Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Liberal talk radio diva Stephanie Miller was one of the speakers at this year's New media Seminar in NYC.

Trip to NYC

As I walked around Manhattan on Saturday afternoon I was about as high as I could be without the benefit of drugs. My mind was reeling from the information I had seen presented at the New Media Seminar, the annual talk radio conference sponsored by Talkers Magazine.

Although the major media companies are in disarray thanks to greed, a decline in advertising and a reluctance to embrace new technologies, there are great opportunities for a re-alignment of the nation's media from rather soulless corporations back to local entrepreneurs.

No I don't believe as many self-serving futurist gurus that in a few years we will all disposable viewing devices that will carry books, magazines and the Web. We won't be able to afford it.

But the future seems clear there will be a true de-centralization of news media and a return to local and regional ownership.

Thanks God for that, although it is has at a price with many people in media today losing their jobs. Out of the rubble, though, I think people will build something much better.

Technology will allow people to create a lot of content – news, movies, comics, books – much cheaper and quicker, but as Talkers Publisher Michael Harrison said, you'll have to be good to be noticed.

Michael Harrison

Here's what I wrote for the 'papers I edit:

NEW YORK, N.Y. – For the past several years Michael Harrison, the publisher of the Springfield-based Talkers Magazine, has urged the talk radio industry to expand onto the Internet and to make spoken word content available in other forms to reach new audiences and to generate additional income.

At this year’s New Media Seminar, it was apparent some had listened and many more were willing to listen.

The annual conference, presented over the weekend by the magazine, drew hundreds of radio professionals from around the country.

Although the troubles facing daily newspapers have been well documented, radio is undergoing similar problems. Last month MediaWeek reported that in the first quarter of this year, radio advertising revenues fell 24 percent. The New York Times reported in April that radio conglomerate Clear Channel – which owns WHYN, among other stations in this area – may be the biggest big media loser in the current recession. The company has been selling off stations, laying off employees and owes over $16 billion in bank debt.

Harrison, a Longmeadow resident, said at the conference the Internet will not just change broadcasting, “it will change the human race.”

Speakers throughout the two-day conference urged the audience to embrace the Internet and think outside of the traditional ways to deliver programming.

Dan Patterson of ABC Radio News reminded people that “content is king.” Radio stations can make additional revenue by putting that content onto Web sites and providing incentives for audiences to go to those sites, he said.

He added that media professionals have to be “looking out on the horizon,” watching for new technological developments.

One of those new developments being used by some stations is the streaming video service provided by Ustream. Brad Hunstable, the founder of the company, explained how with just a simple Web camera or home video
camera and a connection to the Internet, his service could give people their own live video show on the Web.

His company is currently working with singers such as Taylor Swift and the Jonas Brothers in producing Webcasts to reach their fans. He said that Swift’s was done with the Web camera built into her laptop computer and noted with a smile that at one point her cat knocked the computer off the living room table.

Ian Freeman of Free Talk Radio said that he wanted to continue to work in talk radio, but wanted to be his own boss. He created a talk radio program that he produces from his living room in Keene, N.H., which he syndicates to 46 stations in this country, as well as on-line to listeners on http://freetalklive.com.

“The Internet is not a threat to broadcasting,” Freeman said. “It’s a threat to bad broadcasting.”

Cenk Uyger of “The Young Turks” has even further refined the model of Web-based shows. Not only does Uyger have a conventional show syndicated by Air America media, but he also has an audio broadcast on his Web site, www.theyoungturks.com, and videos that can be seen there and on YouTube.

What makes Uyger’s business model unique is that he is selling both advertising and subscriptions to viewers wishing to support his efforts by paying for his content.

He said the program is generating $20,000 a month in subscriptions

Expecting Web-based radio programming to grow, Denis McNamara of vTuner www.vtuner.com, explained that vTuner is a computer application people can
use to seek out Internet radio broadcasts from around the world. The program allows a listener to choose a format, a country of origin and language. McNamara and others anticipate that car radios will include vTuner technology to allow drivers to listen to Internet as well as conventional radio.

Currently, vTuner can guide listeners to 1,600 Internet-based broadcasts and McNamara said the number is growing.

An example of how these various media can work in unison to deliver news and information was celebrated with this year’s Sharon L. Harrison Memorial Award for Outstanding Community Service by a Radio Talk Show Host. The award was given to Scott Hennen of WZFG of Fargo, N.D. When North Dakota was hit with record-breaking floods earlier this year, Hennen set up a special Web site to deliver news to his audience. He used both audio and video reports
on the site.

With the decline in music radio – another panel was devoted to the growing number of FM stations turning to talk – talk radio host and FOX News host Sean Hannity predicted that “talk radio will rescue the media.”

Thom Hartmann, whose nationally syndicated show can be heard locally on WHMP, believes the “third Golden Age of talk radio” is here. He sees new ways of delivering content, such as through cell phones, as widening the
talk radio audience.

Thom Hartman

Despite the challenges facing the industry, radio veterans such as Laurie Cantillo, the program director of WABC, said she is “bullish on talk radio.”

“It’s the original chat room,” she said.

Springfield Mass. market superstars Bax and O'Brien were also among the speakers.

Video to follow tomorrow from the Talk Rumble in which a variety of hosts duked it out over a number of topics. Today, though, here's a quick look at the hotel where I stayed.

© 2009 by Gordon Michael Dobbs


dogboy443 said...

It looks nice and all but....how much per night? It is after-all NYC.

Mike Dobbs said...

With tax: $188. You could get a room with a shared bathroom for about $40 less.

dogboy443 said...

My wife said, "Not a chance in Hell".