Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Neil Haislop Updates: Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban And Clay Walker

From the guy Blair Garner dubbed "The Nashville Answer Man" more than a decade ago:

* One of the reason's Kenny Chesney is the current 800-lb gorilla of country touring acts, is that he paid attention to the superstar acts that invited him to open for them back when.

Kenny says that he got his first degree in how to stage a giant tour and how to treat opening acts from one of his early supporters, Alabama.

"They were great," says Kenny who opened for the super group in the mid '90s'.
"Alabama, those guys were absolutely great to us. Randy and Teddy and Mark and Jeff and even their crew, everybody that worked for them treated us with great respect and it was a lot of fun to go out and do my show then go back and watch those guys play. I learned from those guys. I think they were the Rolling Stones of country music."

* With Canada Day and U.S. Independence Day now upon us, and we recently asked Australian-born, Keith Urban, about his citizen status in America and he explained why he loves living here.

"I'm a U.S. resident and have been for a long, long time. And, Nick (Nicole Kidman), was born in Hawaii and Sunday is definitely a resident born right here in Nashville Tennessee, so we're here to stay."

Keith also says he was impressed when he recently visited Ellis Island in New York Harbor, "To see these buildings that have been there since the beginning, and to see the statue of Liberty in the background it just brought everything full circle for me...because I'm here because of the American Dream. For me that has never died and it's what brought me half way around the world, it's what still excites me when I drive down the freeway and see a sign that says "Memphis" or "Knoxville" ...these names that I grew up hearing in songs and reading about in books and on the backs of albums, so I'm still as fascinated and excited about this country as I ever was."

* Clay Walker's 4th of July Party SPECIAL features patriotic and holiday-themed stories and songs by Clay Walker, Rodney Atkins, Toby Keith, Blake Shelton, Hank Jr, Rascal Flatts, Lee Brice, LeAnn Rimes, Lee Greenwood and more, including exclusive holiday audio from Clay Walker and his star studded cast of friends. Stars joining it include Tim McGraw singing "Southern Voice," "It's America" by Rodney Atins, and others.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"I Saw Celeeze" (aka The Programming Isosceles Trifecta)

OK, I admit that it's a lame, silly headline for what looks to me to be a very helpful, serious programming tool.

It was graphed by Midwest Family/Green Bay Brand Manager/WROE Mike Oakes after reading Rich VanSlyke's FMQB article last week in which he revealed his Trifecta Of Packaging:

The system uses three main areas of concentration, and each area has its own triangle of parts: A foundation base and two complementary sides. First is the Image triangle, designed to purely image the radio station and is primarily based on the Brand Name, with the other two sides of the triangle being Positioners and Attitudes. These parts help the listener remember “who” and “what” you are with a defining message. The Usage triangle is designed to teach the audience how to use your radio station. The base of this triangle is the Legal ID with the two other sides being Core Artist and Music Quantity. Teaching the audience how to use your station is a very important ingredient in meeting listener expectations. Finally, the Promotion triangle helps to promote the station to the listener. The base is the Station Promo, one of the most important elements for a radio station. The triangle’s remaining sides are Recyclers and Contesting/Event Promos. Moving listeners through days, dayparts and locations with effective promos and recyclers can add AQH. Ideally the goal is to play all three of the main branding elements (Image, Usage and Promotion) in every 20-minute sweep.

Thanks to both Mike and Rich.

Click here to save Oakes' document with A&O's compliments.

Do you have a better system to keep your station imaging fresh and focused? If so, I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"ARM" Yourself With A Windsock

(he looks so innocent!) Would you play an untested song by this man?

Some country programmers who waited too long to add Jaron and The Long Road to Love's I Pray For You due to their policy of playing no untested music, may have missed the boat on the highly positive song because by the time they got test results back, the tune had already started to build very high negatives.

As a result, many are now placing such potentially high demand titles in callout research as soon as they begin playing them. The question is: can you trust scores on titles where fewer than 85% of the sample is familiar with a song? The answer, of course, is NO.

However, there is a very simple formula that I learned three decades ago from researcher Bob Lowry of Phoenix that can highlight and often very reliably predict potential success of unfamiliar music. Lowry, who used it when he was with Frank Magid & Associates, termed it "Acceptance Ratio Margin."

Sum all positive scores (favorite, like a lot, like some). Add all negative scores (burn, dislike, etc). Disregard neutral and unfamiliar responses. Divide the total positives by the total negatives.

This yields a ratio you can use to estimate what the odds are that once the unfamiliars start to become familiar with a title whether they'll like or NOT. Track this ratio over time, each week you test a song. The rate of conversion from unfamiliar/neutral to positive or negative can also be predictive of which direction a new song is going -- UP to heavy rotations or OFF the playlist completely.

This ratio can be especially helpful in evaluating national research, such as Callout America and Rate The Music scores printed in national trades.

This data isn't designed to substitute for local research and local market gut knowledge. But, it can be an excellent indication of which songs are working for average country fans across the continent and which aren't.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

In PPM Your So-Called "Hot Zips" Are Really ARB's Or BBM's Hot Zips

My first reaction to last week's Arbitron-The Research Director webinar on the primacy of "P-1" listeners in driving average quarter hour audience in PPM measurement was "so what else is new?"

The P1 Effect: How First Preference Listeners Drive Ratings In A PPM World (June 2010):
First Preference listeners, are THE primary driver of Average Quarter-Hour audience. 10 years ago, Research Director, Inc.'s groundbreaking analysis proved it in a diary world….but how crucial is P1 listening to a station's ratings success in PPM? (pdf - 37 pages/3,829k) Also, click here to see a recorded presentation of this study by Charlie Sislen. (Streamed Windows Media File/approximately 35 minutes over broadband connection).

Then, it hit me that what IS new is that many of us need to rethink what a "P-1" is before fully grasping the importance of the new data.

In even the largest markets country stations have fewer than 20 "PPM-defined hot zips," areas with a higher than average incidence rate of country radio heavy users in the PPM panel.

Of course, the typical country station actually has as many as five times as many REAL hot zip code areas, as our own databases and many years of diary samples have proven, but the majority of them simply don't count as often as they used to because of the small PPM sample size.

You may be very popular and used regularly by a majority of the folks in some areas of your metro, but if those key demographics and geographies are not proportionately represented in the sample, it's going to look like you have no listeners.

So, since panelists being retained in the sample for as long as possible is ARB and BBM's goal, the panel you have is the panel you must learn to live with.

It's important to really understand how the panelists who make use of your radio station live their lives, why they use other stations and work with that matrix while trying not to water your product and marketing down so that you don't diminish your brand essence, which is the key to long-term success.

In PPM, P1 is not a description of "loyalty" or "brand depth," it's all about the amount of usage and that is all. Heavy radio users listen to many, many more stations than the average radio user.

The good side of that fact is that building cume is really not as necessary as we all thought it was based on recall measurement. We all have twice as much cume as we thought we did.

But, the bad news is that those folks are barely aware of a great majority of the radio they use.

Clutter, over-commercialization, hype, songs listeners dislike or are tired of and air personality content that doesn't immediately grab and hold a listener hurt "P-1" listening.

A station position, personality, song or benchmark that a radio user loves may actually drive that person away from the station more times than their strong positive image brings them back, compared to the other choices.

That's the "P-1" Sislen encourages us to focus on in PPM markets.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

John Kao Is Now A Daily Beast

Klaus Schwab, president and founder of the World Economic Forum calls John Kao "The world's #1 authority on business creativity."

I first encountered him in 1997, discovering his book "Jamming," which was based on the jazz music concept of ad libbing freely and creatively, which is done in an organized framework so that other players can harmonize with you. Kao maintains that business creativity can be taught. As someone who recruits, supports and trains radio personalities with the belief that it's crucial to our future, I have been applying his techniques since that time.

When he guested on the Colbert Report four years ago, I saved the video and play it in client seminars when everyone needs a laugh + proof of the power of creativity.

"This is the age of creativity because that's where information technology wants us to go next. In an era the prizes knowledge, creativity adds value to knowledge and makes it progressively more useful. It is the age of creativity because companies are increasingly obliged to reinvent themselves to achieve growth. The customer is boss now - discerning, demanding and no more loyal than he or she has to be. The new boss has only one question: 'so what are you going to do for me tomorrow?' Only creativity can give the answer.

"If I were running today, I would worry late into the night whether I was attracting the right kind of people, especially young people. I would not rest until I could assure myself that creative energy, color, fascination, challenge, even exhilaration could flourish throughout the enterprise. Creative people run best on the high octane fuels of play and freedom. Like combination game masters and patrons of the arts, leaders set direction, inspire, listen, facilitate, provide."

He recommends you audit the creativity of your company, suggesting that highly creative enterprises have greater potential for increasing asset value. As I read Kao's philosophy, I kept thinking how much more these comments apply to radio -- whose major asset value, called "good will" in most corporate prospectuses, exists totally in the minds of our customer listeners and customer advertisers.

Nowhere does creativity add value more directly than in the radio business. Yet, as I talk to our personalities and salespeople, there is a growing fear of being 'too creative' in the midst of the sea change sweeping radio right now. Kao warns: that's trouble.

Kao says: "Jazz - like business - implies a series of balancing acts. It must always be disciplined - but never driven - by formulas, agendas, sheet music. It must always be pushing outward, forward, upward and therefore against complacency. The (creative) role of the manager is to work the central paradox, or tension, of the jam session: to locate the ever-mobile 'sweet spot' somewhere between systems and analysis on the one hand and the free-flowing creativity of the individual on the other.

"Concentration and focus on a problem (which are good things, necessary in today's radio business world) usually narrow our thinking to the tried and true, shutting out access to the vast storehouse of our subconscious imagery and experience."

He suggests employing "beginner's mind" when this lock on creative ideas occurs. Force yourself into a radical change of subject. Forget what you "know" about the tyranny of the given, the known, the 'right' way, the status quo. Look outside for fresh input. We need to know what we don't know, NOT what we DO know.

Kao: "A creative public performance (by an air personality or a presentation by a sales person) is a high wire act with no net. The stakes can be enormous. In addition to open spaces in your work environment, create hiding places - cozy attics where people can go off and make fools of themselves in perfect safety. Could that be YOUR control room?

He notes that there are seven aspects of a well-crafted creative challenge, which is what achieves goals. They apply equally to GM's, SM's, PD's and anyone talking on the air:

Language. Use vivid language. Put everything you have into your speech. Deliver challenges in full costume, rhetorically and visually.

Context. People today are "business and media literate." They are wiser, better prepared than ever to listen to sophisticated messages. But, these messages must come out of a context that they believe and understand, not out of nowhere. This calls for clarity. Challenges you issue out of the blue will go nowhere.

Mouth and money. To be effective, challengers must have the right status -- they have to be in a position to put their money where their mouths are.

Preparation. Creativity is born of experience. Don't jump in with both feet unless you know where you are headed. When you ask people to commit time, energy, emotion and soul, think through what you're doing before you act.

Discipline. When, in 1961, John Kennedy challenged Americans to put a man on the moon he included a deadline. America would not simply put a man on the moon, the country would do so in eight years. Today, no commitment is more persuasive than one that acknowledges the clock and the calendar. Successful challenges are promises - of resources, of moral support, of personal participation and accountability.

Complicity. Challenge yourself as well as your audience or team. Steven Spielberg carried his chair on the set of Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. M. Douglas Ivester may be chairman of the Coca Cola Company, but he still makes anonymous store checks and brings insights about selling opportunities back to the corporate mainstream. Challenge yourself to succeed at the same time you dare your employees to pick up the gauntlet. Involve yourself in what you ask listeners to do.

Empathy. This encompasses appreciation of the difficulty of the challenge. Bo Goldman, who wrote the screenplay for the film Scent of a Woman says "when you get successful, the work becomes harder." Make listeners know you understand their lives.

Kao concludes: "It's not enough to be creative if you cannot execute. It's not enough to execute if what you make is something that people don't want. It's not enough to execute and be creative if you don't have the structures and the culture to be viable long-term."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Toby Keith Goes Incognito And CMT Shows Radio How To Create Some Summer Buzz

TK appeared last Thursday night at the Irving Plaza in New York City. Ticket holders weren't aware of who the band was and were only told it would be a surprise performance they wouldn't want to miss.

Toby and his band jammed on stage singing their favorite covers from multiple genres. CMT was there and a full coverage story is now on

More appearances from Incognito Bandito are expected this summer but will not be made public far in advance. Hopefully, he's planning to involve local country radio stations at future stops on the tour.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Lesson In Social Networking In A Local Emergency From CHAT, Medicine Hat

Kudos to the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group country team in "The Hat" for showing how it's done when flooding threatens a community (click to see their very active Facebook fan page).

And, thanks to Mike Doll for tipping me to it.

Is Getting Rid Of The Docking Station Going To Fix PPM Problems?

On Jun 21, 2010, at 6:57 AM, Chuck Geiger wrote: "The introduction of Arbitron 360 - Mobile monitoring device - What it means to you? The positives and negatives?"

It is a much-needed improvement which hopefully will increase the carry rate, especially early in the morning of women.

But, it doesn't address THE problems:

1) under-representation by a factor of two to four of cell phone only homes in the sample which necessitates HUGE weighting in almost every demo from month to month and

2) the fact that the sample simply must be at least four times larger in order to be truly statistically-reliable.

The diary sample has never been great, but at least in what Canadians call "BBM ballots" (diary survey = an election, a chance to vote for your favorites vs measurement of real usage) when you get a week with one household sending back one or even more diaries with 201+ quarter hours you know that home won't be in next week's sample.

In PPM, you will still live with homes like that for an average of seven months in the U.S. and at least a year in Canada.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Eggs & Baskets

Do country stations have too many eggs in one basket?

Eye-balling the latest ad-tracking data from both Mediaguide and Media Monitors concerns me that our format does, but we are not alone. As radio formats become more targeted and PPM's small sample sizes make rankers more compressed after you get beyond the top three or four high cume stations, advertisers naturally appear to seek out those formats most likely to reach their prospective customers making more decisions on listener qualitative.

The result: some format's advertisers are more consolidated among certain types of advertisers than others. For example, country stations get most of our total ad revenues from three categories -- entertainment and amusement, automotive and food/beverages. If you add department/discount stores plus travel in the station I just looked at, you're seeing more than three of four dollars being billed by country radio's monitored stations in the largest markets.

It's important to note that they don't reflect very much small and medium market radio, where (hopefully!) more local direct means that perhaps those stations are more wide-ranging in their account lists.

Tip to management: It might be worth looking at next year's account goals as you budget for 2011 with an extra bonus for diversification, just in case there's still another post-mid-term-election economic downturn that affects one or more of the "big five" categories of business for your format!

PS: while I was browsing the ad monitoring data, I tripped across these fast factoids:

1. Media Monitors found that with the latest week, they see increases in units for Radio and TV, but a slight decrease in Cable for BP oil company ads.

2. Mediaguide shows an uptick last week for auto ads, theme parks and beer. (Ya have to love the widget on their website which offers this constantly-updated and fascinating stat....)
In the last minute:
  • 152 Ads played
  • 398 Songs played

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Down Period As Seen By An Optimist

Heard last week at the Billboard-CMA Country Music Summit in Nashville:
“In chaos there is opportunity.” - CMA chairman Steve Moore

But, the writers covering the meeting reported that the panic is palpable and quote Anderson Merchandisers CEO Charlie Anderson predicting that the industry will “implode” within three years if it continues to operate in the same manner.

Is this the current decade's equivalent of the legendary 1986 New York Times Robert Hilburn piece which pronounced the country music business dead?

A reminder: that pronouncement came at the very same time that Garth was marrying Sandy and “the class of 1989” was recording and starting to release their early music, which by 1993-1994 drove the format to its highest heights in history!

If so, it seems - while the patient certainly has seen better health nationally than right now - the early signs of a strong recovery are already becoming visible.

Even after all these decades since then, Country remains the #1 adult music format that hasn't fragmented in any major way, still hanging onto very loyal leading edge boomers while attracting passionate teens and 20-somethings too.

More cause for optimism:

Taylor Swift
continues to prove that Country can still sell plastic albums as well as digital downloads when the product and the marketing is right.

While numerous 'wannabe' acts are no-doubt struggling in the 20’s and 30’s on the charts, just this week in Fresno a KSKS-presented $5 concert series show featuring Bucky Covington, Matt Kennon and Jerrod Niemann was a complete sell-out.
“It was incredible,” notes PD Tom Jordan, “This is the first time KISS has ever sold any concert out!”

On the summer superstar touring circuit, a dozen or so major Nashville acts still are packing concert venues.

Give them something that excites them, and they still do respond.

Early indications from the first month's rating trends of spring are that country's national average losses were more in time spent listening, not as much in cume, meaning that - again - the market is largely still there, we simply need to give 'em a reason to spend more time with us.

Country needs a Lady Gaga?

We may already know the names of some of them who will join Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Sugarland and Carrie Underwood, among others, who even now are drawing as well or better than Tim, Toby, Reba, George, Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson or Kenny Chesney.

Lady Antebellum? Zac Brown Band? Easton Corbin? Billy Currington? Jason Aldean? Dierks Bentley? Blake Shelton? Miranda Lambert? Luke Bryan? Chris Young? All/any of the above? Someone whose name we don't even know yet?

It's a good time, as always, to listen very carefully to everything.

The country format's issues are nothing that great songs won't solve. It seems to me that we have plenty of very talented artists in the in-basket.

There’s tremendous cause for optimism for country’s future, thanks to the changing of the guard happening on right now.

Who are you excited about?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My New Favorite (Online) TV Show

It stars Alicia Olson-Keating and Mike Mohammed.

Whether your “book” is good or bad, it’s always the best strategy to be the one your local buying community, let alone national and regional buyers, know that they can count on for trustworthy analysis and perspective as ratings come out.

Canada’s largest radio company’s research arm, Astral RadioPlus, shows that they understand this as they have been presenting monthly live webinars on PPM data results for Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal.

Here are some takeaways Mike O'Malley and I got out of the latest one (click to read the doc)
1. For example, in Toronto, there appears to be a targeting “hole” right in the “middle,” as the crowd seems to be skewing extremely young and female or male. Is there an opportunity in that bullseye? Or, does the super-serving of each of the four quadrants mean that no one station can possibly cover all the bases?

2. This is a good way for sales to lay out the market for a possible client in a pitch, to help them understand why psychographics and qualitative is important in addition to simple quantative rankers.

3. You can also "station-map" on your "listening to the competition" days, plotting your station and your sharers according to how they sound. Review the map for opportunities as well as “performance vs. intent.” Subjective, but it’s a visually effective self-diagnostic.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Another Reminder That Life Is Short

I can't believe that it happened and I didn't know about it until now.

Ever since he served as management editor many years ago of The Gavin Report I have always turned to books, lectures and blogs by Oren for inspiration.

And, so, I went to his website today in search of the inspiration he never failed to deliver and the news that he died of brain cancer in April hit me like a ton of bricks.

Vintage Oren Harari: "Customer satisfaction" is no longer a useful goal for any company that wants sustained competitive advantage. The only way to build customer loyalty is to take your customer to an impossible place."

Oren Harari was 60 years old

He took his brief time with us, always turning it into teachable moments.

Do yourself a favor: click on this link and watch a video of him in action five years ago.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Is This The Future Of The Radio-Records Relationship?

Katie Dean's regular Friday "Mercury Radio Report" email to programmers contained this offer from the label: if you'd like to listen via stream to the new Jamey Johnson that debuted last week on the CMT Awards telecast, you're welcome to hear the single with a click, but if you'd like to play it on the air for your listeners, it's going to cost you $1.29 at iTunes or 99 cents Amazon.

You can't blame them for trying something a bit different - and making a few bucks along the way - while hopefully building a downloads story for the August launch of Jamey's huge new album.

If their strategy works, what will you choose to play if/when you have to pay for every song you consider adding to your radio station?

Quality stuff only, I'm betting.

.. which just might make radio even better for both listeners and our advertisers.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Confidence slips in June

Phil Rist's monthly tracking says that worry is in the air:
  • The President’s response to the Gulf oil spill
  • Needs over wants on the rise
  • Consumers growing weary of the nearly 10% unemployment rate
  • Almost half aren’t saving enough for future
  • July 4th pump price prediction: $3.08/gal
  • Top Websites: for Non-Apparel, for Apparel
  • 90 Day Outlook: Confidence, practicality contribute to decline from May-10
What’s Hot?
Toy Story 3 (60.2%) and then beach vacations (54.7%), followed by Netflix (52.3%).

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Making Your TV Spots More Effective

New research by Harvard Business School Professor Thales S. Teixeira purportedly offers a simple and inexpensive solution to help marketers hold on to consumer eyeballs during television commercial breaks.
"The days when you could tell a consumer what to do are long gone," says Teixeira. "In the 1960s, the brand was onscreen all the time with a direct message: 'Drink a Coke,' for instance. Today, people are searching for valuable information that is relevant to them. They also want to be entertained, and the 'hard sell' that turns them off can be at the level of simply presenting the brand's logo for more than a few seconds."

Using their findings as a basis for editing commercials, Julia Hanna writes that Teixeira and his coauthors show that "pulsing" repeated, brief images of the brand can significantly reduce the likelihood that viewers will zap it, as opposed to showing the brand for long periods of time at the beginning or end of the ad.
  • Viewers' attention should be managed as any other scarce resource.
  • Repeating or "pulsing" brief images of a brand can significantly reduce the likelihood that viewers will zap it.
  • Altering commercials to mimic a pulsing strategy is a virtually cost-free fix for a significant payoff.
"The dilemma is that our findings show that brand images cause people to zap," Teixeira says. "But they're a necessary evil; without the brand, viewers can't identify what is being sold. So how do you make an ad that includes the brand without causing a high level of zapping?"

The radio equivalent of that, of course, is finding a way to pair your brand with an emotion, and it always has seemed to me that it's a big mistake to produce an entertaining spot that just tags your brand on for a few seconds at the very end.
"Sometimes advertisers say that they're creative and can't be constrained by science or academic research," he says. "But this isn't really a constraint, and our results show that it can help advertisers achieve the goal of getting their message out to more people."

Urban Plays With His "Influences" This Summer

Neil Haislop was there when Keith Urban met the country press corps in Nashville Tuesday.

Keith told reporters that he's looking forward to 3 upcoming dates with The Eagles this month in New York City, Boston and Chicago: "They were a huge influence growing up and probably one of the Eagles albums that my brother had that had things like "Life in the Fast Lane" on it. That band set a template for me, for what I do. Here's a band that could play "Take It To The Limit," "Tequila Sunrise," and "Peaceful Easy Feeling," something completely different and laid back and then could rip it up with something like "Life in The Fast Lane," so, I think the diversity of that band gave me a much broader scope for music."

He's in Music City all week for various reasons, including appearances at the CMT Awards where he's up for two big awards, Male Video of the year and Video of the Year. Plus, on Friday, Keith will continue his constant support of CMA Music Festival when he takes the big stage at LP Field.

Keith also talked about performing with John Mayer on three occasions, on CMT's Crossroads the CMT show June 18th and co-headlining with Mayer at The Gorge in George, Wa. August 28th.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Convergence Or Collision?

Heard at Radio Ink's "Convergence"
Kudos to the magazine for not only a great Silicon Valley meeting, but - even better - very complete coverage of each speaker's comments online (which seldom happens since many of these folks present more or less the same canned presentations at meeting after meeting).

I guess they all feel like they'll keep telling us these same things until we actually do them.

However, Seattle pal Jackson Dell Weaver put it all in a very sensible context: "More like a massive collision…"

"For any media exec it’s a confusing, long list of platforms and ideas to evaluate and sort through – social media (and all that entails), texting, streaming, mobile…and what is RadioDNS and will Jelli become the equivalent of ‘all-request’ radio shows…? And…how do you make buck with any of it? One attendee – a notable broadcast group head – told me that it was overwhelming. 'How' he asked, 'do you sort through all the advice, ideas, new products and technologies?'"

Weaver confesses, "Not being a group head – I don’t have to answer the question. But I do have some thoughts."

1) Build a platform – almost media agnostic. Focus on one question: How do you help your clients sell more products and services? Work from there…
2) Experiment– if a journey begins with one step, then make the first step.
3) Screw up. Be comfortable with some failure and even budget for it.
4) Be strategic – which is vague, I admit. A newspaper streaming a jazz format because the publisher loves Kenny G isn’t a strategy. Developing neighborhood streaming radio stations around a newspaper does make sense.
5) Sell it. Charge something for your digital products…something. And don’t let clients cherry pick your menu. It’s tough to do…but you will set the expectation for years to come if you don’t properly position your media. And even more, you’ll compromise your client’s campaign effectiveness.
6) Avoid black holes. Many digital marketing tools are endless amounts of work for little incremental revenue. Evaluate early and often.

Thanks, JDW. I am glad you were there.

Friday, June 04, 2010

At Least We're Not Dr. Scholl's (Yet)

Country music radio, in spite of Taylor Swift's amazing success, (click that link to see her artistic sensibilities in the current issue of Marie Claire!), remains largely a Boomer brand, with a big bump in our demographics 45+ (click that link to read the article and blog comments on it which prompts this post).
"No brand can ever rest easy with one target audience, but brands that have relied heavily on Boomers for their success really need to think like Mercedes and consider how they will engage the wave of Gen Y consumers that could be the key to their futures."

Cole & Weber United President/Ad Guy Mike Doherty made me think of the great run country has had for the last 25 years, thanks to the good fortune (brilliant strategy?) of bonding with the boomers back then they were 25-34 and how, now, like Saturday Night Live, CNN and National Geographic, our long heritage requires rethinking our entire approach as we seek to draw the 80-million strong "Millenial" generation, who now dominate 18-24, 25-34, thus 18-49, and within just a few years, 25-54.

"For Gen Y, formats like CNN that were once revolutionary are irrelevant. Headlines along with a touch of analysis are available everywhere. Check out this article for a good read on CNN's woes.

"For Gen Y, content can be informative and educational but must also be very entertaining in the process (à la "The Daily Show" or Huffington Post). There isn't time for both entertainment and information digestion separately. Content providers could learn from sites like and For National Geographic, it seems that with a new face and new ways to distribute its content, it could be reborn as the the content source for conscientious Gen Yers passionate about environmental and cultural issues worldwide."

You can reach all three generations which straddle 25-54 today, but it requires a different mindset and actions now:

  • Show that your brand cares about them by involving them in a wide variety of aspects of your business.
  • Collaborate with cachet brands (thanks, Taylor!)
  • Avoid hype with a simple and clean style that feels fresh, hipper
  • Be an active participant in pop culture and embrace the lives of all listeners, including Gen Y. For example, SNL’s Facebook campaign to get Betty White to host is an obvious example of Gen Y's cultural force. They saw how hilarious she was in her Super Bowl spots and turned her hosting gig into a mission. This is particularly interesting as it proves that like Betty White's brand (no offense to her), you don't have to be a new brand to appeal to Gen Y.
  • Tell stories. Be informative or educational, but you had better be extremely entertaining in the process.
  • Other boomer brands like Tylenol, Bayer, Advil and even Band-Aid could learn how to relate to Gen Y from brands like Vitaminwater, which helped the generation care about staying hydrated.

Need an example closer to home?

Brad Paisley (among, lucky for us, many others) pulls it all off just by being himself. His authenticity, mix of sensitivity, self-deprecation and humor, yet fearlessness in singing about what he stands for may be an even more applicable role model for most of us.

Having something to say and lots of talent completes the package.

Is that you?

It better be if you hope to keep from being seen as the audio equivalent of orthopedic insoles.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Toby Keith Event Raises Almost $600,000

The final accounting is still underway in Norman, Oklahoma and the numbers are staggering as the seventh annual Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic counts the proceeds.

Comprised of a dinner/auction/concert and golf tournament the following day, the event has raised almost $3,000,000 since its inception for Oklahoma's children battling cancer and their families.

The perennially sold-out gathering was standing-room-only yet again on May 21-22, with co-emcee Larry The Cable Guy keeping the crowd in stitches and event namesake Toby Keith jumping on stage to perform with headliner David Allan Coe. Surprise guest, and Show Dog-Universal Music label mate, Phil Vassar also took the stage to rock the house for a few songs.

Top draws in the auction included dinner for 20 with Toby Keith. As it did last year, the meal generated such interest that Keith agreed to do two dinners, one for each of the top bidders at $28,000 a piece. A Super Bowl package went for $16,000 and top silent auction items included a canvas of Keith featuring the lyrics to "Cryin' For Me (Wayman's Song) that went for $3,900, Vikings and Jets Brett Favre jerseys at $4,100 and a Cal Ripken, Jr. package that brought in $3,500. Pros For Africa and Whitten-Newman Foundation Co-Founder Reggie Whitten donated a custom Triumph Rocket III motorcycle autographed by NFL stars Tommie Harris (Bears), Adrian Peterson (Vikings), Roy Williams (Bengals) and Mark Clayton (Ravens). The bike sold for $40,000 and Whitten intends to make the cycle donation an annual occurrence because, in his words, "Triumph" is exactly what he wants the sick children of Oklahoma to do.

Proceeds from this year's event will help fund the OK Kids Korral 16-room guest lodge, which will house pediatric cancer patients and their families on the grounds of Oklahoma University Medical Center. With completion expected in 2012, the 30,000 sq. ft. facility will be a haven of respite for families of young children struggling through cancer treatments.

Visit the Foundation website for full details.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Take The "Listeners' Choice Challenge"

Yes, it's an old idea, but it’s perfect for summer appearances. Last year an A&O client did this simple take off on the venerable "Pepsi Challenge" and built revenues AND ratings to the point that the Summer ARB rose to the highest point since the station had given away ten new cars during a book and advertised it heavily on television.

Even nicer, “The Challenge” doesn’t cost money, it can make money. The first client to pitch it to: Pepsi, who might agree that it would be fun to find out what your listeners "care about," but even if they are already committed for the summer, don't let that stop you.

1. Construct a good looking, transportable booth. Or, even better, trade out a van or RV. Feature the call letters and station position that sets it apart from the competition cleanly and clearly.

2. Locate the "hot country zip code areas", where your station has a good signal but for lack of awareness and/or habit listeners tend to prefer your competitor.

3. Target advertisers in those areas. Find at least 100 who have highly visible locations and large parking lots. Sell these business a "mini remote".

4. For 30 days blitz these areas with appearances by your air personalities in the RV, van or booth. Have at least one 'XX minute' (your frequency in minutes) appearance in each daytime daypart each day.

5. Invite your listeners to bring a friend to "meet the XXXX personalities" and listen to the station to "compare."

Have two sets of headphones set up, one with your call letters above them and another with a CD or MP3 of "them" (your competition or other types of music) that contains their telescoped weaknesses - talk, irritating songs, commercials, etc.

6. Give everyone who attends the appearance something tangible for coming out: a sticker, Post-it’s, file cabinet/refrigerator magnet, a card asking for their suggestions to make the station better, a hat, t-shirt, bandana, etc. Build the cost of these items into the merchant's promotional cost of the mini-remote.

7. Have station personalities recording testimonials of the new converts, talking about what they like about your station. Tell them to be listening for their voice on the air "tomorrow." Produce a series of "listener's choice challenge" promos with REAL PEOPLE saying your unique selling propositions in their own words. Keep these positive. Do not air "slams" of the competition. Focus all listener comments on the inherent weaknesses that lie within your competitor's strengths by talking in a bright, positive way about YOUR best qualities.

Motivate your air staff/street team of summer interns to present themselves well and touch each person who responds to the challenge with warmth, friendliness and a good attitude. Win some friends, make a buck and have some fun while you’re “out” this summer!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

When I Read It, I Said "I Need To Blog This"

Don Anthony's daily "Morning Mouth" is always laden with ideas and inspiration, and I know that some of the best morning talent in the nation are addicted to it.

BUT, does ownership and programming management read it or even know about it? I'd bet that the best ones do, but in case not, I want to turn up my amplifier to echo a great post this morning: "It's The Talent, Stupid."

"Having a chance to speak with John McConnell and David Katz, a couple of guys behind some of the biggest names and careers in radio, we thought we'd pick their minds on questions several of today's personalities would like to know: What Kind of Talent Gets Your Attention Quickest? "People who have the "it" factor," says McConnell. "You know when you meet and talk to them that they have the ability to be very successful in their pursuit." Adds Katz: " With a radio personality, ..the person that simply jumps off the 'radio screen' if you will. And sadly, that happens quite rarely." What Does It Take To Be a National Star? "Patience," says Katz. "A ridiculous amount of hard work, and an ego...and someone who can check that ego at the door. Everybody wants to go national, but few people have the patience to take the necessary steps. And that patience means competing and succeeding in one market, or a few markets, first. Those talents who are willing to be directed and guided will have a far better chance at succeeding nationally, than those who don't." McConnell adds, "It takes guts and very hard work. I've auditioned any number of TV superstars who haven't scored in radio because they didn't have the wherewithal to do the work. How Will Talent's Role Evolve in Radio's Future? McConnell says "Broadcasters and producers, based on the 8 or so new distribution options available to any single talent, clearly will look at performers with an eye on "what else they can do." But realistically, great talent will only achieve a lot of success in one, sometimes in two, but only a handful have done it 3 or more distributions. When you attempt to push talent across too many venues, it can lessen their value, not enhance it. For example, using a producer to tweet incessantly on a morning host's comings and goings is not effective. Using facebook to run promotions just pisses off users of the space." Katz says " As a 'recovering' talent agent, I am a believer it will always be about the talent. Regardless of what medium we're talking about: radio, internet, TV, film, other...And, I'm also a believer in you never know where the next talent comes from. I overheard Mel Karmazin once tell Don Buchwald that he can own all the 'hardware' in the business, but if he didn't have the 'software' to go with it, the hardware would be less valuable. That software, of course, is talent. ..Thus, talent's role will and/or should always be of the utmost importance. I only wish more executives, particularly in the radio medium, didn't fear talent, or try to diminish them. TV, Film, Theatre, all understand the importance of talent and celebrate them, and champion them."