Radio's Einsteins

It’s hard to get excited about the future of radio when you listen to its leaders.

News accounts from the past week alone might leave you wondering what planet radio executives are on as they face unprecedented competition from mobile and Internet media and, oh yes – a recession.

For instance …

iBiquity raising $15 million more in venture capital for HD radio

They’re kidding, right?

Apparently there is a sucker born every minute. Investment banks (you remember their stellar performance in our economy) already fronted iBiquity $115 million in three earlier stages of funding. Of course, some of these geniuses JPMorgan, Grotech Partners, Pequot Private Equity Fund and New Venture Fund reportedly already own a piece of the HD manufacturer so what’s $15 million more. After all, the money may go to a good purpose: helping to fund a 13 week consumer awareness ad campaign. A 13 week campaign to do what?

No one wants HD radio. Stop this right now.

Emmis' Jeff Smulyan says the radio industry is on the way back

Jeff is a good one, but when he told the Kagan conference last week that there are more people listening to radio than at any other time in history he’s an eloquent cheerleader. He’s also backing the Radio 2020 road show to hype the medium. He acknowledges that radio has declined but says it’s just 3% over the last decade and just 6% for teenage boys – always a rough demographic for radio. How can radio’s leaders keep pumping up a business that has lost the next generation and as each year goes on will likely have fewer available radio listeners? I know. I know. What do expect him to say. He’s an owner. By the way, he also said that it will take another five years for HD radio to kick in.

Don't bet your Citadel stock on it.

Your NAB is against almost everything good for radio

Last week it filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals to block new public inspection file rules that require more detailed disclosure from stations. God forbid stations provide more detailed info on the community, local programming and election issues. The NAB’s cute response is that it has no problem with serving the public interest. But this proposal is just burdensome. You know for small stations.

Previously, the NAB swallowed its tongue on the fleeting expletive issues that the Supreme Court will consider. Maybe that’s too burdensome, too. And the NAB is passively fighting for the same freedom of speech rights that print currently enjoys. But they are spending like a drunken sailor to fight satellite radio – why? A broadcasting industry with so many problems ought to send a message to their lobby group in Washington. Act in the interest of all of us.

Friends like the NAB, radio broadcasters don't need.

The Blackberry becomes a radio receiver

Inside Radio reported last week that some satellite channels will soon be available to consumers for $7.99 a month. But almost 3,000 channels of terrestrial radio will also be available through Radio Companion. For some reason, both satellite and terrestrial operators don’t get that PDAs and mobile phones are not used by today’s consumers as transistor radios were. They need to come up with new, short form entertainment that is not a stream if they want to achieve success on a hand-held device.

There were plenty of other reminders in the past week of how the radio industry either doesn’t know what to do or is in denial -- or both.

Clear Channel is still trying to get the banks to go through with financing their bailout – that is, the bailout of the Mays'.

Interep went to the brink until it got some money to fight for its survival as a rep firm.

The radio industry is fiddling while Rome burns.

There is an entire new generation that doesn’t care about radio.

That is sad, because radio is still the best provider of real time content of any provider. Instead of getting into the future and unleashing this obvious advantage, radio’s leaders are acting like bankers and not innovators.

I saw this quote in the Sunday New York Times while I was flying to Los Angeles this week.

It’s from a real genius – Albert Einstein.

“Imagination Is More Important Than Knowledge”.

The radio industry's imagination is running wild alright, but in the wrong way.

For those of you who would prefer to get Jerry's daily posts by email for free, please click here. IMPORTANT: First you must check your mail or spam filter to verify your new subscription before service can begin.
Thanks for forwarding my pieces to your friends and linking to your websites and boards.