Fred Jacobs: Catching Up
Updated: May 31
It has been 515 days since we had Fred Jacobs has been on the show. Back then we were unpacking a lot of the surprising results from a Covid induced Tech Survey.
This time we have the benefit of catching up on three pieces of research that I felt needed discussing: The two Tech Survey's for Public Radio and Commercial radio, and the AQ4 Survey which targets air talent.
The fourth instalment of AQ was released at Morning Show Boot Camp in Chicago in August and it is an eye opening piece of research that is riveting for air talent as it allows them to feel a little more connected in the daily battle of content creation in 2022. You can link to the results here. Fred feels that the research is important enough to share with your radio group. If you over see a number of radio stations and need your owner, VP or local decision maker to see the results, Fred has made himself available and you can reach him at +1 248-353-9030. It takes about 45 minutes.
Matt's Hot Take: If the report were about what your clients thought of you, you'd have a copy on the corner of your desk.
Below is the slide I found the most alarming. The number of talent who don't feel they have enough tech skills, social media skills and a solid understanding of new technology and trends.
I experienced the disparity first hand when James Cridland gave his presentation at Canadian Music Week. When describing the effectiveness of the audio editing program Descript, there were a lot of ooooh's and ahhhh's in the audience of radio programmers and executives.
I then went to check my notes and it turns out that I had alerted James Cridland from Podnews, Rob Walch and Elsie Escobar from Libsyn's The Feed, and Todd Cochrane and Rob Greenlee from The New Media Show back in September of 2019. James Cridland used the tool for his podnews episode the very next day. That seems like an awful long time for that many radio people to be in the dark about a program that more and more podcasters have been using.
A suggestion for radio companies big and small: You need to have someone in charge of Audio Learning and Innovation. Someone in the company needs to be teaching and working with staff on the latest technologies. The industry moves too fast to remain stagnant and your staff is largely out of touch within six months. The same person should also be looking for innovative ways to have audio delivered to your audience. Fred and I talked about his discussion at Canadian Music Week with Tobias Nielsen from Bauer Media who has a subscription radio service. Fred blogged about that discussion here.
Fred and I also talked about their return to the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. Click here to join them.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:00:01
The Sound Off Podcast. The podcast about broadcast with Matt Cundill.... starts now.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:10
It's been nearly 17 months since our last chat with Fred Jacobs from Jacobs Media. In that last episode, we talked a lot about what the Jacobs Media Tech Survey data said about radio during the Pandemic. With the pandemic more in the rearview mirror than the windshield, it's time to bring Fred back to share what he knows from some of the biggest studies completed this year - Of note: Tech Survey, which kind of slid by me because I was in Spain, and the public radio version of Tech Survey that was recently released. But I'm really fascinated by AQ4 which was revealed at Don Anthony's Morning Show Boot Camp that's a coming together of a lot of prominent radio talent. So here we go. Fred Jacobs joins me from the offices of Jacobs Media in Bingham Farms, Michigan.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:56
What am I missing by not going to Morning Show Boot camp?
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:00:59
That's a really good question. I think you're missing a lot, actually. I think what you're missing is a really unique spirit and vibe that you just can't get at any other conference. The fact that it's all talent oriented for the most part, makes it unique. And it's a view of air talent that I think most management teams don't get to see. They kind of see talent sort of uni-dimensionally. There they are in the air studio, they are at an event, that kind of thing. And when you see a few hundred of them together being collegial and sharing with each other and being excited about the industry, it's really cool. I didn't used to love it as much as I do now, but now I find it to be really essential. And then, of course, you know, the research all shows pretty much the same thing, and that's between your music and your talent. One of them is critically important and the other is table stakes. And I think you need to be in touch with the critically important piece. I'd love to see more corporate management people there, if nothing else, just observing just how exciting and how excited talent really is to be a part of this industry.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:23
It feels like it's a more important event now. And to your point, when you started to see that talent was a little more important than music in some of the tech surveys, and when we saw that, then we saw talent come together and more reason to really sort of rally around talent and find the right talent for radio stations. Is there a correlation between the two?
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:02:44
Yeah, I think there is. And clearly that study that we do for Boot Camp, the AQ studies, which have been for them, now show a really disturbing trend and that's the talent with each passing year and COVID might have actually accelerated this. A bit hard to know, but talent with each passing year is even more negative. About their stations and the companies that own them than they were four years ago. And I thought those numbers were putrid, and I didn't realize, you know what, Fred, they can go down and they have every year. So there's a serious disconnect between management and talent that is not getting addressed.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:03:36
And the AQ4 survey, which you have been doing, where you're polling talent, getting a lot of feedback from talent, and then you unveil it at morning show boot camp, and you have a much different audience where everybody's more attentive, nobody is looking at the phones, there's a lot of people nodding along. There's a lot of reaction in the room to people going, yeah and no, and some, oh wows. So tell me how this survey is just so unique in the context of all the other surveys that you do.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:04:06
I'm shocked at all of those things that you just talked about. I mean, not anymore, but the first year that I presented it and to Don Anthony's credit, having this be the very first thing that occurs at boot camp turned out to be a really smart decision on his part. I mean, the study was his idea too. So credit where credit is due, but the fact that the AQ study now leads off (Morning Show) Boot Camp, it's a tone setter. It really, I think, helps talent sort of see the bigger picture. And this is the most engaged audience I get for a research study. And you just wouldn't think on the surface it would be talent, but I think they realize they're invested here, and this is a survey about them and they better damn well pay attention. And they do. They're looking at every slide. They're kind of taking it in. They're thinking, yeah, that's me, or wow, that's amazing, or whatever. And I think it's very helpful to them just in gaining a better perspective. But also that very much their branding, their future, all of that stuff is up to them to a great degree. I think they're all, by and large, very committed to doing a great job for their stations and the companies that own them. But I think ultimately they've come to realize, and maybe the data helps to crystallize this a little bit, that if they don't take care of themselves and their brands and all that kind of thing, they're really short changing their efforts here. And so I think that message is.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:05:48
Coming across and the questions are deeply personal. I thought, do you have a home studio? Is a very personal question, but it gets deeper. You ask questions about mental health.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:06:00
Yes. The first year we've actually asked people to assess themselves, and I was a little concerned that there would be some pushback, and there was really none. I mean, a couple of people commented like, oh, I can see where this surveys going. This is kind of depressing. It's like, well, it's not meant to be depressing. It's meant to find out what's going on with you guys and are your stations offering mental health services? And if so, are you taking advantage of them? So hopefully there is some value there. I mean, we did have a number of people after taking the survey who thanked us for including those questions and also suggesting, hey, if you're not feeling really good right now, for whatever the reasons, don't eat it. You know, do something about it. So hopefully we're making a difference there. I mean, that's kind of part of it. But yeah, there's a lot of personal stuff in there. You're exactly right. And yet these are people who wear their emotions on their sleeves for a living. I mean, these are people talking about their pregnancies and their cancers and their boyfriends and all that stuff. And so for them to answer a few questions that are going to be held completely confidential, they seem to have absolutely no problem.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:07:26
So I'm going to make an attempt here to do a share screen. In The middle of a podcast, which will be exciting. But this is one of your slides, so I think you'll probably recognize it.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:07:36
Oh, that one?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:07:37
Yeah, this one.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:07:39
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:07:40
So this is the slide that really jumps out to me because there was a point where James Cridland was talking at Canadian Music Week and he was talking about the Descript app. And very simply, there was a lot of head turning in the room and a lot of radio people were unfamiliar that you could do audio editing, just cutting out words and using this app. And here's something that's three years old, but then it seems to be reinforced by this slide that you have that really shows that there's talent sitting in studios who are feeling undereducated by the technology around them.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:08:16
And kind of piling on a little bit, not really getting a whole lot of help from their stations or their companies. I mean, they want to learn. They understand that tech skills and social media skills and keeping up with new technology is critically important to their success. And I think they very objectively assess their own skills as being somewhere in the neighborhood of poor to mediocre. And I think they really want to get better. They don't want to be left behind. They don't want the digital parts of their company to just go well beyond them. And I think there's a fear there, Matt, on a lot of people's parts that I'm in the old dinosaur wing of the building here in radio and meanwhile the company's off doing streaming and podcasts and video and all this stuff. Am I being left behind by the technology and by my own company? And God, I sure love training. So, again, you're bringing up some, I think, really important points and part of what I promised this year, both leading into the survey and then at boot camp. So when you say this in front of a few hundred people, you better make good on it. But ultimately the survey, even though it's all made up of their personalities, it's not for them, it's for management. It's for management to have a better understanding of who's in the air studio and who's driving audience and who is responsible for loyalty and all that stuff. And management needs to see it. So my commitment was I'm going to do whatever I can to present this study to the CEOs and CFOs. And up to this point, what day is it today? Can we say the date?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:15
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:10:16
Okay, so it's September 23. Up to this point, I would say I have not been successful at getting this thing presented. So I'm really looking at it like I've got Q four, I'm not going to be traveling as much, that kind of thing. But I really want to present this to as many corporate heads as we'll put up with it. And I'll do it privately, so nobody has to know that so and so saw it. But I just think it's important to get this data out there and then what companies do with it is their own business, literally.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:52
And if anyone is listening to this, fred's contact numbers are in the show notes of this episode. So you can scroll down, hit the button, and your phone will connect to Fred Spatline. It's a red telephone, right?
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:11:03
It is a red telephone. And I'll make the time. I mean, it will require 45 minutes to kind of go through the deck and answer any questions and that kind of thing. And I'd be happy to show it as many times as I need to show it to hit goal here. So, yeah, I want to make sure Matthew, when I go back to pitch AQ five is something that people really ought to do, that I can at least go back and go, hey, we kind of hit goal with last year's study. A lot of corporate people saw it, and maybe things are going to change because data that just lays there and doesn't do anything and doesn't really have an impact or an effect. I've been doing this too long to know that that's oftentimes what happens with all kinds of data. It's interesting. And then people go right back to their ways the next day or the next week. And to me, none of this really matters unless there's a profound impact. And right now, given where our industry kind of is, we really need to do a better job here.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:12:11
And inversely, over in the audio innovation side of things, I mentioned Canadian Music Week. And then it dawned on me that I saw a panel at Canadian Music Week involving someone from Bauer Media talking about subscription radio. And then I thought, oh, wait, Fred, that was you who brought that to us. Yeah, and so I thought subscription radio was really fascinating that you brought it to the forefront, but we don't talk about that here in North America.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:12:40
Well, I had three North American CEOs with the guy from Bower, tobias Nielsen, who's a really interesting dude. He's fascinating. He is like the digital guru for Bower, and he's the one that has really put this project on his back. And again, I think the jury is a bit out in terms of whether it will ultimately be a success. But I think he's got a pretty long runway here with power to get the subscription piece up and running. And I mean, for your listeners who don't know about it, it's really basic. I mean, they've picked off some of the stations in Europe that are very popular and get great ratings, and they stripped them of their commercials. These are music stations, by and large, in fact, maybe exclusively. And I think they've built in. Hope I'm right about this six skips an hour, potentially, so you can kind of listen to your favorite radio station sans commercials and with the ability to go, oh, I hate that Lizzo Song skip. And you've got a number of these skips an hour to be able to use, and it's not very expensive. I think it averages about $3 per subscription. And so, as I said, we had three CEOs from Canada in the US. And I think they were all really intrigued and they had questions for him. But I think at the end of the day, as they would say, they don't feel that as companies, they have enough scale, enough cube, enough coverage, enough reach to make it worthwhile. And they may be right. Yeah, they calculate success differently than we might. But all that said, I think broadcast radio, among other things, has to reassess its basic business model because it's not working. The demand for advertising is probably at an all time low from buyers and clients, and the listening experience sucks. I mean, there's no other way to frame that when you're running nine to ten minutes of commercials an hour. And in order to satisfy the meter gods, you've got to run them in two ridiculously long stop sets. Yeah, the experience for the listener is just far from optimal. If I were sitting in those corner offices, I'd be looking at Bower Media and any other alternatives that might be floating around out there and at least start innovating with some different stuff. So we'll see. I think subscription radio is going to happen. I think people are going to try it. Whether it succeeds or not in the commercial realm, who knows? But we're not going to know until we try it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:15:48
But two big takeaways from Tobias talk was the free research you get by.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:15:53
Using the Skips music research, right? Yeah. I mean, that's better than call out or M scores, right?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:16:01
I think the other one was how there was no demographic that really stood out to who was getting the subscription it could have been teens, but it also could have been 65 plus.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:16:10
Well, there's that, and there's a third piece to it, and that's that. We, from a terrestrial standpoint, have no direct data on our users. Right? I mean, we see the numerous or Nielsen data, but that's just all big box car reach and frequency and cumin. TSL. I mean, what Tobias has in all of these European markets now is data for all of the company's subscribers. So, yes, in addition to seeing what songs they're skipping, he can learn who these people are and he can more effectively program to them. He can more effectively market them in other realms back to advertisers and sponsors, whether throwing events or other things. I mean, revenue is made in lots of different ways besides commercials. Yeah. I think the data from these subscriptions gives him a tremendous advantage over his competitors.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:17:18
What blog piece has garnered the most attention this year?
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:17:23
Oh, God, I have to confess. Maybe it's my age or that I'm writing too many of them. Although I'm not writing any more than I ever did. People are reading it more, which is flattering, but I'm not writing anymore. But crazily, I don't remember them generally, a week after they've published, they go away. Occasionally, somebody will go, hey, you know, that post you wrote last month about Nielsen was just unbelievable. And they're going on and on about it, and I'm sitting there listening to them going, what are they talking about? So I kind of lose focus sometimes a little bit on the specifics. Clearly, though, when I'm writing about talent, that always is a thing. There's no question about that. More and more sales and marketing are becoming bigger issues too, in terms of why can't we move the needle, why can't we more effectively market our assets? That kind of thing. And those kinds of blog posts didn't used to do very well before. Paul used to joke, if it's a blog post about sales, it will absolutely stiff. And that was kind of true. But it's not true anymore, so that's kind of interesting. I think people have gotten to know me better. I am, for better or for worse, writing more about personal stuff in there in terms of what I do and how things affect me and how I got to this place and all of that. And I think people enjoy that in much the same way you like to know what your favorite dish jockey is about when they're not on the radio, that kind of thing. I think the personal piece has really been an important part for me. I know when I want people to pay attention to what I'm writing, if I can find a way to weave in some personal information and I don't get too personal. I mean, I'm not the kind of guy who posts pictures of my children on social media. I barely talk about them in the blog. It's always in passing, but the more personal I am, the better accepted the posts tend to be in just a.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:19:54
Second more with Fred as we dive into brand safety. How do you protect the shield when something goes wrong? And what about the future? Well, that gets unveiled this January at CES. And what's the difference between the tech survey for public radio versus commercial radio? We'll ask that very random and broad question. And there's more, including connection points to all of the Jacob's Media research we've spoken about. And that picture of the slide I put up on the screen to Fred earlier. And if you're going to the NAB in New York, you'll see Fred and his brother Paul received the 2022 National Radio Award, which is going to be passed out of the Marconi on October 19. It's going to mark the first time the award has been given out to two people. Details on that and everything else, including a free transcript. It's at soundoffpodcast.com.
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The Sound Off podcast With Matt Cundill
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:21:00
Earlier this week I caught the tech survey for Public Radio. And then I remembered I did not dig too deeply into this year's tech survey for commercial radio because I happened to be in Europe at the time. So I guess the question is between the two of them, how are they notably different?
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:21:20
Wow, that's another whole podcast. The commercial radio people tend to be more meat and potatoes, and that's no knock on the audience or its education. But the public radio people are in it for a different purpose, right? They by and large tend to support these stations financially. They recommend them more. I think in some ways they are literally more invested in them. So you see that come across when you're a being the two studies. All that said, though, I mean, personality is clearly more important in the commercial realm than in the public realm, which by and large is not a personality driven ecosystem. Maybe it should be. I think it would help them, actually. In fact, I did write a blog the other day about the importance of public radio stations here in the US. Not just being about nationally syndicated programming, but digging more into their local region. And you're seeing public radio stations doing this, I think with personality on the one hand, but also, believe it or not, physical structures. They are creating buildings that are meant to be visited by the audience. A couple of great examples. KMFA in Austin, Texas is a classical station that has a building that is well on the way to becoming not just where the radio people work and broadcast from, but really a center for music and cultural gatherings, activities, education, that kind of thing. And the audience gets it. And then WFAE in Charlotte, which is a great NPR news station, just announced plans to build this whole kind of community center structure. And I think a lot of that is based on the fact that many of the other media in the market are just not what they used to be, whether it's the newspaper or the commercial television stations. And you're seeing public radio leaning more into being the local news, not authority as a commercial radio word, but voice source, right, that type of thing. So, I mean, the studies are similar, but they're different. And I just came back from the Public Radio Program Directors Conference, and they throw me on stage at that thing. And when I'm doing more with the data this year and I think one of the reasons why in both studies the data is getting more traction is that I am spending less time doing these data dumps of, hey, there's a lot of really great information here. Isn't this cool? And I'm reserving more time at the end to get more tactical and strategic about, here's what we can do with this. There are no one size fits all solutions. I am a consultant, after all, and I really believe that. But there are ways to put the data to work that maybe stations don't always think about. And I think part of it is my responsibility as a researcher to kind of point to them and say, you know, you could be thinking about this. This is one way to interpret the data. You might want to think about this. I'll give you a great example. You hear the question all the time in public radio. We have only so many avails to promote and market our station. You know, what's the best use of our promo time? Should we be talking about how you can listen on Alexa? Or should we be talking about how you can listen on a mobile app? Or should we talk about our podcasts? And the data makes it really clear. Those god awful ugly pyramids that we put together and talk about are actually a tremendous hierarchy of what people do. And when you look at the percentage of people who own a smart speaker versus listen to podcasts versus own a smartphone and download apps, it's not even close. I mean, it's all about mobile. If mobile isn't coursing through every content piece at the radio station, you're missing an opportunity to meet the audience where they are. So to me, that's kind of part of my responsibility as the research person here is to point those things out, kind of pois, if you will. And again, it's ultimately up to them to figure out how they want to interpret that into a tangible action step. But it is my job to point it out that there are great potentials here if we lean into the data and make it work for us.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:26:33
Yeah, I can't remember what you pointed out, but you brought to everybody's attention. And I don't know if it was a website or an app, but people could connect to the donate button for the monthly donations to public radio. So you may not want to give up whether it was an app or a website, I can't remember. But yeah, there's a connection.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:26:55
It was actually both because there are a lot of people that do use the app for donation, but you rarely hear stations talk about that and it really is a great opportunity to take advantage of the mobile app experience. Some of the stuff is basic dot connecting, but as you know, research dollars have shrunk in both commercial and public. A lot of stations don't have the resources to know these things. And these tech surveys have actually turned out to be pretty useful, not just in their kind of long term track ability, but also kind of as a tie breaker, as a way to, okay, let's have this conversation about smart speakers. But instead of going back and forth and not coming to any resolution, let's use the data as a way to kind of better understand the environment and then make intelligent decisions in terms of the tactics that we can apply to actually put this stuff to use.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:28:02
One of the things that you do point out in both the surveys and you're really one of the only ones who highlights this because spend a lot of time talking about podcasting and how it's growing, and now 40, it's 50, it's 60% of people who might know it, but you have some data largely from people who listen to the radio who are the podcasting nevers. I love the podcasting never stories and you'll circle it and there's a lot of people just not interested in committing to a podcast.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:28:35
Yeah, I think there's two podcast findings that make people in podcasting uncomfortable, and that's one of them. It's the people who just don't get there and may never get there. Some of it, I think, is an aversion to just wanting to listen to spoken word programming, which is what most of the podcasts are. But the other issue, and we haven't asked the question in the past couple of years, it's time consuming and I don't think it's going to change very much. But we did spend some questionnaire real estate asking the podcast numbers, what's the problem? Why don't you do this? And to a great degree, the reasons revolved around, I don't get it, I don't know where to find them. I don't know the technology here. I mean, basic meat and potatoes kinds of things, but clearly repellents to actual listening. And when you think about on demand video like Netflix versus on demand audio like podcasts, the degree of difficulty of accessing programming on one platform versus the other is rather fast. Netflix may have too much stuff and you have to scroll through too much of it, but it is pretty discoverable and it's really pretty simple. And it's the first thing that you see when you log on. So there's that piece and then the other piece that nobody wants to talk about is the reality that when you are a podcasting user, you are very likely going to be using less Am FM radio as a result. And it's a zero sum game. Maybe the audio pie has expanded since podcasting has become popular, but there's only so much audio people can listen to in a day. And if you're a core podcast listener, chances are you're listening to less realtime radio. I mean, that is a fact and for some reason nobody wants to look that one in the eye. But I think that's just one of those realities that you can't be in two places at the same time.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:30:52
So when I hear that in a tech survey, and I think I did hear it the other day when you were talking about the public radio one, and that's when you go to podcast, you're not necessarily going to come back to the radio. It's not a complimentary platform between the.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:31:07
Two of them, not even close. And so I think it really becomes a dilemma for individual stations. I mean, maybe big companies like Iheart or Odyssey or whatever have just made their decision, we're going to lean into podcasting, damn it, we don't care. We need to be in the space. This is where the money is. And if it has a negative impact on broadcasting, oh, well, we can't do anything about it. I think individual public radio organizations, though, are in a different space and time. I mean, they're all basically individual fiefdoms, often owned by universities. They can go in a variety of different directions, they can produce podcasts or not, and because NPR is, they're sort of still in that space. But the cool thing about public radio tech survey is that it did offer up a couple of solutions. I mean, it opened the door to the idea of a daily podcast like the Daily, but that is locally or regionally produced. And there's already a few public radio stations doing this. At the PRPD conference there was KCUR in Kansas City and Ku Ow in Seattle, both on stage talking about how they have deployed existing staff to create a 15 minutes podcast every day. That is daily focused. And by the way, Matt, 15 minutes is the max length on those things. Gone are the days of 45 minutes 1 hour podcast in public radio world. They get it. They've got to be shorter if they really expect people to hang in. So the daily local podcast is clearly an outlet here. That's the other issue with public radio is that I think everybody's trying to make cereal, not Rice Krispies, but the podcast cereal. And the problem with that is there's only one cereal. And even if you want to lean into a complex. True crime or whatever it may be, kind of podcast. It's expensive, it's time consuming, and you may not get your money back. I mean, there's been a lot of situations in public radio where they've produced award winning podcasts that have been canceled because there is no ROI. They can't make back the money that it takes to produce and market these podcasts. So I think sometimes we like to think of podcasting being in a mature phase, but between the podcast numbers on the one hand and the fact that this ROI piece is not exactly perfect and then, oh, by the way, Discoverability leaves a lot to be desired. There's a lot here that is not optimal for the average public radio station to be able to operate effectively.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:13
You were not at podcast movement, so you missed all the fun.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:34:16
Yeah, I did.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:18
But you didn't miss the fun online, I bet. And that was the Ben Shapiro appearance. When he showed up, he shook a few hands.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:34:24
Yeah. Did you see any of this?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:27
I did not. But I did stop by the Daily Wire for the free popcorn they were offering.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:34:32
And it was good.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:33
Yeah, it was pretty good.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:34:35
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:37
I wasn't really paying attention to the popcorn I was eating or where it came from, and I really didn't care too much. But I think a lot of this comes to around brand safety. And so when you look at what happened, what can you speak to about brand safety and what lessons can we draw from it? The two I pull away, are you going to pay attention to how you react? You got to pay attention to where you react and your timing.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:35:03
So I wasn't there, which kind of gives me an excuse to kind of duck the question a little bit, because I read what I read, and what I read was mostly on Twitter, so there's that and then some of the articles that were written about the Shapiro incident and who was offended and who is not and all of that. I think it's a really sad commentary, honestly. I understand that everything has become political at this point, and clearly there's a lot of politics on the broadcast radio side. We just don't talk about them anymore. Sean Hannity can show up at The NAB, and who cares? He's just another personality among many and a successful one. I mean, no doubt about that. But as far as what his politics mean or whatever, if you don't particularly prefer what Sean is talking about, then you just ignore him and go the other way. I mean, in terms of the other people who might be in attendance as a result of Sean being there, I mean, to me, that's really on the event. Sponsors themselves to anticipate this, and obviously they didn't. And look, it's a really weird thing to say because I like Dan and Jared a lot. I think they're really good people. And I think their intentions are great, but they're not program directors. And what program directors know whenever you kind of dip into the controversial thing or you're doing something that has a tendency or a possibility of going wrong, great program directors sit there and think, okay, we're going to do this. These other things could happen. We can control some of them, we can't control all of them. But what are we going to do? How are we going to be prepped? Are we going to have security if this happens? What are we going to do if that happens? What are we going to do? I mean, programmers prepare for the worst, hope for the best, but they prep. And I think in this case, somehow they didn't anticipate that something like Ben Shapiro showing up could happen and could really throw things off. So to me it's more a matter of kind of understanding that when you're in this game, you got to prepare and you got to make sure that you're buttoned up security wise and that everybody understands what the deal is.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:37:49
Fred, what do you have going for the rest of 2022 and what can we look forward to?
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:37:56
So I've got one more tech survey to present for the Christian Music broadcasters. I've really learned a lot about that space. It's fascinating. So that's coming up soon. They're really great people to work with. I think a lot of people outside of the Christian music community don't really understand what's happening there and why it's very effective and why it's a really valid form of radio that, by the way, has the highest net promoter scores in terms of recommendation, word of mouth of any platform in all of radio that I've ever seen. They leave the league every year and it's not even close. Public radio is actually slipping a little bit, which was kind of a thing this year in the public radio tech survey. But I can tell you in the Christian Music Radio survey, it's actually ticking up, which is just remarkable because it's at a ridiculous high going in. So we've got that going on. God, can I talk about the NAB thing without just sounding like an egomaniac? Paul and I are about to receive an honor in New York in October. The NAB has this National Radio Award, which is like their highest level prize or award, and they're giving it to me and Paul, which is really remarkable. I thank them so much and give them so much credit for realizing that the company is not just me. I mean, I may have started it and for a long time I was the face of it, but Paul is every bit the company that I am during certain months of the year more. And so the fact that we're both going to be up there on stage accepting it is really a tremendous honor. It's very humbling. And the other part of it is they don't give it to people like us. If you actually look back at the past year's recipients, I mean, it tends to be broadcasting execs owners or people like Howard Cosell. Believe it or not, Howard got the very first one of these. So when I look at past recipients and I just go, wow, how did we end up in that August group? It's really cool, and I think it kind of validates what we're trying to do, which is to make a difference in this industry, to leave it in a better place than we found it, to help it get better, to help it survive and thrive. That's really what we're doing here. When you think about all the different projects that we've got our fingers in, that is one of the common threads. The last piece is we're getting ready for CES 2023. We're going to do multiple tours out there. I think the event will be back maybe not to the degree that it was in 20 18, 20 19. Believe it or not, people forget there was a CES in 2020. That happened right before the pandemic. There was a very normal CES. There were 180,000 people at that thing. So I don't think they're going to have that many this year. But I think it's going to be quite a bit more populated than what we saw last year. And we're really excited to be back on the tour bus, as it were, because I think that's fun and I think the innovation thing is really catchy catching, and I think it's an important part that Radio needs to lean into here. We can't just mail in the same performance every year. We've got to think innovation if we're going to keep this industry vital and alive.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:42:01
Well, it's always fun to see who out Google's Amazon and who out Amazon's google. I love seeing those marketing reports, but I will point out that your tour does book early and fill up.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:42:14
Yeah, and I think that's going to be the case this year as well. We're getting great initial interest. We haven't even really put it out there yet. I think there's a press release going out in a few short days, so it's all been kind of word of mouth and past participants. Those are the people that we contact first. If you've done one of these with us before, you ought to have the first right of refusal if you were. So yeah, I think it's going to be big fun. And we're hearing from the CES people that there's going to be a whole metaverse thing there, which obviously will have all kinds of reactions. And people from, Are you kidding me? It's all bullshit, to, oh, I really want to learn about the metaphor. I don't know what's going to be under that tent, but I'm excited to know. I think it's our obligation to lean into these new technologies. It doesn't mean that they're all going to end up being the internet or iPhones or whatever, but I think we've learned enough along the way over the years to know that sometimes our first impressions of a new technology are inaccurate or maybe even undercut the eventual impact that they may ultimately end up having. So that's the beauty of CES. It's a great tone center at the beginning of the year. As much as I abhor going out to Las Vegas on January 3, I mean, the timing is just abysmal after the holidays. The flip side of that is it's a great way to start a new year. I mean, all that innovation, you can just feel it kind of circulating through the event. So I'm psyched.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:44:05
Wasn't there a toilet that did something funny a few years ago?
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:44:09
Actually, toilet technology is far ahead of some other devices, but oh, yeah, there are toilets that will clearly track your results and let you know if the outcomes are changing for whatever the main reason. And these are expensive toilets, I might add. I mean, many of them are in the $8,000 range. And high tech toilets, who knew?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:44:39
Well, I know you weren't big on the Google Glasses turning to what you thought they were, but I did see some Amazon glasses at Podcast Movement in the Art 19 booth.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:44:51
It's coming. It really is. Yes, I was a glass hole, as I love to say in every possible way. I went out and bought a pair of Google Glass, if you will. I think I paid about $1,500 and it's sitting up here somewhere or it's in my sock drawer at home, one of the two. Hopefully I'll be able to unload it on ebay one of these days. But no, the tech glasses are a thing. And believe it or not, Matt, some people are predicting that smartphones in another ten years will be gone and that we will use our glasses to be able to do all the things that the smartphones have been doing up to this point. And for those people who have a smartwatch, I think you already begin to start understanding the impact that wearables have, and something that you're actually wearing on your eyes, by your ears can be very, very powerful. So, yeah, I think you're right. I think there's another whole revolution coming and I know it will be at CES.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:46:00
Fred, thanks so much for being on this show yet again. Love having you on.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:46:04
It's such a pleasure to be here. You asked great questions and you really caused me to dig in, make sure that I'm giving you the best possible responses. So thank you for having me again. I hope this won't crash your downloads for whatever week you put this out there. But now, seriously, it's always fun. It's always fun talking to you. When am I going to see you next? What conference are you going to be at?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:46:28
I don't know, I have nothing planned.
Fred Jacobs (Guest) 00:46:31
Well, come on out, maybe do Joel Denver's thing. Although I don't know whether Joel's doing that in person this year or whether it will be virtual again. I guess we're going to have to find out, right?
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:46:43
The the Sound Off podcast written and hosted by Matt Cundill. Produced by Evan Surminski. Social Media by Courtney Krebsbach Another great creation from the the Soundoff Media company. There's always more at soundoffpodcast.com.