The Gospel Music Association’s annual seminar, GMA Week took place April 9th-13 at the Nashville Convention Center. It’s a large event, with “tracks” for radio, retail, and “MAPS” (Managers, Agents and Promoters). Our friend and production/voice whiz Glenn Nobel attended and since many of our clients share as much as 25% of their audience with Christian radio, he provided us with this report:
You don’t have to be a Christian Broadcaster to learn here. GMA Week started with a full morning of sessions with the legendary “Broadway” Bill Lee (afternoons - WKTU, New York).
Broadway Bill started each session by doing a live talk-up over the ramp of a song. These ad-libbed intros featured his well-known rhyming patter and served to get the audience in the mood for some great content! Lee said that while most jocks think “show prep” is sitting in front of the internet or a bunch of newspapers thinking about things to talk about, his belief is that you have to think about your listeners’ lives and make that your content. The real “prep”, in Lee’s opinion, is in editing, “Edit, edit, edit...all the way up until you actually speak into the mic. Keep thinking of ways to say it shorter and better.”
Running at the same time as Lee’s sessions were panels on promotions (with Jones Radio’s Donna Britt -- formerly of country “The Mountain” in Bend, OR) and sales.
Saturday afternoon featured more powerful talent-focused panels, including one with some of the top Christian jocks in the country, WPOZ/Orlando’s Lisa Williams, WCVO/ New Albany OH’s Jake Sommers, KTIS/St Paul MN’s Chuck Knapp and AIR 1’s Mike Schaeffer. All of the panelists focused on the fact that their success came from learning to be themselves on the air -- real people with a real interest in their listeners and their lives.
Sunday at GMA Week featured roundtable “mini-sessions” over breakfast. Topics included everything from setting up remotes to selecting music to putting together winning promotions -- information that could benefit ANY broadcaster, regardless of format.
Monday’s radio seminars featured more highly usable information. Brian Wright from Audience Development Group led “Building TSL.” Wright’s premise: we can’t expect listeners to listen longer. No one is going to be late for work on purpose just to win a CD. To a listener, LIFE is much more important than radio. However, we CAN, through good content and purposeful recycling get listeners to tune in more OFTEN -- and remember that they did. And, in the current Arbitron-driven landscape, that’s what translates to higher TSL -- more listening occasions. In fact, Wright thinks we should refer to TSL as “TimeS spend listening.”
Wright also broke down TSL to a goal any air personality should be able to reach: convince just 6 people to listen 2 or 3 additional times each. That’s all you have to do during the course of a ratings period. According to Wright, “When we open our microphone we envision many thousands of people out there. It makes it really hard to focus…having to set appointments for 200, 000 people. You don’t have to. With a total or 200,000 people in the market, the total Diary Holders equal 700. Broken down by month, there are only 233 -- or about 58 per week. Or those, your station probably gets mentioned 35 times. From the people in you target, you get mentioned 12 times. Success happens, Wright says, “If you can convince just ½ of these target listeners to listen on just 3-4 more occasions PER WEEK it’s a mathematical certainty that you will see enormous ratings growth. So your real primary goal to rating success is to convince 6 people to listen 3-4 more occasions per week. That all.”
In “Stationality 101” McVay Media’s Daniel Anstandig stated that “stationality” is nothing more than the personality of your radio station. How do you want to be perceived? As fun? Relaxing? Focus your stationality around those adjectives that stand for your radio station. But saying it isn’t enough. You can just run liners saying you’re “the fun station” and have listeners believe you. You have to actually BE fun. The session was named “Stationality 101” according to Anstandig because, “Your stationality is based on a One on One connection with the listener.”
More on reflecting the needs and desires of the listener came later in the afternoon when Brian Wright returned with his session “Branding your station takes more than a hot iron on the butt.” When you say “cola,” people automatically think of Coke. Same thing happens with shoes and Nike. But if you ask someone in your market about “radio,” what comes to their mind? If it’s not your call letters, you haven’t done a good enough job of branding. Wright goes on to explain that you have to make sure your station name is attached to everything you do...and that you have something you’re famous for. That “thing” can be as simple as “The 10 minute weather guarantee,” but make sure when listeners need weather information, YOU are the station they go to (because you’ve “branded” well).
Other GMA seminars included time with promotions genius Doug Harris from Creative Animal, leadership lessions from Curt Swindoll of Cool Strategies, and “What You Don’t See in the Future” with Eric Rhodes of Radio Ink. Radio stations spend a great deal of time and energy worrying about the station “across the street.” But today, we’re losing more listeners to ipod, satellite, and all the other electronic media than to other radio stations. Opportunities to learn from each other become more and more important every year.
There’s another radio seminar in Nashville besides CRS -- and it has a lot to offer every broadcaster. But BYOB. No open bars at GMA (which probably helps with the learning!)
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