Friday, July 31, 2009

Listening To A Stack Of New Music..

.. by the likes of Whitney Duncan, Bomshel, Jessica Harp, Miranda Lambert, Megan Mullins, Sarah Buxton, Katie Armiger, Mallory Hope, Sarah Darling and a dozen more, wondering what a budding female artist is going to do to stand out from the crowd.

How did Tammy, Loretta, Dolly and Emmylou ever make it without posing in their underwear in a national magazine or doing stretching exercises wearing a skimpy maid custume while sitting on a kitchen table?

Have times (and the values of country listeners) changed that much?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Applying PPM Lessons From Morning Usage And Behavior To All Listeners

I'll leave questions of reliability and projectability of the PPM morning quantitative numbers to others, but one thing we've always known is certainly demonstrated by the micro-trends PPM measurement permits: morning drive listeners' tune in and out at a rapid pace, especially in what has always been known as "The Power Hour," 7-8 am.

And, as Morning Show Boot Camp discussions today in Nashville show, talent is learning that the majority of your audience is only catching bits and pieces as they hurry through their morning routine.

As a result, it is easy to feel you are being somewhat redundant after a while if you are looking at the entire show from start to finish.

The time-tested advice has been to look at the morning show as several "15 minute mini-shows" instead of one long show and PPM certainly vindicates this technique.

Make sure you deliver all the important elements such as weather, time checks, news, traffic, topical information, etc. in each of those "mini-shows." Understand what your listeners expect from you and over-deliver on that, eliminating things which take away from that usage driver.

It will also sound less redundant if you relate information such as the weather in the way it will effect the listener I.E.: "take your umbrella today...more rain in the forecast." However, it's also traditional wisdom to benchmark each important service/information element with your station name and a unique identity, such as "traffic and weather together," or "the official FM weather station," but why do that if five other stations also use those phrases and every station also does them?

The diary was about branding elements for memorability. In a metered world, it all comes down to understanding what your partisans use you for and delivering that a lot.

The jury is still out on 'no talk segues' for me. No doubt they extend usage, having removed any indication that the momentum is stopping. But, when doing music sweeps in morning drive (even two songs back to back) I still encourage personalities to very quickly tease what is coming up, ID and position the station, cross-promote to another listening occasion.

My thinking: listening lengths are short in the morning, and "no talk segues" may send the message that "this show is boring and never gives me the services I need." If someone is listening for a specific bit of information such as traffic, weather, etc. they are less likely to tune elsewhere to find it if they know it's only moments away.

What's working for you? It's a brave new PPM world, especially in mornings. We're all on a learning curve right now, making adustments, watching the competition, making the most of a totally new way of looking at almost everything.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Test Everything For The Level Of Engagement

Heard during yesterday's ARF Audio Council meeting in New York:

"At WBEB, we tested 100 national radio commercials. 25% were effective and engaging. 25% could have been with just a few simple creative copy changes and the other 50% were completely ineffective." -- Jerry Lee

"You can turn your head. You can close your eyes. But, you can't close your ears." -- Erwin Ephron

.. but, of course, you can put things on "ignore." Is that what your listener is doing while you talk on the air?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Froggy Stunts In Santa Rosa

Rob and Joss at Maverick Media's KFGY were talking the other day about a guy Rob saw at the store who bought a bag of ice and it said "premium ice." Joss reports that they wondered what makes this ice so special?
"So we had two people come in and sample ice from the tap, garden hose ice and "premium" ice (click to watch the video). They actually said the premium ice was the best - BUT they got the garden hose and the tap water ice confused. They thought one tasted like the other!"

She adds: "Of course, we do set our sights higher than ice licking. If you haven't seen it - check out our 9 to 5 video."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Powerful, Optimistic

You know it's not an accident that Radio Ink's 40 Power People Of 2009 are also very high on our business:

Don Benson: The business definitely has changed from the past, there are encouraging opportunities for us ahead as well. New media is one of them, giving us the ability to provide multi-platform solutions for our clients.

David Landau: The ability to place your message in front of such large audiences and at the same time leverage local relationships and communities is unparalleled. It is this connection that will help drive new media opportunities and traffic to new media outlets.

Gary Stone: This combination of reach and engagement makes radio a very effective medium for advertisers.

Bob Neil: Our audience is growing, we’re a highly targetable medium, and we deliver results for advertisers that understand how to use us. Our digital assets are enormous. When you include streaming, podcasting, and other interactive tools, we bring those same sets of assets over from the over-the-air broadcast to the Internet. Our audiences are engaged with our brands, and that’s the perfect atmosphere for an advertiser.

George Beasley: The fact that nearly all broadcasters, Beasley included, now have members of management solely devoted to developing and deriving new revenue streams from new media channels, speaks to radio's commitment to the world of new media.

Mark Masters: Dollar for dollar, radio still brings the best bang for the buck, but people don't realize this on the level they should. If the creative is spot-on and radio reps help their clients focus on use of easy-to-remember website names or phone numbers, ROI is amazingly strong. But this requires radio sales folks to think entrepreneurially, to care about their clients' ROI -- and when this happens, you get renewals. Renewals mean sustainability.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Does Your Brand And Position Statement Mean Anything Anymore?

(Pictured: what a "Not A Starbucks" looks like) They've done it again. On February 26, 2008, all their stores closed for a day of "training," forcing their local customers to go to the competition for at least one day if they wanted a cup of Joe.

If it improved the Starbuck product even a teeny vente I sure couldn't tell. But, as a publicity stunt, it was amazingly effective, creating buzz both online and in traditional media that would have cost billions to 'buy,' if it had even been possible.

Now, they are doing it again and once again the media is all over it. But, this time, is it something more than a play for publicity?

Unbranding, of course, started with cell phones as techies liked a specific phone and had to tear into it to get it to work with the wireless carrier they prefer. This was the first notice to big corporate brands that the market sees itself in control of your brand, not you. If you do something they don't like in terms of their values, you are toast. Brand names which spend decades creating "unique selling propositions" can lose market share overnight when that USP gets repositioned as obsolete.

Metered TV and radio ratings have meant that listeners and viewers no longer need to remember what programming they used. The emphasis is on great quality of whatever it is the user wants right now instead of brand loyalty.

What does your brand name mean to your listeners? Is it still relevant? Your position statement? Is Starbucks at the cutting edge of de-branding? Or, just another stunt?

A&O is in the business of helping radio stations get those answers before someone next door gets tons of free buzz using clever net marketing, stealing brand assets from you. We are getting our Spring 2009 Arbitron, Eastlan, BBM and Nielsen report cards right now and the results have been extremely gratifying.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Happy Trails

CFDR Dartmouth/Halifax – after 46 years of AM service – will sign off on Monday, July 27. The Newcap Classic Country station, as its final out, will air the old Roy Rogers/Dale Evans classic tune: Happy Trails.

And with CFDR’s going dark, it brings to an end AM radio service in the large Nova Scotia market.

Broadcast Dialogue reports Morning show co-Host Frank Lowe will leave while co-Host Stephanie Woodin will stay with Newcap in another capacity. CFDR was part of a trade-off with Rogers, which gave up CIGM Sudbury to Newcap.

A&O proudly works for FX-101.9/Halifax, and we know that Maritime President Robert Pace, OM Scott Clements at the market's remaining country station take the responsibility of serving the large area's many country fans very seriously, while tipping our hats to the people who contributed to CFDR's heritage and history.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sharpening The Soundtrack Of Your Show

Not every personality needs to use beat beds behind everything, of course, (especially if someone else you compete with is already famous for using them), but for me the production elements of any radio show can be an important asset/tie-breaker.

I think beds and sounders still can add sparkle, keep elements moving forward, and add consistency. Even "background" listeners will reach for the dial and turn it up when they hear a familiar bed for something they are interested in such as news, weather, traffic, etc.

Yes, I know that 'authenticity' is a key value right now. So, there is no law which states that every personality has to put music behind everything, but for me, separate beds should also be used for each regular "feature" or "contest."

I think they really add to the personality of the bit when chosen carefully. Although brevity should be a priority at all times make sure your beds are long enough for their purpose. Few things sound as bad as a bed that runs out in the middle of a bit.

Now, how do you feel about it?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

(UN-) Importance Of Parameters

How important are various elements to your morning listeners? Recently A&O asked that question of 40 morning show listeners in focus groups:

"On a one to five scale, with 5 being VERY important, how important is it to you that your favorite morning show....?"
Obviously, the answers will very according to market, targeting goals and competitive situation of your personalities and program. But, as you can see: all programming elements are not created equal in the minds of your listeners, and - thus - do NOT all deserve "equal time" on your show!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Faith Hill And Keith Urban Invade LA Over The Weekend


Faith Hill was the featured guest artist of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra Friday and Saturday nights. Saturday evening, Conductor, David Campbell, told the audience that it has been an honor to arrange music for several Hill recordings before he opened the evening conducting the orchestral performances from the sound tracks from Hollywood Films like "Spiderman," to works by Giovani Rabici (ra-bee-see). THEN FAITH ENTERED dressed in a long gown, making you think perhaps she was ready to sing a lot of great pop stuff, movie and show tunes, etc. But, no, because entering with Faith was her country band and backup turn, they were backed up by a 100 classically trained musicians playing violins, not fiddles, a row of acoustic basses, not electric bass, etc. It amounted to Country Diva, Faith Hill, delivering her greatest hits with the biggest sound you can imagine for songs like "Wild One," "Breathe," "Cry," "The Way You Love Me," "Let Me Let Go," plus, "There You'll Be," from the movie "Pearl Harbor," and more. The meld of a country diva and her country band and a world-class symphonic orchestra was a little like having barbecue ribs with escargot, but it worked.

Faith had the grace and presence of a country Queen, and the crowd loved it, including a couple that flew all the way from Canada to be present for the show. (Note: The last time we saw Faith at The Bowl was a couple of years back when Tim McGraw rocked the venue with his full-blown country show, with Faith appearing briefly to sing along with their great duet hits. Tim was said to be present backstage, but did not appear on stage).


Keith Urban rocked Staples Arena in Los Angeles so hard last year, they wanted him back again this year. SUGARLAND was scheduled to be the huge opening act for Keith, but, when Jennifer Nettles came down with a vocal ailment, country's hottest rising group, LADY ANTEBELLUM, was called in to pinch hit. And, hit they did...this group has been impressive from the beginning, scoring big hits with long shelf-life tunes and handling whatever big opportunity that comes their way, as they did last night in L.A.

According to Go Country L.A.'s, Shawn Parr, fans showed up early to make sure they saw Lady A fill the Sugarland opening slot, since the announcement that Sugarland would not be performing due to Jennifer's vocal problems had been made early in the day. "You could feel their energy," says Parr, "they lit up the place they really did and it was a high energy hear Charles scream into the microphone saying how honored they were to be in Los Angeles to fill in for Sugarland. And when they broke into their #1 song "I Run To You," it brought the house down."
REGARDING URBAN'S PERFORMANCE...Parr noted, "I didn't think it was possible for Keith to go to another level...and I'm not sure if it was the stage (expanded and more up close and personal to the fans), the production, or just the fact that Keith is even more comfortable with who he is and what he does, it was unbelievable," concludes Parr.

More Monday morning NASHVILLE IQ


Alan Jackson grew up in a converted tool shed and slept in a hallway because there wasn't enough room in the family home for him to have a bedroom. His music has always reflected his humble, but loving upbringing in small town, Georgia. And his latest is another anthem to growing up in small-town, rural America. "I Still Like Bologna."


The debut single from Jamey Johnson's forthcoming album is entitled "My Way To You." The song, co-written by Johnson and Charlie Midnight, was made available to radio stations across the country yesterday at 1:00PM/CT via PLAY MPE.

FOR HIS FANS, On August 3, "My Way To You" will be available as a FREE download at On August 11, the digital e-single will be available for download at iTunes and all other digital partners.

The follow-up album to Johnson's critically acclaimed That Lonesome Song will hit stores this fall and will also be released on vinyl. "Man, that's how I listen to music. It's my favorite, number-one preference at home, to go put a vinyl record on my great grandmother's old record player. Which reminds me, I need to get somebody to do some maintenance on it. It needs a new needle."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Can You Top THIS? (file under magnificent stunts..)

From Clayton Allen, KOUL, Corpus Christi:
My morning show partner and I created a bit called “Let’s see who can get on national television first!”

It began this past Friday morning with no time limit, it would just continue until somebody won. Charlie (my co-host) decided she would go the “game show” route, and made a mad dash to San Antonio to try out for “Biggest Loser”. She also sent in dozens of requests for “tickets” to all the tapings in Los Angeles.

I chose my weapon carefully, sticking with something I know and love: FINANCE! Carefully crafting several e-mails to every viewer interactive show on CNBC, I went in quietly.

I so kicked her butt! I got myself booked on CNBC’s “On The Money” with Carmen Wong-Ulrich. We taped over the phone this past Wednesday, and the show aired over the weekend.

Yep, in less than 10 days, I was able to get myself 7 sweet minutes on national television. I didn’t even have to follow the weather channel around, or fly to N.Y. to jump up and down in the Today show background.

Radio is still so much fun, how can people possibly lose their desire to be creative and entertaining?
Here’s the link to the entire segment (click to watch the video).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Women Programmers To Get Recognition

The "MIW" Group just announced the nomination process is open for the first annual MIW Achievement in Programming Award.

The winner will be recognized during the Group PD Super Session on Thursday, September 24th from 10:30-11:45am at the 2009 NAB Fall Radio Show in Philadelphia, PA.

The MIW Achievement in Programming Award is designed to encourage the advancement of women in programming and to reward and recognize those who have achieved success in the field.

Criteria for Nomination:
1. Women who are at the Program Director level or higher (for example, Regional Program Director, Vice President of Programming) will be considered.
2. Candidates must be currently active in the field, and primarily responsible for programming a radio station, group, or individual or group of programs.
3. Candidates should have at least five years' experience in programming.
4. Candidates or those nominating candidates for the award must complete and submit the entry form available at

Anyone who would like to submit a recommendation of a potential candidate is encouraged to do so. All entries must be submitted to by ­Friday, August 7th, 2009.

All submissions meeting the qualifying criteria will be reviewed and the winner will be determined by the Executive Committee of the MIW Radio Group. The decision of the judges will be final.

Special thanks to MIWs Corinne Baldassano, Denise Oliver and Ruth Presslaff for all of their hard work in making the award possible and also to MIW Susan Platt and the NAB for allowing the group to unveil the award at the 2009 NAB Fall Radio Show.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bye, Bye R&R, Hello Full Throttle Country

This ugly guy is nowhere near as handsome as R.J. Curtis, but his new blog is more than filling the void on my favorite country bookmarks where Radio & Records used to be.

Congrats, Chuck! I know you'd love to find a job, but in this economy so would thousands of other very qualified radio geeks right now. They all have my sympathies, but you, old friend, have my admiration for building something useful and informative that no doubt goes a long way to keeping your name, style, attitude, values and skills out there!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

If You Think 2010 Is One Year Away, (When It Comes To Ratings) You're Wrong

When the latest population estimates are updated this year at Arbitron, Nielsen and Eastlan on October 1, it will have been seven years since the size of local demographic cells were based on hard, actual data from the 2000 census. Similarly, BBM employs Statistics Canada census data as well as projections and estimates from Pitney Bowes MapInfor.

From the get-go, it was immediately two years out of date.

Since that time, each fall, the official "best estimations/projections" of growth, movement or population loss from the federal Office of Management and Budget which affect your target audience and sample come into play right in the midst of the first month of the autumn ratings period, which can help or hurt stations and formats.

It's almost time for 'the big reset,' when we find out how good those projections have been. In 2011 and 2012, the population numbers get as 'real' as they can be, like they do once every decade.

How familiar are you with the population changes in your metro and total survey areas as they will impact your cume, average quarter hour audience and shares in sixty days?

If you don't know the size of the playing field, how can you possibly win the game?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Country Ranks #7 In Converting Ratings Into Revenue

Copyright© 2009 Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co., LLP

Thanks to Mike McVay for the tip that this data for last year is now online at the Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co. website.
Power Ratios act as a benchmark so you can compare your performance to others’ radio stations in your format. They facilitate the determination of revenue expectations based on audience share. For example, a Power Ratio of 1.2 signifies that the format receives 20% more revenue than your audience share would suggest. A 10.0 share on a station with a 1.2 power ration means that station should garner 12% of the advertising revenue in their market.

MKA publishes two different Power Ratio reports. Power Ratios by format is based on data that is prepared by MKA’s Market Revenue Division which gathers top line information for radio stations in over 100 US markets.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

"The Best Book on Country Music"

That's quite a name for an award. And, this year's winner of the Belmond Book Award is Dr. Patrick Huber, associate professor of history and political science at Missouri S&T. He received just that recognition in May.
"Linthead Stomp" takes its title from a 1946 bluegrass instrumental on the Essex label, recorded by the obscure mandolin virtuoso Phebel Wright. “Linthead”—along with “factory trash,” “cotton mill trash,” and the more obscure “ignorant factory set”—has long been used as a derogatory term for textile workers. I have borrowed Wright’s colorful title to serve as the title for this study because it evokes the sense of condescension and disdain with which hillbilly music was once regarded (both in mainstream America and in academe) and at the same time captures the textile mill origins and cultural dynamism of this music.

I finally got my hands on a copy, and can assure you that it's worthy of the hyperbole if you care about the foundations 70+ years ago of what ultimately grew up to become known as "America's music."

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Picture This

AAA-The Peak/Vancouver just poked all their social network "friends" an invitation to show off their lovely city (and their artistic side) by sharing pictures for The Peak website.

In my travels, I have yet to visit any place where residents aren't proud of where they choose to live.

This seems like a fabulous way to make a strong local statement and associate your radio station with that sense of unique local treasures that your listeners capture and share.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Crossing The Line

It's terrific to see R. J. Curtis adroitly stepping across perceived borders of our business, first as he moved several years ago from radio programming to trade publication editor for R&R and now to promotions for the venerable Arista imprint.

Some of the most creative and effective music promoters in our business started as air personalities and programmers. They bring a reality-based view of the transactions radio and records must conduct on a daily basis for both businesses to be as successful as we all need to be in these difficult times.

As someone who has never wanted to do anything more with my career than to fully understand the constantly-evolving expectations and priorities of radio listeners, working with passionate broadcasters to create engaging programming which drives usage, I respect the powerful role which music and artists play in that.

There's nothing more rewarding than introducing the listener to a new act or song which creates an immediate "WOW." There is a huge payoff to turning on other people to music and musicians which do that.

Obviously, someone had to advocate that project or person very early, championing it across all the hurdles which this crass, competitive business routinely erects. While I certainly understand that, I don't think I am cut out for the rejection and failure that comes along with that job.

That's why you may read recommendations and endorsements from other programmers, researchers and consultants in the trade magazines, but never A&O.

Mike and I simply don't see ourselves as having a role in music promotion. We try to be honest advocates for what listeners want. We work to keep our research-based data and recommendations locally-driven, designed only for specific market situations - confidential - between us and individual clients only.

Reading the weekly trade magazine ads touting over-the-top endorsements and even fresh research scores, I scratch my head and wonder what the payoff could be for announcing publicly to your competition, to the world beyond your own business, your tactics and strategies.

If R.J. phones, of course I will welcome his call because I am sure that he'll have ideas and intelligence that he believes will give us an edge. I love it when "one of ours" crosses the line so that they can work tirelessly on behalf of the next big thing.

However, when I read glowing quotes on new music from folks we compete with, I don't know quite how to take them.

Selfless sharing, putting the good of the format above their own success?

Business disinformation?


Am I missing something? I'm sure a promoter will call or email today and tell me if I am. That's their job.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Listeners Take Control Of The Radio

Cleveland area broadcasters Lee Zapis, Daniel Anstandig, and Mike McVay are hoping to empower broadcasters to become what they are calling "crowdcasters.©"

The listeners become the Music Director and the On-Air Talent with Listener Driven Radio. The software allows listeners to go on-line and offer their input into what plays ALMOST IMMEDIATELY on the radio station. LDR is constantly absorbing listener input, their song votes, and comments on a radio station’s music, and automatically adapting programming in real-time. Your audience can control the stations on-air product … within the parameters that the PD creates.

Meet your new weekend 'jock!'

McVay New Media President and LDR architect Daniel Anstandig:
“This is a new way of programming radio and growing your brand-community. Imagine being able to improve your product while decreasing the cost of programming.”

Zapis Capital CEO Lee Zapis:
“The software we’ve developed will allow the listener to truly take control of their radio. So many of us in broadcasting have been concerned about the competition we face from the Internet, Satellite and social networking. LDR diminishes those concerns and takes what’s best about the Internet and puts it on the air on your radio station.”

McVay Media President, Mike McVay:
“It’s time that radio operators get over their inferiority complex and embrace new technologies. The times have changed, and God willing, they’ll keep changing. Listener Driven Radio is the first application that marries the consumer’s wants with the PD’s desires … and that equals great and entertaining programming that’s good for any daypart.”

The for-barter service, according to their press release:

• Turns your listeners into collaborators. Constant research generated from active listener interaction. Listener’s log-on, click-to-pick their favorite songs and then sit back and enjoy hearing what they … and other listeners … selected to play on the air.
• The PD selects the universe from which the listener’s click-to-pick. Your station will still be “SAFE” while allowing the audience to program the music that you play.
• LDR makes it possible for listeners to vote for songs, request songs, pick which song should play next, and upload and vote for new music through radio station websites, iPhones, and Facebook.
• The radio station will NOW be CONNECTED to the social networking platforms used most by your audience. Turn your radio station into a community. Your listeners will communicate on line using the LDR Connection and will be encouraged to repeat visit and repeat listen to your station.
• LDR feeds Twitter automatically for radio stations, helping them to increase tune-in. LDR harnesses the marketing capabilities of social media.
• LDR engages listeners, constantly absorbing their input, votes, and comments about your station’s music. This creates a community around a radio station’s brand.
• LDR ties in directly to radio automation systems and instantly adapts a radio station’s programming based on listener feedback and parameters preset by the Program Director.
• LDR takes a four-pronged approach to reaching listeners. LDR is software that enables listener interaction via Mobile/iPhone, Widget (embeddable on any site), Your Station Website, and Social Networks (including Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter). Then, listener input drives your on air programming and music scheduling in real time.
• LDR empowers your audience and gives them ownership over your programming, integrating their feedback into your music scheduling in real-time. Listeners can also comment and vote on new songs, giving them the power to elect new songs for airplay.
• LDR enables you to change your playlist in real time based on listener input. The end result is programming that adapts to your target audience. The LDR software is also fully adaptable to your branding and look-and-feel, seamlessly integrating into your radio station website.

For info, call 877-221-7979, or e-mail Anstandig.

I think you'll be impressed. I was.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Joe Nichols Visits Iraq

Watch his video of the experience. He received this letter from the mother of Marine shortly after his trip to Iraq to play for our soldiers. "Dear Mr. Joe Nichols,

I just received a phone call from my U.S. Marine son currently deployed in Ramadi, Iraq. I have not heard that kind of excitement in his voice for a long time. When I asked him how he was doing he responded, “FANTASTIC!” He called just to tell me that you had played for the troops last night and then stayed as long as necessary to sign autographs and take pictures with him and the others.

Mr. Nichols, thank-YOU. Thank you for bringing that happiness and excitement to my son and the rest of the troops. I know my son and the others truly appreciated you being there! As a mother, I appreciate that you were there for them too! You are one of the “real things” that you sing about!

As for the lyrics in your songs, “thank God for believers” and “if nobody believed in you,” I apply them to you in this situation, for being there for THEM and for believing in them. Thanks for not “turning away.” We certainly do not want them to “give up” or be discouraged by those that undermine them. “God only knows where we would be without believers.”

My heart and soul are forever grateful to you for sharing your love, time and incredible talent with our precious military. You are a good soul!

May happiness be with you each and every day!

May God continue to bless you Joe Nichols and your good works!

Thank you again,
A very proud mother of a U.S. Marine

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Being The 9th Caller Is Fun ... For the Disk Jockey

... and, perhaps one of a few thousand listeners.

Eight other people "lose" because they learn on the way to #9 that they were 'the wrong caller" and everyone else "wins" a busy signal.

This is entertainment??

Do you do contests because listeners like them? Or, just because radio has "always" done them?

When doing contests, it would be nice to hope that there'd be a way to be sure that they were entertaining to listen to and also drive listening occasions for all listeners, and not just those very unique "phone pigs" who participate.

But, how often do they?

Only a very small percentage of your audience will participate in a contest so you want to make sure you are offering entertainment value to keep those who are not playing the game entertained.

Granted, the success of television game shows proves, I guess, that a certain type of person likes to "play along" even if she is not willing to be a contestant.

Even if that is true, the "caller 9" approach does nothing for those who are listening and not participating.

Neither does "go to (store) and register so you can qualify.."

Historically, the best radio contests reinforce the station's brand image or key unique selling positioning points.

Mid-90's KWJJ, Portland, PD Robin Mitchell used "we always tell the title and artist of every song we play" as a key point of differentiation.
So, rather than "call in and win to the 10th caller," the station did a produced piece before a song that said: "Win (prize) right now. Be the 10th caller at (phone number) and tab this tune."

During the song, the air personality asked the 10th caller to name the title and artist of the tune, recorded that info from the listener and asked the "winner" to backsell the song and almost as an after-thought awarded the prize.

This contest takes no more time than having the jock do the backsell, but it at the very least adds the extra ingredient of listener involvement to an important format basic, calling even more attention to your station's positioning tactics.

That was 15 years ago. Yet, it was much more relevant and contemporary than the typical radio contest on many stations today.

Caller #9? How quaint and out-of-date.

Great programmers innovate.

The majority, of course, just does what everyone else has always done.

That's called mediocre.

Which do you aspire to be known as?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

And, Then, They Came For Us

As World War II era Pastor Martin Niemöller's prescient quote implies, it's human nature for a majority group which feels unaffected by even extremely-egregious unfairness to ignore the concerns of their neighbors until it comes knocking.

Thus, since in most PPM-rated markets the country format has been doing pretty well, it has been tempting to ignore the complaints from minority radio owners and simply bask in the glow of our format's huge cumes and share growth.

At May's BCAB convention, for example, BBM CEO Jim McCleod noted in pre-currency tests of PPM in Vancouver it appeared country listening will go from a seven share of diary tuning to potentially more than a nine.

Now, one month before fast-growing and increasingly-ethnic San Diego goes currency with PPM, it has been concerning to watch as ARB appears in rumored pre-currency data to be having trouble locating the same percentage of core country radio listeners for the PPM panel as they had in the diary sample.

Unless something changes fast, country's audience share in San Diego could dip from the sevens to the fives.

Questions: are the population estimates which drive sample proportionality, now nine years away from the last census, accurate? Or, will they reflect a major change in the estimates when the 2010 census rolls into the ARB data in two years? What will that say about today's shares? Will panel management over the next few weeks pick up more country ultra core which seems to be missing in the pre-currency data we've seen thus far? What impact will that have on San Diego country radio owners Lincoln Financial Media and Clear Channel revenue projections as they budget for 2010 right now?

Suddenly, what seemed to be the worries of others have come to the country format's door in at least this one market where non-ethnic households have become a minority group.

When former ARB SVP/Ratings Services Jay Guyther blogs from his new post at ROI Media Solutions that this same issue has been on the back burner for 15 years at Arbitron and says "...leave the FCC, Attorneys General, Congress, MRC, etc. out of it. Increase the panel sizes to a sufficient size and most of the other problems, in my opinion, will go away..." it is long past time for action to replace homeostasis.