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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The Future of Rock and Roll

Great, great piece in The Sunday New York Times Magazine a few weeks back by Rob Walker writing in the “Consumed” column where he asked the question, “Can the value of music reside in a lamp (or stickers or a sculpture)?"

Walker’s piece to me begs the question should artists get rich by selling stuff just because music sells stuff?

The author asserts that the future of rock and roll is merch.

If he is correct, the record labels are in big trouble because as Pogo says, “I have seen the enemy and it is us”.

The labels are adequate at best with merch and arguably leaving a lot of money on the table because they don't understand the new consumer and their devices.

Walker makes his case by pointing out:

“The Ramones sold more T-shirts than albums (and you can buy a T-shirt that says so). And box sets for superfans have become increasingly elaborate and pricey artlike objects. But merchandise is gaining momentum, and it’s not hard to imagine a time when a fan buys a sculpture, home décor item or other tangible good and gets the music as a kind of free soundtrack accompaniment”.

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