Monday, November 29, 2010
Just watch and see:
(if the video doesn't work in your browser, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugSS9wvD9bY)
.. but they still have a ways to go to catch up with Salt Lake City (click and count the stations!).
“Yes, you have to have a high cume, and more specifically a high P1 cume,” says Research Director, Inc. partner Charlie Sislen. “But you also need high TSL among P1s, even though they are only a small portion of your total audience.”
The fewer country stations in a market the better in that measure the average PPM-rated country station appears to do, especially in younger demos.
18-34's average station share indexes .92 of the 6+ share of 3.9, while the 18-34 country format share is. .95 of the country format share of 7.4. The average country station share in these 30 markets 18-49 and 25-54 is .95 of the 6+ share, respectively, and 35-64 the average station share is a one to one relationship with 6+. Country format indexes by demo are better 18-49 (.99) and 35-64 (1.03), and worse in the more competitive 25-54 demo (.97).
Two educated guesses from a non-statistician:
- PPM tends to favor country stations with the broadest demo P-1 cume reach across all age groups and may punish ones with narrower targets on the young side.
- Compressed shares of audience are probably not due to PPM technology per se, but look to me to be the result of small samples which can under-represent any station or format which doesn't have very similar shares in all geographies and age groups.
Good for you if you dominate your format's listening profile. To the usage leader go the spoils.
Friday, November 26, 2010
If you can't actually get your hands on one, you can at least DO what it says, content break after content break.
That way, you'll become so rich you can afford to buy one of them.
A final note: "coming up, the latest from, available in stores" et al does not hook and a list of three songs/artists you'll be playing in the next ten minutes is not a tease.
Surely you can do better than that!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
He also told a Commons committee late last week that with the broadcasting landscape changing at lightning speed – the advent of digital and the Internet – the rules and regulations may need to adapt. He rejects the notion that integration – owning both content distribution and production – necessarily narrows Canadians’ choices.
One of the areas that might change is radio, specifically AM. von Finckenstein said it’s been a long time since there was an application for a new AM licence. The question: “Should we still be regulating the AM market? Is there a case to be made for letting it go by way of exemption?”
He reportedly thinks the digital world is driven by the consumer and that the old top-down models are increasingly outdated, including regulation. To regulate by controlling access to the airwaves is yesterday's concept, he said.
It's tempting to respond to these statements with a shrug, a "duh" or "it's about time," and let it go at that, since the most rural Canadian provinces now have been left with absolutely no AM radio stations at all, leaving numerous remote agricultural areas with no local broadcast service, giving them only subscription cable companies to provide what local programming is still available.
Better late than never. It would be nice to hope that completely open AM airwaves would foster something exciting, new and profitable for those communities.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The label’s marquee act, Toby Keith, who has the #16 song on the new Billboard country chart remains a minority investor in Taylor Swift’s label Big Machine as well, which had the week’s greatest gainer and was the top most-added song to the airplay chart as an ad touting her new hair style touts, so TK and Show Dog include hedging their bets in that “ no rules” approach.
Even with the growth of the Internet and the increased ability of country acts to gain exposure on TV, Wright still views country radio as the key piece of the puzzle in building careers.
New artists may get a foot in the door in other media, but they still need a song that finds its way to drive-time commutes. “You’ve got to have radio hits,” he told Roland.
But not exclusively, he claims. Show Dog-Universal is working with Universal- affiliated Sanctuary Management on a multi-artist rock tribute album with an international audience, Wright says. And the company is hopeful that a movie soundtrack project will come together.
“You can only work four to five singles at a time in country radio, which is pretty much what a promotion staff is maxed out at,” Wright says. “You’ve got to have what I call non-radio revenue—other projects that you don’t have to just necessarily drive up the charts for 30 weeks to sell an album. We’ve got a couple of those in play.”
I keep hoping that some of the many new artists on small labels which seem to languish for weeks and weeks in the bottom half of the airplay charts, ultimately failing time after time to make it into the top 20, are spending their money productively and (even better!) are making a buck along the way, but I have my doubts.
Wouldn't a larger panel of monitored/reporting stations provide more play list diversity, opening up room for perhaps another ten potential national 'hits?'
Of course it would, but I don't know of anyone who thinks that is on the horizon anytime soon given the economics of the music business.
So, rule #1 in this "no rules" time: don't give up your day job!
Friday, November 19, 2010
When respondents were asked which of the 10 technologies their radio organizations are now deploying, streaming was the top pick by far. For six other technologies (listed below), each requiring capital investment, respondents reported group owned stations as implementing them at a substantially higher rate than stand-alone stations:
- Having a website that delivers video: Group owned, 43.1%; stand-alone, 26.8%
- Promoting stations with a mobile phone app: Group owned, 43.1%; stand-alone, 22.8%
- Streaming multiple channels: Group owned, 38.5%; stand-alone, 20.3%
- Broadcasting in HD Radio: Group owned, 36.9%; stand-alone, 19.5%
- Websites that create musical discovery: Group owned, 27.7%; stand-alone, 17.9%
- Broadcasting multiple HD Radio channels: Group owned, 26.2%; stand-alone, 10.6%
What's holding the smaller broadcast companies back? (duh) MONEY.
For the remaining three technologies, which do not require capital investment (using social media to win more listeners, creating a website that interacts with listeners, and creating podcasts) responses for stand-alone and group-owned stations were comparable.
“This study comes to the radio industry at a critical time. As traditional ad revenue has declined, radio organizations are experimenting with new technologies that will add revenue by enabling them to deliver programming through a variety of new channels.” -- Wheatstone Vice President Andrew Calvanese
Evaluating the new radio business models is not easy. “Part of the difficulty is they are all baby models at this point, and they are all different. Different organizations are following different models: Some people are making money from streaming, others from local events, still others are making money from banner ads. Not everyone is good at following these paths. Radio could end up becoming multiple industries, because [individual] broadcast groups [could] have less in common with each other than they do with companies in other industries.” -- Mark Ramsey, president of Mark Ramsey Media
With the exception of streaming, stand-alone stations are falling behind group-owned stations in using revenue generating technologies that require capital investment. Group-owned stations are pulling ahead by a ratio of about 2:1.
Long term, as revenue builds from these new technologies, stand-alone stations could find themselves challenged to compete economically. (grab the study report here - pdf)
Thursday, November 18, 2010
- Tight production. Treat the station like a CHR or Hot AC in terms of production value. But, today's contemporary - authentic and organic - not like 80's or 90's Top 40.
- Music elements. Use contemporary music as backgrounds or as "hooks" for feature stories. Use music beds, when appropriate, but beat beds which distract from the content don't work. Keep it simple, real.
- Hipness factor. Saying you don't know how to pronounce "Kanye" or "Bieber" says 'you are old.' If you can't pronounce it, don't say it.
- Pop culture references provide context for your content.
- No "interviews with water commissioners," even in newscasts and public affairs shows. Tell stories, engage. Begin each narrative with "what's in it for me."
- Less clutter. Stick to commercial limits. Shorten newscasts or eliminate formal "newscasts" and make everything you talk about be a reflection of what's happening right now.
- Less "traffic report" mentality. More human "news you can use."
- Faster pacing. Convey a "sense of urgency."
- An "old" reputation gets in the way.
- Prehistoric production values.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Five years ago, when the Boomers were all 40-54, THAT was where all the action was.
Watch 22-34 in the next few years!
Look for some new ways to speak their language in the next year.
The country demo was easily defined just five years ago. The largest and most desirable target was comprised of a single group of listeners who shared common core music preference. In the past two years, things have started changing again and driving the new artist evolution is demography.
Next year, that trend will continue.
What has emerged is a new group of non-ethnic teens and 25 to 34 year olds who just love country music.
Just as adult contemporary is now seeing a division between old and young around the age of 39 to 42, so too goes the country audience in 2011 and beyond. It's a trend that we haven't completely felt the full impact of and it even has a counter trend/bit of a backlash in the form of some new retro sounds appealing to 45+ as well, like the new Alan Jackson and Sunny Sweeney, among others.
Is country about to fragment, with two equally-sized potential audiences, one skewing younger and newer, with the other older and more familiarity and variety-based?
Historically, it has been very possible for a market leader to prevent significant fragmentation from any new competition in markets where the mainstream leader has made the adjustment to the new rules of "today's country" and aggressively practiced relationship marketing to their traditional core and social networking with the newcomers at the same time.
Will history repeat itself?
Monday, November 15, 2010
We present highlights/trends from the national data at the annual Albright & O’Malley client seminar in Nashville, just before CRS, so an update for 2011 is less than 90 days away.
2010’s report was based on responses from 8,867 country radio listeners from across North America.
Some evidence that things are evolving: three years ago roughly three of four chose currents and recurrents by historical super stars of the format and hits from the mid-late 2000’s by those same longtime “A artists” as their favorite clusters of music.
Then, two years ago, those percentages suddenly fell and the average listener expressed a lot more interest in currents and recurrents by newer artists ( the non-hstorial superstars).
Is it that the audience has changed and become more open to new artists? Or, since early 2000’s songs by the historical stars remained steady, do listeners feel that their newer music isn’t as strong as their previous releases were?
A&O will have data on that right after the first of the year, but my guess is that it’s BOTH things.
Getting back to those evolving audience clusters I wrote about last week, I’d postulate that you get a quicker life cycle in the convert market because country is not their only market. In transition 30's, you get a longer life cycle. And, in the traditional market, once you hit, you're there.
The biggest difference for country radio comes when you are able to click strongly with all three target groups within our cume.
That’s the distance between doing more or less as well as the average station or hitting cume, TSL and share of total audience levels that are far above the national mean.
It's the difference between "good" and "absolutely great" country music radio.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
There's no doubt that country radio is playing catchup in this fast-emerging social economy as new "do and don't" lists seem to appear almost daily.
It's easy to mistake all this sharing and blogging as absolutes instead of what it really is, an ongoing dialog where new rules are constantly trumping old ones.
In that light, allow me to toss in the possibility that Jessica is "86% right" in our very enlightening exchange.
Two things she suggested raised caution flags for me.
- Videos of the morning show (unless its compelling) can be an issue I'd try not to do. Of course, if it's truly incredible, there's nothing like Facebook to take something absolutely worldwide, but "broadcast" sparingly in social media, and engage generously. Don't find yourself with two million "likes" for all the wrong reasons, none of which grow your radio audience locally.
- DO NOT update "Status" hourly on Facebook. It is self defeating. You won't make your target's news feed, since over posting drives down your score. If you want to post hourly or more often on Twitter, that's fine, since it usually leads to nothing.
Sadly, most of the online content produced by the average radio station doesn't compete very successfully outside their current, small, group of 'friends.'
It's not that "less is more," it's that better is better.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Those in search of Thanksgiving turkey and all of the fixings will likely head to Walmart this month, where nearly one in five (18.5%) shops most often for Groceries…Kroger (7.1%), Publix (3.9%), Safeway (2.9%), and Shoprite (2.4%) complete the top five for this category.
The seasonal Toy battle has begun, with retailers hotly vying for a piece of Santa’s wallet this year (just like every other year)…for holiday 2010, look for consumers to head most often to Walmart (20.2%) and big box Toys R Us (17.9%). Target (6.2%), Kmart (1.3%), and Amazon (1.2%) follow the “Big Two” in Toys. Though with 46.0% citing “No Preference” for Toy store shopped, discounts, promotions, and availability will be key to courting a large number of consumers.56.2% are highly anticipating Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I. Those under 35 also appreciate 3D TVs, while those 35+ are tuning in to the new Hawaii Five-O. And if any guys need a gift idea, women love the idea of cuddling up to cashmere. What’s Not? Fair Isle Sweaters…nearly 90% say this Nordic knit trend should stay on the ski slopes.
More info? Email Phil Rist.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Country continues to be the most programmed format in American radio, on at total of 2,017 radio stations.
As alternative rock today seems to be a gold-based format and music historians increasingly describe what was once "new rock" in the past tense, how is it that country continues to bring in new fans? And, who exactly IS our target today?
Painting with a very broad brush - there have long been three distinct country markets: traditionalists, transition 30's and country converts.
Traditionalists' portion of country's pie vary regionally, but they comprise roughly one in four of today's national country audience. Age: mid-teens to late 50's. A long age continuum, but possesses narrow artist preferences. They like: Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, George Strait, Randy Travis and new artists who sound traditional. They tend to listen to country radio exclusively, watch GAC (somewhat less to CMT). Most live in central Canada, the U.S. midwest and down through the Tennessee and Ohio valleys. Not exactly audiophiles, they still buy CD's over digital music five to one. They buy less than 20% of the country music product at retail.
Transition 30's. Size: a little less than half of today's country life group. Age: early 20's to early 40's. They listen to country music as their primary entertainment. The oldest of them came to country in the early 1990's and the youngest have discovered it in the last five years. They generally grew up not liking or listening to country music and now the prefer country music over any other type of music. They like it because it has understandable lyrics and beats and because it is more in synch with their values, passage through life. They buy almost two thirds of the country music sold at retail. They strongly dislike "old" (pioneer) country music and most "twang." It reminds them of the time in their lives when they had an aversion to country. They do not buy poorly recorded product and increasingly purchase digitally three to one over CD's. They buy both new artists and traditionalists. They watch a bit of CMT and GAC, but video channels are not important to them. They get it online via social networks and You Tube. They watch country awards shows religiously. These folks divide their radio listening among three stations, two of which are country.
Country converts. Size: a little less than one-third of the total country-oriented population. Age: predominantly in their teens, 20's and 30's, but country radio users among them range in age from mid-20's to late-40's. This is the market that has expanded the country music industry to the northern and western corridors in the last two decades, the fastest-growing portion of the market (also the most fickle and least loyal). They listen to some country, but also to Lady Gaga or Daughtrey. They buy about a third of country music at retail/iTunes, but may simultaneously purchase "Speak Now" and "Come Around Sunday" or Rod Stewart. They accept country as "hip," but are loyal primarily to their "seek" and "scan" buttons. Recognize them by their white ear buds. The challenge: can we convert them to more loyal listeners? Too many commercials, music repetition and unnecessary DJ talk alienate them quickly. If country radio can grow on them as it has the "transition 30's, who were attracted to the format and were just as fickle during and after the "class of 89" and briefer "class of 2006" surges, we will be a solid leader for the next twenty years!
Monday, November 08, 2010
Yes, that is a WOW 104.3 banner on the left and right pedestals.
Dan Matthews of WOW 104.3 blogs that they were only able to put about one-third of the shoes collected as the station teamed up with the Boise Rescue Mission and Rosendahl Foot And Shoe Center.
Peak Broadcasting Boise and their listeners teamed up with the Boise Rescue Mission and Rosendahl Foot And Shoe Center, donating thousands of shoes to help keep local families warm this winter.
Pity the poor promotion staff who had to lay the shoes out for the great media event/photo op .. and then had to pack them all back up for distribution to the needy!
Saturday, November 06, 2010
The raised-on-rock generations of the sixties, seventies and eighties, now paying mortgages and raising families, no longer see their concerns reflected in computerized dance beats or heavy metal cartoons.
They hear in Jennifer Nettles and The Band Perry what they love in Bonnie Raitt; identify with the bluesy, blue-collar populism of Brad Paisley, Toby Keith, Zac Brown and Jason Aldean as the honky tonk equivalent of Lynyrd Skynyrd; appreciate in the tunefulness of Lady Antebellum what they previously prized in Linda Ronstadt and find their Elvis (or at least their Elton) in the kid-next-door sincerity and concert razzle-dazzle of Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney.
-- my updated rewrite of critic Don McLeese’s December 24, 1992, Rolling Stone quote
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Now, thanks to NBC Universal, we even have a name for the demo - “AlphaBoomers” (the affluent and active 55-64 demographic, a big part of country radio's extremely broad target audience of listeners) and this article in Mediaweek (click to read and print it out) may finally give us all the courage to ask for good money for our delivery of them.
NBCU President of Research and Media Development Alan Wurtzel “wants advertisers to know that, when it comes to consumer spending based on what they see in television ads, the 55-64 demo is the new 18-34.”
Reporter John Consoli says NBCU's new research “dispels myths about how adults 55-64 respond to advertising and spend as consumers.”
NBCU president and CEO Jeff Zucker said he’s hoping the findings will motivate tech companies like Apple, Droid and Bing—which are not advertising on CNBC news programs because they are older-skewing—will start doing so.
“What we’d like to see is these companies and their agencies start targeting AlphaBoomers as much as they do the 18-34 demo,” Zucker said, acknowledging that the presentation could also help other networks’ newscasts.
Research in the NBCU presentation shows that AlphaBoomers have a median household income of $69,000, dwarfing that of those under 25 ($27,000), 25-34 ($58,000) and close to those 35-44 ($75,000).
Other findings include:
- AphaBoomers spend more on home improvement products, home furnishing, large appliances, beauty and cosmetics and casual dining than adults 18-49.
- A similar percentage of AlphaBoomers have high-definition TVs, use DVRs and broadband as adults 18-34
- 70 percent of AlphaBoomers buy at least one product a month online
- 59 percent of AlphaBoomers send text messages via their cell phones
- Wurtzel: "people in that demo make buying decisions similar to younger demos.”
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Ratings bonuses have increasingly been replaced at the companies where bonuses for talent and programming still exist with "BCF" bonuses, making us all members of the sales department.
The executives who started this trend are longtime broadcasters and I have always told myself that they may bend the twig until they start to hear cracking, but they're smart enough to stop bending just before it breaks. They'd recognize the sound of a coalmine canary that stops chirping.
And, just because it still sounds like some major market traffic reporters, news departments and weather forecasters no longer answer to the station program director in the length or word choice of their content, the twig remains barely intact and the bird is still, softly, singing.
What? Me? Worry?
I get paid by A&O clients to worry.
As PPM is rewarding the panel listeners' most compelling and likable personalities, punishing ones they don't spend as much time using, driving up ratings of stations which waste the least amount of time talking about anything or playing songs the audience doesn't engage with, broadcasters who want to win simply must relearn how to edit, edit, edit everything.
Now, programming as a service bureau for sales includes once again focusing on trimming everything that doesn't make money or entertain to the bone.
Sure, a great PD still brings ideas that make money, but PPM clearly shows that every competitor has the same 60 minutes per hour and not a second more and it creates lots more revenue to have high ratings than to add more value-added mentions.
There was a time when the majority of General Managers and Program Directors spent a day away from the radio station listening together, agreeing on what elements grew audience and made money and which ones were simply wasting time.
- That way, the PD could talk authoritatively to the cluster's news director, the long distance meteorologist, the bartered traffic service knowing that the GM is going to back her up when she says "this is what I need" and expect great execution.
- That way, they agree on how many extra mentions "we" do compared to our shared-cume competition.
- That way, they set firm commercial unit limits and concur on the costs of overselling them.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
“Although they’ve been good for radio, the ads have been really nasty, and I’ll just be glad when it’s over. This is one way we can thank our listeners for sticking with us. It’s so critical that we show the listeners we’re committed to playing a lot of music. We’ve sent out press releases, email blasts, on our website and some print marketing. We’re feeling a lot of love for it, and people are really excited.” -- Townsquare Media Cluster OM Mark Callaghan in today's Country Aircheck
Townsquare’s KUAD/Ft. Collins, CO and its four sister stations will go commercial-free tomorrow (11/3) to provide some relief to their audiences for enduring so many negative political spots during the past month in what’s been a key battleground state.
I wish had I been the first to suggest this idea, but now I'm hoping that there'll be a whole lot of "second" ones to also announce it today by moving some post-election inventory around. You have to know listeners will appreciate it.
Monday, November 01, 2010
However, here goes anyway. Yet another useless phrase that radio traffic reporters must expunge from their vocabulary forever if they hope to have listeners turn UP their reports rather than keeping them on "ignore."
"There are no accidents or problems; everything is running smoothly..."
You phoned all your usual sources. You checked the web cams and listened to the police scanners, so it seems perfectly logical to start your report with this phrase especially in the wee hours of the early morning when there's very little traffic on roads, let alone anything to be concerned about.
Every traffic reporter does it.
Which is exactly why YOU should NOT do it....until you hear a radio newscast start with the headline phrase "there's no news this morning and there's nothing to report."
PPM proves: when you have nothing to say, don't say nothing.
I rest my case.