Monday, August 3, 2009

Radio: Dirty Laundry or Clean Sheets?

Years ago many people “behind the scenes” in the old terrestrial radio paradigm will tell you that beating the competition was the way to success. To cheat, lie, steal or do anything to maintain ratings was actually applauded and encouraged.

Constant surveillance of the competitor’s programming clock and hosts with subsequent adaptation to their own programming and using the competitor’s own strategies against them was constantly done without conscience. It was the way of doing business and in some cases it is still done this way today.

Arbitron was used to extrapolate numbers for the industry to give prospective advertisers a benchmark so they could feel good that they were buying from a station that had listener numbers. The numbers were actually compiled by a sampling of a relatively small number of listeners and then statistically manipulated and extrapolated to provide the station their “audience numbers” when in fact it does not provide any real audience counts at all. It is still done the same way today.

The radio advertising buyers were told about radio ‘frequency and reach’ but were not told that the real ‘reach’ was how many times one listener hears the same message which has more to do with radio host and program loyalty than with total number of listeners to a station which were not real numbers any way.

At some radio stations, people called 'shills' were put into place. Ten percent of the monies collected from the advertiser were given to these 'shills' who would pretend they were new customers and buy the product or service, thus debunking the advertiser into believing that the ad was successful and place even more money into the advertising. The ‘shill’ process would then be repeated.

This is just some of the practices of what HealthyLife.Net perceives as the ‘dirty laundry’ of radio. The internet gives us a chance to reinvent radio in a whole new way of truly being what HealthyLife.Net thinks it was meant to be - as a service to mankind based in truth and integrity.

Since its inception in 2002, HealthyLife.Net Radio Network has made and honored its commitment to truth, integrity and fairness to our listeners, hosts and the radio industry. We decided NOT to follow the old terrestrial radio paradigm. We are not about beating the competition, duping people or just being a business after profit and power. We are about service, providing for the underlying pulse of the people with good, ethical business practices. We believe these are the core reasons by which we are still standing with an ever-growing loyal, worldwide audience and are profitable. However, HealthyLife.Net has also received its share of radio’s 'dirty laundry'.

Back in 2004, HealthyLife.Net thought that our positive programming would be embraced by satellite radio and thus put forth a proposal to one of the two satellite radio stations to carry us. The proposal information provided to them by us was somehow given to another station that was already on their satellite radio roster. Although we were excluded from this network, our tag line and program genres were used to start a new network by this station. After consulting a top profile industry attorney about the ramifications and told that we had a winning case by which we would get copious amounts of publicity and monetary benefit, we had a decision to make. We had to decide whether to take what I perceive to be the negative route of suing the satellite company and the culprit station, or just bank on trusting our audience to decide. We opted to trust our audience and believed in people. Although the culprit station had similar programs and millions of dollars invested, within 4 years the network did not make it and is no longer on air.

In 2005 we approached the other satellite radio network, which several months later turned us down, but who soon after started a similar network with big celebrity names that is doing well but has not affected our audience size and actually adds to it by default. Again we chose not to pursue litigation and follow Gandhi’s path of least resistance and to date the entire satellite radio industry is struggling for its long term survival, yet we are strong.

In 2006 a fairly well-known terrestrial and web radio ‘competitor’ found a way to get into our computer system and tried to bring our network down every Monday when one of our hosts, who also aired on their network, was broadcasting. With our backup systems and procedures we were able to minimize downtime to less than a minute until we finally figured out what and who the culprit was. After implementing a more vigorous security system, the problem went away. We thank them for showing us an unforeseen glitch in our system. After revamping and enlarging their network site they unfortunately made it harder for their audience to find their programs and have unintentionally provided us with a larger share of their audience.

From 2007 through 2008, we have had many smaller terrestrial and web radio stations try to poach our radio hosts, with little or no success.

Now it is 2009 and one of the top and biggest terrestrial radio stations in America is trying to entice our hosts away with just their big name, and though we are not publically recognized as such, we are far stronger in audience size for this market. So again we will take the path of least resistance and trust our hosts and our audience. We'll wait for the benefit their 'dirty laundry' tactics will ultimately provide us. Personally I even smile as I think “Wow, the big boys are trying to emulate! We must be doing Internet Radio right.”

What have these experiences taught HealthyLife.Net? That despite attempts of the ‘dirty laundry’ tactics we always seem to benefit in some way. We believe this is because of our ‘clean sheets’ of core values, truth and integrity without engaging in competition. Our trust in our audience and hosts is heart warming and valid. Our audience likes clean sheets! HealthyLife.Net has always been 5 years ahead of the Internet radio curve and we will continue to deliver new positive paradigms for Internet radio without the 'dirty laundry'.

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