Friday, January 30, 2009

Another First For Erica Farber

“Erica Farber epitomizes the true essence of what a trailblazer is in our industry. She leads by example. It is a privilege to recognize her and the many contributions she has made.” - Heidi Raphael, Greater Media’s VP of Corporate Communications and the MIW Radio Group spokesperson

Today is her last day in the office at Radio & Records, a fact which is inconceivable to me. But, thanks to MIW and RAB, she will be first recipient of the newly created Trailblazers Award, which will be presented each year to a woman who has “blazed new trails” for women in the radio industry.

That certainly describes Erica perfectly. She has set an example which any woman who wants to achieve success in the media business would do well to study and emulate.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Holy Smokes, A&O Just Made The BIG Time

This week's A&O client conference call (Opportunities for Radio in 2009) just made the Hear 2.0 blog. (blush!)

If you missed it, set aside 45 minutes and enjoy the
click as much as A&O clients (like Becky Brenner of KMPS, who he shouts out to at the start) did!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Rules Of Bad Radio

The RAB's Radio Mercury Awards are back with a $100,000 cash prize as well as $10,000 and $5,000 awards for great creative use of the audio medium, so that kind of dough alone is worth clicking their website. However, the Radio Mercury folks got pretty creative themselves this year, providing a list of rules you need to break each and every time you open a microphone:
  • Rule #1: Don’t attract the listener’s attention. [Ever heard a radio commercial that didn’t command your attention? Make sure your spot doesn’t have the same effect on listeners.]
  • Rule #2: Fail to paint a picture. [Radio is a visual medium. Your words create a mental image that inspires and motivates listeners to act. Words are powerful – choose them carefully.]
  • Rule #3: Be so clever or creative you forget to sell. [A good commercial isn’t one that just makes people laugh; it motivates them to act. Make your message clear. Don’t bury it in a clever idea.]
  • Rule #4: Use cliché-ridden copy. [Commercial clichés are trite and empty and don’t communicate anything to listeners. Find a way to say it fresher. It’s worth it.]

  • Rule #5: Write way too much copy. [Read your copy out loud at a normal conversational pace and time yourself. If it takes you seventy-five seconds to read it, what makes you think your talent can do a good job with the same copy in just sixty seconds?]

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

(How Country Wins Or Loses At) The Radio Game

Reid Morgan, Pattison Radio Group/Lethbridge Director of Programming for CHLB-FM and CJBZ-FM, writes: "Driving back from lunch I punched through the five major stations we compete with. (CKVN excluded) Country 95 was playing a new Can Con song, Roadhammers/Homegrown and B 93 was playing a recurrent song Jordin Sparks/One Step at a Time.

Here's the game: the other three stations, Rock 106, The River and The Lounge were playing..

Abba / Dancing Queen
John Melencamp / Hurt So Good
Pat Benetar / Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Try to match the song to the station! (Of course, depending on when you happen to listen, you might hear any of those songs on any of them.)

The point is, country and
CHR are the only ones doing anything unique, the other three can be completely interchangeable and IMHO the musical identities have become blurred. I also think this opens great opportunities for us, but, of course, in the battle for the strongest song at this moment C95, admittedly, would not come out on top. While country needs to work on our song power and familiarity to keep cumes up, the formats around us seem to be creating loyalty, music differentiation and TSL problems for themselves."

Thanks, Reid. Great points. And, as if to underscore your perspective, I drove into another client market last evening and heard Joni Mitchell/Big Yellow Taxi on a station which calls itself "classic rock."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Targeting Tip From Paragon Research

Researcher Larry Johnson makes a great point which some folks who attempt to fragment the country format really need to understand:
"There are two formats that defy the usual research approach: Country and Urban. You’re either in the Country or Urban Lifegroup or you’re not. There are some interesting research nuances to watch for within these two formats."

People of all ages constitute the Fan base of both Country and Urban formats. The age range for Country is remarkably even, depending on the market composition. In most formats we’re able to segment music styles. Not so with Country. The best stab has been to see how audiences respond to eras rather than music styles when researching CouUrban & Countryntry.

The same wide age range is apparent with Urban formats. The trend to watch in Urban in 2009 is how much formatic deference to age is given.

Traditionally, Johnson blogs, Urban has targeted younger, but we’ve seen quite a bit of old library material dating back to the 1970s being played on Urban stations. Urban AC purports to deliver a smoother texture of music, but those stations must be relevant to members of the Urban Lifegroup who are growing older. It’s fascinating to watch how may—if any– and which songs from the Hip Hop genre Urban stations trying to reach an audience over 25 can employ. Although you can dance to lyrics like, “I’m going to blow you away with my A.K.,” these types of songs tend to burn out quickly. It may be difficult to bring back many Hip Hop songs as they become unpalatable to an aging Urban audience.

One difference, darn it: Arbitron does not have any "high density country areas" with higher premiums and weighted respondents, unfortunately, because of course country listeners of all ages tend to be more cooperative research participants than Urban listeners seem to be.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Neil Haislop's Nashville IQ©


The Paisley Party was partying hard again this week as Brad launched the final leg of his tour that began to raves last year. The shows in Memphis, Little Rock, Pensacola and near capacity in New Orleans raved to with more rave reviews. Dierks Bentley and Darius Rucker are guests on the tour.

“Wit, showmanship, emotion, crazy great guitar pyrotechnics – if there was something Brad Paisley’s show lacked at Alltel Arena on Friday night it was hard to figure out.” Werner Trieschmann – Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“And the tight band should be stressed, but most impressive among them was Paisley himself, a blistering guitarist who could stand toe to toe with just about any rock guitar god you can name.” Julio Diaz – Pensacola News Journal

2009 The Paisley Party tour dates:

1-22 Austin, TX Frank Irwin Center
1-23 Bossier City, LA CenturyTel Center
1-24 Tulsa, OK BOK Center
1-25 Lubbock, TX United Spirit Arena
1-29 Dayton, OH Nutter Center
1-30 Moline, IL iWireless Center
1-31 Omaha, NE Qwest Center
2-12 London, ONT John Labatt Centre
2-13 Hamilton, ONT Copps Coliseum
2-14 Ottawa, ONT Scotiabank Place
2-17 Winnipeg, MAN MTS Centre
2-18 Regina, SK Brandt Centre
2-19 Saskatoon, SK Credit Union Centre
2-20 Edmonton, ALB Rexall Place
2-21 Calgary, ONT Penngrowth Saddledome
2-24 Vancouver, BC General Motors Place
2-26 Spokane, WA Spokane Arena
2-27 Portland, OR Rose Garden
2-28 Tacoma, WA Tacoma Dome
3-1 Yakima, WA Yakima Valley Sundome
3-14 Nashville, TN Sommet Center


Kenny Chesney's Corona Extra sponsored Sun City Carnival - which features Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum on all shows - expands to include Sugarland and Montgomery Gentry for the all day shows, which will happen in 12 cities overall. With initial cities being announced, the stadium dates will be in Dallas, Texas, Columbus, Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Illinois, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, San Francisco, California, Seattle, Washington, Salt Lake City, Utah, Foxboro, Massachusetts, Detroit, Michigan and Indianapolis, Indiana.

“Some cities - like Boston, where we've been four times - really want us to come back in that big way… and you know, I like changing things up, so some markets we're gonna play smaller venues and come back big… and a couple markets we're gonna throw the all-day party for the first time. But it's gonna be a really intense day of music, especially with the acts we've got this year! You take Miranda, who did some dates with us last year and really rocked out crowd, and Lady Antebellum and you add in Sugarland and Montgomery Gentry - and you've got a full day of some great songs, people who know how to engage a crowd and really have the kind of fun doing it I want to know our fans have when they come out to see us.”


Monday Jo Dee Messina and husband, Chris Deffenbaugh, welcomed their first child, Noah Roger Deffenbaugh. Their baby boy weighed in at six lbs, 15 oz. The couple married in October, 2007.

Meanwhile, Jo Dee is readying her sixth studio album entitled Unmistakable for Curb Records and will begin a solo tour in April. Deffenbaugh owns and operates Deffenblaster Enterprises, which builds custom road cases. Also a wood worker, he built a stunning crib and changing table for baby Noah.


Country star Jimmy Wayne sprung into action Saturday morning after below-zero temperatures in St. Charles, IL, caused overhead pipes to suddenly burst, flooding the lobby of Pheasant Run Resort where Wayne was scheduled to perform later that night at Mega Winterfest.

Multitudes of guests and concertgoers were checking into the resort before the show when the overhead pipes in the lobby suddenly burst, spewing black-tinged water across the room and flooding the lobby ankle-deep. Wayne, who was chatting at the front desk, helped the resort staff remove tables, couches, chairs and rugs from the contaminated area and into an adjacent room as fans gathered, taking photos with their cell phones. Wayne continued to help, evacuating guests from the lobby, as firefighters arrived. Fans posed for pictures with Jimmy and the firefighters after the ordeal was over.

So, "Radio Needs To Change?"

Inside Radio reports Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan says “Radio needs to change in fundamental ways," eh?

Before drinking that Kool Aid, please take a good look at the broad demographic scope and reach of radio usage in just two typical major markets, New York and Philadelphia (each dot is one metered user, in a matrix of age/amount of radio used, with heavy users ranging across from very young to very old, click on the graphic to enlarge it) presented last month by Arbitron VP/PPM Sales John Snyder.

All ages, from age six to 100 appear to be using a lot of radio! So, which needs changing? Radio? Or, the way the consolidated companies manage and sell it?

Here's hoping that after the changes Hogan is contemplating occur at his stations this year, the listenership remains this strong.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Favorite Quote Of Inauguration Day Thus Far

“Absolutely take a radio. Things are going to change and that’s how we’ll get the word to you." - - Washington D.C., police chief Cathy Lanier

“I Had A Dream” Too

Martin Luther King Day and Barack Obama’s Inauguration have combined to create some wonderful radio moments over the last 24 hours with stations, listeners and personalities getting involved and also helping out community service projects.

It makes you proud to be a part of this engaging, involving business.

To underscore the vitality and importance of what we do to me personally, on Sunday and Monday I drove the nearly radio free zone that is the Northern California and Southern Oregon coasts, beautiful and sunny on these two January days. However, the absence of much choice on the dial made me realize how much I miss radio. To compensate, I pulled out the last six months’ Radio and Production Magazine CD’s.

Jerry Vigil’s print publication is always creatively inspiring, from Z-100 New York production guru Dave Foxx’s writing, the RAP interview and the other idea-starters and technical reviews, but the absolute best thing in the magazine each issue is the CD with at least 30 promos and commercials, shared by creative producers from Los Angeles to Kentville, Nova Scotia.

However, perhaps listening to six of them back to back was just too much of a concentrated dose of radio self-promotion at one time.

I just woke up in the middle of the night, realizing that I just had a horrible nightmare: I just dreamed that all 30 of the RapMag CD cuts were ... 30 different promos, from 30 different stations, all promoting their new Ryan Seacrest midday show!

That's when I turned over and went back to sleep to the relaxing sound of Pacific surf.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Busy News Day Calls For Time Economy And Word Efficiency

Lessons from the Inauguration for those among us who tend to speak like no other human beings on earth do ("was involved in the altercation..," "no cause for the fire has been released..," "the alleged perpetrator attempted to flee on foot..," etc) and take the liberty of expanding their time on the air to their perceived importance:

1. It only takes 39 words to swear in a President.
2. "Small words say well." - Winston Churchill

Need I say more?

Garth Shows He Knows How To Wow 'Em By The Million

Washington Times (click to read it) reviewer: the stealer of the show turned out not to be Barack Obama or Joseph R. Biden Jr., but retired country singer Garth Brooks.

Departing from a carefully carpentered script that featured granite-like recitations of quotes from dead white guys and musical selections with some relevance to the day's theme -- unity, or love, or something -- the Large-Hatted One played to the lowest common denominator of wedding-reception rock with abridged covers of Don McLean's "American Pie" and the Isley Brothers' "Shout!"

The tens of thousands gathered around the frozen Reflecting Pool ate it up -- finally, if briefly, coming alive amid two hours of portentous speech-making that petrified (as in, turned to stone) even the comedians Jack Black, Steve Carrell and "Harold and Kumar" star Kal Penn.

Is this a great country or what?

Country Music News, Fun, Quotes & Gossip

Faith Hill joins Junnifer Nettles and Garth Brooks as featured artists helping to celebrate at the Inauguration in Washington.

And, as BHO departed Chicago for Washington, the chilly Windy City is hosting a lengthy lineup of new country artists over the weekend. Phil Vassar and LeAnn Rimes started the festival off.
"Macaroni and cheese is a vegetable here, by the way. I stay away from it, but it's really good." -- Canadian music producer Colin Linden who moved from Toronto to Nashville in 1988's takes on Music City

"The Gambler"
writer Don Schlitz
surprised the crowd at Nashville's Bluebird the other night:
"If you’re a club in Pittsburgh or Paducah or pretty much any other town, it’s a rough deal when the headliner cancels. If you’re the Bluebird in Nashville, you just go through the database until you find a Hall of Fame songwriter’s telephone number, and you make a call." -- The Tennessean's Peter Cooper
Like CMT says: that is today in country music!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

R&R Street Talk: Another Bird-Brained Radio Bit

And, since it involves our friend and Steel-town country PD Keith Clark, I feel fine about stealing the item. (However, since I do not possess the writing savoir faire of Kevin Carter, I have elected to lift it verbatim and hope for plagiarism grace from Radio & Records):

No one was more pleased than we were to see that this weekend’s AFC Championship game has helped to revive the spirit of those old-school, larger-than-life radio stunts, like, say, convincing your mayor to change his name to coincide with your favorite football team. Such was the case in Pittsburgh, where Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s last name happens to carry the unfortunate stigma of containing the name of the Steelers’ hated AFC rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. To remedy that accident of birth, His Honor joined the morning show on CBS Hot AC WZPT (Star 100.7)/Pittsburgh yesterday and officially changed his name to “Steeler-stahl” (get it?).

“On behalf of the Steelers Nation ... nation ... nation [echo added in post-production], I’ve decided to remove the word ‘Ravens’ from my name just like the Steelers will remove them from the AFC Championship,” the newly anointed Steeler-stahl remarked during a press conference. The change will remain in effect until the Steelers (hopefully) beat the Ravens this Sunday — or until 60 Minutes starts, whichever comes first.

To Dine On Raven This Sunday: CBS/Pittsburgh VP of Programming Clark explains how this swell idea ignited: “We were sitting around brainstorming ways to eliminate any potential jinx for the Steelers, and it hit JR that our mayor’s name is ‘Raven-stahl’ — and that would not do. He was a great sport and gave us all the credit for the idea. TV stations from everywhere came down to cover it.” To keep the city’s mood cranked to “11” until Sunday, all three CBS stations (B94, Star 100.7 and Country Y108) will be hosting the “Balti-moron Bird Bash” all day Friday. “For a donation to charity, listeners can smash an old ‘Skylark’ painted like the hated Ravens,” says Clark. “We’ve always had so much fun with the Steelers fans here come playoff time ... but this year is weird. We’ve got two flocks of birds to get through to our sixth Super Bowl ring: first, the Ravens; then, the Eagles or Cardinals. The whole staff is wearing face masks to avoid the avian flu!”

(gosh, someday, I hope to grow up to write like that...)

Kenny Chesney Makes His First Grammy Appearance

Neil Haislop notes that it sure seems unlikely that Kenny Chesney has never appeared on the Grammy Awards show, but he will finally make his debut on the show when the 51st edition of the Recording Academy's awards show airs on CBS from Los Angeles on February 8th.
“It's funny… I've been part of some amazing tv things that have brought all kinds of performers together - 'Willie Nelson's 70th Birthday Party,' 'Genius: A Night for Ray Charles' - but there's just something about the Grammy Awards,” Chesney says of his upcoming performance. “You know when you walk out on that stage you're with the very best of every kind of music there is, and it's a place where you feel like when you get the call, it really means something.”

Kenny will be performing with a variety of stars on the first list of performers including, Coldplay, Jonas Brothers, Lil Wayne, and Katy Perry.

Chesney, who is nominated for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for “Shiftwork,” his duet with George Strait from the double platinum approaching, Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates, will be performing something from the album which also yielded the three multiple week #1s: “Don't Blink,” “Never Wanted Nothing More” and “Better As A Memory.”

Chesney tour '09 news: in addition to rising stars, Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum, Kenny adds heavy hitters, Montgomery Gentry and Sugarland to an explosive musical mix of cool talent that will make his '09 tour the one to beat again this year.
“I’ve been on the road with both Sugarland and Montgomery Gentry,” says the 4-consecutive and current Academy of Country Music and 4-time and reigning Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year. “Jennifer and Kristian and Eddie and Troy are all people who get the road, get the fans, get having fun and are all about getting out there and having the best time they can on that stage… and when Sugarland or Montgomery Gentry comes off, you know those people were rocked.”

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hot? Working Those Pounds Off. Not? The Economy

Big Research's January consumer update reports that 81.3% indicated that physical exercise was what’s hot!

Younger men also backed the Apple iPhone and Jennifer Aniston (big surprise), while women cast their vote for the budget-friendly art of re-gifting as well as this season’s oversized scarves.

What's Not? Even in a recession, when compared to cubic zirconia, diamonds are always a girl’s best friend.

Obamathon Includes Garth, Jennifer Nettles, The Lion King's "We Are One"

No smashing guitars this time, as
HBO will kick-off Inauguration week with an exclusive presentation of the star-studded opening ceremony on Sunday, January 18th. In the spirit of unity and inclusion, the show will be made available to all cable and satellite subscribers.

Don't expect a greatest-hits concert.
The 90-minute show, which will begin at 2 p.m. and which will be shown that evening in a special free broadcast, will consist mainly of performers covering songs that have historical resonance or connect to the theme of the concert, dubbed "We Are One."

Jennifer Nettles and another yet-to-be-announced artist to sing "My Country 'Tis of Thee," which opera star Marian Anderson famously sang at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939.

Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Garth Brooks -- and that's just toward the top of the alphabetical list released yesterday -- are scheduled to perform.

The event launches what promises to be a heavily covered several days of activities leading up to the January 20th swearing in.

Monday, January 12, 2009


I called Country Aircheck last week to chat with Lon Helton when their ace statistician Jeff Green happened to be answering the phone.

Jeff’s encyclopedic knowledge includes songs, artists, music, radio and many other things, not the least of which is Arbitron ratings data.

He had the sound of slight panic in his voice as he asked if I had been watching the PPM trends of country radio cumes in the 13 markets now currency. I had, of course, and we both agreed that country’s cume in all of the markets was higher six months ago before the data was currency.

Now, with extra sample for ethnic populations and 18-34’s, and the markets having officially said goodbye to diaries, country radio cumes have been slipping across the board.


Green asked if I thought the trend was due to ARB methodology or to country music trends.

Both things play a role, I believe. It seems to me that the image of country is absolutely great among listeners thanks to lots of exciting media coverage of our hottest stars, but the fact that Tim McGraw was moved last fall to issue an apology to his fans after his label decided not to release new material and went with a “Greatest Hits” collection says a lot about how conservatively Nashville’s labels are responding to the economic slow down, making our current music fare a bit less exciting than it was in 2007.

“If That’s The Case,” he opined, remembering the mid-1960’s when The Beatles reinvented pop music and the group had three of the top ten charted songs, maybe country radio should start listening to the best-selling albums and just play the best songs, perhaps two or three at a time.”

Personally, I think most A&O clients do a very good job at keeping listeners passionately-excited about our best music and artists, which is why they generally do very well, but then I got to thinking about what else we could do...

* How about asking your audience to vote pro or con on whether we should play nothing but Dixie Chicks songs during the hour of Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony and do what they vote for whether it’s yes or no?

* How about creating a Randy Travis-Carrie Underwood duet mix of “I Told You So” then and now?

* How about digging into all of the Grammy-nominated country albums to see if there might be some hidden gems for you to “break exclusively?”

* How about doing something as risky as those things on a regular basis?

It might make some conservatives in our core upset. But, who knows? It might build your buzz a bit, getting that cume growing again.

What do you think?

I was going to ask Lon Helton when I finally got a chance to talk to him, but by that time I had forgotten why I had originally called him.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Great Advice From Another Format's Experts

Al Peterson: What does a host need to play successfully on the national stage?

Phil Boyce: There is one undeniable quality: the ability to generate passion from their audience. Every successful talk host has that. They create appointment radio where listeners can’t wait to hear their next show. They tell others about what you said. They develop a bond with your website and message board. They become P-1’s of the show and the radio station. When I find a host who can do that I’ve found the next generation of great Talk radio.

AP: What’s the biggest mistake you see at Talk radio today?

PB: Trying to create a ‘checkerboard’ instead of a ‘jig saw puzzle.’ The argument is you have all these conservative talk shows so it’s a good idea to throw something completely different into the mix to attract a different audience. Wrong! You destroy your station’s TSL and listeners vote with their finger. Build a station like a jig saw puzzle, where every piece is a little different but the pieces fit together to create one big picture that makes sense. You’ll drive listeners from one show to the next and your TSL will be the highest in the market. You’ll beat the high cuming stations with audience loyalty and advertisers will want to reach that audience that never turns off your station.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Music And Radio Business 2010: Which Is More Profitable - Own 10,000 Radio Stations? Or, One Passionate Fan?

Today's economy is teaching each of us that, like it or not, we're all business managers.

No one can be trusted to manage your career, future and finances other than you.

Meanwhile, never before has it been so important to know what business you are in and at the same time so difficult to see what the future holds.

For example, while our audience is going up, revenues are going down.

Arbitron's Radar 99 National Radio Listening Report just found that radio reaches more than 234 million persons age 12 and older over the course of a typical week up from 232 million previously.

Meanwhile, BIA Financial Network reports that for the second consecutive year radio revenue is expected to drop 7 percent this year to $16.7 billion, the lowest total in more than five years and next year radio revenue could plummet 10 percent, going as low as $15 billion. Positive growth isn't forecast until 2010 with a very modest 1.5 percent uptick.

The music business is in an even more tenuous position. "While music is more widespread and more easily available than ever in history," well-known marketing thought-leader and author Seth Godin points out that "music and songs and musicians aren't going away, but the business of fairly anonymous labels that have no brand or direct connection directly with listeners, extracting 80%, 90%, even 100% of the profits from the musician, that is clearly going away."

Godin has been accurately predicting the future, guiding business in a series of prescient best-sellers like Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers, The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick),and his latest one, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us and he'll be sharing his insights with attendees to the Country Radio Seminar this year (click for more info).

The future Godin sees for music and radio, as quoted in researcher Mark Ramsey's Hear 2.0 blog: "You could own 1,000 stations or 10,000 stations, each one of them could be the best in somebody's world. I think 'the win' for the music business is to realize that music is a chance to spread an idea. My fear is that there's too much nostalgia in the music business for them to grab a hold of that quickly."

Godin, about his new book: "So what's missing today is not that we don't have enough tribes, it's that we don't have enough people to lead them, and that is the opportunity I talk about in the book, particularly to people who already have a platform, who already are speaking to numbers of people, who already are trying to make something change.

"The opportunity is to realize that what you do for a living now is not interrupt the masses but instead lead and connect a tribe. The worst enemy of a radio station is the Arbitron ratings (and perhaps a mass appeal hit song for a label or an artist?) because they force you to abandon the tribe."

Take it from me: you need to be at CRS-40 in Nashville to hear Seth Godin’s take on our future, YOUR future. And, of course, please also come to A&O's Annual Pre-CRS Seminar as well.

Putting It All In Perspective

With talk that Clear Channel managers are coming back home today from Monday and Tuesday's corporate meetings with orders to cut still another 2-3 people per cluster, you have to admire the attitude of Chris Cantore, who no doubt feels like lots of other former radio worker bees. (click watch his great You Tube video)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Engine Is Still Running

If you're depressed reading all of the negative economic forecasts for 2009, here's a quote from a new book on how musicians cornered the world's adoration which hopefully will make you feel better about what we all do every day:
"Over four centuries, musicians’ place in society has gone from being servants to superstars." -- Tim Blanning, "The Triumph Of Music"

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ground Hog Day?

"This year will be the worst year for country music since Soundscan started tracking the format in 1992. Country had a great lineup of releases this year with Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban greatest hits, etc, and it wasn't enough. Next year doesn't get any better because the (release) schedule isn't as good and the economy seems to be slowing."

-- Joe Galante, Chairman, Sony-BMG Labels

I was agreeing with every word in the January 4 Country Radio Broadcasters' "State Of The Country" Executive Memo from Executive Director Ed Salamon. Then, I received the email stating that they had accidentally posted LAST years to the web link!

This year's is indeed even more worrisome.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

PPM Creates New Country Benchmarks

New Years Eve’s release of December Arbitron PPM monthlies from 14 markets have demonstrated again how much greater radio’s reach is than the diary methodology has historically shown.

America’s NEW top-cuming PPM country stations:

KPLX, Dallas - 1.122.800
KKGO, Los Angeles - 1,077,000
WUSN, Chicago - 970,300
KKBQ, Houston - 955,000
KSCS, Dallas - 903,700
KILT, Houston - 849,200
WKHX, Atlanta - 729,000
WYCD, Detroit - 728,600
WXTU, Philadelphia - 638,700
WUBL, Atlanta - 600,000

KILT, Houston, achieved the honor of being the first country station whose stream made the book, with a .5 cume rating and a .2 share. At least one station in each of the 14 markets had their stream make the book, but KILT is the only country station to do it so far. A .495 weekly cume rating was required to make the book.

In 2003, an Arbitron study of “America’s Top Performing Country Stations” presented at CRS by Bob Michaels showed that a common trait of the top 16 format performers in diaries is that they attained a cume threshold of at least 25% of the weekly radio users (weekly cume rating) in their markets.

That’s a benchmark that no PPM-rated country station has yet achieved, unfortunately.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

December PPM ratings: AC 6+ shares are up 42%; country down 17%

With a New Year’s Eve announcement and public data release, Arbitron PPM audience estimates are now the buy/sell “currency” in 14 local markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Detroit, Nassau-Suffolk, Middlesex-Somerset-Union, Riverside-San Bernardino and San Jose.

16 country stations in these cities are now rated by PPM, seven of them just received their first official metered ratings for the survey dates November 13 - December 10.

The average 6+ share of the other nine, which also had a November PPM monthly dropped by 17% from that previous month.

Since “shares” are a zero-sum game, when someone goes down, someone else goes up. And, it’s no mystery who gained at country’s expense. The average share of the 14 “all Christmas” stations, mainly AC and Christian, in those same markets went up 42%.

Don’t put your anti-depressants away quite yet, since the PPM “Holiday 2008” survey dates are December 11 - January 7 and those numbers will be released in about three weeks.

Two bits of better news: the diary survey ended on December 10, so at least those markets don’t have to cope with even more impact of solid Holiday music, after a fall survey period which has been affected by election, economy and the holiday spirit.

Even in the PPM markets, the January 2009 survey begins on January 8 and ends on February 4. Hopefully, as it appeared last year, country listeners will have returned to their normal listening patterns on December 26.

Question: why are we even talking 'shares,' since PPM metrics tend to compress shares, making a few high-cumers the big 'share' winners leaving the majority of the others to compete in a game of fractions?

Wouldn't it make more sense to talk reach? Or at least quarter hour persons?

PS: Arbiton's Gary Marince says that these markets account for 51.7 percent of the estimated radio station revenue in the top 50 radio markets. ARB plans to commercialize the PPM radio ratings service in Boston with the release of the March PPM survey report (March 5-April 1), which will bring PPM currency to 15 major U.S. markets.