Thursday, October 30, 2008

Listening, Watching, Interacting

Set aside some time between 5:00 am and 10:00 am, Arizona time, and ask yourself if you have the content and personality to be as 360-degree engaging as KNIX, Phoenix's Ben and Matt are (click, to WATCH, LISTEN and ENGAGE them). If you're thinking that the future is about just putting a webcam in your studio, it's time to play a bit of catch up, eh?

How Much Time Should You Put Into Anything?

The Network Solutions conference in London was about social networking, so that's what these very smart folks are focusing on (click to watch the video montage). BUT, it's really about everything you are asked to do.

Time management tip: "Are you getting more out of it than you put into it?"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

C D = clearly deceased

Country Aircheck this week asserts: The CD, our panel agrees, is sliding toward obsolescence. Weekly country sales figures have dipped below 400,000 units for 23 of this year’s 42 weeks, a low only experienced in four previous weeks – all in 2007.

“In fairness, we experienced a longer tail than other genres, but finally everyone gets to the finish line, and we’re there.” -- UMG/Nashville EVP/Sales, Marketing & New Media Ben Kline.

Arbitron, Media Audit and BBM estimates would indicate that there are roughly 41 million 18+ adults across North America who listen to country music radio for at least five minutes (weekly cume) in an average week.

Extrapolating those audience figures and the dismal Soundscan sales, it’s possible to make the assumption that the average country radio station has less than one percent (.098%) of its weekly audience buying a CD in a store this week.

It’s time to stop calling them “CD’s” and begin referring to the music we play as “songs.” Why should any air personality, other than offering some charity to our dying friends, ever bother to talk about “the latest from” or a new album being "available in stores?"

I’m a big believer in “selling” the music, if that means relating to each song and artist in a passionate way, as if you love it as much as the listener does. But, please reassess the words you're using. Old habits die hard, but you may be trying to sound “in,” but actually sending the message that you are - like the CD - a has-been.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What's going on with country, this Summer book?

Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor is asking around:
"It's not universal, but it appears that many country stations were notably soft in the Summer numbers. #1, is that how you see it, or am I skewed? #2, if that's the situation, what's going on? And let me know if you're on or off the record, if you're minded to respond."

Here are my best guesses:

1. So far, it appears that the average country station is off 6.2% 12+ from last summer but of course country does better in the smaller continuous measurement markets which are less ethnically diverse so we'll hopefully start to do at least a little bit better as the final Maximiser and PD Advantage data for summer books comes out today for Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville, Huntsville, Spokane and West Palm Beach (so we can add them to the month to month extraps). I have my fingers crossed since country has to have a good 25-54 non-ethnic sample to get a reliable representation of the country core and those four are all traditional country strongholds, but most likely those final ones won't change the stats very much.

2. Summer is almost always country's worst book of the year, since it and winter are metro only, which can mean that samples tend to center in the city areas compared to spring and fall which have TSA sample too and thus often represent the exurban suburbs where the country audience tends to live. As ethnic populations grow in more and more cities, country's highly non-ethnic audience is becoming a smaller proportion of the total population of course, which I'd guess is the primary driver of the trend. However, something is going on with ARB's summer sample as well, since in the extrapolated month to month 25-54 share trends of the country stations out thus far in summer 08, August was the worst month of the three. July's extrapolated 25-54 share was 4% above the summer book 25-54 average quarter hour share and September was 15% above it. i.e., if most country stations had the share for the summer book they, on average, had in an extrapolated September month only, they would have been up 7.4% from summer '07.

3. It may be cell phone only households up this year combined with summer family vacations in mid-summer combined with more teens and 18-24's diluting at work listening or a combination of the three.

4. Finally, it also has to be said that average TSL to their favorite country station by heavy users is down almost everywhere and I theorize that perhaps a bit of sameness may be setting in in our music as well. Country's superstars remain, by and large, the same group of six to eight folks that we've been playing once an hour or more since the early 1990s, with only a small number of exceptions.

What's your theory? I am sure Taylor would love to hear from you too. Last summer was also down from spring and then country bounced back to the second best book of the past year in the fall. I'm hoping that's what we'll see again, though it would be very nice to figure out what to do about summer and fall, wouldn't it?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

We Need A Little Christmas Right Now

The Holiday Season this year is going to be difficult.

We are so fortunate in the radio business that we touch people intimately, personally and are in a position to make a positive difference in their lives every day.

Please take 20 minutes and watch this video (click to view and listen. You will want to watch it again and again!) from Bill Moyers Journal with Mark Johnson, the producer of a remarkable documentary about the simple but transformative power of music.

Start brainstorming now. What more could YOU and YOUR STATION do - to bring people together in our local communities during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and November-December Holidays to "inspire each other" and "make a difference together?"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

They Have More Than Earned The Right To Release Their Greatest Hits (BUT..)

After spending more than twenty-five weeks at the top of the radio charts and selling more than 17 million albums while aggressively touring at the same time, Rascal Flatts, will release its first ever greatest hits collection on Tuesday, October 28. Early shipments include three limited edition Christmas standards

Greatest Hits Volume 1 gives fans a look back at thirteen of the band’s biggest hits and chronicles Rascal Flatts’s rise as the biggest selling country band of the decade. The project highlights the band's best songs that have made them the CMA, ACM, CMT and AMA reigning Group of the Year for several years running.

Early shipments of the band’s Greatest Hits Volume 1 will deliver something cool for the Rascal Flatts fan. It will come packaged in a foil embossed 2-disc package that contains not only thirteen singles but also three newly recorded Christmas songs as bonus tracks – the holiday classic “White Christmas,” “Jingle Bell Rock” and an a capella version of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”

Prayin' For Daylight
I'm Movin' On
These Days
I Melt
Feels Like Today
Bless The Broken Road
Fast Cars And Freedom
Skin (Sarabeth)
My Wish
What Hurts The Most
Life Is A Highway

White Christmas
Jingle Bell Rock
I'll Be Home For Christmas

Sadly, there's nothing new on this LP other than the bonus Holiday tracks. Hopefully, since "Here" has already been out for seven weeks and isn't on this collection, they'll have some new music for us early in 2009.

Country's core listeners and Rascal Flatts fans need as much fresh, new music and artists as possible, to keep all of our careers vital and growing (now that we know that none of us who still have jobs is retiring anytime soon!)...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

KUPL, Portland, Just Passed “The Brand Test” (I Hope You Never Have To Take)

During the winter of 2008, KUPL was ranked #3 12+ and was the market’s top country station by a 4.5-3.5 margin. Then, in the spring book, KUPL slipped to #5 overall with a 4.7 share and in the just-released Summer ARB survey, KUPL dipped again to #7 overall, with a 4.3 share.

What happened?

Part of the story, of course, is that GM Dave McDonald, PD John Paul and his scrappy and talented CBS Radio/Portland team face an equally competitive Entercom team at 99.5 KWJJ, The Wolf. The two stations have been in one another’s faces for many years in a very healthy battle for leadership. Thus, I don’t want to take anything away from GM Jack Hutchison, PD Mike Moore and their crew who put points on the board during the last two ARB surveys, picking up the share points KUPL lost.

But, here’s the rest of the story.

CBS/Portland stations have been building a new taller tower right next to their current array and the construction started in May. As a result, KUPL has had to broadcast at half power from May (the last five weeks of the spring ARB survey period) until September (the first few weeks of fall).

Immediately, listeners in several of the hottest country counties in a Portland metro started calling KUPL to report that they could no longer receive the station, and it was small comfort to KUPL people to have to tell the callers that sometime in early 2009 the station’s signal would be much improved, better than ever before, and their inability to receive it now was the price of that long term gain.

Paul reports, “Our streaming numbers have been HUGE the last few months! That means listeners have chosen to listen online and not totally leave us for The Wolf. They like what we are doing.”

Now, there’s a new way to grow your streaming audience. Take any other source of your station away from them and hope they find you online. Actually, it wasn’t quite that bad, since KUPL was still fairly listenable in car in most metro locations, but still weaker than KWJJ. Inside buildings in about half he metro, the only FM choice was KWJJ and their growth demonstrates that, as they ranked #1 in the summer survey after a 3.5-5.5-5.7 three-book trend.

KUPL’s PD actually breathed a sign of relief at their shares and rank, which remains in the top ten (slipping from #3 to #5 in the spring and #7 now with shares slipping only fractionally during the three survey periods): “While it’s ugly, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be given the signal deficit we experienced for more than four months. We actually beat the Wolf in September. Not bad for being at ½ power. I really think people like what KUPL is doing right now.”

Finally, KUPL is back to full power, though not yet on the taller tower, so the battle is back, at least, to the way it was before the construction started, pretty much equal, and signal-to-signal.

The next test of the brand power of KUPL will be how long it takes listeners to return to pre-construction-project levels, or will they?

One hopeful sign is the fact that obviously some KUPL partisans in the parts of the metro area where they simply were unable to receive 98.7 FM during May, June, June, August and September chose to write the station down in their diaries anyway.

The next few monthly trends in Portland will be fascinating to watch, to see if that KUPL residual brand depth translates into an immediate return to pre-construction share levels at the top of the rankers or if 99.5 The Wolf has had enough time to convert those months of "no other choice trial" into loyalty.

I’m betting that it won’t take long for KUPL and KWJJ to be back locked into a fight as tight as in the past now that KUPL’s signal strength is what it was prior to the middle of the spring ARB.

If I’m right, that will be proof that KUPL’s entire staff can brag that their brand has been tested and proven very strong indeed, something they can all be very proud of.

PS: ARB reports that Portland’s PPM panel is 79% completed at this moment, on track to be in use “Pre-currency” in exactly one year from now, the first Pre-currency report to be delivered in December 2009, with the final Portland ARB diary survey to be released in summer 2009.

Of this you can be sure: the PPM trends will not be so kind to heritage brands, when it’s all about usage, weekly trends and monthly surveys.

If you have any plans to “test” your brand strength by reducing your coverage area, I’d recommend – based on KUPL’s experience in the spring and Summer 2008 ARB surveys – doing it while diaries, not meters, are rating you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Faith Hill Is (Really) In "Shape"

Hill opened up to Shape Magazine this holiday season about how daily rituals and family traditions help keep her healthy, and centered and also sings the praises of exercise.

She looks simply GREAT (...and I'll leave it to the more catty bloggers to explore how much retouch work "Shape" compared to "Redbook" decided to do).

Trust me: if I'm ever a cover girl, there's going to be LOTS and LOTS of touching up to do.

Keith Urban Goes To Wal-Mart

Keith will release his new "Love, Pain and the whole crazy World Tour" live DVD, exclusively at all Wal-Mart stores, including Sam's Club and on, on November 11th. The DVD includes Keith performing eighteen full songs in concert from his "Love, Pain and the whole crazy World Tour." Fans can relive the electrifying concert experience and recall some favorite jaw-dropping moments, including his unexpected mid-song crowd visits during which he would sign and give away the guitar he was playing at the time.

Praise was unanimous for the "musically tight, visually stunning, and expertly conceived" show as "Love, Pain and the whole crazy World Tour" wowed over a million fans around the world. Performing 150 shows in six countries and three continents, Keith delivered constant surprises and made it a point to engage even the farthest seated fans. Throughout the tour, fans never left disappointed, and learned to expect the unexpected from the artist that is "unparalleled when it comes to melding country with rock."

The live DVD also includes bonus footage; exclusive outtakes, in-studio footage of Keith re-recording his recent #1 hit "You Look Good In My Shirt," as well as exclusive photographs.

Keith is currently recording in Nashville readying a new offering for '09. The first single is set to hit radio airwaves in early November.

"Love, Pain and the whole crazy World Tour" Live DVD Track Listing:

1. Once In A Lifetime
2. Where The Blacktop Ends
3. Shine
4. Raining On Sunday
5. Stupid Boy
6. Used To The Pain
7. You're My Better Half
8. Making Memories Of Us
9. You'll Think Of Me
10. I Told You So
11. Days Go By
12. You Look Good In My Shirt
13. Tonight I Wanna Cry
14. Who Wouldn't Wanna Be Me
15. Somebody Like You
16. Got It Right This Time (The Celebration)
17. Better Life
18. Everybody

Monday, October 20, 2008

Can Edmonton Handle Five More New Radio Stations?

Canada's Radio and Television Commission last week approved Harvard's application for an Alternative Rock/Pop station for Edmonton, which also gets a new station from CTVglobemedia who already own/operate The Bounce. Meanwhile, Rawlco's application for a new AC/Hit music station and also John Yerxa's application for variety music format targeted to 12-34 year-olds (a very innovative social network-driven concept, really worth watching I think) were also given a go-ahead.

That will make, as I count it, at least 20 radio stations competing for pieces of the Edmonton radio revenue pie in what's looking like it's going to be a very tough economy.

Canadians, of course, do make a business of studying the U.S. and trying to avoid mistakes made below the 49th parallel, so you can certainly look at markets like Boise and Salt Lake City, probably the most competitive in the world, and conclude that more stations are possible.

Meanwhile, Red Deer also gets two new stations: a new CHR proposed by L.A. Radio Group and a new AC station to be built by Harvard.

Canadian radio has been growing at a clip of 6-7% per year for the last few years, so the pie has been growing - espcially in Alberta, but just because western cities are many miles and kilometers apart - and thus it's possible to drop in more and more signals - doesn't make it a sensible short or medium-term investment.

Long-term, these of course are absolutely very rapid-growth cities, but let's hope these new Alberta owners have deep pockets to help them get from here to there.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Social Media In Plain English

I finally noticed this great video on Daniel Anstandig's blog from last June, which means I need to remember to check my 'favorites' more often!

Also from Anstandig in Radio Ink:

1. You should have MySpace, Facebook (Classmates and Twitter too, if possible, I would add) pages for your radio station.

2. The messaging on your social network pages should be consistent with the information and marketing on your station's website.

3. Do not link from your station's website to MySpace or Facebook, but do link from MySpace and Facebook back to your station's site. The reason: you have no control over the advertising or portions of the content on the social networking pages. However, there are many benefits to participating in these social networks.

4. You can use hundreds of free applications to build a network for your station, including a business-card application, testimonials and discussion forums in which listeners can communicate.

5. Browse your market by zip code, age and gender. Invite people in your target demo to join your social network. At worst, you'll run into people who already know the radio station and raise their level of awareness about your product. Even better, you'll introduce your station to new listeners. Best, you'll encourage existing listeners to invite their friends to your social network.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

CMT Distributes Chevy's 5th Annual Country Music Calendar This Year

It features new artist of the year nominees Jason Aldean, Rodney Atkins (pictured), Lady Antebellum and James Otto as well as Heidi Newfield, Rissi Palmer, Joe Nichols, Chuck Wicks, Jypsi, Phil Stacey and NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The calendars will also be available at multiple Chevy-sponsored events in conjunction with this year's CMA Awards show to be broadcast live by ABC on Nov. 12. Shot in locations throughout the nation, the 2009 calendar will be distributed via four national magazines -- NASCAR Illustrated, Progressive Farmer, Country Weekly and People -- to reach more than 2 million subscribers beginning Nov. 23.

For the first year, a digital version of the calendar will also be available online at

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lured By Sammy Simpson's Great Ideas

Like these: People are brought together through a variety of shared interests through social-networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Bebo, Facebook, and Myspace. Such sites promote the person and the relationships they have with friends who are connected with them.

Some people have hundreds, even thousands of connections linked to them. However, experts believe that about 150 “friends” is as far as our capacities can take us. Gen Y research has shown that 1 in 5 even say they have "best friends" through these sites which they have never met!

Solicit listeners with 150 friends or more to participate in a Social NetWORTH contest/promotion.

Have them make you a friend for their page, so you can view all of their connections. Randomly choose someone from their list and put the two "friends" together on the phone.

Now, have them participate in a "How well do you know me?" quiz. For each answer the friend can answer, they win cash or a prize.

Visit for some questions to use to determine their true Social NetWORTH (Share this idea with a friend and encourage them to join I just did, with YOU!)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

(Still) More Ingredients Of A Great Country Radio Station (III)

My first and second nomination lists of things I love hearing on country's perennial award-winners, have stimulated even more:

* At the start of each hour of the morning show (5:59 and 6:59), they immediately promote to 6:20 and 7:20 am with a specific reason to listen an extra quarter hour.

* At 7:50, they do a powerful, compelling, content-driven, listener-relevant reason to take the station to work.

* They establish strong 'reason to listen' benchmarks in the 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm hours with fixed-time appointments to listen regularly, featuring powerful pay-offs to heavy users of the station. These are reinforced both on the air and in interactive media, online and text.

* They don't rely on radio-talk crutches like double time sells (analog and digital), say (time) "now," (temp) "outside," or use back announce audience-losers like "before that, we started off with, the latest from." PPM is powerfully demonstrating that radio "announcers" have conditioned listeners that commercials are coming and it's time to tune out unless the voice is a unique character the listener considers a "brand," who engages in emotion-sharing and story-telling first and foremost, with something important to say.

* No mixed messages, cynical attitude, dirty stuff. Funny, entertaining, bright, warm, friendly attitude.

So, what ARE you hearing right now that you like?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Compact Disc Recycling Center of America

Bruce Bennett:

Each year, billions of CDs and DVDs are manufactured, while millions of these discs end up in landfills and incinerators.

If you use, sell, promote, distribute, or manufacture compact discs, it is your responsibility to promote how to recycle them.

Compacts Discs, when recycled properly, will stop unnecessary pollution, conserve natural resources, and help slow global warming.

Spread the word to help us save the world we all live in.

Start recycling now

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Listeners Are Glued To Campaign News

(click on the image to enlarge it)

Pew: Public interest in news about the presidential campaign reached a new high last week, though the national news was dominated by coverage of the faltering economy. Fully 57% of the public followed news about the election very closely and another 31% followed developments fairly closely. About a month before Election Day, interest in campaign news is higher now than it has been in previous years in the final days before the election.

If you're wondering how to talk about it without taking sides, how about asking your listeners whether they think the press has been fair to all sides? (Strong majorities of the public say the press has been fair to John McCain, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. But fewer than four-in-ten (38%) say the press has been fair to Sarah Palin.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

(More) Ingredients Of A Great Country Radio Station (II)

Now that you have my first recipe items in your mixing bowl and have stirred well, add some others you'll hear on country's perennial award-winners:

* They use several funny, informative, entertaining prep services, but LOCALIZE everything. The very best stations, out-of-towners don't immediately 'get' everything, but local people do, immediately.

* Name the morning show something out of the ordinary, reflecting its character. Benchmark all service elements too: Timesaver, Highway Patrol Traffic, Doppler Radar weather, etc, etc, etc.

* Production. Morning show jingles in addition to 24/7 cinematic/brief stationality positioners. Lots of music hooks, listener voices, artists, jingle elements and sound effects, to keep momentum moving. They don't artificially limit length of anything, but keep it high energy and self-edit to one fully developed punch line per set/element. Produced intros (short and a BIG variety of them) on everything. Production inside news: intro, punctuators before spot, weather and traffic sounders.

* Involvement. Many listeners on the phone. At least one such phone bit per quarter hour, tightly edited to conveying a feeling about an artist, a song, using the station.

What's in your programming wallet? What else needs to be in the formula?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Boot: Country's Countriest Lyrics

Brian Mansfield's picks:

#1: "In the summer time, we didn't have shoes to wear, but in the winter time, we'd all get a brand new pair/From a mail-order catalog, money made from selling a hog/Daddy always managed to get the money from somewhere" --'Coal Miner's Daughter,' Loretta Lynn (1970)

#2: "You can't starve us out and you can't make us run/'Cause one of them old boys raise old shotgun/And we say grace, and we say, 'Ma'am,' and if you ain't into that, we don't give a damn" --'A Country Boy Can Survive,' Hank Williams Jr. (1982)

#3: "Some people look down on me, but I don't give a rip/I'll stand barefooted in my own front yard with a baby on my hip" --'Redneck Woman,' Gretchen Wilson (2004)

#4: "Well, you can see the neighbor's butt crack nailing on his shingles/And his woman's smokin' Pall Malls watching Laura Ingalls" --'Hicktown,' Jason Aldean (2005)

#5: "Down by the river on a Friday night/A pyramid of cans in the pale moonlight/Talking 'bout cars and dreaming 'bout women/Never had a plan, just a-livin' for the minute" --'Chattahoochee,' Alan Jackson (1993)

Country Weekly: Kelly Pickler On Boys; John Michael Montgomery On Rehab

Pickler opens up about taking control of her music, her new album and the good times ahead.
“I was involved through the whole process. There’s not a song on the album that I’m not in love with.”
Kellie wrote one of the tunes, “Best Days of Your Life,” with her friend Taylor Swift. “I went through a rough patch with a boy I used to date,” she tells Country Weekly. “I was venting to Taylor about it. The best therapy for both of us is songwriting, so that’s what we did.” Kellie adds that her goal is to keep sharing her heartfelt music. “I’m finally happy with myself and loving life,” she says. “I just hope that I’m able to continue doing this forever.”

After battling a series of professional challenges, John Michael shares his inspiring story of hope, speaking about his stint in a Nashville rehab center this past year, saying that,
“I learned so much. I got tools that I never had before.”
He is now talking about his experiences to help other people in need. “It makes you feel like you’ve still got hope when you’ve got other people who are willing to give you another chance,” he says.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

It's The Economy (And, We All Feel Stupid)

Big Research: Consumers opt for the trick over treat for October’s confidence readingthis month, those very confident/confident in chances for a strong economy drops nine points to 19.0%, erasing gains of almost five points per month in August (23.6%) and September (28.3%). October’s teen reading represents a 25+ drop from one year ago (44.8%) and, heading into a critical holiday season, the first September-to-October decline in confidence since 2004 (which saw a relatively inconsequential 45.6% to 44.3% decrease that rebounded in November).

Wisdom of the sages:

"You can't talk yourself out of a problem that you behaved yourself into"

- Dr. Daniel Gross: Director of the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels, on KCRW's "To The Point" today.

And, yes, there is a lighter side too.

What's HOT? With the historic Presidential election on the horizon, more than eight in ten (84.0%) consumers agree…registering to vote is what’s hot this month. Also on the election front, Sarah Palin bests Joe Biden in the “popular” vote for next VP. It’s renting movies over going to the theater, and bold necklaces are making a statement with women, while the MLB playoffs are a hit with men.

What’s Not? Unless you’re a lumberjack by trade, it’s best to keep your flannel behind closed closet doors.

Before You Open The Mic, Give This Some Thought...

"People aren't all that interested in what the talking heads have to say. Instead, they want to participate, control the content and communicate with each other."
-- Alan Levy, CEO, BlogTalkRadio, on Edison Research's "Future Of Webcasting" webinar

Boomers were the 'me' generation.
Gen X'ers are the 'us' generation.
Gen Y is the engagement ("you") generation.

What's your pronoun?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Ingredients Of A Great Country Radio Station (Part One)

* A powerful, memorable brand.

* Very clear and simple positioning, such as: Today's Country; Country Favorites; Continuous Country; Classic Country; Real Country Variety (pick ONE); etc. The actual highly divisible music balance and flow in every ten minute time period delivers on it, proves it's true.

* Everybody has a fun-sounding, character-building nickname, including the weather personality. No nicknames for news people! Characters are defined by the local, relevant content they briefly convey.

* Two ongoing simultaneous contests which become famous, one to promote TSL (i.e. Double Your Paycheck, Triple Your Pay, Live Life Free, Count the Country Favorites) and one to promote cume (for example, Country Cruiser/Super Stickers, free donuts/coffee at remote location all morning until 9).

* Fewer, if any, 'newscasts.' Instead, lots of service elements - staff meteorologist, traffic reporter. Fresh story selection, avoiding the sense that "the same stories are repeated all morning". A good news teaser that SAYS this clearly: "coming up, stories we've haven't covered yet (headline)..."

What are you hearing right now that you like?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Imagine If They Covered Your Show Today Like This

Check out especially the debate time line! I'd hate to see a transcript of every DJ crutch and cliche I used today, with the precise time and number of times I said 'em!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Bentley Baby Alert

Dierks and wife, Cassidy, welcomed daughter Evalyn (Evie) Day Bentley into the world late Saturday night at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Evie weighed 7 lbs. 10oz. (His fan site had the news and the congrats this morning)

Will he really be back on the road and in Japan as scheduled on 10/19? I suppose a contract is a contract, but I hope this great guy and dedicated road warrior takes some quality time off after that gig and his schedule looks like that will be the case!

USA Today: Blondes take root in country music

Writer Brian Mansfield: "Time was, you couldn't be a country singer if you didn't have a cowboy hat. These days, though, the most reliable route to a Nashville record deal seems to be through a reality show. It also helps if you're a cute blonde."

I didn't conspire with WUSN's Marcy Braun, Music Row's David Ross or KKGO's Tonya Campos before talking to Mansfield last week (click to read the item), but I'd bet we all feel the same way:
"One label finds something that works, and every label now wants two of them."

The music biz, as with so much of our culture, tends to clone success, but being 'first in' in any category is a lot easier than being the second or - as with this week - tenth (!) one.

PS - Fascinating side note: not one female makes Billboard's list of top ten country recurrents this week.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Best Ads Of The Last Four Decades

New York Magazine is celebrating its 40th anniversary in the latest edition by listing many 'bests' that are fun and memorable. My personal fav: their picks for the best ads. There's a lesson in marketing, buzz, relevance and content in every one of them. Turn on your popup blocker before clicking, but watching these wonderful messages is well worth the time.

1. “Fast-Paced World”
Click to Watch
CLIENT: Federal Express
AGENCY: Ally & Gargano, 1981

2. “Big Fluffy Bun”
Click to Watch
CLIENT: Wendy’s
AGENCY: Dancer, Fitzgerald, Sample, 1984

3. “Mama Mia”
Click to Watch
CLIENT: Alka-Seltzer
AGENCY: Doyle Dane Bernbach, 1970

4. “Funeral”
Click to Watch
CLIENT: Volkswagen
AGENCY: Doyle Dane Bernbach, 1969

As New York's review of one of the best spots, American Tourister's 1970 'Gorilla,' says, great advertising: "...
engages, entertains, and sells.”

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Book I Love: If Your Work Sucks

Here are 10 things you can do right now to kick the habit of old-fashioned, time-based management and get your team focusing on results instead.

1. Make meetings optional.

Let people evaluate their need to participate. If they know they can make better use of their time (and the company’s time), then they should.

2. Stop judging how people spend their time.

Seemingly innocent little digs like “nice of you to join us” can hurt loyalty, engagement, and productivity. We refer to judgmental language like this as Sludge. (Having a term for it makes it easier to call people out on it.) You, and your employees, need to knock off comments like:

“Ten o’clock and just getting in?”

“Rita is in the lactation room again. I wish I had kids. I’d never have to work.”

“I can’t believe Toby got that promotion. He’s never here!”

3. Reward employees based on results, not on how much time they put in at the office.

Instead of saying, “James put in a lot of extra hours this month — good for James!” talk about what James actually contributed. What did he do for the company? Do not use any reference to time. Otherwise, your team will compete to “out-time” every else to get attention.

4. Don’t prescribe what work-life balance looks like for your employees.

“Well, you have a kid, so you’ll need to make sure they’re in day care when you’re home working, otherwise you won’t get anything done.”

“Wow, it’s 6:30 — you should really go home now and spend time with your family.”

It’s not up to you. It’s up to them.

5. Don’t handpick who gets to be flexible and who doesn’t.

In order to work a flexible, results-based program has to apply to everyone — and yes, that includes administrative assistants and new hires.

6. Stop managing by walking around.

Every time you “check in” on someone, they have to stop what they were doing, reorient their thinking to give you a spontaneous presentation, and then, once you leave, reorient themselves back to doing the work. Send them an e-mail instead.

7. Quit using fake crises as a management tool.

Dropping a last-minute request on your employees is the equivalent of a grade-school fire drill. It creates a false sense of urgency and wastes their time. Plan ahead instead of popping by with that “quick question” you should have asked a week ago.

8. Don’t think that you’re a great boss if during a snowstorm you “let” your people “leave early.”

Sending out an e-mail “letting” people take time off for a project well done or a snowstorm — or whatever — is another way to make people feel like children. It reinforces the fact that you have control over their time and they don’t. Let people make this decision themselves.

9. Stop relying on human resources to do the “people” part of your job — get clear about performance goals, communicate often, and hold people accountable.

You lose your credibility when you bring in HR to have the tough conversations. When your employees aren’t performing, talk to them. Find out why, and rather than focus on how hard they’re working or the amount of hours they’re putting in, focus on the work itself. What do they need to do to succeed?

10. Trust your people like you trust yourself.

Stop making rules for the few you’re afraid won’t live up to your expectations. Or rules that protect you from the incompetence of the few but hinder the performance of the many. Your goal is to make work as unlike grade school as possible.

Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson are the Founders of CultureRx and creators of the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE). Their first book, Why Work Sucks And How To Fix It, was released June, 2008 by Portfolio, a Penguin imprint. They have been featured on the cover of BusinessWeek, as well as in the New York Times, TIME Magazine, HR Magazine cover story, and on 60 Minutes and National Public Radio.