Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Radio Station Website That Changes Each Time You Go To It

I have lauded the work of PD Dave Beasing and the Bonneville/LA team with their very clean, uncluttered, state-of-the-art website in the past, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that they have innovated once again. Click to see the cover art from the album currently on the air and then click again to go deeper into the artist, the music and the station from there.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Brian Mansfield: Country's #1 Flat Broke Song

'Coat of Many Colors' by Dolly Parton (1971):
"Although we had no money, I was rich as I could be/In my coat of many colors my mama made for me." (When a girl proudly displays her new, multi-colored coat, lovingly sewn by her mother from donated rags, her classmates mock her poverty -- though, until that moment, she'd never considered herself poor.)

Click for many other (free) Mansfield-penned stories behind country's most enduring songs, by category (well worth the price and compiled by Jeff Green).

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A&O Pre-CRS Seminar '09 - At The Country Music Hall Of Fame

It has become a twenty-year tradition for A&O clients and friends, some of whom have been attending the "Pre-CRS Seminar" just before the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville for learning, research presentations, dialog on growing Country Music Radio, while sharing new music by emerging artists we're excited about since 1988.

Again this year A&O has reserved The Ford Theater at the Country Music Hall Of Fame on March 3, 2009 from Noon to 5 pm. Be watching in early January for news of our agenda and your chance to RSVP. For now, all you need to do is put the date on your calendar and plan to arrive in Nashville for the 40th Annual Country Radio Seminar and DJ/Radio Hall Of Fame dinner before noon on Tuesday, March 3. It will be an afternoon well spent.

“…And You Can QUOTE Me!”

Holland Cooke is a great role model for anyone who wants to write engagingly. Now, I know where he gets the skill. He's a quote-collector, and now he has started a blog for fellow-quote-lovers. In time, I'll bet there's a best-selling book in all of this, but for now, here's a great resource of profundity, fun and intelligence worth checking out.

A sample:

“Those other two guys flew here in their corporate jets. I just DROVE from Detroit to Washington…in a TOYOTA! And here’s what I learned…”

What-we-WISH-we-heard, from one of the humbled Big Three Automakers, when they appeared before Congress with tin cups. They’ll be back soon. Let’s see if any of ‘em figure it out by then. What would YOU like to hear…from anyone, anywhere?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Music Biz Quotes

"In a world of receding music sales, only the biggest hits can still move millions of units, and only a tiny group of superstars deliver such titles." Joe Nardone Jr. of the Gallery of Sound chain of record shops, says sales of non-superstars are declining the most and "the gap in between is just tremendous."

For his latest record, Paul McCartney "walked into the studio on 13 non-consecutive days with no material, and finished a track at each session, playing all the instruments," writes Jon Pareles in the New York Times (11/24/08).

Tammy Genovese says "there's no other genre of music that's pulled off what we have over the last 50 years," reports Barry Mazor in the Wall Street Journal (11/21/08). Tammy is the executive director of the Country Music Association (CMA), which was founded 50 years ago this month, at a time when country music wasn't cool. In 1958, country music was "a commercially endangered species during a pop and rock 'n' roll boom." At the time, "only 150 radio stations in the U.S. were playing country music," notes Mac Wiseman, a bluegrass artist himself, and a founder of the CMA. Today, country is heard on some 2,000 radio stations, and, earlier this month, a global audience of 34 million country fans tuned in to watch the CMA Awards on television. But country's popularity didn't happen by itself. It is a result of the CMA's efforts on a variety of levels.

David Browne, writing in the New Republic, argues that country music was "among the many losers" of the 2008 election (11/19/08). As "visual proof" of this, he offers the sight of Hank Williams Jr. (video here) and John Rich (video here) "trying, in vain, to rouse John McCain's admirers shortly before McCain officially threw in the towel." David feels the symbolism of these two country stars, from different generations, "looking testy yet powerless," says something about the sagging state of country music in America today. Then again, maybe Barack Obama will ask them to open for Bruce Springsteen at the inauguration. At a minimum, David suggests that country's star has fallen dramatically since the days of Ronald Reagan, "who embraced country music more wholeheartedly than any previous president." He also believes the link between country music and politics was reinforced by 9-11, "as a rash of country stars recorded pro-war singles." But now he thinks that, in an attempt to reach out to more people, country music has lost its way and has become "in essence, pop music." He singles out rising star Taylor Swift (video here), whose vocal style, he says, sounds more like Suzanne Vega than Reba McIntyre.

Browne's perspective appears to be rife with ignorance to me, since Reba, John Rich and Hank Jr., God love them all, are only being themselves, just as TK, Tim, Alabama, Garth, Waylon, Willie and Roy Clark among many others were at other times in the history of the country format. Traditionalists have been predicting the end of country for at least five decades each time country has embraced new sounds and stars or got a bit political going back to the polarity from Merle Haggard to Johnny Cash in the Post-Vietnam war 1970's.

What David sees as a weakness, I view as vitality and a strength. What do you think?

...With thanks to Tim Manners, author of the new book "Relevance" and the daily "Cool News" email blasts (free sign up)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What Makes It All Worthwhile

Brent Lane of WYCT (Cat Country 98.7), Pensacola's got decked up in a turkey suit yesterday, (click to watch it) and the heck what for?

"All Cat Country tonight on every newscast...," he brags.

Nice to see a guy whose priorities are in order! (smile)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Toby Keith And Stephen Colbert "Duet" To Christmas

Click here to get a preview, suitable for stealing for some silly Holiday imaging drops (with credit of course), of the very funny TK's musical contribution to Colbert's Christmas Special.

I'd link to the hilarious Willie Nelson segment of the show, but you wouldn't be able to see it through all the smoke..

Lucky For Country, We Can Watch And Learn From How MTV Keeps Up (Or Not?) With Youth

An Economist Profile on MTV head Judy McGrath may offer country music a clue to what the Taylor Swift generation is all about:
"I think the major strategy is that you have to be open and flexible, and probably change it every day."

MTV knows its mainly young audience well, but it is also battling to keep their attention. The people to whom MTV has always appealed are the same people who now spend their time on MySpace and Facebook and watch free video-clips on YouTube. Ms McGrath describes MTV Networks’ main audience as the “on-demand generation”—young people who are used to getting the content they want, whenever they want it.

A Nice Review Of Robert K. Oerman's New Book

Terri Schlichenmeyer writes of Oerman's latest:
"For going on 100 years, the Grand Ole Opry has been home to dozens of talented country music performers. Becoming a member is by invitation only, and while it might seem as if they’re joining a double-secret Club, the truth is that new inductees are being enfolded into a family."

Anyone who talks on the radio needs lots of tales to tell about the impact of our music, and this book is full of great ones.

Friday, November 21, 2008

TV Worth Watching: Tim on SNL, The Amercian Music Awards Sunday

After Tim McGraw hosts NBC’s Saturday Night Live (click to hear some TM humor and promo out-takes), Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts and Garth Brooks each scored a pair of nominations for the American Music Awards, to be handed out Sunday night live on ABC. Also up for recognition Kenny Chesney, Sugarland and Brad Paisley. Taylor Swift will perform during the show. Who KNOWS what she'll do? (Remember when Beyonce and Sugarland dueted on last year's AMA show?)

Sharp programmers and personalities will have clips from the shows in their station's imaging the following morning.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

August-September-October = The Most Unpredictable ARB Trend Of The Year

I have been blogging about the country format's up's and down's as well as Arbitron's sample and methodology issues for many years, so no doubt this is not the first time I have noted this seasonal blip on the ratings radar, but each year about the time Winter "Station Information Packages" go into the mail things often get the strangest of the year. Here's why during this particular phase it's wisest to wait at least 30, if not 60, days before either contemplating despair or celebration over the current Arbitrend.

#1. August is often country's weakest month of the year, (it certainly was this past summer at least and then the format bounced back in September), perhaps due to family vacations and kids out of school, distorting response rates, midday and at work listening estimates.

#2. The annual population estimates update from the federal Office Of Management And Budget's yearly census stats start to change all the weighting factors on October 1. This not only affects local governments because U.S. government revenue-sharing is based on these estimated changes in local populations extrapolated back to the 2000 census data, updated each year at this time. It also means you need to reassess your targeting. If your narrow target declined in its proportion of the metro population, you may find that your share of audience could also go down as well.

#3. And, then there's the elections and coming Christmas music on AC in a year when emotions and family celebrations will be more meaningful and important than ever.

So, if you did well in Fall's Phase One Trends, congrats! If you didn't, I'm sorry. But, please hold off on any changes based on your trend until you check out the proportionality of the sample, any changes in populations important to your success and, most importantly, you see it three more times. That's what it takes to call any up or down a "real trend."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Can't Top Bob Michaels

.. for his experience and expertise as an independent handicapper of the race just starting between Nielsen/Cumulus, Arbitron and Eastlan, but the most interesting development to me that I'll be anxious to see more about: data emerging as Nielsen recruits by address, not telephone.

If this works, it won't be too long before ARB and BBM in Canada do it too, I'll bet.

Inside Radio's Frank Saxe talked yesterday to Cumulus COO John Dickey, who claims that it will enlist a larger number of panelists than Arbitron has used in condensed markets. “That’s going to reduce the ridiculous bounces and very high margin of errors which led to a lack of confidence in buying our medium. That alone is going to go along way to introducing a high level of credibility in our medium.”

By recruiting diarykeepers by address, not the telephone, he estimates Nielsen will enlarge the potential sample by up to 40% to include cell phone-only households and people with unlisted numbers. They’ve also committed to oversampling hard-to-reach demos like 18-34.

As with all surveys, there are a lot of moving parts, but it seems to me that this one, especially, will be an important metric to track very carefully and hopefully.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Country" Is About SO Much More Than Just Music

For a quick lesson in all of the lifestyle aspects of country listeners' lives, check out this great new website.

1. Are your personalities representing all aspects of the qualitative profile represented here in their content?

2. Idea: why not sign up, lurk a bit and if you find you agree with my first impression of it, encourage your audience to tell their friends about it (a social network site for people who live the country lifestyle) and then invite people who join the communities from your hot zips to listen to your radio station and give you suggestions?

3, Can you do better than this on your station website? If so, let me know about what you are doing.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

No, This Is Not The Arbitron Affiliates Advisory Council

Though, the real ARAC's of the past have been just about as remote from the day to day concerns of the lives of most medium and small size radio operators as they have met in luxury resorts as the G-7 (and later G-8, which is pictured) was from developing countries. It was always pretty clear, in the past, who the real superpower in the relationship was.

ARB Advisory Council Actions and Quotes Of The Last Few Days (Some Comments Added, From Your Humble Scribe)

Actions promised by ARB at last week’s ARAC meeting:

* No more premiums for 55+. Put that money into 18-34 diary households. This is said to be happening right now. (What took so long?)
* Cell phone only households to be included in 50 college town metros in Spring, 25 more by Fall. (I’d feel better if they had tested this approach before going live with it, but diary samples creeping up even to 35-44 in some markets have gotten so bad that all of us who have been watching the trend in diary markets are delighted to see some action of any kind, at long last.)
* Possible heightened use of the eDiary in ’09. (BUT, didn’t they stop eDiaries a year ago because they seemed to lower persons using radio? 18-24 and 25-34 diary samples have gotten so bad, they now trump the earlier concern, I guess.)

From Friday's trade publications:

“The council is encouraged by the procedures, changes and new treatments in the diary process and the commitment in personnel, time and resources in turning around the deteriorating sample in the transactional demo of 18-54 and more specifically 18-34. When you look at the metrics, particularly in 18-34 in the diary markets, it is pretty frightening.” -- Chuck DuCoty, COO, NRG Media

They have made significant progress in the PPM world addressing the sample issues surrounding young adults and minorities but the diary markets have lagged. Now, Arbitron is doing something about that. Time is of the essence and these improvements are not the final answer. They need to keep working on this.” -- Rubber City Radio president Thomas Mandel

“They are merely heading down the path of electronically collecting the same basic data in the same format, eliminating the paper diary, giving the appearance of change without addressing the fundamental issues. The old model of constantly increasing rates with multi-year deals is broken forever in the face of declining industry revenues. If they don’t make the fundamental changes needed, they may be shocked at how quickly their base of business disappears.” --
Qantum Communications CEO Frank Osborn

Osborn’s quote in the trades following the meeting, “They are genuinely seeking input from operators,” comes as no surprise, since “seeking input” is something ARB has a long history of doing, since it’s a lot cheaper to do than acting on festering problems at a time when radio needs and deserves more reliable numbers than ever. Why does it take a meeting with client reps to prod ARB into action on what their client stations have been yelling at their sales reps about for many years?

Guaranteeing an index of 80 in all of the individual 18-54 cells and not just the broad family reunion of a demo would be something of a start, but the reliability of a sample that’s +/- 20% of target is still enough to stand your hair on end.

No wonder ARB President Steve Morris said in the minutes of last July’s Advisory Council meeting: “Arbitron’s relationship with radio clients has become marked by a level of distrust..”

..To say the very least. Arbitron often has treated its diary market clients a lot like the United States has treated the rest of the world. The G-7 superpowers became the G-8 when Russia joined in 1997. In 2007, it became the G-8 + 5 and finally, now, with the world’s economic crisis it just became the G-20.

Hopefully, the 2009 ARAC under chairperson Lisa Decker of CBS Radio, will act as if they represent all of us, not just the biggest Arbitron clients.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"The Coach" Is Positive On PPM's Impact On Radio's Future (I Share His Hopes)

"There is an emphasis on concise, entertaining DJ’s, improved research interpretation, an effort to improve music rotations, attempts at more effective branding methods, the use of the Internet, social networks, text messaging, and anything else that might increase ratings and revenue. Radio is actually thinking about what consumers want to listen to." -- Sam Weaver

Friday, November 14, 2008

Personalities And Programmers: Do This Job Where You Are Now

When I need ideas to help A&O client country stations do better with younger demos, I turn on Radio Disney.

They constantly show an awareness of how getting the values right can create a bond of loyalty which transcends age.

Thus, when I saw their ad this week, I wondered just how many of US do these things?

• On-site show prep, 30 minutes for every 60 minutes on the air
• Attend monthly jock meetings
• Attend monthly one-on-one meetings with VP Programming or assigned supervisor
• Personal appearances
• Occasional weekend shifts
• Available to fill-in shifts in case of emergencies
• Work closely with VP Programming to create ratings and help generate revenue
• Production voice over and commercial production
- Must have prior knowledge of Radio Disney and Disney Channel programs
- Strong interest in kids’ media, youthful attitude and sensibility, witty, topical
- Exceptional interpersonal and communication skills with proven ability to participate in teams
- Ability to work well under pressure of tight deadlines and on-air duties
- Have a solid work ethic, grasp of business skills, and exhibit a professional image

The word "apply" doesn't just mean that you should send in an application for this job if it sounds good. It also means..
  • use: put into service; make work or employ for a particular purpose or for its inherent or natural purpose; "use your head! ...
  • be pertinent or relevant or applicable; "The same laws apply to you!"; "This theory holds for all irrational numbers"; "The same rules go for everyone"
  • practice: avail oneself to; "apply a principle"; "practice a religion"; "use care when going down the stairs"; "use your common sense"; "practice non-violent resistance"
  • enforce: ensure observance of laws and rules; "Apply the rules to everyone";
  • apply oneself to; "Please apply yourself to your homework"
And, now that we have our homework, let's get to applying it!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What's HOT? Saving!

They’re saving gas by Staying Home for the Holidays (90.0%), they’re saving time with Online Shopping (77.8%), they’re saving money with Fast Food Dollar Menus (67.5%) and Dollar Stores (64.3%), and they’re saving electricity with LED Holiday Lights (57.5%).

Day after Thanksgiving Shopping is still a hit with the under 35 crowd, thus saving on all of those Black Friday deals.

What’s Not? Holiday Travel…need we say more?

Current economic troubles have retailers bracing for a bleak holiday season, but some consumers are finding a slim silver lining post-election…22.3% are confident/very confident in chances for a strong economy, rising from 19.0% last month, but down a substantial 15 points from one year ago. Those who voted for President-elect Obama indicate slightly higher confidence (26.6%), while those backing Senator McCain are portending a still-grim outlook (15.5%).

ABC Rules Wednesday Night TV, Thanks To CMA Awards

Overall, ABC averaged a 9.7 rating/15 share for the night, thumping the 7.1/11 for second place CBS. FOX was third with a 5.2/7, followed by the 4.2/7 for NBC. The CW trailed with a 1.9/3.

Among adults 18-49, ABC won easily with a 5.0 rating in the key demographic. CBS and FOX tied for second with a 2.9 rating, leaving NBC's 1.8 rating and The CW's 1.4 rating bringing up the rear.

ABC's CMA coverage swept the night, starting with a 9.5/15 in the 8 p.m. hour. FOX finished second with the 6.5/10 for "Bones." CBS' "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and "Gary Unmarried" averaged a 4.5/7, topping the 3.4/5 for NBC's "Knight Rider." The CW's "America's Next Top Model" was fifth overall, but beat "Knight Rider" in the 18-49 demo.

At 9 p.m. the CMAs gave ABC a 10.0/15, edging the 9.3/14 for "Criminal Minds" on CBS. FOX was third with a repeat of "House," which outdid the 3.8/6 for "Life" on NBC. "Stylista" lost more than half of its lead-in and had a 1.3/2 for The CW.

The CMAs closed with a 9.5/15 for NBC. CBS was second with the 7.6/12 for "CSI: NY," leaving NBC's "Law & Order" in third.

ZapToIt's Ratings information is taken from fast national data, which includes live and same-day DVR viewing. All numbers are preliminary and subject to change.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

CMA Congrats to Kenny, Brad, Carrie, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Sugarland and Mac McAnally

The best post-show coverage is at CMT and GAC (both of which had the list of winners right after the show even though it was on ABC-TV). Even a full hour after the show, ABC only had a snarky blog from backstage which did have lots of fun details and fan perspectives.

Winning my award for getting the best immediate post-show info on the internet: CMT. Someone there seems to understand the principle of immediacy in an on-demand world.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Shameless Plug For A Friend: "Higher Rates Are The Answer"

Every time I visit with Phoenix-based sales guru Jim Taszarek, I find myself learning something practical. Right now he's promoting sales training webinars with extremely helpful daily email blasts, worth subscribing to.

"At a recent summit a well known CEO, when asked how to solve the present situation said, We just need to get our rates up. Right. That's like Detroit saying Our problems will disappear if we just get higher prices for our cars. Can you imagine telling the salespeople, Stick to the Sticker. It's not about Rates. It's about Value. There's a disconnect between our perception of our value - and their perception of our value. We think we're worth more than they do. Unfortunately it's what they think that counts. They didn't create those perceptions - we did. It's how we sold ourselves that caused the above." -- Taz

CMA Awards On You Tube (II)

Ever wonder what it takes to pull off a worldwide telecast like the CMA Awards?

Find out with the online video series, "CMA Awards All Access Pass - Behind The Scenes," (perfect for posting on your website or blog)

Click to meet the people who bring the set, music, lighting and talent pieces together.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

1960 Was The First "TV" Election; 2008 Was The First "Internet" One

...And, wouldn't you know, the President-elect already has changed government's approach to the transition as he puts his decision-making online.

This is a website you should check out in detail and borrow ideas from for the next time you need to transition anything - new morning show, a new format, or launching a new radio station.

(And, yes, I learned about it from Rush Limbaugh, so - of course - be aware that your competition will be among the first ones to really study it too.)

How Smart Is Your Phone?

Thanks to the competition between Nokia, Apple and RIM, it's getting smarter and smarter.

Hopefully, it won't be too long until all cell phone music player manufacturers realize that the #1 extra consumers want is an FM radio built in too.

First one in will sell a bunch, I bet!

Friday, November 07, 2008

CMA Awards On You Tube: Building the CMA Awards Sets

Ever wonder what it takes to pull off a worldwide telecast like the CMA Awards? Find out with our online video series, "CMA Awards All Access Pass - Behind The Scenes." Each episode brings you backstage to hear from the people who make the show happen, from lighting to staging crews, talent crews, camera operators, producers and more.

In the first episode, which you'll want to post on your website, "Building the CMA Awards Sets," you'll meet the construction crew who creates magic with their awe-inspiring stage elements. (Oh, and make sure and watch Wednesday, November 12, when the 2008 set is finally revealed!)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Generation X: Coming of Age Online

Born between 1965 and 1981, Generation X is no longer the grungy, ripped-jeans kids Time magazine first described in 1990. Gen Xers are now in their peak years of product and service consumption, and they view electronic media as a primary tool for conducting research and accomplishing a vast array of every day tasks.

EMarketer's new Generation X report analyzes the attitudes and behaviors of the first generation to reach maturity sitting in front of computer screens while talking on mobile phones.

According to US Census Bureau statistics, 83.8 million people were in the 25-to-44-year-old Gen X age bracket as of July 2007. And, even to a greater degree than the baby boomers that preceded them, Generation Xers have embraced technology. For information on everything from parenting to consumer products, they go online. For them the Internet, along with mobile phones and PDAs, is a convenient way to shop, bank and network with peers.

Unfortunately, Gen X presents unprecedented challenges to marketers. The media they use is fragmented. They embrace a wider range of lifestyles than previous generations. And, weaned on MTV and cable television, they are largely immune to traditional advertising.

Country radio is fortunate, at least. that we can watch younger-targeted radio formats over the next three to five years and learn from mistakes they make, but one thing is certain: we won't be doing things the same way in ten years .. or we'll be only a 50+ format!

Fortunately, there are many examples of successful country stations which have found that they can use core values univerals to do well across the demographic spectrum of the family reunion that is the country target audience, from teens to seniors.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

KYGO CMA Casting Call Spot to be Played in the CMA Awards

The promo really grabbed my attention: "KYGO is Built by Denver for Denver... So We Gave Listeners the Chance to Create Our Next TV Spot. Terry Matson of Fort Collins created the TV spot that received the most votes at Check it out here. Terry's spot will run in the Denver's 7 broadcast of the 42nd CMA Awards on November 12th. Terry will have to program his DVR to catch it since he and his wife Tammy will be flown off to attend the CMA Awards in person!"

Click to watch the winner and all the finalists. Kudos to the Lincoln Financial Media's Denver crew under GM Bob Call and PD Joel Burke for a very innovative way to engage listeners.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Fewer Ads Target Younger Internet Users

Young people between the ages of 2 and 17 experience the least amount of online advertising “clutter” on the internet, while online adults age 65+ are subjected to the most, according to (pdf) research from Nielsen Online.

Since websites designed for children have little to no advertising, it is not surprising that the youngest Web visitors are typically exposed to a low level of advertising clutter, Nielsen said. But teens (age 12-17), the highest indexing age group on MySpace, also encounter relatively low clutter levels and are accustomed to less clutter than all adult age groups. This could potentially make them less tolerant of additional clutter than older adults.

Nielsen said that identifying ideal clutter level can drive successful online media buys and ad inventory and has introduced a new ad clutter metric to help advertisers leverage the right combination of web traffic, ad volume and demographic targeting.

“For decades, advertisers and publishers have struggled to define the right balance of content and advertising. Used in conjunction with other metrics, such as unique audience, the clutter measure provides a relative benchmark to help media buyers understand the Web sites that provide the optimal level of impressions within an acceptable amount of clutter.” -- Jon Gibs, vice president, media analytics, Nielsen Online

Ya think there might be a lesson for us in "old media" here??

Sunday, November 02, 2008

R&R Probes Country Radio's Disappearing "Live And Local" Daypart

R. J. Curtis: There's all sorts of scuttlebutt out there about the phasing out of live/local programming in evenings in radio. Nights are tough for country stations targeting adult audiences who watch TV, tend to the family and spend time on the Internet in the evening among other things. Additionally for the most part, don't most country stations get their main productivity 6a-7p?

Jaye Albright: By and large, ratings - when it comes to diaries at least - are a 6 am to 7 pm game. At least two thirds of all quarter hours come from those hours. Even the most successful country station is only going to get perhaps 35% of its cume to listen to evenings and weekends. However, since 40% of country diaries give country 73% of our quarter hours, it's heavy users/core listeners who are spending time listening to those fringe dayparts, so paying short shrift to them can result in a loss of a lot of P-1 time spent listening if the programming on nights and weekends is not very competitive.

RJ: So in addition to that question ... - Is country -- a "high touch" format -- endangering itself if it too begins phasing out live & local evening shows?

JA: I firmly believe that country is a high-touch format. Listeners expect to be able to interact and contribute content to the country station they are most loyal to. Country radio, you might say, was the original social network, going back the five decades of its history as a radio format. However, just because that is true, does not necessarily mean that great interactive, content-driven syndicated or out of market talent can't provide everything core listeners want and need. WGAR, Cleveland, listeners relate to Michael J. Fox in midday even though he does that show from WPOC, Baltimore, because he's entertaining and relevant. There are many other voice tracked and syndicated air personalities whose rating performance says that it's quite possible to beat 'live and local' air talent if you understand what listeners come to your station expecting and deliver it with passion. A crutchy, cliched local jock starting phone calls with the same phrases air personalities have been using with request calls since a phone line was first put into a control room, like "hi, who is this, what can I play for you, I'll try to get that one on for you, thanks for calling, where are you calling from..." may be in a room in the local market, but is too self-involved and is largely irrelevant to listeners and will get beaten by more creative, fun, well-edited listener voices telling relevant stories.

RJ: Are the choices for evening programming strong enough: Lia, Whitney, GAC ... and soon, a CMT generated evening show?

JA: It will be interesting to see as these new offerings come online. It's safe to say that Lia and Blair Garner definitely are more than "strong enough." They've been time-tested in all size markets and in very competitive battles and have proven that their personal brands generate strong usage and consistent ratings. The others, I would say, are too new and not yet on enough stations, given the wobbles that sample issues create in night and weekend shares, that it's a bit early to judge yet.

RJ: While Big D & Bubba are making inroads for a nationally syndicated AM show, it's never really been pursued ... are nights better suited to this?

JA: I do not think it's a daypart thing. Great talent, entertaining and relatable content beats boring, unprepared talent with nothing to say every time. For example, I think the new "Shawn Parr's #1 Show" from Friday nights on KKGO, Los Angeles, which is being produced by Dees Entertainment is going to do well as it rolls out across the country in competition with countdowns and classic country shows for many reasons, not the least of which are Shawn's a great radio entertainer whose like-ability is viral, plus every single song during the entire three hours is a proven hit at a time when the first two hours of most countdown shows are playing 20-25 songs that are never going to be hits and country from more than 15 years ago appeals to a very small segment of the country audience today. That's a strategic advantage, totally unrelated to whether a show is live, local or not. Programming on competing stations can't stay the same in the wake of a development like that. Programmers are going to want that show on their stations, not against them.

RJ: Finally, with a tough evening listening environment .... should we care if 7-Mid local programming goes away?

JA: I think we should, but not for the reasons implicit in your questions. I hate to see another training ground for future talent disappear. Country music is extremely hot with Gen Y right now and we need to find and train 20-something personalities if we hope to stay in touch with their lives and values. I wish some of these new programming options featured young guys as well as females, and they had more of a listener focus instead of being so Nashville-centric at a time when secondary and tertiary artists aren't gaining very much traction with the radio audience. There are really only ten or fewer artists listeners care enough about right now to listen to for very long. Interviews with no-name Nashville insiders and songwriters have very limited appeal. CMT's Brian Phillips obviously understands this, given the cable channel's weakest and strongest-rated shows, so it will be interesting to see what CMT rolls out for radio.

It's quite rational at a time of job cuts throughout our entire economy and extremely uncertain short and medium term economic realities for radio owners of all sizes to be more frugal, preserve cash and batten down the hatches during stormy financial seas. This means that it's probably a good time to be launching new syndicated daypart options as long as they meet listener needs and increase efficiency. However, it's still true that the best content wins.

Thanks for askin', RJ. I'll be very interested to see what others think!

Kenny Chesney: "Back From A Rough Place"

He opens up to Country Weekly about heartbreak, love, life and music. Kenny reveals that his new album, Lucky Old Sun, comes from a different place than many of his previous records.
“Lucky Old Sun is a map of my soul, and the way the water helped me find my way back from a pretty rough place. When my marriage [to actress Renee Zellweger] broke apart, I can’t begin to explain how that felt. Until you’ve been there, you can’t know.”

Kenny also talks about working with Willie Nelson and making new friends like rocker Dave Matthews and reggae band the Wailers.

In the same issue, out on Monday, Jason Michael Carroll takes you inside his home away from home, the touring bus that he helped design.
“This is such a big improvement over what we had before. Especially for being pretty much a brand-new artist, just a year or two into touring.”

Jason Michael will be touring through the fall and early winter with stars like Martina McBride, Trace Adkins and Craig Morgan as he gears up for his next single, “Where I’m From.”

PR Contact: Kirt Webster (615-777-6995)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

This Salon Gets Stars Camera-Ready for CMA Awards

Many of the artists on the CMA Awards owe their "camera-ready" look to the hair and makeup wizards of Nashville's Trim Classic Barber and Legendary Beauty, who debuted last year as the event's backstage salon. While about half of those who appear on camera travel with their own entourage, the rest of the nominees, presenters and performers trust their look to the Trim team, whose performance is conceived and executed with the precision of a military operation and the artistry of a symphony orchestra.

They start by researching the looks of their customers as well as the latest trends. Next comes a thorough once-over of their backstage area, next to the green room in the Sommet Center where the CMA Awards event is held.

"We know exactly how many artists we can handle in about eight chairs and four hours," said Melanie Shelley , Trim Owner and Founder. "We know how much lighting we need, how much electricity we'll have for our blow dryers, which artists will bring their own team and which will call on us to create their look."

Planning also involves scheduling appointments for Trim's approximately 25 stylists and assistants on Awards day. They begin at the salon's 12th Avenue location in Nashville near Music Row, from 8 AM until 2 PM, after which they scatter to work with selected artists in their hotels and then regroup at the Sommet Center at 6 PM.

"The CMA Awards is just about the highest-stress environment that a hair and makeup person can work in," Shelley said. "Photo shoots are easy because you can take your time and stand by in case you need to touch anything up. On live TV, there's no retouching. Sometimes you're given just 30 seconds from when somebody shows up, someone does hair, someone else does makeup, you fluff and fix and then they're onstage."

The work continues after the artist leaves the Trim station, from supplying artists with straws so that they don't smudge their lipstick to discreetly checking each superstar's teeth immediately before they make their entrance.

Inevitably, surprises happen, like when a 15-piece ensemble accompanied Keith Urban to his appointment to be made up with a 1940s look, all within 20 minutes of their performance. But that only makes the payoff sweeter. "We scrambled," said head stylist Stephanie Trail , laughing. "We did it. And they looked great. I have to say, it was awesome."

"The 42nd Annual CMA Awards" will be held Wednesday, Nov. 12 at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tenn. The three-hour gala will be carried live by the ABC Television Network from 8-11 PM/EST, 7-10PM/CST.

How do I know? I read CMA Exclusive.