Friday, March 28, 2008

The State Of News: Don't Tell Me. Help Me, Empower Me

Memo to the news department: "There is no single or finished news product anymore. As news consumption becomes continual, more new effort is put into producing incremental updates, as brief as 40-character e-mails sent from reporters directly to consumers without editing."

Smashing Pumpkin Smashes Music Label Financial Fairness

After filing a lawsuit claiming his former record label, Virgin, allowed Pepsi to use his band’s name in a promotion without permission, Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan has decided to speak out.
“I’m sure they indicated to Pepsi that they had a right to do this, full well knowing they do not have the right,” Corgan told, adding that the soda promotion “crosses the Rubicon. You’re going to see more of this playing fast and loose with the rules, hoping they don’t get caught. At face value, it’s not a huge deal. But in terms of precedent, it is, because there will be much more of this coming.”

Read the Rolling Stone interview

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Country Weekly Dishes On Blake And Amanda

Blake Shelton opens up about family, hard times, his new hit, life on his Oklahoma ranch . . . and girlfriend Miranda Lambert:
“I just love how my life is at the moment,” Blake sums up, and it’s not difficult to see why. His current single “Home” is among his fastest-rising ever and he’s also settled into a sprawling ranch he bought last year in Oklahoma. Plus, Miranda lives on her own farm about six miles away. As for their relationship, Blake admits that they’re taking it slowly. “I’m not in any hurry to get married again,” he tells Country Weekly. “She says she’s not in a hurry to get married. For once, I just want to enjoy bein’ comfortable with where things are in my life and how they’re flowin’ along right now.”

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Can You Watch This Video And Replace The Word "Starbucks" With Your Brand Name?

Go to your nearest Starbucks and ask for a free copy of this book.

Then, watch this video and let me know what communications tools you use to get your team to execute the strategy this well!

Q: Do email blasts work to improve my ratings?

A: They sure do, IF they are relevant and topical, giving a benefit-driven reason to listen.

For example, on a recent client conference call I heard the story of a sports-talk station in a PPM-rated market which sent an email blast to their database announcing that the general manager and manager of the local team had just been fired and that they would be carrying the press conference that afternoon at 3 pm for the official announcement by the team owner live.

The following week, it was obvious from the PPM data that the station got a big hit in AQH and cume.

Email blasts which contain concert announcements and DJ news probably don’t impact listening at all and may actually hurt the impact of future ones as they lesson the open rate of future email blasts because they are all about the station and your advertisers.

Lead with a benefit to the reader in the subject line, make sure the message is relevant and make an appointment to pay off with an entertaining or informative event and watch your email marketing grow your AQH by improving your cume recycling.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Radio's Glass Is MORE Than Half Full

I just got a nice chance to spout off on my positive view of the radio business for David Wilkins, who was kind enough to want to interview me for the monthly client newsletter of the Gray's Harbor Radio Group in Aberdeen-Hoquiam-Ocean Shores (in lovely Coastal Washington):

DW: All of the news about old-school mass media these days seems gloomy. Papers closing, local radio stations being gobbled up by huge conglomerates, and the Internet threatening everything and everyone. How does radio--on its face the most anachronistic of the electronic media--stay competitive and relevant in the 21st century?

JA: Radio starts from a great place. In the face of all that publicity being generated by new media, "terrestial/analog radio" still reaches 94%+ of the 12+ population every week, and almost 100% every month.

The Arbitron Portable People Meter, which is the newest ratings technology now being rolled out in the largest markets and headed for the top 50 in the next decade shows that country music radio rates in the top three formats in Houston and Philadelphia, for example, with six to eleven year olds, so country is very hot right now and the vast majority of people - even in the face of personal digital media players' growth - still get their music on the (traditional) radio, the challenge for us in all media of course is to engage our loyal consumers and leverage our great brands to surround them as they turn to new media too.

We have a huge head start over all media and certainly the print media face a much more immediate threat to today's business model than radio or video does, but we all need to understand the emerging technologies, use them aggressively to entertain, inform and provide community where our current audiences live, work, drive and live all aspects of their lives.

Radio is already a multi-tasker's media, since you can do other things while using our products, and this is the wave of the future, multiple, simultaneous use of media.

This is changing the definition of "local' where once it meant a town or a community. Now, local is much more a one to one thing, much more personal and individual.

Radio has been the original interactive, personal medium for the last five decades. Our personalities relate to the community and have direct relationships, person to person already with our listeners. We simply need to adapt and engage at an increasingly micro and macro level, and just turn on the radio right now and I'd bet you will hear us doing just that.

Meanwhile, that PPM measurement, which is replacing the ratings diary - the leading way to measure radio audiences for the last forty years - is showing that radio today actually reaches on average twice as many people in an average quarter hour than diary ratings measurement has shown. Radio's reach from 6 am to 7 pm weekdays is as great as prime time TV and a lot bigger than the average newspaper's circulation. It's a great time to be in radio.

The biggest dogs which we compete for advertising dollars are under incredible pressure and are watching their reach fragment, splinter and decline. In that environment, radio remains stable and very cost-efficient. Meanwhile, as new media advertising grows exponentially, it will is less than two percent of radio's total revenues, so there is a huge upside potential for us to grab our piece of that new ad revenue-based "pie" which is emerging, Clearly, it's the place where growth will occur for most of us and we need to be specialists in helping our clients make the best use of multi-media marketing to grow their businesses.

DW: The biggest and most frequent complaint I hear about radio stations is the "vanilla complaint"--yes, I lifted that from your blog--stations play music that only caters to the largest and lowest common denominator, with a resulting lack of diversity and creativity in programming. There's a long history, especially among rock bands, of acts with huge followings that you never hear on the radio (Pantera, Iron Maiden, Phish, etc.). How can programmers > appeal to a wide audience without giving up relevance and stifling creativity?

JA: That's where the internet and HDRadio come in. As I said, radio right now remains a mass medium and we would be foolish to do anything to decrease the size of that audience by trying to narrow-cast or niche ourselves too much. When you reach 95% of the population every week, that does carry with it to serve as much as you can all of those people and so the only way to do that is to understand the universal and relatable common denominators which bring people together and don't separate them. If we cater too much to one small subsegment of our audience, we're going to make the size of our current audience go down and since advertisers look to us to bring them as many listeners as possible for the dollars they spend with us, of course everyone wants to reach the largest potential audience we can.

However, now we have HDRadio and streaming media emerging and as those technologies reach more people (at the present their reach is tiny, compared to analog radio's), we'll HAVE to develop creative new products of all sorts which aggregate more small communities within the reach of our mother ships.

DW: The way things are going it seems like one day soon we'll just have the Internet, sort of like the Telescreen in Orwell's "1984", and all the old media will be gone. What do you see as the future of radio?

JA: There is some truth in that. But, that won't happen until wireless broadband is available to 100% of the population. Of course, we are moving slowly in that direction. However, every household in North America has on average three or more radios. That's more than a billion radios just in America. And, they are built into many non-disposable things people use every day, their alarm clocks, their vehicles, home intercoms, even many of their portable media players.

It's going to take a long time before people throw away those radios which provide entertainment, lots of choice of their favorite audio and all for FREE.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Good Idea, Kenny Chesney!

Image Neil Haislop reports Chesney wanted to do something special for the folks where he now resides. Looking around the area where he lives south of town, he realized he wanted to do something for the working fans rather than Music Row who he knew would be taken care of - and so, the Shiftwork Section was born.

With tickets under $30, anyone who wanted to come when Chesney plays LP Field on July 5, could come. It was the kind of thing that has defined the songwriter’s rise from struggling hard country singer to the people's superstar.
“You look at the people in the Mini Mart, who're driving trucks or working in hospitals, and you realize, the money just doesn't go as far as it did a year ago,” Chesney admits softly. “I've always been about keeping the prices down, everyone knows that 'cause I want anyone who wants to be part of the party to be able and come out, especially here where I live.”

While details are being sorted, look for Chesney's “Shiftwork Sections,” in several markets on his Corona Extra sponsored Poets & Pirates 2008 Tour. With a universal price of $29.50, it's all about giving people a little play in their day, having some fun and hearing some great music from varying line-ups of artists who include Keith Urban, Sammy Hagar, Brooks & Dunn, LeAnn Rimes, Gary Allan, Luke Bryan and whoever else happens to show up, as is often the case when Kenny hits the road.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Watts and Wats

Thanks to my ole bud Sirius and CRB's Scott Lindy for tossing me a few softballs last week at CRS.

Good for a laugh, these videos shown during the Country Radio Seminar's New Faces Show (totally unrehearsed and VERY funny...), thanks to the hilarious Lindy (and the fact that he didn't make me look TOO dumb).

Need more info? Wiki: Wat and Watt

Monday, March 17, 2008

Blake Shelton Campaigns For A CMT Video Award

Blake's video, "The More I Drink" is up for the Comedy Video of the Year award, and this You Tube video also shows his funny side (or is that his desperate side?)

The State Of (News) Media

Columbia University's annual journalism/media study update shows radio still very strong with reach down only about a percentage point but the financial future unclear:
"Simply put, the concept of mass media has ended. It is less clear what will replace it and how advertising will play a role. What was once a matter of big media companies handing out content when and where it was most advantageous has morphed into a lengthy menu of à la carte options, with consumers deciding when, where and how they see, hear or read their selections. For users of media, this opening of the floodgates may well create information and entertainment nirvana. But, for advertisers, what was once the fairly easy job of planning and buying across a handful of options has turned into a Rubik’s Cube of twisting and turning possibilities... News remains an important part of what was once simply called radio. In many ways, indeed, the tradition of listening to the news — aural transmission is the original way people got news — is among the most enduring. But the radio business is undergoing no less of a revolution than any other part of media. The audience is fragmenting across new listening platforms. The revenue models are unclear, and which technology will emerge is uncertain."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Carrie Underwood To Join The Grand Ole Opry

Underwood will become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry after she was invited Saturday to join the long-running country music show. Randy Travis extended the invitation as Underwood finished "I Told You So," a Travis song that Underwood recorded on her latest album. Her official induction will be May 10.

The former "American Idol" winner sold 7 million copies of her debut album "Some Hearts" and shot to superstardom almost overnight with hits including "Before He Cheats" and "Jesus, Take the Wheel." Her follow-up album, "Carnival Ride," came out last fall and has produced two No. 1s: "So Small" and her current single "All-American Girl."

Underwood said backstage that the invitation was a complete surprise. "I felt like I just won something amazing all over again," she said. "The Opry has meant so much to me growing up, seeing people perform and wanting to do that."

Underwood, 25, becomes the latest young hitmaker to become an Opry member in recent years, joining Brad Paisley, Josh Turner and Dierks Bentley.

"Carrie has a heartfelt connection to what the Opry stands for," General Manager Pete Fisher said. "She shares the values we espouse at the Opry."

The Opry, established in 1925, is the longest continuously running radio show in the country. Legends such as Hank Williams Sr. and Patsy Cline were once members of the cast, and contemporary stars including Alan Jackson and Martina McBride are part of today's show, which airs every Friday and Saturday night on WSM-AM. Opry management says artists are invited to join based on their commitment to the show, as measured by the frequency of their guest appearances, and their overall contribution to country music.

"From Housewife And Mother To Budding Country Star": AP Profiles Ashton Shepherd

Country singers often joke that they're a "10-year-overnight success" because no one really makes it in this business overnight, but some have a faster route to success than others.

About two years ago, Ashton Shepherd was a young housewife and mother from south Alabama who wrote songs and sang them in her backyard shed. The extent of her professional experience was playing bars in a makeshift band with her husband, Roland, and brother-in-law, Adam Cunningham; Shepherd and Roland both played guitar, while Adam played bass.

She won a talent contest and recorded a three-song demo that by fluke landed her an audition with Luke Lewis, chairman of Universal Music Group Nashville, in January 2007.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Where It's All Going

NPR's Fresh Air from WHYY took 25 minutes on March 13 to talk Digital media — including MP3 players, peer-to-peer networks, music websites, and how they are changing how we discover, listen to and share music.

Click to listen to writer Eliot Van Buskirk
discuss the new, digital landscape of music, and the resulting changes in the music industry. His outlook for radio hurts to hear, but if as I do you tend to agree with most of his other prognostications you have to take the critical look at our business model seriously too.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Big Research Update: Practicality is HOT, Cashmere Mafia is NOT

Please Mr. Postmanthree-quarters of consumers are waiting for government rebate checks to hit their mailboxes this spring, making the Stimulus Package what’s hot this month.

Additionally, consumers find downloading music (69.6%) trendier than buying CDs (37.4%).

March Madness is sporting for the majority of men, while women agree that yellow is IN for this season’s clothing and accessories.

What’s Not? When it comes to TV shows about career women in NYC, viewers would prefer to put a hit out on Cashmere Mafia and brave the Lipstick Jungle.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It May Be An Election Year, But Celebrities Still Top Politicans As Buzz Topics

Top News and Media Content Search Terms (week ending 02/23/08)

News & Media category

Print category

Lunar Eclispe

Jennifer Lopez

Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan

Jennifer Lopez

Lunar Eclipse


Flat Belly Diet

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Dancing With The Stars


Giant Sea Spiders

Dancing With The Stars

American Idol

Jody Tagaris


Lindsay Lohan Marilyn Monroe

Nevada Earthquake

American Idol

Source: Hitwise sample of 10 million users, March 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's Almost A Wrap On "Beer For My Horses"

Primary photography for Toby Keith's film, "Beer For My Horses," is set to wrap up March 15th. Toby has been working his cinematic tail off since he appears in nearly every major scene of the film. Word is that it's Toby's best work as an actor, and screenwriter with the scenes are coming off as funny as he and Rodney Carrington wrote them to be.

Co-stars Tom Skerritt and Claire Forlani have remarked that they're "completely impressed with Toby's acting and script," say he's "great." Funny man, Carrington, is getting high marks for his comedic acting, as well.

The only downside to the filming in New Mexico is that it's been freezing weather for the past few days.

Written by Neil Haislop

Sunday, March 09, 2008

From "NO Videos" To "Show Us Your Videos"

Remember when concert venues prohibited videos and photos at music events as a result of copyright riders in standard star artist contracts?

Thanks to cell phones, those days are long gone, of course.

Leave it to Starstruck to be the first to make the most of today's reality.

Friday, March 07, 2008

What Happens To ARB In December?

Q: Why is it that AC does so well each December, and why did it do especially well in Fall of 2007?

A: The key to doing well in ratings 11 months a year is listening at work. In diaries, on average, almost 75% of all average quarter hours (and in the PPM in spite of cumes literally doubling, it’s still 50%) come from P-1 heavy users, the people who listen for 100 quarter hours a week or even more. Thus, under normal circumstances, the secret to doing well for country radio is targeting 25-54 non-ethnic individuals who work full time, at least 35 hours a week. Fulltime employed men are the heaviest users of radio. Women who are not employed full time tend to watch TV during the daytime hours and as a result listen to a lot less radio than the average radio user. Given these realities, a successful AC station must get at least 60% of its average quarter hours from ‘at work’ listening. A country station’s ideal profile is 33% of its AQH from at work, 33% from in car and 33% at home and other places. Then, comes the three weeks before Christmas and many listeners take time off work. So, the place where the majority of AQH comes from changes radically. Meanwhile, AC stations become the at home listening choice - especially for adult women - due to their solid Christmas music marketing and images.

That’s why, in PPM data, Arbitron has created a “13th month” which they call the Christmas book. AQH shares (which are of course a percentage of the available AQH audience) literally double for the solid Christmas music stations (B-101 in Philadelpha, for example, had a 25.2% share of adult listening the week before Christmas in the Philadelphia PPM data and then went right back to to 10 share the week after the Holiday).

As Arbitron's Gary Marince told the attendees at A&O's Pre-CRS client seminar, ".. the listening the Christmas stations pick up from the Country statiosn is in the form of 'occassions' and not a loss in cume or average time per occasion of listening."

No doubt, this is also the case in diaries as well, but due to monthly averaging, AC radio carries that December bump into the first two monthlies of the next quarter. It’s not because AC gets more listening in January and February as a result of the December at home AQH, it’s due to the monthly averages. In the face of this reality, to have a good fall book knowing that many of your listeners won’t be at work for a week or two of the survey period which makes it very hard if not impossible to keep your percentage of AQH from at work up to the levels you maintain the rest of the year, a country station needs to have an aggressive strategy to do as well as possible in the workplace during the first and second phases of the fall Arbitron survey and then play enough of your listeners’ favorite Christmas songs they can’t hear anywhere else while also balancing that with their favorite current, recurrent and power gold hits and encouraging the core to listen to you at home more than normal during those weeks away from their normal workplace. It’s a tricky balancing act because as research has shown for the last few years, about half of country’s heaviest users would love it if we played all Christmas music while the other half wouldn’t like that at all.

Next fall: get as many average quarter hours from at work as you can in the first nine weeks of the ARB survey period and then work to keep your partisans listening to you while they prepare for Christmas at home. Meanwhile, tell advertisers the Christmas book story and make sure they know that the distortions in the January and February rolling averages that make AC look stronger than it is are purely statistical and not real. The time to buy AC radio is the two or three weeks before Christmas, not in first quarter of the New Year.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

"How Does It Feel?"

For two hours Tuesday night, I went to heaven. Being inducted into the Country Radio Hall Of Fame, simply for doing what I love and have wanted to do for the last 50 years has to be called one of the highlights of my life.

It was especially gratifying to have three generations of my immediate family on hand to witness the love and affection shower on all five of us who were fortunate enough to be given the honor from the almost one thousand radio people and one thousand music business people gathered for the annual Country Radio Seminar at the Nashville Convention Center.

Now, as I walk the halls of the annual meeting, everyone is asking "How did it feel?" and of course the answer is "Reinforcing, wonderful. "

For a couple hours the other night I was given the opportunity to listen as folks said very kind things about me, my career and it was an amazing personal reminder of what a great people business this is in spite of all the negatives that seem to surround us in the daily blog posts.

Radio still reaches more than nine out of ten people over the age of 12 every single week and my fellow honorees Bob Robbins, Bill Cody, Mike Owens, Bobby Kraig, the CRS promotion and humanitarian award winners are a great reminder of the difference we make every day in the lives of our local communities.

I am lucky to have attended some 35 of the 39 Country Radio Seminars and even luckier to have had an employer either pay my way or at least give me the time off without having to take vacation time to do so for more than half of them. But, the other half have been at my own expense, sometimes even using personal vacation days, so I have little patience with people who tell me they can't come to CRS to better themselves personally just because their employer won't pay for it.

As a result of attending this "annual class reunion" of the best and the smartest in the country radio and music business, I have received considerably more back from the cost in money and time than I put in. This is a wonderful community, as I discovered again this week.

If your company doesn't have the budget for a CRS registration, pay for it yourself (the 2009 meeting is only 51 weeks away). You'll learn, you'll meet artists and you'll build great relationships with an extended family that will remain a part of your life for decades. It's a wonderful, supportive community, and it's constantly inviting you to join it. Do it, even if you have to pay for it yourself and take time off to attend annually. I am living proof of what happens when you do that.

So, how does it feel?

Simply great.

I strongly recommend the experience to you too.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Why An Index Of 80 Or 90 Isn't Good Enough

While it's good to hear that ARB's Pierre Bouvard is back from his vacation fully-refreshed and enthusiastic for the radio ratings giant's sample improvement goals for the coming year (according to Inside Radio): “2008 is the year of 25-34s.”

After suffering through last Summer’s sagging PPM in-tab rates, IR's Frank Saxe reports he got a phone call from Bouvard yesterday, touring that Arbitron is increasingly confident it has solved the problem of how to hit 18-34 targets. Its performance among adults has been steadily improving, taking its biggest steps forward in recent months due to a focus on the 18-24 demo. It’s an effort that’s included higher sampling rates, richer incentives and more interaction between the company and its panelists.

Arbitron president of sales and marketing Pierre Bouvard says “We’re not done, but we have made a lot of progress in four months.” An upgrade to Arbitron’s software allows its research team to begin honing-in on the next target. Bouvard says “We said we were going to go on a jihad on 18-24s and we did. Now it’s onward an upwards -— 2008 is going to be the year of the 25-34s.”

Since last month they’ve done that by applying many of the same strategies and techniques used on 18-24s. Arbitron’s four-month focus on 18-24s has led to a 13% improvement in that Philadelphia demo — and it’s up 113% over one year ago. Bouvard says “It’s nothing short of spectacular. I’m feeling very good about how the panels are shaping up.”

Here's the problem: as you look at day-by-day, hour by hour and even minute by minute data in PPM, the sample is often four times as big as the daypart, day and even diary page sample. That's because so many diarykeepers 'forget' to write down at least half of their actual listening. The laws of statistical replication state that in order to double the accuracy of a probability sample, you must quadruple the sample size, so in one sense the minute by minute cume a daypart in PPM could potentially be more accurate even than weekly daypart data in the diary, which may be why it looks so reasonable and often passes "the gut test" (does it look believable?). ARB's PPM advocate John Snyder has been making this claim lately. He's a very smart guy, who makes very convincing Power Point slide shows.

However, the total panel sample is actually smaller than the random diary sample (to save money, of course) and a panel sample isn't exactly random either. Just because something looks 'right' most of the time doesn't mean that scientifically, statistically it is so.

I am hoping that ARB decides to start guaranteeing 100% of their targets for both PPM and diary markets in this year of the 25-34. No less than 100% accuracy is acceptable at a time when radio needs to convince advertisers that we are worth 100% of the money they spend on us, not 80 ot 90%.

World Trade Center Steel Goes To Sea, Thanks to CDB

Charlie Daniels performed during the christening ceremonies for the USS New York at Northrop Grumman shipyard in Avondale, LA., Saturday, March 1, 2008.

Approximately 7.5 tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center are cast in the bow stem of the ship. The bow stem is the foremost section of the ship's hull on the water line. The New York will be officially commissioned in New York City in the fall of 2009.

Christy Walker-Watkins - AristoMedia - 615-269-7071 ext. 124 -
Paula Szeigis - Management - Charlie Daniels Band - 615-443-2112 ext. 123 -

Monday, March 03, 2008

Why We Shot Down That Satellite

Nashville songwriter Thom Schuyler hasn't blogged for about a year, but his fertile mind is back in action and his first post in too long a time is well worth a read: One Citizen's Conjecture

Meanwhile, if you want to nominate some things you hope were NOT in there, email me.

.. For example: the solution to ARB's PPM and diary sample placement woes?