Monday, May 31, 2010

Throwdown Cancels Houston (6/9), Dallas (6/10), San Diego (6/17) and Phoenix (6/18)

The COUNTRY THROWDOWN TOUR throws in the towel for four upcoming shows.

In addition, the Bakersfield date (originally set for 6/16) has now moved to Friday, 6/18. Tickets from the Houston, Dallas, San Diego and Phoenix shows will be honored at all other COUNTRY THROWDOWN tour dates and refunds are also available at the point of purchase.

Tour Producer, Kevin Lyman, says, “After many attempts to keep these shows, we’re regretfully unable to bring Throwdown to these four markets.”

Lyman is citing the following reasons for the cancellations of shows: “Low tickets sales and too many shows competing with one another. We are trying to bring a festival style tour with 21 artists, at a reasonable and fair ticket price (average ticket cost $31), but because most markets are currently flooded with shows, we end up cannibalizing one another and someone ends up with lower ticket sales.” Kevin adds, “As a result, we can’t afford to keep the show on the road for ALL of its intended dates. It’s a first year tour and we expected year one to be full of key lessons, so that next year-- and there will be a next year--is even better.”

The COUNTRY THROWDOWN tour has seen crowds as large at 13,500 already. Fans and bands have expressed huge enthusiasm about the concept. Lyman asks fans in the above canceled markets to accept “our sincere apologies” and if they can’t make it to one of the remaining Throwdown shows, “expect to see us back in those markets next year. “

Watch: video message from tour founder Kevin Lyman to the Throwdown fans regarding the canceled shows.

The first tour of its kind in the world of country, the COUNTRY THROWDOWN TOUR mixes a B-list country music artist or two with largely-unknown singer-songwriters in a male-appeal/outlaw festival environment using the UN-family friendly slogan "Kiss My Country Ass."

COUNTRY THROWDOWN offers a constant stream of music not played on radio on multiple stages all day long (doors open daily at 1:00pm, the show goes until 11:00pm) all at an affordable ticket price. For more information visit the tour's website.

Tip for all concert promoters: talk to a local country programmer you trust and find out how they think your show will draw locally before spending any money.

If a dominant radio station isn't willing to push it real hard, become a full partner with you on it, don't do it.

Cancellations are bad PR for everyone, in addition to being expensive lessons in country targeting.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Can They Really Make Radio Say “Sex” And “Rape”?

...I hope not, since not only are broadcasters responsible to community needs, good programmers work hard to build a large audience so that advertisers trust us to get them more results than what they expected.

It would be nice to think that in Pennsylvania a very good cause is using the request for a change in their copy to get more publicity than the actual ads would get and you sure can’t blame them for that as long as once everything dies down more reasonable heads prevail and ultimately make everyone involved, including B-101 listeners, "feel good."

Meanwhile, ironically, ad wizard Roy Williams has also recently been on a tear about buyers and agencies having the right to super-saturate radio with annoying ads.

I’ll permit Williams a bit of slack since I am a longtime "beagle" of the wiz, but it is possible that he’s been hearing from PPM market stations he'd like to buy, informing him that running the same piece of copy, intentionally written to irk, several times per hour is damaging both his and the stations' interests.

He wants to buy radio and control the creative in the same very successful way he has used to get clients outstanding results for many years, and you can’t blame him for that.

Metered behavior, however, is now giving us information that would be foolish for a competitive programmer to ignore. Some commercials, for example, lose as much as 40% of the audience within the first seconds. And, when the average listener leaves for another station, it typically takes more than 45 minutes for them to come back.

The tension between sales and programming goals has never been greater since it’s now possible to know exactly how many commercials per hour listeners can accept as well as which ones, right down to the minute, drive listeners away.

Hopefully, media buyers and clients - let alone our own radio company executives - know as they incent air personalities and programmers to build audience, we work in their best interest to improve the reach and impact of their messages as we police what listener actions show is “clutter.”

Once this PR tempest dies down, in addition to the words “sex” and “rape,” I’d like to nominate some other phrases radio has a right to insist be removed from the air: “open every Friday night ‘til nine,” “check our website for more details,” “for all your (fill in the blank) needs,” "we'll do whatever it takes to get your business," “your big volume dealer,” "if you're $10,000 or more in debt, you need...,” "best selection", "bigger variety", "no one has better service," “save, save, save,” “going out of business,” and a plethora of long-hackneyed phrases and words that have gone far past being irritating and entered into the lexicon of things listeners simply avoid or ignore, which is a fate even worse than tune-out.

Hopefully, both charities and advertisers will pay attention to the recommendations of the people who know the medium and the target best, so that we can work together to build and hold audience, making fully-engaged listeners respond with the actions we all want and need.

Radio must be fully accountable as the business listens to clients .. and our community.

We have always had two sets of customers, but now - thanks to PPM - the one which used to silently change stations when we offended them now have a loud, clear, statistically-trackable voice it would be foolish to ignore.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Why Say It If They Don't Believe It?

At least twice in the early 1990’s Paragon Research asked listeners if they could identify a radio station based on the statements they made about music, like playing the most songs in a row, the most music, play a better mix of music, playing commercial-free music blocks and “more hits with less hype.”

The national studies asked, released at the time in the trade magazines: “Would you say that you recognize radio stations in your area based on the slogans they use?”

1991: 10%/63%/25%/2%
1996: 7%/51%/41%/0.8%

Then, “Do you find radio stations' slogans to be...”

1991: 7%/77%/12%
1996: 6%/68%/22%

Just for fun I recently asked a client doing weekly perceptual tracking as a part of their loyalty program to present exactly the same questions, and here’s how it looked in at least that one A&O client market:

2010: 3%/45%/52%

If you’re still hanging your hat on “most songs,” “most music,” “a better mix,” “commercial free music blocks” or “more hits,” I’d recommend you do the same thing to be sure that what two decades ago worked well to differentiate one station from another still has any impact for you.

Slogans started to lose their power more than 15 years ago, as Paragon documented at the time, and they appear to have even less utility now than they had way back then.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Is His Surgery To Have His "Apostrophe's" Removed?

All of Canada and a bunch of his international fans too are holding a good thought for Broadcast Dialogue Publisher Howard Christensen as he recovers today from a Tuesday surgery.

Usually, his weekly broadcast news email goes out on Thursdays, but he sent this week's out just as he was going to the hospital, including this item:
Lindor Reynolds, writing in the Winnipeg Free Press, took a shot at, among others, BOB FM Winnipeg for the misuse of apostrophes. The Cranky Grammar Lady is fed up with the use of TV's, CD's and VCR's plus, she writes, “yes, BOB FM, I mean you and your 80's, 90's and more whatever than ever before". To be fair, while BOB may be the culprit in Winnipeg, virtually every station in North America makes the same punctuation mistake. (Ed’s note: I once challenged a campus station professor for the same thing. He said they kicked it around and concluded that, punctuation aside, “the apostrophes made the slogan look better”).

One thing's certain: whatever they removed in that surgery, I am betting that they left his sense of humor intact!

Cheers to you, Howard. Get well quick.

Alan Jackson Pays Tribute To Victims Of West Virginia Coal Mining Disaster

Last weekend, Alan honored the fallen miners and rescue workers from April’s Upper Big Branch mining disaster with a benefit concert performance at the Charleston (WV) Civic Center:
“We're here to honor the ones that we lost or were injured and we're gonna celebrate their lives with some music."

The 31 families affected and 230 rescue workers who were on site at the nation’s biggest mining disaster in four decades were offered free tickets to the show. 27 families who lost loved ones and the two whose family members survived met with Jackson before the show, including the family of Cory Davis who would have been 21 on Saturday. His family presented Jackson with a bracelet with David’s birthday on it, and Jackson wore it throughout the show.

During the show, Jackson’s long time pedal steel player Robbie Flint, originally from Sylvester, WV, played the haunting ballad “Coalwood” as the faces of the miners flashed on two large screens on either side of the stage. As each name and face appeared, cheers reverberated through the crowd. Jackson followed the heart-felt tribute with his post 9/11 anthem, "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning.

Profits from the benefit go to the Montcoal Mining Disaster Fund, administrated by the West Virginia Council of Churches.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Verbs Of PPM, More Passive Than Active

Someone (or everyone?) at Country Aircheck must be a sports fan, given their propensity of reaching for very colorful verbs each time a new monthly metered or quarterly diary book comes out as they describe the country station trends.

The problem: with PPM sample sizes about one-third the size of the diary survey samples, the "ups," "flats," and "downs" from survey to survey in PPM, except for one or two very high cume stations, are quite often fractional at most, making trends about as logical many times as the chart countdown wobbles Lon, Kix, Bob, Lorianne & Charlie et al have to cope with every weekend (“up to number 36 from last week’s number 37, but down from three weeks’ ago’s number 34..”).

In diaries, with 48 completely separate weekly samples in the continuous measurement markets, it’s normally possible to trend four or five surveys and make sense (trending up, staying flat or trending downward) of at least three or four of the books.

This is especially true if you average the four books of each year and look at four book averages over several years. A little more of a stretch in two book per year markets, but still possible.

How many years will it take before we are able to credibly do that with PPM data?

I guess I shouldn’t complain since all of the Albright & O’Malley clients with PPM in April were up as the majority of country stations "sagged."

However, ESPN and Fox Sports are able to use active verbs like “smashed,” “vanquished” and “blew out,” but in PPM, the often-very-diplomatic choice of verbs in CA last week indicates that we’re not quite “there” yet when it comes to the consistency of the metered panels.

For example, Arbitron PPM “verb ratings” used by Lon, Chuck, Jeff and their reporters for the period of April 1-28 for all country stations do seem to say that the start of baseball season, placating minority broadcasters with extra careful placement of black and Hispanic households, the gulf oil spill (or something!) was unkind to us as a format:

11 (positive)

tied its best share
edged ahead
nudged forward
inched up
moved up
stepped within a share

7 (neutral)

was steady
held even
was level
held steady
held firm

26 (ways to nicely deliver bad news)

was down but moved up (yes, really = share down/rank up)
shed a tenth
was off
was down
stepped back
was down
was off

8-10% of PPM homes move in/out of the sample each month and very few of these moves were that big, so perhaps that could have been it. After all, it only takes it one heavy user family who loves your station coming into the sample to make ratings day a party (but get ready for a wake when that same home inevitably leaves the panel between seven months and more than two years later).

And, of course, families will be heading away to summer vacations in the next few weeks, perhaps making that percentage of panelists in the sample for the next 90 days slip, slow, step back, decline, ease, etc.

So, can the verbs of PPM really describe the moves in popularity of radio stations? Or are they just the vagaries of a much-too-small sample?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Zac Brown Band: "Write a letter to a soldier, Take it to a RAM dealer, Receive a free CD"

It's been just four weeks since the announcement of "Letters for Lyrics" at Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep® and Ram Truck dealerships with goal to deliver one million letters to U.S. soldiers in return for 1 million "Breaking Southern Ground" CDs and it looks today as if the drive has a ways to go.

Let's give it a well-deserved extra push right now.
Grab "Free" free too if you don't already have a copy.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cut The BS

HBR's Scott Berinato:
"... consumers think of advertising as a conversation, not good news for puffery-addicted advertisers, since we don't tend to converse in platitudes. In fact, research has shown that when people communicate positive and negative information, rather than just positive information, they gain higher trust."

A&O calls the alternative "values-based programming," and we even have bookmarks to remind every client that it's what's IN the package that builds a brand, not the BOW on top. Want some to remind your crew of these important guidelines? Email Mike or me and we'll send some to you.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bonneville's B-105 Asks Cincinnati To Give "Cash For Nash"

WUBE is asking its listeners to participate in Cash for Nash to help Nashville and its residents recover from the recent devastating floods.

B-105’s Cash for Nash b
enefits The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving life in 40 counties of Tennessee. The Foundation oversees more than 730 charitable organizations in the state. It regularly distributes millions of dollars to various local organizations to help better the middle Tennessee communities. The Foundation vows to allocate donations strategically as different needs arise.

Two Ways Listeners Can Help Now:

1) Visit the B-105 Booth at the Country Throwdown beginning at 1 p.m. Friday, May 21 at Riverbend Music Center. The station will be collecting Cash for Nash. If every attendee gives even $1, the numbers will add up and make a big difference. Tickets are still available at Riverbend Music Center. Country Throwdown features 20 different country music acts – including Montgomery Gentry and Jamey Johnson - performing all afternoon and into the night. You can have fun, hear great music and make a difference.

2) Donate right now at Any amount helps!

100 percent of the money B-105 collects through Cash for Nash goes to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee for use in flood relief efforts.

“We’ve heard from the victims, and many Country music superstars, who have equated this recent catastrophe in Nashville to the potential in some areas of what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans. The rain may have stopped falling, but the tragedy still exists. Thousands of people need us. Now is the time for Cincinnati’s Country fans to do something about it and send not only financial support from money raised at Riverbend this Friday, but also a message to Nashville that help is on the way. B-105 is sure that after Cincinnati provides Cash For Nash, other cities will also grab the torch and follow suit in the months ahead to help out Nashville, TN in their own unique ways!” - Chris Carr from B-105’s Morning Show

WUBE and WYGY Program Director Grover Collins adds: "I am thinking we will do this at every Country show throughout the Summer."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"The ROI Of Social Media: Your Business Will Still Exist In 5 Years"

I came across Erik Qualman's You Tube video "Social Media Revolution" (click to watch the original) a year ago when the hardcover edition of his book debuted. That was 1.9 millions views ago.

To say "I bought it" would be an understatement. I bought the book, the concept, the statistics, the view of media.

If you did too, you'll want to "refresh" it all with Erik's new version of it. (if you watch only one of the two, this is THE one)

Even better: he provides his sources for all of the new data points.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Plan Now To Have A Hot Summer And Strong Fall

- Demonstrating the knowledge and management skills necessary to run the Department
- Using the available tools and strategies, creating the plan to get ... to the next level
- Using interpersonal skills to create the passion and winning attitude among staff
- Train XXX to handle Asst PD (and XXX) to handle Music responsibilities

- Focus all talent with regular one on one aircheck sessions (Full & Part-time)
- Concentrate on Morning show:
- Continue thinking "out of the box"
- Focus, focus, focus
- Get "XXX" (YOU KNOW WHO!) more "in the game" (or explore options)
- Keep "high profile" in media (Goal: at least 1 media coverage event monthly)

- Build Afternoon show profile:
- Take the show out on the streets occasionally
- Become more "listener driven"
- More "stunts" to get people talking

- Have all personalities know, understand and sign job descriptions
- Airstaff meeting at least 1x monthly

- Review budget projections for possible areas of savings
- Develop personality bonus structure

- Keep "ahead of the game" by advance planning
- Topical promotions:
Memorial Day, Flag Day, Canada Day, July 4th, etc
- Work with Promotions Dept. on Email/Social Network Attacks:
- Up to twice a month, then once a week, then daily with quality appointments
- Use viral ideas to build TSL (and maybe pick up a little more cume too!) through creative contesting
- Get Midday "at work" TSL/TSE up to at least X:XX through increased occasions
- Share Rating into the low X.0's (be realistic) by the end of 4th Qtr. looking towards an incredibly "hot" Summer as the lever (outline what it would take to do this in terms of AQH and Cume growth)
- Increase "In Your Face" marketing
- Work with promotions, consultant and researcher to develop the "Listener Advisory Board," online, etc - research projects

- Use creative Promo and Liners to continue to position ourselves as fresh, creative and surprising
- Have the plan already in place for when the competition counters the position, use two and three stage thinking when developing any image campaign. Expect them to defend. Have contingencies ready.
- Check budgets for implementing the spring and fall campaign
- Keep sweepers Hip, Hot, Local, Topical, Fun, Self-Deprecating, Never Hype
- Stay focused on original strategy

- Continue to create exciting weekend programming (2 to 3 per month)
- Brainstorm to build daypart programming that is in synch with the strategy or replace dated elements (or whatever) with the normal format. Is special programming driving the audience you need to succeed?
- more produced on the air
- develop "reason to be there" events

- Develop CUME/TSL Matrix to track progress
- Cross reference with on-air/outside promotions to determine which were "hot buttons"

- Schedule at least one visit to town by Jaye Albright or Mike O’Malley during 3rd Qtr.
- Discuss strategies to reach next level
- Include air staff in a meeting with (try to get one on one time with as much of the staff as possible)

- Let A&O know both when you need ideas and when you hit home runs
- Press releases to local media and the trades

Friday, May 14, 2010

To Make A Long Story Short...

"What's tried-and-true is that radio stations have incredible brands, and the listeners are shifting listening habits-albiet not dramatically-to access those brands through multiple channels." -- Triton Media's Neal Schore (in 4/19 "Radio Ink")

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

BCAB Video Rewind

Now, I know what you can spend this beautiful spring weekend doing, watching videos on your computer, replaying last week's British Columbia Association of Broadcasters' convention in Victoria.

Mark Ramsey (click to watch it): "The way we think about our industry needs to change. We need to broaden the focus and broaden the language."

Bob Garfield tells us we are all doomed (but then he offers a plan and some hope)
: "Listenomics – listen to customers and users, monitizing those conversations. We must be a master of all platforms, text, audio, and video. Whoever does the best job of listening to the audience and provides what they want will be the winner, who may not even exist yet given the fact that the barriers to entry are falling very fast."

Larry Rosin (click to see his presentation): "How can we push advertising messages that are of interest to our website viewers? Radio station web sites are improved but TV and print sites are leading the local battle. Forty-eight percent say that radio station Web sites have gotten more interesting compared to 17 percent believing them to be worse or less interesting. However, monthly visitation to radio station Web sites (16 percent) among persons 12+ lags visitation to local TV and local newspaper Web sites."

John Parikhal: Five trends impacting your success: Demographic shift, The disappearing middle, Always on, The filter factor creating a Power Shift from "us" to "the end user."

The radio "Presidents Panel:" Denise Donlan CBC, “In a world of choice, why us?” Corus' JJ Johnson, "Radio is still all about great content and great people. Stop living in fear – think forward and do something about it." Chris Gordon, CHUM: "We are leaner and meaner. Now that we seem to be coming out of this recession and the revenue is coming back we all need to invest in brand extension and staff training. The battle for radio is clearly to continue to own the mobile platforms." Pattison's Rick Arnish: "I am very bullish about the future. We have valuable brands & great relationships with advertisers and listeners. Culture is important. We use TTI (Total team involvement) and it helps our culture. We allow our market managers to make decisions, because they know their market better than anyone." Vista's Terry Coles: "The more things change the more things stay the same. We still need to create great content so we can do a better job of serving the audience."

Thanks, BCAB for one of the best meetings I've attended this year, making me excited to see what they have in store in Kelowna in 2011.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Just OK," Huh?

A&O sees plenty of callout, auditorium testing and online music research every week, and if I have a bias that drives "record" promoters crazy it's that I pay a lot of attention to it all, trying to read between the lines of it, understand what the audience is trying to tell us.

A new song comes in, I like it at first impression and review it favorably. Then, five or six weeks later, the listener feedback starts to arrive and reminds me quite often how little I know about the typical country radio listener.

As a result, I look at every bit of research I can get my hands on, so I have to say that I am addicted to Bullseye "Callout America" and love that Billboard's Country Update includes it weekly. The more different surveys that replicate similar results, the more confident you can be that you're seeing "truth," not just random estimates. I also check out the national tracking of too, don't you?

In spite of all that, every once in awhile, I wish I could call all the listeners and ask what the heck they meant when they rated a song.

"Love/Hate" and "Passion/Dislike/Tired Of/Play Less" I usually get. The stat that drives me crazy is "neutral."

(It's a little like having your date for the evening tell you as you bid goodnight at their front door that they had an "OK" time, not exactly a glowing review.)

Three songs this week were "neutral" for more than four in ten listeners sampled, Danny Gokey, James Otto and one which really confuses me - "I Pray for You" by Jaron and The Long Road to Love - which was rated "neutral" by 40.7% of the national sample.

Love it, hate it, tired of it, I'd never guess that more than a third of country listeners would simply say that it's "just OK." Are they really familiar with the song? Or, are they just rating the hook?

That's what addiction is all about. I can't wait to see how it - and each of the others - does next week!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Four Out Of Ten! (if you don't count Elvis)

Celine Dion is the most popular musical performer among all US adults, but country's stars more than held their own. (click to read more fascinating results)

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 1 and 8, 2010 among 2,320 adults (aged 18 and older). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Gerry Siemens, British Columbia 2010 Broadcaster Of The Year

At Friday night's awards dinner in Victoria, the BCAB cited his years of building and dedication to the industry, his service as a past multi-term President of the BCAB, the founding of Pattison Group/Vancouver's Basics For Babies, the formation of The Peak Performance Project and his overall passion for challenging everyone he works with to improve and grow radio.

I first met Gerry when he came to CJJR 93.7 FM and what was then AM-600, energized the stations and more than doubled the cume (not to mention revenues and profits!) of both within just a couple years.

Of course, he would be the first to tell you that he didn't accomplish that alone. That's what makes him so special.

Gerry Siemens is a leader, a manager who builds effective teams and then inspires and motivates them to do great things, year after year and in situation after situation.

Thanks, BCAB, for recognizing his numerous impressive accomplishments!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Heard At BCAB, Victoria

"There is no such thing as the TV and radio business. It's the MEDIA business and the unit of measure is ideas."

"Take inventory of what you're good at and extend it out to new areas OR think about what your customers need and work backwards. Learn new skills."

- Mark Ramsey

"The audience, thanks to the Internet, is bigger than ever. All we need is a business model."

"The revolution will not be monetized."

"Shut up and listen to the group formerly known as the audience. They are not listening to you, they are listening to each other talk about you as if your content, your brand all belonged to them."

"The winner will be he who listens best."

- Bob Garfield

"Research's unit of measurement up to now has been the household. No more. Now, it's the cell phone and the individual."

"Stop calling it 'new media,' mobile broadband is ushering in the era of 'better media,' contextual, participatory, with location-based applications. Everything we now call 'radio' is very soon going to reside in the cell phone. If you think 'radio is the original social medium,' you don't fully understand what makes social mobile media so revolutionary."

- Larry Rosin

"Innovation is not the same as creation. Take what you've built and introduce something new. Constantly. Have a formal innovation plan."

"Meet emotional needs: accompany me; reassure me; thrill me; reward me; teach me; help me escape, imagine or dream."

- John Parikhal

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Six Million Divided by ONE

It has been fun to watch the impact that the arrival of John Paul at Senior Director of Country Programming joining longtime Denver programmer John St. John and the team at Dial-Global/Denver just after the first of the year.

When the staff at DG wants to talk to the boss, all they need to do is yell “hey, John.” I received a note from both of them this morning, making an impressive announcement:

Dial Global now supplies American Forces Radio with their Mainstream Country 24/7 format and rebroadcasts it over their worldwide network.

In addition to our network of over 200 radio stations in the United States that carry us through Dial Global Radio Networks, we are now heard in 188 countries around the world wherever there are military installations, bases, offices, etc. We are heard in every United States Embassy and Consulate around the world. We are also heard on 37 ships at sea, including all aircraft carriers.

In addition, some of the installations broadcast us terrestrially so surrounding English speaking civilian support personnel and the native civilian population can listen.

The conservative estimate is that the audience of Mainstream Country on the American Forces Radio Network is over three million per week. That doesn’t include the domestic cumes of nearly three million, making Dial Global’s Mainstream Country format the most listened to country outlet, not only in the United States, but around the world with a total weekly cume around six million.

Paul tells me that they are starting to get requests from oversees, Birthday wishes and e-mails from all over the world.
“We are making overnights a little more important (since it's midday is the Middle East). Being extreamly topical and throwing in the more songs like "Angel Flight", "Arlington", etc. Many people are getting their "pop culture/Nashville news/things happening at home" from us in real time. Memorial Day we are planning on doing military greetings all weekend. We have to be careful because we can't really promote this on the air. Local affiliates don't care and don't want us to promote it. We can't sell the numbers (since AFR covers our spots with messages). It's a HUGE benefit for Nashville and country music. They get their music and artists exposed to millions oversees.”

I have worked with John Paul since he first started in radio in his hometown of Kelso-Longview and was trained/mentored by the venerable San Francisco, Seattle and Portland vet Bill Dodd, while he was working with GM Jeff Silver and now PD Wendy Lynn at WYRK/Buffalo and then KUPL/Portland and I can testify that he has a positive impact where ever he works, so there’s one thing I know for sure: he has his personalities talking to those six million sets of ears around the world ONE PERSON at a time.

No matter how big your cume becomes, they still experience it in first and second person singular, one at a time.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


* A nationally-known morning personality recently confided to me that years ago when he was a part of a major market-leading wake-up crew their program director at the time preferred to take all of the remotes, talent fee appearances and concert emcee duties for himself rather than letting his morning show (and, hopefully, other personalities too) have a share of those cherished, high-profile, well-compensated duties.

I was about to tell him to forget about it. It was all water over the dam and besides, his salary was among the highest in the format, but then I realized that the hurt behind the complaint that he was still nursing today wasn’t about money.

* A programmer I have known for many years, competed with in hard-fought battles in multiple cities, now work directly with as a client and whom I greatly respect just confided in me that he’s been quietly pursuing an exciting position.

Before I could even begin to mourn the potential loss of an awesome programmer at a client where I know he’s greatly valued, he told me that the person interviewing candidates for his dream gig informed him that he wasn’t going to make even the “short list” of interviewees.

I breathed a sigh of relief, even as I felt his pain, knowing that I would be doing the interviewing, also creating a short list, aware that I’d have a very hard time finding a programmer as wise a team leader, talented on the air and experienced. The short-sighted executive recruiter’s loss was my gain.

* Finally, let me share a little secret about the consulting business. At the end of the day, companies and radio stations hire us, but we also “hire” our clients as well. Good consultants sell our ideas and the best ones - at least this is true for me - do not pursue business where we don’t “absolutely know” for sure that our approach will improve situations, make a positive difference. When you feel that way, it’s easy to “sell” yourself, but making that happen depends on being able to motivate the people to do things differently than they had in the past, encouraging them to buy into a new way of doing things.

When talent, marketing and management all work together to change audience behavior it’s a beautiful thing. We can all share in the pride of having made a positive difference together.

But, with some folks, that doesn’t happen. The teaching methods, the communication skills, the personal presentation just don’t get through to some individuals and at those times I blame myself, wondering what I’ve done wrong, since I know how hard I work for my clients and am proud of how unique the tools our company provides. 

It hurts, as much as I know “it’s just business, it’s not personal” and “you can lead a horse to water..”

Ultimately, of course, it all is personal. That’s what makes the high achievers among us good at what they do. We care a little too much, we judge ourselves a little too harshly and take it all quite seriously.

Ego drives this highly competitive and rapidly-changing business. 

It’s what draws us into it and when an ego gets bruised there’s seldom a caring, sensitive person there at the time to say, “I am sorry, it’s not about you, it’s about situations and people you can’t control.”

Taking work personally is what radio is all about. Your “show,” your relationships or the radio station you are a part of is a reflection of who you are, your values, your priorities, your choices, your goals. 

When things don’t go precisely as you’d like, it’s next to impossible not to take an undesirable, unexpected, outcome as rejection of who you are and what you stand for.

At those times, remind yourself that “pride” can drive high performance (and doesn’t always go before a fall). Celebrate that aspect of your “ego.” Accept that sometimes what happens isn’t about you, as painful as life’s lessons can occasionally be.

It’s truly amazing when a leader is able to get everyone to buy into a “team ego,” putting aside all personal agendas, but those situations are rare in all professional areas of endeavor, so when you hear from a coworker or friend that s/he is going through one of those tough times life deals out which hit directly in their self-esteem, gently reach out and let them know that the key to team spirit is celebrating the victories and also gaining insight from loss too.

We’re all in this together.

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Most Unique, Special Hotels Are Seldom Near The Airport

Vacationing in Central Mexico and pondering Seg’s view of history and the future referenced in my last post, which is based on his worry that the lack of adventuresome music discovery by cheerleading air personalities is a good portion of what’s making radio less interesting (to music pros like him) made me realize: I vacation a lot like he listens to music.

Great spots like Valle de Bravo, Taxco and Malinalco are off the beaten track. To get to them you must fly into Toluca (the home of my favorite Top 40 station in Mexico, btw), Cuernevaca or Mexico City and put a few miles on a speedometer.

Conveniently located hear airports: Cancun, Acapulco and all the beachfront resorts with all of the major brand name hotels.

I’d much prefer to find my destinations in Lonely Planet, written for travelers like myself who disdain the crowded and the commercial.

If you’re into hearing music that no one else knows, being the first to turn your friends onto country music they’ve never heard before, I am willing to be your personal guidebook to "Cancon country," songs and artists (like the amazing Emerson Drive, who Americans think is a one-hit act, but Canadians know is incredible live and are prolific hitmakers.

Same with Paul Brandt.

Americans wonder what happened to him. He continues to own his own work, very much a superstar at home.

Terri Clark is also very active, as her amazing new duet with Johnny Reid - “You Tell Me” - indicates.

Deric Ruttan’s “Up All Night” is a big hit in Canada, and it certainly might be one in the USA too. George Canyon is a lot more than a former Nashville Star contestant as his latest “I Believe In Angels” proves.

Those artists and their great songs are like boutique hotels in locations few tourists will ever visit, amazing discoveries that will make you want to come back again and again.

In Canada, Jason Aldean is relatively unheard on the radio and Chris Young and Luke Bryan are also largely missing, at least so far.

You won’t hear them on most country music radio stations for the same reason that I happened to be the lone gringo booked for a night at Malinalco’s Casa Limon, while the Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton et al right at the beaches and next to the airports are filled to capacity.

Most country stations can play between ten and 14 songs an hour.

There are only so many slots at a time when our listener on both side of the 49th has “A-D-D” and expects to hear “the hits” (aka their favorite songs)

Folks, in general, pick the safe, the comfortable, the familiar when given a choice between those things and greater risk of the unknown, even when paired with a possibility of a higher reward.

That’s why, according to the second annual CMA “Fan Tracking Study,” released at the 2010 CRS, 93% of country music fans listen to the radio, UP from 79% one year ago.

Yes, I stay at airport hotels myself and enjoy their convenience on almost a daily basis - even though I do search out the unique and special during vacation periods when I have time to spare.

Maybe that is why I feel much more bullish on radio and music’s future than Segarini appears to be.