Friday, May 30, 2008

Riff 2: Made In Detroit

75° - overcast at 11:52am

While doing some work this morning for the day job,
I stumbled across this video via Google.

I feel its a great image piece that sends a strong connection to its target audience on at least a couple of levels:

is a digital brand extension of WRIF...and I've mentioned some of their past efforts here.


Legends and Heros

55° - drizzle and clouds at 7:25am

Legends and Heros.
In the past few days, Lee Arnold has blogged about a topic close to my heart.

Lee asks - with relation to the various radio industry honors - "Where The Hell is Bill Drake and Tom Donahue" as well as some other known and not-so-well known names in our industry's past. Read

I agree with Lee that there's a lot of be learned from our past - we all need to be students "of our shared radio history". And regardless of format. Dave Martin (here) comments on Lee's piece and added some names of his own, all deserving of honor. Jim Schulke? You bet!

I'd still love to hear the stories, strategies and thinking
from those legends who may have dropped out of the biz. A few of the legends do blog. Others just need to be tracked down and interviewed.

The name Buzz Bennett came up again in conversation this week. There's another name. Buzz apparently MIA.

yesterday Lee printed a letter from the legendary
Joe Kelly (another name!). Joe writes about the late Thom O'Hare. Read here.

Much thanks to Lee - plus the contributions of Dave and Joe for bringing up this topic in the blogosphere again.

More here on the blog tonight.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wednesday Blogs

43° - clear at 8:37am; left: downtown Lansing this morning. Current Image

Hello from Sunny Michigan.

Good Read:
Yesterday's piece by Dave Martin on how radio appears to devalue 41% of its inventory. He's referring to nights and overnights, suggesting that its "perhaps the most undervalued asset in radio". Dave writes:

"Being #1 at night too often viewed as a Pyrrhic victory - "So what, we can't sell it!" This is the same logic frequently used in walking away from renewal of sports rights - "We can no longer make the math work." While it may indeed be easier to save a dollar than to bring a dollar in, that's no way to build or grow a business."

"The dirty little secret here is nobody likes live sports programming at night or overnight but the listeners. They never got the memo giving them the heads up that all the good stuff happens between 5a and 7p."

Read Dave's complete post
here. Good things can happen on music radio between 7pm and 5am too. One I miss dearly is the late Alan Stagg doing overnights (classic rock) in Chicago. Alan just fit the daypart so well.

Speaking of.
I read Tuesday in Tom Taylor's newsletter that Premiere was offering Bob & Tom for overnights. From the affiliate website it appears so. Don't get me wrong - I'm a big Bob & Tom fan and have been for years. But does a morning drive show have the right "feel" for overnights? Just asking...

Follow-up file: Yesterday I mentioned WGRF/Buffalo and its Memorial Day Top 500.

Late yesterday, I received a listener email from the station mentioning the "debate" going on regarding the number one song and inviting me to join the discussion on the station's
message board. Very clever and very cool.

Only in Santa Fe. And I say that as a former resident of the "City Different". Read here.

Pondering. How many "social networks" can one person manage? Rarely does a week go by where I haven't been invited to join yet another online social network - or asked if "I'm on social network X".

And these are from people I'm already connected with through another social network. "But I already know you from (fill in the blank)!

I'd like to think that its an age/generation thing. But those invitations are coming from my own peers. What are the burn and churn rates? Hmmm....

Am I just getting old and cranky????

Doing AC? Hire this guy: Chris Reynolds. Chris released yesterday after 7+ highly successful years programming WFMK/Lansing - which has consistently lead its target demos and often the entire market during Chris' tenure.

Prior to Lansing, Chris had stops in Flint, Saginaw, Detroit, and San Antonio. He's great and he gets it.

I'd be pleased to pass on contact information. And if you're looking for a classic rock PD, I can help with that too.....

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

As The Countdown Rolls On...

48° - overcast at 7:21am

As this blog pointed out a week or so ago, Top 500 countdowns continue to be a popular feature of classic rock stations around the country. And once again this year, this programming staple continues to draw interest from listeners who might normally be spending their time away from the radio. Listening habits tend to change on the weekend - even more significant with 3-day weekends. Your typical high-level "at work" audience on Monday isn't there.

As I've written here about the countdowns, this blog has become an easy "hit" for the search engines when someone types station X Top 500 countdown into Google or Yahoo.

This blog had a record number of page views from new visitors over the weekend - nearly all from the search engines with countdown-related search terms. The countdown concept continues to work. Casey Kasem figured it all out many years ago.

Chances are if your station did a countdown, your call letters are in my web stats. Added: the countdown "hits" continue this morning.

Heads up: In the majority of the searches, listeners were looking for their favorite classic rock station's Top 500 list. If you haven't done so already - be sure to get it posted on your website and promote this on the air. Today. Its going to pay off in website visits and listener satisfaction.

If you want to see a great example of listener passion behind this feature, check out WGRF/Buffalo's Top 500 Listener Comments page here.

And if your station didn't do anything special this past weekend, you missed a great opportunity to gain some additional quarter hours during the spring book.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Blogger Survives 2-1/2 Days Without Internet Access...

...and despite having taken a long hot shower, I still think I smell like campfire smoke. Above: Yours truly and son #2 on Saturday.

Home in Okemos after two days camping along the eastern shores of Lake Michigan near Pentwater.

Saturday was cold with calm winds. Sunday was warm but very windy. Water temperatures in the upper 30s didn't stop more than a handful from swimming. I elected to stay warm and dry.

Back to radio tomorrow.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Weekend Classic Rock FM

44° - clear at 11:55pm

Good Evening from Michigan.

Lee Arnold. Lee wraps up this week with what is just an excellent post on his blog: "Dick Meeder-The Best GM I Never Worked For". An excellent piece - followed by a great video of the late Mr. Meeder here.

Lee also recalls the GMs he did work for - and this sounds like the story of my career too (and I'm certain many others):

"Some were great at what they did. Some were “dear” friends. Some left me alone to do my job. Others meddled constantly. Some were generous and out going. Some were cheap. Some were leaders. Some were afraid of leaders."

Jaye Albright.
Jaye accurately says "uh oh" when noting that once internet hits vehicles, radio will have more competition that ever with traffic and news reports (and the revenue they provide) - suggesting that a plan to upgrade your content might be in order.

Forgetting radio for a moment, there's a bigger concern given the photo used in Jaye's post. The thought of someone watching streaming video while driving doesn't make me feel too safe being on the road at the same time. Jaye's post here.

And: yours truly closer to launching a hobby radio adventure on the internet. Using a portion of our household "economic stimulus" check, wrapped up the purchase of some affordable automation and music scheduling software today from Spacial Audio and Music 1. Still ripping CDs as time allows - but getting closer to the goal.

More over the weekend as time spent with family and rest allows.
Have a good one!

More Wi-Fi/Wi-Max from the South Pacific....

64° - cloudy at 1:45pm

Welcome to Friday - the start of a long weekend and the unofficial start to summer. More here later...but something I've been finding time to pass along:

Yesterday I caught Kurt Hanson's blog where he (courtesy of Madison's Tom Teuber) wrote a bit more about a topic I mentioned here Wednesday Night: the future of Wi-Fi as Wi-Max.

Kurt devotes a post to Hawaii radio guru Brock Whaley's test drive of Clearwire's "pre Wi-Max" technology. Its not all Wi-Max might be, but its a "a wireless broadband distribution service that covers miles instead of feet" - and is just like regular internet service.

After getting the Clearwire hardware and plugging his laptop into a power inverter, Brock cruised around the Island - and now with apologies to Kurt Hanson for over-quoting - Brock writes:

"I started the car, and turned everything on, and by God it works! Clumsy and experimental, but it works. The Clearwire signal indicator showed an excellent signal, even through the windshield. I brought up the stream of WDRV in Chicago, and there it was. Loud and clear in stereo. I drove into Kailua town. No drop out! Even as the direction of car changed. Signal strength varied in some directions as I drove, but I never lost the stream."

"I lost the signal driving to Honolulu, but the signal lasted farther than the Clearwire coverage map indicated. The same went as I approached Honolulu. I pulled off the road at a scenic lookout and reestablished an internet connection on the laptop. This time to all-news KNX in Los Angeles. I took King Street from the Pali all the way to Kaimuki, and I only lost the signal and had to reconnect once. I pulled over and tried the BBC with the even better results. No dropout all the way to Kahala Mall. I’m talking miles here, on city streets, and I’m listening to freaking London, in stereo, with no noise, no static, no dropouts, in my cheap Ford in Hawaii!"

"I cannot underestimate how excited I was and still am. This is incredible. It does work, and it will soon be the norm."

Wow. I can understand Brock's excitement when he declares: "I have heard the future in my car." Kurt's entire post - describing Brock Whaley's setup and experience further is here.

The concept of speaking into a microphone or playing music and having it go through the airwaves still excites me as much as it did when I was 11 years old - and built "WDK" in the bedroom of my childhood home from a Lafayette Radio tube transmitter kit.

I got the same rush again a few months back (here) - when I was streaming music from a computer in my basement - and a friend in Phoenix was listening on his PC. Once a radio geek, always... The future is going to be one wild ride.

More later.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday Blogs

44° - overcast at 7:40am. Above: a boring airport photo from my wife's cellphone as she sat on the runway for three hours in Atlanta last night.

Joy of Air Travel.
Over the last 12 hours I've been exchanging emails and text messages with my wife and her Blackberry as she tries to return home from a trip to Atlanta. Bad weather meant a 3-hour sit on the tarmac; which meant missing a connecting flight, resulting in an unplanned overnight stay in Minneapolis.

This morning to one of Jay Mitchell's recorded Teleseminars at his Killer Jock website. Drinking coffee this morning while Jay, Kipper McGee, Patrick Davis and Van Harden talk shop. Too cool!

A great resource - listen

Remembering Keeve Berman.
My only exposure to Mr. Berman was listening to him on the ABC Radio Network many years ago. One of many great voices in an era gone by.

Dave Martin writes about his early-career contact with Keeve Berman
here - and shares the philosophy of taking the call and making a positive first impression.

Careful. Folks still complaining to the FCC. An example from South Bend here.

Congrats to Tom Taylor;
his daily industry newsletter celebrating its first anniversary today.

Added: Wi-Fi/Wi-Max. I've written here before that radio isn't about towers and transmitters anymore, but about content and distribution channels. Over-the-air, HD...and broadband. Especially wireless broadband. Like Wi-Fi....and Wi-Max.

Current Wi-Fi routers typically serve an area of 30-50 feet. With Wi-Max, it can be almost 30 miles from a transmission point.

And I read two pieces on the topic today.

Originally posted a little over a week ago - Triple A Radio's Mike Lyons wrote here about Sprint/Nextel's merger with Clearwire to form a new Wi-Max venture under the Clearwire name. And Mike mentioned a test a friend of his did in Hawaii:

"One of my oldest friends, Brock Whaley, who runs a station group in Honolulu owned by Vision Related Entertainment (including rocker KPOI), told me today that since Clearwire is a major wi-fi provider on Oahu, he ran his own test for a drive around the island. He rigged a system together in his car and was stunned at how solid the stereo signal was as he listened to KNX Los Angeles, WDRV in Chicago and the BBC as he rolled around the island through the mountains without barely a signal dropout at all. And this is with Clearwire now!"

Too cool! Also took note of the legendary John Rook - who wrote about the internet and Wi-Fi on his blog:

"No longer am I saddled with fewer than a dozen “local” radio stations, that in reality are no longer “local” but distributors of nationally syndicated programming."

"WiFi, with its delivery of thousands of radio stations and hundreds of internet offerings, has really greatly expanded my radio menu. Given the limited number of “local” stations available to me, I had mistakenly considered radio hardly worth turning on. Not true with my discovery of WiFi."

I keep tellin' ya...the future for radio is WiFi."

What a future! Have a good night.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday, Monday

50° - clear at 9:48pm

Good evening from Mid-Michigan.

Listening: Tonight to WKLH/Milwaukee's Steve Palec - and his (almost) new 7-9pm weeknight show "Legends of Rock". As the stream popped on, Steve was playing "Lady Writer" from Dire Straits (a "DK" all-time fav).

Dire Straits was followed by a "Legends" sweeper into Steve with a story behind the song "Marrakesh Express" by CSN, including a Graham Nash sound bite...segued into the song itself.

Great storytelling makes great radio. And classic rock has so many stories behind the songs and artists.

CSN followed by Steely Dan "Hey Nineteen" segued into "Come Running" from Van Morrison. Sweet! Check Steve out 8-10pm eastern time at

And thanks Steve too for the Timmy Thomas "Why Can't We Live Together" (plus the same tune performed by Steve!)

Give Your Station Voice A Break. Well, sort of. Fred Jacobs wrote here this morning on using your on-air talent to its fullest:

" is ironic that clients often pay premium dollars for live reads by big-name jocks, but stations would rather use their anonymous Mr. Big Voice on most (if not all) key promos and positioners. If your airstaff can effectively sell dog food, cars, and new windows for advertisers, why wouldn't you regularly use the power and influence of their voices to highlight what's really important - your station and your brand?"

I couldn't agree more. Just using your star talent to voice promos (perhaps in combo with your "station voice" or solo) adds some variety and might just perk some ears up. And consider doing the same with your sweepers and imaging pieces. Just a couple times an hour a different voice will command some attention.

If you run syndication, consider those voices too! Think Bob & Tom (and Chick & Kristie - along with all the character voices), Alice Cooper, Little Steven, Nick Michaels, Paul Shaffer - whoever you run.

And listener-voiced sweepers are cool too - even if just call letters and slogan recorded off the phone. Getting off-topic, just brain-storming.

Back to Fred's post. Also writing:

"Most radio stations don't use their big names as effectively. Yes, many well-paid jocks have gotten the economic message in the past few years. They need to make a greater contribution than their 4-5 hours shows. As a result, many have stepped up, are spending more time at the station, while showing up for more outside events (with no talent fee)."

"But stations could utilize their big brands in a more compelling way. A number of years ago, we talked about the jocks making live, unsolicited calls to members of the email database. Imagine getting one of those out-of-the-blue calls from your favorite DJ, thanking you for listening, taking a request, and just spending a couple of minutes to schmooze with a station fan. It's a lasting impression, very buzz-worthy, and something that can cement a listener's loyalty for years."

Thanks to Fred for sharing a great post with the rest of us; a ping to his blog should be a part of everyone's breakfast.

Have a good night.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

55° - overcast at 11:26am

Good Morning from Okemos, Michigan USA.

Listening: Starting at 8am eastern this morning to Bob Stroud's Rock 'N Roll Roots on WDRV. Bob featuring The Who this morning, celebrating Pete Townshend's birthday. Stroud's stories behind the songs make almost everything he plays special.

Steve Palec on WKLH. Steve with a good dose of Allman Brothers as I'm listening. Steve also a great storyteller with some great sound bites to setup the tunes.

Celebrating 40 years of rock. See the celebration on station's website here.

FMQB with a great historic photo spread on WMMR here.

Building Community. Good read this past week in Ad Week on marketing and "building community." Read here.

Related: Bob Lefsetz posts a letter from an artist who writes:

"It’s really not so much about the music anymore. It’s about how willing you are to market you band/product by putting the time and effort into it to it. Connecting with fans. Creating a community that will keep coming back because your constantly updating your content."

American Idol - Boston style: Fred Jacobs wrote about a dream gig and how it came together this past week. Hint: Boston has a new lead singer - and he's from Home Depot. Here.

Hmmm. WKLH/Milwaukee promoting "The Concert For Big Oil" on Memorial Day Weekend. Say what? See here.

Dolly and Howard. Jaye Albright comments here. Your take? I do note that this is the first I've heard about Howard in many months. See "Sensitive Times" below.

Sensitive Times. You've no doubt read in the past day or so the firing of WYSP/Philadelphia morning talent Kidd Chris and Program Director John Cook over the repeated airing of a "racist" song performed by an in-studio guest.

Me thinks an apology over a one-time live airing would have been fine - but repeated airings may have crossed that line. BTW: a visit to the WYSP website reveals another station running "The Harley Days of May" (that's 2 now).

Added Monday 5/19: Jerry Del Colliano in a post this morning gets it right:

"Radio audiences are increasingly over this type of content. Even Public Offender #1, Howard Stern, has changed the way he offends – albeit it on subscriber-based satellite radio."

"And if you’re wondering what the next generation thinks of these types of racist parodies, consider that Gen Y is a very social generation. They tend to work within the system and see things in one color instead of racially defined preexisting stereotypes from the past."

Have a great Sunday. There's a trip to the zoo know as Sam's Club in my plans today...

Listen Live Widgets Revisited

55° - mostly cloudy at 9:50am

Last July - I noted on this blog the availability of "Listen Live" desktop widgets that made listening to streaming radio easy - tools put together by fans of radio stations, not the stations themselves.

My original post here. The KQRS/Minneapolis widget pictured above - found on Yahoo! - was put together by a station listener. The only problem with listener-created listen live widgets is that they become outdated once a station changes its streaming provider or parameters.

Again - why require listeners to navigate through a station website and pull up multiple windows just to listen to your radio station? Imagine if they had to do that with their regular radio!

To date, I have yet to see any radio stations offer a similar product on their own.

This past week - as a member of their "email club" - I received an invite from a regional grocery chain offering a desktop widget for my PC - and its brilliant: click on image for better view

Consumer-friendly resources for meal preparation and shopping. No website. Just a small window on my PC's desktop. Awesome!

Imagine the possibilites for a radio station! Aside from one-click listen live - what other resources could you provide your listeners instantly? And how could your sales department benefit from a tool such as this?

I just be thinkin'.....

Related: Consultant Harve Alan writes about the new product widgets being offered by Amazon.Com here.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Memorial Day Programming

58° - sunny/clear at 9:45am

Hello from Michigan. Home today with a sore sinus/throat thing. My 9-year old had something similar for the past few days - so I be thinkin' that I got it from him.

Memorial Day.
See lots of stations getting ready to hit Memorial Day Weekend with Top 500 Countdowns. KUFX/San Jose is soliciting listener votes for their countdown with a chance to win Police tix. Here.

KCFX/Kansas City now collecting votes for their Memorial 500 here.

KSAN/San Francisco also compiling listener votes; though its limited to their "Bonehead" club members.

In Fort Myers,
WARO is doing a "Top 400" for Memorial Day weekend - with a list to vote from online here.

In Philadelphia,
WMGK has started the voting process for its "Philly 500" with a complete (?) list of titles, plus an opportunity to "write in" a vote. See how they're doing it here.

WAQY/Springfield also with the Top 500 this Memorial Day. Here. Kudos to them on a great graphic:

KLOS/LA is spending the long weekend with listener-suggested sets of music as a "My Tunes" weekend. Very cool. See the entry process here. In the Windy City, Mainstream rocker WLUP is doing a "Loyal Looper 500". See here.

One of my favorite stations -
WGRF/Buffalo is letting the listeners vote - and discuss their Memorial Day 500 list.

Incentive for voting is a chance at a trip to the Hard Rock Park. Schweet! See the layout and listener comments

More Memorial Day Programming as I come across it.

Follow-up file:
This morning I did spot one station doing "The Harley Days of May". Here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

More Fun Stuff

Another online video from WBLM/Portland....

See their sales department cry when more commercial free hours were announced here. Very nice guys!

YouTube is free too - and they eat the bandwidth!

Should Have Never Got On The Air...

Read here.

If you've got advertisers running offers that are too good to be true, isn't it your responsibility to check it out in advance and protect your listener?

Deceptive advertising is one of my (few) pet peeves; and I hear far too many offers on the air - or on TV (particularly on the cable networks) - with offers that appear to be nothing more than blatant rip-offs. Its always been a buyer-beware world; but isn't listenership all about relationships - and protecting those relationships?

And in this case - the station doesn't appear to be taking much action. The damage to their listener asset has been done.

Much often this is out of the hands of programming - but the PD needs to raise his voice in matters such as this. One of the most important jobs of a Program Director is being an advocate for the listener inside the radio station.

More later today - including a look ahead to Memorial Day Weekend programming.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Alan Mason: Put The Listener First (Shareholder Value Follows)

48° - clear at 9:45pm

Good Evening from Michigan.

Long day and I'm writing this as I'm about to call it a day.

Consultant Alan Mason
posted this piece earlier today on his blog - "A Change Manifesto".

Among Alan's bullet points:

"Put the listeners first. I never did figure out how ignoring the primary consumer was going to create a stronger industry, and it hasn’t. Why is TSL down across the country and we see so many reports of dissatisfaction with radio? Because we’ve forgotten that in order to provide value to the share holder we first have to provide value to the listener. Once we’ve provided value to the listener we’ll be able to provide value to the client. Only after those two constituencies have been satisfied will we be able to provide value to the share holder."

I've written the same before on this blog. Longterm share holder value comes from investing in the product and growing listenership. Where is this thinking wrong?

And from Ken Calvert - afternoons at WCSX/Detroit came the following email today:

Have a good night.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Tonight while watching NBC-TV's "The Office" marathon - I decided (for no apparent reason) to Google "Dunder Mifflin" (the fictional paper company featured in the show).

What appeared as the top search result brought a smile to my face:


Clicking on the link brought me to a Dunder-Mifflin corporate home page that looked as good as any "real company" home page too!

Sunday Afternoon Odds & Sods

49° - light rain at 5:43pm. Left: downtown Lansing webcam. current image

Good afternoon from Michigan.

Late start on the blog today.
I'm not quite sure why. I did wake early - for what is referred to in our house as a "Panera Run".

Panera a regional chain of excellent bakeries; a nice treat as the rest of the house awoke, especially on Mother's Day.

Destination Zeppelin. Have seen a few promos for the new Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach, featuring the Led Zeppelin Roller Coaster. WAXQ/NYC here. KKFM/Colorado Springs here. Lee Arnold posted about Hard Rock Park here.

Second phase promos:
WAOR/South Bend offering a "Flat Screen A Day In May". Here.

Gas: WTPA/Harrisburg is offering free gas

And from WBGG/Miami comes "Petty cash". Very cool name - and a very cool graphic. More

This is a very sleepy spring in terms of promotions, most likely due to the tight or non-existent budgets in the current economic climate. Fewer stations with "Workforce Cash". The "Harley Days of May" - once a classic rock staple, appears to be gone. Perhaps its time for change, but these promos appear to be replaced by nothing.

Around the blogs:

Seth Godin.
Seth posts a great piece this morning (he says its ten years old) on "what every good marketer knows" that is very radio relevant.


Wonderful stuff:
Rick Kaempfer talks this week to the brilliant Ron Britian. Ron shares memories of WCFL/Chicago; and his own weekly "Subterranean Circus". It was my first real exposure to a lot of album rock...on a 50kw AM blowtorch!

Read Rick's interview

More tomorrow.