Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wise Words

“You have to make sure you have the right people doing the right jobs and that the entire staff is on the same page. To quote a phrase from the great Woody Hayes, "You Win With People.”

“Visibility in the market for any of your personalities is essential and if you don’t have the marketing tools to tout the virtues of an imported show, syndicated show or even a live and local show, it can adversely affect the adaptor process.”

“Less experienced programmers have a tendency to look at music research and callout and place too much emphasis on songs at the top. Certainly the research helps guide us with what our customers like or want, but sometimes there’s an over reliance of playing those songs over and over. There are a lot of different factors that come into play and should be considered.”

“The sales department has identified the digital platform as a viable area for revenue growth and the onus is also on programming to make sure we’re delivering content and getting our content spread among the platforms, especially the unique content we generate through our personalities.”

-- Rob Morris, OM KDWB/KTLK & PD KDWB, Minneapolis
to FMQB's Fred Deane

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"We Used To Do That"

Looking today at the bats flying over the Halloween-themed branding on the website of Vancouver's new Shore 104 FM, I was reminded back when the internet was a new thing and we all had fresh, topical, clever screen-savers and wallpaper available for downloading to listeners' at work desk-tops.

Whatever happened to that idea? It's a little like giving your at work listeners Post-its with your brand on them. Yes, in many ways, so "yesterday," and yet who doesn't need an extra pad of Post-It's today and a screen saver?

I say these words at least once every day: "The epitaph on the tombstone of many a dead radio station is 'we used to do that.'"

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Three Reasons Radio FAILS At Social Media

Long-time music and radio marketing whiz Beth Warren says that very few radio stations are using social media well.

Most aren’t using it at all.

In this economy and the state that terrestrial radio is in, you THINK they’d be all over it.. after all, more listeners = more ratings = more money. But they aren’t. They are either just not bothering or they are doing it poorly.

For three reasons (click to read her blog post on them):

1. Radio does not engage.
2. Radio doesn’t promote itself.
3. Radio vastly underestimates Social Media’s value.

Warren points out that of over 12 THOUSAND radio stations in the United States but only 121 of them are on Twitter. (

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Do You Know Where You Are Going?

Tamara Stanners is APD of Vancouver/AAA The Peak. She recently conducted some air staff coaching while I was a fly on the wall and since PPM in Canada is a minute-by-minute game, when she talked, I listened:
"One of the first things we learn as writer/communicator!s is to start with the end in mind. To have a clear goal of where we want our radio magic to go. What some of us seem to have forgotten is that knowing where to go is just the first step."

We also have to make sure the journey to our destination is well thought out of and concise. Meandering all over the road and going backwards to retrace steps just doesn't work on the radio.

It doesn't work in life either. Don't waste the listener's time. Don't waste your own.
If they've figured out what you're saying, they may stop listening even if you don't stop talking.

Think things through. Write them out if you have to. Make sure the beginning/middle and end are all worth doing. If they are not, don't do it. Do nothing. It's better than sounding like you don't know what you are doing.

Be GREAT! That is why you are here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Killing The Goose

As news-talk consultant Holland Cooke keeps predicting a tsunami of talk FM stations should Congress ever grant the record industry's wish to get a royalty for radio airplay of their music, it's easy to shrug and say that it's surely never going to really happen because at the end of the day the RIAA will realize that they'll lose a lot more than they gain should they win this fight.

If that's how you feel, please take an hour and listen to NPR's On The Media this week.

History demonstrates that labels have a long track record of shooting themselves in the foot by putting the people who are in position to grow their business .. out of business.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Will Christmas Music Take Another Fall Book Toll On The Country Format?

As A&O clients received our 48-page Christmas 2009 package this week, we started it off by resurrecting a Mark Ramsey quote from last year’s hear2.0, saying that, with the extreme turbulence in our economy today, this will be the biggest year for Christmas music on the radio EVER.
He said, “I don’t mean just the number of stations doing it. I mean the volume of listeners finding safe refuge in it.”

AC Consultant Mike McVay notes that and M Street counted 418 stations which went all Christmas last December and states
“We expect all of these and at least another 50 this year. Obviously, there are another 1,000 radio stations that play partial XMAS music or go to 100% Christmas a few days before 12-25. Most every radio station will play "some" Christmas music before 12-25. That includes news/talk stations.”

But, he also takes issue with Ramsey:
“I hope that Mark is right. We consult more AC stations than anyone else, so it behooves me if he is right, but I think that the Christmas following 9-11 was the biggest ever. Having said that, it is difficult to compare apples-to-apples, since the PPM is now a part of our world.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"We Really Need Good Music From The Marquee Artists"

"A sign that country!s popularity pendulum is maybe beginning to swing in the right direction is the number of artists who have been recently exposed on the TV talk show circuit.

"Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts and Tim McGraw have had some face time in the last couple of weeks. Taylor Swift was on Oprah, will be on SNL in a couple of weeks and Carrie Underwood has her special coming up. And Garth can still draw massive attention to his press conferences, even if it is to show he can still shoot himself in the foot with Chris Gaines accuracy.

"Really, making a “coming out of retirement” announcement should never include an “I won’t be doing any new music for 5 years” statement." -- Gord Eno, PD,

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Focus On Your Heavy Users

Charlie Sislen and the team at The Research Director have been keeping stats on diarykeepers and now PPM panelists for many years.

Here's a quick A&O recap of what they've learned and what to do about it:

How important to average quarter hour share is the proverbial "P-1" listener to the average radio station? Their findings, based on 91,409 Arbitron diaries from 297 radio station mechanicals in market sizes ranging from #1 to #253 (since all Research Director clients must also be Arbitron subscribers, the results tend to have a bias toward ratings leaders, top competitors and research savvy station and not all formats were represented (religious, non-commercial, adult urban and big band were missing from the analysis, but all other formats were represented)):

* Nearly three-quarters of all station quarter hours come from just over a third of the average station's diaries.
* Exclusive audience, people who report listening to only one station, gives more than double its share of quarter hours, compared to its percentage of diaries.
* A small number of diarykeepers makes a big difference in the average station's ratings.
* Those heavy listeners who give the average station 100 or more quarter hours per week of their time are less than ten percent of all diaries, but account for four of ten of ALL quarter hours of listening. This stat from diaries, hold up in PPM as well.
* THE ballgame is decided at work!
* On average, it would take almost twice as many at home and four times as many in car listeners to equal the contribution to the normal station's time spent listening that at work diarykeepers make.
* The first and second day of the diary week ARE almost ten percent more likely to have reported listening in the diary, but don't forgot those other weekdays too. They are written down by more than half of all diarykeepers. Two out of three diarykeepers write no listening on Sunday.
* PPM listeners are found equally in every minute of every hour, seven days a week.
There are really two ways to increase your time spent listening, by increasing the number of listening occasions (the diary average is 6.2 times per week which are written in 3.4 days in the diary) and the length of time spent each time.
* If you do any special marketing to diarykeepers, do it in the last phase of each survey, focusing on week 4, 7, 8, 11 and 12.
* PPM rewards, instead, consistent tuning minute-by-minute and day-by-day, yet "events" still spike usage.
* Finally, outside marketing efforts appear to have only a very small (but positive) impact on your P-1 listeners. However, your P-2, P-3 and P-4 listeners devote almost twice as many quarter hours to the average station when you do TV, telemarketing or direct mail. For example, Sislen reports that one station received 24% of ALL their quarter hours for the entire book in one week, the week that their full market direct mail piece hit mailboxes!

To win in the ratings, diaries or PPM....

1. Develop a relationship with and appeal to first preference listeners.
2. Recognize the impact of heavy listeners. Include them in all research and marketing efforts designed to improve TSL.
3. To improve TSL...
increase the number of listening occasions
more days
more locations
more reasons to tune in at specific times
increase the duration of listening
give reasons to continue listening
remove tune-outs
4. Market to develop and cultivate new listeners.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Radio, Outdoor Rates Down Compared To Last Year

The good news is: a) we're not alone and b) though the first half of 2009 has drops in ad spending across all media—even online— advertisers are more optimistic about the latter part of the year, according to JPMorgan.

The bad news is: Ad pricing is down across the board, as the majority of media buyers and planners reported they were paying less in 2009 than the previous year for ads across all media. Nine out of 10 respondents said prices had gone down for radio and outdoor, while 85% reported the same for magazines and newspapers.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Spins And Spin

Spanish Broadcasting System sent out a press release last week announcing that it is finalizing plans to roll out a network-style, legal pay-for-play program in overnight hours at its 21 radio stations.

Chief revenue officer Frank Flores says the Musical Infomercial program is intended to monetize fringe dayparts and level the playing field for independent artists.

The bundled airplay has been approved by the company’s legal department, including one package of roughly 48 plays a week per station. Each song will be billboarded with an announcement that it is ”brought to you by” the sponsoring entity from 11 pm-6 am and Saturday-Sunday from 11 pm-10 am.

"Ideally this could serve as a launching pad for new artists.” Flores says that SBS hopes to gain more buy-in from indie labels and artists.

Decoded: 48 plays a week on enough stations means that it could be possible to "buy" a top ten chart hit, which actually could receive no airplay at all at times when the sun is shining and the majority of listeners could hear it. This will be a launching pad for new artists and indie labels whose bank accounts are larger than their talent.

The irony: this comes at the same time the music industry is pushing for radio stations to pay labels and artists a performance royalty for airing their music.

Decoded: we'll pay you lots of money to play the songs and artists whose quality won't justify airplay without the paid spins. If you want to play songs and artists your listeners like and enjoy, radio needs to pay us for that.

Premiere’s “After Midnight” is also after record label dollars. Blair Garner’s new web video feature “Fresh Catch” gives new and emerging artists a chance to promote their music.
Garner sees it more about helping break new artists. “This new web feature gives the public a chance to check out the best new talent, learn more about them and even buy their music online.”

Decoded: ... if they have the money to pay for it. The FCC has no pay-for-play rules online, just on air. I do have to say that since this approach won't distort airplay charts, it's more acceptable to me than paid "group" spins. If Blair's listeners like the new artist music online and the songs start to test well enough for broadcast airplay, that could prove to be a win for everyone.

ARB CEO Michael Skarzynski: “Over the past nine months, Arbitron has made significant advancements to improve sample quality,”

Decoded: Total installed persons in New York in September are at their lowest levels all year, down by over 300 meters since last December. Arbitron is having long-term difficulty with 35-44 year-olds. In another PPM market, for example, I just printed out a ranker on 35-44 and 45-54 women and out came five or more pages of stations with zeros in their audience estimates! What are buyers supposed to do with that information, just not buy any radio during the end-of-summer weeks and the Labor Day holiday?

H.R. 1147 (The Local Radio Community Act) directs the FCC to “ensure that licenses are available to both FM translator stations and Low Power FM stations. And that such decisions are made on the needs of the local community.”

Decoded: interference is acceptable to lawmakers if it comes from schools, churches and other community-based organizations? Sounds like another Docket 80-90.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How Will Your Self-Promotion Fare?

Accountability IS the future, and now that new measures are evolving to check - down to units smaller than a minute in the not-too-distant future - to see which of the things we broadcast engage/relate and which things are counter-productive to both usage and brand-building, you don't need to listen to very much radio to get very worried about our medium-term future.

We simply MUST stop talking about ourselves and what we do, and begin to sell benefits instead of features in entertaining and compelling ways.

"Content" is not where your next remote broadcast is going to be, or who the guest is going to be on next Sunday's 5:00 am public affairs show.

"Data is going to begin changing the way ... advertising is purchased or managed -- finally -- and "tune-in" is quite likely to be first in line. It certainly won't happen overnight, but the multiples involved are clearly too great to be ignored. 2% improvements won't move markets, but 20% or 2X improvements will. This is going to have a lot of impact in TV measurements, metrics, processes and, very likely, business models. It will certainly be disruptive to many of the incumbents -- and will also present many of them with extraordinary new opportunities -- but it will certainly be crazy getting there."

How many media pundits/research studies have to say this and for how long before radio starts to sound like it's stopped being narcissistic?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

When Times Are Tough, The Creative Start Rapping

Mike Stiles, by day, is just another radio guy. But, by night, in his home production studio, he suddenly becomes..... Notorious D-A-D! (click to hear his character creation and the new album of bits he's created around it)

Times are hard, man.

With unemployment skyrocketing and good, hardworking people losing their jobs hand over fist, seems like the only ones out there who are getting and staying in the money are people who have Bruce Jenner for a stepdad…and rappers.

So when you got a family to take care of, you do what you got to do. You follow the money. If you can’t do as good with a 9-5 playing Spider Solitaire in a cubicle, it’s time to throw your beats to the wind and go with what works.

Of course, you can only rap about what you know. And I rap about my world. Life in the suburbs, the Neighborhood Association gettin’ all up in my grill, keeping the wife happy, the kids happy, the kids’ friends happy, and trying to keep my house and lawn from mis-representin’.

So get ready to make the minivan bounce, 'cause I’m Notorious D-A-D.

What unique, relatable, fun character lives inside you, which you could exploit for fun and profit?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hot: Google And "Flash Forward;" Not: Snuggies And Holiday Spending

Big Research tracks consumer trends and reports:

Google (with 74.5% rating it “hot”) bests Bing (39.5%) in the battle of search engines. And, while FlashForward is highly rated among consumers overall, Community has found a niche with young men and young women enjoy The Vampire Diaries. That same female 18-34 demographic declares plaid clothing and over-the-knee boots as on-trend this season.

While one in four (27.9%) admits to loving Snuggies, this figure-obliterating, Gumby-like fleece sack is particularly out of favor with men…wonder why?

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's That "A Maze-Ing!" Season

Spotted on the internet: Maze 1 (easy): WOW Country 104.3
"The popular country radio station WOW country 104.3 sponsored us this year! So we cut our first maze to look like their logo. Inside the maze you will come across Mother Goose characters and the nursery rhymes to go with them. Find all the WOW logos in the maze and enter to win tickets to a Johnny Cash Tribute, an all ages event! It is directed towards younger children and those who would like a shorter maze experience."

Hats off to Peak Broadcasting/Boise for being the first I've seen. If you have some creative corn maze radio stunts appearing in your area right now, I'd love to see them.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Regina's Big (Fire Prevention) Dog

Astral GM Mike Shannon's team at Big Dog 92-7 agreed to a set of community service objectives, with the goal to bring the fact that The Dog is making a difference to life.

Objective #8: Supporting law enforcement, fire fighters, military, etc..., is captured in this video as "The Dog's Breakfast" morning team, Brad & Heather went to Fire Hall #7.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Where The Ghouls Are

If you need October 31 stunts and bits like bobbing for pumpkins, office tricks and treats and pumpkin Olympics, "A&O's October Lightbulb" monthly promotional ideas news letter has plenty of them (clients only). (Email Mike or me to get a free copy, if you're not currently a client)

Crave still more inspiration? Here's another idea starter, chock full of stories and locations, like this one:

"At Stoner House, Dark Harbor, Maine, no matter how many times the carpet is replaced in the parlor of this wood-frame house, it lumps up in the center of the room and blood stains appear on the surface. The phenomenon has plagued several families since 1900, when Salathiel Stoner owned the house. Stoner met Amanda Carter in Falls Church, Virginia, and brought her back to Maine to be his wife. Amanda hated her husband's austere house and begged him for a carpet for the cold parlor floor."

And, according to the book, the rest is haunted history!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Five months after CBS created the "Interactive Music Group," and four months after Jay McCarthy joined Tim McGraw's organization comes yesterday's impressive announcement about the multi-channel leverage being applied to Tim's upcoming appearance on the LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN:

McGraw will perform an exclusive “Live on Letterman” webcast concert from the Ed Sullivan Theater on Monday, Oct. 12, following the taping of his appearance.

This CBS Interactive Music Group event will be promoted across and broadcast on several CBS assets, as the concert will be streamed on the LATE SHOW website at that evening at approximately 8:00 PM, ET/5:00 PM, PT, and will also be featured live on-air and online on CBS RADIO country music stations across the country.

Additionally, live and on-demand video of the concert will be available on CBS properties including,,, and, as well as the CBS Television Station websites, among others.

Jay, I see your fingerprints all over this. Of course, no one person can make something this big happen, but I've been watching for what you've been doing.

Thanks for already teaching us by example how to maximise impact, using every single outlet and input we have access to now.

It's great to see "a country radio guy" grow into something much more, helping us all as you have done so.

Monday, October 05, 2009

To Affect The Future, Understand The Past

.. and I cannot think of a journalist with a better perspective on it all than Bob Shannon.

Many of his friends, including me, have been telling him for several years as we avidly read his columns in Radio & Records and AllAccess, "you need to turn this great stuff into a book."

Congrats, Bob, for taking that advice. The book is impressive!

Buy a copy
, and learn about the building blocks of great radio.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Talent Coach In You Will Love This

(click to watch the video) What's the secret to harnessing talent and maximizing potential?

Originality happens much later, after you build the platform of skills. And the best way to build that platform is to imitate, copy, mimic — to fire the circuit over and over toward a clear goal and see how close you can get." - The Talent Code

Thanks to Dial-Global/Denver's John St. John for the heads up and the link to this inspiring video report.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

"Hug Those Babies When You Get Home"

.. that's the sign-off phrase WYNK's Scott Innes has used as he heads home each evening after his afternoon show in Baton Rouge for many, many years. And, he's really bringing it to life now.

He sends along this photo which says it all for the cause he's working hard to raise money for right now, "Baseball's Most Touching Night, The Hal & Al Miracle League Concert."
Good work and congrats, Scott!

It's so great to see that the event is going to be a complete sell-out.

Trading Ideas (And, Some Advice)

Eric Rowe wrote: I'm looking for ideas that can be done with creativity and no budget since most stations keep pulling back marketing. If you have some sure fire ways for a show to try and get cume without the big budget in a PPM and non PPM world that would be awesome.

Thanks, Eric! I am flattered you thought of me. Try these on for size:

1. Don't make your show about Facebook and Twitter. Make Facebook and Twitter about your show. Many personalities make the mistake of talking up social networking as if mentioning the social sites made them seem cool. Just the opposite. There's no need to round up your audience and send them to the social networks. They are already there. Build tribes and stand for something they care about, using your show to magnify their voices.

2. Drop the hype. Stop selling the station. Stunts and benchmarks don't work like they used to, when people saw themselves as a mass, talked to by media. Today, they know they have control and want to create content. I love the way talent coach Tommy Kramer puts it: "think of yourself describing a parade as it passes." Be in the moment, talk about what matters to your listener today, from as many different perspectives as possible.

3. Research Director's Charlie Sislen has a recipe for all content in a PPM world: crisp, concise and compelling.

I know that these are not exactly what you were hoping-for, but the concept of everyone going to the same conventions, stealing the same ideas from one another and becoming the first one in your market to do the latest hot thing doesn't work like it once did.

Be intensely authentic. No one can steal that.