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Rehr: Negativity Is Pervasive and Dangerous

'There has been more innovation in radio in the past five years than in the past 50.'

Negativity was on the minds of a lot of people in Austin.

NAB President/CEO David Rehr made it one of the themes of his opening remarks at the convention. “I believe it’s something that could possibly jeopardize the future of this entire business. I’m talking about the negativity that’s pervading the radio business and threatens to paralyze us.”

He said radio execs feel bombarded by negative and often false messages about radio, and he listed reasons for broadcasters to feel optimistic — perhaps a tougher sell during a week of big national financial news out of Wall Street and Washington.

Among reasons to be upbeat, he reiterated themes NAB has emphasized in recent months including radio’s 235 million listeners, the “Radio Heard Here” campaign and investment in digital technology;

“There has been more innovation in radio in the past five years than in the past 50,” Rehr asserted. “We’ve invested millions of dollars in new technology — HD Radio and new delivery devices, and we’ve made huge strides toward improving the quality and diversity of content. We’re undertaking an effort to increase the number of FM radio receivers in cell phone handsets.”

He believes the cell phone niche alone could bring radio exposure to an additional 260 million consumers.

He said NAB and the HD Digital Radio Alliance are targeting auto makers and dealers with the message that a car is not “fully equipped” unless it includes an HD Radio.

Also, “We’re thrilled that the latest iPhone has radio applications, giving consumers a taste of the best that radio has to offer. In fact, AOL Radio powered by CBS is one of the most downloaded applications for the iPhone.”

He also noted an announcement, reported earlier by Radio World, that Microsoft Zune portable media players will let consumers download or stream songs on the go, and tag and purchase songs from the radio. (During the ensuing keynote speech, the New York Times’ David Pogue also made reference to this news about the Microsoft Zune but also joked about how few of those are in the market.)