2021 CES Potential Key ThemesIn anticipation of the upcoming CES, I wondered in a new pandemic based existence what might be surfacing at the upcoming digital only show.
One of the biggest life changing moments during the pandemic has been the necessity for consumers to rely on video to communicate with coworkers, family members and more.
Zoom went from a useful tool to a necessity overnight and that will obviously fuel at CES a look at other types of video conferencing capabilities.
Google for example took major leaps in their video conferencing capabilities with Google Meet by enabling video chats with hundreds of participants.
With Microsoft having a big presence at the upcoming show it will also be interesting to see what advancements they are working on for their Team platform.
Fitness tech has been a burgeoning category every year at CES and there is no doubt this year will be no exception.
As gyms have essentially shut down as a result of the pandemic consumers have placed a greater reliance on finding their right solution fit to stay fit.
The turning point for fitness tech this past year was that these machines or devices actually do help us be better fit.
Of course there is gimmickry but overall there is great quality in this category, obviously led by the Peloton wave.
Look for other subscription service copy cats to try and get a piece of this category.
Relating slightly to the fitness tech category are electric two wheelers which saw growth in 2020.
With regulations in states like New York and California making them safer to ride we can potentially expect to see more interest in this category at CES.
Home health care was bound to advance out of necessity due to the pandemic and this year we can expect to evaluate products like:
Vision Check 2-a new DIY Smart Phone Vision test created by Eye Q which makes it easy to test your vision at home and order glasses on-line and Gate Doc, a smart automated and touchless body temperature scanner which eliminates the burden of temperature checks.
Heath-care was an exploding category before the pandemic so expect to see lots of innovation this year.
Are there devices or categories that emerged last year at CES that might need a reboot of sorts?
Some of the Amazon devices might be a little on the weird side. For example: A drone that rides around your house recording video strikes me as unnecessary.
Bad Sci Fi implications
Amazons Halo fitness tracking device also seems a bit useless
I don’t need an app to tell me I’m in a bad mood
Another idea that either needs a reboot from last years show or go away is the foldable phone category
Still trying to figure what my motivation would be for needing it
Then there is 5G
Marketing ploy or real deal?
As the carriers all fight for their share it feels more marketing than an advantage that has arrived
Very few companies find the big win that becomes the must have of CES.
Let’s see who breaks out of the pack in the upcoming days.
The technology business is great to emulate when thinking of the innovation process.
This year at #ces 2021, I look forward to what will pop, what will drop like a thud and what requires more development before it hits mass market.
This year at the show we will get a sense of the progress of existing categories and the breakout of new ones that may hit consumer consensus.
How these products get there is a fascinating journey that over the years has evolved into more trial balloons that ultimately fade into the sunset
Rest assured that even fast failures provide valuable insights for a company’s next development
Tweaking and iterating goes a long way toward the innovation process
Businesses can learn from this calculated mission and grow for the future
I eagerly look forward to CES 2021 next week as we evaluate new learnings and new possibilities
This comes at the most crucial time in our careers when business and brands need innovation the most.
How to Find, Train and Recruit New Young On-Air Talent
The Radio business faces tremendous challenges as we turn the calendar toward 2021.
Among the biggest priorities to tackle is the finding, training and nurturing of new young on-air talent.
In the past, radio stations would utilize non-prime dayparts to develop the next stars.
The 7 to Midnight Show or the overnight show was the breeding ground for the future.
There was no risk and only reward for those dayparts to be for development and incubation.
That ship has generally sailed due to the budget constraints of the industry.
We have short circuited our future and we need to revisit this decision wherever possible.
Another place that we would find talent in the past if you were in a major market would be smaller, adjacent feeder markets to the big cities.
If you were a Boston Programmer. you could look to Worcester or New Hampshire for the next big talent.
That has frequently disappeared as well because of those same budget constraints.
So how does the business confront this conundrum?
For an outsider perspective I asked Ryan Hawk/Author: Welcome to Management and host of the great Podcast: The Learning Leader Show how the industry could attack the challenge.
“Listen to Podcasts. You’ll find a number of compelling communicators.”
Ryan is spot on and if you are in the content business you need to commit the time and energy to this development process.
For another semi-outsider perspective, I asked my friend Phil Dowse for his views.
Phil is a brilliant international media consultant based in Australia with a track record of innovation and excellence and he clearly knows the importance of talent.
According to Phil “Right now there is a lot of bad, lazy radio, and much of it can be heard between 6 and 9 AM. Bad and lazy because many morning shows believe in being “organic” or “winging it.”
Phil monitors up to 50-60 shows a week world-wide (UK, Europe, Australia, US, Africa)
Phil says “In many countries the time is NOW to look at diversification. Like it or not plenty of management meetings include discussions asking the question “can we increase our audience by broadening the base of the presenter team?”
By diversifying the voices and taking our business as usual blinders off we add talent options and ultimately can add creative spark to a station lineup.
Phil identifies other specific ways to find and recruit new talent such as:
You Tube: “I trawl You Tube for ideas for talent and especially for content from potential new talent.”
Podcasts: “Listen for new talent, people who have unique skills, great storytellers and of course new ideas.”
Influencers: “Identify them (especially the local ones, train them and hire them.”
Phil also noted he is not afraid to try some “old school” methods to find and recruit talent like looking within the comedy world, sports personalities or musicians.
The key to the equation is having your extreme sensors up all the time identifying talent.
Heck, you never know if that waiter or waitress you interact with could be the next big talent as well.
Talent recruitment and development should be an on-going R and D project for brand managers, with the ultimate goal of creating a strong talent line-up for years to come.
The internal culture of every organization today weighs heavily on my mind in this challenging time.
As we wrap up a year of incredible pain and suffering for businesses of all type, I wonder whether leaders are compensating for the challenges of in person work, remote work and the fears of tomorrow.
That’s why I wanted to turn my attention to saluting an iconic radio industry legend who just announced his retirement and an internet giant who perished as a result of injuries that resulted from a house fire.
Both men led by impactful leadership that at its core focused on the importance of a great culture.
The radio legend I’m speaking of is Dave Crowl who after a 44 career just announced his retirement as Regional VP and Market Manager for Cumulus Cincinnati.
I had the privilege of working with Dave while I was at WLVQ in Columbus, after he had moved out of his role as GM at the station and entered into a senior management role for what was then Great American Broadcasting(previously Taft)and would ultimately become Citicasters.
Dave has many outstanding qualities ranging from integrity, class, creativity, competitiveness and humility just to name a few but standing tall in one of his pillars of leadership was fostering a great internal culture.
It was a special time with so many iconic brands in the company then like, WDVE, WFBQ, KYYS,WKLS and of course WLVQ and for Dave and I it seems like another lifetime ago, but the culture that was a part of “The Crowl-Man Brand” was a joy to be around.
People wanted to be on his team because they knew the magic would happen and it would be a fun ride if you were part of it.
We salute your great career Dave and I know you will have a well deserved blast playing every golf course under the sun!
The death of former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh hit the business world hard, even though most of us didn’t have the privilege of knowing him.
We were certainly as consumers aware of the business and culture he created.
According to Glenn Rifkin’s NY Times obituary “Mr Hsieh, a soft spoken and introspective executive developed a philosophy of business built around the idea that happy employees were the conduit to satisfied customers who would return again and again.”
Tony blended his pursuit of excellent internal culture with an obsession for excellent customer service and became a model for bigger than life leadership with what he built at Zappos, the internet shoe and clothing mega brand.
R.I.P. Tony Hsieh and thanks for the lessons and inspirations you left behind.
Leaders of today need to be mindful of how culture impacts the roadmap to success and they need to always be willing to improve upon their output.
The year 2020 is thankfully about to come to an end and the radio industry is grappling with our fair share of challenges and opportunities.
Among them is the important issue of diversity.
Are Radio companies welcoming the cultural enrichment that comes from diverse experiences in education, class background, age, culture, ethnicity, race, color, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, nation of origin, language spoken, able- bodiedness, religion and beliefs?
Alright, I’ll admit I took the specifics in the previous sentence right from a job posting to make the point about the specifics of diversity and inclusion.
There has been work done to enhance this effort over the recent months by the industry, with some companies specifically designating someone to watch over diversity and inclusion to ensure responsible actions are taking place, but is it enough or is it just “white noise?”
How does the work in diversity of the industry stack up versus other media brands and other industries and what are some potential action steps that need to be confronted?
As Futurist Rishad Tobaccowala recently said regarding diversity “Innovation happens with fresh insightful connections between cultures, expertise and backgrounds.”
For some perspective on this issue I turned to industry thought leader Annette Malave, SVP, Insights at the Radio Advertising Bureau.
Annette recently wrote a brilliant blog post for radiomatters.org http://www.radiomatters.org/index.php/2020/09/29/inclusive-diverse-and-community/ where she acknowledges the many ways that broadcast radio has been inclusive: “from music to talk, radio stations across the country have always invited different types of people to express their opinions and share their voice.”
She also mentioned in the blog how important radio’s sense of community is within diverse communities “meeting with and speaking to diverse audiences.”
How are other businesses and brands confronting the diversity challenge?
Honda and Ford are making financial commitments to non-profits that support youth learning and Latina-owned businesses affected by the pandemic.
The American Honda Foundation has awarded grants of more than $700,000 to non-profits across the nation to support programming with emphasis on science, technology, engineering, arts and math as well as the environment.
Their goal is to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.
Ford’s philanthropic arm/Ford Motor Company Fund launched a $400,000 initiative to provide access to capital, educational resources and network opportunities for Latina small business owners impacted by Covid.
Starbucks recently took a major step in their hiring practices linking executive compensation to improvements in inclusion efforts.
They are also vowing that by 2025 30% of all corporate positions and 40% of retail and manufacturing jobs will be held by black, indigenous or people of color.
Starbucks describes the inclusivity push as the “next step in turning each store into “The Third Place” not home, not work but a spot where people can mingle and be part of a community.”
In the media world as a reference point ,“BuzzFeed ” CEO Jonah Peretti recently announced they increased representation of Black and Hispanic/Latino employees year over year incrementally and they will continue to make recruiting a focus in their diversity strategy.
Annette Malave asks the question: “Radio will celebrate 100 years and is certain to be around for many more centennials but how will it engage with its future leaders?”
She acknowledges that there is a great effort by the industry to target and connect with college-aged students via mentoring, internships and scholarship programs.
This has been evident in the last few years at the NAB/RAB Fall Radio Show with many in attendance.
But what about Gen Z(those born after 1996)?
Annette goes on to point out that “they will be the most ethnically and racially diverse group compared to other generations and they are also the generation that has only known a digital world. It’s time to start thinking about engaging with the younger segment of this group.”
When Annette and I touched base some weeks ago about the important topic of diversity she told me a compelling tale that struck a chord.
“A few years ago, I was asked by a school principal to speak to students at a junior high school because “it was important his students see someone like them speak to them about a career in radio. Those words struck me and not for the reasons you think. Surveys and studies have shown that it is important for consumers that are being targeted by brands include someone who looks and sounds like them in ads. If it is important to do this when targeting consumers, why would it be any different when targeting future radio professionals?”
While it is true radio has to meet the challenge of reaching Gen Zers as listeners there also needs to be more outreach to them as future leaders in our industry.
Annette suggests we try reaching them in high school via alumni programs so we can make an impact early with them.
Let’s not be afraid to try other bold options to increase diversity in our business.
CBS TV has doubled down on it’s promise for diversity on and off camera, expanding that vow to their reality shows.
All unscripted shows, beginning with the 2021-22 season will feature casts with at least 50% of the contestants being Black, indigenous and people of color.
Are their opportunities to grow audiences by expanding the role of diversity in content?
Are their opportunities for diverse audiences to be heard via other channels of distribution such as HD2?
Radio has taken a leadership role in so many areas of media and I believe the business can take a step back, re-set and do even more.
Recently, I connected with Mark Chernoff, friend, former boss and great legacy Program Director(WFAN-NY,WNEW-FM,WXRK,WDHA) about the traits of winning radio stations.
In our conversation he touched upon how the commitment of the team to winning was critical and how getting everyone focused on the same mission was a path to ultimate success.
Mark also spent a lot of time focused on the importance from a number of perspectives on listening.
As a manager he said “you have to listen to your people”
By listening very closely to their feelings, opinions and ideas you can extract great things.
The key is you have to be willing to invest the time.
This is such an important dynamic for the manager of today.
When we consider the impact leaders need to have in this difficult time, listening provides an important backdrop to leadership traits such as empathy, compassion, curiosity and caring.
In an article from Forbes.com on 8/17/20 called “The Power of Listening” by Jonathan Westover/PHD he describes “impactful active listening as more than just hearing the words someone is saying and understanding the context in which those words are shared, along with other verbal and non-verbal cues, such as voice inflection, tone, facial expressions and body language.”
In other words, don’t be distracted when you are communicating with your team, actually listen to them in a non-distracted way.
Additionally ,Mark Chernoff had another twist on the dynamic of listening which is equally important.
He said “A Programmer has to listen very closely to every aspect of their product.”
In Mark’s mind the listening comes in two forms, “listening as a PD and listening as a listener.”
A PD can listen to the mechanics and flow of their brand in a very technical way to evaluate performance with regard to content quality, storytelling, relatability along with the mechanics of teasing, stop-set placement and other elements of playing the game to win in the ratings.
But Mark’s point about “flicking the switch and listening like a listener” is equally important to effective programming leadership.
Listeners are living in incredibly distracted times and they are the judge and jury when it comes to evaluating the strength of content.
PPM has taught us that talent truly needs to get to the point in a content break in the first 7 to 10 seconds of getting into the break.
Programmers need to be able to boil down what is important from the listeners ears and communicate this to their talent.
They also should find ways to actively seek feedback from listeners and listen to their comments with a thick skin.
As managers are challenged with more on their plate then ever, it’s key for them solicit feedback and be proactive to find out where problems are brewing before the problems escalate and grow tentacles.
Keep your ears to the ground…LITERALLY…and you’ll be a better manager.
No sector has been left untouched by Covid 19.
Every industry has been stressed in a scenario no one could have planned for.
The Non-Profit/Charity sector is one that needs to be spotlighted so it can be helped.
The pandemic has increased the demand for services that the organizations provide, while along the way damaging their staffs and their finances.
It’s a terrible convergence and the full degree of the impact is hard to predict.
Radio has always played an important role in working to help causes and non-profits over the history of the business.
I think it is worth asking the question “Is Radio doing the best it can to help Non-Profits/Charities at this difficult time.”?
Just as an important reminder on the legal responsibilities of an FCC license owner I asked for clarity from David Oxenford/Partner at Wilkinson/Barker/Knauer in D.C.
David’s industry expertise covers a wide range of topics and he provides important clarity for this discussion.
According to David: “Formal ascertainments have not been required for any broadcaster for about 30 years.
But stations still have to informally determine the needs and interests of their community and address those interests in their programming as reflected each quarter in their Quarterly Issues Programs Lists.”
Maybe one suggestion for the industry is to remove informally and make it FORMALLY for the foreseeable future?
Could radio managers delve deeper into their markets to be certain they are truly determining the community needs as it relates to charities?
Consideration should be given to researching those local needs by tapping station databases for listener feedback.
To get a sense of how Non-Profits are faring I asked Paul Medeiros/CEO of the Massachusetts Chapter of Easter Seals what the impact has been.
According to Paul-“As a community based service Non Profit the biggest impact for Easter Seals has been:
Reduced ability to work with clients in person is the number one impact and issue as we always go to the clients environment to provide the best service. We have had to transition to a lot of remote work.
Constant work to keep our employees and clients safe as the rules and regulations change on an almost daily basis.
Reduced ability to meet donors and volunteers and help them learn about Easter Seals.”
I’m sure there are other areas of concern Paul hasn’t touched on such as reducing staff hours and other “pain point” decisions to help them have economic stability.
I asked Paul how radio could potentially be helpful: “Because Radio is a remote industry, it could help us spread the word on what services we have available.
We provide many free services that are not fully utilized because people don’t know we are here.
Help rally support from the organization from potential volunteers and donors. There are a lot of generous people out there who just want to know there is help needed.
Some of our clients would benefit from exposure for their own businesses that they create after working with Easter Seals and they have compelling stories to tell.”
I also wanted to get a sense on how another great organization is faring during these Covid challenged times.
Home Base is a Non-Profit/Charity benefiting veterans in the Boston area run by The Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Their Executive Director is Retired Brigadier General Jack Hammond who has a remarkable record of service to our country spanning operational experience in Iraq, Afghanistan and Paraguay.
According to the General: “This is a very difficult time. As you can imagine many of our fundraising efforts involve events of different types..many grass root community driven. Our largest event-the Run to Home Base held at Fenway Park was initially cancelled, and then it became a virtual race(raising half the projected funds), as was our Veterans Day Gala, and a number of golf tournaments…There has also been a tightening of the spikes from a number of corporate partners, based upon competing demands both covid and social justice related support.
We were effectively able to deal with 2020 budget shortfall of -20% through a number of measures to close out the year above water.
The wounded and injured veterans and military families we still treat still require our care and during this pandemic their issues have become worse-with a 20% increase in military suicide from March to September 2020.”
Now would be an excellent time for radio station managers to sharpen their commitment to Non-Profits and charities.
Radio has always been critical to the successful work of these organizations especially in times of need.
It always matters but it matters especially NOW.
Finding personal satisfaction and a sense of overall happiness can be an incredibly difficult thing.
Even in a non-pandemic moment there are days that pass where this sense of well being is elusive.
As you consider ways for you to personally be in a better space,consider also how happiness factors into your style of leadership management.
What you project defines part of your style and how your message is received.
Even with virtual management being a new normal, when you sign on to your morning stand up with a scowl on your face from a bad night of sleep, there’s no doubt you are sending the wrong message to the troops.
Some months ago I was fortunate to take a course via Coursera called The Science of Well Being taught by Yale Professor Dr. Laurie Santos.
During the course Laurie brought up the importance of gratitude as one of the cornerstones of happiness and well being and I couldn’t help wonder whether this is a missing link that the leadership of today should consider.
Her view is that happy people are:
Socially connected and they spend time with others.
They prioritize connection.
They also don’t focus on themselves as they are “others oriented”.
They are grateful and they look for good as they have a mindset of gratitude.
They find three to five things they are grateful for everyday.
I started to wonder if some of Laurie’s priorities from the course, especially gratitude were an opportunity for leaders to improve their teams and the entire organization.
In thinking about gratitude at the core of happiness, how can this permeate all employees?
Do you actively keep note of things to be grateful for as a leader?
Certainly your current employer is a good place to start being thankful for.
Times are challenging and the fact they have hung in with you means a lot.
When you consider the employees you manage are you going out of your way being as Laurie put it to be”others oriented” and acknowledge great work?
Do you consider the work of all departments during this difficult time and express appreciation for the good work being done?
This all sounds easy but it really takes individual focus.
As Seth Godin put it on January 10 2017 “entitlement gets us nothing but heartache. It blinds us to what’s possible.
It insulates us from the magic of gratitude.
Gratitude, on the other hand is just as valid a choice. Except that gratitude makes us open to possibility. It brings us closer to others. And it makes us happier.”
Now is a good time to consider adding gratitude to your leadership toolbox.
We are at a moment in time that requires incredible strength, intestinal fortitude and ultimate leadership at the highest level.
No matter what business you are in, the margin of error can be the difference between success and failure.
Rishad Tobaccowala knows what is necessary to push not only ourselves but our organizations to greatness.
He is a Senior Advisor to the Publicis Groupe and he is the author of “Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data”.
His spirit of marketing innovation along with his direct but gentle style makes him the business buddha of our time.
His session “Re-inventing Leadership with Heart and Soul” at the Radio Show produced tremendous insights to take back to your various teams and put into action.
One of the points in his speech that I was drawn to was his comment that as things have changed you should embark on an exercise with your teams that does a SWOT(Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities/Threats)analysis of your team, your competitors and of yourself.
What would a personal SWOT look like?
Great leaders know that they can rely on their strengths as an important backbone to success.
What characteristics of your strength give you a unique selling point and a competitive advantage?
It is worth pausing to truly think about this.
When you go beyond processes and systems and get to the core of strengths, there are many questions that you should ask about yourself to consider where you rank versus peers.
Just like a competitive SWOT or a full team SWOT you need the “ice in the veins” approach to get to the honest evaluation of your personal SWOT.
Where does appreciation of excellence fit into your view of yourself?
Those leaders that have an appreciation for excellence in the moment and value the beauty of tremendous performance, both in the present and the past serve their teams at a higher level.
Courage and tenacity is critical in your personal SWOT analysis because if these factors show up as weaknesses or threats than you and your organization will shrink when a challenge creeps up.
We must consider how organizations value innovation as part of their core philosophy and curiosity plays an important role in that process.
Curiosity may be placed in your personal SWOT in the strength category but it also can be a high value opportunity as well.
Many times when we consider how we “carry” ourselves in a business setting an important trait that hopefully stacks up as a strength in your SWOT is your social intelligence.
This is the important dynamic of knowing what makes people tick, essentially reading the room.
Take this aspect of your SWOT very seriously as it can easily be an opportunity for improvement or a threat to your personal brand as well.
When personal weaknesses are considered in your SWOT there are many backbones of success that can need long term work to turn around.
For example: your reputation is everything and at it’s core are elements such as: honesty and authenticity that are pillars of leadership characteristics.
Perspective is an important trait that hopefully is one of your core strengths as you can see that the individual that possesses this is the person who gives their team wise counsel.
As these are difficult times the leader who has humor as a strength in their personal SWOT can be an incredible asset to their organization.
I strongly consider you follow Rishad’s advise and find some quiet time in the day and conduct your personal SWOT.
This week at the Radio Show 2020 presented by the NAB and the RAB I delivered a presentation called “How Programming and Sales need a makeover”.
In the presentation, I discussed that today’s internal Programming and Sales teams should strive to re-set the internal culture as a first step to maximizing monetization in these challenging times.
Great collaborative efforts are producing tremendous results all over the country, but as the difficult task of budgeting for 2021 is beginning we have to ramp up our efforts of excellence to have a better chance at getting our fair share of revenue.
The internal teams need to improve their culture by being diligent about documenting success and building upon internal pride.
I discussed how there must be an obsession with our advertisers built upon understanding client “hot buttons” as a path to better client “partnerships” and the “next generation of NTR.”
One of the pieces of the process of preparing for 2021 that I discussed in the presentation was an internal planning meeting with all key stakeholders called a “Promotional Monetization Analysis” where each available station asset is discussed to ensure that it was monetized most effectively.
Also, part of the discovery process for the meeting involved getting specific client feedback regarding promotions they loved, what could have been improved and in general how the client partnership relationship can be maximized.
This reminded me of my late friend, former Beasley VP of Sales Bob McCurdy who in one of his last blogs in Radio Ink back on July 5th titled “What Got us here won’t keep us here” wrote:
“Enhance Relationship with key decision makers. Dig in with agency planning groups to understand how they view and go about choosing media. This knowledge would enable me to better “position” my media assets.”
I went to a select group of great thought leaders who like Bob McCurdy have supported our medium for years and asked the question: “What can radio do better when it comes to presenting creative solutions for agencies to get the best share of the marketplace.?”
Lauren Russo is the EVP Managing Partner, Audio Investments and Promotions at Horizon Media and she has been a long- time supporter of our business.
According to Lauren: “Radio Broadcasters need to provide holistic solutions utilizing all of their assets across broadcast and digital while leveraging their 1st party data to inform sales proposals to align with brand objectives. Measurement and attribution on the backend to prove the effectiveness and value against a brand’s KPI’s are critical in today’s data- driven environment.”
Going down a similar path to the question is Bruce Mittman, President and CEO Mittcom. Bruce sits at a unique vantage point because in addition to owning his agency, he is also the owner of radio stations (Community Broadcasters).
According to Bruce: “Deliver to the advertiser an attribution model with all schedule’s which measures and demonstrates ROI! Provide the agency with a clear rationale of radio’s contribution to the overall media strategy. Demonstrate radio’s unique creative audience engagement potential and cost efficiencies.”
Lastly, I asked the question to Glenn Rosenberg, the owner of Power Media in Jericho, NY and he said:
“Radio pushes their salespeople to develop new business but puts almost no effort to retain the business. Most of the time, when one of our radio campaigns ends, we don’t hear from the rep to ask how the campaign did or even if we’d like to renew.”
I hope if you saw the presentation you found actionable items and I hope in the spirit of Bob McCurdy’s comments you will seek feedback from key decision makers as a path to incremental improvement.
Buzz Knight shares his thoughts about media happenings