Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Internet Radio Listening UP 150%!!!!

This week we see in a release from JP Morgan that weekly listening to Internet Radio Stations or streams is up 150% growing from 20 Million weekly listeners at the start of 2006 to a new estimate of 30 Million. Revenue from streaming and the web sites that go along with the streaming stations is also up to 500 Million.

That's very impressive growth and likely to continue as more and more people find out how easy it is to tune in on the lap top or desktop. When you compare this media to all the talk and noise we have from the Satellite Radio camps you can see why there is talk of a merger of XM and Sirius. Right now the best estimates place satellite radio subscribers at 14 Million and the goal is to deliver 20-30 Million by 2010. Internet Radio has been quietly growing and is already past their 2010 goal. At this rate by 2010 Internet Radio would pass 80 million - well over double the Satellite Radio audience.

Now we add the news that the technology is available to turn your car into a WIFI hot spot and be able to full access the web as you drive down I-75 and we can easily imagine being able to tune into the whole spectrum.

Stop moaning! You're great radio brand already has a web site and you can (with a little work) stream if you are not already doing it. The audience is growing and streaming technology is getting easier to deal with every day. Just the other day I was listening to the Score in Chicago and they noted that over 4,000 were listening on the stream that morning.

We DO need to work out a settlement with Arbitron on getting credit for streams even if the commercial content is different due to the voice over compensation. Sooner or later the VO talent has to realize that their 'fight' over this will hinder the whole terrestrial radio industry and that they are being very selfish and endangering their whole lively hood. The ad agencies also need to see this writing on the wall.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Is Your Morning Show Safe?

The recent events at The End in Sacramento should be a bit scary to most PDs and Morning Shows. The show did a pretty typical stunt for a Nintendo Wii where you 'held your wee for a wii.' Contestants drank equal quantities of water and the last one to go the bathroom wins the Wii. The problem here is one of the contestants tragically died from drinking too much water. The intense local media coverage of the event resulted in the firing of 10 staff members including the talent on the show, PD, Promotions director, and others. It will be a challenge for the staff members to find other jobs and for the station to rebuild it's image and find another show.

The questions for the rest of us - could this happen to my show?

While this could have been an unfortunate accident it's also a style of stunt we hear on a lot of stations and usually comes off with the only damage being a bit of embarrassment. Think of all the other types of stunts that could have gone wrong. What would happen if we had the 'hands on the car game' going and someone had an allergy or medical condition that got out of control and they died or became seriously ill? Singing from the Shower - and they slip and fall? Even calling in on a contest on a cell phone and getting into a car accident could be something that gets out of control.
One of the resources you should add to the show is some kind of medical advice. It might be a local doctor that also drops in for a weekly live Q/A with the audience. Make sure you consult them before you do anything to a person's body. There are claims in the Sacramento cast that a nurse warned them of this possibility before the stunt.
Also make sure you have signed waivers and that you have talked over these types of situations with your legal team. While it might be an extra hassle in preparing a bit or a stunt - better safe than sorry. It might also be necessary to have medical histories and maybe even a doctor's permission in the legal documents in the future.
The key in managing these events on morning shows is making sure you've taken a careful approach without stifling the ideas. We've all seen the frustration and lack of creativity when you start shutting down too many ideas with 'what if' scenarios.
The reality TV shows have prompted this style of stunt and an accident like this could happen to them. I wonder if they have gone to some the measures suggested here?
The key lesson here is take a few minutes before you get into any type of physical stunt and make sure you don't end up with a career and life threatening situation.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Faster Horses

One of the many quotes that came from automaker Henry Ford has a lot of relevance to Radio Programming right now:
"If I had asked my customers what they wanted," Ford said, "they would have said a faster horse."
We are clearly faced with the opportunity and the need to re-invent. But, where do we start? Just making a better sounding station that's just like what we have now with only a few researched innovations is only a 'faster horse.' It won't compete with all the innovations in new media and become a 'leading edge' product.
The lesson from Ford's quote is that research will probably not yield new innovations. The audience can only give us feedback on what they already know and have heard. If we are going to create something innovative it's going to take a creative idea, a solid plan to implement it, and GUTS. After we have the product on the air we can and should use research to fine tune and improve it. We may also get a few clues on what the audience will and will not accept in the innovation stages.
Hopefully 2007 will be the year when Radio starts to innovate and create again.