Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Wonderful Opportunity

Tom Taylor's Radio-Info.Com column reported this morning:

“Centralizing” looks to be one of the big words of 2009.

If “consolidation” was a buzz word starting with the 1996 Telecommunications Act, then “centralization” may succeed it in 2009 – because owners now have to pay for all the “consolidation.”

It does appear increasingly likely that several companies.....are looking extra-hard at locally -produced airshifts outside of drivetimes. (Ironic, given how strong middays look in the PPM.)

Think real hard about "local" and the opportunities these moves present to a well-focused competitor.

Busy day. More later.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday Monday

32° - mostly cloudy at 7:35am

Last week turned into a busy one between the day job, the night job and everything else. And it didn't stop over the weekend. Thanks for stopping by.

From around my blogosphere:

Jerry Del Colliano has a great piece
posted this morning: "Better Radio At No Additional Cost". In it, Jerry remembers Dick Carr of WIP/Philadelphia:

"When Dick prevailed at WIP he had one operating principle that always served him well. It cost no extra money -- it was a way to look for the additional benefits that make listeners appreciate you over and over again. He called it Another Reason to Listen."

"Everything that is done on the air should be designed to give the audience another reason to tune in and stay with the station. As Dick Carr puts it, "Work to create a listener expectation wherein once they heard "a shoe drop", they would instinctively turn to your station"."

Worth your time this morning. Read here.

Related piece from Dave Lange:
Dave posts a great read on his blog "Opportunties Ahead #1" In the piece, Dave notes:

"Be Local: No doubt the biggest opportunity for radio is that it's LOCAL. While most of the new media, cable networks, broadcast networks and nearly all the web is national or even world wide most of the audience's world lies in their local area. We all know this, but in the end we do little to capitalize on it."

More here - including some thoughts on what you might do on a day-to-day basis.

Pass along to your GM/GSM:
Alan Mason writes about those email "out of office" auto-responders - and something very clever your salespeople could be doing. In fact, I think even programmers or anyone on staff could be doing:

"Whoops. You've caught me at one of the rare times I'm not here waiting to help you. I'm gone for a short period but want you to receive royal treatment. This message has been automatically forwarded to our Sales Assistant, Carla ___. She'll be in touch with you forthwith. By the way, click on this link and you'll see a video of what happens when we do a remote at Van Chevrolet."

Alan does note that "If you're in business today, every e-mail should be forwarded to your PDA or cell phone." Read more here.

Welcome back David Martin. After a brief absence, Mr. Martin is back on his blog. Always worth your time. Read here.

And Dave: I did enjoy our conversation and intend to follow-up as promised. Last week turned impossible.

Belated congrats:
To Fred Jacobs and Jacobs Media Web Guru Tim Davis, who created a custom station-branded iPhone application to listen to station streams. Read here. View below:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Podell Announces His Pick!

To most reading this, the talent involved doesn't matter. It's a Detroit thing. But what's important is the playbook; and Doug Podell's well-thought process of releasing a long-time morning show and replacing it with another. See my first post here.

Greater Media/Detroit Director of Rock Programming Doug Podell announced to WCSX listeners
on the air, on the web, via email and via text - a new morning team - one well known to Detroit listeners.

Podell using a lesson learned from one candidate for President - using new media to create a buzz with the P1s. And just like the President-elect - his new morning team won't even go into office (on the air) until January (due to a non-compete).

More details on the WCSX website here. And no, I don't think this would have worked replacing the longtime talent with an unknown from outside the market.


The story here. Thanks to Harve Alan for the tip.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

33° - light snow at 12:02pm

Woke up this morning to snow just starting to come down here in Mid-Michigan. Enough had fallen in just a few hours to motivate #2 son to go out in the backyard and take advantage of the changing season.

He's outside and away from the computer and the TV...cool!

Listening this morning to Bob Stroud on Chicago's WDRV. This morning Bob featuring the music career of Joe Walsh. Later: WKLH/Milwaukee and Steve Palec - who's featuring Aerosmith this morning. Nobody does puts together sound bites (especially on the local level every week) like Steve Palec.

FMQB: The magazine has a great piece online this week: a cover story interview with KSWD/Los Angeles (100.3/The Sound) PD Dave Beasing. Read here. One highlight of the interview is Dave's enthusiasm for his employer - Bonneville:

"This company sees an economic slowdown the way Warren Buffett does, as a good time to invest. Our marketing director, Sammy Simpson, is brilliant, and he’s going to be just as aggressive throughout 2009 as he was during our first few months."

And on The Sound and the AAA format:

"In many ways, AAA is today’s Album Rock radio. It’s simple, really. We’re playing good music from all eras and artists. There are several good Rock stations here already but they only play a tight list of hits, and that’s a smart strategy for them. But there’s room for one station that dares to be different."

Radio stories. This week Rick Kaempfer's Chicago Radio Spotlight shines on Jeff Schwartz. Jeff not an on-air talent, but someone who's been behind the scenes at some of the Windy City's top radio stations.

Among some great stories - Jeff shares how the infamous 1979 "Disco Demolition" came together. A great read here.

And if you want video - here's a 25th anniversary Keith Olbermann broadcast remembering the event:

More video on YouTube here.

And...back on Tuesday, I heard an interview with Howard Stern sidekick Artie Lange this past week on NPR's Fresh Air program. Artie holds nothing back with Fresh Air host Terry Gross. Listen

Added: Caught this on The Consumerist website: "Sirius XM Merger Reveals True Face: Fewer Channels And 'Sanitized' Programming". Read here.

Have a great Sunday.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Come Saturday Morning

37° - light rain at 11:34am

Very cool: Clear Channel's WAXQ/New York (Q104.3) has a great gallery of the "Top Ten Songs From Classic Rock." The feature includes album covers and 7-inch picture sleeves of songs between 1965 and 1987. Check out here.

Again, something any classic rock station can do; much of this stuff is on the internet already; more content to strengthen your heritage rock position, even if your station has only been in the format a few years. You might be able to enhance this with You Tube videos of the same songs!

Speaking of Q104.3:
The station has the winners of its "
Hottest Mom 2008" Contest. Lots of photos including "Behind The Scenes" video. Very sticky web content for a classic rock station. See here.

Likewise - one of my favorite CGM-savvy classic rock stations is WGRF/Buffalo - and PD John Hager has just posted a photo gallery of the winner and contestants on his station's website here.

John also takes the right path - explaining here a budget-related talent departure to station listeners.

Saying Goodbye to The Lake.
Fellow blogger Jim Bartlett writes about the loss of the Madison classic rock station (WHLK) he was working at; wondering why it didn't work.

As only a casual listener of the station via the web, I could only offer some random thoughts in a prior email exchange that Jim shares on his piece here.

More tomorrow. My day includes a trip to Home Depot to price a replacement gas hot water heater before the little leak becomes a flood. The joys of home ownership....

Friday, November 14, 2008

Podell Goes Obama

50° - overcast at 1:44pm

No, beyond my wife and myself, I have no idea who anyone (including this guy) voted for on November 4th.

Clearing that up - below is a great example below of a lesson learned from the Presidential campaign from WCSX/Detroit PD Doug Podell. This past Tuesday the station announced (see blog post here) the departure of its longtime J.J. and Lynne, leaving many WCSX listeners to wonder "what's next"?

As our President-Elect did announcing a running mate (among other things...)
, Podell is inviting WCSX listeners to register now to know the next big announcement first via email and via text messaging:

And if you're keeping score - this is only the third post on 'CSX this week...LOL.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Using Social Networking To Generate Ideas

Lots of screen shots over the past few days.

As you can see on the right-hand column of this blog -
I've got my profile posted at the online professional networking site Linked-in. Within the network are various industry-specific discussion groups.

Posted on "Those In Media" list was this question:

Very cool. And it generated some fresh ideas from a broad group - that if anything, likely stimulated the thought process with the original poster. You can do this! Use social networking to poll your peers - and as Leo LaPorte suggested in the Jacobs Media Summit video below - with your audience.

All you have to do is start the conversation.

Have a great Thursday.

Leo LaPorte: Digital Opportunties For Radio

47° - overcast at 6:50am

Had some time early this morning to watch some video from the Jacobs Media Summit 13, held during the NAB/R&R Convention in Austin back in September.
One video that really caught my eye was digital world rock star Leo LaPorte. I've been a fan of Leo's since his ZDTV/Tech TV days.

In this session, Leo offered some great tips and advice for radio - including all the (free or almost-free) resources for stations on the web, building audience relationships, revenue opportunties and the power of live reads.

Very well worth your time - scroll down and see here (then check out the rest of the videos - including "The Presidents of Radio").

Thanks to Fred and Paul Jacobs for sharing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday Night Update

44° - overcast at 9:03pm

If you've been a longtime reader to this blog - you'd think that after two straight posts about Detroit's WCSX, I'd move on to...well, perhaps Chicago's WDRV. But no.

Detroit PPM numbers have been released and WCSX and clustermate WRIF both saw some great numbers, once again showing that PPM is good for rock!
All-Access reported today (and thank you Lee for passing along) these rankings for the two Greater Media Detroit rockers:

WRIF: #1 12+; #2 25-54; #1 18-49; #2 18-34
WCSX: #2 12+; #4 25-54; #4 18-49; #9 18-34

Very nice! And congrats to Cluster Director of Rock Programming Doug Podell and his crew on both stations. The market curious as to what becomes of WCSX mornings; details could come as soon as Monday.

Bob Coburn/Rockline. One of the best programs on the air; and Bob signs a new deal with Dial-Global for distribution. Program website here. The program sells its archives on the site (not for broadcast use); the collection is priceless.

Speaking of archiving:
Back on Sunday, this blog made reference to John Gorman's Buzzard (Book) Blog and the fact that aside from lots of great stories, John offers some audio and visual glimpses into the history of one of the world's heritage album rockers.

I wrapped up the post, suggesting that stations need to archive their audio assets and preserve them for future use; and that brought a note from the legendary Mr. Gorman himself:


The original WMMS archives, which were well maintained from the early seventies on, were destroyed in the early nineties when the station moved to a new, smaller location and was under management that had little interest in preserving its past.

The archives contained nearly every interview, every concert broadcast, and hundreds of hours of random airchecks and classic spots.

At the time we didn't know why we were saving everything. We felt there would be historical value to it someday. The Internet wasn't even a dream at that time - but had they been saved, an Internet site could have been set up to house the material, much like the Wolfgang site did for Bill Graham's concert broadcasts.

Different management and different times. The new managers viewed a room full of tapes as reusable goods and the few tapes saved were shipped off to the unheated, no-air conditioned transmitter site, where most were destroyed by natural elements - flooding, critters, etc.

We learned of the archives' fate when I paid a visit to the transmitter site in 1994 and chewed up and unrolled tapes submerged in six inches of water. A few were apparently lifted - and some showed up years later at garage sales and flea markets. In fact, I was just contacted by someone last week who bought a couple of concert tapes at a rural flea markets hundreds of miles away.

Nearly all of what I have been able to recover so far has come from former listeners' taped-from-the-radio private collections. The Townshend interview came from a listener who later became an intern at the station and, today, manages a group of stations.

I stress to every radio station to find a way to save as much as you can. You never know....

A very sad story indeed. If you have an archive, official or not, preserve it. Share your heritage with your listeners if not on the air, on the web.
Just save it.

More tomorrow.

Handling Change With Class: WCSX

This really isn't the WCSX blog...but...

WCSX/Detroit let go its longtime well-respected morning show. Changes like this do happen, but more often than not its done without any notice or respect for the listener. Not at WCSX. Shortly after the meeting with affected staffers, this went out to the station's listener database:

Added: This is something to stick in your playbook and is far more listener-friendly than just taking the talent off the website.

More here late today.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

When It All Comes Together

33° - overcast at 7:17am

Kudos to Greater Media/Detroit's Marketing people again for more brilliance. Back in June, I mentioned here on this blog that the company's WCSX was hitting a home run with "Putting The Workforce Back To Work", with job listings and email updates for registered listeners looking for work.

The company is taking it a step farther with a "networking party" this Thursday night to bring participating employers and potential employees together. Also attending is a career counseling firm. See here.

Very cool.
I have to believe that there's some NTR dollars involved here. Add the timely nature of the unemployment situation (especially here in Michigan - far above the national average), plus a web component and you've got a win/win for the station, employers and those listeners sitting on the beach right now. This scores points with everyone.

If you're a PD in a market with high unemployment - take this example into your next meeting with your GM, sales and promotion manager. Ideas like this are worth sharing.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

37° - overcast at 11:14am

Good Morning from Okemos.

After a week of continued great autumn weather with daytime highs in the 70s, colder weather finally traveled across Lake Michigan and yesterday colder temperatures and rain hit with predictions for snow. No white stuff here yet. Spoke too soon. White flakes are coming down as of 10:30am eastern time.

Recharging my batteries. Yesterday the day job hosted its 4th annual "Broadcast Career Builder Conference" (BCBC); a day filled with industry leaders talking to college and trade school students who want to enter broadcasting/electronic media. It was awesome to see/feel the enthusiasm for this business from those who want to enter, even after some of the sessions were quite blunt about downsizing, consolidation and the changing skill set needed in today's environment.

One of the highlights of the day was a session titled "Marketing Yourself for a Successful Career in Broadcasting", moderated by local WLNS-TV News Director Phil Hendrix that included a great presentation by Jay Kruz of Bonneville's WSWD/Cincinnati; plus participation by Midwest Communications (Kalamazoo) OM Brian Hayes and former XM air talent Sari Zalesin.

Jay Kruz - who at age 24 and a PD in market 29
was an inspiration for many attendees and wonderful to chat with aftewards. One word of advice from Mr. Kruz to his college audience was to Google yourself and clean up those Facebook pages, among others - if neccessary.

Related: Consultant Harve Alan talks about your online brand (you, not your station) here.

I also had a chance to chat with Rich Padgen from Detroit's Radio Disney station (WFDF). Want to dive head-deep into promotions? Work for a Radio Disney station. They're on the street all the time.

Props to MAB's Julie Sochay for organizing the event for a fourth year as well as to MAB President/CEO Karole White; and to Citadel/Saginaw Market Manager Chris Monk, this year's Committee Chairman of the Conference.

Listening this morning: My usual Sunday routine...WDRV/Chicago's Rock 'N Roll Roots followed by WKLH/Milwaukee's Rock 'N Roll Roots program.

Reading this morning:
Rick Kaempfer's Chicago Radio Spotlight shines on Mancow, who - aside form his long running syndicated morning show - just landed a prime gig on some legendary call letters. Read here.

Programming: Still getting caught up on posting reading recommendations from my blog hiatus. A series of great posts are from Country consultant Jaye Albright who writes about "Ingredients Of A Great Country Music Radio Station."

Let Jaye's comments serve as thought/discussion starters for your station no matter the format. Part one
here. Part two here. Part three here.

Contribute To Revenue. One session yesterday at the above-mentioned BCBC was "Creating Job Security By Creating Broadcast Revenue". Couldn't spend much time in the room with other responsibilities - but as a related sidenote, Fred Jacobs writes in this week's FMQB about PDs contributing to sales in this day and age, offering some specific suggestions. A great read here.

Follow-up: On Tuesday, I pointed to a Seth Godin piece on "Marketing Lessons from the US Election" - and how those lessons relate to radio. Seth's piece also caught the attention of Mark Ramsey. Read here.

Fun Read: John Gorman continues to offer a glimpse into the glory days of WMMS/Cleveland through his Buzzard Blog - and offers a great piece on fighting the battle with the competition. Read here.

Speaking of: Gorman offers a ton of audio, video and related material on WMMS on his blog. As an example, John offers audio from a 1979 Pete Towshend interview here. An example of memorable and timeless material that should be archived and available on the station's website! Audio/Video/Photos...whatever.

Is there someone in your station responsible for archiving your treasured programming assets and making them available on your website? If not, there should be. In radio, too much of what goes over the air is never heard again. This material makes great long-term web content.

Aside from the web, there's got to be much material that can be recycled for use in imaging and special artist weekends. Watch VH-1 or MTV. They save everything and reuse just about all of it sooner or later.

Have a great Sunday.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What I Said (or) What He Said...

40° - clear at 7:27am

Good Morning from Michigan.

This past Monday, I wrote on this blog my worries about the present state of this industry, noting that the present staffing cutbacks, while they might provide corporate shareholders with short-term gains, they may in fact do long-term damage to the industry.

Over the last 12 hours -
I've come across some similar pieces with the same concerns. First from Fred Jacobs writing this morning on his blog:

"...amidst all the cutting, radio certainly isn't going to sound better. When you see major league PDs like Bob Buchman and Larry Sharp on the street - despite sporting great ratings in the nation's biggest markets - you have to wonder whether all the budget cutting isn't going to eventually start eroding great brands that took years to build. As research, marketing, staffing, management, and yes, consulting is being sliced out of budgets, stations are going to need more than inertia to stay compelling, much less listenable."

"So, ask yourself whether radio companies are tightening belts or actually tightening the noose. It's a tough, but a fair question as the last quarter of the year plays out."

And...in a new-to-me post from last week - consultant Alan Mason looks at the present economy, noting:

"CBS has responded by cutting all of the staff of WSJT in Tampa except one person to do remotes and endorsements. Here's a station that's top ten 12+, and the product is being degraded. I'm not so sure that new technology is a growing threat as our own lack of interest in the product is pushing people toward it."

"This isn't the time for corporate thinking, it's the time for entrepreneurial thinking. Those who can see beyond the next quarter have been blessed with a huge opportunity to grow and build equity while the corporate dinosaurs cut, cut, cut. Your actions, what you do right now, will be the deciding factor."

Alan's post here.

I get the need to tighten belts in bad economic times.
Most of my career has been spent with tight budgets and getting the most out of available dollars. But with recent events, are some companies and/or brands "saving" their way to irrelevance?

I'm really not a doom and gloom guy, but all this is hard to ignore.

Added: In this morning's Taylor-On-Radio newsletter (11/5) - Saga CEO Ed Christian offers some rational thinking, saying radio should be "careful that we don't eat our seed corn" with extreme cuts. "You mustn't chop off the things that make the business grow, long term."

Read more here (registration required).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Good Read From Seth

47° - clear at 9:33pm

While watching the election returns tonight
with my trusty laptop by my side, I just read a great piece by Seth Godin: "Marketing lessons from the US election".

Most if not all of what Seth writes about in this piece can be applied to radio - from what you do on air, how you respond to a competitor and how you market your radio station.

Worthwhile reading

49° - overcast at 8:12am

Good Morning From Okemos, Michigan.

To WDRV/Chicago's Bob Stroud on releasing Volume 10 of his Rock & Roll Roots CD series, with proceeds going to charity. The CD series an extension of his long-running Sunday Morning "Rock 'N Roll Roots" program. I covered the release of Volume 9 last year
here. Read more about this year's CD on The Drive website here.

Election Day: Headed down the street to my polling place on the way to work this morning. Starbucks offering a free cup of java if you go in and tell them you voted. Harve Alan asks: "What "free for a day" styled promotion could radio be doing to rekindle interest in our aging brands?"

Meanwhile - Dave Lange makes some observations with "Lessons for Radio From Campaign 08" - a great read here.

Yesterday I wrote about the cutback virus that is spreading throughout the industry.
Not to ignore those who find themselves out of work, but I feel that those who still have a job in radio need some TLC and attention during these tough times.

Dave Martin -
in the second part of a series for media CEOs titled "Execution, Not Excuses", notes that 2009 is "mission critical" for HR:

"As a practical matter, making HR important beyond compliance issues will be a new concept for many media firms. We have to start treating our employees like our best customers. Every person on the payroll is talent. Employees help the company achieve its goals by becoming the best at what they do."

"Leadership must create the context in which people can do their best work. An important part of the D in R&D is HR-D. The key to growing profits is growing people. Employees deserve and need an advocate, that's a critical mission for HR."

As I've written here before - PDs have the responsibility of being an advocate for their staff as well as station listeners. Fear is counter-productive - and in talking to others still employed in the industry, there's too much of it getting in the way of the job.

As a sidenote, PDs also now - more than ever, need to be an advocate for their station's sales departments when neccessary...and find ways to make revenue opportunities integrate well with programming and listenership goals.

More later today. Get out and vote!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Back but....

...(more than ever) feeling uneasy about our industry.

While I've been away from the blog for several weeks now - I haven't been away from the trades. October was a pretty disturbing month with the unprecidented layoffs happening in our industry. Lots of talent, both on-air and off being shown the door. This includes voices from all shifts as well as behind-the-scenes programming folk.

This past Friday (10/31), All Access reported that it "has obtained an internal memo from a major broadcaster that seems to foretell the demise of live and local night shows. It reads "Nights on all stations to be tracked by full or part-time staff -- or syndicated." More than the usual Halloween scare.

Reading about some of the dayparts affected throughout the country, it appears middays may not be too far behind nights in the land of "endangered shifts". Prime workforce listening hours. And that's sad.

Its no question that the tough economic environment is simply adding to the turmoil we've all seen in our industry in the past 18 to 24 months. More than a few times in the past several weeks, I've made reference in conversation to those in the biz (casually, I'm not bitter, really!) about my involuntary "hiatus" from radio only to be reminded that its simply not a good time to be in radio; and I'm fortunate to be employed on the sidelines. Indeed.

Two people who I have great respect for (names you would know; I don't have permission to quote from our private conversations) have said that 2010 will be radio's recovery year. I can't wait.

Meanwhile, I fear that cuts in "people assets" - all in the name of short-term shareholder value is really doing long-term harm to the industry.

Greater Media Chairman of the Board Peter Smyth writes in his November column today that radio will survive and once again prosper. Read here.

I share Peter's optimism. There's no better industry. And I've been at it since the 1970s.

Glad to be back; more to come - and thanks for reading.

Thanks for reading.