Howard vs. Opie and Anthony
Satellite radio has leapt to the forefront, as two of the major forces in the shock-jock arena have decided to pit themselves against each other. Opie and Anthony, known for their outrageous antics on a WNEW-FM show that was syndicated across the Infinity broadcasting network, were fired from the station about two years ago. Now they've found a new home on XM. And Howard Stern, known for his drive-time segments of prurient interests for the last quarter-century, is leaving FM for Sirius.
Whether these shows suit your tastes or not, it's a fact that the demographic listening to these two shows (males aged 18 to 49) is the same demographic purchasing car audio—especially satellite radio. When Howard makes the move to Sirius, a smart retailer will be co-promoting the event to make sure everyone who wants to go with Stern on the transition to satellite will be along for the ride. Do you have your "Howard is moving to Sirius—Get your equipment here so you don't miss any of the show!" sign ready for the window display?
Even smarter retailers will be transitioning traditional FM and AM customers to satellite radio today. Moreover, the wisest retailers will offer (and perhaps even close on) both satellite services to offer the customer the best of both worlds.
Sirius has been going through a major growth stage since the signing of Stern and the hiring of Mel Karmazin, who recently ran the Viacom empire, as its new CEO. Outgoing CEO Joe Clayton will remain chairman of Sirius; he had these comments on the events: "I have a vested interest in Sirius Satellite Radio to succeed, and retailers should be taking advantage of the margins we give the retailer on hardware and services. Besides Howard, we have the NFL, the NHL, basketball, and Eminem. Mel will lead us to the next phase of satellite radio programming, and I will be there to help him with receiver design and our expansion into Canada." I asked Clayton about Stern playing a role in this transitioning company, and he said, "Howard's show is about his life. And this is a big chunk of his life. We just had a rally in Union Square, N.Y., led by Stern with 10,000 people attending. Retailers should look for more events from Sirius to promote Stern."
On the other side of the fence, Dan Murphy, senior vice president, product marketing and distribution for XM Satellite Radio said, "XM offers retailers the most advanced satellite radios in the marketplace. We recently launched the first portable XM2Go satellite radio, the Delphi MyFi. It's the first portable, wearable satellite radio. You can now carry XM Radio in the palm of your hand and listen to it anywhere, anytime. With the MyFi, you can listen to XM live, or you can store five hours of programming to listen to later. It's effortless. The MyFi is the latest 'first' for XM. XM was the first satellite radio company, the first to offer a satellite plug-and-play radio, the first to offer a boombox, and now we're the first to offer a portable, handheld unit."
Mobile electronics specialists may be scared off by the prospect of a totally portable, iPod-style device, but this is myopic thinking. Really, the consumers who will get the most out of MyFi are the ones who install a dedicated car kit. This way, the unit can be listened to in "real time," or the unit could be recharging and absorbing music while the customer is running errands. Either way, creative installers will find a multitude of ways to integrate MyFi into customers' vehicles. Although satellite radio will be great for portable units, the real bulk of consumers are the ones using our nation's highway system, stuck in traffic.
Murphy commented on XM's entertainment stable. "Opie and Anthony joined XM in October, and they've been a huge hit with listeners," he said. "XM provides the perfect platform for them to entertain their fans, in the same way that HBO provided more creative freedom for people in TV. Comedy programs like 'Opie and Anthony' are some of the most popular shows on XM. One of our most-listened-to channels overall is XM Comedy, which offers stand-up comedy from the likes of George Carlin and Chris Rock, and we also have Laugh USA, which serves up family-friendly comedy from people like Bill Cosby and Jerry Seinfeld." XM also offers Major League Baseball coverage and 21 different traffic and weather stations for major metro markets.
Clearly, the way to most customers who will "want Howard or Opie and Anthony" is to use plug-and-play-style units. Keeping a multitude of plug-and-play units in stock will help you to facilitate sales. But don't just sell customers plug-and-plays and send them on their merry ways. The difference between a C-tailer and a mass merchant is installation ability. Since the shock-jock rush began, I have installed about a half-dozen plug-and-play units (and some are far from plug-and-play if you want the job done right) into a multitude of vehicle styles and have come up with some suggestions. The best thing about plug-and-play installations is that a custom installation will not only yield you a happy customer, but in addition, the customer will return to you when the unit has to be removed. You can then charge them again for the reinstallation of the unit into a new vehicle. Plug-and-plays are also simple to install, so even your novice installers can tackle the job. The average consumer, however, cannot install a plug and play without having pile of spaghetti wires running across the vehicle interior, not only being unsightly, but also potentially dangerous. -Brett Solomon
Plug-and-Play Installation Tips and Tricks for Profitability
1.) Most customers want to retain their cigarette lighter port for cell phones and other items, and the quickest way to establish power and ground for a plug-and-play is to dissemble the cigarette lighter receptacle, get the power and ground from the wires running to it. Remember, of course, to use a multimeter, because sometimes the wires are not colored the way you'd think they should be.
2.) Check which is the "hot" wire to the unit. Once power and ground is established, dissemble the male power plug and wire in a fuse of the same amperage before the unit for safety's sake (yes, even though the cigarette lighter is fused at the vehicle electrical junction box, there is still enough potential amperage in that fuse for a safety issue). Usually a three- to five-amp fuse will handle the job.
3.) You'll find that most brackets for plug-and-play units will have poor ergonomics if they are mounted to the center console. Usually, the best place for mounting ergonomically without leaving interior damage is using the glove compartment door. I like to through-bolt through the glove compartment for a very secure mount (double-sided tape just doesn't cut it for a unit that gets prodded and pushed every day). Make sure you double-check with the customer if this is OK. When the customer wants to return the vehicle to stock, I have found that an easy way to cover the small holes left from the installation is to use color-matching silicon adhesive (check your local marine supply store for different colors). A couple of dabs should have the leasing company looking in the other direction. If you have a customer that is a real stickler, the holes can be filled with a product such as Marine-Tex and then SEM painted the color of the interior. Of course, the customer can always just purchase an OEM glove compartment door.
4.) If you are using a unit with an FM modulator and a transmitter antenna is included, remember to install it and wire-tie the antenna pigtail to the power wire for the best performance; don't leave it bunched up in a ball. -BS