NAB Show Wednesday: The FCC Chairman Drops By, 'Digital Strategies For Radio' Returns
April 10, 2013 at 2:35 PM (PT)
WEDNESDAY's sessions at the NAB SHOW in LAS VEGAS featured an appearance by outgoing FCC Chairman JULIUS GENACHOWSKI, who sat for a question-and-answer session with MEREDITH LOCAL MEDIA GROUP Pres. PAUL KARPOWICZ. GENACHOWSKI, who reminisced about growing up listening to the old WLIR/LONG ISLAND and being a DJ as a high school student on a college radio station (as "The Midnight Rambler"), lauded the Commission's "team effort" in areas like incentive auctions (calling freeing up spectrum for wireless broadband "a big, big deal"), the Universal Service Fund overhaul, and helping develop broadband. The early conversation focused in large part on the spectrum auctions and mobile broadband, with GENACHOWSKI touting the latter as a strong economic opportunity for broadcasters.
On media ownership, GENACHOWSKI said that the Commission has to take the Internet and mobile into consideration when thinking about broadcast ownership, and added that the effect of the Internet on journalism needs to be considered but that the fact that broadcast is still a dominant medium is also important. He reiterated his support of minority tax credits,
On radio, GENACHOWSKI said he believes a low-power FM window will open this year, noting that "this is something the Congress has an interest in." Asked if a large number of applications for LPFMs -- KARPOWICZ suggested over 100,000 -- would be overwhelming to the Commission, GENACHOWSKI responded that he didn't think so and raised the issue of the sequestration, but said that the Commission has worked to make processes more efficient with electronic filing.
Digital Strategies Session Is Back
A day-long "Digital Strategies For Radio" session began at 10a and was scheduled to run for six hours in a single room, a program that originated with last year's show. SKIP PIZZI began the event with a series of slides touting how Internet radio is still at relatively tiny levels of listenership and traditional radio remains dominant and used even by those using PANDORA and other streaming services.
Connected Cars and Radio
LINCOLN FINANCIAL MEDIA's BARRY THOMAS moderated a session on "The Digital Dash" with the CEA's MIKE BERGMAN, the CONNECTED VEHICLE TRADE ASSN.'s VALERIE SHUMAN, and CONCANNON BUSINESS CONSULTING's JON BUCCI presenting talks on the "connected car" from different perspectives, with SHUMAN touting the new systems from the auto makers' position, including a test in ANN ARBOR of systems that allow cars to "talk" to each other and thus avoid collisions; BUCCI , formerly at TOYOTA, looking at societal trends and what the "digital dash" means to consumers, focusing on opportunities for broadcasters (providing unique content to audiences, including personalities, new music discovery, and local news/traffic/weather); and BERGMAN examining the aftermarket industry's position, noting that iPod connectivity far outpaces the growth of built-in HD Radio and A2DP Bluetooth, and Internet radio (a "nuclear rocket") growing at a much faster pace than anything else, expected to hit 82% penetration in 2016 (but smartphone growth is blowing any other portable electronic device sales away, which portends vastly more Internet radio growth). BERGMAN criticized stations that don't send text with their signals for HD and RDS-enabled radios, or send just call letters or redundant, overlong text. The panel discussed HD RADIO (SHUMAN said that there is a "mixed bag" with HD, with more systems in cars but problems with lack of consumer demand; BUCCI mentioned a quality issue, with low JD POWER numbers; BERGMAN echoing the problem of no consumer demand), the quality of 3G and 4G service and its impact on streaming, and other related topics.
Creating and Monetizing Radio Apps
A panel on apps moderated by GREATER MEDIA's JENNIFER WILLIAMS featured TUNEIN's KEVIN STRALEY, JACOBS MEDIA/jacAPPS' FRED JACOBS, and BEASLEY's KATHLEEN BRICKETTO, who started with a talk on selling local advertising on streaming and for mobile. STRALEY, the former XM RADIO executive and ENTERCOM Talk WRKO-A/BOSTON PD, gave an overview of TUNEIN's business and offerings to broadcasters, and JACOBS offered a presentation of the state of the mobile apps art from jacAPPS' perspective, and how to design strong mobile apps, outlining what makes apps successful (a single function, fulfilling a specific need, easy to navigate, buzzworthy, timed right) and questions to ask when designing a radio station app (who the target user is, where they'll use the app, what the most important function of the app is, whether the app will be in "permanent beta," always changing, and whether your station needs multiple apps). JACOBS added that apps are "made for Americans" (with apps not being as popular overseas as they are in this country), and will remain prominent in the future; he also asserted that "every CEO should be forced to turn in their BlackBerry," go on Twitter and Facebook, and attend CES, saying that if one goes to the same shows and sees the same people over and over, "you don't move."
Social Media for Radio
Lunch was provided by consultant HOLLAND COOKE, who gave a presentation with his take on digital radio and social media, calling AM and FM "car radio" and Internet audio "radio everywhere else." COOKE enthusiastically endorsed Twitter with a list of reasons to use the social media service, KTBB-A-F/TYLER, TX owner PAUL GLEISER joined COOKE to talk about his coverage of the Papal election, EDM KYLI (96.7 JELLI)/LAS VEGAS GM KATHY KOCH explained her station's success using the JELLI interactive programming platform and engaging listeners with social media.
'Hybrid Radio' Puts Pictures To Broadcast
A presentation from GLOBAL RADIO and RADIODNS' NICK PIGGOTT on Hybrid Radio -- radio broadcasts supplemented with metadata and visual material via IP -- noted that "we are going into an environment where everything has got screens and we have got to produce content for those screens." Hybrid Radio, he noted, has greater capability than just showing album cover art with songs, "If we have the capability of being on that screen," PIGGOTT said, "we ought to use that." The RADIODNS solution is to supplement FM broadcasts with the data and graphics served over IP, saving data usage for users.
EMMIS' PAUL BRENNER has been working on the NEXTRADIO app that would bring Hybrid Radio to the U.S. via FM-equipped cell phones, and he presented an overview of the new service in the smartphone space. The app shows pictures and album art along with tagging for later purchase. Asked by ALL ACCESS whether the service is playing catchup while competitors have moved on to customization, BRENNER responded that "there's some catchup that's occurring, but this allows us the ability to tell a different story," with synchronous visuals and data, and allows for creative use of visuals to augment and possibly leapfrog competitive services. He noted substantial acceptance of FM radio in cell phones in EUROPE, including RAJAR researh in the U.K., as an indication that the service will be desirable to consumers.
New Ideas Showcase
A "New Idea Showcase" moderated by GREATER MEDIA's MILFORD SMITH with ENVISION RADIO NETWORKS' DANNO WOLKOFF, ABACAST's JIM KOTT, PARAGON MEDIA STRATAGIES' MIKE HENRY, AUDIOBOO's CYNTHIA FRANCIS, and MARKETRON INTERACTIVE's DEB ESAYIAN gave the panelists a chance to make presentations about their companies and take questions from the audience.
ALL ACCESS' PERRY MICHAEL SIMON is at the convention providing continuing coverage for NET NEWS as well as commentary and humor on Twitter at @pmsimon.