|Rise of the smartphone
“1 in every 5 minutes of total audio time is spent on a smartphone,” says Edison’s Share of Ear study.
For those age 13-34, that figure’s quite a bit higher, about 35%. As for what Americans are listening to on their smartphones, it’s 43% “owned” music (hello, iTunes downloads), 37% streaming audio pureplays, and 9% AM/FM streams. Radio’s still doing well in overall “Share of Ear,” at over 50%, but when you narrow down the data for smartphone listening, it certainly doesn’t own the phone. The increasing primacy of that device, which barely existed before Apple sold its first iPhone in July 2007, was the theme of Edison principal Larry Rosin at Sunday’s RAIN conference. We’ve previously seen other, more general stats from Edison’s proprietary national study of 8,000 people who kept a one-day diary, like how much audio is consumed in general. Now Rosin says “People love audio...they spend four hours a day listening to it” in various forms. But increasingly, the device they choose is a smartphone. And we know from Edison’s recent “Infinite Dial” study that the number of standalone radios per household is decreasing. Larry shows video of a 10-year-old girl and asks what her experience with audio will be, in just a few years – with the implication that she might not ever be exposed to a “radio.” As for the ubiquity of the smartphone, how about these recent statistics from another study, shared by Rosin for perspective - “3% of Americans sleep with smartphones in their hands. 35% reach for their phones, immediately upon waking.” Here’s more from Sunday’s RAIN Summit West, ahead of today’s opening of the NAB Show in Las Vegas -
“We’ll take digital nickels and times, because we know they’re gonna be dollars,” says Ginny Morris.
The Hubbard Radio Chair and CEO says digital is “already turning into dollars...That traditional radio dollar is still there, it’s still a fabulous business, and it’s going to be, for a very, very long time.” But Morris acknowledges what RAIN panel partner Paul Jacobs of Jacobs Media says – that the RAB and other numbers show radio revenue growth as relatively flat, while digital (and we’d have to say, off-air, too) is fueling the growth. Morris says “we know we have to keep investing in our terrestrial efforts and marketing our stations.” But there’s a kind of mosaic now to what comprises “radio,” in all its facets. Morris delivers a phrase that radio CEOs often utter in public – “There’s never been a more exciting time in radio.” But in her understanding of it, “Radio can be what you’re streaming, what you’re podcasting...The interactivity affords all kinds of opportunities.” And - when new things are presented, “it’s important to lean into them, and not be afraid.” Ginny’s own family is a model of that. In her Sunday morning RAIN keynote she talks about her grandfather’s first radio station in 1925, and how his original post-World War II foray into FM failed, and how he gambled so much on the launch of the first direct-broadcast TV satellite.
“What keeps you up at night?”
“Hot flashes,” was Ginny Morris’ left-field answer, and the room at the RAIN Summit broke up with laughter. Ginny’s more serious response was, “I sleep pretty well at night,” and she should, given how well key Hubbard radio stations like DC’s all-news WTOP (and its regional signals) are doing, and her own #1-rated hometown AC “KS 95” KSTP-FM in the Twin Cities. But then Morris says “I worry about the autonomous car.” That’s from that angle that future passengers and “drivers” might be watching video, not listening to a local music station. Morris says “I know [self-driving cars] are out there, I know it’s coming, but I don’t think it’s coming next year.” Paul Jacobs, involved with recent DASH conferences about radio, suggests from the other sofa on stage that such vehicles might be closer than we all think. The Hubbard boss says “We have to do more...individual companies can’t take their incumbency for granted, in the car.” Self-driving cars may not be here yet, but there was a novel way to award a prize during Ginny Morris’s presentation - using Shazam. Hubbard’s got a group deal with Sun Broadcast Group for Shazam-related services. Another popular topic at RAIN – podcasting -
Ginny Morris of Hubbard “got into a car accident and ran a stop sign” listening to the last episode of “Serial.”
She says that’s when podcasting really came onto her radar screen, when her college-age kids turned her onto “Serial,” about the murder trial of a teen in Baltimore. Hubbard had recently hired former CBS and iHeart programmer Greg Strassell and he had a relationship with Norm Pattiz. So the Hubbard contingent flew to L.A. to talk with him about podcasting. From that came Hubbard’s purchase of a sizable minority stake in Pattiz’ PodcastOne. Morris figured “If we wanted to learn the [podcasting] space, what better way than to watch Norm?” She views podcasting as “additive [to broadcast radio], potentially enhancing what we’re doing...I feel like we’ve got a front-row seat.” Just before the opening keynote ended, Morris, the third-generation of the Minnesota-based Hubbard broadcasting family, explained why she’d bought a small chain of upstate Minnesota stations, after doing the $505 million deal with Bonneville and the purchase of Sandusky radio clusters in Seattle and Phoenix. She says there’s something for her large-market station execs to learn from radio pros in markets like Bemidji – “Those guys take nothing for granted. They’re as scrappy as can be, because they have to be.”
“Podcasting really works for the advertiser,” says Norm Pattiz.
Part of the irrepressible Norm’s pitch to potential advertisers is that “If you’ve got a million listeners or a million people watching television...ours [at PodcastOne] are more valuable.” That’s because they’ve made a commitment and chosen the show. The always lively Pattiz says “they represent the P1 listeners of talk radio.” Introducing the founder of Westwood One (nearly 40 years ago) and now the PodcastOne platform, Kurt Hanson calls Norm “a celebrity spokesperson for podcasting.” Norm insists he’s still “a big cheerleader for radio,” but he asks the RAIN audience to think about the last breakout star created by radio, while podcasting’s doing that on a regular basis. (Like WTF podcast creator Marc Maron, after President Obama literally visited his home studio.) Pattiz owns four of the eight seats closest to the bench at L.A. Lakers games, and super talent-rep Ari Emanuel of Williams Morris Endeavor has the other four. Norm mentioned his ideas about podcasting, and not only did Emanuel show interest – so, quickly, did other talent agents. Their big clients not only want media exposure, they want to own their media, and that’s fine with Pattiz. He mostly does his 200-or-so on-demand shows on a revenue-share basis.
“Choice and control” is what Americans crave with audio, says Kurt Hanson in his “State of the Industry.”
That cuts against a straight simulcast of an AM/FM signal, says Hanson - “If you’re just listening to a simulcast, you’re lacking choice and control.” From past RAIN Summits about internet radio, we’re used to hearing Kurt drop in Star Trek references among his key points about what lays ahead. Some of those memes from earlier Summits keep growing – the decline in usage for all traditional media (not just radio) and the growth in pure-plays like Pandora. Here’s a quick list of Hanson’s trends to watch - #1 is “connected home stereos” like Sonos or Bose. The problem is “you can only listen to things that are available on the Internet,” and if a broadcast station’s not there, it’s a problem. #2 is voice control of various devices. Kurt brought along his Amazon Alexa and asked it several times for how much time he had left to speak (he also asked for a good joke). #3 is Bluetooth headphones, a critical question since Apple is rumored to be dropping the headphone cord off the next iteration of the iPhone. As Hanson points out, the NextRadio app requires a headphone cord to work. (Kurt’s AccuRadio colleague John Gehron says that means Nielsen’s PPM may have an issue picking up such listening.) More things to watch, in Hanson’s estimation – Smartwatches, still in the early days. In-dash infotainment. (Hanson says “Getting Internet radio into the dash makes a big difference.”) And “self-driving cars.” Re: podcasting, Kurt says there are “an incredible amount of podcasts available” – but aside from a few superstars like “This American Life,” a recent Jeff Vidler study from Canada shows a lot of “1-share” podcasts.
iHeart Radio’s Owen Grover says “I don’t ever talk about our ‘digital strategies.’”
Digital shouldn’t be a “silo,” says Grover, the Senior VP/GM of the digital/online corner of the company. He says “the first thing I do” in presentations and meetings is to talk about why radio – broadcast radio – “is robust.” He tells the RAIN audience “We don’t believe in the standalone business” of online radio, citing 15 years of business experience produced by Rhapsody, Rdio, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, etc. For iHeart, it’s built on the sturdy base of broadcast radio, though they did introduce an algorithm-based product like Pandora’s when they re-launched in 2011. That’s because listeners were telling iHeart they wanted that option, as “a nice feature.” But Grover (in conversation with Tag Strategic’s Ted Cohen) says “No one in our company is paid to be a futurist,” including Bob Pittman. Grover says “We don’t bother to try to read the crystal ball, because you’re only gonna be right about 2% of the time...we try to pay very close attention to what our listeners are doing,” and respond accordingly. They also listen to their own people, though Grover recalls the resistance iHeartRadio got from some top programmers about not giving apps to their individual stations. Isn’t New York top 40 Z100 important enough to have an app? Grover says the bigger picture is how customers use radio – they listen to “four, five, six radio stations.” To him, apps aren’t the way to go, for a company like iHeart. He’s a big fan of “understanding how people use the product,” so iHeart can deliver it wherever they are.
More from this year’s NAB Show in Las Vegas –
• Watch selected NAB Show events on a live-stream, plus other “buzz-worthy moments and topics” and interviews from the staff of Broadcast Beat. They’ll be working from a studio in the Grand Lobby of the Convention Center. NAB’s EVP/Conventions and Business Operations Chris Brown wanted to “share the NAB Show experience with an ever-wider audience of industry professionals.” The show could well draw over 100,000 attendees again, and the most noticeable change in recent years is the ever-growing percentage of foreign broadcast, film, TV and digital pros. See what’s available for streaming here.
• “‘Post’ is all about keeping your audio alive, after it’s live on the air,” says Futuri Media’s Daniel Anstandig at the first-ever “RAIN Reveal” of a new product or service. He smiles and says “Post” could stand for “Podcasting on Steroids.” Radio is “the only sector of the media” business where content is played once – live on a morning show or afternoon show, for example – but never again. Research shows the main culprit is the lack of time to condense, edit and re-purpose to create something that could be consumed on Twitter, Facebook or other channels. Like the Staples “Easy button,” Futuri’s “Post” product has a green button a talent or producer can hit to “bookmark” interesting content. Even if nobody hits the button, Post is constantly recording the on-air product and can identify spots, traffic reports, news, talk breaks, etc. and makes it easy to create a product that’s “far beyond what we call podcasts,” says Daniel. Because Facebook and other social media aren’t just about audio, Futuri cut a deal with Shutterstock for “fully-vetted images” that are legal to use, and Post will suggest them. Post is also PPM-friendly.
• Voltair has details (and pricing) of its new “data export license,” so the vendor gets more revenue out of users on an ongoing basis. It lets users of its audio processor eyeball the “confidence level of complete [Nielsen] PPM messages received” and other reports. The free “evaluation period” ends May 1 and they’ll begin charging. Last year’s price for the unit itself was $15,000 but we don’t know where the list price is now. Voltair’s a product of Cleveland-based 25-Seven, and its parent Telos Alliance will hold a press conference tomorrow at its North Exhibit Hall booth – about products, and “demos of cutting-edge, game-changing IP concepts and technology.” No doubt PPM producer Nielsen will be eyeing events at the Voltair booth. Today’s the formal opening day of the NAB Show in Las Vegas – plenty more to come from Vegas, all week long in this Tom Taylor NOW Newsletter.
CBS boss Les Moonves made $56,773,833 last year – $10 million less than 2013.
Sumner Redstone’s generous with his top executives (even when they leave, which Moonves isn’t). In 2013, Les received a total $66,932,581 in total compensation, but that dropped the next year to nearly $57.2 million. And last year was about $400,000 less than the year before. In these days of high executive compensation, the salary - $3.5 million for Moonves last year – is just the first inning. His bonus was $19 million (down from $28.5 million in 2013). He got stock awards worth $25.5 million and option awards valued at $7.2 million. The chart for the top five CBS executives literally has so many categories, it almost doesn’t fit the page, edge-to-edge, and it spills over into secondary charts, where we spy the nearly $10 million in a “special equity award” to Moonves. There’s an intriguing number tucked under “All other compensation.” CBS reports $513,000 in “security” for the man who’s now both Chairman of the Board and CEO. Those are costs “deemed necessary to protect CBS’ business interests,” and they may include private travel by jet and other means. (Over at Redstone-controlled Viacom, Moonves’ counterpart Philippe Dauman made $54.2 million, during a year when the stock price dropped over 40%.) Moonves’ powerful #2 is COO Joe Ianniello, who has steadily been making more total compensation, up to about $26.4 million last year.
Laura Ingraham is the latest reminder – “Act like the mic is always live.”
That’s even if you’re dead-sure it isn’t. Gawker caught some embarrassing audio from last Friday – Syndicated talent Laura Ingraham comes back from a break, introduces a new topic about “a new way that kids can destroy this lives” – then apparently her headphones go out. She thought she was off the air, got a little worked-up and started asking her producer “What do I do?” Ingraham told him to put on a “best-of” tape, then said “we’re going to lose every f--ing station we have.” Then she told her producer to call Westwood One. Eventually some “Proud Mary” bumper music comes on (at least to our ears), and Ingraham picks up the program again. Years ago she had a studio blow-up when she was hosting on Fox News Channel, but that’s cable, and the FCC doesn’t get involved with content there (and there apparently wasn’t an f-word in that one). What’s the rule for talent, again? “Act like the mic is always live.” And with smartphones nigh-universal, that’s even more true. Check Friday’s audio from Gawker here.
Layoffs reported at iHeart-Louisville. A NOW reader hears that a number of cuts happened Friday afternoon at the cluster that includes country WAMZ/97.5 and news-talk WHAS/840. It appears that longtime WAMZ morning host Chris Randolph might be among the “disappeared.” Last July WAMZ brought in Amy Nic to co-host with him, and over the weekend, Chris is missing-in-action from the station’s “on-air” page. He’s also been voicetracking mornings on Lexington’s hot AC “Mix 94.5” WMXL, and he’s not listed there, either. Two other announcers may be gone from the Louisville cluster, along with an engineer and some folks in the sales department. The April 8 NOW carried the story about the coming retirement in August of Louisville-based Regional Senior VP of Programming Kelly Carls.
iHeart attacks Beasley’s country “Kicks” in Augusta, Georgia with a couple of “Bulls.” It’s positioning country “G105.7” WSCG as a new-country specialist named “105.7 the Bull.” On Friday iHeart applied for new calls of WLUB, on a Class C0 (C-zero) that’s probably a little better signal than Beasley’s Class C2 country “Kicks 99” WKXC, licensed to Aiken, SC. The older end of country will be targeted – as “Bull Icon” – by a 250-watt translator leased from Clark Parrish’s Edgewater Broadcasting. They’re feeding classic country Bull Icon to W292EE from an HD Radio channel of WLUB, using the slogan “The country that made Augusta great.” The translator was originally licensed to Eloree, South Carolina, a hundred miles from Augusta, but last year Edgewater filed to move it and rebroadcast WSCG. Ivy Elam is iHeart’s market president for Augusta and Atlanta-based Brian Michel is its regional Senior VP of programming. Beasley’s “Kicks” has consistently ruled the market (among subscribing stations) in the recent Nielsen diary ratings. It scored an 8.5 share (age 12+ AQH) in the Fall book, compared to a 3.5 for then-“G105.7.” See the new “Bull” here.
Triton Digital’s Tap OnDemand can be used by automakers and their “brand partners” to deliver “targeted ads into the personalized audio messages delivered within the Personal Radio by Aupeo content delivery service.” That’s from Panasonic’s streaming unit named Aupeo GmbH. (“GmbH” in German means something like our LLC, limited liability company.) Panasonic brands its communication service for carmakers “OneConnect.” Panasonic/Aupeo executive David Taylor says his company and Triton “share a common vision, and see the automobile as the next major device in the ‘Internet of Things.’” As Triton CEO Neal Schore sees it, “the opportunity to inform, engage and entertain through the dashboard is growing.” OneConnect’s abilities include telling the driver looking at a “check engine” light that a nearby dealer is offering a service discount. It’s also able to dial a phone number, or set a new destination or accept a reminder request. It’s all about the new four-wheel world of “new interactions and in-vehicle e-commerce opportunities.”
Bill Johnson resigned – via Instagram – as the 16-year radio announcer for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s basketball program. He probably burned a big bridge as he left – “Never have so many (competent) talented people been run off by such a talentless group of entitled (bureaucrats).” Madison.com has the story, quoting more from Johnson – “UWM leads the world in incompetent administrators.” The school responded that “we believe his comments are unwarranted and unfair, and are likely motivated by his own suspension from his position in February, for making racially insensitive remarks during the broadcast of a Panther game.”
Elroy Smith is back programming in a major market, this time San Francisco. He had a famous run in Chicago with urban WGCI and urban AC WVAZ (Clear Channel) and followed that with a stint programming for Radio One in Philadelphia. He’s consulted Townsquare’s urban stations as part of his consultancy, and since March 2015 he’s worked with SummitMedia in Greenville-Spartanburg. Now Entercom hires him 3,000 miles away in San Francisco, as the ops manager/PD of urban AC KBLX/102.9 and its newish rhythmic AC “Q102” KRBQ. Entercom calls Elroy’s hiring “part of a re-organization to enhance collaboration and natural synergies between brands, as well as operational innovation.” The re-org means the exits of cluster ops manager Stacy Cunningham and “Q102” PD Trevor Simpson. Former Clear Channel programmer and promotions director Stacy Cunningham became the PD at KBLX when Entercom took it over from Inner City in 2012, and longtimer Kevin Brown was out.
Mona Rivera jumps from ABC News Radio affiliate “1010 WINS” New York to the network itself, Steve Jones tells this NOW Newsletter. He says “Mona has a stellar reputation and is a terrific story-teller...We’re glad to welcome her to ABC News Radio.” Mona scooped her news for followers on Facebook, here. She’ll handle both reporting and anchor work for ABC.
Deadbeat Owner – A NOW Reader recalls an early employer whose paychecks started bouncing. He says “Then they started writing the checks in $25 increments, but those started bouncing. The next step was writing checks from a new bank account named the ‘WXXX Trust Fund,’ but they started bouncing, too. Soon they were paying us partially in traded-out goods, like tires, shoes, etc. One night I came in for my evening shift, got up from the board and turned off the transmitter. I called the manager and said ‘Are you listening to the station? I just turned it off.’ He said ‘I’ll be right over,’ and he brought his lawyer. By that time, all the jocks were there, and the legal guy says ‘Guys, here’s the deal. If we pay you, will you turn the station back on?’ Of course we said yes, and we got paid. What occurred next was even stranger. The attorney realized that he could buy the station, pay off its outstanding bills at a discount, and get into radio. That’s what he did, and I worked for the attorney and his wife for several years, and remained friends with them afterwards. True story.” Got your own “can’t make this up” true radio story? Email “You Can’t Make This Up” - Tom@RTK-Media.com.
Ground-breaking movie director Ang Lee wowed the crowd at NAB-Las Vegas with a new technical format, shooting many more frames-per-second than the current standard. Lee shared his 12-minute trailer for a new film about Iraq-war veterans suffering PTSD when loud noises erupt during a Super Bowl ceremony honoring them - and it’s been the talk of the show so far, among the film and production pros. Attendance is looking to at least equal last year’s 103,000. And there are aready plenty of stories from the hallway about radio. (Yes, some trading deals are bubbling under.) See you back first thing tomorrow - Tom
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