Friday, November 30, 2007

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." G.B. Shaw

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." Emerson

"You have never really lived until you've done something for someone who can never repay you." Johnny Martin

Today's image: You've Heard Most of It Before by Thomas Hawk. Beautiful. Thank you!

700Mhz: Google filing their FCC Form 175 and officially enter the spectrum auction. More from Google's Chris Sacca here.

She said, they bought: comScore & The Kelsey Group study - Consumer-generated reviews have a significant impact on offline purchase behavior. Release here.

Why Early Stage Venture Investments Fail - Fred Wilson offers up his take...

"Most venture backed investments fail because the venture capital is used to scale the business before the correct business plan is discovered. That scale/burn rate becomes the cancer that kills the business."

Excellent points. Read Fred's entire post here.

She's a caster, he's a caster, you can be a caster too! But what kind? Dave Winer reviews the state of casting in late 2007. Kudos to Dave! Check out his post here.

Error messages: The Many Errors in Thinking About Mistakes - Alina Tugend writes...

"As we get older, many of us invest a great deal in being right. When things go wrong, as they inevitably do, we focus on flagellating ourselves, blaming someone else or covering it up. Or we rationalize it by saying others make even more mistakes.

What we do not want to do, most of the time, is learn from the experience."

Read the entire article via NYT here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"No one who deserves confidence ever solicits it." John Lennon

"Most great men and women are not perfectly rounded in their personalities, but are instead people whose one driving enthusiasm is so great it makes their faults seem insignificant." Charles Cerami

"It's the friends you can call up at 4:00 a.m. that really matter." Marlene Dietrich

Bulletin from Fly-over Land:
Hey NFL, we ain't gonna buy your network. Watching the Packers tonight at one of my brother-in-laws' restaurants. The NFL Network wants us to blame cable. That dog don't hunt.

Spots & dots: Net TV CPM $25, TV Broadband CPM $30+. Jon Lafayette at TV Week offers the back story here.

VOTE! IWM's 2007 Media Person of the Year, all the big kids are voting, join them and vote here.

Midtown buzz:
News Corp & LinkedIn $1 billion, not enough? A billion dollars? Not a bad offer for a site that did 2782k in uniques last month (comScore - see yesterday's post). $359 a unique? The recent chatter about Facebook being valued at $15 billion plays out at over $455 a unique (using the same comScore data set). Smells like 1999.

Mad Ave buzz: You may expect to hear more and more about measures of attention and engagement. Here's one snap shot of an attention metric from Compete. My thanks to Max Freiert.

Others of note in the top 200: #28, Univision +129%, #33, Netflix (7%), #39 CartoonNetwork +14%, #45 BlackPlanet +3%, #57 ProjectPlaylist +610%, #67 Nick +7%, #68 PBSKids +6%, #76 USAToday (32%), #79 FoxNews +29%, #96 Hi5 (8%), #99 NYTimes (21%), #135 BBC (32%), #147 MarketWatch (18%), #188 TheStreet +216%, #196 DrudgeReport +21%. More here.

Not exactly correct, yet: Yes, I have been talking with a pub about doing a column. No, a deal has not been made (can't believe everything you read). This scribbling is free. I'm a known Creative Commons guy. Commercial pubs are and should be a different story. Not willing to write for free or almost free when the publisher is making a good buck. A deal might happen, or not. Honored, nonetheless. Thanks for all the emails and good words. Stay tuned.

Bravos! The Google Gmail gang (Seattle) debuts group chat and rich emoticons. Very cool. More here.

Bonus: ze jumping that gap between zero and one.

Congrats & cheers: Drew Horowitz named Best Manager in Radio by Radio Ink. Well deserved, Drew is a rock star playing at the top of his game. TiVo signs NBCU as first major broadcaster to purchase set-top box data. Emeril Lagasse marks 30 on Emeril Live!, the BAM! that first put Food Network on the national radar over ten years ago. Google AdWords team signing their first TV industry reseller covering 26 markets - Hearst-Argyle. Eddie Webb back, right where he belongs, in Chicago, afternoons at WLUP. Charlie Koones leaving Variety to lead a media/entertainment startup, he's shopping for money. ABC on their big win with Shrek, 21.2 million viewers, 7.2 rating 18-49, this should lockup their #1 finish. ABC also banked success with their Stars finale - 24.9 million viewers, 6.4 rating 18-49. The sweeps first place show honors remain with CBS, the CSI season opener posting 25.5 million viewers. Radio star Wendy Williams and Debmar-Mercury to co-pro the new Wendy Williams TV Show set to debut in the city next year, national launch to follow (Might be a great vehicle for one of the NBCU properties?). Anton Guitano named CFO at CBS Radio.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge." Daniel Boorstin

"Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out." John Wooden

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Leonardo da Vinci

Today's image: Untitled by Ron Fell. Outstanding shot. Thanks for sharing!

Erick Schonfeld is sharing some interesting comScore MM data on social networks. Click on data table for larger view.

Read Erick's take via TechCrunch here.

Congrats & cheers: Rob Barnett and his My Damn Channel crew on their 12/4 debate - Gov Huckabee v Sen Edwards, moderated by Tim Russert and simulcast via MDC and YouTube. Details here. Dan Kelley joins the staff of Michigan Association of Broadcasters.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone." Emerson

"There is something that is much more scarce, something rarer than ability. It is the ability to recognize ability." Robert Half

"There are two rules for success: 1) Never tell everything you know." Roger Lincoln

Today's image: She Said She'd Take Me Anywhere by Matt Roe. Great shot. Thank you!

Tis the season, let the list making begin. Patrick Phillips has his annual Media Person of the Year poll on offer. Pick one of ten or write in your own. The usual suspects - Google, Murdoch and Zuckerberg - joined by Perez Hilton, Rosie, Imus and Joanne Lipman among others. Check out the big ten and add yours to the bold-faced names now voting (e.g., Frank Rich, Kurt Anderson, Craig Newmark and Tina Brown). IWM 2007 Media Person of the Year here. Kudos to Patrick, for offering what is always one of the most interesting posts of the year. Murdoch gets my vote, Goggle in second. Ones to watch next year? Microsoft and Diller will both make my great in 08 list.

Quality v Quantity: Rob Barnett argues an important point. Which is the more productive business model - offer consistent quality or offer consistent quantity? In my experience, talent wins in entertainment. Quality trumps quantity. The long tail serves to confirm this notion. The "hits" do matter, they always will. The difficult concept for some to grasp is the practical working definition of hit is changing. It's no longer strictly defined as exclusively being the head of the long tail. It's less only a game of pure volume and more a game of consistently delivering on expectations within some defined community. The head rules, as ever but the tail now matters. Cable TV is a reasonable proxy here. During my life as an MSO the "quality" niche channels were the real drivers of our basic sub growth. We see that even more pronounced today in the growth of digital tiers. Rob's also a former cable hand and he's got this one down cold. Here's what Rob has to say about quality..

"In our first 4 months of life, we’ve brought a small number of big talents into a tent where they deliver new webisodes every single week...Our thinking is that if the best talent delivers the best videos - consistently - then less can be more."

In a wee bit over 100 days Rob and his gang have established a venue of weekly entertainment. My sense is they are one viral hit, one Leno clip away from achieving escape velocity. The cool thing is, they're just getting started. G.B. McLendon comes to mind here, to wit: "People don't know what they like but they like what they know." Rob & company have opened a place where people can come to know and expect entertainment. The 08 election cycle and Rob has Shearer in the tent, that alone is chock full of possibility and fun. Read Rob's post Can Less Be More? here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

"When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy." Dave Barry

"While people may someday forget what you said, they will never forget how you made them feel." Johnny Martin

"What is art? Nature concentrated." Honore de Balzac

Along with the mad rush to year end, recent weeks have involved preparing for my last talk of the year. The subject is creativity. One of the senior honchos at a client company reminded me of something used years ago in my talks and playbook materials. He was right, and I thank him because it was worth revisiting. Sharing it here today.

Top secret - "The formula" of former ABC TV programming whiz Fred Silverman...

  1. Make people laugh. There's enough tragedy in the world.
  2. People tune in to see a star.
  3. Stress the positive, not the negative.
  4. The common man is more appealing.
  5. It's up to me to find new stars.
  6. Familiarity breeds acceptability.
  7. Take chances and run scared.
  8. It's not only the show but how the audience is told about the show.
  9. Work the viewer mind.
  10. Keep a hard-action line.
  11. Cartoons aren't only for kids.
  12. Grab 'em while they're young.
  13. Don't copy yourself.
Great lessons each and all. More detail on the second item above, Fred said "Television is a personality medium. Start out with a piece of talent." Fred was spot-on. As the legendary Bill Hartman often said "Our success begins and ends with talent. Without talent we got no show. Without show we got no business."

Another lesson: Timing - knowing your moment is everything. In 1997 Christopher Hassett was riding high with PointCast, it was the moment push tech was cool, very cool. The story goes it was 1997 when the PointCast board turned down a $450 million offer from News Corp. In 1999 they did sell the company for $7 million.

Ranting on radio: Interested in radio? Please allow me to recommend Jay Mitchell to you. Perhaps Jay's destiny is the result of a genetic transmission, after all he is one of that rare breed of second-generation broadcasters. But wait, there's more going on here. Amongst the first tribe of wireless Jay is known as a gentleman, a successful broadcaster and an engaging entrepreneur. Now, he's favored us with a blog. Check out Jay's new blog here. Kudos and cheers to Jay! Welcome to the conversation.

Congrats & cheers: They said he couldn't do it but, of course, he did. Nicholas Negroponte and his dream of a $100 laptop, a laptop for every child. His OLPC initiative is now making an exceptional offer while making a real difference. Give a laptop to a child and get one free. This important mission is not at all about laptops but about education. Please join me and Give One and Get One this holiday season. Related: OLPC Wiki. Bravos to Nicholas and company.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Carve your name on hearts and not marble." C.H. Spurgeon

"It's hard to beat a person who never gives up." Babe Ruth

"Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose." Bill Gates

Today's image: Zicatela #2 by konaboy. Amazing. Thank you for sharing.

Is E-Mail Dead?

Kids will kill email and we should thank them: Not to get into a rant here but email is increasingly a waste of bandwidth. The filters on the work account and the personal gmail are about 99% effective. Still hundreds of emails a day pour into the spam and junk folders, thousands a week. The contact me utility on this blog (i-name, works great. Hate to moderate blog comments here but there is no other way to keep the conversation going (i.e., free of other issues including potential legal). However, that's not the problem.

The problems are with the folks that opt me (and you) into their spam without prior notice. The trouble begins with people we white list taking advantage of their status. The really big issues here are respect, trust and attention.

Exhibit A: Attend one conference one time and, it seems, there is no way to avoid being signed up for notices of everything else that outfit might have on offer. I go out of my way to opt out of everything at the beginning and still have to opt out at least a couple of times again before it stops. Buy anything online and nine times out of ten you're opted in to some kind of sales or up-selling campaign (in the least some data base building thinly disguised as a satisfaction survey). Enough!

Exhibit B: Vendors that obtain my work email via some one-off business contact and then sign me up for their newsletters or other stuff that I never requested. Fired one host last year for constantly sending us emails. The flood of noise about server stats being available, free online SEO training, upgrades to their plant, etc. , a waste of our time. We emailed, called and snail mailed the host requesting they end any and all communication not strictly related to support or billing matters. They told us we were the only client to complain and we were in their system, nothing they could do to stop those interesting "client updates and notices." After we fired them and moved our account we continued to get their dear client emails for another three months. Enough!

One guy (known for decades) is now, out of the blue, sending me a Dear Colleague email with PDF attachment each month. First, to address me as a colleague is generous at best (especially when your purpose is to sell me or my clients your wares and we ain't done anything close to biz in years). Second, the communication has no value to me. In this case the PDF contains a rehash of yesterday's news. The only news here is the PDF was never requested. Start a blog, launch a feed, understand that unsolicited email newsletters are, in a word, rude (btw, attachments are so...ghetto). Enough!

The Golden Rule of TOS - Don't be a weasel: Got no respect for those that hide behind the twenty-six or whatever page TOS. Weasel be thy name! You know the weasel games, the big font gives while the tiny font taketh away, the opt-out is ever the pref (they already checked the most popular options for you, you know, as a convenience). We can handle disclosure. What we can't handle is straight up deception. I'll do a custom install, thank you very much. Too often your "recommended" install silently favors you and others you are in bidness with. Cool but you gotta let me know prior to staking a third party claim to my hard drive or browser. Deal me in, please, or else.

We have a manners issue at work here. Net etiquette. One more example. Just because I posted a comment on your blog once (giving you my email in a required field) does not mean I agreed to have you send me an email of every single post you put up. Your three times a day email blast only serves to confirm the notion that you have nothing of any real importance to say or to share. Enough!

As I write this my personal and work accounts are filled with hundreds of unread emails. The majority of those will - most likely - be a complete waste of time. Enough!

Please, before you email me with the suggestion to set up other email accounts to manage this situation, I'm not interested in what is, in net effect, a work around. A creative director friend has ten email accounts and I get that thought on any such strategy is include me out. Perhaps it's time to start another email hall of shame wherein we post the names and email addresses of repeat offenders. Better, let's celebrate the guys and dolls that do get it, the ones that are getting it right!

Chad Lorenz has written a solid piece about this stuff over at Slate: The Death of E-Mail, you may find it here. Reacts include uber-cool photog Thomas Hawk, read his post Email, 1961 - 2007 R.I.P...Thank God here. Kudos to Chad, Thomas and thanks to the kids for killing email. All that's left now is for the geezers and corporate America to pay the price and be disadvantaged by this mess. Is email dead? Nawh, just in an early stage of being left behind by those living closest to the future.

Bonus: Grease

Congrats & cheers: The gang at Mixx up and running in beta (Sujoy Singha weighs in Five Reasons: Why I Love Mixx).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." Proust

Our first measurable snowfall of the season began yesterday.

Today's image: by Collingwood Trees II by Peter Bowers. Beautiful. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"Wisdom begins in wonder." Socrates

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." Goethe

"Ideas are a capital that bears interest only in the hands of talent." Rivarol

Today's image: Kona by Ron Fell. Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

The revolution will be televised (you just have to know where to look): Rob Barnett, refugee and chief of My Damn Channel is feeding, again, into that good night...

Old Media needs writers. But writers don’t need old media.

Old Media is about to be written out of its own show. They’re writing themselves off the island without even knowing it.

Old Media thinks this strike is about keeping a few more pennies of every dollar, when it’s actually about life and death.

Life happens when you embrace change. Death happens when you know you’re sick and you refuse to heal your wounds.

Old Media is crawling all over the railroad tracks - looking for lose change - and they don’t see the train coming.

We’ve all seen this movie before. It’s called, The Sixth Sense. And we know how it’s going to end. All of a sudden, Old Media realizes their old rules are actually dead.

Reminds me of that great line by Gary Hamel..."The future is not proprietary." Check out Rob's very cool new blog here.

But wait, there's more. The revolution is live. We need only read Michael Rosenblum...

"What we have done is to create, for all practical purposes, a population that is illiterate in the lingua franca of its own time - video.

We have placed the ‘ability’ to create in this now very fundamental medium, in the hands of a select and elite few.

This is a mistake."

Read Michael's post here.

So what's new(s)? Dave Winer says...

"This way of doing news is a remnant, it's anachronistic, a relic of the way news used to work, when guys like Bezos and Jobs would go on a press tour, seed Pogue, Markoff, Levy and Mossberg, they would write their pieces and the rest of us would settle for the very limited and highly spun information they provided. It's not that way anymore."

"The press still reflects what the press cares about, competing with other press. But the blogs, who aren't trying to climb the top 100 lists, are doing something else. We're just trying to share information with each other so we can learn, so we can use stuff better, make better choices, improve the products, and eventually create new products."

Conversation writ large. Thanks, Dave. The entire post here.

Fred Winston, celebrated radio star and part-time gentleman farmer, pings me to share a wine and a cheese suggestion. Best to listen up, this guy knows his wine and cheese (to say nothing of his exceptional chili, food and overall kitchen chops). Please join me and check these out. Wine: Ponzi Williamette Valley Pinot Noir 2002. Cheese: d'Affinois (a Brie-like cow's milk cheese). Thanks, Fred.

The last bastion of analog - books

Jeff Bezos on Charlie Rose


992 pages downloaded in less than a minute

Content more important than distribution channel

Consumers ever more empowered

Great services shine through - Meritocracy

Balance of power shifts away from companies

Amazon customer experience drivers 1) Lowest price 2) Vast selection - choice 3) Get products to customers fast

: Great talent is out there, more often than you might think that talent may be found in the most unlikely of places. Prepare to be moved. Take a deep breath. Invest a wee bit over 4 minutes and witness a star being born. Amazing! Via YouTube here. My thanks to Tom Asacker for the tip (Agree with Tom, if you can watch the vid and not be moved, please do get yourself some medical attention).

So much to be thankful for this year. Thank you for stopping by. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Thinking well is wise; planning well, wiser; doing well wisest and best of all." Persian proverb

"Never give a man up until he has failed at something he likes." Lewis E. Lawes

"Absence diminishes little passions and increases great ones, as wind extinguishes candles and fans a fire." La Rochefoucauld

Today's image: Peninsula State Park Dusk by WisDoc. Beautiful. Thanks!

Congrats & cheers: Firefox 3 Beta 1 now on offer.

Monday, November 19, 2007

"If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original." Sir Ken Robinson

"If you're not failing, you're not doing something sufficiently difficult or creative." Scott Berkun

"As the spirit wanes, the form appears." Charles Bukowski

"...privacy is not just about information. It's all about the defaults." David Weinberger

Dr Dave has written a thoughtful piece about Facebook and privacy...

"Our privacy norms are changing rapidly. They have to because we've now invented so many new ways to be in public. That's why Facebook's move is especially disappointing. Although they are rigorously supporting informational privacy, they are setting the defaults based not on what's best for their users but on what's best for them. It's clearly and inarguably better for users to be able to opt out of the entire third-party system, but it's clearly more lucrative for Facebook to make it hard to opt out (not to mention making it an opt in system)."

Read the entire writing here. Kudos David! Perhaps this is another one of those cohort issues. The privacy norms of the Gen Y crowd are radically different than those of Boomers. Still, there is something fundamentally wrong in requiring someone to opt out before being automatically opted in. TOS and lawyers be damned. Transparency and disclosure should ever be plain and simple when it comes to personal elections. Facebook will get this right (or not). The issue will likely become which generation of users should decide? The deeper issue here concerns the myth of privacy. Sidebar: What would Jan Deverson and Charles Hamblett have named those Gen X teens provided advanced insight of the wide adoption of their convention? So, Gen Z is succeeded by?

John Battelle
makes an excellent point...

"Pull to point" - I find that I read more things that have been pointed to by others, rather than only those which I pull down myself.

Agreed. Read John's post From Pull to Point: How to Save The Economist and The Journal from Irrelevance here. Deep links make it possible to export content, and help to make digital assets discoverable.

Bonus: The mad cool gift of this holiday season and the perfect early 08 buzz must-have.
Behold - chumby

Let the marketplace decide: Programming ace Dave Beasing of Jacobs Media blogs an open letter to the I-man wherein he suggests JD use his considerable talents to "everyone's benefit." I respectfully disagree with that notion. Read Dave's letter w/comments here. Some of my previous posts on the Imus mess here, here, and here.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"There are only three kinds of people: bus drivers, bus riders and pedestrian targets. Who do you want to be?" John Wall

"Life is too short to be little." Disraeli

"It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable." Moliere

Rob Barnett
is blogging the good stuff...

"The old business has been hanging on, hoping that somehow the digital genie would dissipate. Bad move. New distribution pipes opened up everywhere taking away one of the last reasons inspired musicians needed major record companies. Little Steven tried to tell me in 2000 that the new digital pipeline recreated the old ‘single’ mentality and shoved the ‘album’ idea to the back of the bus. I didn’t want to believe him, but he was right. He always is."

Kudos, Rob! Check out Rob's blog The Night Feed - here. Highly recommended.

The brand promise of Apple: Scobleizer

The Twenty (Intentionally) Funniest Web Videos of 2007. New York Magazine Plus The New Online Star System

Video of a Michael Rosenblum talk, including his famous "serf to monk" story. Thanks to Foreign Correspondence Network, posted here. Bravos to Michael, very well done! Closed circuit to NAB staff: Book this guy to do a keynote in Vegas.

Congrats & cheers: Peter Rojas and company on RCRD LBL

Do schools kill creativity?

Wonderful video. Sir Ken, you are amazing. Bravos! Highly recommended. His book, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative - Amazon info here. Intelligence...Diverse, Dynamic, Distinct.

Friday, November 16, 2007

"The only factor becoming scarce in a world of abundance is human attention." Kevin Kelly

"If you're not quite there, getting there takes some nerve." Tom Peters

"Execution is the job of the business leader." Larry Bossidy

Today's image: Portrait of a Superman by Thomas Hawk. Wonderful. Thank you!

(Supermen need your help)

Broadcast sales is broken. We need a new format. A reboot ain't enough. What's called for is a new OS.

Reading Tom Peters and it hit me, like the kiss on the end of a wet fist (my thanks to troupe Firesign).

Tom referenced Jeffery Tobias Halter. Selling to men - the transaction model; selling to women - the relational model. The example used is "Mission: Go to Gap, buy a pair of pants. Male, Time - 6 minutes, Cost - $33. Female, Time - 3 hours 26 minutes, Cost - $876."

The comparison we most often used in the last century was shoes. Men go out to "kill" a pair of shoes and return in minutes. Women go "shoe shopping" returning in hours and sometimes without shoes but seldom empty handed. Another typical stereotype involves how men get lunch when women discuss the options and go to lunch.

The bulk of broadcast sales remains transactional.

It's fair to ask - is transactional male in its very nature?

Does this manifest itself in attitude? Get out there and "kill" some business today. Is this exhibited in too many brute force tactics, male approaches including phone blitz fire selling and the relentless competitive offensives. The continued sanction of internecine warfare. The silo restricted battles of TV vs TV and Radio vs Radio. The accepted ritual of broadcasters getting up everyday and going to work with one game plan - to kill other broadcasters. The avail become blood sport.

The entire world of measured media and media behavior is changing around us while our sales departments (absent the obvious revolution in communication tools) continue, as a practical matter, to operate using a template, a format, first developed in the last century.

What part of the sales crisis continues, in some measure, because of male hard-wiring issues? How much of our inability to make effective corrective progress can be traced to male DNA stuff (and associated derivatives including ego)? Have the Supermen of the business already given the mission of fixing sales their best shot? Are we failing to take advantage of new opportunities because of genetic blindness? Held back by a belief system based upon the tweaking, fine-tuning and perpetuation of inherited best practice? A faith in operating traditions so strong, prejudice so deeply ingrained that it precludes any possibility of practice abandonment? Why do we continue to be obsessed with getting better at these same old approaches? In sum, we are doing basically the same things better and expecting a significantly different result.

Clearly, it's not working.

There has never been more cash pumped into the ad spend and up for grabs yet broadcast is failing to grow. Hint: the buyers are not at fault. Their failure to understand the power and value of broadcast, their lack of investment serves as perhaps the most valid of report cards, it's hard empirical evidence on the effectiveness of our selling efforts.

What should be done next?

It's time to stop playing around with the numerator and get to work on the more important strategic mission - changing the denominator.

My suggestion is we need to get different.

It's time to put more women in charge.


"You need revenues to grow earnings over time"
Dick Kovacevich

"Our whole story is growing revenue"
Vernon Hill

"Human creativity is the ultimate economic resource"
Richard Florida

My thanks, again, to the great Tom Peters for inspiration. My thanks too to Dan Kelley for his kind words earlier this week. Rock on, Dan!

Catch someone doing something right today! Have a great weekend. Viva Le Beaujolais Nouveau!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"He who freely magnifies what hath been nobly done, and fears not to declare as freely what might be done better, gives ye the best covenant of his fidelity." John Milton

"A great business success was probably never attained by chasing the dollar, but is due to pride in one's work - the pride that makes business an art." Henry Doherty

"You are not very good if you are not better than your best friends imagine you to be." Lavater

Today's image: Sahara by raspootin. Amazing. Thank you for sharing!

Cramer vs Kramer: Thanks to paidContent for sharing video of a great insider discussion between Jimmy Cramer and Larry Kramer on business media. Some great takeaway: What's in a name? Larry tells us that the CBS name did not boost MarketWatch traffic, however, association with CBS delivered juice to reporters - they got their calls returned - and cred to sellers - they were able to get the attention of advertisers. Larry says "Radio going to the web means they need to be just like television...they need to build an audience for it." JC picks Disney as the media outfit that will most likely make it happen, LK's bet is CBS. Bravos to Jimmy and Larry! Very well done guys. Highly recommended. Three part video here.

The importance of your main page is in decline

Import vs Export: One of the issues we are dealing with on the day job is content distribution. The mindset of what we are calling Import vs Export. Case in point. Because he has decided to offer his cartoons via widget (upper left of this page) gapingvoid artiste Hugh MacLeod gains audience by orders of magnitude. His potential exposure, his reach, is now significantly greater than before the widget. Far more will view his widget than will likely ever visit his site. Broadcast and print alike are still driven by the dated notion that viewers, listeners and readers belong to them - the pov and the related pronoun are wrong. Our viewers, our listeners, our readers. This logic establishes a one dimensional strategy and the potentially flawed lens of single measurement. How much traffic are we getting? Broadcast and print are using resources to import visitors. The key to success, in our considered opinion, is an aggressive and complimentary strategy of export. It's understanding that the days of your main page are in decline. How are you allowing, encouraging and rewarding folks to export your content? What's your mobile strategy? What are you doing to ensure that your assets are discoverable? What are your factors of findability? These are issues of and rather than or; a continuing and radical shift away from the producer-centric mindset. Cohort replacement will dramatically accelerate this shift. You gotta be everywhere they wanna be.

Survey says: Zogby has released some key findings. 68% of conservatives never watch 60 Minutes. More from the national study on Politics and Entertainment here.

Congrats & cheers: Jay Rosen and team on the launch of Beat Blogging, very cool. NPR on their beta launch of NPR Music (Kudos too to Fred Jacobs and his uber-cool crew who played a part in the NPR initiative). Rafat Ali, Wenda Harris Millard, Paul Maidment, Roger Neil, Brian Quinn, Chuck Cordray honored by min magazine and among those named on the 2007 Digital Hot List. Complete list (including The 21 Most Intriguing People) of honorees here. Bob Wood on the debut of his latest venture The ComStar Network, good luck!

Bonus: The Impact of Recommender Systems on Sales Diversity. Fleder & Hosanagar, The Wharton School. A good read here.

Larry Lessig, the rock star Stanford professor and maven of all things copyright, presented at TED this year. The video here is a little over twenty minutes and well worth your bandwidth. As readers of this blog may be aware, I am a supporter of Creative Commons. Bravos to Larry!

How creativity is being strangled by the law

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Method will teach you to win time." Goethe

"Show me the business man or institution not guided by sentiment and service; by the idea that 'he profits most who serves best' and I will show you a man or an outfit that is dead or dying." B.F. Harris

"The present is big with the future." Leibnitz

Today's image: Cone head by Fred Winston. Great shot. Thanks for sharing.

To succeed sooner, learn to fail faster

Twyla Tharp writes about failure in her excellent book The Creative Habit (Amazon info). She says "To get the full benefit of failure you have to understand the reasons for it."

Failure of skill
Failure of concept
Failure of judgment
Failure of nerve (the worst kind)
Failure through repetition
Failure from denial

She writes "Change - changing the work and how we work - is the unpleasant task of dealing with that which we have been denying. It is probably the biggest test in the creative process, demanding not only an admission that you've made a mistake but that you know how to fix it. It requires you to challenge a status quo of your own making."

In the performing arts when we fail we fail in public, no dress rehearsals.

In broadcast we're reading each others mail (courtesy of Nielsen and Arbitron).

Everyone in the craft is aware of the failed breakfast show, the broken 11 show, the format that is not working.

In too many cases we are not failing fast enough. Management having developed an inexplicable acceptance, a tolerance, a dangerous denial of the obvious.

This is not a dress rehearsal, this is the big time, we are professionals.


Change requires courage. The courage to admit failure. The courage to see reality as it is, not as it was nor as we wish it to be. The courage to challenge the status quo of our own making. The courage to stop doing what is not working, to learn from failure. Faster.

Management is responsible for results

Bonus: Frans Johansson

Bonus 2: GIF

Congrats & cheers: Doc filmmaker Ofra Bikel on winning the 2007 John Chancellor Award. Kevin Rose and team digg on their very cool new relationship with WSJ. Programming ace Jhani Kaye on a killer trend which is simply the most recent confirmation of his genius. The gifted Tammy Haddad on her new venture Haddad Media and her new gig as consulting EP for's soon to be announced political web video initiative.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Let your life lightly dance on the edges of time like dew on the tip of a leaf." R. Tagore

"Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits." Twyla Tharp

"Let's engage the imagination, let's call it news you can dance to." Jo Interrante

Today's image: Dance With Me, Baby by persnicketydame. Wonderful. Thank you!


The play's the thing

We need to put more play into the everyday. Play will put the show back into show business. Broadcast has spent the better part of twenty years focused on the business at the expense of the show. Without the show, there is no business.

Play is an important part of the hard work that is the creative process.

Play enables, empowers, encourages the creative, the spark.

Play is what brings the real creatives to the gig, they come to play.

Play needs a positive environment, a stage.

Play requires an advocate and sometime defense attorney.

Comments: The gifted talent and legendary performer Tom Kent favors us with a comment. Check it out below. Here's a taste...

"The paradigm must shift from sales first to the show first and then we will witness how dramatically the bottom line will improve. When we put money first, money will elude us. When the greater mission is first and is driven by passion and talent, watch the money pour in."

Thanks Tom!

Bonus: ze is back, he came to play, and play again.

Congrats & cheers: Steve Dahl on his big time wins in the trend. His last on WCKG was an exceptional performance. #2 12+ (to the Cubs #1 WGN), #1 25-54 pers, #1 25-54 men, #1 35-64 pers, #1 men 18+. Steve is a rock star playing at the top of his game. A certain unwritten rule applies here. The first ratings to be released after a station has been blown up (or a talent has been released) will invariably be good, exceed any expectation and defy all logic. WCKG posted a twelve month high, 1.7 12+ with a 281k cume. Steve's performance will provide the new format with a solid PMD lift in their fall book. AMD, 25-54, The Morning Fix beat the CKG O&A + GM combo. Middays with one hour of GM, S&T and one hour of Steve, posting a 2.5 25-54 which placed the daypart 16th and ahead of Love, 780 and WLUP. My sense is the 2pm hour was, likely, the primary driver.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"When we listen to that small voice deep inside, we can never go wrong." Tom Kent

"Think like a man of action and act like a man of thought." Henri Bergson

"Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wings. Only one thing endures, and that is character." Horace Greeley

Today's image: Glorious color by Bill Shannon. Fine shot. Thanks for sharing.

Never underestimate the power of intuition. Over the weekend I was reading Grant by John Mosier (Amazon info). About General Grant's success he writes...

"...great generals are not just smarter than their opponents, they're luckier. And the luck is generally due to superior intuition.

Napoleon had wanted his generals to have this quality. But intuition is a talent that can't be taught. You either have it or you don't."

Perhaps it is a talent that cannot be taught but my sense is one may be able to develop the talent. Development begins with learning to listen to that little voice. The one Tom Kent talks about above. It begins when you open your heart to wonderment, to the possible. The most successful people I know make their own luck and my thought is intuition plays an important part in that process.

Thank you very much: Lots of emails about the weekend post. One of the most emailed questions being "what is your 08 forecast by media?" Still in process. However, here are a few projected shares from OMMA: Newspapers 26.9, TV 38.2, Internet 8.7

Location, location, location: OMMA reporting for the first nine months of 2007, spending by mortgage and home equity advertisers on Internet display increased to $669.6 million from $146 mil in the year-earlier period.

Midtown buzz: Barry Diller wants his AOL.

Better than ever: Paulie Gallis checks in after a brief hospital stay and he sounds great! All is well with the beloved great Greek.

Why too many don't care: Kudos to Brian Lamb and the C-Span crew for bringing us another very good Q&A this past weekend. This time around a conversation with Stanford University history maven David Kennedy. Kennedy opines on why we are not as concerned as previously about engagements of war. He makes reference to WW2 wherein 40% of GDP was devoted to military and 10% of citizens were involved in the armed forces. Contrast and compare to today. Less than 5% of GDP resourced to military and about 4% of citizens in active military. The draft once got the attention of youth, today no consequences for Gen X or Gen Y seems to translate into no interest in world affairs especially war fighting. Increasingly, our armed services are populated with more and more of the economically and educationally deprived. Professor Kennedy's suggestion is this represents a potentially dangerous historic change. He might be right and it should give one pause. I'm proud of our active military. As one who once wore the uniform let me express my sincere appreciation to those serving today and to their families. The good work being done all around the world by our service people never seems to get the attention deserved. If you would like to get dialed-in to one of today's best minds on all things military you need to read the writings of the gifted strategist Thomas P.M. Barnett. As it happens you're in luck, while you wait for Amazon to deliver his books you can read in, he's blogging here. Barnett is a rock star; highly recommended!

History rewrite: Mel stops in fly-over land and chats up the Tribune folks. Thanks to Phil Rosenthal we get this gem about radio...

"It's a very good business. It throws off a lot of cash. But it's not growing ... and once it's not growing, then they started cutting costs and letting Howard Stern and other talent get away."

The inconvenient truth is CBS radio stopped growing during Mel's watch. Readers of this humble blog are aware I'm a Mel fan. He's so money. However, the case can be made that it was Mel that left CBS radio in bad shape. Mel loves to run his mouth and he can be very charming, at times even brilliant but sometimes he says really stupid stuff. Read Phil Rosenthal here.

Congrats & cheers: Programming ace Kurt Johnson celebrated via the R&R Publisher's Profile. Peter Smyth and the Greater Media gang on their acquisition of the Lincoln Financial Charlotte radio portfolio. Raycom on the agreement to add the LF TV properties in Charlotte, Richmond and Charleston. Lucy Hughes named SVP Research for CBS Radio. Mark Johnson and the Powerlabs crew now live in alpha, very cool, I'm lovin being a Powerlabr.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"A brand is ultimately a is something that is not ownable by a corporation any more." Nick Brien

"The marketing plan of tomorrow has to manage an enormous number of touch points...has to have search, it has to have site design and build, it has to have on- and offline, analytics and multicultural, electronic and out of home." David Verklin

"We are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. We are human beings and our reach exceeds your grasp. Deal with it." Chris Locke

Today's image: Yellow Tree Reflection by dawn perry. Beautiful. Thank you!

Vision > Execution > Accountability
Hope > Optimism > Opportunity

Involved in creating the second draft of our 2008 ad spend forecast. In this process we look back at the last ten years of data. We look for patterns. What is happening? What is not happening? It brings to mind a writing by Kurtz and Snowden and the issue of "pattern entrainment" to wit:

"The issue in decision-making is to know when to run and when to stand still. A choice must be made between allowing the entrained patterns of past experience to facilitate fast and effective pattern application and gaining a new perspective because the old patterns may no longer apply." (The new dynamics of strategy: Sense-making in a complex and complicated world via IBM Systems Journal here)

Looking ahead for radio, my sense is the first tribe of wireless is in for yet another difficult year. 2008 is shaping up to be the year macroeconomic pressures impact consumer-discretionary spending (at least in the first six months). Gas prices, housing-market weakness and financial-market problems play roles that are not insignificant. It is possible that the present economic slowdown assisted by a credit crisis could lead to another 1991 style ad recession. To frame this, in 1991 default rates on real-estate loans ran at 7.5%, today the run rate is about 2.0% and if you caught the most recent comments of our Fed chairman the housing-market has yet to bottom. Things will get ugly before they get better. Stay tuned.

Random observations: Value stocks are now more expensive than growth stocks (on a cash-flow basis). Small-cap is out. Large-cap is in. Large-cap growth coming back into vogue. (These factors and the lack of growth will continue to work against public-held radio equity) This year GDP will likely post 2.15%, next year we project 2.10% (2008 CPI at 2.5%, S&P 500 profit growth north of 4.5%). We do forecast a return to more normal perceptions of risk. Consumer cyclicals and financials will continue to struggle with little or no improvement. Large-cap tech will be a winner and we continue to like Microsoft (16x earnings, free-cash-flow margin around 30%). In the ad space Google continues to lead, Microsoft a strong second. Yahoo! the sleeper. We see energy doing well, especially natural gas. Gold stands at $800 an ounce, a 28 year high (best to consult best man Ron Fell on what this really means). E-commerce will continue to show solid growth and please keep in mind it is still very early, e-commerce sales as a percentage of total US retail is only 4% (Amazon represents about 17% of all US e-commerce). Google is on track to generate $15 Bil in 2007 rev. By 12/31 internet advertising will surpass total radio advertising for the first full calendar year, this will serve to confirm an ongoing trend. Radio becomes the first of traditional media to be eclipsed by online. TV gets a good year with Olympics and political, (easy comps).

A lesson from a buyer: Sir Martin Sorrell is in the process of reinventing WPP. His strategy: reduce traditional advertising from about 50% of his annual billings to one third. Trevor Kaufman may, in fact, be the single most important WPP player responsible for landing the $2 Bil AT&T account. Every radio outfit needs to hire a Trevor Kaufman. The internet channel has been ignored too long by radio. 2008 must be the year radio begins to play serious catch up. 2008 must be the year radio begins to think a bit more like Sir Martin and way more like Trevor.

It's the denominator, stupid: (Apologies to James Carville) Radio must take game-changing, innovative action in order to survive and grow. First up, develop a meaningful approach, a go forward without the present life or death reliance on, the potentially dangerous addiction to, getting better at the traditional, optimizing the transactional. It's time for radio to muster the courage and change the denominator, stop wasting precious bandwidth on the now end stage game of playing around with the numerator. What's needed is an urgent and genuine obsession with driving the top lines of ratings and revenue. It's not at all about getting better, it's all about getting different. Vision > Execution > Accountability. Today, what radio needs is that vision thing.

To know and not to do, is not to know

Friday, November 09, 2007

"From the flow of enthusiasm I let the melody escape. I pursue it. Breathless I catch up with it. It flies again, it disappears, it plunges into a chaos of diverse emotions. I catch it again, I seize it, I embrace it with delight...I multiply it by modulations, and at last I triumph in the first theme. There is the whole symphony." Beethoven

"When you cannot make pure goods and full weight, go to something else that is honest, even if it is breaking stone." James Gamble

"In modern business it is not the crook who is to be feared most, it is the honest man who doesn't know what he is doing." Owen Young

Today's image: Autumn In Technicolor by Celine. Awesome. Thank you!

Congrats & cheers: Rob Barnett chief exec and impresario at My Damn Channel on his outfits new blog, The Night Feed and on the debut of Harry Shearer's latest effort Waterboardin' USA - check it out here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Today's image: Ad in NYT. My thanks to Michael Rosenblum.

Smart move by NBC News. Working with the NY Film Academy they develop skilled entry level players.

"What we see depends mainly on what we look for." John Lubbock

"The power of imagination makes us infinite." John Muir

"Either I will find a way, or I will make one." Sir P. Sidney

Mommy, make the boring conference stop: Dave Winer offers up a brilliant idea on involving the world in the upcoming LeWeb3 and Why most conferences suck here....

"...include people and places that are on the network defined by the conference. If it's like last year, there will be people tuned in from all around the world, and wouldn't it be great if we had a way to not only pull in their ideas (and we could do this better, btw) but also their imagery? It would give it a much richer world-wide feel.

One of the exciting opportunities for tech industry conferences is to find new ways to use networking on a world-wide level."

Bravos, Dave!

What Dave Winer says about conferences is important. The business conference is in serious need of reinvention. The architecture, the approach or format, used by most conferences has not changed in thirty years excepting improvements in AV. The panel of usual suspects (talking heads with concomitant ppts) is too often tired and played out. Some conferences are requiring attendees to pay good money to listen to what are nothing more than infomercial sessions. Two most often missing ingredients: interactivity (by design those attending must be involved), presenters held accountable for takeaway (evaluation - as judged by attendees).

The genius of Winer's notion is to involve all that wish to play - using the internet to transcend time and space. Now that's a BIG wow! And it's potentially game-changing.

Thanks to Dave we have verse from Paolo here. Kudos, thanks for joining the conversation!

A good part of my time is involved in adult learning. My colleagues and I believe evaluation is important. It's a significant tool for measuring and improving training impact. On the day job we use Level 4 Eval tools to keep us focused on improving our workshops. Most conferences fail to collect evaluations, those that do are not making the best of the process. For example, too many use the so-called "smile sheet" (i.e., did you like the session? how would you rate it on a scale of one to five?). This single method is not a meaningful evaluation. Smile sheets are one dimensional views that seek to capture how happy or satisfied people were with the session or the presenter(s). Yes, better than nothing. No, not a serious measure.

One thing has changed for me personally. At those conferences where I am invited to give a talk fewer and fewer give me reasons for staying around (beyond the social hang). While I love getting invited to play, I also want to learn. It seems, more often than not lately, that I'm in the night before and out the afternoon of my talk. Fewer agendas are inspired. Not just me here. Others who speak and/or attend have shared the same feelings. My thought is this is not a good sign.

Bonus: Gladwell is back! Kudos, a welcome return.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"Never take counsel of your fears." Andrew Jackson

"Every great man is always being helped by everybody; for his gift is to get good out of all things and all persons." Ruskin

"The thoughts that come often unsought, and, as it were, drop into the mind, are commonly the most valuable of any we have, and therefore should be secured, because they seldom return again." Locke

Today's image: Dark pleasure by humbertoadriano. Very cool. Thank you!

The Almost-Impossible Rock & Roll Quiz

Bonus: How to tell if a web page sucks, here.

Congrats & cheers: Facebook. Ads info is now live here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

"What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Life is something like this trumpet. If you don't put anything in it you don't get anything out." W.C. Handy

"Turning it over in your mind won't plough the field." Irish proverb

Today's image: Fall Splendor by WisDoc. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

A fresh voice: Jay Marvin, a gifted radio performer, has taken up blogging. Here's a taste...

"When was the last time you took a road trip and let your radio run up and down the AM dial? I did it twice this summer. What I found was God awful."

"Now in 2007 let me let you in on talk radio's dirty little secret. I bet you already know this so maybe it's not that big of a secret after all. For guys like me, and there are some exceptions to this rule, there is an unwritten Black List in the format. The thought pattern goes like this: no matter how good you may be on the air you can not work on most mainstream, big stick, AM talk stations in this country because as a liberal the core will reject you. In other words you wouldn't play Led Zeppelin on a country station now would you?"

"Just do me a favor and don't complain when my eleven year old nephew grows up to think radio is something his Uncle Jay use to listen too and did for a living. It was way too stale and lame for him. And when he tried to go down to the local radio station to stare at the DJ or talk show host the door was locked and there was nobody there. So much for the idea of a backup bench."

Jay Marvin is offering up his unvarnished view of what's happening today. Agree with him or not we should applaud his effort. Read his blog Pattern Change here. Welcome to the conversation, Jay!

Kudos to Jay for his mention of the greats including Al Jazzbo Collins. Agreed with Jay on the state of AM radio. The AM radio of today fails to live up to it's potential. In most clusters the AM station does not get the attention nor the resources needed to stand on its own. The AM is too often used to clear only network properties after morning drive (that is, if there even is a local breakfast show). My pal Eddie McLaughlin argued years ago that there were fewer program directors at work in AM radio. "Most are operations managers, they are managing clearances and the daily operations issues, not directing programming or talent." Perhaps the best examples of what has happened to AM radio may be found by examining weekend programming. The accepted trade craft suggests today's preferred weekend programming to be the brokered program. While paids have always been around the majority were once well produced national shows. Now we have the local mortgage broker, dentist, fitness expert, handyman or other local business owner who qualifies to get on air not based upon the quality or substance of the program offering but rather on her/his ability to pay. There are some well done local brokered programs, however, the majority are not good programming. One need only look at the numbers to understand the result. A loss of weekend audience has been accepted and traded for cash. While this near-term economic solution may work in helping the GM make her numbers it concurrently works against the station strategically. Weak weekends harm total week delivery and also weakens weekday delivery. Your poor weekends begin to kill your stronger weekdays. This is the hidden cost of poor brokerage programming.

My thought is AM radio is still very much alive with potential. It is even possible to produce good paid programming. All that is required is some original thinking, some honest hard work to produce good shows. The diversity missing most in broadcast today is diversity from the neck up.

Compare & contrast: My colleagues working in public and community radio can rest assured, local spoken word programming will remain their exclusive province, well as a practical matter make that almost exclusive. Commercial radio's almost complete and total failure to offer remarkable spoken word programming on FM is a trend that will likely continue in the near-term horizon of twenty-four months. Moreover, live and local spoken word will continue to be a great and valuable franchise for public and community radio. Commercial radio is having another bad revenue year and next year holds no better promise in the majority of markets. Economics will continue to dampen most innovation in commercial radio including spoken word. The only real competition in spoken word will remain, in the main, national in nature - between commercial and public networks and other providers. There is a potentially dangerous plug and play mindset at work here that has little to do with the actual options available.

Next generation broadcast talent: Jay Marvin makes a very good point about the next generation of broadcasters. Let me take this opportunity to extend my previous remarks on this subject matter. My thesis: today's youth are as creative as any previous generation. They have a significant edge over previous generations because of now common place technology. They are producing very cool audio and engaging video (without the previous requisite need of expensive hardware, without the need, nor perhaps desire, for broadcast distribution; they share as they wish via the vast and growing free media platform communities). That broadcast may be failing to attract the best and brightest of this next generation is a commentary about broadcast, about leadership.

Best of times, worst of times: We must learn to fully embrace the paradox, the solutions to today's most complex problems are simple. We must dare to take a contrarian pov. Let me again proffer the notion that the solution has nothing to do with getting better and everything to do with getting different, dramatically different. The herd instinct is creating a moment of incredible opportunity for those with the courage, stamina and imagination to reinvent, to break with the past, to call out the status quo for being what it truly is - just not good enough.