Monday, February 28, 2011

A&O Roadmap 2011: Repetition Complaints Down, But Still BIG

The “Repetition” trend over the last three years: 55%, 57% and now 53%.

Meanwhile, “Too Much New” complaints have been increasing from 20% in 2009 to 21% last year and 22% in this year's national online survey among A&O client country stations.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A&O Roadmap 2011 - Good News/Bad News

Each February for the past five years, thousands of P-1 county radio listeners from all regions of the U.S. and Canada have given their feedback in an online perceptual.

Exciting: 72% of the 2011 sample agrees that they are "very satisfied with your current favorite country station," the highest percentage since we started asking the question.

Last year, that number was 68%, up from 2009's 64.6%. In 2008, 67% claimed to be very satisfied, down from 2007's 70%.

2011 <span class=

Potentially challenging narrow demo trends among the self-selecting random samples who completed our surveys over the past five years:

25-34 and 45-54 has been wobbling up and down, 35-44 slipped, as both 12-24 and 55+ have grown in their proportion of our core listener target.
  • Is this merely the aging of country's traditional target into older narrow cells, but slowly being replaced by emerging Generation Y?
  • The impact of additional competition from outside the format caused by new music cycles attractive in unique ways to each narrow demo within country's audience?
For sure: it has never been wise to find a "narrow age target" for the broad lifestyle/psychographic format that is country radio.

In 2011 it becomes even harder to build a values coalition between the growing demographic edges, both old and young, with a smaller Gen X in the center.

That impressive number of station loyalists who stated that they are more satisfied with the stations which asked for their opinions in 2011 proves that it's achievable, offering a promising sign for the future.

A&O will look at other fresh data points which may be driving those ups and downs in Nashville on Tuesday.

Hopefully. you'll be there.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"The New Radio"

ABC-TV has been the television home of all things CMA for the past five years and network executives just created this knock-your-socks-off video recap of the high points of the relationship from their perspective, expressing the hope that the partnership continues for another term.

The net, they say, loves using music in many of their shows and has been finding that music discovery can have a powerful multiplier effect to the benefit of all involved.

I was nodding affirmatively to all of that when I recently saw their strong pitch -- until they uttered five words which caught me by surprise, "TV Is The New Radio."


Both local and national television morning offerings have been sounding more and more like the very best radio morning shows for many years, attempting to eat into our medium's traditional "at home" audience, marketing their personalities, teams, and services in the same way radio stations once did but rarely do anymore.

But, this was the first time I had ever heard another "old medium" so explicitly crave the "cache" of radio in the new media space.

Let's not forget, take for granted, or fail to promote the many great things radio still possesses, clearly much-desired by this sister broadcaster!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Before We Move On

"I'm a big believer of stations sounding, best, most, baddest w/ blips, bips, zips, growls, and zaps.....that is soooo over......just communicate the core values (listener benefits) in as real and as brief a fashion as humanly possible....people are so burned on hype.....if at all possible let others speak about you, instead of speaking about yourself...attached is an example from actor Shia LeBouf.....all we do is identify him at the beginning, and that's it.....the rest of the "co-signing" is all on him....if we added anything else here it would have been piling on and way too much.....make your station sound real, listener focused, and genuinely fun, not goofy, not dated with lasers, and no chest thumping it any wonder we are a TSL challenged medium, a majority of stations continue to insult the intelligence of their listeners by still insisting they sound like 1986.....younger demos coming up today, just don't give a please don't drive them away from our are are free to disagree here....I will just close with this.... I travel a lot, and hear a lot of stations driving listeners away...if you are in a PPM market you know how important brevity, sincerity, and creativity are.....yup even more important than they were in the diary system.... " -- Jimmy Steal, VP/Emmis/Los Angeles

Do It Right "Orr" Else

Paul Orr: be certain what goes between your songs stands out ... in only the "best" ways:
  • Use local lifestyle for imaging content
  • When imaging flows into the music, you have extra momentum
  • Listen to your competitors for claims that you might turn 180 degrees and use against them
  • Use hooks as themes for imaging
  • Hot new thing: produce jingles for song stamps so the integrate with your music and don't sound like "old" jingles
  • For random audio: clips from remotes where the talent is very excited, after Listener Advisory Board panels
  • Listeners doing imaging adds to ‘personal’ feel of station.
  • Set up listener comment line to collect comments
  • Sound real; communicate the core values and listener benefits in as real and brief a fashion as possible.
  • Listeners are burned on hype; let listeners talk about you instead of us talking about us. No chest thumping.
  • Think: brevity, creativity and sincerity.
  • Use artists (or listeners) to explain a contest
  • Add random but related copy to attract listener attention.
  • Archive artist audio for music and contest promos.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nick Michaels' Philosophy

If you've heard or seen Nick anywhere, at a seminar or even on his own website, you've no doubt been exposed to at least a part of his approach to imaging anything today:

"The secret of all great radio is great story telling. Great radio is made when intimacy and emotion are used to connect the audience to what is coming out of the speakers."

Understanding radio and what makes it different.

1: Emotion

Radio is an emotional medium. More than television, more than print, it is best at conveying emotion.

Radio messages work best when they are driven by an emotion. Take full advantage of radio's emotional nature by writing for it. The power of emotion over facts is evident on radio.

Save the facts for print. Print is where facts can be enjoyed, perused at leisure, re-read and referred to.

2: Give it a face and a name

When writing an image ad for radio, always try to personalize it by giving it a face and a name.

Instead of "When the weather gets bad , turn to News-Radio 1100, First with weather facts and school closings."

Try to build the message around a person not a concept.

" This is Marie Jenkins, her twelve year old son Ronnie has kidney disease. He needs dialysis or he could die. When Marie needs to know about weather, she turns to News-Radio 1100, Because to her, the weather, can be a matter of life and death."

This stresses the user benefit of the station and the personal nature of the message does not cause listener tune out.

3: In an over communicated world a whisper becomes a scream.

The environment into which your message is sent is hostile. Your message must factor this in from the very beginning or it is doomed to fail. Too many messages means only a few get through. Is yours one of them?

4: Don't burden the listener.

Never forget that the listener can only take home one thought. Trying to make the message carry more weight than it can causes the listener to be burdened.

5: Words are the enemy in a message.

Too many words. Wherever possible establish mood with sound not words.

6: Write powerfully, read humbly.

If the words are powerful, you do not need to add any power to them with your voice. Lose all the additional vocal power and let the word power shine through. If the words are not powerfully written, get better writers.

7: Creativity is perspective

Deliver your message from a different perspective. Be different.

Tomorrow: Journal Knoxville PD Paul Orr takes this all one step further for stations in competitive situations.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Stationality: Who Is Your Listener? What's YOUR "Word?"

Yesterday's post included a slide from Daniel Anstandig's 2007 presentation at Dan O'Day's PD Grad School, because Dan made some evergreen points so perfectly.

#1: choose YOUR ''word."

"Comfort," the one that resides in the center of his example
bullseye works perfectly for a Christian AC or other soft format.

What one word gives expression to everything you want to stand for in the mind of your audience? Choose thoughtfully.

It is imperative to understand the target listener’s world of experience.

Successful stations give listeners a sense of belonging by validating their values and lifestyle.

It is impossible for us to “out-technology” new technology.

Creative distribution can’t hurt us, but the bottom-line for continual growth is cultivating relationships through your programming.

How can you make a one-on-one connection with your listener in a way that they believe you’re talking to them on a personal level every time they listen?

It’s not only about what your radio station does. It’s about what your radio station means.

Tomorrow, another audio communication expert, Nick Michaels, on how to make sure that this happens on your radio station.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Elements Of Stationality

What parts of your radio station do you employ to develop "stationality" listeners can consistently experience?

.... Everything!

.. with thanks to McVay New Media's Daniel Anstandig.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pulling It All Together This Week ( last week, one day at a time)

Last week's four-part series of ideas to max your engagement in listeners' celebrations and holidays during February got some nice feedback on why it's so important to do that.

For example, this treatise on stationality from an old colleague, who's looking for his next job right now:

· Local, local, local. Engage the community and get involved and talk about local events and happenings. Radiate civic pride!

· Review, develop and maintain station benchmarks.

· Terms of endearment: Tie into local charities and events that evoke emotion and tug on the heart strings. Find a charity that you can hang your stations hat on and make it a mission.

· Have fun! Develop listener talk and curiosity through little or no cost signature station promotions that are ongoing, fun and not just seasonal.

· Theme It Up. Review and develop station(s) “Theme Weekend” arsenal to make sure it’s fun, always fresh and give some relief to the library.

"Radio Is Life! It’s a culmination of the things going on around us, how we feel and are reflected in the things we do, what we say and the songs we play. Let’s make sure your station and branding is on track. Then we can get those creative juices flowing and build some fun promotions to make people talk about your station and don’t forget to have some fun!"

PS: If you'd like to know in confidence who this savvy/"available" programmer is, just drop me an email and I'll send you the entire package of philosophies this came from.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day #4 (as promised): Late February-March Ideas

  • Frozen food month idea for grocery store, vendor and even appliance dealer who sells freezers. Stock freezers full of frozen food and give away keys that unlock the freezer. Winner gets all the food and the freezer.
  • SPRING TRAINING: A counter-balance to the strong female appeal of the current music is a cool prize for guys: a trip to either Spring Training or to a Fantasy Baseball Camp. Especially effective in regions where the weather is cold and snowy. Be sure to capture the data base information on the men who enter or who will be the recipient of the prize if a woman enters for them. Aggressive stations will design special direct mail station promotional pieces that are male-focused.
  • SPRING BREAK FOR ADULTS/FAMILIES: Consider a Spring Break giveaway for adults: a long weekend trip to places like the Florida Keys, Bermuda, the desert Southwest (of, if you have a sister Classic Rock station, destinations that listeners might have gone to when they were in school: Daytona Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, etc.). For families, consider locations like Disney World/Disneyland. Or give a choice: a tennis, golf, spa getaway, even skiing, etc. Works well with combination of on-air listening and at at-client registration.
  • HELP FOR THE HOMELESS: Winter's bitter cold nights are especially problematic for homeless persons. Organize a drive to collect sleeping bags that can be distributed by community organizations.
  • LEVI STRAUSS BIRTHDAY (February 26): Celebrate by offering special trade-in prices to everyone who brings in a pair of jeans to be donated to charity. Alternately offer special discounts to everyone who wears jeans into the store...or have a contest for the best-decorated jeans (best-filled jeans, etc.) with the winners getting free jeans.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

(More February Ideas) Presidents Day (February 21)

Give away "President Portraits" - some "Lincolns" ($5 bill), Hamiltons, Grants, etc. Award for correct answers to trivia questions about the respective presidents who are on the bills you are giving away.

Alternately, give away "Lincolns and Washingtons" for every song someone can name from the previous hour.

Or ask a question every hour 10a-3p and award a "Presidential Collection" (one bill from each President) to the first person to fax in all the correct answers.

Or do a variation on the "Dollar Bill Game" giving away "Presidential Collections" for people who can match partial serial numbers on any dollar bill they may have ("I'm looking for a dollar bill with two 8's").

The WXXX bank isn't closed today. Listen for the first few bars of "Hail To The Chief" to call in and win pictures of Presidents on legal tender.

Frame up a collection of as many denominations as you'd like and have people guess who the portraits are of with a drawing from all the correct guesses to win the collection

Win a cherry pie plus what's inside. At the sound of the tree chopping, call in to win a pie from a local bakery plus what's inside…concert tickets, CDs, cash, T-shirts. Perhaps even a weekend in the Presidential Suite at a local first class hotel. Be sure to stage with plenty of effects like squishy sounds of reaching in the pie.

Presidential Fun And Games. Morning show games feature quotes/trivia with listeners matching the item to the correct President. "I Cannot Tell A Lie" where each member of the morning crew claims to be giving a true piece of Presidential trivia but only one is telling the truth. Give away videos of "American President."


Morning show bit. One partner announces that he, like George Washington, can't tell a lie. Listeners call in and ask DJ questions that he must truthfully answer. Screen for questions that are entertaining but not too embarrassing.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Last-Instant February Ideas (#2 of 4)

  • Romantic Night On The Town. Give away dinner for two at the best restaurant in town, complete with limo, flowers, AND money for a baby sitter.

  • Alternately, give away "Champagne Luncheons for Two" at a local "high-class" restaurant. Winners were wined and dined by all the jocks wearing tuxes. During middays have your morning show make rounds to at-work listeners during the week of Valentine's Day. Could include delivering flowers and candy to listeners who call or fax in requesting a visit.

  • Cocooners Valentine's Day. Give away a romantic evening at home; includes a chef who comes to the winner's house and prepares a romantic meal, some great love-story videos for watching after dinner and some evening attire from a Victoria's Secret type store.

  • Dedicated To The One You Love. The week before Valentine's Day (start now!), record listeners' dedications to play back on the 14th.. Schmaltzy is fine. If time permits, call listeners to tell them what hour their song will air.

  • Have A Heart promotion. Print up red hearts on heavy stock paper with a blank spot in the center, your logo on the upper right and a charity on the upper left. Hearts have a string attached so they can be hung. Work with a multi-outlet sponsor such as a convenience store, chain of filling stations, or a group of merchants such as all area restaurants who agree to sell hearts in the amount of the station's frequency. Purchasers can inscribe a personal message in the blank area and have the heart displayed at the business through the end of the month. All proceeds go to charity.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A Month Of Ideas In Four Days (Part 1)


A good grocery promotion. Pass out certificates (numbered Lincoln logs?).

Award Lincoln-oriented prizes like (cheese) logs, "four score" (80) of something, Log Cabin syrup, etc.

Add in discounts to anyone wearing a beard, over 6 foot tall (Lincoln was a tall guy), etc. Have a drawing every "four score" minutes. Good appearance idea.

(tomorrow: last-minute ideas for Valentine's Day)

Monday, February 07, 2011

I Don't Know Bill & Jillian. Same With Christine Mac Shane. Don't Want To, Either.

And, maybe they are real nice folks, working for fine businesses.

Obviously, they want me to "like" them, but why would I?

Just because they want me to?

Get a clue, people. Radio is one to one. Has been for years. The days of "broadcasting" to a "mass audience" ended decades ago.

Social networks only work "one" to "one."

If you're "announcing" on Twitter, Facebook, et al and you've looked at your competition's ratings, cume, size of their community, followers and they do it as well, maybe you can still get away with "yelling" at people you want to be drawn to you.

For awhile, maybe.

If, on the other hand, you'd like to have more influence on more new people, consider this:

Saturday, February 05, 2011

First, It Takes A Big Idea

I've linked to David Farrell's FYIMusic a few times in the past because he and his contributors always try to be "big picture" thinkers.

Blogger Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, The Segarini Band, and Cats and Dogs, and nominated for a Canadian Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on Toronto's CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now provides content for with RadioZombie, The Iceage, and PsychShack.

From that lofty perch, Segarini's prescriptions, like the Egyptian protesters' demands, can sometimes seem a bit too big, the distance a tad too far from where we are, that someone more invested successfully in the way things are right now - like, with commercial radio and me - tends to consider his "demands" as too revolutionary and perhaps so "big" as to be frightening.

"How can we feed our need to hear the music we know is out there without the taste makers and risk takers who no longer tread the halls of radio and record companies, or labels who have the patience it takes to build a career instead of manufacturing celebrities and ‘hit’, radio friendly singles. We, those of us who love music, are potentially the largest A&R department that has ever existed. How do we disseminate our information? How do we take our favourite new music and artists from obscurity to prominence? How do we help turn local promise into a chance for international success? Well, we need radio’s help."

His vision for completely remaking the music business model would have to happen before his scenario for remaking the interactive radio model - while leaving analog radio as it is - that it's unlikely to occur until labels and copyright owners hurt a lot more than they are even now.

"With these options in place a database would be created of all the music available on the internet and who owns it. Unless YOU owned the original content you wished to upload to the internet, you would not be able to upload content for others to take. You would be blocked by your ISP because you didn’t create or own the original property, easily determined by the database that would come from the labels uploading their content. Without the ability to upload music you didn’t create or own the copyright to, there couldn’t be any more illegal downloads."

However, if it does eventually come to pass that all music and rights exist in the cloud, it would be great to hope that radio could leverage that, creating unique products on our music portals to attract "Long Tail" music consumers to our brands with all matter of variety we can't afford to offer in mass broadcast form.

"As far as radio goes, not much can be done unless they re-embrace music and relax their formats and listen to the people that no longer listen to them instead of the people who do. Until the corporations start selling off some of their ill performing properties and independents again acquire a foothold on the airwaves, or they are forced by decree from the FCC and the CRTC to take one station in their cluster in each market and use it to train new talent, present new music, and focus on the local community, radio’s best bet is to utilize the internet like they have never used it before."

Is there any radio executive who doesn't acknowledge that more than 25% of our listeners would use us more if we had fewer/almost no commercials? .. that half or more of our consumers would use us more if we didn't have so much predictable repetition? Would they be willing to subscribe to services which solved those problems?

But, is there a consensus of music copyright owners and artists with enough courage to embrace Segarini's idea to open distribution as their long term future, so that we can find out if I am right about his vision for the next generation on online "radio?"

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Hello? Apple? It's RIM.

You've never seen all of those on one platform before and it's a very welcome sight, indeed!

"BlackBerry Radio is not a traditional radio app, but instead works with multiple radio apps to make the process of finding and listening to radio on a BlackBerry® smartphone quicker, easier and more integrated by presenting a sampling of services from some of our most popular partners."

While listening to music streams from participating radio partners, users in the US will have quick access to the recently launched Amazon MP3 storefront to purchase songs currently playing. Users can also access BlackBerry Radio at any time from within the music menu on their BlackBerry smartphone.

If you haven't noticed, things are getting very interesting in the mobile space and it's only begun.

Morning Radio Revisited

There simply aren't enough freshly-updated training tools available for managers, coaches and talent - at a time when it's becoming obvious that strong personalities who understand how to relate locally, interact, engage, involve, tell stories, evoke emotions, edit themselves brutally and entertain consistently will be the theme of the year 2011 for radio as our old medium learns that music with not much talk is becoming a ubiquitous commodity.

"Often we get so hung up on the big idea that we don’t recognize the small but meaningful moments that can endear personalities to fans. We spend hours seeking the next big thing and often never find it. What could you do instead?
Return every phone call and email.
Send a handwritten card to five people.
Produce new content to your blog.
Record a podcast on a specific topic you are passionate..."

Tracy Johnson was a leading programmer for 25 years, a successful radio station manager after that and he has just condensed the current state of the art into 110 meaty, readable, useful pages!

I just reviewed his newest book and can recommend it highly. Be the first in your market to read it!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Complexity Is The Enemy Of Success

Fox News' John R. Quain asks "Is Facebook fading" and offers a very convincing argument that it is.

It has a stratospheric valuation, an Oscar-nominated movie about it, 600 million fans, and its CEO just appeared on Saturday Night Live. So where's Facebook going to go from here? Down.

Take a look in the mirror. How's your focus on the core reasons listeners come to you?

"K-I-S-S" is always a great prescription for keeping users satisfied and that starts with knowing what business you're in (as defined by your users).