Tag Archives: Pixar

Does Your Radio Station Have Schwerpunkt?

Many people have often wondered what the radio industry might have been like today, if it had had a Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs had Schwerpunkt.

What is “Schwerpunkt”?

The term is attributed to Carl von Clausewitz and is now considered the heart of any sound plan.

“An operation without Schwerpunkt

is like a man without character.”

-Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg

Schwerpunkt means “focus of effort.”

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he stunned his employees not by creating anything, but instead destroying many of the products Apple was making; like the Newton personal digital assistant and the many Macintosh clones.

Jobs quickly made it clear that Apple would no longer try to be all things to all people, and that the key to Apple’s future success would be winning where it mattered and focusing Apple’s resources on just a few meaningful products.

iPod

In December of 1996, under the leadership of then CEO Gil Amelio, Apple suffered its worst financial quarter in the company’s history. Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers, when asked what he’d do to fix Apple if he were made the new CEO said, “I’d shut the company down and give the money back to shareholders.”

Steve Jobs knew that he couldn’t compete against Microsoft and Dell when he returned to Apple, so he focused the company’s resources in an area he saw as fragmented and that made products that as Jobs put it, “sucked.” He decided that Apple would produce a digital music player that would allow him to have a thousand songs in his pocket. The result was the iPod.

Focus On Your Strengths

The iPod took advantage of Apple’s strengths in simplicity of design and an ability to build easy-to-use interfaces. Jobs learned everything he needed to know about negotiating intellectual property rights from his ownership of Pixar. This knowledge was perfect for the creation of the iTunes store.

When you identify weakness in a market, and then apply a good strategy to exploit that weakness for your business success, that application is a key part of Schwerpunkt.

Steve Jobs was confident he knew where Apple’s strengths were, and how to apply them for the best opportunities that could leverage those strengths.

iPod = Apple’s Schwerpunkt

The iPod was an immediate game changing hit which changed the basis of competition in the music business.

While Dell was playing catchup, developing its Digital Jukebox, and Microsoft was creating its Zune, neither of which saw much success, Apple was preparing to launch the iPhone.

Schwerpunkt

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the company was near death, while Microsoft and Dell were giants. It was by employing Schwerpunkt that Apple went from worst to first. Today, Apple is the richest company in the world with a market cap of $2.294 Trillion.

While his competitors were still reacting to his latest innovation, Jobs was already hard at work on his next big thing.

Radio & Schwerpunkt

When I read the radio trades or sit in on a webinar, what strikes me most is how the radio industry’s leaders are talking about working to develop areas that are already owned by others. Areas, that don’t align with radio’s strengths.

When I worked for Clear Channel, I also remember management meetings that spoke of how we needed to focus, and then rolled out an agenda of 20 to 50 things we needed to focus on.

In 1952 Rosser Reeves, the ad man who developed the television ads for President Dwight Eisenhower was confronted with Ike’s multiple talking points. Reeves told the President that he needed to focus on just one thing, but relented to allow Ike to have three. Reeves understood the concept of Schwerpunkt, though he may never have heard of it.

Radio’s strength has always been about serving its community of license with live local personalities that provide companionship for the listener.

The very people the radio industry continues to eliminate.

When hurricane Ian bore down on Florida this past week, I’m sure I’m not alone in turning to The Weather Channel to see Jim Cantore and Stephanie Abrams tell us what was happening.

Jim Cantore joined The Weather Channel upon graduating from college in 1986 (36 years) and Stephanie Abrams has been with the network since 2003 (19 years). Cantore and Abrams along with the rest of the team of meteorological professionals have earned our respect and trust. Trust that has been earned over many years of excellent broadcasting.

Good luck to anyone who thinks they can beat them.

The Weather Channel has Schwerpunkt.

Until the radio industry truly focuses on its strengths, and leverages them for both its own financial benefit as well as that of their advertisers and listeners, its future will remain cloudy.

Radio = Schwerpunkt-less

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Your Idea Is Ugly

44Ever had someone say that to you? How did it make you feel?

Well, all ideas start out as ugly.

Ed Catmull, CEO of Pixar writes in his book Creativity Inc. that early in the creative process every movie Pixar has ever made sucked.  They all start out as “ugly babies” that are “awkward and unformed, vulnerable and incomplete.” And that’s OK, because the public never sees these “ugly Pixar babies.” Catmull says it’s the company’s job to protect these original, fragile ideas from being judged too quickly. They understand that great ideas aren’t born; they are created from ugly ones.

Ideas Are Born Ugly

The problem today is too many ugly ideas are released to the world while they are still ugly. No one has invested the time, love and attention to craft them into something great. Or, just as bad, ideas not ready for broadcast are put on-the-air piecemeal. Radio is famous for doing this sort of thing when they change music formats and start off with 10,000 songs in a row. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. So why put something on the air that is not going to be what it will be when it’s finished?

Practice, Practice, Practice

You don’t see a Broadway show open without there being a lot of practice first. You don’t see any type of performance art take to a stage without practice. “All of showbiz except for radio has rehearsals,” observes programming genius George Johns. Why is that?

When Did Radio Stop Rehearsals?

Ron Jacobs, the first Boss Radio PD in America at 93/KHJ writes in his book KHJ Inside Boss Radio that before the new KHJ launched, every air personality and board engineer spent two weeks practicing for the station’s debut. “Every word and every nuance was critiqued on the fly by Jacobs and (Bill) Drake,” said Boss Jock Gary Mack. “More up! More energy! Faster! I remember the distinct odor of flop sweat. But every day got better, and we made our mistakes off the air,” said Mack.

The entire original Boss Jock air staff was all seasoned radio professionals by the time they were hired to launch the new KHJ. But they all had to attend “Boss Jock Kindergarten” before they could go on the air. Boss Jock Tommy Vance put it this way, “I was to spend six hours a day doing it (practicing) until he (Jacobs) decided I would be ready for the real thing. He would be listening in his office. If the red phone rang, pick it up and listen to every word he said – very carefully. Take notes and follow his directions to the letter. Jacobs left me in my Boss Jock kindergarten.”

“Six hours every damn day I played the records. Read the commercials. Again and again, and yet again. The red phone never ceased ringing. Criticism was heaped upon me hour in, hour out. I began to picture Jacobs as the force behind the Spanish Inquisition. As the Marquis de Sade. Jack the Ripper. Eventually I was let out of the bag and given the six to nine pm shift,” said Vance.

That Used To Be Us

This was the way radio worked once upon a time. Nothing went on the air unrehearsed. Everything that went on the air was screened to insure it would meet the standards set by the station. “Ugly babies” were nurtured until they became great ideas that became great radio stations.

Great radio takes work. Great radio is exciting to listen to. Great radio gets results.

Let’s make radio great again.

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