Obligatory Convention Column 2012
September 21, 2012
The Radio Show Produced by RAB and NAB -- that's how it's written on the banners, at least -- is just about over now, and that means, I suppose, that I need to write something about it. The first impulse is to go find last year's column and cut-and-paste, because, in the last year, not a lot has changed. But I can't do that, because... um... say, why CAN'T I do that? Oh, right, pride. Also, paycheck. So, let me try to come up with something new.
The recurring themes of the show, as at every The Radio Show Produced by RAB and NAB in recent years, were "Please please PLEASE put FM chips into cell phones OR WE WILL ALL PERISH IN AN EMERGENCY," "We ARE TOO Digital!," and "Hell No, We Won't Pay Royalties (But Now We're Open To A Deal)." I've written extensively about the first two already, and the last is one I'll leave to someone who deals with the music stuff. Anyway, the convention had a lot of panels that involved the words "digital," "mobile," and "social." So did last year's. Next year, in Orlando, I imagine we'll have the same. I might propose a panel called "Digital Mobile Social." Or "Digital Mobile Social Chip Royalties... For the Future." That should cover everything.
But, as a friend warned me this morning, I can come off as too negative while everyone's coming off the high of celebrating the industry's positive aspects here, so I'll go over what I think some positive takeaways might be. And, as I've noted in the past, the positives involve programming, and the way that the future is wide open for creative talent to, um, create. The big issues with which the NAB is dealing involve playing defense to protect and/or revive the investments made by the Big Guys in licenses and transmitters and antennae. That's the real reason for wanting FM chips in cell phones; the emergency thing is what they assume will play best on Capitol Hill, but I wonder how that'll play with the general public when, as the group heads indicated, radio stations start badgering listeners to pester their carriers and Congress and anyone else who'll listen that they want radio in their cell phones. But that's the investors' issue. For talent, there will be more opportunities than ever to create and get their work in front of audiences. Radio will be one way, podcasting and streaming others, and if you're not doing video, too, you're crazy. The short-term problem is monetization, but the long-term prospects for audio entertainment, or any entertainment at all, are intriguing.
I'd hope that at future The Radio Show Produced by RAB and NAB events, we'll hear about that, and more than token nods to the content part of the equation. But that wasn't the focus here, because this one is for the managers, the owners, the engineers, the people for whom radio is more the technical facility and advertising inventory than an art form. For those folks, it's all about glomming onto competing technology before they get left behind, and, well, good luck with that. Oddly, even with that, I'm hopeful for the future, for a new wave of great programming coming from a new wave of talent with unprecedented access to tools and distribution for their creativity. And that doesn't really need a convention to happen, does it?
Once I return from The Radio Show Produced by RAB and NAB, Talk Topics, the show prep column at All Access News-Talk-Sports, will get back in gear with hundreds of items for any show to talk about. Click here to find it, and follow Talk Topics at Twitter at @talktopics for direct links to every entry. As always, you'll find industry news first/fastest/best at Net News, which you can also follow on Twitter at @allaccess.
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Okay, there's your Convention Wrap-Up Column. Can I go home now?