Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Sunday, August 15, 2021

I don’t listen to enough radio to give much of a damn about the medium. But one trend has me puzzled: What’s with applying identity-like brandnames to individual stations?

Many radio station names are basically mnemonic devices for remembering the call letters — stations like KROQ in Los Angeles (“K-Rock”) or New York’s WHTZ (“W-Hits”) — and some even manage to turn the mnemonic into a brand, as did San Francisco’s KLLC, known as “Alice,” a name that goes beyond the call letters to effectively evoke its “chick rock” brand identity as well as referencing Lewis Carroll’s famous Alice (their in-studio webcam is called the “Looking Glass”) and the lyrics of “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane (“Go ask Alice…”).

A growing trend, I think, is that more and more radio stations are beginning to realize that there’s no law requiring them to be named after their call letters, so you get stations like San Francisco’s KSAN calling themselves “The Bone,” a name related more to their hard classic rock format and brand identity than their call letters (which, typically, just relate to the local area). When a station has an evocative name, it has more than just call letters or a handy way to remember the call letters — it has a brand. And since radio is now such a competitive big media business, brands are more important than ever. So The Bone’s listeners are called “Boneheads” and KFOG’s are called “Fogheads,” and all kinds of promotion is done playing-off the names.

The local New York examples that come to mind: The Breeze 107.1 (hardly unique, as I’m betting there are a few hundred easy listening stations across the land that use the same name); The Peak 107.1 (Adult Album Alternative format, whatever that’s supposed to be); and The Wolf 94.3 (upstate-oriented country music). The trend is probably more prevalent on non-music format stations, chiefly news and talk.

Music stations are so homogenized, with the same songs on virtual repeat for days/months/years, that some kind of station-based branding is the only way to build listener loyalty. What makes it unique is how it’s applied strictly on the local level — by necessity, but still. Television networks do the same thing, especially when they’re niche (Spike TV, Cooking Channel, etc.); but they have the additional advantage of exclusive content to distinguish themselves. With radio, outside of format restrictions, the same song can be heard on a range of stations.

The big constraint in communicating these brands: They’re always accompanied by the station frequency. That’s another necessity, because the goal is to have people know where to tune in. But it’s an awkward pitch. To me, it sounds goofy: “Music festival sponsored by one-oh-two-point-five The Sound!”.

But again, radio is largely dead to me, so maybe I’m immune to this marketing angle. The charms of station-monikering escape me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/15/2010 09:06pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Radio
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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Do old-fashioned caller-requested song dedications on the radio have a place on the Web? The mind behind Thisgoesout.to thinks so:

There is an alchemy to song dedications — canned ingredients combined to express earnest and deeply felt emotion. The music is often saccharine. The words of love and longing tend toward the generic, delivered in the slick, mannered voice of the DJ. And yet, with dedications, as with many forms of private sentiment expressed in public, the emotional pull is undeniable.

Maybe all that is true, but the online result here is rather uninspiring: A sparsely-adorned page of black-and-while pixels, with just the short dedication message and a Flash player-ette of the song that’s “going out to”. Doesn’t really have an impact. Even worse, there’s no permalink for each dedication page — the Tumblr-powered site slots new requests onto “Page 1″, thus pushing the archived ones down the line and continually changing their individual URLs. In other words, you can’t even send a link to your object of dedication so that they can see the online love.

The idea is to recreate the schmaltzy sentimentality of Casey Kasem’s classic long-distance dedications, and you need more than an unadorned page with a Twitter-like quip to do that. Overall, I don’t see this online translation capturing the spirit of the original radio-borne expressions set to music.

I agree that there’s “alchemy” in those radio airwaves, though. Not that I was ever one to participate — radio’s never been my preferred medium. But I recall listening to a late-night music show on local NPR years ago, in Tampa. The unique feature that I found to be the entertaining hook: The bulk of the dedications came from women who were sending a musical shout-out to mates who were in prison. It was comical and poignant at the same time — which I guess counts as alchemical.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 05/13/2010 03:00pm
Category: Creative, Internet, Pop Culture, Radio
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Monday, September 21, 2021

Strip away the hot-button talking points on one side, and the lyrical beats on the other, and the remaining rhetoric makes right-wing talk radio and gangsta rap look like separated-at-birth twins:

Even beyond simple matters of style, rap and conservative talk radio share some DNA. Once you subtract gangsta rap’s enthusiasm for lawlessness — a major subtraction, to be sure — rap is among the most conservative genres of pop music. It exalts capitalism and entrepreneurship with a brio that is typically considered Republican. (Admiring references to Bill Gates are common in hip-hop.)

Rappers tend to be fans of the Second Amendment, though they rarely frame their affection for guns in constitutional terms. And rap has an opinion about human nature that is deeply conservative — namely, that criminals cannot be reformed. The difference is that gangsta rappers often identify themselves as the criminals, and are proud of their unreformability.

Finally, rappers and conservative talkers both speak for a demographic that believes its interests and problems have been slighted and both offer stories that have allegedly been ignored.

The key ingredients to success in both camps are: Ego, Haters, Feuds, and (of course) Verbal Skills. The possessed proportions of each determine the specific flavor of a host’s, or rapper’s, cred. So in this cross-media analogy, Rush Limbaugh is to Jay-Z just as Michael Savage is to Eminem.

Intriguing as this distillation of media methodology is, it all goes a long way toward justifying my blanket avoidance of all forms of radio…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/21/2009 10:57pm
Category: Political, Pop Culture, Radio
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Wednesday, May 27, 2021

Signifying how the global economic slump is impacting institutions both sacred and profane, Vatican Radio will begin running advertisements for the first time in its history:

Vatican officials say an Italian communications firm specializing in publicity for Catholic media will screen potential clients for quality and ethical content. The first ads — for an Italian energy company — will start running July 6.

Hmm. I’m sensing a synergistic opportunity for the Church, in the form of radio ads promoting the availability of sin-negating holy indulgences.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/27/2009 09:48pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Radio
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Monday, April 27, 2021

The economics of Web media have moved from the incidental to the essential, as demonstrated by conscious bandwidth and access restrictions by 2.0 sites in economically less-robust regions.

Web companies that rely on advertising are enjoying some of their most vibrant growth in developing countries. But those are also the same places where it can be the most expensive to operate, since Web companies often need more servers to make content available to parts of the world with limited bandwidth. And in those countries, online display advertising is least likely to translate into results.

This intractable contradiction has become a serious drag on the bottom lines of photo-sharing sites, social networks and video distributors like YouTube. It is also threatening the fervent idealism of Internet entrepreneurs, who hoped to unite the world in a single online village but are increasingly finding that the economics of that vision just do not work.

Last year, Veoh, a video-sharing site operated from San Diego, decided to block its service from users in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, citing the dim prospects of making money and the high cost of delivering video there.

This development makes me wonder just how close we are to the end of the beginning of the Internet as a full-fledged mass medium. So far, the online preserves are open and free to anyone wanting to set up shop, whether for fun, profit, or a combination thereof. But that’s only because there’s a lot of empty space to fill up to make the medium “real” — eventually, the bandwidth costs reach a saturation point, and real money comes due.

Is this cost-restriction in the formerly-known-as Third World the first sign? It seems like the global-level digital divide is now being reinforced via feasible content delivery.

It’s not like this is unprecedented: Radio went through the same process, with an early 20th-Century Wild West mentality where anyone — individual, business, church, etc. — with the right equipment could jump on the airwaves. Replace “right equipment” with “computer” and “airwaves” with “Web”, and the parallels should be clear enough.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 04/27/2009 03:12pm
Category: Business, History, Internet, Media, Radio
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Sunday, October 19, 2021

We see more of the private side of Howard Stern by learning that he’s a chess enthusiast.

I didn’t realize that the domain of the “King of All Media” included the chessboard.

Stern is newly married, so remember this tidbit for when the divorce proceedings inevitably arrive in a few years:

Stern said he admired top players and often went to the Internet Chess Club site to follow the live analysis of big tournament games. His bride, he said, does not share his interest. Recently, while he was following the commentary of Larry Christiansen, an American grandmaster, [wife Beth] Ostrosky walked in. “She was, like, ‘Oh my God, how dull.’ I’m, like, ‘Dull? No, this guy is brilliant.’ ”

If Stern wants brilliance, he should spend time on the Wu-Tang Clan’s WuChess website. Perfect discussion topic for the next time RZA visits the studio.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/19/2008 12:41pm
Category: Celebrity, Radio
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Friday, September 26, 2021

leak the ice
Britney Spears has a new album, “Circus”, dropping on December 2nd, 2008 — her 27th birthday.

The first single is “Womanizer”, and it’s been released on the radio and Web. Including a “leaked” version.

Except it’s not really leaked. Judging from the source link for the song’s MP3 (which you’re free to download, even if it’s only a relatively low-fi 128kbps), it’s actually coming from Clear Channel Radio’s common online repository for music tracks. I know, because the same “naked” Akami-hosted link structure was used for last year’s online tease of Britney’s “Gimme More” single.

When the “Gimme More” easy-download thing appeared, I figured it was simply carelessness on the part of the radio stations. But twice in a row now, along with that fake leak site? Obviously, this is an intentional stealth release of a free MP3, solely to generate pre-release viral buzz. Secret revealed, with mucho album sales surely to follow.

As for how Britney’s latest jam sounds: Pretty good. I’m always a fan of hard-edged electro dance. But as with most of Ms. Spears’ music, I’m going to wait for the “Womanizer” dance remixes, preferably extended-length cuts.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 09/26/2008 11:00am
Category: Advert./Mktg., Celebrity, Internet, Pop Culture, Radio
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Thursday, July 03, 2021

Here’s another reason why Howard Stern won’t be making less money after his satellite radio deal expires: His industry colleague Rush Limbaugh just agreed to an eight-year, $400-million-plus extension with Clear Channel to stay on the air. Limbaugh’s deal includes an upfront $100-million signing bonus, which means the annualized average salary will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $37 million through 2016.

No, it’s not excessive. Because Limbaugh is pretty much the only radio personality — along with Stern — who can guarantee pulling in a large national audience. Clear Channel will make back at least tenfold what it’s paying Limbaugh, via on-air ad sales and other avenues. Who says radio’s dying?

And so, if Clear Channel’s in good enough shape to toss that kind of money to Limbaugh, it’s a sure bet that Stern will be able to cash in similarly if the merged XM-Sirius tries to lowball him come renewal time. I’d argue that Limbaugh has a higher valuation, simply because his audience is more tightly-focused; but Stern would come in a close second if/when he’s back on terrestrial radio, even considering the apples-to-oranges comparisons in content.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/03/2021 09:20pm
Category: Radio
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Tuesday, July 01, 2021

With the merger of XM and Sirius expected shortly, the analysts expect the resultant economies of scale to manifest in deep cuts in programming costs.

Including for the most notable radio personality on the satellite waves:

One obvious target: Howard Stern’s $500 million package, which doesn’t include the roughly $200 million in Sirius stock he’s received for meeting subscriber targets. Depending on the health of the combined company, Stern and his agents may be in for a tough negotiation [after his contract expires in 2010].

“The question is, is there anyone out there who would pay him $701 million,” asks Scott Cleland, a Washington-based analysts with Precursor. “Good luck.”

Stern could go back to AM-FM radio, but even then it’s unlikely he’d pocket anywhere near his Sirius pay. Stern and his team took in an estimated $30 million a year when he was at Infinity Broadcasting, now known as CBS Radio.

So does Stern accept less compensation just to stay on a combined XM-Sirius roster, which (presumably) will be the only satellite radio game in town?

In a word, no. Because he’s already expressed severe frustration with settling for a much smaller audience, versus what he used to get on terrestrial radio. He simply doesn’t generate the same buzz that he did when he was on the truly mass medium of FM radio. The trade-off is the greater creative freedom (read: no FCC censorship) and the dollars; but take away the payday, and I doubt Stern will tolerate the inherently limited universe that is satellite radio. He’s not obliged to go along with the industry’s new economics.

So if XM-Sirius lowball Stern in two years time, look for him to bolt back to his old stomping grounds (not necessarily CBS, but somewhere on the over-the-air dial). He’ll garner plenty of marketing cache via hype of his “triumphant return”, which will more than make up for any reduction in pay.

And satellite? Such a high-profile defection would sting, and combined with overall declining growth, paint a less-than-rosy picture for the industry. However, so much more of radio programming is essentially independent of personality (really, Stern is the only true difference-maker there), that it wouldn’t severely derail the offerings.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/01/2021 09:25pm
Category: Radio
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Thursday, June 19, 2021

Merger, schmerger: For all the drawn-out machinations behind the XM-Sirius deal, a dramatic slowdown in new subscribers at both companies indicates a dim future for pay radio.

The appeal of satellite radio is declining in the youth market as kids lean more toward MP3s, says [Goldman Sachs analyst Mark] Wienkes. This trend undercuts retail satellite radio sales and is leaving more of the new subscriber growth in the hands of its auto partners. But only about half of new car buyers decide to sign on as paying satellite radio customers after their free trial period ends. As more subscribers flee, the company is left with higher customer acquisition costs.

In other words, why pay for music channels when cars come iPod-ready these days? Talk shows and sports programming offer alternatives, but when you get down to it, it’s all audio-only — meaning it’s simply not appealing enough for a cash outlay. Not even Howard Stern has served as enough of a magnet.

This also suggests that XM’s and Sirius’ attempts at expanding their reach beyond the car, with portable and home players, has fallen flat. Satellite radio is considered a product exclusive to the car, and it’s not deemed essential even there anymore.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/19/2008 11:42pm
Category: Business, Radio
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Saturday, February 16, 2021

When it comes to nonprofit broadcasting media, the audio-only action is trumping the televised fare these days. As funding-challenged PBS slowly devolves into a resemblance of other cookie-cutter television channels, NPR gains popularity by accentuating its distinctiveness within a radio wasteland.

The wide spectrum of dedicated channels that cable television provides is cited as having stolen PBS’ thunder:

If you’re the sort of traditional PBS viewer who likes extended news broadcasts, say, or cooking shows, old movies and shows about animals gnawing each other on the veld, cable now offers channels devoted just to your interest. Cable is a little like the Internet in that respect: it siphons off the die-hards. Public television, meanwhile, more and more resembles everything else on TV. Since corporate sponsors were allowed to extend their “credit” announcements to 30 seconds, commercials in all but name have been a regular feature on public television, and that’s not to mention pledge programs, the fund-raising equivalent of water-boarding.

Which makes me wonder: Are we going to be lamenting similar woes for public radio in a few years, when the endless expanse of satellite radio has become commonplace enough to siphon listeners away from NPR? The same dynamics are in place as with what developed in television over the past couple of decades.

I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing that I’ve largely abandoned both mediums at this point. Not that I never look/listen to TV and radio, but I don’t rely on much original content from either.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/16/2008 07:35pm
Category: Radio, TV
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Thursday, January 10, 2021

en-aitch-el
Carolina Hurricanes radio announcer Chuck Kaiton has established a reputation for zealously learning and using the correct pronunciation of non-English player names in the National Hockey League.

That typically means going to the source and asking the player how he prefers to hear his name uttered. Therefore, it’s not Sergei SAM-so-nov, it’s sam-SO-nov.

This reminds me of an offhand joke from an ESPN SportsCenter announcer, back when Eric Desjardins was traded from Montreal to Philadelphia in 1995. The quip was that, by moving from a Francophone city to an American one, he went from being “Eric de-zhar-DAN” to “Eric de-JAR-dins”…

Having an unconventionally-spelled name myself was probably a contributing factor for why I gravitated toward NHL fandom, in that it gave me a way to identify/relate with players in that sport. Although the caveat is that I prefer having a name that most people don’t even bother to attempt to pronounce, given the incongruous letter combination, as opposed to a name that looks phonetically “correct” but isn’t.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/10/2021 11:09pm
Category: Hockey, Radio
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Tuesday, December 18, 2021

For those early-risers who wake up to the audio blare of National Public Radio, I was emailed this tip-off on a special guest dropping in on tomorrow’s Bryant Park Project show:

Washington, D.C.; December 18, 2021 – Recording artist Moby will Guest DJ, offering his “BPP Playlist” and preview tracks from his as-yet-unreleased new album on NPR’s The Bryant Park Project tomorrow, Wednesday, December 19. Following an interview with The Bryant Park Project host Alison Stewart , an exclusive web-only audio feature with Moby discussing his “BPP Playlist” and a sneak preview of a song from his new album, not airing in the interview, will be made available at www.npr.org/bryantpark.

Local station’s air time of the program is available at www.npr.org/stations. Audio of the interview will be available at www.npr.org.

And I’m sure a wrapup post of Moby’s stylings will appear tomorrow afternoon on Bryant Park Project’s blog.

I doubt I’ll have time to drop by the park tomorrow morn to check this out firsthand. Besides, it’ll be too damned cold to poke around, on the lookout for MC Baldy. Although if I did, I’d have to ask him how he feels about being immortalized as Sell-Out Supreme via the Moby Quotient.

And oh, I was tipped off on this celebrity appearance on the strength of this little post I wrote, back when BPP was ramping up. Despite the best of intentions, I have yet to actually listen to the show. One of these days…

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/18/2007 11:28pm
Category: Celebrity, New Yorkin', Pop Culture, Radio
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Sunday, September 09, 2021

I guess I’m not particularly unique in expressing a fondness for Manhattan’s Bryant Park. The movers and shakers at the New York branch of National Public Radio share that fondness, to the point of setting up The Bryant Park Project.

What’s that? It looks to be a new breaking-news program from NPR, with a hipper, youthful edge.

Since I don’t listen to any radio whatsoever, I’m both the least receptive and most-sought-after audience for this Project. As long as there’s the online component (more the blogging, way less the podcasting), I can always check at my convenience.

Actually, it’s been a good while since I’ve visited Bryant. I’ve been way too busy most of the summer to do more than just pass by. I guess NPR’s campout there will give me a mild incentive to drop in and check things out. Maybe especially inside of a month, when I’ll have my new wi-fi capable iPod Touch, and so will be able to Web-browse while I track down, say, BPP contributor and ex-MTVer Alison Stewart.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/09/2021 04:11pm
Category: Bloggin', New Yorkin', Radio
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Friday, August 31, 2021

give me
Britney Spears is back on the horse. Her new comeback single, “Gimme More”, debuted on the website of NYC’s Z100 today.

And, while supplies last — or at least until the Z100.com crew figures out how to mask a URL — you can download the MP3 track by right-clicking here.

Really amazing that by this point, a major media channel would leave a track with such built-in popularity exposed to mass download. It’s not the most pristine recording — only 160kbps — but hey, it’s decent. And free.

As for the track itself? It’s alright. I rather like that “It’s Britney, bitch” opening. But it’s a bit overproduced for me, doubtless the influence of Timbaland protege Danja. It’s still Britney, but not as infectious as her past efforts. I’ll keep a lookout for the forthcoming dance remixes, hopefully on iTunes.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 08/31/2007 07:38pm
Category: Celebrity, Internet, Pop Culture, Radio
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Tuesday, May 15, 2021

Yes, XM Satellite Radio’s decision to hand down a 30-day suspension to Opie and Anthony over their latest racist/sexist crudefest is evidence that shock-jockery is no safer on unregulated satellite broadcasts than it is on the old-fashioned terrestrial waves.

But there are more complex reasons behind XM’s move (even though it ultimately comes down to the cha-ching):

The fact that XM was willing to suspend Opie and Anthony is proof that offensive programming could hurt even satellite radio, a medium that does not depend on advertising dollars as free radio does. XM and Sirius do have to worry about losing subscribers if shock jocks go too far.

The suspension also demonstrates how scared the satellite radio companies are of looking like the poster children for bad behavior at a time when XM and Sirius will depend on the goodwill of the government to green-light their merger.

Actually, I think more concern is addressed toward the latter factor than the former. More subscribers probably will drop XM in the wake of this suspension, than would theoretically leave if the everyday content got too risque.

This is an example of industry self-censorship: The instance of a private concern preemptively taking corrective action against itself, in order to stave off actual governmental intervention. It’s more alarming than if the government were to get involved, as it eliminates the popular-will element (or at least defers it; the paying customers can make their feelings known later, when it comes time to renew subscriptions).

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 05/15/2007 11:43pm
Category: Business, Radio
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Monday, April 23, 2021

If any “edgy” disc jockeys on America’s airwaves somehow thought that the Don Imus fiasco didn’t apply to them — watch out. CBS Radio today suspended the hosts of WFNY-New York’s “The Dog House With JV and Elvis” after their prank phone calls to a Chinese restaurant — which were predictably rife with ethnic and sexual slurs — brought the beginnings of an advocacy group-led boycott movement.

Now, I’m not blind to the context here. So soon after Imus, CBS wasn’t going to allow a second on-air incident to explode and scare off even more advertisers; the suspensions were a no-brainer. And while the targeted group has a right to be insulted, I’m not crazy about the stifling of expression that this fosters. And I’ll reiterate the raw deal that radio stations typically mete out in such situations: They push their shock jocks to push the envelope, but unceremoniously dump them the second there’s significant negative reaction.

Cynicism abounds! All that said:

If the post-Imus era brings about the demise of all these idiotic morning-zoo crudefests, I won’t shed any tears. I’m sure this current climate will be short-lived, but one can hope.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 04/23/2007 10:36pm
Category: Radio
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Tuesday, April 17, 2021

While the fall of Don Imus continues to be parsed and analyzed for potential ripple effects, I’m fairly surprised that no one’s really keyed in on the underlying, and more pertinent, reason for his dismissal:

The man who had earned an annual salary of about $10 million…

That’s all I’m going to snip, because that’s all that matters. When a media talent is making that much money, the people signing the checks will pounce on any chance to wipe that salary off the books. Imus may have been pulling in plenty of revenue for CBS, but not enough to convince Les Moonves and others that the network couldn’t attract practically as much with a lower-priced voice behind the mic. Once the major advertisers started bailing out, that just tilted the accounting ledger even more against Imus.

I’m not excusing Imus for his “nappy-headed hos” idiocy, nor am I arguing that the punishment was too severe. But anyone who thinks Imus’ pay rate was just a minor or inconsequential factor in his firing is missing the big picture.

Ultimately, this sequence of events shouldn’t be surprising. In fact, it’s par for the course regarding the radio biz and how it handles its shock-jocks:

[The 2004 firing of Bubba the Love Sponge was] a cynical move, especially because it shows how slimy [Clear Channel], and others like it, is. They’ll put raunchy programming on the air, encourage the personalities to continually push the limits in pursuit of ratings, probably with assurances that they’ll stand behind them. Then, once the heat gets too hot, they stab them in the back. That was the case with Viacom’s “Opie and Andy Show” in New York, and that’s exactly what happened with Bubba. It tells you just how meaningless a contract is in the radio industry.

With Imus, it was a double whammy of money and envelope-pushing.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 04/17/2007 08:46pm
Category: Celebrity, Radio
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Monday, February 19, 2021

Here’s my recommendation on a new brand for the newly-merged combination of satellite radio companies XM and Sirius:

Xirius.

It’s got a vaguely Greek sound to it, if you pronounce it with the “ks” sound. Doesn’t mean anything, nor does it mean I’ll actually pony up for it. Especially when I consider my iPod to be a far superior option to any radio format, terrestrial or extra.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/19/2007 11:15pm
Category: Business, Radio
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Monday, August 28, 2021

The New York Times pokes a stick at the corpse of Knight Ridder, wondering what went wrong.

The blame is nominally laid at the feet of former KR chief P. Anthony Ridder, for not putting up more of a fight against the Bruce Sherman-led financial barbarians at the gate. It’s even suggested that the post-McClatchy sell-off of individual newspapers should have offered a blueprint to Ridder for avoiding the sale of his namesake:

Some thought that Mr. Ridder could have sold off pieces of the company in order to keep it afloat. William Dean Singleton, the chief executive of the MediaNews Group, which eventually bought four of the Knight Ridder papers from McClatchy, was one.

“In retrospect, if Tony had it in him to sell Philadelphia and Akron, as Gary has done, the company he had left would have looked good,” he said, referring to Mr. Pruitt’s sale of the Knight Ridder papers in those markets. Without those papers, Mr. Singleton said, “his financial performance would have been among the best in the industry.”

More broadly, the short-term performance prerogatives that come with being a publicly-held company are blamed for doing in KR and applying constant pressure on other newspaper conglomerates to cut operating costs. That’s nothing new — the evil spectre of the bleating shareholder has been the newspaper industry’s bogeyman even before the Web showed up as an undercutting competitor. And particularly lately, lots of public companies and analysts have been dreaming of going private, thus ditching those pesky quarterly reports.

I’m thinking we’re overdue for a historical analysis on how the last “dinosaur” media sector fared when faced with extinction: Radio. Television was supposed to kill off the AM/FM dial back in the ’60s and ’70s; I’d imagine the stock market back then reacted in a downcast manner similar to the current attitude for newspapers. Of course, radio reoriented itself and became a hugely profitable business, regaining the full confidence of Wall Street; no reason why newspapers shouldn’t be expected to turn a similar trick.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/28/2006 11:39pm
Category: Business, Publishing, Radio
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Friday, March 31, 2021

More people willing to cough up dough for Sirius equipment and subscriptions, that is. The King of All Media is peeved that he hasn’t converted more listeners to satellite:

“I was just at my psychiatrist and I said, ‘I just got great news: We hit the 4 million mark. And I’m angry. It should be 20 million,’” Stern says in [this week's Entertainment Weekly], on newsstands Monday.

“It’s insulting to me that everyone hasn’t come with me. I take it personally,” he says.

“I want to say to my audience… ‘You haven’t come with me yet? How dare you? We’re up to wild, crazy stuff, the show has never sounded better. You cheap bastard!’”

A provocative stunt by Stern, with low risk: It’s not going to lose him any existing subscribers, even if unlikely to challenge many to ante up. Even if calculated, I’m sure it served as an effective personal vent. But even calculating in a massive ego, even Stern should have known that the critical mass to be achieved with his move to satellite wouldn’t be that critical. Besides, 4 million is nothing to sneeze at.

If Stern really wants to juice up the numbers, he needs better exposure. The fact is, satellite programming has no presence to those who aren’t already subscribing. The perfect outlet: A television show! Getting back on E! is pretty well out of the question, considering his current court hassles with his old bosses; but I’d definitely tune in for a rebirth of his old show on some other cable station. A five-day-a-week video recap of his show would create a steady stream of new sign-ups. Definitely an avenue to reopen.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/31/2006 07:36pm
Category: Radio
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