Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Radio Head

Yesterday the president of the National Association of Broadcasters, David Rehr, came to the Weekly Standard offices to discuss, among other issues, the Fairness Doctrine and the possible merger of XM and Sirius satellite radio. First off, as I told Rehr, I still cannot understand why he would leave his previous job as president of the National Beer Wholesalers Association. Secondly, what does he think would happen to XM subscribers like myself if there was a merger?

Rehr thinks subscription rates would most certainly go up and to enjoy the more than 300 channels that would result from the merger, I would have to purchase a new receiver. And you can bet on commercials (already more on Sirius than on XM). Rehr gave props to Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin but obviously disagrees with him on the issues. We ended up discussing a vicious cycle: Finding an FM station that plays good music with few interruptions. More listeners tune in and the commercials increase. Then having to go elsewhere, finding a new alternative station, until the cycle begins again (and ultimately turning to satellite radio).

Rehr says studies show the average radio listener will tolerate approximately 12 minutes of straight commercials before switching off. (And he does admit there are some really obnoxious ones out there.)

A friend in the industry tells me all this is pointless since eventually all of our music will be accessed through the Internet. Rehr grants this point but sees this happening between 10-15 years from now.

Finally, after learning game show host Bob Barker is being inducted into the NAB Hall of Fame, I lobbied Rehr to seriously consider inducting swordsman/inebriate Richard Dawson, aka Damon Killian. (Go to YouTube and watch some of the Match Game episodes. A legend in our midst!)

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