Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Conduct A Do-It-Yourself Programming Audit (Today!)

Getting your radio station ready for a ratings period a few times a year used to be so simple - a quick scan of a few points on a short checklist, and you were set. Yesterday's world of radio programming has evolved to a much more complicated universe of issues today, and the tasks that must be performed and constantly evaluated have multiplied considerably.

“Imagine evaluating your station as an auditor might, examining your product as a collection of assets and liabilities. Which ones are your most valued? What under-performers could you improve? What are liabilities? Become an expert Programming Auditor in just one hour!“ -- Michael O'Malley

How To Conduct A Programming Audit with Albright & O’Malley’s Michael O’Malley
will help you form the right checklist to monitor and improve your station's programming operations on an ongoing basis. Click here to join us for this expansive discussion on how to keep your station constantly "in tune" with your audience and your staff!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mark Ramsey at NAB Radio Show: Radio Should Drop Arbitron

He's always provocative, and last Friday in Philadelphia he was even more so than usual. And, as a continuation of my frustrated post below, this video (click to watch it) makes some powerful assertions, worth turning my blog over to today.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Reconciling Two New Arbitron Reports (...And, Worrying!)

Last week, ARB released the first Radio Today update in two years, and added lots of great information on who uses as many as 57 different radio formats, where, when and how.

Then, just a day later, the company in association with Coleman Research put out another report looking at America's Most Successful stations and formats in PPM.

Unfortunately, it appears to purport that all but perhaps ten of those formats aren't going to drive enough cume to do well in metered measurement. Their lower cumes aren't large enough to consistently penetrate the smaller PPM sample. The great TSL and high loyalty which drove their success in diary measurement no longer registers as important to doing well in PPM methodology.

Shares no longer count very much, we are now told, since in PPM the majorty of lower cume stations all cluster together at the bottom of the new ranker, separated by small fractions ... which comes as quite a shock to many sellers and buyers who have become accustomed for four decades to using that metric to value the medium.

I am now staring nostalgically at these format performance indications from diaries, fearful that future "Radio Today" reports - as more markets drop diaries and move to PPM - will exhibit the disappearance of many mid-rankers, as they go from viability to financial starvation (unless they can find a way to grow a lot more "cume" - read that "get more meters of their heavy users in the sample" - and fast!).

By and large, PPM is treating Country well, but even our most successful stations in PPM have more cume and get many more listening occasions from their heaviest-users than the average does. Is this because their brands are stronger? Their execution is better?

Or, that they just were lucky enough to get meters into the hands of their listeners?

The rub: in highly-ethnic markets, the format gets very little cume from all but non-ethnic households, which can have "cume" (or, more correctly, number of meters) ramifications for both us and minority broadcasters.

How's this for an idea?

Since Arbitron is now saying that it plans to also measure "engaged" listening as well as "exposure," - which so much of PPM cume is - simply do one diary-based survey per year with a robust sample in every market so we can all rely on the accuracy of the audience shares of the engaged audience we have all come to trust and buy from for decades, and then, for those who want more accountability, track the behavior of individual station and format users, without trying to pass that much smaller sample off as an accurate measure of the size of average quarter hour audiences of stations with less reach and more loyal listeners.

Who says we have to choose between measuring exposure and engagement?

Can't you measure and compare both for us, please, Arbitron?

.. Just as you did so well in the last week.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Radio: 19.4% (Up From 16.5% Last Year)

OK, so now I have your attention, you also need to pay attention to what aspect of our business that hike is IN: an online source for news and information! However, we need to work on our credibility when compared to TV's online info efforts.

The survey was conducted with 1,000 US adults, ages 18+, by phone September 10-13, 2009.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

An Encouraging Sign in Our Economy Too

The dollar is stronger against the Euro, Ben Bernanke says the recession is over, and I just received an email from a radio job warrior that gives me as much hope as I have had in some time too:

"Sorry I haven't been in touch lately with a lot of you. It's been a crazy 9 months to say the least.

Thought I would update everyone on everything going on.

As most of you know I got laid off from Cumulus Media back in Febuary. Since then things have been a blur.

I took a job working for Target. But, as you know radio is my passion and where my heart is. It's all I've really done since I've been 16.

In June a new country radio station signed on locally and wanted me to come work for them. It just kinda fell in my lap from a former radio colleague!

I'm the afternoon guy, production guy, program director, music director and also will be doing some sales on the side too.

So, I wear many hats but I'm loving it. It's a locally owned station.

The owners used to own 5 radio stations here before selling them to Clear Channel in 2003.

Now, they are back in the business and only own this station. It's great seeing the owners once a week and being a part of a locally owned station again and in a small market.

I put my condo on the market on August 1st and it sold in less than 30 days. God sure had a plan for me.

I've just found a place to rent.

Everything has happened so fast but thought I would update you."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The New iPod Nano Gives Radio A Second Chance Among Younger Listeners

Two-thirds (66%) of Americans aged 18-34 show an active interest in the pause-and-rewind feature of the new FM tuner. The interactive features of the FM tuner in Apple’s new iPod Nano show potential to energize interest among younger demographics who are the heaviest users of mp3 players.
This is one of the main findings of an online survey of 1,185 American adults conducted by the Radio Research division of Vision Critical Communications. Parallel surveys were also conducted among Canadian and British adults showing similar results. The interactive features of the FM tuner generate considerable interest— particularly among 18-34 year-olds. When presented with the specific features of the FM tuner:
  • 47% of Americans aged 18 and older say they are “very interested” in the ability to pause and rewind songs they hear on the radio. This rises to 66% among 18-34 year-olds.
  • The opportunity to see the name of the song using the Nano’s RDS display also has strong appeal. In all, 41% of Americans and 55% of 18-34 year-olds express an active interest in this feature.
  • Consumers show somewhat less interest in the ability to “tag” songs for future purchase. Twenty-eight percent (28%) of Americans aged 18 and older are “very interested” in this feature, but this increases to 45% of 18-34 year olds.
Of the five features from the new Ipod Nano that were presented in the survey, American adults rank an FM tuner #3 in terms of overall interest.

American adults in general show greater active interest in the Nano’s larger display screen (with 46% indicating they are “very” interested) and the new video camera (45% “very” interested) than in an FM tuner (34%) when the tuner is presented on its own prior to mentioning its specific features. Interest in an FM tuner is however well above the active interest expressed in the voice recorder (21%) and the pedometer (17%).
  • Interest in and usage of mp3 players and the iPod Nano are highest among 18-34 year-olds.
  • Thirty-two percent (32%) of 18-34 year-olds report listening “daily” to mp3s. This compares to only 14% of all Americans aged 18 and older.
  • Fifteen percent (15%) of 18-34 year-olds say they currently use an iPod Nano, vs. 8% of American adults in general.
Full survey results by demographic category and country are available on request here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kenny Closes His Sun City Carnival; 45,178 Cheer All-Star Final

It all ended with an audible in Indianapolis… After Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles came out for “When The Sun Goes Down…” After Miranda Lambert came out and camped on “She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy…” After Zach Brown and his band blazed through Alabama's “Dixieland Delight” and Steve Miller's “Space Cowboy,…” After Wailer Drummie Zeb romped through “Three Litrle Birds…” and No Shoes Radio Mark Tamburino ignited “Girl Gone Wild…”

It came down to Kenny Chesney, his acoustic guitar and the tugging “Better As A Memory,” with its confussion “Every good-byes like a roulette wheel, never know where it's gonna land.” The Star called it “his most personal moment…” and deemed it “an emotional challenge he almost didn't get through,” and yet the fans stood, cheered and waved good bye to the man who's come to represent summer, what it means to be young and someone who's just like they are to over a million people each of the past eight years.

“It's hard to believe we're putting this thing up on blocks,” an emotional Chesney said after the sold-out show at Lucas Oil Stadium. “The response from the fans, out in the crowd and the internet, it makes feel like people understand… and that they know we're not gone for good, it's just a breather…

“And I hope people understand, I've never been an all or nothing kind of guy. This doesn't mean there will be no shows or no music. It means I'm not going to be staging a major tour - I'm not going to take two weeks off and be meeting with people to build a stage, to start thinking about how we can do the lights different an what the video's gonna be.

` “This isn't just a show,” explains the man who's the 4-consecutive Academy of Country Music and 4-time and current Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year. “This is a major production… and it's not just decide what to play, rehearse for a couple weeks and get out there. I need a break from that, so I can get back inside from a fresh place - and I'm really looking forward to that, because I don't anyone who keeps their foot on the gas like this for 8 years, “

Look for Chesney to be part of the Hard Rock CafĂ©'s international Ambassadors of Rock next year, as well as continuing to record a new record for late spring release. With “I'm Alive,” Chesney's cross-genre duet with Dave Matthews, climbing the charts, it is certainly a musical time for the singer/songwriter from Luttrell, Tennessee who found himself the first face of Cornoa Extra when his t.v. commercials hit the air earlier this year and his “This Is Our Moment” is currently the break-out song for ESPN's college football games this season.

“There are all kinds of things to explore within the music,” Chesney enthuses. “I can't wait to take the time to see where some of this will take me, and where I might turn up, Because, you know, I now have the time to maybe get into some interesting places… We'll just have to figure it out.”

Thanks to Holly Gleason, who does PR for Chesney for the report. Reach her at 615-269-3238.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

45% Of Newsrooms Use Social Media To Gain Sources

The News Generation survey found that nearly half of the newsrooms (45%) use Twitter and Facebook, to offer their technologically savvy audiences an extension to conventional radio to provide another broadcast platform.

Thirty percent believe that keeping pace with technology and using social media builds listenership loyalty and keeps listeners tuned-in throughout the day.

The majority of radio newsrooms (56%) rely on social media for story leads from “citizen journalists,” and 34% of radio newsrooms say social media not only provides leads but can also provide possible sources of information for news stories.

Tip: News Generation is a PR firm which advises clients on how to get their stories onto our air, and the fact that they are telling the folks they work with to use Facebook, Twitter, et al, means we need to be more skeptical than ever on social media as credible sources.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ARB's Radar: Radio's Cume Is UP 4 Million People

Radio reaches more than 235 million persons age 12 and older over the course of a typical week, according to the RADAR® 102 National Radio Listening Report which releases Monday, September 21, 2009.

Since the December 2007 RADAR 95 report, the RADAR national radio listening estimates and network radio audience reports have been based on PPMTM respondents from within commercialized PPM markets and on diary respondents from the balance of the United States. The combination of PPM and diary respondents have shown more listeners to radio over the course of a week versus the 2007 RADAR listening reports which were based on diary respondents alone.

As additional radio markets transition to electronic measurement, total radio reach is revealed to be larger than in previous surveys. Listening to RADAR Network Affiliate stations has also risen year over year. Over the course of a typical week, more than 214 million persons age 12 and older tune to the more than 7,700 RADAR Network Affiliated stations, up from 210 million listeners one year ago in RADAR 98.

Radio Has Strength and Stability

Radio reaches 92 percent of persons 12+ each week, despite the adoption of MP3 players and the growth of Internet-only stations. Even 90 percent of the youngest radio audience, teens ages 12-17, most accustomed to using new technologies and forms of media, continue to tune in each week. Network radio also reaches nearly 85 percent of the ad elusive and media multi-taskers Adults 18-34.

Radio Has Universal Appeal

The diversity of formats in radio attracts advertiser-coveted demographics in both Black Non-Hispanic and Hispanic persons.

  • Ninety-two percent of Black Non-Hispanic persons and 93 percent of Hispanic persons, age 12 and older tune into radio over the course of a week.
  • Radio reaches about 93 percent of both Black Non-Hispanics and Hispanics age 18-49 over the course of a week.
  • Network affiliated stations reach 89 percent of Black Non-Hispanic persons, and 81 percent of Hispanic persons, age 12 and older.

Radio Reaches the Educated and Affluent

Radio reaches 95 percent of college graduates ages 25-54. Ninety-five percent of adults 25-54 with a college degree and an annual income of $50,000 or more tune into radio over the course of a week.

Network affiliated stations reach nearly 86 percent of college graduates ages 18-49 with a household income of $75,000 or more. All radio stations reach close to 95 percent of this age group.

On Monday, September 21, 2009, Arbitron will release the complete RADAR 102 Radio Network Audience Report results. RADAR, the standard currency for national network radio ratings, measures 58 individual radio networks. These networks are operated by American Urban Radio Networks, Citadel Media Networks, Crystal Media Networks, Dial Global Inc., Premiere Radio Networks, United Stations Radio Networks and Westwood One Radio Networks.

Continuing the sample increase initiative, the sample size for RADAR 102 is now composed of 345,230 respondents. This larger sample ensures more stability for key demographic estimates, dayparts and Market-by-Market Analysis reports, which report all individual DMAs®.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A&O Salutes Some Early CCMA Winners

The Albright & O'Malley consulting team is so proud of our coworker and Assistant Program Director/Music Director at Jim Pattison Broadcast Group's 93.7 JRfm, Mark Patric, who over the weekend was named the Canadian Country Music Association's Major Market Music Director of the Year.

The winning piece of content, as voted on by the attendees at my Friday convention session was submitted by CKRY/Calgary's Odd Squad. Robin Adair and Dan Veranelli were on hand to personally accept the $500 cash prize before also being named Canada's Major Market Personalities of the Year.

Placing #2 in the voting was a great personal story of a practical joke gone wrong by
JRfm 93.7 Vancouver's evening host Roo Phelps.

KKBN/Sorona's Joe and Bridget, CJJR''s Clay and Karen, Crystal Darche and Colleen Troy, WSOC/Charlotte's Catherine Lane, KEEY/Minneapolis' Donna and Muss, KFGY/Santa Rosa's Rob and Joss, CHAT/Medicine Hat's Jim and Amy, WSRG/Sturgeon Bay's Colin Shaughnessey and a crazy stunt from KUPL/Portland's Waking Crew ("Paint Ball Power Ball") rounded out the top ten bits I shared as a part of my presentation.

My CCMA session audience was very impressed by the quality of content! Thanks to all of them for competing for the prize money and "fame."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hot: Back To Basics

Farmers Markets are what’s hot this month (according to 70.5%)…early holiday shopping (49.5%) is also on trend. America’s Got Talent and county fairs are a hit with the female crowd, while college football scores with men. -- Big Research September Executive Briefing

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Living At The Intersection Of Virtue and Meaning

Radio-Info's Sean Ross plans to tell the now completely-sold-out Christian Music Broadcasters convention tomorrow in Orlando that “Family friendly” is a position Christian ACs own by default.

He claims that Christian AC stations are diverging further from the formats they tend to share with, like country, noting that over the last four years country’s lyrics and attitude have changed so that using a positioner like “safe for the whole family” is no longer a good fit and if country stations edit out the slightly-objectionable words in some songs (pulling “ass” out of Zac Brown’s hit named “Toes”), they’re apt to get listener complaints.

While Country Music Association-funded research absolutely indicates that our listeners are driven by music's ability to give meaning to their lives and virtue is an important attribute to them, there is no indication - i.e. last week's "" top ten ranking of country listeners favorite new music shows that those who "love" Brown's current hit outnumber the ones in country's audience who dislike it, three to one (click on the graphics to enlarge them).

Country music's strength is its sonic and lyrical variety. The narrower competing genres become, the larger our opportunity for growth as we reflect real life and values in all of its negatives, positives, temptations, joys, loves and hates.

Here's hoping we never lose that historical advantage!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I Think They Needed An "Udder" Idea

What we in radio will do to get people talking about our fall contests!

And, I seem to "fall" for these bizarre, over-the-top attempts to be viral every single time!

(click to see how CISN, Edmonton, is kicking off the Fall 2009 BBM contest)

Moo.. LAH!

What If?

... employee groups start buying local stations from consolidated companies while they are on their last legs? Would you buy your station, if you could own it for $2?

... internet broadcast runs out of bandwidth and reopens "local" opportunity for terrestial stations?

Music Master's Joe Knapp:
"If terrestrial radio is going to thrive again, it has to take advantage of the two things it has going for it. It reaches a limited market, so it's better suited for LOCAL programming. It's also an efficient one-to-many distribution channel, so it has to have mass appeal. I think the ONLY way to do that is to have live bodies on the air who relate to the audience and react instantly to everything that's going on. That's the kind of stuff you can't get on your iPod or New Media. Radio and New Media each have a place, but we need to remember that they're different, and need to be tuned accordingly. Internet radio can't serve the audience terrestrial radio does because of bandwidth limitations. I never stopped to do the math on that before. I suspect a whole new Internet strategy, like neural networking, may become necessary before it can work the way we expect. Internet radio reaches a global market, and it's probably better used as a Long Tail medium (even though that term is getting heat these days). Terrestrial radio serves a LOCAL market very well. I also think the tide will eventually turn and newer, smarter managers will come to realize that salaries produce more profit than they cost. Hire people to MAKE you more money. They've lost sight of that for the moment, but that may only be temporary."

... I hope Joe's right.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

New Rules?

With apologies to Bill Maher and HBO, the concept of some rules seeming to be constant and others requiring updating came to mind as I was cleaning out old files from two decades ago and came across a monitor of a very successful country station, noting ten things they were doing, some of which still work in today's radio and some of which require revision in light of PPM measurement and changing demographics and culture:

1. Two simultaneous contests - one to promote TSL (Count the Country Favorites) and one to promote cume (Country Cruiser/Super Stickers, free coffee at remote location all morning until 9). New rule: contests are not as important as crisp, concise, compelling content. Off air cume-building and direct marketing may be a more effective way to spend your money than attempting to bribe listeners to listen longer.

2. Clear, simple positioning: Country Favorites, today's country, new country, classic country, the legends. This one still works. Own one word.

3. Everybody has a nickname: "Uncle" this, "Rhymin' that, "Dancin'" this, etc. No nicknames for newspeople! Crazy names still help convey character and personality, but authenticity is even more important than just adopting a zany name. Newspeople? What are they?

4. News on hour and half hour, headlines at :15 and :45. Lots of service elements - staff meteorologist, traffic reporter. Fresh story selection, avoiding the sense that "the same stories are repeated all morning". A good news teaser that SAYS this clearly: "coming up, stories we've haven't covered yet (headline)..." Freshness remains a good rule, repetition is still the enemy, but who has time to wait for a newscast today?

5. They use a format-specific comedy service, but LOCALIZE everything (i.e., Randy Travesty/Pint of Light song parody). Localization remains crucial, but pre-produced content and interviews have to be trimmed to the bone.

6. Name the show: Breakfast Flakes. Name the elements: Highway Patrol Traffic, Radar weather. Branding is still a good idea, but what you do and how well you do it now defines your brand far more effectively than any clever name.

7. Production. Morning show jingles, beat beds behind everything. Lots of music and sound effects, to keep momentum moving. They don't limit length of anything, but keep it high energy and limit to one fully developed punch line per set. Produced intros (short and a BIG variety of them) on everything. Production inside news: intro, punctuators before spot, weather and traffic sounders. That was then, this is now: contemporary, organic, spontaneous, tight.

8. Involvement. Many listeners on the phone. At least one such phone bit per quarter hour. In 2009, that still applies, but now you add texting, emailing, IMing and social networking to the ways listeners share their stories. If they aren't part of creating the content, it's not engaging enough.

9. At the start of each hour (5:59 and 6:59), they immediately promote to 6:20 and 7:20 am with a specific reason to listen an extra quarter hour. That "old" rule still rules with me.

10. Double time sells. Analog and digital. Talk about outmoded! Who needs the radio today to tell what time it is? Scratch rule #10. Completely irrelevant today.

10a. No mixed messages, cynical attitude, dirty stuff. Funny, bright, warm, friendly attitude. Now, that's a Rule #10 which has stood the test of time.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

To "Ass" Or Not To "Ass", That Is The Question

And, Atlanta journalist Rodney Ho attempts this week to answer it (click to read his article on radio's reaction to "Toes" lyrics):

Wyatt Durrette, one of the four co-writers of the song, wrote to me in an email:

“I’m ok with the toes-toes thing. If people like the song, they are going to buy it and they end up with the real version. So while it’s not the greatest, it’s not the end of the world either.”

Scott Lindy, program director at the Bull, tested the song with the “ass” word included a few weeks back but feedback made him decide to stick with the G-rated version during the daytime when more kids are in earshot. One person said whenever the song started while he had young children in the car, he’d switch the station immediately. This is not something any program director wants to hear.

Kevin Daniels, operations manager at South 107.1, which covers northwest Georgia, said he remembers having a conversation with Zac, who told him he did not want an edited version on radio, that he’d rather it not be played at all. In fact, Daniels has not heard about a specific radio edit from the label.

“I was hesitant at first to play the song,” he said. But so far, so good. He has not gotten any bad feedback from his audience about it. In fact, he’s gotten some compliments from folks who are happy he is playing it without any changes. Right now, the station has “Toes” in medium rotation of three spins a day. “I like the song and the audience seems to also,” he noted.

Jaye Albright, a country station consultant out of Seattle for Albright and O’Malley, said she has heard more complaints from Zac Brown fans who object to the censorship.

“When radio starts to edit or tamper with a song, there’s a little bit of artistic protection from some listeners. They’d rather hear it the way the artist intended.”

Plus, some programmers in more conservative areas are more wary of the use of the phrase “roll a big fat one,” implying the smoking of an illicit substance, over the “ass” line.

Why Have One Emergency Radio When Two Would Be Better?

It's time to ramp up your bad weather preparedness tools and education on air, and the Department of Homeland Security has a great reminder of how key radio can be at those times.

Lasting positive images are built (or lost) at those times, since it only works if your station has a plan to be there for your audience whenever the weather turns bad.

Every business needs a "bad weather plan," especially every radio station.

Include in that plan imaging to reinforce element association to "dependability" and "reliability." Station association to "trust." Encourage listeners to "use" the station with a weather-related call to action "when you need to know."

But, don't promise it if you can't deliver on it, 24/7, especially during the upcoming bad weather months.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Wolf Breaks New Ground

Cumulus' 99.5 The Wolf/Dallas and SCA Promotions has partnered to run the first ever $1 Million Twitter Song of the Day Contest.

To qualify, listeners must tune in to The Wolf between 8/31/09 and 9/4/09 and listen for the Twitter Song of the Day. After registering on Twitter and following The Wolf at
, listeners must tweet the appropriate response after hearing the daily Song of the Day.

Each day, The Wolf will award concert tickets to ten contestants. At the end of the Song of the Day contest, one grand prize finalist will be selected to play for $1 million. To become an instant millionaire, the grand prize finalist must correctly predict the final score of the Dallas – New York professional football game on September 20.

Click here to listen to the radio spot.

The million dollar prize is being covered by SCA Promotions. If the grand prize finalist predicts the final score of the game, SCA will give The Wolf the money to award the winner.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Real What?

Is the banner atop the full page ad in both today's Country Aircheck and Billboard's new Country Update for Luke Bryan's "Do I" implying that some of the so-called "research" being touted by the very competitive Music City promotion people is not "real?"

Who would have thunk it? (smile)