From north Jersey to south Jersey,
we’re loving summer at the Jersey Shore.
Back with a new blog article on Sunday, August 15th.
From north Jersey to south Jersey,
we’re loving summer at the Jersey Shore.
Back with a new blog article on Sunday, August 15th.
After a year of not traveling due to COVID19,
it’s good to be able to visit family once again.
Back with a new blog article on August 15th.
After the January 6, 2021 siege on Capitol Hill, I began hearing people saying we need to bring back “The Fairness Doctrine,” as if that genie could be put back into the bottle.
But what exactly was “The Fairness Doctrine?”
It was a policy enacted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1949 requiring the holder of a broadcast license to both present controversial issues of public importance, and to present these issues in a manner that was honest, equitable, fair and balanced.
In other words, broadcasters were supposed to not only uncover what the people in their broadcast service area should be aware of, but also to present both sides of the issue.
Operate in the Public Interest, Convenience and Necessity
From the beginning of my broadcast management career, I knew that my number one job was to protect the radio station’s FCC broadcast license to operate. Without a broadcast license, you were out of business. Second, my radio station(s) must operate in the public interest, convenience and necessity of the people in the area we were licensed to serve with our broadcasts.
The FCC created The Fairness Doctrine to ensure that “all sides of important public questions were presented fairly.”
For decades, this doctrine was seen as the keystone of broadcasters fulfilling their commitment to operating in the public interest. Compliance with The Fairness Doctrine was a primary litmus test during the license renewal process.
It was during the 1960s, when I started my radio career, that the FCC increased their enforcement of broadcaster compliance to The Fairness Doctrine. In 1963, the FCC formally stated that the presentation of only one side of an issue during a sponsored program would require that opposing views be given free air time to present their side. That rule became known as the Cullman Doctrine.
Broadcaster’s Free Speech
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that all of this increased oversight by the FCC on a broadcast station’s program content was seen as interference with a broadcaster’s “free speech.”
This would eventually be challenged at the Supreme Court in the Red Lion Broadcasting v. FCC decision of 1969, with the high court upholding the constitutionality of the public interest standard in general and The Fairness Doctrine in particular. In their decision, the court stated, “It is the right of the viewers and listeners, not the right of the broadcasters, which is paramount.”
The End of The Fairness Doctrine
In 1985, the FCC finally decided that The Fairness Doctrine was incompatible with the public interest. It would eliminate this rule in 1987, and in 2011, the FCC removed the rule that implemented the policy from the Federal Register.
“[T]he Federal Communications Commission should reestablish two principles that formerly served this country well: the public service requirement and the fairness doctrine. Every television and radio station should once again be required to devote a meaningful percentage of its programming to public service broadcasting. The public, after all, owns the airwaves through which signals are broadcast, and the rights-of-way in which cables are strung. And every television and radio station should once again have to follow the fairness doctrine: those with opposing views should have the right to respond to viewpoints expressed on the station.”
― Bernie Sanders, United States Senator
Trump Tweets NBC Broadcasts “Fake News”
In October of 2017, President Donald J. Trump tweeted “With all the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!”
Broadcast legal experts immediately criticized and dismissed Trump’s tweet as both implausible and having no legal basis.
The American Bar Association’s Legal Fact Check wrote:
“The FCC publishes specific rules and guidelines related to news hoaxes and distortions and bars a licensee from knowingly broadcasting false information concerning a crime or a catastrophe. But the bar or threshold is high. Six days after Trump’s tweet, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said his agency cannot revoke the license of a broadcaster ‘based on content of a particular newscast,’ and cited First Amendment protections of the press. FCC statements previously noted that the commission ‘often receives complaints … that stations have aired inaccurate or one-sided news reports or comments, covered stories inadequately or overly dramatized the events that they cover… (but) the commission generally will not intervene in such cases because it would be inconsistent with the First Amendment to replace the journalistic judgment of licensees with our own.’”
FOX NEWS CHANNEL
The Fairness Doctrine ended during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, however, it’s often wrongly stated that this gave birth to cable’s FOX NEWS CHANNEL. It did not. Cable channels are not, nor have they ever been, regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Similarly, the internet is also not regulated by the FCC.
The Fairness Doctrine only applied to the licenses of broadcast radio and television stations.
A case could be made that the end of The Fairness Doctrine did open the door to the Rush Limbaugh Show, which made its nationally syndicated premiere in 1988. Rush Limbaugh was a savior for AM radio stations, who saw most of their music audiences moving over to FM radio stations, and those advertising dollars moving right along with them.
Limbaugh proved so popular with AM talk radio audiences, that AM radio station owners added more talk shows like Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin and others.
Following the siege on our nation’s Capitol in Washington, DC on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, Cumulus Media, the radio syndicator for the Mark Levin Show sent a memo to its talk show hosts to stop spreading rhetoric about a stolen election or face termination.
Brian Philips, executive vice president of content for Cumulus Media wrote in his memo:
“We need to help induce calm NOW (and) will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended. The election has been resolved, there are no alternative acceptable ‘paths.’ If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately.”
Cumulus Media operates Westwood One, which syndicates Trump-supporting radio talk personalities like Mark Levin, Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino.
I find it ironic that the people screaming the loudest about what Cumulus Media has done is to thwart free speech. It’s not “free speech” to tell lies. United States constitutional law does not always protect false statements under the First Amendment.
Moreover, these same people are usually the ones who say, “Let the market decide.” In other words, let the corporations and companies make those hard decisions.
In this case, Cumulus Media did just that.
iHeartMedia which syndicates Trump-supporter hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity has not publicly announced any similar action for these talk hosts as of the writing of this blog article.
In 2016, SiriusXM suspended conservative talk host Glenn Beck for agreeing with one of his show’s guests who asked, “what patriot will step up to remove Donald Trump from office if he’s elected president and oversteps his authority?” SiriusXM, operator of America’s two satellite radio services, suspended Beck because they worried the conversation might “be reasonably construed by some to have been advocating harm against an individual currently running for office.”
Michael Harrison, who publishes Talkers magazine was sympathetic to the Cumulus memo saying:
“Corporations are responsible for what’s on their air. They have to deal with client feedback. They have to deal with public image and protection of their license. Private corporations can control their platforms, and I believe that in and of itself is an expression of free speech in action.”
*George Victor Voinovich (July 15, 1936 – June 12, 2016) was an American politician who served as a United States senator from Ohio from 1999 to 2011, the 65th governor of Ohio from 1991 to 1998 and the 54th mayor of Cleveland from 1980 to 1989, the last Republican to serve in that office.
Last year at this time, we were debating whether 2020 was the end of the second decade of the 21st Century or the beginning of the third decade. (Spoiler Alert: it was the end. Decades start with 1 and end with 0.)
I remember being anxious for 2019 to end, but after the challenging year that 2020 became, I couldn’t for the life of me remember why 2019 was so bad. So, I decided to look back to find out what was happening. These are only some of the highlights that made 2019 an anxious year for me, and others.
United States Government Shutdown
On January 3, 2019 Democrats took control of the United States House of Representatives. Hopes were high that they would end the government shutdown. The shutdown had now been going on 22 days, leaving 800,000 employees unpaid, becoming the longest in U.S. history.
College Admissions Scandal
We learned of a college admissions scandal where around 50 people had been accused of bribery and fraud to secure admission to elite colleges for their children. The scandal featured two familiar faces, actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. (I’ll never think of “Aunt Becky” the same way again.)
Huffman would serve 14 days in prison, fined $30,000 and be required to perform 250 hours of community service for her involvement in the scandal. Loughlin and her husband would continue to fight into 2020 before settling with prosecutors, heading off to jail and paying fines.
The Mueller Report
What seemed like forever, 2019 was the year that Robert Mueller finally turned in his report on the 2016 Presidential election after a nearly two-year investigation on whether the Trump Campaign helped Russia interfere with our election. Attorney General William Barr would reduce the report’s findings to a four page letter to Congress that in essence said ‘there’s nothing to see here.’
Hats Get Thrown into Presidential Race for 2020
By the time Joe Biden threw his hat into the ring, announcing he was running for President in 2020, 20 candidates, the largest field of presidential candidates in U.S. history, were now all running against the incumbent, Donald Trump. It was in May of 2019, that Gallup’s tracking poll measured Trump’s approval rating at the highest of his presidency thus-far, 46%. (It never got any higher than 49%.)
That same month we also learned via the New York Times, that Donald Trump has lost $1.17 billion from his various businesses from 1985 to 1994, a far greater amount than previously known, and more than any tax payer in U.S. history.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in June reported that there were 971 cases of measles in the United States, the highest level in more than 25 years.
Billionaire financier and registered sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, is taken into federal custody in New York on charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to traffic minors in Florida and New York. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta would resign amid the controversy over his prosecution of Epstein in 2007, which raised lots of questions about how this case had been handled. Epstein, only months later, would be found dead in his jail cell.
Manhattan’s West Side was hit with a blackout, occurring exactly 42 years after the New York City blackout of 1977 that would also plunge much of New York City into blackness.
Election Security Blocked
Less than 24 hours after Special Counsel Robert Mueller warned of the continued threat of interference to America’s elections, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocks legislation designed to improve election security in the United States.
The Phone Call
In September, the inspector general of Intelligence, Michael Atkinson, communicates to the House Intelligence Committee that a whistleblower had issued an “urgent” and “credible” complaint involving an apparent July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian president Zelensky. This phone call would lead to the Impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump in January of 2020.
America’s opioid crisis would see Purdue Pharma file for bankruptcy in response to lawsuits related to its participation in the crisis.
Impeachment Proceedings Announced
The end of September would see the announcement by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, that the House would begin a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that an IRS employee had filed a whistleblower complaint saying an unnamed political appointee at the United States Department of the Treasury tried to interfere with the tax audits for President Trump or Vice President Mike Pence.
On October 31, the U.S. House of Representatives votes 232 to 196 in favor of formally proceeding with an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. The first formal hearings to begin in November.
At those hearings, Gordon Sondland, the United States Ambassador to the European Union, testified that there was a quid pro quo in the Ukraine scandal, pushed by Rudy Giuliani and ordered by Trump. The White House announces that President Trump will not participate in the House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing on December 3.
On December 18, the House votes to forward two articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate, accusing him of abuse of power and obstructing Congress. Donald Trump became only the third U.S. president to be impeached by the House.
Looking back, there was little wonder why we were all looking forward to the end of 2019 and the start of 2020. Little did we know what lay ahead or that we would long for the way many of the things had been in the year just past.
We knew there would be an Impeachment trial in the Senate, but we never imagined our world would be closed down by a global pandemic and that the most powerful nation in the world would be brought to its knees in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 and dying of the novel coronavirus.
Which brings us to not just the start of a new year, but the start of a new decade. We’re not out of the woods yet. Not by a long shot. Dr. Anthony Fauci believes the worst is yet to come. December became America’s deadliest month yet for COVID-19.
On top of that, our ‘make-believe economy,’ where there’s no such thing as risk, can’t go on forever, and according to Axios Markets editor Dion Rabouin, Wall Street knows it.
Creating New Habits
Experts in the study of human behavior tell us, that it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit. On average, it takes about 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic.
It was in March of this year that the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, that was over 305 days ago.
If this lasts another six months, another 180 days, that would mean that we have been living with the new habits due to COVID-19 for 485 days. Does anyone seriously think that the new habits we’ve formed over that period of time will suddenly vanish?
This is not a blog about politics. It’s a media mentorship blog.
The big takeaway in today’s article is that the changes that have taken place during 2020 are becoming permanent. You can’t plan for the future by thinking life will return to the way it was in the first decades of the 21st Century. Hotels, for example, are now renting hotel rooms to people to use as an office, allowing them to get out of their house, but still remain COVID safe. Now that’s being creative! And if they can do it, what can your industry do?
We think too much and feel too little.
So, take a moment to reflect on how the year just passed has changed you.
Think of 2021 as the year for letting go of the past.
Letting go of what was, is the way we create the space for building what can be.
It’s been my tradition on the last Sunday of the year, to look back at the year that has just past and share with you the Top 5 Most Read and shared blog articles of the past 52-weeks. Maybe you missed them or perhaps you’d like to read them again.
To date, I’ve published 334 articles that have been viewed over 218,000-times around the world.
Most Read Article of 2020
COVID-19 and the global pandemic completely obliterated our 2020 travel plans. But in November, we decided we could just as easily isolate ourselves in a mountain cabin as in our own home and so we traveled to Mount Airy, North Carolina, more affectionately known as “Mayberry USA,” the home town of Andy Griffith.
While there, I discovered the most unique and historic local radio station; WPAQ. “Radio in Mayberry USA” would become 2020’s most read blog article.
Sue, (my wife and the editor of this weekly blog) and I are big fans of “The Andy Griffith Show,” TV’s second most popular sitcom behind “I Love Lucy.” Mount Airy embraces the spirit of Mayberry, a time when the most important question of the day was what the special was at the diner.
Read why this article touched the hearts of so many HERE
Second Most Read Article of 2020
Even before COVID-19 would turn radio furloughs into permanent layoffs, the radio industry was eliminating people. What were called RIFs (Reductions In Force) back in 2009, were now being called “dislocations.”
The article, “Dislocation is the New RIF” would see the most comments of any I had written in 2020 and come in as the second most read and shared article of the year. It was published on January 19, 2020.
Read why the radio industry, so many of us fell in love with and made a career of, is melting away HERE
Third Most Read Article of 2020
Let’s face it, radio sellers have always had to be the best in the business. You couldn’t see, touch, smell or taste radio advertising, it could only be consumed by the ear. But the power to plant the seed of an idea through the ear, can be the most powerful of all the senses when used correctly.
That’s why, when Nielsen announced in 2021, it would only list radio stations in its reports that subscribed to its service and not the audiences of the entire radio market of stations. I along with many others, felt that buying radio advertising would become much more difficult. It’s why I wrote “Why Make Radio Advertising Harder to Buy?”
Read more about Nielsen’s new “Subscriber First” policy that begins in a matter of days from now HERE
Fourth Most Read Article of 2020
The fourth most read and shared article of 2020, I didn’t even really write. What I wrote about was a simple poem written by Kitty O’Meara, dealing with the 2020 global pandemic, that was being widely shared on social media and labeled as something written about the 1918-1919 global pandemic and how history was repeating itself. My article was a takeoff on a radio feature Paul Harvey made famous, called “The Rest of the Story.” I know you will enjoy this wonderful poem by Kitty titled “And the People Stayed Home.”
You can read it HERE
Fifth Most Read Article of 2020
Sue and I are baby boomers. We grew up with radio. I made it my career. So, when our city’s 911 Manager stated, “people don’t listen to radio anymore, but they’re really into social media,” and the head of the British Broadcasting’s Radio division said “radio, as we’ve always known it, has lost the faith of listeners,” I knew I had to write about it in an article titled “ Where Have All the Baby Boomers Gone?”
Sadly, the radio industry continues to jettison the very people that connect its stations with the listening audience, the radio personality.
You can read the article HERE
Most Read Articles, Period
Two of the articles I’ve written over the past five years continue to garner traffic. They are “SiriusXM Radio is Now FREE” and “The Day the Dumbest Idea Invaded the Radio Industry”.
I actually updated my article on SiriusXM, when I read about the incoming 2021 CEO’s plans to consider offering some ad-supported channels that would be receivable by all SiriusXM radios and would not require a subscription. You can read that follow-up article HERE
The record holder for any of my articles, all 334 of them, continues to be “We Never Called It Content”. Over 3,500 people read and shared it the day it was published on Sunday, September 6, 2015 and to date, just shy of 5,000 people have read it and 68-people have left a comment about it. Read it HERE
Why I Blog
I blog for broadcasters, educators and students. I blog to provide media mentorship and to pay-it-forward to the broadcasting industry that I have been a part of for over 50-years. I’m grateful for the more that 164,000 people from all over the world who have visited this blog (https://DickTaylorBlog.com) and have read an article that caught their interest.
You can subscribe/follow this blog for FREE and get a copy of each week’s article delivered to your email IN BOX every Sunday morning. To subscribe, simply go to the bottom right-hand corner of your screen and click on the FOLLOW button. (If you’re accessing this blog via mobile phone or tablet, that button might not be visible, so be sure to do this on a computer or laptop.)
Thank You for reading, next week I will begin my seventh year of blogging with all new articles.
Together we can all learn from one another by sharing our experiences, knowledge and wisdom. Feel free to contribute your thoughts to the discussion in the comments section. I read every one of them.
Those that know me, know I don’t use profanity. But former radio CEO Mel Karmazin, upon learning about Google’s automated advertising sales algorithm, verbalized what every nervous media and technology CEO was thinking when he said to Sergi Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt “You’re fucking with the magic.” I read this in Ken Auletta’s 2009 book titled “Googled: The End of the World as We Know It.”
Media Advertising – The Last 10 Years
If we measure media advertising as a percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), we see that in the last decade, media advertising in the United States was down 25% according to the Progressive Policy Institute. This think tank is reported to do some of the best research that uncouples advertising expenditures from the rest of the economy.
What caused this drop? Low cost digital ads, as compared to advertising rates in traditional media, what many of us used to call trading traditional media dollars for digital dimes.
Unfortunately, as traditional media, especially print, was seeing its advertiser base disappear, it compensated for fewer advertisers by raising its prices. Television did this too. They were assuming they held an impregnable position with advertisers. Unfortunately, they completely ignored the digital reality exploding all around them.
Similarly, the radio industry went about over-populating the AM and FM broadcast bands without acknowledging the growth of digital alternatives. The FCC’s “MM Docket 80-90” added over 700 new FM radio stations in the first three years after the law took effect in 1987. Then LPFM (Low Power FM radio signals) were added to help AM radio stations, as well as to provide local non-profit radio stations to communities that had no local radio service.
If that wasn’t enough, radio broadcasters began to embrace HD Radio (digital radio signals) when they learned that the same law that allowed for an AM radio station to rebroadcast its programming on an FM signal also allowed HD Radio broadcasts to be rebroadcast on an analog FM signal.
To be clear, in 1927 there were 705 commercial radio stations on-the-air (all on the AM band and most with transmitter power of under 1,000-watts). Today we have 25,819 radio stations (21,209 FM / 4,610 AM).
While all of this was going on at a frenetic pace, no one was paying attention to the 800-pound elephants in the room aka Facebook, Google, and Amazon.
Time Spent vs Ad Expenditures
It stands to reason, that the more time a person spends with a particular form of media, the more likely they are to be exposed to more of the advertising content it runs.
Ten years ago analyst Mary Meeker showed in her annual “State of the Internet” slide show, how things were trending negatively for traditional media.
For print, our media attention in 2010 was only 8%, but print commanded 27% of ad dollars. By 2018, our print attention had dropped to only 3%, and print’s ad dollars fell to 7%.
For TV, in 2010 it garnered 43% of our media attention, and commanded 43% of ad dollars. By 2018, both attention and ad dollars had fallen to 34%.
In 2010, for radio, we gave this medium 16% of our media attention and it collected 11% of the ad dollars. By 2018, our attention had fallen to 12% and radio’s ad dollars slipped to 8%.
Where did those ad dollars go? To digital media, as this Mary Meeker chart clearly shows.
More specifically, to mobile digital media.
In 2010, the smartphone in your pocket took up about 8% of our media attention and a paltry 0.5% of ad dollars spent. But by 2018, mobile digital media was commanding 33% of our attention and collecting an equal 33% of ad dollars, soon to be eclipsing TV in both metrics.
Too Little, Too Late
It’s easy to look back 20 years into the beginning of the 21st Century, and say what should have been done, but the fact of the matter remains that traditional media companies were in denial. The denial of the coming digital media world wasn’t just in the ad-supported mediums such as print, radio and TV, but also in companies like Kodak, which actually invented the digital camera in 1975, but whose leaders were in denial about it being the future of photography, and worried about cannibalizing its lucrative print film business.
Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
-Peter Drucker, legendary management consultant
Radio’s golden assets were its radio personalities and the relationships they built with the listeners. In the rush to expand, and appease shareholders who wanted accelerated growth, radio owners killed their “golden goose,” while enlarging its nest.
Radio continues to jettison the very people that connect its stations with their community of license.
Simon Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do, simply proves what you believe.”
For me, radio was a passion to make something great come out of a person’s radio speaker. It’s why I made radio broadcasting my career and why I went on to teach broadcasting at a university. It was my passion to create great radio!
What is radio’s WHY today?
I think that’s the question the industry needs to ask itself.
“If you keep your eye on the profit, you’re going to skimp on the product.
But if you focus on making really great products, then the profits will follow.”
Back in July of 2016, I wrote an article wondering what might happen if AM/FM radio broadcasters woke up one day to the headline “SiriusXM is Now Free.” What made me think about this happening, was I had just read how Angie’s List had announced they were pulling down their paywall and making their service free and available to everyone.
Pay to Play
Call it a subscription, a membership fee or a paywall, what happens when they are eliminated? In Angie’s List’s case, less than one percent of Americans were members at the $40/month fee that had been in place. Paying that fee let people see the reviews of members that they experienced when doing business with certain businesses or services. But now, everyone could have free access to those same rather substantial reviews, while enjoying the website’s strong, trusted and valuable content.
Why did Angie’s List Tear Down Their Paywall?
Angie’s List is a publicly traded company. Their stock had been down seventy-five percent from the previous three years and management was under pressure to get the stock going back up. By tearing down their paywall, they would increase page views. When page views go up, revenue goes up.
SiriusXM Under New Leadership in 2021
On January 1, 2021, Jennifer Witz takes over from James Meyer as CEO of SiriusXM. Meyer has been leading the satcaster since May of 2004. During his tenure, SiriusXM has grown to having its service playing in 132 million cars, but with only 34.4 million paid subscribers.
Its stock price all-time high was back in February of 2000, over twenty years ago, when it hit $66.50 a share. This past year the stock has traded between $4.11 and $7.40, for an average price of $6.05 a share.
Do you see an Angie’s List type of problem?
Walking a Tightwire
Incoming CEO Witz knows she will be walking a tightwire by making part of SiriusXM free to all radios capable of receiving the satcaster’s signal. The challenge will be to monetize those non-members through ad-supported free channels without cannibalizing paid memberships. SiriusXM grew revenues 7% in 2019 to a record $6.2 billion.
AM/FM radio revenues are projected to fall 17% in 2020, largely due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, but quickly rebounding in 2021 and growing in the years beyond.
Audio Advertising Works
With the dynamic growth of smart speakers, fueled in the United States by Amazon which controls 70% of the home smart speaker market, new interest of advertising goods and services via audio only has increased dramatically.
This should be a boon to AM/FM radio advertising, except for one caveat, the way people consume audio today is vastly different than even ten years ago with eMarketer saying there are 204 million digital audio listeners in the United States today. In fact, listening to digital audio makes up two-thirds of all digital media consumption, second to only digital video viewing based on time spent on this activity.
Moreover, digital audio advertising has been growing at a double digit rate.
Competition for Your Ear
The competition to be in your ear has never been greater. Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, Apple Music, YouTube, podcasts, and audio books are all looking to get a piece of your time and attention.
With this increased focus on digital audio by consumers, advertisers are following in lockstep.
Which brings us back to where this article started, SiriusXM. The satcaster has long seen AM/FM radio as its main competition and that two-thirds of AM/FM radio’s revenue stream is due to dominance on car radios. It’s simply too tempting not to want to utilize the chip it’s paid to have installed in your vehicle’s dashboard and monetize it in a new way. Doing so would mean an increase in revenues for its shareholders and at the same time the ability to elevate the company’s stock price.
If Apple has taught the world anything, it is that you can’t be afraid to cannibalize yourself if you want to grow your company. Also, you don’t always have to be first to the party, to come away a big winner. You simply need to provide a superior product.
SiriusXM also enjoys the advantage of knowing who’s listening to what. Here’s how the satcaster puts it:
Jul 6, 2020 — “TRACKING” YOUR ACTIVITIES ACROSS DEVICES AND APPS We receive Listener Usage Data automatically from Internet-enabled devices. If you have a Sirius XM account, we may match the Listener Usage Data we receive to the device or devices associated with your account and thereby with you or your household.”
It’s an obvious advantage over audience estimates provided by a third party ratings company when a digital audio service can tell an advertiser how many people actually were exposed to their advertisement.
For radio sellers in 2021, it’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight.
When I was working on my undergraduate degree back in the early 70s, I did a research paper on media convergence. At that time, we thought that convergence would occur around cable television. But not today.
Even in the 90s, the concept of media convergence seemed like the world of Jules Verne. People consumed each source of information, on its own separate platform. Print came in the form of a magazine or newspaper. Radio, via a reception device designed to pick up only AM or FM radio signals and television, through a big picture tube encased in a giant wooden cabinet. It was beyond most of our imaginations that print, radio and television would ever be delivered to us on a single device that we could carry in our pocket; like today’s smartphone.
Even more amazing is the fact that our smartphones can also publish our written thoughts, broadcast our spoken word and even transmit our pictures/videos to today’s global village.
Maybe even more shocking to us as Boomers, is the fact that the Millennial generation doesn’t even have memories of the fragmented media world we grew up with.
How Innovation Changes Our World
In order to try and help media people understand how innovation can change the world as we knew it, let’s take a look at how bringing “cold” to the south set-off a change reaction of change.
Two hundred years ago, if you lived in the south, there was no way to escape the heat. Frederick Tudor, Boston’s “Ice King” would spend a decade figuring out how to transport ice from New England to the south and even around the world. New England’s natural ice would become so treasured, that in the early 1900s, it would become America’s second largest export after cotton.
Then a physician, Dr. John Gorrie, wanted to try to cool the hospital rooms of his Florida hospital, in order to make his patients who were burning up from fever more comfortable in the sweltering heat of the south. Gorrie invented a refrigeration machine, and when he applied for a patent on his invention, he wrote: “Artificial cold might better serve mankind. Fruits, vegetables and meat, would be preserved in transit by my refrigeration system and thereby enjoyed by all.”
When ice fishing, Clarence Birdseye learned how the Inuit Indians of the north flash froze the fish they caught, by leaving them out in the frigid air. This caused their catch to be instantly frozen and allowed the Inuit to keep their catch fresh to eat at a later time. This inspired Birdseye to improve artificial refrigeration to enable the flash freezing of all kinds of produce, creating the frozen food industry.
Fred Jones, created refrigeration units that could be placed on tractor trailer trucks, shipping containers and railroad cars, allowing for long-haul transportation of perishable goods.
Innovation Eats Its Own
In the 1800s, having an idea to bring cold to a part of the world that was always hot, was considered an insane idea. Everyone thought Frederick Tudor was an oddball. His efforts to perfect the transportation and storage of natural ice at one point put him in debtors’ prison, but his persistence would eventually make him a very wealthy man, until the birth of mechanical refrigeration. Gorrie, Birdseye and Jones would bring an end to the natural ice industry, with their innovations in cold.
Big ideas don’t come from a “Eureka moment.” They come from one person asking themselves, “I wonder if…” From having a hunch that just won’t go away. Big ideas are created from many other people having small, incremental ideas, that then get networked together, and over time become the next big thing.
Fifty-one years ago, at 10:30pm, the internet was born with the transfer of one simple message. Charley Kline, a student programmer at UCLA, would type the letters “L” and “O” and electronically send them more than 350 miles to the Stanford Research Institute’s computer in Menlo Park, California. The computer system immediately crashed after they were sent, but a communications revolution had begun.
Now if you think of analog communications as “natural ice” and digital communications as “artificial ice,” you can see it really isn’t unusual for new innovations to extinguish original big ideas.
While today, we’d never consider putting an old fashioned ice box in our modern kitchens, the business of selling ice still exists. I for one, still frequent my local convenience store’s ice box, to pick up a couple of bags of ice cubes for my picnic cooler.
Likewise, I think a need for a few local radio stations may remain, but only if they provide a unique and unduplicated service to their listeners.
But I also believe that the analog communication model will slowly fade into the background as new communication innovations come along and replace it.
AM/FM radio’s days, as we Boomers knew it, are numbered.