(By Mike McVay) There hasn’t been a session that I missed this year. It was one of the absolute best Radio ink Prediction of the conferences I have seen to date. They keep improving every year. I say this as someone who has moderated sessions in the past, but not this year.
Television joined the event this year, and while I consider myself an audio person, there was a lot to learn from the video side of the business. I enjoyed the different perspectives shared by industry leaders and those who spend huge amounts of money as advertisers and marketers.
Debra O’Connell, president of networks for Disney Media & Entertainment and Bill Wilson, CEO of Townsquare Media, launched Forecast when they were led by president / editor of Radio Ink and Radio & Television Business Report, Deborah Parenti. They talked about what the future would look like. Disney, and all of its many media and entertainment tentacles are bigger than anything we know of the radio side. Townsquare is unique in that it is a digital business that come own a radio group.
Ms O’Connell explained how television is evolving rapidly with greater digital distribution. All the major networks launched apps several years ago, with the aim of competing with Netflix, Apple TV, etc. This means you no longer need live, cable or satellite TV to watch your favorite network shows. While it hasn’t been said, it begs the question, aren’t you competing with your own affiliates?
What was asked, which was really poignant, was âwhat about local television? Debra was brilliantly candid and insightful in responding to âlocal news, local sports and local eventsâ. This commentary combined well with an afternoon session that discussed the value and growth of local radio. Led by Larry Patrick of Patrick Communications and Legend Communications, local broadcast owners Bud Walter (Cromwell), John Caracciolo (JVC), Brian Lilly (Lilly and SJL) and Dujuan McCoy (Circle City).
These broadcasters explained how they refused to allow the pandemic to interrupt their service to advertisers and how they served their communities. The session made it clear that, in the case of these panelists, local talent with local content has real value. One of the panelists called his market “local radio” and noted that appealing to a “small market” was an unfair characterization.
Luncheon guest Nathan Simington raised his eyebrows as during his speech he mentioned that he did not expect to be selected as FCC commissioner. This honesty, on the part of an appointed official, was refreshing. Just like his answers to some tough questions asked by some in the crowd.
My favorite panel was the one that featured Deborah Wahl, General Motors Global Marketing Director, General Motors, and Doug Ray, who is Product Director, Americas and Product Director, Global Media for Dentsu International. They were interviewed by American Urban Radio Networks CEO Chesley Maddox-Dorsey. How often do you make to meet the former CMO of McDonalds, PulteGroup, Chrysler, Cadillac and Lexus? All this before joining GM as CMO.
It was revealing to hear Ms. Wahl talk about GM’s commitment to a fully electric future and noted their recent entry Cadillac Escalade and the new All Electric Hummer that is about to be released. While I’m worried about the strain on the power grid and whether or not I can drive the eight hours it takes to get from Cleveland to Nashville to visit our children and grandson, Deborah m ‘got excited about the attention to -Automatic entertainment and radios are part of the car.
If anyone was concerned about the departure of current NAB CEO Gordon Smith, their concerns should be assuaged, as we’ve heard from both the senator and new CEO Curtis LeGeyt. The two worked together for most of Gordon’s time at NAB. Young LeGeyt has proven to be knowledgeable and concerned about those things that have been bothering us all lately. I liked what he had to say about where the NAB is going, what the organization should mean to us and how it will develop in the near and far future.
The 2022 forecast ended, as in the past, with the super executive session. This panel still features the media executives, which this year included television, and usually has a strong host who asks the tough questions. Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates, held this position this year. The panelists were Brian Lawlor, president / local media, The EW Scripps Company, a repeat appearance by Deborah O’Connell, president of networks for Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution. Bill Wilson, CEO of Townsquare Media, and Caroline Beasley, CEO of Beasley Media Group, who was surprised by an impromptu Happy 60 chante Anniversary at Beasley Media Group.
The session provided a variety of perspectives on the future of media and advertising, and some uncertainty as to why the media evolved so rapidly during the 2020 pandemic. The general consensus is that listening habits and audience viewing, and their use of a variety of entertainment platforms, sped up at least five years faster than they would have otherwise. What is unknown is whether this new, faster pace of discovery and adoption will slow or accelerate in the post-pandemic era.
A special SHOUT OUT to Juliet Huddy, Podcaster and a talent on WABC Radio, who hosted Forecast 2022. She kept the agenda on time and did as good a job as I have seen of silence a great host of media types seeing themselves for the first time, in person and not on Zoom, in almost two years.
Mike McVay is President of McVay Media and can be contacted at [emailÂ protected]