Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if you only try!" Theodor Geisel

"It will be found, in fact, that the ingenious are always fanciful, and the truly imaginative never less than analytic." Edgar Allan Poe

"That which we know is but little; that which we have a presentiment of is immense; it is in this direction that the poet outruns the learned man." Joseph Roux

Today's image: more nature-y crap by nurseynicole. Fine shot. Thanks for sharing.

"If there was a technique that would improve your chances of closing by more than 80% would you use it?"
Kevin B. Sweeney

Back in the day during one of his storied weekend sales training sessions the amazing Mr. Sweeney asked the question.

There was no need to poll the room. We were all 100% interested. The engaging Mr. Sweeney had again arrested our attention. What could this technique possibly be?

He began by asking more questions.

"We're in the business of selling intangibles. Our biggest single competitor, newspaper, is in the tangibles business. To get business from newspaper we need to tangible-ize our business?"

What? Tangible-ize?

"The client can hold the newspaper ad in their hand, show it to their friends, post it on the bulletin board in the employee lounge, make copies of the ad. The newspaper ad is tangible, so is the Yellow Pages ad. Tangible is the single biggest advantage of print. When clients buy newspaper they get something tangible. Something tangible that proves, confirms how savvy they are. What do they get when they buy us? What do we give them to show their friends how smart they are?"

How smart they are? Where's he going with this?

"When the client buys newspaper they get something tangible to show around. 'Here's my new newspaper ad.' When they buy us what do they get to show around? A schedule? A times report? A contract? A well written bound pitch featuring our logo in full color?"

Yes. They get all that tangible stuff. Our bound presentations are slick, they really do stand out but there's more, we're in the idea business. Every presentation includes a big idea that will help the client gain a bigger share of market with young adults. They can show that around, right.

"Close, but close only counts in horseshoes, slow dancing, bad breath and grenades. The technique that will improve your chances of closing by eighty percent or more, the technique that will put into your client's hand something tangible that will make them look smart to their family, friends and employees is..."

Yes, what is it?

"...a technique less than ten percent of sales people use but the sales people who do use the technique are very successful, more successful than the ones who don't use it. The technique that will tangible-ize your pitch is the spec spot."

That's it? Is he kidding?

"The spec spot engages the client, gets them into a discussion about their favorite subject, their business. The spec spots starts the dialogue, moves along the process of the consultant sell. Giving a copy of the final finished spot to the client puts into their hands the tangible proof of their genius. Now, the client can show their newspaper ad and play their radio spot."

Tangible-ize your pitch. Works like a charm for all electronic media. Today the dead tree guys email PDFs. Today we can email audio and video files. Better, we can upload to our site or to YouTube or to any number of places where the audio and/or video can be made easy to find. We can send the client a link to forward, to share, to make them look smart. It works. Try it. That's it for today. Got to email the YouTube link to our really cool new TV spot. Seriously, thanks to David Sanks and team at WISC TV, they did a killer job creating the new TV spot for our retail store. They get it. They make us look smart, make us feel good about investing in advertising and we love doing business with them because of it.

A word to the wise: "We should stop talking about what was...change the way we do our business...stop've got to start hiring young people and don't tell them what to do - ask them what to do." If you click on no other link today, click on this one. It's an article by Timesman Stuart Elliott that you need to read if you work in media or advertising. Please read and share this link with the smartest folks you know. THINK AGILE! Click here.

Kill all the lawyers, fire all the consultants: YES! Wait a sec. I'm a principal at a management consulting firm. Read Get rid of unchallenged consultants

Bonus: Postcards From Yo Momma

Congrats & cheers: Steve Dahl delivers outstanding, market-changing numbers. Norm Winer returns WXRT to top five in demo. Christine Travaglini named Christal Radio prexy. Brian Benedik heads new Katz 360 Sales enterprise. Google for the sake of art.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Magic doesn't come to those who don't expect it." Diana Vreeland

"The future has several names. For the weak, it is impossible; for the fainthearted, it is unknown; but for the thoughtful and valiant, it is ideal." Victor Hugo

"Storytelling reveals meaning, without committing the error of defining it." Hannah Arendt

Today's image: lined and ready by Darwin Bell. Great shot. Thank you for sharing.

Everything is impossible until it's done

Excellent post by Web 2.0 ace Steve Safran, Forbidden or compulsory: newsroom culture and the hive mentality...

It's all impossible until it's not. Then it's required. And here lies a serious flaw in newsroom judgment...How many times have you heard of the news manager who saw blogs or some other feature on another site and insisted the next day the station's site have that feature? We follow, and we do it with ease. We are told something is 'Not Done,' so we don't do it. Then, once it's 'Done,' we do it.

What's the problem with this? It doesn't take experimentation into account. In this binary language, we don't have the luxury of 'Not Done, But Try It Out.' We don't get the message that something is 'Done, But May Not Be Right For Us.'

The media revinvention (sic) requires the reinvention of this code. We have to experiment and be there first."

Bravos, Steve! Spot-on. Read Steve's entire post here.

Charming and delightful: Little Tommy's video intro used at the NAB Radio Hall of Fame induction of Superjock, Ol Uncle Lar here. My thanks to radio programming ace John Rook for the tip. Kudos to all involved.

Off the charts, still in our hearts: Legendary radio star Big Ron O'Brien passes. Dan Kelley remembers and links here.

Mileage may vary: The first tribe of wireless has had a problem with successfully telling its own story since those FM with pictures guys crashed the party. The latest initiative to tackle this creative self-promotion challenge is Radio 2020 a collaboration involving NAB, RAB and the HD Radio Alliance. Predictably, the early reviews are mixed. My friend Kurt Hanson thinks the campaign is misguided. Kurt's post w/comments here. Rather than opine on the creative I'll stand on the critical need for transparency (related post here). Until we get serious and start keeping score this new initiative will remain another brawl without rules. It's fighting about whether a tune is a hit or not after an out of the box first listen, making a final call without benefit of time, research or charts. About as much sense as arguing about how successful a station is without Arbitron and Miller-Kaplan. Keeping this thing at a purely subjective level is just not lucky, playing smash or trash here is less than smart. My thought is that's the last thing we need. Could we please get some adult supervision into the mix. Disclosure, transparency, and serious industry conversation/collaboration are the right things to do. I remain optimistic; you gotta start somewhere and they do deserve kudos (they are not yet getting) for blogging here (George Williams) and here (Doug Zanger). Blog on guys! Related: Branding ace Kelly O'Keefe blogs here. Closed circuit to Debbie Durben - would you please link to the campaign from your domain. A confused buyer, planner, CMO, writer (insert decision maker/thought leader/key influencer here) we don't need. Fix this on the landing page? Help, SEO issues here.

Bonus: Who's Your City. Good stuff. Kudos and thanks to Richard Florida and team. Make sure you check out maps and best cities.

Tonight's hot ticket in Chicago is free: The Second City hosts a chat about bigger than life icon, the great Del Close. In celebration of the new Kim "Howard" Johnson book about Del. Event info. Book info via Amazon.

Congrats & cheers: Carrier, Icon, WETA & PBS. "Life, liberty and the pursuit of all who threaten it." An American Family revisited. This round starring a serious boat, water, warbirds and the US Navy Family. Radio star Alan Kabel in the air with the new syndi offering, 2nd Shift via Entercom. Winter winners, WBLS, #1 25-54 in the city, Z100 leads 18-34, 1010 WINS w/ Lee Harris takes morning drive 12+. OMD on getting Intel inside. John Gallagher, prexy and general manager of WLS radio steps down after leading the charge for three years, stay tuned.

Who do you trust? Data and chart courtesy of Forrester. Click on chart to enlarge. My thanks to Josh Bernoff for sharing.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"Indecision may or may not be my problem." Jimmy Buffett

"Culture is simply how one lives and is connected to history by habit." Le Roi Jones

"What I have crossed out I didn't like. What I haven't crossed out I'm dissatisfied with." Cecil B. De Mille

Today's image: Windy Desert by papa'rocket. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Does radio clustering dampen station performance?
Are the economies of the cluster working against realization of asset potential?

Today, at least in major market radio, the performance of the cluster appears, more often than not, to count for more than individual station performance. Indeed the conventional wisdom seems to suggest that the cluster affords operators the ability to rationalize one or more failed or marginal niche performers than pre-cluster days. Economies of scale and the arithmetic of aggregation permit the ratings laggard to be kept around on a kind of artificial respiration so goes the argument but is any such bean counting enabled life support actually hurting the industry?

A stand alone posting a 1.5 share would likely be a cash user and not be allowed to survive, the prudent courses being fix it or/and sell it. That same failed station could be viable as part of a cluster and made to reach an accounting breakeven almost immediately. Has this cluster mindset created something of a plenary indulgence? The luxury of shifting focus and measures less and less on the individual station and more and more on the collective, the so-called portfolio. This argument reasons that cluster economics sanctions the value of each station's ratings delivery in additive terms only. The bottom line here is clusters do enjoy more rating point throw weight per avail. What's perhaps lost in accepting this mindset is realization of asset full potential. Further, the case can be made that there's a possible unintended consequence - we may be reducing the market value of avails (e.g., using our sick - or least popular - kid to bring in the buy or surrender to the enticement of selling for share).

What may have begun in practices of some major market duopoly operators has been exaggerated by clustering in the majors. It's considered acceptable to employ a second station as protector of the mother ship (i.e., a flanker) allowing that second station to post a modest, less than full potential performance. The reasoning being the 1.5 share of the second when added to the 3.5 of the franchise not only yields a 5 share but creates a realistic barrier to entry as well. Some have employed a "ratings robber" strategy, targeting a competitor with the purpose being to stunt or limit the competitor's performance. One improves performance in relative or comparative terms by hurting the other guy. Duopoly and clustering become zero sum games.

So what then of the somewhat popular suggestion that clustering has created, enabled more failed or marginal performers? Let's look at San Francisco. Comparing Spring 1991 v Spring 2007 Arbitron data, all stations posting 1.0 or better...

Number of stations: '91 - 31, '07 - 28
Mean share, 12+: '91 - 2.59, '07 - 2.40
Percentage of stations posting 1.0 - 1.9: '91 - 38.7%, '07 - 39.2%
Percentage of stations posting 1.0 - 2.9: '91 - 70.9%, '07 - 67.8%

One must concede, absent any discussion of share compression, the data has remained fairly stable. No cluster as evil smoking gun in evidence.

Getting down to the grits: Let's use one operator, CBS Radio, for purposes of illustration only. In the Spring 91 book KCBS delivered a 5.2, KRQR a 2.3, a collective 7.5 share. In the Spring 07 book, KCBS 3.9, KITS 1.6, KLLC 1.8, KMVQ 1.4, KFRC 0.9, a collective 9.6 share. The real economic power of clustering is, of course, in the avails; CBS has acquired 2.5 times as many since the Spring of 91 when CBS offered 48 hours of avails per day whereas today they offer 120 hours daily. Moreover, there's a new and growing abundance of avails today, a potential for wealth creation not around in the last century (e.g., HD Radio spectrum, online).

Would it be possible for any of these CBS FM stations to survive as a stand alone? This question brings us to the matter of asset potential. What is the potential in ratings, revenue and profit for each of these FM stations? How can any gap between performance and potential be closed? My sense is the CBS Radio team in San Francisco is giving it their best shot.

Some key questions on execution: Should we allow perfectly good full-market signals to deliver less than their full potential? Should we tolerate what could be reasonably judged to be continued failure without consequence or sense of urgency? And the list goes on. Should we adopt the jockless music format launch as best practice and the new default industry standard? Accept as demode market-changing (demo ranker reordering) ratings debuts by newly formatted stations? It all depends on how one defines success.

My thought is while the big questions have remained the same, the acceptable answers have changed. The cluster makes us do it or at least allows us to. My take is the cluster buys time for programmers, reducing the economic stress and pressures on near-term ratings performance. Further, the cluster may be exactly the safe harbor needed to spark genuine product innovation in the most competitive of markets like San Francisco. The cluster provides the blessing of precious development time, time a stand alone can ill afford (rare exceptions, outliers, do exist, Bonneville's entry into LA, format launch is one recent example). Accordingly, cluster management should step up and take a flyer. The risk management calculus has never been more favorable for bold innovation. To succeed sooner we must begin learning how to fail faster. Dare to emulate Lt. Col. Frank Slade and embrace the audacity of saying "I'm in the amazing business." Make something happen.

To be certain there are clear and present dangers here. Getting caught up in the inertia of complacency, accepting what is rather than demanding what could be. Giving in to the strategic trap of optimization, that is, wasting time trying to get better rather than discovering productive ways to get dramatically different. Saving our way to success (the losing game of reduced expectation) and in the process failing to make the disciplined investments required to compete for the future.

On balance, my suggestion is we are living in a new sweet spot for radio and all measured media; opportunity abounds! The only limitation is our imagination. Game on!

Congrats & cheers: Ann Compton, her WHCA team, C-SPAN, and Craig Ferguson on a very entertaining White House correspondents dinner. One of Ferguson's many memorable lines "Canada: the apartment above the party." Radio programming ace Lester St James joins Clear Channel, Omaha. BBC and Terry Jones for showing us how to effectively promote a media player - check it out via YouTube here. Brilliant!

Bonus: Amy Tan @ TED - Where does creativity hide?

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Words are made for a certain exactness of thought, as tears are for a certain degree of pain. What is least distinct cannot be named; what is clearest is unutterable." Rene Daumal

"The true leader is always led." Carl Jung

"The honest man must be a perpetual renegade." Charles Peguy

Today's image: About love in Rome by nebe. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Radio programming ace Phil Hall has joined the conversation and started a blog. We can all learn something from this exceptionally bright gentleman. Phil writes...

Its the content. Its about the content. No where is that addressed except in the broadest of terms like diversified formats.

Content is why FM dominated AM. Content is why Howard Stern got and deserved the great Sirius deal, and its why people remember the colorful Harry Carey, Jack Buck, and Vin Scully while disregarding competent but less colorful game callers like Eric Nadel. One of radio’s premiere times was(is) a Vin or Harry or Jack called game. You could see the players, the horizon, and the field. In color! The magic of those broadcasts was the understanding they had for the way the fans felt about the team and viewed the game itself. They understand their audience...If we’re in this for the long haul we better get back to the basics of understanding the audience. Maybe even better understand who the audience isn’t. The audience isn’t one single person who does not live in your market."

Bravos, Phil! Well said. Put Phil's blog Have A Fine Broadcast Day! in your reader; read his entire post - Radio Heard Here!

Video: Ron Chapman toasts 103.7 KVIL. Kudos, Ron.

Buzz: Presdo (Blog). CBS Radio's (now in private beta) Woman's World, fiction by Graham Rawle (vsl review)

Bonus: Terry Heaton - A Reasonable View of Tomorrow

Yochai Benkler @ TED. Information, knowledge and culture. Well worth the bandwidth. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of work." Sarah K. Bolton

"The fact that people do not understand and respect the very best things, such as Mozart's concertos, is what permits men like us to become famous." Johannes Brahms

"When I die, I'm leaving my body to science fiction." Steven Wright

Today's image: Atardece el sol by Hernan P. Wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

Good reads: Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Burnoff. (Amazon info, blog) The Wealth of Networks by Yochai Benkler (WikiNotes, free PDF download). Both highly recommended.

Congrats & cheers: Steve Safran bows MediaReinvent now in Very Beta. Add it to your reader.

A call for disclosure and transparency
Promise vs Performance

The NAB, RAB and HD Radio Alliance have joined forces to create the Radio 2020 initiative. The HD Radio Alliance is now in the second quarter of their third calendar year of efforts and running their second campaign of radio creative ("Upgrade") so far this year.

Opinions of the ongoing efforts by the HD Radio Alliance and early judgments of Radio 2020 are mixed. For the purposes of this post let's stipulate that the goals and objectives of both Radio 2020 and the HD Radio Alliance are the stuff of noble ambition. Further, let's agree, without objection, that the magnitude of resources being invested is not insignificant. Therefore, it seems fair and reasonable to ask "What's the ROI?" My thought is - absent all of any industry feel good generated by these endeavors - what measurable results are being produced? It's time for some pragmatism about execution.

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely - S.M.A.R.T.

Radio 2020 and the HD Radio Alliance will each benefit by establishing goals and openly sharing those with industry.


Once goals are established related scorecards should be created.

Let me suggest scorecards be behavior focused and employ standards. For Radio 2020 a number of metrics are now available including ratings and share of ad spend. For example, should the goals of Radio 2020 be to improve 18-34 listening levels and increase share of ad spend, performance against these goals can be tracked. For the HD Radio Alliance we'll need retail sales data (e.g., NPD) to determine if the current drive to upgrade is working and if so how effectively.

Perceptual research involving consumers, customers and industry can be valuable in gaining a better understanding of expressed behaviors. Additionally research could help "course correct" initiatives providing insights into any patterns, trends or changes in perceptions, attitudes, values and beliefs.

Accountability separates the schnapsidee from the serious.

We need to be able to recognize and differentiate activity and progress. We also need to be able to grasp the true context of any progress. Therefore, leadership of Radio 2020 and the HD Radio Alliance should commit to nothing less than full and complete disclosure. Transparency will ensure a more robust and honest industry discussion. Moreover, transparency will provide a clarity of focus and the safeguards needed to lessen if not prevent ineffective investment of valuable resources.

It is in the best interest of all involved that leadership be held accountable for producing results. For this to happen we have an urgent need for specifics, a need for the deep detail; we need to know the goals and we need to know the results being produced. We need to have a serious and open industry discussion about what's happening and what's not happening. The work of Radio 2020 and the HD Radio Alliance should be work that matters, work that makes a difference.

Let's agree, the potential benefits of this work merit nothing less than full and complete disclosure.

Transparency will more fully engage an industry, promote a deeper, richer creative collaboration and it's the right thing to do.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"We can't take our eye off the ball, because if we lose it, we'll have a bitch of a time getting it back." Philip Knight

"Living in a world where everything is changing constantly, you learn to change." K. Ram Shriram

"Great art picks up where nature ends." Marc Chagall

Today's image: Go by dlemieux. Great shot. Thanks for sharing.

Congrats & cheers: Fred Jacobs and his Jacobs Media gang for W.T.D.A. Spot-on! Ray Ozzie and team deliver Microsoft Live Mesh (more via Channel 9 and the official tech preview here). Very cool.

Bonus: Dr Dave tells us what the smart kids are thinking..."
a number from 1-10 saying what difference the Net will make, where “Net” includes the Internet, the Web, and the computing devices it uses, and where the potential for change is included in the number" Check the results here. Thanks and kudos to David, John and the students @ Harvard.

A conversation with retail fashion ace, the merchant prince Mickey Drexler from Charlie Rose. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"A man's accomplishments in life are the cumulative effect of his attention to detail." John Foster Dulles

"You know what charm is: a way of getting the answer yes without having asked any clear question." Camus

"Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you." Aldous Huxley

Today's image: the sine by PETERFOTO. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Each day seems to bring another wave of email that includes links to negative rants about broadcast. The DTV transition is a train wreck, HD Radio is a failure, the Radio 2020 campaign is a non-starter, broadcast journalism has become a joke, the NAB is worthless, TvB and RAB are increasingly irrelevant. Broadcast conventions are no longer worth attending. Sales are off and things are not going to get better anytime soon. Arbitron's PPM is junk science. Nielsen's C3 rankings are worthless. The thirty second TV spot is no longer effective. There's nobody out there, the talent pool has become the talent puddle. Gen Y not only doesn't listen to radio or watch TV, they have no interest in a career in broadcast. There's no leadership in broadcasting, we have become an industry without heroes. The thrill is gone, working in broadcast is no longer fun. The bean counters and suits have destroyed our once great business. Pure and simple the broadcast trade we knew and loved is dead.

It would be one thing to start one of these arguments and present some possible solutions, get a serious and honest discussion going, after all these are important topics. The trend seems to be against any such discussion. Most of what's out there are rants by the anonymous and in the few cases of those with the courage to put their name on their opinions too many are being just plain rude. Too many fronting an all or nothing attitude "if you're not with me then you're against me, you're wrong, you're stupid and don't get it." Discourse devoid of civility. Which brings to mind the words of Eric Hoffer "Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength."

Readers of this blog are familiar with my pov. There has never been a time of greater opportunity than today. We are living in an age where the quality, quantity and diversity of audio and video is reaching new, unprecedented levels. There's a lot of really good stuff happening out there, folks playing at the top of their game producing truly remarkable work. Yes, we live in disruptive times. Yes, the rule sets are changing. No, the business as usual of today is not producing the results of yesterday. We can complain, scream at the rising tide, get involved in rants bashing how things are without suggesting alternatives or we can get involved. We can stay engaged in the futile efforts of getting better at playing defense or we can get different, get proactive and serious about game-changing innovation. Gordon R. Sullivan wrote "If you are not attacking, you are defending; while there can sometimes be good reasons to defend, in the end you will win only by seizing the initiative and attacking." The former Army Chief of Staff was right when he taught "Hope is not a method." Let me add one more thought. This from George S. Patton, Jr. who said "One does not plan and then try to make circumstances fit those plans. One tries to make plans fit the circumstances." Get involved. Make something happen. Focus on results. Remember and learn from what used to be, dream about and work on creating what could be. Forget getting better, get on with getting different.

Congrats & cheers: Charlie Rose on his simply wonderful conversation with retailing genius Mickey Drexler (posting the video here when available). Brian Lamb and team C-SPAN on bringing us the brilliant Professor Stephen Hawking on "Why we should go into space."

Bonus: Kevin Kelly
writes about the making money in the long tail...

"A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author - in other words, anyone producing works of art - needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living."

The entire post here, follow-on post here. Kudos, Kevin. Interesting thesis, fine presentation. My sense is (and he'll no doubt correct me should I be in error) Seth Godin has already done this, already created the proof for Kevin's thesis. Seth not only has more than 1,000 true fans but has done an exemplary job of leading that fan base. If any person could make a living with 1,000 true fans my bet would be Seth could. Sorry Seth, my choice of words is not what it should be here, meaning no disrespect to you nor your fans in using the verb "leading." Leading your fans would be a good thing, no?

Monday, April 21, 2008

"Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what's for lunch." Orson Welles

"Art is about making something out of nothing and selling it." Frank Zappa

"The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past." Milan Kundera

Today's image: Tulips at St Mary the Virgin by Monster. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Playing the hand we have
Competing for the future

In the latest Barron's (Up and Down Wall Street, 4/21) we get some insight from David Rosenberg of Merrill Lynch who "is convinced that recession, as he puts it, is now a reality, not a forecast, and that the only question is: Will it be, as most Street and bureaucratic observers think (pray?), short and shallow or, as he assays at least possible, deep and prolonged?" Meanwhile, for another pov on government issued economic stats, please let me recommend reading and keeping up with the analysis of John Williams via Shadow Government Statistics. My thanks to Barron's and Alan Abelson.

So, take your pick. Either everything is just fine with the economy, we are heading into some kind of economic trouble or we're already in some stage of business cycle distress. My thought is we will fare best once we accept the worst possible case and act accordingly on that assumption.

In the near-term we should expect, without regard to online, a flat or soft ad spend. We are probably safe to expect nothing from media stocks, especially broadcast and cable. If Jeff Immelt can't make it happen in this market there's no reason to believe the broadcasting and cable CEOs will be able to make anything happen. As Jerry Reed once said "Pray for intestinal fortitude, work hard and keep the faith. Oh, and pray for good luck, you're gonna need it."

How about a mix of metaphor. Our task is to play the hand we hold, addressing the ball from the lie. A classic opening line by the great Graham Greene comes to mind...

"A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses
that moment of experience from which to look back
or from which to look ahead"

Today let me present an exercise you might find valuable. We use this on the day job, it works.

"What would have to happen..."

What would have to happen in order for us to make our numbers? This month? This quarter? This fiscal? Asking "What would have to happen" is a good beginning for developing very specific go forward strategies and tactics.

Before we ask that question let's survey the landscape, take a measure of where we are, discover our starting point. Here's the five-point model suggested by Gordon R. Sullivan...

1. Observe
2. Reflect
3. Decide
4. Act
5. Learn

And Sullivan's related three questions...

1. What is happening?
2. What is not happening?
3. What can I do to influence the action?

Our responses to the "What would have to happen" question are informed by intellectually honest observation, reflection and decision. This week gather your team, ask Sullivan's three questions and then ask...What would have to happen?

The gap not the goal

For this exercise to be effective you'll benefit from adopting a certain pov. Rather than focusing on the goal, focus on the gap. For example, if your monthly sales goal is 1.3 mil and you're pacing to finish with 1.1 mil, focus on the .2 mil gap. What would have to happen to close, run, and bill another .2 mil in the month? You're #2 25-54 with a 2.0 rating, the leader holds a 2.3 rating, focus on the .3 rating gap. What would have to happen to improve our rating by .3?

Act and learn. Mind the gap.

Closely monitor activity, keep a tight feedback loop, establish standards to grade activity and measure progress. Take a lesson from retail - measure daily. Create a dashboard to track activity and outcome. Continue to ask Sullivan's three questions and constantly ask the big question "What would have to happen?"

Make something amazing happen this week.

: Playing catch-up on recent finds - all reds, each around $10 or less. My love affair with the wines of Argentina (Mendoza) continues, here are two more to enjoy: Dona Paula Los Cardos, Malbec, 2006 and Gascon, Malbec, 2006. Four others to share. Ken Forrester, Petit, Pinotage, 2007, South Africa. Oxford Landing, GSM, 2005, South Australia (56% Grenache, 33% Shiraz, 11% Mourvedre). Seigneurs de Bergerac, Bergerac, 2005, France (45% Cab, 45% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc). Santa Rita, 120, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006, Chile.

Friday, April 18, 2008

"Just do what you do best." Red Auerbach

"A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment." John Wooden

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you." Woody Hayes

Today's image: oli by i m a i o. Awesome work. Thanks for sharing.

Buzz: Microsoft Albany

Congrats & cheers: Frank Comerford named prexy platform development and commercial operations for NBC Local Media. Bryon Rubin, new CFO at CBS Interactive. Edward Esposito named RTNDA chaiman, Stacey Woelfel chair-elect.

Bonus: Is Content Worthless?

Bonus 2: Lee Abrams, the IWM interview. Kudos to Patrick, well done!

As advertised, my response to the RBR article Part 2: Can HD Radio Be Saved.

Addressed previously were the "six possibly insurmountable" issues raised by our unknown typist. My proffer being none of the six are in fact insurmountable. "Make no mistake, any of those six on its own should be a deal-killer or product exterminator. But the soap opera drags on like a root canal" said the unknown provocateur. Nonsense. Innovation is a marathon not a sprint. Innovation is messy. Soap operas and root canals follow some logic, innovation begets chaos and ambiguity. Radio's migration to digital is a process not an event. Moreover, the process is iterative; to succeed sooner we need to learn how to fail faster. Dismissing the first generation of any new technology and calling it a failure has time and again proven to be wrong. As said here before first generation technology tends to suck given hindsight. One could make an equally compelling case for how much first apps suck. Contrast and compare the early days of radio, TV or MTV with today's iterations, yeah, in comparison, they totally sucked.

The "Part 2" of our unknown contributor sets forth five "suggestions on how to salvage HD Radio." They are actually six in number, numbers one and six making the same point. I commend the unknown contributor for offering suggestions.

1. Until the FCC mandates HD on every radio receiver, HD Radio will be a hobby, not a business.

Two issues here. First, a call for government intervention. Second, the notion that HD Radio is a hobby, not a business.

The latter is patently false, HD Radio is a business. A nascent business but a business nonetheless involving developers, manufacturers, retailers, and broadcast operators. My sense is there is at least one hobby related to HD Radio. A small and largely anonymous anti-HD Radio claque are engaged in a hobby of online ranting. The majority of these rants are no more than the noise of sockpuppetry (some possible astroturfing) being tyronic, invidious and inimical in nature. If you've not been exposed to these rants you're in luck. Typically the messaging is nothing more than a bashing of HD Radio technology, no alternative digital tech solutions offered. I do respect those who sign their name to arguments made against HD Radio even though I may not agree with their case or approve of their style in making it.

The call for a federal mandate as the only effective remedy would seem to suggest the political naivete of our provocateur. The marketplace has proven to be a far more effective, efficient and just arbiter. The mandate solution not only ignores the regulatory genesis of IBOC but the potential for inviting a bigger elephant into the room - surrender of spectrum. Having said that I will agree possible paths to a favorable regulatory disposition may present themselves via parential controls, involvement in the ongoing reinvention of EAS, or other family (and voter) friendly initiatives that enhance spectrum usage by some fresh leverage of next generations in the digital platform. My view is there remains one important near-term issue that merits an industry effort before regulatory and that is the need for an effective increase in the approved transmission power allowances of HD Radio.

2. Since HD is nothing more than free and extra channels...could it be that HD is nothing more than the 2008 version of sidebands?

Wrong on its face. Should HD actually be nothing more than something, my suggestion would be it is perhaps nothing more than an approach to spectrum management. The decider remains the operator and their market. Multicasting is one app not the only app. Operators are free to parse the pipe as opportunity presents.

3. Perhaps an out-of-the-box idea like the recently announced Navteg real-time traffic application will have legs...Is the brand new Electronic Program Guide idea a keeper?

Let a thousand flowers bloom. Digital spectrum affords a practically endless opportunity for app innovation. Again, the key will be failing faster to discover the killer apps sooner.

4. National shows and networks either not on the air today or broadcast on inferior signals...National or Local, listeners have to care about what's being programmed.

Good ideas. Larry Rosen of Edison Media Research, among others, has also made the suggestion that national programming deserves consideration. Agree with the unknown blogger that listeners do have to care, it was ever thus. Q.E.D.

5. The HD Dial/Display has to be fixed...we know with absolute certainty the present day nomenclature is not inituitive and non listener-friendly

The typist refers to the conventions commonly used by the "present" and first generation of appliances. It's still way early in the game. Once the marketplace smells money a rapid prototyping of new conventions and form factors will likely emerge. Take a page from the book of Jobs. There are over 150 different MP3 players on the market, the dated technology used in each is essentially identical but one version is eating an 80 plus share of market becoming the de facto standard.

In summary, my thought is the success or failure of HD Radio is in the hands of the operators. Only they can create (or purchase), broadcast and promote the content or apps that will set the fire, fan the flames of demand. Operators will need to work collaboratively with developers, manufacturers, a deep field of leading-edge vendors to bring engaging new apps to market. Concurrently, the chip sets will get better, the software and hardware will improve, the price points at CE retail will continue to fall, and the next billionaire (of Bill Gates magnitude) will solve the single biggest challenge holding back a brave new world of hand-held devices - the battery. Radio can be ready, waiting in the right place when the right time happens, or not.

Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend.

To send comments please use the contact me form (left column)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"There go my people. I must find out where they are going so I can lead them." Alexandre Ledru-Rollin

"Two kinds of ballplayers aren't worth a darn: One that never does what he's told, and one who does nothin' except what he's told." Oail (Bum) Phillips

"The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care." Colin Powell

Today's image: Josh and Footprints by Vu Bui. Wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

Today, my response to the RBR article Why HD Radio may never make it.

"Jacta alea est"

The typing, not to be confused with writing, was not signed. We were told only that the keystroke artist was a "loyal reader" and "For business reasons, this reader cannot be identified by name." Since RBR chief Jim Carnegie did ask "Got a different take?" Let me now say that I do. Here's my scribble on each of the article's six points.

1) The name is wrong...already taken...Why unnecessarily create the impression of a brand extension...Rookie mistake.

Absent the suspect HDR Alliance research there is no empirical evidence to suggest HD Radio means much of anything to the mass audience, only a minority of the population even admit to being familiar with it (Jacobs Media Tech Poll, Arbitron-Edison Infinite Dial). In sum, the name remains innocent, benign, albeit undefined. A professional name lab developed the consumer brand name "HD Radio", the same firm that created the brand "Blackberry" among others. It is the inexperienced or lazy PD that blames the call letters then insists on changing them. Tylenol wrote the primer on rescuing brand names. When product tampering killed customers they stood firm. Radio programming ace Lee Arnold reminds me "The Beatles was a really lame name for a band until they had their first hit, come to think of it what kind of a name for a computer is a fruit?" We should leverage the TV messaging. This is not an act of brand extension but one of brand creation. HDTV = better television, HD Radio = better radio. Let me suggest the rookie here is the anonymous contributor, one needing to read Jones & Slater (or Rosser Reeves the wellspring of Trout & Ries).

2) HD Radio is not listener/consumer driven...neither compelling Content nor is it Convenient to use or understand...listeners do not have faith in the rank-and-file operators.

Physician heal thyself! "The play's the thing." Content is a station level operations issue. This is a leadership problem manifest in a massive failure of imagination, lack of serious investment, an aversion to risk and a growing tolerance, acceptance of mediocrity. On the subject of multicasting my proxy goes to Chuck Tweedle. Chuck, as you may recall, was the GM who built, from scratch, one of the most successful brands in American radio, KOIT. It was Chuck who said "Multicasting is the killer app." The fundamentals remain the same, put something on the wireless that they really want and they'll find it. More on this "product first" approach from Kent Burkhart (#201). Listeners only care about what comes out of the speakers, everything else is a footnote. Some 230 million are keeping the faith weekly and turning on their radios, they could care less about the "rank-and-file operators" (until those operators take away something they care about). As to the ease and convenience issues bear in mind that HD Radio is software driven, we're dealing with version 1.0, first generations of any tech product suck in hindsight. Greed will ensure things will only get better. Hint: Apple developed a hit form factor using a dated common software app.

3) Your almost always a disappointment...does not make a good enough first impression.

The consumer electronics retail value chain plays by cutthroat jungle rules. Few working in the trade today can even remember the last time radio operators had to sell receivers. While the rule sets of CE were changing radio was busy harvesting the golden apples of bcf. Complacent in this rich Garden of the Hesperides radio took its eye off the ball. Driving folks to retail and having retail channels ready and productive while a serious significant challenge is not the Sisyphean mission some make it out to be. The most effective solution to remedy those first impression problems and help create demand is organic - product innovation. We also have an urgent need to get deeply involved at retail and point of sale.

4) It was designed to solve a non-problem.

A popular canard. Let me also quote the "honest liar" Jamy Swiss "I want to highlight the line between illusion and reality." Pay radio had nothing to do with the creation of HD Radio that's a convenient illusion. The reality is IBOC was designed to solve the problem of migrating radio to digital using the same licensed spectrum, a rubric fraught with the perils of "acceptable tradeoffs."

5) Hillary Derangement Syndrome...HD Radio is the Sheridan Whiteside of Media...Even Radio people have lost faith.

Too clever by half. Like Hillary, HD Radio is arguably better than its campaign. Communications from the HDR Alliance are what they are, anyone confusing a press release with reality is, to be kind, tragically naive. The single purpose of this Alliance messaging, imho, is to gin up favor with the street. To say that HD Radio is Whiteside is to infer that operators are Daisy Stanley (or at least the Stanley family). Further, this scenario implies that HD Radio is culpable of blackmail. This stuff smacks of a wacky grassy-knoll theorist mindset. Yes, some radio people have lost faith, some others never had faith, however, some do have faith and are working to make a difference. Again, this is a leadership issue. One needs to remember that at one time the majority of AM operators had no faith whatsoever in the future of FM (as before VHF guys laughed at UHF and the suits of broadcast tv once made jokes about those silly cable guys).

6) The commercials don't work...the more we keep advertising this non-starter, the more it becomes obvious the radio advertising must be the villain.

Poor creative execution is one villain here not the communications channel. The simple facts are advertising fails for a variety of very good reasons. If all one needed to do was run an ad to produce results commercial time would be traded on the gold exchange. There's nothing wrong with radio as an advertising medium. There was, as written here previously, something seriously wrong with the messaging. Peter Ferrara is still not getting credit for changing up the ill-starred "Discover It!" and inviting input after the failed "It's your radio" creative. Will the new campaign work? We need disclosure and transparency to begin that learning process.

In understanding the giant story arc that is radio and media behavior it benefits us to remember. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" so said George Santayana. The quote is probably familiar to most readers but let's put it into its proper context. Here's what Santayana said in The Life of Reason, Vol. 1, Reason in Common Sense...

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

We are going around in one big circle folks. We've been at one of these inflection points before, this will not be the last. Observe! Think! Discuss! Decide! Act! Learn! Think! Repeat. Will HD Radio "make it" whatever that means? Yes, if and when operators get serious. Once we truly understand and respect the advantages inherent in being in perpetual beta. Wimps play defense. My sense is the HD Radio glass is half-full and I'm more concerned about who's pouring. Game on!

My response to the RBR follow-on article Part 2: Can HD Radio Be Saved later this week.

To send comments please use the contact me form (left column). Thank you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit." W. Somerset Maugham

"Success is the point of self-deception. Failure is the point of self-knowledge." Graham Greene

"To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry." Gaston Bachelard

Today's image: Morning mist by Steve Lacy. Great shot. Thanks for sharing.

Buzz: AOL
will buy Sphere, it's official. Kudos to Martin Remy, Steve Nieker and the entire Sphere gang. Tim Robbins - 1) Erase all diversity 2) Stay focused on sex scandals 3) Find more racially divisive news...salacious entertainment not information...Imagine a world of broadcasting where the American people are encouraged to reject despair and distrust and when they turn their TVs and radios off at night and go to sleep they possess strength and unity and compassion for those they disagree with. NAB Keynote (audio)

Bonus: The Filter (now in private beta)

Congrats & cheers: John Battelle's Federated Media Publishing closes a $50 mil round.

A bunch of radio stuff...

Update: NAB bows radio initiative - Radio Heard Here. Related - Radio 2020 and radiocreativeland. At least the first tribe of wireless can rest easy knowing the NAB spent the time and money (even engaged an attorney) to officially file a trademark application for "Radio Heard Here." While perhaps among the first thoughts upon hearing about this creative tag line might well be "WOW, I sure hope that very cool slogan is protected to the full extent of applicable federal law" the use of the TM mark at this point does seem a wee bit premature. Two more early thoughts. First, will this Radio Heard Here campaign indeed be as powerful, effective as the Goodby Silverstein & Partners "Got Milk" campaign Jeff Haley has compared it to? (Have they our Michael Bay at the ready? Some clever Toma Leche messaging?). Second, without any disrespect whatsoever to Messrs Rehr, Haley and Ferrara, where are the women in the leadership of this initiative? Where are the young turks? These three middle-aged white guys and the initiative would benefit greatly from diversity.

Update 2: The new Arbitron - Edison Media Research findings - the annual update of their ongoing study The Infinite Dial - Radio's New Digital Platforms. Detail on the latest data set here.

The beat goes on: RBR chief Jim Carnegie gives a reader who "cannot be identified by name" the use of his hall to opine on Why HD Radio may never make it.

All of these items merit thought and discussion. My comments on each in the days ahead.

Monday, April 14, 2008

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see." Arthur Schopenhauer

"A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding." Marshall McLuhan

"Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it." Stephen Leacock

Today's image: Fire Canoe #3 by peter bowers. Simply beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Vegas, baby! NAB.

From Chapter 1, Made to Engage, Stop listening to your customers and start interacting with them, The Age of Engage by Denise Shiffman (Amazon info)...

Understanding the Live Web

This isn't your Web of just five years ago. This is a new Web, an interactive, user-generated, linking, social environment. Take a look at a simple comparison of what's changed.

Web 1.0 > Web 2.0
Static > Live
Publish > Interact
Inform > Engage
Link > Tag
Sell > Socialize
Control > Collaborate

Friday, April 11, 2008

"Felicity shows the ground where industry builds a fortune." Sir Henry Wotton

"You learn most when you play against an opponent who can beat you." Richard Bach

"Dispatch is the soul of business." Philip Stanhope

Today's image: Guiding You To The Light by imagonovus. Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

An important post from David Weinberger...

"Almost from the day the Cluetrain site went up, I regretted point #74: “We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.” We are so not immune. Branding works. We think of Volvos as safe and the Ford Fiesta as a car for young folks. We think of Coke as the original and Pepsi as the copy. We can characterize someone as a “wearer of Birkenstocks.” Branding and advertising in some important sense work.

Now, we certainly can undo some of the cognitive damage advertising and branding do. Market conversations in fact often are about the ways in which a product’s promises and sloganeering don’t live up to its reality. But that’s a lot different than saying we’re immune to advertising. We’re not.

I’d still urge companies to move their marketing away from messaging, however. Assuming the studies Francois cites are correct, our reactions to products do seem shaped by what we’re told about them. No surprise there, although it’s always depressing to find out what big dopes we humans are through no fault of our own. But, customers (= all of us) are going to increasingly resist and resent marketing that focuses narrowly on messaging — that is, on finding the simple idea they can pound into our heads over and over. Telling us your drink will make us refreshed or more alert may indeed make us more refreshed or alert, but treating us like freaking morons by droning the same words at us over and over will make your product less interesting to us. The real challenge marketers face in a world of online conversations is how to help us find what’s interesting about their products." My thanks to the good doctor for sharing. David's original post w/comments here.

Bonus: Thomas Hawk issues the challenge But Which One is Fine Art?. Bravos to Thomas!

Congrats & cheers: FriendFeed gets Business Week coverage. BW's Heather Green writes One Place for Your Many Online Lives here. Kudos to Heather! (FD: I'm totally addicted to FF)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"The most widespread beliefs draw their power from the fact that they cannot be verified." Alessandro Morandotti

"The world, like an accomplished hostess, pays most attention to those whom it will soonest forget." John Churton Collins

Sometimes we praise the way things used to be in order to blame the present, and we esteem what is no longer in order to scorn what is." Madame De Sable

Today's image: Come on Pino, We're going Home by Mattijn. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

Your future is free (some restrictions apply): Should you be a radio group exec or cluster manager working for one of the top thirty broadcasting firms Kurt Hanson will comp your entry into next Monday's big event the RAIN Las Vegas Summit: The Future of Radio. Use the magic words - please and thank you - more info here. See you there!

Howard never got the memo: The one that told us the dead tree guys were, uh, dead. So when Starbucks decided to spend some cash to get out the word on its new coffee they went dead tree. E&P writer Mark Fitzgerald has the story Starbucks Embraces Newspapers In Launching New Coffee here.

Bonus: Videogum

Midtown buzz: Let the Katie Couric countdown clock begin. She just ain't feelin the love @ 6:30. The popular wager seems to be sometime after the election. Same outfit but totally unrelated: Why did Les have to go negative and say 18-34 was a "BS demographic"?

Congrats & cheers: Rob Barnett, the energizer bunny studio head of web video, shoots and scores again. Webby noms including Wainy Days and You Suck at Photoshop (Comedy: Long form or series), You Suck at Photoshop (How-to and DIY), Harry Shearer - Waterboardin USA (Music). Read more here. Sue Naegle hires on at HBO as entertainment prexy. Hugh MacLeod, the man who put the FU back in fun (and official cartoon artiste of N=1) on his very cool book deal. Broadcast rock star Big John Wetherbee joins WTOC-TV full-time, solid gain for TV, a real loss for radio. PRX (Public Radio Exchange) on getting a well deserved MacArthur Foundation grant.

Bonus: someecards Love their tag line "ecards for when you care enough to hit send."

Video: Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch on Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams (76:26). Highly recommended. This is the video link we shared last New Years and the first link to get rave reviews from every single person, 100%. Well worth your bandwidth. Chock-full of take away including..."Fundamentals & Hard Work!"..."Wait long enough and people will surprise and impress you" - Jon Snoddy..."Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how bad we want things, they let us show our dedication"..."Enabling the childhood dreams of others"..."You obviously don't know where the bar should be and you are only going to do them a disservice by putting it anywhere"..."Find someone better than you"..."Millions of kids having fun while learning something hard"..."You're such a good salesman, that any company who gets you is going to use you as a salesman, and you might as well be selling something worthwhile like education"..."All-time best head fake award - 'Yeah, but why is that fun?'"...FUN..."Decide if you're Tigger or Eeyore"..."Never lose the child-like wonder"..."Help others"..."Loyalty is a two-way street"..."Never give up"..."You can't get there alone and I believe in Karma"..."Tell the truth"..."Be earnest"..."Apologize when you screw up"..."Focus on others, not yourself"..."Don't bail; the best gold is at the bottom of barrels of crap"..."Get a feedback loop; and listen to it!"..."Show gratitude"..."Don't complain; just work harder"..."Be good at something: it makes you valuable"..."Work hard"..."Find the best in everybody"..."Be prepared"

The Heston mashup...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"Think once before you give, twice before you accept, and a thousand times before you ask." Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

"He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator." Francis Bacon

"It is better to stay silent and let people think you are an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." Abraham Lincoln

Today's image: Golden Gate HDR by vgm8383. Beautiful. (A must-see large on black using the title link) Thanks for sharing.

The new read is The Age of Engage by Denise Shiffman. Amazon info here.

Denise makes the case that the "Four Ps" model is dead.

"The only marketing strategy that will work today is one that is designed to encourage and incorporate change as the product evolves. It's time to redefine the fundamental strategies that determine a product's success. With this thinking, it is possible for anyone to build and market products that thrive in today's extraordinarily competitive and complex marketplace. This marketing paradigm is based on the 'Six Vs':

  • Venture: The deep integration of product, service and channel of distribution
  • Value: Creating inherent "marketingness" through unique, defendable, sustainable and engaging value
  • Voice: The perception created and the followers gained through vision and story
  • Verification: Developing credibility through proof, truth and transparency
  • Vicinity: Harnessing the communities and myriad voices of the Live Web
  • Vehicle: Incorporating Marketing 2.0 strategies to attract and delight customers"
Bravos to Denise. Well said. And kudos for giving propers to Doc for "Live Web."

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." Muhammad Ali

"Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse." Winston Churchill

"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." Albert Einstein

Today's image: Torn by michelleBlack. Amazing. Thank you very much for sharing.

Finished reading the Clay Shirky book, Here Comes Everybody. Highly recommended (Amazon info). Over the next few weeks I'll share some lessons learned. Today from Shirky, Chapter 10, Failure For Free. He shares a great quote by Sun Microsystems founder Bill Joy "No matter who you are, most of the smart people work for someone else."

In a presentation on open source (e.g., Linux, SourceForge) and the power of failure Shirky writes...

"Open source is a profound threat, not because the open source ecosystem is outsucceeding commercial efforts but because it is outfailing them. Because the open source ecosystem, and by extension open social systems generally, rely on peer production, the work on those systems can be considerably more experimental, at considerably less cost, than any firm can afford. Why? The most important reasons are that open systems lower the cost of failure, they do not create biases in favor of predictable but substandard outcomes, and they make it simpler to integrate the contributions of people who contribute only a single idea.

The overall effect of failure is its likelihood times its cost. Most organizations attempt to reduce the effect of failure by reducing its likelihood. Imagine that you are spearheading an effort for a firm that wants to become more innovative. You are given a list of promising but speculative ideas, and you have to choose some subset of them for investment. You thus have to guess the likelihood of success or failure for each project. The obvious problem is that no one knows for certain what will succeed and what will fail. A less obvious but potentially more significant problem is that the possible value of various projects is unconnected to anything their designers say about them. In these circumstances, you will inevitably green-light failures and pass on potential successes. Worst still, more people will remember you saying yes to a failure than saying no to a radical but promising idea. Given this asymmetry, you will be pushed to make safe choices, thus systematically undermining the rationale for trying to be more innovative in the first place.

The open source movement makes neither kind of mistake, because it doesn't have employees, it doesn't make investments, it doesn't even make decisions. It is not an organization, it is an ecosystem, and one that is remarkably tolerant of failure. Open source doesn't reduce the likelihood of failure, it reduces the cost of failure; it essentially gets failure for free. This reversal, where the cost of deciding what to try is higher than the cost of actually trying them, is true of open systems generally. As with the mass amateurization of media, open source relies on the 'publish-then-filter' pattern."

First tribe of wireless rings register in the city: 2007 top ten radio billers in millions (BIA). WLTW 62.8, WINS 57.7, WCBS-AM 53.7, WHTZ 52.3, WFAN 37.5, WPLJ 35.8, WSKQ 35.3, WAXQ 34.4, WBLS 33.2, WQHT 32.3.

Bonus: Cluuz

The Pierre & Tom Show: Arbitron and Edison Media Research present topline from their annual study "The Infinite Dial: Radio's Digital Platforms" via webcast tomorrow at 2pm eastern. You'll need to register here.

Disappearing act: The sideman as solo star. I really enjoy reading Mel Phillips' blog, it's one of my guilty pleasures over morning coffee, a unique pop culture mashup. Mel remembers "Music Memories" as part of his format. Which brought to mind, the sideman. Are we witness to the end of days for the sideman turned solo star? Back in the day the instrumental hit song, while rare, was still possible but is that true today? Kenny G plays on but is confined to one format (Smooth Jazz/NAC). I guess you could make the case he is also played occasionally by some soft AC stations. Will today's CHR, AC and Hot AC play an instrumental? This is apropos of nothing, or is it? Radio programming and branding ace Michael Fischer weighs in via comments. Thanks, Michael! Your thoughts are also welcome, please opine via comments. Is the instrumental hit dead? (Perhaps all we need do is await the next blessing of Steve Jobs, the tech CEO turned modern day music director and hitmaker).

Congrats & cheers: Drew Horowitz, Greg Solk and team Bonneville launches 100.3 fm, The Sound, World Class Rock for Southern California. The Webby Noms including: Kurt Hanson's AccuTunes and KEXP (Radio), Ning and Flock (Social Networking), TED and The Onion (Podcasts), Dwell (Magazine), Epicurious (Lifestyle), I Can Has Cheezburger (Humor), American RadioWorks (Education), StumbleUpon (Community), Indexed (Blog - Culture/Personal).