Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Seth Sums It Up

Apologies to Seth Godin for the cut 'n paste...but his short summary sums it up:

The pillars of social media site success:

Why people choose to visit online social sites:
Who likes me?
Is everything okay?
How can I become more popular?
What's new?
I'm bored, let's make some noise

None of these are new, but in the digital world, they're still magnetic.
If you want to understand why Twitter is so hot, look at those five attributes. They deliver
all five, instantly.

Seth Godin's blog - a daily must read - is here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Brainstorm Session....

Stumbled across this. What could you do with something like this in your market? Perhaps raise some money for charity, bond with your market and strengthen some local pride?

Just thinkin'...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Engaging Listeners On The Web & On The Air

46° - clear at 8:44pm

Its been some time since this blog checked in with Buffalo's WGRF (97 Rock)...and what PD John Hager has been up to. John is a master at engaging listeners by combining the station's website and the station's on-air programming.

This time around listeners are voting for the best live album of all time - with results to be featured on a live album weekend:

Not only is 97 Rock giving listeners a chance to vote on what the station will feature for a live album weekend, but the station is inviting some lively debate on the voting:

Very cool....and just one example of how 97 Rock has been using its website to invite listeners to help program the station. Simply, it gives the listeners ownership in the product. And that translates into loyalty and TSL.

Its tactics like this that that really make me miss programming a radio station.

Want more examples? Click here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

55° - clear at 1:15pm Left: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum - cell phone photo taken this past Thursday in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Good Morning/Afternoon. I do start writing this in the morning, but by the time I finish, a new daypart begins.

Catching up from a long week in Grand Rapids at the Great Lakes Broadcast Conference. Highlight of the show was watching and chatting with fellow blogger/new media evangelist Dave Martin.

During Dave's session on social media - it became obvious to me that more than a few in the room didn't quite get it, though they were trying to understand. Its hard to get over the fact that radio and television has always been a one-way "us to them" proposition; even with websites and email clubs. And there's fear of losing control.

Perhaps there needs to be a "deprogramming" retreat for the old media types who still don't see it - showing them the new ways and how other old media is using the new tools available (in most cases "free" and "almost free"). A great example here....all done by an air talent in less time than it takes to answer the request line.

That said - there's many OMs, PDs, MDs, and air talent who do "get it". Sadly however, many are working for management and ownership who don't and won't get behind it. Without support from the top down, these efforts are not as effective as they could be, benefiting sales and programming together.

And....thanks for the career tip Dave!

Listening this morning: a bit of Bob Stroud on Chicago's WDRV; followed by Steve Palec on Milwaukee's WKLH. Mr. Palec in the middle of an excellent segment on the late Warren Zevon; with many more good things to follow.

Dave Lange. Dave posted a great read this past week on the demise of New York's WXRK. Dave shares his thoughts on why WXRK didn't work....and why some great stations are what they are. See

And for those of you running syndicated programming (Bob & Tom, Alice Cooper, etc.), Dave has a great piece on "Making a Syndicated Show Local" -

Programming Basics: Edison Media's Sean Ross writes about "Keeping your station moving". Here.

Another another read for PDs: "Are Your Personalities Heathers Or Karens?" In this week's FMQB -

Radio stories: Rick Kaempfer interviews WGN Radio's Mary Van De Viede on his Chicago Radio Spotlight. Here.

Spring is here...sort of...hope it is where you are. Have a great Sunday.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fred Jacobs: A Great Idea on Fighting The Fight

32° - overcast at 5:13am

Much has been written about the record industry's efforts to impose a performance fee on radio stations for playing their music. Its a fee that would go to the record companies - and in theory - to artists. Both have benefited from the promotional value of radio airplay for decades.

This legislation is currently being debated and fought in Washington.
Of course while this is going on, the record companies still continue to employ promotion staff to encourage radio airplay, still send promotional copies of music to radio stations and still run trade ads in industry publications.
And over the years record companies have awarded "gold record" plaques to radio stations thanking them for the station's promotional efforts. Got a few of these?

This morning on his blog, Fred Jacobs passed along a great idea. When you get to work today, get the digital camera out and do this. Mission critical. You don't need your station budget cut any more than it has been in order to pay this "tax".

Read below - republished from the Jacoblog:

Going For The Gold


There's something happening here.

Last week, we posted a blog, "All I Wanna Do... Is Stop Playing Your Records!," about the absurdity of musicFIRST and various recording artists in their efforts to extract money from radio in the form of performance fees/taxes.

The blog struck a responsive chord. We heard from a variety of radio people, angry about the obvious contradiction of this ill-conceived campaign. Radio's contributions to the music industry in general, and the careers of hundreds, if not thousands of recording artists, are obvious to anyone who knows anything about the entertainment business.

But the most interesting response was from NRG's Chuck DuCoty. Led by CEO Mary Quass, NRG initiated an all-company campaign (thought of by our friend, Emmis/St. Louis' John Beck). The idea is to have each of their music stations take digital photos of every gold and platinum "thank you" awards and plaques that the record industry has bestowed over the past several decades. The message is simple: How can music executives and recording artists even suggest that radio has ripped them off when they have consistently thanked stations in such a tangible form?

NRG's plan was to deliver these photos to the NAB, but after reading our blog, Chuck asked whether Jacobs Media could spearhead something larger - an all-industry initiative, designed to get hundreds and hundreds of stations involved.

So, this week, that's what we're going to do. And we need your help.

We are asking every music station in the U.S. to set aside 30 minutes and take digital photos of all those gold and platinum records hanging on walls, in offices, and in studios - and send them to us. Email them to:


We will post them at a dedicated page - www.jacobsmedia.com/goingforthegold

David Rehr and the NAB are on board. Once we collect these photos, they will be zipped and sent to Washington, D.C. for delivery to Congress and musicFIRST.

At this difficult time in radio, many people feel powerless to change the course of the economy, their station, or their personal lives and careers. This is a simple, yet effective way to send a message and make a difference.

Please forward this post to your friends and co-workers, and let's create a positive, impactful, and compelling story for radio.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

44° - rain at 12:23pm

Good Morning/afternoon from Okemos. Listening this morning to my usual Sunday Morning routine: WDRV/Chicago and WKLH/Milwaukee via the 'net.

I note some fresh imaging (voiced by Nick Michaels) on The Drive; very nice! I also sense that the station is working on their streaming presentation, especially with ad-insertion.

This past week I spent a few hours in Detroit listening to WCSX. OM/PD Doug Podell has really put some life into that station in recent months; at least since my last listen. The tempo is up....the entire presentation, not just the music. The station sounds so alive.

Reading. Mark Ramsey's Hear 2.0. Mark posted some great content this past week. Working backwards, Mark features an interview with author Richard Goldman, conducted by radio consultant Doug Erickson. Goldman is co-founder of Men's Warehouse. From that interview:

Radio right now seems unable to manage risk. It's trying to cut its way to profit by slashing "expense," by cutting research, marketing, promotion, management and staff. How did you handle risk, in the face of recession, in your successful retail career?

The easy fix is always to cut expenses. But at some point you run out of expenses to cut. At Men’s Wearhouse, we certainly tried to cut expenses, but more of the effort was spent in trying to increase sales.

You're a marketing expert. Any ideas on how you would market a radio station?

I would get out of the current mindset—if a listener could be transported to any city in the country and turn on any radio station (especially FM), they’d think that they were in their own home town.
Alice, schmalice—I’m sick of the format and disgusted with the way that radio has become so homogenous.

Read the entire piece here. (btw: CBS head honcho Les Moonves said this past week that "more staff cuts to reduce expenses are probably not a good idea. "There comes a point where you’re cutting into the bone." Nice to read. More here. -dan)

Another great Ramsey post featured Seth Godin speaking at the Country Radio Seminar. Read here.

Speaking of CRS: Consultant Alan Mason blogged about a topic he'd be speaking on this past week in Nashville. In a list he's made for a PD in today's environment he notes:

"Think in terms of the future , and new titles. Are you a PD or are you Brand Manager and Director of Listener Experience? Do you have a promotion director, or a director of listener engagement? You can see that one title operates in the past, while the other looks to the future. Of course you actually have to be and act like the new title - this is much more than a change of clothes."

Alan writes here.

Learn from Paul. A Great read from Dave Martin: "Six Lessons from Paul Harvey". Read here.

Chicago's Rick Kaempfer brings us up-to-date on Chicago radio people he's interviewed in the past. Read here. Check out Rick's piece on the late Paul Harvey too.

Have a great Sunday.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Brian James: R.I.P.

Brian was the voice of three stations I programmed in my career and also many more that I listened to. From All Access:

"ALL ACCESS is saddened to report that voiceover legend BRIAN JAMES has suddenly passed away from a heart attack at 4a this morning (3/6), at his home in SCOTTSDALE, AZ. He was 48. BRIAN is survived by his wife KIMBERLY, his son MAX, and a stepdaughter BROOKE. More details, as soon as they are available."

There was nothing like getting raw audio back from Brian and hearing him just nail the read of copy you've written. Another big loss for radio.

Added: There is now a Brian James discussion group here on Facebook. And KZHT/Salt Lake City pays tribute to Brian on their website here. Thanks again to All Access.

Cara Gets It....

56° - overcast at 6:33am

We've all read about the power of social networking - and as a radio programmer you've probably wondered what how sites like Twitter and Facebook can help your cause and build and strengthen relationships with your listeners.

A great example comes from WTMX/Chicago personality Cara Carriveau. Cara is on my Facebook friends list - and now is someone I also follow via Twitter.

Here's an example from earlier this week of what she's posting on Facebook:

And on Twitter:

Its all about building relationships with listeners; and using free tools like Twitter and Facebook to do it.

This past Wednesday, 1162 folks were friends with Cara on Facebook - all seeing her posts on their Friends Feed page. On Twitter, there's another 217 followers at this point. These are listeners who elected to "opt in". Very cool.

On my own Facebook and Twitter feeds, I have a few dozen radio air personalities. But I can count on just over one hand those who are using these social networks as effectively as Cara Carriveau.

Full disclosure: I'm late to the party on this. I've been on Facebook only since the beginning of the year and just joined Twitter.

More to come on all this...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Kudos to WGN America

11° - clear at 10:05pm

Watching the cable channel tonight ("The Honeymooners"), I note that the Tribune Company outlet reacted quickly saying goodbye to broadcasting legend Paul Harvey with a produced piece with photos and audio in a thirty-second piece.

With Paul's passing barely more than a day ago, this was quick action on the part of WGN America's production and traffic folks, especially on the weekend. I can only imagine it began with a telephone call from Randy Michaels
. He gets it.

How fast could your radio station react on the weekend....be it the loss of a legend or a severe weather emergency? Are your people ready to make it happen now - or will is it just auto-pilot until Monday?

Added: WGN Radio/Chicago also pays tribute to Paul Harvey on its website. Here.

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

21° - overcast, light snow at 12:38pm

Good Morning/Afternoon from Okemos! Snow coming down...winter ain't over yet.

Signing off: Paul Harvey. I recieved the news last night from KFAB's Tom Becka via Facebook. The end of an era indeed. Good day.

Listening earlier: This morning to WDRV and Bob Stroud's Rock 'N Roll Roots program. Aside from some Who music celebrating Roger Daltry's birthday, Bob also featuring lots of music from the Brian Jones era of the Stones. I think Bob mentioned that Brian would have been 67 today.

Listening later: Steve Palec on WKLH. Steve playing some Jeff Beck as I write along with some sound clips of Les Paul talking about Beck. Very cool; and as usual, Steve's production, planning and use of sound is noted! WKLH: end the madness with your internet fill spots. Enough with the repetitive debt reduction and ad council PSAs!

Congrats: To Milwaukee's Lee Arnold - celebrating the second anniversary of his internet station WORJ-dot.com. Lee the inspiration for my OkemosBrewing-dot-com. I missed the Heartsfield concert he was airing yesterday...damn!

More on "staffing the station." The other day I quoted Jerry Del Colliano - who noted that there's lots of social networking tools (Twitter, Facebook, email, etc.) for talking with listeners, but that all require that "someone be home".

This morning I ran across a
post by consultant Jaye Albright about stations on "auto-pilot"...and I'm going to take the liberty of printing Jaye's entire post:

"The flight from Seattle was within miles of Houston when the flight attendant came on the intercom to say “welcome on board Continental Airlines. ” Then, she paused in mid-sentence as the first few rows of frequent fliers came to the realization that what she had meant to say was the traditional “welcome to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport” announcement, which she no doubt delivers at least three or four times a week.

Instead, unthinkingly, she started to do the typical take-off announcement, which she routinely gives three or four times each day.
“If she’s not going to think about what she’s saying, I sure won’t,” I thought.

The same is true on radio. Computers now make it so easy to walk away from the control room and have the station run itself for quarter hours at a time.
Meanwhile, request lines ring unanswered, listeners text, email, social network, hoping to interact with you, the brand they hear on the radio.

Radio, of course, was the first interactive medium from the very first days of top 40 radio a half century ago, when Gordon McClendon famously put that juke box in front of KLIF, Dallas, and listeners drove by the station wanting to choose the music and become more engaged.
So, previous generations of air personalities have created some expectations out there in radioland.

If you’re on the air, it’s your choice. Take the easy way, do jingle, liner and sweeper auto pilot radio. Sound like you’re a machine.
Or, get busy. Commit to answering every phone line as quickly as possible. Record every phone interaction, edit the best stories and integrate them into your content.

Text listeners. Interact with the audience on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, your chat room, your blog and use the best of that on the air too.
Yes, it’s a lot to do. But, this I guarantee: you’ll never get bored doing it that way. And, listeners can tell.

Southwest Airlines revolutionized air travel by encouraging their flight attendants to get creative with the take off and landing announcements, even the federally-mandated safety announcements.
Their reward? Profitability and some of the most loyal users in the industry. Perhaps those zany announcements had a role in that.

One thing for sure, encouraging their flight attendants to have more fun and ad lib resulted in flight crews who don’t just mouth the same words repeatedly so that they sound like they’re doing them in their sleep.
Like a lot of radio stations do today. You?"

blog is a must-read, no matter your format.

Heard a story from a friend in Chicago attending a club appearance by a heritage band last night. She noted that the sponsoring station, despite sponsoring the concert, had no on-air staff at the show (there were two former staff members there...). Yipes!

Catching up on Rick.
If you haven't stopped by Rick Kaempfer's
Chicago Radio Spotlight, check in and read some great radio stories.

Have a great Sunday.