Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Take The Gift And Make The Most Of It

CMA used the annual gathering of radio representatives from across the country known as CRS last week to announce that the organization is awarding complimentary organizational and two individual memberships to every Country Music radio station in the United States for one year. The free radio memberships are a cornerstone of CMA’s “Year of Country Radio” campaign, said CMA Chief Executive Officer Steve Moore.

“Country radio stations and broadcast professionals do an outstanding job of broadening the scope of Country Music and presenting artists to their listeners,” said Moore. “Country radio is on the front line of the format expanding the careers of established artists; creating and developing awareness of new talent; and delivering music directly to the fans that support our business.”

Obviously the strength and vitality of Country radio has a direct influence on the industry. And CMA values the significant impact of these radio professionals and honors their talent and creativity each year with the presentation of the CMA Broadcast Personality and Station of the Year Awards as part of the annual CMA Awards, which is recognized as Country Music’s Biggest Night(tm).

In 2012, CMA has prioritized its support of this important constituent group with the “Year of Country Radio.” In addition to complimentary membership for 2,033 Country radio stations, member stations will have access to more CMA research, online content, promotional opportunities, and other services than ever before.

“We are going to examine each of our touchstones with radio and approach everything we do with an eye toward being inclusive of all stations,” said Brandi Simms, Senior Manager of Membership and Balloting.

CMA will send membership kits to stations this week with information about the tools and resources available including medical insurance, telecommunications discounts, research, and the ability to vote for the annual CMA Awards. In addition to an organizational membership for each station (valued at $200 each), the program director and general manager at each station will be provided a complimentary individual memberships (valued at $100 each). Any current CMA radio member will be given an additional year of membership in the organization.

“Country radio professionals are among our best ambassadors and it is important for CMA to recognize their outstanding contributions to the Country Music format and make the vast resources of CMA available to support their efforts,” Moore said.

“Enabling every Country station in the U.S. to be a member of the organization provides CMA the opportunity to gain valuable insights from this important constituency group that we can use to better our services to them and support the growth of the format,” added CMA Vice President of Marketing Tammy Donham. “Everything we do is about promoting the genre worldwide and we want to work collaboratively with our friends at Country radio to extend not only the reach of CMA events, but to develop the fan base for the benefit of all.”

The ACM did a similar thing several years ago and it was distressing to see how few stations took advantage of it.

These organizations are country music's Chamber Of Commerce and I can't imagine no matter how busy we all are that anyone serious about advancing in country music and radio that the great work they both do isn't self-evident.

Get involved. This is your free, one year opportunity to take advantage of getting an inside view of all that CMA does.

Thank you, CMA for doing something "huge" to let radio know how important broadcasting is to you. I hope radio responds in an equally BIG way!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Three Very Smart CRS Quotes To Save

"We don't call it social media, we call it 'the audience.'" - Dermot McCormack Executive Vice President, Digital Media, MTV Networks Music & Logo Group

"If it sells (Jaye adds: and you know it's selling to potential P-1's of your station!), it's a hit. If it researches (JA: with your target listeners!), it's a hit. If it does both, it's a huge hit. If it doesn't do either one, stop clogging up the system with it." - Tom Baldrica, President, Average Joes Entertainment

Let's face it: just because you're doing 14 different jobs doesn't mean you're multi-tasking. Successful multi-tasking means prioritizing and only doing what hits your goal.

1. Use the same authentic, real voice you'd use when you talk to a friend when you post and comment in all social media.

2. Stop propping up songs on your playlist that aren't selling and are not researching with your listeners.

Finally, I can't add a single thing to new Universal Music Group CEO Mike Dungan's CRS week quote in his Tennessean interview: "I think the best radio comes from someone who understands you, the listener, a fun and entertaining neighbor who is always there, bringing you the cool stuff. There are some radio stations out there that are masters of that. Then there are others that resonate just like corporate wallpaper."

The next ratings month is just around the corner. Give your listener nothing but your very best.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Edison Research's Larry Rosin does it again. It seems like roughly every few years he has a way of visiting the Country Radio Seminar with data which changes everything. Will today's revelations do it again?
Beyond Country's P1s - Edison Research Presentation for CRS 2012
Only yesterday, A&O's Country Roadmap 2012 - a survey of country radio station social network and email database members reported on the other side of the coin, folks who on average listen to country radio two hours a day and are extremely satisfied with their favorite country station, though also complain about too much repetition and commercials in very high numbers.

Which study is correct?


No one said your job was going to be easy when you got into country music radio.

Which is more productive for you?

Focusing on the core? Leaning toward the interested, but unengaged outsiders?

Getting that balance right is what will separate winners from losers in 2012.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Every decade or so, as generations shift, new programmers come to country radio from contemporary formats.

That's how I got into country four decades ago, and I'd bet it's how you came to the format as well.

And, as usual, country has a way of growing on the newcomers, ingraining itself into their sensibilities just as they help to add contemporary flair, ideas, approaches and style to keep country growing with the young end of our target.

Recently I was surprised to hear one of the former-CHR programmers who is now doing country say that he now feels that the process of music decision-making is the "most political" of all radio formats.

If true, that's too bad, because until the early-1990's when the country boom took country music revenues to heights never seen previously and then after consolidation Jacor's Randy Michaels tried to work through Tri-State Promotions as they acquired more and more stations, opening the door for Jeff McCluskey, who in 1999 paid Cumulus a reported $1 million to influence the growing groups' music programmers, independent promotion in country music radio meant folks who only attempted to build relationships with music directors and sell music to them with creative ideas and seldom any financial incentives.

If things are more political now, I'd call Clear Channel's Doug Montgomery and Clay Hunnicutt the "Mitt Romney" of our business with their position of incumbency grown over the past two decades since those initiatives, which brought other aggressive promotional indies from contemporary and rock formats to country radio and Cumulus' Jan Jeffries and Mike McVay the Rick Santorum of the competition between radio's largest conglomerates as they strive to trim playlists, pay down debt and yet send a message to the music community that they remain open to doing business with them.

CBS' Jeff Garrison may be the Barack Obama of the threesome, working to grow artist relations for the company (which once owned 18 country stations in the top 20 markets and had higher cume for their country stations than anyone before they sold off a few of them several years ago, hoping the economy treats them better in '12 than it has in '10 and '11) has to be feeling the pressure of those other two breathing down his neck in the race for promotions ownership, as Nashville labels, managers, indies and publishers start to feel increasingly like influential think tanks, lobbysts and SuperPACs as they attempt to mold coalitions with everyone, trying to seem friendly with all, even as their revenues slide precipitously.

For them, the stakes are even higher than ever, since listener research continues to show, for example in A&O's 2012 Roadmap country perceptual study, despite attempts at new media marketing direct to music consumers, that terrestrial radio exposure remains the most effective mass sales driver of music sales.

Other group owners let alone stand-alone mom and pop stations in medium and small markets must feel a bit like Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, with their passionate and loyal fans, hoping that's enough to "win the popular vote" so even if they can't possibly "win in the Electoral College" due to the tools available to the big guys, they can at least get a piece of the pie during "a brokered convention" when - at the very least - a new album is released or a concert comes to town.

Call me naive, but in spite of all that level of perceived politics in our business today I, along with those small guys, hold onto the belief that a great song, a true artist, a pair of ears and a responsive audience who still responds to an undeniable hit can still make an unknown into a superstar starting at any radio station in any size market.

Hopefully, the music promotion community won't forget that, and will continue to support little guys too as we all work together to create excitement for country music.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

36% Of 25-54 Country Radio Listeners Live In Cell Phone Only Homes

Top line findings from Albright & O'Malley's 7th Annual "Roadmap 2012" country format perceptual will be presented Tuesday, February 21, at our annual client seminar, but just one stat from the huge sample from 94 country stations (28% of them from all across Canada and 72% listeners to A&O's American country client stations) points to why in spite of their very positive financial results, reported yesterday, Arbitron (and Canada's BBM too) is having less positive results when it comes to delivering a consistent, quality sample.

The 25-54 composition of the 2012 A&O country format P-1 study is 27% 25-34, 31% 35-44 and 42% 45-54.

This year's country 25-54 CPO percentage is actually down slightly from last year's figure, which was 40%.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Maybe Facebook Is Dead

Can you think of any company more out of touch with their consumer than a credit bureau?

Yet here is their SM attempt. I "heart" Trans-Union?

If you're not in Social Media marketing with both feet by now, I'd call that proof that everyone else in the world but you is.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A&O "Hearts" Country Aircheck On Valentine's Day

We loved CA reporter Jeff Green's article today, "A&O Seminar: Rules Of Engagement."

Everybody in Country radio is doing social media these days, but how much does it really matter whether a station and its personalities are actively involved with Facebook and Twitter? Evidently, a great deal. Findings will be unveiled by DMRInteractive COO Andrew Curran as part of a new Arbitron/DMR report, one of the many sessions of Albright & O’Malley’s Pre-CRS Client Seminar Feb. 21 in Nashville.

“If we look at the high-performing stations, they will have a larger percentage of their cume in Facebook than the average station,” A&O’s Jaye Albright says. “Andrew will point out how they’ve done several campaigns to increase the level of engagement on social networking, and it’s had a payoff in cume growth because it’s so viral. The truth is that we’ve just scratched the surface of what we can do to grow our cume and our usage and engagement using social media.”

A digital report card for the 72 leading Country stations in the top 50 markets is among the new presentations to be delivered during the event, which is free to anyone in markets non-competitive to A&O clients. The aim is a scientific approach to addressing criticisms leveled by CRS 2011 keynoter Shelly Palmer that most radio websites “suck.”

A&O partner Becky Brenner explains, “I examined each station’s overall web appearance and functionality, listener rewards program, email database, texting activity, presence on Facebook and Twitter, and what they do with new music on their web pages.” While promising some “surprising” insights, Brenner says, “I was thrilled to see that all 72 stations are active on Facebook. Their total reach is almost 1 million listeners. That’s a good number considering that most of these stations have only been active on Facebook within the last two years.”

Also new this year will be a team from BDS to present case studies and insights on differentiating your station musically, while industry executive and Vanderbilt adjunct professor Tim DuBois will share his ideas on branding and separating station product beyond music. WQHK/Ft. Wayne, IN executives will furnish specifics on listener-driven, revenue-generating new media promotions that can be deployed immediately. Also, talent coaches Randy Lane and Cliff Dumas will discuss training tools and techniques on developing “authentic storylines behind your character” and how to evolve them using social media.

The seminar kick offs with A&O’s seventh annual Roadmap Study of radio listeners’ perceptions on music, the state of Country radio and related topics including the impact of Pandora, Spotify,
Rhapsody and Slacker. Emphasizing a theme of “branding and engagement,” partner Michael O’Malley promises “a content-rich afternoon with takeaways for talent, programmers, promotions and sales.” Sponsor Broken Bow/Stoney Creek will present a performance by Dustin Lynch.

To receive an invitation including location details, click on this link:

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Today? You're Memorializing Whitney Today?

Hopefully, Radio Ink's headline this morning "Radio to Honor Whitney Houston Today" was wrong, and as you read their story it appears that it is, since the info under it reads "the outpouring of prayers, thoughts, feelings and condolences was immediate and overwhelming.."

It's Monday. The event happened Saturday.

My Facebook friends and the Tweeters I follow were digging into it within an hour of the time that police set her time of death.

If you're still talking about it this morning, you better have some new info on it all that I haven't heard multiple times over the weekend or at least a very fresh perspective. That's relevance.

Rehashing old news is irrelevance. (thanks to Mark Edwards for a great read this morning)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Adele = Rolling In The Popularity

Are you talking from your unique camera-angle on what "they" are talking about right now?

Need help with that? It's time for another BIGinsight monthly exec briefing.

What’s Hot?

The singer-songwriter is followed by Volkswagen (who doesn’t love those Star Wars-themed Super Bowl ads?).

Academy Award Red Carpet Fashion, the Award Ceremony itself, and CNN Silver Fox news anchor/newly-minted talked show host Anderson Cooper are tightknit at the top of the list as well.

The Jason Wu capsule collection for Target and the Spring headband trend particularly appealed to young women 18 to 34.

What’s Not?

"Rising star Rooney Mara…but perhaps we’re just waiting to see what The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo nominee wears on the OSCAR® red carpet."

-- And, while I'm plugging Big Research's work, buy this book ("MEdia Generations" is very hot with me)!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

You Must Be 18 To Read This Blog

After M.I.A.'s "obscene gesture" on Sunday it's tempting to brag about country music radio being a safe haven for tender little ears, but .. not so fast.

Yahoo Answers: Country songs with cuss words in them?
  • Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue Toby Keith......"we'll put a boot in your a## its the American way"
  • Garth Brooks Third verse to "Friends in low places"
  • Montgomery Gentry: "Does durn count?"
  • Oh and, Hell yeah (also by Montgomery Gentry)
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Miranda Lambert (*****, damn, hell)
  • How 'Bout You Eric Church (***)
  • Down in Mississippi (Up to No Good) Sugarland (***)
  • Drunker than Me Trent Tomlinson (damn)
  • Here's A Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares) Travis Tritt (damn)
  • Johnny Cash Jason Aldean (screw you, ***)
  • Didn't You Know How Much I Loved You Kellie Pickler (damn)Between the River and Me- Tim McGraw (son of a b****)
  • No Damn Good- Gary Allan
  • Hell on the Heart- Eric Church
  • Ain't Killed Me Yet- Eric Church (hell, damn)
  • Lotta Boot Left to Fill- Eric Church (hell, damn)
  • I Could Kick Your ***- Justin Moore
  • Whiskey Bent & Hell Bound--Hank Williams jr.
  • TOES by Zac Brown Band (*** in the sand)
  • THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA by Charlie Daniels Band (son of a *****)
  • MY GIVE A (DAMN'S) BUSTED by Jo Dee Messina
  • Country Boy Can Survive--Hank Williams jr.
  • KickMy A** (Big & Rich)
  • Kiss My Country *** by Rhett Atkins

I bet you can add a whole lot more.

Town Hall blogger Brent Bozell: Luke Bryan boasted he was listening to hip-hop music when he came up with his 2011 anthem to exotic female dancing, "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)." Bryan recently performed the song on the TV broadcast of the Country Music Awards, complete with a bevy of booty-shaking, leather-clad dancers. The song is overtly sexual, although it didn't need anyone at ABC to hit a bleep button.

The comments on CMT blogger Craig Shelburne's 2008 post Keep Your @#$%^& Cuss Words to Yourself pretty much run the gamut of what listeners say to radio.

They don't like it, unless they love the song. Then, they don't mind it.

Welcome to the 21st Century?

Don't Give Up Your Email Database

When you read the online social media advocates, you'd think that email is so yesterday and the best place to get engaged response is by going social. (3 in 4 US Orgs Say Social Media Poses Challenge to Email)

Especially if you're trying to reach listeners where they live and not other businesses. (Email Conversion Rate Benchmarks Higher Among B2B Cos)

This is the final week for A&O's seventh annual client online perceptual study, Roadmap 2012, and I've been checking response rates for the more than 80 country radio stations participating.

We recommend that stations email an invitation to the study to 5,000 target age/gender listeners and most clients who do that are getting 7-10% response and a nice, robust sample.

Then, there are others whose numbers are lagging behind the averages. Several told me that they decided to try Twitter and Facebook this time since they have many more than the suggested 5,000 "friends" there.

I suggested that if they want a larger reliable sample, it was time to stop hoping for their social network connections to maybe do the survey and to send a well-written email with a powerful subject line explaining how they plan to make use of the opinions folks give.

24 hours later.

Just one day later, the response rate to the survey is 20 times what two weeks at social media was able to generate.

Social media is, no doubt, a fabulous way to listen to your audience's stories and converse with them. Reflect the best of them on the air. Your programming will be more engaging, but if you want a timely response to a specific offer or event, send a personalized email.

Monday, February 06, 2012

This Year, It's Dustin Lynch

Many of country’s biggest stars over the years have performed, met and greeted attendees at A&O’s annual client meeting going back more than two decades to when the meetings where held at the Opryland Hotel.

Now, Lynch realizes another exciting step in his career launch as he performs at the Country Music Hall Of Fame’s Ford Theatre. The event is cosponsored with Broken Bow Records/Stoney Creek Records.

Longtime A&O clients have become used to getting to see fresh faces in an intimate, close-up setting as country radio specialists Albright, O’Malley and their new consulting partner Brenner present yet another reason to attend this year’s Country Radio Seminar and arrive a day early to attend the DJ Hall of Fame banquet, featuring a showcase with Broken Bow performer-songwriter Dustin Lynch.

In a recent Billboard Magazine “615 spotlight,” writer Dauphin started his interview with some Dustin Lynch background:

70 miles separate Tullahoma, Tenn., from Music City. With that close proximity to Nashville, it’s no wonder that Broken Bow recording artist Dustin Lynch became so enamored with the sounds he was hearing on the radio growing up. “Nashville was obviously the big city for me growing up,” Lynch recalls to Billboard. “I can remember coming up here for the malls and the doctor’s appointments and the other big occasions. Each time I would see the skyline, there was just a feeling that would come over me — ‘Man, I’m in Music City.’ It was always so exciting to be in Nashville.” He also recalls his first time going downtown. “My first time on Broadway, I drove myself up to see my first concert, the rock band Incubus. As many times as I’d gone to Nashville, I’d never gotten to go downtown. So, we rolled in with the windows down, and with all the people there and the music, I can never forget that moment.”

To download the full press release as a pdf, with all the info on the meeting, click here.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

We Get Letters...

Dear Albright and O'Malley folks,

Something really, really bothers me about the Country radio station where I work. It's that the owner of our radio station 'refuses' to advertise! Obviously, I think he's wrong. What do you say? How important is advertising a radio station?

Before trying to change your owner's mind, I think you have some homework to do.

1. How is your signal compared to any other country stations also available to your prospective audience?

Before advertising, you need to be honest with yourself about your distribution and there's no sense marketing a product to people who have other superior choices from that perspective.

2. If you've been in the same format for years and your cume has been stable, you have to ask yourself: is that because the people in your city grade signal area don't know about your existence?

Or, are they aware of you, but simply don't use you?

If the problem is a lack of awareness of what you do, perhaps you should advertise inside the area where you have the best signal available to users of your format.

3. If 90% of the people inside that area do know who you are and what you do but they still don't cume you, I'd suggest you need to do some research before spending marketing money trying to compete with other area stations for new cume. Do listeners see a "unique selling proposition" that fills a need for them? Or, are they not cuming your station because they currently have plenty of other choices available to them which satisfy their needs?

4. If you spend major dollars and actually did double your cume (a huge achievement, not easy to do) would your radio station be able to charge higher rates and recoup the expense plus the profit margin your owner requires to stay in business?

A mature brand - especially a radio station which has been doing entertaining programming, community involvement, remotes and appearances for all that time - street marketing - may actually have a very high level of awareness already.

5. People like new things and are always willing to try something new. As a result, cume is always naturally eroding. So, if your cume has been stable and consistent, that makes a good statement about what you do now.

6. Do you have a database (email/street addresses) of at the very least 20% of your cume? You should. Have you been in touch with those people on a consistent basis? Do they respond to your emails and participate in your promotions? If not, cume building won't work for you. Make sure you have a loyal core of brand evangelists who love you before you consider marketing.

7. Are advertisers on your station successful? Do clients feel like ads on your station work for them?

8. Are you profitable?

If so, perhaps your owner is right.

If he's wrong, you need to convince him that there would be a good return on investment on marketing expenses.

9. Read Wikipedia's excellent beginner's guide to building marketing plans for a start.

Put it all in writing. What percentage of profits would he be willing to invest in trying to increase revenues? What are the odds of success?

10. Do the math. Don't spend marketing money until you know your product is perceived as unique and excellent by its current cume. Once that is the case, find out how many other people inside your city grade coverage area would use your station - people just like the ones you love you who simply don't know about you or what makes you unique and better.

Calculate whether getting another 20%, for example, to cume you every week would be worth the money. Usually, it's much easier to grow your ratings by focusing on improving the number of days per week and times per day your existing cume uses the radio station before trying to convince non-users to sample, convert and become regular users. Until your "time spent listening" is the best among all the other stations you compete with, I'd focus first on that.

11. Is it possible your owner is reluctant to advertise because he has concerns about the quality or your product? If so, work on growing the stats that will prove that he's wrong.

Great TSL and high exclusive cume are two simple measures of "satisfaction" with your programming.

Maximise getting your current core to use no other radio station and enticing listeners to spend more time per day with you.

How you'll know you're "there:" when more than a third of your weekly cume listens to no other radio in an average week and your average listener spends two-thirds of their total time using radio per day with your station, I'd say you're ready to do some marketing if you're not happy with your shares those above-average performance measurements will generate for you.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

ARB's Twin Waterbeds, Diary And PPM

RBR: "Given the news that the Media Rating Council (MRC) that it has withdrawn accreditation of the monthly AQH radio ratings data produced by the PPM service in Cleveland, Portland OR, Riverside-San Bernardino, Salt Lake City-Ogden-Provo, and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, we revisited an interview with MRC Executive Director and CEO George Ivie as to issues surrounding accreditation in PPM markets. First of all, it’s a complex thing to accredit a new service and Arbitron has adjusted the service to meet the compliance needs of the MRC. That takes time and is always under review."

“It’s a complex problem. It’s like a waterbed, you push down on one side and other sides move. You have to push down on the whole bed to hold it all down. If you let go of s
omething, certain things may get worse, other things may get better. You have to really be vigilant.” -- Ivie in Inside Radio

Since the news broke, clients in both PPM and diary markets have been asking if "panic" is the order of the day, as Arbitron Director of Programming Services Jon Miller coincidentally titled his new blog post on ARB's training site and my advice given that, yes, credibility of media measurement is absolutely crucial, but since we've all seen this coming for a very long time is: DON'T (panic).

Keep the pressure on researchers to be as open as possible as they work on the complex sample quality issues that every market is witnessing. Secrecy won't improve anyone's confidence level.

A quick recap of past history as chronicled on this blog alone:
Let's get up to speed about it all at CRS. (click the banner below for a free invitation if you're not in a competitive situation with an A&O client)

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Can You Program Listeners As Well As Your Radio Station?

Want listeners to think of your call letters each time their phone rings?

All you need to do is play the sound of a phone ringing and immediately say your call letters after it time and time again.

Wouldn't it be nice if subliminal advertising was that easy?

The "Ignore This Message" website puts it all in this slightly tongue-in-cheek context:

Subliminal advertising doesn't exist.
But if it does, it doesn't work.
But if it does, it's not a problem.
But if it is, it doesn't matter.
But if it does, ignore it. debunks the long-standing rumor that secret cues inside a Coke commercial got movie-goers to buy more popcorn.

Here in Seattle, UW Prof Tony Greenwald has been skeptically studying "Subliminal Influence" for almost five decades: "I think unconscious cognition is a pretty dumb but fast processor that scans sensory input and directs our attention."

Thus, he is at odds with followers of Freud, who contend the unconscious is a very smart and powerful entity that protects a person from psychic threats, such as knowledge of a fatal illness or personal incompetence, that are too anxiety-provoking for the more fragile conscious mind.

So, associate your brand with a ringing phone if it makes you feel diabolically clever, but don't count on this tactic to increase your ratings in any consistent and measurable way.