It's been awhile since Art Vuolo has written one of his 'On The Radio' columns for Michiguide.com... but he's out in considerably warmer Las Vegas at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show and files this preliminary report:
The 2010 International CES is exactly that, as attendees communicate in a variety of different languages. There are people here from every corner of the globe with the heaviest representation being from Asia. There are lots of folks from China, Japan, and throughout the far east. There are also many Canadians, French, Hispanics, and South Americans. It truly brings people in from everywhere to experience, first hand, the latest techno gadgets and peer, if you will, into the future, by at least the next 12 months.
The key word at this year's show is unquestionably DEVICE. There is some sort of device in the palm of 99.9% of the people at this show which has drawn far in excess of 110,000 people! On Friday afternoon (January 8th) I felt as though they were trying to recreate the crowd seen in Times Square on New Years Eve. A crushing mass of humanity that made navigating your way throughout the LG booth a life-risking challenge.
This year's CES is unique for me in as much as I have had the distinct privilege of touring it (in part) with the man who actually started the entire event back in 1973 in New York City, Jack Wayman. Jack is a frequent guest on the nationally syndicated Joey Reynolds Show from the WOR Radio Network. Sadly that program is not yet available locally in the Detroit area, but Joey has become a huge fan of this trade show and due to his friendship with Mr. Wayman, both he and I were able to enjoy the festivities on a level not known to the "common man." Honestly, it was like touring Hollywood with a celebrity as Jack Wayman was the constant recipient of the respect he so richly deserves. It's always fun to be in the company of greatness!
On Wednesday January 6th, the day prior to the opening of this four-day trade show, which is NOT open to the public, it was "Press Day" featuring numerous keynotes and presentations. A few that I attended included one with Mircosoft's Steve Balmer. It was a fascinating peek into the future from one of the best visionaries of our time. A couple of others were presented by Samsung, Panasonic and Sony.
On Thursday morning January 7th, we were treated to a memorizing keynote by Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally. He spoke, with the help of others at Ford and contributing partners, about the new automobile of the 2010's and how we will be talking MORE to our cars, while they too will be talking back to us! There was very little reference to radio, either HD, Sirius XM or regular terrestrial offerings. I think it got mentioned twice. At the conclusion I ran into NAB Radio president John David and said, "It didn't take a calculator to count the number of times they talked about radio."
The automobile is the last major stage for radio and it's being pushed off the podium and into the orchestra pit. Scary! I'm not sure if anyone is really trying to raise the slowly sinking ship. I fear that by 2020, when commercial AM radio is to celebrate it's 100th birthday, that there won't be much to celebrate on the AM band. As a radio lover for over 50 years, that hurts to say, but I must be honest as I look into the future.
General Motors hit 100 in 2008, but because of the bad economy and threats of bankruptcy, there was very little celebrating by GM. The last format keeping radio solvent has been news, talk and sports and that is now starting to segue, in droves, to the FM band. WXYT-FM (97.1 The Ticket) is perhaps one of the most successful FM talk & sports stations in the nation.
While on my west coast tour, I even saw a TV spot for Buick which featured a dashboard shot and the announcer stating what pleasure you can enjoy from playing back your favorite down-loaded music. There was no mention of AM or FM radio. While taking a cab from my hotel to the convention center I asked David the cabbie what radio stations he liked in Las Vegas, and he held up his iPod which was "jacked" into his car radio. Yikes! Now we're even losing the cab drivers. When will it end.
Brian, a 30-ish computer researcher in Cincinnati, never even heard of 700 WLW, which is that city's top station with double-digit ratings!
The "DEVICE" that is getting the most attention at the show is 3-D TV and it's getting heavy buzz. High-Definition Television seemed like natural much like stereo sound, but 3-D (although impressive) needs special glasses, unless you want to stay within a very restricted space in front of the set, and requires more new hardware. Some people find looking at their favorite TV personalities on certain shows, or even the local news, to be a bit TOO revealing in HD. When you add 3-D it might simply be TOO much.
At the conclusion of the show I will have some additional thoughts and observations. I also hope to be on Murray Gula's Home Improvement Show on WDFN-AM (1130) on Sunday, January 10th, reporting what I've seen, between noon and 2 p.m.
This is your MIA radio reporter Art Vuolo, Jr., signing off from Sin City. I will spare you the local weather report.