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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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Bob Bellin

Newspapers hurt their cause by cutting way back on content when the revenue slowed and that is accelerating their downfall. My local newspaper is far less important to me than it was a few years ago because there is so much less in it.

The other problem with print to online is that even if readership were to fully transfer, a set of eyes online won't command the revenue that they will in print.

Radio is also cutting their product value dramatically as revenue slows and it will inevitably bring the same result - make the medium less important to listeners. Online isn't an option for radio because they royalties owed are higher than the bluest sky revenue projection and growing.

If radio doesn't secure an online opportunity via a much more reasonable royalty structure and exercise it aggressively, it could well evolve into all Ryan Seacrest, all the time.

Lou Kasman

The newspaper business along with radio has not developed New Era business models.
Newspapers like the Free Press and Detroit News along with others act as if they didn’t know the internet was taking audience away. Newspapers, like in Detroit, never adjusted to their market. Comprehension levels nationally are 4th grade. I would assume due to school dropout rates it’s a little lower in Detroit. A tabloid, like the New York Daily News would get people reading newspapers. The Detroit Media Partnership has said – “Tabloids only work in a public transportation city”, “We don’t want to “dumb down” the papers”. Even network TV news websites have added a big chunk of fluff.

As for radio, in the electronic media, the industry doesn’t know how to use the internet to its best advantage either. What Dan Mason at CBS has been doing is an example on the value of internet sites.

Many, should I say most radio station websites have no reason to click. Radio salespeople do not know how to sell it. The latest act of stupidity from radio management is to stop streaming. Airing programming with commercials to a larger audience sounds logical to me. Add that audience to broadcast audience numbers - internet clicks are measurable.

Radio formats used today are basically the same formats used in the 1960’s (the era that 1010 WINS in NYC became the first all news radio station). The only tool radio management seems to know is to cut, and I agree there have been a lot of costs that shouldn't be there to begin with, but you cannot cut to profitability. Check out Darryl Wyckoff’s study of service businesses (radio is a service business) and find out why. But where is the forward thinking – I don’t see any.

So, newspapers cannot figure it out and obviously neither can radio.


Lou and Bob, thanks for the insightful comments about newspapers...and of course, radio. We are focusing a great deal on newspapers in this space because of the obvious connections between the "fifth estate" and radio. Both business were more than challenged before the economic meltdown, and I believe we can learn from their mistakes and experiments. A key thread in both your comments relates to developing that new business model that is so necessary and budget cuts that impact content. Both are major reasons why radio is having problem fixing itself while flying at 30,000 feet. And as e have pointed out before, radio stations sound remarakbly unchanged over the past 30 years while the audience is moving at a very fast space. And even physical radios have not kept up with the times - there are still many "boomboxes" in homes (and bathrooms) all over America. Thanks again for reading the blog, and taking the time to comment.

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