Low Powered FM Is a Joke

(Note: January 27th is my Media Solutions Lab)

If you’re a radio company and have been opposed to the creation of thousands of low powered FM competitors for the past ten years, you can thank the NAB for riding in on a white horse – in the middle of Congressional debate – to, you guessed it – support the bill.

And you thought Don’t Ask Don’t Tell took forever to pass.

I’m telling you, your NAB is a day late and a nickel short on all the issues radio supposedly cares about.

NAB CEO Senator Gordon Smith is turning out to be an appeaser like Neville Chamberlain, the World War II British Conservative politician who conceded the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to the Nazis.

But not to worry.

This bill so cutely named the Local Community Radio Act is relatively meaningless for a number of reasons.

The legislation opens the radio spectrum to potentially thousands of local independent low powered radio stations (LPFMs) to bring new choices and voices to those poor suckers who can’t get dial-up, broadband, a signal of some kind or anything that conveys news and entertainment.

How can the advocates of this bill talk about choices and voices when American media is under attack from all sides when they actually use their voices? One of the hardest fought freedoms is freedom of expression and to me the era we are living in does not seem to value it.

My definition of freedom of expression is allowing others to say things that may be painful for the rest of us to hear, see or read. At this time in our world, I am concerned about free speech.

The creation of thousands of low powered FM stations is really a disappearing act.

Fight it, and you disappear.

Embrace it, and you disappear.

We’re forgetting the most important thing.

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Astounding Radio Ratings

There is only one proven way to attract the maximum radio audience and yet most of the major broadcast groups are employing the exact opposite strategy.  

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Critical Audience Trends

(IMPORTANT NOTE:  Just 4 days left to save $200 on my 2011 Media Solutions Lab January 27 in Scottsdale, AZ.  More here.)

If the current holiday season wasn’t a wakeup call for broadcasters, musicians, new media entrepreneurs and marketers, then 2011 will rock their world.

The year 2000 marked the beginning of the Internet age along with the end of the record business as we know it and 2006 began the decline of terrestrial radio with the ascent of mobile media devices and now 2011 promises to be a year of critical change for audiences.

There is no doubt Apple is on a roll and has some surprises for the labels and radio not the least of which could be a streaming music discovery service that would further hurt the radio industry and cede control of the record business further to Steve Jobs.

I am beginning to pick up trends that, while troubling to traditional media, could be useful to those of us who want to remain viable as technology and sociology continue to morph.

Today I am going to touch on 5 of the most important audience trends that are not generally being tracked.

The first one is about a major change in the way young people are beginning to communicate and how that may affect you.

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4 Days Left to Save $200 on Jerry’s Media Solutions Lab

This year’s Media Solutions Lab is only weeks away on January 27th at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, AZ.

There’s still time to register at a significant discount if you register before January 1 and discount seats are still available.

You will want to attend this latest Media Solutions Lab to get a solid grasp of the many changes ahead in radio, music and new media in the next 12 months.   I bring my expertise as a recognized expert in radio, television, new media and generational media as a professor at USC and will share the emerging trends you can expect in an interactive classroom format that will leave you with an understanding of the challenges and opportunities ahead. 

Focus on:

What’s ahead for radio  •  Apple’s next move  •  The new “local” media business  •  Make money programming content for 40 million iPads  •  Solving the music royalty problem  •  The new media radio station of the future  •   3 ways to make radio a growth business again  •  The boom ahead for radio personalities  •  The future of the record industry  •  Tracking new competitors  •  Free vs. paid content  •  How to monetize the mobile Internet  •  Evolving social networking and generational media trends  •  Plus Q&A and face time with Jerry

You will also get to participate in individual Innovation Labs to get personal experience brainstorming on the most important issues for the year ahead led by experts in each area.  

Choose to participate in Innovation Labs on these hot trends:

Creating content for iPads (facilitated by Lee Abrams)  •  Dealing with music royalty roadblocks (Sound Exchange's John Simson) •  Inventing the new media radio station of the future (Led by Bonneville/WTOP's Jim Farley) •  Designing hyperlocal media platforms (Public Radio WHYY, Philadelphia's Chris Satullo)

This event in non-commercial with no advertising or sponsor involvement.  It is a one-day learning opportunity that earned a 92% approval rating last year.  It is held in sunny Scottsdale, AZ at one of the best meeting venues in the country.

To be the future you must first see the future.

Invest in your career by attending Jerry’s 2nd Media Solutions Lab and until January 1 or when discount seats are all taken, save $200 off your registration.

The Media Solutions Lab program and how to register at $200 off is here.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  See you back here early next week!

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Santa Fagreed and Scrooge Dickey – Bonuses and Coal

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Even under fire from Modern Family’s Cumulus with their unfriendly takeover, Citadel CEO Farid Suleman has somehow found a way to capture the spirit of the season and don a red suit and white beard to play Santa for some Citadel employees this year.

Citadel employees are in shock.

Yes, from that, too!

After all they are shaking in their boots right now at the prospect of Lew Dickey becoming their boss.  Gary Pizzati becoming their handler and Gary Lewis their overseer.  Not to mention Other Brother John doing his imitation of Tommy Smothers (“mom always liked you best”).

Christmas at Citadel is not exactly Miracle on 34th Street.

Times are tough. 

After enduring cutbacks, bankruptcy and corporate arrogance, Citadel workers thought they could just settle in as survivors and find a way to hopefully do their jobs as the professionals they are.

Then, this.

An actual Christmas bonus!

You heard me right. 

M-O-N-E-Y!

Real money – not play.  But, I am told the Citadel bonuses only go to people who are the chosen few. 

On Santa Fagreed’s list of nice not naughty.

But over at Cumulus, the Little Engine that could take over Citadel in the year ahead, it is coal in the stocking for Dickey victims.

Here is the true story that will either warm the cockles of your heart.

(And one of Fagreed’s grateful employees sent me his letter of cheer for everyone to read).

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Net Partiality

Net neutrality is a hoax.

The American public is about to be fleeced once again by their elected officials, government appointees (The FCC) and big business.

Passage of net neutrality rules by the FCC yesterday paves the way for years of legal battles and uncertainty as technology again leads the way for new media and the public gets shut out.

In a nutshell net neutrality would guarantee that Internet providers would be prevented from interfering with web traffic.

But the proposed rules might accomplish that goal for some forms of Internet access but not others.  And all of a sudden free speech has given way to something more important to Internet service providers as it appears the FCC has sold out to AT&T and Verizon.

For the first time these giant providers would be able to charge more to companies and individuals that want faster service or more capability for delivery of video, games and other services prompting Senator Al Franken to comment, "grassroots supporters of net neutrality are beginning to wonder if we've been had". Franken wondered aloud whether the proposal adopted by the FCC was "worse than nothing."

There are concerns that building in pricing capability for Internet service providers to charge more for better service will create an unfair advantage to others.  The analogy I heard recently is that if power companies dictated what appliances consumers could use by charging more for using some things and less for others, it would be an awful way to manage capacity and demand.

Yet that is precisely what is happening as The Obama Administration appears ready to renege on a promise the president made in 2008 with regard to making the Internet equally accessible to all.

While this argument takes place, more and more consumers will be using the mobile Internet and the devices that they love so much and yet the guarantees of neutrality may only apply in some ways to wired broadband and not mobile Internet. 

Translation:  your iPad may look like it is in your hands, but it will really be in the hands of Internet providers.

AT&T and Verizon have already introduced tiered pricing for the mobile Internet and Comcast is getting ready to jump in once they get federal approval to buy 51% of NBC Universal.

So you can see what a mess this is for consumers, new media content providers, advocates of free speech and those concerned with not creating a hierarchy of Internet access for only those able to pay.

But wait.

There are major repercussions for – of all things – terrestrial radio, the medium left in the dust by iPhones, iPads, Androids and the entire mobile Internet.

Radio is free.

Anyone can access it relatively inexpensively, but consumers are turning away from radio for mobile Internet devices. 

I’ve got an early look at a scenario where the greed of ISPs could actually help revive simple, terrestrial radio if it follows this game plan.

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EMI is DOA

If you think that only the radio industry is dysfunctional, think again.

There are four majors remaining in what’s left of the record business and EMI could lose control to Citigroup very soon – the bank that propped the label up with billions of dollars during hard times.

And it all could happen before the New Year.

The private equity firm of Terra Firma under the management of Guy Hands is already whispering that they may have to turn the label over to the bankers.

Horrors!

That sounds like radio and no good can come from it.

You almost can’t blame a bank for wanting its money back when you’re talking about billions. I get that. What they don’t get is that bankers don’t know how to operate anything.

I refer you back to radio.

Terra Firma lost a court battle not long ago with Citigroup where it basically said that they were lured into buying EMI – that’s fraud except that the courts didn’t buy it. 

$6.7 billion later, Terra Firma is in quicksand despite cost cutting almost certainly guaranteeing that one of the big four labels will be up for grabs when the bank takes over.

It would be as if Citadel filed for bankruptcy and then Cumulus wanted to steal it as it emerged. 

Hey, wait a minute! Didn’t that already happen?

There are serious repercussions for the music industry if Citigroup takes back EMI and eventually sells off the small parts.

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