Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wheat And Chaff

2009 looks to be a pretty difficult year for the increasing numbers of unemployed in our business, but especially for the managers who will be hiring, knowing that they need nothing but the very best, most-productive workers more than ever right now.

People I have worked with in the past year they will encounter:
  • The woman who was hired for one shift but even after two years in that shift kept trying to find ways to work different hours than the ones the shift requires.
  • The person who still had an axe to grind for his termination from a previous employer and yet kept telling everyone in the halls of his current employer how much better it was on his old job.
  • The major market talent who hired me as his coach and when I pointed out to him that he didn’t need a coach. He was plenty good enough exactly as is. He just needed to write original content every day rather than walking into the control room with nothing prepared, making it up as he went along. He fired me as his coach, hired another coach and now can’t understand why he was let go.
  • The seller whose contract was not renewed because she hadn’t hit her goal for two years, and yet she now tells prospective employers “I can’t understand it, I was making ten calls every day.”
  • The music director who didn’t like the direction the current music her format’s hits were going in, so she changed the current/gold balance of the station without telling her PD, who discovered the change in Mediabase and BDS after the bad ratings came out.
  • That programmer is looking for a new job too.
Inside Radio’s “Keep Your Seats” (click to read it) memo to us all at the New Year from Paul Harvey makes it all sound deceptively-simple after more than half a century of showing up at a radio studio in the wee small hours and working for at least three hours to write and create a five minute news and commentary, then staying around for another four to five hours to distill a 15 minute broadcast.

Eight hours of prep for 20 minutes on the air.

There’s a lesson in that.

As you interview applicants in ’09, may you find a Paul Harvey - who knows what it takes to hold onto a chair - and avoid the many, many others, who don’t appear to.

Radio Oldtimers Love To Tell Stories

If you enjoy reading and sharing them, check out the new community built by 35-year broadcast vet Jack Allen. At present, it focuses on stories of Puget Sound radio, but it's going to be fascinating to watch where it goes from here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Numbers That Shape Our Lives, 19 and 23

Country Aircheck this week performed a valuable service by printing the names and contact info of radio and music industry professionals who are currently "seeking employment" in the place in their weekly sheet where the airplay charts normally go. (click to enlarge the image)

With rumors of more cutbacks coming at radio, I feel bad for the unlucky 19 people who are looking for their next radio gig at the 2,024 country stations in the U.S. But, those 23 Nashville-based music industry have only a handful of labels to pitch future employment at.

My prescription: read "What Color Is Your Parachute" annually.

Yes, I have a good job and, yes, business is excellent for us right now, thank you, but no one can listen to today's economic news without singing at least a line from Alan Jay Lerner's "There But For You."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

When? Now?

I have attended past Radio Ink-sponsored events and there’s no doubt that Publisher Eric Rhoads and his staff know how to draw an influential, well-heeled crowd by putting on first class meetings.

So, when I saw this room full of dour-faced audio media exec’s on the cover - not a smile evident among them - with the headline stating that they were all being told something about a new era of radio operations beginning amidst the worst economy, judging by their apparent ages, that any of these guys (and that one woman) had ever experienced in their lives, I was excited to read that promised ‘Forecast ’09 Recap.’

After the ads for Google automation and Fox News Radio, I scanned the contents to see Bill Bennett’s countenance, and an interview with him that included only one radio-related issue, ‘the return of the Fairness Doctrine.’

Following an ad for a media finance banker, Rhoads terms 2009 ‘Radio’s Olympics’ and exhorts us to prepare mentally, “don’t worry, plan.’

Next, on the letters to the editor page, Jim Davis, CO/CFO of Black Crow Media Group calls it as I see it too:
“At every panel discussion, these same broadcasters continue to preach that wee need to train sellers better and raise our rates. Ironically, they don’t push that philosophy through their own organizations.”

Finally, between two more full page ads for talk radio vendors, a “Forecast ’09 Wrap Up,” stating “the mood was serious .. but far from grim.” The recap included a quote or two from each speaker.

Not a single word to explain who said something about a “Hands On Era.”

Three pages of smiling people holding court, holding drinks, holding one anther's backs, holding awards, followed by all the sales-oriented columnists (I love Dave Gifford’s ‘Best Targets For New Business” list!) and then a wonderful Ben Perez piece praising the great Bayliss Scholarship winners.

Overall, another good read, but other than the front page headline, not a single word of explanation of “The Hands-On Future Begins,” which clearly someone thought was so important that they put it on the cover.

Which leaves me only with a hope that some speaker broke it to this room full of serious-faced radio high rollers that in the wake of the personnel cuts they have been mandating at the local level due to the fact that their banks are no longer deficit financing anything that their hands are the only ones left to do the jobs of the folks who have been let go.

If any among them thinks they can go on the air and get better ratings than the people who have been cut, now’s the time to do it.

Their overwhelmed, multi-tasking programmers could use the help.

The ones who aren't capable of entertaining and maintaining an audience ought to hit the streets every day, making local, direct calls with their sales people.

Their Hands-On example would motivate us all.

Hopefully, someone at Forecast ’09 said something like that.

Too bad it didn't make the magazine. A lot of us who were too busy working that day to attend another industry seminar might have liked to read about it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Astral/London Creates 10,000 Smiles

Christmas came early in London and the gift was a community full of giant hearts.

Astral Media London and Canadian Tire's Annual Toys for Tots campaign brought in over 10,000 toys plus an additional $10,000 cash. Toys, food and clothes have been donated to help ensure that every child in the London area experiences the warmth, magic and spirit of giving this holiday season.

Cluster Operations Manager Barry Smith was blown away by the generosity of the community and after loading another huge truck with toys stated,
“the list of all who have donated is longer than Santa’s. Thanks to everyone for their Christmas spirit…there are just too many of you to thank personally. You are all on Santa’s nice list this year.”

Combined efforts from local military reservists who volunteered their time allowed Toys for Tots to help more than 2,000 families!

Agencies benefited include: Big Sisters, N'Amerind Friendship Centre, United Way, Youth Action Centre, Merrymount, Teen Challenge Farm, Glen Cairn Community Resource Centre, Middlesex London Health Unit, Boys and Girls Club, Pathways, Community Outreach, Children's Aid, London Abused Women's Centre and Single Women In Motherhood.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

“Time” For Holidays ’08

My most evocative card of December came from Little Big Town, who even as their Nashville label suspended operations found time and a sense of humor to visually evoke the attitude we all have about financial projections for 2009 (or are they practicing for their annual visits to the dentist?).

What if the talking heads are correct and banks aren’t lending any of that $350 billion in bailout money because they feel like our world economy is now worth less than we all thought it was?

Last August I did a bit of punditry myself when I was interviewed by R&R Publisher Erica Farber: “The American people have not figured out yet that it’s highly likely our standard of living is never going to be as good as it has been in the past. These are very challenging times.”

With the luxury of hindsight, I wish I could say that I really did see precisely what was coming and moved my 401k to all cash right then, but I had no idea how bad it was going to get and how quickly. So, I take solace instead in the fact the American people appear to have chosen very well in November, cause for hope. Who knows if Barack and his team will be able to fix what ails us, but at least he is inspiring to someone with my perspective as his team navigates the many crises we face right now.

In any case, it seems like an excellent moment to invest as much as possible in the cherished things which hold their value, time .. with friends, loved ones and family.

And, so, here is my usual letter (written on my new MacBookPro, purchased thanks an an employee discount courtesy of our family Apple Genius John DiPanfilo in Atlanta). Four decades ago when I was 25, I would have tossed a letter like this in the trash without reading, but now I feel compelled to put one together so I keep getting the newsy ones in return from so many others which connect these annual dots in our busy lives.

As usual, I have some ’08 travel photos to share. Two friends and I drove all over Central and Eastern Europe, from (pictured) the Bierwagons of Cologne to Poland, Romania, even to the historic bridge in Mostar.

It was a transformative 26 days, highlighted by a final two weeks in Croatia, Slovenia, Bavaria, and Amsterdam just weeks after being surprised and honored to be inducted into the Country Radio Hall Of Fame with three generations of my immediate family on hand in Nashville for it, Keir Kornbau, her mom Judy and our Aunt Betty Hanzlick. In May, almost our entire family met in Grand Rapids for a lovely country club wedding of Ryan and Emily. It was the second year for a family reunion of sorts and even more relatives made the trip this year. Then, my sister Judy and I visited Denver in August and were guests in the homes of Keir, Ryan and Emily. At Thanksgiving, we had a houseful here as Adam, Amy, Kevin and Brennan from Pasco spent the week in our woods.

Now, it looks to be a snowy Christmas on Bainbridge Island. The residents and worker bees at 7699 are all hoping you had a good year too. No matter what 2009 holds, I sincerely wish for you and yours lots of ‘time’ .. to invest in the truly enduring and valuable.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Reason You Won't Hear Me Say A Bad Thing About Randy Mchaels

.. is that he creates an atmosphere where ideas like this are encouraged:

Chicago’s WGN lets listeners “Throw a shoe at Blagojevich.” It won’t really be Rod Blagojevich, of course – just a life-size cutout, with new WGN (720) morning host John Williams and weekender Dan Deibert stationed at WGN’s Showcase Studio on Michigan Avenue today with lots and lots of shoes. For a $1 donation to the WGN Radio Neediest Kids Fund, you get three throws. The promotion runs 8-9am.

(they probably even sold the event to a shoe store chain!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

It Only Took 14 Years

Two weeks ago, BBM Canada announced the launch of Canada’s first radio meter panel. The Montreal market launch is the first phase of BBM Canada’s rollout plan which will see PPM measurement brought to Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton in Fall 2009.

Meanwhile, Nielsen just completed their Lexington test of their new competition for Arbitron, the roster diary, using an address-based sample.

..all of which reminded me of a memo I wrote to clients on April 15, 1994:

As diary-based survey results wobble up and down from Arbitrend to BBM, broadcasters are sometimes heard to wish aloud for a "better, more reliable means of measuring radio listening." Some time this Fall, we will get a preview of considerable testing being conducted right now at the University of Montreal on the Portable People Meter. It remains to be seen if a small pager-like device will be able to replace the written weekly diary. Meanwhile, Canada's BBM has just concluded that an aided-recall "roster diary' study and decided that the results were insufficient to justify the conversion to rostering. Last Spring, BBM conducted a parallel test in aided recall and the current unaided recall diary. On the roster diary, stations were prelisted on a sheet of peel and stick labels that could be placed in the diary as a means of improving response rates and eliminating call letter confusion. Response did improve, but only 1.4% and BBM calls the increase "statistically insignificant." In general, diary rejections did not decrease with the roster technique. Two things did improve - fewer diary editing and callbacks had to be done and phantom cume was lessened as the roster diary was able to capture more tuning than the regular diary. Diarykeepers in focus groups commented that the roster method was easy to understand and do. However, after reviewing the improvements, BBM executives decided that none of the results was significant enough to justify a change from aided recall to rostering all Canada's diaries. In fact, the review committee stated that "the current diary was performing well" overall.

.. which tempted me to wonder if there has ever been anything new under the ratings sun. Until I found this. And this. Why do I suddenly feel like Benjamin Button?

Friday, December 19, 2008

The UnHappiest Day Of The Year


The percentage of Americans experiencing a lot of happiness or enjoyment without a lot of stress or worry fell to a new low of 35% on Thursday, Dec. 11, the same day the U.S. Labor Department announced that new jobless claims jumped to a 26-year high and the auto bailout bill failed in the Senate.


And, the unhappiest person may be the news director who hasn't yet figured out that the future is moving info content from on air to online: Gallup's update on Americans' go-to news sources reveals little encouragement for these media. Among daily news sources, only cable and Internet news have shown significant gains in popularity since 2006, while all other media are stable or declining.

How the Grinch Stole the Economy

Charles Osgood, often referred to as CBS News' poet-in-residence, has voiced a 40 second tome that needs to be on every radio seller's computer. (click to listen to it).

I got it from Jim Taszarek, who received it from Eric Kaelin, GM of WGHN in Grand Haven. Who's going to "get it" (literally) thanks to YOU?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Detroit Radio Makes Me Proud

This is the extra special time of year when radio and TV stations across North America (and the world) stuff buses with food, operate toy drives, support food banks, raise cash, “adopt” families for Christmas and employ other ingenious methods of raising millions of dollars for their communities.

For example Canada's Broadcast Dialogue reports this week that private broadcasters north of the 49th - according to the CAB - were responsible for pledges and PSAs valued at $314.5 million over the past year while time donated by station employees was more than 230,000 hours.

.. which no doubt means that the promotional calendars of the CBS Radio Cluster were already full, when in the last few weeks the future of America's big three hung in the balance, Detroit newspapers announced that they will cut back the number of print publications, research emerged that auto advertisers should cut back on TV and ramp up radio, Detroit Radio stepped up. Click on WYCD's web page and watch the video "Stand Up And Be Proud."

.. and, be proud.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Did The Recession Kill Nashville’s Indies?

Nashville buzz: Equity Music closes, WhiteStar (launched only in September with George Ducas, Danielle Peck and Jason Meadows) is already to put it charitably reported to be ‘slow” in reimbursing business expenses from fall promotional travel to the point that the Tennessee Department of Labor is investigating, Brad Howell exits Broken Bow, Mike Wilson in for Denise Roberts at Universal Records South, Nancy Tunick leaves WB and Anne Weaver departs Robbins Nashville.

Does this signal the end of the world as we know it?


Independent or major, the basics still apply.

1. As long as there are hopes and dreams, there will be a good business in every music center in the world trying to become and/or groom the next superstar.

2. Radio plays hit songs without regard for the return address on the package. We need hits. The more, the better.

3. Labels which don’t produce hits, don’t make it. In this case, "it’s NOT the economy, stupid," it's the lack of hit songs.

4. The majority of the folks who come to Music City year after year full of hope are sent home with empty wallets and a garage full of unsold plastic. A few become millionaires.

Hits that get radio airplay because listeners love them still sell more than ‘under the radar’ approaches.

Distribute something amazing, especially now, and the world will find you (click, for example, to watch Jib Jab make the KSON, San Diego, morning team dance like elves with special guest Keith Urban).

Actually, country radio is aggressively listening and looking for just that ... "something amazing."

Always has, always will.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Country Is Again America's Most-Programmed Music Format

As someone who got into the format in the mid-1970's when the CMA published an annual station tally that numbered in the hundreds not the thousands and all of the attendees at the annual CRS thirty years ago could easily fit into one rather small Airport Hilton banquet room, I have never taken this annual format census for granted.

In 1998, M Street Publications took over the job, tallying 2,368 country stations. Last year, the number was 2,028 - out of a total of 10,843 licensed radio stations - after peaking in 2003 (2,088) and 2004 (2.047).

They now report that there are 2,024 American Country stations as of the end of November, 74% of which are on FM. Country is on more HD side channels than any other format today (84 HD2, 1 HD3).

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Radio Leads In New Music Discovery Across The Pond Too

From Steve Casey: Cordialment de Paris!

For what it is worth, I just completed 5 perceptual studies in France. They were all age 13-30 or 18-34, and a typical result, when we ask where they discover new songs:

FM Radio 62%
Web Radio 9%
Music Sites 8%
Friends 8%
Television 7%
Social Networks 4%
Other/None 2%

From my somewhat unusual position of working globally, I’m convinced that although there is some chicken and egg effect here, MOSTLY any lack of interest in using radio to discover new music versus other options is something radio caused, not new technologies.

It is our unique advantage to be so accessible with so little effort.

Ideally, our listeners will find great new music being presented that has been vetted by professionals who are actively trying to find the stuff what will excite the listeners. That’s something no other medium offers.

But I fear that our report card on both the quantity of fresh music and the execution of any care in what we choose to play is not too positive in most cases.

How many decisions are based on careful local listener research? How many are based on airplay tracking and label priorities?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I Was All Set To Completely Ignore The Grammy Awards, But Then..

I just heard that KSON, San Diego, morning cohost Cliff Dumas has been chosen to voice the 2009 radio pre-Grammy special. Cliff will work to make something radio-friendly, I am confident.

.. Which is much-needed in the wake of Mike Henry, Bill Stakelin, Randy Kabrich and Bob Neil calls to pay no attention to the RIAA-sponsored record sales promotion event. As a former Radio And Music Awards (1999-2005) winner back when that was on air, I still lean their way in spite of the entreaties of Jerry Delcolliano.
Just ignore the upcoming Grammy Awards. Then, let’s check back with the Grammy broadcast in February to see if there is a different message about radio. If there is not, then radio should ignore the Grammy Awards for the following year. Radio should not acknowledge the Grammy Awards ever again, until the Grammy Awards broadcast acknowledges radio as the primary source for the discovery of music, which is universally understood as fact except to the over-eager Grammy copywriter. Here are the facts as they are known today: The plurality of people discover music on radio. Once they’ve discovered that music via radio, many of those same people download the music from the Internet…often without paying for it. - Mike Henry, Paragon Media Research

The R-M-W's were an attempt to get radio airplay the credit we deserve, spear-headed when Von Freeman was marketing director at KIIS, Los Angeles after an experience backstage at the Grammy Awards in 1998 when the #1 CHR station in the USA felt ignored (the KIIS website contains CMA Awards links but no news of any R-M-A plans for '09).

It is ironic that Canadian Dumas would be named to do the radio pre-Grammy special, since the Radio Music Awards concept continues in Canada to this day.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hot? For 83.5%, Holiday Shopping

In demand gifts, according to Big Research's monthly tracking: Nintendo Wii (72.4%) and Blu-Ray Players (61.7%). The fairer gender also sports a soft spot for Twilight, while men – big surprise – maintain their stance on last-minute gift buying.

Christmas Comes In The Middle Of Summer

I was listening to Australia's Hot Country Network this morning when I heard a promo for the Holiday Season terming it a 'summer party.'

After doing a double-take (since freezing temperatures are in my local five day weather forecast and the first day of Winter on my calendar is ten days hence), it hit me: truth is perspective.

Which "facts" guide our business which come from where we WERE, not where we ARE?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Less Than Half of Men Think They’re Sexy

I am a big believer in using tantalizing language to grab usage, engage the imagination, evoke emotions, and - as a result - I just had to use that headline to make my point.

Your reading this, aren't you?

Now, having made a promise in that tease, I'd be making a huge mistake to interest you and then fail to give you what the headline promised, so here you go:
When it comes to male beauty, Greek men feel the sexiest, Italian men are rated as best-looking, Australians are least concerned about their looks, and basic male hygiene is more important to women than it is to men, according to a global male-beauty study from Synovate.

Keep your writing sexy too, please!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Workday Radio = Very Strong In Los Angeles

SCBA shares good news for radio from Scarborough Research’s Los Angeles syndicated local market database and Arbitron’s PPM ratings data for October-November 2008:

Adults 18-34: 92.5% listen to the radio at work, Monday-Friday, 5 a.m.-8 p.m., compared to the 42.8% who watch primetime TV on any of the five networks, Monday-Saturday, 8-11 p.m., and Sunday, 7-11 p.m.

Adults 25-54: 94.5% listen to the radio, while 49.4% watch primetime network TV.

Adults 18+ who work full- or part-time in L.A., 94.7% listen to the radio during work hours, and 51% seek out primetime network TV shows.

Scarborough is a joint venture between Arbitron and the Nielsen Company

In Memoriam: Steve Young

I have been staring blankly at Steve's impressive LinkedIn resume tonight, wondering what to say, to express my sadness and grief.

Young spent the last eight years working with Jones Radio Networks (now Dial-Global) where resonances of his smile will long reverberate in the halls, he had programmed such high-profile stations as WAXQ (Q104.3)/New York, KISW/Seattle, CJAY/Calgary and CITI-FM/Winnipeg. He also was operations director of WNEW/New York and spent some time as Nationwide's western region group PD, overseeing a roster that included KLUC/Las Vegas and KRQQ/Tucson. He joined Jones Radio Networks in October 2000 as director of rock and pop programming, transitioning to senior programming consultant when the company became Dial-Global in June of this year. Young started consulting at Joint Communications Corp. in 1986, and eventually opened his own firm, Youngradio Management, in 1995, working with a lineup that included WHTZ (Z100), WKTU and WTJM (Jammin 105) in New York.

At WAXQ, Steve took the station from a 22nd place ranking in the 25-54 demographic and in three Arbitrons, moved it to 5th place in the New York metro. Steve also served as a research consultant for Z-100, WKTU and WTJM during his time with AM/FM Inc. Steve worked on the air in several Canadian markets at such stations as CJFM, a Montreal Hot Adult Contemporary station; CKRC, a CHR in Winnipeg; and CITI FM an Album Rock station also in Winnipeg.

Trained in Communications at York University in Toronto, Steve was also the Program Director of one of the first campus radio stations in Canada, for two years.

To say the least, he was an expert in research analysis and strategic thinking, database marketing, and talent development. Steve was reportedly struck by a heart attack on a cruise to Cabo San Lucas, was hospitalized and died Monday.

Young unselfishly gave his intelligence, friendship and enduring wit to those of us whose lives he touched during his 32 years spanning all aspects of radio, on-air and management.

Rock radio will be playing some very sad songs today.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Manage News? Is Your Output "Content" (Or Discontent)?

Virginia Heffernan is The Medium columnist for The New York Times Magazine. Previously she spent four years as a television critic for The New York Times newspaper. Before coming to the newspaper, she wrote for Slate, and before that she was an editor at Harper's and Talk magazines. She makes some assertions I think you need to make sure your people understand are about them and how they do what they do:
  • "Content that thrives in the new distribution-and-display systems is suspiciously different from the American popular culture we used to love even 10 years ago...
  • "We have to change. We have to develop content that metamorphoses in sync with new ways of experiencing it, disseminating it and monetizing it...
  • "It’s not possible to translate or extend traditional analog content like news reports and soap operas into pixels without fundamentally changing them. So we have to invent new forms...
  • "All of the fascinating, particular, sometimes beautiful and already quaint ways of organizing words and images that evolved in the previous centuries — music reviews, fashion spreads, page-one news reports, action movies, late-night talk shows — are designed for a world that no longer exists...
  • "For 10 years, journalists have hoped to avoid radical job retraining. And who can blame anyone in any profession, midcareer and set in her ways, for avoiding seminars on writing Google-friendly leads or opening her sources to readers? At the same time, a huge number of mainstream journalists have taken to blogging, signed up for Facebook and Twitter, linked to video and experimented with new forms...
  • "The fact that articles live in digital form and no longer, primarily, on paper, frees them from certain constraints that seem absolutely normal to old-media people and archaic if not just stupid to everyone else...
  • "People who work in traditional media and entertainment ought either to concentrate on the antiquarian quality of their work, cultivating the exclusive audience ... that might pay for craftsmanship. Or they should imagine that they are 19 again: spending a day on Twitter....
  • "Then they should think about what content suits these new modes of distribution and could evolve in tandem with them."
The article I lifted these quotes from is titled "Content or Discontent," implying that this change isn't being fully embraced even in the venerable "Times" newsroom. So, you're not alone if you're not yet completely up-to-speed. To get there, three quick questions:
  1. How 'flexible' is your most experienced people's approach to keeping your listener up-to-date (in ways you can still package and sell to advertisers without losing audience and attention)?
  2. Do you tell great stories, create engaging, viral content?
  3. Do your news personalities understand how very important this is, now?

Friday, December 05, 2008

In All Eight PPM Major Markets: Country Is UP From The Final Diary Trends

(Country format average increase from the final two diary book average compared to the first two PPM month averages)

18-34: +28.4%
18-49: +29.9%
25-54: +29.1%

- Musicrunch's Anthony Acampora and Kevin McCabe at the 2008 ARB Consultants' Fly-In

I thought we had licked the country bias against writing the format down in diaries many years ago, but it seems that in the major markets, at least, that may not be the case.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

George Strait Gets The Most Nominations, Taylor Shines As CoHost

Neil Haislop was there:
"Taylor Swift's increasing stature was never more evident than at last night's first Grammy Nominations Show, from the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. Swift not only co-hosted the event with LL Cool J, she also performed on the show."
She was the only country performer to sing on the show, which - like the Grammys - makes you wonder just how many country radio listeners spent much time watching them. She turned in a medley, Brenda Lee's "I'm Sorry," giving it her own unique interpretation, before she segued into her own hit, "White Horse."

George Strait will be smiling today to learn that his increasing excellence as a country performer and producer garnered him the most Grammy nominations, unusual for a show - since the voting is by musicians and artists - which usually punishes commercial success and rewards the eclectic.

George Strait
Track from: Troubadour [MCA Nashville]

GEORGE has two in the Best Country Collaboration With Vocals category.... (For a collaborative performance, with vocals, by artists who do not normally perform together. Singles or Tracks only.)

Kenny Chesney & George Strait
Track from: Just Who I Am: Poets And Pirates [BNA Records]
House Of Cash
George Strait & Patty Loveless
Track from: Troubadour [MCA Nashville]
Best Country Song
I Saw God Today(George Strait)
Rodney Clawson, Monty Criswell & Wade Kirby, songwriters

Best Country Album
Troubadour - George Strait [MCA Nashville]

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Don't Skimp on Their Ad Budgets

The Wharton School of Business has published a short – and reinforcing – read.
"The first reaction is to cut, cut, cut, and advertising is one of the first things to go," says Wharton marketing professor Peter Fader, adding that as companies slash advertising in a downturn, they leave empty space in consumers' minds for aggressive marketers to make strong inroads. Today's economy "provides an unusual opportunity to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd," says Fader, "but it takes a lot of courage and convincing to get senior management on board with that."
(thanks to Broadcast Dialogue for turning me onto it)

A Thing Of Beauty: Country's Broad Demographic Profile

Spend some time with the just-released RAB Radio Marketing Guide. You'll feel very good about our format and our medium today.

Source: Mediamark Research & Intelligence LLC, Doublebase 2008 Adults 18+ Country Format Audience Distribution by Age Cell – Total Week Cume

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Inside Radio: "The Boss As A Boss"

Amidst all the richly-deserved tributes, leave it to Kinosian to come up with a unique angle:
Radio existed before Bill Drake arrived on the scene and it continues even after his much too early passing last weekend. Mike talked to some others who knew this radio legend far better and longer than I did. One thing we all have in common today: it was impossible not to recognize that we were working for a brilliant radio person. Read their story HERE.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Bill Drake

Inside Radio’s Mike Kinosian was the AC consultant at Drake-Chenault back in the late 1970’s when I joined the firm to replace Lee Bailey as their country consultant. So, when he asked me for a comment on Bill’s death, I had the feeling that many others, including Mike himself, are better qualified to speak on Bill’s undeniable legacy which lives in so many of us. Radio-Info’s thread, “Bill Drake: The Hits Just Stopped Coming” and the Wikipedia post, already updated with his death date are just two of hundreds you’ll find if you search the terms “Bill Drake.”

I am lucky to be among the people who knew and worked with him for at least a bit, and this I can safely assert: today's popular theorem that programming is nothing but a service bureau for sales would have horrified programming purist Drake.

With PPM just around the corner, his totally-listener-driven approach, using research to grow actual minute by minute usage, employing counter-programming, forward momentum, slimming down disc jockey talk, cutting commercial loads, while exposing only the top hits, controlling everything - hiring great personalities, using powerful event-driven promotions, strict commercial policies, including the promos and musical images with a bright, hot, fast-moving sound that engaged listeners and yet also transitioned all elements together as seamlessly as possible.

PPM data is showing us how smart this approach was and is providing a renaissance of his tactics and strategies.

Bill even gave the most-played currents a rest before bringing them back to regular rotations to give burn a chance to drop and turn to high familiarity and greater acceptance.

Tracking what listeners actually do in PPM during the life of songs these days has again reminded me of how brilliant Drake was.

Bill, before you go, I need to tell you: you still live in me.