NAB Radio Show, it was yet another look at an industry in transition, attempting to come to grips with all the economic bad news, while trying to imagine the future, once the recovery takes hold. As usual, the CEOs, the group PDs, and the digital gurus came together to discuss the state of the state during "Super Sessions."
But perhaps the best panel of all at the NAB was WMMR's Bill Weston's "East Coast Talent" session, featuring Elvis Duran, Sheri Lynch (The Bob & Sheri Show), Preston & Steve, and Curtis Sliwa. Bill ran the group through their paces, and there were laughs, a little outrage, and genuine chemistry - even though none of these personalities have much in common besides what they do for a living. It was a fast-moving, exciting hour.
During another session that was called "most provocative" (trust me, it wasn't) called "Radio Stimulus Czars," featuring nine industry experts (including me), one of the bright spots was the addition of, and comments from Philadelphia radio legend John DeBella. Again, personality to the rescue.
It was a reminder about the historical importance of talent to radio, while begging the question about why it was so few and far between at the NAB. Gone are the days when a big-time personality broadcasts live from the convention. And overall, the presence of celebrity is part of the reason why our stations are still viable, despite the cutbacks, voicetracking, consolidation, and firings. Yet, big-time stars were not in abundance at this year's Radio Show.
We took a different approach with this year's Jacobs Summit, our first ever in partnership with the NAB. I will let those who attended the event evaluate it, but it turned out to be an interesting potpourri of sessions that combined personality and content distribution.
Buzzmarketing author Mark Hughes, who nearly set the room on fire with his histrionics and manic presentation. But his message was not lost on a packed room about the importance of forcing creativity, using secrets to stimulate interest, and the value of not being afraid to truly go for it. I had seen Mark a few years ago at a session for Greater Media Philadelphia hosted by John Fullam, but he totally amped up his presentation for the Summit.
the architect of Obama for America's social networking efforts, Scott Goodstein. With a great slide presentation and his unique perspective, Scott analyzed why the Obama campaign's use of social networking, texting, and community building was so successful. He made an important observation about the campaign - the digital group had a seat at the table, and was in on the planning from the beginning. And then Scott ended his presentation with an incendiary flurry of radio station websites that are more focused on "Babe of the Day" than they are on communicating a strong, unifying message.
Morning Joe stepped up and walked the room through their show's story. Against all the research and consulting advice, they have crafted a unique, calm, rational show that respectfully discusses the issues of the day, but does so in an entertaining, compelling way. Joe and Mika took lots of questions from the room about how they prep, interact, and work together to craft their show. Citadel Media has a very different radio show on their hands, and one that may have the civility and class that is so lacking up and down the dial. Attendees saw in person what chemistry is all about. Terry Gross, host of Fresh Air. As we discussed in this space before, I was tasked with interviewing the interviewer, and Terry made it easy for me with her generous responses and observations. She noted that if she planned her show with the ratings in mind, it would be a disaster. And in response to a question about whether she has ever considered working in commercial radio, Terry commented that no one has ever asked. I have never seen a presentation at the NAB so totally engrossed by what was happening on stage. Trust me when I tell you that no one was texting or checking their stocks during Terry's interview.
I would love for everyone to see some or all of these Summit sessions. But none was taped - audio or video. While one of our presenters specifically asked that their session not be recorded, the fact is that the NAB did not tape any sessions this year. If you wanted to see any of the Summit or any NAB panels or presentations, you simply had to be there.
I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, recordings of our past Summit sessions have been much down-loaded and virally passed around during the past couple of years. This is great marketing for our company, as well as providing the opportunity for broadcasters to recall specific things about some of the better presentations.
On the other, I also believe that some people have simply assumed that as long as we were going to post these videos, there was no reason for them to invest the money and time in actually jumping on a plane and attending the event. As is the case with the issue of free versus paid Internet content, there's a point reached where if enough people don't attend events because they depend on others to pay the freight, eventually it is no longer possible or affordable to produce them.
I don't know what the NAB was thinking, but for this year, it is what it is. I hope you were there, I hope you were able to attend some or all of our sessions, and I hope we are able to produce and present Summit XV in Washington, D.C. next fall.
But as for this year's Summit, thanks to everyone who supported us once again this year, thanks to our speakers and presenters, a special thanks to Matt Cord of WMMR for emceeing the event so professionally, and thanks to the NAB. We missed our friends at R&R, but the show had to go on.
Hope you were there.