'Presidents Of Radio' Present Platforms
September 18, 2008 at 3:15 PM (PT)
The JACOBS MEDIA SUMMIT's "President of Radio" panel in AUSTIN THURSDAY afternoon featured 10 participants "running" for the position of the chief executive of radio. The contenders offered their views on the state of radio's union.
ARBITRON's PIERRE BOUVARD called for a "show business attitude" towards new ideas, citing consultant WALTER SABO on getting pitches past the "that's been done before" attitude. He also suggested ideas like running promotional announcements about non-advertisers to get them interested in advertising, and handing digital initiatives over to high school and college students.
KATZ's GERRY BOEHME, delivering a rousing campaign-style speech, said that he had the plan to help radio through tough times. Calling for change, he said he would address "the economy, war, and health care" in his first 100 days, outlining plans for sales, stopping the fighting between radio stations over advertisers, and the "signs of sickness" like "old ways of thinking." He also decried too-large sales staffs and pushed for recruiting from outside the industry.
Consultant MIKE MCVAY flashed the NIXONian double-peace sign and promised to "return the radio to listeners." He decried the reduction of format diversity and called for mandatory HD-2 and the reinstatement of ascertainment. MCVAY also called for radio people to stop telling the public that the industry has problems and vowed to ban the phrase "the future is now."
EDISON MEDIA RESEARCH's LARRY ROSIN called for "an environment of investment," addressing the difficulty of new owners in obtaining financing to buy stations. He promised to send Congress a bill to allow more foreign investment in stations and said he would shrink the number of radio stations by eliminating the AM band.
HARPO RADIO GM JOHN GEHRON said that "radio is at a crossroads," but he cited several instances where "content saved radio" through innovation. He called for a focus on content and redefining the industry to include means of delivery other that terrestrial broadcast stations. He noted that since arriving in AUSTIN, he saw no marketing for radio or any evidence that radio stations exist in the market. He also called for a restoration of a farm system for new talent and a "massive reinvestment" in product and people" through "raising taxes" (reinvesting income).
Singer and DIAL GLOBAL-KUFX/SAN JOSE host GREG KIHN admitted "I never knew what I was doing and I don't know now. I've been making it up all this time. And they call that content." KIHN stressed unique entertainment and forcing managers to "not micromanage" talent.
RADIO AND RECORDS Publisher ERICA FARBER, sporting a tiara, said she would introduce a "no-complain" bill that would ban complaints unless the complainer has a better suggestion, and all radio workers would be required to have passion for the business. She also called for local management of all stations and mandatory terrestrial radio tuners in all music devices, and echoed BOUVARD's (and SABO'S) suggestion that HD channels be given over to students. She drew applause by requiring all station employees to actually listen to their own stations.
WBEB (B-101)/PHILADELPHIA owner JERRY LEE said that radio "is in a crisis mode" and presented a five-point plan to "go where the money is." He said he would unleash sales staffs in PPM markets to sell radio's "newfound reach" under PPM. He also discussed how only 21% of radio commercials, according to a recent study, were found to be "engaging," and called for training to teach copywriters how to write engaging spots. LEE also said that agencies should be offered the free use of a consultant to help them buy radio, and would use Radio-Mercury Award winners to train writers.
DALLAS-based syndicated host KIDD KRADDICK reeled off a string of jokes before insisting "I believe we still have power." He related the story of the "FREDDIE Needs Gas" tour, in which KRADDICK brought an unsigned artist from NEW YORK to DALLAS in a car and trailer with increasing response, proving the power radio can command. He compared HD RADIO to the war in IRAQ, calling it a mistake, and lampooned the tendency of stations to hurriedly tag breaks with "for more, check out our website," suggesting that stations should use their websites to drive people to their websites instead. KRADDICK also called for stations to use the Internet to train new talent and said that the industry needs more nationally syndicated shows to develop major stars.
WBBM-F (B96)/CHICAGO HOST JULIAN NIEH said he would encourage talent to take risks and invest in content.