Goodbye Fall Radio Show, Hello NAB Spring

From Inside Radio:

After a money-losing year, NAB will make changes to the Radio Show. The Radio Show has never been much of a money-maker. According to the most recently-released IRS forms, the 2007 Radio Show netted $1.4 million. That was far below the $38 million brought in from the Las Vegas convention that year. Last month’s Radio Show had a red ink finale…. The final tally was 2,507 but only about 700 paid the full registration fee. Although the NAB has looked at combining the fall radio conference with its annual Las Vegas show in the spring, the organization says the two meetings will continue, fearing radio would get lost in the larger event. EVP Dennis Wharton says, “We want to make sure there is a separate radio show.”

A few comments:

First, there has been way too much navel-gazing regarding this year's NAB.  Almost nobody below the top tier attended, and almost every event was light on learning and heavy on theater.  The relevance of the NAB Radio Show is primarily limited to the opportunity to make deals – deals which could just as easily be made in Las Vegas in the Spring.  The "vibe" at the event is irrelevant since the event itself is irrelevant.

Second, much has been made of this imagined difficulty radio has in recruiting younger, fresher faces. But radio doesn't have trouble attracting young employees any more than the local bank or supermarket do. It's the NAB Radio Show that looks like the Picture of Dorian Gray.  I've participated in several events for different slivers of the industry this year and every one of them was, on average, younger than the crowd at NAB.  So don't blame the industry for what is the NAB's problem.

Third, the worry that "radio will get lost" at the Spring NAB is naive.  Radio should get lost there, just as TV and mobile and every other distribution channel mixed and matched on the NAB's own website is getting "lost."  If we refuse to embrace the notion that we are no longer apart from that mix, it will mean our demise.

Finally, how can you possibly defend any event that attracts a mere 700 paying attendees in an industry of tens of thousands?  I have more people downloading just one of my podcasts than paid for the entire NAB. 

What are we really afraid of here?

The NAB Spring Show, unlike the Radio Show, is a terrific event, and you will definitely find me there next year.  And given that radio isn't a separate industry from the other conflating media, why should radio have its own show when even its own members refuse to support it?

Maybe the rest of us know something.

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