June 12, 2015
Okay, I gotta say something.
I'm presently sitting in a room in New York, covering the Talkers conference, and about 2/3 of the way through a panel on ratings, after several mentions of the Voltair processing device that some feel can affect talk radio's ratings under the PPM, someone yelled out "WHAT IS VOLTAIR?," and others agreed -- they didn't know. Points for honesty, but...
People. Listen to me. THIS IS YOUR BUSINESS. You HAVE to keep up.
As some of you know, I'm a lapsed attorney. I went through law school, got the diploma, passed the bar, and briefly practiced. But I woke up, stopped that nonsense, and got into this racket. In the meantime, a lot of changes to the law and procedure have occurred. Had I remained in the law, I'd have had to do what they call Continuing Legal Education, courses to keep me up to date. It's mandatory if you're actively practicing, and it's important, because you have to know what's happening in your business.
Radio doesn't have any requirements like that. You get in, you're in. And you can happily putter along, I suppose, working at the same job for decades until suddenly your station's ratings fall through the floor and you get fired and you have no idea what truck just hit you, because you thought your world ended at the studio door and there was no need to keep up with anything, because nothing changes, right? Who needs to know about that digital stuff and meters and ratings and stuff, because we'll always have turntables and cart machines and 5,000 watts directional daytime and the advertisers will always be with us because we don't have competition, right?
It is incumbent on everyone to know about the things that might affect your livelihood. It's an argument for showing up at these (expletive deleted) conferences to hear the latest, but it's also easier than that: read. Read All Access Net News and the columns, daily. Set a Google News alert for "radio" and anything else you need to know. Pay attention. If you don't, you get screwed by the PPMs and you don't even know why. You get steamrolled by digital alternatives and you don't even know what they are. You content yourself by thinking about the good old days and the way things were. And you consign yourself to holding on until retirement instead of growing with the new.
So learn. Learn about Voltair and the troubling questions it raises about the way PPM works. Learn about streaming and podcasting and what people are doing in those areas and what the possibilities are. Learn about the sales picture, the technical issues, the competition, the demographic shifts and how they have affected consumption of entertainment and information. You are not too old to start learning, to continue learning, to stay on top of your business and your game. And the most important reason is this: Other people are, and if you want to keep doing what you do, you need to keep up with them.
Not sure whether there's a neat segue to the plug for All Access News-Talk-Sports' Talk Topics, with hundreds of items and ideas and bad jokes, available now by clicking here, so I'll just blurt it out and leave it at that. And there's the Talk Topics Twitter feed at @talktopics with every story individually linked to the appropriate item. Plus, this week, it's "10 Questions With...," Ben Sarro, who's the very definition of live and local with his show on WNTK and WUVR in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont.
You can follow my personal Twitter account at @pmsimon, and my Instagram account (same handle, @pmsimon) as well? And you can find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pmsimon, and there's pmsimon.com, back in intermittent action.
And as for Full Disclosure: I also serve as Director of Programming for Nerdist Industries, which includes the Nerdist Podcast Network, one of your major podcast entities.
Merely noting the passing of All Access' co-founder Ria Denver Thursday morning seems inadequate, but I'm sort of lost for words. And saying she'll be missed is way short of the mark. It was Ria and Joel's foresight a few decades ago to embrace the Internet that made All Access what it is today, and we at the company will always be indebted and grateful for that. I wish there was a more elegant way to say all of this, but I hope this works.