Taking the Aural Temperature at NAB / RAB, Orlando
Last week's NAB / RAB in Orlando was one of the best thanks to Senator Gordon Smith, Erica Farber and their outstanding staffs. The only thing missing was a GPS to navigate the hotel.
Compared to a year ago, there were many positives in the air. It was like playing a country record backwards: You get your truck back, you get your dog back, you get your girl back. More advertisers are coming back, Marci Ryvicker's financial report card is back up (B+) and many of the all time pros are back and growing new companies.
Emphasis on common sense basics is coming back, as well. At the Lew Paper moderated Leadership breakfast Live & Local Broadcasting's Larry Wilson's stated the need to limit crappy commercials and stop wasting facilities with voice tracking. Jeff Warshaw's pointed comments, including a warning "not to suck", drew applause. Mary Quass called for radio to stop mailing it in. Lew Dicky smoothly outlined new strengths at Cumulus and product being available on more channels.
Radio is stronger than ever. But, with stations being heard since 1920, everyone needs to be reminded that radio is "Wireless, Everywhere and Free." Cable households be damned: What's the latest count of AM & FM receivers in your market? In fact, with more channels to receive stations and programs, we'd better step up the content to must-carry levels or we're done. The Pandoras of the world offer more music but in automated scramble, without personality. With underserved demos and ignoring mass appeal genres of talk and music, there must be the creatives out there to fill up all the new channels while brining new sponsors into the fold. Fred Jacobs' Connected Car presentation offered that ANYthing can still be part of the digital dashboard and, as long as we're better than good, auto audio service is here to stay. And, that means radio.
The customer experience must be positive and simple. There's a great deal of FCC talk about enhancing AM. Web Radio will advance with pre sets. Sadly, HD is our modern AM Stereo and must integrate into new receivers or be content to feed translators. Simply, it's time for radio to do another major "Step Up" with content, live, local and variety. Radio had the lead in breaking music, being first with live reports, featuring local and national personalities. Let's reclaim what's ours!
Folks aren't buying because the content isn't there. For example, there's a lot of money being left on the table by not serving Boomers with music. The biggest hit on Broadway for years has been The Jersey Boys. Anyone have Rag Doll in rotation? Are there replacements for Cousin Brucie, Big Dan, Dick Summer and Gene Shepherd? And, speaking of Broadway, what about modern standards from The Great American Songbook, and All That Jazz? The Boomers in our business have the understanding and experience to make it happen. The Boomer audience has the feelings and passion for the personality, the connection to the music and the big spendable dollar$ to pay the freight.
With all the brain power seen at this great Convention, what's holding us back? Time to stop outguessing Arbitron (now cleared for Nielsen) and just deliver great, listenable, compelling, riveting radio with fresh, familiar music, local information and exciting sports. When great shows are broadcast, the PPMs will record it, everyone will have access to it, the audience and additional advertisers will love it.
cue: Sarah Vaughn "WHO, listens to radio……only 272 million PEople, that's all!"
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