Friday, May 30, 2008

I Never Thought I'd Say I Was Glad Country Had A Weak Qualitative Profile In Something

.. but now I do. The country format's qualitative is generally something we're proud to tout to prospects. Whether you look at Media Audit, Scarborough or BBM RTS data, country radio listeners have great indexes, compared to average radio users, in household income, working women, vehicles in the driveway, tendency to own their home, active and involved family values attributes, travel, milk, beer, wine consumption, etc, etc ad infinitum. Just please don't ask about education level. That's a qualitative measure - number of years in school - where country normally doesn't do as well when compared to national averages.

Thank goodness!

No doubt the latest trend spotted by Edison Research President Larry Rosin will eventually catch up with US too, but it would be MY guess based on the above that we're going to be helped by it in the short term, before it ultimately takes a toll on us too, unless radio - country radio too of course - as a whole addresses the problem.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

"By The Numbers," But What Numbers?

R&R/Billboard/BDS and Country Aircheck/Mediabase (monitored spin) charts agree that this week Brad Paisley's "I'm Still A Guy" is #1 for the second week in a row and Phil Vassar's "Love Is A Beautiful Thing" is #2 for the second week as well.

Then, the two of them diverge as R&R/Billboard/BDS' audience weighting kicks in and makes James Otto's "Just Got Started Lovin' You" #3, whereas CA/Mediabase ranks Rascal Flatts' "Every Day" #3.

Julianne Hough's self-titled new LP ranks #1 on the sale-based Soundscan chart this week and #2 in the week's sales is Taylor Swift's LP, followed by Toby Keith's "35 Biggest Hits."

Big Champaige's tabulation of digital downloads/file sharing ranks Otto's single #1 this week with Carrie Underwood's "Last Name" #2, followed by Kenny Chesney's "Better As A Memory" and then Rascal Flatts. #5 on this chart is Miranda Lambert's "Gunpower & Lead," which comes from an LP Soundscan ranks #14 this week ("Crazy Ex-Girlfiend"), R&R makes it #16 and Country Aircheck says its #14.

#1 on I-Tunes country chart this week is Carrie, followed by two Taylor Swift tunes (#2 "Our Song" and #3 "Picture To Burn") and then #4 "Gun Powder And Lead."

Confused yet?

Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Bill Virgin talked to KCMS (Spirit 105) music director/afternoon co-host Sarah Taylor, who was just named major market music director of the year at the Gospel Music Association's Radio Echo Awards and the subject of how she uses technology to help her find new buzz songs to add the the otherwise very safe/researched mix of her station.

She could have been talking about country when she told Virgin in an interview printed in today's paper:
"Back in the day, we had a core of artists such as Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael Smith. Now, I'm getting e-mails every day about music a listener has discovered on the Internet. My generation (folks in their 20's), they like to find things out first. When we hear artists on the radio, that's old news. It's more song-driven rather than artist-driven. There's more to chose from. It makes my job harder and easier. New artists are showing up in contemporary Christian music; Taylor cites names such as Jeremy Camp, Chris Tomlin and Casting Crowns. New approaches are showing up, too."

Sales and digital rankers do respond to new music fast, but are the people who are listed in those rankers listening to your station? Will they do so even if you play the songs on their digital players?

That's where your gut comes in. Will this song fit between the songs you know your core listeners love?

One way to double check your instincts quickly is with internet music testing making use of your local listener database. It's inexpensive and reacts quickly, but are your secondary users - the folks you'd like to get to listen more to you and less to your duplicated cume competition - in that database in proper proportion to the percentage you need them in your cume and average quarter hour audience?

Probably not, and that's where callout comes in. It's slower to pick up trends of course, but that's not because its inaccurate but because it is measuring responses from your heavy users as well as people who listen less -- but you want them to listen more -- so they are slower to become familiar with new things and their tastes may be quite different than your core on many songs.

A&O's weekly National AccuTest and even our quarterly gold research tracking updates, as with many of the researchers we recommend and work with, attempt to boil these variations down into one score, but it doesn't take much study of our client exclusive song reports to see that there are at least eleven metrics, if not even more, Mike and I recommend you trend on each song in order to understand national - and of course your local - audience's response.

Programming has always been a mix of art and science.

Too much reliance on any one side of the equation makes you vulnerable, so as more measures of success or failure, acceptance or rejection, become available, it's wise to track and trend them all in their proper perspective.

A&O is proud of the tools we provide to help you do just that, not the least of which is two very important tools we're delighted to share with you at any time for the price of a phone call ... our ears.

People Dishes On Shania

Shania Twain's close friend and longtime assistant is finally speaking out – and denying reports she's behind the singer's surprise split from her husband of 14 years, PEOPLE reports in its new issue.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the news of the alleged affair became public, Marie-Anne Thiébaud, 37, told PEOPLE, "You cannot believe everything you read in the press." When asked directly if she had an affair with Twain's husband, music producer Robert "Mutt" Lange, she replied, "No."

That contradicts several sources close to the situation, who say Thiébaud and Lange left their spouses for each other and continue to maintain a romantic relationship. Twain, 42, and Lange, 59, who have a 6-year-old son, Eja, announced their separation May 15. Since then, the "You're Still the One" singer – "devastated" by the revelations, according to sources – has sought refuge with family in her native Canada.

-- Alexis Chiu in People

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Country Thunder Cancellation: A Worrisome Sign

Daily Light reporter Amy Burk: Country Thunder officials announced Wednesday that they have been forced to cancel the Texas festival that was planned for May 29-June 1. In a press release, they said their decision was based on several factors including “a depressed economy, low ticket sales and the financial outcome of last year’s event after catastrophic rainfall and the cancellation of 70 percent of the artists.”
“We really hope they’ll give the festival an opportunity to grow in Texas. Bad weather last year ruined things for everyone involved. They have these kinds of festivals up north all summer long and it just hasn’t been tried in Texas for a long time. If people are just able to experience it they will want to come back and be a part of it every year.” -- Artist Neil McCoy, in a telephone interview with the Daily Light just hours before the announcement. His show was one of the ones canceled due to the weather last year.

It's getting harder to justify huge event shows as the number of acts who can draw the very large crowds they require gets smaller, so their prices have gone into the stratosphere.

You can't blame a promoter for a bit of risk aversion in that challenging financial environment.

Sadly, it doesn't bode well for more giant outdoor country music shows until some new superstars emerge on the upswing who can be booked, hopefully for next summer, at realistic prices for both fans and promoters, or is the future more festival shows owned by the superstars themselves?

Everyone's A Critic (Including Me)

This isn't about KFKF or WYCD, it's about all of us these days and the things we think we need to do to get our share of web revenues. In fact, I single out these two stations because in many ways their websites are loads better than most radio station home pages.

High marks: the KFKF loyal listeners signup form right at the top of the page and the fact KFKF puts its image and branding in the top of the frame so that the first impression you get is about the station you came to visit, not an ad.

Low marks: if first impressions are lasting ones, the fact that almost half of the page is advertising may tell a first time viewer that the station carries almost as many ads as programming on the air too.

High marks: WYCD puts its "listen live" button right at the top and that the amount of ad real estate on the page is about the same percentage of space as the music to commercials percentages on the air.

Low marks: let's find a way to show advertisers that our websites are worth the money and will get results without having to use irritating, flashing banners above our own image and usage-building on our main page.

Hats off to WYCD for making sure that the very prominent rotating banners are all about ME, their listener and invite me to get more-deeply engaged with the inside pages. Nice to see "listen online" at the top of KFKF's menu bars.

Tip for both: where are the podcasts of today's best material? That's where I'd put the ads, inside the content listeners expect when they come to our home pages.

Compare your station's home page to Is your web presence as clean, simple and easy to immediately figure out what you're there for so I can get what I want as fast as possible without having to think?

If you know of a radio website which achieves that, I'd love to learn about it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Old Nashville Promotion Executives Never Die

.. they just seem to live on to try to write compelling email memos which are interesting enough to make you read the 'news' they send about artists you've never heard of with songs that have little or no chance of ever being on R&R-Billboard or Country Aircheck's weekly 'most added' rankers.

Like Larry Pareigis, who has been a major market country programmer in the 90's and then rode the Dixie Chicks roller coaster all the way up and then all the way back down again too. He's hawking a guy named Eric Durrance and is into very helpful branding guidance this week:

By most accounts (critics and audiences alike – and I agree), INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL is a fairly mediocre film that hoovered up more than $300M in a mere 5 days this past weekend worldwide.

At this point last year, 7 movies had zoomed past the $100M mark domestically – this year only 3 have:

Horton Hears A Who
Iron Man
Indiana Jones 4

People’s mental folders are so full with overstimulation these days coming at them from every conceivable angle that superbrands rule the day, even if they’re mediocre – name recognition is a major part of success but can also fail when what’s being sold doesn’t match the perceived caliber of the name (see Clinton, Hillary – Campaign 2008).

To be an active superbrand, one must not only be useful, fun, cool & meaningful, but also have to provide a place of community – a rallying point of fellow enthusiasts, and the 3 properties above do that for the young (Horton), the tweeners (Iron Man) and the not-so-young (me taking my nephew to see Indy 4). asks fellow marketers yearly several questions about their favorite brands, really clever questions like:

What brand would you most like to sit next to at a dinner party? Why?

Dinner parties have several implicit and unspoken rules. Do not, for example, do or say anything that would embarrass yourself, your host, or a fellow guest. Dinner parties are about being civilized, interesting, and engaged. And which brand would brandjunkies prefer to sit next to?

The Top Five: Apple, Virgin, Google, Coca-Cola, Nike


What brand, if sent back 100 years, would have the biggest impact on the course of history? How?

Ah, the time-traveling brandjunkie dilemma. Where modern branding intermingles with history and creates a different, perhaps unrecognizable, present. Crank up your time machine and bring your branding expertise.

The Top Five: Apple, Microsoft, Google, Coca-Cola, Ford


If you were to describe yourself as being a brand, what brand would you be? Why?

We all know the saying, "You are what you eat." Well, you are also the brands that you are inspired by. Every time you connect with a brand—or go all out and purchase it—you're saying something about yourself. Here is what brandjunkies had to say about themselves as brands.

Top Five Answers: Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola, Virgin, BMW

We’re all trying to build brands that are meaningful or lasting, whether it’s the clients or companies we work for…or ourselves.

How best do we all arrive at that destination?

Then, there's Tony Benkin, who has been through four different record promotion posts over the last few years and is now being paid to hype some fellow named Joshua Stevens who sounds to me like he could be the guy Alan Jackson was singing about in "Gone Country."

Tony isn't as lengthy or thoughful as Larry in his weekly update. He just wants to make you smile, critique radio today and adds a famous quote:

Did you know?
- There is a city called Rome on every continent.
- Honey is the only food that does not spoil. Honey found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs has been tasted by archaeologists and found edible.
- The average person laughs 10 times a day!

Here’s a problem with Voice-tracking...on 2 different stations in the Nashville market, I heard a weather break where they both talked about how it was Sunny and 85...even tho it rained all day long. One even called it “the perfect day to get outside”. Whoops.

Quote of the week: "Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you've got to start young." -- Fred Astaire

It's too late for me to start young, I fear, but heck their efforts did not end up in the Temple Of Doom (the deleted messages folder) and actually did pay off today in getting me to blog about Eric and Joshua.. and (if they are really lucky) perhaps even motivated you to click on their websites and listen to a few bars of their new music.

C'est la promotional vie, eh Indie!?

Be Careful Out There

Gord Eno, PD of JRfm 93.7 Vancouver's New Country creates a "Weekly Jock Memo" email each Friday to communicate key issues for the next week to his full time and part time air staff and this week he included this timely reminder while encouraging all personalities to actively engage in social networking with listeners under the title "Keep Watch:"
'At the British columbia Association Of broadcasters convention a couple of weeks ago, one particular speaker left a fearsome impression. He is not an intimidating or ogerish presence evoking nightmares. Actually, he!s a very nice guy. Dan Burnett is a well known Vancouver media lawyer. At the conference he provided an update on current media legal issues and any new developments we should know. He cited the potential of libel and other nasty legally things with our websites. Open forums can be susceptible to nasty comments that can turn into lawsuits. He urged us to be sure that we don't fall victim to a poisonous posting. Our Facebook Discussion Board and Wall are places we have to keep an eye on. Fortunately, the nature of our business justifies visiting Facebook during our workday, so it is easy to monitor the comments added to those sections.'

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Can You Make Money By Moving Your News Off Air And Online?

It looks like you're going to have to (and soon!):

An Associated Press executive has revealed some of the results of its survey of 18-to-34-year-olds around the world -- conducted in an attempt to understand how young people consume the news and how news organizations can check the decline in young readership.

Jim Kennedy, Vice President and Director of Strategic Planning at AP, summed up the soon-to-be-released survey results in an interview with Jean-Yves Chainon, of the World Editors Forum "Editors Weblog" Web site.

“We looked for just regular people. The only prerequisite was that we wanted them to be digital consumers.”

Kennedy will present the survey findings in full at the World Editors Forum, which will be held June 1-4 in Gothenburg, Sweden. The survey found that young consumers get their news in an irregular fashion, and generally have no ritual of news consumption, like reading the newspaper or watching the evening news every day. However, the survey also found that young people, in addition to facts and updates, wanted the news to be presented with context.

“They wanted to find a path to the backstory. And they wanted to find a path to what’s going to happen next.”

Other significant findings of the survey included the fact that most of the survey group shared news with each other, whether via text message, e-mail, or social networks, like Myspace and Facebook. Also, the survey found that 16 of the 18 participants got their news through e-mail, a medium which traditional media like newspapers rarely employ. Kennedy also noted that the survey turned up few cultural differences between young consumers, telling Chainon “The young digital consumers in Hyderabad were very similar to the ones in Silicon Valley in the United States.”

The survey group consisted of 18 individuals, living in six cities or regions around the world. Those places were: Houston, Philadelphia; Kansas City; Silicon Valley; Brighton, England; and Hyderabad, India.

There's a new definition for "broadcast" news, and we are not alone (as if you didn't know), according to the latest issue of Editor & Publisher Magazine:
In recent years, The Newspaper Association of America has managed to wrangle a varied crew of scolders from within and outside the industry to shake up publishers during its annual conference. Ann MacDonald, then CMO of Macy's Corporate Marketing, took a dim view of newspapers' circulation slide. Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott told the crowd the world's largest retailer had little use for newspaper advertising. Craig "Craigslist" Newmark, the guy who siphoned millions of classified dollars from newspapers, blithely informed publishers that they were "screwed."

I don't think radio news is "screwed," unless we keep doing newscasts on the hour and half hour as if that's what people still need. Now, while you have a news image (if you have one), get the folks who count on you for local info to sign up for email updates from you which they can forward to their friends when stories interest them.

THAT is where the growth will come from. Soon.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Listen To A $100,000 Radio Spot

Here's to the winner Broken Heart for Combos by TBWA\Chiat\Day New York!

Click on the Radio Mercury Awards website to hear some wonderful uses of radio:
"Now in 17th year, we’re the only competition devoted solely to Radio and the only Radio competition that cash prizes, including the coveted 100,000 Grand Prize."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

There Are At Least Ten Restaurants Within Walking Distance

Arbitron's New York office is at 142 West 57th Street
. I am as concerned about getting sample sizes up as anyone in our business, but somone needs to take someone to lunch and say these things face to face.

The latest figures posted at ARB's site estimate radio's total national 12+ audience in the continuous measurement markets at 21,074,800 in an average quarter hour.

The country format has an estimated 1,672,200 of those folks.

That's only 7.9% of the AQH persons but our above average TSL enables us to generate a national average quarter hour share of 9.7 from those people.

How big does the national sample have to be to make sure that our 7.9% is fairly represented book after book? Once we have that number, let's extrapolate it to every local market.

I'd bet that will end up being +/- 10-15% of the sample targets listed in the book, not 30-40%.

Hopefully, we can all agree that it makes sense to spend money on accomplishing that rather than buying multi-media advertising airing our (very) dirty laundry in pubic.

(ps - BIG thanks to Jones Radio Networks VP of Country Media Jim Murphy for doing the math correctly for me!)

Toby Keith's Newest "ILTB&G" May Be In Kansas

A new Harrah's, including a TK restaurant, was one proposal presented to the Kansas Lottery Commission after four developers on Monday proposed their ideas for building resort casinos in Sumner County in south-central Kansas. The commission didn't say when they would vote on the proposals, but they face a deadline May 27.

Meanwhile, Toby is wrapping up his new CMT-produced movie (set for theatrical release on August 8), filming of which started after he returned from an Iraq and Afganistan USO tour and getting ready to tour this summer (starting in Birmingham), so it's as busy as ever in his world.

Scenes from "B4MH" are now posted on Toby's website.

AP: Urban Puts Awards In The Proper Perspective

Nicole Kidman and husband Keith Urban at the Academy of Country Music Awards. Photo / Reuters

Nicole Kidman and husband Keith Urban at the Academy of Country Music Awards. Photo / Reuters

New Zealand-born Keith Urban has missed out on two major Academy of Country Music (ACM) awards amid a row over how the top prize was decided. Urban was laughing when he turned up to the awards in Las Vegas with pregnant wife Nicole Kidman on his arm, but left empty-handed after Kenny Chesney won the entertainer of the year category. Urban was also nominated for top male vocalist, but lost out there too. Still, Urban got to perform at the awards ceremony, and he and Kidman cuddled and looked happy as they posed for photographers before the event.

A beaming Kidman told reporters she is "very excited" about the impending birth of her first child with Urban. When asked if the baby had been kicking she replied: "Oh yeah. Not right now, but it has been."

Urban says the reality of becoming a father only fully hit him when he and Kidman found out the sex of their unborn child, which he would not reveal.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Keith Urban ACM '08 - "Tu Compania"

In case you missed his amazing ACM '08 performance, here's a link to the You Tube video.

Can you imagine being one of those folks lucky enough to be standing right next to him during this incredible event?

Keith Urban is undeniably country's historic talent of ANY year!

"Uh Oh!"

Thanks to talent coach and consultant Doug Erickson of Englewood, Colorado (303.290.8839) and talk radio's Brian Wilson for ths link to Wired Magazine's report on internet TV,
along with these probes:

One less reason for your traffic reports, and the revenue they provide.

One less reason for news, if you carried any.

One more big reason for some kind of plan to upgrade your content ASAP.

And you thought your market was competitive already...!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Eddie Arnold Made Chart History Today

In anticipated celebration of what was to be the 90th birthday of country music legend Eddy Arnold, his longtime recording home – RCA Nashville – had planned to approach radio stations with a request: to play the song, “To Life” – a track from his 2005 album, After All These Years – with the intention of earning one more chart hit, and a historic milestone, for the country gentleman who recorded such classics as “Make the World Go Away” and “Bouquet of Roses.” Eddy Arnold’s passing on May 8, just days before his 90th birthday on May 15, brought a special poignancy to the effort, and radio honored the man and his music by granting the Country Music Hall of Fame legend the 147th chart single of his career.

With the appearance of “To Life” on this week’s Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, Arnold becomes the only country artist in history to enjoy chart success in each of the past seven decades. He also acquires the career distinction of having the longest span of charted country singles, beginning with “Each Minute Seems a Million Years” on June 30, 1945, and now with “To Life,” nearly 63 years later.

In praise of Arnold, Sony BMG Nashville Chairman Joe Galante hailed, “He is one of those rare singers whose voice is timeless … his success on the charts is now the same.”

RCA Nashville Vice President, National Promotion, Keith Gale offered, “We are so thankful that Country Radio joined us in this tribute to Eddy Arnold. We honored the man and his music. And we did it together.”

Initiated by the RCA Nashville promotion department, “To Life” was made available to radio in its original version as well as a special edit that included comments Arnold had made in an interview done for the label at the time of the album. Everyone at RCA had a special fondness and tremendous regard for Arnold, having spent time with him at events through the years, and the RCA Nashville staff was present at the public services held for him at the Ryman Auditorium this past Wednesday, May 14.

Arnold, who years ago earned the nickname “The Tennessee Plowboy,” was 87 years old when his final RCA Nashville album was released in 2005. At the time, Galante recalls him saying that RCA was his home, and indeed, his passion for music-making never faded – even recently expressing interest to Galante in recording yet another album.

Truly a towering figure in the history of country music, Arnold was the Country Music Association’s first Entertainer of the Year in 1967, and in 2005, he was presented with a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award. In a career with record sales in excess of 85 million albums, Eddy Arnold earned more Top 10 hits (92) and more consecutive Top 10 hits (67) than anyone in country history. Ranked as Billboard’s #1 country artist of all time, he also earned 28 chart-topping singles that collectively spent an astounding 145 weeks at #1 – an accomplishment unmatched to this day.

Hats off to the RCA/Nashville promo team, who put the above press release out this morning .. and to all of country radio, pulling together to do something truly historic.

Chesney Thanks Fans, But Wishes The "Entertainer" Hadn't Become A Popularity Contest

Over half a million fans voted resulting in Kenny Chesney winning his 4th Entertainer of the Year award tying Garth Brooks' record in that category.

Backstage Kenny thanked the fans for voting for him. But, then he expressed a strong opinion that he wished the ACM hadn't changed the criteria of that award.
"I think fans should be involved in voting for ACM awards, but not for the Entertainer of the Year." Kenny would have preferred tying Garth's record under the same criteria he had won the award. Kenny feels strongly that the award is something that should go to an artist who's worked hard all their career."

Note: Alabama holds the overall consecutive wins honors winning entertainer 5 times.

Reba McEntire rendered another brilliant and often funny hosting job as she led the TV and arena audience through the three hour show where fans were able to vote for Entertainer of the Year for the first time in history.

- A&O's buddy Neil Haislop Backstage At The ACM's (where it was a sizzling 104 degrees outside!)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Very Can-ny Stunt By JRN's Danny Wright

JRN's Danny Wright All Night got Dierks Bentley to sign an empty Bud Lite can during a Thursday morning appearance on his show.

Want the can? It's gonna cost you, but it's for a great cause: click here to bid, with all proceeds going to 13-year-old Taylor Strand, who was recently involved in a fire pit accident, leaving 80% of her body covered in third-degree burns.

Dierks played a benefit show for her at the Hard Rock Cafe in Minneapolis for K-102.

PS: Dierks wrote Mr Sad Country for the Anheuser-Busch campaign.

Get Ready To Play Musical Chairs

Citadel isn't keeping a secret of the fact that it's going to flip formats at Dallas' Twister very soon. Meanwhile, Tom Taylor writes a reminder in that Clear Channel still needs to find ways to unload stations in San Francisco, Houston and Cincinnati (and fast) to satisfy the Department of Justice, following the news of last night's deals (swaps) in Las Vegas - Spanish adult hits "La Preciosa" KWID (101.9) - and an FM in Bakersfield, in order to obtain classic rock KZEP (104.5) in San Antonio from Lotus.

Radio rule: when anyone in the market changes chairs, that opens opportunity for others to change seats too immediately when the music stops.

Tip: always have your alternate plans in your top desk drawer, ready for action. Opportunity doesn't knock just once of course, but it's always smart to be near the door when it does.

I'm With Dolly (and Jim Carnegie)

Howard, is your satellite audience so small these days that you've gotten desperate?

Free speech is a powerful element of what makes our society as productive and dynamic as it is, but stupid uses of it like this one by Howard Stern make all broadcasters vulnerable to calls for a return to the Fairness Doctrine. Character assassination of a wonderful person is a terrible abuse of free speech. If we want to preserve our rights, we need to use them responsibly, I'd say.
Country icon Dolly Parton is said to be weighing lawsuit to former radio icon and current Sirius yakmeister Howard Stern. Stern and his crew broadcast edited audio of Parton in such a way as to make her sound like a foul-mouthed racist. According to the Associated Press, a 1990 audio autobiography was used to come up with the doctored rant, which played while Stern and cast laughed and made comments as if it was a genuine audio clip.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Be Nice To My Dog

It has been fun to work with PD/Morning guy Jeff Stone and their terrific team (morning co-host Heather Haese, midday jock Yvonne Daniels and afternoon personality Coyote Cain). A&O's newest client station, just purchased and flipped to country by Al Johnson.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

ACM 43 Moves To Sunday Night This Year, With Hopes Of Higher Ratings

On one hand, you could call it a surrender to American Idol's drawing power during the week (last's year's ACM TV ratings were pretty good unless you compared them to Fox's that same night), or on the other you could term it a great way to spend a weekend in Las Vegas:

The leadup:

Fremont Street Experience
Friday, May 16th, 6:30pm

Randy Owen will perform at Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is the title sponsor of the two-day party featuring free, open-to-the-public musical performances and boot-stompin’ fun.

5th Annual Motorcycle Ride
Saturday, May 17th, 9am

More than 25 all-star country artists will participate in the Academy of Country Music 5th Annual Charity Motorcycle Ride benefiting the Academy of Country Music Charitable Fund on Saturday, May 17, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. For the fifth time in the Motorcycle Ride’s history, country duo Montgomery Gentry will host the event.

Artists participating in this year’s event are Keith Anderson, Bluefield, Sarah Buxton, Carolina Rain, Stephen Cochran, Ira Dean, 2 Foot Fred, Randy Houser, Emma Mae Jacob, Jamey Johnson, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Cody McCarver, Jeremy McComb, Richie McDonald, Craig Morgan, Heidi Newfield, James Otto, The Road Hammers, The Roys, Rhonda Townes, Whiskey Falls Tommy Lee Wilson, and Wolf/Hollywood Yates.

The Academy of Country Music Charity Motorcycle Ride will kick-off from the Las Vegas Harley-Davidson, which is the largest Harley-Davidson dealership in the nation. Riders will cruise through the Nevada desert and along the mountains, circling back until they reach Fremont Street, where the ride culminates in a live concert—free and open to the public—featuring past and present Academy of Country Music Award nominees and some of country’s best new artists.

Academy of Country Music Celebrity Golf Classic
Saturday, May 17th, 11am

Rascal Flatts will host the Academy of Country Music Celebrity Golf Classic, a fund-raising effort benefitting the Academy of Country Music Charitable Fund to be held on Saturday, May 17th, 2008 at TPC Las Vegas in Las Vegas. The golf tournament will exclusively cater to a sold out group of 100 golfers at TPC Las Vegas, which is considered the home of professional golf in Las Vegas.

Academy of Country Music Charitable Fund’s New Artists’ Party for a Cause
Saturday, May 17th, 6:30pm

Top New Male Vocalist nominees Luke Bryan, Jack Ingram and Jake Owen, Top New Female Vocalist nominees Sarah Buxton, Kellie Pickler and Taylor Swift and Top New Vocal Duo or Group nominees Carolina Rain and Lady Antebellum will perform live during the second annual Academy of Country Music Charitable Fund’s New Artists’ Party for a Cause™ Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 6:00 PM in the MGM Grand Marquee Ballroom in Las Vegas. (Nominees The Wreckers are unable to perform.)

All proceeds from the show will benefit the Academy of Country Music Charitable Fund. Tickets for the event are available to the public for $50.00 and may be purchased through the MGM Grand Box Office and Ticketmaster outlets.

Fremont Street Experience
Saturday, May 17th, 6:30pm

Sugarland will perform at Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is the title sponsor of the two-day party featuring free, open-to-the-public musical performances and boot-stompin’ fun.

What's Hot, Not?

Although government stimulus checks recently began arriving in mailboxes, climbing gas prices and a still unstable housing market continue to wreak havoc on consumers’ psyches as economic sentiment continues to decline…fewer than one in five (19.5%) contend they are confident/very confident in chances for a strong economy, down more than three points from April (23.0%), 25 points from May ’07 (44.7%) and a new low (for the rest of the above chart, click on Big Research's monthly consumer briefing)

With budgets stretched to their limits, it appears that consumers will be cooking up their own entertainment at home…backyard BBQ's are what’s hot this month…compact fluorescent light bulbs also glow with green consumers. And, while Iron Man raked in the buck$ opening weekend, it looks like it may get a run for its money when the fourth Indiana Jones installment releases…57.4% rated Indy hot, compared to 54.1% for the comic book superhero.

What's Not? 85% of consumers agree…this season’s gladiator sandals should have been left in Ancient Rome.

The National Retail Federation also reports that practicality is in, when it comes to spending tax rebate checks.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Country Weekly ACM Week Headlines

Randy Travis takes on a difficult acting role in the new feature-length DVD movie, The Wager. In this spiritually based film, Randy plays actor Michael Steele, who is nominated for an Oscar when his life begins to unravel after charges of adultery and other transgressions. The actor eventually regains his faith. “The fact that the well-written script covered topics you don’t usually find in a Christian film intrigued me,” Randy tells Country Weekly. “It was a challenge and I learned from doing it.” Randy also has an upcoming new CD, Around the Bend, set for a July release.

Jewel currently has a big country hit in “Stronger Woman,” and the singer feels that the video, which evokes historical images, captures the song’s message. “I kept getting treatments that were all about men being no good or unhappy women crying,” Jewel tells Country Weekly. “But to me, that’s not what the song is about at all. It’s about deciding what kind of life you want for yourself.” The story also features some behind-the-scenes photos from the video shoot.

More info from Kurt Webster & Associates PR: 615-777-6995

Guess The Year

I was going through my archives, cleaning out old material and came across this quote:
"Arbitron has named this "the year of the 25-34 male." After their many creative tactics last year "successfully" improved sample return from 18-24 males and Hispanic households, non-ethnic broadcasters in Los Angeles and Fresno, among other markets, are upset about strange results and outright mistakes that make them feel disenfranchised."

On December 29, 1995, Mike Bettelli, J.J. Cook and I wrote a "Share Points" memo for BP Consulting Group (now, Jones Radio Networks) clients that contained that paragraph, a reminder of just how long vexing sample proportionality issues have been nagging away at consistent radio ratings. We concluded that mid-1990's article with a prediction:
"The diary remains the cheapest, most efficient means of measuring radio usage. But, it comes with all the disadvantages of direct mail advertising - very poor response rates and the problems of accurately crediting unaided recall. As long as direct mail responsive people are the majority of the in-tab sample, up to nine diaries can be delivered to one household - for example, a dorm or barracks room with a telephone in it, one person in a family can fill out multiple diaries and give 400+ quarter hours of listening to one station in a week --- keep the name of your ARB sales rep and Arbitron Affiliates Advisory Council member handy. You'll probably need it. Especially if your station targets females or adults 35+."

It's hard to believe that was written 13 years ago, eh? It could have been written yesterday.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

From The "Stunts I Love" File

WedFM announced today that it will be having its premiere broadcast for a period of 4 days starting on May 14th until May 18th 2008. The radio station, broadcasting on 100.9 FM in the Greater Moncton area, will go on the air at 2:00PM.

100.9 WedFM will feature radio shows focusing on the bride and groom including a pre-recorded top 40 countdown hosted by the bride and the groom, brief Chinese language lessons, live coverage and interviews during the wedding ceremony, Chinese horoscopes and traditions and a live to air broadcast of the wedding party.

Increasing in popularity around the world, WedFM will be the first specialized limited duration wedding radio station to air in Canada. "We're very proud to share our happiness over the air on this very important day of our lives," said Serge Cormier, founder of WedFM.

"Hopefully, WedFM listeners will be able to share our happiness with us as well". Based on feedback, WedFM plans on offering its limited duration radio station service for other weddings and special events.

With a power of 50 Watts, the maximum allowed for a limited duration special event radio station, WedFM will cover the communities of Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview and immediate surrounding areas.

It this isn't a stunt to help launch a new radio station targeted to young women, it sure could be. If I had a station that was contemplating a change of format, I'd be looking for a couple to do this with .. and maybe even make a few bucks at the same time!

Friday, May 09, 2008

A Post From BCAB: Tod Maffin's Dynamic Future

When I saw that CBC’s National Technology Columnist Tod Maffin was speaking at the annual British Columbia Association Of Broadcasters convention Thursday afternoon I made a point of hussling to Harrison Hot Springs.

Of course, he's a powerful speaker, but what he has to SAY is also mighty vibrant too:
"We’ve all felt it. Emails that pile into our inbox like a teletype machine that never stops. A voicemail line that keeps filling up. A cell phone we’re afraid to turn on. This on-demand world has gotten a bit out of hand. Luckily, tools are beginning to emerge that can help us regain some control over our day.... when you start thinking about how you can make your own day easier — from reducing the chaos of your day and endless phone calls to getting a quick answer from a real human being about your network — you realize the future of on-demand business is, ironically, simplification."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

ARB's Patchen Hits A Foul Ball; Randy Kabrich Hits A Home Run

Thanks, Bob, for apologizing to R&R's reporter, but an even bigger "thanks, Randy" for keeping the heat on until ARB gets its stories straight.

As someone who does client station rating analysis day after day, I really would love to be an Arbitron cheerleader. We absolutely need credible, reliable, consistent ratings which demonstrate the power of radio in a trustworthy way if our business is to be viable. These snafus cost us all money.

So, it gives me no pleasure to snipe at the company which has provided the measuring stick I have used for four decades. However, I've never seen such wackiness in all those years of breaking out books, doing diary reviews, interacting with ARB executives.

The under-sampling problem continues…as does the PPDV issue in literally every market I have looked at in the last week. Indexes under 80 are not acceptable or reliable. Therefore the entire Men and Women 18-34 sample is an issue. Not to mention Men 35-44 too, teetering at an Index of 79. This sampling problem continues to grow from just young males a few years ago…to now include Women…and even 35-44 year-old’s.

Think about this for a moment. As a format that targets Persons 25-54, there are 6 cells in the Portland, Oregon, Winter 2008 sample, just as one random example, that are within our target (M25-34, M35-44, M45-54, W25-34, W35-44, W45-54).

50% of the cells that we care about most are under-sampled!!!!!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Want To Learn How To Stunt Successfully? Watch The Pizza Wars

For example:

Pizza chain apologizes for T-shirts making fun of LeBron

Papa John's Pizza issued an apology to Cleveland and the Cavaliers for making T-shirts with LeBron James' number and the word "crybaby" under it. To apologize, Papa John's will sell Cleveland residents a large, one-topping pizza for 23 cents on Thursday. The 23 is an homage to James' jersey number. The company also will donate $10,000 to the Cavaliers Youth Fund.

Pizza Hut taught Papa John's the technique more than a decade ago, it seems..

"Advertisers Prefer The Eye, The Consumer Prefers The Ear"

... a quote from Jack Trout, Al Ries and Steve Rivkin's 1996 book 'The New Positioning,' after pointing to University of Washington psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Loftus' observation:
"In many ways the ear is superior to the eye. There is evidence that shows people remember more if they hear lists of words than if they see them."

The NEW positioning: "Marketing people and people's minds are often in conflict. Marketing people love to sit down and create carefully crafted arguments on behalf of their products. They are beautiful rationales to behold. Ripe with reasons, benefits and facts. Unfortunately, today, these arguments are being presented to minds that really aren't up to dealing with all that glorious information. Our perceptions are selective, and our memory is highly selective. Seeing is not akin to photographing the world, merely registering an image. Memory is not a tape recorder that stores information when we turn it on. First, your message has to get by the mind's ‘volume control.’ Then, you must get from short term memory into long-term memory.”

The best way to really enter minds that hate complexity and confusion is to over-simplify your message. The most powerful position statements will be ONE WORD.

Like these: ATT - true. Crest - cavities. Volvo - safety. Prego - thick.
Smart radio marketers won't try to tell their entire story, but SIMPLY focus on one powerful non-music attribute - fun, family, dependable, etc - and drive it into the mind.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

If you want to make Jimmy Wayne’s day, take him to the Golden Corral!

During a recent radio tour in the Midwest, Jimmy asked the label rep to pull off the interstate so they could eat at the Golden Corral, and we asked the rising star what it is about a meal there that makes his day.
“The Golden Corral reminds me of home,” says Jimmy, whose song “Do You Believe Me Now” is climbing the charts. “Back in North Carolina, I grew up eating southern food, things like fried chicken, greens, beans and biscuits. I usually eat healthy and am very particular about what I put in my body, but I have to admit, I had three pieces of fried chicken that day on the road, but I couldn’t resist it!”

In other news, Jimmy is featured on the June cover of Christian Singles magazine, where we are betting, he doesn’t talk about his love of southern food! -- John Zarling, Sr. Director, New Media & National Promotion Strategy for Bill Machine/Valory Music

Stagecoach Euphoria

"It's something where you can forget about your fears, forget about your personal life and just let loose and have fun."

-- Matthew McKay, of San Diego, wearing an unbuttoned, cut-off flannel shirt, black cowboy hat and sunglasses.