Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thank You, Supreme Court

There are two kinds of consulting clients and A&O&B has our share of both, thankfully.

1.  Those who are aggressive and always want to know the latest tactics and strategies that will help them gain an "unfair/stealth" advantage over their competition.

2.  Management who does a great job selling marketing to others but believes radio is a terrific marketing medium which doesn't require any money be spent on external marketing beyond the "free" word of mouth that can be created by great over-the-air content and social media.

We love them both and have hundreds of case studies where both groups have been very successful doing things "their way."

Both #1 and #2 tend to believe that everyone else in broadcasting is like them.  #1 always wants to know what secret things their competition did to make their numbers rise and #2 tends to deny that anyone else spends the kind of money that marketing can take.

I hope both of them saw this:

So, many thanks to the highest court in the land for their decision last week.

It's great to know that calling someone and inviting them to try a new radio station is not the same as attempting to sell them anything.

As a bonus, we now have legal proof for those #2's among us that their competitive managers at the Rotary Club who deny ever doing it may not be telling them the whole truth.

(Now, if only Canada's regulators would come to a similar conclusion.  

I won't hold my breath...)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

This Changes Everything (Again For Yet Another Year)

Just as Canada celebrates Thanksgiving before it comes to the U.S., Numeris and Stats Can bring something to Canadian broadcasters before Nielsen and the Census Bureau do to American media.

On September 9th, A&O&B Canadian clients were reminded:

The demographic questions in the PPM questionnaire are designed to be comparable to Statistics Canada data where appropriate. The demographics relating to industry, occupation, first language learned and home language will be updated to reflect the 2011 census, data from which was made available in 2013.

The revised panel member questionnaires will be put into field in at the beginning of the 2014-2015 broadcast year. Questionnaires are administered to households when they join the panel and subsequently once a year on their anniversary date. All newly recruited PPM households will receive the revised questionnaires and all existing PPM panel households will receive the revised questionnaires on their anniversary date (as per current procedure).

Demographics for the Industry and Occupation questions will be populated through derivation from the existing answers. The new Industry and Occupation questions will be available for the start of the 2014-15 broadcast year.

The new language questions will take up to one year to become fully populated, and will be available at the beginning of the 2015-16 broadcast year. 


In the USA, the more-or-less the same things start to happen on October 1.

The update is a shorthand term for the massive set of demographic estimates and
projections produced for the Nielsen Pop-Facts products. Estimates consist of data
prepared for the current year, and projections (sometimes called forecasts) prepared
for dates five years in the future.

The update is brought up to date for many geographic levels including national, state, county, census tract, and block group. Data is also available for commonly-used areas such as metropolitan areas, cities/towns, ZIP Codes, and media areas such as DMAs. Because it is produced for small areas, the update can be easily aggregated to custom geographic areas specified by the user.

The update begins with the estimation and projection of base counts, such as total population, household population, group quarters population, households, family households, and housing units. Characteristics related to these base counts are then estimated. Population characteristics include age, sex, race, and Hispanic ethnicity.

Households are estimated by age of householder and income. Owner-occupied housing units are estimated by value.

What does this mean to you?

It's highly likely that your station's shares are going to change at least slightly as a result of these updates being made right now.  The only reason they wouldn't would be if you serve an area that hasn't changed in any way since last year and the last census.  Highly unlikely, since even if all other things were stable, everyone got one year older.

Anyone who wants to fully understand their competitive situation simply must fully understand, stay up-to-date with and react to population changes in every market and demographic they target.

As with all things in audience measurement:  it's as much about what they do as what you do!

Monday, October 06, 2014

I Completely Fell Apart

Another true-life lesson, shared in hopes it teaches you something that you don't need to learn the hard way, like I did.

I played trombone in my high school band and orchestra.

It never felt like I was all that talented as a musician, but since I moved up to first chair and eventually my band director encouraged me to enter a regional solo competition, I suppose I was good enough.

However, that Saturday morning in Canton, Ohio, in a school room when my piano accompanist got to the place where I was to come in, I cracked.

Suddenly, my memory was gone.  I had practiced.  I had rehearsed.  I had memorized, but when it was my turn to perform, I lost everything.  My embouchure collapsed.

I didn't play very much, and what I did play was terrible.  I had sounded better in my very first lesson many years before.

I wanted to run and hide as the pianist played her part perfectly.

What I learned:  it's not enough to "prepare." 

From then on, I vowed to always OVER-prepare.

Prepare beyond being ready, beyond knowing your part, past perfect execution.

How did it work out?  A few years later, auditioning for my university band and orchestra, I made the cut.  I've won more than my share of broadcast awards in the intervening years as well.

My hope:  you never have to go through the complete humiliation I had to experience as an adolescent in order to learn how crucial over-prep on everything is.

 I've always wondered what and who (click to read his parents' story if you're not aware of it) it took for the likes of Richard Sherman or Russell Wilson (another powerful tale) to learn that lesson at such a young age.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

No Words


"Our plan may not have been the most elegantly or artfully executed of all possible plans, but we actually understand what it is we think we are trying to do and why we think we're trying to do it," Mr. Metheny told the Tribune in 2010.

A Toast: May we all be able to say as much when our time comes!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Biggest PD Mistakes

  1. Forgets that the most important part of the job is to protect the station's license.
  2. Still thinks that it's a sales versus programming world and as long as (s)he gets ratings (s)he has done the job.
  3. Doesn't worry about heavy radio-users or passionate fans of the kind of music the station plays.  Targeting takes care of itself.
  4. Does whatever it takes to win.  Ethics and fair treatment of his/her employer and coworkers do not matter as long as the station is winning and profitable.
  5. Has a 'not invented here' attitude about new ideas and approaches.  Doesn't bother to network or seek objective opinions of knowledgeable counsel.
  6. Under-estimates the competition.
  7. Sees radio as a craft, not an art.  You can get everything you need to know by copying winning radio stations in the same format in other markets.
  8. Feels that people are replaceable.  As long as everyone is working as hard as possible, everything is fine.
  9. Thinks that business management is the GM's job and time management is a sales thing.
  10. Doesn't need research.  (S)he knows what listeners want.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Three Parts Of Prep

The last in an enduring series written by my friend and hero, Jay Trachman:

One of the nice things about teaching is that it helps one to organize his own thoughts. While explaining to a Jock Doc student recently about how to create Life Content, it occurred to me that the process has three distinct parts, which ought to be kept separate, lest they pollute each other.

Life Content: you, talking about your own life; Sharing the little emotion-causing experiences with your one listener. A lot of them seem so trivial when you're experiencing them, that you forget them by the time you're on the air. Yet these are the kind of raps that individualize you, reach your listener, and bond you to him or her.

Part one of the process is "research": gathering, "standing outside yourself" and noticing that something just caused you a significant emotion.

Then, "getting it down," saving the thought until you can deal with it more thoroughly. The best tools for doing this are a pocket pad, a microcassette or mini-sound recorder. When something happens that you think you might enjoy Sharing with your mate or your best friend -- make a note of it!

You see, when you're talking to someone in real life, the two of you go back & forth in conversation. Eventually, something will remind you to mention the experience in question. When you're talking with your listener, you get no such outside cues; you have to do all the work. That's why you have to make the notes. My own, collected over the past few days: "hummingbirds" ... "wind while biking" ... "radishes."

The second step is your show prep. Here you take the notes you made, and flesh them out into raps. "We've got hummingbirds in our garden! I never saw one in my life until yesterday, except in books, and I'm out watering the garden when all of a sudden, this thing that looks like a fat butterfly swoops in and *stops*! I mean, he's hovering in mid-air, wings beating a mile a minute, this pint-sized miracle, right in front of me! Then off he goes! For a minute, my heart was beating as fast as his wings!"
  • "Did you ever notice while biking, that you're always pedaling into the wind? Whenever I go to the post office, I can feel the wind in my face as soon as I turn the corner, and I always say to myself, 'Brisk wind today; it'll be nice when I'm coming home...' And then when I'm on the way back, instead of a nice tail-wind, it's still blowing into my face... Because, obviously, there really isn't much wind; it just seems that way when you're pedaling... Sometimes I think life's a little like that, don't you?"
  • "I guess this is the end of the cool-weather crop season; my radishes and lettuce have both started to bolt; we're picking them as fast as we can, but they're still setting flower heads; one of the radishes blossomed overnight -- which means it's no longer edible, right? Right. Another little lesson, learned the hard way -- pthbthbthbt!"
Notice how I've led to a feeling at the end of each bit; with any luck, you (or my listener) experienced some feeling in response. That's the whole reason for doing the bit.

Now comes part three of the process, and I can't over-emphasize the importance of keeping it separate from the other two: the editing. You don't ever want to be editing while you're gathering or writing, because it shuts down the creative process. I'd rather throw a bit away later, than miss one because my "censor" was working, and I told myself, "Naah -- that's not worth Sharing..."

Editing means taking the bit I created, then examining it to decide which details are necessary to set up the ending ("kicker") and which just add time. Also, does the structure set up the ending? Does the kicker express my feeling strongly enough so there's a good chance my best friend will respond?

The research is your life... The prep is taking your experiences, identifying the emotions you experienced, and figuring out how to make your best friend feel something, too... The editing is making it fit within the format requirements of brevity and structure, making sure the kicker is strong enough. These are the three distinct parts of creating raps. Keep them separate. You'll enjoy the process more, and find yourself working more productively when you do.

Friday, September 26, 2014

"Brand" new? Nope

In 50 words or less, here is an abbreviated history of brand identity on American and Canadian radio.
  • Fibber McGee And Molly
  • The Jack Benny Show
  • NBC
  • The Mighty 690
  • 77 WABC
  • Color Radio
  • 93 KHJ
  • Westinghouse Broadcasting, KDKA
  • WCCO, Real Radio
  • WSB, Atlanta
  • Paul Harvey News
  • The Big 8
  • Cash Call
  • The Best Variety
  • K-Lite
  • CHUM
  • EZ
  • The Most Music
  • CKNW
  • Froggy
  • Magic
  • Continuous Country
  • 12 in a row
  • Mix
  • The all new…
  • Country 105
  • BOB FM
  • Double Your Paycheck
  • Kiss
  • Jack
.. and the tradition continues.

How does your branding stand up?