A&O has been a member of Mike McVay's Advisor's Alliance for many years, offering our clients many additional resources. We love being able to turn to friends for advice as needed, as do our clients.What is the one thing that is universally concerning when you start a new relationship with a radio client?
JA: Establishing credibility and trust. Of course, it's impossible for someone you hire for their objectivity to get an honest and "can see the forest for the trees" view of your situation because they are an outsider who feels free to point out the things that "insiders" may not either be aware of or feel free to discuss to ever - by definition - be fully accepted as a company employee would. Nor, should they try to be. Thus, sometimes, being politically-incorrect within an organization can be a reason why a consultant is brought in. Doing so, and retaining trust and credibility can be a delicate balancing act.
Yet, the goal is to create long term success not just to shake things up. The more I can learn about the history and people involved and become a full partner, the more assistance I can be.
I work hard from the outset to strike that balance and understand exactly what the company that hires me wants from our relationship.
What has changed about the way you program today from the days when you started as a consultant?
JA: Once upon a time, the consultant would set the agenda as a detailed action plan and expect the client to do most of the work involved. Now, I actually have more backup and support from A+ people than many of the programmers and managers I work with!
Thus, we provide prep, assist with researching the audience if you have no other way to do it internally, coach, create, brainstorm, write and produce.
Though this change would not have been foreseen when I first went to work for Drake-Chenault in Los Angeles almost thirty years ago, I like the much more hands-on approach a lot.
It used to be that you'd meet, write a report and then move on, wondering if the client was executing your agreed-upon vision as well as possible. Now, I find myself much more involved on a daily basis and that is very gratifying, let alone being much more productive.
What are the three things that broadcasters should be focusing on ... that they're ignoring or unaware of?
1. The quality of our streaming content. A&O's "Roadmap 2011" national perceptual study of country radio core users are gravitating to our streams especially on their fast-growing use of mobile media and they are aware that the quality of online audio is inferior to what they hear on FM and AM. They want to use us more online, and find our poor quality control of streams an impediment to doing so.
2. Building authentic personal brands which execute consistently and creatively and thus enhance the station brand. Leverage them across all platforms. Your "position" is no longer what you claim you do, it's what you actually do in real time.
3. Focusing on what goes between the songs as much as on the quality of the music. In the 80's, air personalities were told to shut up and play the hits. In the last decade, we taught them that what we want from them is as many voice tracked hours in as little time as possible. Tomorrow's audience can get music with little or no talk in many places, and will remain loyal to radio only if we understand how important fresh, topical, relevant, well-written, tightly-edited content is as well.
You're viewed as a successful programmer ... what is the ONE thing that you're most proud of (to date) in your career as a broadcaster and consultant to the broadcast industry?
JA: Attending the annual Pre-Country Radio Seminar Country Radio Hall Of Fame induction ceremonies and seeing so many longtime friends and clients being enshrined in the Hall, based on work that we have done together. It's such an honor to be among the plaques hanging on that wall, surrounded by people who have been my heroes.
What would you like to be known for as a broadcaster?
JA: A mentor, an effective trainer and motivator.
What advice would you share with a 1st time program director who is entering your format of expertise?
JA: Listen. Thanks to streaming audio, it's now possible to hear every great radio station and personality in the world in real time. Don't become so busy in your daily life that you fail to listen carefully to the people you work with, compete with and admire.
Anything that you'd like to add?
JA: If you're good and want to get better, I'd love to get to know you. Call, txt (206-498-6261) or email me, especially if you have content you're proud of that you'd like to share.
PS - I'll be checking online to see what the other McVay Alliance members have to add from their perspectives as well.
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