Thursday, March 3, 2011

CRS DAY TWO (From Country Air Check)

Following Carrie Underwood’s National Anthem and the civic
benediction of Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, keynote and Scripps
Networks honcho Ken Lowe (HGTV, Food Network, GAC) was
introduced. Previewed first in an aircheck from his radio days,
Lowe was subsequently feted by his almost-show-stealing college
cohort Rick Dees. Yes, the Rick Dees. Riffing about on-air foibles
like mistaking the word “orgasmic” for “organic” and “scrotum”
for “sternum,” Dees went on to refer to his colonoscopy and
the proctologist’s replay of video showing that a blockage was
actually Ryan Seacrest. “That guy will do anything to get on
video,” Dees exclaimed.

Dees’ University of North Carolina roommate related the niche
cable network business to that of Country radio. “I’m not an expert
at all,” Lowe admitted. “If anything, I am a fanatic about radio.”

He called the lessons he learned in his first broadcast medium the
“underpinning” of his career, revealing that radio inspired early network
innovations including a call center, respect for the viewer in terms of
language and innuendo, and placing equal or greater emphasis on the
audio component to best serve multi-tasking women.

Lowe stressed the need for innovation, pointing to challenges
including rapidly evolving delivery platforms as well as widespread
competition: “The Syfy Channel has a cooking show, for goodness
sakes!” Scripps’ decision to create the Cooking Channel as a flanker to
the Food Network was a tactic straight from radio, he noted. Lowe also
suggested that leaders need to have a healthy tolerance for risk. “We’ve
all become reliant on market research,” he said, urging the assembled to
“rely a little less on research and a little more on gut instinct.” Urging
engagement with the audience, he pointed to social media and his
company’s successes in that area. “Get into the game quicker,” he said.
“Get in early.”

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