New venture takes anti-payola paperwork online


Eliot Spitzer’s phony crusade against so-called “payola” not only helped get him elected Governor of New York, but also created a business opportunity. Barry Griffin stepped into that opportunity, creating Presage, based in Boca Raton, FL, which offers radio stations an Internet-based way to easily generate and deliver the paperwork required to comply with the consent degrees that Spitzer struck with the major record labels while Attorney General of New York.

Griffin, who spent a couple of decades as a regional record rep, recently demonstrated his system at a Sarasota gathering of the Florida Chapter of the Federal Communications Bar Association and again for RBR in a live online session. Record companies now require a letter signed by the General Manager each time a radio station receives something of value from a record label, regardless of whether that is a single CD, an in-studio visit from an artist or an expensive trip given away to a lucky listener. Presage, which is now being tested by several radio groups, makes the entire process electronic. The station PD or MD signs onto the system and uses drop-down boxes to identify what’s being requested from a label. The GM doesn’t even have to log on, but will receive emails at a specified interval with all pending requests from the cluster’s PDs. He/she can quickly approve or reject them and, for those approved, the required letter with an electronic signature is sent to the record label via email. A record of the correspondence is also saved in the system, so the station can check back if there is ever any question about compliance.

For radio stations, one sweet point is that the Presage service costs them nothing. A surcharge is added on to cash-paid label promotions, so the record companies pay the freight. Although record labels have cut back on promotion due to the consent agreements with Spitzer, Griffin figures there is still quite a bit of promotion going on. So, he’s pitching Presage as the software fix for every radio station that reports record airplay to either Radio & Records or Mediabase.