"Voicetracking Is Dead. It's A Waste."
Those were the words of L&L CEO Larry Wilson at the Radio Show Leadership Breakfast last week and it turned out to be one of the most commented on stories from the Orlando. Wilson's company is Live and Local and he used every minute of his time on stage to make his case that if you deliver strong, live, local content, it doesn't matter what size market you are in, you will win. Wilson's declaration that voicetracking is destined for the cemetary was music to the ears of many in the audience and, for sure, to many who are now on the sidelines because they were replaced by an out-of-town voice.
Wilson was joined on the panel by Connoisseur CEO Jeff Warshaw, NRG CEO Mary Quass, and Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey. Dickey has been on a buying spree lately trying to get his company to a point it can compete with Clear Channel. Dickey said, "We consider ourselves first and foremost a local company." It was easy to see the others on the panel were not buying into that statement. Dickey stated the only real competition radio has gotten, specifically in the car, has come from Satellite radio. Pandora is a playlist or a mix of songs we used to put on tape when we were growing up, he said. And iTunes is really music on demand. Radio still garners 2/3 of all audio listening, according to Dickey.
Warshaw agreed with Dickey that radio listening was still strong but had his doubts it would stay that way if some companies continue to produce content he believes is weak. "If our product sucks, will that continue? Radio may not be satisfying the people the way that it has been in prior years. We're running tremendous numbers of commercials. The damage is self-inflicted. Are we willing to ask ourselves, 'Are we doing a good enough job?' If we put out crappy programming, we're destined to be extinct. We must put out fantastic programming and be involved in the community."
Wilson added, "We're letting the product go downhill. We're running crappy ads. The commercials have got to be compelling." He then went on to praise Jerry Lee's new project to improve the effectiveness of all commercials. NRG CEO Mary Quass agreed with Warshaw about the commercial loads. "They are a huge problem. There's a point at which you just leave. We're running the risk of them [the listeners] not coming back.
The panel ended with Dickey and Warshaw disagreeing on whether or not young entrepeneurs could still break into ownership and get access to capital. Dickey said it was an excellent environment for entrepeneurs while Warshaw said the equity is not there. "I had an easier time raising money when I was 23 than I have over the past 12 months."
Overall the theme of this panel was live and local always wins and if you continue to super-serve listeners and advertisers you will always win.
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