Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Brand - BINGO






















No doubt you've played (or seen) the Meeting Bingo Buzz word games (click here). As these overused buzzwords pop up you check off and win.

One Buzz Word that doesn't usually appear for some strange reason is BRAND. Is 'Brand' too important to be linked to all these overused and perhaps meaningless buzz words?

Well maybe, but when you hear this word tossed around so much you have to wonder if it's not becoming so generic that it really is becoming as meaningless as all these buzz words.

Is your 'Brand' in danger of becoming just another Buzz Word on a Bingo Card with your audience and clients? If it is perhaps it's time to develop new synergy with our core business, get out of the loop, be proactive not reactive and stretch the envelope [BINGO].

Friday, November 20, 2009

Campus Radio

Been visiting a few Universities as one of my children gets ready to pick a school. It does bring back some great memories of the college days and of course I spent most of it in the Campus Radio world. I usually end up wandering into the campus station just to see what is going on, or at least ask a few questions.

In a recent visit I was rather surprised at the 'policy' for the campus station. First the station was all programmed by the students with some help from the broadcasting faculty and looked like it was pretty well done with an Alt/Indy format and special programs for some minorities and special interest groups. They had a decent FM low power signal that probably covered the campus and the small city fairly well. The station looked to be pretty staffed with people in on a Saturday morning doing shows. The professor giving the tour of the communications department mentioned that you need to sign up early to be a DJ if you want good shifts. So there was a student interest here.

When I asked if they stream the station - 'we've been trying to get the 'Board' to approve it, but they are scared.' What??? It's OK for the campus and the city to hear it, but not elsewhere? I would think it might be a recruiting tool - you can catch a little of the campus life by listening. Catch some of the 'music vibe' of the school. As important as music is to most 18-24 year olds it's probably worth more than the condition of the pool table in the rec-room.

Then as we toured the Union and the eating area they had some music playing and it was obviously a radio station. I thought it might be the Campus station. It wasn't - they had on a Sirius - Mix modern hot AC channel. I'm sure the campus really rocks out when they play Huey Lewis and the News.

Too bad the school didn't support the station. This school was pretty into their broadcasting department with a school cable TV channel coming on soon, a full weather department geared at teaching TV meteorology, complete with a Doppler radar.

We do need to work more with our local colleges and their radio programs. The air staff and the PDs should be stopping by to host a class, invite them to the station and try to help the faculty with any materials they might need. Not only do we need more people in our talent pools, but we also need to keep radio relevant on the campus scene. In this case we can do something so reach out and drop you local broadcasting faculty an email - and help the future.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

At Work Listening

It's still a BIG key to building P1s, long TSL and big shares in valuable demos, but there are new rules. In the 90s At Work listening really took center stage, first with AC stations and then to Classic Rock for the most part. We ran special at work contests, dropped by with pizza for lunch, called the offices with 'secret contests' to build listening, tried building at work databases, and ran endless 'at work network' imaging to try and build this audience.

Most of these programs had some success in the 90s and we could see big At Work listening shares for the stations that followed the programs. Over the last 10 years it's still important, but a lot has changed:

  1. A lot more Media to Choose from at work. You all know the list of new media suspects here.
  2. More listening done on Computers. According to the latest Nielsen Internet Media studies around 7% of all listening is done on computers and around 1/2 of that is done at work. As we see more smart phones, Wifi spots, and even more people realizing they can use their computer with decent quality to listen this number will grow. You don't need to lug the radio to work any more to listen.
  3. At Work is not just In Office. We've known this for years, but a lot of our strategy seemed to have that rare vision of a radio playing for a bunch of people in cubical office set ups. That's only the case in a very few spots - it's a lot more individual now and it can happen in delivery vehicles, in the shop, with people who travel locally to sell, and even at home as they work.
Here are some new and familiar workplace listening ideas that might help:
  • An At Work website - We have special pages for the Morning Show, how about for listening at work. Maybe with some obvious links, workplace jokes/cartoons, job listings, and maybe some at work news stories. You could also link up with some workplace tools like - google calendars etc.
  • Wallpaper/Screen Savers - People still theme and decorate their computers, how about some of these old tricks to get your message on the computer screen everyday.
  • Creative Imaging - Have some fun between the songs with work humor, workplace of the day, and some testimonials from the audience.
  • Make sure your air talent visualizes their audience at their workplaces during the day.
It will be harder to track at work listening as PPM becomes currency. You can't tell if a meter is at work, in the car or just roaming around the market. You can only measure if the meter is at home or away from home. In the diaries the listener had the option to note if the listening was at work but not in the PPM world.

There are also issues with PPM tracking on-line listening with getting the encoded signal in the stream and also having the levels up enough to register with the meter. And there are also issues with the stream being different programming with Arbitron since we often replace the national voices in the spot breaks on the stream.

Still, at work listening is very important and if you don't focus on it with a well thought out plan you will see more and more new media invade this great source of TSL and P1 audience.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Taking Music Risks

As the role of Music Radio changes from a dominate taste maker for music (old and new) to a world where there are many other players in the game we are faced with new challenges to stay in the game. At the core of radio's music model is the need to hit as many people under the signal as possible. Our first mission is to build as big of a cumulative audience as possible and then try to find some way to hold them as long as we can. It used to be much easier when the only options where the other stations in the market or maybe someones cassette collection in the car or Walkman.

Obviously now the options are nearly infinite and growing every day. With the customizable media the audience can really build their own stations. They catch new music on MySpace, You Tube, and through blogs or websites.

Yet we still pretty much hang on to the old rules, strategies, and tactics when it comes to programming our music as we did in the old days of broadcast domination. Tight is right. You're never hurt by what you don't play. Sort the test to 90% familiar, 80% acceptance, and play those powers as much as possible. So what if you only play 200 songs? If they are the right 200 songs.

We've also gotten pretty tight when it comes to breaking or adding new music. It's one of the biggest complaints we get from the audience on the street and on-line, but we still play a game of wait and see with the charts.

Our tightness and reluctance to take any chances or risks over the years is adding up. If you go back to the days when radio built it's huge influence in music (the 60s and 70s) you see a lot more boldness in adding songs and playlist size. Can you find a CHR station today that actually plays 40 current songs? Probably not - seems like most are around 25 or 30. In Rock we spent the 70s often adding 2-3 songs from an LP when it hit - not just 1 song. Rock used to have 800-1000 songs in the old card rotation system and the freedom to really take requests as well the jocks throwing in a personal pick here and there - now you probably average 500 songs or less.

It's lead the audience to start discovering music in many different places. Just take a look at the Big Champagne download charts and you'll see music that radio has only touched lightly pretty high on the charts. In fact Led Zeppelin's tour a while back built 2 song lists for the shows. One came from rock radio plays and the other from Big Champagne downloads. Reports are that they were quite a bit different with Plant and Page using the Big Champagne list with good results.

We are going to have to find a new way to balance our need for that huge cume that fuels the core of our business model with the endless variety of new opportunities the audience has to explore music and hear more than we offer on our playlists.

The key may be taking a few risks and working to make them pay off as big as possible. Letting down our guard here and there to open the door more to lead the audience instead of just following them.

It's not all science - there has to be an equal balance of risk and art.

If you would like to learn more about Big Champagne catch this article in Wired.

You can also see condensed versions of the Big Champagne charts in All Access under charts.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Killing The Clutter

When you stand back and break down the content of so much of radio's non music areas you can see the big blocks of clutter we so often have in our breaks.

The information segments are filled with it. Look at the extra words we often see in weather, the long winded descriptions around traffic reports, the waste in our music sells, or all the extra words in any news story. It's not that we need to come up with some kind of text message code here to tighten it up, but do we really need all the details we usually include to get the message across?

Also look at where we put content in breaks. How many times do we hear a backsell where the jock has 'forced' some trivial music info into it, then rolls a liner for a bar night filled with extra plugs and finally we get to a great call from the audience? All the extra dancing before we hit the real 'punch line-caller' that was the real entertainment in the break.

Sometimes it sounds like we are talking just to hear our voices in the headphones. Hyping it up and giving that extra sell is also a test on the audience's patience and time. Make that liner extra special, sell those concert tickets for the promoter - our name is on that show, last week's wet t-shirt contest at Woody's was down give it the extra sell. We've all heard it and so has the audience.

Or we fall victim to the 'formatics' of the break. A contest is set up in the backsell and then we go to the phones while the spots run. After 5 minutes of spots we finally have the pay off and a caller on the phone with an entertaining bit - is there anyone left that's really paying attention?

Then there is the billboard or tease. Just because you have AC/DC on the way is that enough motivation to stay. We often cite the great Casey Kasem set ups as examples, but even those don't often carry the weight to get the audience to hang in there anymore - there are just too many other options at the press of a button.

The more we look at the tune out by studying the audience's reaction with the People Meters the more we see that they don't have much patience when the music stops. They know the spots are coming and your break is really more like a time bomb waiting to go off in just a few seconds with them. You have to get the MEAT or most entertaining part of the break out in front and try to hold them as long as you can. The longer you hold them the more likely they are to pass that urge to tune out.

Look at it much like a comedian who opens his slot with a joke about an Englishman, Irishman and a Scotsman - you know the joke is going to wander around a bit till you finally get to that entertaining/funny punch line. In the comedy club you can't flip the switch and jump to another comedian so you hang in there.

Also look at the practice we often see to build the break and finish with a big laugh or moment as we wrap it up. Leave them laughing. Run off the stage with the audience demanding more - a standing ovation. Again that works on a stage where the audience has to get up to find the exit. In our world - punch - you're gone.

We've seen a number of stories that radio programmers are pushing the talent to 'shut up.' Even the most recognized terrestrial radio jock, Ryan Seacrest, is under the gun to keep it quick according to his comments on The Kevin and Bean Show.

We all know the reality is that just being a jukebox won't do anything for radio to survive an a new media sea of jukebox options. We need the personality, entertaining elements and the information to build the unique product that broadcast radio is. Now that we can see what the audience does with the meter we also see that we have to be more focused. If we can learn to value their time and patience a lot more we can still deliver content that holds and entertains the audience. Sticking to this basic tenant of radio will turn out to be the real magic of our medium.

Perhaps a few lessons from SNL's MacGruber will illustrate it in an entertaining way.




Monday, August 24, 2009

12 Rules of Advertising and Marketing

Ran across 12 Rules of Advertising from
Bill Bernbach – Creator of the old VW – Think Small campaign in the late 60s/early 70s. Even though they come from the pre-digital age these rules still rule. Might be something to forward to your sales teams as they hit the street to help their clients.

1) The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.


2) Word of mouth is the best medium of all.

3) It is insight into human nature that is the key to the communicator's skill. For whereas the writer is concerned with what he puts into his writings, the communicator is concerned with what the reader gets out of it. He therefore becomes a student of how people read or listen.

4) Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.

5) You can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen. You've got to say it in such a way that people will feel it in their gut. Because if they don't feel it, nothing will happen.

6) Forget words like 'hard sell' and 'soft sell.' That will only confuse you. Just be sure your advertising is saying something with substance, something that will inform and serve the consumer, and be sure you're saying it like it's never been said before.

7) Just because your ad looks good is no insurance that it will get looked at. How many people do you know who are impeccably groomed... but dull?

8) No matter how skillful you are, you can't invent a product advantage that doesn't exist. And if you do, and it's just a gimmick, it's going to fall apart anyway.

9) Our job is to sell our clients' merchandise... not ourselves. Our job is to kill the cleverness that makes us shine instead of the product. Our job is to simplify, to tear away the unrelated, to pluck out the weeds that are smothering the product message.

10) Advertising doesn't create a product advantage. It can only convey it.

11) Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.

12) Properly practiced creativity must result in greater sales more economically achieved. Properly practiced creativity can lift your claims out of the swamp of sameness and make them accepted, believed, persuasive, urgent.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Playing it COOL

Projecting a Cool image is one of the toughest skills to pull off in marketing, branding, and creating the product/station/personality. It's a tight balance point of being noticed and making an impression without overstating or overdoing it.

Watching a Biography channel piece on Letterman he said that he wanted to get into late night talk because he watched Carson and 'he made it look SO easy that I figured I could do it.' The reality Letterman found when he started his late night show and his CBS show was that the job was anything but easy. Carson pulled it off with an style that looked effortless and COOL.

Even though Carson was probably way off the cutting edge in guests, humor or show style from 1975 on he still had enough Cool in his style to pull it off.

Cool can also be way over done. Being too cool for the room is a common phrase and for a reason.

Swing too hard and you will miss the ball a lot of the time. The same swing principle applies to your Cool on the air and in the produce. One of the 'coolest' icons in movies was probably James Dean in the 50s, but look at his movies - often his lines for a 2 hour flick would have fit on 1 page. It was his look, his eyes, his silence, and a careful pause in the timing that built his coolness.

How are you handling your cool factor? Is it in that delicate balance or is it overcooked or coming up rare?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A New Idea for the Royality Mess

The debate continues with Sound Exchange on radio stations paying royalties for the music we play to the record companies with the thought that perhaps some of these funds would go to the musicians in the performance. Of course the real 'exchange' here for many years has been that exposure radio brings far outweighs the royalty potential for all involved and many a musician and record company has made millions from the exposure. Now that the business model centered on the old school distribution of CDs and Albums is dying a fast death the record companies have clung to the old school and are tying to hang on by taxing radio.

Even though there are tons of new media outlets and streaming options Radio still remains a strong exposure vehicle for music. Just look at the remarks from the judges on American Idol. All have talked about 'hearing the performers on the radio' when gushing about their latest performance on stage. Still, the debate rages on, mostly from older musicians who haven't turned out a big song in ages and want to get more from their 'glory days' since we still play their catalog.

Sound Exchange has been pulling artists together and forcing the issue with the Congress and the NAB has been lobbying to continue the exemption. Meanwhile we sit back and wait. But, could we do something?

How about this idea:

Most of the 'force' from the Sound Exchange side comes from the record companies and their hold on the rights of the performance. Yet, we now live in a music world where the record companies no longer control distribution and no longer have the promo machines they once had to really break new artists. We all know that the next wave of new artists are more likely to come from social networks, You Tube videos, and other independent sources outside the record companies.

How about setting up an industry wide 'emerging artists' program. The program would offer exposure of any independent artist to the programmers, music directors, and DJs at commercial radio stations. The artists would be able to post their songs, radio would be able to listen to them, watch charts on them, and even chat with each other. The artists would simply agree to let radio expose their music and performance for free. Radio would pledge a percentage of their new adds to come from the emerging artists and link our audience to them on the web site - perhaps through My Space. There they can distribute the songs and build their fan base.

To fund it? How about taking the funds we were sending to Radio and Records and allocating them to this idea. I bet it would be enough to pay for a few out of work Radio and Record staffers to mind the store here and start to build a business out of it. As the site grows there could be other advertising options - how about Guitar Center??

At the least it would send a message to the Sound Exchange world that there is another way for music to get exposed on radio without their old world business model. It would also open the floodgates for new artists to build their business model on a new world of distribution that is already built and rolling - it just needs an organized way to promote itself.

If any of you folks from Radio and Records want to get started - be happy to help you brainstorm. Just reach out.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Using Imaging to SELL Not Just Identify

I always look forward to monitoring stations. When you hit the road and spend a few days immersed in a market or even just breaking down a station with an on-line monitor the area that seems to fall short is in the imaging.

All too often we work hard at just keeping it short - so it says nothing and just repeats the calls, name/frequency, and maybe some positioning.

We also tend to make such grand positioning statements. THE best rock!!, All the Hits not just some of them, Today's Hit Music, -- we throw around statements like these and expect the audience to believe them and embrace them mostly because we make sure to say them 14 times every hour.

Of course there is also the BIG production packed with sound effects, movie drops, TV clips, Music hooks, and anything else we can find to layer into the 10 second sweeper. Often these are so packed you can only hear the copy in a production room with the processing set 'just right'.

When you actually break down the message much of the time it's about recycling personalities, selling feature shows, hyping contests, promoting events, and selling that we have more music than others. It's ok to push all these important parts of the station, but does it really SELL THE STATION? Does this really build up any images in the audience's head? Or does it just try and push them around the dayparts? If it's not recycling it's usually making claims that set off the BS meter in much of the audience as quickly as humanly possible.

Think of it like a billboard for a minute. A billboard that just says McDonalds Next Exit will make the sale if I'm hungry on I-75. But, a billboard with a clever phrase or an eye catching picture that leaves a lasting image about McDonalds even if I'm not hungry goes a much longer way to building McDonalds into a real brand.

We don't just need listeners right now. We need them to have great images and feelings for our brand as much as possible to win. You won't get those great images if you don't project them on the air.

The best way is to think in campaigns. Brand building advertising works in series of well crafted messages that communicate the facets of the brand with a creative presentation that catches your ears and eyes. If you approach your imaging this way - with a clear message in mind and stick with it you will be building a real brand.

Now that's worth putting between the songs.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Old Fashioned Consultant Sell

As radio really came of age in the 80s one of the keys many sales teams used was 'the Consultant Sell.' The concept was built around the sales people taking more of a role as a marketing advisor than just being a person who sold 60 second spots. Learn as much as you can about the business you are selling to and apply all your marketing knowledge and resources to help them make a name for themselves or ring the cash register. The goal was to become their trusted advisor, on the inside of their marketing plans which would obviously mean more sales for you and the station.

It was really a great idea and when it was well done by a sales person it did move the needle on the sales budget and also worked well for many clients who now had a trusted advisor at a media outlet that reached the whole market at a reasonable cost.

We don't hear much about the 'Consultant Sell' anymore. In fact you don't hear much about this style of selling in any industry anymore. One would think that this is a basic building block of selling anything - learning as much about your customer as possible and then try to fill their needs. The sales person who could fill this role should be in the drivers seat.

I see a couple of reasons the Consultant Sell could have fallen off in Radio:
  1. Too many Corporate mandates. Who has time to hang with the local Auto Supply store or Insurance Agent to find ways to help them build their business. You have 2 sales meetings, a mandated call sheet, a budget session, 5 spots to write/produce and 3 pitch presentations due today.
  2. Not much support. When you have to do all the research, presentations, write your spots, and work with an overstressed promotion department you have to wonder what resources you really have to offer as a marketing consultant to the local business person.
While these reasons may be factors at some stations I suspect the real reason the Consultant Sell isn't used is because it doesn't work anymore. In today's world anyone who can use Google can network on their own to find out all about new marketing techniques and theories. They can stop in on any number of web sites to learn how to use databases, the web, viral video, search engines, ebay, and many more options.

No doubt the web has replaced the sales person in many industries as an expert on their wares. Here in radio we do still have the sales teams - but do they have a role in today's world to relate to the business owners and potential advertisers? Maybe it's time to take the old idea and rebuild it for the New Realities of the digital and new media world.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Product Priorities


Even though Summer officially begins this weekend and vacations are in the air this is the time for every manager to take a look ahead at the Fall. A year ago we really hit wall in the Fall with the economic downturn becoming a nose dive and for most any plans or priorities were tossed overboard for survival. Hopefully the 'storm' has passed and while it has left some damage to the products to repair this Fall you should be able to start looking at rebuilding the product and at least setting some priorities besides cutting everything you could.

So where do you start?

While the specific needs of your station or group of stations are no doubt unique there are some common areas that I bet everyone can look at as starting points to rebuilding the products. Here are 5 areas I bet would be on your list:

  1. Get an Honest Evaluation: What shape is your product in? Have you lost key people that are affecting the quality? How are your ratings holding up? Has the competition made any progress or have YOU made any progress during the last year riding the storm out
  2. What training and coaching does your product team need as their roles have probably shifted and their time constraints are larger than they were a year ago. Is one of your PDs now handling more stations in the cluster? Are you doing a lot more with fewer staffers and wonder how can they get help to cover all their work and still do a good job?
  3. Production and Imaging: This is a crucial department to not only the product but also to sales and clients. Getting good messages on the air for clients to move product with is the lifeblood and I bet many of you cut back this department. It's also the place where the messages and images for the stations are built. Rebuilding this department could be the fastest return on your investment in the building.
  4. Promotions: Another spot where many cluster had to cut back on. Just like production and imaging this is another spot where clients interact and use the product to move goods and services. It's also a place where a lot of the images for the product are built. Getting it back in shape can return on the investment.
  5. Research: What does the audience think of your product now? How damaging was it to trim out that Mid-day person? Did the promotion cutbacks matter? How about the competition - did they advance? Has their music preferences shifted? Are their feelings about radio as dire as we've been lead to believe? We have lots of questions on the product side and while some of them are not worth answering with a tight budget others are crucial. Many stations have gone years without much perceptual research - it's probably time to get much closer to the audience.
  6. The Web: The web and new media have advanced. In the last year satellite radio has faded and the Ipod has become rather common place - no longer the newest gadget in the bag. Now it's the cell phone and the smart phone - using apps and streaming stations into these devices is the new hot gadget. We also have new smaller computers (the Net Book) and more and more wifi in the world. Between the smart phones and the more wifi world the audience is getting closer to a fully plugged in and portable communication experience. While terrestrial radio has let much of the past web/new media world pass it by this is our opportunity to jump in. No it won't return on the investment now, but in 2-3 years those who move on the options here can expand their distribution to the new media. Remember all the years AM wished it could become FM? Here there is no tower-transmitter-modulation system to limit the conversion. Get out that and stake your claim and build it.
There are plenty of opportunities as the economy improves and business gets back to growing instead of just surviving. This summer is the time to assess the situation and build your plans to get moving this Fall and into 2010.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wow Cell Phone Households - Big JUMP

The Center for Disease Control has released a preview of their bi-annual study on Cell Phone Households from the last 1/2 of 2008.   Of course it grew again and now over 20% of the households in the country have no land line.  Another 14.5% take almost all of their calls on the cell phone despite having a land line.  

That's nearly 35% of the country and if you break it down by demos and over the last 6 years it's a pretty amazing graph: 
In 18-34s is around 40% - nearly half and at the rate it is growing it will probably hit 50% of this demo before 09 ends.   Even when you move to the 45+ cells it's around 15%.  

Keep in mind that this study was from last year and with the recession hitting so hard as the year wrapped up no doubt the growth of Cell Phone Only households will pick up even more.  Cutting out the 20 or 30 bucks a month to the land line is really pretty painless - gee now I can add the data package and not even notice it.  

Aside from the trends in the audience here we also have to realize that this greatly affects our ability to have somewhat accurate audience ratings and research.  Connecting with Cell Phones for research is very hard or impossible as we all know seeing the shrinking samples in our audience research.   We also have to look at the audience research we do in music tests and perceptual studies.  If they are based on telephone samples they are missing at least 20% and probably closer to 40% of the population and in the younger demos it's over 50%.  

If you look at the early snippets from the study you can see that the cell phone only world is different on many levels.  We'll see more in a few weeks when the whole study is released.  You can read the preview here. 

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A Current Music Slump??

As we approach the Summer we usually hit the meat of the new songs  for the year in Rock.  Traditionally there is very little action in November, December and January with signs of life in February and by May we are looking at lots of options and usually there are a few real standouts building to the peak in August to October.   

2008 was a banner year when you look at the year end charts.   Especially on the Active Rock charts. 

On the Center Rock stage we had a long list of fairly established bands and a few new comers.  In the top 40 on the year end list you can see Seether, Theory of a Deadman, Buckcherry, Hinder, Finger 11, Nickleback, Saving Abel, Stained and more.  

On the Harder Rock side Disturbed, Slipknot, Korn, Drowning Pool and others kept the hard core's attention.  

On the 'Heritage' stage Metallica, AC/DC, Guns and Roses, Motley Crue, 3 Doors Down, Apocalyptica and Sixx AM came on with some strong songs or at least releases that the audience seemed eager to hear at first.   

So far this year the picking's been a bit dry.  The big news is the new Green Day which may be our only ace in the hand.  Papa Roach came out late in 08 and is still fairly fresh.  Pretty much the rest of the top 20 chart as May gets underway is filled with:  
  • Leftovers from the Big Releases from last year.
  • Songs that just won't go away even though they have been around 8 months or more. 
  • Songs from big artists that just are not testing or causing much excitement (Pearl Jam/U2)
  • Brand New artists we really don't know much about yet, Red - Cavo, All That Remains, etc. 
Looking over the Alternative charts the story might be a little better with the breakthrough of the Kings of Leon, the return of Silversun Pickups, and Anberlin but a lot of the rest overlaps with the Active Rock charts and suffers from the same issues mentioned above.   

Should we be looking at playing less currents?  It might be worth the debate when you look at what is out there right now.  It could be that all the issues in the record label side have put us in a bit of a drought.   This could very well be a Summer that is more focused on CHR Pop and Urban tracks with not a ton of effort for Rock.  

It might be time to review your clocks and turnovers so you don't get caught with a set up that's too dependent on strong currents - there may not be enough real 'hits' here to pick from.  

Your library and older recurrent cards may be worth more in your music poker hand than those current aces.  


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Are You Ready For Summer?

After a tough winter on many levels we are finally seeing the signs of Summer in the Northern Half of the Country and it's time to get your station ready.   Often we seem to push Summer off in radio programming.  The Summer book (if you have one) is usually not that important for business and the staff is usually taking vacations and laying back.  

But, Summer is one of the most important times for the audience and entertainment.  Radio has a real chance to shine as TV largely shuts down and our mobile medium has the advantage of being able to move with the audience.  As they spend more time outside radio goes with them to the patio, the car, out in the community and even to the beach/pool.  This is a time to hustle if you want to build your audience for the Fall.  

Here's a quick checklist of areas you can focus on to make your station shine in the Summer:   

  • Festivals and Community Events: Every area has their events of Summer and your station needs to be center stage at as many of them as possible.  Don't just show up with the vehicle - make it an on air event somehow.  If you look into any event surly there is something you can really get behind.  It could be as simple as a dunk tank with local celebs at the local fair, or maybe a raft race at a water fest, setting the fireworks to music, or a rib cook off at the food fair.  Twist it and make it unique and you can be the star of the event, but you have to plan ahead to win.   
  • Concerts: There are a lot more of them in Summer and it's time to look at your presence and involvement with the bigger shows.  
  • Music: There is more new music available throughout Summer.  Are you clocks and systems up to to the task of introducing more new songs - this can be exciting if the artists are big.  You also usually have a few new artists pop up every Summer - are your systems ready to see them bloom?   If you are more library driven (and even if you are not look at your library) consider that Summer means FRESH to the audience.  The Heat brings a different tempo to them also.  Is your music up and hot?  Or dull and boring?  
  • Think Mobile:  The audience moves around more in the Summer.  They spend more time in their cars, get out on the weekends, and get outdoors a lot more.  Is your team working this reality into their content, is the energy of the station matching the energy in the audience, and are you working in your imaging and presence to be with them as the get out?   
  • Services:  Weather and Traffic take on a whole new world in Summer.  It's more likely that the real issues in both shift from Mornings to Afternoon.   In the Winter we get snows and school closings and many of the issues revolve around Morning Drive.  In the Summer it's thunderstorms and a bit lower traffic in Mornings.  For a lot of the service info this changes the whole game - are you ready.   Also do you have a full plan for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and other disasters.  They are different in Summer - storms can pop up anywhere in Summer, for big snows we usually have some idea what's coming a day or more ahead.   
  • Sports:  It's moved outside and now the audience is more likely to be playing more sports also.  
  • Brighten the Station:  Enjoy the Sun and have more Fun with the audience.  Make the station sound bright and hot every day.  
Summer is special - make sure your station is special this Summer.  It will pay off in the Fall. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The State Of Classic Rock


Classic Rock started around 25 years ago as one of the first sub folders of the origional AOR/Rock formats of the 70s.  When you go back to the 80s most rock outlets had pretty much the same approach of 40% currents and 60% older songs dating back to the late 60s.  

As Classic Rock began to spread many AOR/Rock outlets became pretty defensive on the library side of their music mix.  It was a period when AOR was moving from it's dominance of 18-24s to having enough 25-40 year old listeners to start winning the all important 25-54 demo.   Of course a format that targeted just the 25-40s at the time was not just a threat to the 12 plus braging rights - this was danger to the bottom line in the sales department.  Many a GM and Owner issued the command to either join the format now or be prepared to win when it comes.  

By the time we hit the 90s rock radio had undergone a complete transition.  Now there were 4 emerging formats (Alternative, Active Rock, Classic Rock and the AOR/Rock as well as a few scattered Adult Alternatives).  In many ways the Classic Rock format was the golden one with strong 25-54 shares and the easiest for the sales deparment to work with for clients.   

But, where does it stand now?  When you look at the music mix most Classic Rock stations focus on rock titles from 1967 to 1988.  The average year is 1978 to maybe 1980 - 30 years ago.  If you were in High School in 1979 you are now 45 to 48 years old in the last phase of the 25-54 demo.  This group made up 2/3rds or more of the 25-54 demo in the 90s and now it's around a 1/3rd.   

A decade ago we saw the same situation with the Oldies stations.  While many had consistent strong 12+ ranks they had fallen too far down in 25-54s as their audience aged.  The format moved from being mostly a 50s and 60s world to a whole new era balance.   

The make over for Oldies in most cases forced a whole new position and often a name change.  The word 'oldies' meant Elvis to the late 60s to the audience and had to completely evolve.  Still the former oldies stations are still challenged in 25-54 and their audience is still aging out of the key demo.   They have put a finger in the dike, but the dam is still cracking. 

Classic Rock faces the same challenges.   For most of the audience the format IS the 70s and 80s.  When you try to move beyond Guns and Roses in the late 80s it's tough to convince the P1 audience that this is also Classic Rock.  

While there are still good 25-40 shares for many Classic Rockers and we even see good 18-24s once in a while when you get a few in the sample that like to play in mom and dad's record collection the days are numbered.   As you break out 25-34s and 35-44s you can see the down trends although they are often offset by the strength of 45-54s.  

How will Classic Rock evolve it's music mix to maintain it's 25-54 strength?  It's a big question and D-Day is fast approaching.    

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Local Local Local

We hear it over and over that the key to success for the radio industry will come from it's local advantage.  Local is clearly our trump card as most of the new media is rather national or worldly in scope.   

One of the big parts of my travels is monitoring the market. For the 3 or so days the visit lasts the biggest task is absorbing as much of the market as possible.  Yet, when boiling down the monitor notes it's surprising that so many stations seem to ignore the local opportunity.  

The music list is often the 'national norm', the sweepers/imaging are a collection of stuff stolen from other stations, and jocks all seem to follow the standard patterns in their breaks.  The promotions are often copies of contests done elsewhere and even the logo or station brand can be found in many other markets (Jack, the X, Rock 102, Q92, The Fox, etc).   

When you do find a station that's embraced the local angle it's usually a long term success.  Just look at DVE, RIF, KSHE, and a host of others.  These stations are woven into their communities. If you look at the music mix on each of them you'll see some big differences.  DVE insists on playing The Clarks, RIF's list is often loaded with Michigan rockers, and if you do any music research in St. Louis you better be prepared to test some classics you've never thought of.  

These stations also hit the streets all the time.  They don't just show up at a festival in the summer with a booth - they create events that often make the festival a much bigger hit.  They don't miss a concert or a hot local sports team.  Their jocks talk about the community, know the streets, and are in touch with what the local audience is thinking about.  

It's not just covering a few local stories in the news or in the weather and traffic, it's a beat that's underneath the whole station.  Every market has a 'personality.'  You go to Springfield IL and you eat horseshoe sandwiches,  Milwaukee it's brats and cheese.  Every city has a street culture that's unique, even in the smaller cities.  

In some cases the great local stations have MADE events and traditions in the city.  The EBN Fireworks, the Philly MMR Cardboard Classic, and The Bear's Howler Halloween party in Edmonton.  

Some blame the corporate radio conglomerates, but DVE is Clear Channel, KQRS is Citadel, and FBQ is also Clear Channel.  

It also doesn't take a ton of money to become woven into your community.  It does take careful planning, creativity, and a huge effort from the whole staff.  Even if you are running with a syndicated morning show and just 2 jocks you can still build a huge local presence.  After all you have a big tower that talks to the whole community. 

All you have to do is use it.   

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Getting the Staff Prepared Every Day

Formatic radio often ends up being very robotic.  We follow the same clocks day after day with the same 300 (or less) songs rotating around and read the same liners over and over.  

So what's to prepare for?  

Everyday is not the same for our audience and also every day is not the same for the station.  

These 2 points need to be at the center of every show every day.   

  • What's important to the audience:  It might be the economy, Cramer was on The Daily Show, baseball started, the final 4, hockey playoffs or maybe the news that Metallica is coming to town.  It could also be that construction has started on the big freeway or any number of local issues that affect their lives.  

  • What's important to the station: It could be very different from what's important to the audience.  The station may be having a big night to cap off the final 4 promotion at a local club.  You might be announcing that Harley giveaway for the Spring book.  The morning show may have pranked George Clooney.  
As you can see the 2 points are very different, but just as important when the air team hits the studio for their shows.  

Make sure they all know the 2 priorities and learn to build them into their shows.  It can make the difference from a station that just spinning the hits to one that is woven into their audience.  

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Radio's Outdated Research Systems

We really don't have any index or measure of how many stations are doing any 'formal' audience research, but it's probably a safe bet that few are.  The days of doing an annual perceptual study and a full auditorium library test are most likely fading, or in many markets completely gone.  No doubt the economic slump isn't allowing the 'luxury' of gathering the audience's impressions of our products.  Clear Channel used to have a division (Critical Mass) with hundreds of people devoted to perceptual, call out and telephone marketing, now it's pretty much dismantled.  No doubt many in the top 50 markets are flying without any 'radar' looking out at the audience and gathering their impressions, preferences, and the reasons why they listen.  

Perhaps with all the data we have from PPM what do we really need research for anymore?  With PPM the game has changed from a recall strategy.  Now we actually see what the sample listens to minute by minute every day without any recall on their part.   We can see when they tune out and trace back to see why?  But, do we really know?  Did they leave because they hated the song or jock?  Or did they have to go to work and leave the car?  Did they pick up the kids and they flipped on another station?  

While we can finally see an accurate picture of what they listen to we really don't know why they listen, or why they don't.  We used to get some of the picture from perceptual and music testing, but we also had to tailor our research to the reality (from the past) that the audience had to recall their listening - not have it measured automatically.   Before we often won if the audience just remembered our call letters, frequency or slogan - now they actually have to listen for it to count.  

For many stations the perceptual and music testing has been taken over by the station's database.  The folks who are big enough fans to visit the web site, bother to sign up for another database, and wait for their mailbox to fill up with our newsletters.   We can test our music with them, ask a few usage questions, and maybe even find out who they think will win American Idol. But, these little bites of data we get from a small universe of very dedicated P1s is a very distorted picture of market and the audience.  We really can't see the much larger P2 groups or fans of other stations that could also be users of our product.   No doubt the low cost of doing music testing and asking a few questions of the super P1s in your database is worth it, but we have to realize it's not a very complete picture.   

The advent of PPM, the changes in the way the world communicates, and the economic realities are all combining, making the old styles of research outdated and ineffective.  

Spending 50K (or more) on a perceptual study that only reaches the households that will bother to answer the phone and hang with a 25 minute questionnaire are gone.  While we used to justify using the telephone with 'that's the way Arbitron does it' it doesn't work anymore.  Even Arbitron is trying to use address based samples to gather the sample and in PPM they pretty much keep the same panel for up to 18 months.   

Not only do we lack the budget in today's world - is the data still giving us an useful picture?  

In PPM we are now looking more at behavior - not recall.   To be effective we actually have to understand how they behave, not just what they remember or what we've drilled into their brains.   But, we've pretty much quit asking the questions in an organized and strategic format.   And it's happening at a time when we have a complete overhaul going on in the media landscape.  This is like shutting down all the weather monitoring systems in Oklahoma in February for 8 months - we'll just keep looking out the window for those pesky tornadoes.  

It's time to get our heads out of the sand and start listening to the audience again, but we also need a new model.   The perceptual studies from the 70s/80s are too slow, cumbersome and expensive in today's world.   On top of that we are still asking lots of questions that date back to the recall days of measurement.   

It's time for innovation in research, but is anyone working on it?  


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rock and PPM

With the news of K Rock in New York flipping to CHR from Rock there are some interesting questions on the format in general.  

K Rock launched 2 years ago as the news out of Philly's early days with PPM that Rock formats look to be gaining from the change in measurement systems.  The early graphs comparing the data clearly showed in Philly and Houston that rock radio's shares were a lot higher.  Back in the Fall of 06 both WMMR and WMGK in Philly were up over 70%.  

The thought was that with a broader panel that was in place for longer runs and able to be more 'controlled' for demo spread and the move to the meter, which didn't require writing it down or remembering listening would benefit rock.  Philly added a rock outlet and suddenly New York was back into rock with 2 stations added to the format.  

In the end PPM's benefits for rock may have cooled, but the reality here just may be that K Rock didn't do a very good job in launching the station and flat out failed.  Some of the likely reasons: 
  • Morning show - Oppie and Anthony may have had some interest in NYC, but it clearly wasn't enough.  They may have had a chance to really establish themselves if they had been able to build on their gains leading up to the Sex for Sam bit that pushed them off the air.  But, the years waiting to come back and the dominance of Howard took much of that avenue away.  
  • Music Image - In the end a lot of the station rode on O and A and tried to keep what audience they had to hang in there.  The problem is that O and A hurt any chance to develop a music image for KRock.  
  • Music Strategy - What was it?  They played everything from Classic Rock stuff like Heart to the latest from harder rock bands like Shinedown.  Really they only played 1 current an hour for the most part and tried to wander to Alternative, some pop Active Rock acts, and a bunch of Classic Rock all mixed in.  With another Classic Rock in the market and now a 'Adult Alternative' what did K Rock really stand for?   They could have been a more pure Alternative or Active rock and focused on the 18-40 audience but they took a broad approach and tried to cross cume with the Classic Rock and probably also reacted to the launch of the Adult Alternative.  The launch with the K Rock Los Angeles team sort of 'passing on the playlist' and then a number of shifts as they PDs left the station.  The air staff also wandered around.  Really the only constant here was O and A with a wandering approach in all the other dayparts
KRock could have taken advantage of the gains PPM has to offer (by fairly sampling 18-49 Men) if they had followed some basic rules to making a great rock station:  

  • BE LOCAL - This rings true more so in rock than any other format.  KROQ in LA is a very unique product that is tailor made for LA.   WDVE is different from most other heritage Classic Rock leaning stations - completely customized for Pittsburgh.   We could go on and on here.  You have to reflect your community in rock more than any other format.  This is really a street format and you have to come from the streets to build it.   Having an British guy in afternoons and a playlist mostly from LA to launch with really hurt here.  
  • ESTABLISH A MUSIC POSITION - There was plenty of room to come on and be the loudest, proudest and in you face rock station in NYC.  It was obvious and last year was a great year for this approach musically.  
  • A MORNING SHOW THE REST OF THE STATION CAN KEEP UP WITH - Not that O and A overshadowed the station by that much - but they made every day about them - not the station.  Also going with a Syndicated product that was in pressure for many markets as well as their XM deal really made O and A NOT a part of K ROCK.   They were from another planet beaming it into the biggest market in the country.   At least Howard earned a huge NYC audience before attempting to branch out.   
  • MORE THAN BILLBOARDS - Yes they had lots of them, but building a rock community in NYC would have been a lot more valuable.  Building the club and concert scene, getting your team out in the streets, and making the station musically special on a regular basis would have helped build more than just some rock cume passing through.   
When you look at WAXQ (Classic Rock) on paper or through the speakers the playlist is very New York driven and the air talent has a long history in rock in the area.  This station has worked the streets for a long time and is first in mind for rock music as it was the only outlet to count on for much of the last decade.  They were hovering around a 3 share in the old diary system - now they are a full share stronger in the 4s.  As K Rock leaves they will likely go higher.  

There are great opportunities for Rock formats with PPM.  The audience is at a very strong point right now.  But, you have to do the homework and hit the street.  This is not a plug and play format.  

Monday, March 02, 2009

Pumping Up RADIO

As we watch another exciting plunge in the stock market and more reports on radio's economic picture for 08 and the first months of 09 - the news looks worse every day.   Here are a couple of thoughts that might help:  

A Message for ALL:
Here's a thought - think of all the commercials we ran for HD radio. In the Nielsen most played commercials 'charts' the HD campaign was in the top 3 for much of 08.   How about launching a new campaign across all formats and stations that goes like this:   

Hi this is your radio.  Yes I've been around a long time with music, news, sports, weather, traffic and witty comments here and there.  But if you look deeper you'll learn that radio can really help this economy and our community get out of these tough times.  Radio gets advertising messages out to 94% of our community and the whole nation every week.  The retailers of our area can get the word out on their products and get this economy moving again for very reasonable costs.   Radio is also easy to use - a few creative words and your good to go.  The message efficiently reaches our market area.   Radio - a part of your community, living here, working here, playing here and striving to make our area a better place.  

Of course a professional copy creator could probably do a better job, but our industry could turn this tough economy into a turning point for Terrestrial Radio with a well crafted message like this.  I know we didn't do a great job of selling HD radio, but this is a basic message we could sell to our audience and clients.  And the good news - it's true.   

Bright Spots in the Economy Dust Storm: 
There are some business and retail segments that are growing in this downtrend.  I gathered these from a bunch of stories from USA Today, CNN, CNBC, Yahoo and MSNBC:  

Movies:  The box office for 08 was off around 5% but for the first 2 months of 09 it's up 15%.  Just like in the depression when the  movie industry became a big industry.  Escaping the reality is worth a price.  

Fast Food:  Just about everyone is improving - especially McDonalds and Subway.  

Wal-Mart - Discount Stores: We're looking for bargains

Cell Phones - There's still growth left and lots of 'turf wars' over subscribers.  Give up your land line?  Why Not.   Turn in your Cell Phone?  Are you crazy? 

Used Cars - January was a strong showing for Used Car sales.  Maybe we can't go for the new cars, but that 05 Mustang looks pretty good.  Car dealers often make as much or more on their used inventory.  

Financial Services - From Tax prep firms, to credit assistance, to bankruptcy assistance.   It's a time for these services to grow.  

College and Trade Schools:  Plenty of people who could use new skills and now with college tax credits, more loans and some layoff packages offering re-training the local colleges are running at full throttle.  

Home Style Cookin:  Restaurants that are off the beaten path and offer 'comfort food' are gaining more customers.   Good news these are often local advertisers.   

Bars, Beer and liquor stores:  Biz is up here - we can guess why.  

Video Games:  Activision and EA games had record profits in 08 and were some of the best gaining stocks in January.  Game Stop is opening 300 or more stores this year!!!

Little Luxuries:  Flowers.com did a huge number this Valentines day.  So did Pajama Gram and Vermont Teddy Bears, with a lot of it from their radio campaigns.  Many higher end restaurants also did well.  We'll spend the money for love. 

Banks: They need to restore their trust in the community and get funds flowing into them.  They need to market.    

You can bet there are more business segments that will gain in this down time.  If you have any stories pass them on.   



Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Rebuilding Radio's Advertising Potential
















After signing up for a daily Ad Age newsletter I started getting the weekly Ad Age magazine for some promotional reason.  Was roaming through it over breakfast this morning for their Super Bowl wrap up coverage, which was very interesting.   

One thing stood out - Full Page ads for both Val Pak and Newspapers posted above (sorry they didn't all scan in, but you get the picture here).   

We have 2 older type advertising media here.  The Cox owned Val Pak direct mail service, which Cox is trying to sell along with a few newspapers.  And one from the Newspaper Project, an industry alliance to help their cause.   

2 media that are way behind radio in reaching the masses.   While Val Pak is in many markets they don't have full coverage and still rely on the mail box - a tough delivery system.  Newspapers are falling in their reach and while they claim 100 million readers here - radio reaches over 230 million people 12 plus in a week according to the latest Arbitron estimates (mostly done with diaries - imagine what it will be with PPM in the top 30 markets). 

Looking at a number of Ad Age issues I only caught 3 radio ads or campaigns in the last 6 months.   1 came from SBS - Spanish Broadcasting - with a small ad in a special Hispanic section Ad Age did.   Another came from Entercom who ran a very nice full page ad that explained their properties and reach.  The only RAB ad was for their 'radio coverage' of the Ad Week convention last September.  It didn't talk about radio or any of our advantages, just that they had some kind of radio system set up to deliver podcasts and to broadcast live updates at the convention.  Gee - that really helps sell the media, we can talk about the latest Google marketing system or maybe cover the conference on the latest way to reach people on the web. 

While Ad Age may not be the best vehicle to promote our potential to market stuff to our huge audience what kind of effort are we really making here?   It's one thing to offer lots of sales training and come up with a few buttons that say Radio Heard Here.   It's another to rebuild the image of Radio as a media that reaches nearly the whole country on a local level with very affordable programs.  

We need to 'fly the flag' a lot more for our industry.  If you look through Ad Age's articles only one showed up on some form of radio - Did Mel Pay Too Much For Howard.   Even Ad Age seems to have forgotten all about our Cinderella story.   Maybe it's time to hitch up the pumpkin coach, get all dressed up and hit the ball.   I bet if we spent just 1/2 of the money spent in Washington trying to push for more consolidation on some public relations and selling our advantages we could have weathered this storm a lot better.    Radio could have the image as an efficient, huge reach, and economical way to market products.   Just the tool to un-freeze the customer without killing your budget.   

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Making a Syndicated Show Local












I think it's pretty obvious that the key to Radio's success and future lies in being Local and having strong ties to your local audience and community.   It's our BIG ADVANTAGE in the whole new media world that is very 'national and international' in its scope.  

We also see some big advantages in using Syndicated shows.  When you look at the debate in using a show like Bob and Tom in mornings the advantages usually outweigh everything.  Say it costs you 110K in market 120 to have the show.  If you tried to build a local show for 120K you would have to be very lucky to find 2 or 3 people who could even mount a very basic show for that price.  You wouldn't have the parade of comedians, stars, and the well timed humor of a veteran crew like Bob and Tom.  In many cases Bob and Tom outperform the rest of the station and add 20% or more to the overall shares and usually win (or come close) in 25-54s.  It takes a big local show to beat them.  

But, they can be beat with a local show.  A show that hits the streets, covers the local scene and preps with a vengeance can zip right past them.   Having worked on both sides of this street we've learned a few 'tricks':
  • Working With A Syndicated Show:  No matter if it's B/T or Alice Cooper or any one of the other shows the key is making it a real part of the the station.  Don't just aim the satellite dish, program the digital studio and sit back.  Make the show as local as possible with tons of recycling, custom inserts in the show, special imaging (including lots cut by the show''s stars) in the breaks and make sure to use the show in as may promotions as you can.   Don't just give away a Harley - make it the Bob and Tom Harley and tie them in someway on the air.  Weave the show into the WHOLE day and on the flip side weave your station into their show as much as you possibly can.  
  • Beating a Syndicated Show:  Make your show as local as possible and make it as great as possible.  Remember you are going up against great talent - average talent doesn't get syndicated.  Your team has to know the audience inside and out, know the community, and be super prepared every morning.  It takes lots of coaching, good talent in the room and a non stop effort in the streets.  You also need to package the show well, build a strong web interactive presence and make every show noteworthy/special.   
Yes they are simple steps, but so many times when look at the stations who don't win in either scenario they either thought that B/T would save the day all by themselves.   Or on the other side that just having a bit of local flavor would put their weak show on top.  

In the end it takes dedication and tons of hard work to make a show work today.  Especially in Mornings the field is often crowded.   And in today's tight belted world finding the resources to make a show into a winner is a challenge.   But, it can be done.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Views on the New Year In Radio

Of course we face many challenges as 09 starts off with a deep freeze here in the North.  It seems as if the whole world is frozen with an economy that seems so confusing and desperate that everyone and everything has come to a stand still.  No doubt it will thaw out, but we are the only ones who can warm the climate here.  

On to some notes from the first few weeks of events and news in Radio: 

The mass layoffs at Clear Channel and other groups is tough to watch.  Having worked for CC they gave up some very talented people from the programming side and no doubt also left some productive sales people on the street.  But, did they do much trimming in their corporate accounting and legal teams?   I bet not.  

Even though these jobs don't really produce the product or make revenue from it I bet there are still people counting every penny 3 times and lawyers reviewing every contract and dragging things out.   I remember when CC took over the AM/FM world and most of the business managers were rather stunned at the corporate oversight.  Nothing happened without a long list of approvals and seemed out of control on the local level.  OK, so times are tough and cuts were needed.  Was it the best move to cut programming even further (it was already past the bone) and now to cut out sales people?  Could a few productive people have been spared by only counting the pennies 2 times? 

While we can question the cuts the reality is - it's time to remake our business.  It's time to get hungry again and re-invent our programming and our sales systems for a new world that is already here and passing us by.  

PPM has now spread it's wings to Canada with the first release of the Fall ratings in Montreal.  The rest of the bigger markets in Canada will adopt the system over the next 2 years. There are some differences as they have set the meters to measure it minute by minute and they print out the Cume by both the Average Daily Cume and the Cume for the whole survey.   It was interesting to see that Cumulative Cume number - the top 3 stations reached over 3 million people in a market of 3.3 million, 4 more stations reached over 2.5 million!!!  Wow you could reach nearly the whole market by just buying 1 station if you ran the message for 13 weeks.   Don't know any other media where you can accomplish that.  

PBS - Make Em Laugh should be must see TV for your air staff.  This is a complete history of comedy from all angles.  Billy Crystal and Amy Sedaris host the show and gives your air staff a big picture look at what makes comedy work.   All the styles from shocking to physical prat falls are showcased with a complete history of all the greats in each style.  If you're going to entertain an audience you need to study the craft and this is a great resource.   

Music Thoughts for 09:  In 08 we had a good year in rock with veterans like AC/DC, Metallica, Guns n' Roses, and Motley Crue adding to an already strong line up of more current bands like 3 Days Grace, Theory of a Deadman, and many more.  The year starts off with U2 returning and perhaps a Pearl Jam and STP CD later in the year.   It doesn't look as promising as 09 did, but you never know. 

A Programming Thought For the New Year:  Radio has been all about the format for a very long time.  I don't mean being Rock or CHR or AC - I mean our programming structure on the air hour after hour.   It's the same clocks and rotations nearly every day.  10 in a Row every hour with breaks :40 and :50 or some other robotic plan.   The same rotation system day after day to the point where we have to trick the software so everyone doesn't know what A is next in the stack.  Why can't every day be unique, surprising and a little different?  It's time to get creative - anyone with a computer can duplicate robotic-formatic radio.  In any research we do the biggest audience complaint is repetition and while they often cite the music a little probing also shows they mean the formatics that rule every hour over and over.  For your brand to stand out and be a leader you have to lead them somewhere.  Let's quit being robots and start being outgoing - creative humans again.