Last.FM and CBS

CBS paid $280 million to buy the social networking site Last.FM.

Sites like Last.FM and Tim Westergren's founding effort -- Pandora -- represent "an" aspect of the future of radio because fans can in effect program their own music and these sites are social networking sites - very significant with the next generation.

The name Last.FM is a little creepy seeing as how a traditional media company is buying it. Maybe Next.FM would be a better name.

As RAIN Publisher Kurt Hanson told his readers yesterday, "Whereas Pandora operates by creating playlists based on songs' musical characteristics (tone, tempo,&hellip

Can Sony Make HD Radio A Winner?

This does it.

Now consumers are now going to rush out and buy new HD radios.

Sony just announced it is planning to sell a table-top radio. AM/FM/HD, clock with sleep timer and alarm, wireless remote and auxiliary input jack. Store 20 AM and 20 FM stations. Your low-low price: 200 bucks.

Question: when was the last time you spent $200 for a table-top clock radio? What locale will have to freeze over before you pay it now? Can you think of 20 AM and 20 FM stations you'd like to store in its memory? Or any memory? Your memory? Are there 20 AM and FM stations in the entire nation worth storing in memory. Hey,&hellip

RADIO: People Meter Gets The Last Laugh

The radio industry which has fought everything from AM stereo and high definition radio (back when it was really new technology) right up to the Arbitron People Meter ratings system is proving once again why radio has lost it.

The Portable People Meter (PPM), an imperfect but necessary update to the paper diary system in this digital age, is turning out to be -- well, not so bad after all.

PPM is live and working in Philadelphia, the original test market. And while there have been problems such as a station being left out of the totals, the People Meter is reporting lots more radio listening than the diary has ever&hellip

Vanishing Fast: Radio Careers

We have had consolidation in radio for over ten years now and even after a flirtation with virtual voice tracking, the industry is fast becoming a nonstarter for serious careers.

In television, the increasing side effects of running public companies for every penny that can be eeked out of them and the collateral damage to local newsrooms is devastating. Local news, once the profit machine of local television, is not immune from taking a hit.

I am well aware that the radio industry wasn't the poster child for a "normal" career. I've got a lot of radio friends in the business and each one can tell you another indignity&hellip

The iPhone Tipping Point

Apple's much awaited iPhone cellular device will be available to consumers in about one month.

The svengali Steve Jobs has written the script and executed it with the precision of a skilled surgeon. His announcement was long enough ago to give a heads-up to cellular customers who had contracts expiring soon.

Jobs even created the theater behind the introduction of the iPhone. Just go to the Apple web site and see if you can't get excited about it.

Mobile experts are touting this phone as the killer app -- the first intuitive mobile device that integrates everything the next&hellip

HD Radio — It’s The Programming, Stupid!

You've seen me write about my lack of enthusiasm for HD radio (misnamed "High Definition" radio which is neither high definition nor the best radio has to offer).

In the tradition of KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) and the Bill Clinton campaigns election motto "It's The Economy, Stupid", when it comes to HD radio I'd like to add "It's the programming, stupid".

Take WCBS-FM's HD 2 oldies stream in New York. Please.

It is a shell of the former great Joe McCoy oldies station that has been shoved to the Siberian outpost we in radio now call HD radio. You can hear it over the Internet and the fidelity is, of course, as&hellip

Radio’s “Tom Terrific”

The longtime Inside Radio editor Tom Taylor is leaving at the end of the day today to take an executive editor position at

I am proud to say I hired Tom to help us develop the original Inside Radio fax in 1990. It's hard to believe that we had to pioneer our way through thermal fax paper, non-standardized sizes and the hope that we could make a radio publication a daily thing when everyone else was a weekly. All this well before the Internet became available.

Tom and our Inside Radio President Steve Butler (now a programming&hellip

Texting’s Effect on Media

I read recently that text messaging has increased a whopping 95% over the past few years. That is, young people (mainly) are going nuts text messaging friends. This is not just a casual addiction, it's compulsion and it can detract from traditional media's presence in their lives because of one significant and undeniable reason.

Gen Y reluctantly gives up their phones and mobile devices to a charger at night and the rest of the time their phones are with them, on them, turned on and being used. No Walkman could ever make that claim of dominance or loyalty. It's an unfair comparison in a way, but it underscores just how much&hellip

The Shock Jock Is Dead

I think we've finally reached the tipping point on shock jocks who compromise radio's prized and precious right to free speech and disgrace a consolidated industry that has been compromising itself since 1996.

And we may have Dan Mason, CBS' new president, to thank for kick starting the end of our long national nightmare.

Barely on the job in his new position, Mason has spoken with a firm voice that he's not going to tolerate boneheads on-the-air at CBS. And he's going to take it in the shorts for a while by upsetting the fragile billing at CBS stations but he's sending a message loud and clear.

Mason fired "The Dog&hellip

Apple Negotiating The Record Industry’s Future

It always impresses me that Apple CEO Steve Jobs has taken control over the record label moguls.

Jobs knows what the next generation wants. He has the sales to prove it.

Record execs have no idea what the next generation wants and if they do, they have no idea how to give it to them. They are reduced to suing their customers and making demands of radio stations to pay for using music over the airwaves.

Jobs wears jeans and a turtleneck shirt and looks like a geek. The record industry crowd is a fashion statement on the entertainment business. Unfortunately for them, the geek is cleaning their clocks.


Do You Really Want to Defend Free Speech Over Shock Jocks?

I count myself as a staunch proponent of free speech even when it offends and even when it challenges society's tolerance for it.

I don't want the FCC, Congress, religious leaders or school teachers having an unusually influential say as to what can be said, shown or written. The FCC is a flawed group of political appointees. Congress is a flawed group of men and women who answer to a higher power -- special interest groups. Religious leaders are nice people, but they have fallen off their pedestals in the past decade more frequently than ordinary sinners -- sex scandals, power struggles, misguided organizing&hellip

The Suicide Attack By Record Labels

If we didn't already know how self-destructive the record industry can be using their past actions as a guide, you need only consider what they are trying to do right now that will really do them in.

In the bluntest language I can use (forgive me), the record labels are preparing a suicide attack on their good friends, the radio stations of this country. I call it a suicide attack because what they want to do -- if successful -- will not only hurt or maim the radio industry, still critical to their record selling ability, but kill will themselves off as well. Thus, a suicide attack.

Radio stations have for the past 75&hellip

Randy Michaels’ “Surprise Attack”

Randy Michaels, the former Jacor and Clear Channel executive is coming back.

Not just running a bunch of second tier TV stations (from the New York Times Company) but something even bigger. Who believes Michaels wants to run only TV stations when it seems like he used to run the entire world at Clear Channel.

It pains Michaels when I write about him.

Some of you may remember that he launched a holy jihad against me for not playing nice when I owned Inside Radio. And you know how that worked out --- for him.

Clear Channel unceremoniously removed Michaels from his position of power running their radio stations a&hellip

The Few, The Proud, The Mean Media Machines

After some anxious moments the other day, the business world learned that Microsoft and Yahoo have not been able to complete merger talks.

Microsoft needs Yahoo.

The software business is not what it used to be now that the Internet and mobile spaces have made computing non-essential for an increasing number of consumers. Cell phones and mobile devices are essential, computers less so. Microsoft has not exactly had the Midas touch in growing beyond software and, in my opinion, has been late to the Internet race.

Yahoo was a pioneer but it is being bested by Google -- America's latest out of control conglomerate.&hellip

What Would Mel Do?

There is little doubt in my mind that if Mel Karmazin was still running CBS, he would not have caved to the various interests that wanted Don Imus' head after he insulted the Rutgers women's basketball team on his WFAN, New York morning show.

Of course there is no way to know for sure, but I can't imagine Mel letting his revenue rich morning show get away. Putting aside his strong feelings for Don Imus, Karmazin would fight even if he had to withstand the worst possible repercussions for him -- losing advertisers. Mel would in effect tell the advertisers to go to hell and he'd wait until they came back.

Then, he'd raise&hellip


Best Buy is going to carry HD radios in all of its U.S. stores.

Wal-Mart has already agreed to do the same.

Radio Shack was the first major coast-to-coast retailer that sold HD radios and yet the shameless promotion of this useless technology continues with no progress in changing the world of radio.

I think of all the topics I cover the issue of HD radio is the most amazing to me. Surely the proponents know that adopting HD technology and forcing consumers to buy new sets is going down in flames. Terrestrial radio is not even a hot item right now -- on a car radio!


What Would YOU Pay Mark & Randall?

I know chief executives make a lot of money and I'm not a complainer who is going to nit pick executive compensation decisions. These folks are responsible for everything that happens in a company so why shouldn't they be paid well.

However, when I read that Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays made $9.31 million in 2006 and his brother, President & CFO Randall made $9.28 million I had more than a couple of questions.

My first question?

Why does Mark get to make a little more? Did Lowry love him more?

I guess you can just chalk it up to sibling rivalry.

But what's really got me lit is what the hell did Mark and&hellip

NAB To Internet Radio’s Rescue

The National Association of Broadcasters has finally gotten religion.

After months if not years of silence, the lobby group for terrestrial radio announced it is coming to the aid of Internet streamers.

Here's how the NAB told the world yesterday:
"NAB is reviewing details of Rep. Inslee's bill, which would overturn the Copyright Royalty Board's disappointing decision to dramatically raise fees for companies that stream music over the Internet. We will work with Congress to craft a solution that helps ensure the survival of a fledgling audio platform."
Rep. Jay Inslee's bill looks to reverse the recent Copyright&hellip

Radio Rehab: Fixing Spot Loads

Some of my readers have expressed an interest in learning information I have gleaned from my extensive contact with the next generation regarding their attitudes about terrestrial radio.

As many of you know I have been a professor at the University of Southern California for the past few years and intend to return to USC in the Fall for yet another year. I have said many times that my experience with the youth of the next generation has changed my outlook on all media including traditional but not excluding interactive.

Occasionally a reader of this blog will say to me "tell us something positive". Well, I can't promise&hellip