “lecturers” and the like. So, what do we do to change how we are teaching?"

Bonus 2: TiltViewer

Friday, October 19, 2007

"Whoever has any authority over you, no matter how small, will attempt to use it." Johnny Martin

"You can't build a reputation on what you intend to do." Liz Smith

"Look at the real successes, the people who make a lot more money than you - Elton John, Captain Kangaroo, anybody from Saudi Arabia, Big Bird, and so on. They all dress funny - and they all succeed. Are you catching on? Dave Barry

New Lycos list - most-searched radio personalities...

1. Howard Stern
2. Tom Joyner
3. Opie & Anthony
4. Rush
5. Lionel
6. Chris Evans
7. Emma B
8. Wendy Williams
9. Michael Savage
10. Larry King
11. Sean Hannity
12. Bob & Tom
13. Don Imus
14. Mancow
15. Clark Howard
16. Dr Laura
17. Sara Cox
18. Art Bell
19. Kim Komando
20. Paul Harvey

Once on, now off the list: Bill O'Reilly, Tavis Smiley, Tom Leykis, Jim Cramer, Al Franken, Don & Mike.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Change before you have to." Jack Welch

"When a thing is done, it's done. Don't look back. Look forward to your next objective." George C. Marshall

"Often you just have to rely on your intuition." Bill Gates

150 men showed up wearing high heels and ready to run. 50 men, selected at random, competed to win tickets to see Hannah Montana. It played out as The Y98 High Heel Derby. The Y98 Insane Promotion Posse staged yet another cool event.
Kudos to Courtney Landrum (her idea), Laura Hobson and Lindsey Wright (their execution). More pics at the Y98 site here. Related WaPo story here.

Success is not an accident: CBS Radio programming ace Mark Edwards is winning in St Louis because he understands the critical importance of being, and staying, in the moment. Doing that is hard work, doing that consistently, being known for it, that's the stuff of truly great performance art. As ever, Mark's stations are tight and right on time. In the just released summer numbers Y98 and KEZK dominate the female demos, they own prime. Moreover, they've earned it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"If you do what you've always done, you get what you've always gotten." Johnny Martin

"I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward." Thomas A. Edison

"Creating without claiming, Doing without taking credit, Guiding without interfering, This is primal virtue." Lau-tzu

Formats done right win. The play's the thing
: The summer books are rolling out for radio. Kudos to the Z100 gang in the city. #1 12+, #1 18-34 and #2 25-54. Proof positive there is nothing wrong with the format. It's alive and well when done right. Vinnie & crew should be getting more credit, the little owner that could is getting it done - WBLS puts up a #1 25-54 (#3 AMD and #1 PMD). Same story with "oldies" - done right it's a winner. One year ago KRTH posted a 2.6, now, programming ace Jhani Kaye delivers a 3.6. Brian Thomas' WCBS-FM put up a 2.2 one year ago with Jack, now, he delivers a 3.7 with a solid CBS-FM reinvention.

The wayback machine: The last time Z100 posted #1 12+ was 1989. The last time WLTW was not #1 12+ was 2001.

In all of art, it's the singer not the song: The words of PJ are relevant here. It's not the format (song), it's the singer (the execution). Please allow me to disabuse you of another clearly stupid notion. Formats do not get stations into trouble, management get formats (and stations) into trouble. Cohort replacement is a very important variable. As Sheila O'Connor once said to me decades ago..."In 2010 Born To Run by Bruce will be elevator music." The notion that one could put on a format and then freeze dry the safe list, the approach, the strategy and tactics was, in point of fact, never valid. Yes, it could and did produce results for years. It is less than wise to expect the same results to continue forever. As Dwight Case said "Content is not programming." The winners mentioned in this post are programming their stations in real time. They are working in a living performance art. One of the oldest and last "live" performance arts. They understand. It's about going to work every single day totally obsessed with one goal - to commit great radio. All that's important is what comes out of the speakers, what's on the screens. Everything else is a footnote. Let me also remind you - as has been written here for some years now - it's not about radio, it's about audio. Period. Paragraph. The secret to success remains clear...you must create proprietary intangibles (innovation!).

Ask the one who knows they know: The rule of thumb for outdoor is "No more than seven words and two things to look at, clear reads and recall in 1.5 second exposures at 750 feet." That good counsel is the result of decades of research. Here's a free trade secret for those with the courage to act. Involved in an out of home campaign. In addition to all of the cool agency creative that played great in the conference room we added one other creative. The one we asked the art director of the outdoor company to create using two goals: 1) people will see it 2) people will remember it. The art director delivered a creative the station people, without exception, hated. The colors were all wrong, the design, the look totally sucked, they said. Not our image, they said. In the focus groups the art director's design won by a huge landslide. The lesson here is simple. The guy who does hundreds, maybe thousands, of outdoor executions a year knows what works and what does not. Ask her to assist. P.S. - the client green lighted (not with the research winner) the #2 focus group choice. The agency creative that played "ok"(#3) in the conference room won the day. They passed on the creative only the target voted best of show. The takeaway - compromise is the enemy of greatness. Ask the right people for help. Refuse to settle. Take the leap, go for greatness.

Congrats & cheers: Dave Van Dyke
joins ABC Radio Networks as VP, Affiliate Relations.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"In this world a man must either be anvil or hammer." Longfellow

"The beginning is the most important part of the work." Plato

"Expect problems and eat them for breakfast." A. Montapert

Today's image:
Golden Gater by Thomas Hawk. Outstanding. Thank you.

Congrats & cheers: Steve Dahl
for once again proving the concept "In all of art it's the singer not the song" Steve, as ever, delivered winning numbers for CBS radio in Chicago.

Friday, October 12, 2007

"It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all the answers." James Thurber

"If you have enough butter, anything is good." Julia Child

"Teach thy tongue to say 'I do not know,' and thou shalt progress." Moses Maimonides

Don't mess with bloggers who happen to be lawyers:
Being Stupid and Litigious Is No Way To Go Through Life - Michael Arrington (chased with 400+ comments).

He's so money: Mel on Charlie Rose. On radio: "...lots of cash, no growth." Mel talks about the merger, why he never had dinner with Sumner, Katie, Dan Rather, Imus, and what radio executives have in common with circus clowns. Catch it via video stream below (53:47). Closed circuit to Mel: please get your date right on KDKA. It's not 1928! Please stop talking about not getting fired, enough already!

Congrats & cheers: Greg Brown signs to do afternoons at Chicago's WZZN. CmdrTaco getting Wired here.

Bonus - Collected wisdom: Is The Net Good For Writers?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"Luck is the residue of design." Branch Rickey

"If everything's under control, you are going too slow." Mario Andretti

"The etiquette advice you need is how to say no politely. You do it cheerfully, with apologies but no excuses. 'I'm so sorry, I can't this time; I hope you find someone' is all that is necessary." Judith Martin

I'm off to enjoy the Wisconsin Book Festival. First stop - book sale at the UW-Madison Libraries.

Congrats & cheers: Mitch Praver joins NPR as COO.

Italian Dry Red: Masciarelli, 2003. About $10, drinks like a $40 wine. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Technique alone is never enough. You have to have passion. Technique alone is just an embroidered pot holder." Raymond Chandler

"Art is the only thing you cannot punch a button for. You must do it the old-fashioned way. Stay up and really burn the midnight oil. There are no compromises." Leontyne Price

"Employ in everything a certain casualness which conceals art and creates the impression that what is done and said is accomplished without effort and without its being thought about. It is from this, in my opinion, that grace largely derives." Baldassare Castiglione

The blog! The blog! How could I have forgotten about the blog?

My sincere thanks for all the emails. Much, too much, going on these days. All of it good. Lots of learning in progress here. Standby for email responses, still getting caught up. Again, thank you very much.

Each year at this time we are involved in several big projects. Personally, the count is now down to three talks remaining in my 2007 tour but, still, that's three more talks and each requires days of prep. Then there's the creation of our annual ad spend projection. The projection, alone, a full-time job for a bunch of people. It is also an honor to be invited to participate in the planning processes of clients and friends of the firm. Then, our little company is also in the middle of budget hell. Finally, the plan calls for me to write my new 2008 brief over six weeks beginning the first of December. The dear person who is booking the 08 brief talks (five or so engagements beginning in the winter) awaits the one-sheet, it remains in draft. Add time off for the holidays (and a short fall trip to the city is becoming a maybe). Which leaves, uh, less than the time needed to get everything done this year. The take away is homework matters.

Homework separates the winners from the losers.

Related - On reading plans: It is a joy to review a plan where the team has done their homework. Where the budget assumptions have full and credible support. Where every possible question is anticipated. The plan where nothing is left to chance. A plan that offers a fresh, positive view of the possible. It's not the plan, the end product of the activity that's important, it's the work obvious behind the planning itself, the activity.

The contrast between a team serious about doing the homework and a team that is serious about nothing more than delivering the paperwork on time could not be more blatant. The former are thinking, imagining, pushing to get the most out of next year. Their plans offer up more than one crazy idea, a long shot, a flyer, these folks are coloring outside the lines. The latter are going through the motions, they are driven by compliance, the narrative is flat, the numbers are just what everyone expected.

Wait a minute, why are we doing this?

For decades we have enjoyed the benefit of this exercise. Ask the staff to provide answers to the important question of WHY. An expense, once approved, rolls on and too often without question. It takes on a life (and inclusion in the budget) thanks to spreadsheet math.

One employee at a client was awarded a check for a serious amount, it represented 10% of the annual savings in our client's 2005 year-long Wait a minute, why are we doing this? program. The math works. The winning employee suggested management look into expenses that saved the company about $37K a small percentage of the program's total savings. However, that one employee's winnings provided the incentive for every other non-management employee to get involved in the 2006 program. And, it worked! 2006 year participation and suggestions were outstanding. This year the program is, again, doing great and next year our little project is being budgeted for company wide adoption. Get the troops into thinking "If this were my company..." and then reward them. They see things your managers are no longer able to see. They have great ideas, all you need to do is request, respect, recognize and reward.

Thanks to the wisdom of our clients we do compliment the savings program with an innovation program. Our counsel is we invest, redirect or reprogram a significant percentage of all savings into new initiatives. These are also the product of team suggestion and collaboration.

Homework. Engagement, creative collaboration involving every team member. No better ROI.

My most sincere thanks to our client for giving me permission to blog about this very successful ongoing program. (NOTE: I made changes in this post at the request of the client).

The soft stuff is key: CBS programming ace Mark Edwards weighs in via email...

"We don't manage ourselves nor our time as well as we should. We need to get better at that so we can make time for the stars of our show. Bottom line - we need to invest more time in our talent. The potential payoff is huge."

A very good point and excellent counsel. Thanks for sharing, Mark!

Congrats to Superjock: Uncle Lar to be inducted into the NAB's Hall of Fame. Robert Feder, Chicago's official media scribe headlines today's writing "Hats off to Larry" and shares the thoughts of Mr Lujack...

"As this will be my third and probably last Hall of Fame induction, I've decided, in my acceptance speech, to dump the phony gracious and fake humility bit and just be truthful for a change," he said Tuesday.

"I was, still am and always will be incredibly good, and frankly, I'm more than a little disappointed that it took the NAB this long to recognize that fact!

"Further, I am deserving of this honor because I've always subscribed to the NAB Code of Responsible Broadcasting. I have no idea what it's about -- but I've always subscribed."

Thanks Robert.

In the last century I once served as EP of the Windy Awards. The local radio association gave the awards to recognize excellence in radio creative. I took the one-off assignment with the condition that our MC would be Lujack. He killed, totally rocked the ballroom. I had the good sense never to accept the assignment again.

Reminder: We still need to get Bill Drake and Rick Sklar into the NAB Hall.

Quote worth thinking about, again: David Kilcullen military strategist. Smart guy who said "It's not engineering. It's extreme sport." Spot-on. That is exactly the pov. Ask yourself two questions, every single day, without fail:

What is happening now?

What do we do next?

Congrats & cheers: Programming ace John Mainelli tells it like it truly is, to wit...

"It is critical to coach, support, run interference for, critique and defend true talent every hour of every day. This is not a hobby. This is not for PDs who always go out for lunch, obsess with e-mail and message boards, meld with their telephones, or feather their nests with meetings and cronies.

It’s for the PD who is really the executive producer, 24/7, and who spends as much time in the studio, control room and producer pit as he does in his office.

Most importantly, this PD really has to like talk radio. It’s my opinion that too many talk PDs don’t really enjoy and/or understand the format they’re working in. Frankly, you have to be slightly unbalanced to really get into talk radio – to where you listen to it because you want to. And, yes, I am unbalanced, as many of you know."

More via Inside Radio here. Bravo, John! Well said. In my experience your show is only as good as your talent and your show runner and if you don't have a serious, obsessed show runner chances are you ain't got a show. Talent need directors (and a PD that serves, the great PD understands they work for the talent and are required to act as defense attorney from time to time. Being the advocate for talent is a very important additional duty). We still offer a one day workshop based on the monograph A Great Program Director. I am always amazed when someone walks up during a break and asks me to explain the slide that reads

"You're running an opera company, you don't tell Pavarotti to sing better"

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." Scott Adams

"When a thing has been said, and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it." Anatole France

"Anyone can make the simple complicated - creativity is making the complicated simple." Charles Mingus

Russell Davies
has written an interesting post, the image above is a slide taken from his piece. Blurry, Interesting, Useful, Always in Beta. Some thoughts on brands and media....

"A lot of brands are realising this means they have to get interesting. ie they have to create stuff that people actually want to engage with, stuff that people will want to watch over and above any other conveniently accessible choice. This means abandoning the usual reductionist, bash-them-over-the-head-with-a-simple-message approach because it's simply not financially effective to spend the kind of media money that will let you do that. Or even if it is now, it won't be soon. This means being willing to embrace negative emotion, being willing to tell people incomplete stories, being willing to give them room to think and realising that the most interesting communications are sometimes contradictory."

Kudos, Russell! Read his post here.

To win, you must effectively play the hand you have: You take advantage of the population base you have and use physics as a tie-breaker. Successful broadcast stations have a deep understanding of these fundamental, self-evident market forces.

No matter how good your programming, ratings success depends on the size of your target population and your signal coverage. Simply put: are there enough people (i.e., incidence rate) and does your signal reach them (primary service contour)? One is able to make changes in a great many competitive factors however one can not change the population base of the market nor your transmission physics.

Last year we predicted this year's ongoing ratings failure of a major market station. We reached our decision after study of the population dynamics within the station's primary service contour. Our suggestion was the station would fail no matter how well it was programmed and promoted because the targeted population was too small; further, not an insignificant percentage of that target population live on the edges or just outside of the station's primary service contour. Arbitron is doing a good job of measuring the market under discussion here, our analysis indicates they continue to capture and employ solid representative in-tabs. The format is failing not because of Arbitron, not because of any lag in listening and measurement, not because of diary placement. The reality here is good programming is failing because the target audience is too small and the signal lacks the potential of reaching 100% of the targeted population. In this case, population and physics trump good programming. It was ever thus.

In the PPM world we will benefit from a larger, more stable data set. The unexpected success from a "good" bounce (that presently presents the excuse used to prolong a failing station) will be diminished. What matters now, in fact, what has always mattered is reach. Pure, unadulterated reach. Get it and you win. Cume makes all good things happen.

Lesser signals serve as R&D labs for the attentive big dogs. There are times when innovative original programming is born on a limited facility. Take for example the Class A FM property that debuts a new format and achieves modest success. We have seen cases where such a station makes significant ratings gains within their coverage areas (measured by zip code or block code analysis). The alert full-facility operator runs with the format and given the better physics wins the bigger geography and therefore the battle. There are ongoing exhibits of full-signal metro operators being attacked by "ratings robbers", competitors adopting a strategy of using their weakest player to dilute efforts of another full-signal competitor. In the final analysis the use of any signal as a drone (or even a flanker) offers considerably less economic return than developing and enjoying the full potential of the asset.

We continue to wonder at suburban operators intent on playing a game they have no possible chance of winning (e.g., attempting to compete with full-signal competitors and targeting the full metro). This is a failure of leadership. Management is responsible for putting the assets to work in a manner that adds value and creates wealth. The suburban station that takes full advantage of being a suburban station changes the game. They begin to play a game they are uniquely qualified to win - the metro stations are simply not able, nor willing, to compete. These suburban operators have turned their limited signal to advantage and in the process created authentic and sustainable barriers to entry.

Know your population, know your physics.

Monday, October 08, 2007

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." Jack London

"There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." Bach

Today's image: On the Run by Thomas Hawk. Great shot. Thank you!

Leave it to The Onion to do the perfect number on TV News and viewer feedback. Kudos! (WARNING: NSFW - Language)

Viewer Voices: Where We Respond To The Opinions Of Our Uninformed Viewers

Thursday, October 04, 2007

"Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well." Josh Billings

"Do, or do not. There is no try." Yoda

"Treat a man as if he were what he ought to be and you help him become what he is capable of being." Goethe

How cool is this? The official Department of State blog here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

"What counts can't always be counted; what can be counted doesn't always count." Albert Einstein

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." T.S. Elliot

"Life is good only when it is magical and musical, a perfect timing and consent, and when we do not anatomize it. You must treat the days respectfully...You must hear the bird's song without attempting to render it into nouns and verbs." Emerson

Photo: Wisconsin Road by chefranden. Great shot. Thank you! It is beautiful here, especially this time of year.

We all owe Lawrence Lessig. Just got an email from him about the upcoming five year anniversary of Creative Commons. WOW, five years! Seems like only yesterday that Lessig and others set into motion the copyright system we enjoy, and depend upon today. Now, Larry is announcing a new capital campaign - $500K to keep the effort moving forward for the next five years. Please do join me and give what you can. All the details are here. Thank you very much. And thanks, cheers to Larry for all of his great work!

Let's mark 30 and put another one to bed: In my salad days at WBZ the legendary Jim Yergin taught me..."Your audience is the inverse of your mail." All of us discovered, of course, that he was right. My sense always was those letters to the editor were doped. Today, your audience does not have to take writing instrument in hand and involve the federal government in delivery of a message - your audience is one click away. In the last several years another old school convention has become real again. At times in the last century we knew something was happening when the phones were hot even when nothing was coming in via uniformed federal employees. This, again, served to prove Yergin's thesis correct. Hot phones typically predicted a good book or in the least a hot show. One trip to the producer's station before a show began told you everything. During the newscast before a hot show all the lines lighted up.

Today, pvs, uniques and emails do much the same thing. It's wonderful. Listener/Viewer snail mail, as we once knew it, is dead and so too is Jim's once brilliant observation. We are getting closer to the ideal that the great genius Rosser Reeves first suggested - the fully connected always on feedback loop. What a great time it is to be working in measured media!

If, I owned, managed or programmed a rock station: No matter how certain I happened to be about how good my fall strategy was, I would invite Lee Arnold to give my team an opinion on what, exactly, we could be doing better. Excellent ROI. Highly recommended. He's one click away here. Ring this man up and win!

Contrarian, as ever: My wife and I have agreed. We are sending out dead tree holiday greetings this year. If for no other reason, no one else seems intent to play.

Post #501: What, hey, just a minute, really! Time does fly. Dear reader, my sincere thanks to you for your support of this humble blog. A great many have posted way into the four digits and I truly respect and appreciate them for showing the way.

Is your station guilty of spam?: Dan Kelley offers up an object lesson. Important stuff. Ensure your team is not a party to such bad behavior. Read all about it here. Kudos and thanks to Dan!

Bonus (2 poets, no waiting): Rives Derrick C. Brown

Congrats & cheers: Radiohead on their brilliant marketing move - putting price in the hands of fans. LA Times Op/Ed here.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Photo: I Love You More by Thomas Hawk. Killer image. Thank you!

"If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play." John Cleese

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started." Sally Berger

"Be yourself. The world worships the original." Ingrid Bergman

Fox Business
redirects domain, teasing 10/15 debut. Back story here. Site here.

Midtown buzz: Time, Inc. annual billing about $175 mil in online rev, running a CPM of approx $21. Compared to $5.2 billion in dead tree rev.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain: Predicting the future of media is, at best, a parlor game fraught with peril. Back in the last century I recall giving a talk at MIDEM and leading with a denouncement - CHR is not dead. I took up the task of telling the audience to ignore the idiot American consultant who, at a session earlier in the day, told the audience that CHR was totally dead. Predictions do make good copy. Last week, just about the time that Yahoo! announced they were closing up their podcasting business, we learned that the first tribe of wireless is, well, toast. The best used by date a bit less than 20 years ahead. Michael Harrison is quoted in the Mark Washburn column here in Charlotte Observer...

Harrison, who entered broadcasting in 1967 and has published Talkers since 1990, said he believes most listeners will abandon the traditional AM and FM radio services and migrate to new technologies in the next two decades.

"The next 15 years will be the demise of terrestrial radio as we know it and the rise of the extraterrestrial," he said. Just as Vaudeville gave way to movies and horses to the automobile, he said, radio will be overtaken by gadgets that serve people's needs more efficiently.

What comes to mind here is Orgel's Second Rule (i.e., "Evolution is cleverer that you are"). What media around 15 years ago remains the same today? That pesky four word qualification in the prediction (e.g., "as we know it") seems to prove there's no fist in that glove. Care to make a Long Bet Michael?

Lee Arnold gets Bob Dylan to deliver his mail to WRIF, no kidding, details here. Kudos to Lee, clever as ever!

GOP front runners to Tavis Smiley: Drop dead. In what is certain to be a calculated move the four leading GOP candidates were no shows at last week's PBS sponsored debate. Worst of the bunch would be Fred Thompson who did agree to attend and later backed out when hearing the big three were not attending. Tone deaf. Stupid without excuse. ABC News coverage here.

Bonus: John Maeda

Congrats & cheers: Warner Bros
and NBCU stations renew Ellen through 2011. Hey!Nielsen on their beta launch. Rebecca Watson, Glynn Washington and Al Letson winners of the PRX Public Radio Talent Quest (more), entered by 1,400. Rebecca blogs here. Should you be a station person looking for leading-edge original music you need to get dialed-in to the guys all the smart kids are inviting to play; these guys are the goods: Bob Shannon and Bruce Upchurch on the success of their exciting and very cool new venture.