Beyond Just The Games

 “Unless you are prepared to give up something valuable you will never be able to truly change at all, because you’ll be forever in the control of things you can’t give up.” – Andy Law


Pandora now has an app for the Microsoft XBOX system.

Not really earth shaking…or is it?

Gaming is huge, which draws people to XBOX, and then XBOX provides them an entrée into movies, the web, and music.

Pandora uses Kinect to allow people to listen, vote, and change songs with just a gesture. So Pandora has now integrated themselves into yet another popular distribution channel. Have you heard the old story about finding a parade getting in front of it?

But both may soon be rendered obsolete as Virtual Reality achieves broad acceptance over the next five years.  Change is a fact of life.

My point here is to show how unimaginative and lame most of our radio apps are. Radio will not continue to succeed by being “good enough,” at a time when the life cycle of an app becomes shorter and shorter.  Let’s do something different that really intrigues the listener/consumer, and be prepared to understand that change is faster and more constant than ever.

How Are You Doing In RLRT?

“If a brand is to really make a connection and to spark word of mouth, they must speak to the customer like a friend.” – John Moore


You know, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and the others can be quite seductive. You post something, get some responses, a few forwards and it feels like you’ve really accomplished something. And you probably do accomplish…something. But we don’t yet understand what a “like” means or if “thumbs up” means more listening.  At a recent radio conference Mark Ramsey reviewed a study that showed no correlation between Facebook likes and success.

In books like The Passion Conversation” and “Face To Face,” and several independent research studies, it becomes clear that over 80% of word of mouth conversations happen in RLRT, or “Real Life, Real Time.”  That should get your attention.

So instead of social media it’s digital interaction, and the smart people will be planning for the bigger picture rather than just the smaller picture one.  Effective must overcome easy.

I know online interaction is easier to do, and I know it reaches a lot of users, but it overlooks the human or people part of the equation. The more effective interactions come from people to people efforts.

When Brant Hanson of Air1 decided to have the staff and band greet the listeners as they arrived for a concert, walking down a red carpet to their seats, that was human social interaction. Those people didn’t just attend, they bonded. When country stations do backyard barbecues with artists, they’re not just getting together for food, they’re bonding in a human way.

If you haven’t read “The Passion Conversation” you need to. It’s written by an acquaintance of mine, and someone I’ve talked about in the past, John Moore, along with some really smart people from a group called Brains On Fire.  It really is about building passion, and that happens most often in RLRT.

There’s something happening here, but what it is ain’t exactly clear

” If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” – General Eric Shinseki, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff.


Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an advance copy of the future? It would come out early for those that registered. Or, how about an App or something that could show what’s a trend, and what’s a fad.

Too bad, but oh well. Guess we’ll have to do it on our own, learning, watching, growing and acting. It’s difficult but there are optics that can give you a better idea, not of the future, but where we’re going.

What seems clear to me is that the most popular option is to do nothing. We’re too busy working on today, or don’t have perfect clarity, or are confused by the future, or maybe you just don’t care. These people are the born followers, the people who just can’t go to the head of the line and say, “Let’s go!”

So fear and eventual irrelevance are in their future. When when you don’t spend any time thinking about or planning for the future you’ve given up.

If you’re one of those people pardon my directness, but get out of the way. Make room for those of us who want to lead, or even follow.  Stand aside, and let those who can craft the future.

A Cold Harsh Reality For Radio

“When you can’tchange the direction of the wind – adjust your sails.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


The radio world is buzzing about my friend Eric Rhoads email “A Cold, Harsh Reality for Radio” at the session at Convergence discussing the future of the digital, converged dash. The comment was made that, “AM and FM are being eliminated from the dash of two car companies within two years and will be eliminated from the dash of all cars within five years.”

Eric loves to shock people and tell them their life as they know it is over. Five years ago at a staff meeting in Rocklin he made a speech saying there wouldn’t be radio in five years. He does that because he has been trying to get people to pay attention to what was ahead for at least 10 years, but mostly people didn’t want to hear it. He’s become much more blunt as we kept moving down the line to the moment of change. I think he’s finally gotten people’s attention. And his case is being proven.

Yes, the “radio” in the car is changing. Showing my age again, I remember when there was only AM radio in the car. Then car manufacturers added FM. No one believed the sky was falling, instead they just began creating content for the new reality of FM.

The turnover cycle for automobile is several years…something Eric once told me ahh…several years ago. What that means is it takes years for sell enough cars to replace technology. Some of the low cost deals and specials from the auto industry may have accelerated that.

As we saw at the December Arbitron conference, there is an organization working with auto manfacturers to design the digital dashboard. Sirius, iHeart and Pandora are all represented in the digital dash, because they have made it a priority and actually done something other than play Chicken Little. Many of us chose not to be a part of that dialogue.

Here are some other things to consider:

* For the majority of people, streaming radio is available right now through a mobile device. I don’t think that will change, because my mobile device will always be more customized to me and my likes than anything in a car.
* Radios will not be eliminated from all cars in five years. At worst what’s now called a radio won’t be in NEW cars in five years.
* As often happens, I’m not sure anyone has really taken the time to find out what the consumer thinks of radio disappearing from the dash. Not having something I’ve always used may not be met with as much excitement as the manufacturers seem to think.
* While everyone is focused on the absence of radio from the digital dashboard, the auto companies are also working on putting unwired Internet in the car. That will allow any station that streams to gain entry. Still think the cost of streaming is too high

Like Eric, I’ve been talking about the future for years. I’m sure my clients thought I was obsessed. Now it’s happening, the comfortable radio business we’ve known for 50 years is changing. Change can be hard, but like the wind it’s neither good or bad. It’s our response to this than makes it good or bad. It’s our choice to either give up and accept what happens, or change how we see radio today in favor of what radio will look like in the future. It’s different, but only impossible if we sit and do nothing. Even if some auto manufacturers do eliminate radio from the dash in two years, it will be several years before we are seriously impacted. We have time to plan and act.

Which takes me to what Mark Ramsey talked about last week. Simply, the conversation shouldn’t be about what platform we’re on, it should be about how compelling our content is. Not how good it is, but how compelling it is. And that’s where the true failure will be, understanding the difference between between creating and copying. . The difference between differentiated and sound-alike. The difference between compelling and good enough. I’m not sure there’s enough commitment to those principles. Many of us are more likely to just keep on doing what we’re doing on other platforms, as if that will make the difference.

None of us will escape the results of what was discussed at Convergence, but we can adjust our sails to the wind.

A Peek At 2011

“They always say time changes things, but actually you have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol

Did you take a minute on New Years Eve to look back at the changes of 2010? What changes happened to you in 2010, and what changes did you bring about yourself? Scary, isn’t it?

As we head deeper into 2011, here are some consumer trends to keep an eye on. Several of them can help you change your world.