We Don’t Know Jack

When I first told my students about the "Jack" format as it first debuted in LA several years ago, their reactions are worth recalling even today. I say this because since I have been at USC I have come to closely value the rather direct reactions of this generation on things ranging from new mobile media devices to old approaches to radio formats. Nonetheless at the time they were troubled by the "Jack" format motto, "We Play What We Want". One young student told his fellow classmates, "yeah, we play what we want, too -- it's called an iPod". All this time has passed since CBS reinvented the wheel and the "Jack" format one assumes&hellip

Zune — A Turkey

I knew it. My students knew it. How did Microsoft not know it. The new competitor to iPod from the folks at Microsoft -- Zune -- was a turkey even before Thanksgiving. The Wall Street Journal just reported that Zune sales are not meeting expectations ramping up to the holiday season. As we used to say back in South Philly, "who don't know that?" It's clunky, rather ugly, not better than an iPod, not cheaper and not...not...not an iPod. I always used to think when Proctor & Gamble launched a new product with all their market research, how could it not be a home run? They have many home runs, but not always. So the Zune will&hellip

Interactive Media Envy

Traditional media companies are falling all over themselves to do content deals with their new media rivals -- Internet and mobile companies. NBC Universal did a deal to allow AT&T to offer their owned stations a chance to be broadcast on AT&T phones -- welcome to some mighty lucrative markets. Google and Yahoo announce deals on an almost regular basis. And even without alliances, traditional media is rushing to find new ways to offer their content digitally. MTV is developing niche broadband channels. HBO is mulling putting their content on broadband. Newspapers ally themselves with Yahoo and hope that the lure of local content&hellip

How Radio Is Like Satellite Radio

What happens when you dominate a market, offer the majority of your programming to an audience you don't have and then fail to deliver young listeners? You have satellite radio! Wait. Increasingly, you also have terrestrial radio. It's a losing formula in a time of great change that is begging for a remedy. Satellite radio operators have hit the wall as witnessed by unusually slow sales at their traditional busy time of the year (Christmas). They've done an excellent job in finding their market -- the pay subscription market -- but there's not enough consumers willing to subscribe. Satellite programs some excellent channels for&hellip

Tough Times Ahead for TV

There's a new technology coming your way that deserves watching called Switched Broadcast. It's a technology that expands bandwidth and makes delivering hundreds of television channels to the home unnecessary. Technology enables only one channel at a time to be delivered to subscribers and this could change everything. Providers can then free up bandwidth for more content. Consumers could benefit from more on-demand services, faster delivery, more telephone services. This spells the end of television channels as we known them. Going forward under switched broadcast, channels become unnecessary. The question is will broadcasting&hellip

A Clear Channel Christmas

It's very easy during the lull in the Clear Channel sell-off to think everything is going to alright. But it's not alright for the employees of Clear Channel who are being let go or for the ones having to endure the holiday season wondering if they will be the next to be fired. If consolidation means anything, it means doing more for less. And now that Clear Channel's dynasty Mays family has decided to cash out for about $1 billion and take the radio division private there's still lots of housekeeping to do. Like tidying up the bottom line. This should be no problem to the radio industry leader that cut, combined and consolidated&hellip

The Best Way to Kill Texting

Cingular Wireless is trying to bridge the generation gap between parents who don't understand the language of texting and their children. Cingular, the largest cell phone company, will be holding interactive "texting bees" nationwide after the first of the year to teach parents how to send text messages to their children. It's all cloaked in the grand scheme of things to make the texting world a better place for mom, dad and their children. Of course, it's a marketing strategy to sell more cell phones. While the Cingular "texting bees" are not likely to have a major impact on anything, they do point out the fragile nature of today's&hellip

It’s a Retro-Christmas (Again)

In the past few days both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have had articles about the sorry state of the pop music business. The Times Sunday was talking about the baby boomers who shy away from AARP (American Association of Retired People) even though AARP is helping to sell records. How about this? Tony Bennett, the icon he is, has sold the most albums in his entire career for "Duets" (600,500 in the first seven weeks) and Bennett is doing AARP sponsored concerts. Rod Stewart, Elton, John, James Taylor and others are also selling music tied in to their senior status. This is all good unless you're concerned about the&hellip

Van Dyke & Meyer Join Inside Music MediaǗ

Radio veteran Dave Van Dyke, now president of Bridge Ratings and a keen observer of traditional and interactive media and Steve Meyer, a well-respected music industry veteran and publisher of DISC & DAT will both become regular contributers to Inside Music Media


There's a new article in the Baltimore Sun that reports campus newspapers are doing so well that advertisers are sitting up and taking notice. This fascinates me. We've seen the decline of general print newspapers for decades especially among younger readers and here we are in the age of the Internet, mobile phones and iPods and are we to believe that old fashioned printed newspapers are a hit with this same generation? You bet we are. I believe it. While general newspapers have been imitating&hellip

Be Very UNafraid of YouTube

Traditional media seems to fear the next generation and its Internet, mobile devices and social networks. I don't know why. In our fierce competition for audiences and dollars we often forget that media creates more media. There's some recent evidence to make my point, but it won't be the last corroboration. CBS of late has been diving into YouTube content like a true convert. "CSI". Lettterman. "Survivor" to name a few of their shows. MediaPost reports CBS has placed more than 300 clips on YouTube. You'd expect the views to be high, but some never expected ratings to go up. Letterman's audience is up 5%. Even "The Late Late&hellip

Apple Is Up To Something

Their stock is skyrocketing. They somehow seem bigger than Microsoft (even though Microsoft way out distances them in computer software). Analysts say another big holiday season -- another -- of selling iPods is underway. But some experts say that Apple is getting ready to launch an iPhone. CEO Steve Jobs has been mum as usual and anything is possible -- including no iPhone. But think about it. Every time Apple burps consumers get excited. The only thing close to it is the gaming market where a lot of burping is going on right now. Yet few get excited over clunky HD radios that don't have content much different than what you can&hellip

Radio Group That Proved More Is More

I've been mulling an odd thought lately that today's consolidators could never have pioneered the radio industry. It takes me back to the 1960's when a company called Westinghouse that made electrical appliances, light bulbs and other manufactured goods owned radio and television stations. That was allowed then, but they couldn't own too many. Hold that thought. The folks at Westinghouse came up with a zany idea for a format that did all-news 24-hours a day. I was a young guy in Philly at the time where they owned a very poor signal that they wound up calling KYW Newsradio 1060. It was awful. And I just don't say that because I&hellip

Where’s The Music?

When compilation albums are routinely number one, do you have to be a genius to know you're business model is in trouble. Here's your Billboard Top 20 (week ending 11/25/06)

DEBUT AT 1* - NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL MUSIC-VOL.23 (Get that! There were 22 others)
DEBUT AT 3* - KEITH URBAN, Love, Pain, And The Whole Crazy Thing
DEBUT AT 4* - SUGARLAND, Enjoy The Ride
5 - SOUNDTRACK, Hannah Montana
DEBUT AT 6* - JIM JONES, Hustler's P.O.M.E.
7 - BIRDMAN & LIL' WAYNE, Like Father, Like Son

Black Friday Special

Inside Radio reports that Radio Shack has a three-day only $99 special on this HD radio usually low, low priced at $199.99 ($174.99 with rebate). Why do I get the feeling this is not PlayStation 3 (okay, that wasn't fair). Why do I get the feeling this is not an iPod (ooh!). Okay, it's not a Walkman! Listen to the selling points the manufacturer, Accurian, lists. (I'll react in parentheses like an average consumer): Receive HD radio signals that increases the clarity of your FM radio stations to CD-quality sound. (The better to hear Less is More -- that's not average -- the better to hear too many commercials). HD offers expanded&hellip

Beyond Clear Channel

We'll be hearing plenty about the breakup of radio's friendly giant -- I kid -- but I'm now looking to begin focusing a long conversation on the great beyond. Let's not kid ourselves. The 448 smaller markets Clear Channel is selling could go to one or two mini-consolidators -- maybe public companies -- and then I'm not so optimistic. They could and should sell some to minorities, but they should also subsidize these minority owners not just let them die on the vine. If the "lower 448" wind up in the hands of mom and pop operators, entrepreneurs, my graduates at USC, you'll see a rebirth of local, personality-oriented, music and news&hellip

PS3 And Music

When was the last time you remember hearing about riots breaking out to buy a consumer product? How about a music-media related consumer item? PlayStation 3's significance is far more important than a bunch of geeks having to wait on long lines for the privilege of having price gouging performed on them. (And, I am taking into account those "entrepreneurs" or opportunists looking to buy one and then turn around and gouge somebody else). Gaming is the next frontier for the music business. You're not going to see anyone riot over radio ("have to get an HD radio or I'll break the door down"). Maybe it was the high price, but I don't&hellip

Universal Lawsuits

Have you noticed what Universal is up to these days. They've been getting "sue happy" over the lofty and worthwhile issue of copyright infringement. They targeted YouTube first, but then took a stake in the company ending that threat. Now, Universal is beating up on MySpace. They are apparently looking to test the "safe harbor" provision under existing law pertaining to Internet companies. Or are they? Many people -- and I'm certainly one of them -- believe no matter what your argument is on the copyright infringement issue,&hellip

CCU: $94 a share to $37

The holy grail on Wall Street is "shareholder value". How many times has Mel Karmazin said it? How many times has Clear Channel said it. Here's a quote from Clear Channel's own "Investor Q&A" for shareholders issued when yesterday's sale was announced: "The board of directors has continually evaluated ways to maximize value for shareholders. After conducting a thorough and careful review of strategic alternatives, the board concluded that this transaction is fair and in the best interests of its shareholders". Hello? Does anyone think the same stock that was worth $94.94 on January 10, 2000 was worth holding until today when a deal&hellip

Clear Channel’s Cut And Run

After having its way with the radio industry thanks to consolidation, the Mays family (Lowry, Mark and Randall) will be laughing all the way to the bank as Clear Channel decides to be purchased by Lee Partners and Bain Capital for $18.7 billion. Shareholders will get about $37 a share. The Mays family gets about $1 billion and continued employment as the remnant of the company sometimes referred to in the press as "The Evil Empire" goes private. The Mays reinvest some of their profits in the new entity and if you're cynical enough (or Wall Street savvy), they will be around the next time the company sells (and they'll likely profit&hellip

When Media Marries Technology

The decline of traditional media so far as been concentrated in radio (due to consolidation), the record business (due to unwillingness to accept new paradigms) and newspapers (inability to picture a newspaper on something other than newsprint). Television is next. It's happening right now. Their clumsy entry into short-clip video via YouTube and their own sites speaks volumes. You know its bad when an episode of Desperate Housewives ends and an announcer asks you if you want more, then directs you to their web site. TV affiliates can't be happy. Compensation is on its way out. The web is a growing alternative competitor. TiVo&hellip

An Appreciation of Radio People

I never liked media consolidation and I said so over and over again when I published Inside Radio. I remember doing an Inside Radio convention in Scottsdale one year and the usually fun-loving and social event had a pall over it. After all, consolidators were at the time forcing managers, programmers and sales managers to take on more jobs, more responsibility, more stations without a lot more money. I paid the price personally by taking on the evil of consolidation but it all worked out for me in the end. I see everything coming full circle now as the biggest consolidator of all, Clear Channel, is on the eve of selling off its empire&hellip

“Cell Me”, I Mean “SELL Me”

Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been talking publicly a lot lately, but no comment he has made is more significant than Schmidt's prediction that our mobile phones should be free. And he has a plan. Sell advertising -- which happens to be a Google speciality. Schmidt told a group at Stanford recently that mobile phones may never be entirely free even with advertising subsidies citing that newspapers still charge readers and they carry advertising. Nonetheless, the wall-to-wall world of advertising now has another potential frontier. This makes me question why very little is said about the effectiveness of advertising rather than the mere&hellip

Apple Air

On the same day that Microsoft launches its iPod competitor, Zune, Apple announces a deal with six large airlines that will let passengers play video clips, movies and music from their iPods through in flight back seat displays. Apple is also looking to get car manufacturers to offer built-in ports in their vehicles. In the air, over land and no doubt by sea iPod is becoming the standard. Apple did what Microsoft couldn't do and this announcement yesterday rubbed it in. No matter what the fate of the Zune is, it is not likely to catch up to the 70 million (and growing) iPods now in use -- in the near future or perhaps ever. This&hellip

Small is Big

Okay, if Clear Channel can coin the term "Less is More" -- a ridiculous term at that -- I thought I could try this ridiculous one out -- "Small is Big". I'm not talking about commercials here (just cut them to 8-10 units hourly, raise the prices when able -- we knew that all along, didn't we?). I'm talking about a current trend to gather critical mass -- the exponential building of huge audiences for Internet hotties such as MySpace and YouTube. MySpace is far and away the leader in social networks and marketers are licking their chops at the benefits of viral marketing. Big. Really big. YouTube does about 100 million video clip&hellip

Dead Technology Walking

Deader than Microsoft's new iPod competitor Zune this holiday gift buying season will be HD radio. Expensive. It has no rhyme nor reason to anyone who doesn't own or operate a radio station. It's remarkable to me that any sane radio executive can believe that HD radio will give the industry the rebirth it needs to satisfy its prime audience -- Wall Street investors -- I mean, listeners. Now, if someone would invent a radio with pictures that would start a revolution. Wait, someone did. The inventors of cell phones and MP3 devices. So how can radio be so sure HD spells relief? From my perspective its wishful thinking. The&hellip

Apple 2 Microsoft 0

To quote a Sesame Street song -- one of these things is not like the other one. It's not like Microsoft didn't have plenty of time to come at Apple's iPod with a vengeance. And the new Zune is their second attempt. The comments have been very polite so far in expectation that this time Microsoft has outdone Apple CEO Steve Jobs. But the early reviews on the Zune by respected tech writers are anything but gushing. The New York Times David Pogue gave the impression he felt Zune was more revenge of Microsoft than anything else. The Wall Street&hellip

Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts

There's a great article in the Sunday New York Times about whether Google is a friend or foe of media companies. The issue is Google's desire to sell advertising online for radio, newspapers and soon, television. Sounds like easy money and traditional media companies could use some of that these days. Google insists its a friend. I'm not so sure. Traditional media companies have set themselves up for Google's latest play. Newspapers have been dying off for years. Don't blame that one on Gen Y or the Internet. Papers have been trying&hellip

Time Out For The Record Business

I've noted with great interest the record labels' entry into the digital space recently with special interest in having it their way. They want to be in on the tsunami known as social networking (YouTube, MySpace, et al) as well as preserving their digital copyrights. Well, they're both late to the party and fighting a battle they cannot win. The record business is broken because of their deep desire to hold onto the past (Say CD). They see themselves as manufacturers (Hear them say "product", "units"). Their long-time partner in hit-making ain't what they used to be (radio -- growing less influential as a source for new music for&hellip

Microsoft, Universal May Be Playing Into Steve Jobs’ Hands

So Universal finally has the deal it wants in exchange for digital distribution rights. Microsoft has agreed to a deal that will give them a piece of the action on every Zune portable music device it sells. And Microsoft is, according to the New York Times, ready to extend that offer to the other major record labels. Universal has been tough on the DRM issue. As Jeff Leeds points out in his article, "The move also reflects Universal

Top 10 Ways to Make Music Radio Better

Inspired by David Letterman not written by him. Advice to the big radio conglomerates:

#10...Cut the commercial load in half but don't tell anybody (the listeners will notice).
#9 ... Hire djs who are knowledgeable about the music
#8 ... Let your newly-hired "smart jocks" play some of their own music not just the corporate playlist
#7 ... Stop trying to be interactive -- you can't. Entertain in an analog sort of way
#6 ... Take all the stations you own in each city and run them separately. You keep the cash they will surely generate by being truly competitive with each other. The listener gets real&hellip

ClearGoogle — Death of A Salesman

Google could be the next Clear Channel.

It is planning a massive assault on what is presently known as radio sales. If Google succeeds, it could become the next evil empire -- the term some journalist have used to describe some consolidators. Google not only wants to make it possible for anyone to buy radio ads online, it wants to go after radio's big advertisers thus the hiring away of top radio salespeople that is going on right now. Radio groups might be willing to let this mega-giant -- shall we call it ClearGoogle -- sell off unused inventory, but will they let Google turn their stations into a click and bid system open&hellip

The Video Clip Factor

As a guy who has spent considerable career time in radio I am very interested in the boom presently underway in video clips. YouTube does 100 million short videos a day. CNN's various short news clip services stream about 5o million a month. There are cell phones everywhere with screens that are getting ready for more video. The iPod has already been updated to include it. How important will short videos be? And if you're in the print business, is it a deal breaker going forward? What about radio or audio streams -- a thing of the past? I sense the answer is yes and no. One thing I can tell you about the next generation is that&hellip

News Corp Couldn’t Have Invented MySpace

And Google didn't invent YouTube which is why it paid $1.6 billion for that oversight. There is a reason why big, viral music media-related ideas come from people with nothing to lose. That's because they act like they have nothing to lose. I must say I had an engaging conversation at the USC Faculty Club today with a young, talented woman who helped launch MySpace and she's the one who made the observation that News Corp which paid about $600 million to buy it couldn't have invented it. I haven't been able to get all of this out of my mind. Steve Jobs needed a garage to collaborate on building the first Apple computer. He had&hellip

Google’s Ad Empire Expands To Newspapers

Tests will get underway in the next month. Some 50 major newspapers are on board including The New York Times, Gannett papers, The Washington Post and Hearst. Google is simultaneous taking on radio ad sales and is hiring high profile sales people away from terrestrial radio for its new service there. Earlier this year Google started selling ads in several dozen magazines such as Motor Trend and PC World with mixed results so far. Google takes its usual 20% of the ad revenue and traditional media, treading water to show break even growth, is apparently up for it. Television is also in Google's plans. It's hard to know what the&hellip

Glimmer of Hope For Radio’s Future

The NAB is sponsoring a Teen Initiative. Projects and research will be done to determine how to win teens and young adults back to radio. Some of the smaller, well-run groups are probably going to lead the way. The big consolidators need to sign on, too. Radio for decades has coveted its money demo -- 25-54. It's made a cottage industry out of 18-34. It loves women over men but knows how to monetize male listeners once they attract them. But teens -- most radio operators submitting to a lie detector test couldn't attest to their interest or concern for this demo. So, while radio was out consolidating and licking their chops about&hellip

I Give YouTube 2 Years UNLESS…

Whereas the Internet was a big factor in the last presidential election, YouTube is an even bigger factor in the mid-term election Tuesday. YouTube -- the homemade video clip phenomenon -- has become the repository for every politican's slip up, attack ad, Jon Stewart ha ha and more this political season. But I'm thinking that this election happened to collide with the growing popularity of YouTube. What about in the future? YouTube or future clones will always find a place for politics. It's a dream come true -- wide distribution video -- for no money. The real question is how long will the amatuer video market drive the growth of&hellip


Contributed by Bob Green
You have articulated beautifully the results of deregulation. Those of us who had the opportunity to be involved with radio in the 50s-70s can only reflect on our good fortune and reminisce about what the value of connection meant: connection to a community, connection to a listener and the synergistic connection of all the elements of programming over the public airwaves that made radio one

Googleberry And The Mobile Future

Google has found a way to make mobile phones more like a Blackberry so customers can receive email on their cell phones and up to five times faster. YouTube is expected to have a mobile service within the next year. Cingular is joining the mobile companies that make it possible to download music on the fly and there are those who think Apple will indeed turn an iPod into an iPhone sooner or later. Boston University is partnering with Amp'd Mobile to create a class where students produce episodic (short) videos which Amp'd (backed by Qualcomm and Viacom) then distribute. The videos are shot only with cell phone cameras in spite of the&hellip

Facebook — A Bad Investment

One of the many benefits I have teaching at USC is to pick up on trends among the next generation even as they begin to coalesce. I mentoned recently the decline in stature of the student social network Facebook. As hot as it was with college students, it's cooling off now. So much so that founder Mark Zuckerberg (22) who dropped out of school to work it full time may regret not taking an offer in excess of the $1 billion range. Zuckerberg reportedly wanted $2 billion. (Consult Mark Cuban about when to sell). Viacom and Yahoo! were reportedly interested at the right price. A new BusinessWeek article reports "declining Facebook&hellip

Trick or Treat for Radio

I thought Halloween was over. Not for radio. November 10th is supposedly the date Clear Channel should receive the first bids in its breakup attempt. News accounts indicate that Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) may have had a head start on all of this several months ago. Some later bidders may be at a disadvantage because -- short of a deadline extension -- they will only have a few weeks to get their bids together. At the heart of Clear Channel's move is how a buyout group would deal with (or deal away) radio properties here and abroad, TV stations and outdoor businesses in and out of the U.S. So what could be in the bag of goodies?&hellip

Free Music

I have believed for several years now that music will eventually be free or cost next to nothing. I'm not speaking about piracy here, but the undeniable reality of the Internet that is making peer to peer file sharing different than stealing a CD in the minds of young people . It's hard for the old school to accept that record labels will be giving music away when they are used to selling it (and re-selling it to the same customers as they did when the CD replaced vinyl). You kind of understand why they don't want to give that money model up. But the movement is under way now to monetize the downloading of music through advertising.&hellip

“Hostage” Marketing

We're way beyond the tipping point. There is already too much advertising. Not too much effective advertising just too many ads everywhere. What traditional media didn't throw out at their readers, viewers and listeners new media is now bombarding them with. It's the new computer wallpaper called online advertising. MySpace will be getting more ads to make Rupert Murdoch's $600 million investment pay off. Google has to get a return on its $1.6 billion purchase of YouTube -- critical mass in advertising is their end game. As advertisers redirect their budgets into new media, there are simply too many ways to advertise in too many&hellip

For Radio, It’s Cut And Ruin

The layoffs and staff dismissals continue proving that even though consolidation's leader, Clear Channel, couldn't make it work, lesser consolidators continue the failed practice known as downsizing. Just in one day news that CBS -- the failed consolidator-in-waiting laid off the entire staff at WAQZ, Cincinnati. CBS is supposedly doing a little nip-tuck of its own on staffs elsewhere (Inside Radio rumors Memphis). LMAs are all over the headlines and radio people know what LMAs bring -- layoffs. When Citadel takes over the ABC stations, want to bet they don't increase hiring by 20%? Radio doesn't need fewer people to run their&hellip

Vulture Capitalists Are Circling

There are a lot of fine people in radio who are watching the collapse of the Clear Channel empire as long overdue. Within a month, we may know the fate of the empire which includes 1,150 radio stations. The end won't be pretty -- unless you are a Mays family member. They'll be just fine. Maybe come away with a private radio company -- a spin off. Perhaps the sale of the outdoor division. In any case the vultures are circling the carcass as real vultures do when they spot something dying. Who would have thought? Well, I did and I said so when I owned Inside Radio. Took a lot of criticism for my position that deregulation and the&hellip

Digital Rights Management a Deal Breaker for MySpace Users

When is a huge viral social network not cool (and therefore in danger of getting a really bad virus -- the kind that makes users sick and leave)? How about when a start-up company is sold to a media giant for hundreds of millions of dollars. The suits take over. Monetize becomes the operable goal. Could that be the case with MySpace which just announced that audio files now submitted by members are now being screened against 10 million tracks loaded in Gracenote's data bank? Universal artists will be excluded from the site. The other labels are not far behind as they are working on a similar deal with MySpace. Universal had been&hellip