Archive for March, 2009

U2′s “No Line” Raises Bar On Packaging

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Leave it to U2 to take the lead in offering music lovers a tangible reason not to merely download their new record, “No Line On The Horizon.” You can also leave it to Bono and his cohorts to go “over the top” in this regard as well.

As Kit Eaton writes in Fast Company: “…U2 is making an excellent case for old-fashioned physical, collectible music” with new box packaging that also includes a DVD, hardcover book, photographs and more. At the same time, some naysayers argue, the special edition set will set you back nearly $100.

Of course, the Irish quartet is not the first group to offer added incentives designed to motivate fans to visit the record store (you remember those, don’t you?). And, boxed sets have been around now for a couple of decades. Yet, you have to admire the style and beauty of the physical edition and a nod to a time when something tangible and in-hand was the norm—and a vital component of the overall music experience.

Media Transformation Dominates Annual Gathering

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

I’m just back from one of the highlights of my year – every year.  This past weekend marked the 24th Annual WJPZ Birthday Banquet, bringing together alumni of Syracuse University’s student radio station WJPZ-FM and other professional communicators, along with current students.  WJPZ has long been the nation’s most listened-to collegiate broadcast outlet and is recognized in the industry as a powerful networking group.

Our alumni are currently working in leadership positions in radio, television, Web, advertising and other related fields, across the country.  Once a year we get together for shop talk, networking and a lot of fun.

This year, though, networking and idea sharing took center stage.  Friday afternoon, I participated in a three-hour seminar at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a range of professionals who discussed the impact the economy and technology are having on the media business. I was the only PR professional on the panels, which discussed the profound changes we see in media every day.  Saturday night, we heard from non-WJPZers like Elvis Duran (whose morning radio show airs in New York, Philadelphia, Miami and Cleveland) and radio agent David Katz about the changes happening before their eyes.

Little did we all know that within hours of our departure, just a couple of miles away, a change that is likely to attract industry attention from around the country, would take place.  In one of those “I Never Thought I Would See The Day” moments, Syracuse’s CBS affiliate WTVH-TV (owned by long-financially troubled Granite Broadcasting) announced today that it would be outsourcing news to its longtime rival, NBC affiliate WSTM-TV.  This has happened for many years in many markets between a station with an established news organization and one that wanted to air news, but not a start-up venture of its own.  Usually, in those cases it was a “VHF” station feeding a “UHF” station.

This could be the beginning of a trend – one that may help bottom lines but not a community’s information.  The two stations try to spin it as positive.  Take a look at their announcement.  Does anyone really feel good about this?

The 2009 WJPZ Alumni gathering will long be remembered for the Banquet in the middle of the most sweeping changes we had, until then, ever seen.

A ‘Site’ For Sore Ears: Ann Delisi Returns to WDET-FM

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Just when you think terrestrial radio has totally lost its mind with the continued ransoming off of on-air talent for the bottom line: Ann Delisi is officially back on the airwaves at WDET-FM (101.9)! It’s all part of the station’s rededication to the City of Detroit, making the station once again a frequency modulation destination.

Debuting this weekend and airing Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4pm, Ann’s show will feature a unique blend of talk and music, including from local artists—something she has always been at the forefront of and is woefully lacking today. My only complaint is that she won’t be on 7 days a week! (with all due apologies to Ann for the suggestion she should work around the clock so that we can enjoy the fruits of her labor and immense talent).

As I’ve said and written before, Ann Delisi is a radio and music revolutionary, visionary and true proponent of not just local music and artists but great music in general (often that which does not enjoy widespread airplay due to industry politics and/or lack of corporate promotion). Her work with the original River (CIDR) in the 90s was among the finest I have ever experienced anywhere; among other things giving talented “Lilith Fair” artists their due and the equal airtime footing they always deserved.

Welcome back, Ann, we’ve missed you! And to WDET: Thank you.