NAB's Rehr: Radio Still Relevant
April 14, 2008 at 10:15 AM (PT)
Insisting that "the public's love for radio is still there; they just have to be reminded of it," NAB Pres./CEO DAVID K. REHR formally opened the annual NAB SHOW in LAS VEGAS MONDAY by discussing the Radio 2020 initiative and unveiling a new "Radio Heard Here" logo and marketing plan. REHR returned to themes voiced in previous speeches that ascribed radio's troubles to its image with consumers, asserting that the "magic of radio" remains and that focus groups indicated that "radio remains very relevant."
"Listeners still want what they've always wanted" from radio, said REHR. "Technology hasn't changed that; just the devices have changed ... Some people have been staring so long at the door that's closing, they haven't seen the door that's opening -- the digital door." He told broadcasters that "we must believe in the future... It will be phenomenal."
CBS commentator CHARLES OSGOOD was honored with the NAB's Distinguished Service Award at the morning session. In an acceptance speech structured in the form of a DR. SEUSS story (OSGOOD is the narrator of the current film version of "HORTON HEARS A WHO"), Osgood implored broadcasters to remember that they are the best at producing content and that the issue isn't technology, "It's what we do with what we've got."
Robbins Riles Them Up
Actor TIM ROBBINS appeared with former NEW YORK DAILY NEWS TV critic DAVID BIANCULLI, with ROBBINS cajoled by the audience into delivering a speech he had discarded. ROBBINS' speech opened by taking a shot at Talk radio hosts for calling him a traitor for opposing the war, then joked that the NAB had billed him as discussing the challenges of new media, but that "I don't even know what that f--king means."
Ignoring the scheduled topic to instead rip the broadcasting industry, ROBBINS gave a tongue-in-cheek history of radio (which replaced the then-dominant entertainment medium of "listening to a hoot-owl while playing the zither and bouncing your niece on your knee") and peppered the narrative with jokes about President BUSH and curse words that prompted him to remind the audience that "what happens in VEGAS stays in VEGAS" ("oh, yeah, that'll happen," interjected BIANCULLI).
ROBBINS, drawing applause in a mock celebration of the broadcasting industry, also took shots at deregulation for eliminating discussion of issues, alternative rock and the Fairness Doctrine, and ripped broadcasters for reporting sex scandals like the CLINTON-LEWINSKY affair and for being "racially divisive." He "advised" broadcasters to compete with new technology by getting compromising information on their competitors. Getting serious, ROBBINS said that the nation is "at an abyss" and called on broadcasters to "lift us up into a more enlightened age."