Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Night Odds & Sods

63° - scattered clouds at 11:19pm

Good Evening from Okemos.

Reading: The original WLUP/Chicago Format Guide written for its debut in March of 1977. It was a gift I found in the mail Friday arriving home from the day job. Very cool to read the philosophy and formatics of a station I listened to heavily back then. 52 typewritten pages.

My thanks to its author and first WLUP Program Director J. Blackburn for sharing this bit of history; and being quite candid through emails on his hits and misses throughout his career.

I've written about his new radio novel; his website here.

Conclave wrap: Have been checking out the Conclave reports on the R&R site. Some great info on promotions and text messaging; no surprises with the discussion about performance royalties (what is the debate in a room full of radio folks?) and a great session on show prep and websites.

The McVay seminar with legendary voice talent Nick Michaels appeared to be a hit.
If you were there, I am envious. Waiting to read what Lee Abrams offered on Friday.

Good stuff:
"What are YOU doing to make your listeners' lives better today?"

Read some great examples via Jaye Albright

A late post today. My free time spent on the internet radio project, still getting music together and experimenting (can I play the new Coldplay song, Uriah Heep, The Temptations, Zeppelin and AC/DC on the same station? Hmmmm....). I don't want to hype this more than it is: a hobby effort with a hobby budget and nothing more.

Have a good night.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ending the Rant of musicFIRST

69° - sunny at 7:53am

Conclave: Under way in Minneapolis. Wish I was there! The Conclave has evolved into radio's premiere event. More here. In preparation, Sean Ross writes about the Twin Cities oldies/classic hits/classic rock stations here.

Those wackos at musicFIRST. Calling radio stations "pirates" for not paying additional fees to use music. What if radio picked a few artists and simply stopped playing their music (if you were an artist - would you want to be on that list?)

As Jerry Del Colliano
pointed out in his blog the other day:

"We could really end this desperate move by rich record artists to earn even more by remembering what Sinatra, The Eagles – all of them – would have made if radio didn’t play their music. How about – zero. How about no platinum records. No gold. No silver. No tin. No junk metal. Nothing could be earned without radio airplay. Nothing."

Exactly. NAB efforts gave broadcasters the majority of votes in the House on the performance "tax" issue, as announced on Tuesday. But the fight continues. Meanwhile, record company promotion people continue to beg for radio airplay.

Great Promotion.
As tipped by Dave Martin (who was tipped by Emily DiTomo). Entercom teaming up with Guitar Center for "Get Schooled with Guitar Center". Here.

writes: "A very cool concept and well done. Creating memorable experiences, real dream come true moments, is powerful magic." Kudos to Entercom and all involved.

Atlanta's Dave-FM/WZGC launches second website "E-Dave".
A cool presentation and layout that begs the question: why not just make this "the" website? See here.

Added: From Boston.Com - a review/preview of Wi-Fi ready radios. Here.

Late Night Add: Received a great piece in my in-box this afternoon from Fred Jacobs. A must-read for PDs and air talent. A lesson learned from the late George Carlin. Here.

Have a good night.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Classic Rock Salutes George

54° - sunny at 8:03am

Good Morning from Michigan.

Remembering George.
Noticed just a few classic rockers remembering and paying tribute to George Carlin with their websites. WZLX/Boston has this section on its website for listener memories. Very cool. Likewise, WGRF/Buffalo's Rob Lederman posts his memories of George. See here.

Just a thought:
there's a ton of George Carlin videos available via You Tube that could be embedded on a station website. A list here.

An online tribute would not be a bad thing to do.
It's not too late; with a proper disclaimer (NSFW), you could even post the 7 words piece.

Around the web:

Cox Radio Steps Up.
Cox - which in this author's opinion has been using the blandest of bland web templates for years - steps up with some site redesigns. Noted WHTQ/Orlando and WHPT/Tampa this morning. Very nice guys!

Late day update (9:55pm Eastern): Dave Martin with a common-sense thought today on his blog:

"Broadcast site after broadcast site feature Contact Us pages filled with email addresses, however, very few provide the primary telephone number. Getting in touch with station based colleagues and not having their direct dials often means visiting their website. More often than not one finds numbers for the studio, the newsroom, the sales department but no mention of the main number. Thinking my best bet is the sales dept I often call that number, usually get voicemail and typically become captive to the automated attendant. Provide the main number, answer your phone. My sense is there's competitive advantage here as no one is doing this."

More tomorrow...thanks for the pings; it makes it all worthwhile.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Brock Whaley on George Carlin

Found this in my email tonight from programmer Brock Whaley:

A Remembrance

George Carlin was a huge influence on my sense of humor in no small part because he was the first person to satirize Top 40 radio. Other’s like Steve Allen had satirized television, but George came right at the radio format, and thus the radio, I loved as a kid in the 60’s.

I first became aware of George Carlin in 1966 when he was part of the summer replacement show for the Kraft Music Hall on NBC. And this was with Mr. White bread John Davidson as host. I never missed a show, not even on vacation.

In 1967 my Father returned from a trip to New York with George’s first album on RCA. It was a promo copy which made it even cooler. I have no idea how he found a promo copy, but I wore out the grooves.

That summer, George was on another summer replacement show. This one on CBS was a summer fill in for Jackie Gleason, and starred Jose Greco (now there’s a trivia name).

I watched every show, just for George.

I laughed and loved George’s take on daytime television with its clueless contestants, but it was his satire on Top 40 that nailed it for me. Not just the songs, but the jocks and the jingles. It proved to me that nothing, even something you love, is sacred.

I was reminded this morning, that although George had long stopped doing radio interviews, he did mention a decade ago, that our KPOI slogan at the time, “The Rock You Live On” was the most cleaver, and accurate radio slogan he had ever heard. This from a man whose own clever take on the radio business started it all for me.

Much will be written. Everyone has a favorite point in his groundbreaking array of work and thought. Mine will always be the fictional radio station that formed so much of my life as a satirist and broadcaster.

Thank you, George.

And thank you for “Wonderful WINO radio. Just above the police calls.”

Brock Whaley
Director of Programming
VRE Hawaii
KPOI Honolulu
KDDB Honolulu
KQMQ Honolulu
KUMU Honolulu

RIP: George Carlin

Who in AOR radio wasn't influenced by this man?

Added: George Carlin did what the FCC has never done. Here. I spent my allowance this week.

Today's Woot is something wonderful (Woot is a cool site that sells one item a day until its sold out):

WCSX Hits Another Home Run...

This is awesome. While the economy around the country isn't good, its especially bad here in Michigan.

Just in the past week it was announced that the state's unemployment rate hit a 16-year high in May (8.5%), three percentage points higher than the national average.
That makes this effort by WCSX/Detroit not only a home run, but perhaps a grand slam.

Don't you think that many affected by the downturn of the auto industry and the housing slump could just be classic rock listeners?

Its community service - and it will pay off - for the listeners and the station.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

78 - sunny at 11am. Left: Michigan's Mackinac Bridge - as shot by my wife heading north this past Monday.

Hello from Okemos!

Feeling out of touch:
the past week a fast one - between an elevated work schedule and my wife out of town most of the week (in Michigan's "U.P." on business) - which left me to take care of all the house and kid duties. The blog, unfortunately had to take a back seat.
Getting back on schedule...

Spent much of yesterday working on my forthcoming internet station.
Still ripping CDs, entering required MP3 meta data on the individual cuts to meet the RIAA requirements. While its possible to put something "on the air"; first impressions are everything - so a formal debut will have to wait.
Meanwhile in testing, the nearly 10-year old Pentium III (XP Home/648k RAM) running the automation is performing nearly flawlessly 24/7.

Speaking of streaming:
This past week, Edison Media's Sean Ross wrote a great piece on streaming radio and the stopset situation - specifically looking at the Atlanta market.
Here. Sean notes many of the thoughts that go through my head while listening to streaming radio stations. My conclusion is that streaming is just a mere afterthought - still - when putting a great online product together should be as high a priority as the terrestrial product. But I've said that here before. Why bother if you're not making it the best it can be?

Another great piece this past week
was one on Friday from Jacobs Media's Keith Cunningham. The topic was talent. Using the NBA's Boston Celtics as an example, Keith wrote:

"....if a station is really looking to change the game, they may need to get honest with themselves and agree to invest in hiring great talent. The right mix of music can’t be overlooked – but take a cue from some of Radio’s iconic brands that many emulate – they have big talent."

"It’s also worth noting that The Bone in Tampa (Cox) went from a mid-pack player to virtually #1 across the board with men, almost immediately, by adding Bubba the Love Sponge to morning drive back in January. The Bone’s music mix was right all along, but there’s no substitute for big talent. Whether it's radio or the NBA, talent wins. Just ask anyone who lives in Boston."

Keith's entire piece here.

Speaking of talent.
Lee Arnold writes on something I've touch on before. Another wonderful read here.

Mark Ramsey. Mark shares his view on positioning:

"As I have often said, "positioning" has never been about a "line," it has been about a "position." And a position is about standing for something. And if you stand for something that means you should be doing the right things to support that something. Because that means you're real. And a brand is as real as you and I are."

Mark's piece

Spending the morning getting caught up on my reading before an afternoon trek to the ballpark to see our local minor league Lansing Lugnuts (currently #1 in their division) take on the Ft. Wayne Wizards. It's a beautiful day for a ball game. Have a great Sunday....more tomorrow.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

78° - overcast at 1:20pm

Good Afternoon from Michigan.
A nice morning on the back deck.

This morning/early afternoon to Steve Palec on Milwaukee's WKLH. Lots of Santana this morning. And a tribute to Elvis Costello. Cool! Another great show Steve! Memo to 'KLH: Spend a few hours listening to your stream with a critical ear.

The new iPhone:
Radio isn't AM and FM, towers and transmitters anymore. Its distributing content through multiple platforms. There's other ways of getting our content delivered besides FM tuners (or lack thereof). Opinion: The NAB needs a think tank on the subject and spend less time dealing with the "tuner" issue.

Lee Arnold.
Lee had a great post a few days back - about listening to the radio, hearing a great track and waiting for the jock to ID it:

"The Jock came on, gave the call letters and went into a spot cluster. NO SONG IDENTIFICATION!!! I went ballistic. I started yelling and cursing at the radio. I pounded on the dashboard a couple times and got out of the car, SLAMMING the door."

Lee's full post

Progressive rock radio's past: News Blimps. Remember them? News pieces with topical music. Distributed by the Progressive Radio Network. Was chatting with a friend about these the other day...turns out he (and a friend of his - today a well-known industry consultant) actually produced a number of these during their college days - along with free-lancers from all over the country.

Meanwhile - I did a Google search and found some old News Blimps from California's Bobby Blue online
here. Added: Found some more News Blimp audio from WORJ.COM here.

Brings back memories of the old Earth News and Zodiac News services. And (unrelated) the trade publication Walrus.

J Blackburn writes this morning about "news blimps" that were rolled locally at WLUP/Chicago in 1977. Noting that the FCC had content requirements back then: "
News had to roll all day, so we put music under it. With FM, it was so much easier. The content depended on the target and the culture. At The Loop we rolled news blimps and illustrated the stories with appropriate music."

Unscientific music research. Or maybe just observation. Cool bars with cool jukeboxes. What are people spending their coin to listen to?

Not long ago, I was in a local watering hole and noted the what was being played; heard some great tracks from Stevie Ray Vaughan, Zeppelin, Seger, John Mayall and others. Most of the coins were being dropped on tracks not heard on the radio.

Would it make sense to get a list of what tracks were being paid for and perhaps include a few of the top ones in a music test? Just thinking...

Redecorating. Consultant Harv Blain shares

Great interview: Rick Kaempfer interviews Chicago's Jim Smith. If you don't know his name, you'll know his stations. A must-read for any programmer or radio geek. Here.

Pardon This Gloat...

77° - overcast at 11:50am

While sitting out on the patio this morning (writing this blog) -
my wife and kids presented me with a card and a little Father's Day present....


Thanks to Jodi, Tyler and Maxwell.

WGRF/Buffalo: Remembering Tim Russert

Buffalo's WGRF - connecting with its community - and the loss of a local hero.

Received this email late Friday from 97 Rock's Email club:

And this morning - another:

Connecting. Community. Kudos to PD John Hager and crew.

Friday, June 13, 2008

In The Motor City

75° - scattered clouds at 7:20am. Above: Detroit's skyline captured on webcam this morning. current image

Lack of posts: Found myself with another busy week between the day job, my free-lance work and kids. I need 30-hour days, not 24. But its all good.

In Detroit yesterday (suburban Sterling Heights, actually); had an opportunity to listen to Greater Media's WCSX over-the-air, instead of the 'net. Listening on a car radio in the market during afternoon drive a completely different experience than listening from afar via the internet.

Speaking of Detroit. Lee Arnold posted a bit of nostalgia on his blog earlier this week that I'll rip off and share here:

Dave Martin - who was Lee's boss at the time offers some more thoughts on Lee's event here.

More later today - and certainly over the weekend.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

WCSX: Celebrating The Home Town Champs

63° - light rain at 7:38am

Good Morning from Mid-Michigan.

Red Wings Win! WCSX/Detroit offers up a great LOCAL piece on their website - celebrating the NHL Stanley Cup win by their local heros.

Another great example of relating to the local community. Check out the spread here.

Caught: Last night (by accident), CNBC's "The Business of Innovation" - and Mel Karmazin. Video clip
here. Mel just one segment of a great hour; even IBM's commercials were wonderful (their spotlight on Harley-Davidson was classic). IBM Harley clip here (on right menu).

Mel's segment focused on the Sirius satellite effort to put video in cars.

While watching, I couldn't help recalling in my mind that Mel wanted nothing to do with one innovation: internet streaming during his days running CBS/Infinity. Props to Harve Alan for posting the video clip.

Dave Martin: A great post on management well worth your time this morning.

Review: As noted here Sunday, our area here in the midwest suffered severe weather three nights in a row...Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I was in a casual conversation yesterday about the efforts of our local broadcasters with storm coverage.
The television stations were staffed and generally got a A.

Radio - with one or two exceptions - not so good. While all passed on the EAS alerts to their audience, few did anything else as they were on auto-pilot - the voice-tracked on-air voices unable to relate. Total disconnect.
Another missed opportunity at a time when the audience neded you the most; sending the message that "you can't count on us."

More later as the day permits.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

84° - clear at 10:11am. Above: the skies here Friday around 7pm.

Back to the blog.
Just not enough hours in the past few days. Lots of severe weather here the last two nights...thunderstorms and funnel clouds.

Aside from work - my wife and I had to deal with someone stealing my debit card information and purchasing $500 worth of software on my dime. Contacted the company and had the money returned to our account; and with the help of the company (also a victim) was easily able to trace the culprit back to a telephone purchase I had made in the past month. I then exchanged email with the CEO of that company about his "people problem" and had my bank cancel the card. All minor in nature vs. the horror stories of others.

Listening: My usual Sunday morning habits. WDRV now. WKLH later.

Making HD Radio work. Dave Martin introduces a new blog dedicated to the cause. Here.

As I've point out before in this blog - in a reply to comments posted by one of the angry anti-HD fanatics: "HD is here - its the job and obligation of broadcast industry professionals to make it work to the best of our abilities. Our employers expect nothing less." Let's get the dialogue going.

Kudos to Randy Michaels, Lee Abrams and Sean Compton. The new branding and programming changes on WGN America have been noted. In recent years, I've found little reason to watch. Channel surfing Friday Night brought me to WGN and WKRP reruns. Schweet!

Also caught promos for WGN America's new primetime lineup. All this early in the game. I can only imagine good things down the road. And was that Casey Kasem doing the voice work?

P.S. to Randy: consider the name
Neal Sabin if you haven't already. A guy in Chicago television who "gets it". I don't know Neal, but I know his work. He's a brilliant tv guy who could probably be a great radio guy too.

Speaking of WKRP: Dave Lange notes:

"Perhaps WKRP could have been a winner if the team had been paying attention more to the audience than how much office space Les Nessman had or who Jennifer was dating this week. But that wouldn't have been funny. KRP is not real it's a sitcom."

Dave's post - with his point -

Alan Mason. I've really been enjoying Alan's observations in his blog, especially over the past month or so. His latest post starts with a quote from a Tim Manners: "When that authenticity is compromised, the brand enters decline."

Alan refers to his cell-phone provider's "fine print" that qualifies their coverage claims compares this to what radio has done with its listeners in recent years:

"It’s not that far off of the kind of thinking that says, everyone else is running 16-18 minutes an hour of commercials, so I can too. Everyone else is voice tracking, I can too. Forget that the people formerly known as listeners have plenty of options to choose from, or that it’s doubly difficult to connect and engage through voice tracking, everyone else is doing it so the radio consumer should understand. Wow!"

"Where did things go so wrong, that we try to fool and manipulate the consumer? No wonder people change cell providers all the time, and there’s no loyalty. No wonder listenership and TSL is slowly planing down, there’s no loyalty. Like cell service, we’re in danger of becoming a commodity, where the cheapest (fewest commercials) radio service will be in the lead. You can’t fool Mother Nature, and you can’t fool your radio consumers. It’s not 1965 any more, and you don’t have a monopoly in attention. There are too many choices out there, and if we continue to lower the quality of the content, we’ll soon hear our own “boop-boop” as the consumers tune way, not tune out, but tune away."

Alan's complete post
here. Apologies to Alan, I've just printed about half his post!

Gas prices.
Lee Arnold comments on the travesty of it all and writes:

"Everyone in your audience is being adversely affected by this. To ignore it is to be out of touch. If you're not being hurt by this because you make lots of money, pretend it's hurting you. You can not have this disconnect from your audience and still be credible."

Lee blogs
here (and also offers up a great video example on branding from Harley posted too!).

Have a great Sunday.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wednesday Blogs

68° - cloudy/overcast at 6:35pm

Had an interesting new experience on the day job with a presentation before Michigan's House of Representatives Energy and Technology Committee. The process of informing lawmakers about changes in the broadcast industry plus hearing from their constituents is fascinating.

Topic: the digital television transition.

Back to radio:

Mark Ramsey. Mark tips us to a story in the Washington Post...quoting:

"...Yet the more I listened to the likes of,, and all manner of music blogs and Web radio, the more I heard the sound of automation -- sleek, efficient recommendation engines scientifically selecting the music I am most likely to like, yet missing out almost on what radio once offered: a glimpse into the hearts and passions of personalities who knew what music was new and cool, voices that offered a guided tour of unknown worlds, and sometimes even a frontal assault of the unexpected."

The complete Post article here.

Lee Arnold. Received an email today from Lee regarding his latest blog post - a great one for any PD. Lee writes "Our stars always understood what I wanted from them because I told them what it was that I wanted. They always delivered." Check out the example Lee gave his air talent as well as the "million dollar takeaway" here.

Your Wildest Streams.
Fred Jacobs writes about streaming - and the excuses stations have for not streaming - and of those who do stream aren't quite ready for prime time.

this and then spend some time listening to your stream.

Grand Openings. Author/Change Agent Seth Godin writes:

"Most overnight successes take a decade (okay, four years online)."

"The grand opening is a symptom of the real problem... the limited attention span of marketers. Marketers get focused (briefly) on the grand opening and then move on to the next thing (quickly). Grand opening syndrome forces marketers to spend their time and money at exactly the wrong time, and worse, it leads to a lack of patience that damages the prospects of the product and service being launched."

"The best time to promote something is after it has raving fans, after you've discovered that it works, after it has a groundswell of support. And more important, the best way to promote something is consistently and persistently and for a long time."

IMHO, there's a here lesson for radio. Read Seth's entire piece.

The day job awaits. More later.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Monday Monday - Late Edition

64° - clear at 11:31pm

Listening tonight:
In the mail today a CD I ordered from Chicago-based country/rock band "Heartsfield" - and their debut album released in 1973. An album I remember playing to death on the radio when it was new.

Haven't heard the album in 30 years but still was able to sing along in my head as if the words were parked in some brain cells long thought dead. Too cool. Heartsfield is a definite Midwest thing.

Remembering Bo Diddley.
Got the news today from a listener email from Buffalo's WGRF/97 Rock. Bo's sound will live forever.

Perception vs. Reality. San Francisco's Ben Fong-Torres clears up some consumer confusion over song repetition on KFOG. A good read here. Tipped by Sean Ross.

Earlier today I posted a line from a recent Alan Mason post that I thought were fantastic. Couldn't post more then - but here's more:

"I also understand that without a strategic reason for doing something, which includes clear differentiation, and a brand that will keep the consumer engaged instead of just listening, you’re probably going to fail. One of the secrets is that clear differentiation makes it easier for the consumer to remember you, and use you. Anything less than a brand relationship create as much loyalty as the many gasoline stations you pass. In the new world order, all those gasoline stations have different names, and some slight variations on “mixology,” but when you go out chances are you’re going to go the statin that’s the cheapest or the most convenient. You rarely build a relationship with a gasoline station any more, since they quit being service stations."

"You might be doing the same thing with your radio station. If you’re pushing people to only use you when the price is the lowest (fewest commercials), or when it’s convenient (already recognized stations), there’s very little chance you’re going to cut through the clutter and become a recognized entity. I’ve even seen stations that spent quite a bit on outside marketing and still fail, because they didn’t cut through the clutter."

Alan's complete post here. Bedtime for Bonzo. More tomorrow.

Words from Alan Mason

"You rarely build a relationship with a gasoline station any more, since they quit being service stations."

-Consultant Alan Mason 6/2/08

More here later.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

67° - mix of clouds & sun at 10:47am

Good Morning from Okemos, Michigan. And welcome to June.

I love this logo. Too cool. From San Diego's new classic hits XHPRS 105.7 - my old bud Dave Mason apparently doing mornings there. Listening online this morning; Dave to celebrate the anniversary of Sgt. Peppers on his long-running Sunday Morning Beatles Show, formerly heard on KGB-FM.

Classic Randy Michaels.
The above-mentioned Mr. Mason interviewed in a recent Chicago Business story on Randy:

"As a radio programmer in Cincinnati in the early 1980s, Mr. Michaels once used the airwaves to label a programmer at a rival radio station a "spineless, gutless wimp" for refusing to talk to him when he dialed in to the rival's live talk show, recalls Dave Mason, the target of the vitriol and now the morning man at San Diego radio station 105.7 FM, who counts himself an admirer of Mr. Michaels'."

More here. I might add that Dave (pictured left) did wind up as a PD/Morning man for Jacor/Clear Channel under Michaels in San Diego.

When yours truly did mornings on a classic rock station in New Mexico tormenting a AMD jock/PD at the crosstown alternative station. The reality is I admired his talent and wanted him to work for me. I finally succeeded - though it took several years.

This is a free concert? Wow! WDRV/Chicago will be celebrating its 7th birthday on date with a free listener concert featuring Crosby, Stills and Nash. Score another one for Greg Solk and company.

Speaking of numbers: WDRV scores big in latest Chicago trend released this past week #7 to #9 25-54. My source for the numbers also says Steve Dahl's AMD performance on WJMK is no fluke. Mr. Dahl is solid.

Other Arbitron trend successes: In LA, KLOS up a few clicks 12+; likewise in San Diego with KGB-FM. WKLH/Milwaukee flat but solid. Same story with WCSX/Detroit and KUFX/San Jose.

Website Review. Jaye Albright looks at a couple of country radio station websites and opines here.

"Radio is doomed" - headline from Look Magazine, April 26, 1949. Courtesy of Dave Martin. More quotes here.

Rick Kaempfer Update: Rick catches up with Greg Brown (WZZN), Phil Manicki (WDRV), Cara Carriveau (WTMX) on his weekly Chicago Radio Spotlight post here.

Working on "the station". My internet hobby station. Yesterday spent with more ripping; registered a few URLs; and put the automation "online" with my home wireless network. Can listen via my laptop anywhere in the house; love it!

There's something I'm forgetting. More later if/when it comes to mind. Enjoy your Sunday!