Wednesday, December 29, 2010

(an ongoing series) Why I Love Radio

1. WYCT-ADX/Pensacola’s Melinda Bowden hit a home run last Thursday. She got a call as she began at 10am about family who's mother is from Honduras and she is terminally ill. The story had been on WEAR-TV for a few weeks because they have been trying to get her kids from Honduras to the states to see her for Christmas and ultimately before she passed. The state department approved their Visas on the Thursday morning, but the cost of the flight was nearly $3,000.00. Melinda aired the original call back about how people could make a donation... By the end of her shift at 2p... she had raised nearly $4,100.00 and the children arrived in Pensacola Christmas Eve at 930p from Honduras... She did good radio!

The Cat Country evening personality completes the story:
“On Christmas Eve my family and I were invited by the family to the airport to greet the sons as they arrived in Pensacola. What an honor! I was humbled and encouraged by the love that surrounded that family, the nurses and my own family in the airport that night. A Christmas miracle indeed! As a result, my determination and love for radio was renewed. I was reminded that one voice can touch many, many people. I thank God that this time, he chose mine.”

2. Jack Latimer, PD/Morning co-host at Larche’s KICX/Barrie-Orillia-Midland also had one of those great moments on radio this week that worked so well with the Christmas season.
"After we did this break listeners were calling and crying on the phone about this being what Christmas is all about."

3. 92.3 WIL and "Cornbread's Kids Crusade" Raised Over $260,000 for St. Louis Children's Hospital.

"Thank you for supporting our efforts to provide St. Louis Children's Hospital with a life-saving Mobile Intensive Care Unit."

4. Bonneville's WUBE/Cincinnati's listeners have been saluting their family and friends who are in the military over the Holidays.

Bringing people together to do good things, bigger things than any ONE of us can do alone is that makes this season so special and radio does it better than any other medium!

I am so proud to be in RADIO. If you've been up to something you're proud of, please let me hear about it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

PPM: A Game Of Inches, But NOT Seconds

You have to admire the savvy major market PD who reports that his station is mandated to carry two more commercial minutes per hour than his direct format competition so he orders the talent to stop for commercials precisely from 11:30 to 18:30 and 41:30 to 48:30 while the other station - lucky enough to carry only ten minute loads in a pair of five minute stops - runs their breaks from 12:30 to 17:30 and 42:30 to 47:30.

Yes, it is just possible, since PPM is technically incapable of accurately measuring thirty second listening periods on a consistent basis that many times the tune-out potential picked up by PPM will be very close to the same in the majority of hours of both these stations!

So, Mr. Savvy Pants does get a point for attention to detail and electronic smarts from me. However, the personalities on both of them have to be sweating blood as two very anal programmers clock each break with their stopwatches.

Here's the danger.

PPM does a much better job of helping us all manage tune-out than it does tune-in and yet what is the easiest to manage isn’t always the most effective.

Certainly, a good format clock is built to maximize the length of time that a well-programmed radio station gives listeners what they tuned in expecting to hear, and seldom is that promos, sweepers, remote broadcasts and commercials.

However, it’s very hard to move the average number of minutes given in a typical occasion of listening much more than a minute or two (especially if it's located close to the crossover from one quarter hour to the next one).

Much larger “bang for the buck” movement in daily cume and time spent exposed is created by the number of days per week the average cume listener comes back to the station as well as the number of occasions per day.

Far better to get someone to start listening at :03 or :04, :18 or :19, :33 or :34 OR :43 or 44 when that minute or two leads into 26 or 27 minutes of great expectations met or exceeded!

Adding a minute or two to your TSE at the wrong time may not even buy you one more quarter hour of listening.

Adding a new occasion to your P-1 TSE invariably gets you another quarter hour and perhaps even two of them.

So, it’s a lot more productive to teach talent to always have something entertaining and fresh to say several times in every quarter hour and then spend the time they’re using now to watch the clock instead to create powerful, metaphorical and emotional teases to those strong content moments.

That will bring the listener who might be tempted to leave due to the interruptions - regardless of their length - right back in "seven" minutes.

That way, you’ll have a better shot at both more and longer spans of listening rather than just :30 seconds more.

Stop watching the clock so much. Prep both content and great teases to it.

Then, watch your numbers move in the right direction ... by more than just inches/seconds.

Some Things Should Not Be Compromised

I hope we don't live to regret political actions affecting our business being hammered out in Washington this week.

It took a decade to come to an agreement on LPFM and in spite of the fact that one of my Senators has been a big proponent of it as an antidote to 15 years of consolidation I still wonder what is going to happen as thousands of new 100 watt FM stations get sandwiched onto the airwaves with very little chance of economic viability driven by "volunteer" programming which will likely be about as compelling as cable television's public access channels.

I like Maria Cantwell a lot on most other issues and fervently hope that she's proven right about the "need" for it.

Now, it's looking as if we may find ourselves with two internets, one with an express lane on it and another one for the rest of us who can't afford to pay for as much speed as the big guys can. On this one, I find myself aligned with my hometown newspaper (click the link to read a Seattle Times editorial that makes simple, direct sense to me) and my Congressman.

I hope Plato was right about politics and that it's more than just an exercise of power.

And, don't even get me started about the implications of possibly impending Performance Rights legislation...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Multiple Points Of Failure

As The Wall Street Journal reports that newspapers reached a “tipping point” in 2010 and ad revenues were bigger for the Internet than papers, Tom Taylor adds that radio had its own moment a year or two ago, when its total revenues were surpassed by online and Radio Ink’s December 6 Eric Rhoads editorial notes that newspapers once a upon a time had classifieds, paid subscriptions and ad dollars to run their business from. Then, Rhoads cautions that radio’s “single point of failure" - advertising dollars - could dry up as a new trend develops and advertisers no longer want traditional ads.

The 2010 spending for Internet ads will finish $3 billion higher than for newspapers ($25.8 billion versus $22.8 billion). Newspaper ad spending (separate from classified and other revenue sources) likely dropped 8.2% this year and could fall another 6% in 2011. By comparison, radio revenues were running 5% ahead of 2009 through the first three quarters of this year, so it’s tempting to ignore the Radio Ink publisher’s plea that radio increase our research into finding new ways to generate revenue that are not reliant on the current model of being paid to run commercials.

For most of us worker bees who don’t have the power to make the courageous investments it takes to build branded web and theater-casts, product/app sales, event and digital/mobile strategies or other ways of leveraging our audiences for new sources of income, it may seen that the average employee’s only option is to move from an employer who fails to see the risk of having a single potential point of failure to one with more vision.

However, that overlooks each individual’s role in creating meaningful content which drives usage and enhances the brand.

Make sure your name stands for relevancy which drives daily usage.

Failing to stand out from the pack is every “average” radio personality’s most dangerous single point of failure.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Country's Top PPM Performer 18-34

Arbitron PPM Market Manager Jenny Tsao's client conference presentation (click to watch all of the online videos) on the metrics of the most successful stations 18-34 and 25-54 in the top 30 markets (click to download her presentation pdf) contained one non-surprise and one very pleasant surprise.

Not one country station ranked #1 25-54 among the top 30 markets in the months she studied for her overview. (that will change of course as they are able to study more markets in the coming year)

18-34 was a different story, however. One country station made the cut!

Tsao ID'd the overachiever country station as Cox's San Antonio country outlet and fortunately its longtime programmer Randy Chase was in the room to bask in the glory of Y-100's achievement, which may stand for a very long time.

When Univision resumed PPM encoding on April 1, that ended KCYY's 18-34 #1 rank status during first quarter 2010, but Chase's station continues to do exceedingly well in the primary difference maker for Top Performers, daily cume, especially "one or more hour per day" daily cume.

Top Performer TSL, according to Tsao's analysis, is driven by how often listeners tune in (occasions) more than time spent per occasion.

If you want to emulate one of the best country performers in PPM ratings, Y-100, San Antonio is still a good one to study (and celebrate!).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Old" is OUT. "New" is IN.

The A artist base is changing, but that's not all as country's demos shift with the arrival of Generation Y at our horizon. So, let's start a list.

  • another ten in a row/commercial free hours
  • no need to tell the names of the songs/Tell every title and artist
  • timing DJ rap right up to the posts of songs/respect for the music, crush and roll, stop when you're finished, no talk over extros and then intros too
  • EZ listening, oldies ac/hot ac
  • the best/mine
  • hype, hard sell/fun, humanness
  • superlatives/stationality, attitude
  • 12 minutes of commercials in six breaks per hour/10 units, two breaks, no more than three minutes in any QH
  • jokes/tightly edited real local people on the phone, Facebook, Tweets
  • friendly chatter/brevity, word efficiency
  • ad libbing/self-editing
  • 80's style positioning branding/benchmarking
  • slogans/doing it, being it, not just saying it
  • big on air contests/data base - silent contests
  • promotions/more creative value-added involving online and off air events
  • small prizes to the 10th caller/small prizes to everyone in the data base - off air
  • contests and drawings/rewards
  • requests/music rotations
  • TAP plans/OES
  • oldies features/countdowns
  • memorability/memorability
  • top of mindness/top of mindness

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is The Country Format's Share Of Hispanic Listening Shrinking?

Is country radio's share of Hispanic listening in 2010 going to be down to merely a two share? That's what I heard last week at the annual ARB Programming Fly-In.

Even with numerous media alternatives through which consumers can entertain and inform themselves, radio’s overall reach among Hispanic listeners has remained between 94% and 96% ever since Arbitron's annual "Hispanic Radio Today" studies began in Spring 2001.

2010's update is coming soon and I hear that it continues to validate that Hispanics remain the fastest growing population group, America's heaviest radio users (those figures have decreased less than 1% over the last decade).

Among Spanish-dominant Hispanics, radio’s reach in 2008, for example, was 95%, and it was more than 93% with English-dominant Hispanics.

Last year's report showed growth in country radio's share of Hispanic listening to a 2.9, but whispers coming out of ARB hint that the news is not so good (if you want to call less than a three share 'good') for country radio in this year's update.

Whether Spanish-dominant or English-dominant, radio reached at least 91% of Hispanic men in every age group, and attracted more than 91% of Hispanic women in every demographic cell 12-64. Country's reach among that group is in the very low single digits.

In addition to the first-time use of PPM data in this edition, Hispanic Radio Today 2009 highlighted language preference among Hispanic consumers. Arbitron asked Hispanic respondents about the language they prefer to use.

The options are:

•All Spanish
•Mostly Spanish
•Mostly English
•All English

Country radio's tiny share of all Hispanic listening, of course, comes primarily from those last two groups.

Their social values are conservative. They are family-oriented, religious, and most importantly growing at a time when the non-ethnic U.S. population is getting smaller and older as a percentage of the total population as the 2010 census data is showing.

We first "studied" the problem at CRS four years ago. Little has happened to take action on the findings since then.

Country must find a way to welcome more of these folks.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pass It On: The Tweet Before Christmas

@JessicaNorthey just met @SClarkWXYZ last week at the ARB-Jacobs Media meetings in Baltimore and already they have 1,000++ folks watching their networks' #TweetB4Christmas video.

Allow me to add my voice to the throng: "Greetings! or maybe I should say "Tweetings"!"

It's nice to see the country format so well-represented.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Looks Like Maybe They're Starting To Cautiously Spend

.. and autos and computers are the December '10 big ticket items on wish lists.

Big Research’s Phil Rist says “home is where the “hot” is this month, with homemade Christmas cookies (81.6%) and board games (59.2%) topping the list in December, Xbox 360 Kinect (58.5%) and eReaders (55.7%) follow.”

Those 18 to 34 are looking forward to holiday office parties, while Tron: Legacy is highly anticipated by young men specifically. And, women are trying the over-the-knee boot trend on for size.

What’s Not Hot? Rist writes: "George W. Bush. Despite a bestselling memoir, the former President just isn’t winning over his fellow Americans, who remain very worried about the economy in 2011."

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Fan Trip To Opry: Meet Keith Urban

To celebrate the holiday season, the Grand Ole Opry is giving fans the opportunity to meet Keith Urban.

Throughout the month of December, fans of the Opry's Facebook page can sign up to win a prize package including a trip for two to Nashville, courtesy of Southwest Airlines, two nights stay at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and a pair of tickets to see, and meet, Keith Urban when he performs live at the Grand Ole Opry on a date to be determined in 2011!

The Grand Prize winner for the "Win a Meet & Greet with Keith Urban Online Sweepstakes" will be announced on January 3, 2011 and will redeem their prize in 2011. Additionally, the Opry will randomly select 50 winners from the contest entries to receive a pair of 2011 Opry tickets. Winners of those tickets will also be announced on January 3, 2011.

PS: While you're on the Opry's site, check out their new mobile app too. Our music's heritage at the state of the art.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Arbitron Client Conference One Tweet At A Time

Real-time results for #ACCJMS10: (join the conversation!)

We must be the source of innovation. --Larry Rosin, Edison Research
@stevejonesabc: Compared to 1-year ago, 55% of 12-24 are using Facebook MORE, says Edison Research.

Jessica Northey JessicaNorthey Hope everyone at the Arbitron Client Conf/Jacobs Media Summit is getting as much from it as I am!!! At #ACCJMS10 sitting w/@JessWrightRadio @JayeAlbright Valerie Gellar @MomsofAmerica and Tom Taylor from Radio-Info listening 2 @fnjacobs

Fred Jacobs fnjacobs
Great remarks from Arbitron boss Bill Kerr about radio's opportunity in the digital media space.

"We are sitting on the greatest opportunity to transform the radio industry forever...Nobody can mine a database better than us" Create specialized contests & prize packages for your strongest, most involved listeners. You have to mine the data to get there.

jessbenbow @arbitroid Welcome! Don't forget the hashtag for today's session! #ACCJMS10

Monday, December 06, 2010

No Exceptions? (smile)

I applaud stations which have a strict "no personal phone calls while you're on the air" policy for air talent. Personal emails, txt's, Tweets, Facebook updates, etc too.

That's because a successful personality simply must wade into all of those pools to mine content for on air use if a station hopes to keep today's listener fully engaged and interactive. You can't be fully involved with listeners if you're chatting with your family and friends.

However, at a client station recently, the reception desk may have carried things a bit too far.

After a midday personality who will remain nameless here got off the air recently, she received a phone message that said:
"Taylor Swift called and wanted to talk to you, but I told her that you were on the air and couldn't be disturbed."

New rules: interrupt me for superstar calls, but only after you've administered the "are you REALLY???" test to the caller.

No one ever said that being at the switchboard at a successful country radio station was going to be easy.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

"Brevity" Isn't As Good As "Efficiency"

It's the season of giving, and hats off to the always-innovative Mike McVay for giving talent and programmers a daily video Talent Tip gift on his website.

“Oh, Wow?” Or, “Oh, Crap?”

Clear Channel’s WMZQ/Washington’s 3.8-3.6 October-November 12+ ARB trend of course can’t be attributed to any one thing, but the station’s 3.7 (July)-3.9 (August)- 4.3 (September) moves in the wake of going commercial free every Tuesday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm since August, among other things, may underscore that keeping a station constantly fresh, even when you’re doing something you know listeners really love is an important part of the game.

Is it saying that they even get used to a full day commercial free and it can become old news after a couple months? If so, can ANYTHING be kept fresh and top-of-mind enough??

With that in mind, a client PD asked me this week if A&O has an "oh wow" oldies list for country after reading online about the pros/cons of maintaining freshness of destinational formats by maintaining/platooning spice songs in and out.

We do, and also could, of course, start a comments thread in reply to this thought of the many, many country novelty songs, could-a/should-a been's and one hit wonders of the format over six or more decades.

There are hundreds of them.

But, country is a transitional format with a constant need to keep a great balance of male, female, 18-24, 25-34, 35-44 and 45-54 appeal, let alone the right mix of “P-1” music vs “P-2” appeal songs, I recommend looking for “oh wow” songs from new music rather than opening up marginal gold songs that one age group might find exciting to hear but another group will simply not get the musical reference point from before they came to country music.

The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young,” which of course has turned into a breakthrough #1 hit for an exciting new group started for me as an “oh wow” song which added a nice quality of freshness to our sound because it was so different from everything else when it first came out 30+ weeks ago.

Zac Brown Band, Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Chris Young, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum and many others got their first traction on country playlists with an “oh, wow, what/who was that?” song. Taylor Swift’s “Tim McGraw” not only did that on radio, but also on the ACM Awards TV show when she went into the audience and sang it face to face to Tim.

Now, THAT moment was a WOW.

Look at the playlist of some of country’s most-successful PPM stations and you’ll see “buzz record” new music being used very cleverly.

Consultant playlists, by definition are “safe,” since we build our national recommendations on consensus research, but A&O sometimes adds new music right into heavy rotation when we hear music that creates sizzle.

So, for me, country’s “oh wow” category is built most often on exciting new songs that resonate with the values and universal life stories of all the ages we need to energize every age and gender.

How about you? What songs do you use to keep your rotations fresh? How do you play them?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Have You Sent The Holiday Cards To Your Database Yet?


Here is a step-by-step method of maintaining contact with your core using data base marketing, while constantly building new cume for the radio station and locating P-2 and P-3 listeners and converting them to P-1 (loyal) listeners. If you're not wrapping yours for 2010 up right now, resolve to do it in 2011.

1. Buy a metro survey area (from the same supplier of lists ARB/BBM uses) list of households with listed telephones in your target demo.

2, Telemarket to at least 10% of that data base during each survey. Call in the evening. Invite folks to try the station tomorrow morning. Make an appointment to call them again tomorrow night to ask their opinions. Follow up the second contact with a thank you letter from a member of station management. Add all who agree to sample to your station "frequent listener" data base.

3. Mail a letter to your entire data base from the station manager or program director at least once per year that includes a response card. See if they are still listening. If they ARE, keep them in the data base. They are are NOT, target them for telemarketing or a direct marketing campaign related to the reasons they no longer listen. Capture an email address, of course, and hook them into your social networking too, but don't stop using snail mail for these tactics until ARB and BBM do.

4. Send a station newsletter to the data base at least once per survey period. Have it arrive during week 1 of each survey period. Keep the editorial content fun, use lots of pictures of air and music personalities, but don't forget to sell the key benefits of listening to your station too! Sure, by email is cheaper, but aren't you trying to impact the ratings survey?

5. If you are in a Fall ratings market, you should have sent your Christmas cards (that contain a yearly calendar with a picture that will be saved and displayed throughout the coming year) signed by your personalities to the data base in weeks 8 or 9 of the survey.

6. Gather birth date information from all data base names. Send a birthday card (with a coupon for a cake, etc) hand signed by all air personalities to 1/12 of the data base each month.

7. If you are in a Winter survey market, send a Valentines Day card (with a coupon for flowers or candy) to all women in the data base during week 4.

8. Gather "at work" listening information and the names of friends who listen. Do mailings with silent contesting to listeners rewarding them for listening at work. Mention friends names on the air and pay off for data base people who "tell a friend" about the station.

9 Work to build a data base - emails, social networks and also snail mail too - that equals at least 20% of your projected cume goal. Recognize that at least one-fifth of the names and addresses will become outdated each year. Keep your data base up to date by constantly using it to generate "value added" promotion ideas that can be done off the air (consuming no units, yet building promotional revenue).

10. Send "thank you gifts" to your data base: refrigerator magnets, bumper stickers, key chains, etc.

These aren't tactics. Together, done in a timed, disciplined basis, it's a strategy that will pay off in better ratings in 2011. Growth isn't cheap. But, a plan like this isn't that expensive either, especially given the potential pay off.