Monday, August 03, 2009

"Radio Is Actually Fun For Me But I'd Rather Do It For Someone Who Likes Me..."

There has been a lot of thought-provoking content online with Tom Taylor reporting from Morning Show Boot Camp ("KRBE, Houston’s Ryan Chase (says) a temporarily messed-up sample due to Hurricane Ike cost him “a sixth of my income.”) and Mark Ramsey reflecting on Ryan Seacrest's appearance with Kevin & The Bean last week, when he made that statement.

As I commended after reading the Hear 2.0 post:

Ryan's quote from the Orange Country Register crystalizes what’s going wrong for both Ryan, Kevin & Bean, and lots of other talent whose ratings may have been better in diary methodology than in PPM, and it’s a mistake to put all the blame on “investing way too much power in PPM ratings.”

As people who have spent our careers teaching radio personalities, programmers and managers how to maximize their ratings, we researchers and consultants do have a lot of relearning to do as behavioral measurement replaces recall as the metric our business has chosen to use to place a value on our product with our customers.

And, over the years, whether it has been diaries, telephone surveys or PPM, I have to admit that sometimes I have been successful in winning the trust of people who believe what I tell them I think they need to do to improve their rank and share and sometimes I have not.

I don’t know what advice K&B are dodging as they Marine crawl daily out of their CBS studios or what magic potion the Clear Channel execs were attempting to sell to Ryan, but I do believe that the suggestions I have given to talent when I felt that their content was less than consistently compelling was usually on target and when I have been successful in making the talent feel that I am their ally not their adversary, it almost always works, making everyone feel good about the changes we agreed to undertake in the interest of making ratings go up.

For that reason, I don’t think its correct to blame the measurement technology for the problem these immensely-entertaining and popular talents are grousing about. The issue gets down to does the manager, programmer, coach, researcher or consultant make the process of figuring out what’s working and what’s not ‘fun,’ in the spirit of collaboration and safety for everyone concerned?

If it’s true that Ryan’s ratings were great, then you have to wonder why his bosses were trying to get him to change what he’s doing.

Perhaps their corporate overlords were pushing them to mindlessly give the same advice to every personality in the company without tailoring it like a custom-made suit?

Knee jerk, top-down management which disrespects employees, devaluing their contribution has nothing to do with PPM.

That’s just thoughtless, ineffective people skills, and the ratings measurement technique is not the problem.

I am sure that some of the people I have worked with would testify that I’ve been guilty of that too, but I do know that when talent and management work together to improve the end product, the results and the process are empowering to everyone and there are usually plenty of high-fives to go around.

Mark Ramsey's assertion that “radio is a behavior that happens over and over again across time and the biggest challenge is ... to get people to tune BACK” is a great starting point for a coaching session, and I can’t imagine any talent worth their salt who wouldn’t buy into that as a great goal to hone their performance and increase their audience size/ratings if they respected the messenger and felt that person had their best interests at heart.

Lets not blame an emphasis on gaming the ratings system to out bill competitors. There’s nothing new in that.

It’s probably why someone decided Ryan should replace Rick at KIIS, and it has always been thus in this fickle business.

Lay the blame, instead, on poor talent management and communications.

Sadly, that’s nothing new to radio, either.


Mike Bell said...

To me radio is akin to finding a really cool website or blog. You keep coming back because the content is compelling, entertaining, or both. There are a couple of blogs that I know longer follow because the author either quit posting new material, or became stuck in a rut. I've always found the same to be true about radio in general and personality driven shows in particular.

You're absolutely correct about custom tailoring your strategy for winning. Listeners don't listen in lockstep. Everyone uses radio differently. To apply the subjective data gleaned from research to every personality in every daypart in the same exact fashion is programming suicide.

And finally Jaye, I couldn't agree with you more about how much better the talent/programmer/management relationship is when talent feels everyone is on the same side.

I mean who wants to be in a marriage with a partner that's constantly telling you everything you do is wrong?

Facebook Thread said...

Lee Richey, Morgan Thomas, Judy Puente and 5 others like this.

Stace Whitmire

Anna Cherry
True Dat

Donna James
Jaye you are so right! Nobody appreciates what it takes for me to hang upside down from that pole... :0)

Jay Trachman
Good article, Jaye. I especially like "when I have been successful in making the talent feel that I am their ally not their adversary, it almost always works" -- yes, yes, YES! We performers crave feedback, but most of us are so hard-wired for insecurity, we make ourselves hard to reach. "Lay the blame, instead, on poor talent management and ... Read Morecommunications." May I respectuflly add, "a poor understanding of what satisfies the listener and motivates him/her to come back for more, and how to deliver it."

Bill Dodd
Aw..... You were always just like a mother to us!

Jaye Albright
Was that mother or "M-Fer"? (smile) Thanks, Bill. You were a treat to work with and it's been fun to watch your success since then (hard to believe it has been 25 years).

Chuck Geiger said...

This goes back to WNBC, when NBC hired Stern and wouldn't let him do what they hired him to do.