Thursday, October 27, 2011

RIF = Reinventing Radio

The recent lay offs in Radio now known as a Reduction In Force is sad especially for those with a pink slip.  The news stories and comments all over the web/social media lament the loss of our brothers/sisters in radio and much of the content is pretty negative on the bigger broadcasters and also on the state of radio.

Many wonder how radio will become a strong local force with fewer bodies in the building.  How will they create local content when much of it comes from programmers or computers or air talent in far away places?  Isn't 'Local' radio's ace in the hole with internet radio?

Radio is re-inventing itself and the priorities are different than the model we built in the 80s, and earlier that we all seem to cling to.  Some of it comes from consolidation, some from computers being able to do the work as well as network, there is new competition, new ratings systems, and new opportunities to distribute on new media.

We have woken up on a different planet.  The gravity is different allowing us to move quicker and the communication has evolved.  Yet we still seem to move in an organization that lives on the old planet.

Radio has had opportunities to evolve in the past and in many cases we've made valiant attempts, but in the end the foundations of the industry seem to struggle.  The pressure has built and now we are at a point where the structure within the stations will be clearly different ahead.

While it may be very hard to find good news here - there is!!  Just as radio became a desperate media in the 50s as TV hijacked the audience we took on a whole new structure.  Radio re-invented self on a new planet.  That time has clearly come again - in fact it's way over due.  Really we should have been evolving a lot more over the last 10 years as the internet and new media world has evolved.

If you are on the hunt to get back into radio, build your career, or hang on to your job there are new worlds to conquer and explore:

  • Social Media - A lot of our interaction and promotion within the audience will come from Social Media.  It doesn't matter if we can make money on it or not - we have to use social media to keep and build our relationship with the audience.  The good news is it doesn't cost much - but we do need more than just a bunch of random posts that the audience doesn't care about.  You need organization and a well orchestrated strategy.  'Commin up the new Blink 182 on The Rock' isn't 'interacting' with the social network.   
  • Have a REAL Presence in the community - The days of the jock showing up at an event and hanging out in some back office doing cut in breaks - avoiding the audience - are way over.  You got to work the crowd and make lots of friends where ever you can.  You can see that Clear Channel took out a lot of air staff members that were not top 3 in their daypart or of a huge value to the station.  If you're just a nice voice on the radio that hides in the sound proof control room it's real hard to hold your value.  Work the room and build your fans.   Yes it may be harder with fewer staffers to build community presence but take a long look at the effort we put out now and even in the days of big staffs.  Really it was mostly a few events and some client remotes.  Even if you are down to the last DJ you can do better.  
  • Understand the data - Just as Money Ball changed the baseball world with data in the 90s PPM is changing our world.  Even if you don't have PPM understand the new world of watching the real reaction of the audience to what we do on the air.   Also keep up on web metrics, Facebook interaction analysis, and how the audience is using apps.  We've never had so much data on the audience before and it's a lot to digest - but we'd better learn it or...... 
  • See the Future -  It's a whole new world and everyone needs to learn how to build their team in it.We have to be 'geeks' on technology - falling behind can be costly. 
  • Improve Management Skills - If you are a manager do your best to be organized and have a strategy.  Sending everyone out for a pass is usually a bad play and too often we just dive in.  It does take time but if you get organized and get your priorities set for every day you can lead everyone to accomplish a lot of the skills noted above.  

Yes, seeing the industry that we've all worked hard in and had lots of fun creating go through all these changes can be a struggle.   Is everything the bigger groups are doing in our industry right?  Maybe not - surely they will have some lemons.  But remember - the minute we stop changing and evolving is likely to be one of our last minutes.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sports Mania Season and Radio

It happens every Fall when we have 'sports mania' just dominating the viewing and listening habits of many a male.  It's so easy to fall into all the excitement as College Football builds in October with so many teams in the hunt and great rivalries nearly every weekend.  Baseball heading into the World Series with intense match ups of the best teams.  NFL Football in the middle of the season and the race to the playoffs in December building. Then you also have Tiger Woods returning to Golf (and failing again), the start of Hockey, the NASCAR season racing to it's championship moment and if we had NBA they would be opening up their season also.

You can see the impact by just looking at the network ratings from last Saturday night where the Ohio State/Nebraska game and the baseball games combined for 13 million and the rest of the network line up just cracking 6 million.

On Monday (10/10) you could wear out the remote moving from the Lions/Bears game to the Brewers/Cards and the Tigers/Rangers games.

It's also prime time for Sports Radio as they cover and discuss all the games and the ongoing NBA disputes.  Even if your team is out of it the discussion can be even stronger that the play by play - just look at Boston or Philly right now.   Boston is blowing up the Red Sox after wiping out in the playoffs.  Philly doesn't know what to do with the Phillies dream team - pick to win it all in April out of the action.  Or should they worry about the Eagles and all their problems?

Is it any wonder that male leaning music formats like Classic Rock, Active Rock, and Alternative have a tough time keeping the audience engaged.   We often see the shares for the Rock formats drop in the Fall and Sports is a big part of it.  But, do we focus on how we could stand out in this season?  Some stations have gone to teaming up with the teams like WDVE in Pittsburgh.  Others just take their medicine.  Take a close look at the situation in your market.  Are their opportunities?  Could you create more excitement on your own and help pull the audience your way? Can you join in the sports mania and suck in some of the impact?

Whatever opportunities there are you have to have a plan and that takes time to develop.  Now is your opportunity to take a close look at the environment in your market and look at your options.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Budget Goals for 2012

It's budget time for many as we get set for 2012.  Years ago it seemed like budget season was the time to draw up the wish list.  Asking for funds for more research, raises for the air staff, a bigger (or any) promotion budget and maybe a few new toys for the team is probably not an options for any of the Programmers or Brand Builders.  The goal that most have is likely to be - what can I cut out without bleeding too much?

While you many not be thinking of goals for your 2012 programming budgets there is one that every station should have.


This goal doesn't have to be fed with lots of budget lines.  It doesn't cost a lot to keep a healthy Twitter and Facebook presence.  It doesn't cost a lot to build and keep a strong presence in the community.  Yes there is staff-power needed for both efforts but I bet if you take the time to lay out a solid strategy and plan as part of your budget season you can reach this goal.   

And with all the competition from so much media hitting the audience building and executing a plan to interact and stay in front of your audience has to be at the top of your list.  

2010 Census - The End of 25-54?

A lot of the data from the 2010 U.S. Census is out and there are some surprises when you step back and look at the big demographic picture of the country.   I have built a comparison spread sheet of the 5 year demos from 2010 (on the left) and 2000 (on the right).  Also broken out are 18 year breakouts that roughly correspond to the 'generations' (Y - X - Boomer-Etc).  You can see that we really have 3 nearly equal segments here.  The under 19s are around 27%, the 20-39s are also close to 27% and the 40-59s are just over 27%.  The under 60 population is nearly equally split.

The Generations are roughly broken out below.  Since we are dealing with 5 year splits on the data some of the definitions fall in the middle and were 'rounded' from the usually defined eras for each generation.

Still the picture is pretty clear here.  The Younger Generation X, Y and the new under 19s that really have yet to be defined are taking up nearly 69% of the pie here.  While the boomers are still strong their percentage is shrinking.  You can see the boomer ages in the boxes for both 2000 and 2010.

So where will marketers target their campaigns and where should we be aiming our demo targets?  It's an interesting question.  The importance of 25-54s started in the 80s.  In 1980 the oldest boomers where 32 and the youngest were 18.  By the end of the decade they were all in their 30s and driving the 25-54 demo. That's why it became 'the standard' for targeting in advertising.  Well we've all had a few too many birthdays over the years and now that boomer demo is between 62 and 48 years old.

On top of that we can see a the X and Y generations at roughly the same percentages of the population.

It still seems like winning 25-54 is still the gold standard - and it still represents 41% of the total population in 2010 vs. 39% in 2000.  It's still a very important demo, but today it is NOT defined by one generation.  There are Gen Y, the Mellennials with there digital world, Gen X with a strong 80s orientation and the Boomers with their 70s era history all in the same demo.  Targeting something that wide in today's highly fragmented world is starting to look like no strategy at all.  We'll have to see what the marketing minds (today's Mad Men) cook up here.  But, we would be wise to take a closer look as we target and lay our programming strategies with the realities of the population.