Category Archives: 2009

John Parikhal at the NAB: How To Stimulate Radio’s Growth


At the NAB in Philadelphia on September 25, 2009, Greg Solk hosted a panel of ‘stimulus Czars’ to see what could be done to help radio.

These are John Parikhal’s notes for his contribution to the discussion:

Two Things Before You Even Start

Get rid of all Czars. They screwed up everything in Russia and exploited the people. So, why do we put Czars in charge and expect things to get better?

Why don’t we think about stuff like this? We don’t question words, even when they don’t make sense.

If we are going to fix radio, we have to think more. Which means the first step is…

Stop lying to yourself. Things are bad. The top people in radio made a lot of mistakes. You can’t take true action till you are honest with yourself. Things can get better – but not if you don’t face the truth. It’s like the 12 step program. Start with honesty.

Describe your ‘current reality’ – honestly. The tension between ‘current reality’ and what you want to create (your Outcome Statement) is what creates action.

Then, if you still want to take action, use 3 Tools.

Three Tools for Being Proactive Around Growth

Use Strategic Thinking. This is the most powerful strategic tool in business. Create an Outcome Statement – what ‘outcome’ do you want to create? Once you have identified what you want to create, identify what you have to ‘do differently’ to get there. Start making the changes.

Use a ’90 Days’ summary. Work with your direct reports and, for each of them agree on what they have to do in the next 90 days.

And, demand that your boss meet with you (in person or on the phone) every 90 days to determine what you have to get done in the next 90 days.

This is the best get-it-scheduled-and-done tool in the business. It worked for Lee Iacocca.

Practice Listenomics. Get rid of all Czars and be like Lego and Nokia. Empower your fans. Don’t try to control them. Listen to the conversation. More details at gomediafix.com.

The Most Important Thing To Do On-Air

Focus on what’s immediately relevant. Relevant is more important than local. Even though local is important, it is a subset of immediate – not the other way around.

Get rid of all the Czars – the same ones who said HD was the next big thing. The same ones who say the only future is local. They are playing follow-the-leader.

The Litmus Test

Sell a 20 year old on working in radio. Write a speech to persuade them to come into the radio business. Think your speech through. Write it down. Try it out. Be honest.

If you can’t persuade them, ask the 20 year old – ‘What would have to change in order for me to be able to encourage you to work in radio?’

Next, ask yourself – ‘What would I want to change in radio to make it more attractive to a 20 year old?’

Then, look at your answers and theirs – and set to work immediately on influencing the necessary changes. One step at a time. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

For additional coverage of the NAB 2009, click here: RBR, RadioToday, and Inside Radio.

Google Squared

Google just announced it improved its search tools. They call it Google Squared, allowing Google searchers to fine-tune and filter their search results with greater precision. All you have to do is click the “More options” link right below the search field.

Check out the explanation of the new tool below or click here:

Twittering Canadian Music Week 2009: Lefsetz vs Gene Simmons

Over the years, music analyst Bob Lefsetz has built up a brand name as a media gadfly, straight-shooting from his point-of-view and taking on the powers-that-be. He knows how to stir it up.

On Thursday, Bob decided to comment — throwing lots of punches through his newsletter — about one of the keynote speakers at this week’s Canadian Music Week conference in Toronto: rock star and master promoter Gene Simmons of KISS.

Of course, Gene responded…with a lot of humour and more self-promotion.

This sent the conference attendees into a twitter frenzy.

Conference organizer Neill Dixon quickly set up a head-to-head discussion setting the conference abuzz, as everyone got ready for a cage match.

The event happened at 4PM Friday at the Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto in front of a very large audience. The video below shows the discussion (NSFW; caution – explicit language):

In the end, this head-to-head confrontation may not have changed anything about the music industry. It certainly didn’t solve anything, including their differences. It did entertain and it generated some attention both for the Bob and Gene as well as for the conference. Promotionally, it worked.

Bob’s assessment in retrospect?

What an asshole.

Did You Know?

Here’s a viral video to get you to re-think where you stand in your job, your industry and within our world.

A Look Ahead to 2009 From John Parikhal

Last month, fmqb published their year-end issue asking various media leaders their thoughts on the state of the radio industry. Here is what John Parikhal wrote:

The necessary steps the radio industry should take to ensure the future growth and viability of the business begins with low-hanging fruit: cheap and easy ways for radio to make more money.

1. Dump bad initiatives and start good ones: HD is DOA. Spend your time and energy tapping everyone except the most senior executives, who seem to spend too much time with each other and not enough in the trenches. Stop surrounding yourselves with `suck-ups’ who agree with bad ideas because they are afraid for their jobs.
2. Push hard for a 30-59 demo buy: For decades, radio has been driven by advertiser’s demands for 25-54. It’s so out of date. Get modern. Already, 16 million Baby Boomers are 55-59. They spend billions and radio ignores them. In the next four years, another 16 million will be 55-59. Meanwhile, 25-29 year-olds are less interested in radio than ever. Get real. And, if I hear `we can’t tell advertisers what to do’- stop acting like a victim.
3. Encode song ID: A simple, inexpensive fix. Make sure that when you play a song, the title shows up on car radios. iPod does it. Satellite does it. But some stations won’t spend the money, even though 50% of radio listeners want to know the titles each time they are played.
4. Tap into your 2.0 employees: Get serious about innovation. It’s usually `bottom up’. Radio has proven you can’t do it top down. The best ideas come from those closest to the customer. Put a process in place to listen to your employees who actually interact with your listeners and advertisers.
5. Advertise: Stop acting like poverty stricken corner stores who cut their ad budgets when sales are down. Act like serious players. Let people know what you’re doing, what’s new and why you matter. You have to spend the money! Build it into the budget and don’t cut it if times get a bit tough. Yes, it’s a financial crisis now. If you plan to be here in three years, you have to act like it now or you won’t be here in three years.
6. Learn about your customers: Do you know that fewer than 4% of your listeners ever text a radio station? Do you know that almost 25% of those who go to a station Web site are also listening to at least one other Internet-only station too? You learn this by researching your customers. I do a lot of market research for clients ranging from radio to Internet companies. The reason for the market research is because I learned 40 years ago that if you take your eye off the customer, they take their eye (and ear) off you.
7. Get serious about your Web site: Update at least every day. Optimize search. Make it easy to find the `listen’ button. Include a phone number in your `contact us’ information. Post lots of photos. Do usability testing.
8. Adapt to the new world: Drop the clichéd slogans and connect with the real world. Accept that 30+ listeners are the future for at least another 5-10 years and figure out how to make them really happy with you.

Leaders today have to find broadcasters who want to encourage younger people to come into the industry. Decide if you plan to be in business in three years. If you do, then stop getting rid of your intellectual capital like human beings who actually come up with the ideas and do the work. Without fresh blood, the industry will become almost completely networked and syndicated. At that point, it’s nothing more than a transmitter business. Like the oil pipeline business instead of the business of finding oil.

A Look Ahead to 2009 From John Parikhal

Last month, fmqb published their year-end issue asking various media leaders their thoughts on the state of the radio industry. Here is what John Parikhal wrote:

The necessary steps the radio industry should take to ensure the future growth and viability of the business begins with low-hanging fruit: cheap and easy ways for radio to make more money.

1. Dump bad initiatives and start good ones: HD is DOA. Spend your time and energy tapping everyone except the most senior executives, who seem to spend too much time with each other and not enough in the trenches. Stop surrounding yourselves with `suck-ups’ who agree with bad ideas because they are afraid for their jobs.
2. Push hard for a 30-59 demo buy: For decades, radio has been driven by advertiser’s demands for 25-54. It’s so out of date. Get modern. Already, 16 million Baby Boomers are 55-59. They spend billions and radio ignores them. In the next four years, another 16 million will be 55-59. Meanwhile, 25-29 year-olds are less interested in radio than ever. Get real. And, if I hear `we can’t tell advertisers what to do’- stop acting like a victim.
3. Encode song ID: A simple, inexpensive fix. Make sure that when you play a song, the title shows up on car radios. iPod does it. Satellite does it. But some stations won’t spend the money, even though 50% of radio listeners want to know the titles each time they are played.
4. Tap into your 2.0 employees: Get serious about innovation. It’s usually `bottom up’. Radio has proven you can’t do it top down. The best ideas come from those closest to the customer. Put a process in place to listen to your employees who actually interact with your listeners and advertisers.
5. Advertise: Stop acting like poverty stricken corner stores who cut their ad budgets when sales are down. Act like serious players. Let people know what you’re doing, what’s new and why you matter. You have to spend the money! Build it into the budget and don’t cut it if times get a bit tough. Yes, it’s a financial crisis now. If you plan to be here in three years, you have to act like it now or you won’t be here in three years.
6. Learn about your customers: Do you know that fewer than 4% of your listeners ever text a radio station? Do you know that almost 25% of those who go to a station Web site are also listening to at least one other Internet-only station too? You learn this by researching your customers. I do a lot of market research for clients ranging from radio to Internet companies. The reason for the market research is because I learned 40 years ago that if you take your eye off the customer, they take their eye (and ear) off you.
7. Get serious about your Web site: Update at least every day. Optimize search. Make it easy to find the `listen’ button. Include a phone number in your `contact us’ information. Post lots of photos. Do usability testing.
8. Adapt to the new world: Drop the clichéd slogans and connect with the real world. Accept that 30+ listeners are the future for at least another 5-10 years and figure out how to make them really happy with you.

Leaders today have to find broadcasters who want to encourage younger people to come into the industry. Decide if you plan to be in business in three years. If you do, then stop getting rid of your intellectual capital like human beings who actually come up with the ideas and do the work. Without fresh blood, the industry will become almost completely networked and syndicated. At that point, it’s nothing more than a transmitter business. Like the oil pipeline business instead of the business of finding oil.