Radio’s Three Blind Mice

One of these days the radio industry is going to get it right -- but today isn't one of them.

Frick and Frack -- the NAB and RAB -- two organizations that still don't get it -- have announced at the NAB Radio Convention -- that they are going to spend more of their members' money.

The latest brainstorm is the "Radio 2020" project.

The first problem is the name. Radio doesn't have until 2020.

National Association of Broadcasters and the Radio Advertising Bureau are apparently going to spend all this dough to re-brand radio. That's right -- re-brand a medium that in the same breath they claim the majority of&hellip

Radio and Records — Murder Suicide

The record industry is about to kill itself and murder its best friend.

Phil Spector, who knew?

The labels are in the process of trying to eliminate radio's royalty exemption which could exceed $1 billion -- 0r 5% of radio's revenues according to Deutsche Bank's Drew Marcus.

This would be tantamount to murder for radio stations.

The royalty tax would help cripple a declining radio industry at exactly the wrong moment in time.

By pushing for this money the record labels would also be committing suicide because radio has options to cripple them if it has the guts and because holding your best ally hostage&hellip

Clear Channel Interrupted

Clear Channel's ten-year quest to take over the world -- at least the world of radio -- has ended with shareholder approval to take the firm private at the end of the year.

It's a $19.5 billion buyout and the preliminary vote approved the merger with T.H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners.

The timing was critical because investment money is hard to find these days -- a far cry from 1996 when consolidation was enabled by law. Now the shareholders are in a far more agreeable mood because it's as good a deal as they're going to get.

Back when Clear Channel stock was selling in the $90 range, executives predicted it&hellip

HD on QVC — Lipstick on a (Roast) Pig

You've got to hand it to iBiquity, the firm that brought you HD radio over ten years too late and "shrewd" enough to copyright the term HD while at the same time saying it doesn't really mean "high definition".

As the saying goes, you can't put lipstick on a pig, but somehow, iBiquity has managed to get QVC to sell HD radios to its vast home shopping network audience.

Hope QVC has better luck than Radio Shack, Best Buy and Wal-Mart selling these empty radios. Hey, whatever happened to that hype? You can't easily find an HD radio in those stores let alone a young salesperson to close the sale.

Maybe QVC viewers can&hellip

Why “Jack” Hit The Road

My readers often give me ideas for things that I write about from the perspective of my experience in the media business and my work with the next generation.

After writing about the "Fresh FM" and WCBS-FM "Classic Hits" revival, one reader wondered about my take on the Jack" format.

Of course, "Jack" works in some markets -- and that needs to be recognized -- but it's also fair to say that when the history of formatic radio is compiled (and, say, Bill Drake narrates it), "Jack" will be a mere blip of the VU meter of programming.


Let's start with New York.

New York is an atypical example. Former CBS&hellip

Fresh FM vs. Stale FM


br />The radio industry knows a good thing when it hears it and it's jumping on the "Fresh FM" trend afraid of missing out and/or afraid a competitor will make them eat it.

The radio industry knows a good thing when it loses it, too, as CBS' WCBS-FM is proving since Radio President Dan Mason manned up and returned the updated but beloved "Classic Hits" format to the New York airwaves.

Look at the ratings already in virtually no time as reported by Tom Taylor in Taylor on Radio-Info:
"Just looking at the highly unofficial X-Trends-produced&hellip

What’s Really Killing Radio

It's not lack of HD technology, not too many commercials, not competition from iPods, cyberspace or social networks.

Not the decline of the music industry and certainly not satellite radio.

Radio has lost its listeners' trust.

Radio used to be a trusted friend.

I remember when I programmed in Philadelphia. I inherited a fascinating (although long) jingle package called "Where Your Friends Are". The station and other stations that subscribed to that jingle imagery actually tried to make the listeners feel that top 40 radio was their friend.

Today, students laugh when they hear them -- not because the music&hellip

The Clown Prince

The artist formerly known as a singer is acting more like a record label exec.

Prince is suing people like it's 1999.

He is after the social network YouTube for unauthorized use of his music. He says he wants to "reclaim his art on the Internet".

Is this the same Prince who sat out and sulked when he got into a pissing match with his label all those years ago?

Isn't that when the silly concept of being the artist formerly known as Prince surfaced?

But now, the Internet and the next generation is getting to Prince.

He wonders how YouTube can filter porn and pedophile material but it has a hard time&hellip

SoundExchange Torture

It's been several months and finally SoundExchange, the royalty negotiators for the record labels, has gotten back to Internet streamers with an answer on a more equitable rate structure.


SoundExchange Executive Director John Simson told the NAB in a letter that their offer of June 6th to settle the dispute over Internet streaming rates is unacceptable.

The NAB's website had been featuring a countdown clock for the number of days it took to get an answer to their proposal -- 96. Here's NAB's response.

This is&hellip

The Columbia Records Plan To Save The Industry

A few weeks ago The New York Times Magazine had a cover story on Rick Rubin, the co-operator of Columbia Records these days.

Rubin was pictured in a white robe in the yoga position with his beard and long hair flowing and his eyes closed. Unfortunately, or perhaps appropriately, the photo was taken in Malibu -- a yoga paradise.

The article, written by Lynn Hirschberg, was titled "Can Rick Rubin Save The Music Business" with the subtitle "Or, Can a Recording Guru Be a Mogul Too?").

If you're pressed for time, let me answer the question.


Rubin is a talented creative guy who has been responsible for a&hellip

Music for the Price of a Text Message

Everyone seems to know the record business is dying except the people running it.

It's a business highly dependent on the sale of Compact Discs -- and CD's are not selling the way they used to before digital downloading arrived.

The stores they sell in -- record stores -- are in short pants.

The record industry -- before it gets the lights on the way out the door -- might want to consider making the purchase of music virtually non-consequential financially.

Envision the youth market on their computers and cell phones buying -- I said buying -- music at will, on impulse, 24/7 -- like they use text&hellip

“Empty V” Video Music Awards

Did you see or hear about the Video Music Awards sponsored by MTV Sunday night?

It was business as usual.

Controversy as to whether Britney Spears looked as good as she did before giving birth to her two babies. She did an uninspired, bikini-clad rendition of her new single Gimme More.

The gratuitous barbs from comic Sarah Silverman about Britney's "two mistakes" (her children).

It got me thinking.

Why is MTV still doing these music video awards?

They hardly ever play videos.

Justin Timberlake on several occasions during the telecast shouted out that MTV should play more videos and less&hellip

HD Hypocrisy

The new Polk Audio I-Sonic and JBL receivers are much ado about nothing when it comes to advancing the relic known as HD radio (or for those who believe the term -- high definition!).

Last week when Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced his new line of products and left radio and Internet radio out in the cold, it was business as usual for radio advocates -- attacking the Apple and the iPod.

Then a day or so later when it became known that several of these devices including the Polk unit would have tagging capabilities for HD&hellip

Apple Taking Care of Business

Steve Jobs, Apple's dynamic baby boomer CEO, made headlines Wednesday when he announced a new generation of iPods and said Apple was going to reduce the price of its top of the line eight gig iPhone by $200.

Of course, if you were an early adopter -- someone Apple needs to drive its innovative businesses -- you could have felt screwed.

But, one day later Jobs made it right by offering all those who paid $200 too much a credit of $100.

"We want to do the right thing for our valued iPhone customers," Jobs said. "We apologize for disappointing some of you, and we are doing our best to live up to your high expectations of&hellip

The iPod Killer

Apple CEO Steve Jobs made another one of his grand pronouncements yesterday and he seems to have left everyone very unhappy.

Except his customers.

Internet streamers thought this was going to be the moment that Jobs would build digital Internet capabilities into the iPod.

Radio broadcasters may not have said it aloud, but some were hoping that if that happened maybe somehow, some way HD radio might make the cut.

Jobs, the caretaker of cool, has once again taken a pass on all types of "radio".

This doesn't mean that future iPods might not have Internet streaming capabilities, but it's not a lock right&hellip

Radio: Bluff It or Buffett

It's hard to know for sure how the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, would run a radio conglomerate.

You might point out that Buffett has resisted the temptation of buying a radio group.

Certainly, stations were overpriced when consolidation came along (post-1996) and Buffett likes a bargain. Owning radio stations still is very expensive even without a future beyond Gen X and Baby Boomers. If and when Bain Capital (which got $1.5 billion in concessions from Home Depot recently) shaves some money off its Clear Channel purchase price, Clear Channel principals will still be seeing a lot of profit.

Assuming the banks still&hellip

Viral Radio

CBS Radio was at it again in Phoenix over the hot Labor Day weekend in the Valley of the Sun.

Oldies KOOL-FM (or more politically correct, Classic Hits) dusted off the 30 year History of Rock and Roll narrated by Bill Drake and made a marathon out of the three-day holiday.

KOOL-FM has a history of utilizing the History at least once per summer, it seems. This year, they've run it on two long holiday weekends.

Many of you have heard me wax eloquent about how outstanding this type of thing is, but now I'd like to expand upon it. Provide a little more meaning, if I can.

The History of Rock rolls on (as the old&hellip