Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We Didn't Start The Fire-Bob Shannon

I once worked for a "Group Guy" who talked a lot about how broadcasters didn't have a good sense of history, either of their own station or the industry in general.   He was spot on, and I've seen that time after time over the years.  One glowing exception to that is my friend Bob Shannon, who through his book Turn It Up! American Radio Tales 1946-1996 has captured radio history in a way that few before him had.

Bob wrote an article for a website today, and graciously allowed me to share it with you.  If you have ANY connection to radio, I think you'll enjoy it, and maybe learn a thing or two.

We Didn’t Start the Fire

 | September 11, 2012
The importance of those who came before
By Bob ShannonSpotMedia ServicesPresident
MINNEAPOLIS – “Today the definition of media is changing at a pace that’s almost unrecognizable. It’s an exciting time with unlimited possibilities and opportunities for re-invention. But, it would be sad to forget, or worse yet, to never know what came before and how and why it set the stage for the future.”  
Those are words I wrote in the foreword of my book, Turn It Up! American Radio Tales 1946-1996.  The thing is, they’re true. Case in point, Elvis Presley.
As a child, Presley listened to Southern Gospel, Grand Ole Opry Country, hardcore gutbucket blues, and race music, what Billboard’s Jerry Wexler re-named rhythm and blues.  Before he was 13 – this is just conjecture on my part, but I’ll bet it’s true – Elvis was listening to a local Memphis station, WDIA, where he likely heard 1948’s “Good Rockin’ Tonight” by Wynonie Harris. And by the time he turned 15, in 1950, like every kid within earshot of a radio, there was WLAC beaming out of Nashville re-defining what American nighttime listening pleasure meant, especially in the backseat of cars.
What Presley learned he synthesized: Somehow, he took gospel, country, and R & B and mixed them together to create something new, something maybe even a little dangerous, a new potion the world had never heard before. Without his early influences Elvis would never have become what he did. But without Presley, what came after wouldn’t have either.
“Nothing really affected me until I heard Elvis. If there hadn’t been an Elvis, there wouldn’t have been a Beatles.”  – John Lennon
“When I first heard Elvis’ voice, I just knew I wasn’t going to work for anybody and nobody was going to be my boss. Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail.”  – Bob Dylan
“It was like he came along and whispered some dream in everybody’s ear, and somehow we all dreamed it.”  – Bruce Springsteen
The Fathers and Sons of Contemporary Radio
What Elvis was to rock ‘n roll, Gordon McLendon and Todd Storz, the two men often called the “Fathers of Top 40,” were to radio.  But, they didn’t do it alone. Among the names often lost to history is Bill Stewart. In 1954, right around the time Elvis was recording “That’s Alright, Mama,” Stewart, who’d been with Storz in Omaha to witness and “midwife” the birth of top 40 at KOWH, was in McLendon’s Dallas tightening KLIF’s playlist, creating a cume magnet, and re-inventing radio as a modern medium. Within 90 days KLIF went from #10 to #1.  And it stayed there for years.
But, lest you miss the point, before music (read as records) came to radio, the medium was a giant, and what it did and how it did it still influences what we do today. Sadly, most of us don’t know it or even care.
On October 18, 2011, just short of six months after he celebrated his 101st birthday, Norman Corwin died. Ever heard his name? No? Well, I’m not surprised.
Corwin’s body of work has been described as “too prodigious, perceptive, personal and profound for me to even begin to list.” Whoa! Not only are these grand superlatives but they come from a man who is – I want to say this gingerly – not given to easy praise because, well because, his standards have always been incredibly high and he’s never, ever, accepted mediocrity. So, believe it when Ron Jacobs writes: “If you think it all began with Allen Freed and the rest of the Rock ’n Roll/Top Forty stations and deejays then you might want to learn more about the father of the “Theater Of The Mind” and most things good in radio.”  (Click here.)
You may be saying, “Cool.” My response to that is — I wonder if you know who Jacobs is or why his contributions to American contemporary radio informs most of what is still being done today? Here’s a snippet of his story.
In 1965 Jacobs, along with consultant Bill Drake, re-invented Top 40 at KHJ, Los Angeles. Like many of radio’s success stories, KHJ’s Boss Radio was quickly copied in cities everywhere, by programmers who loved the way it sounded but had nary of notion of how the station was built to reflect the culture of the city it was licensed to; and, by aspiring baby disc jockeys trying to hone their craft and knew a good act when they heard it. (“Good Morgan, Tulsa!”)
“A friend from LA sent me a tape and I was stupefied,” says WPLJ, New York’s Scott Shannon. “Robert W. Morgan’s intelligence and one-on-one manner were an inspiration. When I was designing my early Scott Shannon ‘personality,’ I tried to borrow Robert W.’s speech patterns and intelligence and combine it with some of the Real Don Steele’s energy.”
In 1958, Jacobs flew from Hawaii to Flint, Michigan, where he met Mike Joseph. He recalls that Joseph changed the way he looked at things. “He was into formatics,” he told me, “and I’d never thought of radio that way. Before Mike Joseph there were no pie charts, and no clocks. For the first time, I could picture a wheel and shrink things down to an hour.”  Another Jacobs’ mentor was Bill Gavin, the founder of The Gavin Report and the Music Director of “Lucky Lager Dance Time,” a pre-top 40-countdown show. “Bill taught me discipline. He told me that ‘we’re here to play the hits, not to sell records.’”   Gavin also taught Jacobs how to structure a countdown show, a skill that came in handy when he and Tom Rounds launched “American Top 40” with Casey Kasem, in July of 1970.
But, the Big Kahuna was the show Jacobs produced while he was still at KHJ. It was called “The History of Rock ‘n Roll.” When we talked about it in 2002, Jacobs explained that the program would never have seen the light of day had he not been exposed to NBC’s “’Biographies In Sound,” during one of his first radio jobs, at KGU,Honolulu, Hawaii’s first radio station. (For the record, “The History of Rock and Roll” set the standard for all long-play radio specials that followed, including “Album Greats” and “The Royalty of Rock,” shows created over 30 years ago byRadioInfo’s publisher, Michael Harrison).
As for Mr. Jacobs, he just turned 75 and is alive and well in his beloved Hawaii. Besides radio, he’s the author of numerous books, including Obamaland: Who Is Barack Obama? and his soon to be published tome about football:NFL Locker Room Confessions.
Always busy and always irascible, Mr. Jacob’s body of work, like that of his hero, Mr. Corwin, is too prodigious, perceptive, personal and profound for me to even begin to list.  (What I’m sure of is that I’ll hear from him if he doesn’t like what I’ve written.)  Click here for his blog.
All of us have our heroes and, if we’re lucky, most of us find a mentor or two along the way. For Jacobs, everything he did at KHJ and, subsequently, at KGB,San Diego,  Watermark Productions, Radio Express, on the radio and in print came from what he learned from those who came before and his own sparking intuition.
By the way, I can’t write about Jacobs without acknowledging that one of his biggest heroes and mentors was Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s manager.  “The Colonel became one of the idols of my life. Whenever I produce anything, I ask myself, “How would Colonel do this?” (Omission of the word “the” in front of “Colonel” is intentional.)
Bytes and Pieces 
Harvard was fine, but only to the degree that it helped him reach his immediate goals. Once it didn’t, Mark Zuckerberg, like Bill Gates before him, was gone.
In 1975, Gates left Cambridge, MA for Albuquerque, and left academia to meet Ed Roberts, the man who invented the Altair 8800, the first “personal computer.” Paul Allen and Bill Gates, along with thousands of hobbyists, first read about Roberts and his invention in the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics and by March the boys – and they were still boys – were in the desert showing Roberts the computer language they’d developed, what came to be called Altair Basic. (By the way, Roberts wasn’t one to pay attention to product names and so he left it to the editor of Popular Electronics, Lee Solomon to come up with something catchyIt was Solomon’s daughter, Lauren, who suggested the computer be named after the planet the Starship Enterprise was heading towards that night on television, Altair Six.)  Roberts agreed to distribute Altair Basic and he and the two Microsoft founders worked out a deal that would allow Roberts to earn ownership of the product once he’d achieved a goal based on sales. What the agreement didn’t foresee was that the fledgling MS would and did create other versions of Basic, which they alone would continue to own. This ownership position, prior to the development of MS-DOS in the early eighties, was what Microsoft’s success was built on.
In 2010, when Ed Roberts died Gates paid tribute to his mentor. “Ed was willing to take a chance on us – two young guys interested in computers long before they were commonplace – and we have always been grateful to him. The day our first untested software worked on his Altair was the start of a lot of great things.” Indeed, and Gates never looked back.  Interestingly enough, particularly if you’ve seen “The Social Network,” such behavior rings a bell. But, I’ll leave the dot connecting to you.
In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg left Harvard with no degree, moved to Palo Alto and connected with Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster. Parker, while sensing that Zuckerberg was wet behind the ears, but on the right track, introduced him to the Silicon Valley keepers of the money train. Yes, it really was Parker who suggested it be called Facebook rather than THE Facebook and it was Parker taught Zuckerberg how to build a business and, more importantly, how to maintain control of it.
Another of Zuckerberg’s mentors – and you see this coming, don’t you? – was Steve Jobs. When Jobs died, Zuckerberg posted this message on his Facebook page: “Steve, thanks for showing me that what you build can change the world.”
Jobs, himself, was heavily influenced by a college friend named Robert Friedland, a man described as charismatic and able to bend situations to his very strong will. In Walter Isaacson’s book on Jobs, an Apple engineer remembers Friedland as being mercurial, confident and a little dictatorial. “Steve admired that, and he became more like that after spending time with Robert.”
On The Shoulders of Giants
I know I left out a lot of names. In radio: Marconi, Tesla, Armstrong, Sklar, Drake and Donahue. And, in the computer world: Hewlett and Packard, Tim Berners-Lee (the Father of the internet), and Andreessen. But, my goal isn’t to pay homage to individuals, it is to say that all of us owe a debt to those who came before, and have a responsibility to pass what we’ve learned on to those who will follow.
That doesn’t mean that just because someone is old, he or she has pearls of wisdom. (I particularly like what Bob Lefsetz wrote on this subject a few weeks ago: “That’s what’s wrong with the old farts.  Especially in the music business. They’re so busy resting on their laurels, they don’t want to take a chance, they’re eaten alive by youngsters experimenting in new forms, taking risks.”) By the same token, it also doesn’t mean that those who fly around on the wild and crazy wings of youth have all the answers simply because they’ve just learned how to fly.
Here’s the takeaway: If you’re young and you think you know it all, you don’t. If you’re older and you think you’ve nothing more to contribute, it’s not true. And if you’ve been fortunate to reach what we call old age — like my father, who’ll turn 90 next March God willing — there aren’t enough words to thank you. Because of you, because of what you did, and because of what you left behind for me to build on, I’ve been able to move the cheese forward and give my daughter something to build on too.
I get that we didn’t start the fire, and I believe that the circle will be unbroken.
Bob Shannon, a veteran DJ, programmer, syndication executive and writer, is president of Minneapolis-based SpotMedia Services and the author of “Turn It Up! American Radio Tales 1946-1996.” He can be phoned at 206-755-5162 or e-mailed at bobshannonworks@gmail.com.      

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Arbitron Could Learn A Thing Or Two From Nielsen

From the Radio Beat:

Arbitron, the radio ratings company, has been beset with criticism for its Portable People Meter (PPM) and diary methods of audience measurement.  Programmers in PPM markets readily admit that they have made decisions about what they air and how they promote their stations based solely on the vagueness of the PPM.

It looks like the biggest television ratings company, Nielsen, has seen the light and is making some much needed changes in the way they measure TV and new media usage.  Here's the story, complete with lots of industry jargon:

Nielsen To Overhaul Local Metrics In 4Q

by David Goetzl, Friday, July 20, 2012 7:30 AM
Patrick-Dineen-ANielsen’s overhaul of its local measurement service with set-top-box (STB) data and a new code reader will begin rolling out late this year in the Charlotte, Dallas and St. Louis markets. The new data will be available alongside the current ratings in early 2013, allowing stations an opportunity to evaluate it before a switchover.

Station groups with a presence in the three initial markets -- including NBCUniversal, Belo, Cox and Gannett -- will be able to both explore the data’s reliability and ways to integrate it into their workflow systems over a period that could run six months. The three launch markets currently get ratings via local people meters (LPMs).

As the new service takes hold in the October-December period this year, Nielsen will begin implementing it in five markets that use set meters: Albuquerque, Birmingham, Greenville, S.C., Nashville and New Orleans. Also, the methodology will debut in 12 markets to be announced soon that use diaries.

With 20 markets experimenting with the new methodology by early 2013, the plan is to have the system up and running in most of the country's 210 markets some time in 2014. All markets will have a “parallel period” to examine the new and current systems side by side to get comfortable.

“We want them to start evaluating how they would do business with it,” said Pat Dineen, a Nielsen senior vice president.

A permanent switchover won’t come without lengthy and detailed conversations with clients, some of whom have expressed eagerness to push ahead with the new system. Others have expressed reticence. From stations to ad agencies, all want more detail and assurances.

“They’re not going to give us an easy time on that,” Dineen said. “We need to be very, very clear and very, very transparent. We need to work with the (Media Rating Council) to make sure our methodology works and works for the whole marketplace.”

The new "hybrid" service does not throw out the entire legacy system. Markets will continue to use panels derived from LPMs, set meters and diaries -- although the sample sizes in LPM and set-meter markets will be effectively quadrupled and doubled in diary markets.

Those panels will be supplemented by STB data and code readers. The newly developed code readers are electronic devices that will separately monitor every TV in a home, picking up audio signals from content carrying a Nielsen watermark.

Nielsen's belief is the combination will allow for more precise modeling as the legacy operations provide information on demographics. The STB data offers granular second-by-second viewing data. The code readers serve as a backstop to ensure viewing is not counted if a set-top-box remains on, but no one is watching.

Nielsen believes the hybrid model will allow it to project ratings for a full market, which includes homes that receive only over-the-air TV and others that don’t have a set-top box.

It might also protect against potentially skewed data coming from STBs. For example, the two largest cable operators, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, don’t make data available to Nielsen or any other measurement company.

Right away, data from a huge portion of U.S. homes is unobtainable. And, in a market where one of those leading operators serves loads of homes -- such as Philadelphia or New York City -- using STB information to project results for the full market carries a risk.

Nielsen obtains STB data from cable operator Charter and DirecTV, but concedes it will need access to more sources. Return-path data is a broader term often used to describe STB data and other streams.

Clients have lobbied for some use of STB data, since they believe it could cut down on huge swings in ratings. Nielsen believes the information along with the code reader should offer more stability.

“Until I see data and until I have a better understanding of the complete methodology, it’s hard to say,” said Pat Liguori, who oversees research for the ABC-owned stations.
Clients will have more to evaluate than just TV measurement. The new service is designed to capture multiplatform consumption across TVs, PCs, mobile devices and tablets. With sample sizes growing significantly, Dineen said the plan is to be able to gauge four-screen usage in the homes added.

Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/179200/nielsen-to-overhaul-local-metrics-in-4q.html?print#ixzz21CU7ZRk4

YO....Arbitron!  Do you think you could learn a few things from the people who measure "Picture Radio"?  I do.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Just TRY To Listen To A Radio Station Stream Online

Over the weekend, I tried to listen several times to a very major market radio station owned by a very large multimedia company via their online stream, and I thought my ears would start bleeding.  It was a complete nightmare.

I don't want to mention the station or owner because they would be truly embarrassed to know that their very special programming over the weekend was almost unlistenable if you were trying to listen online as I was in St. Louis.  This company claims to have a "streaming strategy", but by listening to their big broadcast from this very major market, it's clear that whatever they dream of delivering simply isn't happening.

The music content and high powered Air Personalities sounded GREAT.  Its when the breaks came that things imploded.  During the eight or nine minute commercial breaks, I heard commercials start and then get cut off, local commercials begin and then get replaced by streaming spots that ran over and into the net commercial, periods of dead air, the same spots up to four times in one break, and other atrocities that are guaranteed to send many listeners away from the stream.

And let's not even talk about how the stream took up a tab in my browser instead of opening in a new window, so I had to make sure I didn't close it by mistake.  And I NEVER went to that tab to look at the ads the company placed on the page for my viewing pleasure.

I had the same awful experience on my Android phone, where I went to this major multimedia company's app to listen but heard the same brutally bad commercial breaks.

NOTE TO BROADCASTERS:  The future is mobile.  The future is streaming, not those big towers on the Empire State Building or in the middle of cornfields.  If you want to compete with people like Pandora, who know how to run short, smooth breaks, you've got to pay attention to what goes out on the stream during your local breaks.

Please don't send your listeners to the Emergency Room with bleeding ears from poorly programmed streaming breaks.  Thankyouverymuch.
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Leading Social Media Blogger Says "Hire Mark Edwards"

One of the most listened to voices in the Social Media world belongs to Sarah Evans and her blog Sarah's Faves.  Sarah has become a leading Social Media thinker and has just joined the company Trackly as Chief Evangelist.  She's well known in Public Relations and Social Media circles as an innovator, big thinker, and one of the best and brightest in the online world. Sarah handpicked three people who should be working in Social Media or Public Relations and posted their stories on her blog.  I was honored to be one of the three people she thinks should be hired, and here's what she had to say about me and my work.

NameMark Edwards

How to Create Real Relationships With Social Marketing http://t.co/4DfHaWst

Mark Edwards
Dream job titleEmployee. I’m able to help in so many ways that I’ll let you, the employer, decide how I can help you best and what to call me. Three adjectives that describe youexperienced, innovative, connectedIf I’m hired by your organization I willbring unmatched experience, knowledge, enthusiasm, and new levels of success to you.
What kind of  culture are you looking for? An environment that has energy, teamwork, and a culture of cooperation. I’ve worked in small offices, huge offices, and alone. The culture of the organization I join should foster creativity, no matter how many people are in the office.
What’s your most impressive professional accomplishment?  What about personal? Almost singlehandedly and secretly building and launching a brand new radio station, including a full suite of social media outposts and a marketing plan, in 18 days last year in Kansas City. Personally, I’m most proud of my three incredible sons. You can’t do anything more important than being a parent.
How many years experience do you have? 27 as a content creator, brand manager, and marketer using a score of traditional and new media resources.
Where should your ideal job be based? St. Louis, MO because it’s the best place I’ve ever lived to raise a family.
Are you willing to relocate? YES, Chicagoland would be my first choice, but I’ll go anywhere for the right job. I can also use the miracle of the Interwebz to work from World Headquarters in St. Louis.
Want to hire Mark? Email him at edwardsmark@gmail[.]com.
It's truly an honor to be recognized by a heavy hitter like Sarah, and yes, I'm available now for full time employment or project work through Mark Edwards Worldwide.   If you'd like to talk about how I can help your organization, please use any of the methods in Sarah's post to contact me.  You'll be glad you did!
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Friday, May 11, 2012

John Tesh (of all people) erasing the line between streaming service and radio station

The following post is from The Music Meeting, my blog about music for grown ups.

I'm a huge believer that the future of music is mobile, whether it be listening in the car, on a smartphone, or on some kind of device that we haven't even thought of yet.

That being said, I'm very intrigued by a project John Tesh is working on in Los Angeles.  His radio show was carried on an FM station there, but it got taken off.  Rather than try to find another station, John decided to build his own "radio station" on the Internet, complete with streaming audio and mobile applications.  

The highly regarded Internet industry newsletter RAIN: Radio And Internet Newsletter asked me to write about the K-TeshLA project, and here in one handy place are all three parts of the story.  

What do you think?  Would you listen to something that sounds like a radio station even though its only online?  Your comments are welcome below!

RAIN Guest essay: John Tesh (of all people) erasing the line between streaming service and radio station

Mark Edwards is an award-winning radio programmer with experience at WLIT/Chicago, KOSI/Denver, KYKY, KEZK, and WVRV in St. Louis, and more. He's currently managing general partner of Mark Edwards Worldwide, his multi-disciplinary consulting practice.
There’s very little doubt that mobile and personalized content are the future of what is now radio, and in some cases that big tower in the corn field won’t even be part of a “radio station” in the not too distant future.
Multimedia content creator John Tesh may be among the first to see and act upon that future. He's put a radio station online that, in fact, isn’t a radio station or a streaming service; it’s both and neither at the same time. Last week, the entertainer launched K-TeshLA (see RAIN coverage here) a site that looks like a"best in class" local radio station site complete with a 24-hour streaming audio service as part of the package. The only difference between this site and most other Contemporary Christian radio stations is that there’s no traditional radio station connected to the site, just the stream.
(The site was launched the site after Tesh's syndicated radio show was dropped by Salem’s KFSH in Los Angeles. Heard daily on over 300 stations in the U.S. and Canada, Tesh wanted to make sure he was still reaching the important Los Angeles market, and so built what's ostensibly a complete online radio station.) 
The K-TeshLA site is completely localized for the Los Angeles market, right down to showing the local time and weather, working with local charities and churches, and doing actual contests, giving away $100 a day and a grand prize of an iPad. The station is building its own database of listeners, and has wasted no expense in designing an engaging website and high quality streaming player. Both the site and player have deep integration with Facebook, something not found at many FM or AM radio stations.
While the station doesn’t have a mobile site or streaming app yet, K-TeshLA is available on the TuneIn Radio application, and it looks and feels just like any broadcast property on the roster of TuneIn’s stations. Having that parity with traditional broadcast outlets is certainly one of the first steps to leveling out the playing field between stations that have a transmitter and those who are going directly for online and mobile listeners.
Listening to K-TeshLA, one wouldn’t know that it wasn’t a regular FM station. The stream features lots of music, IDs, and Tesh’s “Intelligence For Your Life” content repurposed from his terrestrial radio show, not to mention both national and local advertising.
The big question is, will a localized Internet-only radio station succeed in the world of AM and FM broadcasters and their continuing consolidation into apps like iHeartRadio? We’ll look at that in the next part of this essay.

RAIN Guest essay pt. 2: Can KTeshLA (and other "local" Internet radio) succeed?

Mark Edwards is an award-winning radio programmer with experience at WLIT/Chicago, KOSI/Denver, KYKY, KEZK, and WVRV in St. Louis, and more. He's currently managing general partner of Mark Edwards Worldwide, his multi-disciplinary consulting practice. This is Part 2 of his guest essay; read Part 1 here.
In yesterday’s RAIN, we looked at John Tesh’s hyper-localKTeshLA website and streaming service. Today, let’s tackle the question of how stations like KTeshLA and other locally targeted online only sites can be successful going forward.
John Tesh already has a radio show on more than 300 stations (he launched KTeshLA after losing his Los Angeles affiliate). His show was one of the higher-rated dayparts on KFSH in Los Angeles, so there was already a dedicated local audience for his content, and he was already producing material for his national show. Given Tesh’s recording, touring, writing, and other activities, generating cash from the online venture may not have been as much of a concern as it might be for a standalone business. Staying in touch with a community -- especially without the benefit of a bone-crushing terrestrial signal -- can be costly.
One of the most significant differences between Tesh’s site and the sites of other people trying to “make it” as web radio stars is that Tesh’s site looks great. It's as good as any AM or FM radio station site on the Internet. If anything, the site takes too much from radio stations in an effort to looklike a radio station as opposed to what it is: something between a radio station and a streaming service. While the site carries banner ads, it isn’t plastered with them hodgepodge like some other “web radio” sites.
Taking the time and spending the money to design a world-class website should be the first part of the plan for any webcaster. Clearly, the TeshMedia team considered the visual appeal of their product along with the sound, something rare in the world of webcasting. (Some of the ugliest websites I’ve seen over the last 15 years have been for air personalities putting a show or podcast on the web. They’re littered with banner ads, bad photos, and unusable navigation links.)
A significant expense for the local webcaster is for the stream itself. Beyond royalties and bandwidth costs, some kind of automation system needs to push out the content if it is a full-time format, even if it’s a podcast or constantly repeating three or four hour show. There are ways to do the automation inexpensively, but streaming should not be a bargain basement decision. Great quality, constant uptime, and full-time support are needed for a successful stream, and that costs money. The good news is there are new technologies on the horizon that will significantly lower the cost of streaming, and add personalization and ad-targeting to the stream, helping to generate more revenue.
The world is racing to a mobile, personalized, on-demand model for entertainment, and the opportunity for locally-targeted Internet-based stations is here. If the stations are done right, they’ll generate traffic and response for local advertisers. It can be done, and now is the time to get started on hyper-targeted projects like KTeshLA.
We'll wrap this up with some comments from the people behind KTeshLA and see how their station is performing.

RAIN Guest essay pt. 3: KTeshLA starts "writing the playbook" for radio stations without transmitters

Mark Edwards is an award-winning radio programmer with experience at WLIT/Chicago, KOSI/Denver, KYKY, KEZK, and WVRV in St. Louis, and more. He's currently managing general partner of Mark Edwards Worldwide, his multi-disciplinary consulting practice. This is Part 3 of his guest essay; read Part 1 here; Part 2 here.
Previously in this series, I looked at the differences and similarities between the online-only KTeshLA.com “radio station” and its terrestrial counterparts. Make no mistake about it: everyone working on this project sees it as a radio station without a transmitternot a streaming channel, a supplemental service of some kind, or anything else.
“John told me he wanted KTeshLA to be like a regular radio station,” said Chris Shannon, Program Director. “We’re adding more to it every day and treating it like a radio station.” That’s evident by listening, online or through mobile aggregator TuneIn. (The station recently launched its own mobile apps for iOS and Android, but I found the listening experience on TuneIn to be far superior to the Triton Digital-provided Android app.)
Clearly, KTeshLA is a work in progress; the streaming player lacks artist and title information, for example. But the concept of running a real “radio station” and doing it "direct-to-consumer" -- as in without a transmitter, corporate ownership, or the expense of all of that -- is incredibly attractive to content providers like John Tesh and his TeshMedia Group.
A direct-to-consumer, online- and mobile-optimized radio station could be used for a myriad of purposes: to target a single locale (like KTeshLA), to use technology to serve ads to mobile listenersbased on their location (whether they’re listening to a locally targeted station or a national service), or to serve specific niche audiences (once the dream of HD Radio).
KTeshLA has a direct format competitor in Southern California: Tesh’s former home, Salem’s KFSH-FM. This raises the question of if, and when, KTeshLA will begin a marketing effort to lure listeners away from their FM competition. Once that happens (and assuming Arbitron is encoding the streams of the online station), the real power of a local radio station without a transmitter might be seen for the first time.
Los Angeles, after all, has a significant number of Pandora listeners, and a huge amount of mobile listening. KTeshLA is poised to take advantage of Angelenos' comfort with listening to mobile "radio." Whether it takes months or years, the station could be among the first to be on par with traditional radio. Developments like the "connected dashboard," streaming aggregation applications, and the growing trend among consumers to perceive anything that makes noise on a computer or mobile device is "radio" may make acceptance and adoption of services like KTeshLA easy... perhaps even easier than launching a new format on FM. 
While it may seem odd to call John Tesh a “trailblazer,” his project in Los Angeles may serve as one of the early instances of direct-to-listener "broadcasting."

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