Wednesday, March 31, 2010

April Fool!

As Tom Taylor reminded us all this morning:
"Successful April 1 stunts leave everybody feeling good. Bad ones leave local cops unhappy and some aggrieved citizen writing the FCC about the “hoax rule.” Radio’s gotten egg on its face many times for half-baked ideas that sounded great in the studio, but which had disastrous consequences out in the real world."

Last year, Dave Pettitt and his Island Radio/Nanaimo team orchestrated what I think may be one of the best executed community deceptions I have ever heard. The key: they had all local officials not only informed at the planning stage, but also got them to help pull it off.
"When listeners called our "City Hotline" they received a message from Kim and myself. People still stop us and tell they were had. It was a pretty successful April Fools Joke."

Day #1: a planted news story, based on fact, but with a silly local angle.
Day #2: (April Fools Day): The story becomes the day's topical talk-about (click to listen)
Day #3: (click to listen) Listeners react to be sure everyone knows it was all in fun.

That's a textbook case of how it's done! What are you planning?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The "New Sincerity"

Misty Harris of Canwest News Service: "After decades of sarcasm as a second language, it seems almost heretical, but social scientists, happiness researchers and cultural observers alike say all signs point to a movement toward sincerity."

"We all really want to talk about optimism right now," says Neil Pasricha, author of The Book of Awesome. "There's so much in life to be happy about. And if we don't recognize that, the weight of the world becomes really suffocating really quickly."

Economic malaise is surely a partial driver. Because humans are hardwired to make themselves feel good, experts say it makes sense, biologically, that we'd double our efforts in tough times.

A recent study of some 7,500 newspaper articles finds bad news doesn't really travel fast; readers instead tend to email stories that uplift and amaze. In a recent half-year study of the New York Times' most-emailed articles, University of Pennsylvania researcher Jonah Berger found the more awe-inspiring a story, the greater its likelihood of being passed along.

"The data suggests people don't share things just to entertain or for utility," says Berger. "They do it to emotionally bond."

Thanks to
Jay Bedford, PD at Cape Breton's Eagle 103.5 for turning me onto this thought-provoking research article.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Firm Grasp On The Obvious

Considering a job in radio?

* Many broadcast employees have erratic work schedules, sometimes having to work early in the morning or late at night.

* Entry-level jobs in news or program production increasingly are requiring a college degree and some broadcast experience.

* Employment in broadcasting is expected to increase by just 7 percent over the 2008–18 period,

* Keen competition is expected for many jobs, particularly in large metropolitan areas, because of the large number of jobseekers attracted by the glamour of this industry.

Check out the Federal Bureau Of Labor Statistics' facts on their website and you might decide that car sales is more promising, yet the upside to our great business for those of us who know it well still far outweighs the risks and demands.

It gets into your blood. That's obvious too.

Friday, March 26, 2010

DYK: The Creator Of Radio's Cash Call Also Sold Real Estate To Diane Sawyer, Henry Kissinger And Joan Rivers

Tom Zarecki called my attention to this obit for David Klemm in the Danbury (CT) News-Times and then added some personal insight about his early career in radio:

I worked for Dave for 6 years in the early 80's. He taught me the delicate art of consulting radio PD's and jocks. What I learned from Dave over those years I was then able to parlay into my own radio successful radio consulting business from 1986-1994.

Klemm worked for Blair Radio, a major national radio rep firm based in New York City, for many years, from the sixties into the early 80's when he began Klemm Media, his own radio consulting firm. During that era, Klemm personally coached literally hundreds of radio programmers, station managers and air talent, including many legendary jocks in all of America's top 20 markets as well as many other stations in groups in all market size, before making his final radio segue into a real estate career with his wife, Carolyn, in 1986.

Besides writing hundreds of slogans, station jingle lyrics and designing radio ad campaigns for top-rated stations nationwide, Klemm was generally credited with inventing the original and highly successful "Cash Call" radio call-in contest of the late 50's and early 60's, later duplicated by hundreds of other stations.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Good News

Journalism education has greatly declined over the past two decades as colleges and universities have either closed journalism programs or transformed them into "Communications Departments." Radio journalism has been especially hard hit, with diminished teaching resources given over to television instruction because TV is the more attractive broadcast medium.

Consequently, many journalists starting out in radio lack basic knowledge on how to communicate effectively though the medium. In the past, much of that knowledge was learned on the job, but consolidations, cutbacks and downsizing in radio have reduced news staffs to the point where news directors can afford little time to training those new in the profession.

In this sink-or-swim environment, far too many radio journalists have figured out only how to float. They haven't been introduced to the wide range of possibilities in preparing radio news and are often frustrated either by not being able to move up to a larger market or by not having the satisfaction of becoming respected journalists within their communities.

Michael Meckler began working in radio news with an internship at WCBE in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, back in 1982. Over the next decade and a half, he worked at radio stations in small, medium and large markets in the Midwest and Northeast, including three years in the 1990s as a writer, producer and reporter at the pre-Westinghouse, pre-Infinity, pre-Viacom CBS owned-and-operated all-news WWJ in Detroit. He has also taught at several universities, including Michigan, Ohio State and Yale.

I guess it's his background in education that motivated him to create an online basic course for anyone who wants to improve their news - writing, delivery, digging, reporting.

Have I piqued your interest? Even better: it's free with a click here.

Trust The Listener

I have been recommending "co-creation" techniques as a part of launches and repositioning ever since I first heard PD Garrett Michaels and the entire Lincoln Financial Media (Jefferson-Pilot at the time) team use listener input eight years ago to very believably remake KBZT, San Diego, into FM94/9, committing to its audience that "It's All About The Music" and ultimately stand out from the five rock stations in the market at the time.

Listeners always respond when asked to help improve their favorite radio station. And, other folks hear the buzz and check it out.

So, it's going to be most interesting to watch and see what happens next in Columbus!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Don Snyder, We All Owe You

The Internet Sales Manager for RadiOhio "had it" after a barrage of inquiries about banners and cheap CPM's.

So, he created a website for the use of his sales team that explains the weaknesses of traditional banner-only advertising vs. a well-planned and executed campaign designed to deliver real and measurable results. (click to check it out)

After all, at the end of the campaign will your client have preferred to spend their marketing dollars on Banners or Buyers? - Don Snyder

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kenny & Mike & Mike

Most people know that Kenny Chesney played sports as a young man and has been a sports fan ever since. And, as a frequent guest on ESPN Radio and ESPN-2's morning sports talk temple “Mike and Mike in the Morning” talking football, baseball and life on the road and everything in between with former sports journalist Mike Greenberg and former Notre Dame and NFL lineman Mike Golic, it's not surprising the may turn to Kenny to write the preface for their book, "Mike And Mike's Rules for Sports and Life (out April 7th).

“They're a little bit crazy and irreverent,” says the former Gibbs High wide receiver and the 4-consecutive Academy of Country Music and 4-time Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year, “but they know their sports - and from completely unique perspectives - and aren't afraid to hash it out. To me, it's a lot like what goes on on my bus when we're out on the road, except, they're on ESPN-2 and ESPN radio.

“So when they asked if I would write something for their book, I was right there. I'd never done anything like that before, but it was honored to be asked.”

“He did an awesome job,” said Mike Greenberg of Chesney's writing. “He completely got us…”

“It's not hard to do,” Chesney responds. “They have a lot of heart - and a lot of fun. If you're gonna go at sports or life or whatever, Mike and Mike know how to do with with humor, with passion and that comes through when you listen, when you watch and certainly when you read their book.” -- Neil Haislop

Some "rules," from the new book:

• The Fourth of July should be eliminated and replaced with an Independence Day that falls on the first Thursday of the month, creating a four-day weekend like Thanksgiving, which, by the way, could do without the Detroit Lions.
• “The Human Element” in sports officiating and weather forecasting sucks.
• The top pick in the NBA draft lottery should go to the team that came closest to making the playoffs—not to the team that rips off fans by mailing it in after the All-Star break.
• When someone says, “I’m being completely honest,” they might as well be claiming that they go to Hooters just for the wings.
• Kids do not get to eat french fries for breakfast. Ever. And who cares what the kids at the next table are ordering.
• No more designated hitter!

To bad we can't have a "designated air personality" to come in for those breaks when you just don't feel inspired today..

Friday, March 19, 2010

No Need To Wait Until Monday

There has already been an amazingly fast and large (I cut the survey off at 250 folks) response to my survey, Keith Urban, Politics And Music, posted yesterday.

So, here's the final tally. The orange (yes, that is 0%) is the percent of respondents who think radio should ease up on play of Keith Urban.

The blue indicates those (100%) who say NO to that idea. I see a lot of surveys in my job, but I have never seen a large sample agree 100% on anything ever before.

It seems that good sense in music preference prevails in spite of today's political din.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Keith Urban, Politics And Music

CMT: The Eagles, Dixie Chicks, Keith Urban Plan Summer Tour

Comments are flying already:

"I've seen the Chicks but that was before Natalie ruined a remarkably successful career with one sentence. I won't see them again until Natalie is replaced with someone like Nikki Nelson, (formerly of Highway 101). Saw The Eagles their last time out and the show was outstanding! In fact, they did their version of "My Girl" which they should seriously consider releasing as a single. Would love to see Keith."


"So every perfomer that steps on a stage should have passed a political litmus test with the fans. How hypocritical you right wingers are. I've seen Trace Adkins spout his politics from the stage and Sheryl Crow tell the audience hers at concerts. But Natalie Mains has to carry her cross for you for all eternity. Pathetic. I agree with citybumpkin, I bet it's just fine for some of you to do up ugly posters and spout hate about our current president. It's music people, get over yourselves and enjoy it."

What's radio to do??

Click here to take survey.

Results on Monday.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Making Product Placement Part Of The Show

... Sez here "the usual annual four-week ad blitz by Hormel in 2010 will look to leverage air talent’s personal stories with its products.
Announcers will take the products home and then tell their listeners about how they used products like Bacon Bits, Dinty Moore Beef Stew and Hormel Chili into their family’s menu.

“Look what you can do” is the theme of the CRN International-created campaign.

It's not radio, I know, but, for some reason, I just can't wait to see how Stephen Colbert fits in a plug for Spam!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Never Seen This Before!

The note from John Windus, PD at KKRV/Wenatchee says it:
"Oh, Copytimer! Is there anything you CAN'T do?"

* Accurately times scripts written in English or Spanish.
* Offers three different modes for different script formats:
* Spot Timer times all the text you enter in a flash.
* Script Timer supports a screenplay format, timing only dialogue.
* Video Timer supports a two-column format, timing only audio.
* Web-based Copytimer requires no installation or disk space.
* Write, edit and time scripts from any computer, anywhere.
* Print scripts directly from the Copytimer program.
* Conveniently save your scripts as DOC files or PDFs.
* Save your files both locally and remotely for safekeeping.
* Time your scripts as you write them, saving untold work.
* Work with scripts faster and more efficiently than ever before.

... i.e., VERY cool stuff!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Is "The Dow Jones Of Pop" Music UP? Or, DOWN?

Chris Molanphy pens a great read that everyone who picks songs for radio airplay really needs to ponder.
"Like the Dow Jones Industrial Average — which signifies the health of the U.S. economy for millions of people who understand little about what the Dow means or how it works — the Hot 100 has been around long enough to become both a fixture and a shorthand for the current state of U.S. popular music."

I agree with him that "airplay-heavy charts are deadly. That’s the situation we had in the early 2000s, when iTunes hadn’t been invented yet and the labels had killed off the retail single."

Sadly, he needs to look deeper than his hypothesis of so-called "tyranny" that radio is "The Chief Executive" which undermines a good chart.

Too often it's promotional tactics manipulating radio in pursuit of album sales due to their higher profitability to the label which drives the chart and thus lacks "... checks and balances: the Congress that is the consumer.. (You also need a supply of good songs, obviously, but there’s not much a chart can do about that.)"

Stations (and labels) which ignore their own listener-driven research should not be surprised when the audience complains about too much repetition (aka too many songs I don't like) and looks to downloads for songs they simply like better than the chart hits being spun ad nauseam by radio in pursuit of #1 on the traditional trade magazine rankings.

Old habits are hard to break, but it's time we all rethink what we're doing and why.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Canada's Astral Radio Explains PPM To You

In the U.S., Arbitron delivers monthly PPM updates as the researcher rolls out metered radio measurement.

In Canada, a large group owner's research staff has seized the initiative and is trying to establish itself as the PPM experts by delivering monthly reports on the new form of media measurement of radio usage arrives.

Alicia Olson-Keating, General Manager of Research & Marketing Services and Mike Mohammed, Research and Marketing Analyst for Astral Media Radio in English Canada put on their red Olympics mittens and took 30 minutes to present and analyze the second PPM currency results in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal.

There's a lot of great information in their presentation, including some tips on how to look at your own ratings. For example, before you open "the book" or start a download of data, make a note of important events, times and dates which could have affected radio and your own station.

Then, before tracking reach, time spent listening and share rankers, look at each station's ideal and real target on a male-female/young-old grid.

Here's how it looks in the most recent monthly numbers in four large Canadian markets:

Are you the first one on your block to disseminate the new radio ratings data to your marketplace?

It's a good way to establish a position of leadership and expertise with your media buying community.

Friday, March 12, 2010

March Madness Edition: What’s Hot…Not

You don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, as consumers vote this holiday as what’s hot in March…another seasonal holiday – Spring Break – follows, while Olympians Shaun White and Lindsey Vonn also have a strong fan base.

Men are looking forward to March Madness, while woman are tuning in for The Marriage Ref.

What’s not?

While Big Research doesn’t doubt his loyalty among tweens, Justin Bieber just isn’t hitting the right note with adults 18+.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rule #7

It has been two decades since Trout & Rees wrote the book "The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing," which suggests that it often is better, when you find yourself on the second or third rung of a ladder and someone else is firmly perched on top of it and shows no signs of climbing down to make room for you up there, to build a new ladder.

Creating a new ladder means finding a new design improvement, new target, new perceptual hill. Steve Jobs and Apple seem to make a very good business following this rule again and again.

There are two kinds of warfare (if you don't count guerrilla, which is normally not a viable long-term marketing strategy in the face of solidly branded competition): offensive attack or flanking.

As a flanker, by definition, you are not in competition with anyone. Your objective is to advance NOT on the competition BUT on an open position. In the perfect flanking maneuver, the competition is no one!

The criteria for evaluating a new radio format's position:

1. What is the interest overall in the format and position among target listeners? Is there sufficient room between them for a middle ground attitude and music mix?

2. What is the music taste pattern and music preference for the open position? Which possible approach is closer to the particular taste of your market? What has the exposure of the music been in the past in the market?

3. Is the hole already covered in the minds of the target audience by an existing station? This one can fool you. Just listening to an existing station doesn’t always indicate all of strong images which drive their usage today driven by their history.

Once you find a “hole,” the key is attitude, music focus and overall positioning and these ingredients are so important to the target that getting them wrong at the inception can be disastrous.

You only get a chance to be new one time. And, once you have sullied your name with the target group, especially today’s Gen X and Gen Y folks whose attention span is extremely short, it is much tougher to rejuvenate the image than it is to get it right from day one.

A smart flanker is going to attack empty territory. Everyone should give up only a little and no one loses a lot. The only exception: when a station deconstructs itself in the face of the new perceived "attack" and "defends" against it by, for example, shifting a successful focus to a different one, they have basically changed format and disenfranchised their core audience.

This only works when the flanker's potential target audience is larger or more desirable from a business point of view than the defender's current format and can get expensive for both the incumbent and newbee if the flanking attack turns into head-on.

The best advice in the face of any flanking attack: stay COOL.

React only when/if your numbers drop. Find out why you are no longer satisfying your target as successfully as you once did and correct that. Focus on attacking yourself, not the new competition.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

CMA's Board Goes To Washington, And Makes Me Proud To Be In This Biz

While in the nation's capitol for an annual meeting, Kix Brooks, Victoria Shaw, Randy Scruggs, Bob Dipiero and nearly 50 other members visited the Library of Congress for a tour and a presentation yesterday.

"Our strategic mission first and foremost -- it's been for 50 years -- is to promote the format, to promote country music," said Steve Moore, chairman of the CMA's board of directors. Visiting the Library of Congress "is a great opportunity to meet the staff and look into collaborations."

It was an amazing source of pride to be 'an insider' in the crowd at what has become so routine in Nashville, a candid, political, edgy, fun, ad libbed, unrehearsed guitar pull featuring those four as well as Lorrie Morgan and hard-lobbying man, the always political, brilliant and authentic John Rich, be so well-attended by Washington, D.C. glitterati and reviewed so favorably by the Washington Post.

Hopefully, the behind the scenes negotiations on royalties and performance rights between NAB and RIAA will be half as productive in the due course of time.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Country Radio Listeners: More Tech Savvy Than Ever

A & O recently released our annual study of country radio listeners and if you were at our Nashville client seminar, you know that the 2010 study surveyed over 8,800 country listeners--66% of them aged 25-54 and 89.1% P1's (heavy users of Country).

Thanks to Daniel Anstandig for not only speaking to our meetings, but for the coverage in his Radio-Info column this week. "Most noteworthy to country radio operators this year is the significant uptrend of listeners who consider themselves "savvy" when it comes to new media."

>> 25% of country radio listeners in this study reported that they consider themselves "savvy when it comes to things like using e-mail, texting, downloading podcasts, and posting videos online." That's up from 16.9% in 2009.

>> Only 26.8% of country radio listeners in this study consider themselves "below average" on the above-mentioned new media--which is down significantly from 47.4% of country radio listeners in 2008 and 33.8% in 2009.

This year may be a breakthrough year for country radio online. These numbers show opportunity for any savvy country radio station to move into the digital world--although it would appear that any station just getting serious now about new media would be following their listeners to the net rather than leading them there.

At the same time, country programmed internet-radio stations are gaining listeners.

>> More country music listeners are using internet-radio than ever before--with the Albright & O'Malley study showing that a staggering 56.8% of country radio listeners are using Internet-radio at least once per week. Remember that this study is mostly P1's, and it's clear that internet-radio could significantly steal TSL from a local country station if programmed and marketed competitively.

>> The good news for country radio stations in this study: listeners are spending a big chunk of their internet-radio time with LOCAL COUNTRY RADIO STATIONS. This year, 28.8% of country radio listeners are spending over three hours per week listening to a local country radio station online.

>> Furthermore, the study showed that 48% of country radio listeners believe it is SOMEWHAT or VERY IMPORTANT that their favorite country radio station is available to listen online.

>> Most (76.8%) of listeners of country internet-radio streams are listening through their computer/notebook. 5.6% of the respondents said that they regularly listen on their smartphone, and 9.5% on iPhones/iPod/MP3.

>> Internet-Radio causes country radio listeners to spend MORE time with their favorite radio station too. One out of four respondents said that they listen MORE to their local country station because of their internet-radio stream.

>> 92.4% of country radio listeners have visited a radio station's website in the past six months. Their top three wants: Access to concert tickets before they go on sale, country music news, and discount coupons. Is your country radio station offering those three?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Change Isn't Hard After All

If change is difficult for you, or you want your listeners to change their habits/perceptions, read this new book:
"If people hate change, they have a funny way of showing it. Every iPhone sold serves as counter-evidence. So does every text message sent, every corporate merger finalized, every aluminum can recycled. And we haven’t even mentioned the biggest changes: Getting married. Having kids. (If people hate change, then having a kid is an awfully dumb decision.)

"It puzzled us--why do some huge changes, like marriage, come joyously, while some trivial changes, like submitting an expense report on time, meet fierce resistance?

"We found the answer in the research of some brilliant psychologists who’d discovered that people have two separate “systems” in their brains—a rational system and an emotional system. The rational system is a thoughtful, logical planner. The emotional system is, well, emotional—and impulsive and instinctual.

"When these two systems are in alignment, change can come quickly and easily (as when a dreamy-eyed couple gets married). When they’re not, change can be grueling (as anyone who has struggled with a diet can attest)."

In a nutshell: look for, or even better BE "the bright spot."

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Practice Makes PERFECT (more steps to greatness)

Radio personalities have generally gotten pretty good at building memorable brands for themselves, and that's what it takes to perform well in diary ratings measurement, but in PPM there's that extra step which can mean a 25% increase in your recorded listening: perfect execution with no missteps. Metered audience measurement punishes the mediocre. That's why this old Fortune article hit me right between the eyes. Excellence is no longer a hoped-for goal, it's a necessity each time you open the mic, produce a commercial or piece of imagery.

2. As you do the task, focus on what's happening and why you're doing it the way you are.

3. After the task, get feedback on your performance from multiple sources. Make changes in your behavior as necessary.

4. Continually build mental models of your situation - your industry, your company, your career. Enlarge the models to encompass more factors.

5. Do those steps regularly, not sporadically. Occasional practice does not work.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Why It Pays To Go To The Dentist

While sitting in the waiting room, I picked up a four year old copy of Fortune and discovered five secrets to true greatness, starting with a technique called deliberate practice.

It applies to self-improvement no matter what you want to excel in - from making presentations to negotiating deals to deciphering financial statements.

Thank you, (Dr. Vicky LeClair and..) Fortune, for giving me blog content for the next five days!

Monday, March 01, 2010

“Do Cell Phone Only people listen differently?”

Radio-Info's Tom Taylor was in the room at CRS to cover the debate Friday morning:

1. "NO."

Arbitron research guru Dr. Ed Cohen says at a “Gloves are off” session with Nielsen’s Lorraine Hadfield that they’re not seeing any big differences in the overall scheme of things. And that the hallowed “regression to the mean” principle suggests that ass more and more Americans take to depending on their cell phones, “they look more like” landline-only households. (Though one CRS convention-goer points out that means that there might have more differences in the past, as those cellphone-hugging 18-34s remained hard for Arbitron to reach.)


2. "YES."

“Cell Phone Only shows significant difference by format.” Nielsen’s Lorraine Hadfield holds a very different viewpoint from Arbitron on the subject. She’s there to talk about Nielsen’s “large, reliable samples” and its emphasis on what researchers call “address-based sampling.” “ABS” is a major point of difference between how Nielsen and Arbitron create their samples. Hadfield says the Nielsen approach produces “98% market coverage.” Cohen says “Our coverage, at worst, is about 93%, and Nielsen’s probably about 95%.” Hadfield prefers eight-week surveys with very large samples, mostly once a year in current practice. While in its own diary markets, Arbitron does two 12-week surveys.

Hadfield notes that country radio did very well in the 51 markets they surveyed last spring:

Dr. Ed also showed how national diary intab looked in the Fall ARB survey.

If your local market didn't look that nifty, you may want to ask your ARB rep what the difference might mean for the accuracy of your book.

Cohen outlined the diary survey changes being made this spring: