Radio Ink

Saga's streaming move prompts more feedback from Radio Ink's Ed Ryan, Abacast's Rob Green

Monday, August 27, 2012 - 1:10pm

Radio InkLast week Saga announced it would no longer substitute "online only" content for the on-air ads on its station's web streams (RAIN coverage here). The move sparked criticism from Fred Jacobs, Ken Dardis and Bob Maccini among others (more here).

SagaNow Rob Green, CEO of Abacast (which offers ad-replacement technology for broadcasters among other services) has penned a guest editorial for Radio Ink (here). Green argues that "the radio industry today has, at best, a muddy message about its digital future, and the choice to simulcast looks like a step backward."

Meanwhile, Radio Ink editor Ed Ryan tried listening to a few random radio stations' simulcasts online. He posted the results of his experiment here. "Is the [online] product comparable to what goes out over the air?" The answer is easy, writes Ryan: "The products are not even close."

Saga's elimination of ad-insertion will help costs and quality, say observers, but more needed to compete online

Friday, August 24, 2012 - 12:35pm

SagaEarlier this week, Saga Communications announced it would no longer substitute "online only" content for the on-air ads on its station's Internet streams (RAIN coverage here). Saga EVP Warren Lada said he's not worried about losing streaming inventory because it's really not that profitable compared to other areas.

Radio Ink editor Ed Ryan reports other broadcasters may be leaning in the same direction. He writes (here), "While broadcasters know they need to be everywhere consumers want them to be, losing gobs of money to be there is not something they signed up for... When you tack on the cost of the technology paid out to make ad-insertion a part of a radio station stream, it adds to the financial headache."

And besides the costs, there's the subpar experience for the listener to consider. "Nothing sounds worse than 7 minutes of Public Service Announcements in a row."

Nothing, perhaps, except 7 minutes of ads, argues Angel Street Capital's Bob Maccini. Especially when compared with the offerings from pureplay competitors.

"This movement if successful will sound the death knell for terrestrial stations that are streaming," Maccini writes on the Angel Street Capital blog. "Given the other Internet radio listening options consumers will not choose to listen to a stream that is running 10-14 ad units an hour complete with some 60 second spots... Stopping ad insertion may save a few shekels in the short run but long term it will have more significant costs."

Instead, Maccini suggests (here) "rather than inserting PSAs and other filler content that music stations insert songs."

Audio Graphics' Ken Dardis agrees that just "regurgitating" over-the-air signals online won't work. "Radio's place online is to use what the Internet offers to expand limitations of over-the-air content. NPR does this in a remarkably successful way. So why do we not hear it being done by commercial radio industry groups?"

Online radioHe continues (here), "The radio industry belongs online, just not in the way it presents itself over-the-air."

Jacobs Media's Fred Jacobs appreciates Saga's move in that it should help improve the overall quality of its streams. "Radio streams uniformly sound like crap," he writes. "PSAs, bad music, comedy cuts, crickets, and other interstitial material has made the customer experience on radio streams a nightmare."

But he also argues, like Dardis and Maccini, that radio's digital product shouldn't just be a clone of its over-the-air signal. Web efforts required a dedicated team. "Treat digital revenue as a separate business and hire reps with digital sales experience."

Jacobs continues, "it’s time to realistically assess what’s working and what’s not. Radio needs to come to grips with the fact that in many situations, traditional radio salespeople cannot take on this effort, and that digital selling doesn’t cannibalize the traditional spot sales effort."

You can find more of Jacobs' thoughts on Jacobs Media's jacoBLOG here and here.

Radio Ink's Convergence 12 begins today; Hanson to speak tomorrow

Monday, June 4, 2012 - 8:15am

Radio Ink's digital media-focused conference Convergence 12 begins today. RAIN publisher and AccuRadio founder/CEO Kurt Hanson will speak tomorrow at the event on how new media technologies will ultimately be a boon to broadcast radio, and how radio can best position itself.

Convergence 12 is today and tomorrow at the Santa Clara, CA Convention Center. The first keynote speaker will be Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese Pizza. Follow Convergence 12 via twitter with the hashtag #RCIV. The events agenda is here.

Radio Ink's Rhoads says Haley, a champion for digital, left RAB out of frustration

Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 11:45am

Radio Ink publisher Eric Rhoads (pictured) blogged yesterday on the passing of the torch at the Radio Advertising Bureau from (newly-appointed Marketron CEO) Jeff Haley to (former publisher-CEO of Radio & Records) Erica Farber. His point: Haley left out of frustration at a radio industry unwilling or unable to come to grips with the reality of a digital future.

Rhoads remembers hearing Haley comment at the Convergence radio conference last year: "It's a shame that the entire industry is not here to hear the importance of bridging the digital world and radio. This is probably the most important thing they could attend, and yet only the early adopters are here."

With digital as Haley's primary initiative for radio, Rhoads pins Haley's frustration on the radio industry's "deep resistance to change." Rhoads writes, "We are in an industry under attack. Sadly, many of you are still running FotoMats in the age of digital cameras. And many don't know what they don't know. Unless we as an industry, at every level, invest deeply in this digital mission Jeff Haley was pushing, we will be left in the dust."

Eric Rhoads' blog is worth a read, here. Also, for more on Marketron naming Jeff Haley president and CEO, click here. Finally, the Radio Ink Convergence event is June 4 & 5 in Silicon Valley. More info here.

Social media exec asks, "Why are we sending listeners to Facebook's party?"

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 11:35am

Jim Roberts is with Commotion, a subsidiary of Broadcast Electronics which specializes in social media and audience interactivity tools for radio. He says radio needs to re-discover its websites as a source of ad revenue, by using social tools like Facebook and Twitter not as a desination for content, but to pull listeners in.

"If you look at your competition today, it's no longer just the station across town. It's Spotify, Pandora, Slacker, or other services that are causing the disintermediation of music discovery (and even news) from radio and making music consumption much more interactive," Roberts writes in Radio Ink today. "We need our websites to save radio from new threats that are offering something that radio has lost -- interactivity."

He recommends: 

  • Using social media to promote contests and events, but to keep all the relevant content on the website
  • Using the crowdsource power of social media for insight when programming music; and 
  • Getting back to advertising on your site -- it's the only reason Facebook wants your listeners in the first place.

Read Roberts' essay in Radio Ink here.

Clear Channel touts digital growth on earnings call; iHeart customizable radio to remain ad-free for time-being

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 1:00pm

The manner in which Clear Channel dealt with its digital business on yesterday's earnings call should come as no surprise to anyone who's been listening to CEO Bob Pittman lately (see RAIN here). Radio-Info reports today that Clear Channel CFO Tom Casey began the call "by talking about iHeartRadio app and last September’s successful iHeartRadio Music Festival... Casey talked frequently about digital initiatives and investments, both around the radio platform and at Clear Channel Outdoor. (The hottest thing going in out-of-home advertising is digital displays.) And digital seems to be the growth engine, as you can see from the Fourth Quarter results..."

Casey told investors digital ad (streaming and display) revenue is “growing nicely,” Taylor reports. And this mirrors the industry overall (see yesterday's coverage of RAB's revenue report here). However, the customizable feature of the company's iHeartRadio service -- the company's answer to Pandora -- has been commercial-free since its launch, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. The apparent thinking is about building usage, and not jeopardizing early adoption with an overload of ads. 

"Casey said the company was getting great feedback from listeners, is not monetizing iHeartradio and has no plan to do so right now," Radio Ink writes today. Casey reported 48 million downloads of the iHeartradio app in 2011, and 37 million monthly uniques from all the company's digital products and brands.

Read more in Radio-Info here; more in Radio Ink here.

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