Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How Many Wings Do You Have?

Today, it feels like everything I pick up is giving me the same message.

Maybe that's because I've been reading this timely new book.

Tom Friedman's "It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as I.Q." column today underscored the need to act faster than ever, given what he terms "the Great Inflection."

Friedman quotes Microsoft's Craig Mundie:  More and more things you know and tools you use “are being made obsolete faster”  and recommends another equally-excellent book on much the same topic but for the workplace rather than social media “Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution Is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy.”

The winners won’t just be those with more I.Q. It will also be those with more P.Q. (passion quotient) and C.Q. (curiosity quotient) to leverage all the new digital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime.  

Named for the only insect able to move in any direction when its four wings are working in concert, The Dragonfly Effect reveals how everyday people achieve unprecedented results through harnessing the incredible power of social media.

How fast are you able to move your wings?  It starts by knowing what your "wings" are, whether coping with the new world of work or media:

1.  Think Human.
2.  Dream with Purpose.
3.  Connect with People. 
4.  Turn Ripples into Waves.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Future Was .. When?

DDC6: The Future Was Now

“The only time I download anything on iTunes is in the rare case that I can’t find it on Spotify.”

   - Sam Broe in today's New York Times article,  "As Music Streaming Grows, Royalties Slow to a Trickle"

Meanwhile, last weekend, Seattle radio reporter Joshua McNichols wrote for his in-depth report "The Day The Internet Went Dark And How It Changed History:"

"A little over a year ago, Wikipedia, Google and thousands of other websites went dark. They were protesting an Internet privacy act being considered in Congress. It was the largest protest ever conducted on the Internet. And it worked.

"One of its organizers was Aaron Swartz. Swartz advocated for the Internet to be free. His quest for free information got him in trouble.  He was caught trying to leak academic papers to the public. The US Department of Justice tried to make an example out of him. But he committed suicide."
 "Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar."
     - Federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz

Hopefully, these strong characters and their compelling story lines will engage you to spend the time to read the NYT article and then listen to McNichols' entire well-balanced radio report chronicling the complicated media revolution now underway.

Swartz wanted what he termed "legacy media" to abandon long standing financial models and - as he did - exploit the internet to find new business approaches.

At one time I would have said "he has nothing to lose and everything to gain" by embracing open source for fun and profit," while those of us owning businesses holding intellectual property with established revenue streams much larger than new media can equal don't have that luxury.

How sad that it came down a matter of life and death for a brilliant young man.

Monday, January 28, 2013

"Brief Moments Of Relevance"

A&O&B's prep producer Dan Vanlandingham (aka Dan Van) has a way of finding and tightly editing celebrity audio clips which defy the conventional wisdom that "PPM doesn't like interviews."

He says, that's because so many interviews on radio take too long and aren't entertaining, which must be the table stakes for any content to get on air.
Just a testimonial to what I stress all the time about prep:

1. Everyone is worthy of an interview, because they can have brief moments of relevance.
2. Old prep can be new again, with a good edit for brevity sake.
3. Questions of the moment can always find a moment in time again.
4. Recycle all great prep, because if they haven't heard's new to them.

The key to creating compelling content is recognizing those "brief moments" at the precise instant and having a system to locate the right voice for it immediately.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Putting Old Research Stats To The Real Life Test In 2013

Yesterday I dug back into the archives of Edison Research (click to see the study) for data on country's annual December swoon (Country Radio Got Run Over By A Reindeer).

While I was paging through the 2009 national perceptual data, I found some info that Cumulus will be putting to the test in the coming year as they reportedly plan to roll "Nash-FM" out nationally:
It certainly doesn't say that what Cumulus is planning won't work. but it tells me that they better execute it very well!

People seemed to feel they can recognize when something's not local:
As the ongoing, consistent ratings success of numerous syndicated daypart and networked talent proves, it's very possible for "great" to beat "local."

The best play should Cumulus start up their NASH against you:  be local, but also extraordinarily relevant and entertaining as well!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Country Radio Got Run Over By A Reindeer

Inside Radio says "some Christmas gains come at country’s expense" in the latest PPM monthlies, and there's no denying that Country female fans, especially, love those Holiday tunes (as an Edison Research study for CRS-2009 indicated).
Interest may have been declining over the years as more stations have branded as "all Christmas," but it was still as 60+/40- game this last time the tactic was studied nationally.

Another interesting factoid:  every single one of the PPM-rated country stations in markets where there are two country stations was down in the latest monthly, as of yesterday's monthly.

In Seattle, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Denver, Detroit, St. Louis, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, both country stations were down as Christmas music was up.

In the six PPM cities with only one country station as of yesterday, four also suffered clear-cut losses - Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and Los Angeles - while two - San Diego and Miami not so much.

Miami, of course, had no Christmas music station this year.  In San Diego, KSON was down 6+ (5.9-7.2-6.0) but retained it's #1 market rank in spite of KYXY the all-Christmas station gaining on them a bit.

The one country station to go all Christmas, Wilks' KFKF/Kansas City exploded as a result of the Holly Jolly, 5.2-7.1-9.2 6+ in the last three monthlies

It's not possible to make iron-clad conclusions on 16 such disparate markets, but it seems at this point to look like:
  1. You can be a bit more secure when you are alone in your format in PPM when a different format does a powerful tactic like all-Christmas.
  2. Two stations sharing the same format tend to drive down the ratings of both stations, making them even more vulnerable to a strong assault on usage from a different format.  (is the PPM sample so small that it's better at consistently and accurately measuring usage and shares of format shares than it is for individual stations?)
  3. If you own two country stations, taking one of them all-Christmas is a great fortressing strategy for at least a month or two while the Jingle Bells are ringing.
One thing for sure:  hat's off to the Lincoln Financial/San Diego crew for a great performance in the face of solid Christmas tunes in 2012.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nash FM? Or Nash Rambler?

There are so many exciting things in development right now for the vehicle dashboard and it all appears to be coming at lightening speed that it's easy to forget - from HD Radio to the new Cumulus national country brand - how painfully long it sometimes takes for even things we take for granted now to achieve mass adoption (let alone how many never made it).

Thanks to the legendary Chuck Buell for putting it all in a proper context:

I know you know the big part the radios in our cars played back in the day with the rockin' music of our favorite local rock station turned up loud as we cruised around with a carload of friends  --- or spent some quieter in-car moments with someone special and the late night more mellow sounds of the conservative music station turned down low?

We sure took "The Car Radio" for granted, didn't we?!

So, with that in mind, I thought you might find of some possible minor interest this (under five minutes) audio narrative I recently voiced about how "The Car Radio" actually came about and how long it really took!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hey, Bill, Take Me Off Your List

Look what came in my mail yesterday:

As much as I appreciate the dollar, I am not going to keep it. 

I'll tell your folks when they call to find out how many people live in my household and our ages about my media affiliation, of course.  But, that isn't why I want you to remove me from your list.  After all, getting the PPM equipment would actually be a lot of fun for me and the other folks who live in my home.

Here's the real disqualifier:  I am going to be 70 years old next July.  There's actually no one living at my address who is under 60.

Please, Arbitron and Nielsen, stop wasting fielding dollars on placing your diaries and meters with folks like me and my family.

Sure, we love participating.  We're easy to reach.  We have landline phones.

Stop spending any money to pick such low-hanging fruit.  Work, instead, on getting better sample proportionality month after month with the decision demos that drive radio and TV revenues.

Please take people like me off your radar and focus all of your bucks on improving the sample size in the narrow demos media buyers care about:  18-34, 25-34, 35-44 and 45-54, both men and women and all ethnicities within 10% or less of their proportion to the total population.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Different Way To Look At It

I have a number of clients which use Pinnacle Media Worldwide's Online Tracker to test currents and their software permits an interesting analysis of currents that I hadn't seen elsewhere.

Sure, I still recommend tracking crosstabs of "total love (a favorite song)," total hate, total burn, total familiarity, total positive, total target male positive, total target female positive, total younger half of the target positive vs total older half of the target positive as the primary way to rank and control spin on currents and recurrents.

But, since so many perceptual studies over the last several years with country fans have found repetition to be a major complaint, Pinnacle's program now asks listeners if they'd like to hear a specific song "less" or "more" as well.

So, are radio listeners saying that we play currents too much for their taste?  I ranked this report which combines the opinions of more than 300 25-54 country fans (65% female/35% male) using Online Tracker by "play less."

Not a single song of the 32 tested in the last seven days had more folks saying we should be playing it "less" than wanted to hear it more!

Here's how I read it:  "too much repetition" doesn't seem to me that you play songs too much. 

It means you play songs, styles, eras and genres I don't like too much.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rotating Your Imaging Messages

It's not important that you follow THIS strategy, but I do think it's crucial that you HAVE a strategy for controlling and keeping your branding fresh and relevant.

I like to have a minimum of two imaging pieces per quarter hour, one :15-20 seconds and one super brief, :02-:05.


Music menu :15
Brander :05
Recycler :15
Brander :05
Community involvement :15
Brander :05
Attitude :15
Brander :05

.. plus two morning show promos rotating, playing one per hour. one of them dry, to be used up an intro talking about one reason content-driven to listen at a specific time tomorrow and a second to rotate with it that can be more fully produced which shows of the character differences/relationship of the personalities for fun.

That way if you rotate all of them equally across every quarter hour, it will take HOURS for the same one to repeat back into the same quarter hour.

Feel free to call 206 498 6261 if this raises any questions. If you have a better, more effective way to accomplish this, I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Quick (But GREAT) Ideas

The best thing about a radio consultant's job is that we hear very creative, useful ideas multiple times every day. 

I often use that old quote when I talk to my clients:  "when you're stealing from me, you're stealing twice."

Just two I heard today:

1.  On Presslaff Interactive's monthly client idea webinar:  

Anytime you put a phone number on the Internet, format it like this..

If you put dashes between the area code, the prefix and the final four digits, listeners can click on it from your smart phone and dial it with a click!

2.  Townsquare Media's WYRK/Buffalo has given away tickets to local events for many years by inviting their fans to listen for the "ticket WOLF" to howl and call in to win.

Right now, the WYRK Ticket canine isn't howling, he's coughing.

He has the flu!

... made me laugh out loud when I heard it.

OK, what have YOU got?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Not Gonna Do It. Will Your Listener?

Facebook makes it seem that all of my friends want to send me a greeting card.

They even appear to have the algorithm set so you get no more than one day.

I have a feeling Julie doesn't even know she sent me this, but of course I like her so it takes all the restraint I've got to not give the day, date and year to her.

I'm not ashamed of my age.  It's identity theft I worry about.  You should too.

It's time to move beyond the simplistic and "easy" low-hanging fruit in your social networking.

What are you doing throughout the day to move these numbers in your Facebook account?

Sure, I'll "like" your Happy Birthday, but who's going to talk about it?

Improve your edge rank by working on the quality, buzzworthiness and topicality of your posts and interactions.

Stand out.  Go far beyond the ordinary.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Seek, Scan, Preset, Unfriend

I lunched yesterday with a friend who has two of her children still living at home.  One is an upper-teen and the other is 20-something, so my friend gets daily lessons on life as a member of Generation Y, the Smartphone cohort.
She lovingly described her kids this way:  "we probably coddled them too much when they were children.  Now, they feel entitled and very special.  When they were young, everyone who played got a trophy, no matter whether they won or lost.  The result is that they have high hopes, great aspirations and consider those 500 "friends" on their social networks part of their identity.

"If you do or say something they don't relate to or approve of, they simply "unfriend" you and that way they never have to hear from you ever again."

Translated for radio in 2013:  their parents discover new radio stations by seeking and scanning and once you get on their first preset, you're set for a very long time.  Do something they don't want or like and they'll leave you for a few quarter hours.

Teens, 18-24, and 25-34 are unique.  Fail to relate directly to them, and in an instant they may "unfriend" you.


Yesterday, "loyalty"to a radio station or personality was driven largely by habit.  Today and tomorrow, it's all about what are you doing for someone exactly like me right now.

Graphic from "Millenials Rising"

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ah HA!

Now and then you see an infographic that pulls it all together, places all of the tough choices we content creators need to wrestle with every day.

Hats off to SnapRetail for making it look so clear:

This isn't just about your social posts.  It's about everything you put on air.  Most of us start with 20% of our 60 minutes per hour which is "promotional in nature."  Twice as much as these retail marketing consultants recommend to their clients.
  • Are you sharing others' voices and ideas in at least one in five of your breaks, mentioning their names, where they called, txt'd, posted or emailed from?
  • Do 70% of your breaks add value for your listener and build your personal brand recognition?
  • Is the majority of what you talk about creative, "fun in nature," relevant, local and focused on community events?
Make the most of that remaining 80% of your average hour.  Don't waste a second.

The brand image most radio personalities have today is that they are constantly selling stuff.

If that's you, I hope this is a bit of an "ah-ha."

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Who Do You Trust?

The stage is set for a terrific 2013, but nobody is going to hand us anything.  We live in a highly competitive world and just like virtually any other business, success will require us to be at our very best.  Our listeners and customers have nearly limitless choices.  So if our content (on-air or digital), service and execution are anything less than excellent, we will lose them.  At the same time, the opportunity to gain new customers from other media is greater than ever before.  We are a superior choice for any customer looking for enormous reach, local activation, and strong engagement at an attractive price.  No other medium can match us across these criteria.

With the start of a new year, each of us is awarded a fresh start.  A chance to raise our games, build on our strengths, and recommit ourselves to achieving our full potential.  Let’s steel ourselves with the determination to overcome our challenges and make the necessary changes to set a new standard of excellence in our work.  Let’s make 2013 a year of great accomplishment and pride.  

I trust David Field.

It’s a major breakthrough.  It changes the dynamic — and this is something that is going to make a lot of sense to the American public because they’re getting this for free and they’re not consuming data, so we think it’s a major step.

I trust Jeff Smulyan.

But let’s be clear about what this agreement involving certain Android and Windows phones is, and isn’t. Many smartphones already contain an FM chip (that’s the long-held belief of Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan). But you can’t just wave a Harry Potter wand and activate that chip. It needs software to make a “tuner,” and not software you can download from an app store in the cloud. In other words, this victory will have to be realized one new phone at a time – it’s not retroactive to the one you’ve got in your pocket or purse. The Emmis Interactive-developed NextRadio app is one way to control the tuner on your next phone, but there will be others. It’s probably not a coincidence that Sprint offers unlimited data – it doesn’t “meter” usage by customers. So its economic incentives line up particularly well with broadcasters who’ve been lobbying the wireless industry. Other carriers have the meter running, and they benefit when their customers listen to radio over the Internet, using a data plan. But even so, the NAB and the other enthusiastic backers of FM chips on cellphones like Smulyan and Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman call the Sprint deal a breakthrough, after years of talks (and sometimes ridicule).  

I trust Tom Taylor.

More than anything, I trust the Consumer Electronics, mobile dashboard, cable, satellite, internet, and phone industries to want to charge their customers - our listeners - more and more for what once was "free radio."

Ultimately, I trust that the average media consumer will want as much as they can get without having to pay for it.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


A&O&B's Winter 2013 gold recommendations for first quarter of the New Year have just been tabbed and distributed to all our clients.

As we crunched numbers of all the local client online and auditorium tests which went into it I came across several tactics various researchers use to check the reliability and consistency of the sample.

Some folks throw in an out-of-format song that "should" not test well, just to calibrate things.

This time it so happened that the same song hook was tested twice for the same sample, once in the middle of the test and a second time at the end.

Here's how it did the first time the sample of 738 persons heard and rated it.

This is how it did when it played some one hundred hooks later in the same test.

On one hand, it's reassuring to see considerable consistency between the two.  Yet, on the other hand, it also shows that the judgements of a sample on something identical can change, based on fatigue with doing the test, the songs that played just before and after it.

That's why even the very best research is still called "estimates."

Monday, January 07, 2013

Awards Shows Experiment With Social

The ACM Awards just kicked off a “Tweet to Unlock” campaign via social media, inviting music fans to tweet 25,000 times to unlock the 2013 ACM Awards date and host announcement!

They have released a short video of already-announced ACM Host Blake Shelton talking about the search for his new, mystery co-host.

The ACM says, "The sooner fans reach that 25,000 tweet mark, the sooner we will release the show information – it could happen over the weekend or early next week, by our estimate."

I think this is an inventive way to get passionate country music fans to help create memes and lots of early buzz for the annual spring event.

Meanwhile, Billboard reports that the Grammy Awards Academy seeking to shake its reputation as an organization that had become staid and retrograde began a social media makeover in 2010 with a user-powered, YouTube-centric promotional campaign branded "We're All Fans" which helped the ceremony that year net its highest ratings in seven years.  "For this year, the Academy is peeling back the artifice of the awards themselves, the new campaign, dubbed "#TheWorldIsListening," is its own democratic platform (shown, Hunter Hayes photo by Erika Goldring/  Amateur musicians from around the world have been invited to upload their own recordings to a special site on SoundCloud where viewers can go to discover and share what they like."

The Grammys democratic?  Since when?

That's going to be very interesting, since for country radio fans, past Grammy winners have pretty much been head-scratchers, more eclectic opportunities for musicians to give credit to artistic endeavor than commercial success or popularity.

Viewers share what they like?

They can save the trouble.  I can tell them that.

A bit of that "democracy" from the Grammy social site by Rob Mitchell of Thousand Oaks, California:
"I think the Grammy's really missed the mark this year in terms of nominating Best Country album of the year --- there is no question that Jason, Carrie, and Luke put out quality albums out during the last year all featuring muliple #1 songs, great singing, lyrics, and arrangements that are really at the top of artistry today.  Its so frustrating that someone like Jason, Luke or Carrie put their heart and soul into making AMAZING albums with NO filler year after year but seem to get snubbed for some reason."

Country radio and its fans would settle for a country hit that got significant airplay on the radio last year winning an award in the country category for a change.

Hopefully, they're listening as well as talking in their experiments in social.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Headlines I Hope To See in 2013

It was so nice to spot this headline in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.
.. which got me to thinking of other headlines it would be wonderful to see in the coming year:
THAT's when I woke up! 

Those first four might possibly happen some day in my wildest imagination, but - when I read that final one - I knew I was visualizing the totally absurd.

Try Softer

Jay Trachman wrote the following article seven years ago.  If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that one of my goals in continuing it is to help keep his memory and amazingly prescient advice alive:

Occasionally, you hear something just at that point in life when you need to. Shortly after I first came to Fresno to work at KFRE-AM (now ESPN radio), I heard a commercial that changed my thinking. It was a Bekins Moving ad -- probably a trade for having moved my belongings here from Ohio -- and the sixty-second spot was one of those little-theater-of-the-mind "playlets." The scene was a big  warehouse where they train new Bekins men. You hear the instructor telling the trainee, "Now I want you to pick up this piano and take it across the room, without breaking any of these eggs we have scattered all over the floor."

Then you hear a grunt as the guy hefts the piano, then takes a few steps, and the inevitable "crunch crunch" of egg-shells (great sfx!). He says, "I guess I'll have to try harder." The instructor replies, "No -- here at Bekins, we try softer!"

What a revelation that was to me -- the inveterate harder-tryer. Sometimes you gotta' try softer... I often work with talents who need to try softer.

Perhaps the same impulse that leads so many of us to become performers -- insecurity about our own social acceptance -- inclines us toward savage self-criticism. With these jocks there's rarely a problem helping them to spot their mistakes. There's always a problem helping them to spot their strengths. "If only I had tried harder, the break would have been perfect."

"He should've tried harder." An epitaph line you can file alongside "He had a lot to learn."

One of the results of this mental set is a tense, back-of-throat delivery that works adequately when your "announcing mode" is called for, as in liner cards and slogans, but prevents you from ever sounding quite "normal."

The ultimate answer is that you have to change your fundamental view of yourself and your listener; to acquire the confidence that your listener doesn't expect perfection, doesn't care about -- often doesn't even hear -- your mistakes, and enjoys you most when you're truly "being yourself."

You have to have enough confidence in your listener to know that he or she enjoys hearing you talk about something from your life which evoked strong feelings.

The ability to be (and thus, to sound) intimate on the air flows from self-confidence. It's a by-product of feeling good about who you are and how well you do what you do. For most of us, this comes with maturity. I don't know any way to rush it. I didn't begin to acquire that kind of self-acceptance until I was past thirty. But perhaps my pointing out to you that this is one of the keys to success as a performer will help aim you in the right direction.

Here are some tricks you can use to sound more intimate; their purpose is to help you speak from your mind and heart to someone you know and care about.  Warning: if you use them just to change the pitch of your voice, instead of as aids to allow you to express true feelings, they will make you sound "affected."

Here's the first: pull off your cans. Those headphones seem to steer us toward deep, throaty resonances, turning us into "boss-jock" wannabees, instead of authentic personalities. Once your hearing is "normal" again, you hear what you sound like talking to "real" people when they're in the room with you. If necessary, pick up one earphone and hold it to your ear. But to the extent that it's practical, get out of those cans, and back into the real world.

Second, get as close to the mike as you can without popping "p's," and adjust the volume so you can speak without projecting. This is the very essence of "trying softer." Then, close your eyes and conjure up the image of your listener.

These devices can make you uncomfortable for awhile. That's the idea. By significantly changing the way you sound to yourself, you find you have to think to make things work, instead of merely coasting on "auto-pilot."

This will provide you with an opportunity to hear yourself being intimate.  But these are just "tricks." I can help you to sound more human. But it's up to you to find your own, unique ways to be human.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

New Year Hot/Not

Big Research"perhaps one of the stories we’ll hear most about in 2013, mom-to-be Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, bested the results for Princes William and Harry earlier in the fall. She’s certainly shaping up to be the next people’s princess [at least among us Yanks] – particularly among women 35+."

Is Ryan Seacrest over-exposed?