Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More Classic Rock Winter Numbers

27° - clear at 7:33am

Welcome to Wednesday.

Chicago, Part 2:
An inside source reveals a bit about Chicago 25-54 numbers. AAA WXRT up and healthy. Classic rock/hits WDRV flat and healthy. Classic/mainstream rock WLUP down and not-so-healthy.

I think it would be fair to say that Emmis has its challenges in the Windy City with not one, but two full class B FMs.
Perhaps a contributing factor to WLUP's troubles is Steve Dahl; who successfully moved from afternoons at WCKG to mornings at WJMK (Jack FM). Radio-Info's Tom Taylor repored this morning that Steve debuted #3 M25-54. Wow!

Elsewhere: Congrats to WCSX/Detroit and OM/PD Doug Podell. 12+ numbers released yesterday show the classic rock station rising a full share. Sister WRIF holds steady.

Boston: WZLX up a bit. San Diego: KGB-FM up a few notches too!

Added: Dave Lange writes here about Comedians and Morning Shows. Good read with your morning coffee and Krispy Kreme.

Late Night Update: All Access reports that services for legendary air talent Ron O'Brien - who passed away this past Sunday - will be held Friday Morning at 11am in Pennsylvania.

The services will include a 5-minute video tribute to Big Ron will be webcast at The video was produced by "Shotgun" Tom Kelly and Art Voulo, Jr.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

WAXQ Scores in the Big Apple

29° - clear at 7:17am

Good Morning from Okemos.

Just reviewing yesterday's first release of 12+ winter book numbers. In New York, WAXQ rises almost a half point on the Arbi-meter. Classic Hits WCBS-FM remains flat but steady and healthy.

In Chicago - WDRV is basically flat. WLUP down a few notches. That's all 12+....25-54 will tell the real story.

Speaking of Chicago. In an email yesterday regarding the passing of Ron O'Brien, I had a friend in the biz tell me he once got the chance to meet Ron and was invited to sit in the studio during his show at WCFL one night.

Do wonderful moments like that still happen? I hope so.

Consultant Alan Mason has given his blog a makeover - and wrote a couple of great pieces in the last few days. In one post, Alan writes:

"Want to know about one of the most important changes in programming? It’s that it’s no longer “good enough” to have simple announcers trying to be funny or entertaining, or, on the other hand, simply doing the “that was/this is” thing. People want to be more involved in radio, to be more than a passive listener, and that happens when you connect with them."

"OK, most people can agree with that – we need to connect with our listeners in order to develop a deeper relationship with them. But what does that mean strategically? It means we have to have a new strategy, one where “show prep” doesn’t mean a prep sheet or what we heard on another station, but instead starts with the listener and works backwards."

Explore Alan's blog here.

Late Night Add: Radio with Pictures. Television. Bob Pittman thinks "local" (and small). Bob's a principal in Barrington Broadcasting - which owns television stations in the smaller markets. Bob highlighted in a great piece posted earlier today on the TV Newsday website. Pittman on content:

"I like smaller market broadcast television because what we’re seeing is that local means an awful lot to people. Nothing is more important than knowing the local news and what’s going on in the local community."

"The final piece of why it’s an exciting opportunity in the smaller markets is that TV stations can go start the community Internet sites with all the stuff they can’t do on the air—obituaries, school lunch menus, a phone directory like the Yellow Pages, etc. And they can use the power of the TV to promote the sites and re-use all the news and information they gather. They can create another business which in five to 10 years should be just as profitable as the TV stations in those markets."

What Bob says here applies to radio too; especially with websites. The Pittman article here (registration required - free).

Thank You. To Dave Martin for the plug today.

Bedtime for Bonzo. Have a good night.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

RIP: "Big" Ron O'Brien

I was saddened to learn tonight that Ron O'Brien has passed.

I remember him so well from his days at WCFL/Chicago back in the 70s - and later at KFI/Los Angeles (which boomed into Santa Fe when I lived there; and in CQUAM stereo too!).

Big Ron was part of an era of Chicago radio of all-star talent. Ron an incredible jock who never failed to deliver. Great pipes and energy, tight, yet relaxed and comfortable - combined with great personality. A radio natural.

Above: WCFL 1974; below right: WOGL 2008; bottom: KTLK/Denver 1970.

From The Philadelphia Inquirer (today 4/27/08):

"Big Ron" O'Brien, afternoon disc jockey on WOGL (98.1) and a former WFIL "Boss Jock," died this morning of complications of pneumonia.

Mr. O'Brien, believed to be 56, had been ill for nearly two months and was hospitalized at Paoli Memorial Hospital before being transferred to a rehabilitation center in West Chester. He seemed to be improving about a week ago, Jim Loftus, the station manager, said.

Mr. O'Brien had been at WOGL, a classic hits station specializing in music from the 1960s and 1970s, since 2002. Loftus described Mr. O'Brien as a musicologist who not only knew his play list but was well-versed in contemporary music.

"I never knew a guy who loved being on the air as much as he did," said Anne Gress, WOGL's program director. "There was such joy in his voice. He was put on this earth nothing other than to be on the air." Mr. O'Brien's first stint in Philadelphia was at the top-40 WFIL, a home of rapid-fire disk jockeys, from 1976 to 1979.

A Midwesterner, he started his career in 1969 at KUDL in Kansas City, according to a biography from the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. A year later, he went to KTLK in Denver. In the next six years, his radio station stops included WQXI in Atlanta, WCFL in Chicago, WXLO in New York and WOKY in Milwaukee.

He landed in Philadelphia at WFIL, toward the end of its "Famous 56" halcyon days. In 1979, he moved to Los Angeles, where he worked first at KFI and then at KIIS before moving to KWK in St. Louis in 1985. He stayed for nine years, until his return to Denver at KZDG. He returned to Philadelphia in 1996, when he joined WYXR (Star 104.5). In 2002, he joined WOGL, where he hosted the 3p.m.-to-7 p.m. weekday shift. He won several Achievement in Radio awards in Philadelphia.

"A lot of guys like me looked to guys like him to inspire their careers," said Loftus. "We are incredibly saddened. He was one of the greats." He is survived by his mother. Funeral arrangements were pending, but the station said services probably would be Friday.

Added: John Rook remembers Big Ron. Read here.
Added: WOGL website tribute to Ron. Here.

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

60° - clear at 11:52am

Good Morning from Mid-Michigan. Bike ride with my 9-year old this morning brought us down the road to Okemos High School (aka "The Taj Mahal" by locals; its very nice).

To my usual Sunday Morning lineup. Stroud on Chicago's WDRV featuring the music of Badfinger this morning. One of all-time fav bands; both the Apple and Warner years.

Bob Stroud also seeking votes for the next volume of his Rock 'N Roll Roots CD (it will be number 10). See here.

Post bike ride: Steve Palec on Milwaukee's
WKLH. A good dose of Linda Ronstadt this morning as "The Root Salute". Ronstadt covering Tom Petty's "The Waiting" was wonderful! Thanks Steve.

The ROI.
David Martin discusses the Radio 2020 initiative from the NAB, RAB and HD Radio Alliance...and calls for goals, scorecards and accountability.

This goes beyond simple "feel good" reaction (or otherwise) from inside the industry. Read

My take: Dave is right on. Unless there's measureable results, you'd never know if its time, effort and money well spent or otherwise wasted. And where to next. Promoting "radio" is best targeted at the ad community. For listeners, its all about brands and programming.

Think "users".
Mark Ramsey points us to Inside Radio and the words of Bonneville New Media Director James Webb:

"radio needs to stop thinking of its cume as “listeners” and consider them to be “users.” He says “Listeners are engaged only when the radio is on. Radio users connect with you in other ways.”"

Mark adds additional comments

Records. Lee Arnold gives us the trailer of a forthcoming film on the death of the independent record store. Places where I spent much of my youth exploring. See here.

Amazingly, I was just told this past week that a "record store" just opened in nearby East Lansing.

Jaye Albright's open letter.
To a Los Angeles broadcaster. Jay notes an air personality leaving this broadcaster's station to move to Huntsville, Alabama (apparently to make more money). Read here.

Jaye also points us to Detroit's WYCD...doing something radio does best.

Would the RIAA do this? Author Seth Godin encourages readers to loan a copy of his book "The Dip" to others. "If I could double the number of people who read the book, it would be pretty cool."

Seth writes

Speaking of.
Driving home Thursday afternoon I heard a song on MSU's student run and programmed radio station. And when I got home went online and bought the MP3 download. Isn't that the way its suppose to be? Radio remains the record industry's biggest promotional resource.

Howard Who? While the latest Arbitron satellite listening report shows him king of satellite radio, has the mainstream forgotten him?

Friday Night on Letterman - NPR's Ira Glass revealed that he was a major fan of Howard Stern. Said it twice. No studio audience applause, nothing - although Ira (and Dave) appeared to be waiting for it. As if they didn't know the name anymore. Or cared. Just an observation.

Cindy Gatziolis.
Don't know the name? Doesn't matter. Cindy share some great radio stories this week in Rick Kaempfer's Chicago Radio Spotlight. Think Larry Lujack. Jonathan Brandmeier. Read here.

Have a great Sunday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Staying Positive: Suggested Reading

56° - mostly cloudy/light drizzle at 7:33am

In the last 24 hours, I've read two posts directed at all the negativity that seems to exist in the broadcast industry today. And they're both like a breath of fresh air.

It seems with almost every blog I read, its constant bashing, both from inside and outside the industry.

Start your morning with these two posts.

Dave Martin wrote (yesterday):

"We are living in an age where the quality, quantity and diversity of audio and video is reaching new, unprecedented levels. There's a lot of really good stuff happening out there, folks playing at the top of their game producing truly remarkable work. Yes, we live in disruptive times. Yes, the rule sets are changing. No, the business as usual of today is not producing the results of yesterday."

"We can complain, scream at the rising tide, get involved in rants bashing how things are without suggesting alternatives or we can get involved. We can stay engaged in the futile efforts of getting better at playing defense or we can get different, get proactive and serious about game-changing innovation."

Dave's entire piece here.

And this morning brought Fred Jacobs to the discussion:

"It is too common these days for conversations among radio people to quickly deteriorate into industry bashing. I've been guilty of this, too, because it often seems like the pressure on radio is immense, the competition daunting, and the reactions just too slow to make any difference. We need to turn the conversation around."

"And there's no better place for a new initiative than at the top of radio's most prominent associations (NAB/RAB). We are seeing indicators as well as that some broadcasters are stepping up, facilitating more creative output, and welcoming new ideas."

"The Age of Consolidation is ending. Radio needs to get back to its creative foundation. Rock on, David and Jeff. If there was ever a time for a positive outlook and some creative proactivity, it is right now."

Fred's entire post here. Also suggested: Jacobs Media's new W.T.D.A. Campaign. See here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Classic Rock: Thinking Green

54° - clear at 7:42am

Welcome to Earth Day.

In the past year or so that I've been actively perusing the websites of classic rock stations throughout the country, its become more apparent that more are thinking "green"; and providing green resources and suggestions for listeners.

Most are simply generic good-sense tips about conservation and recycling. Easy to do and environmentally-friendly.

KZOK/Seattle has had a "green" section on their website for some time now. See

For several years, we've been hearing "green" promos on air at Chicago's WDRV (97.1/The Drive).

Although a little hard to find (requires the use of a pesky keyword), the station has a great resource page on its website for listeners and consumers. Lots of the basics.

Speaking of WDRV.
Today the station is holding their 7th annual "Earth Day Guitar Auction" to benefit the Save The Earth Foundation.

Up for the online auction is a Fender Squier Guitar autographed by Keith Richards. Very cool. View

New York's WAXQ (Q104.3) has a "green page" on their website. Again, access is through a "keyword", but as part of Earth Day they have the keyword displayed on the main page. Here.

WCSX/Detroit has probably one of the best station "green" resource sites I've seen yet. One that goes beyond tips and suggestions and offers lists of green companies, local events and area recycling centers. No sign as to whether this will be a 365-day effort, but it should be! See here.

Entercom - and their stations in Portland, Seattle and Sacramento have had a "1 Thing" green resource on their websites for quite some time. A great effort; and it appears to have generated some NTR dollars too. Here.

WPYX/Albany is contesting around the environment. And thats fantastic if its drawing attention to the issues that matter. See their contest page here.

I'm certain there's many other "green" examples on the web. No reason this can't/shouldn't be a 24/7/365 effort with today's environmentally aware world. Web resources like this are easy to pull off. And there's likely some local environmental/recycling organizations that would love to help.

Have a great day.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Monday

70° - scattered clouds at 7:08pm

Good evening from Okemos. Spring weather again today; plan on taking a bike ride with the kids right after dinner. It'll be a short ride. Long winter = very out of shape.

HD Radio.
Fred Jacobs points to his firm's (latest) Tech Poll IV that 40% of the survey respondents say they just don't know about it yet. Another 32% think the radios are too expensive. The good news: this can all be improved on.

My take: the HD Radio Alliance still needs to strike a deal with Detroit. I know there's been progress but there's a long way to go. Get that done. Radios (as standard equipment) in new cars will significantly increase awareness better than anything and provide the incentive to invest in the product (programming). And build from there.

Promote strong brands, not (just) the technology. Its all about the content.

Fred's post from this morning

Tom Webster of Edison Media Research offers a video from the RAIN Summit HD Radio panel in Las Vegas last week. Here. I have not seen yet.

Added later: I've now seen. Intelligent conversation on the topic. And speaking for Ibiquity is a former Chicago programmer (with whom I share my last name with) - who oversaw an incredible FM in the market back in the 70s. I never knew him; but I well knew his name.

Thinking Small. Harve Alan posted a piece last week that caught my attention. From the eMarketing Association eMarketing Conference: "The Shrinking Brand-Marketing in a Small World".

How to make effective use use of "micro-formats" and making them central to your marketing plan. And how radio is perfectly suited to micro-formats. A great read - and slide-show - here.

AAA rocks. Triple A Radio's
Mike Lyons writes:

"I've long advocated the AAA, or the adult-rock format, as one savior for the industry. Thousands of arbitrarily unplayed but obviously worthy songs and artists are available for play. Plus, the appeal of AAA to both boomers and the college demo provides an awfully attractive audience. During the last decade and a half, it's been consistently shown that most commercial AAA stations bill higher amounts than their rated audience share would normally indicate."

"That the AAA "power-rating" (percentage of a market's radio advertising billed by a station versus the percentage of listeners that station gets in a market) has always been among the highest in the business, often between 1 and 2 times. This means AAA stations can charge more per spot because their listeners are extremely desirable and listen longer."

A great piece from "The Forest" at Triple A Radio.
here. Mike ends the piece, noting:

"...after buying Radio One's Urban AC KRBV-FM in Los Angeles, Bonneville flipped it to AAA, "100.3 The Sound. World Class Rock For Southern California," bringing commercial AAA back to the second-largest market in the country. Reportedly, Bonneville President Bruce Reese's favorite station is KFOG in San Francisco so he's a man with good taste and some business acumen."

Have a good night.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

71° - clear at 12:18pm

The radio project. Still ripping, trimming and normalizing tracks for my soon-to-come internet radio project.

Takes me back to putting a new station on the air and dubbing all the music to cart; this time I'm doing it all by my lonesome!

Last night: I was half-asleep with the TV on; waking up this morning, I wasn't sure if what I remembered was real or just a (bad) dream. But was real:

Whatever it takes to pay the Back to radio:

The Radio Gypsies. Jay (J.) Blackburn's new novel. I mentioned here the other day that I did read it all in a night. Great stuff. Jay's stories of traveling from market to market as a "fix it" expert is fascinating.

Nearly everything written actually happened (but it is a novel); most names/locations/call letters have been changed to protect...well...Jay.

One set of call letters in the book that are real: WLUP/Chicago; and Jay devotes a number of chapters in the book describing the switch from the former jazz station (WSDM) to The Loop in 1976-1977; and that alone sells the book.

The station was launched on a bare-bones budget; and the descriptions of the setup and what was happening behind the scenes is fantastic.
The role engineering played to make the station a female-friendly AOR is well-described in the book.

One promotion WLUP did - which I thought was brilliant at the time (still do) - was the Beatles Guide promo. All a listener had to do was pick up a Loop Beatles Guide at a White Hen Pantry store (a better 7-11 back then) and log every Beatles song played on the station between 6am and Midnight.

Jay notes that the quarter hour maintenance was incredible and the recycling through dayparts awesome.

I don't remember this in the book; but Jay mentioned to me years ago that there was more than one competitior crying "foul" with Arbitron. But the promo was OK then under the ARB guidelines at the time. I remember having my own Beatles Guide - picking it up at the White Hen Pantry downtown on McClurg Court. I was working next door at WBBM/Newsradio 78 at the time.

Again, names were changed; but those in the know will recognize who's who. Chicago radio vets will remember some guy in the mid-late 70s programming NBC's Chicago properties. In the book, he's known as "Spittman". And that rhymes with

Jay's website is up: The site includes book excerpts. Jay welcomes comments and mail at:

The Radio Gypsies is a great read for any radio programmer or radio geek. I do recommend.

Steve Downes. I got to know the name Steve Downes years ago when he was the host of Westwood One's (syndicated) Superstar Concert Series. Steve currently does morning drive on Chicago's WDRV...and his voice is also heard in the current smash video game "Halo".

Steve also one-time host of "Rockline"; and has been hosting the syndicated show "The Classics" for a number of years now.

Rick Kaempfer's Chicago Radio Spotlight interviews Steve this week. Read here.

Have a great Sunday.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Weekend Classic Rock FM

70° - scattered clouds at 12 noon

Welcome to Saturday.

On the home agenda today is buying new bikes for my 12 and 9 year old, both who have seemed to quickly outgrow their old ones. Still think we're in the "big box store" bike purchase era instead of the $$ specialized bike retailer; the guys are still growing and they'll be outsizing whatever we buy today in short order...

Around the dial this weekend:

WAXQ/New York
with a Bon Jovi weekend; tying in to an upcoming concert. Q104.3 also has a great interview with Ray Davies on their website (as do many Clear Channel classic rock stations). I think Ray's music in the past 3 years has never been better and is right up there with the best of the Kinks stuff from years ago.

and an Eagles weekend with ticket giveaways with as the band comes to town.

WGRF/Buffalo going into time-warp mode all weekend (great graphic!):

Another matter:

Dave Martin expresses it best. On what I refer to as the hysterical anti-HD radio bunch.

"A small and largely anonymous anti-HD Radio claque are engaged in a hobby of online ranting. The majority of these rants are no more than the noise of sockpuppetry (some possible astroturfing) being tyronic, invidious and inimical in nature. If you've not been exposed to these rants you're in luck."

This blog has certainly been the recipient of such rants with each and every mention of the letters "HD". I see the trolling - for anything HD-related - by the ranters in my site statistics.

I've stopped publishing the comments of the anonymous HD ranters. They contribute nothing new to the discussion at hand and drift off topic. I sense a "if you're not with us, you're against us" attitude. I could be wrong.

The bottom line is that the technology is here. The investments have been made. Its time to find ways to monetize and make it work.

Dave further observes: "It's still way early in the game". Read Dave Martin here.

Just thinking:
It only took FM 30 years to come of age in a less-cluttered technological environment.

If today's ability to blog had been available in the early 40s, I can only imagine the rants that would have been posted after W2XMN went on the air. And ranting turning to gloating when many of the early FM efforts went dark in the 50s.

More Sunday.

I've Seen This Look Before....

64° - scattered clouds at 10:30am

From WBLM/Portland. More commercial-free hours.

Witness the excitement on the faces of the station's sales staff:

Funny stuff; and a clever way to get your sales staff to "buy in".....

Thursday, April 17, 2008


72° - partly cloudy at 9:42pm

Good evening from Michigan. Spring weather appeared to finally arrive today as we hit 79 today.

Few odds and ends from around the 'net:

David Lee Roth. Found an MP3 online of David's isolated vocal tracks from Runnin' With The Devil. Enjoy: link.

sent the DLR link to friend and production pro Roger King at KRFX/Denver who then told me they were all over it in January (err.."VAN-UARY")...and shared these sweepers.

Dr. Pepper and Axl Rose.
Mentioned here last month. And now from Ad Age comes the story behind the story. It all started with a couple of rock 'n rollers working at Pepper's parent company. Read here.

Radio History.
I was going through my bookmarks tonight and found one I marked years ago. Some great stuff here from a name you know if you're a longtime reader of this blog.

Jay (J.) Blackburn - retired programmer/GM/owner - now has his website setup for his new novel "The Radio Gypsies".

This past Monday, I received my copy from Jay and spent the entire night reading. More on that soon.

Check out Jay's site

It Ain't Easy

58° - mostly cloudy at 9:09am

At this week's event in Las Vegas - the NAB unveiled the "Radio Heard Hear" campaign. I mentioned it in this blog in the post below this one. Without comment.

Now in the past few days, I've ready the ramblings of all the naysayers regarding the NAB campaign. Some of these voice I do respect; some not so much.

Many of these same people are quick to jump on and be critical of any efforts by the HD Radio Alliance to promote its new technology.

Adding to the noise are the anonymous commenters. Some with their own blogs - some leaving comments on the blogs of others. Hiding behind a screen name without the opportunity for the reader to have a clue of the writer's background, agenda or qualifications.

All that said - here's my take on the NAB efforts - and to some extent those of the HD Radio Alliance: They're attempting to do what the individual broadcasters are unwilling to do.

And it ain't easy.

Promoting radio - in my view - is best promoted by its brands. The product and promotion of individual radio stations. The product is the reason to listen (or as my blogging collegue David Martin has written many times over: "the play's the thing").

And that product needs to be invested in and then well-promoted in this cluttered media environment. And it doesn't appear to be happening much these days.

The NAB - and the HD Radio Alliance are simply trying to do what the stations are unwilling to do. With a handicap. They can't talk brands. So they're left simply to promote the medium. And that's a difficult task indeed.

Also this morning: a great post on small market radio from Edison Media's Larry Rosin. Read here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

News from Vegas

49° - clear at 9:33pm

As followed from my perch in Michigan. NAB's Radio 2020 effort announces its first campaign to increase radio awareness: "Radio Heard Hear". Ad Age with
details. After giving an overview of radio's present day pains, the Ad Age article notes:

" is thriving for many small, private-market radio stations, which are experiencing year-to-date double-digit revenue increases, according to a recent report written by Marci Ryvicker, a radio analyst for Wachovia Capital Markets."

"Reporting on the SNL/Kagan Radio Summit in New York, Ms. Ryvicker wrote, "The primary reason for this dichotomy is [small, private stations'] hyper-focus on maintaining and creating local relationships and their long-term (i.e. greater than 3-month approach) to running the business.""

A long-term approach to running the business. Isn't this primarily about leadership? My opinion.

More NAB. Forgetting for a moment that he's the guy who thought "video killed the radio star", Bob Pittman told the NAB crowd today that radio beats iPODS and other options because consumers "don't want to be their own programmers." He said radio is mobile, easy to use, and offers lots of format choices, lessening consumers' need for alternatives, and is "the ultimate in brands," with listeners knowing and loving their favorite stations." (via All Access).

I'm with Bob - although I think there's many consumers who would love to be their own programmers but just don't have the time. Radio continues to win. And Bob a brilliant mind no matter what business.

I've got to look for audio or video of Larry Lujack's induction into the Radio Hall of Fame.

Tax Day.
WCSX/Detroit camped out until Midnight outside a Royal Oak, MI post office with food and music. Very nice!

More tomorrow.

Deadliest Catch tonight on Discovery and then to bed.