Radio’s Three Stooges

Every New Year’s Eve I create a night of excitement, romance and passion for my beautiful wife, Cheryl, by … well, by …

Okay, by staying home and watching AMC’s Three Stooges marathon.

What a romantic guy, eh?

As far as I am concerned there is no better way to ring in the new year than to continue what I’ve been observing the other 364 days – people making fools of themselves.

My wife who – if you must know – was the first to come up with the nickname “Slogan” for John Hogan (sorry John, it wasn't me) while she was proofreading one of my pieces.

So on New Year's Eve when she said, “why don’t you do a piece about Farid, Dickey and Hogan – the Three Stooges” I was all over it like an Italian eating meatballs in Sunday "gravy".

Can you see why I married this woman?

Sheer genius.

Of course, I hated to desecrate three people I love and respect -- Moe, Larry and Curly, but Cheryl was absolutely right. Do it for the sake of my career.

And she mentioned it on the right day because I had been hearing about last minute firings ramping up to New Year’s Eve by radio's three amateur comedians. I guess they thought they could sneak a few more people onto the unemployment lines without anyone knowing.

Aah, but they underestimate the power of our Repeater Reporters whose mantra seems to be “When Big News Breaks, They Break Up (Laughing)”. So yes, Radio’s Three Stooges never get a day off from their employees telling the rest of the story.

First I must tell you that I am getting reports that Fagreed Suleman is all full of himself again since he accomplished his life’s goal of bankrupting the first and only company he ever ran. He seems proud that he’s got job security with the greedy bastards he sold out to.

So, let's get on with it -- how do I cast these Radio's Three Stooges?

Hogan has to be Moe because he’s the clueless leader of the three failing radio groups that begin with the letter “C” – Clear Channel, Cumulus and Citadel. He gives the orders (but only after he takes his orders from Lee & Bain, the workout artists).

Fagreed is Larry.
He even looks like him in a way. And while Larry just seems like a moronic idiot, Fagreed --- well, …

Dickey is Curly. Yuck-Yuck-Yuck-Tuck. Two Harvard grads --- just kidding, I'm kidding! I can just see Dickey doing that mock two hand head salute to all his employees. While the real Lew Dickey has an enviable head of hair compared to Curly, both of them seem to act like there’s no common sense below the scalp.

One of the Three Stooges shorts opens with a shot of the front door of the law offices of “Diller, Dollar and Dolar” and somehow I just see all our present day radio stooges coming up with more ways to make fools out of themselves hiding behind the law.

Another is at the funeral home of “Diggs, Diggs and Bury” – God, isn’t that apropos? If any three radio CEOs have done more to kill off an industry, it has been these clowns.

So what kind of plots could we have?

Well, you don’t have to look past the reality that has made the radio industry like a Fellini movie with lots of fantasy and baroque images. And maybe “baroque” is the wrong word. Perhaps “broke” is a better word than "baroque"for these ailing and bankrupt companies.

That’s it, let’s look to reality for some story lines for Radio’s Three Stooges – real events, real happenings – like ...

• Clear Channel, the Evil Empire, hires a former ENRON Executive Vice President and General Counsel Rob Walls to work the same magic for them that he worked for the bankrupt, corrupt and defunct ENRON. The plot thickens when they hire the replacement for CFO Randall Mays from the disgraced and failed lender “WaMu”.

I tell ya, you can’t make this stuff up.

Okay, maybe that plot is so believable that it is unbelievable since it really happened. Let’s try something lighter, like firings ...

• Two people were fired from Clear Channel Dayton on the eve of the new year – on-air personalities. Not an exciting enough plot line for these three characters? How about the fact that the latest two stealth firings brings the total to a whopping 18 for that cluster alone in the past year. It’s true. But is it funny enough for Radio’s Three Stooges to do something with it now that it's out there and everyone knows?

Here’s a great script possibility for Radio's Three Stooges …

• Clear Channel launches this great new programming initiative called “Rush Radio” in a number of markets – it’s Conservative talk radio for FMs. You know, “Rush Radio” – Rush Limbaugh! Some of the new "Rush Radio" stations may use slogans (John Hogan loves slogans) like "In tough times, it pays to be RIGHT!" Get it? Conservative? Right. Then you grow the plot by putting Rush Radio on some unfortunate Hispanic FMs that Clear Channel has failed to develop and program a local morning show, then Rush, Glenn Beck, Hannity and then repeat the trio. But then Rush is hospitalized with chest pains … no this can’t be real.

Here’s a real comedy of errors for Radio’s Three Stooges …

• On New Year’s even, Citadel fires a newsman then gets that fired newsman a gig at Metro Networks doing news for the very same station he was fired from for – are you ready – less money! No damn it, I’m not making this stuff up.

Well, I can hear the Three Stooges theme music “Three Blind Mice” coming up in the background, so it must be time to go.

The holidays were too long for me to be away from you.

Just when I thought there would be nothing to write about after the two-week break, Fagreed Suleman, Slogan Hogan and Tricky Dickey make fools of themselves yet again.

But this time the joke is really on them.

I know they hang on to my every word – Lew says he reads me only occasionally when my blog is forwarded to him (imagine that e-mail, “Hey Lew, here’s more good publicity for you”).

So if Radio's Three Stooges are reading this today as we start the new year, here it is –

Gentlemen, be afraid, be very afraid – the ad industry is not increasing its revenue in the year ahead but advertisers will be moving more traditional money to new media no matter how low you go on pricing.

I’ve got three seats for you in front of the room at my upcoming Media Solutions Lab if you want them. Some seats are $200 off until they’re gone – good use of corporate funds. Nearby Scottsdale Airport can handle your private planes.

Then listen and take notes.

Just when they thought they dodged the bullet to escape bankruptcy, the bleeding starts again.

These three may do the impossible and make 2009 look good.

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24 Days Left Until My Media Solutions Lab.

And some seats have been put aside for a $200 Preregistration Discount until they are sold (includes registration, breakfast, lunch and breaks). Register now to claim the $200 discount seats. Lock it in here.

Then search for a wide variety of hotel rooms and pricing options up to the minute, here.

This is a face-to-face interactive learning session divided into 14 meaningful modules. It will not be recorded for rebroadcast nor will you be able to record it. There will be no hucksters, sponsors or speakers with an agenda. You will personalize your involvement and come away with an action plan.

We’re waiting for Steve Jobs to drop the bomb that his mobile Apple tablet will be available – possibly as soon as the first quarter and it will not be enough to just find ways to reconfigure terrestrial radio.

There is mobile media, social networking, podcasting and webcasting but not the way radio companies are doing it.

The Solutions lab is about solutions.

Sample some of the program:

Future Trends

What will happen to radio by next December? What about the music business? The battle between on-demand and cable TV. Mobile content predictions. The shape of things to come in specifics. I worked on this over the weekend and so far there are 14 future trends you need to know to get a leg up on the changes ahead in the media business.

The New Radio

If you’re expecting a lecture on the People Meter or strategic ways to squeeze more listening out of existing programming, you’re aiming too low. Of course, we'll deal with ratings but you won't hear the same things everyone else is telling you. There is so much more. You'll learn if and under what circumstances a terrestrial brand can be ported to the digital world.

Improve Your Digital DNA

Think like Apple CEO Steve Jobs. It’s not a pipe dream. I’ll actually isolate his outstanding skills in reading the marketplace so you can see which ones you have, the ones you want to expand and the remaining that you’d like to acquire. No pie in the sky – this is hands on. Remember, Jobs is 50ish. You’ll learn that old dogs learn new tricks, they study the marketplace and provide consumers with exactly what they want and will support. We'll have some fun together learning how to let go of the less useful tools we've been accustomed to using and grasp a chance to acquire new age tools with people, ideas and marketing.

Make Money in Podcasting

You can be up and running in 30 days – I’m going to share what I tell clients looking to establish moneymaking brands in podcasting. What to avoid. How not to imitate radio because radio formatics on podcasting is not your strongest suit. Then, on to using social networking to grow your new business and finally monetize it. And be ready when I tell you that you can make money in podcasts without running commercials. You’ll get it here.

Fixing the Mistakes of Webcasting

Don’t follow terrestrial broadcasters – they’ve got it all wrong when it comes to webcasting. See, they want the web to be another transmitter – it’s a disease with them. But you’ll get the cure – I’ll show you ways to use the Internet that they are not doing and once the shock wears off you’ll want to run not walk to be the first ones in. And although royalty issues are a problem, I’ll show you how to deal with them. I'll set up a few parameters and then you'll brainstorm with me. While we're at it, you'll see how to use the brainstorming format I developed when I was a professor at the University of Southern California. I'm sure you'll use it with your people once you get the hang of it.

Help Advertisers Go Direct

Another business waiting to happen. I’ll outline where the opportunities are. We see big advertisers dabbling in direct access now but I contend this is a local business, too. If you’re a station willing to change, it’s for you. If you used to work for a station or are an ad agency, it’s a new business. You own the content and build the pathway. This is not just for the youth market. It’s for all ages, all markets.

New Media Businesses You Can Start

Start writing – and then ask all the questions you can. There are some businesses that are begging to be started and they don’t take a lot of money. Just brains and vision and hard work. Plus, a plan. I’ll show you one for each of the three businesses I will isolate.

How To Start a Business for the Apple Tablet

We're going to devote some time to this topic because I believe the Apple tablet is going to be the iPod/iPhone of the decade to come. A mobile commerce platform through the iTunes store that Apple is revamping right now. I'll give you the latest on what the device is, what it can be and how you can ready businesses for it. The Apple tablet through the iTunes store is a robust infrastructure that you can get in on whether you’re a radio brand, former radio executives or talent or an entrepreneur.

Make Money Publishing

While newspapers fret over lost circulation, you'll use those skills you picked up in an earlier session thinking like Apple. Did you see where even newspaper websites are now losing readers? But they are sitting on something powerful and they don’t even know it. Too worried about failure and declining revenues. I'll show you a zip-code inspired way to create your first, second, third (and so on) cash flow stream. Your expenses will be in content -- not delivery. Perfect for ex-radio execs who want to use their programming and marketing skills. Hint: the new publishing will be inhaled, heard, seen and read. More to come.


You can get them. I’m going to get them. I'll tell you how I'm going to do it and how you can, too. There is a debate that is relevant about free vs paid. Rupert Murdoch thinks he can get paid for the online content of his newspaper empire and I agree with him. Chris Anderson ("Long Tail" and "Free") says the best you can do is give it all away for free and then charge for paid additional content. I disagree (I never much liked his long tail theory of the music industry, either). So how does this affect you? Got an idea, a talent, a skill, a topic -- if it is good enough someone may pay a fair price to access it. It's happening now. This flies in the face of everything we know about young people and the Internet. Then again, buying Apple apps flies in the face of ... well, you get it. And so does the monthly TV package Apple is reportedly considering. This could be a business for you or your company.

Mobile Money

Radio may be content to miss the mobile revolution, but you don’t have to. If you have an idea, a personality, a talent – you can channel it to the new mobile media world that is evolving. There are rules and pitfalls and we’ll discuss them. You can ask questions and gain insights. Ask me about how to make mobile users go nuts like cats do when you throw them some cat nip.

Social Networking Beyond Facebook

In fact, people are getting pissed off at the blatant commercial uses of Facebook and Twitter. Facebook has tightened its controls for users to keep out unwanted riff raff. Hey, social networking is being redefined and I'll show you some of the ways you can use it. In fact, this is one area you had better be skilled in for over the next ten years social networking will drive everything.

Reinventing You

I’m publishing a book on this topic in 2010. I’ve gleaned a lot of insights from my teaching of the next generation at USC. Basically, if you buy that our world is changing (and few would argue that) then it follows that we must change ---acquire new skill sets, discard less useful tools. You’ll get a preview of the concepts that will help you reinvent yourself for your career and even your life.

Leave with an Action Plan

Once you decide what you want to take from this day, I want you to leave with a plan of action to make changes, explore new opportunities, acquire useful and additional skills.

This Media Solutions Lab is really different. Not a convention. It’s a fast moving, fun, eye opening seven hours and I promise you’ll never see things the same old way again.

My abilities and yours together is what makes this day special and rewarding.

There is a “pre-registration” price category on the Media Solutions Lab website. It’s like the airlines (except we serve food and let you use the bathrooms for free). A limited number of seats at a $200 discount.

I know it isn't easy for the people who need this day the most to afford it. But please consider that sitting out the future even for another year is not an option.

Claim one of them asap here.

I can hardly wait to be with you and help get your creative juices flowing

I hope you invest in yourself and accept my invitation and meet me in person January 28th at the Westin Kierland for my Media Solutions Lab. Register now.