Friday, January 22, 2010

Is Your Morning Show In Sync With Brand Expectations?

It seems like every month we watch some pretty legendary all talk Morning Shows being ditched in PPM markets.  Johnny B, Dahl, Chainsaw, Lex & Terry, and probably a few more I missed have all been pushed off in the last 18 months or so.  The big reason is that they just don't perform as well in PPM as they did in the old diary days.  The big costs of the shows just doesn't seem to pay off in a PPM world.  

In the diary days shows like this seemed to drive the station outperforming the rest of the dayparts and offering a big lead in.  Most of these shows started out (many 20 years ago or more) playing some music and really being more of an integrated piece of the brand.  As they grew in popularity (or assumed popularity) and developed more content they started ditching the music all together.  For most of them going back to a mix of music and their content didn't seem possible so the buy outs or letting the contracts lapse began.

Even if you are not in a PPM market you have to wonder if your all talk morning show is really performing as well as you perceive it from the data you're getting now.

It looks like we have 2 big factors that are playing into this trend:  

  1. Brand Confusion - If you are THE ROCK STATION or THE CLASSIC ROCK STATION to the audience your brand is built around music to a big degree.  The all talk morning shows are often a brand on to themselves with few ties to the whole station in any content.  When you add that they don't play music (which is a central image to the brand) they end up on an even more remote island.  Are you're station P1s also P1s of the Morning Show?  And are you Morning Show P1s fans of the music side?  Often not - we saw this most in the Howard Stern stations which often had great loyalty in the Diary world but ended up with a cliff after the show when the music hit.  Notice how most of the Howard stations ended up in a different format after he left - their music images were so low there was little to recover and keep the station alive. 
  2. Sample Sizes - PPM samples are around 40% (or less) of the sample sizes we had in the diary days.  While there are more meters around every day collecting data than we had with diaries in their hands the final numbers in the diary days had more individuals in the sample and the sample changed every week.   The PPM sample is also listening to nearly twice as many stations in an average week.  Fewer individuals that spend less time with any one station, than we saw in their diary recall data, ends up with fewer opportunities to reach the super P1s for a given personality.   We also see more listening to the other dayparts in PPM than we saw in the diaries so your Morning Show is also less likely to out-perform the other dayparts.  You can't just live on a great morning show as much as you could before.  
The lesson to learn here - you Morning Show better be in Sync with the Whole Brand - not just itself.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Making Big Events

Doing promotions is a great way to make any product (including your station) stand out.  We often think it takes big prizes or a huge event to get noticed.  Really what it takes is an ANGLE.  Something creative that catches the audience with a bit of a surprise.

Take this one from White Castle - who claims that if you want to break up on Valentines Day do it at the Castle:

Here's the official explanation from the White Castle Team:
Wanna get dumped on Valentine's Day? Try taking your lady to White Castle. But you'll need a reservation. The home of late-night cravings has had a Valentine's Day promotion since 1991, and it's expanded every year. This chain closes participating locations to Valentine's couples with reservations.

The special: a "steamy," "candlelit dinner" of 10 sliders, two 21-ounce sodas and French fries for $10.49, "leaving plenty of room in the budget for flowers, candy and entertainment." Staff will also upload a photo of your "romantic rendezvous" to the White Castle website. The restaurants will also be decked out in "theme" d├ęcor

You can see it doesn't take a lot here and it today's multi-media world they can get good coverage and get those White Castle's noticed.   Might not be a bad bit for your Morning Show to do if you have a Castle in your market.   
We can all learn from their example.  All you need to do is get creative.  

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Rock's Music Drought

Happy New Year and New Decade

After 2 weeks of celebrating we're all back building great radio and of course that means the first music meeting or review of your currents for the year.

What's there?

Not much a bunch of 3 and 4th songs from releases as old as 18 months, a few new bands we added back in October that really haven't taken off yet and when you look at what's out to add -- it's even drier.  

We usually max out over the Summer and Fall as the music industry typically gets most stuff out before the holidays then takes off.  Hopefully we recover in Jan/Feb and by March we're off to a good year?

If you go back the last time we had a good year was 2008 and maybe 2007 for new releases.  Right now we are running on fumes for the Currents and there is not much out there to consider.   For most of the stations I work with we are revamping the clocks and adjusting rotations to deal with a new reality that new music will be scarce.  

The other factor we have to consider here is that Record Companies have been going through near death (or death) experiences and no doubt they are not signing as many new acts and also not able to work the old system to promote them.

So how are we going to capture new music and bands in the future (which seems to be now)?   Should we be scanning My Space? Digging bands out of the clubs and bars? That's pretty risky move and we all know the odds of hitting anything that sticks is probably worse than the lottery - especially when you are working this plan all by yourself for the most part.  

Obviously we need a whole new approach.   Any realistic ideas?