Monday, September 29, 2008

The Radio Week That Was 9/29/08

Here is the weekly review of Radio and related news on September 29th.

1. Was Letterman Mad or what. After McCain blew him off and ended up on Katie Curic's news Letterman really took him to task. Who had the bigger audience? Probably Letterman by a mile and he also got more from the web and other media coverage of his reaction. While we can see that McCain didn't feel it was time for jokes he could have turned the bit serious - Letterman's done it many times with other guests.

2. Rumors of the new 'Cumulus' lead smaller market ratings system keep popping up in the trades, but who is it? What is the plan here? For sure it's a big job, but let's hope they don't drag this out to the point where it really doesn't matter when the news hits. More and more this is looking like a re-run of the Clear Channel lead effort that ended up dry before this one.

3. Paul Newman passes while that's sad news we all have to cover it in our morning shows. Next time you might look up Death Pool Dave (not related to me) at A great site with actual death pool watch updates. There are also on-line death pools with points (sort of like fantasy football) - usually you get their age minus 100 in points. It's weird but also entertaining and Death Pool Dave is a great interview.

4. The Web: Notes from various stories:
  • Your Stream: Bill Conway (PD at KOIT) noted at the NAB that he was disturbed with the sound of his stream with all the filler junk inserted int he spot breaks to cover over the 'voice over talent issues.' He noted that only 10% of the spot content in most streams needs to be replaced. As a listener to lots of streams I join Bill in asking- why do we rarely even hear any spots at all when only 10% of them really need to be covered. The stupid PSA, goofy instrumentals (some sound like the came from old porn movies) and long winded promos are annoying to say the least. It's time we demand more from our streaming providers in substitution software. Surely we can find a way in our digital studios to mark the spots that need to be replaced and let the rest run. If we are going to go head to head with all the web based stations we need to make this work!!!
  • Pod Casts: An idea of the week - how about a 2-4 minute summary of your morning show for the week? Great download of the best moments all quickly edited together.
  • Are all our Web Efforts ignored at the buyer level: John Hogan was addressing a gathering of buyers in NY last week and noted that Radio has done a lot with the web and the buyers continue to act as if radio is sitting on it's hands. He's right - look at all the CC, CBS and other group efforts with lots of content and many experiments with lots of new ideas.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Radio Week That Was 9/22/08

Thought I'd add a weekly feature to the blog and review some quick highlights from the past week in our radio world. Last week was pretty dramatic:

1. Economy Hits A Wall: From the coverage on CNBC it looked like last week was as near to a Wall Street meltdown as 1929. It looks like some of the storm has passed, but like IKE we have a huge expense cleaning up the mess. For Radio we didn't need this news as no doubt capital for business will be in short supply and the American economy will likely be in a funk for quite a while to say the least. We all know this will make the going even a little tougher as Radio looks to evolve into a lot stronger platform in the midst of so much new media competition. We're all going to have to get bold and creative and quick.

2.AFDI: Clear Channel wraps up their radio group meetings with an appeal to the troops to Actually F*** Doing It. While some criticize the CC team for using the language and a phrase that Lee Abrams used in his blog a few years ago the spirit is right. Gotta quit talking and start doing.

3. NAB: The convention is over, but is anything going to evolve or was it just another hang out convention?

4. CD's May Be Replaced by Micro SD-Cards? Wal-Mart and Best Buy are teaming up with Sony, Universal, EMI and Warner Bros to use the Scan Disk Micro SD cards and put CDs/Albums on them. Art and liner notes will return (yeah) and there will be plenty of room for you to store your songs on the memory cards also. They can plug into phones, MP3 players, your computer and are not copy protected. Sounds interesting, but will the current downloaders buy in?

5. PPM: The recent legal attempts by 'we like the inaccurate and outdated diaries because we looked OK in it' groups continue to hold PPM back. It's time for these folks to accept the reality and get out of the way of more accurate and reliable ratings data.

6. Looks Like Rock Radio Ratings are improving: Maybe it's the wealth of good new music, better sample return in both diaries and PPM panels, or maybe it's the Guitar Hero/Rock Band video games. Whatever the reason Rock Radio is mostly up in ratings across the country. Unfortunately Arbitron has discontinued their national format trends report due to the problems related to combining PPM and Diary data. So we really don't have any nationwide data to trend on here, but going through the top 30 markets I see 5-6 that are close to flat, 5 or 6 that could be ruled down and the rest are UP. For the stations I work with in both the U.S. and Canada nearly all were UP this past Spring. It's a good time to ROCK.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Authenticity Part 4 - The Wrap

We wrap up being Authentic with the audience with 3 tips:

1. Be Viral: When things happen in unique and unexpected places they can look more authentic. Showing up with a integrated presence in the streets and on the web woven into the event/site can get your message across around the hype filter.

2. Use your audience: They believe themselves. Having the audience spread the word in their own style and words is a lot more authentic than the big voice guy. Just make sure the audience says what they want - not 'which station rocks your town.'

3. Be Unique: Stand out in your words and presentation and surprise them. Think way outside the box and you'll hit 'authentic' a lot quicker than using the same old tricks.

Lastly remember that Image IS the Key and you build that image one sweeper, promo, billboard, and impression at a time. Lose the focus on the image just a few times with the audience and all your hard work can be lost. Once you grow that authentic image work with it carefully to make sure it sticks. Once you lose it you see that the audience doesn't forget.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Living Up - Authenticity Part 3

As we move through a series of thoughts on Authenticity In Radio the key for part 3 is LIVING UP. I don't mean living beyond your means but actually the opposite. Living Up to what you claim.

Once you pull out the hype and quit making statements and claims that you can't live up to you have to find selling points and claims that you CAN live up to. Also keep in mind that longer claims usually set off the Un Authentic Meter.

While there are many stations that stand out with high Authentic scores one great example to listen to is The Drive in Chicago. The main claim for the station is basic and simple - The Sound Track of Our Lives. Notice that they use 'our' not 'your' - which would assume that somehow they knew Your life.

The presentation is also low key. There isn't a big voice booming announcer making sweeping big balls statements. The avoid the laser shot gimmicks in the production and often rely on classic song hooks to showcase the 'soundtrack.'

And when you look at the results the Drive has pushed past the legendary Loop complete with Brandmier. They have also run past WXRT which likely had the 'authentic' Q-score before the Drive signed on.

Another tactic that works - a sense of humor. You can make big claims, but make it obvious that it's a joke. Just remember that humor has a limited shelf life.

Repeating it over and over is also a way that we often rely on the 'drum it into their heads' that often backfires. The more we bang the drum the more often their BS meter goes off. When you do hype it up or use humor watch out - don't overstay your welcome. Keep track of how many times you've run a sweeper or promo and consider that with most stations that have a TSL around 30 1/4 hours a week it only takes 40 plays of the sweeper to get over 60% of your cume hearing the message 3 or more times a week.