Friday, February 29, 2008

The Weekend Classic Rock FM

17° - light snow at 8:54am
left: downtown Lansing early this morning

Snow here again this morning. 3-4 inches possible today. Relief in sight with temps predicted in the 40s sometime next week.

That said - welcome to Friday. Reading this morning:

Reality check from Fred Jacobs:

"It's time to stop all of the hand-wringing about PPM, declining revenue, satellite radio, and all of the other excuses. Sure, these are problems, but the solutions are right in front of our faces. Who does event marketing better than radio? And what medium lends itself best to digital solutions."

Fred's complete post

Mark Ramsey on the radio & the internet: "What would we be and do if we didn't have a broadcast tower at all and only had a website? How would we build this thing?" Its a great read from Mr. Ramsey here.

The Clear Channel Pespective. From the company's EVP of Content Development Tom Owens. In this week's FMQB.

Read highlights here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jerry's New Rules for PDs

14° - overcast at 11:17pm

Good evening from Okemos. Been catching up on my reading tonight and checked into Jerry Del Colliano's blog.

Confession: I've had this love/hate thing with Jerry's writing since his Inside Radio days years ago (goin way back to when the newsletter was delivered via snail mail); reasons why not important.

I still read Jerry then and continue to read Jerry today.

On his blog yesterday, Jerry had a great post regarding his "new rules for PDs" - all that sound familiar to an era long ago. Here's some selected highlights from his post:

1. One PD per station. It used to be that a successful program director lived, breathed and experienced his or her one radio station 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This was an acknowledgment that the program director of a successful radio station is a specialist not a generalist. Consolidators anxious to get the most bang for the buck have spread otherwise qualified PDs beyond their core competency.

If you want great radio stations that can program to the available market (which does not include the next generation), then suck it up and pay for one quarterback per station. Stop with the shortcuts and you'll see a better return on your investment. And don't tell me about the handful of PDs who are programming more than one station for you -- imagine what they could do with one?

Give full authority to the PD to do his/her job. No meddling. No backseat programming. Leave your PD to either do what they promise or risk being replaced at the end of the year. Oh, no changing the rules in mid-stream.

Fully fund the programming budget. Too many PDs have no real budget or the budget they have looks like Swiss cheese. If you suspect that corporate is going to ask for further givebacks during the year, under budget programming by the percentage of cutback you anticipate. You can't expect a PD to do their job without knowing how much money they have to spend.

Jerry's complete post
here. A great read; but depending on your situation you might get angry.

Congrats: To Fred Jacobs for 3 years of the JacoBLOG. One of my daily habits. And to Doug Podell on his appointment as Director of Rock Programming for Greater Media's Detroit classic rock/rock duo WCSX/WRIF. Thanks to Lee Arnold for the tip.

Back To The Blog..

13° - mostly cloudy at 9:45am

No...I wasn't kidnapped by aliens; but suffered from a broken laptop that made using it almost impossible; both with blogging and my habitual web surfing.

But thanks to Dell "on-site support" (the first warranty I've ever bought that really paid off!), we're back up...with new hinges on the cover and inside a new motherboard for my almost 3-year old Inspiron 6000; a PC thats seen almost constant use since day one.

Its great to be back....more later today.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday Night Odds & Sods

24° - clear at 10:50pm

Intending to write all weekend - but radio got in the way.

Inspired by Lee Arnold's great WORJ.COM, yours truly spent the weekend setting up a PC to run automation on with the eventual goal of streaming sometime down the road.

Saturday was spent upgrading an old Dell Pentium III thats been sitting in our storage room for a few years. A PC that my wife and I handed down to our kids years back - and then proved too slow for their use.

Replaced Windows 98SE with XP Home (aka "XP Lite") - and added a 250 gig hard drive for music, loaded the software and was in business. It actually ran great with its mere 128meg of ram and wimpy (by today's standards) 750mhz processor.

This morning I configured the software to stream windows media format - albeit for not more than a listener or two at a time. Plugged in some music and some old WMMQ sweepers.

Sent links to a few friends to check out; and had great "reception reports" from Phoenix, Denver and Pittsburgh. Next step is dubbing tunes and thinking formatics. A real "sign-on" months down the road...

Its all big-time radio geek fun.

Reading: Dave Lange wrote this past week a great piece on keeping your mind open to new ideas - and cites the all-Christmas presentation, now an AC staple - as an example.

Read Dave's piece here.

Jaye Albright. The country consultant shares some great thoughts:

"Plan each community service event, prep each content break, build each promotion, create each stunt, communicate each strategy and just when you feel that it’s your best, before finalizing it use the Seven Magic Words and see how far you can go with whatever you’re doing.

The words?

“Great! .. but what else could we do?”
Use them the next time your team brainstorms."

Jaye's piece here. Makes me wonder: how often does your team brainstorm together? Are they formal or informal sessions? Who isn't there that should be to provide another perspective? Just thinking. During my PD days, I should have done more brainstorming sessions more frequently.

Radio stories: Rick Kaempfer sits down with Chicago's John Calhoun about his career. Great stuff. Read here.

Have a good night.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Weekend Classic Rock FM

31° - sunny (yeah!) at 1:10pm

Welcome to Friday; the end of a long week for yours truly. Just not enough hours in the day this past week. And winter has worn its welcome - spring won't come fast enough.

PD Garner Goin celebrating the 70s with a very well-produced "Rockumentry" airing weekdays (this week and next) 10am to 7pm mountain time. Check it out and listen online here.

The station also featuring "Babes of the 70s", along with 70s music videos. Very cool. Its "events" like this that get people talking about your radio station.

Listening right now as the station is into the year 1976. Great imaging, great sound. Do give it a listen. Be inspired.

Concerts. The Police kicking off another leg of their reunion tour - seeing a lot of station tie-ins. Tom Petty (with Steve Winwood!), Mark Knopfler, Jethro Tull, Peter Frampton touring this spring and summer.

And yesterday I received an email press release that Foreigner will be hitting the road starting in mid-March in a tour sponsored by.....AARP. Cool for the AARP, but doesn't that make you feel just a little bit....old?

Lee Arnold. His daily ritual is 99% like mine; the only difference is that I read his blog and I'm honored to have him read mine.

Lee's morning routine here.

Change. Mark Ramsey with a brief comment on radio's slow move to change:

"You need to understand that, at its center, the definition of your day-to-day must be radically changed. How far are we from this understanding? Just witness how many stations still don't stream.

Note how many lack a listener database, let alone a "community." See how many don't email their listener base because they don't have enough listeners to bother or enough staff to execute.
Until these issues are dealt with, it's hard to face our future."

Mark's post here.

More to come over the weekend.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Late Night Notes

+10° - overcast at 11:15pm

Good evening from Okemos...

Catching up on the blogosphere tonight. Mark Ramsey wrote a great piece the other day titled "Has Radio Lost Its Guts?". A great read here. And Harv Blain writes about calls from a certain telephone number here.

Wrote this morning about Google rankings. Brought to mind something I wrote last year on running your own call letters and air talent names on the search engines to see what's being written about you in the blogs and such. Read/revisit here.

Have a good night.

Missing a Radio Station....

There's no doubt that Google does a pretty good job at ranking search queries and the results people "click-through". Their search algorithms are the best in the biz; highly tuned and refined.

This morning I typed in the name of this blog and saw something that caught my eye:

Out of nearly a half-million results for the term "classic rock fm" - the fourth ranked result is KZPS in Dallas - a radio station that went off the air in April of 2007 - nearly one year ago! See here.

I might have this all wrong, but my gut tells me that there's a lot of people in the Dallas area who just might miss this radio station.

Oh - and the fifth-ranked search result is kind cool too!

More here later.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

38° - light rain at 10:45am

Day off yesterday. Much needed after a long week. "Next week" begins this afternoon with some time spent at work to meet deadlines. Its all good. Played radio yesterday with some automation software on my laptop.

Ripped some music from CD, added sweepers leftover from my WMMQ days and was in heaven. Thanks to Lee Arnold for both the software tip and the inspiration.

Listening: To Chicago's WDRV this morning. The usual. Just heard "Raindance" from The Guess Who segued into "Easy To Be Hard" from Three Dog Night. Cools!

Noted: animated "raindrops" on the WDRV website header (above); not sure whether this is synched to the actual Chicago weather - if so - a very sweet touch!

Streaming. I've wrote here months back that listening on the 'net should be hassle-free for listeners; even suggesting a desktop icon that would provide instant audio, rather than navigating a station website simply to listen to a station.

Earlier this week, Mark Ramsey wrote about one streaming provider who intends to keep you listening on their terms. And as Mark notes
here - this is bad.

Adding to Mark's words are reader comments - with Tom Asacker writing:

"Instead of acting like a friend and giving someone the most direct, hassle free directions to get where they want to go, radio is trying to force them down their road so that they can sell the traffic to billboard advertisers. Big strategic mistake."

Mike Henry. The Paragon Media consultant sums up what many have been feeling (I'm part of that club):

"Radio may be dead on Wall Street, but it is alive and well on Main Street. Add up all the iPod users, satellite radio subscribers and internet radio subscribers, and go ahead and throw in all the illegal music downloaders, and they still wouldn’t add up to the number of people who listen to radio EVERY DAY."

"Local radio is still omnipresent. Listeners still wake up every day and turn on the radio. Radio still has a positive impact on local communities, when it wants to, because radio is still the most local and community-oriented of all media."

"Radio should rejoice and say, “Good riddance to Wall Street.” To the real radio operators out there, I say, “Welcome back to Main Street.” And please, leave the bean counters on Wall Street where they belong."

Mike's complete post

With all thats been written following Jim Cramer's comments, I'm compelled for full disclosure: my corporate radio experience - for the most part - have been positive; particularly with the so-called "evil empire".

The resources and support system provided to this programmer were never better. Those in the trenches are some of radio's finest and its an experience I wouldn't trade for much of anything.

If you've been reading this blog for some time, you'll also know that I've had first hand experience with the not-so-pleasant side of corporate radio too!

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Rick Kaempfer continues to feed my fascination with radio career stories and this week his light shines on WXRT/WBBM air talent Ken Sumka. Read here.

Ken makes note of the possible move to WXRT from its longtime stand-alone Belmont Avenue home to the corporate world downtown, saying:

"...there's a vibe at that building that comes from being away from downtown. There are some unknowns that cause a little worry-like what sort of consolidation might happen with us sharing a space and personnel."

Yep! Its all about "the vibe".

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Conglomerates, Brandmeier and The FCC

19° - mostly cloudy at 9:13am

Me and the boys
living the bachelor lifestyle last few days with my wife out of town; makes one wonder how single parents pull it off day after day.

Calendar: couple of dates coming up yet this month: President's Day next Monday (2/18); and there is a February 29th (a Friday) this month too...a "leap day". Any special music/programming features around these dates? BTW: Spring book begins April 3rd.

Surfing the blogs: Chicago AM drive producer-writer-author Rick Kaempfer sums up Jim Cramer's recent comments on radio:

"The conglomerates will have to sell and then local operators have a chance to reclaim a lost medium. At least that's my hope..."

I've had the same passing thought; Rick's blog here.

Tipped by Rick: Mr. Kaempfer points me to Robert Feder's column in the Chicago Sun-Times. Feder writing about "the pride of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin", Jonathan Brandmeier. It was 25 years ago that Johnny B hit the Chicago airwaves. Read here.

Legal Stuff: The FCC yesterday opened its comment period (until March 14th) for proposed new radio rules that will - among other things:
  • Whether radio and television stations should be required to maintain and consult with permanent advisory boards of officials and other leaders;

  • Whether radio stations should be required to fill out, place in their public files, post on the Internet and submit to the FCC the same type of standardized disclosure form information about programming and “ascertainment” that will soon be required of television stations;

  • Whether radio and television stations should be required to maintain main studios within the corporate limits of their communities of license rather than be allowed to locate those main studios some distance from their cities of license; and

  • Whether the FCC should reinstitute renewal processing guidelines that are based on quantitative minimums for different types of programming.
Details here. No doubt your ownership is aware but sometimes stuff like this doesn't trickle down. Added: Many of the FCC's current proposals, if adopted, could make tight budgets even tighter.

Thank you - to SBR Creative Media's John Bradley who had some kind words about this blog in a recent email.

Also to
WKLH/Milwaukee Rock 'N Roll Roots host Steve Palec, who's been kind enough to link me from his blog (do check it out!).

Have a good night.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tuesday Morning Odds & Sods

+10° - light snow at 8:34am

Good Morning from downtown Lansing.

A bright future for rock.
We've been hyping the format's PPM performance on this blog for some time. On JacoBLOG, Fred Jacobs welcomes a guest from one of his client stations. A great read here.

Sales idea.
Be a hero and share this one from Dave Lange with your GM/GSM.

Missed over the weekend: Chicago's Dean Richards spotlighted by Rick Kaempfer. Read here. Jon Coleman reviews his company's PPM programming findings in FMQB here.

Also in FMQB: consultant Kevin Robinson salutes the legendary Dick Biondi and his ability to connect with listeners. Read

New York's new WRXP. The story behind the switch here.

Further reductions at CBS. Detroit on Friday. St. Louis yesterday. Just plain sad.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday Monday

-3° - scattered clouds at 11:22pm

Late Edition.
Long day following a long weekend. Lots of chatter in the blogosphere in the last day over Jim Cramer's declaration last week about "the end of radio."

The best perspective on Cramer's comments come from the mind of David Martin - who wrote this morning:

"With all due respect, I disagree with the comments of those blogging Cramer as having delivered news of radio's death. Those bloggers are missing JC's bigger point, they're plainly wrong, it's radio equities that suck not radio. Owning broadcast and cable assets, bought right, remains a very good business."

"So, no matter what some have said, Cramer is not down on the radio business, he's down on you putting your money into any of the traded radio securities. He's right."

Dave's complete remarks here.

Just this past Saturday Night I was sitting in a brew pub in with a couple of small market radio owners.

One of them remarked that the problems of the big companies are simply Wall Street problems and have little direct impact on their operations. They continue to see growth in cash flow and remain highly optimistic about the medium's future.

After last week's layoff news, hanging out with these guys was extremely uplifting. Brewpub: Jamesport Brewing Company. Highlights: the Amber Steam (exceptional) and Scottish Ale. I'll try others next trip to Michigan's "West Coast".

Letting the listeners program.
WAQY/Springfield introduces their "Record & Tape Club" (very clever); clicking on the "virtual penny" allows a listener to submit their favorite album to be part of a special weekend of programming.

Last month -
WGRF/Buffalo celebrated "JanYOUary". This month WCSX/Detroit is celebrating "FebYOUary" in the same style with listener-created sets of music.

Very cool. Making listeners part of the process gives them ownership; turning them into advocates.

Have a good night.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Letter from Ludington, Michigan

0° - light snow at 2:22pm. Wind chill -21°.

Woke up this morning here along Michigan's "West Coast" to a temperature of -3° and a wind chill of 23° below. As you can tell, its warmed up "a bit" since.

The weather brought back memories of working in downtown Chicago...the old CBS complex near Lake Shore Drive and Ohio. The winter wind coming off Lake Michigan would penetrate the even the heaviest down winter jackets.

Wrapping up two days on air work this afternoon...driving home will be an adventure.

My thanks to WWKR owners Todd and Mary Mohr for their hospitality this weekend.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Weekend Classic Rock FM

34° - haze at 8:46amleft: my official "on-air" pic

Good Morning from Ludington, MI.

Yours truly on the air this weekend as "Dead Air Dan" on Todd Mohr's Classic Rock WWKR. Helping out a friend and having a little fun.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Jay Mitchell on "The New Language of Radio"

28° - light snow at 8:53am

Yesterday's news of mass layoffs at CBS Radio that followed action earlier in the week by Emmis gave me another uneasy feeling in my stomach about this industry and where its future.

Consultant Jay Mitchell wrote early this morning on the latest round of layoffs - highlighting the CBS cutbacks. Caution: you might not want to start your morning this way:

"First Clear Channel, then Emmis, slashed jobs to appease stockholders, who usually have jobs (or don't need them). This week CBS, um, released a bunch of good radio people. Here's the way CBS described it:

"With these actions, we continue to build on our strategy of deploying our assets to best grow our ratings and monetize the results ..."

"CBS Radio also ... considerably strengthened our digital assets in order to distribute our content on all available emerging platforms."

Yeah, that's the way I talk, too ... all "deploy" and "monetize" and "aggregate" and "assets.""

Jay adds:

"I guess it's easier to shit-can people if you think of them as "assets." Except if you shit-can them, they're "liabilities," aren't they? Even program directors are talking that way nowadays, in the spirit of joining them in lieu of licking them.

But really, which gets you more excited, doing great radio or monetizing assets?"

Thank you Jay. His complete post here.

In Chicago - the CBS cutbacks could mean change for AAA WXRT.

Sun-Times columnist Robert Feder is reporting this morning that the station could move "from its longtime home at 4949 W. Belmont and
squeezing in with the company's other properties downtown, WXRT stands to lose the last vestiges of its rebellious roots." Feder's column here.

That could forever change WXRT's culture. In Denver - after Clear Channel built a giant complex to house its cluster, it left heritage AAA KBCO with stand-alone studios in nearby Boulder. As I was told, it was done to preserve KBCO and "not let it get polluted".

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Your Station Voice

30° - overcast at 2:30pm

Your mileage may vary - but its been my take for the longest time that the days of the deep "balls-to-the-floor" snarly imaging voice for classic rock stations is pretty much over.

Different voices - even a combination of different voices...male/female, different accents both regional and national - as well as listener voices can make your imaging stand out.

Rather than the same voice all the time,
a different voice 2, 3, 4 times an hour can perk up the ears. Think surprises and not the same old.

Yesterday Mark Ramsey
offered a great post on using different celebrity voices for imaging in a audio interview with Wes Stevens - President of voice talent company VOX, Inc. Read/listen here.

some thoughts on branding yesterday from David Martin's blog. Read here.

Disturbing. More cutbacks announced today. Can you really save your way to cash flow? Just asking.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Greg Gillispie

31° - overcast at 7:41am

From Kevin Carter's R&R Street Talk Daily this morning:

Health Issues Force Gillispie's Retirement

Our thoughts are with longtime consultant and programmer Greg Gillispie, who has been dealing with an inoperable brain tumor for the past two years. To better be able to focus on his ongoing health issues, Gillispie has announced his retirement from the business he devoted his past 36 years to. In a statement about his condition, Gillispie is "hopeful that with prayer and medical attention, he will be able to work. He remains positive and is grateful to everyone who has been supportive to him, his wife, Cathie; and daughter, Sara."

Mike McVay, Kent Burkhart, Lee Abrams and Dwight Douglas have teamed up with label vets and Neil Lasher and George Cappellini to create a fundraiser to honor and assist Greg during this most trying time. To participate as a member of the formal planning committee, please contact, or

My prayers are with Greg with hopes that he'll be able to return to work soon. He's one of radio's best and brightest. -dan

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My Little Blog...

....celebrates a birthday today. Its been a year! Just under 400 posts and nearly 13,000 unique users. Wow!

The story: I’d been contemplating a website (or blog) focusing on the Classic Rock format for a few years. Nobody was doing it.

Aside the blogs of format experts like Fred Jacobs and Dave Lange – and infrequent columns in R&R, little was written about the format in terms of trends, promotions, and programming.

After being laid off from my programming job just over twelve months ago, I logged into Blogger - simply out of curiosity - and four hours later a blog was born. Within a few days I was hooked; and made the personal commitment to post daily six days a week.

That held true until I resumed working full time in December.
Now its "almost daily" as I adjust to a new routine.

Beyond that there's been no plan. Just to post about the things that interest me as both radio geek and programmer. And sharing a bit of my life.

The blog averages between 110 and 150 unique users each day; half to two-thirds of those are "regulars" who login almost daily. I do appreciate!

There's been some unfortunate spikes - with over 350+ unique visitors on a single day. I write unfortunate as its been after I've written goodbye to friends and coworkers who passed away over the past year. Twice. 2007 was a rough year.

I've had a few unsolicited job inquiries from this site. But even more cool over the past year are the friendships. Old ones renewed and new ones established. Add the kind words of encouragement received over the past year has made it all worthwhile. Thank you.

The past year has been the first time I’ve been out of the biz since starting in high school. Ignoring for a moment the hardships my family endured most of last year, the time off was well spent simply to assess career and life.

When I do return to programming it will be with a fresh perspective from the day-to-day to the big picture. Meanwhile - I've been fortunate enough to fall into two situations with some industry-related work allowing me to sharpen some skills I can bring back to the radio industry. Whenever that happens.

Thats it. Again - thanks for your pings of support over the past year. Its been a blast for me!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Monday Monday

35° - light rain at 9:20pm

Short post; long day.

Cool promo: "Friends of" Triple-A formatted WMVY/Martha's Vineyard is offering listeners a chance to give their loved one their very own music channel for Valentine's Day, complete with its own URL and online for 30 days.

here. Tipped by Sean Ross.

Super Bowl.
Great game...plenty of drama in the 4th quarter. Commercials pretty ho-hum; there were a few good ones that stood out - sort of. Can't remember 'em now. Tom Petty excellent.

I missed it.
Lee Arnold didn't. Yesterday the anniversary of the day the music died in 1959. Some great videos posted in tribute on Lee's blog here.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

33° - overcast at 1:40pm

Happy Sunday.

This morning to
WGRF/Buffalo (97 Rock). Now playing: "Something To Believe In" by Poison segued into "LA Woman" from The Doors. Great imaging. Great radio. Guest DJ was Buffalo Bills punter Brian Moorman - for Super Bowl Sunday.

On the 97 Rock website: "Tom Tube" - a collection of Tom Petty videos from You Tube. Very cool tie-in to today's half-time appearance and upcoming tour.

Talkin' Spots.
Commercials. Consultant Harve Alan writes:

"Have you listened to the commercials that are running on most stations today? How many are poorly written, carelessly slapped together, and for advertisers that don’t mesh with a particular stations audience? It’s not just the locally produced spots, either many of the agency spots are the worst offenders!"

"This has always been a contentious issue at most every radio station. Programming wants to protect the product, sales needs to make the sale, and the client needs to get that spot on this afternoon. Sounds all too familiar and given today’s economic realities ill suited commercials frequently make it on the air."

"Effecting change in this area is not going to be easy."

Yep. This is one area I haven't been shy about in my career - but its very hard to fight the money. Even offering suggestions on changing the creative to keep the dollars is never well received for fear of losing the revenue all together. The "let's not rock the boat" thing.

99% of the time its been an issue with production that comes from the outside; and the occasional client who insists on voicing his own stuff. Some should, others should not.

This really isn't a solution - but after losing a battle, I've massaged the log after traffic load to place the offenders at the end of a stopset. Or talked my traffic director into doing it. A valuable relationship.

Harve points out: "Stating the obvious—better quality spots helps everyone." Harve's piece is

Worse than poor production or spots that don't fit are the (usually national) spots accepted by stations that are "consumer risks". Audio spam.

Friends (us) shouldn't do this to friends (listeners).

Speaking of spam: Sean Ross writes about something of value that might be in your email spam folder. Read here.

Enjoy the game - have a great Sunday.