Radio Shack's Shocker

Looks like the folks who run Radio Shack have all of a sudden inherited the terrestrial radio dumb-dumb gene some of the "C" list consolidators have.

They are going to drop "Radio" from their name -- making them known as simply "The Shack".

This all happened after a new ad agency got its hands on the Radio Shack account and decided to make the brand more now sounding.

He's a bunch of bullshit:

The Chief Marketing Officer Greg Stern was quoted in Inside Radio yesterday as saying, “This creative is not about changing our name. Rather, we’re just contemporizing the way we want people to think about our brand.”

Does anyone tell the truth anymore?

Of course it's about changing your name and running away from who you are or better yet -- what you've unfortunately become.

Radio is no longer cool so it is getting the heave-ho from The Shack. That name sucks. Even the real Shaq won't like it.

Radio is apparently so toxic to the new Shack that they are going to leave radio out of the buy for its repositioning campaign -- you know, the one that doesn't use the word "radio". So if 230 million people listen to radio (albeit for significantly decreased time periods), maybe they should go elsewhere for their electronic needs.

Like online where everybody else goes.

It's cheaper.



You can read reviews and you don't have to suffer fools when a salesperson doesn't know what he or she is talking about.

Maybe that's their real reason for the name change -- they don't like who they are?

Since you put your boots on for the previous b.s. quote I cited, let me throw a little more you-know-what on the floor:

“Everything about the advertising — the media, format, style, music and tone — will contribute to a new interpretation of the brand.”
Somehow Radio Shack thinks it is like Coke or FedEx.

Well, there are a couple of problems here -- and as Barack Obama would say -- it gives us a teaching moment.

The Shack is nothing without Radio in it.

They'll find out -- too late.

What would OfficeMax be if their honchos thought offices were passe -- The Max?

If the Cheesecake Factory suddenly felt diners thought its cheesecake desert was causing an outbreak of adult onset diabetes, would it hire this ad agency to rename it -- The Factory?

If Apple someday saw digital downloads as yesterday's technology, could it rename the iTunes store -- The Store?

And what about Burger King -- take away the Burger because the fats are contributing to heart disease and this agency would rename it -- The King. Even Larry wouldn't eat there.

And if you think these examples are just me fooling around, did you see what Pizza Hut did?

They dropped the Pizza and kept The Hut. No kidding.

Back to Radio Shack -- and I'm going to call them that just for spite.

I get that they don't sell many radios these days.

I understand that their help doesn't know what an HD radio is -- after all, most radio CEOs don't know either not to mention consumers. Maybe that's why radio groups never adequately programmed their subchannels.

And my readers have told me they have tried to buy HD radios just because they are in the industry and have had a Radio Shack sales associate walk them over to the satellite radios -- which they knew nothing about either.

Maybe Radio Shack should have been renamed Radio Hack for the low level of product expertise some of the stores' employees have. I'll bet they couldn't even sell a popular item like an iPod or an iPhone if Apple let them.

Notice Apple doesn't let them.

So, let me contain my outrage.

No one knows better than we do that radio has seen its better day, but when a company that has "radio" as its first name and then decides to leave out the most important word -- and replace it with nothing -- either we're real uncool or they are.

How about both.

I've got some pretty smart radio friends who I could have invited out to Scottsdale for a brainstorming session (pizza courtesy of JD and The Hut), and we could have come up with something a lot better than -- The Shack.

How about Digital Shack.

Or a totally new name that somehow means as much as Radio Shack did for decades.

Or at least some word modifying the word Shack.

Caddy Shack would have been better than nothing -- at least it conjures up some strong imagery of the Dali Lama. (I call my driver "the lama" cause its a big hitter).

How about Radio Shack -- there's a good name.

Now comes the teaching moment:

1. Radio Shack is the radio Shack just as the radio industry is still the radio industry. Trying to be that which you are not will impress no one. The new imagery is not more contemporary as their agency argues, it's actually less meaningful.

2. Radio executives should learn as well -- taking personalities off of the radio (something listeners have loved for decades), is our version of a screw-up the size of Radio Shack dropping its first name. Sorry, but we're guilty here, too.

3. Offering the most compromised programming in the history of the radio industry is tantamount to the all-new Shack opening for business without putting their best products on the floor for sale. Terrestrial radio has been doing this for a long time. Repeater Radio. Voice Tracking. No local news. No local anything. No live people. No contests, promotions or excitement. Bland, compromised programming.

4. Radio can't seem to get beyond Cousin Brucie or Gordon McLendon. It can't rise above programming to people instead of to People Meters. The concept of radio isn't what's uncool -- doing yesterday's formatics without much music discovery is what young people will tell you is very uncool.

5. Podcasting is the new radio but 98% of the radio industry doesn't know it. They think it's a hobby. Podcasting is more radio than radio is because it is about one-on-one relationships the way radio used to be. Personal relationships never go out of style. Talking about your interests and not your listeners interests is lame no matter what you call that type of communication. (I'm in the midst of writing a book on success, happiness and people power skills in which I note that Dale Carnegie used to say if you want someone to like you, get them to talk about themselves. Talking about you is a no-no).

One more thing.

The coolest product to come along for the next generation is called Pandora.

No, I'm wrong.

It's called Pandora Radio and founder Tim Westergren wears the name "radio" like a badge of honor. Even when young folks have challenged him about the use of the name, he embraced it.

Did someone forget to tell Westergren that radio was passe -- damaged goods, yesterday's news? Or does he know something Radio Shack doesn't?

So the lesson for the radio industry and its electronics buddy Radio Shack is clear.

It's not the word "radio" that is uncool -- it's the stuff that passes for local programming these days on terrestrial stations.

And the reason Radio Shack is too embarrassed to use its real name is because they too have lost site of what is cool -- like knowing lots about exciting electronic products.

If Pandora wants to be called radio -- what's Radio Shack's excuse for not?

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