Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Odds & Sods

48° - mostly cloudy at 1:19pm

Happy weekend from Michigan.

This morning to Bruce Springsteen's first album as I'm ripping music to use on my soon-to-come internet station. I've forgotten what a great record 1973's "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J." is.

My internet station - purely a hobby - remains nameless, but formatics are coming together in my head. Still determining whats practical for a one-man band. Still 2-4 months away from debut.

PPM Lessons.
In this week's FMQB, Arbitron's Gary Marince talks about branding, focus, call letters, music and more. A great read here. Quoting Gary:

"It’s all about anticipating what the brand promises and delivers. Bottom line, listeners will tune to your station at their convenience. If they tune to the station in the middle of a four spot break, and they know through experience that they’re very close to hearing their favorite song, they will stay with the station through the commercial break. So it’s not the minute-by-minute analysis and programming that made the audience hang through the commercials, it is the brand and the expectations people have for the brand."

April Fools Day. Before you plan anything for Tuesday, read this from Radio-Info's Dana Hall.

No Repeat April.
Heard from friend Roger King on Thursday. Roger is production director (or some title like that) at Clear Channel's KRFX/Denver.

Roger was in the midst of putting together imaging for a "no repeat April" - with the station promising not to repeat any song 10a-7pm weekdays for the entire month of April.

I asked if that meant lots of "deep cuts". The reply: "deep and wide, baby!".

Spring book begins Thursday.
But you knew that.

DJ Update.
Rick Kaempfer (pictured) catches up with Bob Skafish for an update on his (almost) new job as afternoon driver on Chicago's WDRV (97.1 The Drive). Plus updates from Scott Childers and Wendy Snyder.

Read the Chicago Radio Spotlight

Spring cleaning this weekend at the Kelley home. Time to get back to it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The History of Great Radio (Part ?)

Simply fantastic:

Props to Mark Ramsey for finding and posting earlier today.

Axl, Main Street and Sound Advice

Good Morning from Okemos.

Axl: Be a Pepper.
Dr. Pepper asks Axl Rose to release the damn album! Lee Arnold with a story from Ad Age here.

The Radio Biz: Main Street, not Wall Street.
Dave Lange hits the nail right on the head:

"Instead of wringing our hands over all the issues that will be covered endlessly in the trades Radio can emerge if we do what we do best. So let's get to work planning and creating the best programming and sales efforts we can. Staying positive is where we need to start and there is no more positive place than the comfort of our Main Streets."

Read Dave

From Seth Godin:
"In my favorite hotel's kitchen, there's a big sign on the way out to the dining room: "If you're not proud of it, don't serve it.""

More later.

Horton Hears The Who

From Denver's KRFX (103.5/The Fox) - click here to listen to the bit. Very cute!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wednesday Blogs

30° - scattered clouds at 7:20am

It is what it is. XM/Sirius merger approved by DOJ. FCC can't be far behind. As Dave Martin points out here:

"Mel and pay radio will end up needing more than a good deal with the commission, they're going to need a radically different business model. Firing the majority of staff, outsourcing to the lowest bidders and restructuring deals won't even begin to get it done. The last published account of their combined ad billings was less than the annualized billings of one successful FM station. As written here previously, in the very best possible case, pay radio will be to audio what HBO is to video. A modest niche business, nothing more."

In his blog this morning, Fred Jacobs observes:

"...while satellite radio is an irritant, it has been losing momentum for a couple years now. We've seen evidence of this in our Tech Polls, conducted among 25,000+ rockers each year - just the kind of consumers that XM and Sirius have been targeting. In our newest poll, we're already seeing that when XM or Sirius ends up in the new car or truck you buy or lease, one's propensity to renew the service is much lower than average. And overall, we're only seeing about a 56% absolute commitment to retain XM or Sirius among current subscribers - not exactly the numbers they want to see, merger or no."

Lastly, Fred adds:

"There's a future out there for AM/FM radio, and while satellite radio just got a second wind, the true forces that will most clearly impact traditional broadcasters are far more ominous. But radio has the opportunity to play in the new media sandbox, if it focuses - once again - on creating great content, while providing multiple distribution outlets for that content."

And speaking of content
- consultant Alan Mason writes

"...what does your radio station do so well that it will cause listeners to come back again, and bring some friends? Every station has to decide on it’s own what it does best, but I can tell you one thing. It’s not creating share holder value."

My take: long-term shareholder value is created when great products are created that attract consumers. The need for quick short-term results for the next quarter is whats killing us.

Added: Saw this from Seth Godin over my second cup of coffee:

"A career putting out fires never leads to the goal you had in mind all along. I guess the trick is to make the long term items even more urgent than today's emergencies."

Seth's entire piece here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday Monday - Great Classic Rock Promotions!

25° - clear at 9:36pm

Have seen a few great classic rock promotions in the past couple of days.

In San Jose, KUFX (Fox 98.5) is doing their 4th annual "School of Rock" - a great public service-type promotion that can generate some talk and some thanks.

The station is inviting middle school and high school bands and choirs to submit a CD of 3 classic rock songs. They will then compete for donations of cash and equipment to their school's music program, plus some great radio, tv and live performance opportunities.

See how The Fox has it put together

KGON/Portland is catching Steven Van Zandt while he's in town with Springsteen this Friday Night. One lucky "Workforce Member" will meet Little Steven - plus get the chance to "get up close and personal" with Steven's producer who will share tips on how to record quality material.

And the station is throwing in a pair of tickets to the Springsteen concert. Very cool.
Little Steven has got to be the hardest working man in syndication these days.

And In San Diego, KGB-FM wants to send a listener to cover Motley Crue's upcoming press conference announcing future plans. A new tour? A new CD? The station's correspondent will report back.

This sounds like a very cool promotion that has to cost next to nothing to pull off. See more here.

Input From The Audience

19° - overcast at 8am

In the past I've mentioned programmers who have sought out ideas and thoughts from the audience and have actually put these ideas on the air. Most notable is John Hager, Program Director for Citadel's WGRF/Buffalo (97 Rock).

Back in December, Fred Jacobs (
here) used an example where John sought out feedback on Christmas music - and then took it to the next level:

"...the key to getting the most out of this process is that he shows the results of the survey on the station's website, allowing the audience the opportunity to see the findings and buy into 97Rock's course of action with Christmas music. It's a great way to learn more about the audience, answer important programming questions, and make the audience feel very important in the process."

I'm reminded of this by the new effort of Starbucks where customers are asked to contribute and vote on ideas for the coffee giant. Mark Ramsey covers this here - and pointing out:

"It's not simply the lazy old radio trick of "we're building your station - tell us what you want." It's evidence of what people are asking for, what is most popular, and what Starbucks is actually doing about it. And meanwhile, it builds Starbucks' community and engages its consumers for their own benefit and that of the brand."

So far - according to the website ChaosScenario - the top ideas include free wi-fi, a point card where customers can get free drinks - and free drinks for birthdays, new coffee introductions, etc.

Here in my area, Starbucks biggest competitor, Bigby's (formerly known as Beaners) offers both free wi-fi and a point card - and those are two reasons why Bigby's is my first choice for coffee. Starbuck's only advantage - at least in my neighborhood - is a drive-up window.

As ChaosScenario points out:

"...all of these ideas involve an investment by Starbucks, essentially giving something away. The activity on the site is reflective of their loyal customer base. If they don't implement some of these ideas and communicate them back to their customers, the whole initiative may backfire."

Which gets back to radio. Are you soliciting and implementing listener ideas in a credible way? Or is your request for input just empty lip service?
Another radio trick, perhaps? And are you prepared to act on those ideas?

Added: More on the Starbucks "web 2.0" initiative from Advertising Age here.

More here tonight. The day job awaits.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

35° - overcast at 10:45am

Good morning and Happy Easter from Michigan.

Apologies for the lack of posts this past week. I'll spare you the details; but recent days spent recovering from a virus I've been suffering with for several weeks.

Spring officially here - but winter returned with 3-4 inches of white stuff on the ground Friday Night/Saturday Morning. Michigan State: Great win last night over Pittsburgh with MSU moving on next Friday. Go Spartans!

Listening: My usual Sunday Morning fare. Also the past week spent lots of time with Lee Arnold's WORJ-dot-com.

Around the blogosphere:

Some great pieces posted on their site this weekend. One on radio and the web in an interview with the brilliant Mel Taylor. Here.

Another on sweeper production
written by Rich Van Slyke. Some great ideas on coaching your outside voice talent on the type of delivery you're looking for. Read

Radio BS.
No, I'm not going negative. But Mark Ramsey points out some of the dumb things radio stations say on the air. Mark points to a line he heard: "At last, a radio station that fits your lifestyle." Whatever that means. Read here.

Reminds me of an ad I saw a year or so ago; station looking for a program director. The ad said "must live the classic rock lifestyle". I wasn't sure what that meant, so I emailed the person placing the ad who replied "if I have to tell you, you're not the person we're looking for".

Observation: This past week I had a chance to listen to a station from a nearby market - a market larger than Lansing.

The station's afternoon drive jock was apparently MIA; so instead of a substitute, the only thing heard was segues from the automation. Song to song, song to stopset and the like. This station an Arbitron leader in its market. Disappointing.

Catching up on things today.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Congrats to J Blackburn

22° - clear at 8:14am

Congrats my friend Jay (J) Blackburn on the release of his book "The Radio Gypsies". Today is release day.

I don't have my copy yet (Jay's waiting for his promotional stock); but from the stories he has shared with me in recent years, the book should appeal to almost anyone in the biz.

A little bit about Jay: Back in the late 60s and early 70s, Jay was connected with station broker Art Holt. Art would send Jay to various markets to do quick turnarounds on properties to increase their value prior to sale. Jay would usually manage and program the properties for a short period of time.

At the beginning of 1977, he was hired by the Chess family (of the legendary Chess Records) to turn around then-jazz WSDM. His solution was a female-friendly AOR format.

Jay said it took 3 months to rebuild the facility or as he puts it "that old tube station" (under a very tight budget as I recall from a conversation with Jay years ago); and after the rebuild "it took us 7 months to become the number 1 AOR in the market", eventually running ABC (94.7) and NBC (101.1) out of the format in Chicago.

Jay hired some air talents from smaller markets who have since become legends in the business: Bill Evans, Patti Haze, Dave Logan, Les Tracy and Tom O'Toole. Yours truly was a fan of the station while I was doing radio in the suburbs.

After WLUP was sold (and went on to even a bigger life under Lee Abrams), Jay went on to manage stations in Seattle and Madison - as well as station ownership. He's now retired and living in San Antonio.

"The Radio Gypsies" is a novel based-on-real-life. From the back cover:

I can't wait to read myself. Congrats again Mr. Blackburn! Order via Amazon here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

29 - overcast at 10:20am - below: looking down my street this morning; the last days of winter here in Michigan? Wishful thinking!

Good Morning from Okemos, Michigan.

My usual Sunday Morning fare. Bob Stroud on Chicago's WDRV followed by Steve Palec on Milwaukee's WKLH.

Music Rights for Radio. This past week Mark Ramsey posted a multi-part interview with famed broadcast attorney David Oxenford. Scroll back here.

One discussion revolves around the thought that radio could possibility charge the record industry to play their records.

While that might be the ultimate wet dream for many radio execs - I can't image it going beyond the selections the record industry would want radio to play. And would probably exclude anything outside currents and recurrents.

Face it: there will be records radio will want to play that don't require compensation from the labels - and that includes superstar new releases and gold. Like classic rock.

And if we elect to accept compensation from the record companies for playing the music they want (legal "payola"), does this really serve the interests of our listeners? Just asking...

And no, radio shouldn't be paying the record companies one dime. Likewise with radio-like streaming.

Its about the audience:
Dave Lange writes here about air talent.

Radio Wars:
Fred Jacobs writes about being local; and recalls bumper sticker wars in Detroit between WRIF and WLLZ. Read here.

Radio Stories. Rick Kaempfer's Chicago Radio Spotlight shines on WERV/Aurora, IL PD/OM Matt DuBiel this week. Here.

And last Sunday Rick highlighted the radio career of comedian Dobie Maxwell - who had his first radio job here in Lansing at my former station. Read

Belated congrats:
To Milwaukee's Lee Arnold for recently celebrating one year streaming his progressive rock WORJ.COM; and for being awarded a trademark on WORJ. Happy ® to Lee!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Back On The Job

33° - clear at 10:10pm

It's been a long week. Not yet caught up on rest. And the blog!

A couple of highlights from the Great Lakes Broadcast Conference and Expo held in Grand Rapids on Monday and Tuesday: One was a session on station websites "60 in 60: 60 Web Ideas In 60 Minutes", hosted by Fred Jacobs and Tim Davis of Jacobs Media along with Chris Brunt of Greater Media's Detroit cluster.

My only regret was not being able to see the entire presentation with my conference responsibilities. But there were plenty in the almost-packed room feverishly taking notes. Thanks to Fred, Tim and Chris for making the trip from the Motor City - and congrats on a great hour of website ideas.

The other highlight
was the Tuesday Night Broadcast Excellence Awards. It served as a reminder of the many great stations still doing all things local and doing them well. In both large, medium and small markets in the State of Michigan.

Lee Abrams teamed up with Randy Michaels. During the Michigan conference I had a rare chance to check my email and there it was in a R&R news bulletin.

All I could think is "wow".
Lee - on his blog (here) writes about Randy:

"He’s possibly the smartest guy I’ve ever met He MIGHT be crazier than me…at least I won’t have to fear being too out there. We ARE going to re-write the future of media. He’s the kinda guy you want to do it with."

First Randy and now Lee. Tribune is one to watch in the coming year.

To WKLH's Steve Palec. The longtime host of the station's Sunday Morning "Rock 'N Roll Roots" program adds weeknights 7-9pm to his schedule with the "Legends of Rock". A very cool move.

And speaking of WKLH.
I can't help but love this graphic around Bruce Springsteen's appearance Monday Night in Milwaukee. Monday is St. Patrick's Day!

More congrats: To the legendary Tom Kent - who's just launched The Tom Kent Radio Network. Listen for his programming to come to an oldies/classic hits station near you.

Somewhere in my collection I have a quick aircheck of Tom on WHBQ/Memphis in the early 70s.
Very few could match the combination of talent and extreme high energy that Tom displayed night after night back then.

And oldies.
Edison Media's Sean Ross takes a look at "The New Oldies". A good read here.

I'm still catching up on my reading.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Good Morning From Grand Rapids

In beautiful Grand Rapids, Michigan for the annual Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference & number one. The biggest event of the year for the Michigan Association of Broadcast staff.

Have a great view from our convention office in DeVos Place on the third floor with huge picture windows overlooking the Grand River with the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum across the water.

Yesterday spent with the move-in from Lansing, which brought me memories of our last family move from Colorado to Michigan roughly three years ago.

I'll post more when I get an opportunity. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Very Cool Mr. Hager!

On Tuesday, this blog posted a piece inspired by a recent Sean Ross article on "The Show After The Show" - read here.

With Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band in town tonight, WGRF/Buffalo (97 Rock) PD John Hager sets the bar a little higher with this post-concert feature:

It will be a great night for 97 Rock listeners - who will not only experience a great concert; but will also continue the moment with a great drive home with the car stereos cranked up to WGRF.

I'm certain Little Steven's Underground Garage affiliate guru Mark Felsot played no small role in this either. Congrats to both John and Mark (as well as Mr. Van Zandt) for putting something truly memorable for 97 Rock listeners.

Awesome radio!

The WCSX Stimulus Package

This caught my eye. How to tie a simple cash giveaway into a current event and gain some real mileage!

With the economy down (especially in Michigan) and Americans looking forward to that cash back from Uncle Sam, WCSX/Detroit is using a small cash giveaway to hit a hot button of its listeners.

Its all in the name. One you've been hearing on the evening news.

Brainstorming current events and the promotional tie-ins should be something on the "to do" list for your next promotion meeting if you're not doing it already! Kudos to Detroit's classic rock station!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Free Seminar, A Thank You & A Book....

32° - light snow mist at 8:39am

Good Morning from downtown Lansing.

Busy week at the day job (The Michigan Assocation of Broadcasters) as the organization's annual conference takes place next week in Grand Rapids. A wonderful staff of 14 who pull it all together every year; and I'm honored to be a co-worker.

Talent coach Jay Mitchell presents a free no-strings teleseminar with the legendary Jay Trachman. The two Jays will be talking about "the changes that have taken place in the radio industry ... what it takes to succeed in radio today ... and why it's still all about the "1-2-1."

The live seminar begins at 8:30pm eastern. Register online today here. And feel free to pass on.

Great story.
I love to hear things like this. Had an email a few days back from WKLH/Milwaukee Rock 'N Roll Roots host Steve Palec.

This past Sunday he was featuring Fleetwood Mac and writes:

"The whole show was pretty much ready to go and I saw your comment about seeing Bob Welch's website and having him return your email. So I did the same and we had a great long recorded conversation with amazing insights I was able to add to the show this morning."

Very cool Steve!

The book. Been chatting via phone the past few days with another Jay: Jay (J) Blackburn. His long-awaited book "The Radio Gypsies". Its due for release March 17th...a week from Monday.

As I've written here before its a novel based-on-real life events from his years of programming and management. Jay's story is fascinating as a radio turn-around pro.

Order via Amazon here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Tuesday Tuesday

22°- overcast at 8:09am

Good Morning From Michigan.

The Show After The Show.
Turning on the radio after leaving a concert and hearing a set of music by the artist you just saw has always been great. One of the best things about album rock radio back in the 70s and 80s.

Its capturing the moment - and might include a phoner and show wrap from the venue by another station jock. Capturing and sharing the moment with the audience.

Sean Ross
reviews what some NYC stations did following a recent Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood tour stop.

Read here.

Mark Ramsey.
Mark posts a great piece about listener engagement citing Oprah as an example. At the very least, it might make you rethink the name of your online "listener club". But Mark's piece goes beyond that. Read here.

Related: Building Relationships.
They do take time. And my feeling is that the long term health of any radio station is time spent building and harvesting relationships with its listeners.

Hard to do in a world that desires quick fixes and fast results.

Seth Godin shares a note from a member of the Bruce Springsteen "Tribe"....its a great read

Speaking of Seth.
The "Agent of Change" has posted a piece on the music business. Its an excellent piece here.

Posted later: Bad day for both Led Zeppelin and Green Bay Packer fans. Lee Arnold blogs here.

Added: Bob Lefsetz on "Plant says no". Here.