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Posted: 6/5/2012 - 1 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ] - 0 Likes
Category: Technology

Mark Ramsey Media    


Radio is “Almost Invisible” to the Internet

Michael Robertson is best known as the founder of digital music pioneer, but today he has an exciting new project, DAR.FM, that promises to transform the relationship radio fans have with their favorite radio content by enabling a “virtual DVR” for your favorite shows.

Michael is uniquely positioned to evaluate the cutting edge of technology and how it will impact radio across platforms, across devices, and even on the open road.


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What follows is an abbreviated transcript of our chat….

Michael, what is DAR.FM and why does it matter to the radio industry?

DAR.FM is based on a DVR concept that allows you to record things you like and listen when you like and applying it to radio. That’s why we call it DAR, the Digital Audio Recorder.

We have built a catalogue of about 5,000 radio stations and also a guide for those stations that allows people to record any of the stations or shows. So, if I’m a sports fan, I can go record Jim Rome. If I’m a politics fan, I can go record Rush Limbaugh. If I’m an NPR fan, I can record “All Things Considered.”

Our system knows what days the program is on and how long the show is. We record all of that for you much like a “season pass” on your DVR, and we do all this on the Internet. There’s no equipment for that user to buy, unlike your DVR and your TV.

Once you record it, you can listen from anywhere and that’s what’s really exciting. You can go to your personal computer at work, you can go to your laptop, you can use your Smartphone and listen to all of those shows, and just like on your DVR you can rewind, fast-forward, and find the stuff that you like.

We’re taking this amazing pile of radio content that today evaporates into space, and we’re allowing people to record it and listen to it on their schedule.

This is important because you’re enabling a degree of control that consumers are increasingly accustomed to in other areas of their media diet: The content should be available to you, the consumer, anywhere and you should have control over it your way, right?

Absolutely. That’s what people expect today. Thanks to the iPad and web pages and DVR’s, people expect all media – print, video and audio – to be available on their schedule and to be able to rewind and fast-forward and this is what we’re bringing to radio. We’re giving that capability to radio content, letting people listen to it on their schedule.

How is radio as an industry doing in giving the audience what they need in that regard? How good are our digital offerings right now?

I look at radio today and see it as basically being divorced from the Internet. There’s really no intersection between radio content and the Internet.

What I mean by that is that if you look at the emails you get or the Twitter feeds you read, you’ll see people saying, “Hey, go check out this article. Go look at this graphic, it’s amazing. This video was astonishing.” You will never see them say, “Hey, go look at this radio. Go listen to this radio content; I can’t believe this was said or talked about.”

Radio is almost invisible to the Internet and that has to change. And the first thing people need to be able to do is to record it, and then people need to be able to tell other people about it and say, “Oh my gosh, listen to what I heard.”

That has to be the evolution for radio to stay relevant in the Internet age.

Right now, I can point people to my stream but what’s on my stream now isn’t what was on my stream when I heard something fantastic, right?


But I can theoretically point people do a podcast that lives somewhere, can’t I, if something fantastic is there to be heard?

Right. But podcasts are only available for a tiny amount of the content. We looked at the top 20 radio shows, only 4 of them had podcasts. The other 16 didn’t have a podcast.

In other words, they were designed to be ephemeral. They were designed to exist and then cease to exist – no possibility of control, personalization, or sharing.

That’s right.

And the other big problem there is that when people point you to a YouTube video and it runs 35 minutes, you don’t watch it, right? People expect “chicken nuggets” now, not a six-course meal and that’s what radio is. We have these 3-hour blocks, 1-hour blocks, that’s too much. People want to dine and dash. And radio isn’t bite-size yet and it needs to be.

You need to be able to say, “Oh my God, I want to share this little clip with my friend so that that person will learn about this great show host or listen to this highlight or hear this great morning show.” People need the power to invite others to get engaged with radio. And that hasn’t happened yet, but it will come.

But with DAR.FM my ability to record the content that interests me doesn’t necessarily mean I can share that content with somebody else, does it?

It doesn’t today. Today we’re a personal recording service. But I think that’s part of the foundation we’re building up to. First people have to be able to record content.

When you look in our database today, we have about 22,000 radio shows across the United States.

And these are primarily talk shows.

These are primarily talk shows, right.

Ninety-five percent of them evaporate. Once they’re broadcast, they just evaporate. By design.

The first step is to capture them, to store them somewhere. Because once that storage happens then you can enable sharing or group discussion – all the things that people expect on the Internet today.

If you look at YouTube, there are a lot of videos that are a still photo with an audio track.

I know. Isn’t that amazing? People actually go to more effort to put the still photo in than they should have to in order to convey the audio content.

Right. That’s people saying, “Hey, I want to share. I need to share this. I want to include radio in the Internet but it’s just too hard to do,” and that has to change.

Otherwise radio is going to continue to see a decline in mind-share.

Why has radio been resistent to recognize this?

We all have this innate fear of the unknown, and I saw that when I was with the record labels and did MP3. They feared the unknown. They feared what the Internet could do, and it took a long time for them to realize, “Hey, this could be good for our business. We can actually make more money. We don’t have to deal with packaging and we can sell our old catalogue” and all these wonderful things. That’s where radio is today.

When I show people DAR, one of the first questions I get is “Hey, won’t they use that fast-forward to skip the commercials?” And this is not new, right? When TiVo came out ten years ago the TV guys said the same thing and yes, it’s true, some people skip commercials.

But a fascinating thing also happens: More people watch more TV. More people are engaged.

So even if you take out those commercials that were skipped, total TV viewing over the last ten years is up a whopping 40 percent. That’s huge.

So while DAR.FM may allow people to skip the commercials, it also allows people to get more of that content, to share more of it with others, and to turn on other people to the show and introduce new people to the station, right?


I contend that in any business, your number one issue is always marketing. It’s always awareness. How do people even know you exist?


Exactly. And so as a smart business you must use every weapon you have to get that awareness because without that awareness you never get the audience to try to make money from.

And I think that’s where radio is. They’ve got to leverage these technologies so that they stay relevant. So they increasingly grab that attention from users and it doesn’t evaporate to social networks or move to videogames or move to YouTube or wherever.

Consumers don’t understand if the show they want to listen to is on during their drive to work, why can’t they listen to it on their drive home? That doesn’t make any sense to today’s consumer, and I agree with them, and that’s why we’re making Smartphone apps where you can listen to the first half of the show in the morning and the second half of the show when you’re doing your afternoon jog.

In terms of devices, the one we all want to talk about in radio nowadays is the car. How do you see the relationship between the mobile device and the car dashboard in the future? How engaged is your company in what’s going on in that dash?

We don’t spend one second working with any car companies because it’s a strategic choice. But here is our thought; the Smartphone is advancing so fast. If you look at any new Smartphone, the type of computation that’s in there and the screen and the memory is so phenomenal. It is generations ahead of anything in any car and it will only keep advancing.

So we believe what’s going to happen is that the cars are simply going to adapt to the Smartphone. You’re not going to have to work with Nissan and Ford and GM and 27 different car platforms which is what happens today, and it takes years of advance planning to get in there.

We believe the Smartphone is going to take over the entire market and the car is just going to become Smartphone-aware. It’s going to take your display from your Smartphone and stick it on a big screen and everything is going to come from a Smartphone and not from a proprietary car system that’s only in one make or model.

And DAR.FM allows me to circumvent the whole problem of bandwidth, right?

Exactly. Just use one of the apps that we provide which automatically download anything you’ve recorded while you’re at work over your company Wi-Fi. And then when you jump in your car or your subway or whatever, all those recordings are right there and you can play them without any data access. When you get home it will say there are some new recordings, and use your home Wi-Fi as well. At DAR we try to offer both streaming and downloading solutions.

The interesting thing about this is that none of it matters unless there’s content. We can have all the technology you can create but ultimately it comes down to great content worth hearing.

That’s true. And I would contend the content is out there but it’s hidden right now.

I ask people, “What is radio’s Pawn Stars?” It’s buried on the History Channel. You would never watch it except the DVR lets you record it, and it’s one of the highest ranked shows on cable.

What’s that equivalent for radio? It’s out there. But today it’s impossible to find because that great show host might be in St. Louis or Memphis or Tallahassee or whatever, and you have no way of knowing about them and getting that out to the world.

And radio needs to foster new talent so that it’s not just about music because if it’s just about music, they’re going to lose that market share to Pandora or iTunes.



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Posted: 3/17/2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ] - 0 Likes
Category: Technology

 Mark Ramsey Media             


Radio has the Wrong Idea about Mobile Apps

…or at least, not completely the right idea.

Consider the study from the IPG Media Lab and which examined “advertising in the wild” to assess the effects of “viewer distraction” in a TV-viewing habitat of numerous gadgets and gizmos.

One of the conclusions was that “smartphones are a persistent companion to video content.”

As the authors of the book Social TV: How Marketers Can Reach and Engage Audiences by Connecting Television to the Web, Social Media, and Mobile put it:

The key word here is “companion”—meaning “in addition to,” not “a replacement of.” Mobile certainly is not television’s enemy; it is instead an opportunity for broadcast networks, cable companies, equipment manufacturers, app developers, and advertisers to enhance the TV experience by connecting one medium to another.

In radio, our premise too often is that a mobile app is simply a new distribution mechanism for our existing content in a new channel.

While this is not completely wrong it vastly oversimplifies the opportunity for radio’s mobile experience from every perspective – our brand’s, our consumers’ and our advertisers’.

And it’s all because we’re asking the wrong question, which is generally ”How do I get my radio station on a mobile app in the cheapest possible way?” or “Should I or should I not be on IHeartRadio?”

A better question is “What companion experience to my radio station can provide value both to my consumers and my clients?” Note that the answer may have nothing to do with the radio stream itself., so while the stream has a place in an app it should not be the reason why an app exists.

The app should exist because your brand has fans and your brand has clients and your brand mediates relationships between them and you can monetize those relationships in a mobile space.

So what value can you add to your consumers and your clients, alike?

Consider a sports station or a station with a big morning show. The opportunities to provide interactive mobile games and polls and conversation between fans and on-air hosts boggle the mind. Seriously.

Consider a music station. Does your app allow me to explore the music on your station and music like it? Does it allow me to vote on your songs and pick your playlist?

We need to stop thinking of our mobile opportunities simply as distribution channels and imagine them instead to be companions for our over-the-air experience. New ways to attract and enhance loyalty and add value to consumers and advertisers in the presence of our brands.

Posted: 11/29/2011 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ] - 0 Likes
Category: Technology

So the other day I was in Barnes & Noble for the first time in a long time.  What a revelation!

Where are the DVD’s?!  Gone!  And the music?  Gone!  Both replaced by a wide variety of “learning toys.”  Meanwhile the “Nook” section was expanded and moved to the center of the store, complete with ultra-contemporary Apple-like design aesthetic.

Remember when the bookstore sold books (and music and movies)?  That was back when B&N competed against my dearly departed Borders, the bookseller that once subcontracted their online store to a little company called Amazon.

As I looked around I recognized the slow evolution of the bookstore into an altogether different kind of store –  one that lives across platforms and categories.

And it’s not just bookstores, it’s telephones and radio, too.

Take it from my friend John Frost of Goodratings, a programming consultant to Christian broadcasters.  He writes (go here for the full version).:

This is the tale of two telephones. I call them both phones but that is about all they have in common.

One is functional. You plug it in. You dial a number. You talk. You hang up when you’re done. No more, no less.

The other can be used to place calls, as well, but that hardly the reason people choose it.

I grew up playing the board game Monopoly for hours and hours and hours with my friends Rodney, David and his younger brother Mark. We were excited at the prospect of being the first to land on Boardwalk and Park Place. The utilities–Water Works and the Electric Company—were so boring their spaces were in black and white.

Utilities are there to simply function. Water, electric, telephone. One phone is designed to simply connect with that utility. The other is designed for the imagination.

It strikes me that radio stations can be as distinct as these two phones. One is no more meaningful than its most basic function—turn it on to listen; turn it off as desired. The other is the centerpiece of a conversation with like-minded people who care deeply about their faith, their families, and their communities.

My iPhone isn’t just about the technology of the phone, it’s really about me. I have so personalized it to my specific interests that I’ll not likely ever change to another kind of phone. Apple has a customer for life.

My apps are about my interests. When I share my apps I’m sharing my life.

The fact that one can plug a telephone cord into a wall and lift the receiver to call someone is not likely to be the subject matter of conversation among raving fans. (Although my uncle used to tell the story of when his grandparents first got electricity they’d sit around and watch the light bulb). The fact that a radio station is on the air and plays five songs in a row and has disc jockeys and features is not what makes a radio station remarkable.

Hugh MacLeod says, “It’s not what a product does that matters to us so much, it’s how we socialize around it that matters.”

Great stations have listeners that are engaged and share the station with others–not because of the “radio” things the station does but because of how meaningful it is.

MacLeod says, “Social and personal identity involves a lot of sharing what matters to you most, with those who matter to you most. It’s an amazing thing, when your customer base not only buys your product but also consciously takes individual responsibility for your success.”


Posted: 8/29/2011 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ] - 0 Likes
Category: Technology
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Josh Linkner's Blog   
Josh Linkner 


11 Lessons from Steve        


He's been called the modern day Thomas Edison, the Beethoven of business, and the most prolific visionary since Henry Ford.  Yet as Steve Jobs steps down from the helm of Apple, he has left us with so much more than incredible technology. 


Jobs completely transformed the industries of personal computing, digital animation (Pixar), music, mobile phones, and now tablets.  He created the most valuable company in the world and impacted the way billions of people live their daily lives.  But beyond his accomplishments, he's taught us lessons in leadership and life.  The characteristics he embodied can serve as a roadmap for us all to become better in business, community, family, and personal achievement. 


For all us kids from 1 to 92, Steve's guiding principles can help us live our best life and make the biggest difference:


1) Put Passion First - He followed his heart and let the operational details fall into place.  He refused to put a governor on his burning desire to reach new heights.


2) Never Limit Your Imagination - He always imagined the ideal solution or product and never cut corners or watered down his most potent ideas due to setbacks or fear.


3) Pursue Greatness over Money - Steve didn't chase the mighty dollar.  Rather, he focused on making the biggest possible impact and the money followed.


4) Demand Excellence - Critics complain of his exacting style and "unrealistic" demands.  There's a natural gravitational force of mediocrity, and sometimes it takes an aggressive stance to rise above the sea of sameness.


5) Put Yourself Out of Business - Steve was never satisfied, and constantly strove to be the force of disruptive change that would make the Steve of six months ago irrelevant.  Never clinging to past successes, he maintained intense urgency around continuous reinvention.


6) Challenge Conventional Wisdom - When there were norms, he lived to shatter them.  Nearly every step of his success can be traced to inspired thinking that stuck his finger in the eye of the complacent incumbents.


7) Simplify - 'Nuff said.


8) Ignore the Naysayers - If he listened to the "sound advice" of others, we'd never even know his name.  He never let the fear of others interfere with his own trajectory.


9) Persist - While today he sits victorious, there were many times he nearly lost it all.  There were dark days at Apple, Pixar, and even in his personal life.  Where others throw in the towel, Steve stared into the abyss and never accepted defeat.


10) Never Pigeonhole - Steve wasn't a "computer executive."  He was a visionary change agent and could not be constrained. He realized his calling was far beyond any categorical label.


11) Push Beyond What You Think is Possible - When Steve heard "that can't be done", it only emboldened his resolve.  He constantly drove himself and others to reach new heights.


Whether you're building a tech startup, raising three kids or running a soup kitchen, these indelible philosophies serve as a roadmap to success.  While you may organize your thoughts on your MacBook, communicate with your team on your iPhone, and later jam some tunes on your iPod, the impact of Steve Jobs is far greater than the devices he's provided.  Rather, he's given us a model to reach our full potential.


Steve famously said he wanted to "put a ding in the universe."  You have done that, my friend, and so much more.  The impact you've made is immeasurable, and has inspired a generation to "think different."  Thank you for taking the path less travelled, for conquering the never-been-done, and for leading with purpose.  Thank you for changing the world.


For more information on creativity, visit

In addition to my blog, you'll find free videos, quizzes, articles, eBooks and more to help fuel your creative fire! 

Find us on Facebook  Visit our blog  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTube  View our profile on LinkedIn
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Posted: 8/26/2011 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ] - 0 Likes
Category: Technology

  Mark Ramsey Media 


What Broadcasters can learn from Steve Jobs – the Tao of Steve 

What lesson does Apple’s just-departed Steve Jobs have for broadcasters?

As one Appler once told me, “Steve doesn’t think anybody listens to the radio.” And while this person’s tongue may have been placed slightly in cheek, it’s certainly true that Steve doesn’t think anybody should be limited to what they hear on the radio.

I once caught sight of Jobs on the Apple campus.  It was a beautiful, sunny day, and there was Steve talking to a coworker a few feet away.  As a result of his health issues he’s a slight man, almost unrecognizable in a crowd.  His presence does not shout “charisma,” nor does he seem to intend it to.  Yet his influence on commerce and culture has been unparalleled.

What broadcasters can learn from Jobs is what makes him different from the rest.

What makes Steve different is the force of his ideas and his ability and passion to execute them.

What makes Steve different is a relentless focus on innovation and an obsession on solving consumer problems elegantly, even ones we don’t yet know we have.

What makes Steve different is a recognition that trends are made to be surfed, and by the way, trends are very often made.

Indeed, “what business you’re in” is a function of the opportunities the marketplace presents as seen through the prism of your own company’s competitive advantages.  That’s why Apple is no longer Apple Computer. And it’s why “radio” is no longer the industry that elevated the head of your group to a leadership role.

Jobs knows that everything begins and ends with the consumer and the consumer is us.

Contrast that with the broadcast leader who tends to think many of the following thoughts:

  1. This business hiccup is only a passing phase.  1999 is just around the corner.
  2. We are the Great and Powerful Radio and can enforce our will on consumers if we run enough promos to do it
  3. Don’t worry about Google and Groupon and Pandora – just sell more spots
  4. Everyone who listens to the radio today consumes as much of it as ever – maybe even more!
  5. We can defend our importance among consumers and advertisers even as we trim out all that expensive stuff between the songs

To Jobs, the “passing phase” is a trend worth surfing, and 1999 is gone forever.

To Jobs, the power of Apple is in direct proportion to the passion of its followers and consumers and is beholden to that passion

To Jobs, more “business as usual” will get you fired

To Jobs, consumer behaviors are as fickle or as fixed as the entertainment options which attract them.  A better idea executed well that solves a problem has nothing to fear, not even from a 100-year-old industry with entrenched relationships and billions of dollars in revenue.

To Jobs, you don’t cut your way to growth.  You don’t cut your way to relevance.  You don’t cut your way to consumer passion and continued advertiser interest.

What broadcasters never seem to get is that folks think radio is less important nowadays because so much other stuff is more important.  And “importance” is an outcome of consumer passion, not a byproduct of radio industry marketing and PR.

Do things that make consumers love you, stay ever so slightly ahead of their desires, put your consumer strategy before your corporate one.

Then you will know the Tao of Steve.