Category Archives: John Parikhal

The Economy Did Not Cause Radio’s Problems

Joint Communications CEO John Parikhal was rummaging through some old cyber-files in his office over the weekend and came across an interview he did with legendary radio programmer Steve Rivers in 2005.

In the article, John put on his “hat” as a longtime media guru and futurist and shared some predictions about radio’s future, which clearly came true.

Asked what he saw as true “radio killers” between then and 2010 Parikhal (pictured) replied,

“The biggest killer of all will be current management, unless they: Stop dancing to Wall Street’s whip, institute formal training and recruitment, start surrounding themselves with smart people who challenge them, create cultures of formal innovation and begin to get serious about spot loads. Radio can control this. They can’t control [Apple CEO] Steve Jobs, the Internet or any other of the so-called “killers” of the medium.”

Parikhal says that while many in radio today are blaming the economy for the industry’s woes, re-reading what he said five years ago suggests otherwise.

“This was all predictable, long before the current economic crisis,” he says. “You could see it coming, yet irresponsible people — who didn’t want to invest the necessary time and money — caused terrible pain for so many in the industry.”

For a re-read of the full article, click here.

And what about some other past predictions? Here’s some more thinking from 2006 about the pending state of radio just prior to the economic ad rev meltdown.

As a reminder, here is what John said in September 2009 at this year’s annual NAB on how radio to get back its growth.

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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.

Radio’s 5 Customers

“Radio is at the tipping point, and it doesn’t want to know much about the way its customers are changing.”

Joint Communications’ John Parikhal tells Tom Taylor of Radio-Info.com in yesterday’s daily newsletter he’s worried about radio tuning out its listeners:

“Internet companies are checking out the customer six ways to Sunday. But radio will tell you they don’t have the money to research their customer. I truly think we’re at the tipping point, because for any business, you have to know who your customers are.

For radio, it’s 5 different customers:

#1 – Wall Street or another ‘lender’.

#2 – The advertiser. And radio should focus a lot more on the advertiser, because it has given them very short shrift. The more innovative companies are trying to become the digital and media marketing experts for the local guy, to help them move more product. Their competition is Craigslist and emerging online city directories.

#3 – The FCC, and I sense that radio will be hearing from them within a year.

#4 – The employees. With a few notable exceptions, they have been treated the way no customer should ever be treated. This whirlwind of firings and layoffs has nothing to do with performance, and the message it sends is very negative. People are now very, very wary about making radio a career.

#5 – The listener. But radio thinks ‘all we have to do is keep the listeners we’ve got.’ That’s a fool’s game. You have to grow the pie, and to do that, you need to know more about your listener than their favorite songs or that they like sports on the radio. The listener doesn’t care that radio is in a recession and won’t invest in understanding their changing needs.”

New Adventures in Media Trend Watching

“Move forward, young man…while you are still young.”

Not sure who said that but I do know a consulting associate from Joint Communications — Bob Elliot — who was once asked how he defined growth.

He said, “Well, if you are not growing, you’re dead.”

Perhaps a little blunt but there is truth in those words, both personally and professionally.

We all seek growth in various forms through our relationships, our businesses and careers, our learning, our finances…the list goes on and on.

As Peter Drucker has said (loosely paraphrased), an important key in growing successful long-term management is for executives, directors and managers to periodically return to day-to-day operations and get away from the “boardroom”. It allows for managers to understand what has changed and what needs to happen for future growth.

In the rush-rush of decision making and strategic guidance throughout fiscal years following the pressures of meeting budget and performance expectations, managers can easily shift away from the realities out on the floor before they realize it.

Consultants are no different.

We fly in, work our magic, stir up the team toward growth and fly back home, following up to help make sure decisions stick into on-going action.

This ability to lend an outside perspective to operations allows consultants to see competitive challenges partner clients may not be able to see for themselves. It is a major strength for the consulting role, one that the rapidly-evolving media industry still needs for both the mature sectors of “traditional” media like radio, TV, the music industry, magazines and newspapers…as well as for “new” media, such as cable, modern telephony, wireless, satellite, and all-things related to the Internet.

But, over time, this outside role has its limitation, for the consultant remains on the “outside” of everyday operations. With so many constant and fast changes happening in media, getting back periodically into the daily functions of media business keeps the consultant up-to-date with industry realities.

Which is why I have made a new step forward.

For the last 15 years, I have worked and partnered with John Parikhal at Joint Communications consulting our international roster of media clients. An amazing thrill for me, allowing for constant learning, unique situational decision making, and cross-pollination experience throughout the media industry’s up-phases, downturns, IPOs, mergers & acquistions and new tech advancements.

For the past couple months, I’ve been getting operational again, serving as Program Director for Montreal’s Q92fm — a heritage mainstream AC radio station and one of Corus Radio’s many great stations across Canada. It’s a new adventure for me, allowing me to pursue growth on a whole new level for a long-time client.

Of personal and professional importance, it also allows me to “get operational again” doing what I love to do: programming radio, coaching talent, building cooperation and communication between station departments, getting deeply involved with the community, building new station events and promotions, managing brand building efforts, and, ultimately, entertaining our audience in the best way possible while also serving as an effective advertising media choice among our station clients.

It’s media trend watching on the street level. And I’m having a blast.

What better way to understand the “future of radio” than following Peter Drucker’s advice and getting operational again?

I’m proud of what has been accomplished with Joint Communications and our clients. The Jointblog is the #1 destination online for people interested in media trend watching (according to all the search engine results and traffic meters)…these changes will offer a new new level of perspective for future Jointblog posts.

We encourage you to keep sharing your thoughts.

And keep Jointblogging!

We will.

I’m off now for our street festival concert event…literally getting back to street level…

Media Trend Watching: Radio Right Now

Joint Communications marks 30 years this month advising the radio industry through format programming, consulting, market research, marketing development and media strategy services.

The month of April also means it’s time for John Parikhal’s annual spring check-up as this week’s featured FMQB cover story to discuss radio and the evolving mediaspace challenges radio faces in the immediate future.

Among the discussed topics:

> The proposed XM/Sirius merger — including the financial and competitive implications as well as Mel Karmazin’s catalyst role (puzzling; Stern probably helped save Sirius; Mel sees opportunities)

> The trend led by Clear Channel and other big groups toward privatization (more squeeze and bleed? And Clear Channel gets rewarded?)

> HD Radio (just another local spectrum)

> PPM ratings measurements (consistency of measurement will help)

> The cellphone (risky for electronic ratings measurement)

> Blink spots and other “Less is More” initiatives (applaud the experimentation; spare listener energy; don’t invade the consumer)

> Radio’s needed presence on the Internet and its mishandling of opportunities that went to MySpace instead (getting better…but still behind due to insufficient support staffing and streaming fee penalties)

> Google’s new deal selling radio ads (“It’s nonsense”)

> The lucrative potential of selling and targeting the 30-59 year old demographic (so much money radio could grab)

> An updated look at radio’s emerging trends (demographics!)

FMQB’s chief editor Fred Deane gets it all started by saying:

As the radio industry evolves at a rapid pace, critical decisions about the medium’s future become increasingly more urgent. Technology issues have enveloped the industry to such a challenging extent, that the call for radio leaders to be actionable has never resonated so loudly. John Parikhal has never met a challenge he didn’t like, he relishes the very concept. While Parikhal’s client list continues to remain firmly entrenched in radio, the macro version finds him involved with a variety of media and marketing companies. His latest foray with strategic Internet initiatives with some large clients has him thinking about the future 24/7. It’s spring and time for our annual check-up with one of our industry’s deep thinkers.

Thanks, Fred. All that and more…just click here for some great reading. Then come back and add your thoughts here on the Jointblog.

Additional reading: Thinking Through The Decision Making Process