NAB Show: Day Two

| April 9, 2014

NAB Show convention coverage by consultant Holland Cooke

 

cookehollandLAS VEGAS – Applause to 2014 Crystal Award winning stations, who were honored at Tuesday’s Radio Luncheon, after-which came one helluva moment, Steve Harvey’s NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame acceptance speech.

It began every bit as hilarious as you’d expect, then turned suddenly, stunningly, emotional, the kind of from-the-heart moment that defines great big characters.  He tearfully applauded the Crystal winners, declaring that “radio is about the community, about the people.  Every radio station can play the same songs.  [The Crystal winners] are doing radio the way radio should be done.”

ICYMI:

The FCC Chairman didn’t mention “radio.” 

Disclosure: I say so based on a word search of his prepared remarks, since I was attending a concurrent session.  A fellow reporter who did attend confirmed accordingly, adding that “radio” only came-up when, after Chairman Tom Wheeler’s speech, in a one-on-one interview with NAB CEO Gordon Smith, Smith asked about FM chips in wireless phones.  My trusted colleague characterized Wheeler’s response as “noncommittal.”

What radio people will find pertinent, from the text of Wheeler’s speech, is the recurring theme of this entire convention (and the play-defense message broadcasters should take away from the RAIN Summit): “Your business horizons are greater than your current product.”  And that, as broadcasters, “licensees have a powerful opportunity to bring the benefits of competition to the new media market.”

Echoing this call to action: tech scribe David Pogue, who sure did entertain at the Radio Luncheon.  He noted how other media play-to today’s on-demand, pick-and-choose culture lots better than radio.  Evidence?  He showed us results of searching Apple’s App Store for “TV listings” (dozens of apps), then for “radio listings” (NONE, and the results instead offered…TV listing apps, ouch).

Five Lessons for Radio 

Witty Pogue illustrated each:

1. “This thing is not ‘a phone.’”  Apple’s App Store now offers over a million titles.  One, which Pogue, also an accomplished musician, demonstrated is “Ocarina.”  Yep, it transforms your iPhone into that wind instrument you hear in the middle of The Troggs’ “Wild Thing.”  It sells for $1, and a million sold made its music teacher inventor wealthy.  And get this: Everyone who uses the Ocarina app can listen-in to other users playing, around the world.  Just another interactive content competitor that makes-the-audience-the-star, and can make everyman rich.  And to think we call that thing-in-the-pocket “a phone.”

2. “Everything has to be real-time.”  Look around.  We want what we want when and where we want it.

3. “Everything is going online.”  You might have heard the expression “the Internet of things,” meaning machines-talking-to-each-other.  62% of Internet traffic is now robots.  Maybe your refrigerator isn’t (yet) auto-ordering milk; but already, patients can enable doctors to monitor real-time vital signs.  Soon, your alarm clock could wake you earlier if the route you commute has a traffic tangle.  And your thermostat will auto-adjust, based on the changing weather forecast.  On-stage in Las Vegas, Pogue used his iPhone to turn-down his thermostat at home in Connecticut.

4. “We’re a person-to-person economy.”  eBay was just the beginning.  Seen airbnb.com?  Instead of a hotel room, “Rent from people in over 34,000 cities and 192 countries.”  Analysts project that airbnb.com will sell more room nights than hotels within five years.  And you can rent out YOUR DRIVEWAY to people who’d rather not pay more for a parking garage, via ParkingPanda.com.  Rent out yourself to run errands at taskrabbit.com.

5.”Things splinter.”  No, instant coffee didn’t put drip coffee out of business.  And how many times has radio’s obituary been written?  “Technology that’s new frightens people,” Pogue illustrated with other familiar examples, urging, as so many others do here at the NAB Show, radio needs to evolve.  “How are you exploiting digital?  You guys have a free product!” So take it out for a spin.  Brainstorm what Pogue is saying.  As broadcasters, we have call letter cred and cume and TSL and dashboards and habit, a powerful head start.

Obamacare advertising dollars?  Stay tuned… 

To-date, Affordable Care Act-related radio ad revenue has been what Eastman Radio president Tucker Flood called “Like-it/Don’t-like-it” messages (how to sign up, and why it’s bad, respectively), from Exchanges, Political Action Committees, unions/trade groups, and foundations.

Longer-term revenue will come from private-sector insurers and their brokers and retailers and healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies, all of which are still getting a handle on what’s selling to this windfall of new customers.  And open enrollment returns in October.

Flood predicts that this category will surpass automotive, long a radio staple. 

FM translators “will help AM stations survive ‘long-enough.’” 

In the “Radio Renaissance” session, Texas station manager Ben Downs sounded ominous.  Better than denial, as broadcasters confront the seeming inevitability of AM band deterioration, due to interference from new-tech devices, and after decades of manufacturers skimping on receiver innards and station owners neglecting their own plumbing (and rampant copper thievery).

Panelists applauded initiatives proposed during FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn’s stint as acting chairwoman.  Attorney Marissa Repp called it “a no-brainer” to give AM stations first dibs on new FM translator frequencies, and flexibility on locating them.  Attorney and fellow panelist Rebecca Rini admitted that it’s “an AM Band-Aid,” until a longer-term solution; but for now, this issue is “the most important thing” for her AM licensee clients.

“I think it’s too late.”

Downs also weighed-in on the idea of stations partnering with newspapers.  He’s bearish, citing “cultural differences” that hamper working together, in addition to newspapers’ ongoing painful implosion, with ad revenue having fled to Auto Trader, Craig’s List, et al; and readers favoring smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Look here tomorrow for more from the NAB Show.  Meantime, follow my real-time Tweets @HollandCooke

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Holland Cooke (www.HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of radio and the Internet.  You can meet him at Talkers New York 2014 on Friday, June 20, where he will unveil a just-fielded national perceptual research study on Talk Radio.  “Expect surprises,” HC hints.

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Category: Analysis