NAB Show: Sound Bites from Sin City | TALKERS magazine : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”

NAB Show: Sound Bites from Sin City

| April 8, 2014

NAB Show convention coverage by consultant Holland Cooke


cookewriterLAS VEGAS — 94,000-plus attendees and 1,700 reporters have come here from 159 countries, to peruse the wares of 1,550 exhibitors in a 35-football-field size exhibit hall.

The April NAB Show isn’t a radio convention, and the recurring theme radio people hear here is that stations can’t only be “in the radio business” anymore.  Although NAB’s mission remains advocating for its member licensees, there are lots of people here who don’t work at stations.  Conference themes such as “Where Content Comes to Life” and “Channel Opportunity” focus convention-goers on the reality that transmitter delivery is now merely part of broadcasters’ repertoire.  And that the credibility and habitual use transmitters have earned is a big advantage competing with new-tech interlopers for audience and advertiser attention.

“There is no substitute for broadcasters’ dedication to localism.”

In his “State of the Industry Address,” National Association of Broadcasters president & CEO Gordon Smith touched a nerve.  Referencing Hurricane Sandy among other recent examples, Smith urged that “we are here to be the public’s eyes and ears…to lead them out of darkness during times of crisis…to share profound moments…and to connect to our family, friends, and neighbors.”

Good News/Bad News: We read the bad news daily, as corporate cutbacks continue, disabling many from staffing what Smith called “men and women uniquely tied to the people they serve” in local communities.  The good news is that stations which remain vital and aggressive will become more conspicuous by comparison.

“Nowadays, journalists are more important than ever because we can put information in context.  We can tell what’s true and what’s false.”

With so many people now crowdsourcing their news via Twitter, this was an important reminder, from “The Hispanic Walter Cronkite,” Univision’s Jorge Ramos, the first Latino to win the NAB Distinguished Service Award.  His acceptance, delivered in English and Spanish, noted that Univision is now “the number one network” in the USA, because “a demographic revolution is underway.  The country is changing.”  He asked “President Obama: Stop deporting us.”

“It’s a great time to be a Latino journalist,” he declared.  Ethnicity aside, Ramos urged that “The most important role for journalists is to question those in power.  We have to make them uncomfortable.”  And he himself feels uncomfortable when the media and the powerful get too chummy.

“I have now lived long enough to hear that question at the NAB convention.”

Texas station manager Ben Downs, a panelist in the “Radio Renaissance” session, when an attendee asked about downsbenaccepting advertising for marijuana in states where it’s been legalized.  “This conversation is making me hungry,” he deadpanned.  But seriously, fellow panelist attorney Rebecca Rini advised stations against taking those ads…for now.

Much of my Monday schedule was sales-related sessions, but DON’T STOP READING if you’re on-air talent, because – chant it with me – “if you’re in radio, you’re in sales.”  Times being as they are, it’s naïve for on-air people NOT to be involved in sales.

“Radio is the original social and interactive medium.”

In RAB’s “Lunch-N-Learn” session, Radio Advertising Bureau CEO Erica Farber cited radio sales dilemmas:

  • “We’re afraid to ask for The Big Ask;”
  • rep turnover;
  • “We keep selling to the same advertisers.” 

“People spend more time, each day, with radio than with EIGHT other media COMBINED.”

NOT a misprint!  Those other 8 are:

  • newspaper
  • magazine
  • books
  • satellite radio
  • mobile internet
  • music streaming service
  • iPod/MP3
  • CD player 

That handsome graphic  is merely one page of a free download you should devour.  Hit and click “Why Radio slidedeck.”  You’ll get a PowerPoint which the Radio Advertising Bureau invites stations – members and non-members alike – to download, add station logos, and sell-sell-sell.

In that same session…

“Local advertising is increasing but only online.”

That digital revenue your corporate lords are barking for isn’t “the future,” it’s “now,” as advertisers are moving money from legacy media like radio to the Internet.  In many cases, they’re doing so haphazardly, because online and mobile are the shiny object now.  BIA Kelsey’s Tom Buono recommends that a station position itself as “a trusted advisor,” hand-holding local retailers, by helping them craft their message, and express it on-air and online.

With mobile so hot now, he notes that “consumers are making more appointments online for auto, beauty and healthcare services.”  So when you convey these advertisers’ messages, don’t just do so on-air.  And online shouldn’t just be on computers; and the way you expose those advertisers on phones should enable listeners to click-to-schedule.  Worth brainstorming.

“A good sales person with a whole ton-O-talent can sell anything to anybody.”

Cox Media Group Orlando VP/GM Susan Larkin, moderating the RAB-at-NAB session “Concentrating on Core Radio Revenues.”  In just a couple days here, at least a half dozen station owners I’ve spoken with here told me that — if they could find ‘em — they sure would immediately hire two, three, or four more reps.

“There’s nothing worse than being a sales rep, and coming into work, and being told ‘It’s digital sales week.’”

Radio One Philadelphia VP/GM Shawneen Thompson, on that same panel, warning against interrupting and vexing sellers with tactical blitzes.

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


Holland Cooke ( 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.

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Category: Analysis