The Tom-Tom: Steve Parker

Never without an opinion or words to express them, Steve Parker riffs on last month’s Tom-Tom and other topics. Parker created, writes for and moderates the only automotive-related blog on The Huffington Post website. He maintains his own site ( and blog, pens a weekly print column and hosts a daily NASCAR news update radio show, American Racing Today, that is heard nationally.

Steve Parker:

Steve Parker

I got a kick out of “Truck Writer” Tom Kelley when he wrote: “To be certain, the print-on-paper channel of communications will never go completely away, just as radio didn’t kill newspapers, and television didn’t kill radio. Every method of delivery has its pros and cons, and as new methods become widely used, the other methods become further refined, surviving by doing what they alone can do best.”

Well, ol’ Tom misses the boat, as so many others have and continue to do. The Internet is not simply replacing specific newspapers, magazines, movies, radio or TV — it’s replacing them ALL.

Every media in every market is migrating to the Web. There was a big piece in the pro-radio industry website this week about Internet radio (what I call WebRadio) listenership BOOMING as traditional radio numbers continue to drop (satellite radio is dead, so it doesn’t even count anymore) and TV in all its forms digs itself into an ever-deeper hole. I can watch “60 Minutes” on CBS’ website, for example, whenever I want, without commercials, and get lots of video which didn’t make it onto the show. from NBC/Universal has become a huge Website in under a year, a neat, clean and easy-to-use place where visitors get free access to THOUSANDS of TV shows and movies.

And feature films now show-up on the Web before they’re available in their DVD or traditional theater forms. There was a big story about a new film due in theaters last week which hit the Web first, and the FBI got heavily and very publicly involved in finding out who the culprits were … How long until the FBI says, “Forget it – we’ve got other jobs to do!” and deals are worked out between Websites and the film (and TV) studios similar to iTunes and other pay-to-play sites? I’d say this year …

I’m going to be writing a bit on “getting back to basics” when it comes to the auto business in all its forms, motor racing – and what we’ve quaintly referred to as “automotive journalism.” That auto journo business has not served the public well, especially in the US, and in fact has harmed the public, and with car-maker and aftermarket ad budgets a fraction of what they were only a year ago, and not coming back anytime soon, if ever, that next sound you hear will be the “enthusiast books” shutting their doors forever. Especially if, like most newspapers, they don’t have sales teams crafty enough or interested enough in the ways of the Web to make a go of it online (I happen to think lazy, unimaginative sales leadership is the #1 problem of print publications and broadcast outlets – and after 35 years in all those businesses, I know whereof I speak … Any salesperson would rather sign the Dodgers to a one-year contract, take the client to dinner and a show twice a year and never have to think about the client again … until it’s time to sign next year’s contract – But to actually “think” and come up with new ideas? Fuggedaboutit!).

Good line about Iacocca saying a mag cover was worth $1 million. I can remember (and so can you) when any of the Big Three would fly a car out to LAX for a last-minute magazine shoot, stay on the ground two hours, put the car back in the plane and fly it home to Detroit, all in the space of one day’s work … And all we had to do was ask!

Man, are those days over!

Tom Kelley responds: Great counterpoint from somebody inside the web. Short version is that Steve thinks the shift to the web is further along than I do. Capability-wise, the web is definitely in the lead, consumption-wise, the consumer is quickly catching up. As for the long-term survival of traditional newspapers/television/radio, let’s just say I’m not buying any stock in those industries.

Regardless of where we are on the time line of our move to the web, the main thrusts of the article about the evolving structure of information flow and the journalist’s need to be multimedia savvy, are only further emphasized by Steve’s viewpoint.

Steve’s article does provide some great insight to the sales side of the business. However, on most days I’ll have to disagree with Steve about the ol’ part of “ol’ Tom.” I think he might have a few more miles on his odometer.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Paul Stenquist

    I don’t see a complete migration to the web any more than I see the Kindle totally replacing hardcover books. Yes, the web will be the major communications player, but it won’t be the only mouthpiece. What a dull scenario that would be. I get the NY Times online, and I sometimes look at a few stories there, but I would much rather have breakfast with my hard copy Times. Computers are okay, but we need more. Many purveyors of print will perish, but those who know how to balance their priorities will live to serve us for years to come.

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