Category Archives: Radio

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.


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

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.

Parikhal on Radio-Info and the Return on Inveatment of the Mercurys

As reported in this morning’s, Joint Communications’ John Parikhal had come choice words about how Mercury radio advertising award competition need a big re-think. Says Parikhal:”Return On Investment really shouldn’t be a measure for the Mercurys. A radio ad can be engaging and persuasive, but the product packaging might turn customers off at the store. Or the price might be too high, etc. In other words, the ad worked, but the rest of the chain didn’t.

For serious marketers like Procter & Gamble or Coke, ROI is a complex equation in which the ad medium and the dollars spent are only a part of the formula. But if by ROI, you mean – can I tie the ad to a sale? – then take a page from the best awards ever – the Effies. They measured ‘effectiveness’, asking participants to submit their ‘before and after’ case studies with the ad.

The Mercurys should be about ‘effective’ radio ads – not ‘creativity.’ And, an effective ad starts with ‘engagement.’ Often, judges confuse engagement with entertainment when they are asked to decide what is most ‘creative.’ They choose ‘entertaining’ ads and call them ‘creative.’ Some very engaging ads are not entertaining. But they work. Just check out spoken word ads on News and Talk stations. Bring back the Effies.”

Most Popular Canadian Radio Stations Online (By Alexa, June 2009) is an web traffic analytic tool that estimates website usage. It’s not as precise or accurate as comScore, MediaMetrics, Nielsen or other more sophisticated Internet measurement tools…but Alexa is good for getting an idea of what search engines are considering “top performers.”

The higher a websites Alexa ranking, the higher “authority” that site receives from search engines.

Having higher search engine authority means it is much easily to get found online through search engines.

Viewing the latest rankings, News & Info stations lead the pack with ten within the Top 20. Corus has 9 in the Top 20, while CBC has 4, Astral has 2, NewCap has 2, CTV has 1 and Rogers has 1. Toronto’s airport and business station is also in the Top 20 (in March 2007, it was the “station” with the most Alexa web traffic).

Curiously, Virgin Radio doesn’t appear to be captured accurately by Alexa. It doesn’t include any of the Virgin station on their list. When searching Alexa for the individual Virgin station traffic rankings, each market’s stations (Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver) don’t show up. Instead, only the main domain ( appears (the station sites are found their sub-domains). Collectively, all Virgin Radio station would rank 26th, just behind CHOM and ahead of Rock 101.

Prior to the Virgin flip, Mix 96 in Montreal was a Top 20 online web traffic radio station.

Here’s the latest Alexa search for Canada’s top 20 radio station traffic rankings (June 2009):

1) CBC Radio – British Columbia ( (CBC)
2) Radio Énergie ( (Astral/Anglo & French AC)
3) CKOI FM 96.9 ( (Corus/Anglo & French Hot AC)
4) CKWX – News 1130 ( (Rogers/News)
5) VOCM Radio ( (NewCap/News & Info)
6) CFYZ 1280 AM ( (Toronto airport & business)
7) 102.1FM The Edge ( (Corus/New Rock)
8) CBC Radio ( (CBC)
9) Country 105 ( (Corus/Country)
10) Q107 FM ( (Corus/Classic Rock)
11) CKNW 980 AM – Vancouver ( (Corus/News & Info)
12) CBC Radio 3 ( (CBC)
13) CHUM 104.5 FM ( (CTVglobemedia/Adult CHR/Hot AC)
14) HOT 89.9 FM ( (NewCap/Rhythmic CHR)
15) CFOX 99.3 – The Fox ( (Corus/Rock)
16) CBC 102.1 FM Calgary ( (CBC)
17) CJAD 800 AM ( (Astral/News & Info)
18) CJOB 680 ( (Corus/News & Info)
19) CISN 103 FM ( (Corus/Country)
20) AM 770 CHQR ( (Corus/News & Info)

Here’s a quick link to find all Canadian radio stations streaming online. Or here’s another good link.

I Think, Therefore I Am

“Cogito ergo sum”

“Je pense, donc je suis”

“I think, therefore I am”

In whatever language you speak it, Rene Descartes’s famous self-analysis phrase on existence speaks volumes about the shape of radio, the ad industry and media itself.

With the latest ad revenue results for the last 6 months (down 15% to 32% year-to-year, depending on the radio group in the U.S.), the radio industry (and media in general) thinks the market sucks…and therefore it continues to be.

The industry/market seems to be in a vicious self-perpetuating cycle: huge operating/financial debt loads, dramatic downturn in economy, smaller ad budgets, more media competition for fewer $$$, staff cutbacks, weakened local programming, more syndicated/voice-tracked content, missed budget goals, forced unpaid days off, speculation about inevitable radio group bankruptcies, more cutbacks — leaving remaining staff with work overloads, etc.

Execs are even turning down their contracted bonuses and stock options. When it gets to that, you know things can’t be good. With times like this, everybody hurts.

Gosh, all that bad news does wonders for industry self-confidence.

I think therefore I am

We are all living in the “aftermath of a go-go economy.” As Peter Drucker, father of modern management practices, once said: “Every such era believed there would be no limit to growth. And every one ended in debacle and left behind a massive hang-over.”

For the last year or so, this is the massive collective hang-over.

Now that the NAB is looking for a new chairman, Radio could use someone with serious vision mojo to help the industry see out of this morass. Someone who can take a room of radio CEOs and get them to see past this mess they helped create on their own watch.

But whom?

Who is that person?

As the expression says, “Go where there is growth.” (as said by Google CEO Eric Schmidt and countless others.)

As another well-known expression goes, this time from Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Who can avoid doing the same thing as radio has done before and go where there is growth in order to expect different (better) results?

On the Jointblog, we’ve already suggested Stuart Smalley…but he is busy trying get to formally accepted into the Senate.

What about the return Eddie Fritts? Doubtful, as Fritts left due to the board’s need for change and who now heads The Fritts Group, a D.C.-based lobbying operation that represents Fortune 500 companies on Capitol Hill.

Too bad Bill Clinton is also busy with political conflicts.

Jack Welch? He seems to have time on his hands.

Someone smart who can think different, express change and the new reality…and lead others to growth…

Tony Robbins?

Tom Peters? (if ever there a need to returning searching for excellence, this is that time)

Donny Deutsch

Guy Kawasaki?

Jeff Jaffe?

Chris Anderson?

Walt Mossberg?

Steven Covey?

Seth Godin?

Chris Brogan?

Or, to be really contrarian, how about Jerry Del Colliano?

Who do you nominate for the NAB search committee to replace the resigning David Rehr?

New NAB chief: “I think, therefore I am.”

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 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.”

Radio and April Fool’s Day: What Will Google Do?

For decades, radio station morning shows have pulled pranks and stunts on April 1st designed to be fun, to get maximum attention in their communities, and enjoy a little springtime April foolery.

Sometimes they swap hosts with competing stations…or changes languages…or their entire format for a day.

Some become famous, some infamous. Some are just bad.

Why do they do it? Well, at its best, radio is mental theatre for listeners, painting imagines and pictures in our minds. With a station’s normal format, it can get a little stale-feeling and repetitious, especially to the programmers and announcers. By stunting for a day, it can freshen things for everyone and have some fun.

Mostly harmless, although not always.

This link has a quick history of April Fool’s Day.

I wonder what crazy pranks will happen when we wake up tomorrow and turn on the radio? At the time of this blog post, it’s a Twittering Trend for social media chat today.

Then again, office pranksters are pretty good, too…maybe you’ll walk into work and see a surprise there…

For a list of the Top 100 all-time best radio pranks, click here (

And a few more here and here.

Googleheads know that Google takes radio’s April Fool’s Day pranks to heart and does their own versions of them. Since 2000, they’ve done some excellent ones, including showing exactly how their search algorithms work (hint: pigeons at terminals).

Here’s a rundown from the BusinessInsider detailing Google’s annual pranks.

Just like on the radio, I wonder what Google has in store for us tomorrow…

Will Facebook or Twitter pranks us next?