If I Were a Car Dealer…

I would shape my thoughts and actions as someone running multiple dealerships in ways that would be consistent with my product lines, my staff, my locations, and develop a true understanding of today’s car customers and how best to get them to visit my showrooms over my competition.

I would be focused on the enormous investment I have made in my car and truck inventory and understand that we must “move” these products as quickly as possible as I am carrying a hefty note every month in the form of a line of credit from my bank or banks. After all, once all the cars and trucks are sold to me by the manufacturer, I own them. There are no returns in my business.

I would also understand that while I think and plan for the long run, my investment and the time I need to become profitable is short. My business is right now as every day a car remains on my lot is a finance cost I absorb. So you see, time is never on my side and decisions I make directly impact my future and that of my teams at each dealership. Nowadays, I only talk to business people who appreciate that aspect of my profession. I have little use for anyone who does not. Sorry, nothing personal, but this is my business.

I would only deal with people who understood that basic fact of the auto business as they are the ones who will work towards the “right now” of my business. And yes, I can be short, right to the point, and sometimes less than gentle. That’s not who I am, but rather who I have to be to succeed, and indeed, survive in this highly competitive and fast-changing business.  Continue reading

Sunset for TV and Pure plays…and the Introduction of the SCBA Auto Focus Report

As of now, the “great threat to Radio” is at the beginning of a very slow and painful decline to its ultimate place as another niche audio internet playlist, much like Sirius/XM has become. Of course we are talking about Pandora, whose stock just suffered another bone crushing loss of value (-10%) as investors now know its business model is genetically flawed. We are talking about Pandora, whose ominous audience erosion has been continuous for the past 5 months; both in time spent listening and log in occasions. “Active users” fell again from 76.2 million to 73.4 million as their “earnings guidance” to investors plunged for the second time in three months. Stock Scouter, a service of MSN, gives the stock a rating of only 3 out of 10.

A humbling 3 out of 10 rating for the “next great threat to Radio.” All that hype, all that attention, and all it comes down to is an embarrassing rating for its stock and its business model.

Pandora’s ultimate descent will not be pretty for investors or the “media experts,” but descending it surely is.

An inconvenient truth for yet another start-up trying to be Radio…  Continue reading

The Past is Prologue

You need not have an advanced degree in investing or have Wall Street insider information to see a trend that is so obvious, if we would only spend 10 minutes to really look at it.

2013 was a great year for Radio stocks with most publicly traded Radio companies doubling and/or tripling their 12 month performance. These stunning Radio stock increases can only be attributed to 3 key factors; a greatly improving ad revenue environment, a higher dividend to shareholders, and the realization from trading houses and investors that the ad supported, local Radio model works very well after all.

Why did it take these “experts” so many years to come to the same conclusion all of us in Radio knew all the time? Perhaps we need to understand that it takes most businesses a very long time to become established, profitable, and worthy of the public’s trust, like Radio has.

If the past is prologue, as suggested by William Shakespeare, then perhaps we need to be more cautious on what the financial/media experts are calling the “next big thing”. It is very difficult for any new medium to compete against Radio in the long term which makes investing in companies looking to compete with Radio a very risky proposition.

Here are just three glaring examples of why betting against Radio is a very bad investment decision.  Continue reading

An Important Invitation for Southern California Advertisers

As we all begin a new year, it makes perfect business sense to evaluate your company’s marketing and media strategies and their written objectives. Critical questions must be answered in a quantifiable manner as your organization moves forward;

  • Is our advertising growing our brand awareness and market share?
  • Is our media strategy cost efficient?
  • Are we falling behind our competitors?
  • What are our creative costs?
  • Are we reaching our core customers as well as new customers?
  • Have we met our 2013 objectives?

Can we agree that everyone in your organization has a different opinion about advertising…finance thinks there is too much, sales thinks there is not enough, marketing wants more colorful brochures, creative services wants more production budget…and on it goes.  Continue reading

Radio Rumbles On

I’ve been reading about the “death” of radio for far too long, and would find it all most amusing, if it were not so misguided and plain wrong. Each commentary is as dire as the next. Each story is the same and all you have to do is change the decade and the latest “threat” to Radio and it all goes something like this:

1. TV is killing Radio. “It won’t be long now until Radio is gone,” Billboard Magazine (1960)
2. Cassettes and 8 track tapes in the car will “kill Radio, why would you listen anymore?” (A Music Expert, 1970)
3. The Sony Walkman will “Rapidly eclipse Radio” (A major Advertiser, 1984)
4. Betamax and VHS will “erode Radio listening substantially.” (Local TV station, 1985)
5. The Internet will “destroy over the air Radio listening.” Various. (1990)
6. Consolidation will “turn off listeners in droves.” Various. (2000)
7. Sirius Satellite “will soon replace traditional Radio within 5 years.” – Various bloggers (2007)
8. The IPod “will bring Radio down…once and for all” Various Bloggers (2008)
9. Pandora and “pure plays” will cripple Radio forever” – Various Sources (2010)
10. In Dash “Internet Radio” in cars “signals the death of traditional Radio” Various critics (2011-2013)

Yet for all its competition, known and imagined, from its long line of “expert” critics as well as its own weak PR efforts, Radio is still having explosive growth in many sections of the U.S. and especially, in Southern California. In fact, I would call Radio’s momentum a “re-birth” … growing and adapting in ways all these critics have somehow failed to see. These rants against Radio reflect unprofessional journalism at a high level and are not the true state of the Radio industry today. Rather than just offer my opinion, I think it would best if we all look at some undeniable facts about Radio Today and why it is more popular with listeners and Advertisers than ever before.  Continue reading

AM Radio will Grow and Change, Just like America

This past Sunday’s New York Times article (9/8/13) entitled “A Quest to Save AM before its Lost in the Static” offers another stilted version of the state of AM Radio that is not supported by the facts of AM Radio listenership today in Southern California, and the rest of the country as well.

AM Radio is NOT dead. Indeed, the facts prove that AM Radio remains a constant companion and close friend to millions of LA Metro area fans of General Market News, News/Talk, Spanish News, Spanish News/Talk, Sports, and the quietly growing, but rarely talked about, Multi-cultural audience. The Asian influence is growing all over the country. In brief, much like a changing America, the audience and ethnic background of AM radio listenership is ever-evolving, and fortunately for AM Radio, perfectly positioned for more growth.

Let’s begin with a few solid facts about AM Radio in the LA Metro area, the largest Radio revenue market in the United States, and home to almost 10 million people in LA County, also, the largest populated county in the U.S.  Continue reading

Much Ado about Nothing

Pandora’s continued press barrage about growing revenue, ending caps on listening hours, and their “brilliant” idea of being more like Radio by adding commercial pods was supposed to impress investors and Wall Street. The effect was devastatingly the opposite.

Pandora’s stock plummeted 13% for the week ending August 24 on all this “good news” as investors’ fears about Pandora’s future continued to grow. And in its most deliberate statement about a stock in recent memory, The Motley Fool Investors Newsletter urged its readers to AVOID Pandora stock and sell its shares if owned…”NOW”! (Their word, not ours)

If Wall Street is not impressed with Pandora’s “growth” and so much of its future depends on investor money to survive, is the grim reaper of bankruptcy far behind?  Continue reading