NAB’s Phone-y FM Chip Diversion

Before this piece is over I will try to offer you some rational and strategic conclusions about the current National Association of Broadcasters plan to needlessly expose radio stations to $1 billion in added music royalties annually to settle with the RIAA.

I’m going to name names.

Delve into possible motivations for you to consider and then offer a prognosis for what is likely to happen.

First, an update.

Any legislative action on this issue is dead while Congress returns home to campaign for reelection.

What’s ironic is that what the radio industry is likely to observe after election day is a Congress more sympathetic to the interests of the radio industry. Of course you know that, right now, Congress is about split evenly between defending the interests of local radio and standing up for the music industry.

Here’s what is likely to unfold:

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The Next Generation of Listeners

I recently heard former Governor Howard Dean analyze the present political atmosphere as the establishment’s last stand.

Politics is politics and I’m going to try to put that aside in looking at something he went on to say that rings true if applied to the media business.

Dean, a Democrat and former presidential candidate, was criticizing his arch rivals the Republicans and the Tea Party movement. Again, not looking to get involved in all that for this purpose, he went on to say that the next generation would reject any attempts to restrict gay rights or attempts to impede immigration.

These are certainly two super charged issues and Dean’s comments reminded me of working with college students at USC.

We often look at the world through our own eyes and experiences. Radio people think there will always be 24/7 radio and record labels apparently think they can get the same high profits for selling music that they once earned for selling vinyl or CDs.

The generation that is now coming of age – Generation Y – is reshaping everything. It is strong in numbers at about 70 million and the last Gen Y’er has already been born but hasn’t made it to college yet.

If you’re looking for a political fight, you’re not going to get it here. My mother, a Democratic ward worker in her day, always reminded us that you’re not likely to talk anyone out of their political beliefs.

But there are some things worth considering about the next generation as it pertains to media.

They, indeed, have more open attitudes about immigration because they have likely embraced immigrants who are their friends in person and on Facebook. As a professor I can tell you that college students care very little about racial divides that talk radio obsesses over. They see the world in one color of humanity – a characteristic of which we parents should be very proud.
Sexual preferences are personal decisions that are openly supported in large part by this generation. Of course, there are exceptions. There is more lesbianism on campuses, more gay relationships. Gen Y is just fine with this. Listen to their music which is the soundtrack of their lives and “I Kissed a Girl” is more than a song, it is a marker of change.

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The New Listenerǃ

In psychology there is a theory called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Abraham Maslow’s 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation identified self-actualization, esteem, love and belonging, safety needs, physiological needs.

As today’s consumer morphs and technology spurs alterations in their behavior, it has occurred to me that the media needs of humans has not only changed but their needs and priorities are changing – important for content creators and marketers who want to follow them to the digital Promised Land.

It’s fair to say in the past -- say 1960’s and 1970’s – a consumer's media need primarily included radio and television. To have a radio to be connected to their rock and roll music and news and information. And then a TV to enjoy arts and entertainment as it developed in color.

Even in the 1960’s reading a newspaper was optional compared to, say, the 1940’s when consumers bought newspapers on the street corner to read “Extra” editions to learn about the latest war news. It’s debatable whether radio or TV would be first on the 1960/1970 hierarchy of needs list but suffice it to say they were interchangeable.

I thought you’d enjoy my view of today’s consumer’s hierarchy of needs in light of the digital revolution, new media, the Internet, filesharing, social networking and the like. Keep in mind I am observing the next generation because at 70 million strong and coming of age this is a bellwether group.

So here are Del Colliano’s Hierarchy of Media Needs as of this moment:

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Radio’s Believe It Or Not

I love Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.

You do, too, from what you tell me because I have adapted the Ripley format to the sideshow currently going on in the business you and I love so much – radio.

On the real Ripley website you can find video of a couple being married by a robot.

A three year old Chinese girl who drinks liquor and smokes after surviving a car accident and a coma.

And a violinist who actually plays the instrument during brain surgery.

But I’ve got all that beat this time with what radio consolidators are up to – real life stories that are hard to believe but true.

In other words, Radio’s Believe It or Not.

• A Station That Requires Recycling Trash Over Programming

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What Radio Should Be Doing on the iPad

(From left to right with my niece Jaime, daughter Daria, wife Cheryl)

Okay, we’ve talked about the future of the iPad for years now. That’s right, I told you, my readers, it was on the way over a year before it was introduced by Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Now on to what radio, the record business, publishing and TV should be strategizing.

First, this quote from The Economist that I think sets the stage:

“THE advertisement for Newsday’s iPad application starts blithely enough. A man in a shirt and tie sits in the kitchen, reading the New York newspaper on his tablet computer. He turns the device on its side and watches the live feed from a traffic camera. Then a fly lands on the table. The man quickly raises the iPad and smashes it down, shattering the glass. The ad implies that the iPad is superior to old-fashioned print in all sorts of ways, just not every way. It is a joke—but also a good summary of how newspaper and magazine outfits have come to feel about Apple’s product in the eight months since it was unveiled”.

It hasn’t even been a year since Apple’s iPad has been in the hands of consumers with so many options and already the iPad promises to be the content delivery system of the future with all its advantages and a few disadvantages. Some analysts estimate that over 20 million iPads will be sold in 2011 alone.

You’ll see the expected ego fight between media titans and Steve Jobs. I’m betting Jobs will out maneuver them. He just knows what works with this new generation -- not that his ego is any smaller.

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After FM, Where Does Radio Go?

You’ve no doubt been reading about the rush that has been going on of late as owners are porting their AM radio stations over to FM.

Bonneville was one of the early pioneers of moving AM brands to FM because, frankly, listeners have migrated over to FM. In fact, they migrated a long time ago.

It is remarkable but one thing has not changed – listeners will listen to AM radio if they want to hear what the station is broadcasting. These available AM listeners do tend to be older and the move to FM makes sense if a brand is worth protecting.

Stop right there.

Fast forward another five or ten years and ask yourself where will great FM radio brands be connecting with audiences then – online, on cell phones, iPads or still on the FM band?

While moving valuable listening brands from AM to FM appears to be a no-brainer, one has to wonder why it took 20 years for this migration.

There are several interesting points:

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Consumers Now Spend 50% of Their Day With Media

In the 1950’s and 1960’s radio and television broadcasters and publishers could never imagine a public whose appetite for what they do would be so great that it consumed half of their waking hours.

Today we have evidence that the Internet, cell phones, Apple and social networking have created addicts out of people of all ages.

In fact, all of this growth in media consumption has happened within the last two years and far exceeds media demand for three decades prior.

There are hard cold facts to back it up.

A new Ipsos OTX study of 7,000 online consumers spanning a wide age range of between 13 and 74 confirms that among those surveyed people are now spending half of all their waking hours with media and have increased their media consumption by a whopping hour a day over the past two years.

To put that in perspective, they spend more time consuming media than working or sleeping.

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