Media operations must seize the lead of mobile revolution: CBS exec

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Perhaps it was the time Cyriac R. Roeding spent immobilized in a Texas slammer that drove home the value of mobile entertainment.

The man spearheading CBS' push into wireless media was a German exchange student in 1990 when he was invited to participate in an Orange County, Texas, sheriff's department program to spread the word among teens about the consequences of breaking the law. As part of the project, the honors student spent 90 minutes in a jail cell, according to a story in The Beaumont Enterprise. "It's nasty," Mr. Roeding was quoted as saying. "After 30 minutes, you get the feeling you can't do anything."

Fast-forward to summer 2005, when at age 32 Mr. Roeding was named VP-wireless at CBS Broadcasting Digital Media. His job is to devise deals that could make any moment entertaining for mobile phone users and lucrative for media companies. Mr. Roeding is among those cutting-edge players who will define the rules of the converged media world-helping decide "who is playing which role in the game."


His strong belief is that media companies, which already have relationships with marketers, should be in charge rather than wireless service pro-viders.

"It will be easiest for us and most beneficial if we offer 360-degree ad packages," Mr. Roeding said. "We're going to find a model that makes sense for everybody-including the consumer. Our No. 1 priority is to make the consumer happy."

Jim Manis, senior VP-industry development at mobile marketing operation M-Qube, thinks Mr. Roeding is the man for the task. "He's smart, creative, knows the space, [is] demanding and always wants to drive applications to the next level," said Mr. Manis, who's also chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association.

Since joining CBS last August, Mr. Roeding has pushed the media company into the spotlight in a convergence of the TV screen and its baby cousin, the cellphone screen. The end product will be a marketer's Holy Grail: interactive TV with a built-in billing mechanism via wireless service providers, which will add the cost of services to their bill.

Late last year, CBS in an innovative deal linked content to a sales pitch for ringtones. In "CSI: New York," as part of the script, the detective played by Carmine Giovinazzo had his cellphone ring to Coldplay's "Talk" and discussed the ringtone as part of the script. During the commercial break, the ringtone was offered for $2.49.

Previously, Mr. Roeding devised a pay-for-interactivity program with "Big Brother" in which viewers text-messaging votes influenced the course of the reality program, giving the public the option of bringing back a favorite even after being voted out. Unlike Fox's "American Idol," where only carrier text-message charges accrue, "Big Brother" callers were charged 49¢ to participate, an undisclosed portion of which went to CBS.

Mr. Roeding has kept CBS in the small-screen picture with a deal for clips and other content with Verizon Wireless' Vcast and Amp'd Mobile, an entertainment-focused carrier using Verizon Wireless' network.

Mr. Roeding, who lives in Los Angeles with his girlfriend, grew up in Wehrheim, Germany, and graduated from the Technical University of Karlsruhe. Fluent in German and English, with an understanding of Japanese, Mr. Roeding had an eclectic assortment of jobs, ranging from working as a radio disc jockey and reporter to spending a half-year in Japan studying management.

Just Asking

Cyriac R. Roeding


How was life as an exchange student?

The family I stayed with had no space, so I used a tiny room next to the kitchen. After I left, I felt half-American.

What’s your passion?

Traveling to remote cultures, like hidden temples in jungles.

What was your worst subject in school?

Choir. It was the worst. I got a B, but the other 50 people got an A.

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