Monday, December 31, 2012

I'll Have What She's Having

CMA reports that country music fans dine out frequently, with 77 percent of respondents indicating they dine out once a week or more, primarily for dinner meals. On average, 46 percent estimate spending more than $50 per week on restaurant meals, with 17 percent exceeding $100 per week.

Country Music fans are an influential group and a key target for the dining category, with 83 percent having tried a new restaurant in the past six months. Social media’s influence on restaurant choice ranks on par with television and radio advertising among all respondents; even stronger among Adults 18-44 years old with 60 percent trying a new restaurant based on advertising cited social media.

The survey was conducted online with respondents ages 18+ from the CMA Insider Fan Panel, a group of more than 13,000 Country Music fans recruited from various industry and consumer sources. The make-up of the CMA Insider Fan Panel includes adults from all demographic groups; however, the results of this panel research are not projectable to the overall U.S. population.
CMA’s research reports are a benefit of CMA membership.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Go To A Party, Listen To Music, Take In A Movie, Then Join CMA

• Every U.S. radio station is a complimentary CMA member through March 1, so this is a reminder to grab your share of free research with CMA Insiders, a proprietary Country Music Consumer panel.
• This research was conducted via online survey during November 2012 and resulted in a total sample base of 485 respondents.

You'll want to budget for a CMA membership in 2013 so you can continue to access this great resource in the coming year!

• This holiday season, the percentage of Country Music Consumers shopping at online retailers, 83%, was nearly equivalent to the 93% who indicated they would be shopping at brick and mortar retailers.

• Country Music Consumers are more likely to buy and give, rather than receive, the gift of Country Music this holiday season.   Overall, males between the age of 18 to 49 are more likely to expect to give, and receive, Country Music gifts.

• Toys, clothing/shoes and CDs/DVDs are top gift-spending categories among Country Music Consumers this season.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sorry, Harvard Business Review, Not Today.

They've been on the market since mid-November, so I don't blame HBR for emailing me a great bargain on exactly the type of business books to normally buy.

In a few days I'll be ready for urgency, change, accelerating change, then more newer ideas on acceleration, followed by lots of working with others to to achieve buy-in and all, but for a few days this week, let's all just slow down.

The books will still be there next week.

I don't even require a book detailing any "Quick and Easy Ways to Quiet Your Mind." 

It's not a day for "quick" or "easy."  

It's time for another helping of leftovers and thanks to a Holiday-ful of loved ones and friends, it might even be time for a little nap, don't you think?

Monday, December 24, 2012

All I Want For Christmas Is A Crank Radio

Here is the perfect radio giveaway item or a gift for the person on your list who has "everything."
Solar / Hand-Crank Powered Flashlight & Weather Band Radio Hand-Crank Powered Flashlight & FM Radio

Click to shop for these.

Dynamo Disaster Radio
This one.
C.Crane CC Radio 2 at Cabela's  Midland S.A.M.E. NOAA AM/FM/Weather Radio at Cabela's
Cabela's has several of my fav's in stock now.
American Red Cross Microlink  FR170 Emergency Radio

So does Radio Shack.

J. C. Penney's.
Grundig FR200 Emergency Radio


Crank radio and solar powered. Charges cell phones and other devices. Flashlight and reading light. AC/DC adapter.

There is no shortage of types and places to purchase them.

.. which is more than you can say about electrical power during upcoming winter storms.

Local AM-FM radio will be there, of course.

Make sure you and your listeners have radios that work when they need you the most.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Suddenly, There Was No Gridlock In Salt Lake City Traffic

This Facebook post reminded me of how important local character, humor and extremely special talent can be to a radio station's branding, let alone daily usage:

Fortunately, there's no shortage of Gridlock in Seattle and Entercom/Seattle 100.7 The WOLF (scroll down to the bottom of the page and get ready to enjoy a piece of his unique un-radio style) has had the most unique traffic reports anywhere for several years now.

Do you have the courage to be completely different?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bring It On

Yesterday, I wrote about possible upsides and downsides for today's broadcast radio in the recent Nielsen "lunch" which featured Arbitron as a main course (Hopes And Fears).

There's one aspect of the deal that doesn't worry me one bit:  Nielsen's intentions in acquiring Arbitron is to begin measuring online radio services like Pandora.

The research has already been done and it's clear that when measured on an apples to apples basis, both streaming of terrestrial and also over the air broadcast stand to gain.

The fact is that traditional "radio" (I can't wait to universally adopt the term 'audio' advertising) currently is greatly undervalued.

It's been happening in the real world for three years now in Canada with BBM using PPM to measure radio and television usage across the same panel.  It's possible to literally follow which ad on one affects the other and of course how a combination of both broadcast media can impact branding, product adoption and make cash registers ring.

James Cridland is a British radio futurologist and has become expert in the real world as well, consulting, writing and speaking about what happens when radio and new platforms collide.

He was a on air talent at local stations, digital media director at Virgin Radio in the UK (now Absolute Radio) and helped the BBC to develop the iPlayer. Cridland operates the website Media UK, works with The Radio Academy, is involved in RadioDNS and a co-organizer of the conference.  I love the way he puts it:  "Radio needs one voice." (click to read his recommendations for radio to make the most of their online presence)

An October 2012 EMarketer study on the growth of mobile found that broadcast radio has a 13.2 percent share of time spent wih all media per day, with a 9.3 percent of the U.S. ad share. 

It's a sad statement that our sellers have not been able to justify increasing radio's rates by the 30% the current audience rating shares affirm that we earn.

Perhaps when buyers see radio's online and over the air usage stats on the same page with all media based on the identical sample, we'll finally get the price we deserve.

If Nielsen's vision for Arbitron can help us do that, they are going to find radio managers and owners asking them "what are you waiting for?  How soon can we start?"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hopes And Fears

Well, now we know why Arbitron's Project Leapfrog hasn't hopped out of the development stage in 2012 in spite of lots of hype about it in 2011.

With this morning's news that Nielsen is buying Arbitron the phrase "this changes everything" leaps to mind.

I've blogged in the past about the precarious position of being a ratings company with revenues and EBITDA increasing faster than the underlying business which supports it.

The stronger projected growth of television and multi-new-media put the TV ratings giant in a better deal-making position and certainly provides Arbitron stockholders with a very convenient, timely, profitable exit strategy.


It has seemed to me for some time that Nielsen had to do something to recapture market share and move away from expensive surveys toward more automated ways of collecting usage data because of Rentrak. 

FYI:  Rentrak CEO is Bill Livek, former head of Birch and his compatriot, Bill Engel, is on the board of the emerging company which takes set top box data from AT&T U-Verse cable and at least one other multichannel provider, also known as return path data, and mix that with other information to create ratings. 

Large samples in some DMAs, next to nothing in others, but estimates everywhere. 

An Arbitron insider recently confided in me:  "It's an interesting approach and due to the much lower cost, it's finding favor with a number of TV stations that are tired of paying for Nielsen."

If I am right about this, perhaps they're planning to do as BBM has been able to do in Canada and utilize PPM to measure all media. 

If so, it could bring down rates for all current subscribers and greatly increase sample sizes by being able to pick up new media clients by showing actual usage data across all media platforms with an apples-to-apples panel sample based on real usage.

PPM could be used in place of the antiquated diary methodology with its seemingly intractable cooperation and response rate difficulties (which appears to get worse survey after survey) in every size market where Nielsen now measures TV.

Radio does not have a comparable system to Rentrak (unless you want to count those strange systems like Mobiltrak from a few years ago that pick up the IF from the radios). 

We will continue to rely on surveys for some time, so the optimist in me hopes that our new ratings supplier will always continue to work as Arbitron generally has - to improve the system - while once the deal is done making it more cost-effective for clients, not further increasing rates in the ways Arbitron has done.


There are some wonderful researchers toiling at Arbitron who have been comparatively transparent, open about their problems delivering reliable estimates amidst a swift-changing media and population landscape. 

Nielsen's huge international size makes the company more bureaucratic and "corporate" in their messaging to their clients.

As noted above, TV owners seem to dislike giving their money to Nielsen even more than radio companies do with ARB. 

They engage in "big business doubletalk."

Nielsen announced a "doubling" of their sample last summer.  They actually announced an effective doubling of the sample (their italics from the client notice) which can be done statistically. 

Nearly everyone in the trade media picked up on the doubling without using or in other cases questioning the word effective

Now that they are our new dancing partner, we'd be wise to look more closely into this.

Nielsen changed the way they estimate language dominance in highly-ethnic markets and the English-dominant went up quite a bit versus Spanish dominant.  A one-time change but one that may have a bigger than expected effect on the estimates if they extend this policy to radio samples in the future too.

Arbitron's profitability and growing revenues, while vexing to an old medium whose revenues have been flat has meant that our longtime "frienenemy" has had the financial strength to invest in research innovations and new products like PPM and Project Leapfrog.

Nielsen is a company with much greater pressures on their bottom line

Are they buying ARB for $1.26 billion to improve the media rating business? 

Or, to simply push their debt farther into the future?

We're all about to find out.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Is National Radio Business Going To Be Down In 2013?

Arbitron’s RADAR 113 report, with bullet points released over the last week covers March 31, 2011–March 28, 2012 using data from all 48 Arbitron PPM markets.

Today's headline:  weekly time spent listening to radio declines by 28 minutes. 
As Inside Radio reports:  "The average American aged 12+ spent 13 hours and 51 minutes listening to radio a week.  While that’s a healthy number – nearly two hours a day – it’s down 28 minutes a week from one year earlier: 14 hours and 19 minutes in Arbitron’s RADAR 109, which covered April 1, 2010–March 30, 2011.

In spite of the positive spin in the last week's press releases, ("adults aged 18 to 34 again shows the largest gain in weekly radio listeners, increasing by more than 600,000), more alarming are year-over-year declines among young adults.
  • Men 25-34 spent 51 minutes less with radio per week in RADAR 113 (15 hours) than in RADAR 109 (14 hours, 9 minutes)
  • TSL among women 25-34 also fell by a significant amount, from 12 hours, 55 minutes to 12 hours,
  • 13 minutes, a year-over-year drop of 42 minutes. 
  • Men 18-24 are spending 36 minutes less per week with radio, women
  • 18-24  are listening 38 minutes less. 
Demos with smaller declines than the 12+ average include women 35-54 (down 21 minutes), men 45-54 (down 17 minutes), women 45-54 (down 26 minutes), men 55-64 (down 15 minutes) men 65+ (down 26 minutes) and women 65+ (down 18 minutes).
  • Teen listening declined only eight minutes but the demo already had the lowest listening level of any: about eight hours a week for teenage boys and nine and a-half hours for girls. 
  • The biggest TSL surprise: a 43-minute weekly decline among women 55-64.
How can we be both up and down in the same demo?

Here's how:  since ARB as recently as their programming conference two weeks ago affirmed again that metered average time per listening occasion remains about 10 minutes regardless of city, format or country, weekly cume must be holding, but radio's DAILY cume, the most crucial success driver, appears to be down roughly 3.3% 12+. 

We won't fix this problem while cutting localism and local personalities. 

It's going to require increased engagement with local audiences, not less.

Radio stations which keep this in mind in their 2013 programming and marketing strategies are going to greatly out-perform "the average" ones.

If we continue to value our time based on cost-per point, using only automated online media-buying software, is anyone going to tell radio's story at the national agency level to counter that dip?

National and network business has been dicey enough over the last year for most radio companies making use of last year's stats!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Prep Tip From A Pro (Forwarded By Another One)

More about the importance of show prep thanks to a fellow member of The Colbert Nation:  
I'm a huge fan of the real-time improv style of The Colbert Report and ran across this quote from Stephen Colbert about the show:

Colbert said that to him, “the show” isn’t the performance in front of his audience. The “show” is really what he does all day with his staff. “There’s the joy in doing this hard thing,” he explained. “That hard work together IS the show…. I then have the responsibility and pleasure of SHARING what that joy was [with the audience].”

Colbert makes it look easy during the show, but if you're properly prepared, the payoff is in the performance.

- Buzz Jackson, PD, KIIM/ Cumulus, Tucson

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Country Is Hot

Two weeks ago, I shared an advance look at Arbitron's Radio Today 2012.
And, now, all of BBM's PPM and diary market data from Fall 2012 is out in Canada too and - though the country format is not either the country's most-programmed format nor #1 in audience shares as it is in the USA, there's still cause for celebration, at #3 12+ and #5 25-54, up from both the large-markets only Spring survey and also the Fall, which includes the smaller markets as well.

Look out, AC and Hot AC, we're gaining on you!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bad Timing

The Mays family's decision to sell Clear Channel in 2005 following the family patriarch Lowry's stroke might have been termed "great timing," since it took multiple lawsuits to force the buyers to actually do the deal after the financial collapse of 2007-2008, which put him at #1062 on the year's list of the world's wealthiest billionaires.

Bad timing, of course, for Bain Capitol and its investment bankers, who have been helped at least a bit by the low interest rate environment even as they have been wacked and wacked again by the years-long no-growth economy.

One trade publication last week, as the axe fell again just before yet another year's Holidays, estimated that 10,000 people have lost their jobs since Clear Channel and the other post-deregulation consolidators starting enlarging their holdings in the mid-1990's.

Bad timing for so many people to hit the ranks of radio's unemployed all at the same time, making it even less hopeful that many of will land on their feet until well into the coming year.

Radio Info/Talkers editor Michael Harrison put it bluntly last week in an interview with The San Antonio Business Journal“I think Clear Channel is run by extremely intelligent people.  They have tremendous muscle and collective powers, including economies of scale. They are doing the best they can with a difficult situation. The jury is still out. A lot of this has to do with the economy,”

He was even more blunt in his own pages, calling it "iHeartless radio."

It's hard to disagree with him.

Bad timing all around.

As usual, A&O&B is currently looking for experienced people for a number of our client stations, so many other radio companies are expanding and hiring. 

Those folks are going to have a lot more people to choose from than they would have expected at this time of year, but - knowing that there are far fewer opportunities than there are newly-employed - it's hard to call it a good time right now for anybody involved.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Words Matter

Gail Mitchell's enlightening Q&A with Billboard Magazine's "Woman Of The Year," Katy Perry contains some great advice for radio personalities, song writers, we communicators of all kinds.

For example, what's the most essential element in creating a hit?
"Come from an honest place and connect with the truth.  (Speak in) color.  I love idioms and old sayings, puns and humor. I love language. I'm one of those people who is really interested in the definition of a word and its synonyms. Every day I'm asking everybody I'm hanging out with what something means and what it means to them. Even if it's a word I've heard over and over. I'm a hoarder of words. I have a little recorder that I put everything on and have it transcribed by someone I trust because it can get very interesting on that recorder. I have lists of titles, whatever I'm feeling.  There is kind of a math and science about a perfect pop song. But I would prefer doing math, science-and heart. Lyrics can end up on T-shirts, on the inside of wedding rings. They're important. Anyone who says beats are more important obviously doesn't have a heart. They are tin men [laughs].  I feel there's a stripped-down, 1970s vibe that's coming. How many more songs can we hear that sound like a monster truck rally? I enjoy some of it, but radio is starting to sound a bit the same. Like I'm excited for "Begin Again" by Taylor Swift. That's my song right now. It's so genius, so perfect. I feel there's going to be a bit more heart, hopefully. I don't mind the dubstep stuff but there's no emotional connection. I just want to actually hear a song that has no "swell" even for just one minute. Can you imagine?

Thanks to Gail and Katy for a terrific air personality and station imaging coaching session in one paragraph.

The people who make the best of the music we play are extremely conscious of the words they choose.

Are those of us who talk between those songs as aware that every single word matters?

Is anything you said today likely to end up on a t-shirt?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Radio Success Is Easy Compared To Social Media

ARB's Jacquelyn Bullerman on Social Media at Arbitron Client Conference:

Success is easy to measure.  Audience growth.

Figure out what's broken and fix it.

In social, it's not that easy.  No goal can mean random acts of digital.  There is no "experienced social media expert."  Everyone is learning.

Strategy = why are we posting?

Are connections and relationships developing as you post?

Success is the pieces becoming a "whole."

Data is not a report card on your actions.  It's a compass on what's valued by your community.

President Obama hugging Michele, biggest on social was use of social media at it's finest - Data + Content + Goal.

Look beyond Facebook insights categories go look at what types of pictures or videos you posted or status the type of pic matters

New hires aren't groomed in overnights anymore. Most radio hiring is in digital department.

If your content isn't strong, it won't matter.

A great spoken word pitch that sounds like a live read must be reframed to take advantage of the internet.  Trim "keep listening for your chance to call to call in an win" BS.

Repackage content provider syndicated content to create engagement and insert yourself into that content.  You're not an RSS feed.  You want a personal relationship with your listener via your social media which drives broadcast radio, streaming or your website usage.

Figure out a way to be smoother than just always doing ads in social tactics.

Post in a way that says I care about you.  Share this with everyone you know, because I care about your community.

Invest money in your goals.  Too few radio companies are doing this.

What Share Will Move You Up To The Next Tenth Of A Rating Point?

ROI Media's Mark O'Neill at Arbitron Client Conference in Annapolis:

How much is a tenth of a rating point worth?

Track "Persons Using Measured Media" (PUMM) vs Your Audience Flow

Example:  clean up a station's 11:45 quarter hour by eliminating a stop set and moving those units into other breaks resulted in rating point growth from a .5 to a .6.  Just doing this at a time when total radio audience (cume) is going up, got the station up to a .8 after several months of having done this.

Example #2:  5:15 pm.  Took commercials out of the 5:15 break and doubled the units in the 5:45 break.  Stopped only once that hour and within two months that quarter hour had almost doubled and the long stopset at 5:45 took down the rest of the daypart.  However, since the market's PUMM was also going down at that time as opposed to earlier in the 5 pm hour, they went from a .3 to a .6 in the daypart with just that one stopset change.

A little inside baseball from JA:  A&O&B "Post-survey Box Scores" reports routinely contain this info for both all our PPM and diary markets for this reason.  Clean out the highest/growing market audience quarter hours and place clutter into quarter hours with dwindling market audience to improve the entire daypart.
The goal:  even out the station's audience flow quarter hour by quarter hour and avoid extreme "up" and "down" quarter hours.

Revenue goes down almost immediately when PPM rating points drop, but can often take several months for the revenue to catch up with audience increases. 

Lesson:  it's worth money to do what it takes to stabilize and grow rating points. Look for opportunities within your cluster where a nominal increase in AQH would yield a move up to the next tenth of a  rating point to optimize rating point-driven revenue.  That's when the programmer and sales are on the same page.

Urban PD panel (Skip Dillard, WBLS; Jason Kidd, WPGC and Jay Stevens, Radio One) Music Insights:

More from today's Arbitron Client Conference in Annapolis:
  • PPM = less "favors" for record promotion people.  There is no margin for error now.
  • Songs last much longer than 12 weeks and off
  • Fewer titles manage to cut through
  • Some titles hold up and grow even with 2,000+ spins on them
  • MScore, callout and online testing's larger samples can be apples and oranges.  As a result, sometimes MScore can offer opportunity for new things, but can also doom a song much more quickly than online testing methodology

PPM Five Years Later... What We've Learned

At the Arbitron Client Conference in Annapolis:

Doc Wynter, Urban Format Captain, Clear Channel:

Diary had us believing that they spent a lot of time with just us.  PPM provided a wake up call.  Now, we know they have been "unfaithful." 

We have to earn and deserve their time with us.

Today's audience is a lot different than when we were growing up and we need to not just understand them, but be compelling and interesting enough to engage them, involve them.  Talent's natural tendency is to use what they learned as a point of reference.  That methodolgy and content are often dated.  PPM underscores that listeners only use what's relevant to them, not relevant to you.

Due to emerging technology it has been much more difficult to get a message across than in the past.  Competition for attention is greater than ever.

Time spent per occasion, we now know, is 8-10 minutes.  Remember when we used to believe that they listened for 8-10 hours a week?

Experiment.  Challenge the established rules.  Maybe it's five powers an hour, not four.  Measure the effects of the changes.  Be strategic when you experiment.

If you get positive ratings results, know how your got there.

Bill Rose, VP/Arbitron:

Diaries:  you need to cut through perceptually and ultimate translate that changed perception into ratings.  It would take months and months.

Now, with PPM:  it's still driven by perception, the bigger picture.  What motivates them t tune in.  You have to win "the off" before you win "the on."

What cuts through?  "Positioning The Battle For Your Mind" and "22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing."  Two must have books, from Ries and Trout.

You must know:

What is your station known for?  Can listeners identify that?
Does the station have a leadership position in that category?
Do listeners know who the station is for?

Position = what your station is known for.  (75% of your ratings)
Execution = the sum of the little things does right (25% of your share)

Be 60% of "something."  FOCUS.  Don't become too narrow focused unless your sure that the "hole" is large enough to drive the cume you need.

Weekly reports have the same sample size as monthlies, so change comes FAST.  Just like reality.

And, just like with reality, you need to be prepared to react equally quickly.

Make a mistake in one week in diaries, it's 1/12th of the survey.  Every minute counts in PPM.  The good stuff shows us.  So does the bad stuff.  And, either way, it will show up in the ratings right away.

Balance selectivity vs stationality.  That's what programming judgement is about today.

When PPM first started, midday was the highest-rated daypart.  Now, five years later, it's afternoon drive.  Peaks at 7-8 am and 3-5 in the afternoon.

PPM rating generators:  61% of full time working (down from 69% five years ago)

P-1 listeners are still crucial:  42% of daily cume generates 59% of the AQH in PPM for the  country format.

PPM secret from the Urban PD's panel, which followed Doc and Bill's presentations:  "today, it's all about 'now and next,' what's happening now and what's going to happen next."

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

More On Radio's Strengths Vs Pandora's Weaknesses

Jeff Vidler's Vision Critical research on Pandora users' use of and opinions about broadcast radio should serve as a wake up call for broadcast audio (the service formerly known as "radio").

Michael O'Malley highlighted with a red circle yesterday what we need to do in order to keep things that way.

 And, they expect us to do those same things on every digital platform.

Business cycles teach lessons, and what we're going through right now isn't new.

The courageous invest to gain market share when others are cutting back.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Working On The Relationship

It's almost like I went to lunch with a mutual friend of my soul mate and it slipped out that behind my back "everyone" is talking about how boring and predictable day to day life with me has become!

Michael O'Malley's take (the red circle is where we need to be vs where we are now) on Jeff Vidler's Vision Critical research on Pandora users' use of and opinions about broadcast radio, highlighting the need to move farther away from "getting tired of it after awhile" and "boring" toward "for people like me," "puts me in a good mood," and "interesting" reminded me of all the articles over the years in Redbook Magazine with lists (and lists and lists and lists!) of things couples can do to make their relationship stronger.

The shortest of them - five tips - is a good start for any radio broadcast personality to practice.

Daily Habit #1: Talk to Each Other

The word "broadcast" and the fact that we're a "mass" medium makes it easy to feel like you're doing the job when you're talking.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Are you listening too?  Can other listeners tell that you are?  This starts, of course, with social media, but it has to also include txting and even tightly-edited phoners.

Daily Habit #2: Flirt

No, don't try to pick up the opposite sex in your interactions.  Just ask anyone who's done that.  Sometimes it does work out, but more often than not it can turn ugly. 

Audio "flirting" can be fun, however, as long as it's done in front of the entire audience and they know that they are welcome to flirt back too.  Smile, tease, share relatable stories, Act interested in the target listener.  Constantly, let them know you care.

Daily Habit #3: Get Stupid Together

Be silly.  Laugh. 

Poke fun at yourself and invite listeners to poke fun at themselves as well.

Daily Habit #4: Declare Your Independence

Don't be like everyone else. 

Don't use the same words that every other voice on the radio also does.

Be yourself by sharing - not opinions that might polarize listeners against you or each other - but your point of view, perspective in a way that lets the listener know you want to learn what theirs is too.

Daily Habit #5: Share a Spiritual Moment

Religion and politics, yes, should be off limits for most of us.  If you want to go there, you need to have earned incredible levels of trust and that starts by deeply understanding all of the beliefs and priorities of the folks who listen to you.

Instead, look for common threads that overlap with yours and start there.  Raise money and awareness for the Red Cross, St. Jude, Children's Miracle Network, World Vision.   Even better, find something you personally feel committed to and work to get your listener involved.

Make a difference by making listeners FEEL what you stand for.

Finally, once you've done those five and incorporated them into your daily content, it's time to go back to all of those Redbook articles in their archive and work through another list.

Sustaining a relationship requires a daily commitment to keeping things fresh and new, every break, every day.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Little Or Big?

Yeah, it's not a huge thing, but you have to hand it to Astral-Pembroke, Ontario's Star 96 for finding a clever way to push Movember without saying a single word.

If you can't immediately see what I am talking about, click on one of the graphics to enlarge it (or on the station link, above).

Sometimes doing something really viral requires subtlety.

Creating great radio isn't about doing one or two big things.

It's about getting a thousand little things right.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Everyone Knows Wendy Lynn's Goals

They are posted on the PD of Townsquare Media-owned WYRK's office door.

No wonder the station's ratings have hit all-time highs in 2012.

How close to having 8% of your metro's total population, 33% of your total persons weekly cume, do you have in your database?

Maybe it's time for a poster on your door too?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Arbitron Country Radio 2012, State By State

If you have media buyer clients who believe that country music on radio is a Southern Redneck thing, you're going to want to share Radio Today 2012 with them when the updated annual report is released in early December.

Thanks to Arbitron, A&O&B has been blogging the country format's latest stats over the past few days.
When ranked by state, country radio really shines in six places and they aren't all southern by any means, but having locals of rural areas does seem to help an area index better than the national average average quarter hour persons share of 14.1.

South Dakota has 24 country radio stations which deliver an average share per station of 37%, an index of 262.96!

The other states which deliver DOUBLE the average persons quarter hour share are Montana (36 stations, delivering an average share of 35.87), West Virginia (32 stations' average share per station is 33.81), Wyoming (an average of 32.24% of all average quarter hour persons listening for the state's 29 country stations).

Kentucky has the largest number of country stations (70) of all the states which produce twice the share of the average.  The average country station in the Bluegrass State has a 31.49% of all average quarter hour persons listening to radio.

Election 2012 battleground state Vermont's nine country stations index 198.87 when compared to the national country average share with their 27.84% of the Green Mountain State radio audience.

26 more states can brag that their average country radion station delivers a higher than the typical share on a national basis (and again you'll recognize a number of hotly contested states in election years):

Missouri - 73 stations' average share of 24.43
Oklahoma - 46 - 24.32
Kansas - 39 - 23.52
Nebraska - 42 - 23.48
Iowa - 41 - 23.13
North Dakota - 23 - 22.84
Tennessee - 72 - 22.55
Arkansas - 50 - 22.33
Indiana - 49 - 21.37
New Hampshire - 9 - 20.82
Idaho - 25 - 20.05
Maine - 9 - 19.06
Alabama - 47 - 18.4
South Carolina - 31 - 18.16
Minnesota - 64 - 18.0
Wisconsin - 50 - 17.89
Virginia - 45 - 17.76
North Carolina - 40 - 16.88
Mississippi - 29 - 16.88
New Mexico - 34 - 16.41
Ohio - 48 - 16.28
Michigan - 51 - 15.67
Maryland - 14 - 15.13
Louisiana - 37 - 14.86
Oregon - 28 - 14.66
Alaska - 10 - 14.05 (index of 99.89)

States which the average country station only falls 10% below the national norm:  Texas (13.78), Utah (13.65), Pennsylvania (13.19), Georgia (12.78) and Arizona (12.59)

Finally, the state-by-state averages also prove that all statistics can be deceptive.

Rhode Island is listed as a state with no country stations and so in the Radio Today report gets a "0" next to the state's AQHP.

Tell that to The Hall Group's Cat Country, WCTK!

In spite of their downtown Providence studio location, their city of license is across the state line in the historic whaling town of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

So, for the purpose of the national analysis, that's the state getting credit for their listeners.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Listening and Lifestyle Profiles of American Radio Consumers

Radio reaches people wherever they are: at home, at work, in the car— nearly everywhere.

Regardless of one’s age, the time of day or the listening location, Americans depend on radio as a reliable media companion for entertainment, news, information, community service and, increasingly, social networking.

Radio has always been and continues to be a vibrant and relevant part of our lives.
              -- Arbitron, Radio Today 2011

That's why smart management, sales and programming executives are anxiously-awaiting the 2012 update, due in early December.

An in-depth snapshot of radio listening nationwide and by individual formats, Radio Today 2012 combines Scarborough qualitative data with Arbitron audience data to develop a comprehensive profile of radio listening across America. It also examines the listening activity for the most popular radio formats representing the Fall 2011 Diary and October-November-December 2011 PPM™survey periods, often in comparison with Fall 2010 and earlier years.  Features include each format’s weekly reach (Cume); national average-quarter-hour share overall in PPM™, Diary and non-Metro counties; segmentation of audience composition by age; time spent listening (TSL); educational levels; income by household; gender balance; ratings by daypart and state by state; ethnic composition in Differential Survey Treatment (DST) markets and listening by location (at home vs. out of home).

For the last few days, I've been blogging some of the stats for the country format which will appear in the new report.

More advance factoids about Country Radio Today:  1.152,900 of country's national cume of 3,480,100 (33.1%) listens at home and 66.9% (2,327,600) listens away from home.

Country's strongest average quarter hour persons daypart in the latest update of the report is Mon-Fri, 10:00 am-3:00 pm, delivering a 14.6% share of total average quarter hour persons for all formats.  Weekday morning drive (6:00 am-10:00 am) delivered a 14.4% share.  Weekday afternoons (3:00 pm-7:00 pm) deliver a 13.9% share, weekday evenings have a 12.0% share 12+, while weekends perform at 100% of the total week share with a 14.1%.

Country's national average 12+ total week cume audience (24,719,000) by daypart, followed by that daypart's format daypart average index compared to the Mon-Sun, 6am-Mid number:

MF 6-10 am:           33,196,100 - 137.72
MF 10-3 pm:           34,074,100 - 142.78
MF 3-7 pm:             31,485,100 - 125.5
MF 7-Mid:              11,373,700 - 39.3
Sat-Sun 6am-Mid:  19,021,600 - 77.33

Which states are best/worst for the country format?  That's coming in my next post, with thanks to Arbitron.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Country's National Audience Composition

Average Quarter Hour Persons %  Cume Persons %

12-17  5.1%                                    5.8%
18-24  11.6%                                  10.2%
25-34  15.0%                                  15.5%
35-44  15.6%                                  17.2%
45-54  19.9%                                  20.3%
55-64  15.7%                                  15.6%
65+     17.1%                                  15.5%

These averages are based on 1,857 country stations measured in 2011 by ARB.

Note that 18-24 is the most time spent listening-driven demo, since cume percentages are higher than AQH in all other cells.

Arbitron's 2012 edition of the "Radio Today" annual format updates will be out the first week of December.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Country Radio Today - 2012

Arbitron's much-anticipated 2012 edition of the "Radio Today" annual format updates will be out the first week of December.

As usual since 2008, the stats will reflect annual format averages through the preceding years' fall book.  Up to 2007, the report used shares ending with the spring survey. 

It should come as no surprise that the country format is UP:

Combined country shares (both "country" and "new country" stations added together) have shown impressive consistency over the last decade:

ARB reports that country's weekly cume of the 1,857 measured stations in the last year is 66,025,700 with an average quarter hour persons of 3,479,000.

The average share trend is positive and consistent over the last ten years.

Sp02 (2003 Radio Today):  13.4
Sp03 (2004 Radio Today):  13.4
Sp04 (2005 Radio Today):  12.4
Sp05 (2006 Radio Today):  12.9
Sp06 (2007 Radio Today):  13.0
Sp 07 (2008 Radio Today):  13.1
Fa08 (2009 Radio Today):  12.9
Fa09 (2010 Radio Today):  13.4
Fa10 (2011 Radio Today):  13.1
Fa11 (2012 Radio Today):  14.1

Country's national share in the new report will be 7.4 in the PPM markets, up from a 6.4 and a 7.1 in the previous two years, 15.3 in diary markets (up from 14.1 and 14.5) and 26.2 in unrated (county-by-county reports) markets, which were not tracked prior to 2011 but are also up from a 25.6 last year.

The gender makeup of that 3.5 million average quarter hour persons:  47.4% men 12+ and 52.6% females 12+.

I'll have more details in the next two days on audience composition, daypart, shares by state, qualitative, ethnic and TSL.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Just as there myriad stories for every light on Broadway, there are more than a million ways radio came through during Hurricane Sandy.

PPM seems to have delivered while Nielsen meters didn't.

Media coverage reinforced radio's importance:
During the arrival and immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last month, those with power looked to television, the Web and social media for information. But large numbers of people, particularly those in the hardest-hit areas, also turned to the radio.

Arbitron, the radio ratings service, will report on Monday that from 7 p.m. to midnight on Oct. 29, when the storm made landfall in New Jersey, an average of just more than a million people in the broader New York region were listening to the radio during any 15-minute period. That is up 70 percent from the same period the week before. (Besides the five boroughs of New York City, the metropolitan market includes five counties in New York, nine in New Jersey and part of one in Connecticut.)

The audience skyrocketed in coastal areas. Stamford and Norwalk, Conn., had a 367 percent increase during that period; in New Jersey, that figure was up 247 percent in Monmouth County, and up 195 percent in Middlesex, Somerset and Union counties. These numbers increased even though some stations, like WNYC and WINS, lost their AM frequencies yet continued to broadcast on FM.

Arbitron's researchers added to the powerful, positive recap with more hard data:
"We know that radio consistently reaches 93% of all people aged 6+, but the storm-driven shift in listening only reinforces how well established our medium is in listeners’ minds. The data shows that listeners of all ages turn to radio when they need the latest information about their communities. When people living in the path of Sandy needed updates, they kept the radio on by tuning to their trusted sources, no matter what the format." - Jon Miller, Director of Programming Services at Arbitron

It was an unprecedented event for an area of the country that is home to a sixth of America’s population, but the fact that once again radio was there for so many people is not unprecedented at all.

We're all getting busy right now to assist with the next emergency, where ever and what ever it may be.

It's what we do.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Entertainment News Is Still News

That means that there's no point in doing the story if you aren't sure it's correct.

Telling me something I didn't know achieves nothing if later I find out that what you told me was wrong.  News is about information, but it's also about building (or destroying) trust.

A&O&B prep producer Dan Van notes:   
"I think Miranda Lambert is country music's most sensationalized artist.  She is always pregnant (on blogs and tabloid sites). While at the CMA Awards I took a call from a station saying they heard she was drunk backstage.  CRAZY!"

The latest pregnancy story is just an example why each and every radio station should have a Content Producer (or somebody) to do some fact checking before reporting or posting. 

Dan adds:  "The same site also keeps reporting that she and Blake will be in Los Angeles for Thanksgiving but she told me at the CMA Awards that they are heading home for (4) days at Thanksgiving.  Right after Tuesday's show no doubt."   (Take A Listen To The Audio)

That story ran for the Albright & O'Malley & Brenner clients on the Wednesday (11/14) prep (with her saying it in her own words). 

Fact checking paid off in that case when Dan asked her if she was flying in the in-laws to LA for Thanksgiving. 

Blogs and social sites need to have facts checked before posting, especially on such personal matters like a pregnancy.

Your credibility is at stake.  These days, radio can't be as "fast" as gossip spread socially.

Let's work harder than ever to become known as the one that doesn't report until we know it's RIGHT.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hot: Giving Thanks; Going Shopping

Thanksgiving tops Big Research's list of what’s hot in November, consumers are increasingly optimistic and planning to partake in Black Friday shopping.

Cyber Monday doesn’t follow too far behind.  (click to read the 10 characteristics of layaway shoppers)

It appears that the vampires of Breaking Dawn, Part II may be taking a bite out of Bond’s new Skyfall at the box office.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Obama Voters Eat At Red Lobster; Romney's At Olive Garden

With election 2012 now history and Nate Silver looking like a stat genius, details are coming out about the hyper-targeting and database marketing employed by both candidates.

Click, read and learn:
  • "Each campaign has literally thousands of data points on you. They know what magazines you subscribe to. They know if you've ever declared bankruptcy or gone into foreclosure. They know how many kids you have. They know if you ever bought a boat, what type of insurance you own, where you send your kids to school.  Thousands and thousands of data points they collect, to try and create an image of you. And at the center of that is the same question, how can I push your button to vote for my guy or gal?"      - How campaigns target voters
  • "Today, many people who have expert knowledge and shape perceptions about markets are freely exchanging data and viewpoints through social platforms. By identifying and engaging these players, employing potent Web-focused analytics to draw strategic meaning from social-media data, and channeling this information to people within the organization who need and want it, companies can develop a “social intelligence” that is forward looking, global in scope, and capable of playing out in real time."  - By offering decision makers rich real-time data, social media is giving some companies fresh strategic insight
  • “Future campaigns ignore the targeting strategy of the Obama campaign of 2012 at their peril,” said Ken Goldstein, the president of Kantar Media/CMAG, a media monitoring firm that tracked and analyzed political advertising for both campaigns. “This was an unprecedented marrying of detailed information on viewing habits and political predispositions." 
How much do you know, in as specific detail as possible, about the tribes which inhabit your community?

No matter how much, it's not enough!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shhhh... I'm Not Prepping My Show, I'm Writing My Blog

I spent time with a dominant major market morning show team last week who told me that something major has changed in the last five years for them.

It used to be that they all conversed when they first hit the station early in the pre-dawn hours, sharing "what are your 'five talkabouts?', here are mine" and refining the big event content together.

Now, they say, you can hear a pin drop for the first half hour as they all create their blog posts.

Then, instead of talking together, they all read one another's blog and then think about ways to engage with listeners and each other about them.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  

Once upon a time, I'd recommend that every air talent carry a notebook with them throughout their day and then refine that content into "bits" for use during the four hours they were on air.

Now, that notebook is Twitter and your listeners don't want to wait 20 hours to hear what's happening in your life.

You personal brand has a unique "voice." 

Technology is opening up new ways to express it. 

It's as important as ever, in spite of the many new channels now open in addition to the microphone in the control room.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Yes, I Know This Was In Every Trade Already

.. but it bears repeating over and over:

"Although AM/FM radio remains America’s favorite music-listening choice, the basket of Internet radio and streaming services that are available today have, on the whole, replaced CDs for second place."

NPD’s newly released “Music Acquisition Monitor” tracks growing use of Pandora and other music services, as listening to CDs and digital music downloads declines, putting pressure on traditional forms of music listening.

Sure, we can all gather together at radio and sing kumbaya, deluding ourselves with the mentality that nothing seismic is happening, and maybe if you only have a year or two to retirement that will work for you.

For the rest of us, the rules are changing and just being local and playing good music are not going to cut it.  It's time to train all of our personalities and news readers to become entertainers.  And, if they can't do it every hour, every day, it's time for managers to look for their replacements.

There's a reason why we have been preaching the following for 15 years, at least.

The A&O&B client stations which have implemented this plan are doing very, very well with these and our other "values based programming" principles guiding strategy. 

If you have any doubts about your station, ask us to do a programming audit for you.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Coming Up, More Content Right After This

.. but, first, (with more than a little bit of pride) this commercial message, coming in not too very long to media near you:

No, don't go to "" quite yet. 

We're still brainstorming how the heck to avoid email addresses even longer than the ones we have now and it's still a work in progress.

I just couldn't wait to share where A&O&B is going in the coming year. 

Maybe our new position statement should be "more ampersands than any other consulting company?"

Whatever the "issues," they are worth it to be sure that Becky Brenner's great work for all our clients, Mike and me in 2012 is fully recognized right now!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Excuse Me, Sir, But Do You Have Any Good-Ass Imaging?

One of the most venerable of Dallas production houses that has become famous for quality imaging parts and music is advertising a fresh series they just released.

First impression of the campaign:  obviously, this stuff's only for a self-important sports talk or old style rock station, not for a contemporary or female-targeted station, especially not country.

Then, I hit the Urban Dictionary to find out what the term really meant.
First rule of being a badass. A badass does not talk about being a badass. Period.

Maybe it is possible to be a country leader and still be a bad-ass after all, but please before ordering a package of imaging from anybody, read all seven of the unspoken rules of being a bad ass and take them to heart.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

If Arbitron Conducted The U.S. Elections..

No more "nail-biter in 3 key counties," with each county now represented by one very large household in one zip code of each county.

No need for vote-by-mail ballots.  PPM-friendly households only. 

No need for get out the vote among highest passion voters.  Votes credited according to highest cume radio station.

No need to worry about targeting the youth or ethnic vote.  Sample management weighs up the small number of cooperative respondents by a factor of as much as two, to represent "non-voters."

Ethnic households, especially those who do not speak English, get special treatment and are paid extra for their participation compared to other and non-ethnic voters.

Strong passion for one candidate or another no longer matters, since the electorate no longer has to do anything other than pop a meter in their pocket or purse in order to be counted.

No need for candidates to court the female vote.  They don't matter as much in the end result as males do.

No more recounts.  Arbitron's decisions are final and statistically correct.

And, don't worry, if any campaign or party has a complaint about the methods or results, they get invited to join the advisory council, where concerns are discussed and aired but at the end of the day nothing is done because the solutions cost too much money.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Why'd You Have To Be So Mean (Again)?

I stopped paying attention to Bob Lefsetz long before Wired's Brian Raftery wrote last February that Lefsetz's music business career "legend" exists by and large only in his own mind.

The fact that he got into Taylor Swift's head three years ago to the point that she penned a song about him no doubt made the critical bully feel stronger and more powerful.

So, of course, now he's at it again, inferring that she somehow has "jumped the playing to everybody has she undermined her core country audience..."

Taylor Swift can work until she dies. She’s had that many hits.
But somehow, with the overhype and move to the middle, she’s torn away some of her underpinnings, she’s become unmoored, we’re no longer exactly sure who she is.  And if we don’t know who you are, it’s hard to stay in love with you.  The little girls may scream, ticket sales may be rampant. But if you don’t see it my way, if you don’t think her career now has more questions than answers, you’re not thinking at all.

 I see it very quite differently.

From Hank Sr., to Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and his brass section, Glen Campbell, The Urban Cowboy fad and its music, to Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Garth, Faith, Shania and may other crossover successes spawned over the years with country roots, they have all been in one way or another been rejected by the country music core audience as their stars ascended.

Yet, all of these artists brought far more fans to country music than the format has ever lost because of their innovations to our art form.

So, Taylor, please don't let the critics get to you.  Be Fearless.

Sure, this year's CMA Awards, as they always do, has moved on to spotlight the very latest, equally-deserving, hot, new artists in our fickle, fast-moving industry, which it seems has somehow gotten the attention again of Lefsetz, who wrote "not only did Taylor get shut out, going 0 for 3, they made jokes about her love life from the stage..."

Cherish those six Grammy Awards, ten American Music Awards, seven Country Music Association Awards, six Academy of Country Music Awards and thirteen BMI Awards along recognition from the Nashville Songwriters Association and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

There will be many more, Taylor.

Richly deserved awards, country music hits for you and jerks like Bob.