CEA’s CEO Gary Shapiro’s appearance at last week’s Jacobs Summit has hit goal – to stir the pot and bring a different and viable perspective to the conversation. That’s what the Summit has been about for these past 15 years, from Jason Calacanis to Little Steven to Harry Shearer. I know some in radio may be questioning “Why Shapiro?” because of their belief that he is “anti radio” and that his comments are detrimental to the progress the medium is making.
First and foremost, the head of the Consumer Electronics Association is an important player in the overall spheres of media, entertainment and technology. This is the guy who oversees the largest trade show in North America.
And last time I checked, radio falls under the heading of “consumer electronics.” (Gary reminded us that CEA was once called the Radio-Electronics-Television Manufacturers Association as recently as the late ‘50s. There is radio in the DNA of his association.)
Radio is indeed part of the rapidly expanding gadget/media/entertainment consumer electronics sector, and we need to better understand the trends, the changes, and the new technologies. For that very reason, Paul and I will be attending CES next month, and blogging/tweeting news and highlights.
Second, the trades did a very nice job, by and large, covering my interview with Shapiro. But some reports gravitated to the vitriol – and Gary is very accomplished at dishing that out. In most cases, if you scrolled down a bit, you read other key comments from Shapiro that were noteworthy.
Yes, he said that the move to mandate an FM chip in cell phones has an “unintended effect…that it makes radio look weak and desperate to have the government intervene in its industry.” And by the way, the implication of his comment is that radio acts like “a buggy whip industry” – not that it is one. Maybe that’s semantic, but I believe that’s how he sees it.
Here’s what else Shapiro said:
- Radio is the dominant in-car medium, but the competition will intensify as Wi-Fi makes its way into vehicles in force over the next few years.
- He is not against radio, but he views the idea of mandating an FM chip into phones as a “government handout” – and as a free market proponent, he is against all such government support of industries. That’s a big, macro issue with him.
- He noted that HD Radio “looks promising.”
- He was an early believer in RDS while acknowledging its flaws here in the U.S.
And here’s another piece – inviting Gary to the Summit also exposed him to a room full of passionate, engaged, professional radio people. He watched Val Geller’s presentation “It’s The Message That Matters” intently, and commented during our interview that he was impressed with the complexity of creating great radio content.
Radio has many great strengths but needs to step up its digital and content games in order to remain competitive over the long haul.
Reporters like Tom Taylor, Paul Heine, and Leslie Stimson – all of whom covered the Summit – did a great job reporting on these sessions. But even they would tell you that there’s no substitute for being in the room, sensing the atmosphere, hanging out with attendees, and appreciating the larger context in which comments and discussions occur.
There were will be a Summit XVI and whatever the big, and even controversial issues are at that time, you can count on them being a part of our agenda.
We hope to see you there.