Thursday, February 28, 2013

Seconding The Emotion

Tom Taylor Now:
Larry Rosin of Edison did the presentation at the Nashville Convention Center, illustrating the fight for media time that exists between television (CMT, Great American Country, etc.), country videos on YouTube, Pandora, and mobile devices. He says Americans want the device that’s the easiest to use in a particular environment. At home, that’s TV. At work, it’s the Internet. In the car, it’s still radio. 
 Ed Ryan of RadioInk:
Megan Lazovick of Edison Research presented detailed information about the Country radio listener at CRS yesterday in an "Ethnographic Study." Lazovick went out across the country and spent days with listeners, observing how they consume music and what the country music format means to them.
Ryan caught both of them by phone yesterday and the entire interview is worth the time: 

“ remains most people’s primary way to interact with the country music they love..."

As usual, the number of CRS attendees in research presentation panels was disappointing considering the power of the information.  My fear is that we're all so time-challenged that Larry's key point, which comes right at the end isn't going to have the impact it deserves.

So, I cut to the chase for you:  LarryRosin-CRS2013.mp3 is just a little over a minute.

Please download it and share it with everyone who communicates with listeners at your radio station.

One year ago, Larry's CRS research stressed the importance of being local and our largest radio companies have ignored that advice.

This year, the advice isn't for owners.

It's for you.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A&O&B Client Seminar 2013 Quotes

Thanks to Country Aircheck for being on hand for our event and for taking such copious notes:  "Beyond revealing their annual (client only ppt) Roadmap Study, the Albright & O’Malley & Brenner Pre-CRS Client Seminar touched on everything from being active, engaged and relevant with your audience via social media, digital tools and station branding, to tips for talent and what Gen Y will mean to our industry in the coming years."
  • Of 6,272 Country P1 participants from 50 markets in the U.S. and Canada, 70% report being satisfied with the format. Of those who aren’t, song-repetition and commercials were top reasons. Country listeners are increasingly tech savvy, with 75% reporting using some sort of social media every day (up from 66% last year), and 31% report having an internet connection of some sort in their cars.
  • Rick Barker says stations too often use digital tools to “push” information to the audience without “engaging” them. “You have to offer value,” he says. Among his examples: teaming with new artists you can’t yet include in your playlist who are willing to offer free song downloads via the station website and social media. Attached sponsorships can help drive NTR.
  • “Content is key,” says Mike Stern. “Be a friend and a companion. Be a filter, give them something they can steal to use themselves, and focus on things that make you react.”
  • Steve Zielonka encourages programmers to “always be collecting data (ABCD)” and use it to engage the audience. “You can’t just send out irrelevant information anymore. They’ll delete you, they’ll mark you as spam and they’ll block you. There are always negative consequences.” Use your tools to conduct surveys, for example. “Ask, ‘Are you a Toby Keith fan? Here’s a chance for you to sing on stage with him.’ Then follow-up with other Toby Keith-related
    contests. When you send a targeted email, you’ll see your open rates double and triple.”

  • Newcap Radio VP/Programming and Brand Like A Rockstar author Steve Jones says, “Brands are feelings that live in the heart of the customer. Jimmy Buffett’s biggest song wasn’t that big of a hit. ‘Margaritaville’ peaked at No. 7. But at his shows, people are painting their bodies, getting drunk and having a great time because he sells the experience of being a beach-bum.” Make it a point to understand your enemy and let them help define your brand. “Walmart’s slogan ‘Save Money, Live Better’ makes it all about saving money,” Jones explains. “Then Target comes in with ‘Expect More, Pay Less,’ basically saying, ‘You’re above that crap they’re selling at Walmart.’”
  • Grab a (client only) copy of "The Gen X Versus Gen Y Conflict" (pdf) my presentation about the population shift ahead of us. Gen Y is estimated at 78 million, much larger than the 40-50 million-strong Gen X preceding it, and it sees the world quite differently. It’s a group that Country programmers will need to adjust to."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

More On Country's Youth Movement

Listening to country, there is a certain authenticity and sensitivity that is hard to find in other styles of music. Many of the themes in country music are about dealing with loss and change, something that resonated with me as I entered the next chapter of my life. Perhaps the best example is Trace Adkins telling me “You’re Gonna Miss This,” teaching me that each stage of life is filled with apprehension so one must embrace and thrive in any situation.

While many hailed fun’s “We Are Young” as the anthem of youth, I feel that Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” perfectly captured a carefree spirit and painted a perfect picture of simplicity and carefree enjoyment.

From the lovelorn Hunter Hayes, the down-home revelry of Jason Aldean and the vigor and heart of Luke Bryan, I can only wonder what new personal gems will find their way onto my iPod as country music and the stories that come along with it enjoy their spot in the limelight.

Country music may not be for everyone, but for my money, country is where the heart of storytelling is in music. As Paisley sings in “This is Country Music,” “This is your life in a song.”

  -- Christopher James, a Loyola University junior in Monday's campus newspaper

Sunday, February 24, 2013

"Y" Not?

Nashville Tennessean writer Jaquetta White picked up some seemingly-contradictory quotes as she solicited reactions to the debut of "The Bobby Bones Show" on WSIX and numerous other Clear Channel stations:
“We’re targeting the show to the 20- and 30-somethings, which hasn’t been done in the country format,” WSIX Program Director Michael Bryan said. “If you look at the artists, what we’re doing is a reflection of what’s popular. We have to do this if we’re going to raise a new generation of country listeners.”

I recommended radio programmers take a cue from census data, which indicate that today’s 16- to 33-year-olds, estimated at about 78 million people, as a group are not only larger than the generation immediately preceding them, but also larger than the leading edge of baby boomers.  “You don’t even have to target younger. It’s just that America is becoming younger because of this generational cohort.  I don’t think the average country station has to do anything to attract the younger generation. All you have to do is play the latest hits by the latest stars.”
Twenty years ago, the topic might not have generated the same level of interest, said Sean Ross, vice president of music and programming at Edison Research.  “There wasn’t any music that a self-respecting teen would have been interested in,” Ross said. “There wasn’t as much tempo. There wasn’t as much of a rock edge.  We have gone from ‘We don’t want anybody under 25 or maybe even 35. But if they come along for the ride, that’s nice,’ to ‘Hey, kids, win a contest to have Hunter Hayes visit your high school.’
  • “All advertisers are trying to reach certain targets.  I have a suspicion that (country radio) may be attracting 25- to 35-year-olds now at a little bit higher rate. The question is, is that at the detriment of other groups?  I think a lot of people are looking at the ratings service as an indication of the move on the format. I don’t look at the ratings service as research,” said John Dimick, vice president of programming and operations for Lincoln Financial Media, which operates 15 radio stations in Atlanta, Denver, Miami and San Diego. “I think country’s appeal continues to be mass in nature.”
  • Specifically courting a younger demographic is not necessary, said Chris Huff, program director at  KSCS-FM 96.3, Dallas, because the music has broad enough appeal to pull in all age groups.  “In country music, it’s really not as segregated musically. There are people of all ages who are fans of Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean, and you have younger listeners who are fans of the older stars,” Huff said. “Just by its nature, it’s going to attract a sizable audience.”
I think we all told her basically the same thing, even though when we spoke with Jaquetta we didn't know we were engaging in what would appear in print to be a conversation.

As long as Bobby (and the rest of us) understand and adhere to the fundamentals of the culture, lifestyle and music which unite a mass audience of all ages of country fans in many areas of the world today, we'll have a very bright future.

Millenials have already impacted our media and social relationships, no matter what age group you belong to.

I will speak more about why I feel that way at the Albright & O'Malley & Brenner client seminar in Nashville.

Then, let's spend the rest of CRS week thoroughly discussing your point of view on it too.

That's what has made our format incredibly dynamic for many generations.

Friday, February 22, 2013

One A Day May Not Be Enough

NPR Digital Editorial Director Todd Mundt's post about the secret sauce that makes a great call-in radio show includes this Russ Gossett graphic, which is worth a million words.

One of the above per quarter hour on the air, preceded by an engaging social setup asking for interaction online is certain to make you stickier.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Real Life Replicates Research

Mike O'Malley told Inside Radio this week that social media experienced double-digit growth during the past 12 months for the average A&O&B client station.  Half of the more than six thousand country radio partisans report owning a smartphone. 
"Nearly eight in ten country listeners report daily Facebook usage, up from almost seven in ten in early 2012.  Although dwarfed by Facebook, Twitter usage is also on the rise.  The overall number of respondents saying they use Twitter to any degree in the past 30 days increased from 8% to 13%."

The survey also shows an increase in the percent of listeners who are either fans of a station on Facebook or who follow a station on Twitter.   

Full national results will be presented at an A&O&B client seminar session February 26 in Nashville.

Meanwhile in response to the press reports, Doug Burton of Radio Traks says he just noticed an interesting metric this week.

Traffic to surveys from Windows desktop/laptop platforms just fell below 60% for the very first time.  The number 2 & 3 OS’s have been really intriguing the last couple months.  Android is our number 2 platform followed by iOS.  Both OS’s represent 34% of all traffic the last 30 days.  Mac’s fill out the balance.

Burton adds:  "None of this is surprising, but it just fascinates me watching the trend every month.  Mobile only cracked 30% back in September!"

Whether you're streaming, engaging listeners socially or collecting their opinions, your approach must be OS agnostic and include mobile devices.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

You Don't Have To Be Boring

Now and then you read something that simply says everything you wish you could have said, but only better.  Mike Elgan did that for me and in the last few days, I've been chopping his points into small, easily-digestable pieces while also showing how it all relates to creating content on radio.

The technology and tech culture writer offers these tips for doing what you have to do so often on the air:  provide facts and information that are either in the station's interest or an advertiser's is such a way that it doesn't drive your listener either to change stations or put you on ignore, which is almost as bad.

Here's a much better idea: put as much of the information as possible on your blog, podcast, the station or the client's website.  If you're at a live remote broadcast, have a handout on paper with all the special prices and items the client hopes to move today and use your time on the air talking in entertaining, fun ways about the benefits to the listener of coming by to see you right now.

You'll want to add a bit of that information to your liner or live read, but only to make an impression, not to convey specific facts and figures.
Elgan:  "To understand how this works, deconstruct Apple announcements, for example. They show numbers not so you'll learn the information, but to leave you with impressions. (Fast growth! Big sales! More apps than other phones!)"

The words you say -- should be focused 100% on making people interested in you and your message and on creating a positive impression.

Communicate the nitty-gritty details in a lovely website or social networking page so that people you interest can do get what they need to know.

Don't be boring there either. Add video, or at least pictures. Tell stories with both them and your voice. And sprinkle emotion throughout.

And finally, says Elgan: "Any writer will tell you that words matter."

Follow these basic tips on language to make your talk powerful:
  • Use short, basic words. (Isn't that sentence more powerful and memorable than "Utilize diminutive elemental units of language"?)
  • Use the active voice when you can. (Passive is the worst. Imperative is the best.)
  • Be specific and avoid vagueness. (It's impossible to be too clear.)
  • Avoid cliches and jargon. (If you've heard or read a phrase several times before, don't use it. Just talk plainly in your own words.)
  • Cut everything you can. (If any picture, point, story or other element isn't absolutely necessary for what you're trying to communicate, get rid of it.)
Most radio personalities are repetitive and sound the same (boring).

But you don't have to be.

Props to scribe Mike Elgan for this week of very useful reminders.

You can grab an audience's attention and build lasting memories by thinking like a writer.

Monday, February 18, 2013

How To Present Like A Writer

Radio personalities too often approach their daypart like it's a transfer of information as Mike Elgan writes on killer presentations in Computerworld : "I have all this information on what (the station is doing) I want you to know, and when I'm done presenting you will now have the information."

This is the worst kind of delusion, because everyone knows it isn't true. People usually retain little more than a general impression.

So if you want to make your bits entertaining and unforgettable, you should learn from people who are good at enjoyable and memorable communication: Writers.

How to present like a writer

A typical backsell breaks down communication into subjects like these:
  • Our branding.
  • Our music position.
  • Title and artist of the song just played.
  • Push card.
  • Pre-tease what's coming up.
These might be the right categories to discuss if the people in the audience were passionately curious about you and your radio station and what it's selling.

But they're not.

In fact, the reason you're actually THERE is not to satisfy curiosity, but to inspire curiosity. A forced march through your advertisers' "details" will inspire nothing but despair (does anyone want more details in their life than they already have? radio should BAN the word "details").

A good writer is more likely to break down the parts of communication into the categories that reflect how the human brain works, like these:
  • Mental images.
  • Stories.
  • Emotions.
  • Facts/info.
Over the next few days as I summarize Elgan's powerful article with radio in mind, let's look at each of these categories and how you can organize your presentation around them.

Lets begin with mental images.

Professional communicators, and especially writers, pay close attention to mental images. When nonfiction writers want readers to imagine something memorable, they use a good visual metaphor.

When politicians want voters to forget something horrible, they avoid mental images and instead use euphemism and jargon -- which is language that has been stripped of visual imagery.

That's how any skillful communicator manipulates an audience: Use visual imagery to create memories; use euphemism and jargon to erase them.

One of the reasons most radio bits are so weak in when measued by listener engagement is that jocks use euphemism and jargon like "nice to have you along on your Tuesday," "the time right now, " "the temperature outside," "before that," "we started off with," "the latest from," etc because they think it sounds "professional."

It doesn't. It's amateur-hour communication.

You are emulating the verbiage of a personality you probably admired a decade or two ago when you first wanted to be in radio.  You aren't even talking like "you," you're imitating everyone else.

A good metaphor is effective because it imparts a strong mental image that faithfully communicates an idea and makes it memorable.

You can tell people that a particular cow is yours, but nobody will forget the fact that you own the cow if you sink a smoking, orange-hot branding iron into the animal's flesh.

It would be easy to forget the abstract idea of metaphors being memorable. But you won't forget the mental picture you now have of that cow being branded.

Writers use metaphors. But as a radio talent, you never have to use them. Until now.

When you want to create a mental picture in the minds of your audience, show them the picture!
Elgan writes:  "The best business presentation I ever saw used slides that didn't have a single word on them. Every slide was a photograph. When the speaker talked about the growth of his company in the '90s, he showed a striking picture of a race car as he talked. When he moved to the post-recession decline, he showed a picture of a car on fire.  Ten years later, I still remember his presentation."
Seth Godin did that at CRS 2009.  One of his messages was for radio to make it easy for listeners to create a "tribe" and recruit their own "followers" for you.  I remember that four years later because he painted pictures in my mind with his presentational approach, which just seemed like conversation which the Power Point slides amplified, but he almost totally ignored, unlike most Power Point presenters.

I have never done a presentation for my client stations or other speaking engagements 'the old way' since!

Yet, most of the radio people in the room seem to still talk habitually in the face of his demonstration of how to be memorable and informative.

Word pictures are memorable. Walls of data are forgettable. So if you want to be unforgettable, use more metaphors and similes in your content breaks and far fewer words and numbers.

Deliberately "show" your listener the mental images you want them to remember and associate with your raps.

Very important: Use "real" pictures, not fake ones.

Never use stock verbiage, which stinks of artificiality. If you want to represent happy people using your radio station at work, for example, use names, voices, texts, social media comments of actual people in real workplaces.

Help your listener picture real products, real employees, real users, real problems, real tasks.

Or if you're illustrating a concept for an advertiser, make sure you "show" scenes of real life, rather than staged or faked scenes.

It's more important for your pictures to be real than to be "professional" sounding.

And, you know what?  Magically, each listener will have a different, personal, equally genuine experience customized just to them on the movie screen of their mind.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pictures For The Ear: Emotions & Stories

In the Computerworld story which inspired this week's thread, cites a striking scene from the AMC TV series Mad Men about a memorable presentation.

In the show, advertising creative director Don Draper convinces Kodak to call its slide projector the "Carousel."

It's a powerful presentation because the whole time Don is talking, he's showing amateurish snapshots of his family, which is so powerful and evocative that one of his colleagues runs out in tears.

The scene was conjured up by writers who understand the overwhelming power of pictures.

1.  Stories

The human mind is hard-wired for stories. We crave them. We need them. We can't resist their appeal.

So tell stories in your "show." In fact, thanks to Facebook, texting, Twitter, Pinterest, email, phones, you have the capacity to constantly be in the moment of listener life right now, inviting her to share her family scenes verbally.
A good story has a beginning, a middle and an end and involves at least one protagonist -- a person that other people can relate to who experiences the events in the story.  In the beginning, there's a balance. In the middle, that balance is disrupted in some way. And at the end, a new balance is established. That's what a story is.  The key to bringing stories into your content consistently is to personalize the information you're already giving. Instead of talking about some big change your station went through, tell a story about the person or people who made that decision that led to the change, and explain what they went through to reach that decision.
            -- Mike Elgan
 2.  Emotions

"People remember and crave images and stories," he continues. "The other thing people remember is emotions. In fact, when your audience leaves the meeting room, your entire presentation will be judged on only one thing: How you made them feel."

Good emotions for radio talent to instill in audiences include happy, shock, makes me feel good, fear, nostalgia, joy and excitement. Use them all.
But most of all, people remember humor.

More Elgin advice:  "Don't do "schtick" or prepared material.  Don't tell jokes. Instead, expose the humor in the material you're presenting.  Instead of trying to go for the big laughs, convey the mildly amusing shared reality you have with your audience.

Keep it real.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Think Like A Writer

Part of me wants to just link to this Computerworld story and tell you to read it, relate it to radio and go forth, doing killer shows.

However, knowing many readers of my blog are like me and prefer to consume info in bite size, good-tasting pieces, I want to take the next few days to apply the tips directly to you.

"A lot of today's radio is boring, but don't blame consolidation, budget cuts or your General Manager. Instead, learn to communicate the 'write' way."

How can Howard hold a listener's attention for hours at a time with nothing but words?

Want proof?  He has it.

Almost immediately after his first broadcast on January 9, 2006, seven million+ people signed up for paid subscriptions when he left free radio to jump to Sirius Satellite Radio.

Have you wondered how good film and video writers can keep people glued to the screen when the whole Internet beckons?

Over the coming week, thanks to Elgan, I'm going to tell you how to apply skills from the craft of writing to make your broadcasts enjoyable and unforgettable.

But first, let's understand why most radio personalities are so bad.

What's wrong with radio the way so many of us do it today?

What comes out of radio speakers and ear buds usually involves a lot of pretending.

The speaker pretends to be excited.
The audience pretends to be interested.
Everybody is faking it.

Most radio promos, commercials and "breaks" are packed with fake images -- stock verbiage, audio clip art and other inherently false imagery.

The human mind is very good at detecting insincerity and fakeness and is repelled by it.

Most talent fails because they're working on bad assumptions.
  • The listener (one person!) cares about you and what you have to say. (They don't.)
  • The person you're talking with (not to!) is thinking about what you're saying. (They're not.)
  • The individual you hope to engage (never 'an audience'!) can grasp the details of your complex bits on first exposure. ("She" can't, and "he" won't.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

Let The Other Guys Try This First

Anybody who can write, as he did this morning, "as obvious as an erection as a leotard" is worth reading if just for the titillation and powerful use of language which we can all emulate.

I try never miss what Jerry Del Colliano writes.

You too?

Then you know that he presented research at his just-concluded Media Solutions Lab in Scottsdale with the intent of warning media content providers that attentions spans have been reduced so drastically that radio stations need to rethink the way they present content.
Streaming video users lose patience after just 2 seconds according to a recent University of Massachusetts study.  That’s only 2 seconds and then they move on.  Ever wonder why they can’t listen to, say, a talk (bit) that takes ten minutes or more to get a topic rolling?

Half of the people who use a high-speed, fiber-optic connection believe that five seconds is too long to wait for streaming video.

Each additional second of delay resulted in a 5.8 percent increase in the abandonment rate.  That’s major.  It only takes two additional seconds to lose another 10% of streaming video audiences.

Survey participants were more forgiving when waiting for longer content like movies than for short form videos.  But not that forgiving.  Ramesh Sitaraman, science professor at the University of Massachusetts sums it up like this: “If you start out with, say, 100 users — if the video hasn’t started in five seconds, about one-quarter of those viewers are gone, and if the video doesn’t start in 10 seconds, almost half of those viewers are gone.”
He advises:  "Get into your topic within seconds – perhaps 15 seconds and set the scene as they proceed.  The old master Larry King used to be skilled at this before short attention spans became a much discussed attribute of today’s digital age.  When Larry did his Mutual show and came back after the hourly news, he was in the interview within a minute." 

Smart advice.

Two other bits of Del Colliano programming guidance, provided in light of the data, running commercials one at a time instead of in long clusters and that music sweeps are useless shows the danger of applying research on one thing to another, making me think that perhaps he's been out of programming a bit too long, at least for music radio.

Sitaraman's "half the people" cited above isn't too far away from Coleman's PPM-based (actual radio usage) finding that 40% of the audience tunes out the instant they think a commercial might be starting.

That factoid notwithstanding, using data from a full year across all 48 PPM® measured markets, the study shows:
  • Radio delivers more than 93 percent of its lead-in audience levels during the average commercial break.
  • One- to three-minute commercial breaks deliver radio audiences levels that are practically the same as the lead-in audience.
  • Longer spot breaks of four to six minutes plus delivers a surprisingly high an average percentage of the lead-in audience level.
  • Commercial breaks in morning drive deliver some of the highest percentages of their lead-in audience levels, on average. In the study, you’ll discover what drives this daypart’s performance.
 The difference between radio and You Tube is that radio's cume audience is constantly like a subway car with people getting off and on, thanks to a growing cume throughout the day for the average radio station.

My advice:  keep clustering commercials.  Work to make them as engaging as possible, but no matter how good they get and how few you run, listeners come in for compelling content delivered by fun personalities who know how to entertain mixed with long sets of music.

It's a mistake to apply research on one topic to something completely different.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Another Post On Change

The farewell post on the American Comedy Network Facebook page from Joel Graham, who calls himself not just GM/Creative Director but also "Former Head Writer/Staff Writer/Producer/Current Voice Talent for American Comedy Network - I’ve done it all here and loved every minute of it..." is a classy exit, ending with "Thank you for making my dream job possible."

It will be interesting to see if the ACM website and brand find a way to live on as a source of comedy for new media, but then the brand was really only known to radio personalities and probably means nothing to anyone outside our business.


Dial Global President/Programming Kirk Stirkand told ALL ACCESS, "While always a fun, topical and creative service, it wasn't viable any longer in terms of national coverage. We think affiliates will be well-served by the great services from our partners, Wise Brother Media."

I could not agree more.

If your show continues to rely on the kind of lengthy, contrived song parodies and pre-produced bits that ACN innovated in 1983, it's time to take this quick test and find out what decade you're living in.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

We're #3. Hopefully, Radio Is Trying Even Harder Than #2.

Advertising agencies are increasingly concerned with how to best utilize media mix, according to STRATA’s most recent quarterly survey. Twenty-two percent of agencies surveyed indicated that media mix was a challenge. Tellingly, 76% of those polled advertise using at least three mediums per client campaign, indicating the need for multi-platform advertising.  The STRATA survey of nearly 100 media buying agencies in the fourth quarter also shows the largest concern in 2013 is attracting new clients, with nearly one third of respondents citing the challenge.

2013 plans to use radio:
  • More interested:  14%
  • Less interested:  32%
  • No change in interest in using radio:  54%

“Compared to some other media, radio has been fairly steady,”  - J.D. Miller, Director of Marketing and Communications/STRATA

Marketers expect digital spending to continue its upward trajectory.  Currently, 54% percent of surveyed agencies say their clients are most interested in advertising on TV above all other mediums.

Digital comes in second at 30%. However, digital may eclipse traditional advertising in the near future, with nearly one third of respondents expecting to spend more on digital than on traditional media within 1-3 years.

Radio ranks #3.

Within the digital subcategories, over 80% of those polled said online display would be their focus followed by search at 71%, and social media at 52%.

•    Sixty percent of advertisers are less interested in print than they were a year ago, marking the second worst percentage in the last ten quarters.
•    Advertisers expect to see 2013 trend toward an increase in digital adverting (78% of respondents), and a reduction in print advertising (40% of respondents).
•    23% of agencies say they are less interested in Out Of Home advertising than they were a year ago (second largest percentage in the last nine quarters).

That last stat, especially, cries out for a stronger sales effort from radio reps given that smart phones are actually driving MORE use by consumers of out of home media and radio usage continues at very high levels, dominating away from home and proving to be additive to new media marketing.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Back Bones

A sampling of the many thought-provoking comments in response to my No Bones About It post via Facebook and Twitter:
  • This is spot on.
  • Sorry, but I disagree. If radio needs Bobby Bones to succeed, then radio has already failed. Radio needs LOCAL programming - serving the public for the community good - like it was originally licensed to provide. Radio needs a country Ryan Seacrest like it needs a hole in the head. As someone who was "let go" by big corporate radio, I feel sorry for all the new insurance salesmen, car salesmen, freelance writers, social media marketers, Wal-Mart door greeters, and unemployment check-cashers who will have nothing left but memories of how good radio USED to be.
  • I've always loved how you set the tone for those who generally tend to see the worst in things. This article is a great example, good marching orders from radio's supreme 'General'.
  • (a well-known station image voice) won't have to do as many sweepers for all those morning shows anymore....
  • Good radio is great for the business, and Bobby Bones apparently does good radio, (I've never heard him) but CC's back is against the financial wall. So if you're inside CC, you have to find a way 'make lemonade', and Bones will hopefully protect the product, maybe even advance it where possible. (at WSIX?) I think Jaye is happy because it's in nobody's best interest for CC to fail. Radio need good content, wherever it originates from. We'd all love to see it coming from local studios, no doubt. But this is all the more reason for those competing against CC to be re-energized and raise their game a little.  It's an opportunity. The business is changing because the customer/listener is changing. Hard to fight that kind of thing, but nobody's giving up. There is TONS of opportunity around us. By the way, I only voice 3 CC stations (down from 35 at their peak, about half my roster), but the ones I still voice have ballsy PDs who fight to keep an imaging budget, instead of taking it inside. I like that, and while it may cost them a few hundred bucks a month, CC is lucky to have those guys. Most of my business comes from smaller companies these days, who are operating mostly live, local operations. Vive la local radio!
  • As someone who is working at a live, local station competing against CC, tying and besting them in many demos and dayparts...I think what they're doing is great. only thing better is more of it. Hey billy bones, billy greenwood...I'll see ya at the next fundraiser I do for the SPCA...or the next Christmas parade, or lawn party, or fair our station is at...oops! I forgot you've got Facebook and a blog for that. So CC..great work!!!   
  • I completely agree with you. My first thought, upon hearing the news. Here we go, let's raise the level of OUR show. I am eager to up my game. I am extremely motivated. Why?? I love what I do and love where I love, couldn't ask for anything more (well, more money maybe - LOL).
  • Last year, the worst thing that has ever happened to me, occurred. I lost my Dad.  A Vietnam Veteran and US Marine and the greatest Man I have ever known. Upon visiting his grave at our local National Cemetery, I noticed some of the 4,000 headstones had holiday wreaths, but not all... It was then I learned about the Wreaths Across America program, which happens at each local National Cemetery. Each program though is funded locally, within each local community. Each wreath costs $15.... Our local cemetery had NEVER had a wreath for every hero. Our goal - make sure this Christmas each does. The audience, which has grown up with me and me with them, was with me as I talked about and grieved about my Dad on the air... I still get an email even a year later from a listener, I have touched by exposing my emotions on the air..... This past holiday season, we paired with several groups, and we lead the way on the Hero wreath campaign. We needed 5,000 wreaths this past December, which meant raising $75,000... Through great teamwork and community involvement, we reached our goal.  This was the proudest moment of my life and career, each hero in our market, was remembered with a wreath over the holidays...
  • It's not just about be local. It's about being entertaining, it's about caring about your community, you fellow man and it's about making a difference. If you can make the audience laugh and cry, that is indeed something special. I have learned, being local isn't good enough - being good sometimes isn't good enough... Striving for excellence is our goal each day!
  • After reading your column and watching Booby's press conference, one thought came to mind... No one will work harder than me to keep growing, learning and trying new things and new ways to get better each day.
  • Well done. You look at it in a way not a ton of industry folks would.
  • From being familiar with his team from looking at them for my CC CHR station, I could not agree more that Bobby will make a great transition to country.  Also, he will have a good talent coach. WSIX PD Michael Bryan is a good guy and a solid, solid programmer. He and Bones come from a similar background. I look forward to hearing the product they create together.  It's a great time to be Country radio.
My favorite suggestion among a very long list great ones: for what should have been the headline to my original post, given Clear Channel's huge financial pressures:  "Bare Bones."

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

No Bones About It

It's demoralizing for those of us who believe in local radio driven by powerful local brands to have to watch Clear Channel doing what it seemingly feels is must do to compete while paying down the huge mountain of debt facing the company.

Demoralizing too for Bobby Bones and his terrific team, it seems, since they claim to have been receiving "a lot of hate mail" about the move.  Even their affiliates learned about it yesterday on the air.

They have a poll on their website asking their listeners what they think.  When I voted, here's how it looked (not exactly a rousing welcome/sendoff):

I must confess that I am not demoralized.  Actually, I am one of that 42%.  I love how organic the show is, how authentic.  I feel confident that it's going to find a place, much like Ryan Seacrest has in Top 40 and and Hot AC, in country radio where a local show is stuck in its ways and has been slow to understand Gen Y and Z.

I am energized.  It will be fun to watch what Bobby does on WSIX.  He's certainly not Gerry House in a litany of ways, and yet his unpredictability and honesty, that un-radio approach that endeared Gerry to Nashville radio listeners is alive and well within Bobby Bones.

This move means, of course, that as contracts end for many Clear Channel morning personalities over the next year or two, there will be a plethora of great morning talent seeking to find a new city to fall in love with in hopes that place will love them back.

If you're on the air in the morning on a successful country station now, it's time to up your game.  Think about today's and tomorrow's available target audience.

These are exciting times, and if you don't enjoy competition and innovation, I feel sorry for you.

Just like I feel sorry for anyone who has to face $10.1 billion in debt obligations which come due in three years, but of course a challenge like that can focus the mind and push one to quickly realize that they need to take risks and do big things.

Radio needs Bobby, his employer and all of us who compete for country radio listener ears to do our very best.  Now.

To me, that's exciting.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Reaffirmation: A Note From A Friend

Anne Silberman writes:

Since I've been out of radio for a few years, and have lived all across the country since 2010, I've had a chance to talk to many people, casually, about their relationship with their favorite radio stations.

These conversations happened out of the blue and quite naturally (usually when I mentioned what I used to do for a living) but they've added up to something meaningful for me. When I was on the air, it was natural for me to think of the listeners as a collective. A group who were fans of the music on the station. I had a job to do and it was nice knowing that there were folks out there listening. While I was rarely a "big personality" on the station, I did some promotions and appearances, and did my best to be kind and respectful of the listeners who showed up to get a bumper sticker and say "hi". But, perhaps I always kept my emotional distance from them.

Since I've been off of the air and living down from the clouds, I have been able to witness the loyalty of the listener from afar. What has struck me most is how people truly identify with a station.

I see the looks of pride in their faces, when they mention a particular morning-show host or the music programmed. This happens whether the person is a fan of Country music, pop or adult alternative.

They mention their station, and a 'secret smile' appears on their face - like they are having a special memory, that makes them feel 'at one' with a larger force. They go "inside of themselves", for a second, and then come back to the conversation. What is it about radio that makes such an intimate connection with people? The voices and music enter their heads and mingle with their own world and thoughts in a way that TV or the Internet doesn't seem to do. Even today, with the on-air product, so pre-packaged in many ways, it still happens. These people have formed a real relationship with their radio friends and when one of them is suddenly gone, they feel a real loss.

In Harrisburg, PA, where I grew up, a friend still talked about a DJ who had been fired from a Christian station a year ago. This can't be taken lightly.

Maybe, as a kid, I used to have that secret smile, too, when I thought of WKBO, the station I grew up with.

30 years later, I can still remember all of the names of the DJs on that station AND their day parts! "Alexander in the Morning", "Slim Jim Buchannan", "John St. John" and "Big Jim Roberts" were as much a part of my teenage years as my friends and their cars.

Probably got into radio because just listening to it made me feel like I was part of something great.

It makes me so sad when I tune into a station and I hear listless voice-tracking and generic promos and station IDs. If the Program directors and corporate-controlled programmers could only see the faces of the people, as they were describing the station, I think the world would be a better place. 27 seconds to talk up a record might not be enough to connect!

I just wanted to write this to somebody who'd understand. Thanks, Jaye, for letting me vent.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Karate Chop Critiquing

I've been a big fan of XL-96 Moncton's Scotty Horsman & Tony Smith for years.

Each of them had been a strong "breakfast" personality in his own right on two different local stations before Newcap teamed them.

Listening to them last week, it occurred to me that something has changed to make them even more succinct, funnier, higher energy.

So, I called CJXL PD Adam McLaren to find out what's going on.

He told me that he and the two guys came up with a new strategy in their regular air check sessions.

They listen together and at the point any of the three of them feels the "bit" they're monitoring has reached a climax, he makes a karate chop with his hand.

No words need to be spoken.

Adam feels that just picturing that hand movement as they do their show has helped two very creative, appealing personalities do an even better job of taking the first ending on every content break.

I doubt that any of the three of them can split a brick or a board with their bare hand, but I think they all deserve black belts in creating compelling personality radio.