The Consumer Technology Association rolls out CES 2021 this week and I couldn’t be more pumped for the event.
Every year, it is a must see moment and this year as we are stuck in a pandemic the virtual event is more important than ever for us to digest.
One tradition I look forward to is syncing up with my long time, co-conspirator, partner in crime and friend Fred Jacobs to interview CTA President Gary Shapiro for his take on the event.
1. Can you describe the immense challenges involved with the necessity to move the show to a virtual event?
This year’s CES is a totally reimagined experience – both for us as producers and for our attendees. Our goal is to create an experience that lets exhibitors, media, thought leaders, and executives connect in ways that are both safe and meaningful.
The biggest challenge was finding a platform that would let us accomplish this. We teamed up with Microsoft for its technical expertise, global scale and experience in creating compelling digital content. Microsoft is a global innovation leader and longtime supporter of CES. They understand what makes CES special and unique. And they’re working side-by-side with our team to capture that experience digitally.
CES 2021 attendees will be able to build profiles and select areas of interest so that we can tailor their experience and offer content recommendations.
2. Healthcare is always a big focus at the show. Will we see new medical technologies spurred by the pandemic?
Digital Health is a key focus area of CES 2021. We’re seeing amazing technological innovations borne out of this pandemic, many of which will be on display and part of the conversations at CES.
Robots and drones are forging ground in automated, contactless home delivery. Smart city technology helps monitor our public spaces for signs of ill health, using air sensors and temperature checks. The next generation of wearables will monitor our vitals and alert us to any irregularities before they become larger issues. And artificial intelligence can lead to improved health outcomes and lower costs.
3. COVID has forced most people to stay home more this year. How do you foresee video content and delivery changing as a result?
Despite a slowdown in television sales, we’re seeing growth in content streaming and continued interest by consumers in smarter TVs. According to CTA’s 2020 Sales and Forecast report, over 70% of displays shipping this year are smart TVs that enable access to hundreds of streaming services. And consumers continue to upgrade their sets to smarter and higher-resolution displays. In fact, 76% of TVs shipped this year will be 4K displays.
Augmented and virtual reality headsets are also expanding the horizon for entertainment, as content creators develop new all-encompassing video experiences. CTA predicts 7% revenue growth for AR/ VR headsets this year.
But it’s not just how consumers are streaming content that’s changing – it’s what they’re streaming. We have an entire vertical of CES dedicated to covering this transformation. C Space at CES brings together leaders from marketing, entertainment and media to discover disruptive tech trends affecting content consumption, advertising mediums and consumer behavior. I’m excited to hear from Warner Bros. Entertainment Chairman Ann Sarnoff about her company's decision to stream its 2021 slate of releases online during our C Space Keynote address, Jan 13, at 10:30 AM ET.
4. And where does radio fit in? “Regular radios” are disappearing from homes and offices, but more people than ever are listening to favorite stations and personalities on mobile devices and smart speakers. Do you see that accelerating?
Consumer adoption of streaming platforms is moving at lightning speed through this pandemic. According to CTA research, U.S. consumers spent $42 billion on music and video streaming services in 2020, up more than four-fold from 2016. And our home entertainment is getting more immersive and sophisticated as digital assistants in smart speakers, soundbars and TVs are opening opportunities for voice-based applications.
Radio stations need to support various mediums – including smart speakers. Smart speakers are our portal to the world, connecting us with our favorite radio personalities, news sources and music genres, across time zones, across borders, and across languages. And with 5G, radio can reach new markets around the world. Streaming and radio stations remain an important component of our fully connected content future.
5. Many companies like Delta had ambitious plans at last year’s show that had to be disrupted or put on pause. Which companies are you looking forward to “seeing” at CES 2021?
We have leaders from some of the most cutting-edge companies joining us on stage this year – Amazon, Best Buy, Google, IBM, Twitter and Walmart, just to name a few. We’re also pleased to be joined again this year by leaders from non-traditional tech companies, such as the WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and WW International CEO Mindy Grossman – because these days, every company is a tech company.
6. 2020 has been off the charts. What leadership lessons have you observed by business, government, or civic leaders this year that have stood out to you?
One lesson about American innovation that has stood out to me in 2020 is that when faced with adversity, nothing is impossible thanks to our melting pot country of bright minds from around the world.
Less than 12 months after a devastating pandemic swept the globe, scientists banded together to create multiple effective vaccines that are already being distributed. The big takeaway for me, seeing Pfizer partner with Germany’s BioNTech to create the first FDA-approved Covid vaccine, is that innovators are all around us. We need policies that allow the best and brightest to come to the United States.
But U.S. immigration policy needs work. While large parts of our economy still rely on crucial high-skilled immigration programs, such as the H-1B visa, many of these programs are outdated and need to be improved for our new competitive world.
American innovators – regardless of where they were born – help drive our global competitiveness. Policymakers must enact policies that attract – not deter – immigrants who want to succeed in America.
7. Radio has been scrappy this year, doubling down on local community connection and coverage. Any thoughts on how broadcasters can stand out in 2021 in an increasingly crowded media landscape.
It’s true – the media landscape is more crowded than ever. But that’s a great thing! Content creators have more avenues than at any time in history to share their art and inspiration. And as new revenue models emerge, both ad-free and ad-supported, there are more opportunities for consumers to choose the models that make sense for them. I can’t wait to see what we create in 2021 and beyond!
Automotive thru the years at CESThe Consumer Electronics Show provides a mountain of Intel to take in every year and the automotive sector is a big part of it.
Ever since, then Ford CEO Alan Mulally first keynoted at the event back in 2009, CES has become a showcase for an evolving business that has innovated, pivoted and marched to its own beat.
Suddenly, after Ford’s appearance, the shape of the show regarding automotive dramatically changed before our eyes and other car manufacturers and OEMs followed suit.
Ford first was primarily focused on their My Ford/Touch driver connect technology which incorporated Sync and My Ford touch, as Ford first developed a connected destination for mobile devices.
Ford was very focused helping drivers keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road while evolving into software based platforms that fundamentally changed the way consumers and businesses would interact with vehicles on the road.
Mulally would return to keynote for multiple years later and his theme regarding the car becoming a computer on wheels would strike a chord for the changing face of the dash.
Speech recognition would also be an important theme for Ford and the other automotive companies that would ultimately be part of CES in the coming years.
Luca de Mayo from Audi called the next generation of cars, “the fastest and most powerful mobile device.”
Adaptive cruise control to heads-up displays would grow along with mobile hot spot connectivity and the radio business would begin to be educated about the immense challenge that we would face.
This would lead to an important dialogue around our business and how industry leaders need to be aligned around the connected car and it’s present and future impact.
Does radio “sell” the value it brings to consumers everyday?
With the business selling against each other rather than selling the medium should that mindset be reconsidered?
I truly believe this is a priority for our industry.
Has the business to this day truly acknowledged how consumers desire to ingest content?
This is critical to the future.
The dashboard has become part of a cohesive strategy for automotive manufacturers and the radio industry needs to consider every channel of distribution and how audience behavior impacts consumption.
As the years would evolve we would see the automotive footprint grow at CES, specifically regarding OEM’s with over
400 of them attending debuting new products, including multiple automakers like: BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, Nissan, Toyota and more.
Autonomous driving continues to be a major topic for our industry and the ultimate impact is still not fully understood.
I vividly remember attending the Radio Ink/Convergence Event back in 2012 where futurist Nolan Bushnell first mentioned the reality of autonomy in our lifetime and I thought he was way out in front of his skis, but obviously I was wrong.
Back in 2015, we first began to see assistive vehicle elements such as sensors, driver active and fail safe mode as part of the road to self driving vehicles.
Along the way we would see major automotive manufacturers invest heavily in self driving tech for example:
Ford invested one billion dollars in Argo AI
Toyota invested one billion in their Toyota Research Institute
General Motors acquired self-driving car start-up Cruise Automation for 581 million dollars.
This illustrates further prove self driving vehicles are here although we are still not at the stage of Level 5 autonomy(no human interface).
The Radio Industry’s reaction to the continuing changing face of the dashboard is critical to the future.
Some years ago at the Convergence Event I moderated a panel about the changing face of the dashboard and how radio can best be prepared for the challenges.
My fundamental conclusions:
Excellent content will always win.
Unduplicated content will always win.
CES 2021 will hopefully open our eyes to the reality that “in car” listening is under multiple attacks and we need to boldly adapt and prepare for our future.
Check out jacobsmedia.com/ces2021 for information on their virtual CES tour.
Evaluating the Evolution Post CESThere are consistent themes over the years that resonate from the CES Experience.
I’m into my second decade of attending and as I reflect on what I’ve learned, I’m just as curious as what our industry has learned...and more importantly acted on.
Partnerships are a key value proposition of the Consumer Electronics Industry and as our business has evolved, how can we evaluate our performance regarding partnerships?
Let’s look back over the years to see what we can learn.
I first directly noted after the 2011 CES show how partnerships are important to the Consumer Electronics Industry and that we should consider this an opportunity.
Back in 2011, CTA CEO Gary Shapiro said about radio “it requires constant innovation. It requires partnering you’re not used to partnering with, get out of your industry events and go to other events like CES, means trying things and failing.”
Well, many in our business did begin making the exodus out to CES as the years have passed.
Partnerships first truly hit me as an opportunity for the radio business back in 2011 when I acknowledged Ford and their view of partnerships “we should emulate Ford and welcome strategic partnerships to enhance our brands. Ford has developed partnerships in an open source manner with its in car apps, reaching out directly and saying “Become a Ford app developer and partner.”
Back in 2018 when Fred Jacobs and I interviewed CTA CEO Gary Shapiro we asked him about new examples of partnerships that we would expect at CES and he said “we partnered to create a Smart Cities Focus and we partnered with the Prince of the Netherlands to bring Dutch startups to the CES and we have partnership behind virtually every new marketplace. We partner because we need and want expertise and new ideas that we simply can’t manufacture internally. Increasingly in the technology space every successful company partners because the days of stovepipe organization success is over.”
For those of you who have attended CES there are many partnerships throughout the show, including Eureka Park which is the breeding ground for startups.
We’ve recently witnessed many partnerships in the automotive sector like Intel partnering with Ferrari North America using Intel’s AI technology to change the distribution of sports broadcasting and content and last year at CES Microsoft and Ericsson, who partnered around the integration of both companies connected vehicle solutions.
As resources for all companies continue to be challenged as a result of the pandemic era have you taken a beginners mindset with your team and considered new opportunities for partnerships?
Join Fred Jacobs, Paul Jacobs and their special guest tech guru Shawn Dubravac for the CES 2021 Virtual Tour next week.
For more information go to Jacobsmedia.com/CES2021 to sign up.
As Fred says “Innovation marches on, even during a pandemic.” I might add... especially during a pandemic!
If I can help your team plan for the future reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
As I’m well into my second decade of covering the Consumer Electronics Show, and as we get primed for CES 2021 it’s worth evaluating the evolution that radio has taken in tandem with the show.
Every year more and more broadcasters have joined the throngs attending and every year there are certain consistent rallying cries that come forth.
What has been one of the loudest priorities?
Research and Development
Finding a clear path to innovation is critical to every business model and the radio business is no exception.
Does our business walk the walk or just talk?
Here is a candid assessment only meant to give a supreme nudge to those that can make a difference.
Research and Development Over the Years at CES.
Back in 2008 as I covered CES for the first time I said “Radio is at a crossroads of tremendous opportunity. We have to learn from our past and learn from industries like consumer electronics to make our future bright.”
Clearly, I only walked up to the line to challenge the industry on R and D but I didn’t come flat out and say it.
In 2009 CTA CEO Gary Shapiro said “sound choice is increasing options abound for how to receive and listen to audio. There is a phenomenal future of innovation and those who don’t take the time to see the options and reflect on them will be lost in the competitive dust.”
Gary Shapiro first begins to throw down the gauntlet challenging our business to innovate and reconsider current practices but he is only just beginning to ask us to challenge status quo.
In 2011, one of my key takeaways for the industry was making the Research and Development challenge after attending CES.
Every year, as I and others, (like Fred Jacobs and Steve Goldstein) have pushed the importance of R and D after attending the show very little actually seems to occur.
R and D doesn’t have to only apply to technological advances and improvements.
It can relate to better user experience, better customer service, unique ways to market a brand and other ways that lead to continuous improvement.
Back in 2013 I was fortunate to interview Nolan Bushnell while I was at CES.
Nolan has an amazing history of creativity and innovation including being the Founder of Atari and Chuck E Cheese.
His other notable claim to fame was hiring Steve Jobs while at Atari.
His book “How to Hire the Next Steve Jobs” is a great read regarding the qualities and characteristics to look for when going thru the hiring process and his themes in the book resonate today when considering the research and development process.
According to Nolan “the most important thing is to hire people with passion. The hiring process can actually be really valuable because with every applicant you could say “what would you do if you were president of this radio station?”
Nolan goes on to reinforce the importance of curiosity in leaders and how that curiosity feeds the creative research and development process.
There are many curious leaders of the broadcast industry who have been accustomed to attending over the years such as Holland Cooke, Bill Saurer, Ed Cohen and others who I am unintentionally leaving out, but there is one in particular who is a great example of curiosity in action and that’s Jerry Lee.
Jerry has been to every CES and his thirst for curiosity runs deep every time I run into him.
Jerry’s curiosity fuels his pursuit of solving business problems and of improving a business that he passionately loves.
As Fred Jacobs put it back in 2014 “if you don’t have a program of continuing education the learning eventually stops and with it the perspective and innovation.”
I think as 2021 begins, it is worth all of us revisiting our continuing education plans and try some different things.
Let’s figure out how to build actionable steps that build a cost effective research and development process.
As the need for R and D is more significant reach out to me if I can help you or your team.
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.