Monday, December 31, 2007



There’s a “Baby Boom” retirement trend that is emerging as a mainstream news item, and it IS huge. A massive population hub entering the post work years. I guess I’m closing in on that age….soon. But an interesting thing about this demographic is that so many are healthier, hipper and more engaged that prior “upper demos”. Hell, I can’t IMAGINE retiring! I feel like I’m 30, and act like I’m 10. Doesn't hurt that I went on a major health kick and am close to fighting weight again. And I’m not alone. There was once the “Great 25-34 scare of ‘78”. All of these FM radio stations that owned 18-24 year olds back then we’re buying into the panic that the baby boom was over and soon there would be no teenagers left on earth by 1980. And these 18-24 targeted stations would be left with no listeners as the typical 18-24 rocker, would wake up on his or her 25th birthday and say “To hell with Led Zeppelin…I’m 25-34 now…bring on The Captain & Tennille and Bread oldies. Never happened. Goes back to the fact that 16-20 are the musically formative years…the music you are into then, sets the stage for your musical life. I’d chuckle at big name radio guys suggesting back then that Hendrix and Dylan were “fads”…

I just went flying with Skip Finley, a radio mogul, one time client and all around good guy. He's about 60 going on 30. There are a lot of those out there that cancel out the traditional view of demographics and lifestyle. Anyone over 50 gets these AARP welcoming kits. AARP? Maybe when I'm 90...maybe.

Ever watch those Time-Life informercials hawking the “Summer of Love” CD’s? Induces severe nausea as there’s the obviously paid “star” of the 60’s” interacting with very un cool people fawning about how “If you’re Going to San Francisco wear Some Flowers in Your Hair” was the voice of the generation and ‘changed their lives’. If THAT song changed their life, they are not finished changing.

Quality is what creates timelessness. Junk fades. Quality isn’t an economic or demographically defined term. I think “The Chipmunks” were quality. Done very well. Lovable rodents that stand the test of time. I’m glad to see that they’re film is doing well and that their Christmas song still gets played. I used to take a Chipmunks 45 and slow it down to 33 to see how they REALLY sounded. They’re better fast.

When I watch the Time Life thing, I want to scream out: YOU FOOLS! You can buy an I-pod and download the songs…or get an XM and actually HEAR and re-discover ALL and MORE of the songs. Symbolizes how few marketers understand how 50+ thinks. Weather it’s those goofy Fidelity ads with Rock Stars or the trivializing of the culture back then…most “Baby Boom” marketing efforts are laughable. Missing the purity and essence. Bob Dylan’s radio show talks to the mindset better than anyone---because it’s natural. Not forcing it.

We used to have a term called “The Weekend Hippie”. Coat & Tie Monday-Friday, then jeans and mild partying on the weekend.

A massive market opportunity is not very sexy, but VERY rewarding---Old people who still think like kids. BIG.

Musical acts whose debut recordings were made three decades ago dominated the North American concert business in 2007, with half of the top 20 grossing performers having started their careers in the 1970s. When an Apple figures out tapping into this audience…look out!

Back in the 60’s, it was Cold War time. The Ruskies were supposed to bomb us at any second. Later I realized that Russian products other than Vodka and Caviar sucked. If they launched an ICBM in ’63, it probably would have blown up on the pad. I toured an old Aeroflot Russian jetliner once…it made Greyhound look like the Queen Mary.

So, I’ve always had this question mark about Russia. Ememy? Good guys with bad leaders? Last week I saw a very impressive interview with Vladimir Putin. Time made him “Man of the Year”. Hmmmm. Need to look at this guy in a more unbiased way. It showed a high level of intellect that made a lot of sense. Compared to some of the stupidity of our campaign, it was eye opening. It was very truthful, intelligent without being elite. Of course, the guy may be a complete scumbag engineering a completely rigged election…then again maybe not.

(Time interview)

How do you see the relationship between Russia and the U.S., going forward?Russia and the U.S. were allies during the Second and the First World Wars, which allows us to think there's something objectively bringing us together in difficult times. Today to be successful, one must be able to reach agreements. The ability to compromise is not a diplomatic politeness but rather taking into account and respecting your partner's legitimate interests.

Can you give an example?The North Korean nuclear issue. We treated the issue very seriously. We were thinking about each other's interests and about the interests of the country in question. In the end we resolved the issue to a large extent.

What should be done in Iraq?From the very beginning, I considered that it was a mistake. As for what we do today and in the near future, overall I agree with President Bush that everything must be done so that the Iraqi authorities are able to deal with security issues on their own. What we differ over is that the U.S. believes it is impossible to impose time frames for the withdrawal. In my view, that would prompt the Iraqi authorities to be more proactive.

Americans wonder why the recent Russian elections could not have been more open and why, for example, Garry Kasparov was put in jail.Why did Mr. Kasparov, when arrested, speak out in English rather than Russian? When a politician works the crowd of other nations rather than the Russian nation, it tells you something.

Do you think the U.S. wants to see a strong Russia or a weak Russia?I believe the U.S. already understands that only a strong Russia will respond to the genuine interests of the U.S.
What is NATO's purpose today? If Russia were invited to join, would it do so?I wouldn't call NATO a putrid corpse of the Cold War, but it is a leftover of the past. How can NATO efficiently fight terrorism? Did it stop the terrorists on 9/11? Where was NATO then? Russia has no intention of joining military-political blocs because that would be tantamount to restricting its sovereignty.

One of the perceptions that Americans have about Russia is that corruption is endemic. How do you handle that?Badly. I must say that in the transitional economy, it is difficult to address such problems. But I'm fully convinced that down the road, [they] will be tackled more efficiently.

What role does faith play in your leadership?First and foremost, we should be governed by common sense. But common sense should be based on moral principles first. And it is not possible today to have morality separated from religious values.

How does a lifelong KGB man raised in the Soviet Union become a believer in free markets?One doesn't have to be a particularly bright highbrow to see the obvious, that the market economy has major advantages over an administrative system. We have had GDP growth of about 7% a year on average over the past seven or eight years. We have paid off all our debt. Real income growth is about 12% for the population, and for me, that is the main achievement.

You must feel lucky that the price of oil is so high.Fools are lucky. We work day and night!
The government has arrested some ?Russian industrialists and seized their assets. Why?Well, "Thou shalt not steal." They didn't have difficulties with me. They had difficulties with the people of the country and with the law.

Has your KGB training helped you as President? There's an old saying "Once a spy, always a spy."Well, those are lies. Naturally, some of that background can be of help. They taught me to think independently. They taught me to gather objective information, first and foremost. The second thing, from working in intelligence, is learning the skill of working with people. Above all, to respect the people you're dealing with.

In Russia, a number of journalists have been murdered. Is there some kind of pattern? Is there something that you or the government can do to prevent it?First, many people, including journalists, are tempted to make a little bit more money here and there, which means they get involved with entrepreneurs, sometimes with criminal businessmen. Then there are genuine fighters against corruption, against the criminal elements. Where such losses have occurred, I take them personally.

What do you think are American misconceptions about Russia?Well, you know, I don't believe these are misconceptions. I think this is a purposeful attempt by some to create an image of Russia based on which one could influence our internal and foreign policies. This is the reason why everybody is made to believe, like, it's O.K. to pinch the Russians somewhat. They are a little bit savage still, or they just climbed down from the trees and probably need to have their hair brushed and their beards trimmed.

Can you tell us more about Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev?They moved toward destruction of the system that no longer could sustain the Soviet people. I'm not sure I could have had the guts to do that myself. This is a very important change. It gave Russia her freedom.

What about the conflicts you've had with former Soviet republics on gas prices?What conflicts? There are world prices for gas. Why should we sell to anyone below the world-market prices? Do Americans? Could you come to a store in the U.S. and ask, "Well, I'm from Canada. We Canadians are close neighbors. Give me that Chrysler at half price"? What would you hear from the salesman? "Go away!"

President George W. Bush said he looked into your eyes and got a sense of your soul. Have you gotten a sense of his soul? I consider him a very reliable partner, a man of honor. Yes, Iraq was a mistake, but he is a fair and honest man.

Do you think there was a missed opportunity after 9/11 for the U.S. and Russia to work more closely on the anti?terrorism front because of Iraq?We could have acted in a more coordinated and therefore more efficient way. That is true. But cooperation between our secret services is happening and is achieving results.

Can you describe this cooperation? Are there institutional structures that exist between American and Russian intelligence in the field of fighting terrorism? Yes, the so-called partnership channels. And recently the work has been quite successful, including cooperation to prevent terrorist acts against the citizens of the Russian Federation and the U.S. I recently discussed this with President Bush over the telephone.

Earlier you used the phrase Thou shalt not steal. Have you read the Bible?Yes, I have. And the Bible is on my plane.

Do you use e-mail? Do you blog?Well, it's a big shame. I don't use these technologies. I don't even use a telephone. My staff do it for me. But they do it wonderfully.

They still make shit products…but I kinda like this Putin guy,
…I like looking to other world leaders. There’s something wrong here…it’s a time of change. Not only in Media…but in EVERYTHING. Is it GOOD change that improves lives…BAD change that screws it up more…or INSIGNIFICANT CHANGE that is change without resonation?

….Some words for 2008 from Einstein:

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.

One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.

It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

It should be possible to explain the laws of physics to a barmaid.

The bitter and the sweet come from the outside, the hard from within, from one's own efforts.

Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.

We must find a way, or we will make one.

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.

To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe. -Albert Einstein.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007



Check out this “mis-interpretation” Pearl Jam’s “Yellow Ledbetter”.

Then…something scary:

Now, something cool:

Last week, in hearing looking and watching the Mitchell report's central theme is "truth"... (Or lack of), as in who's telling the truth. This morning on TV and in print, the Weather reporting is....SO sensational, you cant really get the TRUTH. I think there's a STRONG growing appetite for "The Truth". The research I've seen on Fox News' extraordinary success shows one key finding is that their FANS think they tell the TRUTH instead of skewing it. (Expert perception creation at it's best)

I think TRUTH is soon to be a HOT marketing/positioning/branding/defining term. No one has "claimed" it. And it's tough to get any cred by simply saying "Hey--we tell the truth”. But I think too many places are too busy being "the Best"...”on Your Side" and other focus group fantasies. Whereas “THE BULLSHIT STOPS HERE as an angle would probably be very effective. Though I’d guess most marketing and media people just can’t resist the temptation to OVER sell and focus on the clichés…that rarely resonate anymore. The old school “slogan era” is drawing to a close. A New era is emerging.

There’s a website that has old TV ads. Classic stuff:
Go here:

Not only are they amusing, but you can see how the now hilarious “selling” is more humor than salesmanship by today’s standards. My point is that most media are operating by 20 year old standards. My favorite is Asking a Question. “Tired of the same old music? Try….” That’s not too far from (circa 1961) ‘Hey Mom, kids wearing you down? Try Geritol…” Or in radio---It’s bragging “The best…the most…” In News, it’s “Action, Now, Immediate, Early Warning News Special Alert”. In Politics it’s “...The other guy is bad…and I approve this message”.

Then there’s REALITY TV. Well, it IS hardly reality…but “TRUTH” is what it’s all about. “Real”. Of course it’s fake real…but the IDEA is ‘real’. I was on the Apprentice along with Eric, Lisa Ivery and Lou Brutus last year. Took 4 days to tape it—by the time it was over, the reality was on the editing floor…

The BIG opportunities in 08 are all about….taking a deep breath, and telling; it like it is. Aka Truth. Not in a slogan…but in everything that permeates the product—so people actually BUY the fact that you are in the NO BULLSHIT ZONE. This doesn’t mean being SO honest that you don’t gain traction…it means NOT fearing TRUTH or resort to "marketing" truth and hoping people see beyond the 'sell'...and getting off the damn hype machine…breathe deep and stop feeding the Bullshit machine that create “yeah, sure” rather than “damn right!”. Change via AFDI rather than telling people you are changed, but in reality it’s all still the same. TRACTION BY ACTION. The next big trend…

”trust me”.

Oh…and click here for a really good article on the state of the music business from David Byrne. Never cared for his music…a little too “hip” in a New York way…but the guy is pretty smart:

Finally….once again, from Miss Teen South Carolina, the bright future of our Country, what just might be quote of the year:

I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps and I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and Iraq and everywhere like such as and I believe like that they should like do our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help Iraq and like the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for us."

Monday, December 17, 2007



I always liked Stephen King. He writes brilliantly, He’s an XM listener, then here’s an excerpt from his recent interview in TIME:

Do you actually think Britney and Lindsay should be on our cover?Yeah, I do.
Sort of a, 'This is what the media's actually interested it, so let's just put it out there' thing?I think there ought to be some serious discussion by smart people, really smart people, about whether or not proliferation of things like The Smoking Gun and TMZ and YouTube and the whole celebrity culture is healthy. We've switched from a culture that was interested in manufacturing, economics, politics — trying to play a serious part in the world — to a culture that's really entertainment-based. I mean, I know people who can tell you who won the last four seasons on American Idol and they don't know who their f------ Representatives are.
But you've been well in the public eye for decades now. Is it pretty blatant how much worse it's gotten?It's worse every year. And the guy says to me — the Nightline guy — I didn't get the guy's name. Granted, I haven't been feeling real well and it was a long day of interviews. But he said to me, "If we didn't cover cultural things, we wouldn't be covering you and The Mist, and promoting the movie." And I'm like, "Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan aren't cultural." They aren't political. They're economic only in the mildest sense of the word. In fact, if I had to pick somebody, some celebrity who has had some impact this year, some sort of echo in the larger American life, I would say Hannah Montana. That whole issue of online ticket sales and scalping fascinates me. There are [legitimate] issues there about the Internet, so that actually does seem to have some cultural significance.But Britney? Britney Spears is just trailer trash. That's all. I mean, I don't mean to be pejorative. But you observe her behavior for the past five years and you say, "Here's a lady who can't take care of her kids, she can't take care of herself, she has no retirement fund, everything that she gets runs right through her hands." And yet, you know and I know that if you go to those sites that tell you what the most blogged-about things on the Internet are, it's Britney, it's Lindsay. So I think it would be terrific [to have them as TIME Persons of the Year]. There would be such a scream from the American reading public, sure. But at the same time, it's time for somebody to discuss the difference between real news and fake news.
True, in terms of Britney Spears, she's still fairly young. When you were young, fame sort of screwed you up a bit, didn't it?The difference is that Britney is now famous for being famous. Her sales have gone down with almost every album, bigger and bigger jumps, so that nobody really cares about her music anymore. They care about the tabloid headlines and whether or not she's wearing panties. I mean, is this an issue that the American public needs to turn its brainpower on? Britney Spears' lingerie, or lack thereof?

OK---Can't blindly argue with popularity--I get that…but I continue to believe that his comments reflect one of the most important issue our Country faces. A slow growing disease that sneaks up on the public consciousness. In a perfect world, if you correct this dumbing, SO much else GOOD flows from the cultural correction…then again, if it’s not corrected and JUNK CULTURE continues to spiral unchecked—then we are completely fucked and it’s just a matter of time that it’s Rome all over again. You can't tell a Britney fan that they're stupid. Doesn't work that way. It's a bigger mission that real leaders can change. Since we are so driven by Capitalist instincts—I believe that the OPPORTUNITY in “smartening” the culture is huge...and done intelligently and with mass North America in mind, will be a massive one. In other words, there’s money in correcting the Junk Culture mentality…smartening CAN be extremely lucrative. Apple is a favorite rarely see them doing "dumb down" stuff, or clichéd stuff, or 'because the focus group told us so/we do it but we have no clue why' stuff. Saw two surveys showing 89 and 87% of adults have NO interest I hearing about Brittney and Paris in the news…but guess what? It’s still there.

What’s dumb? In my opinion:

*Anything the Simpson’s make fun of. They have the best dumb radar on TV.

*Anything that doesn’t make people’s lives better.

Big money smartening in a world where dumb down or simply being so locked into the business and mechanics of trying to be successful that you are anesthetized on what it actually takes to do it is standard operating procedure among the old line. There's opportunity is being balllsy enough to generating mass appeal lasting quality. As always--BALANCE: Information with innovation with execution. I think the "next big thing" will be SMART.


Saw a poll. Average age of Hannah Montana fans is 9. I actually kind of like that show for what it is. It’s just breezy kid stuff. I’m glad she’s a sensation. I'm glad she's a massive success. A lot different from a "serious" story about Paris Hilton’s DUI. It is what it is. Not dumb...Not smart...just fun stuff for kids.

Then there's Dara Altman is our Attorney here. She brought her Son’s class by. I guess he’s about 12. Hannah is not a player there. All the boys asked about was Jimi Hendrix…Led Zeppelin…Ozzy and Alice Cooper. Reverence. Odd, as each of those could be their grandfather.

Dispatched Lou Brutus and George Taylor Morris to the Led Zeppelin show in London. Lou filed this report:

Set list:
Good Times Bad Times (9pm local time)
Ramble On
Black Dog
In My Time of Dying
For Your Life
Trampled Underfoot
Nobody's Fault But Mine
No Quarter
Since I've Been Loving You
Dazed and Confused
Stairway to Heaven
Song Remains the Same
Misty Mountain Hop
Kashmir (Main set ends 10:51 local time)
(Encore 1)
Whole Lotta Love
(Encore 2)
Rock and Roll (Show over at 11:03 local time)

An incredible show. The first three numbers suffered (very) slightly from some microphone feedback, a less then stellar house PA mix and what appeared to be the band taking a bit of time to find their footing. From the 4th song on it was full steam ahead and they continued to pick up momentum until the end. Once they found their groove it was obvious that they were enjoying themselves immensely. The crowd was riveted from the moment the lights went out. As the show opened the air seemed to go out of the arena and it almost seemed like the 20,000 attending were in a slight state of shock at the site of the band finally playing. A simply breathtaking night. Very well played with exciting musical and emotional moments.

Then there was this….

In their heyday they were the lords of excess - with vodka for breakfast and champagne for supper fuelling a 24-hour party habit.
Yesterday, however, it was clear that Led Zeppelin had come down to Earth after a very long high.
Instead of the notorious "coke" lady employed on their 1973 U.S. tour to keep the rockers rocking, last night's reunion gig was more in need of a tea lady.
More than one million people applied in a lottery for one of the 20,000 seats
The band - reformed for the first time in 19 years - requested little more than a constant flow of caffeine-free herbal tea and sparkling water for their backstage dressing room.
Concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith said: "They are much older now obviously and are very low maintenance. They've asked for cups of tea. We'll have some beer and a bottle of wine for them backstage but they have said they require very little.

..A low maintenance Led Zeppelin….?

If they tour in 08, I’m sure it’ll be amazing as they’ll likely have a clear head to re-interpret their classics. HOWEVER, as unPC as it is to say this, I doubt if anything new they write will be in the Kashmir mode. I believe you HAD to be in the state they were in order to create music like that. They of course can likely still create great new songs, but THOSE kinds of songs are part of the era, the environment and drug induced state they were immersed in. Realistically, a key reason that much Classic Rock was “better then” is because of the time and the head space. Few artists will admit that publicly, but the 1965-1975 era and general environment –and that includes the “mind expansion” stuff common to that era WAS part of the magic they created. You cannot deny that. The upside is that a clear head in the 21st Century makes for better re-interpretations of those songs. Performing them with a clearer head. Those drug hazes come with the turf in that business…it happened…it was part of the music culture and era. I get appalled by those who scorn those drugged out hippies. It’s reality of what it was. A lot of them self destructed. But a lot came out of the tunnel in a positive way. Those who came out of the tunnel can bring new magic to dongs that could have only been created in the environment and time that they were hatched. Hey—I know it’s BAD stuff that comes back to bite you, but at a given time…in a given place, it HAS aided the music process. I’m not condoning...I am just pointing out the reality, as well as the possibilities of presenting the writing on then with the knowledge and clarity of today. As consumers of the output—I’m fine with it as long as the artist doesn’t kill themselves and eventually evolves to a saner state with the experience behind them but without guilt. File it under ‘you had to be there’…

Speaking of drugs, our Baseball channel went OTT in presenting wall-to wall coverage of the Mitchell Report. It was really expertly executed. Kudos to Eric Logan, who as usual, was completely on top of things and commissioned a dedicated channel to READ the whole report. For a baseball fan, it was a remarkable audio resource. And the coverage continued throughout the weekend with REAL PLAYERS telling the story. It was XM at it's best.
Our Led Zeppelin Channel is going to Phase two. Introducing new features… And my favorite: LICKIPEDIA, where our John Stevens teaches listeners classic Page licks. Both are cool.

..Check XM PODCASTS…On I-Tunes.

OK, Presidentially, Obama and Oprah turning politics into a game show?—absolutely silly, and Huckabee with idiotic comments like “"Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?". Actually, I think Jesus and the Devil played in a band together back in the 60’s. Can’t anyone get it right? I think Obama is very fresh and adds a positive dimension to the old boys club of politics—I just hope he doesn’t blow it via the celebrity thing. Nothing against Oprah--she's golden, but the IDEA of celebrity bonding like this...Speaking of Comedy, we wrapped up the first season of UNMASKED. It’s kind of like Artist Confidential, but no music…makes sense since its comedians. We’ve done George Carlin, Bob Newhart, Carlos Mencia, Robert Klein and scores of other timeless and emerging artists of comedy. It’s REALLY an amazing show. We also have a series called “Stand Up Sit Down” that Sonny Fox does. That list is instance, ranging from John Cleese to Bill Cosby. Between the two shows, XM is a funny place.

Monday, December 10, 2007



George Taylor Morris and I flew up to New York for Artist Confidential with Josh Groban. Big, mostly female crowd was hyper with energy and excitement. I’m not a huge fan of his stuff, but those who were, were electric. Funny thing about Josh. He’s a real nice guy. Reminded me of Larry Bernstein from grade school…the kinda guy who’d come over to my house, read my brothers Playboy’s and talk about our model trains. Then----Josh lets out with this voice! I flashed back to Gomer Pyle…you know, he used to play Gomer, then suddenly launch into a song and he’d transform into this dynamic baritone. Or going WAY back, there was a guy named Frank Fontaine who played Crazy Guggenheim on Jackie Gleason’s variety show. Basically Crazy was mentally impaired. Then Jackie would say “Hey Crazy…how about a song”. And he’d go into this lush NON impaired song. Now, Josh is HARDLY like Crazy or Gomer, in fact he’s wonderfully bright and focused guy, it’s just that his incredible voice has nothing to do with his look.

Josh brought a string section and competent band. He was scared before the show as he’s never done something as intimate as this…once we got rolling he transformed into the ultimate guest. Great music, breezy and caring interaction with the crowd. Wonderful.

Rediscovering my roots. That’s what the Led Zeppelin Channel is doing for me, as is Bob Dylan’s show and Tom Petty’s show. With The Zeppelin Channel, I have really gained a new realization of why I am so enamored with the 1968-1975 era of British Rock. Pink Floyd, early Yes, Jethro Tull, the Who and others all shared a level of intellect that is rare to hear these days in rock. The rediscovery included the cerebral lyrics. Sometimes you are so bombarded by the might of Zeppelins music that you miss the fact that lyrically they were on another planet—in a good way. It WAS rock n roll poetry.

Look at Immigrant song:

We come from the land of the ice and snow,>from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.The hammer of the godsWill drive our ships to new lands,To fight the horde, singing and crying:Valhalla, I am coming!On we sweep with threshing oar,Our only goal will be the western shore.We come from the land of the ice and snow,>from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.How soft your fields so green,Can whisper tales of gore,Of how we calmed the tides of war.We are your overlords.On we sweep with threshing oar,Our only goal will be the western shore.So now you’d better stop and rebuild all your ruins,For peace and trust can win the dayDespite of all your losing.

Some may say it’s overblown and pretentious, but at that time and place, it resonated as an anthem. And if you actually LISTEN, there is a cinematic quality. And it was executed with such swagger and vision, that and argument of pretension is null.

While the band is known for its might, I always viewed them as very cerebral and heady. And even when they were soft, they were always HEAVY, and while they possessed obvious musical skills, you could count on them to deliver an eccentric edge, weather it was backwards mellotrons in Kashmir to ….just about everything they touched.

Too often we look at these artists as “Classic Rock favorites” I always viewed Zeppelin as a ethereal thunder…Yes created audio movies that took you places…The Who were so damn CLEVER, (especially in their under appreciated gem “Sell Out”) Pink Floyd were Technicolor. It’s sad to see that so many people lump these artists together as “Classic Rockers” numbed to the majesty of the music... It’s a lesson in contemporary music to re-discover the music that is in your DNA. I pity the poor programmer that looks at Zeppelin (or other giants) as audience test figures rather than basking in the magic that were soundtracks to souls. Stories. Innovation. Jimmy Page's DADGAD tuning on Kashmir, Chris Squire's re-invention of the function of the bass guitar in early Yes...the list goes on.

The Onion says it all:

Time distortion: You'd be amazed at the number of people that suggested Led Zeppelin was too "young and hard". Then, many said Led Zeppelin is old and irrelevant. Classic Time distortion. The reality is that Stairway to Heaven peaked in 1972. If someone was 18 then, they are going on 54 years old! Hell, Cadillac used them in a campaign. The point here is that they are regrouping for a big show and planning a US Tour...and they are the third highest selling artist in US recording history. They are beyond traditional age definition. They are timeless

I'll bet that newspapers/ TV and others locked into traditional thinking stations give it perfunctory coverage at best. While music may not be a big driver, this is one area where the newspapers/TV can be relevant in this space.

It's all about reverence in all demographics for GREAT artists. When I was 18, a 35 year old song was something like Al Jolsen---didn’t make much sense to a guy who just acquired Hendrix’ Electric Ladyland. But a 35 year old record today can be important and inspirational to al ages. It’s good to see some great artists being discovered. It’s the “Johnny Cash factor”.

Speaking of re-discovery---Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour offers a different kind of discovery. You of course hear his musical POV, but more importantly, his show delivers a rare look at him as a person. Far more so than his movies and 60 Minutes piece. He’s really a funny and interesting guy. Tom Petty’s show is similar, but I get more of a glimpse at Tom’s library from it…as if you’re sitting in his home as he commands the record player—He probably has a record player—and that’s good!

The lady who was almost killed for naming a Teddy Bear in Sudan was released…damn, they’re strict over there!

Went to LA...Of course getting to LA was typical. My plane is still in maintenance so I flew commercial. The plane was packed with holiday amateur travelers. Compounded by a Dulles based TSA that is unbelievably inept and generally rude. I kept my cellphone in my pocket and breezed right through the metal detector...and of course it was rare to find a TSA person with any command of English. In fact, a lot of Middle Easterners manning the posts. Unbelievable. Of course the worst is the amateurs who decide to unpack their cases at the last minute delaying the line. Then the language barrier kicks in as the TSA person yells at the amateur in Farsi.

Imus is back. Big fcking deal. I can't believe the coverage he got. I know he has fans, and that’s great, but he was on a lot of marginal AM’s with generally weak ratings...and then all of this coverage. Fox, CNN, everyone, was doing big special further underscores how completely lost the news media is. Add Al Sharpton and a bunch of other no name pundits in there and it makes election coverage look credible. I still think Imus is a miserable old coot. Again, no bash on those who like’s just that I don’t see the justification for the absurd national coverage.

..No whining...just observing...

Then watched the local TV in LA. Gotta think that the way TV news is presented here in the modern world is really based on 1969 thinking...when there were four local stations battling it out without cable or Internet. It's SO laughably dated. I'll watch Fox, E!, and others... then check the many internet sites, and the local news is CRYING for a radical re-invention to stay even remotely relevant in today’s least one that attacks it with vicious tenacity. Gets it in SYNC. Even the basics are missing: One channel said "We'll be back to the News after these words"...Yeah? What news? Who are you? They didn’t even mention who they are...probably important as my cable has 150 channels. Then 4 minute stores from a miserable looking reporter on some obscure school referendum that affected about 1% of LA...and it was front of a vacant schoolyard. Why?

The “changes” at local TV are a lot like the newspapers. One major paper claimed “they were aggressively making the reader experience more engaging…by making the pages smaller”. Huh?

Whining is one thing--identifying and changing is the better fix.

From the TSA to dated TV...I remain optimistic.

Monday, December 03, 2007



Music and Radio Industry conventions used to be “must attend” events. In fact everybody DID attend them. This was in the pre e-mail halcyon days when the music industry was flush with cash and promise. It was a chance to argue or just watch the arguing. The argument focus was the same very year---Record Companies bitched about not getting enough airplay and radio stations defended themselves….but it was interesting. Of course not one single radio person would leave a convention and think “say—the promo guy from Poly Sutra was right! I’m going to throw out the format and play everything…”, but it was still a good spirited balance of interesting, annoying and amusing. Then at night every label tried to out do each other with their suites. From inviting stars and hookers to all night orgies. Atlantic Records was usually the best as I recall. There were different types of conventions. The NAB was pretty much radio only where big names got to get drunk for a few days…then it became more of the winter meetings for station traders, and now it’s a love fest for vendors. Then there was the old Billboard and Gavin Conventions. They were mostly labels and programmers with a few Star GM and Owners holding panels that were packed to the rafters. The early R&R Conventions were like this. Though I usually thought these conventions were a waste of time…they pretty much were, but looking back they were fun…and part of the freer and more interesting music and radio community of an earlier time. It was a place to meet the big names, listen to the “dialogue” and hang out late on someone else’s tab. From 1976 though about 1988 we had our own Burkhart/Abrams conventions. They became more important than the “real” conventions…but that’s a whole other story. There were also some elite conventions. MIDEM was and is ground zero for International Music. Very few radio guys, mainly because it isn’t marketed to them and it’s in Cannes, which would bust the budget of any American station. MIDEM is the Rolls Royce of music conferences. Expertly organized in an amazing environment. The crowd ranges from mega stars to struggling songwriters. Then there used to be the Inside Radio conference in Phoenix. Another blue chip affair that attracted Group owners and vendors with large expense accounts. It was more of a meet and greet with the big names and a chance to show off your wares to a decision maker audience. I was always surprised that Record Companies didn’t attend to learn or at least ratchet up their schmooze to a higher level. Then there was thins thing called the Poe Convention. I went to ONE. It was WAY too sleazy. Elliott Spitzer would have had a field day at this one. Today, the dialogue happens electronically. The Lefsetz Letter is the modern equivalent of the industry convention. Maybe Bob should have a convention.

Did you know that there’s now and even Yep, free amateur Porn and Preaching. And they are getting HUGE traffic.

OK---I get why dumb shows are successful. Dumb sells. Then there’s Kellie Pickler on “Are you smarter than a Fifth Grader” who thinks Europe is a Country. This is not good. Really….this is dangerous shit. She has a great voice and seems like a nice, engaging person, but “celebrating” this level of ignorance is scary. We’ve somehow evolved into this place that idolizes idiocy. Good clean entertainment with a bad aftertaste.

I Tunes have an interesting new feature (or I think it’s new). You take a genre and it gives you different levels: Basics; Next Steps: Deep Cuts and Complete. The titles they include in each category are highly questionable. I think they rushed into the selection, but the idea of graduated sophistication levels is pretty smart.

More electronic junk food.

TV CLICHÉ 457-B: Holiday travel coverage:

*Standard issue reporter interviews a tired traveler in front of the United Airlines counter at (put major airport here). Usually has a crying baby in a stroller for effect. Complaining how their flight was cancelled.

Then…. segue to:

Arrivals monitor, preferably showing CANCELLED alot

Then….segue to:

*Standard issue reporter reports on delays from outside the terminal.

Damn! You would think there’d be better ways of covering this since you KNOW that it’s going to be a key story 4 or five times a year.


*Get out of the terminal and into the technology. Being a pilot, there are SO many ways to present air travel in a far more compelling way. Such as:

--Capture the stunning displays at any ATC facility.

--Talk to controllers…an Approach Control facility is A LOT cooler than a terminal.

…the list goes on. Holiday Air Traffic coverage is in my opinion based on laziness, not thinking or unawareness of the myriad of opportunities to cover this in a “cooler” way—that cuts through and has more “wow” to it! I guess this falls under the critical importance of RE-THINKING as not only a long term strategic thing, but with literally everything a channel/paper/website does.

So Oprah is going on tour with Obama. Well, no doubting Oprah’s incredible power, magnetism and mass appeal credibility, but I wonder if that’s such a good idea. We’ll see. The pop culturing of a Presidency is something I think will inevitable back-fire. Then Hilary announces a Barbra Streisand thing...then Obama comes back with a "is that the best they can do? Why not Capt. and Tennile". What a joke. It'll cost him voters...blurs the issues...cheapens it all. No surprise that Clinton is going with Barbra. A few years ago, Quincy Jones invited me and Hugh Panero to the White House to meet Bill Clinton. Barbra was there. She gave Bill a passionate kiss that lasted about 4 minutes. Interesting. A few weeks later I was invited to the Capitol to meet with Senators about the potential for Liberal Talk radio. They never quite got that it was about ratings and not a vehicle to elect politicians. I told it like it is, complete with the “stop whining” thing, and street perceptions of hard core liberals…never got invited back.
Too bad—they should have listened…

From a new Harvard study:

• 64% of those polled do not trust press coverage of the presidential campaign.• 88% believe that campaign coverage focuses on trivial issues.• 84% believe that media coverage has too much influence on American voting choices.• 92% say it is important that the news media provide information on candidates’ specific policy plans, but 61% say the media does not provide enough coverage of policy plans.• 89% say it is important to hear about candidates’ personal values and ethics, but 43% say there is not enough coverage of personal values and ethics.Instead, those surveyed claimed they were getting "exactly the type of campaign coverage that they want the least," the report found

…Why don’t more media people “get” this??!! Sounds like opportunity to me…

Abu Dhabi is bailing out Citibank…what’s wrong with THAT picture?

Back home at XM, IT was a massive success. IT is a six week long rundown of pretty much EVERY pop song that hit the charts from the 30’s to today. Our “aggregate” channel XMX Channel 2 did a mini version of it during Thanksgiving—it really was pretty amazing. We do a similar thing with Country music called “The Long Haul”. These things break every rule and may radio people don’t get it…but the vast majority of listeners think it’s the coolest. Further underscores the vast wasteland of thinking between Industry thinking and public thinking.

Now, we’re getting in gear on the Led Zeppelin channel. We don’t want this to be a jukebox, so we’re working diligently at acquiring and creating material that passes the bands muster and meets the quality standard expected by the fans.

In a few days, it’s off to USC. The professor is Jerry Del Colliano who used to run the extremely influential INSIDE RADIO daily newsletter. Jerry is probably a good teacher because he comes from the real world and talk about real situations rather than dwelling on the history of the FCC. His newsletter was famous in radio circles. Before your coffee you’d have to read it. A real love/hate thing. Kinda like that morning show that you hate. When someone asks you WHY you hate it, the answer is “Because, this morning at 8:20 they said…..”. Anyways, his top students are doing a project for us. I’m excited about it because the students have NO baggage, they aren’t going to skew the data to support a new format they’re going to pitch. And the students are preparing this with a passion that a traditional research company simply doesn’t have. Plus—it’s a bargain. I LOVE talking to the students. Very inspiring and fresh…and a powerful reality check.

My airplane is getting its annual inspection. Legally required. The "phone call" when it's ready is scary. Usually starts with "Well, there's good news and bad news"...The good news is that she's ready...the bad news is that it needs a new framistat..." Airplanes are a good incentive to work hard.