Monday, February 9, 2009

Putting The Toothpaste Back Into The Tube

You know, I’m really going to be disappointed if there isn’t more to all these cut-backs in our beloved Broadcast and Music Industries than just “budget-cuts”. While most sectors of the economy are using lay-offs in order to keep pace with the worsening economy, the Broadcast Industry is eliminating positions by the hundreds!

A “lay-off” is when people are temporarily furloughed—and when business begins to return, people are called back and/or re-hired. That’s not what is happening in the Radio and Music Industries: these are permanent position eliminations.

So, what happens when the advertising revenues return? You know they will—just as soon as the retail sector begins showing signs of returning to health. And that will come when, whatever the Stimulus package will eventually be, begins to put people back to work and consumers begin spending money again.

What is Radio’s plan for that? Will the Industry begin re-hiring the pros they put on the street? Or is the downsized version of radio the way of the future?

In last week’s M-Street Journal, it was noted that there are 1,249 construction permits outstanding—that means we’re still adding stations to this already crowded market place. And these construction permits are bought at auction! Apparently somebody thinks we need more radio stations, not less.

Then there’s the story about the FM Station originally licensed to the Portland metro that they want to move to Tiger Mountain, where most of the Seattle FM stations are located, effectively making the station another Seattle station. Next time you’re in the Seattle area, hit the scan button on your radio and see how far it gets—probably only one-step up the band and you’re on another station. Does anybody think Seattle needs another radio station?

Some say Internet Radio is the next big thing. Anybody with a computer can have his or her own station. So, with no regulation whatsoever, we could easily see 250,000 stations broadcasting over the internet. Wouldn’t you love to be in the room when somebody tries to sell advertising on one of those stations: “Well, we have 5 AQH Persons 25-54, if you include my wife, my cousin and my pet gerbil.” Can you imagine pitching that cost-per-point? I’d call that “More Is Less”.

Then there’s the whole Wall Street debacle. Anybody priced Broadcast stocks lately? They’re down now, but will they stay down? What if they come back? What will we do then?

A lot of blood has been spilled in the past year in the Radio and Music Industries. And we’re told to prepare for more. Sure, the projections are scary…but what happens when things improve? How do we get the toothpaste back into the tube?

Perhaps the larger question is this: where’s the “Radio Revitalization Plan”? We do have one, don’t we?

Like I said, I’m going to be really disappointed if that’s all there

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