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Pushing Back on DERP

This real-life phenomenon is insidious — if broadcasters don't push back

Thom Callahan is the president of the Southern California Broadcasters Association and an advocate for over-the-air radio, as evidenced in this commentary about the industry’s current state of health. The article originally appeared on the SCBA blog, where you can find more of Callahan’s writing.

The term DERP originated from those little rascals on “South Park” and its literal meaning is simply this: People who keep saying the same thing no matter how much evidence accumulates that it’s completely wrong.

DERP is everywhere of course, but it does seem to be especially concentrated towards broadcast radio. The latest heaping of DERP seems to becoming from the pure plays, which with Apple’s 3 billion dollar jump into the Internet play list space, is now collectively insisting they will finally push broadcast radio aside.

The DERP crowd believes that Apple’s huge base of customers will fall in line and spend $10 a month to hear mostly music they can hear anywhere, while initial research has already concluded that at best, only 21% of the available online listening audience will move to Apple’s new service. Even Apple can make mistakes. Remember the Newton?

Not to be outdone, Spotify wants you to start watching videos (Better CPMs from video than audio no doubt), while Pandora continues to lose money and has stopped reporting monthly subscriber numbers since they have no good news to report. Please note that there is no pure play on the planet that can describe its audiences as listeners, only broadcast radio can do that.

Reason #55 to invest in radio instead of pure plays: Radio has actual, real live listeners that can be counted by Nielsen. Pure plays can only offer a subscriber number, which is like Cable TV, the set is on, but is anyone watching or for pure plays, is anyone listening? Think on that, please.

The DERP also touts that the “connected dashboard” will squeeze out broadcast radio as the auto manufacturers start to charge the pure plays and satellite music services for the beach front property of the in-dash of the future and freeze out the AM/FM band as an option for tomorrow’s motorists. And on and on it goes. What a bunch of DERP!

Reason #22 why AM/FM radio will always be on your dashboards: 88% of all those surveyed insisted that AM/FM radio is a “must have” when shopping for a new car or truck. These potential car buyers are curious about Internet Radio but NOT as a replacement for broadcast radio. Auto manufacturers: Please take note of what your customers really want to listen to the most in your cars and trucks!

Rather than share its audience and welcome legitimate audio competition as radio has always done for decades, the DERP wants to “negative sell” its way to some warped sense of destiny or predictions of the future. And all at broadcast radio’s expense. We get it. When you are reaching for legitimacy, you want to compare yourself to something that already is. That must be the reason they are all calling themselves RADIO at every chance.

The really good news for broadcast radio is the DERP keeps getting it wrong…again.

In southern California, broadcast radio remains as rock solid as ever. Please read that sentence again for your own peace of mind. And now, a few shots of DERP repellant for everyone’s use:

• Total revenue for the month of June 2015 was up 1.1% from June 2014. That’s right, up! (Source: Miller Kaplan Arase LLP, Total Market Revenue, June 2015 vs. 2014)

• Radio’s loyal listening base is unchanged despite all this pure play competition. Our Jan-June 2014 average weekly cume was 10.5 million and for the same period in 2015 it is unchanged at 10.5 million.

• Our listeners also spent more time with Radio as average weekly time exposed grew from 10 hours to 10 hours and 15 minutes over the same Jan-Jun time period YTD.

(Source: Nielsen Audio, Monday-Sunday, 5:00AM-5:00AM, LA Metro, 12+)

Advertisers keep coming to Radio for brand awareness and market share. In the first 5 months of 2015, 380 new advertisers have discovered the power of Los Angeles Radio by investing $22,298,890. Over $22 million in 5 months! This is a remarkable sign of confidence in Broadcast Radio and this is only one market, albeit, the biggest revenue market in the United States. (Source: Miller Kaplan Arase LLP, X-ray, January – May 2015)

Need more DERP repellent? Let’s follow the money by advertiser category

• Home furnishings and floor covers felt right at home with radio as this category moved up by 19.0% through May YTD.

• Drug stores/pharmaceuticals gave healthy doses of radio to their advertising budgets and grew their radio advertising by a whopping 43.4% YTD through May.

• Real Estate/Retirement Communities must see huge benefits to Radio advertising as this gigantic category increased its spending in Radio by 224.3% in May YTD.

And there are more DERP busters to look at by category from May 2015 YTD:

• Financial Services grew by 15.4%

• Healthcare grew by 4.6%

• Restaurants grew by 15.0%

• Department/Discount Stores/Shopping Centers grew by 28.5%

• Auto part/Service grew by 24.9%

• Lawn and Garden grew by 34.8%

May is the latest category information we have as of this writing. However, it’s safe to assume these categories will only go up as the summer season, radio’s biggest months, will only see these categories and more grow even larger on a YTD basis. More to come on that.

We can’t hear you DERP; did you say broadcast radio is in trouble? Please offer any facts now… as we can’t find any, like in NONE.

We could go on and on but you should get the picture by now. We can only assume these clients read and heard the same DERP as well but ignored it as the growth of their business is more important to them that the digital bad mouthing given to Broadcast Radio by anyone connected to the digital space.

Reason #86 to invest in broadcast radio: All of these categories increased their spending YTD for one simple reason. Radio works for them in so many ways; whether it’s the endorsements, LIVE remotes, NTR events, concerts, album parties, sports sponsorships, news sponsorships, reach, frequency, loyalty of our listeners, or the 1,000 ways Radio touches our lives every day. Can any pure play do that?

Please, just say NO to DERP. The facts will always set you, and radio, free.

Broadcast radio is alive and well, and as important, it keeps growing in spite of so much fragmentation or maybe it’s thriving because of all this audio competition from all of the numerous internet pure plays, satellite music, and anything else calling itself Radio but that is not. When consumers get to choose their listening platforms, they always come back to radio.

As a listener, once you get hooked on LIVE broadcast radio, and all it does to entertain us, inform us, confide in us, keep us safe, keep us company, and most of all, keep us connected and involved with our community, as we listen to talent we know and we can trust…

How can any playlist compete with that?

Push back on DERP. Radio and our clients will be stronger for it.