Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Car Won't Start So Let's Drive Somewhere

A Wall Street Journal article yesterday by Hannah Karp claims that the number of music-streaming services is set to explode next year, as record labels have warmed up to the idea of renting consumers access to a vast collection of tunes, rather than selling them individual albums or songs.
  • "The percentage of the population that uses these is still really small. There's a long way to go before you saturate the market."  -- Frank Johnson, chief executive of Seattle's MediaNet Digital that they say will help bring more than 50 new streaming services to market next year.
  • "Fans of country music, blues and jazz, classical and opera have been particularly underserved by streaming services so far, as has the casual music listener—the person who really just wants a button and doesn't want to make a playlist."  -- Vickie Nauman, president of 7digital, hoping to bring at least three more services to market next year.
Is it possible that due to caps on bandwidth and increasing costs imposed by consolidating carriers and royalty fees that those small numbers mean that streaming has peaked and consumers are happy with their current sources of music?

Could it be that there's not enough "long tail" in music to make the smallest niches worth doing via stream, given the built-in costs?  Are the lovers of unique types of music not available to the mass audience willing to pay more than the average person?

The completely optimistic article fails to mention those possibilities.

Investor beware.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Can You Top This?

Thanks to Brent Lane in Pensacola for some inspiration on the power of great social posts:

15,861 "likes" is certainly impressive, but look how many Facebook estimates saw the post!

Can YOU top this?

I hope so. 

It's "the" game we're all in.

Friday, December 27, 2013

How Much Influence Should You Tube Play In Music Decisions?

Jay Bedford, Program Director|Music Director|Morning Host at 1035 The Eagle/Sydney shared this fascinating factoid:
"So here are our five Power Currents for this week ... 5 of them ... and the corresponding number of views on YouTube ... plus one more song!

3.9 million views ... Blake Shelton ... Mine Would Be You
3.5 million views ... Chris Young ... Aw Naw
2.9 million views ... Tim McGraw ... Southern Girl
2.4 million views ... Robby Johnson ... South of Me1.2 million views ... Miranda Lambert ... All Kinds Of Kinds
1.1 million views ... Zac Brown Band ... Sweet Annie"

He asks:  "Should these figures have an influence? Those are amazing stats for an unknown guy from Quebec that is not play listed on any major radio stations. (Song is not Canadian content even though the artist is Canadian.)"

My reaction, after being intrigued, impressed and watching the video, is that streaming and downloads are a lot like sales figures.

I want to know more before deciding it's right for my radio station.  It would be interesting to see the location of the hits and views/listens to see how many are from your local area compared to the others.

Callout and online testing are still my major criteria for this reason, even over mScore tracking.

You know they are your heavy users, and even their age and gender cell, so you can target what we choose to play, but goodness knows this is certainly a great sign, among the many emerging stats that radio needs to stay aware of as listeners find new ways to discover new favorites.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Live Tweeting Life

I have been attending what was once called "The Consultants' Fly-In" as far back as before when Dwight Douglas was a rock consultant loudly and publically pushing for better representation of young males. 

Trust me, I know it seems like the issue is still unresolved, but that was a long time ago.

So, when I had to miss this years it was so great to see both of my partners in attendance with a large presence among the other experts who were live Tweeting during the event.

It made me feel almost as connected as being there and it was a comfort knowing that Mike and Becky were on hand and aggressively representing our clients' interests as powerfully as ever.

What if there was a #yourtownthismorning?

Would you have a large, consistent and live presence on it in real time?

I know Mike O'Malley and Becky Brenner will be there.  I'll be looking for you too!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Line

The fact that Clear Channel (and other radio companies using syndication/networks) sometimes use "actors" as callers never came as a surprise or a concern to me when it was revealed years ago.

Creating "skits" for play on the air to increase the entertainment value seems perfectly fair game to me, since it's all about creating an experience for the listener.

As long as you don't promise on the air that "every caller you hear is real."

That's why the KISS 108-Miley Cyrus flap is a different matter for me at least.

Deceiving listeners is beyond just bad PR.

It's bad business.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rest In Peace, Superjock

Legendary “Superjock” Larry Lujack, a Radio Hall of Famer and one of broadcasting’s all-time greats, has died of cancer at 73.

I got the news from lifelong Chicago media reporter Robert Feder.  "He had been battling esophageal cancer for the last year and was in hospice care in Santa Fe, New Mexico, when he died Wednesday."

Someone at Wikipedia knows how significant his life was to many voices you hear on radio and TV today and they already have his bio updated with the news and his storied career.

There are many, many brilliant Lujack quotes that will live on in the content of the personalities he inspired and motivated with his bigger than life, always entertaining, never boring, totally unique character:
"Advice for buying a used car: Before you even test drive it, turn the radio on. If all the buttons are set to rock stations, it's gonna need a new transmission."

“What do you say to a kid who wants to be a disc jockey when he grows up?  You can’t do both.”

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The mScore On The Year's Top Songs

Tom Taylor "Now" passes along a gem from Nielsen Client Conference/Jacobs Media Summit in Baltimore, Media Monitors President/CEO Philippe Generali's analysis of the mScores of 2013’s biggest songs

The measurement visually indicates whether a particular tune, gauged against PPM reports, is keeping listeners or not.

"The Anatomy of the Year’s Top Songs" studied the airplay and listener radio usage for  776 songs of all current-based radio format.  Generali terms the averages over the year:

Compared to the other formats country competes with new songs appear to have a slower adoption curve and they seem to burn out faster.

The averages of all country format tunes mScore followed in 2013 peaked in appeal after 31 weeks of play but then seem to rebound as they moved to recurrent categories and ultimately decline as usage-drivers.

Among the country hits tracked in 2013, Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel” is what Generali calls "a record company’s dream."

*  Listeners to Christian contemporary stations were the most interested in new songs in the first weeks after they were introduced on their local stations. After that, the songs’ mScores get much less “sticky.”

*  For rhythmic CHR, the real hit songs tend not to burn for quite a long time. But Generali’s advice was for mainstream (not rhythmic) CHR was “use caution.” That fits other recent research about the desire of top 40 listeners to stay current and seek the “new.” 

*  In the regional Mexican format, the mScore line is steady – if they like it at the beginning, they continue to like it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"That's A (Not) Good Question"

You're interviewing someone famous and after you ask them something they respond "that's a good question."

Translation:  "I have had media training and thank you for asking one of the questions they prepped me for and this is what they recommended that I say to every interviewer who asks them.  I appreciate your asking it because now I don't have to think or get off my prepared script of the things I want to get into every interview I do."

Advice:  If you can't come up with fresh questions that make your subject have fun, think and get off of their prepared verbiage, at the very least pre-record your interviews off air before you run them and edit out the canned phrases like "that's a good question."

The interview isn't being done to make you feel better about yourself. 

It's supposed to entertain and engage your listener.

Monday, December 16, 2013

In Canada, Average Is Getting Better

It's the time of year for making lists and checking them twice.

Among the year end rankings that A&O&B's music statistician Michael O'Malley creates is a Cancon ranker of Canadian content music based on how it performed in listener research.

In 2013, 140 current hits were rated by Canadian country radio fans.
  • Nine of the top 50 were Cancon (18%), down from 16 in 2012, 12 in 2011 and 11 in 2010
  • 30 of the top 100 were Cancon (30%), flat from 31 in 2012, down from 37 in 2011 and 36 in 2010
  • 24 of the BOTTOM 50 in the 2013 tests were Cancon, down from 30 in 2012, 32 in 2011, 34 in 2010
Congrats and thank you to the the (largely independent) artists and producers of Canadian content songs for doing a better job of bringing up your averages by creating fewer tunes that never rose from the bottom of the research rankers.

There was a time in Canada when there was a cottage industry designed to make Canadian content music that radio was "required by law" to play.

Pleasing listeners while also satisfying regulators is better for all of us!

Fewer songs testing down at the bottom (and, maybe even, the top too) improves the overall averages and that is a step in the right direction.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Does Your Listener Know You're Interested?

International social media analytics firm Brandwatch's just-released report on radio listener Twitter activity in the U.S. and U.K. points out:
"Radio stations do not tend to reply to the comments aimed at them, seldom engaging with listeners at all." 
  • Celebrity culture is a main driver of conversation, with over a quarter of all listener mentions relating to celebrity news, interviews or songs.
  • Radio stations act upon this trend, with 41% of radio stations directing @interactions at celebrities and 32% towards brands.  
Would listeners like us better, telling their followers and friends about us in more positive ways if more of our Twitter conversations were listener-based? 
  • The use of competitions as part of a social strategy was generally a successful tactic
  • Of all personalities’ personal tweets, only 5.5% were about their radio station.
  • Sport stations are the most social on Twitter, using @mentions to talk to their audience much more frequently than other genres.
Negative discussion centered around stations can gain rich insights from this social data, helping them understand which content works best.

Over the period analyzed, 1% of the conversation was negative. Although a seemingly small number, it accounts for 3,200 mentions, very few of which were responded to.

32% of social customers expect a response to a complaint within 30 minutes. Research by Nielsen demonstrates that 71% of consumers who experience a quick brand response are likely to share that with others.

To get the full picture you can download the full report for free here.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Brand Depth

What drives big ratings success?

Major companies like McDonalds and Burger King, Apple and Microsoft, Coke and Pepsi, GM and Mercedes, etc. research various attribution categories to shine major light on pinpointing consumer perceptions in their respective industries and who their customers really are.

Building far above average rating shares that completely dominate a market aren't as simple as figuring out how many different listener perceived needs one radio station can fill, but thanks to two-decade-old data from Todd Wallace's Radio lndex "Winning Positions 2014" report it's certainly very possible to see how "owning" many programming attributes it took for one station to build a four book average #1 11.5 12+ share and a cume rating of 25.

This battle, of course, continues today, though under different owners that operated the two of them back then when the country format held more than an 18 share of total radio listening.

Wallace says "I believe one of the most useful and actionable displays is what we call a Perceptual Mosaic for each station, whereby all of the perceptual questions are collected and presented in rank-order form.

"This provides an interesting look at how the audience perceives how effective each station is in delivering each position.

"Because the questioning process includes the words "if any" ("Which radio station, if any, do you think plays the most music?"), each mosaic sums up the factors which are truly most important to the listener (as the specific attributes apply to each station)."

Hopefully, this report sparks a few new ideas on ways you can use attribution research to zero-in on positions that can make a difference in your battle(s), showing where you're hot and not.

If you'd like a free eight page report documenting Todd Wallace's Radio lndex "Winning Positions 2014" Attribution Research, Email-him and mention A&O&B.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


In 1992. KNIX/Phoenix had a yearly four book average market-leading 11.5 share, driven by a 25 cume rating.  Arbitron estimated at the time that more than one in four people who listened to radio used KNIX, which had a very strong competitor in KMLE, whose cume rating was a more normal 15.8 and average quarter hour 12+ share was a yearly average 7.0!

How did KNIX engineer such powerful market shares in spite of having a really good competitor?

Normally, it's almost impossible to get a totally unbiased, data-driven answer to that question in real time because the owners, managers, programmers, consultants and researchers with the perspective to know the answer are bound by confidentiality since an ally in one situation may be the competition in another.

Phoenix-based researcher-consultant Todd Wallace has done hundreds of perceptual research projects throughout the U.S and Canada but because they are conducted exclusively for just one client in a market, he still cannot share that confidential information with anyone else. 

Back in the 90's, several of the biggest radio stations in Phoenix subscribed to a syndicated version of his "Radio Index" service which provided weekly ratings tracking and a series of Positioning Questions covering all manner of subjects, 44 different viewpoints, including an Annual Report which summarized all of the monthly PQ's sizing-up the entire radio marketplace (with a sample size of over 15,000 completed interviews each year).  Fortunately, two decades later, he is now able to share those results.

Though the numbers and market situations are dated the principal remains useful in helping you gain some perspective on great ways to examine the audience at large and in-target.

At the time, KNIX dominated three non-music positions - not just in the minds of the country audience, but with all radio listeners!

In fact, in this major market with many very aggressive broadcasters, KNIX did what it took to give away huge prizes, cash and contests so that no other station came close.  Their lead with "best DJ's" and "most involved" wasn't as incredible as their ownership of best contesting, but even in those two images they were head and shoulders above not just their direct competition, but all other radio stations with the entire listening audience.

Ponder this as you plan to 2014:  what might you do to dominate key usage-drivers?

If you'd like a free eight page report documenting Todd Wallace's Radio lndex "Winning Positions 2014" Attribution Research, Email-him and mention A&O&B.

Monday, December 09, 2013

It's Not The Content That's "Sticky"

JRfm/Vancouver PD Mark Patric nominated this "Waking Crew Best Call Of The Morning" in a recent coaching session:  "So good! (click to hear the mp3)

The fact it's a guy. 
The fact he knows so much about the Waking Crew and what they talk about and their personalities.
The fact he knows this relatively new song from a local act so well!
The fact he took the time to write this parody.
The fact he was brave enough to do it.
The fact he pretty much nailed it 'live' on the spot."

The glue in sticky content isn't your character either.

It's those power-packed times when the listener feels like your character is HIS or HER character!

When that happens, you have super-glued them to both your best content and authentic character.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Improving Your Country Station's TSL: Are You Targeting A Bit Too Young?

Exactly one year ago, Scarborough research highlighted the fact that what the company calls "heavy" users of radio are significantly more likely to use the Internet as a source for entertainment than Americans who listen to less radio.

90% of Heavy Radio Listeners in Scarborough's research are between 18 and 64 but there are noteworthy generational differences.

Some formats, of course, have no choice in which generational cohort to target, but since country music preferences don't seem to fragment until our listeners get over 55 (see my post on this) and it's possible to target all three demos between 25 and 54, here's another reason to really understand 35-44 and not get drawn too quickly toward under 30!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


It's terrific to see Nielsen so quickly releasing studies putting radio in a cross-media light (ie., A Loyal Companion: Radio Remains a Great Way to Reach Local Consumers).

Before celebrating the average daily time spent listening of AM-FM radio in 2013 of two hours let's also dig into their archives from the Arbitron days for a historical perspective.

Of course, a decade ago all of the data was diary survey based so comparing "then" to "now" is apples vs oranges, since if we had national PPM data in 2003 cumes would have been higher and hours tuned would have been lower given the differences between top of mind measurement vs actual usage tracking.

Nonetheless, it's worthwhile just between friends to contemplate the biggest change in radio over the decade:

It would be an oversimplification to focus solely on the 30% loss of time spent listening to all radio documented by our largest ratings company over those ten years, but it's clear that this is no time to be complacent about usage of our medium.

All of us who create today's "radio" are in a battle against time!

We are in a fight for every minute, every listening occasion, every day of our users' increasingly precious time - by giving them more and better than their other choices.

Or the trendline over the coming years will continue to be a downhill slide.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

It's Time To Support "Our" United Way

The Broadcasters Foundation of America has launched its "2013 Holiday Giving Campaign." 

If charity begins at home, it's important to remember that this cause is OUR home and ask fellow broadcasters to spread the word about the mission of BFA to those who may need its assistance, and encourages donations and memberships.

Often a last refuge, the Broadcasters Foundation has helped broadcasters and their families remain in their homes and made it possible for retirees to afford life-sustaining medications.
"The goal of the Foundation's Board of Directors is that no broadcaster's cry for help should ever go unanswered," stated BFA Chairman Phil Lombardo. "Requests for aid have more than doubled over the past few years and more come in every day. Next year, we will disburse over $900,000 in financial assistance, a 100 percent increase from five years ago.  The pace of incoming donations is lagging behind the requests for aid," added BFA President Jim Thompson. "Our grant recipients are our colleagues -- individuals who we have worked with and whose lives have been devastated by unthinkable circumstances. Aid from the Broadcasters Foundation can be life-saving, in many cases. I ask every broadcaster to consider making a donation or becoming a member."

Over the past 65 years, the Broadcasters Foundation has distributed millions of dollars in aid to hundreds of broadcasters who lost their livelihood through a catastrophic event, debilitating disease, or unforeseen family tragedy. Most recently, BFA provided emergency grants in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Clutter Or Companionship

Another Jay Trachman treasure:
They're an Adult Hit FM station, traditionally a market leader, but recently newcomers have knocked them out of the top slot, down to #3 in their target demographic. Their main competition has a reasonably appealing morning man, followed by continuous music during the day.  Our station, which is intelligently programmed and research-oriented, also sees weakness in the 25 to 34 cell of their target. They have a good morning team, and personality through the day.

How can they get the #1 spot back, and increase their younger numbers?

The conventional wisdom is, make the morning team (somehow) better, and then cut back on the talk throughout the day. Will that do it for them?

Some will say "yes."

Not me.

How come?

Several reasons...
  • First, if this station has a good reputation as a personality outlet -- and it does -- then that's what should be built on, if the position is at all salvageable. In focus groups conducted for the client, "too talky DJs" was one of the most-mentioned negatives for the station. Interestingly enough however, of the other stations they asked people about, the "too talky" negative was roughly equal for their competitors.  I would not ask a station to give up something they have the potential of doing well, to make themselves more like others who do it poorly.
  • Second, if the competition's strength is continuous music, then that's the last thing you want to imitate. One of the most basic principles of marketing warfare is: You don't make a frontal assault on your enemy's main strength. You either attack from your own position of greatest strength in a flanking move around the enemy, or if that's not possible, you wage "guerrilla warfare" by defining a small, uncontested niche, and pouring all your strength into it. It helps if you're attacking in an area where the opponent can't fight back effectively, without weakening his own position.
  • Third, while continuous music might increase their numbers in the younger portion of their target (and it might not), it could also damage them in the one demographic where they're reasonably secure: the 35 to 49 cell. These listeners are presumably content with the programming as it stands.
So, my answer is to examine their current strength -- a lot of music, with real humans in between -- and look for ways to enhance that on air. They also need strong, effective marketing and promotion to remind former listeners that they're still there, and better than ever.

My part of the job is to help the air staff communicate more effectively.

"Too much talk" can mean exactly that -- but it more likely means that what's being said often isn't worth hearing. That's why the listener views it as "clutter."

Can their personalities be taught to make their words count?


Follow the basics of raps, prep your bits before you air them, and it's rare that you can't commit entertainment in twenty or thirty seconds.


1. billboard.
2. elaboration.
3. response, or kicker.

Always, always, always, know what your kicker - your final sentence, your emotional pay-off - is going to be, before you open that mike. Pretty simple stuff.

Everything you say on the air should be directed at someone -- your "real" listener (not the station's "target" listener).

Nearly all you talk about should focus on your life and your listener's life, at home and in the community, and what's going on this day.

If you can do that without blabbing on endlessly, and make sure your raps are each designed to "reach" the listener -- ultimately to make him feel like you're a "friend" of his, then your talk won't be perceived as clutter, but as companionship.

Easier said than done, certainly. It takes plenty of prep, a fine sense of your personal listener's presence, and a never-ending awareness that Time Matters.

Finally, I'm advising them to pay more attention to their commercial content.

I believe this is a major weakness in adult-formatted stations today. Anything you're spending 20 to 30% of your time in is perceived as a significant part of the "programming."  Thus: the commercials have to be worth hearing, not just for the message, but for the delight of listening.

Funny - they don't think that's at all unusual with TV spots; how come we settle for so much less on radio?

If all the competition is selling is tons of music, then your attack must be based on everything else.

It can be done; it's more complicated than just playing "more music" in a row... But the rewards will justify the effort.