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.   

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