Google's YouTube News Near You... Local Radio Competitor or Opportunity?

The New York Times recently called attention to a new feature in YouTube called "News Near You." Tom Taylor, in his Tuesday, August 4th edition of Taylor on Radio, led the top story in his newsletter with:

Just when you thought radio couldn’t get any more competition…Google shows up again, with a new service named “News Near You.”

It strikes me, as opposed to being competition for radio, it's an opportunity to develop a station's news image using someone else's money. A station could cover a local story - say, an exciting city council meeting - and post the video on YouTube, free. They, embed the YouTube video in their website, providing listeners with an enhanced news story, with no video hosting costs to the station. And, here's where it really gets cool. When someone is looking for local stories on YouTube, there are your station's news stories, right there with the TV affiliates and so on.

So - another case of where there seems to be competition, there really is opportunity in new media.

Ratings, Radio, Sales - The Debate Goes On

Chuck Francis, VP New Media at, wrote a well-received article in Radio Business Report recently called "A New Day for Radio."

Chuck makes the valid point that, in truth, ratings don't matter, except to "...those that provide ratings." However, this common-sense statement misses the mark. Yes, it's not the ratings that matter to the listener or the advertiser. It's the thing that the ratings represent.

For example, Chuck says:

In the years I spent as a Program Director I cannot recall one single instance where a listener came up to me at an event or a remote and said: “the reason I listen to your station is because your station the number one station.” In fact, even if your station is 13th in the market – I’d argue you’re number one in the minds of the people that listen to you regularly.

One of the reasons that a listener is loyal to a station is because of its reputation among her peers. The listener doesn't look at the ratings and make a rational decision about whether or not to listen to a station because it's #1 in one category or another, but she does decide whether to listen partially based on her peer group's relationship to the station. The ratings are a surrogate for this - they tell us roughly how many and what kind of people are listening to each station. They tell us about the listeners' peer groups.

On the advertiser side, the ratings are a surrogate for a true measure of results. In the absence of a way to directly measure the ability of a station to deliver results for a specific product, the ratings system was developed in an attempt to predict what will happen if you run a spot on a station.

Those stations who achieve success without ratings have found other ways to measure their reputation with their audience and to predict the results their advertisers will have when they run a spot on the station. However, I suspect that these substitutes for ratings remain surrogates of a direct measurement of reputation or results.

TRA, a research firm in New York, is developing a very interesting way to measure results in TV advertising... a methodology which could well be transferred to radio and other media. Instead of measuring how many people are viewing a particular program, TRA measures how many people actually were exposed to a specific ad and how many of those people actually purchased the product being advertised. This is similar in many ways to the work that was done on Arbitron and Nielsen's suspended Project Apollo, but TRA is processing millions of households' viewing data and matching it up against their purchasing data. As this platform matures and is able to capture not only TV viewing but also other forms of media, we will move away from the surrogacy of ratings and towards the direct measurement of the results of radio campaigns.

Of course, it is not likely that this direct measurement of results will be applicable for all advertisers, particularly local retailers. As data is developed inferences will be possible that are much more precise than today's rating system. TRA could syndicate their data in such a way as to provide local decision-makers tools to determine which media selections are best for their businesses.

Direct response radio marketers are measuring this today, for their clients. One particularly sophisticated firm, Strategic Media, has literally written the book on the subject. Through extensive testing and results measurement, they have built very detailed databases of the stations and creative execution that works best for their clients. Perhaps local radio can learn from this and develop similar data for their advertisers to use.

Please share your views on this subject by commenting on this article.

Radio's Interregnum and the Mob

Mark Ramsey, at Hear 2.0, has a terrific interview with Bob Garfield, host of WNYC's "On the Media," a program that you can hear nationally on NPR. I actually subscribe to the podcasts on iTunes, lending lots of credence to the points that Bob is making in his talk with Mark.

The title of Mark's article is "Radio: The End is Near – Unless you heed Bob Garfield," which drove me to thinking in terms of "interregnum," the period between two monarchies. One of the most famous interregnums, the one that is called The Interregnum, was the period between 1649 and 1660 in England. This was a period of great change and turmoil, but resulted in the establishment of a republican commonwealth in England. Many people felt that the world was coming to an end during this time. And, for many (not the least, King Charles I) it did. But, for those who made it through and adapted to the new way of viewing the world, it opened up a whole new vision.

Part of that vision remained rooted in the depths of human nature. And, such it is with radio's interregnum. Garfield points out that those running the "radio" business today have forgotten about the "hoi polloi," the common man, descendants in spirit of The Interregnum's revolutionary Mob.

One quote struck me in particular:

You see, the hoi polloi have much to offer you. They can be idea generators for you, they can be evangelists, they can be your defacto marketing team, they can create for you, they can do product development – just because they don’t pay attention to your advertising anymore doesn’t mean they don’t care deeply about your product. They’re a community that you have painstakingly built and they care about you. And instead of just treating them like wallets with circulatory systems, you can start embracing them, exploiting them and having conversation with them, and it can yield enormous, enormous, enormous dividends.

This is the key, fundamental problem that radio (or whatever you call it) faces today. Many (but not all) broadcasters have forgotten this key point - that people want to be deeply involved with the "radio" programming they listen to. It is a connection that has been around since the first crystal sets... probably connected to our ancestral heritage of storytelling and communal experience. But, as Bob says, many broadcasters are treating their audiences " wallets with circulatory systems..." Radio is hard work. Not just on the business side, but on the creation side as well. There are folks who get this, and they have created ecosystems that are not dependent on just the "100,000 watt flamethrower on the top of the Empire State building," as Scott Shannon put it back in the '80s (wow, isn't that imagery great?).

Roger Utnehmer, owner of Nicolet Broadcasting in Sturgeon Bay, WI, has created something that goes down that path. It's called Door County Daily News, and it ties together his cluster of four radio stations with a web "newspaper." Is it perfect? No - but I have a feeling that if you go to the community of Sturgeon Bay (it's about 40 miles to the northeast of Green Bay, on a peninsula that juts out into Lake Michigan) and Door County, you will find a deep connection to these media vehicles. I met Utnehmer last fall, and after a conversation with him it was clear that he "gets it" as far as radio's future goes. He travels the country (I met him in Alaska) spreading the gospel about how to make the transition through the interregnum.

Because that's what this time is - it's the period between one regime and another. Between the regime of single point of origination media and the regime of true multi-media. It is exciting, it is refreshing and the people who know how to do radio well (like Roger Utnehmer) will flourish. Those that don't? Well, read the history of Cromwell. But be aware - Cromwell was posthumously executed.

Comparing PPM Streaming Data to Actual Server Stream Metrics

Mark Ramsey, in a recent article on Hear 2.0, posed an interesting exercise for broadcasters - calculate the difference between your stream's cume in PPM to the records that your CDN provides for total unique connections for the same period.

He asked for responses to these case studies. So - in an effort to make this easy to do, here's a link to a spreadsheet where you can enter the info for your stream and compare the results with others:

Stream PPM vs Server Log Comparison - Online Spreadsheets - EditGrid

Has Arbitron really exited the streaming audio measurement biz?

Katy Bachman, in a brief article in MediaWeek reporting on the decision by TargetSpot to use AndoMedia for its streaming audio measurement, also stated that:

Arbitron quietly decided to get out of the streaming radio ratings business earlier this year and discontinued its relationship with comScore. According to industry sources, Arbitron was unable to make money from the business faced with a competitor who charged little or nothing for the ratings and delivered them as a byproduct of its ad server business.

Well, it must have been very quiet, because the only other mention of this I found was on the blog Internetradioworld in a post on April 9th:

According to industry sources, Arbitron was unable to make money from the business faced with Ando Media, their main competitor, who charged little or nothing for the ratings and delivered them as a byproduct of its ad server business.

InternetRadioWorld's blog entry seems to be an analysis of the impact of such an exit on the industry.

Both of these articles were within days of Arbitron and Edison's announcement of the research from their "Infinite Dial 2009" survey indicating that online radio listening cume audience has increased to 42 Million.

Now - Michael Skarzynski, the new CEO at Arbitron, and all the other folks at Arbitron, are pretty smart. I strongly doubt that Arbitron is "getting out" the streaming audio measurement business and leaving it to AndoMedia. And the folks at ComScore are quite bright, too. Measurement of streaming media has been a big investment for them and the market for this data is only going to grow. So, what's up here?

Arbitron Adding Significant New Feature to PPM

logo_NAB09JPEG.jpgIn the flurry of press announcements heralding the start of the NAB Show in Las Vegas today, Harmonic Inc. and Arbitron Inc. announced the use of Harmonic's Rhozet™ Carbon Coder universal transcoding technology in Arbitron's PPM media research services. In a quote from the press release, Taymoor Arshi, Chief Technology Officer at Arbitron, said:

"Our goal is to offer our customers new measurement solutions using our Portable People Meter technology. Our integration with Rhozet Carbon Coder helps by providing customers with the ability to prepare their content within their current workflows for inclusion in our media research services."

The press release further states:

The Carbon Coder software will be used in production pipelines to embed an inaudible code into the audio portion of entertainment and advertising content. This code can be detected by the Arbitron Portable People Meter™ (PPM™).

What does this mean for the PPM service? Theoretically, any digitally processed content - programming, commercials, and so on - can be encoded with this technology. Currently, a special "PPM™ Encoder" is required to insert the sub-audible code in the content, typically in the audio chain of the broadcaster. While perfect for measurement of media outlet audience, the current technology does not allow for the direct measurement of specific program elements like commercials and features. The Rhozet Carbon Coder will allow Arbitron to measure audience levels for all encoded media content - regardless of the source. For example, to measure exposure to a specific commercial or album track, you would need to know the exact time that the content aired on each outlet. You would then need to cross-tab this information with the PPM™ rating for that exact time, for every outlet. While not impossible, the current state of reporting of this information is quite challenging. One company, MediaMonitors (a division of RCS, which is owned by Clear Channel) has built a business around this process with ground-breaking products like Audience Reaction™ and Mscore™. MediaMonitors accomplishes this by electronically monitoring radio stations, storing "fingerprints" of the content in their database, and then cross-tabbing with the minute-by-minute PPM™ data. The power of MediaMonitor's solution is that it does not require encoding of the content prior to broadcast. The weakness - in the new world of encoded content that Arbitron and Harmony are creating - is that for encoded content, you will be able to determine exposure whether or not the outlet itself is encoding. An advertiser would be able to have a window on exposure to a specific commercial - whether video or audio - across all platforms that are measurable by the PPM™ device. This is very powerful, and when fully matured, the technology will have the potential to change the media marketplace in very significant ways.

Imagine, if you will, a video that is originally aired on a broadcast TV network. The audio is re-broadcast on radio stations around the country. Clips of the video are posted on YouTube. Elements of the video are edited and placed in various podcasts. Re-runs air on cable networks. Jon Stewart airs a clip. You get the idea - all of the exposure to this content will be measurable in PPM™ markets if the original content is encoded with the Arbitron/Rhoznet Carbon Code.

This relatively quiet announcement at a trade show generally focused on broadcast engineering will have a profound impact on the entire business of media. And, it's another "shot across the bow" by Arbitron to it's rival, Nielsen.

Streaming Audio ROI Spreadsheet

A while back, I wrote a spreadsheet for some simple calculations of the return on investment for streaming audio - like a radio station.

I have made some changes to the spreadsheet to accommodate the new negotiated SoundExchange fees for terrestrial broadcasters who stream.

Here's a link - click on the picture and then you should be able to edit the cells in yellow to see the results of different audience size, spot counts and so on.

New Streaming Costs Calculator - Online Spreadsheets - EditGrid.jpg

It's a work in progress - tell me what you think!

Using a Macintosh in a Radio Station

Chris “Doc” Tarr, Director of Engineering for Entercom in Milwaukee and Madison, WI, wrote an article for RBR today about using Macs in radio stations.

As a business technology consultant for radio stations, I strongly endorse Chris's statement.

The Mac is a terrific computer for a radio station. It is simple for even the most technophobic account exec to use and because it comes pre-installed with a ton of useful software, there's a lot you can do with it out of the box.

For example, with the extremely powerful (and included as part of the OS!) iMovie video editing software, even a neophyte can produce compelling video presentations for your sales department or your website. GarageBand, the Mac's audio editing system, provides many of the features of a much more sophisticated package like ProTools. Thousands of bands have produced professional recordings using GarageBand, right on the Mac. It even has features for creating podcasts - including building the RSS feeds and so on. Very powerful stuff.

For an extra $79, you can get Apple's iWork, a suite of three applications that include a word processor (Pages), spreadsheet (Numbers) and presentation program (Keynote). In many ways, these applications are even more powerful than MS Office - and they are certainly easier to use. There's no doubt that Keynote blows away Powerpoint as a presentation tool. Plus - you can create your presentation in Keynote and then export a perfectly compatible Powerpoint version for your less capable colleagues.

Plus, with the free OpenOffice package for OSX, you can have the complete functionality of Microsoft Office on the Mac without the cost!

I have run a virtual machine on my Mac with copies of Tapscan, Maximi$er, PD Advantage, AudioVAULT and various music scheduling packages - and they worked without a hitch. Of course, the vendors get a little "hinky" when you run on unapproved hardware, but with the right relationship with these folks, you can get them to understand.

Imagine being able to create a Tapscan report and then use it seamlessly in a powerful Mac-based presentation package to create a compelling story for a prospect. Of course, as these applications go more to the web (as Max and Tapscan are starting to now), you will be using the web browser and not a built-in application; but the principle still applies. Even more so, because the Mac will let you dress up those dull-looking web reports with some truly persuasive graphic elements - in a snap.

Back in the day, before Maximi$er, I used a Mac to suck in AID runs (remember those?) and automagically transpose them into compelling graphical presentations for my sales team. Even 20 years ago, it was a very useful tool in a radio station.

Another advantage to using a Mac on the business side of a radio station is, quite frankly, the "cool factor." Many radio station clients are Mac users themselves - ad agencies in particular have been one of the strongest vertical markets for Macintosh for decades. If you walk into a presentation to a group including a creative director, media director and account manager and you plug in your Mac for a Keynote presentation, you will gain immediate "inside" cred. It might be that extra edge that gets you the deal.

Today, the Mac will give you an edge over the competition.

Want to know more? Please leave a comment here.

Nielsen, Arbitron and the upcoming battle

Does Nielsen really care about measuring radio in just small and medium markets? The big prize is - and always has been - measuring radio in major markets and nationwide, using meter technology. This is where they are going.

In an article on March 19th in Tom Taylor's Radio-Info, Tom said:

"What kind of electronic measurement is Nielsen thinking about, for radio?

One research-industry veteran tells me “look, the competition with Arbitron will keep everybody on their toes. But they’re not doing this just to rate 51 small markets for Cumulus and Clear Channel. And they must know that when they look at the bigger markets that have the Arbitron meter, they’re not going to be able to break in there with a diary.” He figures “they must be working on something electronic” to counter the Arbitron PPM. more...

Nielsen has had a portable media measurement device in the field for several years now. It is the "Go Meter," and has a similar technological design to Arbitron's PPM device.

Here's a photo of the Go Meter:

Nielsen could use a national rollout of the Go Meter and have the radio service subsidized by the TV service. It certainly will help economies of scale to be able to spread the cost of a national roll-out across multiple media. And, remember, Nielsen is also very interested in streaming video and audio measurement. So, they have a lot of ways to monetize the deployment of this system.

My view, radical though it may seem, is that the sticker diary program announced by Nielsen and Cumulus is a straw horse for deployment of Go Meters in the Cumulus markets in preparation for an all-out attack on Arbitron's PPM strongholds in the top markets. Nielsen has a bottom-up strategy versus Arbitron's top-down strategy.

Will this be a "slam-dunk" for Nielsen? No - because the new management team being formed at Arbitron, led by Michael Skarzynski, undoubtedly sees this coming.

This will be a tremendously interesting battle.

iPod Shuffle - VoiceOver feature is a great promo vehicle for radio!

Apple this week released their latest iteration of the iPod Shuffle, a diminutive digital audio player that has no graphical user interface. In fact, until this version, the only user interface it has had is the navigation button.

With the new iPod Shuffle, Apple has added voice navigation, allowing the listener to press the navigation button and hear the title and artist of the song that is currently playing.

The title and artist information comes from the ID3 tag in the audio file metadata. This could make for an interesting promotional opportunity for creative radio station. Here's one way it could be used:

Let's say the I101 is an indy rock station that promotes local, unsigned talent. These acts distribute tracks via the station's website (free). In return for promoting their act, the station edits the ID3 tag in the track (with the artist's permission, of course) to include a station promo. For example:

Title: "Drivin'" Artist: "Rich Hannon, brought to you by 103 RNR where music matters"

Listener downloads, listens, presses button to hear the title/artist and also hears the station promo!

So - let me know if you use this idea and how it works. There's definitely a lot of potential here.

Radio's Social Community

Neal Bocian, an agency guy who is a keen observer of the radio scene, has again posted a terrific commentary on radio, this one addressing the issue of how local radio personalities make the brand of a radio station. Here's a quote from the article:

Every personality on a radio station has a job to do, and that job is no easy task. They have to create unique content every day to engage their listening audience. That personality is the moderator of a “community”. A community analogous to communities you find online, like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s people who can relate to that DJ, whether its their programming including views on subjects, poking fun at people, news events, satirical opinions- the list goes on and on. What’s most important is that they add value to the station, and changes the “vanilla” flavor to something that adds “spice” for the listeners. There is such a disparity between “cookie cutter voice tracked programming,” to a personality who can relate to the local community and listeners alike. It is like going from one end of the spectrum to the other. Yes, radio stations CEOs can save money by eliminating the talent on air and replace it with voice tracked programming, but at what price? You save a salary but you deteriorated and cannibalized your audience as a by-product. That same audience you worked so hard to acquire.

When you read the entire article, you will see that he has a different perspective from the normal radio pundit. Neal is someone who believes that the medium is unique in its ability to deliver results for his clients because of the personalities social connections to the local community.

We're interested in your comments - please write!

Music Scheduling and the State of Radio

Computer-based music scheduling programs have been around for over 30 years. I know, because my first Program Director and I collaborated on a very rudimentary one for the Apple II back in the late '70s. Soon, there were quite a few commercially available systems available, including the venerable Selector.

Today, I was researching some new opportunities and I read an article on Jeff Pollack's site by Pat Welsh about stations moving from DOS versions of music scheduling systems to windows-based versions. This article was posted on December 23, 2008 Huh?
When you look at how many things have changed in radio over the past few years, it’s stunning to realize that one of the most important tasks, music scheduling, has changed so little. Many stations, especially in the U.S., still use legacy DOS-based programs (elsewhere around the world, especially in markets where music scheduling has only recently been introduced, stations are more likely to use Windows based systems).

But things have started to change in this area, too. Many stations have converted or are converting to new, Windows-based releases of various music scheduling systems. Besides the new interface and the ability to do things like changing the color scheme, doing copy and paste, customizing screens and other Windows type functions, under the hood there’s a lot more going on.

Of course, it's absolutely true. For various reasons, many (most?) established US stations have not upgraded their music scheduling tools to even 1990s' technology. I won't get into the reasons here, except to say that it's partly an unintended consequence of consolidation.

This has put established radio stations at a decided disadvantage over the years. It's a creeping problem; if you don't upgrade your software today, you save money today. However, you also suffer the consequences of an inferior product on the air. This is not immediately apparent, but over the years the problem becomes more and more audible to your listeners - if not to you. And - by the way - this isn't a case for "DOS" over "Windows" (I can't believe that I am writing that in 2009) as much as it is a case for providing the best, most effective tools for your team. As a radio software guy, I can tell you with no equivocation that relying on an old platform (even if it's updated frequently) for more than 7 years or so will cripple your ability to accomplish what is really possible with the tools at hand. This kind of inertia also creates a disincentive for your software provider to collaborate with you and their other customers to create new, cutting edge, improvements for your software. If you are not constantly pushing them to innovate by staying current with their their latest software update, the vendor will have little if no reason to provide a new version - especially when there is one extremely dominant provider.

What's the result? Well - stations cannot take advantage of the incredible power of current technology in providing music scheduling capabilities. For example, with today's technologies, I see a music scheduling product that takes into account "on the fly" research from social networking sites, iTunes, Amazon, Pandora and so on while providing a user interface that is based on User Centered Design principles rather than the baggage of the past.

And - why on earth does a music scheduling system need to be an application that is installed on your PC? This is the perfect application for a web-based, hosted solution that is built using a powerful back-end technology running on multiple redundant servers. Imagine if your music scheduling program had a feature as powerful as Amazon's recommendation engine - a feature that could take the input of tens of millions of listeners and provide guidance for scheduling your music? This isn't possible on a traditional "PC-based" platform, but would be absolutely possible on a using AJAX and LAMP in a web-based environment. Want off-line capability in case of an internet outage? No problem - technologies today allow offline use of web apps - check out Google Gears.

This same logic holds true for other software tools in your station, such as automation. Many stations are running on automation systems (reliably, I must say) from the last century while vendors have released systems that are ready for the challenges of the 21st. Yes, the music still gets played, but your station can sound so much better with a contemporary automation platform!

Check to see if your current vendor has a contemporary tool available to you. Ask hard questions about the platform, its compatibility with your current system and its future product roadmap. If they don't have a contemporary system or you aren't satisfied with their answers, then switch vendors!

Don't procrastinate on this - your new competitors are using the latest and greatest technologies to compete with you.

In order to compete in the media environment of the second decade of the 21st century, you needs the tools tomorrow. Get rid of your old, dusty programming software systems and invest in those that will bring you immediate benefit today.

The "Radio is Dead (not)" crowd

Wow - today brought to my attention two articles arguing that indeed, radio is not "dead." The first, written by an acquaintance of mine from back in my radio sales days in Boston - Neal Bocian - talks about the speech given by John Hogan, leader of Clear Channel. Here's a brief quote from that article:

I found your perspective on the future of radio, Mr. Hogan, humiliating to my brothers and sisters in the audience. You are a leader in our industry, and with that title comes responsibility to lead our respective “tribes” with ideas for improvement and reinventing ourselves in order to gain market share. I know that’s what the audience was anticipating. I know that’s what I was expecting.

You really should read all of Neal's post, here. It's worth the time.

Then, this evening, I ran into these two posts, written in the same vein by Eric Thomas. Eric is a radio professional who recently was "downsized" from his gig at WWBN in Flint. In his two pieces, he talks about how radio folks need to stop getting down on themselves and get their butts in gear because the medium is still as powerful as ever - it's just going through change. Here's a quote from one of his two entries:

Radio is an industry that is boundlessly fun to work in. If you are good at radio, it will afford you opportunities that you would never have otherwise. I have stood onstage in front of thousands of people with a microphone, I have laughed until my sides hurt in a studio, broadcast from the Superbowl, signed baseballs at the MLB All Star Game, and countless other "I will never forget" moments and that is all because I am damn good at being on the radio. If you are not good at radio, you can get my coffee and watch me enjoy all these moments.

You can read Eric's blog here.

I agree wholeheartedly with both of these guys. Let's keep the dialogue going because that's how we'll make the business better!

Guy Kawasaki, Robert Scoble and more at Radio Ink's Convergence 2009

Convergence 2009 took place 2 weeks ago in San Jose. This is Eric Rhodes' second gathering of folks who are working to bring radio across the chasm of convergence. Unfortunately, I (and many others, I am sure) couldn't make trip this year - but Eric has posted some video of the event on YouTube. To make it easier to access, here's what he has posted so far:

Opening Presentation (A twist on the rather viral "Did You Know?" meme)


Convergence - Day 1


Convergence - Day 2


Robert Scoble eating lunch


Obviously, these are just tidbits of the entire program. I can't wait for Eric to post more complete versions of some of the sessions so that those of us who were unable to travel to San Jose this year can learn from his great work.

Thanks, Eric and team for putting on this great conference!

Monetizing Technology

Alan Mason, a consultant to the radio industry and partner in the GoodRatings consultancy, made an interesting comment in an article today:

Take Twitter on the other hand. It's jumped from nothing to more than five million active consumers in a short period of time. Raise your hand if your station as more than five million people in the cume.
But it's not about Twitter, it's about why consumers use it and how it will help you engage your consumers. That's the important part, the level of relationship you have with your listener us where the money is, not with the technology itself.
If you want to monitize technology you need to get into the technology business. In radio, it's still about how many people listen, and how passionate they are about you, not about whether you twitter or not.

The technological tools that are available today are not going to make you money unless you find a way to tie them to your core business - radio. For example, you're not going to be able to monetize your twitter feed; but, you could use it to drive listeners to your advertisers by using tiny urls and measure the click-through response. Just an idea.

Radio is the thing...

Caroline Krediet, Planning Director at TAXI-NYC, a brand agency, wrote a piece for MediaPost that sounds heretical for the typical media pundit in 2009. Here's a quote:

There it is: Clinically proven to be entertaining and economical, innovative democratic and about as underleveraged as a medium can be in our frenzied multichannel universe. I may be in the minority on this one, but I do think that in today's economy, radio affords some of the juiciest creative opportunities, at a bargain price. A radio revival could be just the thing to beat the recession blues.

She covers a wide range of rationale in her piece, but it all revolves around the unique engagement that the audio medium has with the listener. It's vital to note that she isn't just talking about terrestrial radio; she correctly points out that all forms of radio - streaming, satellite, podcasting and terrestrial - have this unique property. Check out the article here.

KLSX changing format, powered by social networking

Word is that KLSX, the LA CBS station that is currently a talk station will be changing format to CHR on Friday, February 20. Format changes aren't particularly interesting - they happen all the time - but what's worth watching about this one is the stated intention to heavily use social networking to connect to the audience. Tom Taylor of Radio-Info reports that the the Sr. VP Programming, Kevin Weatherly, will be tapping into Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace. Plus, they'll be hooked up to iPhone and Blackberry applications from the start. Definitely worth watching how they manage this - there will be lessons to learn! Check out

HDRadio in Rental Cars?

Chriss Scherer, editor of the industry publication RadioMagOnline, posted about his experience with a rental car that offered satellite radio. Towards the end of the post, he made this comment:

Sirius promotes its service by having it available in rental cars. Why aren’t we doing the same with HD Radio? Get HD Radio in rental cars and tout the multicast channels. Tout the data. All the listening and data options are not available in every market, but pick and choose a few to start.

This is an excellent point that has bothered me for some time. Over the past year, I have rented 20 or more cars and many of them included satellite radio, but none of them had an HD radio installed. One of the most effective ways to sell a new technology is to provide a sampling opportunity. Ibiquity does not seem to be having much luck in getting the rental car companies to provide an HD Radio as part of the standard equipment; perhaps redirecting some of the marketing money being invested in more traditional areas would be better directed at "encouraging" rental car companies to purchase cars that have HD Radios installed.

As far as I can tell, none of the car rental companies are offering cars with HD Radio. If they are, they certainly aren't marketing it like they do XM or Sirius. Now that HD is well-penetrated in the major metros and is becoming more available to consumers at retail, this would be the perfect time to encourage sampling.