Saturday, December 26, 2009

We All Know About Hot Zips

.. but, these tight-budget days, the smartest among us are finding ways to USE what they know, by putting it into action.

For the last twenty years (at least), everyone has been building, maintaining, growing and mailing/phoning an active listener (hopefully, not limited only to contest winners, but also including the kind of folks who enjoy voicing their opinions on the radio they hear) data base.

OK. What now?

If you are planning to do direct mail in the next survey, ask your list supplier or printer to do a postal cell analysis of that database of yours and start mailing to lists NOT JUST FROM HOT ZIPS BUT FROM YOUR HOT POSTAL CELLS (zip + 4) within those hot zips as demonstrated by listening patterns in your listener database.

Arbitron has been block coding their data since fall of 1994, but because of the sample size of Arbitron in most hot zips, using ARB diaries to try to locate the hottest postal cells within your hot zip areas takes four or more rating periods in diary markets and, perhaps, several years in PPM metros with their smaller sample sizes.

Your data base is probably five, ten, fifteen or more times larger than the entire ARB sample right now, making it a much more accurate source of this statistical information than tracking hot zips from one diary review.

In Canada, due to stricter privacy laws, there is only one way I know to gather this info: your own database of listeners who have given you permission to engage in a relationship with them.

Even better, these are ALL your listeners. So, since there is no waste, there is a very high likelihood that the folks who live in the same postal cells as the majority of the names and addresses in your data base are excellent prospects for conversion marketing.

Since they probably know that most of their neighbors are already listening to your station and since they share many of the same lifestyle patterns, they'll probably be quite responsive when you give them a solid reason to do so as well by mail or by phone.

A single zip code may contain 40,000 or more addresses. But, after studying the hottest postal cells (zip + 4) represented in your database, you may find that there are specific areas within such a zip code where a mailing of fewer than 10,000 homes could have the same (or better) impact as a full market mailer.

Postal cell information that you can develop now from your own in-house database will most likely still be more useful and accurate! So, what are you waiting for?

In one situation we know about this past Fall where the technique of carefully cloning a list of prospects for a direct mail campaign was born out of the hottest postal cells in the station's active listener data base, average quarter hours have soared.

This was accomplished with a mailing of only 100,000 homes located in key postal cells of the station within this metro area of nearly 4,000,000 people. More amazingly, the response rate of this direct mail piece (aside from affecting the station's ratings very positively) was 22%!

After mailing just 100,000 households, this station added 22,000 names to its database in only eight weeks.

Of course, now that they have increased the size of that original database, the next "postal cell analysis" they perform on their database for their next direct mail or telemarketing blitz will be even more accurate in pinpointing and targeting ONLY the areas where they have the very best prospects for building cume and TSL.

Facebook is nice. Email is good. Tweets are OK. But, until radio ratings companies stop placing their samples in homes, there’s no better use of your time than building, maintaining, studying and refining your strategies to find the geographic hot pockets where your heaviest users reside and work.

If you’ve been marketing radio for very long, you know this.

"Knowing" is not the same thing as DOING, is it?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

BIA: TV Revenues Back To 90's Levels For Three More Years

Normally, this blog wouldn't quote a press release on television, but this one hits home, since you know it applies to radio, more or less, as well:

The television industry will end 2009 with lower than expected revenues of $15.6 billion, a 22.4 percent decline from 2008, in a year that was dominated by shifting advertising budgets and a poor economy, according to BIA/Kelsey, a strategic and financial advisor to media companies in the local marketplace.

The significant drop also begins a leveling-off of television industry revenues to the mid-$10 billion level — not seen since the mid-1990s — through at least 2013, as reported in the
fourth edition of BIA/Kelsey’s “Investing In Television® Market Report.”

BIA/Kelsey sees 2010 revenues for the television industry as increasing slightly to $16.1 billion, of which $130 million in additional revenues will come from online advertising.
The company notes that online income brought the industry $518 million in 2009, a 12 percent increase over last year’s $463 million. BIA/Kelsey predicts continuous annual double-digit revenue growth from online channels, such as Internet and mobile, through 2013, when the industry should reach the $1 billion mark.

The report
also shows that while most markets did poorly in 2009, others will manage to post positive numbers in 2010, primarily due to significant state and local elections.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Lesson In How To Get A TV Station To Mention Your Name And Call Letters

Peak Broadcasting's WOW Country 104.3 morning guy Don Jarrett not only got some amazing TV coverage, but won recognition of Idaho NewsChannel7 as their "7's Hero" award for an amazing accomplishment, as he lived on the street for 104 hours (click to watch the video).

Ya wonder if the job application he filled out when Don returned from Salt Lake City to work at WOW 104.3 contained anything about tolerance to cold.

His next stunt? Make-A-Wish Foundation's January 1 "Polar Bear Challenge!"

Monday, December 21, 2009

Need A Job? Network! (The Unemployment Rates Are 10%, $99, and $199)

In an unprecedented effort to assist those unemployed in the Country radio industry, the Country Radio Broadcasters Board of Directors has approved its first ever $99 Unemployment Rate for CRS 2010, held Feb. 24-26, 2010.

“Our deeply discounted Unemployment Rate serves two purposes,” says CRB President Becky Brenner. “First, it gives those without work a financial break so that they can still afford to attend CRS 2010, and second, it provides them with the tools and networking opportunities to help them in their job search.”

The Unemployment Rate provides attendees access to educational events only, including more than 20 seminars, panels and exhibits. Notable agenda item highlights included in the discounted rate are the CMA Research Presentation, Dave Ramsey’s Keynote Address, Bob Rosner’s Workplace 911 panel and the current-events Hot Topic panel. Tickets to the Music City Jam™, New Faces of Country Music Show® and daily luncheons must be purchased separately.

The Unemployment Rate is currently available through Jan. 31, 2010. Contact Kristen McCrary at 615-327-4487 or Kristen@CRB.org for registration materials. Proof of unemployment will be subject to verification by CRB, Inc.

The Regular Rate of $599 is now in effect through Jan. 31, 2010, for all others planning to attend CRS 2010.

The 35th Annual Conclave Learning Conference July 15-17, 2010!

Meanwhile, The Conclave is also offering a break for folks who plan ahead: earlybird tuition, just $199. Use the GANG OF 10 IN 2010 discount to save even more. Reserve a Doubletree Park Place Hotel room for just $99!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Asking The Right Question

I have been seeing this movie a lot in the last year: station is disappointed in its initial PPM rank, so they commission a major radio research company to do a perceptual to see what's wrong.

The research comes back that the station is very healthy and pronounces that the station's brand is strong but the problem is "execution."

Could this be because the researcher is asking the same questions in the same ways which were so predictive of success in diaries, weekly cume and favorite station + importance of parameters + key image ownership?

Shouldn't we be asking in the major markets where PPM is going to be currency in 2010 about daily cume? Daily occasions? Key personalities and programming elements which drive listeners to use a station more days per week and more times per day?

In the U.S., Arbitron is planning a first quarter update of PD Advantage web and promises new reports to be added. Hopefully, one of them will be a day by day report of how many panelists use each competitive station each day of the week and how many times per day for each daypart as well as how long the exposure is for each of them.

Sadly, from my perspective, Canada's BBM is another story completely.

Their InfoSys software (a report from it is pictured) was developed in Spain (for TV, not radio). I have as yet to encounter a Canadian programmer who even fully understands how it works, let alone how to begin to extract info like ARB's current Vital Signs report, which has been available to both diary and PPM stations in PD Advantage software for years now, let alone anything more sophisticated to assist programmers in understanding what they need to do to grow their shares.

Hopefully, BBM includes a New Years resolution to look very hard at the Programmer's Package ARB provides online each month and come up with something as helpful.

Also, would it be wise to reconsider the decision to show only "average minute audience," rather than "average quarter hour," the standard for comparison we've all used since radio audience measurement was created? Not only is BBM comparing apples to oranges in its diary reports vs PPM studies, but audience sizes appear to go down. Who thought that would be a good idea?

We all have a lot to gain if radio programmers can quickly understand the differences between ratings driven by memorablity and behavioral research.

I wish ARB and BBM would both step up their efforts to help stations figure out what's going on and what they need to do about it.

So far, I'd say that ARB is running faster in the right direction than either BBM or radio's longtime perceptual researchers across North America, but we all have plenty of catching up to do if we expect advertisers to see us as "programming experts," let alone our ratings as credible and useful.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How Well Do You Know Your Own Community?

Mark Hill, PD at Cat Country/Billings reminded me this week of this website which takes a "picture" of each market in the USA (click to check it out).

It covers population, education level, neighborhood information, median age info, employment diversification, crime, etc. It also helps you compare information between markets.

Research your town and see how much you know about the place where you live!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December What’s Hot/Not

Big Research says (click on the link to see the entire report and on each chart to enlarge it) it looks like consumers are looking ahead to their New Year’s resolutions and the Wii Fit was declared what’s hot among 68.8% of respondents.

Smart phones (66.4%) and homemade Christmas gifts (62.4%) also rated well with consumers.

Those over 35 are more likely to pick up a copy of Going Rogue by Sarah Palin or Susan Boyle’s CD, while Guitar Hero is a top pick among those under 35.

What’s not?

Like the Snuggies we surveyed before them, men are particularly not fond of women’s leggings…but what do men know about women’s fashions, right?

I'd Bet PPM Punishes This Content

"I'll have another news update at 7:45 this morning, now let's see how we're doin' this Friday morning on the freeways..." (:10 sponsor mention) "Good Friday mornin' to ya...." (small talk with the host, then..) "there are no accidents or problems on the roads today, everything's moving smoothly right now..."

If you don't know why this might be a tune-out, please give me a call (206-498-6261) or an email and I'll open your eyes to the concept of engaging a listener, never wasting their time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

TK and Garth Rock The House - On Two Sides Of The World

The Nobel Prize ceremonies are pretty high-brow events...so who'd a thunk that the awards dinner and concert afterwards would turn into such a cool party, one that included Toby Keith singing Rap with superstar actor, Will Smith?

Toby performed "God Love Her," "Cryin' For Me (Wayman's Song)" and "American Ride," for the 8,000 folks at the concert. Toby, his wife, Tricia, plus his manager and publicist attended the ceremony to watch President Obama receive his Nobel Peace Prize.

It was at the after-party for guests and artists only, when Toby met actor Will Smith, Wyclef Jean, and Natasha Beningfield for what turned into a jamming party for all the artists and guests. Check out this link to catch Toby rapping with the best of them.

By now everybody knows that Garth Brooks came out of retirement (click to watch his pre-show interview with KMLE's Tim and Willy) for a 5 year contract to perform weekend shows at the Wynn Resorts Encore Theater in Las Vegas, on the condition that he could return home on a private jet to continue parenting his daughters on a full time basis as he's done for the last 10 years. The new gig began last Friday and Saturday as fans showed up from thousands of miles away to be as "one-on-one intimate" with Garth Brooks and his talent as you can be without having him singing in your living room.

The big question was, could the star whose show was so big and broad it entertained a million people in New York City's Central Park..be just as compelling by himself, with acoustic guitar and microphone in a venue that held about a thousand people?

The answer, a resounding yes!

Anybody that saw his show over the years experienced moments when he and his guitar would take over the show for a few songs,... but, could Garth and his guitar for an hour and a half, be as riveting and joyful?

The press was invited for the 8 and 10 o clock shows on Saturday night and a song or two into the first show, the answer was quick to come...he can do this, after all, he's Garth Brooks! His voice is still so strong and in tune, so powerful in the joy and emotion that made him great, you don't miss the big production on is records or the great band he had with him on the road.

Garth took the stage dressed in a hooded sweat shirt, baseball cap, jeans and hiking boots. No fancy sets or audio visuals of any kind, just a stool for him to sit on, which he used only to hold his bottle of water. Then, the tour-du-force of this master raconteur, humorist and vocalist begins.

Prior to the show we asked Garth how he had been preparing for this unique experience, whether he been writing notes, recollecting stuff he thought he could use in the show? But he says, "No, it's pretty easy to remember...and thank God I'm only 47, instead of 87, so it's pretty easy to remember the big milestones of my life."

Of course, it's one thing to have a good memory, but few people can recall the range of personal stories and tell them with such humor and pith that Brooks does so amazingly well. It was a wonderful night of humor and great music from the guy who will likely go down as one of the greatest performers America has ever produced. It's also interesting to hear the stories of his how his unique music was shaped by his being a fan of pop icons like James Taylor and Billy Joel. Their songs were included as well as the songs of his greatest country music influences, "The two Georges, George Jones and George Strait."

TRISHA JOINS IN ON THE FUN

At Friday's press conference Garth was asked if Trisha would ever join him during these shows. He said, not that night because she wasn't feeling good. But , about an hour and 20 minutes into the Saturday 8 o'clock show, Trisha came on stage to such a thunderous welcome, Garth exclaimed, "All of the sudden I'm 'Mr. Yearwood!''

Trisha looks great and sang her debut hit "She's In Love With The Boy.'" Then Garth suggested "Walk Away Joe," and ended up singing some sweet harmonies with her on the song." She performed on the later show as well.

GARTH TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS WITH FAMILY

Friday Garth provided an example of how the concerts and his family life will work. He flew in for the press conference and first show with his oldest daughter, Taylor," and Trisha. "We're flying out in the morning so that she can participate in a soccer match in Memphis."

Bottom line, the "Only Garth" shows at Wynn Resorts are a resounding success with the first audiences that managed to grab up the tickets to see this uniquely talented performer prove that
"Only Garth", is plenty enough for a great night of music and memoirs from an American music superstar.

- Neil Haislop

Monday, December 14, 2009

Classic Country, "Check Yes Or No?"

With "sameness of sound and too much repetition" reoccurring listener complaints right now, is it time for a station playing country classics from the 60's, 70's and 80's, allowing the hot/new/fresh country stations to be just that, especially in this age of consolidation with one owner controlling two or three country FM's in a market, fortressing the format and looking to broaden country's reach and defend all flanks?

A&O says "yes," with #1 12+ classic country stations from KTPK, Topeka, to KAYO, Wasilla. We even caught a Bass (WOMG) in Springfield this fall.

Want more info on how it's done? Call Michael O'Malley at 732-937-5757 or drop him an email.

And, no, your frequency doesn't have to end in ".9" to make it work, but in these three cases it sure hasn't hurt, either!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

ARB Fly-In 2009 Quotes

"We need to tell a better story to a broader range of advertiser.” -Alton Adam, Executive VP/Chief Marketing Officer/Arbitron

“People want more from the devices they carry and audience measurement should be designed for any media, anywhere, any time.” -Taymoor Arshi, ARB Senior Vice President, Engineering and Chief Technology Officer

PPM shows that the average listener comes to radio 31 occasions of listening per week, half of them to their P-1 station. These are “16 moments of truth” for stations and personalities. Are you driving more than just ‘average’ daily regularity from your heavy users by deeply understanding who your listeners are, where they are, what they care about, what else they do?” -Tripp Eldredge, DMRInteractive

“Spot loads matter in PPM ratings. Every time the station breaks, people bolt. The more times you break, the more they bolt. ARB is ultimately hoping that owners realize they need to cut commercial their loads to get rating point levels up, which will drive revenue growth.” -John Snyder, Vice President, Portable People Meter Sales/ARB

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is It That I'm Not For Freedom And Justice?

As a person who aggressively supported the Obama run for the Presidency last year, I get lots of emails - from everyone from Joe Biden to Madeline Albright and all points between asking me to donate and work for all sorts of typical Democratic and progressive causes. So, when even one of those sends me a solicitation addressed to "Hi, all" which starts out with "Dear Friends.." it doesn't take me long to delete it, reporting it as SPAM.

Do you want my money, time, support, loyalty, even if you happen to be representing yourself as being from something I really believe deeply in??

Address me in the singular, as one person. Even better, use my name in the email header.

And, Barry, whoever you are: if you have something to tell me, you might want to simply address me directly by sending an email which at least "appears" as if it's directly from you to me.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Success Metric: Daily Usage


From the November PPM Arbitron sample update: unless almost 80% of your listeners use you every single day, seven days a week, you are below average!

What do you do to make sure listeners come back to you, never missing a single day?

There's only one answer: creative, entertaining, immediate, local, relatable, engaging, unique CONTENT that they can't get anywhere else, from anyone else.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The 2010 U.S. Census Count Will Drive Your Ratings For The Next Decade

Writer Lornet Turnbull really got me to thinking of THE question to talk about at this week's Arbitron Fly-In, arguably even more fundamental than sample sizes, diary measurement or PPM:

Where will you be on Census Day — living in your RV, couch surfing at your friends', squatting in your parents' basement? The U.S. Census Bureau is preparing to count the more than 308 million men, women and children living in the country April 1, 2010. With just 10 questions on next year's form, this would seem simple enough. Yet the count is likely to be not just the most costly but possibly one of the most difficult ever staged.

"We are studying a population that is harder to count than the 2000 population," -census director Robert Groves

Both ARB and Nielsen need reliable census data if we are to hope that their audience estimates in the next ten years will be accurate and representative.

What are we all going to do if any group in the general population feels that the 2010 Census is suspect?

Future budgets .. from advertising to even federal revenue sharing, depend on getting it right!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Absurd

There are many ways to decide what to play, let alone what to do with your time, whether you're a radio station or a musician.

You could ask listeners and play the hits they say they like most (pictured: this week's RateTheMusic top ten, ranked by "total favorite" percentages), you could do a free listener appreciation show with a no-name or two and hope that exposing them to listeners gets a superstar of tomorrow started on their way, or you could play spin the wheel and just expose the whole process for what a joke it is (pictured: KUPL/Portland, making the point - it would be nice to hope - with tongue firmly in cheek from today's Country Aircheck)

Before you get tempted to play the game in any other way than one which is good for your audience and your station, take a look at Tim Quirk's blog and think about all the money which labels will be billing for those other "Too Much Joy"-level artists for their rest of their lives, as they go on with their "career," most of them working outside the music business at normal jobs, looking back at the whole process while sardonically rolling words like “$10,000 Is Nothing” around in their mind for many fruitless years to come (pictured: TMJ's absurd royalty statement from their former label).
"How you gonna convince people not to steal when you’re stealing yourself?" -- Bob Lefsetz

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Would You Take Programming Advice From This Guy?

Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins, yesterday on Capitol Hill:
“you’re better off having more stop sets with fewer commercials in each pod."

.. so I checked the top of the rankers from yesterday's ARB November PPM monthlies, to see how many programmers agreed with that assertion. I reviewed the top ranked music stations in New York and Los Angeles yesterday in their 9:00 am to 10:00 am hour:

Station - # of commercial breaks:

WLTW (#1) - 2
WCBS-FM - 2
WHTZ - 4
WAXQ - 2
WKTU - 2
WPLJ - 4
WRKS - 2
WBLS - 4
KRTH (#1) - 3
KIIS - 3
KAMP - 2
KPWR - 3
KCBS-FM - 2
KLOS (no music) - 3
KBIG - 3
KHHT - 3
KROQ - 4

The average number of commercial pods in same hour by these 17 top-rated music stations in America's two largest markets: 2.8.

Before implementing programming guidance from a CEO, you might want to ask some top programmers who have been managing daily cume and daily time spent exposed usage.

However, proving that he is paying attention and learning along the way, Liggins also cited for lawmakers the lessons syndicated morning host Tom Joyner has learned from PPM, and that guidance will find few detractors among PD's or programming consultants who have experience in any of the meter-measured markets:
"Talk, no matter how big a personality you are, if you’re not absolutely entertaining, is a death knell.”

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Radio Is The Internet's "C Student"?

Wall Street Journal reporter Sarah McBride writes that more than 42 million people each week listen to radio streamed over the Internet, more than double the rate from five years ago, according to Edison Research and Arbitron.

Many of those are either new listeners or people tuning in at times when they never listened to regular broadcast radio.

But radio has been slowest among the media industry to turn its Internet audience into cash. Gordon Borrell calls radio the "C" student of the Internet. Radio gets only an estimated 2.4% of its revenue from online, while TV gets 3.4% and newspapers 7%.

For the clients that do pay for Web commercials, radio companies haven't been able to command much in the way of rates. Advertisers who buy on streamed radio typically pay about half the rate per thousand listeners that they do for regular broadcast ads, media buyers and radio executives say.

Charitably, I guess you could term that "growth potential."

A clue from one of streaming media's A students: tight control on inventory is one of the reasons Pandora is on track to eke out its first quarter of profit in these last three months of this year, says chief operating officer Tim Westergren. He expects full-year revenue of about $40 million.

Many listeners to online audio are tuning in to Internet-only services such as Pandora Inc., which typically play far fewer ads. Pandora offers only a fraction of the ad time on digital streams of regular radio stations. "They're trying to keep it clean," says Kathy McLaughlin of planning and buying firm Media Spot Inc., which means Pandora can command high prices.

In recent research she did for a client who wanted to target Los Angeles listeners, Ms. McLaughlin found that buying spots on Pandora cost 20% more than buying regular over-the-airwaves radio spots in the city, one of the most expensive ad markets in the U.S.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

"Three Hours A Day" Sounds About Right, BUT...

ARB diary and RAB research for many years has posited that amount of daily time was spent listening to "radio."

Now, PPM and Nielsen’s “How U.S. adults use Radio and Other Forms of Audio” force a rethink of everything we thought we knew .. about rotations, reach and frequency, rates, recycling the best content and the need to be "great" in smaller, more powerful, frequent bites than ever.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jay Trachman

... passed away peacefully at about 1:40 AM on November 28. (1939-2009). He was surrounded by children and his 3 wives, sobbing and laughing while telling stories about Dad. He was incredibly loved, and his memory and spirit will live on in all of us. -- Will Trachman

He came into my life in 1975, back when he was just starting "Fruitbowl" and remained an influential mentor and confidant for all of the years since.

I was in Bakersfield and he was in Fresno. I worked for him as Country Editor of "One To One" and he worked for me at KEEN, San Jose.

To say that we were friends and I loved him would be an understatement.

He, his ideas, his values and so much more that he gave to me, live on in all of us who knew him.

Jay touched thousands of personalities around the world for more than three decades.

The same ethic Bill and Janet Gavin brought to music, Jay Trachman brought to the art and science of personality radio.

His concepts are heard all around the world even now!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Growing Your Target Audience in 2010

If celebrities are brands, and brands aspire to be celebrated by consumers, having the wrong celebrity endorse the wrong brand can be pretty detrimental.

The MBS programming staff
at CHFX/Halifax does a fun, helpful exercise for the entire staff of their cluster each year at this time. They get everyone together to vote for each person's five nominations of the five to seven major country artists which they think will be driving cume growth and target demo appeal in the coming year, tab all the votes and announce the 'faces' and 'voices' from a marketing standpoint.

Of course, they also give the listener a big vote too, by ranking the number of artists with songs in recurrent and power gold, according to their local research. (pictured - outdoor for Three Eagles' KXKX/Lincoln)

Then, the magic begins when you look and listen to everything you use to promote yourself both on and off the air, realigning the visual and audio to conform to your goals!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

TK Meets BBC (Again)

Toby Keith's "World Tour" culminates on December 11 with a performance at Nobel Prize Week and meanwhile he's touring, visiting troops, performing.

"Toby Keith is a massive-seller in the USA but relatively unknown around the rest of the world."


This morning, he did a revealing interview with "The Strand," talking frankly (as usual) about his experiences and sharing his secrets to songwriting, while performing acoustically as well (click to listen)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Brilliant!

Can you think of anyone who ever had a single charting in the top five who then released a Christmas version of the song? I can't, and not only is this inventive idea to keep the spins going for a song which may otherwise have peaked in the next week or two, but if you know the history of bonfires along the levee in Louisiana, it even fits with southern tradition.

Many, many superstars have released new Holiday singles as a part of their Christmas albums and the majority of those songs go next to nowhere, since they have no more than three or four weeks - maybe 40 to 100 spins, at best - to gain memorability and traction.

Small wonder that the majority of the best-testing seasonal songs are traditional, familiar favorites. Hats off to Sony Music and Craig Morgan, for trying something new, that seems like a great tactic to me.

Thanksgiving

The relationship between the music business and radio is (and always has been) very complex.

Are we in business together?
Are we in competing businesses?
Are we friends?
Are we using each other?
Are we unreasonable in our demands?
Do we all want the same things?

This week of giving thanks is not a week for those questions, especially as Taylor Swift, Keith Urban and Gloriana so clearly "get" the power of radio relationships to a successful artist, plus demonstrating how an attitude of gratitude has positive and immediate impact.

Keep the great music coming, folks.

Thank you for remembering radio as you accept your awards, but especially for also continuing to provide a constant source of creative, high quality fuel which grows our businesses.

I know that it gets frustrating at times, and may not always seem like it, but radio thanks you right back!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vox Pro Celebrates 16+ Years

Charlie Brown's now-ubiquitous "Vox Pro" Apple Mac-based digital editor, that started out as merely a control room telephone editing station has evolved over the last two decades to something less expensive, downloadable from a website to Windows machines and in many, many other ways quite impressive.

Charlie & his partner Ty Flint first put it through its paces as a part of their 1993 simulcast KUBE (CHR)/KJR (70's) morning show (yes, that's how big they were at that time!).

It started as a mono unit and now handles stereo and quite a bit more memory storage.

I am so proud of the accomplishments of my Bainbridge Island neighbor and inventor Charlie Brown. Congrats on going from a durable Seattle morning star, to having created a great business around a terrific piece of equipment, a must for every control room. Its career has outlasted yours (which is saying something!).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Props To Fred Jacobs

"Our story starts with the CMAs. If you saw the show or read the news reports about last week's mega Country show, the big headline was 19-year old Taylor Swift, who took four major awards, including the coveted Entertainer of the Year honor.

Darius Before_After But perhaps the more significant news below the fold was the award for "Best New Artist of the Year" - Darius Rucker. Yup, the same guy who fronted Hootie & the Blowfish back in the '90s, whose fortunes sank quickly and deeply - just like Men At Work, INXS, and so many others.

The difference is that after a decade of obscurity, Rucker turned his career around, addresessed his negatives and his opportunities, and created a Second Life in country music. In thanking the CMA, he commented, "To the fans, thank y'all for accepting me. And I think most importantly, to country radio, you took a chance on a pop singer from Charleston, South Carolina. Thank you so much for that!"

"Y'all???!!!"

Rucker has learned how to adjust his act for a new market, making him one of the few African-American artists to make it big in Country. And all of this, after everyone was convinced he was a total washout back in the late '90s."

-- Fred Jacobs gets it right and if you don't normally check out JacoBLOG, this is a post I commend to your attention

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Infinite Commercial Load

Inside Radio today reports a growing use of :15-second spots and Citadel EVP of sales Mike Pallad claims price may be attracting some advertisers but he believes it’s their placement alongside news, traffic and other programming that’s equally appealing.
“We’ve seen an increase in the demand side from advertisers to :15s,” says Pallad. “The thing that makes them most of interest to agencies is that they’re adjacent to content rather than just a free-floating shorter length commercials.”

Meanwhile, in the last few days I witnessed an ongoing battle between a client PD and GM on commercial loads. A PPM analysis of this station clearly demonstrates that quarter hours with less than 12 or 13 minutes of non-commercial content lose audience to shared-cume competition with lower commercial loads/cleaner quarter hours in the same time periods.

Ironically, the same station just did some research and their listeners didn’t perceive the commercial load to be higher or lower on the two stations. Obviously, the GM felt triumphant at this news, seeming unsympathetic to the equally-obvious usage deficit being caused by minute-by-minute reality.

Earlier, I happened to be in a meeting where a savvy manager was bragging that their company holds the line on commercial unit limits with no exceptions ... until he was informed that his station has been oversold for the last few days and so the morning show had been running 18 commercial units per hour, 30% more than the agreed-upon limit.

Then, there’s a friend and client who gloats about the growth in his internet revenue, so we click to the cluster’s websites only to see more space on the home page for banner ads, flash video of a car dealer walking across the station image info, a dating service click through, help wanteds and half price special coupons to the point that it’s difficult to tell that this is a radio station’s internet presence.

It looks like the inside of a very busy coupon flier.

OK. Times have been pretty tough lately and on one hand we should all be grateful that there’s this kind of demand building right now, perhaps another sign that the recession is officially over and things, hopefully, are getting better.

On the other, as PPM and click-throughs clearly demonstrate which advertising messages engage and which ones enrage, it’s worth counting up our HD side channels, streaming media, mobile, unlimited potential page views, thinking instead of the power of commercial messages embedded in content (charging top dollar) and stop thinking of our inventory as "60 minutes per hour on FM."

New media has taken away all of the limitations so long as we create content which drives eyeballs and ears first.

Yes, nine of ten of your revenue dollars do still come from analog terrestial radio, but tomorrow’s growth is unlimited in its potential IF we focus less on selling spots and more on usage, monetizing, not commercial units. but talent/content which gets the value equation of entertaining and building an audience while driving them to every platform at your disposal.

The potential for places to put commercial messages is unlimited.

Which means that tomorrow’s problem isn’t holding the line on inventory and yield management, but a risk of the infinite commercial load driving average prices down to the point that media can’t afford to create the content users expect.

If we’re moving to more :15’s because it makes our medium more listenable, that’s great.

If it’s because we’re now selling units for 25% of the price we once did, and only staying even by having to sell four times the units we once did, we better recognize that we don’t have a financial plan for a growing business, we have a yard sale.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"LAW" to join George Strait And Reba on 2010 Tour

The King of Country Music George Strait has added award-wining and platinum recording artist Lee Ann Womack to his previously announced arena tour with Entertainment Superstar Reba McEntire. The tour kicks off in early 2010 and continues through late Spring.

“'Does Ft Worth Ever Cross Your Mind'? 'Whoever's In New England'? 'The Fireman'? 'Little Rock'? 'Wrapped'? 'The Last To Know'? We're talking classic country from the source,” praises Womack. “I can't imagine a better tour to be on than George Strait and Reba McEntire --- and now I'm not imagining!” Womack added jokingly, “I'm trying to figure out what to wear...cause you can't out-starch George and you sure can't out-spangle Reba!”

2010 TOUR DATES - Date City Venue
22-Jan Baltimore, MD 1st Mariner
23-Jan Greensboro, NC Coliseum
29-Jan Knoxville, TN Thompson Boling
30-Jan Charlottesville, VA JPJ Arena
5-Feb Phoenix, AZ US Airways
6-Feb Las Vegas, NV MGM Garden Arena
18-Feb St Louis, MO Scottrade Center
19-Feb Wichita, KS Intrust Bank Arena
20-Feb Tulsa, OK BOK Arena
25-Feb Atlanta, GA Philips Arena
26-Feb Orlando, FL Amway Arena
4-Mar Memphis, TN FedEx Forum
5-Mar New Orleans, LA New Orleans Arena
6-Mar Little Rock, AR Verizon
26-Mar Portland, OR The Rose Garden
27-Mar Tacoma, WA Tacomadome
8-Apr Omaha, NE Qwest Center
9-Apr Kansas City, MO Sprint Center
10-Apr Des Moines, IA Wells Fargo Arena


FOR PRESS MATERIALS OR MORE INFORMATION, GO TO

WWW.FRONTPAGEPUBLICITY.COM

For George Strait, Contact:
Kathy Best
FrontPage Publicity
Kathy@frontpagepublicity.com
615-383-0412

Regina Stuve
Universal Music Nashville
Regina.stuve@umusic.com
615-524-7543

For Reba McEntire, Contact:
Trisha McClanahan
Starstruck Entertainment
Trisha_Mc@Starstruck.net
615-259-5430

Natalie Kilgore
Big Machine Records/The Valory Music Co.
Natalie.kilgore@bigmachinemail.com
615-324-7769

For Lee Ann Womack, Contact:
Amber Williams
Universal Music Nashville
Amber.williams@umusic.com
615-524-7516

For Online and Tour Press
Kelly Russell
Universal Music Nashville
Kelly.russell@umusic.com
615-524-7552

Friday, November 13, 2009

Going And Coming, Ontario FM Edition (No PPM Cume, No Viability)

And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance; I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance
Garth Brooks "The Dance"

The New Country 95.3 wants to thank you, our faithful listeners for being our dance partners these past seven years. We couldn't have become Canada's most listened to country station without your loyal support. And while it was a great ride, it's time to introduce the next chapter in the ongoing history of the New 95.3.

The New 95.3 is now playing all the Greatest Hits from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. It’s upbeat, fun and will have you singing along to all your favourite tunes! You’ll flash back to memories of your first kiss…your first slow dance, your first car… those rights of passage that we all share! So sit back and enjoy the greatest of the greats…The Stones, The Beatles, Chicago, Boston, The Doors, Blondie, Fleetwood Mac…we could go on and on but you’re probably already thinking of all your favourite bands…count on it, you’ll hear them!

And please hang onto all your Country Club points. We'll be introducing a new VIP Listener club where you can put your points to use in the very near future!

I d have to say, after first noting that they were still trying to be "new" even after they were gone, which strikes me as a little bizarre: it was a classy way to go, Corus. Just as Windsor is about to get a new country station, very soon, just .6 mhz away and Steve Kassay and his KX96 crew have already started their happy dance.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

2010

Chuck Geiger wrote:
What is on the horizon in 2010 for Country programming?

My thoughts:

-Music: In 2010, 50% of 18-49 will be the Taylor Swift generation, 36% Gen X and only 13% leading edge boomers. This will prove to be a game-changer and a huge growth opportunity for country, as long as we understand the underlying values which unite our transitioning community.

-Imaging: Crisp, concise and compelling.

-Stationality: No more shouting at listeners in 80's CHR style. More authentic, funny, listener-driven.

-Morning Shows: Benchmarks and bits are replaced by today's hot topics, interacting with listeners about them in entertaining ways.

-Talent and VT development: No more punching out six hours of v/t's in 45 minutes with no prep. 2010 country listeners want to help create our content, using all forms of new and old media. Construct a social network which shares on all of your traditional and new media channels.

-Social Media: Don't put Facebook on your show, put your show on Facebook, on your blog, your podcasts, your texting. Allow listeners to have a voice in the music you play, but not in the old one person's request changes the station way of thinking. Listeners vote, and see how others vote, to champion their favorite songs and artists.

-Marketing: Viral and buzz, driven by content + direct marketing to hot zips + TV to own the proper music quality image and give free samples of the product. Thank goodness over the air and cable TV both still need to trade with us. Be smart about your trades and concentrate force for maximum reach and frequency on a consistent basis. Loyalty marketing to drive more listening occasions daily and more days per week.

-Research: Online music and perceptual research is now virtually free to everyone, so if you aren't doing it, your competition may know more about your listeners than you do. If that's the case and your in-house research efforts raise more questions than you can answer, it's going to be increasingly helpful in 2010 to hire an expert. A few years ago, everyone was doing traditional strategic studies and auditorium testing. In 2010, only the big winners will be doing it, making it more useful than ever, even more worth the money it costs.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Taylor Swift SensatioNaL on SNL

A&O asked Nashville Answer Man Neil Haislop to review Swift's hosting of SNL (Saturday Night Live) Saturday: (click to watch her opening)
She was everything she wanted to be before the show, she helped create some genuinely funny gags, like the teenager with monster braces who established a hotline to protect children from bad parent drivers.

In her terrific opening "musical monologue" she took a shot at Kanye West, and her ex boyfriend, Joe Jonas,

"You might be expecting me to say something about Kanye and how he ran up on the stage at the VMAs," she sang. "But there's nothing more to say, 'cause everything's OK. I've got security lining the stage."

She also referenced her nasty breakup with Joe Jonas:
"You might think I'd bring up Joe Jonas, that guy who broke up with me on the phone, but I'm not gonna mention him in my monologue. Hey Joe, I'm doing real well. Tonight, I'm hosting SNL but I'm not gonna brag about that in my monologue. La la la. Ha ha ha. La la la."

Later she spoofed Kate Gosselin, complete with reverse mullet, on 'The View.'

Plus her hip swinging performance of 'You Belong With Me," reminds us that the 16 year old we all grew to marvel at, is now an adult 19 year-old adult that we marvel at...especially, Taylor with a goatee playing a scare-them-straight-inmate putting the fear of God into juvenile delinquents.

One of her best moments was singing "Untouchable."

Saturday, November 07, 2009

How Many Stations And Formats Is PPM Going To Kill Off?

An 18-34 ranker in one of the PPM markets ARB released last week is six pages long. Almost three of those pages have next to no numbers at all on them.

Prediction: we will see more WDTW's giving up trying to be the #2 player in PPM, which will be a boon to the one which lasts.

Ironically, WYCD outlasted its previous competition (WWWW) nine years ago too and now the CBS/Detroit team is once again celebrating the glow of being a format dominator, so there's a lesson in this as well. Don't pull the plug too soon, if you think the other guys may do it first.

Being the only country station in a PPM market may be as powerful as being one of two or three - fighting for metered time spent exposed in this format with geographic hot and cold spots - is difficult.