LOS ANGELES — January 31, 2008: The Southern California Broadcasters Association and marketers’ trade organization thinkLA jointly presented a powerhouse panel discussion Thursday morning on “The Status and Future of Audio-Anchored Advertising,” with Clear Channel Radio President/CEO John Hogan, CBS Radio President/CEO Dan Mason, Emmis Chairman/President/CEO Jeff Smulyan, Univision President/COO Gary Stone, and Citadel Chairman/CEO Farid Suleman. (Radio One President/CEO Alfred Liggins had also been scheduled but did not appear.)
With a stunning array of broadcast pros in the room the content of the panel was full of quotable commentary. I will excerpt some highlights here for your immediate review, but I strongly advise reading the full story on Radio Ink for a complete picture of the proceedings.
John Hogan, President and CEO of Clear Channel Radio, began by addressing the problem of perception:
“Performance and capabilities are not our problem. Our problem is one of perception. Radio today is perceived very differently from how it actually performs.” He pointed to radio’s technological advantages, online and in the rollout of HD Radio, and in its move into the cellular arena.
“Another perception,” he said, “is that radio has lost audience. And the truth is that we have our challenges as consumers have more choices.” He said radio has been competing successfully for that increasingly distracted audience, with more than 90 percent of Americans tuning in to radio every week. “When you look at how we have fared in the face of our competition,” he said, “we have managed to keep 85 to 87 percent of time spent listening.”
Dan Mason, President and CEO of CBS Radio, then addressed an aspect of radio that regular readers of this blog know is extremely important to me as a native of New Orleans:
Mason went on, “If I listen to one more analyst or one more satellite advocate say that radio doesn’t work, I will turn into a werewolf, I promise.” He pointed to some successes at non-CBS stations, including Citadel’s News/Talk KABC/Los Angeles and its long-running, successful blood drive program, and Entercom News/Talk WWL-AM/New Orleans, which, Mason said, was “the only station, radio or TV, the only voice in New Orleans during [Hurricane] Katrina.” He continued, “Do you honestly believe those people were listening to iPods? ”
WWL-AM was my main means of getting “on the ground info” about my home when the flood waters filled the city. Radio was a lifeline for many displaced families.
Citadel Chairman/CEO Farid Suleman then put some oft-quoted statistics into perspective:
“This is the same decade where we’ve seen the rise of satellite, the Internet, cable TV, mobile phones, and, with all this, radio has lost only 3 percent of its reach. And with population growth, there are more people listening to radio today in the U.S. than at any time in its history.”
There is much more in the original article. The panel addressed a number of prominent issues including the adoption, use, and integration of new technologies; market fragmentation and why it is a good thing for radio; and the public perception that there is a problem with radio.