Saturday, April 30, 2011

Getting Sticky

"A sticky idea is understood, it’s remembered, and it changes something.

"Sticky ideas of all kinds—ranging from the “kidney thieves” urban legend to JFK’s “Man on the Moon” speech—have six traits in common."

If you make use of these traits in your communication, you’ll make your ideas stickier. (You don’t need all 6 to have a sticky idea, but it’s fair to say the more, the better!)

I must be the next-to-last person in the world to have finally gotten around to reading Chip and Dan Heath's "Made To Stick," since it looks like many of the pages of their web site are under construction, getting set up for their next book and starting to do trainings around the "Stick" concepts.

Still, it's well worth a read, even after sitting on my bookshelf for more than a year.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

KICX 91.7 Camps For Cans

Brad Hulme:
"An R-V… a dining tent… a fake fire… and a freak April Sudbury Snowstorm!"

Lucky for KICX 91.7 morning man Hulme the “campsite” was set up INSIDE the New Sudbury Shopping Centre.

Brad & Shannon began in Centre Court at 5:30 am last Monday and before the morning was up, Brad had vowed he wasn’t going to leave the mall until the dining tent was full of food donations for the downtown Elgin Street Mission.

Well, 2 sleeps later and KICX listeners showed why they are the best listeners in Greater Sudbury as they came out in force and donated ONE AND A HALF TONS of food AND more than 3-thousand dollars!

The real winner was the Elgin Street Mission, a downtown mission providing 100,000 warm and nutritious meals a year to the homeless and disadvantaged in Sudbury.

Congrats to the whole KICX Crew, the New Sudbury Shopping Centre, and especially KICX listeners for making “Camping for Cans” such a HUGE success!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Leaving The "Class Of 1989" Boom Tunes To Classic Country

Is 2011 going down in country radio history as the year that "country boom years" (1989 to 1995) titles and artists move from mainstream country playlists to classic country libraries?

A&O's 8th annual "Roadmap" perceptual study was conducted in January and February by more than ten thousand listeners to 80+ radio stations across the U.S. and Canada of many stripes.

For the first time, listeners to the mainstream stations rated the early 90's era the lowest ever, while users of classic country stations ranked that music 42% higher.

Should mainstream country stations defend aggressively when they start to hear a classic country station they duplicate cume with move newer?

Only if they want to play lower testing songs with their 2011 target listeners.

.. and, only if they want to expose music that today's 25-44 year old country fans don't enjoy anywhere near as much as they do today's country.

The better new country music does with 25-54 and 18-49, the more exciting the potential becomes for classic country stations to move into the rich vein of songs and artists from country's biggest decade ever, the 1990's.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Country Singers .. What to Wear?

.. tried and true. Always works.

Am I getting old? Or, are the artists getting (too) young)?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wow.. TWO Morning Newscasts In Under 4:30!

One of my favorite newspeople has worked in Winnipeg for many years on Astral's QX104.

Boyd Kozak proves that being contemporary and relevant is not a matter of the age of the journalist.

Sure, he's a longtime Canadian radio legend, but "Kozie" lives up to his reputation every morning in his writing, story choices and style. (click to listen to two consecutive recent newscasts)
  • Nine stories in 1:51.
  • Only one story repeats in the two newscasts, the right one.
  • Stories I care about, and rattled through.
  • The writing is excellent.
  • Traffic was perfect "location first" content.
  • And he blew through a two day weather giving me everything I needed to know in 10 seconds.
And, to top things off, he even explains in today's blog post how he's able to do it with some Monday Motivation.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Lasting Lesson From An Unforgetable Influence On Me

Dave Newton is retired and living in Yakima these days. He's one of the best writers I ever worked with.

I thought of him recently as I listened to a client radio station and realized that everyone in the place seems to have forgotten about "active verbs."

Most writing - news, commercial copy, promo, liners, personality bits and all - could be improved with one simple act. Throw out "passive" verbs and replace them with more powerful "active" verbs.

A little voice came into my head as I listened, which I immediately recognized as Newton's, from more than 25 years ago:

When verbs get specific, writing comes alive. Verbs are much more important than adjectives or adverbs. In fact, master novelist Elmore Leonard calls adjectives "horrible things." So, while all writing rules must be broken, I think it's a good idea to stay away from passive verbs, like "is" or "are" or "have" or "do" ("Have your best jock do a remote at the fair."), and embrace powerful, specific verbs, like, well "embrace". ("Send your best jock out to broadcast live from the fair.")

Your active verbs don't have to be exotic or highfalutin' ("Shall we peregrinate to the store?"), just active.

Writing that harnesses the power of active verbs is always more dynamic, interesting and persuasive than...writing that has passive verbs (like the last phrase of this sentence). Notice, please, that I have used "is" and "be" in this paragraph. It's still O.K.

Use more active verbs than passive ones in everything you write or say and it will be better than "O.K."

Mini-bibliography: The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White, is a slim, crisp little book that everybody who writes should reread about every six months.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Not Just Another Anti-Radio Rant

This blog post (Is Good Radio Winning?) started out like so many others by burnt out naysayers who seem to endlessly wax on about how wonderful things used to be and then complain about how things are now that I almost deleted it.

Then I got down to the section of the article that so few like it have.

The part headlined "solutions."
If you are employed in an authoritative position, mentor a young professional. Bring in interns and let them work. Be OK with mistakes and teach people how to correct mistakes. Don't think about the next trend or book. Think about the trend or book three years down the road. Service your local advertisers, regardless of budget. Find out what your listeners want. Program for the masses while still respecting the fringe. Be cool again. Be cutting-edge. Don't be scared to piss people off or to make them feel good. Respect the airwaves. Respect your community and be a part of it. Care about making a profit but be OK with occasionally losing money within reason. Don't just skim through music. Listen to music.

Don't treat radio as a commodity. Radio is a canvas that can entertain and educate. It can make profits and support families. It can be an authoritative voice and a voice for the people but it is not a commodity.

Respect the profession. Respect the industry. Take chances. Reflect your community. Good radio is winning.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Watching "Black Swan" With Your Morning Show Partner

In the movie Natalie Portman is striving for perfection. She is so focused on getting everything exactly right, that she never FEELS the artform from within.

Mila Kunis, on the other hand is more relaxed. Her moves aren't exact, but she has fun and feels the performance (though, at some point within the movie she is quite possibly trying to sabotage Natalie's character...or maybe she's not...but that's besides the point).

I was watching the movie thinking... the best shows on the radio are the ones where instead of "doing" (like Natalie) you are "feeling" (like Mila), where you know the moves (like both girls) but you are "out of your head."

I am not telling you this because I think you didn't know...I am telling you this because at times I have been more like Natalie than I would like to be...even though when I am at my best I am like Mila.

(But WOW - SCARY MOVIE. I think one of the scariest I have ever seen. Slasher movies tend to make me giggle - but a movie where you don't know WHAT the hell is going on in people's that is frightening. If you do see it, have a drink handy. I made the mistake of not pouring any wine...eeee..)

-- Joss, of Rob and Joss, KFGY (Froggy), Santa Rosa

Monday, April 18, 2011

The "Gift" Is TSE More Than Cume

Entercom certainly knows how powerful a great country brand can be, since they still own SIX of them, even in the wake of the departure of San Francisco's WOLF (now relegated to an HD-2 side channel) to sports.

Yet, their Boston 850 WEEI franchise has been feeling (in spite of having an awesome online presence) the pressure of an FM competitor from CBS and WBZ-FM in another great sports town, so you have to know what a difficult, yet absolutely correct, revenue-based decision this has been for them.

Tom Taylor this morning calls it a cume gift to San Jose's KRTY and that's no doubt correct to some degree.

However, the departure of a direct competitor in a PPM market bestows an even more powerful present than more cume, as was proven in 2009 when Clear Channel shut off the country format on WDTW in Detroit: Time Spent Exposed.

Ask any country programmer in a PPM market.

It's almost impossible to completely stem TSE loss to a direct format competitor and nothing improves share in PPM as much as a solid, sustainable TSE increase. Nothing (other perhaps than going commercial free) drives that more immediately than pushing a shared-cume station out of the format.

Bob Kieve and his Empire Broadcasting team have played the game very well with signal-challenged KRTY and KLIV over the years.

Now, it must be said that they richly deserve what I predict they will see in the very next PPM weeklies and then monthlies, leading to great quarterlies, a substantial improvement in quarter hour persons and share, driven primarily by the kind of TSE that only having no direct competition can deliver.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fixing A Problem Once Doesn't Mean It's Fixed Forever

As my last three posts have recounted, DR Audience Researchers Peter Niegel and Dennis Christensen used some clever research and training techniques to improve usage levels which dipped at the top of each hour, due to the start of newscasts on the Danish radio broadcaster.

.. but, then, "human nature" came into play as after a few months, things went back to where they were before:
After studying the hourly execution of the new "better flow" techniques and PPM results, they came to these conclusions on why newscasters had drifted back to the old way they did things which again cost audience at the beginning of each newscast:

The "cutbacks" meant, for example, that newscasters who were taught 'the new way' to do news reports in order to maintain listening levels had been replaced by individuals who had not received the PPM-friendly news training.

When news hosts reverted to the traditional approaches, listeners started changing stations exactly as they had before the changes.

It's an ongoing effort to keep news "alive" in the mind of the listener. If we don't constantly make an effort every single time, listeners will tune out.

This requires an ongoing effort to keep this issue in focus in both the newsroom and also the production departments.
"Every time we turn our backs, they have a tendency to slip back to the old ways and then the dips increase. We are still battling this issue. We have proven that the tools work, but it's a big challenge keeping journalists and presenters focused on what must be done differently. The problem is not solved yet," Niegel and Christensen reported last month to the BBM/Toronto audience.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

80% Stayed, But 20% Changed Stations

How DR stemmed the tide:

.. but, then, after a few months, the audience dips resumed. Why that happened and what had to be done about it, tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

(Part Two Of A Series) How To Find Out What Listeners Won't Tell You (Or Write In Their Diary)

Niegel and Christensen at first turned to focus groups in their quest to find out why one in five diary ratings "news on the hour" listeners to the Danish broadcaster actually seemed to be changing stations when the news came on in PPM measurement.

The behavior appears to have been at a subconscious level, since in the focus groups, no one was "willing" (or able?) to admit that when news on DR started, they quickly changed stations.

So, the intrepid researchers recruited family members of the focus group respondents and unbeknownst to the original news avoiders, were asked to observe their actual behavior.

Then, both the "spy" family member and the "switcher" were questioned in detail to fully understand what was driving their avoidance of news even though at the conscious level they reported hearing it.

Tomorrow: what they learned.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Is News "Rotten In Denmark"?

DR Audience Researchers Peter Niegel and Dennis Christensen presented an enlightening case study of audience loss at the start of hourly newscasts even on the national broadcast service of Denmark in Toronto last month at BBM's annual "Staying Tuned" conference.

Buckle yourself in over the next few days, as I recap a few highlights of their findings:

Then, the measurement changed to PPM, rocking their world.

There was never a thought given to dropping news, given that 1) DR is the government radio service and 2) PPM showed that 80% of the audience continued to listen to news on the top of the hour.

What to do?

Peter and Dennis were forced to go 'under cover' to find out what was going on.

This t-shirt was their first graphic clue to what was happening, what had to be done about it.

Check this space over the next several days and learn what they
now know in Denmark about keeping flow and audience usage momentum when the newsroom (not "rotten" at all, but very typical indeed in the way they were doing things) opens their microphones.

Mercury Records Tweets For Their Future

This got sent out today on Twitter.

UMG has an exclusive production agreement with a MAJOR producer.. They are looking for a 18-26 year old Male Country/Rock Vocal. Can’t say who the producer is..

Radio might generate some buzz by posting this on their sites, and talking about it. This is real.. not a hoax. - Damon Moberly, VP National Promotion, Mercury Records Nashville (click for more info)

Friday, April 08, 2011

Darius and Trace Create Choral Magic For Great ACM Causes

Pass it on:

Trace Adkins will reunite with the West Point Glee Club for a special performance at the Grand Ole Opry this Friday, April 8, 2011. The collaboration between the celebrated baritone and the 60-member Glee Club will be a special reunion that has not occurred since Adkins’ memorable 2009 ACM performance with the cadets.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

When You Steal From Me, You're Stealing Twice

.. and here's more proof of that:

WABC/New York PD Laurie Cantillo has given the station staff a web page of their own. “The 17th Floor” promises to give WABC fans a look behind the scenes and introduce them to the colorful characters behind the colorful characters behind the mic.

This is a fantastic idea on many levels. Properly nurtured, it could generate great content capable of attracting both web traffic and sponsors. It gives the off-air staff a greater sense of buy-in by providing them with the opportunity to contribute to the station’s product. And, who knows? WABC’s next star might get her start as a podcaster or video blogger on “The 1-7”. Yeah, that’s right, I gave it a nickname.

I hope “The 17th Floor” grows into a more multimedia endeavor. As of this writing, it’s dominated by text blog posts. I’d also like to see more of that “behind the scenes” stuff. Listeners love it.

Some of the best radio web content I’ve ever seen was WMAL/Washington’s “day in the life” videos featuring former morning hosts Fred Grandy and Andy Parks. It was a cross between reality TV and “The Larry Sanders Show.”

Thanks to Randall Bloomquist!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Is The Weather Really "Next?"

What's the point of saying "The Weather's next" or "I'll check the forecast, coming up"?

Does anyone have time to wait for anything that relates to everyone pretty much all of the time? I can click on my smart phone and grab a five day forecast faster than you can play one commercial, let alone a whole cluster.

Teasing routine elements with key words anyone can put into a search engine and get immediately simply no longer makes any sense, if it ever did. It's like saying "I'll check the time in five minutes."

Stop with the constant teasing and, if you have something fresh, relevant, important and immediate, just DO it.

Monday, April 04, 2011

46 Hats Off, ACM

  • ACM
  • Country Music (sold-out two of the largest arenas in Las Vegas, the MGM
  • Grand Garden Arena and the Mandalay Bay Events Center)
  • CBS
  • Las Vegas
  • Country RADIO (thanks, performers, for all the mentions!)
  • 600,000 fans who cast votes for Entertainer of the Year (the largest vote ever for this category!!)
  • Blake Shelton
  • Reba
  • Taylor Swift (the eighth and youngest female to take the award in the 40 year history of the category!!!)
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Brad Paisley
  • Sugarland
  • Lady Antebellum
  • The Band Perry (nearly 155,000 fans cast online and text votes for the New Artist of the Year category, the largest fan vote for this category!!!!)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

"The Joy Of Cooking" For Radio Personalities"

If you will be at the NAB, here's where to go to meet the wonderful Valerie Geller, whose latest book, "BPR is over 500+ pages and will "officially" launch at the NAB bookstore on TUES APRIL 12 at 10-10:30 AM."

To be the first on your block to get a copy, click here.