Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lee Abrams Unwrapped

+11° - mostly cloudy at 7:15am
Heavy snow warning for tonight!

Getting to know another side of Lee. Former network radio/tv news anchor Marty Davis interviews Lee Abrams on career, industry and life. Read here.

They both worked together at WRIF/Detroit circa 1971.

Thank you Marty for making contact and turning me on to your writing; yours a very cool blog indeed!

Programming Insights from Jon Coleman

13° - overcast at 12:13am
Feels like 0°

Wednesday Morning I had the opportunity to listen to Jon Coleman's "DNA of PPM" presentation. I tried to look at some of the graphics Jon presented on the web; but my day job duties had me in another screen most of the time. But the audio presentation was everything and Jon did a great job explaining the research and findings.

Coleman noted in his findings that while features on a music station typically had lower audience levels than the programming preceding it, placement and popularity played a large role.

Music-based features typically did better than talk-based - and that well-promoted high profile features did the best.

Jon cautioned programmers not to over-react to PPM data, especially in terms of analyzing minute-by-minute audience behavior. Rather than "eliminate all negatives", stations should focus on the great features that contribute to long-term brand building, making loyal listeners who tune in day after day.

I can think of many classic rock stations that already do that so well. And some that don't.

Coleman's complete report is available free on as a PDF download
here. And thanks to Coleman Insights for sharing!

Before the spring book - review your features and your audience interest. Eliminate the excessive and promote the hell out of the ones you keep. Something to be done - PPM market or not.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wednesday Blogs

+9° - light snow/wind at 7:23am

Snow day for local schools here today. Last night's rain turned to ice covered by snow. This kids are happy - but its a mess for my commute downtown.

Thinkin' local again.
Fred Jacobs sums it all up:

"As WiMax makes it way into cars, and AM/FM Radio is forced to compete against everything else on the Internet, our brands and local identity will be our lifeblood."

"Of course, that's assuming we still have viable brands, strong personalities, and a local presence left. Most broadcasters have worked their entire lives to build great radio stations, but in the past decade, many heritage call letters have eroded into mere shadows of their former selves. No longer do people define themselves by the radio station they listen to, hence the lack of bumper stickers on Camrys and Malibus."

"So, what's it going to be? Slash expenses, shut up, and save money. Or go against the tide of fear and panic, and rebuild great stations, grow and nurture personalities, build viable roots into the local community, and invest in radio's future."

Read Fred's complete piece "Crossroads" -

Lots of chatter in the blogosphere about the budget situation at Clear Channel.

Its an unfortunate situation that challenges market manager and programmers to continue to perform with even more limited resources. Time to get creative. Using the resources available to their fullest.

I'm certain we'll see some of radio's brightest and best continue to win in a less-than-ideal environment. The biggest task at hand: keeping staff motivated.

Reminder: As we posted late last night, Coleman Insights offering a free webinar today at 10am and 1pm eastern. "The DNA of PPM" looks to provide some great insights for programmers - both in PPM and diary markets.

Registration and login details here.

Added: Listened more than watched Jon Coleman's presentation this morning. Terrific insights! Complete presentation available after 5pm tonight on the Coleman Insights website.

Lee Abrams. Once again Lee offers some great insights in his weekly blog post:

"..if you are supposed to provide service, provide it-- or people will DIY." "Companies forget that in today’s environment, it’s easier and easier to DIY if you aren’t at the absolute top of your game."

(DIY: do it yourself - as in consumers using iPODS and other alternative media). Lee's complete post here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Programming DNA from Coleman Insights

46° - heavy rain/wind at 10:45pm
Winter weather advisory

Good Evening from Michigan.

More PPM findings!
Coleman Insights announces "Mapping The DNA of PPM" in a free webinar tomorrow (1/30). 10am and again 1pm eastern time. Advance registration required here.

Some Coleman findings released to R&R:

"...programming features on music radio stations have more of an impact on long-term brand development than an instant effect on Portable People Meter-based listening levels. Radio audiences tune in to specific programming features in an inconsistent manner, and only the strongest performers have a real impact on their behavior."

“Stations should view features as tools for building their brands and developing their personalities,” “When a feature truly succeeds the audience growth happens over weeks and months and cannot usually be seen in a single airing. We reach this conclusion because audience tune-in specifically for features is inconsistent and not dramatic when it does occur.”

More to revealed during tomorrow's webinar. I'll be there.

Very cool Jon Coleman!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Monday Monday; Talkin' Local

This past Friday Night following Letterman on CBS, I flipped over to NBC to catch Conan. It was a rerun from May 2006 - the last from four nights in Chicago.

During the program O'Brien and Andy Richter did a skit about a driving tour of the city - hitting various landmarks and other "colorful" areas of the city.

Watching got me thinkin' about the great music stations - the ones you listen to and can feel the vibe of the city on the air.....between air talent (morning drive and otherwise), imaging, promotions (and in some cases - the music).

And I've heard my fair share of those that were local - but might as well been satellite fed from anywhere.

Perhaps on your next day long "out-of-the-office monitor" of your station, note how many elements relate to your market: people, places, sports teams, landmarks and the like. If most of your local "color" revolves around nothing more than news and weather, then maybe you've got some work ahead.

Grant permission and challenge your airstaff to "think local" when they open the mic. Do likewise with your imaging director as he produces and writes.

Don't do it with pre-written "local" liner cards - it'll likely sound forced and awkward....too "formula". It really won't take much to compliment the sound of your station.

Just some early morning thinking.

Added -
Dave Beasing (Jacobs Media) writes this morning on The Lost Art of Being Local: "
At the end of the day, it's your ability to connect with the locals on their home turf - a quality that new media will never have." Read here.

Added 1/29: Dave Martin writes about "local, local, local" and connecting - here.

Let's use our biggest asset to its fullest.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

32° - light snow at 11:50am

Greetings from snow-packed Mid-Michigan. A little bit of snow just about everyday this past week...

Listening as I type:
To Lee Arnold's WORJ.COM. The Doors' "When The Music's Over" segued into "Rosalie" by Bob Seger. Very cool Lee! Later: "Room To Move" from John Mayall. And Lee must be a heavy Fairport Convention too!

Radiothon revisited. Total funds raised for the Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan were $78,419. Very nice! See my original post here.

Tom Petty Tour:
Earl and The Heartbreakers will follow his appearance at this year's Super Bowl (are we allowed to use that name?) with a nationwide tour to begin May 30th in Grand Rapids. Check out the dates here.

Some stations can use Tom Petty to cap the spring book; others as a kickoff to summer.

Two 'Fer Tuesday Weekend:
KKRW/Houston doing one with Van Halen coming to town Monday Night. It sounds odd so it works! See here.

BTW: KKRW sporting a great new web layout; based on the template Clear Channel installed a few months back at
WAXQ/New York. More filling with less fat.

Speaking of web templates: Citadel strikes a deal with MediaSpan - and upgrades the web efforts of quite a few of its rockers - including my ala-mater WMMQ/Lansing, WZRR/Birmingham, KHKK/Modesto and WSHK/Dover. Very nice layout and easy to navigate.

And Cox?
I'm betting even those at Cox Radio have to admit that their websites aren't very exciting. But WHPT/Tampa Bay is showing a little bit of attitude with both Bubba and Cowhead content teases on their site. The website almost showing signs of a personality.

Added: Radio Stories. Rick Kaempfer's Chicago Radio Spotlight shines on 30-year radio vet Karen Hand. Read here.

Have a great Sunday.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Weekend Classic Rock FM

+6° - clear at 7am

Is The Tide Turning For HD Radio? Paragon Media Strategie's Paul Marszalek thinks so after a visit to CES 2008. Read here.

Still Paul accurately observes:

"The vast majority of HD programming is simply a bunch of automated jukeboxes – hardly incentive for the consumer to pick up a new radio when he or she can get all the automated jukeboxes in the world online. I mean, it’s bad enough that your main channel is becoming an automated jukebox…"

Added: Paragon Media's Larry Johnson reports that its new study shows that 2/3 of surveyed 14-24 year olds aren't aware of HD Radio. Of those who are aware, 75% say they'd buy an HD Radio "for the right price". More here.

My take: I still agree with Mark Ramsey's thoughts that people don't typically buy radios - but things that have a radio in them. How can HD be included as standard radio equipment in all radios?

New book from the FCC:
A 98-page document seeking comments on whether the FCC should require licensees to (among other things): establish "permanent advisory boards" in each station community of license with which to consult periodically on community needs and issues"; 24/7 staffing; and restoration of the pre-1987 main studio rule.

The FCC also seeks comment on whether they should require licensees to
"provide data regarding their airing of the music and other performances of local artists and how they compile their stations' playlists." Read here.

My thoughts: whats the cost of compliance to broadcasters? Does 24/7 staffing (actually all hours the station is on the air) mean more jobs or does it mean smaller market stations signing off overnight?
(Most larger clusters already have at least one person in the building overnight; so perhaps no new jobs).

How about policies in place regarding local music? I'm thinking format compatibility/technical standards and the like. Look for more questions in the weeks to come.

Diary of an airshift.
WHLK/Madison's Jim Bartlett (via his music blog) takes you through his airshift this past Wednesday.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

WCSX/Detroit Charges $20 For Studio Tours!

...and it all goes (went) to charity.

All day today WCSX/Detroit held "JJ and Lynne's All New Radiothon To Benefit The Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan.

Very nice!
And it looks like 'CSX used the power of the station website to its fullest:

Back in December, JJ and Lynne broadcast live from London during the Zeppelin reunion. And now this charity committment. All events that help maintain a high profile for the heritage classic rock morning show in the ears (and eyes) of WCSX 94.7 listeners.

Added: as part of the Radiothon - WCSX held the 2008 Guitar Jam at a local mall. More cowbell. See here.

Another Case For Involving The Listeners

Mark Ramsey wrote on his blog yesterday about lost opportunities for listener interactivity.

Inspired by a recent
Harris Poll on TV and interactivity - Mark writes:

"How many listeners to your station want to interact with your programming? How many opportunities do you provide for them to do that? This is one of the great and largely squandered opportunities for radio."

In my book nobody understands this better - at least in the Classic Rock format, better than John Hager at Citadel's WGRF/Buffalo. Check out his station's website and listen to the stream.

97 Rock is a text book example of how in involve listeners in your programming and get them to interact.

If what holds true for TV also applies to radio - and like Mark Ramsey I suspect it does, there's some great opportunities.

More later today.

Today an anniversary of sorts. It was one year ago today I became a free agent after the corporate budget cut axe fell. I'm saving some comments for the first anniversary of this blog - coming up soon.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Late Night Notes...

15° - overcast at 10pm

Surfin' the 'net before bed:

Kudos to Entercom.
All Access reporting that the company has donated studio space in Austin to non-commercial KOOP - which lost its studios in a fire January 5th.

While KOOP rebuilds, they'll have studio space free-of-charge in the Austin Entercom complex for the next 3-4 months. That's not only generous - but a sign of class!

Radio Stories.
John Gorman offers another peak inside his book The Buzzard: Inside The Glory Days of WMMS and Cleveland Rock Radio:

"Though WMMS had a long battle with rival M-105 from the mid-seventies through the early eighties, we never acknowledged our rivals on-the-air."

"But we did raid their promotional events."

"When M-105 secured a Cheap Trick concert co-sponsorship, we parked our van directly in front of the Allen Theater and our programming and promotion staff passed out free “WMMS welcomes Cheap Trick to Cleveland” T-shirts to those going to the show."

More here. I know some guys who should write a book devoted radio competition warfare and games.

Lee Abrams. Lee writes this week on hiring - and makes some terrific points:


"Natural voices. No Pukers...No forced "Big Voices"...we're all about reality not balls Format Passion. Livers of the format lifestyle. Not "Generalists".....but guys & gals who live and breathe your formats. Never: "Hey, I can do AC, Country,...passion what's that?...I'm a "radio guy". Test them! Play Fawlty Towers and Three Stooges to potential hires to check if a candidate "got it"...."

Lee's piece

Have a good night.

Two Great Posts

14° - light snow at 8:50am

More later today; but if you can read two things this morning (in addition to this blog) - read these:

Fred Jacobs on the power of P1s:

"...these are indeed the people who are loyal, engaged, and emotional about Radio stations. We need them - badly. But for the most part, Radio continues to look past them, trolling for diarykeepers and possible PPM cooperators."

"Yet, it's the P1s who are still showing up for events and even for meaningless, unentertaining advertiser promotions. They still call the request lines, and they are habituated by our morning shows. And the incredibly great news is that the majority of them are locked and loaded in Radio station databases. We have simple (and free) access to them - in many cases, by the thousands."

A beautiful read here.

AND: Dave Lange on shifting demos:

"The peak year of the boomers was 1957 and now they are 51 years old - in just 3 years they will be out of the 25-54s."

"...the Generation X and Y are taking over the demo and the music of the 80s and 90s is starting to be the mainstay soundtrack for the new 25-44 demos."

"Soon there will be no boomers left. What formats will be the most valuable then?"

Dave's piece is here.

Classic Rock. Where do we go from here?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Whats The Backup Plan?

19° - overcast at 9:57pm

Sunday Morning: a building housing three television stations in Grand Junction, Colorado burned to the ground.

Tragic. The market's CBS, Fox and MY-TV affiliates - all off the air.

"The station's general manager......believes all his business records and broadcast logs were lost, as well as some of the broadcast equipment." "About $5 million of equipment burned, including tapes and laptop computers, station personnel estimated."

Yipes! Time to ask: whats the plan at your station for off-premise backups of your traffic and business data? What about your hard-drive music libraries, commercials, imaging?

Be proactive and bring it up to your GM tomorrow morning. If your station already has a plan, a quick review of the procedures can't hurt.

Your station might be backing up (off-site) both traffic and the business end - but what about audio and programming? How often are those backups done? As a Program Director - think about how much time you've spent dubbing and fine tuning your music library alone. Time spent getting all the levels and segue points perfect. Something to ponder....

Monday Monday

+5° - light snow at 6:30am

Weekend leftovers:

Edison Media's Larry Rosin offers "Further Evidence of How The Breaks Kill Internet Radio". The internet fill issue. Larry's piece and reader comments here.

If you've been reading this blog for long, you'd know one of my pet peeves is the way stations handle their spot breaks on their streams. One of my early blog rants here

The story behind the show.
Free Beer & Hot Wings. The syndicated morning show running on a number of rock and classic rock stations around the country. Read here. Thanks to Michiguide for the tip!

Jay (J.) Blackburn.
We've been writing here for months about Jay's new based-on-reality radio novel. Jay - a retired programmer (and GM and station owner).

"The Radio Gypsies" will be released on March 17th; and available at Amazon, Borders and all the others.

Welcome back Jay Mitchell. Jay's been MIA on his blog; but he's just been real busy - and that's always good. More here.

Late Day Update - more wisdom from consultant Alan Mason:

"We don’t get it that our DNA controls who we are, and that each radio station has it’s own DNA. If you want to know what happens when you try to mess with what your DNA is, look at Michael Jackson."

"The point is that in the modern world, you can’t just decide what you are going to do on your own, and then force it down the throats of the listeners. You have a DNA factor to pay attention to, which will lead the listeners to decide what you can and can’t do."

Alan's complete piece here.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More On Positioning,,,,

+7° - light snow at 6:32pm

On Saturday I wrote here Mark Ramsey's recent comments on positioning.

Mark suggesting asking: "
Who are we and what do we stand for?"

Yours truly added "
You've got to demonstrate it with your programming and actions."

Tonight while waiting for the Green Bay/New York game to start, I caught
this post by consultant Alan Mason:

"Whatever your positioning statement, you’re making a promise that your listeners are expecting you to prove."

"When a station offers “the best mix,” it’s promising to play a greater variety of music than other stations. That’s an implicit promise. When you have something like the Magic 107.7 Promise, where they talked about not playing songs with bad lyrics or have DJ’s without off color comments, that’s an explicit promise."

"Think about it. Your station is making a promise of some kind, and if you’re not proving it, your listeners aren’t buying it. That means you’re losing credibility, and that means you’re going to be losing loyalty. Not sure about you, but that’s not a good combination from where I sit."

Thank you Alan.

John Stewart: 1939-2008

I heard Steve Palec announce on his WKLH show this morning that singer/songwriter John Stewart passed away yesterday at age 69.

Not to ignore the rest of his long and successful career: John wrote and recorded "Daydream Believer" - a song The Monkees covered in 1967.

John hit the mainstream big in 1979 with an album titled "Bombs Away Dream Babies".

The hit single from the album was "Gold" - with Stevie Nicks on background vocals.
My fav off the album had to be "Midnight Wind" (also featuring Stevie).

Read more on John's life at

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

+7° mostly cloudy at 10:24am

To my usual Sunday Morning radio. Beatle cover tunes this week on Bob Stroud's WDRV show. 44th anniversary of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" hitting the US single charts.

Bob naturally played Joe Cocker's "With A Little Help From My Friends". Saw Joe sing that in the Woodstock film last night on TV.

Lost classics heard yesterday:
"No Time To Lose'' by The Tarney-Spencer Band. Heard as internet fill on Chicago's WDRV (although the end was chopped off...eeek!). And "Future Games" by the Bob Welsh-era Fleetwood Mac - on Lee Arnold's WORJ-dot-com.

"Future Games" put me on a brief quest to find out what Bob Welch is up to these days. Found his website here.

Lots of history, music downloads plus some politics. Email address too - used it to shoot a note to say "thanks for the tunes"; I've always been a fan. Added: Bob responded. Cools!

Later last night: "Lady Writer" by Dire Straits on the new KBLV/Kansas City (99.7/The Boulevard). Great!

I note that Entercom stuck the KYYS call letters on one of its AM stations in KC - keeping them out of the hands of a competitor.

Question answered: A week ago we posed the question "where's Steve Palec?" Steve the host of the WKLH/Milwaukee weekend staple "Rock 'N Roll Roots". He's been MIA (but on vacation).

Steve returns this week from a 2-weeks away that included time in the Carribbean. After his show today Steve travels to Green Bay to attend the NFC Championship game. Its gonna be cold!

Need Your Help:
I'm working on a project and I need a playlist of what a typical AOR station might be playing (current/recurrent/gold) for any week in 1985. E-Mail: Any and all assistance would be appreciated!

VH-1 Classic.
The video channel begins airing classic artist interviews from the CBS-TV News Magazine "60 Minutes".

The VH-1 Classic
website not helpful as to who might be featured - but the series airs - at least this week - tonight at 8pm and again at 10:30pm eastern. Roll tape.

Scott Childers. This week Rick Kaempfer's Chicago Radio Spotlight chats with Classic Hits WERV/Aurora, IL Assistant PD Scott Childers; who also has a great second job + a very cool website. Read here.

Cara Carriveau.
Cara shared news yesterday that her podcast "Cara's Basement" is now featured on "one of the largest internet music portals," Very cool! Cara adds: "there's even a CARA'S BASEMENT group you can join." Nice!

If you're in the midwest - stay warm!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Radio Video: WNEW-FM/NYC 1982

"Tomorrow's Best Rock Today...."

...complete with Scott Muni, Meg Griffin, Dan Neer, Dave Herman and others:

The Weekend Classic Rock FM

15° - overcast at 12:25pm

Welcome to the weekend.

Randy Michaels. Its good to see him back in the biz...running Tribune for Sam Zell. If there's one guy I feel can run the legendary WGN Radio/Chicago, its Mr. Michaels. He gets it.

And I do believe the dead-tree biz will see a revolution too.

From the new Tribune employee handbook - under the Zell/Michaels regime:

"Rule #1: Use your best judgment."
"Rule #2: See Rule 1."

"7.1. If you use or abuse alcohol or drugs and fail to perform the duties required by your job acceptably, you are likely to be terminated. See Rule 1. Coming to work drunk is bad judgment."

"7.2. If you do not use or abuse alcohol or drugs and fail to perform the duties required by your job acceptably, you are likely to be terminated."

Pretty simple stuff, eh? More

A case for cume:
Its all about cume and reach in the world of PPM. Dave Lange blogs about the need to begin selling cume - saying "The sooner we start to 'prime the pump' for selling Cume the better off we will all be." PPM market or not. Read here.

Positioning lines and PPM: Mark Ramsey this past week writes about the need for clear positioning in the world of PPM.

Not the throwaway radio lines we've been repeating over-and-over again for the last 20 or 30 years - but credible lines backed up by actions:

"You need to make sure you - and your current and potential audience - can answer these basic questions:

1. Who are we and what do we stand for?

2. How is this different from the competition in a way that matters - a lot - to the audience?

And if you can't answer those questions, you don't have a position...
...whether or not you have a positioning line."

I couldn't agree more. And you just can't say it what you stand for and what your differences are. You've got to demonstrate it with your programming and actions.

Listening to Chicago's WDRV as I write. Just heard a sweeper - voiced by the pipes of Nick Michaels - reminding me that "while it seems Chicago Radio changes like the weather - The Drive hasn't."

"We promised you a music intensive morning show without the silly games and phone calls - and we live up to that promise today."
Not the exact copy; but as I recall it.

And with WDRV - a new look.
If you've read this blog for long you'd know its one of my fav stations. They just updated their logo. There's a cool flash banner on their website now that rotates different Drive artists with each site visit:

Thanks this past week. Kind notes from David Martin (via his blog) and from WSHP/Lafayette, IN PD Rob Creighton. They all mean a lot.

More this weekend.