The Radio Zoo – Time for something new

The lions and tigers and that kind of stuff 

They have up here now are not quite good enough.

You see things like these in just any old zoo.

They’re awfully old-fashioned. I want something new!


Catradio Pandora2

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Lions and Tigers and that kind of stuff.

As I was preparing for this post and contemplating the above thought from young Gerald McGrew I received an email from one of my sales and marketing mentors, Peter Weedfald discussing the future of radio. His email was a sharing of thoughts and research that shows that “although radio listening remains healthy as a percentage of media usage, a number of varying realized formats have muscled onto the scene over the past few years distracting and disrupting radio’s monetization opportunities: social networking, MP3 players, Internet radio, Podcasting and satellite radio (and let’s not forget downloaded apps and widgets abounding).”

As I read Peter’s email I realized that present day terresterial radio is not quite good enough, and it appears that we all want something new. So who leads the pack in this new radio zoo? According to Vision Critical Research, Pandora is the something new that leads in this new radio zoo.




Radio is awfully old-fashioned

It just so happened that a few days after reading through Peter’s email I receive an invite from none other then Tim Westergen, founder of  Pandora, to attend a town hall meeting. I am not one to look away when kismet, or syncronizcity like that falls upon me, so of course I attended the town hall. I walked in to the downtown Portland, OR, office of  Wieden + Kennedy for the town hall thinking about modern radio and the Dr. Seuss quote that was the guide for this blog. It didn’t take long once Tim started speaking that I realized he was the Gerald McGrew of the new radio zoo. Tim epitomizes the not quite good enough I want something new success story. The passion of a musician with a vision for his fellow musicians. He realized that present day musicians were limited on modern radio and that was just not good enough. His desire for something new lead him across the country in a van, talking and listening to anybody who would in 1999 about his Music Genome Project. Who knew, that Tim was a true blue Gerald McGrew? A little over ten years in what Tim does is travel the country, now by plane, and talk and listen and continue to strive from an altruistic passion of realizing something was not quite good enough in his realm, and what he did was create somethign new in the terresterial radio zoo- Pandora.


I want something New!

It was fascinting to hear not only Tim but his many fans and listeners discuss meta data, the 400 points of musicology and the magic formula that creates the Music Genome Project. A project that has lead to Pandora being number one, for now. A service that has done zero paid advertising, (other then giving out free T-shirts at the town halls, made by American Apparel) and grown 100% through word of mouth, or more appropriately through viral sharing.

Tim talked about the thumbs up and down of Pandora, he was open to hearing about the things that needed to be done to make Pandora even better. One of the things that was brought up was that when using the thumbs down of Pandora it begins to limit your playlist – “you paint yourself into a corner” Tim explained – skipping is “neutral” and thumbs up brings in more music choices based on the more you use thumbs up of your music universe expands. For me that was an aha moment because this is what the technology age can be about zoo goers. In my opinion Tim explained it best, “if you simply skip what you don’t like and thumbs up what you like and only thumb down what you really just don’t ever want to hear ever again – you get a much better experience.” I think young Tim Westergen expresses a great philosophy that goes far beyond Pandora – thumbs up.                                                            

Monkeythumbs up

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