Monkey First

There’s been many changes to the radio industry in the past fifty years, but one thing has not changed and that is the reason people listen.

People listen to radio that interests them.

This past week I sat in on a webinar that revealed groundbreaking data that is being produce by DTS AutoStage. Joe D’Angelo, Xperi’s Senior Vice President of Global Radio & Digital Audio, showed how granular, and in virtually “real time,” the data from vehicle listening produced by DTS AutoStage is. This research will give the radio industry unprecedented access to radio analytics and audience insights.

Train The Monkey First

The problem I see with all the technological advancements in the radio business these days is that it feels like we’re putting the cart before the horse.

Google’s division to foster innovation operates under the philosophy of “#MonkeyFirst.”

If you want to get a monkey to recite Shakespeare on a pedestal,

you start by training the monkey, not building the pedestal.

The hard part is training the monkey, as anyone can build a pedestal.

Applying this to radio broadcasting, the hard part is crafting the programming that goes out to a listener. The easy part is acquiring the technology to transmit a signal; whether over the internet or through the ether.

Headline News

CNN and Headline News (simply known as HLN) is under new ownership.

Back when Ted Turner conceived of the Headline News channel, it featured a full half-hour long newscast every thirty minutes, 24-hours a day.

With ownership change, came changes to Headline News, including the dropping of the name in favor of just calling the channel HLN. The channel also stopped doing thirty-minute newscasts round-the-clock and the only news program left was Robin Meade’s Morning Express.

That came to end after a 21-year run on Monday, December 5, 2022. Robin Meade explained that

“because of budget cuts and a changing industry HLN is no longer

producing its own live news. It means our news shows are ending.

In its place you will see a simulcast of CNN’s morning show.”

Once again, a broadcast company is expecting to do better by cutting costs and eliminating the very entity that drew people to the channel in the first place.

Too many broadcasters are hard at work building a better pedestal when where their attention should be focused on, is delivering the programming their audience wants.

The reason for this misplaced effort is because building technology is the easy part and management can show their investors early progress against a timeline.

The broadcasting industry is creating a world of outstanding pedestals, while the audience leaves.

Make sure you address the crux of the problem

and don’t waste time with the peripheral issues.

-Greg Satell


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

10 responses to “Monkey First

  1. Joel D. Harmon

    “Once again, a broadcast company is expecting to do better by cutting costs and eliminating the very entity that drew people to the channel in the first place.”

    Once again, a very good article on the media industry.
    Radio should be in hospice care, but the patient doesn’t know they are dying.


  2. Oh Dick..why is it that something that is so obvious when you state it has slipped through the mental grasp of the “geniuses” running Warner Brothers Discovery? Is it perhaps because they are not running a “communications” company, but rather are just chasing a stock price? Is it because there is no longer a Business of Broadcasting but just business? Way back in 1972, when I got my first job at WHN Radio in NYC, everybody understood that the reason we did everything we did every day, was to get the maximum number of folks to tune their AM radios to 1050. In 2016 when I retired from my last job at 77 WABC however, the major job of the Cumulus CEO, who had her office about 50 feet from my studio, was to get respect from Wall Street and a higher stock market price. Oh sure, they talked about programming and use all the correct sounding “radio words”, but the score card is always that stock price! Perhaps it always was like this, and I never realized it, but it just seems different today. Lay offs are the new normal to enhance the bottoms line! Really, is less really more? I think that’s just a self fulfilling prophecy. Sad what business has done to our business!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dick, no argument from me. “Cart before the horse,” etc. But don’t blame the technologists. What Xperi, Quu, and others are dreaming up now, and what RCS, Triton, and Wide Orbit invented decades ago were all necessary parts of the industry’s evolution, allowing radio to at least keep up.

    Do radio’s leaders need to step up their emphasis and commitment to content creation? Of course they do. But as we witness every year at CES, the wheels of innovation are always turning – even during a global pandemic.

    Maybe they will stimulate the captains of our industry to seriously start playing catch-up.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Victor Escalante

    Dick, since I have followed you from the beginning, I was thinking this morning what topic your last blog post will be?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The radio industry was given multiple opportunities to bring itself into “today,” and it abandoned all of them – starting with turning its back on the Google offer to sell unsold inventory in 2005. Revisit the lies Gary Fries, RAB President told. The following is from an article I wrote in 2006:

    “This is April, 2006. But let’s take a quick look at other comments Mr. Fries made through 2005; you’d have thought the radio industry was well on its way.
    July, 2005 on the flat revenue for Q2 2005:
    “The Radio industry is very actively and aggressively pursuing
    new technologies, formats, and platforms which will drive the
    business as we move forward into the second half of 2005 and
    into 2006.”
    July 5, 2005 – May Revenue: “Looking forward, we anticipate that
    Radio revenue will continue to progress as a direct result of the
    significant programming, operational, and business advancements
    that are being implemented by the industry.”
    June 3, 2005 – April Revenue: “Radio’s growth is on the horizon
    as recently introduced technologies, programming formats, and
    advertising platforms take root and propel the industry forward.”
    April 28, 2005 – March Revenue: “Radio is evolving at a rapid
    pace, both technologically and creatively… Growth should
    remain steady throughout the year, as the medium and its
    advertisers explore how to maximize the advantages emerging
    from this new landscape.”

    There’s nothing anyone will say to pull radio leaders from their “we produce compelling content,” or we are here for community safety during bad weather. Both statements are provably false, and have been since first said.


  6. Dave Mason

    I sit here shaking my head and say “wow”. Just wow.


  7. Pingback: Monkey First — DickTaylorBlog – wirelesswaffle

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