Radio Needs To Go Over The Top
A quote from the founder of the Local Online Advertising Conference set me off, and here it is: “[R]adio’s competitors are more interested in podcasting and smart speakers than the radio industry itself. That’s because those in the print and TV industries view the digital space quite differently than radio. Theirs is a ‘multiplatform’ strategy, meaning they’ll seize upon any new platform as a distribution method for their content. This extends to things like OTT video programming. How many radio stations do you know have an OTT program or even know what it is?”
Let’s talk about what OTT should mean for radio.
If you’re turning a profit with the content you produce, you’re sharing a ton of that profit with the distribution channels – y’know, the broadcast and cable networks – who are airing your content. Said differently: if you’re the NFL, and you can distribute all your content – including the actual games – to consumers directly, why would you share any of the revenue earned by that content with ESPN, a broadcast network, or anyone else? (And if you’re a popular syndicated radio host, you’re sharing a ton of your revenue with local radio in exchange for access to their distribution channels, which you call transmitters.)
A Good Goodbye Should Feel Heartbreaking
Incredibly sad. That’s what a good goodbye should feel like. Seriously.
And you already know that I think there’s an important lesson in this reality.
A Death In The Entertainment Family
Forgive me, but I’m about to get very personal with you. And, as with almost everything else, I’m going to use my personal feelings to talk about something I love: showbiz.
A family member was placed in hospice care a few weeks ago. I’m not talking about a human being, of course. I’m talking about a radio station, or said more appropriately in these parts, an entertainment brand. I’ve been thinking a lot about – well, everything – lately, and I’ve come to two sets of observations, both of them painfully obvious and yet not, all of which can be summed up by this reality:
Engagement 101: The Boss Answers To The Fans
One of the more remarkable things I’ve read lately is a piece that showed up in the New York Times last week in which Dean Baquet, the Times’ Executive Editor, answers questions from readers about changes to the way The Gray Lady is restructuring her editorial department, eliminating the copy desk and shedding some editors in the process.
There are two really important takeaways from the piece. The first is something I’ve been telling you about for years. The second will surprise you, but it shouldn’t.
Your Brand Is A Soap Opera. Deal With It.
A friend of mine sent me this incredibly entertaining Rolling Stone piece called “The Slow Death of the Great Wrestling Promo”. You should read it.
Of course, you didn’t take your mother’s advice to eat your vegetables when you were growing up, so I doubt you’ll take my advice now. Here’s a two-part summary with a my comments in italics…followed by my real point, which is only tangentially connected to Rolling Stone’s point:
The Revolution Will, In Fact, Be Televised…With Radio Simulcast…And An App
In 2016, the revolution is so far along already that you can watch it on “television” every single day. You can listen to it via “radio”. And, as (almost) always, there’s an app for that. You can read about the revolution on whatever digital doohickey your read news on instead of an old school newspaper.
The most amazing development to appear already in the new year comes from print. Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes is telling his next story, “Belgravia”, in serialized novel form…via an app. With the change in medium from printed page to digital app, “readers” will get a different experience, including audio, music, video, character portraits (including a character family tree) and maps of Belgravia.
For fans, that means they’ll receive a much more complex, and presumably engrossing, product than would come with a printed book. Do you realize what this means for professionals? It means jobs.
Harry Truman Knows How Quickly Media Convergence Will Arrive
Change is coming. Distribution of content via broadcast is being replaced by distribution of content via broadband. It’s an era of media convergence, when the barriers between traditional forms of media – television, film, radio, print – fall and we simply have “media”. It’s an era leading to what I like to call The Jetsons Future.
The Jetsons Future is loaded with new and exceptional opportunities, and we’re all going to be presented with lots of opportunities to fail as well as to succeed. Consequently, we’d better be prepared for change before it comes, and changing is coming. If you’re asking the simple one-word question, “When?” the answer is…possibly much faster than you imagine.
Broadcast Media: 99.5% Less Dead Than You Think
Once upon a time, a doctor told me I had a slightly elevated cholesterol level on my blood test with these lame words: “Mr. Hoffman, we’re all terminal. Some of us are just programmed to check out earlier than others.” Until recently, I’ve only thought of those words when telling someone about what bad people skills sound like.
These days, I think of those words every time I hear another death knell about the future of radio. I’ll leave you to find your favorite screed on that subject; I’ve spent enough time on client calls addressing the issue. (Hence this post.)
Here are two simple realities:
You Can’t Be A Personality If You Don’t Let Your Fans Know You As A Person
I’d like to tell you a story about the sudden, complete transformation of a performer.
Once upon a time, I programmed a very personality-heavy radio station. While everyone else was shutting up and playing the music, we were aggressively getting in the audience’s faces with lots of personality. We also had record numbers for a radio station that had been around since the Johnson administration and we absolutely owned Men 25-54 in our market. Every talent on the radio station was very high-profile.
Except for my midday guy, who always said, “[My fans] don’t care about me.” He couldn’t have been more wrong, but I didn’t think he’d ever drop his defenses long enough to find out.
One sentence changed everything. Instantly. One day, he turned on the mic and said it.