Colliano on NPR

Jerry Del Colliano, of the popular Inside Music Media site, has some words of wisdom for NPR CEO Vivian Schiller:

Schiller is the perfect Wall Street mistress of NPR — the CEO who is going to do for radio what it hasn’t been able to do for itself during the onset of the digital revolution these past ten years — dump the word “radio.”

But alas!

Most of that time NPR was run by — and important decisions made by — dare I say it, radio people not Wall Street Schills. That is, them that brung NPR to its powerful position in the mind of listeners were radio people. Radio people — the kind who knew before their terrestrial brothers and sisters that the word “radio” would have to be expanded from terrestrial broadcasting to digital, Internet and mobile content.

Expanded not expunged.

These same old radio people are the ones who must now suffer fools lightly by watching their CEO miss the entire point. It’s not that radio was so bad — it was that radio needed to be updated, reinvented, refreshed, reinvigorated and relaunched….

I don’t know what has happened to the media business.

A longtime friend of mine who knows all about these things said that consolidation would never work in radio because it is a local business run best when it is kept small and diverse.

Jerry cites as failures in the “radio biz” such mastodons as Clear Channel, Citadel, and Cumulus, whose manifest destiny model of acquisition and consolidation rubs him wrong:

Radio folks made all the NPR decisions before Vivian Schiller came along and she is now showing she doesn’t get it at all — just like the three sorry examples I mentioned above. Schiller came over to National Public Radio from The New York Times and CNN. How are those two alma maters working out? The Times slipping. CNN already slipped.

His conclusion:

I’m writing about this because consolidators may have brought shame on themselves and the radio companies they inherited but they cannot shame the radio industry without our permission and I, for one, will not let them. Secondly, it was radio people who did all the good Internet, mobile, social networky things that made NPR a leader as tomorrow’s content provider. Terrestrial radio was part of their genius — but they added the critical difference.

Radio people.

And finally, we would all be wise to proceed cautiously when trashing radio as opposed to those who ruined it. In fact, take a page from Tim Westergren as he looks to localize customizable Pandora Radio. NPR — or whatever you call yourself — get to work and help your local affiliates be local affiliates not just repeater radio for the network feed.

Amen, brother Jerry.


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