Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Fall of the Mall

What does a recession look like? (click to view it interactively) The New York Times created two maps of a theoretical mall, giving a view as seen through retail sales.

Only Burger King, Denny's and Family Dollar (oops, I have now corrected my previous post, mis-stating that it was Abercrombie & Fitch - thinking that folks still need duds - after "anonymous" pointed out my error, as commented below) are in the "green (or even better, yellow)."

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sometimes Localism Can Give You Goosebumps

Since my post on how very often localism takes dedicated, passionate people to achieve, I have been receiving many examples of how far local radio station air staffs will go to assist local causes every day, but this one from WSRG (97.7 The Big Dawg)/Sturgeon Bay GM/PD/Morning co-host Jeff Stone (click to watch video of "The Big Dawg Plunge - Stone is the one in the wheel chair) makes the point more coldly than any of the others thus far:
"This was our chilly plunge we did in Lake Michigan last week for Relay For Life. We raised over $2000.00 in just a few hours to get their drive jump started. I was supposed to jump, but of course I talked a volunteer hot girl in a bikini to do it for me....Ha Ha....But other morning team members Hervy and Colin did it! Great stuff."

Friday, May 29, 2009

Self-Critiquing Tips

I attended a meeting yesterday at a client station where Charlie Sislen broke out the latest ratings, and on the way to it I read Larry King's new book, "My Remarkable Journey", turning today into one of those days where life keeps teaching the same lesson over and over until you finally get it:
"One of the things I always try to do is ask questions that begin with the word why. Don't ask questions that go over, tops, two sentences." - King
"Study radio ratings and you realize that it comes down to three words: Concise, Crisp, Compelling. If it's not going to be concise and crisp, it better be extremely compelling." - Sislen

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Sound Of Localism

David Oxenford's "Broadcast Law" post on Localism Without Government Regulation makes radio's case against FCC-mandated local programming pretty well.

This comment from Tom Taggart it prompted makes it even more potently:
"Each winter we do a "coats for kids" drive. It's sold, but it's a lot of work. We put barrels at sponsor's stores, and have two dry cleaners who clean the donated coats. The coats then go to churches and community agencies. One bank sponsor has locations 50 miles apart we need to service. Under FCC's rules, we would get little credit for all this work. Now, if we ran four or five hour long discussion programs each Sunday on the need for coats for poor kids and that the government needs a program to solve this problem, why we could fill up the public file issues folder quite full."

Meanwhile, CJJR/Vancouver morning cohost Clay St. Thomas distributed this message to his listeners today:
"The weekend of August 14th to 16th, I'm going to be walking in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer. It's 60K of walking, spread over 2 days. Not bragging, just saying ;) Well, maybe bragging just a little...with that level of commitment, all the walkers on all teams are obviously serious about wanting to do something to end Breast Cancer. I'm a cancer survivor myself, and my mom lost her fight with cancer. Sadly, my circumstances are not unusual. 1 in 3 people will eventually be diagnosed with cancer. This disease runs in everyone's family, and the rate of increase in Breast Cancer specifically is nothing short of epidemic. So here's the pitch: Please consider heading over to and making a donation. I know times are tight, which is honestly part of the reason why I'm doing this whole 'hat in hand' routine. Thanks for reading this, and especially for any support you can give. I really appreciate it. Yours in blister pads and damp socks, - Clay"

PS: his cohost Karen Daniels is doing it too!

There are some things you simply can't do with smoke and mirrors. That's the sound of genuine localism, actions thousands and thousands of radio personalities and their stations take upon themselves every single day, which move millions of listeners to get involved too, amplifying already-impressive individual efforts like Clay's and Tom's.

A sound of genuine "localism" in radio: running shoes on pavement. Just try to stick that in your Public File!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Three Days, Interacting About Interactive Media

* “...a newspaper rep calls me, they don’t understand how I think. Basically, I ran a couple of ads with you, and got no response. Now I have moved on.” -- Jerome Fowlkes, managing member, Broadlands, LLC

* "Some of the broadcast advertising has come with a Web site complement. The Web element is well worth the money. It has the best tracking mechanism. -- Valerie Passwaiter, assistant marketing manager for Northwest Federal Credit Union

* "Interactive revenue will be 22% of local ad revenue by 2013, and most of that comes out of newspaper.” -- John Kelsey

When the agenda promises "leading new media experts share their insights and strategies for broadcasters, newspapers companies and cable operators to assure near and long term success in a transformed media marketplace...," you just assume that recaps of the best sessions will be blogged and steamed online and indeed BIA and The Kelsey Group have done just that for last week's meeting, well worth a click and a thorough read!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ad-ology: Advertise Or Die

According to a new Ad-ology Research study, more than 48% of U.S. adults believe that a lack of advertising by a retail store, bank or auto dealership during a recession indicates the business must be struggling.

Conversely, a vast majority perceives businesses that continue to advertise as being competitive or committed to doing business.

Ranking low in the key findings, the word "radio," (".. TV, newspaper, direct mail, and Internet top local media from which consumers saw/heard an ad within the last 30 days that led them to take action.."

Is it that these respondents simply don't realize at the conscious level that radio's ads impact them? Or, do they want our ads and offers to be more easily searchable online and on mobile devices? I'd bet it's both of the above.


* 40% of consumers use coupons more now than a year ago
* Most consumers are as willing or more willing to pay more for ‘healthy' or ‘organic' products than they were a year ago
* A ‘deeply discounted price' was the number-one factor that would make consumers more likely to purchase a big-ticket item (+$1,000)
* Store Web sites ranked second only to search engines as the way consumers research products and shop online

I didn't like that they seem to have short-changed radio's ability to influence, but do love this conclusion of the study, as C. Lee Smith, president and CEO of Ad-ology Research, says "It is critical to advertise in the current economic climate, to maintain long-term positive consumer perception of your brand... advertising... assures consumers of a business' reliability... "

Friday, May 22, 2009

It's Time For My Annual "Don't Forget To Remember" Post

The National Moment of Remembrance, established by Congress, asks Americans wherever they are at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day to pause in an act of national unity (duration: one minute).

The time 3 p.m. was chosen because it is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday.

The Moment does not replace traditional Memorial Day events; rather it is an act of national unity in which all Americans, alone or with family and friends, honor those who died for our freedom. It will help to reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble holiday it was meant to be. In this shared remembrance, we connect "On This Day" (click to download the song as sung by Sara Evans and others) as Americans.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Listen To Some GREAT Radio (That Just Happens To Be Commercials)

You no doubt saw the PR today:
The finalists for the 2009 Radio Mercury Awards, which recognize and reward bold and effective commercials and campaigns exemplifying good Radio creative were announced today. The winners in the competition awarding a total of $125,000 in prizes will be announced at the annual gala on June 17th in New York City. The winner of this year's Grand Prize will receive a $100,000 award. In addition, two new awards were introduced this year; a $10,000 Integrated Radio Campaign Prize honoring the best use of Radio in an integrated multimedia plan, and the Marketer of the Year Award. The Marketer of the Year finalists, selected by a committee of industry-insiders, are: The Coca-Cola Company, GEICO, The Hershey's Company, McDonald's(R), Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the Barack Obama 2008 Presidential Campaign, chosen for their commitment to Radio as a creative medium.

Now, in a very cool touch, you can listen to some of radio's best spots of 2009 and even email them to a friend by clicking here.

Thank you RAB for doing something great for our medium, which we all - too often - take for granted. Like the press release on the finalists says: "The long-term goal of the Mercury Awards is to reposition Radio advertising as a showcase medium for the creative community," said Rick Boyko. "The winning spots will be smart and entertaining but, most importantly, they will forge an emotional connection with consumers."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sirius XM Is One Of Time's Top Ten Tech Failures

You, hopefully, will indulge me a self-satisfied smile as I pass this along (now let's work hard to adopt multi-platforms to be sure that we're not on this list ourselves in five years!):
Sirius XM (SIRI) satellite radio was supposed to be one of the most successful consumer electronics devices of all time. A subscriber would be able to listen to more than 100 stations coast-to-coast in either a moving vehicle, or using a portable version of the device. Initially, the service planned to run no commercials. One of the two companies that would eventually be the merged Sirius XM was XM Satellite Radio which launched its service in September 2001. At the end of the year, the company had almost 28,000 subscribers, a figure that jumped to about 350,000 by the end of the 2002 and 5.9 million by the end of 2005. Over this period, the company accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars of debt in order to cover capital expenses, operating deficits, and sales and marketing costs. Analysts expected the company to be extremely profitable once it reached subscriber levels of more than 10 million. The business was growing so quickly that this goal seemed a foregone conclusion. Rival Sirius launched its service in July 2002. Over the next five years, it would have fewer subscribers than XM but would grow nearly as fast. Sirius also took on tremendous amounts of debt to support its operations. As both companies ran low on money, they announced a merger on February 17, 2007. The FCC reviewed the request for thirteen months while the companies were bleeding cash. Subscriber growth had slowed, most likely because of new and more popular consumer electronics devices like the Apple iPod and multimedia cellular handsets. Shares in Sirius, which had traded at $63 in 2000, dropped to $.05 earlier this year. In the first quarter of 2009, the number of subscribers for the combined service declined by 400,000 from the previous quarter to 18.6 million. Neither Sirius nor XM ever made a dime. —Douglas A. McIntyre, Time Magazine

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Went For The Love Songs And Stayed For The Content On Dating

Dating Online Blog just emailed to let me know that they have an article on "100 Love Songs" which included a mention of my blog post on their "#59. George Strait - The Chair."

If dating topics of any kind come up on your show, you'll find some fascinating info, tips and opinions at the Dating Online Blog that should get your phones ringing with fun stories and experiences.

Interactive Radio Engagement Goes Mobile

Keep an eye, ear and a dialing finger on what engineer Joe Harb has talked Seattle's Sandusky stations into beta testing for his company, QUU (pronounced "cue").
"By adding the interactive element to your radio spots such as voting polls, station promotions, or concert ticket giveaways, your station not only informs listeners of your products and services, but provides them a way to instantly partake in the events," he says.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Barbara Mandrell Goes Into The Country Music Hall of Fame In Good Company

With over 75 major awards and 38 years in show business under her belt, Barbara Mandrell was welcomed into the Country Music Hall of Fame during the prestigious Medallion ceremony last night at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum with fellow Hall of Fame inductees Charlie McCoy and Roy Clark (pictured together at last night's event).

Known as the "Sweetheart of the Steel," Mandrell was a multi-instrumentalist by the time she was 10. She was on tour with The Johnny Cash Show by age 13 and had her first Billboard chart record at age 21. Her NBC variety show, "Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters" drew nearly 40 million viewers weekly and introduced a nation to country music. Now, Barbara joins fellow inductees, Roy Clark and Charlie McCoy, as one of the newest members of the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame.
As she addressed the audience in the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum's Ford Theater, Mandrell remarked, "Irby Mandrell was my manager as well as my Daddy over my 38-year career. He taught me, guided me and directed me. It is his name, Mandrell, that I am blessed to have, and it's the gracious loving public and fans that made our name known and popular. So tonight I thank you with my entire being for putting the Mandrell name into the Hall of Fame."

The ceremony was packed with musical performances to honor the three inductees. Performers included Garth Brooks, Alison Krauss, Reba McEntire, George Jones, Michael McDonald, Rodney Crowell, Josh Turner, Jelly Roll Johnson, Louise Mandrell and more. Barbara's musical tribute began with GRAMMY winner Alison Krauss singing Barbara's 1973 No. 1 hit, "The Midnight Oil." Her sister, Louise Mandrell, who claimed to be "the first Barbara Mandrell fan," sang "Sleeping Single in a Double Bed." The night took a soulful turn when Michael McDonald performed his rendition of her No. 1 song "(If Loving You is Wrong) I Don't Want to be Right." Of course, the night wouldn't have been complete without the performance that came from Reba McEntire and George Jones of Barbara's chart topping signature number, "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool." It was during this song that inductee Charlie McCoy honored Mandrell when he stepped in to play harmonica.

Barbara was officially inducted by her longtime friend Ralph Emery, who said to Mandrell, "You've done country music proud in every way." The induction ceremony culminated as Mandrell, Clark and McCoy were joined by other Country Music Hall of Fame members in attendance as they sang "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." Membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame has now increased from 105 to 108 inductees.

As the song says, Barbara was "Country When Country Wasn't Cool." She learned to read music before she could read words. Over the years, she added steel guitar, alto saxophone, bass, banjo, mandolin and Dobro to her arsenal of instruments. At age 11, her father took her to a music trade show in Chicago where she performed and caught the attention of legendary country guitarists, Chet Atkins and "Uncle" Joe Maphis. Maphis invited Barbara to join his show at the Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas, which became one of the single greatest influences on her musicianship. By the time Barbara was a teenager, she was touring with The Johnny Cash Show, which included- Cash, Patsy Cline, George Jones and June Carter.

Throughout her career she earned over 75 major awards, including two consecutive CMA Entertainer of the Year awards (1980 & 1981, making her the first artist ever to win two years in a row), CMA Female Vocalist of the Year (1979 and 1981), ACM Top Female Country Music Vocalist (1980 and 1986), NARAS Grammy Award for the Best Inspirational Performance (1983), Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance (1984), Dove Award for Gospel Album of the Year (1983) and nine People's Choice Awards (1983-1987). She is one of only six artists to have received the "Triple Crown" by winning all three of the most coveted awards, Top New Female, Top Female and Entertainer of the Year. Her autobiography, "Get to the Heart: My Story" debuted on The New York Times Best Sellers list and remained there for six months.

When she retired in 1997, her final concert was filmed at the Grand Ole Opry House for a highly-rated TNN concert special, "Barbara Mandrell and the Do-Rites: The Last Dance." In 1999, Mandrell was inducted into the Country Gospel Music Hall of Fame. The next year, the Academy of Country Music honored Barbara with their most prestigious award, The Pioneer Award.

BNA Records paid homage to Mandrell in 2006 with She Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool: A Tribute to Barbara Mandrell. The album featured many of today's top artists performing her classic hits, including Dierks Bentley, Terri Clark, Sara Evans, Reba McEntire and Kenny Chesney, Willie Nelson and Shelby Lynne, Lorrie Morgan, Randy Owen, Brad Paisley, Leann Rimes, Gretchen Wilson, and gospel singer Cece Winans. She was inducted into Nashville's Music City Walk of Fame in 2007. People ranked her among its "100 Most Beautiful" list in 2007 and "100 Most Beautiful at Any Age" list in 2008 and 2009.

For more information: Angie Gore or Kristie Sheppard - 615.321.3211

Winning Brands Must Live Digitally

A four-minute education in Reality Marketing from BestBuy CMO Barry Judge:
"In order for our brand to be relevant in the future, we gotta live digitally... with our communication and the products we sell. And the brands that figure this out are the brands that will succeed in the future."

Read his blog, follow him on Twitter, where you'll also find thousands of BestBuy employees.

(Thanks to KMPS, Seattle, MD Tony Thomas for the link.)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fearless Authenticity

I have to agree with Seattle Times reviewer Mary Guiden who was also a bit put off at first by the high school musical production take on "You Belong With Me" which kicked off Taylor Swift's sold-out Key Arena concert Friday night.
"Swift provided genuine hugs to nearly every fan she passed. Later, she carried her own mike stand down one of those big staircases (on stage). Those kinds of moves make it easier to shove the Disney-fying of the night by the wayside. Here's hoping the talented young woman continues to move in that direction."

But, heck, she's 19, reflects the values of her many Gen Y fans, and perhaps the reactions of older folks like Mary and me says more about us than about the undeniable, talented Taylor.
"I still do not understand reviewers of any media who fail to understand the audience of what it is they are reviewing. Taylor Swift's audience IS the HSM set. So why is it wrong that she seek to appeal to them as opposed to some middle aged concert reviewer?" - blogger rob98109

Country radio, as we have in the past, will find a way to create room on our playlists for both Taylor and her high school fans as well as the very different audience and appeal of Jamey Johnson, who recently also stole a sold-out show of his own at the BMI Key West songwriters festival.

Taylor and Jamey's diametrically-unique personnas and fan bases make it a tight fit, but hopefully, that's what listeners mean when they say they want more variety.

The common thread: be real, who you are.

Is THIS Why They Call The Future "A Brave New World"?

Director of Technical Sales for RCS Barry Hill's Conclave webinar last week was a fascinating presentation of the new analytical tools Media Monitors has been developing to help us all understand the new world of radio listener usage and behavior data coming online in both the U.S. and Canada, thanks to PPM.

For example, since it has always been a leap of faith requiring a certain amount of bravery to add new music, it was very comforting to see what appears to be the "normal pattern of a typical song's spin life" on the average station in this Miley Cyrus song's history of airplay and listener tracking:

After six or seven weeks of growing familiarity and acceptance, the courageous programmer is rewarded with 14 weeks or so of positive listening growth each time the song plays to be followed by the inevitable burn which turns into more tune-out than tune-in.

Before you jump to the conclusion that PPM clearly demonstrates that the average current hit's life is 20-22 weeks, take a gander at this one (guaranteed to give Alanis' promotion team some heartburn) a good example of the fact that PPM panelists sometimes do what they do and it simply defies obvious logic:

Up in August, down in September, up in October, down in November, up in December, down in January, then up for nine weeks in a row! Huh? Is it somehow seasonal in its appeal? Does it burn after four weeks and then stop being negative in another month in spite of/because of continued airplay? Are some panelists going away for a few weeks and then coming back into the panel? Or, WHAT?

"Ironic," indeed.

If you have a more plausible explanation of what's happening with this tune, I'd love to hear it. Meanwhile, this info should serve as proof that radio programming remains 50% science and 50% art and no high tech tool - as yet, at least - has changed that.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Green Shoots

Despite the rising unemployment rate, tempering pump prices and the 8K+ DJIA appear to be bolstering consumer sentiment in Maynearly one in three (31.2%) consumers is confident/very confident in chances for a strong economy over the next six months, rising five points from April (26.0%), nearly 12 points from a year ago (19.5%) and the highest reading since January ’08 (33.5%).

The Garth Factor

Former publicist Patsi Bale Cox has written a Garth Brooks biography entitled The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country's Big Boom, out this month.

Cox worked with Brooks in the '90s and describes the book as being about "celebrity, record labels and creativity." She adds, "I neither asked [Brooks'] permission to write this book, nor did I ask him to participate. I told him what I was doing and that was that."

Read more at Cox's blog here. A book reception will be held at Nashville's Davis Kidd Booksellers June 4 at 6pm.

Backstage at the taping of the George Strait Artist of the Decade, Garth was asked by Neal Haislop if he knew there was new book coming out about him. When he asked who was writing it and they said, Patsi Bale Cox, Garth said, "If it's by Patsy that will be a good one."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

TV/Radio Writer Mark Washburn Is Charitable

He kindly uses the word "volatility" in his story on the market's Winter '09 ARB ratings:

* Nancy Haynes, a principal in the media buying firm of Collins, Haynes & Lully, asked Arbitron to double-check the figures because of double-digit changes in key groups. Arbitron is reviewing the data.

* “There's some strange things in there,” said Rick Jackson, general manager for Greater Media's WBT-AM and WLNK-FM. “Rush Limbaugh was No. 2 with teenage girls 12-18 years in age. That makes no sense at all. He's never competed in that gender or that demo. There was a lot of change from year to year – double digit for almost everyone.”

* Another statistic of note: Six of the top seven stations are within one percentage point of each other in overall share.

Bob Pittman: "If TV Is America’s Hobby, Radio Is America’s Companion"

Jim Carnegie at RBR just snagged a fascinating interview with "The Father of MTV” and former AOL Time Warner COO who has remained an active investor in broadcasting:
"The way I’ve used it as a marketer in the past is I used TV to create desire – I’m going to go visit Six Flags this summer. The problem is people think I’m going to do something and then they forget about it, it drops out of their mind. I use radio to remind them – constantly reminding them, remember we’re going to Six Flags, let me tell you about Six Flags. I’ve created the desire to go with TV. I’ve created the reminder to go with radio. I think it still does that extraordinarily well.

"One of t
he reasons the prices are so low is it’s almost impossible to get much leverage, much debt, much credit and if you own a bunch of TV stations and you already have a credit facility you don’t want to start all over again because you’ll never get a deal as good as what you’ve got now. So I think you’re finding even though everybody recognizes the opportunities are out there, there are some impediments to buying them. I think the second issue is that everybody is looking for deals and everybody who has got the TV stations are like people that have an apartment in New York. The prices are down a lot, thank God I don’t have to sell. All it says is buyers right now are shopping for a deal because of lack of credit and a lot of other issues so they will only buy if they can get it at distressed prices and unless you’re distressed you won’t sell."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Longneck (Baby) Bottle? Longnipple Bottle?

Lisa Roth, sister to Van Halen rocker David Lee Roth and creator of the Rockabye Baby and Hushabye Baby lullaby CD's has created a new album for baby: "Lullaby Renditions
of Garth Brooks," which hits stores on June 2.

And, yes, “Longneck Bottle” is one of the tunes on the collection, along with “Friends In Low Places” and “If Tomorrow Never Comes.”
“One of my favorites so far is Queen,” Roth told the Tennessean in Nashville the other day. “‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is track No. 1, and it’s adorable, the cutest yet."

If she can make lullabies out of Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses and Nine Inch Nails, "Longneck Bottle" by legendarily dedicated dad Garth was probably an easy fit.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Beasley Broadcast Group President/COO Bruce Beasley Says What Arbitron Hasn't

Last week, he blamed poor Arbitron PPM panel management on his quarterly analyst earnings conference call as one reason why the company’s Philadelphia revenues (off 31%) have been down more than the market average (which slipped 21%).

It’s not a secret that country’s core target is 35-54 and largely non-ethnic living more in suburbs than in the center of cities, so just as ARB was working to placate unhappy ethnic stations by improving the proportionality of African-Americans and Hispanics and calling its sample “solid” (September 2008) it now admits (according to Beasley) under-indexing of the 35-54 demo in those same months last fall of WXTU’s ratings decline.

Beasley claimed that 92.5 XTU had been consistently in the market’s top six or seven during the first year and a half of pre-currency and then the initial currency PPM monthlies, leading the company to believe that PPM was going to be kind to country radio, but, as minority broadcasters pushed ARB to improve the index of their listeners’ in the PPM panel, for some reason, WXTU fell to the low to mid-teens in the rankers.

Every country manager and programmer needs to demand, hope for, ask for, beg for, pay for excellent sample balance each month, at the very least within 10% +/-, in our targets too.

The Beasley exec last week told investors he feels that Arbitron is now correcting the problem:
“Recently we’ve seen some progress on 35-54 sampling and expect the revenue trend at WXTU to improve.”

He also said he “expects that [Arbitron] will not repeat the issue that impacted us in Philadelphia..” in Miami, where the company also owns WKIS, the country station in another highly ethnic market.

Are the same ARB people who provided those "solid" assurances last fall the ones promising Beasley that things are now under control in their markets?

Ask any researcher: sampling is both art and science. As sample sizes get smaller, “panel management” is the name of the art which Arbitron must consistently master equitably or everyone’s business is going to suffer.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Playfulness Promotes Productivity

Do you have a humor bulletin board at your workplace? David B. Posen, MD, recommends one. He says that humor reduces stress and builds creativity. He spoke to the British Columbia Association Of Broadcasters' convention yesterday and says he spotted this on the wall at a hospital:
"Due to cutbacks, the light at the end of the tunnel will be turned off until further notice."

One fun exercise he led us all through: brainstorm as a group a new punch line to a well-worn setup. The BCAB group, he said, came up with more good ones than he had ever experienced before, which shows what happens when you get a room full of radio and TV people together. Maybe you had to be there to fully get this one, but it made me laugh: "My hometown is so small that...... (wait for it) the CRTC only granted three licenses there."

Friday, May 08, 2009

Keith Urban Tour Update: Jennifer Nettles On Vocal Rest

The latest info is at Keith's website:

Keith's "Escape Together World Tour" today named Jason Aldean and Little Big Town to replace Sugarland for Keith's opening performances at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT. This, coming as a result of Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles being put on vocal rest.

Aldean appeared last night (May 7th), while Little Big Town will open tonight's performance (May 8th). An announcement will be forthcoming regarding Keith's appearance in State College, PA on May 9th.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Timing Is Everything (Or, Maybe Not)

It's taking Nashville promoters and country radio so long these days to go from launch to charting that even major artists on both sides of the 49th parallel are now releasing songs in the spring which probably have listeners scratching their heads, since the lyrics will finally make sense in terms of listeners' lives in about six months, after two seasons have changed.

Brooks & Dunn
make it sound like they think its fall right now in their new one, "Indian Summer," while Canadian charter Aaron Pritchett's new one "Hell Bent For Buffalo" has ice on I-90.

If an artist happened to be planning to commemorate Father's Day in song, looks like they should have released that tune before Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

When Programming Values Conflict With Personal Ones

Representatives Jim Moran (D-VA) and Robert Brady (D-PA) just introduced a bill that would also limit erectile dysfunction commercials to be broadcast between 10pm-6am. Airing the spots in other hours would be an indecency violation subject to a $325,000 FCC fine.

It's tempting to advocate for it because penile enhancement ads offend all of my programming sensibilities.

There's no one who wishes network programmers and sales executives would have the good sense to turn down all sex aid advertising, twenty-four/seven more than I do.

Sometimes two of them run in a cluster on country radio's night-time programming and you know that they have to be a huge turn-off to our listeners, who live right at the intersection of "virtue and meaning."

However, I am also a free speech advocate and if a business is stupid enough to air anything that drives their listeners away, as these offensive spots clearly do, the marketplace will teach them a lesson as long as listeners have a choice.

There's no need for a law until someone repeals good business practices, competitiveness and common sense.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Now And Then, Life Reaches Out And Gives You A Hug

I just got one from WTCM, Traverse City's Jack O'Malley on his 25th anniversary at the station. It so happens that I was the consultant there a quarter century ago and thus I could not resist calling him to express my admiration for his staying power and passion.

What I got from Jack was this amazing email message:
May I say that it was something you told me 25 years ago that I have quoted many times and I believe is the cornerstone that the last 25 years have been based on. Once while you were here I asked you if you thought that WTCM could compete with a Detroit or Chicago country station. You looked at me and said "no, but you don't want to be too hip for the room". That has stuck with me and has become my credo! I tell the staff all the time...RELATE to your audience, give them what they want...not just what you think is good. I listen to the stations around town and so many are doing what they think is good and not necessarily what people in these parts want. So you impressed a young mind of mush with the compass point and I thank you. Please know that a part of my 25 belongs to you. I mean that sincerely! Thanks for all you do for radio and the people who listen to it! It's a great medium and I am hoping that I can keep it alive for the next generation of young mushed minds to come along!

So, a bit of my advice for you too: be encouraging as you coach and train the people around you. Every now and then, guidance you even forgot giving floats back to you like a lovely bouquet of flowers.

Thanks, Jack, for taking time to tell me that as well as for 25 years for great local radio, making a positive difference in your lovely community!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Only 27% of North American Radio Stations Have Websites? Ouch!

It seems unbelievable (not a single A&O client does not have one), but even in spite of that "fact," radio ties with TV in percentage of total revenues coming from internet initiatives.

An odd thing occurred last year amid the relentless bashing of legacy media companies.

While Yellow pages and newspaper companies crashed into bankruptcy and TV and radio station revenues hit the brakes, their online hybrids zipped right along.

Last year $12.6 billion was spent in online advertising by local advertisers. Sales were dominated by pure-play Internet companies with no ties to legacy media – the likes of Google,, Interactive Corp., Marchex, ReachLocal and many others. However, for the first time since we began tracking local shares in 2001, pure-play companies lost ground. The second-biggest shareholder, newspaper companies, effectively arrested their online share decline in 2008 after losing an average of four points per year since 2005.

Could it be that the legacy media companies have finally turned their aircraft carriers? It’s possible, especially considering that they have an important asset that the pure-plays don’t: an estimated 98,000 feet-on-the-street salespeople who have existing relationships with local advertisers and can cross-sell online advertising products. And they are adding “Internet-only” sales reps at a rapid pace. At the beginning of 2009, this sales force numbered about 9,000, up 30 percent from a year ago.

The importance of online advertising to these legacy media companies intensified in 2008. Yellow Pages companies averaged nearly 11 percent of their gross revenues from online sales, while newspapers saw 7.0 percent and radio and TV stations 3.4 percent each. This dependence is likely to climb, bringing their online ventures into even sharper focus as they find ways to give the pure- play companies a run for their money.

Celebrity Apprentice's Tuna Surprise

Chicken of the Sea executives thought a country jingle was too limiting so Clint Black gets fired from Celebrity Apprentice??

Clint Black goes out like a martyr for the genre.
Trump liked Clint's jingle — though did he really? Or was it just an excessive, ego-stroking pat on the back? But Trump acknowledged it was the project manager's fault, and FINALLY fired Clint. Bummer getting fired for the challenge that catered to his exact skill set, but it was a long time coming.

Clint, I think you made us all VERY proud!!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Close Up And Personal In Vancouver

Capping the Spring BBM survey period, JRfm's "Win to Get In Fan Jam with Jessie Farrell, George Canyon and Aaron Pritchett" last week was an awesome example of engaging entertainment.

It's more than an acoustic performance by a popular artist. Pattison Group Vancouver PD Gord Eno says: "I think we've developed a successful model for memorable Fan Jams. We gave JRfm fans something that they could never get otherwise, an intimate, spontaneous experience with three great performers who tore down the barrier between stage and audience. The audience was allowed to see a side of Aaron, Jessie and George that they hadn't seen before. It was real. Very real to us who have come to know these three people over the years and saw glimpses of their private personalities emerge. (Personalities Karen Daniels and Bob Say hosted and MC'd).

"The experience for our listeners to see the stars talk to each other, have fun, tell stories about their lives and the motivations behind lyrics was something they will talk about for the rest of their lives. This event didn't just happen. The idea started with a single phone call and evolved. Our generous listeners filled a big truck of baby supplies and stuffed over six grand into the donation box. We are already looking forward to when we can do something like this again."