Sunday, December 21, 2014

Competition

Each time a station I've worked with over the years has been directly attacked I have publicly said:  "Competition makes us better."

For the listeners and the air staff, that's true.

But, generally, from a business point of view I have to privately admit it's simply not, especially in markets where media buyers generally refuse to buy two country stations at good rates.

Doubly so in PPM measurment markets where direct format competition has often driven down shares, making point levels shrink.

This was reinforced for me in September 1999 when longtime Detroit incumbant W4 Country typically had higher ratings with country than did WYCD, lack of advertiser revenue led W4 Country to switch to a classic rock format and WYCD never looked back from a revenue viewpoint.

The same thing played out a decade ago in San Diego.  Local observers claimed that neither Lincoln Financial nor the company formerly known as Clear Channel made any money during a costly fight, but when it ended KSON rose back to the top of the audience and revenue rankings, where they remain today.

iHeart's K-102 and CBS' Buz'n have been going at it in a virtual tie after three years in the Twin Cities in what has been a costly battle for both companies.  The last time KEEY had an attacker in this position they purchased it, leading to two decades of revenue and audience dominance.  This time, BUZ'N came out just as Taylor Swift was on the upswing.

Back before PPM measured Boston a very competitive fight went on between WKLB and WBCS (Boston's Country Station) from 1993 to 1995.  The victor in that battle was Greater Media. They have been extremely powerful from a revenue and ratings perspective for the 20 years since then.  Fighting for format ownership in country can be lucrative, long term.

It's been almost 20 years since the last competitive assault in Orlando for country, which even included Cox's K-92 buying the attacker just before it went country.  Three years later they took it out of the format, leading the market for much of the intervening time with just one country station, part of a solid cluster with broad reach.

Until now, as JVC closed on WHKQ Monday and then quickly launched 103.1 The Wolf on Friday

Things to watch:
  • Is this the beginning of a new post-consolidation age in competitive format battles?
  • In the past, new stations launched as formats were on the upswing.  Is this a good time to launch a new radio station in the country format against a strong competitor?
This I know:  the listeners are going to love having a choice.  The air staffs and street teams are going to have fun going at it.

The accountants, not so much.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

“Woof, Woof, Woof. Bow, Wow, Wow. Arf, Bark, Arf, Bark, Woof!”


Ever since dogs started barking “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” Christmas music has given country (and rock) format programmers and personalities a big headache.  

Thanks to PPM panel measurement which can follow the same group of people’s radio usage for many months and years, we now know some things about what drives the country format’s annual fall swoon at the expense of Adult Contemporary and Christian stations going “all Christmas music.”

1.  As Mike O’Malley told Inside Radio last week, studies of country listeners going back more than a decade consistently find that less than 20% of country P-1 listeners say they’d be very interested in having their country station play all Christmas music while half tell researchers they wouldn’t be interested at all, making going solid Christmas tunes a very risky tactic in a competitive country battle unless your company owns two country stations.  In that case, it can benefit them both, one gaining 35+ female tuning and the other one acting as an alternative for younger and male country music fans.  The more new music intensive you are, the more dangerous it can be to go more than a month without exposing and familiarizing the core with fresh music.  When you go back to playing the country hits you need to refamiliarize your core with it, which can hurt familiarity scores that drive TSL and passion as the new year - and a new PPM month - begins.

2.  In diary markets it has always appeared that all-Christmas helps the upper-demo contemporary get a cume boost in the first month of two of the Winter survey.  Now, thanks to PPM, we know that’s more a result of top-of-mindness impacting what people write in diaries than it is real usage.  Once, all-Christmas was seen as a strategy.  Now, we know it’s just a tactic.  In PPM, normal listening patterns resume on December 26 and don’t have any residual impact in January or February.  Thus, in a PPM market any station contemplating solid Holiday music in November and December needs to pre-sell the event in advance.  Diary measurement may make it appear that buying those great Christmas season ratings in January and February is a bargain, but PPM proves that would be overpaying.

3.  PPM permits a microscopic view of usage patterns not possible in diary surveys as long as the sample is large enough to be reliable.  As a result, aggregating multiple markets, it’s possible to uncover precisely what drives month-to-month changes in cume and average quarter hour.  Most months, any sudden changes are likely driven by sample weighting alterations or households coming into or leaving the panel.  As Christmas music starts to dominate one or two stations in a market, it’s now possible to dig into it directly and see exactly how each station in town’s average monthly users react.  What we see appears to be more than a sample wobble.  It looks “real.”

4.  A&O&B has been carefully studying PPM, thanks to the help of direct marketing and rating analysis vendors, from the very first month of PPM measurement going all the way back to the first tests of the technology in Wilmington and Philadelphia many years ago.  Here’s what we’ve observed, thanks to help from Arbitron and Nielsen analysts:  the normal pattern of daypart and day-to-day recycling tends to continue as usual for a healthy country radio station.  However, non-stop Christmas music on a station that always shares 25-30% of the country station’s audience month after month does something astounding during the Holidays.  It creates NEW DAYPARTS for itself, times of the day and days of the week from that group of panelists when the country station’s average listener wasn’t even using radio in most months!

5.  PPM “time spend exposed” (TSE/AMA) per hour for that country station when under attack from a 100% Christmas music competitor remains steady.  Morning show, at work and weekend usage are generally more or less unchanged.  Except for one group of listeners, the ones who seem to want to get into the Holiday spirit as they prepare for Christmas.  They go Christmas shopping, wrap presents, decorate the house, the workplace.  They host and attend parties.  They plan for the family event.  They continue to listen to their usual morning show, don’t listen much less than normal to their favorite 24/7365 country station, but they also find themselves using the solid Christmas music station a lot - as much as an extra day a week of their total time with radio - at lunchtime when they go out to shop, in the evening and over every weekend at home when they wrap presents, decorate the tree, write Christmas cards and organize their wardrobe for a busy Season Of Giving.

To deflect such a tactic when half the audience really doesn’t desire all-Christmas is next-to-impossible, though you can, we’ve found, at least minimize the damage — by creating your own extra special, lifestyle-driven extraordinary depart usage drivers. 


The challenge, of course, is that playing 500 popular Christmas songs over and over for six weeks is relatively easy when compared to the creativity, innovation and hard work it takes to build enough of the kind of content that can compete with it in listeners’ minds for six to eight weeks every year.

Attempting to cure your first headache can make for a pretty big second one too.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

May Your Stuffing Be Tasty...

May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
-- Grandpa Jones

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Time For Programmers To Learn A New Language

This development is not at all surprising.


As usual, they want us to cut our inventories while refusing to pay anything more when we do it, in spite of considerable data proving radio's impact.

If the only way they will pay more is when "cost per point" hits media buyer wishes and dreams, it's crucial that the people creating content fully understand which quarter hours and programming tactics have the highest potential to get target GRPs, ultimately ARPs, as high as possible.

Let's stop worrying about 6+ average quarter hour shares, replacing those with the highest payoff target points.

That's an entirely new way to approach formatic, content and programming metrics.

It's going to require a quick learning curve for most Brand Managers, but A&O&B can help make it simple and very rewarding for you to do so.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's That Wonderful (?) Time Of The Year

If you're a small indie label or a new, emerging artist, you're coming upon potentially the best time of the year at radio for your needs.

If you're a music director, it's the annual time of year to watch your mailbox for unknown names and labels you never heard of before.

Why?

As Billboard's Country Monday Update noted in listing the adds for the next few weeks it's just three weeks from the time when the vacuum of major label and star artist releases begins.

Country Aircheck made note of the same phenomenon in its pages this week as well.

Most weeks music directors find a lot more piled up in their in box than they can add to their playlists in any one week, but not December 8.

So, it's a very brief window of opportunity if you have something a bit risky or brand new.
Smart music promotion people, like my pal Kris here, know this.

The catch:  if you have a new Christmas song it's going to have to compete with the very familiar and welcome sounds of years past.  It has 17 days to get big or never be heard ever again.

If you have something that you hope will be a major hit in the coming year, you have a few more weeks before the superstar tracks start to come out in 2015, but it needs to be so sticky that it can achieve impact at a time of year when radio listeners are asking to hear more and more Holiday songs per hour.
 At best, you've got five or six weeks to get to the point most big hits take twice that long to gain traction.

So, indie labels and new artists, bring it.

But, please make absolutely sure that what you bring is your very best

And, pardon those of us in radio if we're still a bit dubious and skeptical as we click on your newly-arrived package.

It's the time of year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Sense Of History

As we all get ready the 39th annual Twin Cities radio meeting, I am reminded of an anonymous response back in 1996 to a "RadioIQ" (our client e-zene) report of CBS Radio President Dan Mason’s talk at the Upper Midwest Communications Conclave which continues to echo all these years later.
 
“Jobs on the programming side of radio will continue to be eliminated,” Mason correctly predicted back then. “For every position eliminated in programming this year, there will be three added in sales.”

Now that programmatic buying and selling is emerging, eliminating reps while making media sales more transactional and less seller-driven, I am reminded of an anonymous comment I got after that post from 18 years ago:
  
"…any medium which requires more effort to sell than to create is headed for a future no better than slimy posters on the brick wall of public consciousness."

I greatly respect Mason’s smarts and proven track record over the years since that Conclave speech, but I have always wished I knew who “anonymous” was.

That person may have been the smartest of us all.

Their comment remains true, now than ever.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Let Me Second That Motion

The announcement from Country Radio Broadcasters that Jeff Smulyan will be given the 2015 Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award during the opening ceremonies of Country Radio Seminar 2015 is another great decision from the seminar's board.

If you want to peruse the many, many wonderful giving works Jeff has spearheaded and been involved in, click here to read the complete press release listing a lot of them.

I'd like to add a personal reflection on what Jeff has created for the people who work for and with him, which in today's corporate radio competitive environment is another level of humanitarianism.  As their company website notes:  "Emmis is the 9th largest radio group in the U.S (based on listeners) and has been voted the Most Respected Radio Company in a poll of industry CEOs."

Other owners wishing to establish a positive productive "family" environment for their employees would do well to go to click around Emmis.com and learn about a winning culture. 

He purchased my hometown baseball team, reunited two guys named Griffey and turned a losing ball club into a winner, though it wasn't a winner for Jeff.  He used radio marketing tactics and rallied a community to the team's side, getting attendance up after years of apathy by local fans.  He lost money on the deal, but made baseball fun again for Puget Sound fans.

That's when I first observed that this was a guy who did the right thing first and worried about bottom line secondarily.

"Emmis" is the Hebrew word for “truth," and I first got a chance to work with the company when they purchased "KIX" (now "The Arch") in St. Louis from Zimmer.  

We had a very good run and thanks to a wonderful group of people, managed to make a pretty good showing against a powerful incumbent.

In Nashville I was a fly on the wall when they made their first presentation to the Music City community after buying the now defunct KZLA, which was very impressive.  

Of course, from Terre Haute, Indianapolis and many other legendary radio stations, they have shown their ability to win long term in many markets.

I brought up the no-doubt painful Mariners, KZLA and KIX situations for two reasons, having seen Emmis' greatmedia.greatpeople.greatservice® mission in action for a very long time, even in situations where circumstances led them in the infamous "other direction."   

Their people and the culture Jeff and his team have innovated show "class" even in places where it's not easy to do so, living Eleven Commandments of doing business with a humanitarian tone indeed.

Charitable works are terrific, and Jeff has performed many, but the way you live your life in all aspects is even more noteworthy.

Our entire industry is better because of the values exemplified every day by Jeff Smulyan.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

One A Day

Yesterday's list of 16 metrics A&O&B encourages you to track consistently (Programming By The Numbers) is completely overwhelming.

So, try this:  put a different one of them on your day planner every other workday.

Give yourself 30 minutes the first day to update the stats on that area of your responsibilities.  Set up a once-monthly meeting with anyone else who is responsible for that area.  Have them track the numbers and bring them in writing to this meeting to distribute with everyone.

Don't allow it to go longer than a half hour.  Look at the metrics for that one thing compared to the last few months of both your radio station and your competition.

If you're trending up, bettering the folks across the street, give pats on the back all around, award rewards and set up the next update on that one measure one month from today.  The better you're doing, the fewer meetings for all.

If you're not doing as well as you'd like on that set of stats, encourage everyone who has anything to do with it to spend some time later today thinking about what we could do to improve.

Set up a one hour meeting tomorrow to brainstorm, evaluate and prioritize all of the ideas you can generate.  Save the last ten minutes of the meeting to assign duties.

At the next full staff meeting report to everyone on the issue and what needs to be done by the whole team to fix it.

Get back together next month and repeat.

Do what W. Edwards Deming recommended.

If you don't know who he is, it's time to start reading.

Or, reach out.  A&O&B will help adapt his principles to your specific situation.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Programming By The Numbers

Thanks to Radio Ink Magazine for being the impetus for this article by Mike, Becky and me.  They published it yesterday.  In case you missed it: 

Nielsen’s recent report that for the first time in many years the country format national average shares experienced three down months in a row combined with Mike O'Malley’s almost-simultaneous blog post highlighting the A&O&B national country music database music acceptance trends has to be at least a little concerning for Brand Managers.

My post last week in reaction to just-published NuVooDoo format perceptual data showing that country radio success tends to be more music-driven than other formats, while the highest-rated A&O&B client stations have more personality-driven appeal than our “average” client and at the same time Dan O'Day and Becky Brenner have been enumerating the traits of the very best PDs, all of which no doubt made any sharp programmer sit up and wonder what success factors most deserve their time.

Perhaps (though I doubt it) there may have been a time when a radio programmer only had to worry about how their station sounded and “sounding great” was sufficient to be a winner. 

Even all the way back back to when Gordon McClendon, Todd Storz and radio’s many other creative format and research pioneers of the last six decades attacked existing ways of doing things and won, they tracked specific numbers.  You could hear those stats reflected in how their radio stations sounded.

Today’s complex media, lifestyle and demographic environments create a new problem. 

There are so many things you could possibly track which could help you win or lose, the key to success is prioritizing them, understanding which ones drive you to where you need to be as well as what you need to do in your programming to bring them to life:
  • Ratings:  Share, persons, total cume audience, heavy users percentage, daily, weekly, monthly trends.
  • Stream audience:  uniques, average active sessions, listen live tune-ins, mobile downloads, mobile streaming.
  • Music:  how many of the songs you play most often are “favorites” for a third or more of your target?  How many are rated “positively” by at least 65-70%?  How many are burnt to the point that double digit percentages of your target is tired of hearing them on radio?  How many of the songs you play were “never liked” by similar percentages?  Who do listeners feel plays the most?  The best variety according to their tastes?
  • Formatics:  what proportion of the entire market’s radio listeners understand your unique position and consider it valuable to them?  Does your content drive usage at the exact times the rating methodology requires on a consistent basis compared to the other choices available?
  • Personalities:  how likable are they face-to-face with those on other stations?  How memorable are they?  What are they being remembered for?  How high are their negatives versus their positive images?
  • Outreach:  how many non-commercial appearances do you do compared to your competition?  How well do you take advantage of them in turning listener contact into loyalty, giving the folks who do see you reasons to listen immediately?
  • Reception:  what are people coming in to talk about?  What questions are they asking when they phone us?  How many are positive/negative on specific things we do?
  • Website and blogs:  Visits, page views, uniques, average session length, page views per session, blogs page views, video views.
  • Listener phone lines:  what are they requesting?  Complaining about?  Where are they calling from?
  • Branding:  how does your brand make people feel?  How does that compare to all other stations you compete with?
  • Technical:  can everyone you need to listen receive you with a powerful signal?  How does your station compare to other choices?
  • Social:  Facebook likes, people talking about this, engaged users, viral reach, paid reach.  Twitter followers, following, tweets.  Others:  what percentage of your target uses each of the others?  How viable in similar stats as above are you in the ones they make use of the most?
  • Database:  Email database compared to your competition?  Loyalty club members?  Response rates?  New %?  % in metro?  Contests vs non-contest players?  Active in the past 90 days?  Text club members, # of texts, response rates.
  • On air contesting:  how important is it to your usage?  Do you dominate the image or are you beaten by someone else?
  • Info elements:  weather, news, community involvement and service.  How important is each to your success and how strong is your ownership of the images that matter most.
  • Events:  what percentage of your target knows what you do?  Are they motivated to participate?  What other events do they attend and would like you do be involved with?  Where are the best locales for our external marketing?  What % of our time is being spent in those places?
Ask any radio researcher.  If you have the money and listeners are willing to take the time, they can design a perceptual questionnaire that tabs all of these metrics for you and many more.

The challenge for Audio Program Director/Brand Managers today is that every one of the time-proven data points still matters a lot, but the nature of today’s changing listening patterns means that many more new numbers you must track are also crucial to understand and compare in every heritage and new media competitive environment.

Prioritizing and measuring them all while acting on what they tell you about all station activities and endeavors in fun, creative, authentic ways so that it all feels and seems “easy” is what builds a lasting winner.

That is how you get to the number which has always mattered the most:  #1.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Why Consumers Enjoy Radio In LA

Nielsen Harris Poll, October 15-23, 2014, wordcloud presented to SCBA:


Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
  • Listen critically at all hours and every day of the week and ask yourself how well your station lives up to these listener expectations.
  • Finally, does your radio station do so in unique ways and all your analog and digital media channels  that belong exclusively to your brand and not to every radio station in your area?
The secret is that there is no secret. 

We all know what the audience wants and expects. 

The key is executing it better and more consistently than our proliferating competition.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

From Borrell: Much More Than #4

No doubt you've seen the trade press on a webinar last week anchored by researcher Gordon Borrell celebrating the 20th anniversary of the appearance of the first banner ad.

The prognostication presentation came as a result of a survey of 2,102 Small and Medium Business managers conducted in August & September 2014 combined with an analysis of Borrell’s database of marketing expenditures covering 3,000 U.S. counties.

Borrell wanted to know:
  • Is the Golden Age of Advertising coming to an end? 
  • What will the media company and ad agency of the future look like?
In spite of the fact that the "big" reason for the study had only a little to do with analog media and much more to understanding the priorities of SMB operators as it relates to digital marketing budgets, there is no denying that Gordon and his team predicted along the way:
  • Half of the 15,433 radio stations currently on the air will cease to exist. 
  • “It will be the weakest stations we believe that will disappear, reemerging in the form of promotions.” 
  • "Local advertising as we know it disappears, but it reemerges in the form of promotions,”
  • New dashboard technology will cause long-term listening erosion for FM/AM radio. 
  • “Inevitability” of radio-enabled smartphones.
  •  “All of these businesses out there have the medium at their disposal to go direct to consumers.”
  • Sales reps won’t sell ads but help educate local businesses on how to create and perform promotions.
  • 95% of advertising will be bought and sold programmatically by 2024
Since A&O&B friends Mark Ramsey and Tracy Johnson have already written prescient thought-pieces on what we need to do about #4, I'd like to focus on another very positive radio story contained in Borrell's data:  24% more of these SMB executives credit radio with providing them with new customers than television does!


“Radio tends to have a very strong beat on promotions.  All of these businesses out there have the medium at their disposal to go direct to consumers.”  -- Gordon Borrell

My take: allowing media buyers to convince us to move away from direct local, regional and national selling person to person toward numbers-based programming buying will devalue radio.  

In the short run, it may save up to 30% of gross revenues by lowering cost of sales, but if radio polishes its immediate bottom line while failing to invest in face-to-face presentations of our ROI strengths vis a vis all other competing media, it won't even take ten years for Borrell's pessimistic prognostications to become self-fulfilling.

A full analysis of the results can be found in “2014 Digital Marketing Services Outlook” on the Borrell website.

Monday, November 03, 2014

(Not So) Smart

It shouldn't take many words to make my point today.  Take a look at my inbox and ask yourself which one you'd move to spam before even reading:


I normally read all of the "SmartBrief" messages, because they often carry great content.

Not this time.  $25 isn't enough to waste even a few seconds of my time.

And, if you're the type who needs words to understand a point, read Steve Marx's latest blog post which will explain it all to you:  How to Get Your Email Opened: Subject Line Best Practices

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Willing Buyer, A Willing Seller And A Clever Idea

.. but I have a few concerns before we go too much farther down this road.

Whether Colorado Broadcasters Association President/CEO Justin Sasso or a Nielsen researcher/affiliate rep came up with the concept, it's a brilliant win-win in any case, as 300+ Colorado broadcasters this week at the Doubletree in Grand Junction got a look at some of the latest information from Nielsen on the use of television, radio and other media sources.

Sasso highlighted the value of television and radio as sources that many throughout the state continue to use in receiving their news -- despite of the many newer media platforms developing online.  "We're trying to get people's heads around what's happening, instead of what they're reading in newspapers that these new media sources are taking over, and they're great, but in no way replacing radio and television." - News Channel 5's Jorma Duran

Inside Radio reported yesterday:  "other state associations have used presentations to reinforce the power of broadcasting, these were the first to use custom Nielsen data for a specific state.  Since many broadcasters in the state’s smaller markets aren’t Nielsen subscribers, the CBA commissioned Nielsen to crunch the Colorado numbers and license the data to its members to incorporate into their own presentations for one year."


Regional presentations took place in Ft. Collins, Denver, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction to packed houses in three days, pulling off four regionally customized presentations compiled using Nielsen’s vast database.

The data was licensed from Nielsen, at the CBA’s expense, for one year. CBA members will be able to access the Nielsen data and incorporate pertinent information into their station presentations.

My take, for what it's worth:

It would be wonderful if the 49 other broadcast associations and Nielsen are able to get together to do the same thing regionally in every single state over the coming months to become a fully regional "Audio Today 2015!"

Of course, it would be a nice additional source of revenue for Nielsen, repurposing stats from a new angle that have already been paid for by subscribing radio and TV stations.

For that reason, I hope the price can be kept low and as other state broadcast groups negotiate for them with Nielsen.

I'd encourage the rating firm to use some of that "found money" from these projects to be very transparent about how they manage to merge the very different PPM, condensed market rolling average and very small sample county by county diary data which doesn't come out until the following April, in the year after it was collected.

Hopefully by going to respondent level, Nielsen can give our local clients in small markets all over the country fresh, very reliable regional usage data in as close to real time as possible.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Are You Still Programming Like It Was 2008?

For eight years nearly a hundred A&O&B clients have participated in the annual online "Roadmap" study, tracking trends in music, tech, non-music elements and other aspects of usage and images.

The attitudes change every year.  For example, just seven years ago the average listener ranked country leadership and giving away big contest prizes as the #1 and #2 reasons to pick a favorite.  Music quantity out-rated music quality.


Eight months ago, when we tabbed the 2014 results, the most important parameters in choosing a favorite changed radically:


Is your emphasis on key images outdated?

If you're still trying to bribe listeners with prizes and music quantity promises, you may be out of synch with today's audience, which now wants the best songs, more fun, friendly authenticity and good vibes compared to what they did just a few years ago.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

There Is No "Average Country Radio Station"

It's never a good idea to program your radio station using "national average" research trends.

A few years ago, A&O&B asked the listeners to almost all of our client stations:


Just for fun, I went back to that study and pulled out the local data for the ten top-ranked morning shows in their local ratings.  No two of them mirrored the averages.

The one with the highest "DJ's" score's audience (24.41%) gave music 13.95% and "both" 61.65%.

The one with the highest "music" score (23.89%) had 16.38% DJ's and 59.73% "both."

The one with the highest "both" score (71.56%) had 16.64 primarily "DJ's" and 11.8% "music only."

All ten of these top-rated stations' listeners rated "DJ's" as more important than the average of the total sample, however.  Only one of them had "music" rate higher than the national average.

I'd say that would make the odds about nine to one that you won't win in the morning in the country radio format without great personalities who your listeners rate far better than "national average  personalities," but like any good coach you need to adjust the percentages you emphasize based on the caliber and mix of talent on your lineup.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Is Country Radio Too Dependent On Music?

NuVooDoo's strategic researchers have been sharing their radio format national perceptual trending on their blog for several years.  Recently, they've been probing the aspects of programming which "delight" the typical format listener.

If you ask what it was that surprised them other than a song, the answers tend to be contest prizes and funny morning show bits.  Well-designed contests hit the mark, as does genuinely humorous comedy.  While listeners rarely cite being pleasantly surprised by station imaging, we’re certain that there are instances of that among the 37% overall who were surprised in a good way by something other than a song in the past week.
   -- Leigh Jacobs

Pop CHR ranks #1 in its ability to please the audience with music and country comes in a close second in that measurement.


However, when they dug into the most pleasing non-music content, country radio ranks next to last when compared to eight other music formats.


Even worse, country's most pleasing non-music surprises come about once a month, compared to the other format listeners who get their surprises daily or at least weekly when compared to our P-1 listeners.

If the passion for country's music softens, as it historically always has about once a decade for every music style, almost all other formats are better positioned in the minds of their core in contest prizes, funny morning show bits and other program elements besides music images.

There's never a better time to measure your station-specific performance in driving usage and loyalty with non-music content than right now.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thank You, Supreme Court

There are two kinds of consulting clients and A&O&B has our share of both, thankfully.

1.  Those who are aggressive and always want to know the latest tactics and strategies that will help them gain an "unfair/stealth" advantage over their competition.

2.  Management who does a great job selling marketing to others but believes radio is a terrific marketing medium which doesn't require any money be spent on external marketing beyond the "free" word of mouth that can be created by great over-the-air content and social media.

We love them both and have hundreds of case studies where both groups have been very successful doing things "their way."

Both #1 and #2 tend to believe that everyone else in broadcasting is like them.  #1 always wants to know what secret things their competition did to make their numbers rise and #2 tends to deny that anyone else spends the kind of money that marketing can take.

I hope both of them saw this:


So, many thanks to the highest court in the land for their decision last week.

It's great to know that calling someone and inviting them to try a new radio station is not the same as attempting to sell them anything.

As a bonus, we now have legal proof for those #2's among us that their competitive managers at the Rotary Club who deny ever doing it may not be telling them the whole truth.


(Now, if only Canada's regulators would come to a similar conclusion.  

I won't hold my breath...)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

This Changes Everything (Again For Yet Another Year)

Just as Canada celebrates Thanksgiving before it comes to the U.S., Numeris and Stats Can bring something to Canadian broadcasters before Nielsen and the Census Bureau do to American media.

On September 9th, A&O&B Canadian clients were reminded:


The demographic questions in the PPM questionnaire are designed to be comparable to Statistics Canada data where appropriate. The demographics relating to industry, occupation, first language learned and home language will be updated to reflect the 2011 census, data from which was made available in 2013.

The revised panel member questionnaires will be put into field in at the beginning of the 2014-2015 broadcast year. Questionnaires are administered to households when they join the panel and subsequently once a year on their anniversary date. All newly recruited PPM households will receive the revised questionnaires and all existing PPM panel households will receive the revised questionnaires on their anniversary date (as per current procedure).


Demographics for the Industry and Occupation questions will be populated through derivation from the existing answers. The new Industry and Occupation questions will be available for the start of the 2014-15 broadcast year.


The new language questions will take up to one year to become fully populated, and will be available at the beginning of the 2015-16 broadcast year. 

 

In the USA, the more-or-less the same things start to happen on October 1.

The update is a shorthand term for the massive set of demographic estimates and
projections produced for the Nielsen Pop-Facts products. Estimates consist of data
prepared for the current year, and projections (sometimes called forecasts) prepared
for dates five years in the future.


The update is brought up to date for many geographic levels including national, state, county, census tract, and block group. Data is also available for commonly-used areas such as metropolitan areas, cities/towns, ZIP Codes, and media areas such as DMAs. Because it is produced for small areas, the update can be easily aggregated to custom geographic areas specified by the user.

The update begins with the estimation and projection of base counts, such as total population, household population, group quarters population, households, family households, and housing units. Characteristics related to these base counts are then estimated. Population characteristics include age, sex, race, and Hispanic ethnicity.

Households are estimated by age of householder and income. Owner-occupied housing units are estimated by value.


What does this mean to you?

It's highly likely that your station's shares are going to change at least slightly as a result of these updates being made right now.  The only reason they wouldn't would be if you serve an area that hasn't changed in any way since last year and the last census.  Highly unlikely, since even if all other things were stable, everyone got one year older.

Anyone who wants to fully understand their competitive situation simply must fully understand, stay up-to-date with and react to population changes in every market and demographic they target.

As with all things in audience measurement:  it's as much about what they do as what you do!

Monday, October 06, 2014

I Completely Fell Apart

Another true-life lesson, shared in hopes it teaches you something that you don't need to learn the hard way, like I did.

I played trombone in my high school band and orchestra.

It never felt like I was all that talented as a musician, but since I moved up to first chair and eventually my band director encouraged me to enter a regional solo competition, I suppose I was good enough.

However, that Saturday morning in Canton, Ohio, in a school room when my piano accompanist got to the place where I was to come in, I cracked.

Suddenly, my memory was gone.  I had practiced.  I had rehearsed.  I had memorized, but when it was my turn to perform, I lost everything.  My embouchure collapsed.

I didn't play very much, and what I did play was terrible.  I had sounded better in my very first lesson many years before.

I wanted to run and hide as the pianist played her part perfectly.

What I learned:  it's not enough to "prepare." 

From then on, I vowed to always OVER-prepare.

Prepare beyond being ready, beyond knowing your part, past perfect execution.

How did it work out?  A few years later, auditioning for my university band and orchestra, I made the cut.  I've won more than my share of broadcast awards in the intervening years as well.

My hope:  you never have to go through the complete humiliation I had to experience as an adolescent in order to learn how crucial over-prep on everything is.

 I've always wondered what and who (click to read his parents' story if you're not aware of it) it took for the likes of Richard Sherman or Russell Wilson (another powerful tale) to learn that lesson at such a young age.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

No Words


Sadness
.

"Our plan may not have been the most elegantly or artfully executed of all possible plans, but we actually understand what it is we think we are trying to do and why we think we're trying to do it," Mr. Metheny told the Tribune in 2010.

A Toast: May we all be able to say as much when our time comes!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Biggest PD Mistakes

  1. Forgets that the most important part of the job is to protect the station's license.
  2. Still thinks that it's a sales versus programming world and as long as (s)he gets ratings (s)he has done the job.
  3. Doesn't worry about heavy radio-users or passionate fans of the kind of music the station plays.  Targeting takes care of itself.
  4. Does whatever it takes to win.  Ethics and fair treatment of his/her employer and coworkers do not matter as long as the station is winning and profitable.
  5. Has a 'not invented here' attitude about new ideas and approaches.  Doesn't bother to network or seek objective opinions of knowledgeable counsel.
  6. Under-estimates the competition.
  7. Sees radio as a craft, not an art.  You can get everything you need to know by copying winning radio stations in the same format in other markets.
  8. Feels that people are replaceable.  As long as everyone is working as hard as possible, everything is fine.
  9. Thinks that business management is the GM's job and time management is a sales thing.
  10. Doesn't need research.  (S)he knows what listeners want.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Three Parts Of Prep

The last in an enduring series written by my friend and hero, Jay Trachman:

One of the nice things about teaching is that it helps one to organize his own thoughts. While explaining to a Jock Doc student recently about how to create Life Content, it occurred to me that the process has three distinct parts, which ought to be kept separate, lest they pollute each other.

Life Content: you, talking about your own life; Sharing the little emotion-causing experiences with your one listener. A lot of them seem so trivial when you're experiencing them, that you forget them by the time you're on the air. Yet these are the kind of raps that individualize you, reach your listener, and bond you to him or her.

Part one of the process is "research": gathering, "standing outside yourself" and noticing that something just caused you a significant emotion.

Then, "getting it down," saving the thought until you can deal with it more thoroughly. The best tools for doing this are a pocket pad, a microcassette or mini-sound recorder. When something happens that you think you might enjoy Sharing with your mate or your best friend -- make a note of it!

You see, when you're talking to someone in real life, the two of you go back & forth in conversation. Eventually, something will remind you to mention the experience in question. When you're talking with your listener, you get no such outside cues; you have to do all the work. That's why you have to make the notes. My own, collected over the past few days: "hummingbirds" ... "wind while biking" ... "radishes."

The second step is your show prep. Here you take the notes you made, and flesh them out into raps. "We've got hummingbirds in our garden! I never saw one in my life until yesterday, except in books, and I'm out watering the garden when all of a sudden, this thing that looks like a fat butterfly swoops in and *stops*! I mean, he's hovering in mid-air, wings beating a mile a minute, this pint-sized miracle, right in front of me! Then off he goes! For a minute, my heart was beating as fast as his wings!"
  • "Did you ever notice while biking, that you're always pedaling into the wind? Whenever I go to the post office, I can feel the wind in my face as soon as I turn the corner, and I always say to myself, 'Brisk wind today; it'll be nice when I'm coming home...' And then when I'm on the way back, instead of a nice tail-wind, it's still blowing into my face... Because, obviously, there really isn't much wind; it just seems that way when you're pedaling... Sometimes I think life's a little like that, don't you?"
  • "I guess this is the end of the cool-weather crop season; my radishes and lettuce have both started to bolt; we're picking them as fast as we can, but they're still setting flower heads; one of the radishes blossomed overnight -- which means it's no longer edible, right? Right. Another little lesson, learned the hard way -- pthbthbthbt!"
Notice how I've led to a feeling at the end of each bit; with any luck, you (or my listener) experienced some feeling in response. That's the whole reason for doing the bit.

Now comes part three of the process, and I can't over-emphasize the importance of keeping it separate from the other two: the editing. You don't ever want to be editing while you're gathering or writing, because it shuts down the creative process. I'd rather throw a bit away later, than miss one because my "censor" was working, and I told myself, "Naah -- that's not worth Sharing..."

Editing means taking the bit I created, then examining it to decide which details are necessary to set up the ending ("kicker") and which just add time. Also, does the structure set up the ending? Does the kicker express my feeling strongly enough so there's a good chance my best friend will respond?

The research is your life... The prep is taking your experiences, identifying the emotions you experienced, and figuring out how to make your best friend feel something, too... The editing is making it fit within the format requirements of brevity and structure, making sure the kicker is strong enough. These are the three distinct parts of creating raps. Keep them separate. You'll enjoy the process more, and find yourself working more productively when you do.

Friday, September 26, 2014

"Brand" new? Nope

In 50 words or less, here is an abbreviated history of brand identity on American and Canadian radio.
  • Fibber McGee And Molly
  • The Jack Benny Show
  • NBC
  • The Mighty 690
  • 77 WABC
  • Color Radio
  • 93 KHJ
  • Westinghouse Broadcasting, KDKA
  • WCCO, Real Radio
  • WSB, Atlanta
  • Paul Harvey News
  • The Big 8
  • Cash Call
  • The Best Variety
  • K-Lite
  • CHUM
  • EZ
  • The Most Music
  • CKNW
  • Froggy
  • Magic
  • Continuous Country
  • 12 in a row
  • Mix
  • The all new…
  • Country 105
  • BOB FM
  • Double Your Paycheck
  • Kiss
  • Jack
.. and the tradition continues.

How does your branding stand up?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Opening Your Promotional Tool Kit

An Example Of Each Implement:
  • Build awareness.  Million dollar cash grab.
  • Force listening.  $1,000 song of the day.
  • Create sampling.  Premiums:  t shirts, stickers, refer magnets.
  • Packaging.  Thousand song weekend, lunchtime requests.
  • Loyalty/regularity.  Points program.
  • Coupon/Discounts.  Commercial free Monday, at work kickoff.
Before employing these tactics, always ask yourself what your competition will do to top it.

Be prepared for that response and decide if you will have to top IT as well as how and when you'll do so.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Learning From The Students

On April 28, 1949, WGRE-FM was the very first ten watt educational radio station licensed by the FCC.  Its first official broadcast was a tribute to the President of DePauw University at the time, Clyde Wildman, who was unable to attend the inauguration of the new radio station because he was in the hospital at the time.  The students operating the radio station presented him with an FM receiver so he could hear the ceremony from his hospital bed.

The station’s programming has been worth listening and paying attention to ever since.

For example, this decade-old Operator’s Manual (pdf) which is still well worth emulating as you discipline and train your talent.

You're Not Ready

... until you ask:

Does Nielsen/Numeris have all current facilities information?  Have we reviewed the market slogan file?  Are any stations in the market reporting a slogan that they are not using on-air as per frequency standards?  How might this impact us negatively or positively?

Has there been any shift in audience composition by demographic or gender?  Has there been movement in sharing patterns with key competitors?  If so, is there a real trend?  Should research parameters be adjusted accordingly?

Does the most recent book analysis uncover opportunities to recycle available cume?  Do current TSL trends indicate library rotations may require adjustment?

In the U.S., have we tracked zip codes for diary placement, return in target demos, highest AQH versus cume counted, etc.?  In Canada, where privacy laws restrict this info, have you used your own database to understand where your listeners live and work?  Does the marketing dept. and their outside vendors know how to exploit this data to maximize ratings and strengthen cash flow?  Do they have access to audience mapping technologies?

Was there anything abnormal in the previous survey?  When was the last time the station ordered a diary review, PD Advantage or other in depth study of PPM usage?  Do we know if we get more credit for slogan, call letters or frequency?  Are we using digital frequency in our primary identifier?  Is this being picked up by the survey?

Does an hour-by-hour (and in PPM, quarter hour by quarter hour or minute by minute) analysis show significant tune-in or tune-out for a target cell?  Might it be attributed to a regular feature or contest?  Should it be repeated later in the day/week or deleted?

Are there any daypart specific programs, especially on weekends that are “performers?”  Are they placed for optimal exposure to available targeted cume?  Might the station benefit from a repeat performance in the same broadcast week?

Does the station have a data cruncher expert on staff, at your consultant or other vendors?  Have they generated and distributed pertinent reports and tools from the last market measurement?

Does the station have a Qualitative expert on staff?  Have they conducted a meeting for air personalities to hone content targeting?  (Note:  CMA organizational members can receive free reports from the Country Music Association.)

Do we have a graduate of "Ratings University" in our employment roster?  Have they shared their insight to “the game”?  If not, when is that Numeris/Nielsen road-show coming to the area?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Pre-Book Competitive Overview

It's never too soon to audit yourself these days, since there's always "the nest book" just around the corner:          
  • Evaluate key competitors’ positioning statements, claims, benchmarks and stationality.  Is there anything we need to defuse?
  • How can we further maximize the strengths of our cluster to block and/or reposition our key competitors and those of our sister stations?
  • What tactical/strategic outside media (TV, billboards, mail, stealth telemarketing) campaigns are we likely to be up against?  Will our programming/marketing arsenal be competitive and crippling?
  • Are there new players?  Who are their consultants, programmers and companies?  Can we predict and “borrow” possible strategies, tactics, features and devices before they are aimed at us?
  • When was the last time the most recent perceptual/strategic action plan was reviewed for compliance?  Is the on and off-air brain trust following the game plan?
  • Has the programmer and marketing executives spent a day away from the station to critically listen and evaluate product performance?
  • Prizes:  “dollar for dollar,” how are we likely to be remembered in the mind of the listener?  Is this a “hill” we even care about?
  • What mechanisms are in place to insure we  seize “the moment/ big events” as they pop-up.  Are key community, industry, media (etc.) contacts in place?  Have we done a good job delegating the bases on the playing field so we won’t miss important opportunities?
  • Is the station and the cluster’s Marketing Model (Target+Product+Position+Promotion) current, active and actionable?                                                                

Friday, September 19, 2014

Lou Dickey On Evaluating Your Morning Show And Its Competition

In cleaning out some old files, I came across some information and a worksheet for monitoring morning radio from two decades ago that was created by Lou Dickey back when he was a radio researcher.  It holds up pretty well:


Stratford Research worked for quite a few of our consulting clients back then, and I have to say that the quality of their work was exemplary and they invented effective new ways to understand what drove images and usage.

One bit of their wisdom that has stuck with me over all the time since:  two of the five major drivers of morning radio success:  habit and familiarity.

The remaining things that can give a morning show leverage:
  • Format preference
  • Entertainment/style preference
  • Information needs
The weaker you are in those first two, the stronger you must be in as many of the others as possible.

It's still true today:  you can't beat a deeply-entrenched and successful morning incumbent by doing the same things they are well-known and regularly used for.

Being "better" isn't enough.  You also need to be different.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Life Lessons (A Never Ending Series)

Back in the mid-70's when I did mornings at Owens Enterprises' KUZZ/Bakersfield, I heard "you're good, but you're no Johnny Kaye" at almost every appearance I made.

I made a lot of appearances, so I heard it a lot and I have to admit that the competitive side of me got a bit jealous each time.

Being OM/PD as well and extremely curious to hear Johnny, I organized a "KUZZ Reunion Weekend" and contacted as many of the former air personalities to come back and do a few hours on air over a weekend to kick off a major station promotion.  (It is impressive how many long-timers from way back then remain with KUZZ today!)

When I reached Kaye by phone, I found him to be extremely gracious, friendly, supportive and cooperative.

He did his shift for us and - I had to admit - he was simply great.  Listeners were right.  Johnny Kaye, a complete professional, knocked my socks off!

Hard-earned lesson:  learn from history.

Don't let your ego deny the previous people and events their share of the credit for what built the radio station where you work, helping to construct the platform you make use of now.

Attain higher heights by standing on the shoulders who folks who preceded you.

You can't get very high by stepping on other people.

Becoming More Memorable

  1. Use all available media to the utmost of your ability, but before deciding which to make use of, choose your message.
  2. Promote who you are and what you stand for.
  3. Start by using your own airwaves and digital tools.
  4. Give away lifestyle prizes as your rewards for listening. 
  5. Cash is the easiest lifestyle universal.
  6. Create a memorable brand name and catch phrase which encompasses all of the above.
  7. Don’t expect it all to work quickly. 
  8. Great marketing and branding, let alone product development, take time to be effective.
  9. Cume building contests and campaigns still work and must employ outside advertising.
  10. Ah, there’s the rub.  Trying to build cume without buying advertising may improve your time spent listening and can generate word of mouth if done very creatively, but that strategy adds to the time it will take.
  11. TV morning shows dominate outdoor in most markets today with creative that looks exactly like morning radio used to do.  Small wonder that our pre-8 am audience is gravitating to TV at home.
  12. Time spent listening is driven by recycling audience. 
  13. Tease with specifics, theater of mind and exact times.
  14. Ah, here’s another rub:  everyone else knows that too, so depending on it to drive your growth requires doing all of these things better than all of the other choices listeners now have.
  15. Target hot zips, the neighborhoods where your most loyal listeners live and work.
  16. Do appearances in “blitzes.”  Create the image that where ever your fans and prospects go, you’re there too. 
It’s impossible to keep this up constantly.  Plan tactically and conserve your researches.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

The goal:  make potential listeners feel like you’re constantly visible in their community.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tomorrow: 16 Ways To Be More Memorable

.. but first, I want you to look in the mirror and ask yourself "is my content consistently WORTH remembering?"

If you can't honestly answer that question with a resounding "yes," you can skip my post tomorrow because it won't work no matter how much you invest in marketing tactics.

You will never be able to sell people long term on something they're not personally committed and connected to.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Radio 2015: Perspective From A Very Savvy Friend

I want to turn on the echo chamber today:
Reed Bunzel is a veteran media executive with over 30 years of service in the radio, music, and digital media industries. He is president of Bunzel Media Strategies, a full service consulting and analytics firm that assists companies with industry research, analysis, business strategies, platform development, and communications/marketing.
     Remember the movie Sybil? That's the 1976 miniseries and film starring Sally Field, whose main character was alleged to have up to 13 different personalities, all struggling to coexist inside one body at the same time.
     I mention this because this week at the NAB/RAB Radio Show in Indianapolis I was having a conversation with a respected broadcaster (name withheld upon request) who compared the U.S. radio industry in 2014 to the Sybil character. Not in the sense that he thought the business was fraught with mental illness or that it needed psychotropic drugs in order to maintain a "normal" life, but because at any one time there are a number of distinct personalities inside this industry that give voice to its collective persona.
     While the analogy could be perceived as a bit of a stretch, a distinct parallel can be drawn between Sybil's internal voices and the discussions I've had with radio broadcasters these past few days at the Radio Show. All of these conversations (and some comments made at general sessions) have been fascinating, some of them are scary, and many of them contribute to a universe that seems founded more on perception than reality. Depending on whom you talk to, the American radio industry is a) healthy, b) doomed, c) challenged, d) blind, or e) all of the above.

Here's what I mean:
  • In her now-traditional role of the industry's statistician, Wells Fargo Securities senior analyst Marci Ryvicker insisted radio's revenues will remain flat until broadcasters prove her wrong, with local and national spot revenues most likely going nowhere this year. She has a strong record of accurate forecasts, so her macroeconomic view can be trusted. Her prediction of "flat" growth is not a truth many attendees in the audience wanted to hear, but as Ryvicker so eloquently put it, "radio has a lot of shit."
  • Several major group heads insisted that the radio remains strong and, while saddled with the uncertainties of change, its strengths far outweigh its weaknesses. Example: Cumulus Chairman Lew Dickey, while acknowledging myriad challenges, observed that radio is "America's daytime medium" and emphasized that its greatest audience occurs during the time when most commerce is conducted.
  • RAB President/CEO Erica Farber stressed that digital is radio's most direct and imminent path to growth, a position self-avowed BS specialist Bob Hoffman (author of "The Golden Age Of B.S.") almost immediately refuted by declaring "online advertising is a fraud." While Hoffman quickly clarified that he really was referring only to display advertising, his "WTF" moment resonated long after he left the stage.
  • Univision Radio President Jose Valle stated that digital audio streaming is a $20 million revenue line that produces cash flow for his company, and noted that "we don't abandon our over-the-air audience but we have to be where our listeners want us to be. Listeners dictate."
  • Seconds later Emmis Chairman Jeff Smulyan insisted he's never made a dime from streaming, stressing instead how critical it is to get NextRadio functional in every smartphone sold in America, so consumers have access free FM radio rather than pay the near-usurious rates charged by major phone carriers. This move, Smulyan insists, will almost single-handedly propel the radio industry into the future.
  • Of course, a healthy contingent of tech-heads are adamant that it's too late for either NextRadio (which is at the mercy of AT&T and Verizon) or HD Radio to shift the digital tide that has begun to rise - a tide, they insist, that will not float all boats.
  • Then there's the die-hard cheerleaders who point to radio's 92% 12-plus reach and insist that all is good in the world of radio, despite measurable TSL erosion among younger demographics and the growth of such online digital services as Rdio, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Pandora.
  • These folks also tend to be harsh Pandora critics who don't grasp that the streaming service is a company, not an industry, and that if it didn't have to pay the performance royalty fees dictated by the Copyright Royalty Board (from which AM/FM radio is exempt), its margins actually could be far greater than those of many radio companies serving the same number of listeners.
  • And then there are the "rapturists," those individuals who are convinced that radio's apocalypse is imminent, and nothing can be done to save it from the four horsemen who are fast approaching from the other side of the digital horizon. 
     I want to stress here that I am not trying to simplify the passions or opinions of radio broadcasters, or to declare the radio industry "psychologically unstable" or "mentally unfit." Far from it. But today (Sept. 12), as the Radio Show closes here in Indianapolis and we all go back to our regular roles in the radio business, we need to recognize that it's impossible to color the radio industry with one broad stroke. I'm constantly asked "what's the big take-away" or "what's the buzz at the show"?
    I understand the questions, but I don't have suitable answers. No one does. And that's because the radio business is comprised of many interconnected parts, with multiple priorities and goals, and no two perceptions (or personalities) are alike. Each of us knows what we know about our own corner of this business, and we are influenced by the factors that affect us personally and professionally.
     For instance, some broadcasters are being chased by debtors who have no option but to let them to continue kicking the can down the road in an endless game of tag that causes many folks to doubt the overall health of the industry. Others are ruled by fear of change and cringe at the approaching reality that spot revenue might just not be enough to get them through to retirement, or to identify a reasonable exit strategy. Still others are managing to generate small revenue gains through hard work and diligence, and are accepting that digital and social media can push real dollars to their bottom lines.
     In the movie and TV miniseries, Sybil was affected by what today is known as multiple personality disorder*. It's important here to draw a distinction between that and what I've mentioned above, which is radio's multiple personalities. Period. (Whether there's a disorder involved is open to discussion.
     My only point here is to initiate a conversation about the U.S.. radio industry as we head into the fourth quarter, and to introduce my new initiative, Radio 2015. This new "media intelligence platform" is designed to engage everyone in this wonderful business in a discussion about our collective fates, futures, and fortunes, and to offer actionable analysis and information to ensure that we are guided by intelligence rather than fear.
     You'll be hearing a lot more about Radio 2015 next week - and in the weeks to come. Meantime, I invite you to email me with any questions or comments you might have regarding the radio business, as well as suggestions about what you think needs to be addressed as we set our sights on tomorrow...and the next day.

*In a book titled "Sybil Exposed," author Debbie Nathan maintains that most of the story Shirley Mason, the "real" Sybil, was fabricated.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

This Is Not A Test, It's An Actual Emergency

Blaine Thompson has been writing "Indiana RadioWatch" specifically for Hoosier Broadcasters since 1998.   

He sent this email last night from the NAB Radio Show in Indianapolis:

In one session, I kept hearing that "Content is Key." If your radio station has great content, people will find it and listen to it.

As I write this, the President is speaking. I realize that several radio stations across Indiana have this speech on their airwaves. Some radio stations do this broadcast by adding a command into the automation system. Some radio stations air the speech, and bring in local hosts to discuss what the President said. As it is 9:00PM, some radio stations let a weekender or part-timer come into the radio station to make sure the speech airs.

However, what about promotion? I asked a broadcaster about this today, and was greeting with a single word:

"What?"

So, I asked:

...Did you put an announcement on your radio station Facebook page, saying, "Listen to W____ at 9PM tonight"?

...Did you add an announcement to your Twitter page?

...Did you send a text blast to your "text club" subscribers?

How did the broadcaster respond?

With a mildly blank stare, a mumbled "Thank you," as they grabbed their cell phone (hopefully to call or text someone back at the radio station...)

(I'm not going to give a speech entitled, "What, you don't have a radio station Facebook page, Twitter feed and text club? It's 2014.")

A broadcaster told me this: "It's 2014; you can't rest on your laurels and know that anyone who wants to hear content will listen to YOUR radio station. You have to make the content compelling for your listeners."