Group Heads Accentuate The Positive At NAB
September 26, 2007 at 8:08 AM (PT)
A panel of group heads at the NAB RADIO SHOW in CHARLOTTE TODAY features CUMULUS' LEW DICKEY, EMMIS' JEFF SMULYAN, SAGA's ED CHRISTIAN, GREATER MEDIA's PETER SMYTH, and CHERRY CREEK's JOE SCHWARTZ talking about the industry's outlook.
SMYTH called his company "very bullish on radio," but warned that the industry is too focused on the negative, telling the audience, "We have to reestablish what our priorities are," and calling the idea that "we're doomed" "a very myopic philosophy ... if we stay focused on what core business we're in, I believe radio's best days are still ahead of us." SCHWARTZ agreed, calling for radio leaders to "fall in love with radio again."
...if we stay focused on what core business we're in, I believe radio's best days are still ahead of us.
DICKEY said that "people ARE energized about radio" and called for the industry to hold the line on rates, likening price slashing to movie theaters selling tickets to half-price after the movie has begun, destroying the business model on which the industry is based. CHRISTIAN complained that he's been hearing the same talk for years and "we don't have the backbone in the industry. It's rhetoric ... we keep talking about it," but competitors keep cutting rates. SMULYAN suggested that the trick is to get existing advertisers to bring more advertisers in, because "radio is not hip."
SCHWARTZ said that as the head of a company in smaller markets, "I feel like we're in two different businesses ... it is a much different world." SCHWARTZ touted how his company "concentrate(s) on radio the way it used to be -- local, local, local." He said that CHERRY CREEK is "concentrating on growing revenue every single day. That's our mantra, that's what we do ... we concentrate on getting long-term business ... This business still works," he added. "We can move product."
CHRISTIAN drew laughs and applause by relating a story about how his nephew bought ads through GOOGLE to reach LOS ANGELES, but ended up with a package of 500 spots for $200 dollars in PALM SPRINGS overnight. He decried the devaluation of spots through GOOGLE, saying, "My vision in life is not being the president of a dollar store."
DICKEY asserted that his company did not go private "due to any diversion to WALL STREET," calling the quarterly "discipline" of reporting to WALL STREET "quite healthy for radio." He said that the move to go private was the result of restructuring after making the deal to acquire the SUSQUEHANNA stations. DICKEY also called the nascent nature of the Internet an "excellent opportunity" for radio "to compete aggressively ... we're in a better position to take that business."
SMYTH and SCHWARTZ noted that the propsed satellite merger raises interesting questions about terrestrial ownership limits. SMYTH asked "why should (MEL KARMAZIN) have 299 signals when we can have a maximum of seven?" He said that he is not interested in owning all of the stations in a market, but said that the SIRIUS-XM merger could drive up the cost of talent and sports contracts.