Priceless, priceless stuff. Jerry is a brilliant man and a great programmer. Too bad no one is listening to him.
Radio: No Balls and Jockless
By Jerry Del Colliano
The personnel cutbacks in radio continue.
Forget that it's only a few weeks before Christmas.
Each week another group gets to make a fool out of itself to shave more costs while rationalizing that they are doing better radio.
Someone must believe them -- but not my readers from the next generation who know better and -- believe it or not -- the programmers and managers who know how to run a good radio station. Or what I call the unemployed.
This week, it's CBS Radio on a rampage.
Their latest desperate move is to eliminate djs entirely and do an imitation of the "Jack" format -- you know, the "we play what we want, and you'll listen" concept. Except, that the listeners don't listen -- at least not in large enough quantities to make a statement. WKRK-FM in Cleveland can be added to the spineless list of yes men who said, "anything you want" to corporate and switched to an automated format called Radio 92.3 -- inspiring, eh? Opie and Anthony were pulled -- probably an okay move, but what's left of the local air staff is also out in the rust belt cold on the unemployment line. A sweeper voice is making a few bucks and he doesn't have to live in Cleveland. (Hey, what's wrong with Cleveland? After all, WKRK is in Cleveland?). The geniuses in the trenches think they've tweaked a female leaning alternative format that plays lots of music except where listeners have to put up with commercials and suffer the indignities of sweepers -- the worst formatic element ever invented by radio. Meaningless, repetitive, self-promotion. Jockless is "working" or should I say not being stoned to death in Hartford and Philly. Luckily young people don't care about radio anymore because radio sure doesn't care about them. More music -- fewer commercials -- greater variety. What a concept! So you don't think I'm going negative on you, let me pretend to suck up to the decision makers who are pushing this "improved" radio. God, listeners are going to eat it up. Who needs jocks? Listeners like to listen to stations that don't lose money for their owners. Someday PPM will confirm that! Anyway, we've got to do it -- there's a recession, right. And listeners want more music. They hate jocks anyway.
I'm going to puke.
You know what happens to decision makers who make lousy decisions, don't you? They keep their jobs when they work in radio. What happens if you know in your heart and through your experience that reducing radio to such a non-compelling experience can only hurt its chances of being a viable business? What some good programmers who have sold their souls to keep their jobs have forgotten is that you build the content first, market it second. Nowhere did I mention cutting costs?
A growth business is Apple. Not radio.
Apple comes up with great products that are generationally appealing and they deliver them in an atmosphere of desirability. Their marketing comes after they come up with the content like iPods, iPhones, Apple Air computers and so on. If radio executives ran Apple, here's how it would have gone.
Back when the money was pouring in, John Hogan(the head guy at Clear Channel), the new Apple CEO would have called a meeting and announced some changes.
1. He would appoint fifteen regional executives to meddle in Apple's retail stores.
2. Hogan would have announced to Wall Street that Apple was going to cut the length of the ear bud cords for the purposes of economies of scale. This would bring great savings that would be accretive to their share price. He would call PR Newswire and announce his new policy is called "Less is More" and consumers would carry their heads bent over in neck pain because they can't hold their heads up straight while listening because the cord is too short.
3. Apple CEO Hogan would then announce a reshuffling of his regional executives to eliminate the ones that won't say "yes" quicker and while he's at it, he creates three additional regional posts to make up for the weaknesses of the ones he's already named.
4. He announces the iPod will come complete with a radio that only plays Ryan Seacrest -- citing a research project that was commissioned by someone, someplace, somehow.
5. He announces budget cutbacks and starts firing store managers so the Apple store manager in Philadelphia has to run the one in the suburbs. This continues until he has one store manager per market -- running eight Apple stores. He calls this -- consolidation. Very accretive to shareholders.
6. Hogan announces that works so well that he's going to have his market retail store managers manage two markets. His first announcement reveals that he will be requiring the Philly manager to also oversee Kuala Lampur's stores. Not to worry -- he'll be required to visit each store every week.
7. Hogan reshuffles his regionals again and cuts back to four regions with the biggest four yes men (or women) keeping their jobs. The others are shown out of the building and their iPhones physically removed from their persons.
8. Then, as profits decline, Hogan calls the PR Newswire and announces drastic budget cutbacks to keep the stock price accretive. There's that word again.
9. Hogan suddenly drops the iPhone and iPod saying Apple can no longer afford to build and market these successful products because it would require them to actually hire more people instead of reducing the work force which would be -- more accretive. But he reassures everyone that Apple will remain in the laptop business.
10. Hogan calls Lee and Bain and offers them a chance to take Apple private at $100 a share. Meanwhile Apple stock is trading for $1.00 a share. But that's more than Citadel.
11. Apple announces that Lee and Bain have taken Apple private and to be reassured that John Hogan will remain as CEO for the next five years.
12. Apple cuts its work force by nearly 50% and finds some old computers in a warehouse that they can blowout under the name "Apple Air" -- never mind if it is or isn't.
You get the idea.
The way radio CEOs do things, they could even screw up Apple -- which if you follow their stock, is holding up pretty nicely in a bad economy.
No one is listening to radio.
Advertisers in deep trouble this holiday season are avoiding radio as a sales tool at any price. But go to an Apple store (run by Steve Jobs not John Hogan) and see how many people are buying iPods for their kids this Christmas -- in fact they will likely sell a record number -- and they are having the same recession everyone else is. And you see a lot of employees ready to help you buy something. Call their help centers and you actually get people answering the phone. Apple continues to expand which is why the company continues to grow.
Yes, radio has no balls -- jockless, mindless, people-less radio -- that your radio CEOs are giving the American public and advertiser.
While Apple may be the digital tomorrow and radio is in danger of being the analog past, the real mistake that is being made has nothing to do with technology.
It has to do with content -- or lack of it, thereof -- things like jockless stations, syndicated poppycock and non-compelling, cheap programming.
And a lack of understanding the generational media -- the differences between Gen Y, Gen X and Baby Boomers as it pertains to media.
Its content they don't understand or value which is why Apple is a growth business and radio is a thing of the past.
How about some balls for a quick fix? The courage to get back to what radio once did by instinct and now can't do even with the help of radar.
Get a new plan. This one has failed.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
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