Monthly Archives: October 2006

Losing the Air

The inevitable has come to be: liberal talk radio network Air America has filed for bankruptcy.

This media midget filed, listing liabilities in excess of $20 million and assets of only $4 million. Considering the massive amount of legitimacy and media coverage, this supposed answer to conservative talk radio shows like Rush Limbaugh ends up not being worth the going rate for one Erie radio station.

Here’s why it didn’t work: they violated the rules of commercial broadcasting. No matter youÂ’re your agenda or good intentions you will crash and burn unless you accomplish the following:

  1. Market your station – they did very well with this, considering the MSM gave them millions in free publicity
  2. Attract listeners – check these top markets Arbitron ratings (station with Rush in parentheses):
    a. #1 New York – WWRL – did not show (WABC 3.6)
    b. #2 Los Angeles – KTLK 0.9 share (KFI 3.9)
    c. #3 Chicago – WCPT 0.6 share (WLS 3.0)
    d. #4 San Francisco – KQKE 0.6 (KSFO 3.3)
    e. #5 Dallas/Ft. Worth – no affiliate (WBAP 3.4)
  3. Sell advertising – when you have to have a big red bold “Advertise With Us” on the front page of your website, that tells me you are having difficulty connecting with the dollars
  4. Make a profit – well, we know the answer to that

If there is one thing that’s certain is that radio station owners will flock to the latest format if they see ratings and revenues results. With Air America’s track record, I’m forecasting the demise of the short-lived “progressive talk radio” format.

What’s it gonna take for Erie?

Read in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week about the Lawrence Convention Center needing $2 million in Regional Asset District money to plug its deficit and I got all grouchy about the Erie Convention Center.

Look, I’m a guy who has been to a lot of conventions. I used to be the exhibit manager for my broadcast marketing company back in the late 80’s. I bought, outfitted, and manned the booth (and hospitality suites). In the last 16 years I’ve averaged a convention a year, big and small, both in broadcasting and now in the church conference field. My point is that if a convention center in a hub like Pittsburgh which has strong air service, many hotel rooms, good nightlife can’t break even after all of these years of operation, there is little hope for the Erie Convention Center.

I’m thinking that maybe this one time, the naysayer’s got it right. We probably would have been fine with a strong bayfront hotel with banquet rooms (ala Scott’s Ambassador) as opposed to this behemoth that has now crashed through the century-million mark. We have the Tullio Arena for large exhibitions (remember when it was called the Tullio Convention Center?).There may have been a solution to add the meeting room space to the side of the building.

It makes me suspect that this Convention Center was more a money grab from the state, because “we deserve our fair share,” as opposed to a really-well thought out idea.

What kind of impact would be made on our future if we had $100M available for technology incubators, or venture capital for entrepreneurs? As a big Jim Collins fan, I always try for the “both/and” opportunities, but given the climate in Harrisburg and listening to the Governor’s Office, we have to prioritize our requests.

Hey, C3, city/county council, regional chamber-what’s the agenda for Erie? Something tells me that salvation isn’t coming with name badges and 10 x 20 foot booths.