Monday, August 30, 2010


Recently, I observed consulting vet and group exec Bill Figenshu routinely ask a number of client focus groups the standard "when your alarm goes off first thing in the morning" questions about radio usage.

But, then he asks the table how many use a clock radio and how many set their cell phone to wake them up. The younger the person, the more likely they wake up to an alarm on their cell phone and not a radio.

At least half of the folks in the groups in multple cities I witnessed reported using the cell phone as their sole wake up device.

Is there a campaign or imaging we need to think about to get people back to the habit of having their "radio" wake them up? Is it even possible? It's harder to do today because not as many people have a radio by their bed (where their PPM docking station now may reside).

The iPhone, of course, allows you to set your alarm to your streaming "radio" app, but how many times have you used your cell phone to wake you up and it didn't work?

With my Blackberry sometimes, inexplicably, the alarm is silent. The screen lights up when the alarm goes off but there's no sound.

Is a radio alarm clock more reliable? Does radio need to think about imaging itself as a more reliable wakeup solution? Painting a picture of how to wake up?

With what device?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Be Proud To Work In "A Supple And Durable Technology"

It’s not often radio gets any love from other media — especially the print media.

So it’s always worth pointing out when a newspaper journalist gets it right about radio, as Steve Lohr did this week in the New York Times (click to read it).
Calling radio “a classic evolutionary survivor,” Lohr notes the medium’s long history of competing and evolving against “new” and emerging technologies for decades.

Big thanks to Al Peterson for calling this pro-radio piece to our attention.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Slim & Howdy Go Out With A Lot Of Class (and Merle Haggard too!)

Longtime media relations/artist development type/journalist for Rolling Stone, Spin, Creem, Musician, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Frets, contributing editor at American Songwriter and numerous other publications, Holly Gleason has probably seen it all.

Or at least I thought she had until last night, when she got to see Brooks & Dunn in the midst of their last weekend:
"It made me proud to be part of the last 25 years of country music! They're coming to Nashville on Thursday night, it benefits the Country Music Hall of Fame, but more importantly, they're culminating a pretty staggering run of country as the century turned. Maybe it'll fire you up to rock them hard in the next few days."

Click to read her (via No Depression) review of the show.

"Ironic the iconic Merle Haggard would serve as the most awarded duo in country music history’s opening act – given Haggard’s own status as a legend. For Brooks & Dunn, knowing this was the final run of a very distinguished show, the pair opted for an artist who inspired them, engaged them and especially who they felt deserved the opportunity to be heard by their fans one last time."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We're All Getting Away For Labor Day

Labor Day-related travel is expected to increase 9.9% in the US this year compared to 2009, according to new data from the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Last year, 31.3 million Americans traveled during the Labor Day holiday. This year, approximately 34.4 million travelers will take a trip at least 50 miles away from home. The 2010 Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, September 2 to Monday, September 6.

"You Never Phone Me"

That's not just your mother saying that. It might be your listener too.

Telemarketing to homes (to reach men and build cume) and to businesses (to reach women and improve TSL) continues to have impact for radio, even in the age of PPM and social networking.

Just like throwing darts, done right, it works to find heavy users of radio who enjoy giving their opinions 75-80% of the time.

Tip: develop and clean your database every six months.

A&O has seen recent telemarketing to station databases that found between 40% and 80% of those who joined the database six months ago still consuming the same radio station - 20% to 60% had changed stations and needed to be encouraged to come back, tactically.

If you don't reconnect personally and re-engage in a meaningful way, your Facebook fans and your email list - and even those who agreed on the phone months ago to sample your radio station in hopes of winning a prize - becomes less and less effective, increasingly incestuous.

Growing and maintaining a real relationship requires reaching out, personally on a regular basis.

Just ask your mom.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This Country Station Leads The Way

Among the consistently best of all the E-Zine newsletters you could possibly subscribe to one of my fav's is "Radio 3-D" from McVay Online Media's Daniel Anstandig.

It's terrific to see that he discovered Delmarva/Wilmington's info websites for folks who are thinking about buying radio to promote their business. (click to get inspired and learn a few things too)
When I asked Jaime Solis if other broadcasters or newspapers in the market are providing information online similar to WXCY, he told me, “The short answer is no. Most traditional media properties in our area have an online presence, but only a few go beyond posting the phone number of the Sales Manager, or a one sheet with very general advertising information. It’s funny; some of the inspiration to build came from my frustration with not being able to find any radio stations’ coverage map on their own web site.”

Anyone who sells radio will benefit from clicking on their case studies.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What Gord Did On His Summer Vacation

The staff at Jim Pattison Broadcast Group's Vancouver stations is very fortunate each Friday to receive an informative and insightful email from their Program Director Gord Eno, which he nicknames "The WJM."

This week's edition is so good (and for a change it's not about any secret strategies or tactics) I simply must share it with you:

With only the occasional slip I was able to stick to my goal of not listening to radio during my vacation. I did hear a station the first day but the the lack of focus and sloppy execution frustrated me so much that I wanted to hotline the radio station.

So I pledged to avoid radio for the next two weeks.

Difficult for me to do but, I offered myself a compromise by listening to Sirius in the rental car.

With hundreds of stations to offer we settled on four or five. I really couldn’t stay too long on the talk channels. Most of what was being offered was exaggerated opinions and over the top point of views. I found the hype to be insincere and the insulting.

Besides, I was looking for entertainment suitable for a vacation.

At first is it was the Broadway Musicals channel. When the announcers became boring and the repetition became too much I searched for something new and found three stand up comedy channels. The three channels went from safe to edgy to raunchy. Just like music scheduling the clips were rotating, some more than others. The really interesting clips were worth listening to a couple of times but the rest of the content was worth only hearing once. On the F-bomb channel it was easy to feel disconnected and a lot of switching to the other two comedy channels happened there.

Then, while scanning for something new I stopped on the Old Time Radio channel.

There it stayed for a couple of days.

Radio Mystery Theatre. Lux Radio Theatre. The Whisperer. The Jack Benny Show. The Thin Man. Our Miss Brooks. The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show.

Listening to the various shows on Old Time Radio channel reminded me of the common thread that has lasted through decades of radio programming; it is all about the listeners.

The scripts, the performances, the storytelling, the characters in these old time radio shows were all playing directly to the audience. It was engaging. The words triggered images in my mind and I became a participant. It wasn’t just random audio, I was actively listening. I was involved.

Radio is the same today. You will be better than your competitors when you create engaging content that triggers participation and involves your listeners.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Please Don't Vote For Me

It's a powerful myth among Nashville's music business community that certain 'brokers' control country radio playlists, acting as gate-keepers, holding back otherwise promising careers of talented people based on the majesty of their mere whims.

Thus, these hopefuls and their minions travel the yellow brick road, asking for an audience with as many of these "rulers" as possible and once in their presence utter the words "what will it take?" or "if you need anything, just let me know."

Hundreds of thousands of dollars per project are spent on these quests, and people being what they are, some individuals and executives start to see themselves as these deluded aspirants erroneously view them.

Corruption results.

So, please do me a favor.

If you subscribe to Country Aircheck and want to elect someone a member of Power 31, don't vote for me. Let's stop perpetuating this myth.

Even better, write a candidate in on the ballot: the country radio listener.

Let's get our priorities in order this year.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Before You Try To Take Concert Visibility From A Heaitage Leader

Go big, but good legal advice and insurance is worth the money. The small amount of money you'll spend having attorneys review things beforehand and informing your business insurance agent and/or corporate is money well-spent. You will want to KNOW that you are on solid ground when the competition goes to the promoter, the venue and the police, scrambling to shut you down.

Focus on beating yourself, not the other guys. Brainstorm for your pre-show concert, walk chalk, banners, logo projector, stage signage, mascot, inflatables and everything that might be available to you, but only minutely consider reaction from the other radio stations.

You, first and foremost just want to do the best job for the artists' fans that you can so that they have a great experience and associate your brand with that.

Advertisers notice well-done station marketing. Of you look like a class act, long-time clients of other stations in the market may move ad dollars to you, since they see from the size or your crowd that although Arbitron/Nielsen/BBM may not yet fully reflect it, the country audience is much more active for you than "them."

You may get an immediate financial payoff from doing this "programming" promotion, but NOT if you come off like aggressive, offensive jerks.

...and last but not least...

Big things only happen with teamwork. It will take everyone in your building to pull off a major street event/promotional coup, including personnel from all of your radio stations.

If you're going to attack a well-defended hill, bring lots of troops!

And, besides, it builds morale when everyone feels that they personally contributed to a big win at an important time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

All Products Are Experiments

ARB's Gary Marince's sensible advice on yesterday's monthly Arbitron PPM call: “When you’re explaining, you’re losing...” no doubt stood some programmers' hair on end.

Produce programming for vacation periods? Constantly conduct experiments in real time?
“The metric that’s most important to me, at first glance, is daily occasions" of listening. He says occasions drive TSL, or Time Spent Listening. “PPM is a wonderful laboratory", because of its rich depth of detail and fast turnaround. But he suggests making just one change at a time, instead of two or more things that might cancel each other out.

In the PPM future, knowledge, innovation and swiftness will be requisites. Are you up for it?

As Tom Peters says "Crazy times call for crazy organizations."

Research tends to make companies too slow to act: 'ready, ready, ready, ready, aim, aim, aim, aim...' The only way to find oil is to drill wells.

Now, you can watch listeners as they consume your product.

Merging two dinosaurs doesn't make a gazelle. In today's world of business, you must be fast, smart and creative. Latent needs + deep insights = tomorrow's opportunities.

Satisfied customers aren't enough today. Satisfaction is simply the difference between feeling P-O'd and feeling nothing. Today, you must WOW your customers.

U1/U2 = success. (U1 = understanding. U2 = urgency)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Beware The Futurist's Predictions

A decade ago Jayne Charneski was at Edison Research and famously declared the death of guitar-based rock music, saying back in 2001 the dividing line was age 29 and Gen Y had abandoned grunge for Hip Hop. She was widely quoted as saying that guitar based rock was going to target an increasingly older and older audience.

Today, she continues to predict the future based on today's trends, and last Saturday night in West Palm Beach watching the sellout young-skewing crowd loving the amazing, rocking guitar licks of Brad Paisley, preceded by "Hootie" Darius Rucker who kept them on their feet and southern rocker Justin Moore I had to chuckle aloud.

Then it hit me: before I start patting myself on the back as a witness to this stunning turn of events as country music so clearly benefited from the schism she described who lived to see it all, I had no idea at the time where it was all going either but somehow I knew that country music would prevail.

I'm thinking that Darius would agree.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dog Bites (WOW Country 104.3) Man .. And Then Facebooks It

From: Lisa Adams
To: Jaye Albright
Subject: FW: Dan's Dog Quits!

This is why we win in Boise. I’ve got such an awesome and creative staff!

Subject: Dan's Dog Quits!

I’m not sure if you saw on Facebook the girl who quit her job by exposing her boss via messages written on whiteboard.

Well it was a hoax...

That didn’t stop my rotten dog, Lola from delivering a message of her own into my inbox this morning...

No respect, I tell ya!

Dan Matthews, APD / MD,
WOW Country 104.3
KAWO, Boise
Phone: 208.275.8186

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fewer feeling practical…good news for the Back-to-School season?

The oil spill in the Gulf has finally been plugged, but without any concrete evidence of an economic “recovery” (you know, like a falling unemployment rate or a robust housing market), consumer confidence flatlines in August…this month, 27.8% say they are very confident/confident in chances for a strong economy, even with July’s reading (27.9%), though remaining several points below Aug-09 (31.1%). Back in pre-recession Aug-07, confidence stood relatively strong at 43.9%.

Though cleanup efforts in the Gulf continue, overall, consumers are feeling a bit more optimistic about political and national security issues…in August, fewer than one in five (19.5%) say they continue to worry, down from 21.4% in July and 22.6% in Aug-09.

It may be a hit-or-miss Back-to-School season for some retailers, as consumers send mixed signals when it comes to the economy and spending…while confidence failed to improve in August [retailers lose], fewer consumers are feeling practical [retailers benefit]. While nearly half of consumers (44.8%) still say they'll remain practical and realistic when spending, this figure has lowered 4+ points from last month (49.1%) and declined from Aug-09 as well (48.2%).

Students headed back to school may have an easier time this year convincing penny-pinching parents that they need a new netbook, e-reader, or mobile device…more than half (53.5%) still say they’re focused on necessities when shopping, but this percentage has lowered from July (58.0%) and Aug-09 (55.9%).


While confidence and the U.S. unemployment rate (remaining at 9.5%) both failed to improve over the past 30 days, consumers are feeling a bit brighter about outlook for the job market…in August, fewer than one in three (28.9%) reports there will be “more” layoffs over the next six months, down two points from July (30.8%). More than half (53.1%) feels that layoff levels will remain the “same,” up slightly from 52.2% last month, while about one in five (18.0%) hopes for “fewer,” rising a point from a month ago (17.0%).

Those concerned with becoming laid off remains stable at 3.9%, the same figure posted in June and July. The current reading remains quite an improvement over Aug-09 (7.8%).

With half (49.6%) of consumers declaring they feel that there is too much month left at the end of their paychecks “all” or “most” of the time, it should come as no surprise that paying down debt (32.8%) and decreasing overall spending (31.2%) remain the top two financial plans in August. Nearly one quarter plans to increase savings (24.3%) over the next three months, while more than one in five (21.8%) is focused on paying with cash more often.

Can talks of recovery really begin when 40.6% feel “worse off” financially compared to a year ago? (And – let’s face it – 2009 wasn’t a great year)…just over one in ten says they are better off, while 45.2% proclaim they are the same, financially speaking.

And, one final personal finance stat: more than two in five (43.5%) disagree or strongly disagree that they are saving enough to meet future needs. One-quarter (26.9%) feels they have enough money banked.

While national average pump prices have increased slightly compared to a year ago (source: AAA), consumers still seem to have eased up on the brake when it comes to spending…compared to a year ago, fewer are delaying a major purchase, reducing dining out, scaling back on vacation/travel, and spending less on groceries or apparel. That said, nearly seven in ten (68.1%) consumers overall say gas prices are still impacting other purchases.

What’s Hot…Not

Much to the relief of many parents, Back-to-School shopping means the kids are headed back to class soon, making this spending "season" what’s hot for August…Netflix, Angelina Jolie, and cupcakes prove popular as well. Women of all ages are eager to see Eat Pray Love, while those 35+ are also tuning in for Hot in Cleveland. What’s not hot in Cleveland [or anywhere else]? LeBron James…76.5% say the Miami transplant isn't a slam dunk, heating up from the 64.8% who said the same back in June.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Immense Power Of Buzz

147, 262 and counting.

Need I say more?

When is the last time you did something to make a statement that 147,000 people noticed and wanted to support your efforts in under 24 hours?

Stand for something meaningful.
Be who you are.
Act on your beliefs.
Do it in a big way.
Show courage.
Take responsibility.
And, unlike Steven, try to keep it legal.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fun/Creativity Beats Visibility

One station at a recent sold-out arena show had banners inside the venue, but the other station’s “(superstar name) City” (a big top tent in a parking lot across the street) became a destination for evidenced by the thousands and thousands of cans of food they collected as otherwise free admission to their pre-show mini-concert.

The people who brought food were listeners to the station. They had to be to know about the “I Gave My Can To Help (Artist Cause)” food-for-a-T-shirt swap deal.

(The station had received the artist’s management's written approval in advance to design custom T-shirts for the event. They would not have been permitted to distribute the shirts without a fax at the concert site that proved that.)

Lots of shirts very visible all over the venue, of course, but what made it all work was the clever verbiage and design of the shirts supporting the act’s favorite charity.

What made them approve the t-shirt? It had to be the fun, creative design in support of the star's charity.

Monday, August 09, 2010

They Work This Every Year

.. and, we fall for it every year and no wonder. It's a great win-win, which hopefully you also do locally with local TV as well.

Click here to see some quintessential co-host personalities look and sound like!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Parade: Chesney "Alone In The Spotlight"

In today's cover story with Kenny Chesney, the country star talks to the magazine candidly about why he decided to take a year off from the spotlight and also how high school football changed everything, helping him put the passion back into his life and career.

  • Twitter ruins Kenny's dates
  • The 42-year-old produced a documentary about the impact of high school football, The Boys of Fall, due to air on ESPN this fall.

    Thursday, August 05, 2010

    You Can't Be Too Listener-Focused

    There was a time when the conventional wisdom was: 'say you're #1 enough times and you'll be #1.'

    No longer.

    Social network tribes tell one another what happens to be #1 with them at any particular time, so the process of gaining that "#1 station" reputation comes/doesn't come organically, so that it appears authentic, not just a hype.

    You are what you do, what you stand for, not what you SAY you do.

    For country listeners, the real #1 is the best songs by their favorite artists. It's next to impossible for a radio station to be bigger than the music.

    Of course, it's important to do bigger things than the competition, but even more crucial today is being the #1 listener to the target, one person at a time.

    Wednesday, August 04, 2010

    The Stealth Superstar

    John St. John, Program Director, Mainstream and Classic Country for Dial Global/Denver was at KYGO’s thirtieth anniversary show with Tim McGraw and Lady Antebellum last weekend.
    “I went around with a microphone to get listener audio for sweepers and promos from tailgaters before the show. At some point in almost all of my ‘interviews’ I would ask who are your favorite country artists? Of course, headliners Tim McGraw and Lady A were mentioned a lot. But, get ready for a surprise. On this particular weekend in the Rockies, Garth Brooks came up a lot and I mean a LOT (just as strong as McGraw and LA combined). Of course, I had Chesney, Taylor, Miranda, Urban and a few others but almost everyone included Garth in their list of favorites. More than George Strait, Toby Keith, Zac Brown or Alan Jackson! (Perhaps, because Toby will be at the same venue in a couple of weeks?) Not surprisingly, new artists were not top-of –mind.

    “I know that Garth may not be testing as well as he used to in recent studies and that might be due in part by the sonic presentation of the older production values of his material and the fact that he has no currents or recurrents at all right now.

    “If I were Garth, I would put together a radio only disc of remastered cuts that stand up sonically with present Nashville production. As his Walmart release proves, he’s still big to a lot of folks.

    “It was purely anecdotal. I probably talked to about 60 people. The end result was that I got some great tape for sweepers and promos. Tailgaters after a couple of beers are fun to get talking.”

    Also, of course, he's performing intimate shows for some 12,000 people each weekend in Las Vegas, yet I have to admit that hearing a tune from the early 90's on a station calling itself "new" or "today's" country makes me scratch my head a bit too. Does the music match the marketing message?

    Where does Garth fit (or not?) in your programming today? Is country like adult contemporary today, with a strict dividing line between the ages of 38 and 42, where if you target 40+, you play Elton (Garth) and if you target under 40, you don't?

    Tuesday, August 03, 2010

    The Tennessean And The New Yorker

    It's always terrific when country music's brightest stars pop up in places where you'd never expect to see 'em. Brad Paisley obviously gets The New Yorker's Kelefa Sanneh (Profiles, “Man of Many Hats,” The New Yorker, August 2, 2010) seal of approval.

    Paisley is thirty-seven years old and one of country music’s biggest stars; starting in 2006, he sent ten singles in a row to the top of the charts, something that hadn’t been done since the eighties. Onstage, he is never without a white cowboy hat, which has to be perfect. And, because he gives at least one hat away during every show, he requires a constant supply of perfect hats.

    Kudos, Brad, on a terrific interview! (and, pretty fair cartoon captions too!)

    PS: Last Saturday evening Paisley performed in Fairlea, WV as part of the PGA Tour’s Greenbrier Classic. The rains came but didn’t quench the crowd’s enthusiasm or Paisley’s. Mother Nature must be a fan of his "H2O" theme too. Paisley’s Water World Tour continues this week with three dates in Texas – Hidalgo, Houston and Dallas.

    Monday, August 02, 2010

    Don't Be A BOOF

    In the field. In the trenches. Today’s programmer needs to come out from behind the computer, from behind the fire hose of PPM data and talk to the audience. More now than ever.

    You hear a lot about “digital” and “change the way we are doing things.” Change leads to stress.

    Even good change causes it. Stress can lead many experienced programmers and talent to develop the syndrome known as:


    Burned Out Old Farts.

    Its not just a disease for experienced programmers. Even the youngest, most bright eyed and excited can suffer from the disease. Its a response from stress, worry, change, and fear.

    At some stress point, the body and brain simply stop functioning and stop looking for new approaches.

    How do you know if you might have it?

    Lets look at possible symptoms:
    • Doesn’t go to shows with his format’s artists anymore. Been there, done that
    • You won’t find photos in the trades from them. Everyone knows them.
    • Thinks blogging is something someone else does.
    • Everyone knows them; but not really sure what they do now
    • Last hung a banner at a station event sometime in the 90’s
    • Never placed a Google Adwords or Facebook ad campaign
    • May listen to his own station; but spends the majority of time buried in data or meetings
    • Hired someone to build their own Facebook page or web site
    • Do they have a web site?
    • Most of his Facebook friends are old industry colleagues who are older than they are
    • Can’t ID Matt Cutts, Matt Mullenweg, Matt Carter, Michel Fortin, John Carlton, or William Strauss
    • Doesn’t have a Pandora account? Couldn’t tell you what does?
    • Couldn’t tell you the names of the top 20 influentials in his stations audience
    • In charge, but makes others responsible when it hits the fan
    • Hasn’t lost a ratings fight in a decade. Hasn’t been in one in two decades.
    • Spends more time talking about what used to be; rather than what could be
    • Last talked to a listener in person about the radio station in 1997
    • Hasn’t been on the air for five years, but can tell talent how it should be
    • Production? Really?
    • Spends more time meeting about radio than listening to radio
    A person affected with BOOF syndrome works harder on keeping his job, than doing his job. They are entrenched in the way it was and are praying they can last through the next IPO or two and still be working.

    BOOF in your system can be overcome.

    Emotion in the form of passion is your first defense.

    Listening, learning, and reading from others is your second.