Thursday, August 14, 2008

On the Offensive????? Really, is That What You Call it?

I was actually reading our trusty Indy Star a few weeks ago and came across this headline,
War of the wireless
Emmis CEO is on the offensive as iPhone's popular applications for radio on the go tread on traditional industry's turf

Basically Emmis (Jeff Smulyan) is trying to convince somebody that, hold your laughter, cellphone service providers should put AM/FM tuners into their cell phones. Isn't that the equivalent of putting old school tubes into a digital HDTV??? Oh wait, maybe it's like duct taping a walkman cassette player on your iPod, pouring leaded gasoline into your get the point. I do not know what made me chuckle more - tuners in cell phones or the fact this was declared offensive. Maybe offensive in the fact that a cell phone would have a tuner in it. i can see the commercial now, "Get the new Tuned phone from Verizon and you too can hear Freebird for the 5,000,000th time - on your phone!!!! Be the coolest person in your office while you laugh along with the ZANY morning show as it emanates form your pocket and get the latest weather report when the static isn't totally screwing the listening experience."

Well, the ever "on the offensive" Smulyan doesn't seem to be convincing many industry folks to downgrade their digital devices with AM/FM tuners. He is not convincing many with his pitch on conserving bandwidth, so he is going to the old tried and true strategy of lobbying politicians to mandate it - wow, a business man in this free market economy can't get his way so he tries to get the government to mandate that his product be shoved into an industry that really doesn't want or need what he is hocking. Pretty sad. Here is a how it was described by the article...

Neither Sprint nor AT&T seemed concerned about conserving bandwidth.

"Sprint has a very robust network that can handle streaming (Web) radio," said spokesman Aaron Radelet.

That may be strike one.

The iPhone doesn't have an AM/FM tuner and may not get one for quite some time. It's a hardware issue, not a software issue that can be changed with a download from the App Store.

That may be strike two.
Creative uses

So Smulyan and the radio industry are also going in the back door.

They are hoping to persuade the federal government to modify the WARN Act of 2006, which ordered carriers to create an alert system for mass notification during emergencies. A text messaging system is under development, but Smulyan argues that broadcast radio's existing Emergency Alert System could handle it if tuners were put in cell phones.

"If one broadcaster survives, everyone is alerted," he said.

Note to Jeff - quit playing catch up, get in a room with folks who actually understand the future of the media landscape and come up with some real innovation. You are still positioned with an audience, thus have a vast opportunity. Find the right transition that leverages what you have with the desire of your audience to move beyond it. Repetitious tunes that are created on a tired formula, even more exhausted on-air "talent" in addition to many new ways to acquire new music, commercial free, is killing your business so move on and quit trying to make it fit.

Tuners in cell phones???????? Are you serious??? Larger radios with antennas cannot even get good receptions half the time - how in the world is a cell phone? Moreover, obnoxious commercials and extremely played out formats. iPhones now can handle the job of the iPod - it will only continue to evolve without the likes of the local yahoo carnival barker spinning Steve Miller and yelling in my ear. Move on Jeff, move on.

On a side - I like and appreciate what Emmis has done over the years and love the fact they are in Indy. It pains me to read articles like this because a great organization, who has lots of opportunity, is not capitalizing. This ultimately hurts not only that company, but its investors, staff and community.

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