There's nothing more scary in radio today than discussions about transformation – morphing traditional broadcast companies into media entertainment centers that create and market great content on many different platforms.
At Jacobs Media, we've had a unique perch from which to observe this transition – or perhaps, controlled chaos – taking place in one form or another at most broadcast radio companies. Whether you're iHeartMedia or a mom & pop operation in an unrated market, “the future” is both a challenging and frightening place.
Being successful at transformation often means overcoming the fear of change. But that fear can be palpable. What if it doesn't work? What if we can't monetize it? What if our people can't make the transition?
The word “transformation” itself has terrifying connotations…at least, for me. I was a little boy in 1958 when “The Fly” originally hit theaters. Parents back then didn't do a whole lot of screening which movies their kids saw, and of course, there was no rating system. I'm sure my mom thought the movie was a documentary about insects.
I wish. Starring Vincent Price (always macabre) and Al Hedison as the scientist who screws up a risky experiment, leaving him as half man/half fly gave me nightmares for years. The David Cronenberg remake in 1986 starring Jeff Goldblum (pictured above) was a big hit, but mild in shock value compared to the original.
There's the unforgettable scene where the scientist's wife rips his cloak off to reveal how horrifying transformation can be. In a Saturday matinée filled with kids, it was “Scream City,” and mine was one of the loudest voices.
Transformation can, in fact, be painful. And when you simply rip off the band-aid – or cloak – that can be the net effect. But that's precisely what many radio broadcasters need to do in order to begin or complete the act of making the necessary adjustment to adapt radio stations into the multi-platform media brands they need to be.
At this year's Radio Show in Dallas, co-presented by the NAB and RAB, we're bound and determined to make transformation less scary and more attainable. My brother Paul and I are emceeing a unique presentation to open the show – “You’re not in the Radio Business Anymore: Stories from Innovators Who’ve Made the Transition.”
The session's title says it all – and it's a statement by the two member organizations about where radio broadcasting is today – and where it needs to be headed tomorrow. We have some experience at this, transitioning our own company from telling radio which Led Zeppelin songs to play to branching into areas like mobile, automotive, voice, podcasting, research, and public radio. It's been a fun – but at times, scary – ride.
And next month, we are honored to kick off the Radio Show with what we hope will be a tone-setting presentation, in-sync with other great speakers that include marketer Gary (Vee) Vaynerchuk and Charlotte Jones Anderson, both of whom know their way around branding, change, and transition.
Paul and I will tee up our session, but will then turn it over to a small group of “transformation specialists” – radio broadcasters who have made the turn, led the way, and are ready to share their stories of transition with Radio Show attendees.
In a TED Talks format of short, focused presentations, they will talk about their experiences – what's worked and what hasn't – and why they believe that change is an imperative for the industry. Their charge is to provide action steps that broadcasters in New York or Nome can take that are attainable and realistic.
While we feel great about these special guests, we don't want to miss out on someone in the vast radio wilderness that we may have overlooked. So, with the blessings of the RAB and NAB, we are casting a net to seek out one additional presenter – someone who has demonstrated the ability to successfully turn the media tide in a way that can help us all learn how it can be done.
Of course, this requires being present in Dallas for the Radio Show, and the skill, gravitas, and ability to hold the attention of hundreds of attendees for a great 10 minute presentation. If you're selected, the Radio Show will comp your registration, and Paul and I will buy you dinner.
And for more information, including registration details, for the Radio Show, click here.
We're trying to figure this out together. The Radio Show is the perfect place for this process to take flight.
And it doesn't have to be scary at all.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.
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