Monday, June 8, 2009

The Key to Survival for Terrestrial Radio

The Key to Survival for Terrestrial Radio

By Kenny Beck


The onslaught continues. Every day we hear about the end of an empire once flourishing under the guise of traditional media. A very important part of traditional media has been radio, under siege for the last few years. Yes the internet has changed the landscape of much we once revered, but does that mean that everything must go?

A major part of the problem has been this siege mentality. Rightly or wrongly when terrestrial radio found themselves in the predicament of defending their turf, they folded like wilted and soiled deck of cards. Their response to XM and Sirius radio was to have no response at all. The just laid down like an old, worn doormat and allowed themselves to be trampled almost into extinction.

Part of the problem was the Kings of Radio (more apropos a title would have been the Kings of Idi-ocracy. You know them, those multi-figure earning purveyors of more bullshit than you can shake a stick at. Now, if my tone sounds a bit acrid, let me give you a bit of a scoop why.
Jocks, as some of the knuckleheads who ruled the airways were once called, were regally proud to accept their new, macho, laudatory praise and accolade moniker Jocks. Behind the mike, they thought it gave then an air of coolness; an air of invincibility that would soon prove to be short lived. Instead of pausing for a moment and taking stock of all their surroundings, they just played it cool and decided to let nature take its course. To hell with their tyrannical station bosses who weren't paying them like they deserved, who weren't valuing their sweet asses as they thought they should. No sir-ee buddy. We'll just let them take it on the chin when Sirius and XM come-a-calling. When Sirius and XM come 'round, were gonna get one of those Howard Stern deals. After all, they all knew they were good enough for international syndication; when Sirius and XM came round. Now look at the quandary they've left themselves in. How many will even have a job working anywhere next year, the prospects are terrorizing. If only they were seeing the signs amidst all the exuberance.

Almost from the very outset, the mega merger between Sirius and XM began rearing its ugly head as a “bad Idea. In their haste (Sirius and XM) to nail the coffin lid shut on traditional radio. Not to say it didn't deserve to be shut. Terrestrial radio and its Jocks, were making bone head moves all along instead of learning and being open to a metamorphosis in how to keep its bread and butter gravy train on track. Was it just supposed to happen? Maybe, just maybe, you were just waiting for that satellite gravy train to stop on by. Hint: Its not coming. Satellite radio may be in for some serious troubles of their own. Fortunately for you, you've been given a 2nd chance to redeem yourself, your career and terrestrial radio (or something very close to it). Now listen carefully, I'm only going to say this once. Its not too late, but you'd better get on your job now and you'd better hurry.

Nothing is safe, it appears, any more.

To some, this is a good thing. The setting aside of traditional anything, has trumpeted in an a new era of technological wizardry. Though fully untested & with new uncharted pathways laid before us, it seems John Q. Public has spoken. Individual, audience members want content control and the demand is here to stay (its gaining in popularity every day).

Its terrestrial radios own fault (the pattern of its Jocks pomposity was first laid down more than 60 years ago).

By allowing smooth elocutionist to wend their smarmy ways into a publics consciousness (perhaps smarmy is a bit to pitched), broadcasters allowed for the creation of little fiefdoms between drive time hours.

Sure, it was inviting, controversial and maybe even a bit sexy. Who knows where radio would have been without the silver tongued sharpies like Alan Freed (man), who put Rock and Roll on the map, Dr. Daddy'O, Wolfman Jack or the legendary Murray the K.

Barry Robert Clark is the Engineering Director of Taxi Productions. He has been a professional broadcasting engineer for some 34 years and counting. He started out in Las Vegas as on air talent, and then found himself splitting his time between his love for being on air and his dedication to keeping things running smoothly as chief engineer. Barry says radio used to be the portable entertainment media. It went on picnics with you, to the beach, the ball game, even the drive in movie.

Dynamically interesting solutions Barry proposes. Some of you head honchos at the remaining terrestrials should pay close attention to him. He's been trying to tell it for a few years.

According to Barry (and I concur), broadcast companies who control the content need to become acutely more aware of what they should to be creating. He suggests the moment stations begin to realize the easy ride they'd been on for years was over, they should set aside all egos, get off their well comforted fannies and get on the grind. Once radio could no longer just put out anything they wanted to and the audience had to grin and bear it, Little or no chance to remedy the situation they should be creating and lining up community focus groups and panels, use their facilities as a way to stretch out their hand to their listening audience and learn from them what they truly want, what they want radio to become and how radio could satisfy them and keep them loyal listeners. Terrestrial radio would then be able to create desired content, protecting their important source of income, the advertising dollar. How could they have been so benign that they just let it slip through their fingers without so much as a whimper.

The whole affair perplexes me and I used to work in radio.

Focus groups and other sounding boards are great devices still are great for staying in tune with your audiences current desires, but is it a bit too little, a bit too late, isn't it? Since there is so much content out there that's proven its metal in so many situations, shouldn't broadcasters harness the devices that are proven winners and start developing their own apps and begin passing along this content to their listeners? Imagine, developing their own branded, content before it becomes any later than it already easy? Do it just like the standard social network ( and Facebook immediately come to mind).

Apparently, this is just what Barry the genius engineer has in mind.

He proposes setting up a series of lectures and seminars for senior broadcasters and station owners who are holding on by a skim thread.

I propose something a bit more radical, which is not difficult to do at all. In earnest I've already begun tracking and identifying likely, receptive groups, causes educational institutions and other like minded individuals that would initially benefit most.

Podcast and web cast are being borne as this piece is being hammered out. There is no more time for procrastination, vacillation or pontification. Time now, for real action. It's long overdue. We put out a call to all on air talent, programmers, developers, performing artists, producers, writers, fans of traditional radio and any other interested parties to sign up with and let us rally you to the cause, by having a series of pertinent content programming kick off in the next two weeks or three weeks. We want you, your ideas, your opinions your thoughts, suggestions, opinions and resolutions. Traditional, terrestrial radio still has a lot of relevance to societies around the world, as along as its reshaped and cast in the image of its audience who want good quality, high resolution, fun content they can totally control themselves. Sound like a daunting task? Not at all.

Kenny Beck

Kenny Beck

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Terrestrial radio forces unite!

It appears to be crumbling before our very eyes.

I stepped into a McDonald's today for a spot of breakfast. I couldn't help but notice a marked difference in the atmosphere there.

At first, I couldn't quite put my finger on it at first, but as I got more into the deluxe thing it dawned on me there was a distinct change in the format of music they had been inundating us with.

"What? Could I be hearing things?" Did they actually have a "talking-head", back on the dial, chatting up the audience?

Culture shock! According to satellite radio pundits, "Chatty Kathy dee jays were killing radio and satellite needed to bring about sweeping change to the landscape."

Be careful "organic content" purveyors. This may represent the other side of the "double edged sword", traditional ol' marketeers may have been hinting (when the switch was being made from sales to "organic search content".


Terrestrial radio was never the problem, in spite of having to many over talkative, nothing to say jocks.

Fat cats with "two much scratch" was.

No economic impact study on how instituting such a losing cause as satellite radio would effect the many once employed, now unemployed support personnel, who were unceremoniously given the old "heave-ho".

I guess satellite is backing off that talk and trying to save their sorry asses (What were you thinking giving "Howard a half a billion dollars?????).

Improving broadcast technical quality is one thing but screwing with, bot enhancing a formula that continues to still work today was just shear greed and stupidity.

Jocks, dee jay's unite . It's time to reclaim your thrones in the wake of all this chicanery and tomfoolery.

"Step into the bad side ; ) " and join us in creating a coup' to once again take over the mantel of terrestrial radio. The only difference, this time radio will be much leaner, much meaner!

See you on the flip side...

Internet broadcasters, stations, support staff... join the fray too! Open your big mouth and let your voice be heard and your heart be recognized!

Sign up and join us at: today!