Monday Memo: NAB, Long Time No See

By Holland Cooke


LAS VEGAS — As we did for CES here in January, we were asked to submit vaccination details to an app to earn a QR entry code. Once inside, there are still some masks, and – after three years – lots of hugs. The National Association of Broadcasters wanted to mash-up what had been separate autumn Radio Shows and perennial April NAB Shows this past October…until the Omicron kibosh.

But we’re here now, and the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center is draped with big banners: “Empowering Stories Everywhere.” This is “a reimagined show reflecting a transformed media environment,” with NAB president and CEO Curtis LeGeyt touting “streamed media, whether it be audio or video, ad supported or subscription, live or on-demand, via handheld remote or voice controlled.”

“What Business Are You In?”

“We are servicing a buying community that is also trying to navigate a new space;” and Emmis Indianapolis market manager Taja Graham told this Sunday morning session “They need accountability.” Numerable digital clicks have advertisers now expecting broadcasters to connect-the-dots about how, for instance, “after a spot that aired at 9:00 am, someone walked into that business or called them.”

With those on-air commercials now just one element of an advertiser’s marketing array, “we have to understand where [people] are gathering information, and be there.” Urging that stations need to be “nimble and flexible,” hers has hired videographers to enhance “the stickiness of our content;” and analytics people, to avoid advertisers saying “Wait a minute. You’re my radio guy.”

Leighton Enterprises president Bob Leighton explained that the “Leighton Broadcasting” company his dad founded is now “a marketing company.” He shared that 2021 was “a record year” in which 71% of his revenue came from radio and 29% from his company’s events division and TWO digital divisions, and other arms. And, while “we have had growth in broadcast sales, in real dollars our growth in the last couple of years has been in digital.” The trick, Leighton explains, is to “grow-into those other areas without sacrificing radio.” And that advertisers who get the best results are “long-term clients” who “succeed with branding on radio.”

Another second-generation broadcaster, John Zimmer, president, Zimmer Communications, figures that radio maintains a huge advantage over media newcomers: “We have an easy operating system; and we’ve built trust and credibility with clients that allows us to bring them new opportunities.” His company’s one-stop shop – at – enables Zimmer, he jokes, to tell an advertiser “Gimme all your money and get out of the way.”

Brave New World as all-of-the-above sounds…

Jimbo, take a bow!

In a Sunday ceremony, NAB Achievement in Broadcasting Awards went to NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt and NPR’s “All Things Considered” show. NAB’s 2022 TV Broadcasting Hall of Fame honoree is “The Price is Right;” and the 2022 Digital Strategy & Leadership Award went to Hubbard Radio’s Jeremy Simon.

And this year’s radio inductee is Westwood One mainstay Jim Bohannon, who was unable to attend. In prepared remarks, he quipped that KLWT, his first station, stood for “Keep Listening, We’re Trying.”

Holland Cooke is author of the E-book “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books and “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download here. HC is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke