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2019 NAB Show: Sound Bites from Sin City

| April 9, 2019

By Holland Cooke


LAS VEGAS — 100,000+ of us from some 160 countries are swarming the mammoth Convention Center.  Clients I’m talking to here are upbeat.  If you’re in sessions I’m attending, I’m That Guy, in the back, typing feverishly.  Here’s what I’m hearing:

National Association of Broadcasters President & CEO Gordon Smith, opening the convention:

  • “When people can access virtually anything from virtually anywhere from millions of sources of information, broadcasters’ role in every community has become even more critical as people search for a trusted and reliable news source.”
  • “We may be on the cusp of a new era of manufacturing that should and could include broadcast reception in [wireless phone] devices.  But to date, manufacturers, Apple being one, refuse to enable broadcast chips in their devices.  And it begs the question…why?”
  • And Smith assured music stations that NAB remains committed to “preventing a performance tax that would cripple local radio stations.” And he called for “fair streaming rates.”

Accepting NAB’s Spirit of Broadcasting Award to a standing ovation, longtime trade scribe, recently retired, Tom Taylor asked “Does anyone here really believe that journalists are the enemy of the people?”  Saying, “I worry about a lack of confidence in our own business,” he urged that we “plan well, try new things.”

Previous recipients of NAB’s Distinguished Service Award include Edward R. Murrow, Ronald Reagan, Michael J. Fox, and Mary Tyler Moore.  This year’s honoree is Alan Alda:

  • “Like half the population of the world, I’ve started a podcast,” he grinned. It’s called “Clear + Vivid.”  Even at 83, “just being in the studio excites me” he confessed.
  • Interviewed by Variety business reporter Cynthia Littleton, Alda addressed NAB Show’s “storytelling” theme, saying “storytelling synchs us up.” Recalling the record TV audience for the M*A*S*H finale episode, he said “there’s something missing” now that we watch alone on connected devices, rather than sharing – and discussing – media content.
  • Describing his technique, he said “the person communicating has to listen better than the person being communicated to.” As an actor he doesn’t “read lines.”  He responds to the other actor.  And whether it’s acting or hosting or interviewing, “I don’t think I’m really listening unless I’m willing to be changed by you.”

There’s lots here about the connected car, where AM/FM radio has lots of competition in new-tech dashboards.  But Katz Media Group Chief Marketing Officer Stacey Lynn Schulman reckons that “the brands that are well known in the car are your brands, the call letters are your call letters and the channel position is your channel position.  As long as you invest in that, that will be what the consumer asks for when they sit in the driver’s seat.”

FCC Commissioners:

  • Geoffrey Starks, alluding to the Sinclair orders-from-headquarters controversy a while back: “I am NOT a fan of large corporations that are writing the local news.”
  • Brendan Carr: “Adding FM translators has helped, as a stopgap measure.”
  • Michael O’Rielly: “It’s no longer AM radio fighting AM radio and FM radio fighting FM radio.”

 From the session “Building Brand with Social Media:”

  • “People pay attention to video and skim or multitask written content and podcasts.”
  • Sunday evening is a good time for live streaming video. Avoid Monday mornings and Friday afternoons.
  • Instagram’s pay-for-play “Recommended for You” feature produces results.
  • “User-generated content is a fantastic, and cheap, way of getting your customers to market for you!” Example: a Las Vegas restaurant has a taller-than-you Bloody Mary sculpture out front, and EVERYBODY stops for a selfie.

ICYMI, here’s my Monday NAB Show report:

Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) 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 Talkers.com, and follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Analysis