Tag Archives: media

What’s in a Name?

WKU-SJBIf you are a high school senior and are considering a career in broadcasting or journalism, what term would you Google to find the best colleges or universities for this field of study? Probably you would type in “broadcasting” or “journalism.”

School of Media

What would you expect a “School of Media” to offer? Well, since “media” is the plural of “medium,” you might say it means “something for everyone in the area of communications.”

The problem is, in my honest opinion, when you try to be all things to all people, you are special to no one.

Journalism

If I wanted to be a journalist today, I would need to know how to write, shoot pictures & video, collect audio and produce all of it for every media platform. But the job would remain one of being a journalist.

Broadcasting

Likewise, to be a broadcaster today, I would need to also be able to write for the internet, as well as shoot video & still pictures, along with doing on-camera and audio recordings. But the job would remain one of being a broadcaster.

Media-ist

Here’s where things get sticky. There is no job that I know of that is called a “media-ist.”

A high school graduate trying to decide on what type of career they might like to pursue will speak in terms that are standard job descriptions. Broadcasting & Journalism are well-established careers. “Media-ist” is not.

Olympics

The first modern Olympics was held in Greece on April 6, 1896. Olympiads that came in first won the Gold Medal. The Silver Medal was for second place and the Bronze Medal was for third place.

Over the decades, the equipment and physical abilities to win a medal changed dramatically, but the Olympics have never changed the names of the medals that were awarded. Why? Because they’ve been well-established benchmarks of athletic achievement.

The Big Name Change at WKU

So, you’re probably wondering why I’m writing about all of this in today’s blog. Well, this week I learned that Western Kentucky University’s School of Journalism & Broadcasting, where I was a broadcast professor for 7-years is changing its name to “School of Media.”

WKU alumni around the country are not pleased.

The College Heights Herald reports that alumni are concerned about the lack of emphasis on journalism the new name would create.

“To me, it’s burying the part of the program that has brought the most national reputation to the university. It’s a program that presidents over the years have cited for its success. To me, it buries the part of the program that has been so important to Western.”

-Robert Adams, former director of student publications, former editor-in-chief in 1964 and a retired WKU professor of journalism

The building that the school’s newspaper occupies is named after Bob Adams. Bob went to school at Western and then worked at the university until his retirement. Bob was there when the program went from two classes offered in the English department to the School of Journalism & Broadcasting. He has had a front row seat to its evolution for over 50-years.

I think Bob Adams makes a very valid point when he says the new name is not what people are looking for when searching for a college.

RADIO

When Apple was working to develop its own online streaming audio service “Beats 1” they brainstormed for months on what to call it, and finally decided to call it “Radio.”

Pandora, like so many other audio offerings, also called its service “Pandora Radio.”

Radio is a term that has been used since the advent of broadcasting music and voice through the ether. It’s a term that is almost 100-years old in commercial audio broadcasting, beginning with the sign-on of KDKA in Pittsburgh in 1920.

Why would developers of modern forms of audio communication use the term “radio” to describe what they do? Because everyone knows what it means, even though it now has many more applications from its origins.

Board of Regents

WKU’s Board of Regents will vote on making the name change official at their next meeting on August 2nd.

When you build a name, a reputation, a brand if you will, changing it can be very risky. (Think New Coke and what a disaster that was for the Coca Cola company back in 1985.)

A brand name helps people to identify why you exist, how you plan to proceed and what people will gain from doing business with you, or in this case, attending your school. A brand helps you to differentiate yourself from others.

Communication is critical in marketing and having an established brand name is an integral element in communication to anyone in the market for your product or services.

Changing the name to “School of Media” to me is like throwing the baby out with the bath water and if it becomes a reality, the 2019-2020 academic year will become the beginning of building a new brand.

One thing that I learned in my 50-years of being in the advertising business is, it takes more energy to establish a brand new brand than promote an established one. After reading how economically challenged the university is these days, I’m skeptical the money is there to properly fund the change of name.

 

 

 

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Best of the Blog 2016

73Before I begin my 3rd year of blogging next week, I thought I’d take a look back of the Top 5 blog posts from 2016 and share with you the posts that received the highest readership and sharing from the year just past.

My Most Read Article in 2016

My most ever shared post received 3,725 views in a single day. It was published on February 28th and was “The Day the ‘Dumbest Idea’ Invaded the Radio Industry.” It told the story of a change in the way we measure business success. Before this new idea was born, Peter Drucker’s measure was the rule. The purpose of a business, said Drucker, was to create a customer. But that went out with leisure suits, the new crop of business wizards would proclaim. What replaced it was something that even GE’s Jack Welch has called “the dumbest idea in the world.” You can read that post here.

This post beat my beat my previous single day record of 1,816 set on September 6, 2015 with an article called “We Never Called It Content.” For my new readers, you  can go back and read that one here.

Second Most Read Article of 2016

Radio Would Be a Great Business…If It Weren’t for the Employees” said radio is a people business. Take away the people and do you really have radio anymore? You can read it here.

Third Most Read Article of 2016

SiriusXM Radio is Now Free” was an article that wondered what would happen if this satellite radio service offered some or most of its channels for free. What would that do to the revenues of the AM/FM radio industry? Even if they only turned on the top five music formats, it would mean drivers could listen to them wherever they drove across America, plus SiriusXM would have the ability to pop in promos for their other channels that remained behind a paywall. It’s almost too scary to consider the possibility. You can read that article here.

Fourth Most Read Article of 2016

Don’t Let Radio End Up Like Yahoo” told the story of how radio could learn from Yahoo’s mistakes. Yahoo went from being a company worth $120 Billion to its sale to Verizon for $4.8 Billion. The article shared the Top 5 Lessons of Yahoo for radio. You can read it here.

Fifth Most Read Article of 2016

Millennials Love Radio” shared how today’s Millennial generation nearly equal Boomers in listening to AM/FM radio. 91.3% of Millennials are reached by radio every week. 94% of GenX’ers are reached by radio and us Boomers come in at 93.5% reached by radio every week according to Nielsen. Radio continues to be the advertising medium that gets results when used correctly. Read the full article here.

Over 52,000 Readers

I’m happy to report that as I ended 2016, my second year of blogging saw over 52,000 readers come to this blog from all over the world. Broadcasters, educators and students have all stopped by to read an article or more that caught their interest.

This blog in media mentorship was created to pay-it-forward to the broadcasting industry that I will have been a part of for 50-years in 2017.

FREE SUBSCRIPTIONS

You can subscribe to this blog for FREE and get a copy delivered to your email IN box every week by going to the bottom right-hand part of the screen and clicking on the FOLLOW button. (If you’re accessing this blog via a mobile phone or tablet, that button may not be visible I’ve been told.)

Next week, I will begin year three of blogging with all new articles.

Thank You for reading.

Feel free to contribute your thoughts to the discussion in the comments. Together we can all learn by sharing our experience, knowledge and wisdom.

Happy New Year!

 

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Radios Go High-Definition

37That was the headline that appeared in the Baltimore Sun on January 7, 2004. Unfortunately, unlike HDTV (High Definition Television) HDRadio never stood for “High Definition” radio. And maybe that was the first mistake. HDRadio was simply a name they chose for the digital radio technology.

The iPod was introduced in October 2001. Steve Jobs introduced this music delivery changing device this way. Only a month earlier, XM began broadcasting the first satellite radio programming to be followed four months later by Sirius satellite radio. So by 2004, digital radio was already late to the party.

KZIA-FM Z102.9 saw Kenwood USA sell its first digital receiver in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to take advantage of KZIA-FM’s HDRadio broadcasts. “This is a significant move,” Michelle Abraham, senior analyst at In-Sat/MDR, a market research firm in Arizona, said of the roll-out of digital radio equipment. “It may not seem duly significant in the beginning, but in a few years from now, it will be a huge leap.” The hope was it would prove to be competitive to the newly launched satellite radio offerings from XM and Sirius (now merged into a single satellite company). HDRadio was also seen as improving FM to have CD quality sound and making AM sound like FM. It was heralded to help struggling AM radio stations.

Solving a Problem That Didn’t Exist

What HDRadio did for FM radio stations was solve a problem that listeners to FM didn’t feel existed. No one who listened to FM radio was complaining about the quality of the sound of the transmission. (They were complaining about other things, like too many commercials.) And for AM radio stations, it meant people buying radios for a service that didn’t offer anything they really wanted to hear or couldn’t get from someplace else. AM radio was now the service of senior citizens who already owned AM radios, who grew up with AM radio’s characteristics and whose hearing was not the best now anyway. So HDRadio for AM wasn’t something they were asking for either. Worse, AM radio stations that put on the new digital signal found it lacked the benefits of skywave and often interfered with other company AM radio stations as the industry quickly consolidated radio ownership.

Industries Most Disrupted By Digital

In March 2016, an article published by Rhys Grossman in the Harvard Business Review listed “Media” as the most disrupted by the growing digital economy. Turns out if you’re a business to consumer business, you’re the first being most disrupted by digital. The barriers to be a media company used to be huge, but in a digital world they are not. The business model that media companies depend on has not adapted well to the digital economy.

Education – Disruption Ahead

Having moved from media to education I only got ahead of digital’s disruption for a while. But even those industries that had perceived high barriers of entry are finding those walls crumbling quickly. Grossman says fifty percent of executives see education being impacted in a big way in the next twelve months.

Where Are The Radios?

Edison Research did their latest “Infinite Dial” webinar and the slide that most impacted me was the one about radio ownership. From 2008 to 2016 the percentage of people in America that don’t own a single radio in their home has gone from 4% to 21%. When Edison narrowed this down to household between the ages of 18-34, non-radio ownership rose to 32%. Mark Ramsey’s Hivio 2016 Conference had one Millennial describe a radio set as being “ancient technology.” Ouch!

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that Jerry Lee’s WEAZ in Philadelphia was giving away high quality FM radios to increase listenership to not just his radio station but to FM radio. And KZIA in Cedar Rapids gave away HDRadios to allow people to hear their new signal. It now appears time for the radio industry to begin giving away AM/FM radios every time they are doing station remotes, contests or appearing at venues that will attract lots of people.

Elephant in the Room

But the elephant in the room remains the broken media business model. Newspapers, magazines, radio, and television – any media that is ad supported – will be challenged to find a way to capture revenue to continue.

As Walt Disney famously said “We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make movies.”

To anyone in ad supported media, we would agree we do it for the same reasons.

The $64,000 question is how.

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