Radio Evangelist

Thoughts of a Evangelist for Radio in all its forms

Archive for January, 2009

Ibiquity’s Struble Discusses Short and Long-term Issues Facing Radio

Posted by Steve on January 26, 2009

Bob Struble, president and CEO of Ibiquity Digital Corporation, has published a column reviewing his take on the recent Consumer Electronics Show. Ibiquity is the owner of the intellectual property for HD Radio IBOC technology. They license the IBOC to broadcasters, technology suppliers, and consumer electronics companies who make the radios and other devices that utilize the technology.

In his column on the Ibiquity website, Mr. Struble points out that there are a growing number of consumer electronics products that will compete directly with traditional radio (which Struble refers to as AM/FM). He also addresses the current economic challenges facing AM/FM, saying:

In my view, AM/FM is having such business difficulty now because it is suffering from both cyclical and secular issues. The shorter term cyclical issues – the current broad recession and the bad state of some radio company balance sheets – will get better over time. The long term secular issues – the intense new competition from different sources of mobile information and entertainment and the myriad new choices that consumers and advertisers have – are not going away.

His point is that the recession presents one set of problems and the introduction of new competition to radio presents another set of problems. He says that HD Radio is not a “silver bullet,” but simply an element in a more comprehensive strategy.

Indeed, this is true. What Mr. Struble calls “AM/FM” today may well be unrecognizable in just a few short years; indeed, it will be an amalgam of traditional analog radio, digital broadcast radio, IP-delivered radio, and web presence. For some broadcasters, these elements will be intertwined to present something that could be considered to be a completely different medium. Others will stick with one or two of these elements because that is how they can best service their audience.

Posted in HD Radio, Radio | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Deloitte Predicts 2009 to be strong year for WiFi Radio

Posted by Steve on January 24, 2009

Deloitte Canada released some predictions for the media industry in Canada this week. One prediction of interest is “the dawn of WiFi Radio.” Here’s a quote from the analysis:

But in 2009, the availability of reasonably priced standalone Internet radio devices, 10,000 available stations, pervasive WiFi and location-aware technology will push consumers and advertisers alike to turn the dial to the Internet.

No doubt that they are on the right track… but it’s not just WiFi… it’s all the other new wireless IP technologies that will drive this as well. Certainly, smartphone (iPhone, G1, Blackberry and others) streaming applications using 3G networks, WiMax, and hybrid technologies like miRoamer and Blaupunkt’s new aftermarket streaming enabled car radio will be at the crest of the wave.

Deloitte also makes the point that the location-awareness of these “receivers” will enable geographically targeted advertising. It’s not just location awareness, though – these applications will also know who you are, so they can target ads even more accurately. Perhaps even personally.

It remains to be seen whether there will be enough funding available to drive this change in 2009.

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No Free Lunch

Posted by Steve on January 23, 2009

lochober.jpg

An article on Boston.com, the Boston Globe’s web presence, today discusses the abandonment of lunch service hours at Locke-Ober, a venerable institution in downtown Boston.

As you scan the article, look for what’s missing as associated content.

Figure it out? No? Then, you need some remedial work in marketing 101.

What is missing is ads for lunch options around the neighborhood of Locke-Ober! Now, Boston.com is one of the original newspaper-owned websites and they do a tremendous job with their content. But – if the Globe is going to survive, they need some creative advertising sales efforts.

You can be assured that if you were reading this article on a Google-run site, you would see three our four ads with links to local restaurants.

So – how does this connect to radio? Well, imagine if you had the ability to be airing a local news story on your station about this subject and an ad (with a link that the user could type into their iPhone) appeared on the dial of the radio for a substitute restaurant. This ad simultaneously runs in the audio player for your internet stream, where it’s clickable. Plus, a link goes out to Twitter.

Impossible, you say? Not so – it’s very do-able today, with technology from companies like Broadcast Electronics and their “The Radio Experience” product line. They call it “Messagecasting” and it can be up and running in a radio station in just a few days.

This is the kind of thinking that all media outlets will need to embrace. Think synergy between your content (whether news stories, music, whatever), your listeners and advertisers. Think of ways to make the advertising accountable. Think of ways to not insult your audience with poor execution.

It is clear that the platform we will see emerge is a hybrid of “broadcast,” web-based (I really want to say IP-delivered) and tangible media (as an example, scaled down newspapers). Local media entities will become a synergy of these parts. Each entity will have its own personality (“stationality”) focused on it’s rather narrowly targeted market. Because of the interaction between the components of the platform, advertising results will become more accountable. The successful local media entities will not be focused on just one or two media types (i.e., written word and video or video and audio) but will cover all media types equally well. Why? Because each one has its advantage for certain users in certain situations.

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Want to start your own radio station? For free??

Posted by Steve on January 22, 2009

Sounds like a come-on from an email spammer, right? But – it’s true. Radio automation, streaming and ad-serving provider Spacial Audio is offering up 50 “radio stations” to radio folks who have been “down-sized” sometime during the past 6 months. They call it the “Radio Bailout.” Here’s the deal:

1. Every Tuesday between February 3rd and April 7th, five people will be randomly chosen to receive their “radio stations.” There will be fifty winners total. The Radio Bailout will end with the final drawing on Tuesday, April 7.
2. Each week’s five Bailout recipients will be given an opportunity to build their own internet radio station through the following Spacial Audio software and service:
a) One (1) SAM Broadcaster v4 – (valued at $279.00)
b) One (1) StreamAds Ad Delivery Platform – (valued at $99/month)
c) Free use of one stream from SpacialNet.com, with the ability to serve up to 500 concurrent listeners at 128 kb/s – (valued at $1,150/month)
3. Just go to Spacial Audio’s Radio Bailout web page for complete details

And – Spacial Audio will host your stream for up to 5 years!

500 concurrent listeners at 128kbs is a pretty decent sized audience with a quality stream; I wonder if they’ll support 1000 at 64kbs?

They are even pitching this to salespeople – after all, a salesperson and some talent could hook up and build their business together.

I’ve gotta hand it to these folks – this is a terrific idea that will not cost a lot to implement but will both help Spacial get a lot of attention and help 50 radio folks become entrepreneurs. And – internet radio station owners.

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The Audacity of Hopes

Posted by Steve on January 22, 2009

The well-written and to-the-point article by Jim Hopes, CEO of the Center for Sales Strategies, on the future of traditional media selling provides a cogent analysis and an audacious (in the good way) solution to a seemingly intractable problem in broadcast media sales. Here are a few lines from the article that shifted my thinking:

The first (and biggest) problem with broadcast sales departments is how they’re organized—much more as wholesale businesses than as retail businesses. Think about it:

A wholesale business is one that:
• Sells large quantities of its products to a short list of resellers.
• Deals with third-parties, with proxies and agents, not with the end-user of the product.
• Negotiates price and terms with professional specialist buyers, often defaulting to commodity
pricing levels.
• Sells about the same thing to every customer—a schedule.
• When broadcasters deal with transactional media buyers—national, regional, or local—they are
practicing the media equivalent of wholesale selling.

A retail business, by contrast:
• Sells smaller quantities to a broad range of solution-seeking end-users.
• Learns the end-user’s needs and problems and takes responsibility for finding or developing
solutions.
• Solutions are tailored. No two look alike.
• Establishes consistent pricing for all customers, negotiating only on selected high-ticket items.
• When broadcasters deal directly with the end-user advertiser—whether there’s an agencyinvolved or not—chances are their entire approach is more like retail selling.

My experience both as a broadcast salesperson and as a provider of services to broadcast sales departments has told me this – but I hadn’t put the concept into such a compelling argument.

Jim does.

Jim goes on to discuss solutions to the dichotomy of having a wholesale business with a retail customer base – I recommend that you read it carefully. You can find it here.

My contribution to this discussion is that – in many cases – this dichotomy exists not only in sales departments at radio stations, but also in the minds of salespeople. There are thousands of radio salespeople out there that know in their gut that the local media sales business is truly a retail business, yet they are forced by culture and compensation plans into selling like a wholesaler or they try to sell like a retailer to wholesale customers. These are the salespeople that you want on your team. They are probably the ones that are most likely to have the “right stuff” to succeed in this environment. And – based on my reports from the trade press, the people who remain at Clear Channel are the strong “wholesalers.” The “retailers” are on the street.

Hire one or two and you’ll get an immediate return on investment.

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