Thoughts for the New Year | TALKERS magazine - talk media trade : TALKERS magazine

Thoughts for the New Year

| January 5, 2015

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media


sabowriterNEW YORK — The biggest trends and their impact that Sabo Media has been following in this challenging year of disruption:

1) The vital initiative of NextRadio activating the FM chip in your smartphone.  Jeff Smulyan’s endless effort is paying off.  There are two important lessons.  Radio can infiltrate new technological platforms effectively.  Secondly, a solo operator determined to make positive change, can!

2) Major advertisers, such as Coke, moving their money from prime time network TV shows such as “American Idol” to online video.  Sabo Media was the first company, in 2007, to identify online video stars and monetize their work. Our HITVIEWS division persuaded Pepsi, Timberland, US Government, TiVo, Sony, Panasonic and many others to put their products inside user-generated video content.  Not worthless pre-rolls or pop-ups but placement inside web-star shows.  For radio this means that radio divisions within TV companies are becoming more important to total corporate financial health.

3) The explosion, led by CBS to bring successful sports programming to the FM Band.  CBS EVP Chris Olivero can sign his name to that.

4) New, fresh opportunities to rebuild AM radio with no-rules, compelling content.  Think free-form radio of the 1970s.  Rigorous experimenting is mandated when there is nothing to lose.  This is the time to try everything.  Now.

5) Online audio platforms build out their original content offerings following the success of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and others.   The new audio platforms are just that — platforms run by computer scientists who are smarter than us but they don’t know how to make a show.  Radio can amortize its original programming costs by partnering with online audio companies.

6) EPISODIC radio. Until now, tenure has been the measure of success in radio.  If a format or host doesn’t last for decades well, darn it, it’s a failure.  If it can’t be duplicated city after city, well it’s a failure.  What a sad mentality. If programming is a success for three months within one 50 mile circle—IT’S A SUCCESS.  2015 will relaunch mini-series for radio. Limited edition formats and pop up stations designed to match advertiser expectations and needs. The PPM makes new forms of programming possible and essential.

7) Single sponsor radio stations.  Sabo Media studies show that single sponsor stations are already popular in parts of  Europe, single advertisers, such as banks, will be the sole sponsor of entire radio stations or day parts.  Single sponsor radio stations may be the key to turning around long orphaned AM signals.


Walter Sabo is CEO of New York City-based media consultation firm Sabo Media. He can be phoned at 347-380-1581 or emailed at

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Category: Opinions