April 27, 2012
Right now, I'm in an empty hotel ballroom, sitting in the back, alone, waiting for the Worldwide Radio Summit to start, with "Party Rock Anthem" booming on the P.A. When I write my autobiography (working title "You Don't Really Need To Read This"), this will take up at least a chapter. (Like I said, you won't need to read it) So my time is especially limited this week, plus I think everyone involved in mailing this thing out every week is here at the conference, so I'm not even sure this will ever get out to anyone. In that light, I'll keep it very short -- a plug, a complaint, another plug, then I'll go away. How's that?
Okay, first, the plug: I've been telling you about my annual walk to raise donations for the Revlon Run/Ralk for Women, which will be here in L.A. on May 12th, and we're running short on time, so, please, if you haven't yet donated and you want to support the cause, please go to do.eifoundation.org/goto/pmsimon2012 and give what you can. Even if you can't stand me -- see, I'm going for the larger share of audience now -- it's a great cause and it's close to my heart because it's sort of an anniversary celebration of my wife Fran's survival (six years and counting!). Anyway, that's the pitch, give if you can, and thank you!
Now, the complaint: It's been several years since I've had to commute, so this morning's drive up the 110 Freeway ("One Day Since Our Last Car-To-Car Shooting," and I'm not kidding) was a reminder that I really, really don't like it. It was also a reminder that radio's role in disseminating traffic information has changed, but radio hasn't changed to meet (or concede) that challenge. I'm driving up the 110 North, it's 6:30 am, traffic is at a standstill for a while, and I hear traffic reports telling me that there's no traffic problems pretty much anywhere, maybe some minor slowing on the 91 or on the South Bay Curve but no biggie. AND I'M STARING AT BRAKE LIGHTS.
There are now many ways to get traffic information. Google Maps does it. Your GPS does it. Fire up Waze on your phone and you get a flood of other drivers telling you what it's like where they are. Radio isn't alone anymore. But when reports are, as I've discovered, flat out wrong, it tells listeners that you're not reliable. That's not the message you want to send.
Really, the primary value of "traffic on the 8s" or "traffic and weather together" is for imaging. The information is too often useless. It's not just that by the time a traffic report tells you that the 110 North is stopped because someone broke down in the left lane, you're already there and stuck. Weather might nit be the same from one end of the market to the other. Incomplete or inaccurate information doesn't reflect well on radio. There are times I wonder whether we're better off just SAYING we have "traffic and weather together" or "traffic on the 8s" and never actually doing the reports. Perception is reality, right?
How about another plug? I've told you about the Nerdist Channel, one of the new YouTube programming services, and how it has a bunch of video shows with people like Chris Hardwick and "Weird Al" Yankovic and Neil Patrick Harris and the Kids in the Hall? They're making a horrific error by putting me on a show which, as far as I know, will debut a week from now, on which I, in my secret identity as Editor-in-Chief of Nerdist.com, will join some of Nerdist Industries' other staffers in talking about the week in pop culture, nerd-friendly division. Consider yourself warned, but the other shows on the channel are a lot of fun; you can subscribe to the Nerdist Channel by clicking here and watch by clicking here.
Yes, it's been busy here, but Talk Topics, the show prep column at All Access News-Talk-Sports, hasn't missed a beat with topic ideas and news stories and kicker items, available for free by clicking here; all the topics are also linked on Twitter at @talktopics. There's also "10 Questions With..." Talk Shows USA-syndicated medical show host Dr Kipp Van Camp, and don't forget the radio industry's first-best-most complete coverage at Net News, with the top stories tweeted at @allaccess.
Okay, they're about to start the Worldwide Radio Summit, so I gotta go. If you're here in Hollywood, say hi -- I'm the guy all the way in the back watching ESPN on my iPad... er, reporting on the proceedings for All Access. Just look for the glow of the laptop screen.