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Fred Jacobs is President of Jacobs Media, a media research and consulting firm. Jacobs Media clients have included CBS Radio, Premiere Radio Networks, Citadel, Greater Media, MTV Networks, Playboy, Amazon, Electronic Arts, NPR, Sylvan Learning Centers, and Taubman Malls. Learn more about the company here.


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August 2011

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Dick Hungate

I got up, made coffee, read this and freaked.

Of all blogs you've ever done, this hits the hardest.
Because it addresses a clear-and-present dilemna that
that (apparently) nobody in the terrestrial radio world
even noticed, much less addressed. And it won't be
solved for years, because of the considerable muscle,
clout, vision and R&D money that some company still
hard-wired to the terrestrial radio world will have
to bring to the table...and quickly. You learn to be
an optimist over a decades-long radio career because
normally problems have a way (through the marketplace's
natural tendency to see a hole, fill it, and then reap
someone a huge return-on-investment) of working out.
Chicken Little-thinking peers end up looking foolish
in the rearview mirror. This scenario is markedly
different, however, because there weren't even any
Chicken Little alarmists screaming to "look up". Now
we find ourselves at the very tale of the developmental
curve. I knew Tim Sabean wouldn't jump to satellite
ONLY because he and Stern had so much mutual respect.
Thanks for pointing out this critical end-run by our


So, waning are the days where the "means" of distribution is a "key" advantage.

That's certainly a horror story for those who think their business is inexorably tethered to AM/FM transmitters.

But for those who believe they are in the audio entertainment business, it's probably just another day at the office.

Dick Hungate

But...not to quibble with you...Fred's whole point
related to "those whose business is inexorably
tethered to AM/FM tranmitters"...i.e, operators
of some 12,000 terrestrial stations nationwide.
For those guys, it won't be "just another day at
the office", as they figure out the solution to this
lack-of-portability problem. :)


No "quibble" taken Dick. ,-)

There needs to be open discussion about these issues and we shouldn't be afraid of taking on ideas. Thanks to Fred for providing a forum and sharing insights he discovers.

I think what Fred scratched the surface on is a much larger issue.

It isn't a "portablility" problem. It's a relevancy problem.

If there was a desire among young people to be able to get FM signals on their favorite devices and gadgets - the makers (who seem to cater to every imaginable user demand) would be putting receivers in the devices.

Broadcast Radio will likely remain the meeting place for the broadest interests for a some time to come. But the preference for individual control and the devices that provide that will increasingly dominate people's time.

So if you want more hours with those people - you're going to have to go to them rather than expecting them to come to you.

And that means un-tethering from the transmitter and making your content - as they say here in Silicon Valley - "Platform Agnostic" Meaning you can get it on ANYTHING - Phone, ipod, PDA, WI-FI, FM receiver - doesn't matter.

Sure - this is upsetting for those who gobbled up loads of spectrum rights under the guise said spectrum provided the ONLY medium for audio entertainment. The value of the spectrum (if the market isn't interfered with) will probably drop.

What can one say to those folks except - ooops. We see it coming - we have the time to make the changes and take advantage. Will we?

That's what makes this such an amazing time to be in the Audio Entertainment busines!

Dick Hungate

Thanks for the stimulating give-and-take!
Here's a sincere compliment for you (whoever
you are, whatever your last name is!)...
You obviously are very intelligent and have
spent some time pondering all this.

Jeff Schmidt

Hey Thanks Dick - didn't mean to hide the name - it's Jeff Schmidt.

Great to chat with ya!

Mike Rankin

I noticed in the J&R Ad in the New York Times that Sony sells a "nano" size AM/FM Reciever with earphones for $10. Why don't radio stations give those away instead of I-pods? Why would someone rather spend $100 to $300 for an I Pod? It's all about the content, giving people what they want.

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