Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Who Do You Trust?

The stage is set for a terrific 2013, but nobody is going to hand us anything.  We live in a highly competitive world and just like virtually any other business, success will require us to be at our very best.  Our listeners and customers have nearly limitless choices.  So if our content (on-air or digital), service and execution are anything less than excellent, we will lose them.  At the same time, the opportunity to gain new customers from other media is greater than ever before.  We are a superior choice for any customer looking for enormous reach, local activation, and strong engagement at an attractive price.  No other medium can match us across these criteria.

With the start of a new year, each of us is awarded a fresh start.  A chance to raise our games, build on our strengths, and recommit ourselves to achieving our full potential.  Let’s steel ourselves with the determination to overcome our challenges and make the necessary changes to set a new standard of excellence in our work.  Let’s make 2013 a year of great accomplishment and pride.  

I trust David Field.

It’s a major breakthrough.  It changes the dynamic — and this is something that is going to make a lot of sense to the American public because they’re getting this for free and they’re not consuming data, so we think it’s a major step.

I trust Jeff Smulyan.

But let’s be clear about what this agreement involving certain Android and Windows phones is, and isn’t. Many smartphones already contain an FM chip (that’s the long-held belief of Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan). But you can’t just wave a Harry Potter wand and activate that chip. It needs software to make a “tuner,” and not software you can download from an app store in the cloud. In other words, this victory will have to be realized one new phone at a time – it’s not retroactive to the one you’ve got in your pocket or purse. The Emmis Interactive-developed NextRadio app is one way to control the tuner on your next phone, but there will be others. It’s probably not a coincidence that Sprint offers unlimited data – it doesn’t “meter” usage by customers. So its economic incentives line up particularly well with broadcasters who’ve been lobbying the wireless industry. Other carriers have the meter running, and they benefit when their customers listen to radio over the Internet, using a data plan. But even so, the NAB and the other enthusiastic backers of FM chips on cellphones like Smulyan and Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman call the Sprint deal a breakthrough, after years of talks (and sometimes ridicule).  

I trust Tom Taylor.

More than anything, I trust the Consumer Electronics, mobile dashboard, cable, satellite, internet, and phone industries to want to charge their customers - our listeners - more and more for what once was "free radio."

Ultimately, I trust that the average media consumer will want as much as they can get without having to pay for it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely correct about the opportunity presented to radio through cell phones and the "new dashboard." Stations and management that view this as a chance to make radio relevant again by giving people who listen a choice with compelling content will take advantage. Stations and management who view this as leveling the playing field with everything else on the internet and believe they can compete as a pure music service will be sadly disappointed. -Bob McNeill