Saturday at the Worldwide Radio Seminar: Talent, Music, And The Future Of Radio
May 6, 2013 at 3:56 AM (PT)
SATURDAY's schedule at the WORLDWIDE RADIO SUMMIT in HOLLYWOOD included panels on programming's relationship to digital, the future of radio, making hits, syndication, international radio, and talent.
Bringing Programming And Digital Together
After a presentation by SPARKNET's KEN BENSON on the success of RAWLCO RADIO Hot AC CKNO (102.3 NOW! RADIO)/EDMONTON, JACOBS MEDIA digital and social media guru and ALL ACCESS "MERGE" columnist LORI LEWIS hosted a panel on "bridging the digital divide" with programming, with LOCAL MEDIA OF AMERICA/SAN DIEGO Director, Digital LISA MINJARES, LOCAL MEDIA OF AMERICA Alternative XETRA (91X)/SAN DIEGO PD CHRISTY TAYLOR, ASTRAL MEDIA Dir./Digital TOM IRWIN and EVP/Content and Platforms ROB FARINA, COX MEDIA GROUP/ATLANTA Digital Content Manager FISHER, and CBS RADIO Top 40 WODS (103.3 AMP RADIO)/BOSTON PD DAN MASON. LEWIS, who pointed out that digital staffs are perceived as the people working on code "in the dark ... over there," noted that the previous day's programmers panel was more passionate than the digital panel, which FARINA ascribed to the skill sets required for the two disciplines. FISHER said that he does not hire for the digital department based on passion for the programming but rather prefers to be the intermediary himself between programming and digital, and hires "geeks" instead. FARINA said that his company had moved away from using social media in a promotional manner and now focuses on engagement with listeners (stressing the importance of personalities having personal interaction with listeners), and added that "digital cannot be a sidebar to what we do," requiring its own focus. LEWIS noted that radio stations send traffic to other sites but need to pull people back into their own assets, and FISHER said that he requires social media posts to link to the station's site rather than directly to external sources.
Looking at the Future of Radio
A panel labeled "Radio Futurecast" collected panelists from diverse areas of the radio business, including TOM LEYKIS (who opened the session by saying that "AM and FM radio is whistling past the graveyard"), TRITON DIGITAL's JOHN ROSSO, JELLI's MIKE DOUGHERTY, ORBAN.OPTIMOD's GREG OGNOWSKI, and BROADCAST ELECTRONICS/COMMOTION's DON BACKUS, moderated by consultant ANDREW PHILLIPS. LEYKIS said that the average station "sounds dead to me," wondering why anyone would follow a station without live personalities on social media. "The audience isn't stupid," he asserted. Asked for predictions, BACKUS projected all-digital AM and growth for HD RADIO, while OGNOWSKI said he wonders when international advertising will become common and touted improved streaming quality, adding that he does not listen to traditional radio anymore but does listen to high-quality streams. LEYKIS said that he expects continued growth in digital audiences, pointing out that younger listeners are less likely to listen to traditional radio but are more likely to listen to audio on their mobile devices (echoed by ROSSO, who noted that LEYKIS' online audience has been measured by TRITON as larger than many traditional shows have on broadcast radio); he decried the radio industry's jettisoning of employees and reduction of engagement with audiences, and the loss of local programming and personality in favor of syndication and standardized content. "People are not going to engage with a brand name," LEYKIS insisted; he also scored the industry for failing to effectively monetize digital and offered examples of how he does so, including eBAY bidding on advertising and special offers like a party bus evening and sitting in on the show.
Music Industry Figures on Breaking the Hits
After a video presentation on CANADA's talent development fund by NEWCAP Top 40 CKMP (AMP RADIO 90.3)/CALGARY with several artists on hand live, a panel of music industry figures discussed breaking new artists and making hit records. The panel included COLUMBIA's LEE LEIPSNER, LAVA RECORDS' JASON FLOM, FEARLESS RECORDS' MIKE JACOBS, IMAGAM's JENS-MARKUS WEGENER, and SOUNDOUT's DAVID COURTIER DUTTON, moderated by THE MUSIC REGISTRY's RITCH ESRA. The panelists discussed radio's continued role in breaking hits (although JACOBS noted that radio is not always a component of promoting an act, pointing out that some of his current roster is not represented on the radio but still selling). The change to a singles-based industry prompted FLOM to wonder about labels making million-dollar deals for acts that will not make the money back ("that's a good way to go broke"). LEIPSNER credited ADELE's success to her being real and without a "schtick," adding that "everybody in the industry was rooting for that record" (FLOM joked that the mystery is how her album is still in the top 10, wondering "who the f--k doesn't have that record by now?"; JACOBS called it "one of those lightning-in-a-bottle records," and LEIPSNER pointed out that "the songs were great").
After the awards luncheon, COURTSIDE ENTERTAINMENT founder and syndication pioneer NORM PATTIZ hosted a panel about syndication, with guests including COURTSIDE's own "LOVELINE" co-host "PSYCHO MIKE" CATHERWOOD, A&R WORLDWIDE's SAT BISLA, EON MEDIA's ROB GRAHAM, REACH MEDIA's GARY BERNSTEIN, and "IN THE MIX WITH HK" host HOWARD "HK" KESSLER. But in the midst of the discussion, PATTIZ directed his comments to the audience, asking, "Why do you guys give your programming to iHEARTRADIO for nothing?" He criticized "homogenized" programming and the lack of local choices and asked the panel what can be done, wondering whether terrestrial radio will lose out to the Internet; BERNSTEIN said that the next generation of personalities are on the Internet and radio needs to find them. However, CATHERWOOD said that while BERNSTEIN's suggestion to look to YOUTUBE stars "sounds good on paper," he is skeptical about the actual measurement of audience and the results. PATTIZ also voiced skepticism about the "digital dash," and KESSLER asserted that the potential for accidents caused by the systems is too great.
A Look At International Radio
International broadcasting moved to the forefront with a presentation on the radio market in INDIA by ONLY MUCH LOUDER's VIJAY NAIR, followed by a panel with GRAHAM returning to moderate and NAIR, BBC Hot AC RADIO 2 and Triple A 6MUSIC Head of Music JEFF SMITH, consultant PHIL DOWSE, 5FM/SOUTH AFRICA Station Manager AISHA MOHAMED, FLUX FM/GERMANY MD MONA RUEBSAMEN, NEWCAP Top 40 CKMP (AMP RADIO 90.3)/CALGARY PD PAUL KAYE, and MEDIACORP MEDIA/SINGAPORE Managing Director FLORENCE LIAN. The panel looked at innovations and other developments in radio outside the U.S.
All-Star Talent Panel Closes Sessions
The session schedule ended with a panel of major-market talent, including CUMULUS Top 40 WWWQ (Q100)/ATLANTA syndicated morning man BERT WEISS, CLEAR CHANNEL Top 40 KHKS (KISS 106.1)/DALLAS syndicated morning host KIDD KRADDICK, CBS RADIO Classic Hits KRTH (K-EARTH 101)/LOS ANGELES host SHOTGUN TOM KELLY, CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE Triple A KCSN/NORTHRIDGE-LOS ANGELES morning host NIC HARCOURT, and CLEAR CHANNEL Top 40 WHQC (CHANNEL 96-1)/CHARLOTTE syndicated morning team ACE AND TJ. "Radio is the greatest medium," HARCOURT opined, while KELLY related his feelings about his being honored with a star on the HOLLYWOOD Walk of Fame and his earlier television work but added, "There's nothing like radio ... I'm the director, I'm the producer, I'm working the format, and I'm having fun." WEISS lamented the cutback in personalities being allowed to talk, noting that he has been "grandfathered in" at CUMULUS and later fondly recalling his earliest solo days with no ratings as a sign-on in ATLANTA but with freedom to build his own show. TJ voiced concern that his own job -- the "funny guy" who interjects comments while his partner runs the show -- will be endangered as radio cuts back. Amidst stories of run-ins with management, KRADDICK said that listeners are his true employers.
WEISS said that "it's so insulting when they throw a celebrity on (the air) and they say 'it's just radio.'" ACE and TJ joked that DAVID LEE ROTH "did a good job" and imagined him having to come in and turn on the transmitter every day. And WEISS said he can't look his interns in the eye and say that it's a good idea to go into radio, saying that consolidation is "killing" the morning show business and eliminating opportunities to work one's way up, and asked where young people will learn what content will entertain people (but KRADDICK noted that young people are "doing that on YOUTUBE"). And ACE said that "what radio needs is respect" for the talent and the value that radio offers.