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NAB Show: Cast Broader

| April 25, 2017

By Holland Cooke
Media Consultant


LAS VEGAS — Because it’s not just a radio show – not even just a broadcasting conference — I’m impressed to see so many radio people here.  They got (or wrote) the memo that just-spots-N-dots isn’t a business any more.

The very first words of Monday morning’s opening session underlined the necessity that broadcasters evolve, when CBS Sunday Morning host Jane Pauley quipped “I come from the 20th Century, when ‘multimedia’ meant 3 networks.”

“The story of broadcasting is one rooted in innovation, inspiration and imagination.”

After tossing to a greeting from astronaut Peggy Whitson aboard the International Space Station, National Association of Broadcasters President & CEO Gordon Smith quoted comedian Steven Wright: “Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.”

Smith reckons that “changes can seem both unsettling and exciting,” as he referenced Facebook Live and YouTube Live and “Over The Top TV” and streaming.  He urges that broadcasters embrace “new technologies bringing radio to every device,” because “there are some things technology will never change: Listeners and viewers will always want that local connection that broadcasters provide.”

“We hope our friends at Apple are listening.”

Virtually all smartphones are manufactured with hardware capable of receiving free FM radio signals, but Smith notes that “not all phones have this feature activated, either by choice of the phone’s manufacturer or the wireless carrier.”

Applauding AT&T, Sprint, T Mobile, and Verizon for unlocking FM capability in their Android phones, “NAB is also urging Apple to provide its customers with this feature, but they have not done so yet.”  Extreme weather and other natural disasters have demonstrated the limitations of the wireless network; so by activating those iPhone sleeper FM chips, “if all else fails, you can still get information from broadcasters during times of emergency.”

About that “connected car…”

Although research demonstrates that radio remains “the dominant choice still” in-car, the plethora of media options can now make AM/FM hard to find.  Smith vows that, working with auto makers, “we are ensuring radio continues to evolve to retain its rightful place in the automotive dashboard of the future.”

At today’s Radio Luncheon, we’ll hear about that from a top Ford executive, so check back here tomorrow for my notes.

Also today:

  • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaks. Several NAB Shows ago, he appeared as a convention panelist, to launch the AM Revitalization effort he continues to champion; and Pai vows to deep-six what he regards as arcane regulations and requirements stations find bothersome.
  • I’m looking forward to the session “Record High Quality Audio and Video with Smart Phones;” and the always-fruitful “Small Market Idea Exchange.”
  • And at NAB’s Radio Luncheon, Delilah will be inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and this year’s Crystal Radio Award winners will be announced.

Look for my notes here tomorrow, and follow my real-time Tweets from fabulous Las Vegas @HollandCooke.

Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet, and he covers industry conferences for TALKERS.  Meet HC at Talkers 2017: A New Era in New York City on June 2.

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Category: Analysis