Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Three R's

There are three goals that any radio station/show should be aiming for when it comes to both on air broadcast and web content. It seems to be something that should be ‘common sense” for any broadcaster.

However, it seems these days we as an industry have gotten away from what our focus should be and strayed into the theory that “just getting our name out there as much as we can” is good enough.

Although it is vital to be known in your market and brand yourself/station as a major player and take ownership of your town/ratings, broadcasters today miss the point of the underlying factor.

The question is what we are going to do with the audience when we get them? I heard a long time ago that as a an “announcer” my job is to keep the listen as long as possible.

I think it can be broken down in three categories or objectives. I call them the THREE “R’s”


One way or another, we want our listeners to react. Laugh? Cry? Get them angry? It’s all good.

The saying goes “you can’t please everyone all the time.”

Well, take advantage of that.

If it your goal to PLEASE your audience at every turn. You WILL fail.

Besides, in real life, it’s those people that do act that way that are viewed as phony. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand phony people and I certainly don’t want to listen to them.

OK, so now that we have them laughing, crying or mad, what do we do?

Invite them to respond.

If listeners feel like they have an outlet to respond or give feedback, they will stay with you every time.

Is it FACEBOOK, TWITTER or on the phone?

YES. It’s all of those.

The only way people will keep be interested in anything you have to say or promote is if they can have some sort of reaction that is seen or heard.

We have listeners that don’t have time to listen to our broadcast in real time but they love our station so much they want to know what is going on and feel as though they are a part of the family.

Like I said before, the job of an announcer is more than just being an entertainer.

We need to keep our audience coming back.

That won’t happen if we are not achieving the previous “R’s.”

If you simply try to promote your station without inviting people back, you have not gotten or gained anything.

In big markets with multiple stations of the same genre this is VITAL!

To be perfectly honest, if you are an announcer that is merely after getting “known”, your career will be a short one.

Some of the best jocks I have ever heard are no names. Yet, they have a way of getting me to come back every time.

Often times I don’t agree with them and many times they find a way to get a reaction from me and yes, I have even tried to “FRIEND” them so I can respond.

If you are REAL and have a way about you that gets listeners to react and respond they will keep coming back.

- Clay Moden, WYRK, Country 106.5/Buffalo

ARB: "Country Continues as America’s Favorite Format"

Radio Today, 2011 edition (click to download your copy) is hot off the press and it contains great news for booming country music radio.
The No. 1 format overall, in both Diary and non-Metro areas, Country reached more than 65 million listeners each week on more than 1,700 stations—the most outlets of any music format, not including 300 Classic Country stations. It also was the top format among most age groups (including a big lead with adults 25-54) and in most dayparts. Country enjoyed some of the longest time spent listening of all formats, and its listeners set a new high in college degree attainment in Fall 2010.

Other fascinating mega-trends in radio's overall usage:

Radio Is Increasingly Mobile…
Away-from-home listening has been growing in proportion to all listening in every weekday hour in recent years except between 5 AM and 9 AM; at-home’s share of radio in the 6AM-10 AM daypart was actually up in Fall 2010 compared to Fall 2008.

…Especially in Evenings
The major shift in recent years has been between 8 PM and 9PM, when in Fall 2010, the majority of tune-in occurred away from home; the reverse had been true in Fall 2008 and in earlier years. The 9 PM to 10 PM hour also has been steadily gravitating toward out-of-home. And combined with out-of-home gaining by proportion in earlier evening hours, for the first time the overall 7 PM to Midnight daypart in Fall 2010 saw the majority of radio listening occurring away from home.

…And on Weekends, Too…
Despite the smaller audiences compared to weekdays, radio’s average quarter-hour ratings away from home increased on weekends from 2 PM and 11 PM and again from 4 AM to 5 AM between Fall 2008 and Fall 2010. The majority of listening in the 10 AM hour shifted to away from home in Fall 2010 for the first time. As it is during weekdays, the 9PM hour is headed that way, as well.

…And Notably Among Teen Boys
Tune-in among teen boys is steadily shifting toward away-from-home listening, which could gain the lion’s share of tune-in by teen boys by the 2012 report.

Weekday Evening Listening Is Rising
Radio increased its listenership, particularly significantly during weekday evenings, when the medium scored higher Cume Ratings among men aged 18-64 and women 25-64. Radio also posted higher ratings in midday reach among men aged 25-64 and women 45-54, as well as on weekends with men 35-64 and women 45-54.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Old Habits Die Hard

PPM statistically-proved several years ago that a longtime staple of morning radio, song parodies, seem to entertain the personalities more than they do the listener.

Yet, as I travel, I still hear from morning jocks whose prep services continue to provide them, if there's ever a place where they fit and do not lose audience.

In general, I feel like they don't achieve anything affirmative for the real driver of usage and loyalty, authenticity, personal values and character-building.

However, two comedy masters used this one to deftly pay off on a six month stunt, that I have to say works for me.

However, television and even the internet isn't morning radio, and as priceless as this great story line is, I worry that it still would lose more listeners than it would keep if it had been a radio bit.

PPM duration of the totality of all listening occasions for the vast majority of listeners (a mode of two and a half minutes) means that more folks would have missed the setup or have had to leave before the ending than would have been there for the whole thing.

For anything that goes much longer than 2:30, it's likely that the only people you can be absolutely certain have heard the beginning, the middle and the ending are in the control room.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Country "Tastes" Very Good

Hats off to Townsquare Media radio stations and their national interactive team which hit the ground running just nine months ago on a terrific achievement, 700,000 "likes" on their Taste Of Country Facebook page.

A proud post Saturday by the Taste of Country Staff:
Country music is stronger than ever right now, and we’re blessed that our readers let us bring them country music’s breaking news, the most insightful interviews and the best new music on a daily basis. We’re also very grateful for your timely feedback. It keeps us to stay on task to what is truly important in country music right now. 2011 has so far been a whirlwind year of country stars penetrating the mainstream in ways fans can embrace.

If anyone doubts that small and mid-sized market radio can get large-sized response, Townsquare's 176 radio stations and companion websites in 38 markets across 16 states prove again that great content and strong focus make a powerful combination, generating engagement and excellent radio results.

Friday, September 23, 2011


News: One of Cleveland’s best-known radio voices has been silenced. Chuck Collier, afternoon host and music director at 99.5 WGAR, as well as midday host on Majic 105.7, died Thursday from a massive heart attack. Chuck was 64 years old. Chuck had been a fixture on WGAR for 40 years, starting when the station was still on the AM dial, and playing adult contemporary music.

Comment: Ask any of us to knew and worked with Chuck over the last four decades and you'll hear endless stories of hard work, a positive approach to life, a wonderful family and a dedicated professional who loved Ohio and Cleveland. That smile on his face was always there and it's incomprehensible that we won't see it again except in photos. Please remember his family when the memorial service is announced.

News: Cumulus' Thursday Conference Call For 500 Programming Executives in their newly enlarged conglomerated empire. Among many other rumored imperial dictates: no outside programming consultants, flip-flops, piercings, exposed tattoos or bluejeans.

Comment: It's a source of pride to find myself, by implication on THAT list. A&O worked with Citadel and had some great relationships there - which we'll sincerely miss - but if tattoos, bluejeans, piercings and flip flops aren't welcomed in the new configuration, I wouldn't want us to be there either. Bon Voyage, Cumulus. It's going to be fun to compete with you. I'm tempted to have that tattooed in an exposed place on my body today.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Let's ALL Embrace Country Music Month

The Country Music Association is celebrating Country Music Month with 45 days of promotions, events, and activities designed to drive awareness of the format leading up to the annual CMA Awards, “Country Music’s Biggest Night(tm),” on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean issued a proclamation from the city citing the important role and tangible impact of the Country Music industry on Nashville’s economy and reputation as a center for entertainment business and global tourism.

“It is important to recognize and celebrate the numerous contributions that CMA, the Country Music industry and artists have made to our community and to the lives of millions of people around the world,” Dean said in the Proclamation, which was presented at a reception Tuesday for the CMA Board of Directors at CMA.

First observed in October of 1964, Country Music Month was created by the Country Music Association to celebrate the format and bring additional awareness to landmark events and institutions in the history of Country Music, including the formation of CMA and the anniversary of the WSM Grand Ole Opry. What followed was a groundswell of support from dozens of states, which issued proclamations in support of the idea, and eventually the White House with several Presidential Proclamations beginning in 1970.

Can you get your Mayor? Governor? Wouldn't be be terrific if every state, province and city in North America formally proclaimed and acknowledge the event?

Click to see Gerald Ford's and George Bush's. President Obama eloquently celebrated country music in the White House two summers ago (click to watch the video), G.W.'s iPod reveals a country fan and Bill Clinton is a supporter too so your local politicans, no matter what their party loyalty, would be in great bipartisan company if they made it formal and official in your community too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

News And Comment (An Ongoing Series)

News: "In 2009, the majority of radio newsrooms (56%) relied on social media for story leads from "citizen journalists," and 34 percent of radio newsrooms said social media not only provided leads but can also provided possible sources of information for news stories. Today, only 31 percent use citizen journalists, down 25 percent from 2009. So while use of social media among stations has exploded over the past two years, the use within the newsroom in terms of leads has actually declined."

Comment: Hopefully, this study serves as a wake up call to radio newsrooms and reverses this troublesome trend. Get with it, news people.

News: John Klesewetter: “Heritage rocker 102/7 WEBN Cincinnati is looking for its next morning show for the next decade and beyond. We’re looking for a team or ensemble that can connect with men 25-54 in the confines of a music intensive morning show in a PPM market. Prior ratings success in a major or medium size market a must. Please no voice-trackers, wacky morning zoo types, syndicated morning shows, or shows that need a prep service for material. We want real, honest and fun. We haven’t had a morning opening in over 25 years."

Comment: Hellllloooo, wannabe radio personalities! This job description is for you in the year 2011. You'd think that by now everyone who aspires to do well in ratings in either PPM or diary market surveys would have gotten this memo by now.

News: Bobby Rich continues to prove that doing good in your neighborhood works as well as ever at Tucson's 94.9 MIX FM.

Comment: Let's all help out and bid that house WAY up for him!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Well, That Didn't Work

A year ago when Country Aircheck asked subscribers to vote for in their "Power 31" balloting, I requested folks not vote for me and ended up in the "power rotation" part of the list, so this year I kept quiet about it and hoped that my plea to vote "the country radio audience" to the list might naturally perk up after my recommendation last year.

I must admit that it's an honor to make the list and it's gratifying to know that A&O, since our music recommendations to clients are 100% listener-driven, is seen by so many as influential by programmers.

It's an honor to rank #5 on the list, just behind Clear Channel's Doug Montgomery.

Congrats, #1 Scott Borchetta, #2 Mike Dungan and #3 Luke Lewis for topping an impressive list.

Those three guys fight each week for a #1, so I'm very happy to see them top the list.

I'm betting I join Doug in saying that we'll take our positions on the list with humility and always try to lobby on behalf of the listener on country radio playlists.

That's radio's job #1.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Is Radio Faster Than Twitter (When It Comes To Selling Our Strengths)?

So if twitter is faster than an earthquake. What's radio (both commercial and ham)?

Why couldn't we make a similar claim? Or at least be as creative?

When your station responds to an emergency, do you post-promote your coverage, linking the image to dependability and trust?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Favorite "Research Email" Each Month

As radio's content imperative moves from time-worn things like the long-serving horrible-scopes, today's birthdays and anniversaries, song parodies and other Boomer benchmarks to more fresh Gen X and Gen Y info, authentic and interactive perspectives on the hottest topics right now, victory often goes to the personality who understands what the right buzz topic is today and how to make something personal, engaging and unique that he/she can brand from it.

For example: "What’s Hot…is the NFL or College Football the top pick?"
  • For many this month “autumn” and “football” are synonymous…specifically, 64.4% are glued to NFL games, while 54.0% enjoy college football.
  • Also hot this month? The Help was blockbuster among the majority (51.6%) and 3D TV (46.0%) might just be the gift that saves Christmas 2011. Those under 35 are digging the Nintendo 3DS (and presumably its recent price drop), while females will be integrating ankle boots and the color red in their fall wardrobes. What’s not? The stock market…’nuff said there, right?
OK, now that you know that, what do you plan to DO about it?

To start getting Phil Rist's interpretations of Big Research trend reports, follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Radio Companies Are Marketing Again

Once upon a time two or three very high profile TV production companies dominated both the NAB Radio Show hospitality suites and the exhibit hall floor.

Today, as a number of high profile radio programmers churn out music video-based TV spots for radio on their home computer, stations invite listeners to create spots for them via You Tube, every small town cable TV operation has the high-tech video/audio production bells and whistles that used to cost millions, TV production companies appear to be no-shows at the 2011 NAB.

However, at the risk of leaving out someone I may have missed yesterday I won't mention names, but I have run into at least eight different direct/interactive marketing for radio suppliers demonstrating impressive state of the art multi-media resources which are laden with innovative smart mobile, email internet and address-based geo- and values-targeted direct mail database-driven tricks which promote usage, regularity and relevancy not even the largest radio companies have in-house.

Lesson 1: if you're not marketing in some way, there are at least eight other stations in town which these folks are trying to sell new tactics which are designed to hurt your ratings shares.

Lesson 2: (from someone who has made this mistake): never market a poor product. Nothing will kill it faster than great marketing.

Lesson 3: if you have anything but a terrific product, you're especially vulnerable to lesson 1. It's called being a sitting duck.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nashville's Country Genome Project

Pandora founder and evangelist Tim Westergren: “There is little doubt now that the future of radio is Internet radio, and personalized radio.”

I appreciated Tom Taylor's perspective, as he quoted the former musician, composer and Pandora visionary's claim of 3.6% of all U.S. radio listening, followed by "a radio executive in the hallway who isn’t discounting Pandora, but knows that broadcast radio, done right, offers a sense of community. So it may come down to broadcast versus customized radio – which must grow its share of ad dollars to break out of its business model where the royalties consume more than 50% of total revenue."

Music discovery is no doubt important to any transitional format, but as any experienced radio vet will testify, trying to use "new music first" as a tactic to create a musical difference almost always loses to the direct competition who lets the newbie familiarize the audience with the unfamiliar material and then plays the biggest hits.

It seems to me that, as with so many other upstarts that have emerged since the dawn of format radio, we don't have to fail for Pandora to succeed.

Newness and similar sounding genres are a dual-edged sword.

Today in the NAB convention hallways I ran into Edison Research's Larry Rosin a longtime student of country radio and music who currently has a concern about country even as new music and artists are clearly booming. His wife listens to country in her car almost constantly thanks to SiriusXM, but he can't listen as much over the last several years since New York has no country FM station anymore: "I hear all this new music, and she obviously loves the songs, but I can't tell one singer from another."

Radio doesn't need a genome project. We have one already. The music biz does it every time. The instant something starts to work, every label seems to have a soundalike.

For the majority of the population, it takes a curator to separate wheat from chaff.

Radio wins by doing what satellite and personalized streams can't do, making sure our local community of listeners gets plenty of the era and genre variety they prefer along with surprises presented by a trusted friend who relates compelling stories about artists we expose, to be sure that the fresh becomes familiar and favorite, reflecting local, topical values and concerns.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Lost Art?

Bill Dodd has such deep programming and management roots in the Kelso-Longview-Castle Rock area of Washington State, that it's easy to forget that he was a major market talent in San Francisco (see the 1975 KSFO scope here for proof), Portland and Seattle:
"We’re undergoing the agony of a new traffic system. Marketron merged with DeltaFlex and we are forced to change. Today I found out the new system does NOT provide for prioritizing the filling of spot breaks. For 20 years we have filled the last one first, etc--- a lot more music, a lot less talk. It’s worked great. Now we’re going to have to move spots by hand. Sheesh. We can’t be the only people doing this! These companies providing service seem to have forgotten that they are working for us. I suspect that today's traffic software was developed mostly for TV, and most stations just don’t care about what spot placement can make them sound like."

He's right, of course. With PPM's proof in minute-to-minute usage that great commercials can be eight times as engaging as normal ones, it has become even more of a competitive edge to set your breaks up so that the spots run in an order designed to hold maximum audience yet doing so with the new traffic software is next to impossible unless you do it manually.

Hopefully, someone at one of those firms reads this blog and a lightbulb goes off over their heads.

Meanwhile, do you have a system for setting up your breaks to maximize flow? Or, do you worry about it at all?


The difference between last week and this one is huge.

Last week was Summer.

This week is Fall.

This change has nothing to do with the Autumnal Equinox. It is all about lifestyle (and also survey dates!).

Your listeners have been going through more adjustments over the last week than any other time of the year. Vacations are done. School starts. Some folks are carrying PPM meters through it all and others are getting ARB and BBM diaries to measure their use of radio through it all.

And a lot of ʻfirstsʼ for many of your listeners. Those crucial surveys to us are the least of their concerns right now.

For some it is the beginning of all day kindergarten for their kids. First day of grade one, first day of high school, first day of university. It is a stressful time. It also brings a sense of relief. It also creates lifelong memories.

Relating to your listeners experiences will help make you memorable.

Relatable, memorable radio makes your listeners happy. PPM likes it, too.

What you are doing now is being measured for the Fall Book.

(adapted from JRfm/The Peak PD Gord Eno's weekly 'jock memo.')

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten Things To Do Now To Tune Up For Ratings

  1. Get out and get involved in the community. Loyal listening audiences are built on a personal bond.
  2. Come up with TEN things you could do to own your time slot.
  3. Over-prepare so be sure that each break relates powerfully in unique and creative ways.
  4. Rehearse everything you do for maximum impact.
  5. Compress content. Rewrite in advance for brevity and word power.
  6. Entertain. Provide an emotional experience between every song.
  7. Listen to listeners and use their names and voices on the air, tightly-edited as often as possible.
  8. Get one to one. Share your personal point of view and avoid crutches andclichés by being specific and evoking theatre of mind.
  9. Provide instant gratification and be sure you present the music in line with our station image.
  10. Constantly attack yourself. What would you do if you were your own competition.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

If You Like Change, You'll Love Today's News

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Peak Broadcasting Takes Boise For A Balloon Ride

Check out PEAK BROADCASTING Top 40 103.3 Kiss FM night slammer NATHAN FAST and morning diva MICHELLE HEART as they take to the sky on opening day of the 2011 Spirit of BOISE Balloon Classic.

Peak's Senior VP Kevin Godwin has a right to brag:
For five mornings and the Friday Nite Glow Concert…we were front and center in the community and across the many media outlets that featured Peak & the event. Estimates from previous Riverfest operators/producers were 20,000-25,000 people attended over the 5 days this year and as you can imagine most of everyone in the valley knew what was going on with balloons overhead for five straight days. We confidently had over 10,000 people just at the Nite Glow concert Friday evening. We were able to fly all five days, with 4 days providing us a “box” wind to get a few balloons back into Ann Morrison Park to land. I believe we did a great job of communicating and super-serving our sponsors and their needs throughout the event and I have heard from many of them on how much they enjoyed being involved.

Is it worth the hard work? Godwin sends along these links to some of the coverage the event received:

A&O is so proud to work with Peak Broadcasting's country stations. They think big, and over-deliver on experiences for their listeners, which is why they are winners.

WOLF/Syracuse Shows How It's Done

Want some extra visibility at a concert?
  • Involve fans and give them center stage to express themselves.
  • Help the artist over-achieve their aspirations for the show.
"I have to let you know what happened at the Sugarland concert tonight in Essex Junction, VT. I was in the front row of the pit and held up a sign that said, "Thank you for making last night INCREDIBLE! The Little Miss Project." In between songs Jennifer read my sign, did a double take and then said, "no, thank you for making last night incredible!"

Click to watch the magic.

She then told the entire crowd what we did last night in Syracuse and how we surprised them with the biggest "Little Miss Project" to date. She said that it was heartwarming and incredible. Kristian turned to me and covered his heart and said 'thank you.' Jennifer said thank you for doing that for us. Then Valerie, Sugarland's Videographer came over and asked if we were the fans that did the project with WOLF. I said yes and she went on raving about it. She said that she was very moved by it. 

Just thought I would share 
Thanks for helping us pull this off. It was absolutely incredible!!!"
 -- Amy Stephenson

"Of all the years in Radio this has to be one of the BEST radio promotions I have ever been part of." -- Skip Clark, Program Director/On Air, New Country WOLF 105.1 & 96.7

Monday, September 05, 2011

Things I Don't Understand (A Continuing Series)

I scratch my head when a song charts #1.

.. and almost immediately the label puts out a "live" version.

.. once upon a time a programmer told a music promoter that he was dropping a #1 song due to "burn," (probably because he didn't want to admit that he was so stupid that he thought playing a song that ranked lower than #1 made more sense than playing #1 another week or two).

So, the label came up with a "live" version in hopes that would overcome the objection to keeping the #1 song in "heavy" rotation just as they were starting to get the biggest retail action of the release's "life at radio" on the tune.

I wonder...

1. Why drop a song just because it hits #1 on national spin charts? Isn't this the peak of its popularity, audience reach and acceptance?
2. Why test a hook for weeks and weeks, past the unfamiliarity and the polarity to the point that positives are at their highest, and then change the version of the song you play?
3. How could a song that is finally on 100% of the monitored and reporting panels and still growing spins to the point that it's capable of hitting the highest chart number be sufficiently "burnt" that you'd want to play it less?
4. If your recurrents - which is where songs like that move - test better than your heaviest rotation currents with higher positives and low negatives, wouldn't it help your targeting, cume and time spent listening potential to play them more, not less?
5. Has there EVER been a "live" version that listeners liked better on the radio than the "original hit?"

Thursday, September 01, 2011

High Tech Firms Use Radio Advertising

"Radio is a congenial home for many advertisers in the hardware business, whether the hardware is lawn mowers or e-mail archivers. All that remains to be added are regular holiday sales for the I.T. products. Maybe the Labor Day weekend will bring a Sale-A-Bration — for load balancers."

- Randall Stross, Silicon Valley-based author and professor of business at San Jose State University in the New York Times

Thanks to Randall Bloomquist for reinforcing the key reasons why:

Affordability – “’We discovered radio was unnaturally inexpensive,’ says Michael Perone, Barracuda’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

Targeting – Radio is an efficient way to reach the handful of decision-makers and “influencers” who are responsible for buying IT gear for their organizations.

“[Barracuda] also sells to medium-sized businesses, defined as those with 300 to 2,000 employees. It can be too expensive to send sales representatives to make the multiple visits necessary to close a relatively modest sale to these customers. But it turns out that radio offers an economical alternative way of reaching the three or four people who might work in the I.T. department of a 300-employee company.”

EndorsementsCitrix has found that endorsement spots provide effective “third-party validation” and “can create a brief sense of personal connection with each listener, in a way newer media can’t really match.”