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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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Kudos, Fred. Well said. The examples you reference all share two other critical characteristics, each enjoyed the benefit of risk-taking early believers/evangelists willing to bet their desks and each took time to develop (only to later be considered obvious no-brainers and overnight successes.) My sense is most operators have become expert at risk management so much so that it is increasingly difficult to greenlight anything "different." This is producing a genetic blindness at the senior leadership level, a total lack of competitive acuity that is allowing a new crop of different (e.g., Pandora) to surface and grow without challenge. Too many broadcasters have lost context and perspective continuing to consider online audio services as "pigs on the runway" (i.e., yeah, that pig can't fly, they're small and if they're making money it ain't much and certainly nothing compared to our margins). Let me add and underscore...this is also a time of incredible history-making opportunity for operators willing to experiment. The cost of entry, especially online, has never been lower.

Please allow me to suggest two related good reads. First, if you liked Godin's Purple Cow you're certain to love the original, first writing about standing out by being truly different, it's been called "a Rosetta Stone for the advertising business" Reality in Advertising by Rosser Reeves. It was the great genius Reeves who first suggested the concept, and practical definition, of "Unique Selling Proposition" (U.S.P.) One need only know that this little book from 1961 is for sale today on Amazon for $99 used. First editions sell for hundreds of dollars. It's a gem that every serious radio manager should have on their book shelf. Second, Larry Rosin has written the perfect companion to your post. Larry's writing, Radio's Content Innovation Imperative, is posted at Edison's Infinite Dial http://bit.ly/cj3QT6

Again, thanks for another cogent post. Keep up the good work, your voice is important! P.S. I would have made this shorter but I didn't have the time.


Dave, thanks again for bringing clarity & persepctive to the issue. Larry's piece is on a parallel path to this blog post, and others in the same vein. Maybe the recession sharpened everyone's focus on revenue generation - at all costs. At too many stations, new and exciting initiatives are backburnered or delayed by the question, "But can we sell it?" If sales management isn't bullish, a project or experiment may never see the light of day. All-Christmas music was "unsellable" when it first burst on the holiday scene, as was just about every innovative example you can think of. We have to set aside our leaky buckets before there's a gaping hole in our foundation. Thanks again for being there.

Tom Teuber

I've spent many years programming AAA stations, and continue to be amazed at the media pros in both radio and records who don't understand the format. "Why do you play songs that don't test well?" "How come there's so much new, unfamiliar music?" "Nobody wants to hear Neil Young (or Bob Dylan) on the radio."
"No Journey?!" To paraphrase Howlin' Wolf, "The managers don't know, but the listeners understand."

Thanks for celebrating Black Swans, Fred.

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