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Monday Memo: 2019 NAB Show

| April 8, 2019

By Holland Cooke


LAS VEGAS  – Huge banners atop the Convention Center proclaim “Every story starts here,” and reiterate the theme of the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual convention these past several Aprils: “Where content comes to life.”

As opposed to “where content feeds transmitters.”  While the NAB’s mission remains lobbying on behalf of FCC licensees, its unmistakable message to attendees is – as NPR VP/distribution Michael Beach put it — “be offering your content anywhere and everywhere you can do it.”

“Create faster.  Produce anywhere.  Deliver everywhere.”

That’s the mantra of convention sponsor Amazon Web Services, whose giant banner was hung side-by-side with “Modernizing the media experience: Google.”  Although Beach smiled when he called radio “the cockroach of media, you can’t stomp us out,” his point wasn’t lost in a packed room (on a Sunday morning in Las Vegas no less).

In this session – “The Next Generation of Radio: The Value Proposition of Radio in a Connected World” – we heard how hybrid dashboard radios will soon follow the station’s on-air signal while within the pattern, then switch to the station stream if you drive out of the footprint.  Until then it’s up to us to replicate content on the various platforms listeners are using (and advertisers are buying).

“We believe that radio is having a next generation moment.”

Kicking off the session, Michael McEwen, director-general, North American Broadcasters Association, offered a meaty white paper:

Sound bites from fellow panelists:

NAB executive VP and longtime station owner Steve Newberry:

  • “Music is becoming a commodity. If radio stations continue to make that their lead, they will have problems.  What your personalities do to connect with the local community” will be the key for music stations.  “What can you do to add value [to your playlist]?”
  • And for talkers: “How can you bring the national story to local relevance?”
  • Radio’s inevitable migration to digital is “a cost anxiety” but “we have to think like consumers. They want what they want where they want it.” Just feeding transmitters is “not a long-term strategy.”

Seconding that, Radio Advertising Bureau senior VP/digital services Dave Casper reckons that “what has made radio resilient is the local connections we make to our markets.”

“Broadcasting has to invest to grow.”

Reflecting on his experience in Europe, Radioplayer Worldwide general manager Lawrence Galkoff said radio’s digital transition there “wasn’t the end of the world.”  He said that listeners – even older ones – followed their favorite talent to new receivers.  Though owners cringe at the expense, he called going-digital “an opportunity for broadcasters to grow.”

As for stations’ most important investment, its HR, Galkoff reckons that, to disseminate content all the places it has to go, “people have to be more productive, to have more skills.”  And as stations are now prioritizing podcasts, we’re hearing how, as Jacobs Media’s Fred Jacobs observed, broadcasters aren’t necessarily the best podcasters.  He and Michael Harrison and I discussed podcasting recently on my TV show, and you can see the video on my home page at

Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “Holland Cooke: Greatest Hits” from Talkers Books.  Click the ad banner in the right-hand column on this page.  And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America.  Read HC’s Monday Memo each week at, and follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice