Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Broadcast Radio Continues To Strongly Dominate Listening"

Pardon me, if I join Katz in bragging a bit this morning:
“The latest findings bear out what we continue to find from all our research – and hear from consumers – that broadcast radio is still by far the overwhelming leader in audio listening,” said Mary Beth Garber, EVP/Radio Analysis and Insights at Katz Radio Group.  “Broadcast radio isn’t losing listeners – in fact just the opposite, which makes it clear that digital listening actually represents incremental listening.  So as digital listening – which is both AM/FM digital listening and personal music collection digital listening – continues to grow, it is an expansion of broadcast radio listening, additive to it rather than a substitute.  Research from Infinite Dial 2012 shows that digital listeners are also heavy broadcast users (3); digital extends the reach and popularity of broadcast radio to new devices and new listening opportunities. We're pleased with digital's growth and how it has added to the broadcast radio experience.”

Garber continued, “A digital-only ‘music collection’ audio service like Pandora only has 4.4% of total audio listening, even if you assume the Triton measurement of when the service is left on is comparable to the measurement of actual listening that Arbitron does.  That said, even though it is still a relatively small percentage of all listening, we remain excited about the role of digital listening in extending radio listening to new devices, further enhancing radio's role as the major mobile entertainment and information service to the consumer.”

In the most recent RADAR findings, the gold standard measurement system for radio, which measure national listening behavior from October 2011 to September 2012, broadcast radio continues to strongly dominate listening – reaching 243 million listeners per week and representing 92.4% of all listening (1).  In comparison, digital listening currently represents only 7.6% of all audio listening (2).

(1) RADAR 115 (Dec 2012, for period Oct 11 - Sep 12
(2) RADAR 115 (for period Oct 11 – Sep 12); Triton Digital Audio Top 20, Oct 11 – Sep 12;
(3) Infinite Dial 2012

Coincidentally, that news comes this week just as Canada's entire Astral Radio group gets ready for their annual "Have a Heart” Radiothon events in every one of their markets.  This annual 12-hour live broadcast calls upon listeners to help raise much-needed funds to support care for young patients, enable the acquisition of new specialized pediatrics equipment and provide parents with support services.  This year's will run from 6am to 6pm Thursday May 2nd and one hundred percent of the money raised during this nation-wide one-day event will stay in Astral communities to help babies and kids.

Actually, now that I think of it, there is no coincidence.  

The announcement could have come ANY day, and there would be many things to point to that radio's dedicated public servants are doing somewhere.

"Don't sell the ratings. Sell the reasons you HAVE those ratings,."
   - Mary Beth Garber


Monday, April 29, 2013

Codes Don't Stay Coded

A&O&B is very fussy about song coding.

Becky, Mike and I each recommend our own unique, special approaches designed to balance song schedules for maximum variety and flow for every individual station and market situation.

For this reason, it's tempting to spend a lot of time making sure that every song is coded perfectly when it's first added and in sync of carefully-crafted policies/priorities to manage them and then locking them for as long as the song us played.

Not a good idea.
  • Yesterday's "C" artist is today's "A" act.
  • What sounded "new" yesterday is "old" today.
Revisit and update your music coding and policies at least once a quarter, if not more often than that (as you listen to your music mix every day!).

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Don't Worry, George, We'll All Be There

I first experienced George Jones when he and Tammy Wynette were touring together at the heights of their "Mr. and Mrs. Country Music" power in 1974.

That was at Tucson Civic Center and I was amazed by their ability to perfectly recreate their recorded vocal gymnastics live, not missing a single note.  Some fifteen years later I was to Emcee a Fremont, California, nightclub show by Jones. 

He was very gracious to me, a young radio personality, and his many fans in a pre-show meet and greet with radio contest winners.

So, as I stood on the bandstand at the microphone a few minutes later all set with a glowing introduction to bring him onstage I was shocked to see George's tour bus starting up and heading out.  I told the crowd, "if you want to see George Jones tonight, I think we had better head out the front door right now and wave goodbye to him."

We did.  One concertgoer was heard to say that night "I've been to see George Jones three times and have yet to see George Jones."

Later I learned that what happened that evening wasn't due to his legendary struggles with substance abuse.

Back in the 1950's George had performed a great show for the club owner who paid him with a bad check.  So, Jones had come to Fremont in the late 1980's to get a good check from him and pick up a bit of revenge.

So great was his talent and skill that we who loved him and his music in spite of his sometimes mean and violent side were always willing to show up in hopes that he would not disappoint.

That's why it's so seemingly "normal" now to reread the press release in light of his death yesterday (click to see it) announcing his final tour, culminating in a quickly-sold out November Bridgestone Arena date.

He had long since had to postpone last week's Huntsville date and reschedule it due to ill health, yet that date also rapidly sold out.

It's my hope that the promoters will keep that November 22 Music City date, which was to have featured a list of music's biggest stars paying tribute to Possum.

As in the past, we'd all be there, knowing that in spirit and memory at least, George Jones will be as well.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Broadcast 101

A.J. Clemente joins Steven Tyler, Tom Hanks, Bob Beckel, Joe Flacco and many others - not to mention Howard - in an infamous club.

It was ironic that all three major network morning show personalities. including NBC's, seemed to relate in the aftermath to the faux pas. 

I'll leave it to others to decide whether this latest incident sets a precedent or is a cautionary tale, but before you count on "a light touch" from regulators, my advice is to live by that simple rule we all learned during the first day at broadcast school:

Treat every microphone as if it's ON.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Powerful Advice In Four Killer Quotes

You must read Russ Penuell's Country Aircheck article (click for the pdf) this week, "Boston And Beyond."

If that one sentence doesn't convince you, these will:
“The biggest challenge is determining what the most appropriate course of action is quickly. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, the audience is becoming aware of major news events at the same time we are, not an hour later. As a result, we’ve got to react immediately.
  -- WGH/Norfolk PD Mark McKay

“Everyone at the station (it really is everyone at my station, not just programming) must know their responsibility beforehand,” King says. “Everyone who joins our staff is well aware we serve the public interest at our own expense. It’s better to do more than less every time. No one is surprised when they are called upon to go way beyond normal duties. It’s a given along the Gulf Coast where we regularly gear up for hurricane and severe storm coverage.”
  -- WYCT/Pensacola PD Kevin King

“If we ignore a news story of this urgency and magnitude, we tell our listeners we cannot be depended upon to alert them of things we know they care about."
  -- consultant and talent coach Doug Erickson

“A successful radio station serves its audience by every possible means available,”
  -- WKLB/Boston’s Mike Brophey

There's Always Room For A Great Idea

Until this morning if you wanted to use a Broadcast Calendar on your smart phone, you turned to RAB's pdf's.
“Now, no matter where you are, you have a three year broadcast calendar with you!” said Cathy Csukas, co-founder and president of AdLarge.  “The industry has been in need of a broadcast calendar mobile app for a long time, and thanks to the innovation and generosity of AdLarge Media and AirKast, it is now available.”
OK, that's stretching it a bit to thank your own company for its generosity.  But...

Check the latest "new thing" out for iTunes and Android.

Very cool.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Thank You, Congressman Todd Young

Join me in making sure he knows how much we appreciate this

Boston and West, Texas, are just the two latest examples of how important local emergency information is - broadcast by mass media every day, somewhere.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

For A Day We All Live In Boston

Chairman/CEO for Boston-based Greater Media Peter Smyth's moving open letter to the industry bragging about his stations' response to the Boston Marathon bombings is radio at its best.
"I would like to express my sincere thanks Greater Media Boston Market Manager Rob Williams, Director of Programming Cadillac Jack and the entire staff for all they did to inform and comfort our listeners, their families and the community." 

Meanwhile, it's also hard to disagree with Denver-area media blogger, international consultant and talent coach Doug Erickson as he bemoans the inability of most radio operators to do anything in real time when suddenly disaster hits.
It's always interesting these days to scan local radio when any catastrophe occurs. Not one Denver FM music station had one word about the bombings during multiple times I checked out their frequencies.

So, what did you do on your stations?

It seems to me, you need a procedure for these things now. An emergency play book, ready to go.

If your station is in Boston, or a suburb -- and that includes a lot of major east coast cities -- I don't see how you can not go wall-to-wall coverage, regardless of format. But even if your station is in Colorado, what is more compelling content than a terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon? Taylor Swift? Seriously?

Country Aircheck Associate Radio Editor Russ Penuell started working immediately on a story on country radio's response to the tragedy by browsing station websites and social media pages looking (largely in vain) for any empathy in reaction to the senseless event: 
They were continuing with social media based contesting, etc, as the bombing story was breaking and as it unfolded throughout the day. We understand some of these are pre-set, time specific posts, so maybe some just forgot it was going up, but it nevertheless made for a pretty disconnected appearance, at least in that realm.

Part of the question to us, given the growing importance social media, is how or to what degree to address (or not address) whats going on via those platforms, or how important it is at all during tragedies, etc. It seems common sense to me, but maybe not.

It's frustrating how few have any policies in place, to - for example - avoid using social media during tragedies like Boston, resting any auto-contesting and Hoot Suite-generated posts not related to a response to the fast-moving situation during such an event.

Reviewing your library for insensitive songs seems like the very least a well-programmed radio station should do.

A&O&B's Becky Brenner notes that there is part of the right reaction plan that says "life must go on" or the terrorists win, foreign or domestic.
Having said that, it is certainly necessary to acknowledge what happened, send out thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families and give your listeners a forum to share their fears and feelings about such a horrific event.  It impacts every individual so differently that there is not a one size fits all solution to the challenge.

Now, less than 48 hours after the blasts went off, I am actually finding myself listening to news radio and watching less cable TV now due to all the repetition of the Boston info over and over which is starting to sound repetitious, making me weary, sad and helpless.

Is radio's role in a 24/7 "always on" info world no longer an in-the-moment reflection of what's happening in the listener's world?

Are we now just a safe place to escape from it, ignore it, where you can hide from reality that comes at you from every screen you own?

Has our role changed from "immediacy" to "apathy?"

I hope not.

Monday, April 15, 2013

It's Only Words

That search delivers "about 1,390,000 results."
So, before you open you mouth and mic today, click on a few of these links, for example, and try not to be a stereotype.

Dan O'Day famously says, "if everyone does it, it's probably wrong."

I'd like to add two more phrases to the lexicon:
  • "More details..."  Is there anyone who is anxiously waiting for more details in their life?
  • "That wraps up..."  An excellent way to remind your listener that it's a good time to stop listening?
Crutches come up in your content when you stop thinking about what you're really saying and just put your brain on auto-pilot.

It's audio, so all you have is words.

Choose yours well.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

How to Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking

You can't be Jenna Marbles. 

There already is one, and thanks to You Tube, the 26-year old was just called "the future of celebrity" by The New York Times, and employs every tool at her command to drive more than a million views every single day and more money than she had ever seen before in her life.
"She is a D.I.Y. digital entertainer who conceives of, stars in, shoots, edits and uploads her own videos — often in a single day."- NYT writer Amy O'Leary

You can learn from what she does.

“My perspective is to think, ‘I just have a lot of Internet friends.” - Jenna Marbles
  1. She skillfully juggles Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to build a deeply loyal connection with fans who find her eminently easy to relate to. 
  2. Her mom is a Rochester-area marketing consultant, so what she does isn't an accident.
  3. Unlike other YouTube personalities who invest in better cameras, lighting and production values, she has stuck with her original lo-fi operation.  It looks "real."
  4. She polls her Facebook fans for ideas
  5. She does impersonations.
  6. She rants.
  7. She plays off gender dynamics.
  8. She undermines her camera-ready good looks for the sake of comedy.
  9. She starts mini-memes.
  10. Her videos typically last five to eight minutes.
“What I get to do is have fun in my house, by myself, and put it on the Internet.”

That's a top ten "to do" list and an effective mission statement for anyone who wants to do "You Radio" too, don't you think?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A How-To Course In Using Twitter To Prep Your Show In Under Two Minutes

Twitter's 140 character discipline is honing the pace of everything.

Author and Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead told MSNBC's Alex Witt recently how she uses Tweets to improve and write her show.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I will let you decide whether to stop her lesson at 1:40 in (and avoid the political edge that comes after it), which is pretty much the sort of jokes you'd expect to hear from Lizz on stage, in her books and coming out of the mouth of John Stewart.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Improve Your Efforts

Arbitron's Bill Rose and Edison's Larry Rosin shared more insights into "Infinite Dial 2012" Sunday at Kurt Hanson's RAIN Summit in Las Vegas

Country may rank #1 in "Radio Today" listening levels, but when it comes to engagement, we're tied with six other formats for FIFTH place!

The country format is, sad to say, "just average" when it comes to getting the random radio listener in their town to sign up for email loyalty efforts and we have a lot to learn from rock, religious, public radio and urban stations in the typical radio metro.

Social is certainly growing for radio, but its impact as a marketing tool on listening prospects is HALF the reach of email.

The 2013 data is telling us to spend at least as much time with email marketing - if not twice as much as you do with social media.

We have work to do.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Reasons To Simulcast On Your Steam

A great discussion yesterday at Kurt Hanson's Las Vegas RAIN Summit on monetization of mobile and streaming media.

Key takeaways for me:

1.  That email database you've been building and using for two decades or more is still much more important and valuable to you than social media.  Use your social to grow and refine it.

2.  Stop with the irritating/time spend listening-killing ad insertion and just increase your broadcast rates to compensate for the additional streaming audience, which is growing and driving more use of your radio station, as A&O&B's Roadmap 2013 of country radio users has tracked for years.

Listeners are loudly telling us that they don't enjoy our streams as much as they do our over-the-air programming:

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Thank You Notes

.. to Florida Georgia Line, Dustin Lynch, Thompson Square and Brad Paisley, for standing up for country radio's place in their success on CBS This Morning.  You know that even more country superstars will do more of the same thing on the ACM Awards and we are endlessly in their debt for taking time to do it!

... to Arbitron and Edison Research for working together for the 21st time on their "Infinite Dial" studies, which not only give us a great help in future planning but also provides broadcast radio with credible, objective reinforcement in non-radio press venues of our compelling story, like this "Among Weekly Users, Online Radio Consumption Trounces Online Video."

It's nice to have friends like you and we never take your kindness and support for granted.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

The New "Transistor Radio" Is Also The New "Alarm Clock"

While Arbitron and Edison Research's 21st "Infinite Dial" study proclaims that in 2013 AM/FM radio remains, for now at least, "king" in the vehicle, our early birds are migrating south.

It's imperative that your smart phone app have a "wake up to your station" stream function if you want to be in the at home early morning game

Especially if you target under 35's.

It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway!) that your morning show needs to be as personal, fresh, fun, entertaining, interactive and as consistently-relevant as your real competition for listening time at home in the morning:  an alarm sound, email, social networks and a browser!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013


It will take many days to fully digest all of the findings released yesterday by Arbitron, Edison Research and NPD Group, but one thing is already obvious.

Thinking about many research reports one at a time won't give you the full picture of broadcast radio's place in media usage.

As yesterday's post proposed on an entirely different set of info, before you make use of any research findings you didn't pay for, it's important to understand who did pay for each study and what their motivations are.

For example, this chart from NPD's “Music Acquisition Monitor:"

As Tom Taylor notes in his report of the study: "That headline needs a bunch of qualifiers – like the age of those “younger Americans” (13 to 35) and the fact that the 23% figure relates to music listening, not total listening to radio and/or other audio sources." 

Arbitron's Bill Rose and Edison's Tom Webster were quick today with insightful recommendations in their recaps of Infinite Dial 2013, so I simply want to share the following chart from it through which I think we need to view the NPD data:

Certainly, not many people use their two ears to listen to two separate audio sources at the same time, but that's about the only form of media multitasking that isn't going on - and growing - now.

The strength of "radio" is that it's available to use while you're doing other things. 

Simultaneous media usage is our future.  It's no longer a zero-sum game.  You need to look at as many data points as possible to get the full story.

Heck, even the word triangulation has more than one meaning.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

ITunes? MyTunes? WhoseTunes?

It was fascinating this morning to note who got credit for topping the week's country music charts.
As much as I admire Hunter artistically on this day when Clear Channel radio stations are flogging The Band Perry and Cumulus is playing twice as much Kix Brooks as any other radio group thanks to lots of extra overnight spins you simply can't disregard the role of shadowy influence in what is being passed off as factual information today.

Research funded for radio by the music business (Zac Brown's "Colder Weather" was #1 in one out yesterday and Lee Brice "I Drive Your Truck" was #1 in a different one just the other day), download charts (Darius Rucker's "Wagon Wheel" was #1, up 23% from last week). MScore, AirplayIntel, streaming and album sales  charts are topped by different ones.

As with baseball, country radio has no shortage of stats with which to make music decisions and, like the national pastime, just because someone counts it doesn't mean it really counts.

Look at iTunes data rather like we used to view record sales back in the day when all of us used to call local record shops to check on sales figures.  It's certainly an indication of passion for something when a person is willing to plunk down their hard-earned money to buy something.

That seems more credible than playing a song that helps Clear Channel get another act for their IHeartRadio Music Festival or a monitored major market station get an artist for their NTR

The challenge with any kind of retail data is knowing WHO bought it.

The #1 use of radio research is to TARGET what we play, to be sure we know that it appeals to the perfect mix of our core and lighter user prospects who might listen more to our station if we did more they liked.  And, of course, it's a mistake to reach too much in either direction.  Too much core focus, too much cume focus, too much male-appeal, female appeal, younger vs older, etc .. and we hurt ourselves.  No national chart can do that for you.

If you can't afford traditional callout and your local PPM music usage data, online testing at the very least is so crucial.  It's low in cost compared to traditional callout or auditorium testing and when you do it locally it provides a great snapshot of how our most loyal users feel about what we play and that feedback comes back in just a week or two so that we can look at every narrow demo we target, heavy users, light users, etc.   

It's the only data you absolutely know about the methodology behind it to be sure that it will affect your cume and usage.

A new source of "buzz" is YouTube and the fast-growing streaming audio portals.  In some ways, like with retail reports, they are also quite variable and manipulable -- how much did the track sell for, for example.  Is it fair to compare a $1.29 track download to a free fan club coupon offer?  This is a bit like the six track mini-LP vs full 12-14 track one's sales.  Certainly, it's more impressive if you sell 500,000 at $14.95 than it is if they cost $7.95.

SO, I do look at all of them, including Taste Of Country, The Boot and CMT views for example but sometimes - rather like Luke Bryan's spring break release, Kacey Musgraves album tracks or Old Crow Medicine show in the wake of Darius Rucker's success - you really have to listen and decide if it meets your needs and will draw your core closer or push them away. 

The top 30 on iTunes ranges from 75,000 sales in all of North America down to 25,000 fewer than that from #1 down to #2, and half that many by the time to get down to #10 and again half THAT many when you get down to #20, etc.  When you look at your LOCAL downloads, Soundscan or Hits, Street Pulse, Big Champagne streaming trends the numbers are very small for any one market.

Take it all with a grain of salt, but employ it to see if something very interesting is happening that you really like and believe might fit.  

Ultimately, adding anything new is a risk, so in spite of all the promotional tracker pressure to push you to go faster, go only as fast as your gut tells you your audience is ready for.  Then, test those things yourself with your audience as soon as you feel like 75-85% of your two hour a day listeners are familiar with it .. and learn from that, making your judgments better and better as you get to know "your" peeps better and better by age, gender and usage profile.

That should be the only #1 that really matters to you if your goal is to make sure your radio station will be a #1 too.

Monday, April 01, 2013

You Could Buy Facebook Ads

You know the drill:  "if you like Luke Bryan, like (station brand)."  And, it certainly works as long as your competition hasn't figured that out yet, but the goal is to drive listening to your radio station and hits to your website, isn't it?

Check this blog out on Seattle's 100.7 THE WOLF and learn how to move well beyond social media 101.

My Personal and Private Struggle with Weight, Body Image, & Self-Confidence by Ellen

When's the last time that listeners responded to anything on your website by writing things like this?
You are the real you, and people do see that, and soon, you will too!  
I feel your pain.
You aren't alone.
You just wrote everything I too am experiencing.
I'm here for you! Maybe we can start a FB page to help each other keep motivated? Like a support group.
Changing your attitude is the first step.
Thanks for writing this blog, it is good to not be alone. 
You are sooo my hero! You're not the only one! I feel the exact same!
Raining Hope!  What a great way to face this struggle.

Thank you for sharing.  I feel like I was reading something I wrote myself.

I love listening to you every day and enjoy you bring so candid but the bravery you exhibit here makes me love you even more.

I think you are brave and I have so much respect for you sharing your most personal thoughts.

Your transparency truly says the most about what is on the inside and your character - thank you for sharing your heart with all of us.

You Can Do It!  We all struggle with something in our lives.

You so beautifully expressed . . . Exactly the way that so many of us feel every single day.
You are an amazing woman to share this with your fans, and I am hopeful that you stay on this path with your guardian angel. 

Being yourself, opening yourself to others is a magical thing.  

So is opening yourself to listening to the responses genuine authenticity elicits.