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NAB Show: ‘Unleashed’

| April 19, 2016

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant


cookewriterLAS VEGAS — Strictly speaking, the National Association of Broadcasters’ mission is to represent the interests of AM/FM/TV licensees before regulators.  But transmitter distribution is just part of what’s on the agenda here this week, at a convention with the mantra “Unleashed” and conference subtitles “Content is King: Storytelling Across Platforms” and “Expand Your Vision.”

Walking-the-walk, NAB is live-streaming video “of select conference sessions as well as interviews with leading industry experts and vendors,” at

“Broadcasting is still the only way into every home in the USA.”

Ben Sherwood, president, Disney/ABC Television Group, keynoting the NAB Show Opening Session.

That said, NAB CEO & president Gordon Smith emphasized that “radio’s future also lies in being available on every device” as he applauded telcos that are activating sleeper chips.   “AT&T announced it will unlock FM radio in all of their future Android smartphones.  T-Mobile soon followed with a commitment to activate FM tuners.  These major carriers will join Sprint in providing more than two-thirds of U.S. mobile phone users with access to a free entertainment and emergency information.  We hope Verizon and others will join them soon.”

“No other media industry is as dedicated to supporting our local communities – not Google, not Apple, not Pandora, not cable or satellite.”

Smith proclaimed, “We don’t send a bill to our communities for all the services we provide.”

Acknowledging the crowded new dashboard, Smith urged that “we will continue to retain our rightful place in the automobile,” and “we’ll also ensure that Detroit knows it.  In the end, the customer is king and our listeners will decide what they want and what is on the dash.”

“Culture is the basis of everything we do.”

Neuhoff Media CEO Beth Neuhoff joined Townsquare EVP  Erik Hellum and Connoisseur CEO Jeff Warshaw at a packed RAB@NAB session “Radio’s Lunch & Learn: Creating Sustainable Performance.”

Neuhoff Media is my client, and as an insider, I’ve witnessed how this supportive corporate culture is more than a nuance.  Beth believes that “everyone has a creative person inside them that they’ve stifled;” so her company conducts team-building events and competitions to draw-out – and credit – team members.  Ditto Connoisseur, where Jeff Warshaw bestows “positive reinforcement for coming up with new ideas to solve old problems.”

Help Wanted, Constantly

Finding those staffers in the first place is an issue, particularly in smaller markets where these executives operate.  Townsquare’s Hellum told us “We’ve hired some people [spotted on] YouTube.”

Fellow panelists agreed that radio’s minor leagues are inevitably the farm team for the majors; and that nurturing entry level talent, while you have them, is a win-win.  “We want to help you get your start,” Neuhoff offers newbies.  Each year, her company does Radio Camp, which trains budding announcers to do play-by-play. 

“The $2,000 to $3,000-a-month draw is not really winning the day any more.”

Connoisseur’s Warshaw reckons that, when it comes to sales, business-as-usual isn’t much of a business.  “Over the last 10 years, the value of our towers hasn’t appreciated.”  Digital is the growth opportunity, so “we need to continue to sharpen the saw,” understanding new tools and putting them to work for retailers.  “Be the expert for your clients,” Hellum urged.

Beth Neuhoff recalled that, earlier in her career, “I represented big market stations.”  So taking the reigns of her company’s small-market portfolio was an eye-opener: “These are the most innovative people I’ve ever met.  They have to be.”  This echoes what Hubbard Radio CEO Ginny Morris told Sunday’s RAIN Summit West (ICYMI, my notes are here.)

“At this point, if you are still in the radio business, you like the radio business.”

Pure Warshaw; and fellow panelists concurred.  Erik Hellum recalled Sean Connery’s character in “The Untouchables:” “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.  [For broadcasters] it’s a gun fight now!”

Echoing Gordon Smith’s prescription, Beth Neuhoff says “Give them what they want, where they want it.  Don’t care which device.  They came to Neuhoff Media for it.” 

Consensus among panelists also echoed Ginny Morris’ “try things” ethos.  Example: “Rather than ‘station promotions,’” the Neuhoff stations “create events that the stations promote.”

Big Ideas from Small Markets

For years, the Radio Advertising Bureau has preached that “If you’re in radio, you’re in sales.”  And now more than ever, on-air talent survivors are those who help bring in the bucks.  So I always look forward to the Small Market Idea Exchange session, and this year’s didn’t disappoint.

My three faves:

“The 10-Day Letter” goes to “the high-value prospect you can’t reach, when all else has failed.”  The station sends 10 separate letters, in 10 days, from various station staffers.  The rep writes letter #1.  Subsequent letters come from the GM, DJs/hosts who’ll deliver the pitch, the business office, THE CHIEF ENGINEER…everyone who pitches-in to tell the advertiser’s story.  The clear message is that an entire team is invested in the advertiser’s success.  The attendee outlining the idea said “usually we don’t even get all 10 letters out” before they get the meeting.

Personal One-Sheet: In addition to typical station sales kit ingredients (coverage map, ratings highlights, client testimonials), the presenting rep should include a page to flesh-out who they are.  It’s a-resume-that-doesn’t-look-like-a-resume: professional photo, mission statement, education, certifications, civic activities, things that are important to you, and “lots of white space.”

Connoisseur – which owns stations all around Connecticut – airs a “Keep It In Connecticut”: campaign, with cheery advertiser voices in a handsomely produced jingle donut, thanking listeners for shopping locally.

Tomorrow here: More from NAB2016.


Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet.  Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke; and meet HC at Talkers2016.

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Category: Analysis