Monthly Archives: June 2018

How Would David Letterman Do This Remote

How would David Letterman Do This Remote … or…

REMOTES – WE GENERALLY DO A POOR JOB OF THEM.

It’s so easy to take a swipe at the way radio executes things today.  We voice track, we don’t have live talent at night, weekends, and we give away smaller prizes than we did years ago.

How are we on the streets?  Billboards? TV?  Remotes?

Over time I’ll be able to pontificate about many of these things but I’m dusting off in my mind a memo I wrote many years ago called “How Would David Letterman Do This Remote?”

Why do we think that a card table with a banner hanging from it with duct tape is the big eye-appealing thing?

My old friend Shane Finch who now works with Musicmaster told me about working in Des Moines where Kipper McGee was his boss.

Kipper held “Balloon School.”  How to properly inflate, tie, set up and display balloons.  You want the logos facing so they can be seen.  The care of planning how we look, what we do, how we act, what we say, how we engage the folks at the remote shows a care that seems to be left hundreds of miles behind us.

One of my old bosses in Philadelphia used to call decorating our booth, “making sure it was festooned with our call letters.”  Partly because despite 50 logos and in demo couple would walk up and look at it and the man would ask his wife, “is this WYSP?” When we had 50 logos that said Power 99.

To fairly think about a remote today you need to realize there are two parts.  The on air part where 38,500 people will hear the break.  Plus there is our look, how we engage with folks, what we do on site for fun and to drive home the images we want.

You can decide for yourself how the on air should sound.  Perhaps they are pre recorded.  I have one morning man who biked to raise money for a charity.   He is such a showman and show off that he pre recorded his breaks, added sound effects and acted like he was huffing and puffing and out of breath during the bike event. It allowed him to do the bike ride and on site fun.

Way back in the 80s I worked at WCTC in New Brunswick, New Jersey and we took out two turntables, records, a small console, mics, and a rack of things that had nothing to do with broadcasting just to have lights flashing on them to add to the mystic,magic the “show” of it all. We actually played the music on air from those turntables.  It was a real “live” broadcast.  There was even more to it than that, but it was a real show for listeners to see the radio station in operation.

Years ago in my memo “How Would David Letterman Do This Remote” I suggested that David might drop by the local grocery store and pick up some produce like watermelons, cantaloupes, etc.  He might also hit the local Radio Shack and buy two of those remote controlled cars.  It might also be nice to get some orange cones.

He would put a prize in the trunk of a car and play, “what’s in the trunk?” with listeners who came to see the broadcast.

I claim that David would have someone drive over the watermelons in a car themed “Gallagher-esque” moment of the show.  Today, he would add Facebook live to that.

Then there would be remote controlled car racing in the parking lot or in the showroom. Those orange cones come to play during the “Car Racing At Hill Chevrolet!”

There would be no end to the “fun factor” that would be added in the remotes.

There might be a local fitness champion (from a local Gym that is a sponsor too) loading and unloading the bed of a pickup truck.  Challenging anyone from the general public to unload the truck faster for a prize.

A sash given to “Miss Hill Chevrolet” in a contest of women being the models showing off the cars right there in the lot.

Chalk with a hopscotch game and oil changes at Hill Chevrolet as prizes.

Yes, there would be some quick interviews about the cars, service, deals, etc.   Then after that 20 seconds of real business the fun and monkey business would round out the 60 seconds.  Yes, you heard me the trains would run on time.

Stupid Human and Stupid Pet tricks sure.  Yodeling by listeners sure.  Don’t forget eating peanut butter and saying the “Phrase That Pays” as many times as you can in 30 seconds, sure.

The point is there would be some silly and fun.  There would be something to see and something to hear that would be fun. How about the throwing darts and popping balloons for prizes?  Then the serious business of selling cars would be in the broadcast. David would say, “Here’s Joe Jones the sales manager of Hill Chevrolet, Joe what’s the best deal on the lot right now?”  “David, I’d say this 2013 Silverado with 55 thousand miles on it.  It’s in A plus shape has a 2 year bumper to bumper Hill’s Warranty and I’ll sell in the next 30 minutes for just $8500 out the door.” “Thanks Joe.  So if you want this Silverado come grab the Orange Flag I have here that says, “I want to test drive the deal of the day” and take this baby for a spin.  Now back to our juggler Fred.”

Today only when you buy any car at Hills you also get to “dunk the sales manager” For every dunk Hills will donate $50 to the American Cancer Society.”

It’s not a car remote. It’s a radio circus.  SFX, horns, karaoke, jingle singing, corn hole games, putt-putt, Frisbee toss, pin the tail on the sales manager and more.

Somewhere today a jock will be assigned to do a car remote.  The plan will be card table, 4 pair of tickets to something no one wants to go to, a banner and duct tape.  They will use their cell phone to do the remote.  When they get there the Sales Manager from the car dealership will be surprised and say to the jock, “uh you can set up over there.” Pointing to a dark corner out of the way.

There are 9000 things wrong with that!

Shouldn’t they want a certain air talent by name because of the show that David Letterman guy puts on?

Cell Phone?  Not even some plug in mic with a mic flag and pop screen for show and better sound?

You mean we are just figuring out where we will set up?

Duct tape?

It should be that there is demand for the talent that does the Let’s Make A Deal, Gong Show, Radio Circus! That talent should be in demand and asked for by name by the dealership.

The look should include mic flags, banners held up by banner stand devices like a trade show that are good looking.  The talent should be in collared golf shirts with the logo embroidered on it or a brand new t-shirt promoting a station sponsored walk for charity next weekend.

Tuxedo’s ?   Nah this is a “radio three ring circus.”

Knowing what we know about how well it could be done my question is this.  Using the “Golden Rule”  if we ran the car dealership how would we want that radio station remote to look and sound?

Please follow and like us:

To Day-part or Not To Day-part That is Today’s Question

Some programmers are big fans of dayparting and have lots of them and on lots of songs.  There are good thoughtful reasons.  Long songs can be tough in mornings. Sometimes an extreme edge of the format can more safely be exposed at night.  There are CHR and HOT HOT AC stations that are more adult by day and more youthful in appeal at night.  Then there can be the question, “do you really want that 35 year old mom driving back from parent teacher night unhappy with here favorite radio station because its clearly different at night?”

Then there is dayparting without a daypart on the song card itself.  It’s dayparted because the clocks only call for that category at night.  A recent facebook discussion I had went like this:

Dayparting

Chris  Thanks. Are you a fan of dayparting?

The UnConsultant nope. It’s like a tire with a flat spot. I’m more of a fan of playing only songs I can play all the time.

Chris  Agree. So why do stations, in the beginning, play certain new songs only at night? A numbers thing?

The UnConsultant There are a couple of reasons. Some feel the “unfamiliar music” is the least safe thing to do. So they try to build slow familiarity … much like putting your toe in the water first. Secondly, it’s a perversion that comes from the strong efforts to promote new music on the radio. The value of an “add” on the charts is very high. They don’t care at first if the song is only spun at night or overnight, it’s an add, and that’s what they care about. They don’t have to work so hard to get us to play Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan or Florida George Line. But Alex Kolobielski & His Jug Band, well that’s where the heavy lifting is done. The Music Row and Indicator Charts are further devices that are part of the process. They celebrate the “add”… in time they want plays, but most of the promotion is for an add. Hence, radios response is a category that plays Mid-5am or 8p-4am. And yes a category that only appears in those hours is the equivalent of dayparting.

I spend so much of my time trying to get songs to rotate evenly through hours and departs that the idea of skipping one intentionally is something I generally try to avoid.  It makes me ask, “do I really need this song?”  How does it test?  Will it be missed?  Is there an expectation that we will play this song?

I get accused of being “old school”  (or is it old skool?)  I’ll take that accusation as a badge of honor.  There are many old platitudes in radio, “more platter, less chatter” and regards music decisions like this, “when in doubt, leave it out!”

Agree?  Disagree?  Email UnConsult@aol.com to argue discuss or proclaim me wrong.

I help stations make good decisions so ratings go UP!

Keith Hill 252-453-8888

on Facebook at        The UnConsultant

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:

Score Your Core (Artists)

CORE ARTISTS

Here’s a fun game you can play.  Grab a piece of paper and write down in order the most important core artist on your station. Rank them.

Now if you have research you can either have data from respondents to rank or give a 1 to 10 score of importance that artist has to them.  A one being not very important,  and a ten being I want to hear them the most.

Then go to your music software and look at the spins of these artists over the last 30, 60 or 90s days.  Are they the same?

There are ways to adjust them up or down to match what the research tells you are the desires and expectations.

These things effect not only the impression or images that the station holds in the mind of the listeners but help drive TSL / ATSE.

If an artist is playing too much give that artist a higher Artist Separation.  Or platoon rest a few titles.  You could consider packeting a few of the lesser titles or perhaps packets of the slow tempo titles.

If an artist isn’t playing enough consider reducing the artist separation.  Make sure there are enough titles by that artist to get the job done.  And if all else fails advantage the songs by that artist.  In some software its called percentage back and you put 75 in percentage back and when the song plays it doesn’t go all the way to the back of the stack order.  It goes three quarters of the way back.  Or 50% back would mean it will be half way back meaning it wont sit out a whole turn of the stack order.

In Musicmaster the field to use is Rotation Weight.  Musicmaster’s rotation weight is far superior to just percentage back limited to 100 or less.  In Musicmaster’s rotation weight it supports up to 999.  The number 200 would mean that a song would be twice the distance back in the stack, thus sitting out a lap of the race so to speak, and that 999 well that’s missing ten laps.  Perhaps that would be a good thing to do with a novelty song.

Tuning a music database for a radio station is akin to getting your blood just right. When you go to the doctor they take sample and you get a report on your good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, and a bunch of other things they hassle me about.

The blood analogy is a good one I think because your blood goes everywhere.  Blood travels to every organ of your body.  If your music isn’t quite right then your ratings will likely suffer in mornings, middays, afternoons, evenings, overnights and yes even on weekends and holidays.  Not Good.

There is literally a “panel” of things I look at when I tune up the music for a radio station to go win the Gold Medal in the Nielsen Olympics.  What medal does your station get?

Go For the Gold Call Keith Hill 252-453-8888

Please follow and like us:

It’s not History, It’s the FUTURE!

It’s not HISTORY, It’s the FUTURE!

When your scheduling your music you schedule ahead.  You schedule a day or a week ahead.  When you do then you check various metrics in your log but you should also check the history.

The funny thing is the history is what is scheduled ahead for the week or next day.  You are putting down the train tracks of your music to travel over the next day and week.

How do you judge your history?

It’s really pretty simple for a tight current.  How about stair-stepping through the hours?

Then for something that turns a little slower like a recurrent.. perhaps stair stepping through the dayparts!

And what about a gold song with an even slower turnover?

I look for turnovers that aren’t unacceptably close or turnovers that are much longer than the average.  The more often each play is close the average turnover the better.

Plus I look for even usage of all hours.  And how long does it take before a song appears in the same hour?  Here are 18 plays and all of them are in distinctive hours.

There are many rules and techniques you can use to accomplish this.  Many are using sensible and thoughtful math.

One is to set up your software with more shifts.  Sometime folks have the Nielsen day-parts as “shifts.”

I’d suggest 8 three-hour day parts.  Then when you ask a song to go through more day-parts. There are more distinctive places for the song to go!

The moral of the story, have a tight right library, but make sure the rules, settings and clock designs, size of categories are tuned to give you great histories.  That is how you get create the impression of a big variety.  Then you get higher TSL/ATSE.

Then you get great job offers, raises, bonuses, yes in radio it still happens.  The really great programmers who get the best results are in demand!

One of the steps to excellent ratings is getting your “histories” for the songs in your music library perfect.  Keith Hill 252-453-8888

Please follow and like us:

He said WHAT?

He said WHAT?

If you are a program director or general manager of a radio station perhaps you can relate.  If you have never worked in radio this is a story that can happen any day.

I was PD of the #1 rated station in El Paso KHEY known as Y-96.

I didn’t live too far from the station often I would walk to the station listening to my walk-man.

On this day I had heard the morning show.  It was a good show.  There was plenty of information, fun, lots of local stuff.

When I got to the station the General Manager was looking for me and he was unhappy.

It seems a 20 second bit about a Burger King in Oregon had gotten the ire of the folks at our local Burger King restaurants who were a fairly big sponsor.

My morning guy (Mark Montana) had simply found a story about a Burger King in Oregon where a patron ordered a burger and when he unwrapped it to eat it he found a large copper staple in it, presumably from the cardboard box it was shipped in.

The air check of it showed that the bit took 22 seconds!  It was broadcast at 7:19am.

Apparently the regional manager for Burger King there was a big fan of Mark Montana and Y96 until 7:20am.  Then he called the GM and GSM and said he wanted his annual advertising scheduled cancelled!

When I got in all of this was explained to me.  I was perplexed the most.  I thought that in placing advertising they were 100% in charge of the schedule of the advertising and the messages in the advertising.  They could promote breakfast in the morning, lunch in midday dinner in the afternoon.  They could run their specials.  They could develop events, limited time menu additions.  But instead on this day we discovered what really worked.  Just one twenty-two second message at 7:19am reached everyone.  That one road-block ad was that we picked the content of was more powerful than the thoughtful approach of a campaign.

At first my GM and GSM were unhappy with me making light of it.

I told them, “surely they can’t think that this one message destroys the good will and images of Burger King in one fell swoop.”  As they listened they realized that their PD who spent 100% of his time worrying about images, promotional messages and reach to as many folks within the FM signal we had was onto something.  So I put on a tie, threw on a jacket and I was off to see the regional manager of Burger King.

I really was humble and apologetic but I wanted to reason with him.  I told him my first thought was to run a campaign where “if you find a staple in your burger you win $1,000,000.”  He said to me “no one will ever win!”  I yelled, “That’s my point!”

Instead they had some internal food safety and marketing person on the phone on air for 3 minutes the next morning.  Not great radio by any means, but it made them feel good that they said, “food safety was of the highest importance and this would not happen again.”

And we gave em a couple of remotes and a few hundred dollars in free spots.  All because Mark Montana read an AP item about a staple in a Whopper at a Burger King in Oregon.

To me it proved more than ever radio works.  In fact it’s more potent that we ever thought.  While repeated messages really work.  Do not under estimate the power of even one single message. Funny how the mind works regards message on the radio.  One mention of food poisoning at Keith’s Taco’s and whammo no more lines at Keith’s.

How come one add that says “why waste your money on pizza that’s really like sauce on cardboard. El Paso’s best Pizza is El Rio Pizza.  It’s worth more than we charge and oh God is sooo good even folks from Mexico sneak over to get a bite.”  But for some reason just one add like that we worry no one hears it.  Make it a negative ad and everyone heard it.  It can’t be both!

Today’s take away is.. 1) radio works and its very potent.  2) when it’s a negative message we think everyone hears it 3) our ads really are not clever enough.  If you run ads that people take about, email mp3’s of them to each other because they are funny or entertaining, then you know you have a winner.

Makes me think a great campaign would be about a staple.  “At XYZ restaurant sometime in the next 30 days we’re going to put a staple in one meal.  Find it and win $5000.  Well instead of a staple you’ll simply find the word staple on the bottom of the plate.”

Where has our clever gone?  It’s time we tooled in … “he said WHAT?”

Please follow and like us:

The Four Rules of NO!

The Four Rules of NO!

Every week I do calls with radio stations. Music calls, strategic calls, promotional calls, brainstorming calls, talent coaching calls, air-check reviews, liner writing sessions and more.

Many years ago I worked long and hard on writing some proactive positive list of to dos for radio talent. Too often we tell folks, “don’t do that.” So I worked on lists of things that you should do. Make sure you are local, topical etc . Sometime soon I might dust off portions of the positive proactive. But, this past week something happened. The situation was a local named restaurant had thrown out some patrons, mother and her young armless son. That’s right the young man did not have arms.

Upon arrival the mother took the child into the washroom and helped him wash his feet. You see because he eats using his feet. This young man used his feet the way most of us use of hands.

They ordered a breakfast of pancakes and the child used a foot to pick up the syrup and then pour some syrup on his pancakes.

Other patrons complained and the restaurant manager asked them to leave.

Like most morning radio shows we prep and gather the stories of the day. This one was not only a story that day but for this market is was a LOCAL story.

We discussed how to approach it. One thing we came up with was to approach it like the ABC show “What would you do with John Quinones.

Often I will describe the idea that a person on a morning show will do a “Seinfeld-esque” observation. “I was at the grocery store yesterday in a hurry and someone ahead of me with 9000 items got in the 15 items or less line. Then you turn it over to the audience so that it can be discussed and you make the listeners the focus.

The question by the air talent and PD/Ops was do we mention the restaurant.

It reminded me of a station I had worked a long time ago where there were “The Four Rules of No” posted.

They were:

1) Do not say anything bad about the radio station.

2) Do not say anything bad about the music or artists on the radio station.

3) Do not say anything bad about an advertiser.

4) Do not say anything bad about a potential advertiser.

Pretty simple really. And I note that 3 and 4 are pretty similar and 4 covers every business on the planet. So it’s fairly all encompassing.

I dusted this off in the discussion. The point was we were going to make the story about a “restaurant.” rather than actually naming the restaurant. The morning show talent pointed out that everyone was really going to know the restaurant anyway.

The point of today’s blog is really the 4 rules of NO. I think I first saw them in a radio station in Syracuse, New York more than 35 years ago. Funny, how simple things can hold sage wisdom and be timeless.

This is a tease…

Tomorrow I’ll dust off a story from El Paso, Texas where my morning man mentioned Burger King and got us all in trouble. We turned the trouble around and the point of the story is to show how powerful radio really can be. For now it’s rare that I tell you NOT to do something, but the 4 rules of NO are something I recommend.

Please follow and like us:

WEEKENDS!

Your BIG Dayparts are Mornings, Middays, Afternoons, Nights and … wait for it
WEEKENDS!

Too often I see radio stations that think about Monday thru Friday 6a-7p and that’s about it. Perhaps sometime in the future I’ll dust off one of my favorite questions… “Who is your Wolfman Jack?” You’ll have to watch American Graffiti as homework for that one.

This Weekend I ask… what is your philosophy regards weekends?

The answer depends a lot on your format, your market, your competition, the weather, the season, etc.

Let’s face it there are formats that do really well Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm because of at work usage. Certain AC formats sell and position themselves as “Thee At Work Station.” Years ago I worked at a station that the PD adopted the positioner “Your 9 to 5 station” imagine doing mornings or nights on that station! We cleaned some of that up by making the morning show… “getting you ready for your 9 to 5 workday” and the evening show as “relaxing after your 9 to 5 workday.” But that’s not what this blog is about its about WEEKENDS!

Are your weekends the same and Monday thru Friday or are they different?

Well certainly they are different in some ways. One of thee most important ways Weekends are different is that is when most folks have their greatest radio freedom of choice. Monday through Friday there are many folks who endure a station that has been selected by the owner, manager, office manager… as a compromise choice for the office or retain environment.

But on the weekend you and you alone get to pick the radio station you want to listen to for running errands, doing laundry, washing the car etc.

Years ago at Arbiton when you would go to review diaries in the gray plastic trays I remember seeing a diary for an AC station. In fact it was one of the five biggest quarter hour rich diaries in the market! I’m going to blind the station, lets just call it BIG AC 108!
The dairy had listening Thursday 9 to 5 for BIG AC 108! Friday 9 to 5 for BIG AC 108. Saturday and Sunday, no listening. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 9 to 5 BIG AC 108! 106 Quarter hours of listening to BIG AC 108!

The diary comment was priceless. This 49 year old male from a nice upper middle class zip code in this top 50 market had really shown his true colors. His diary comment was “I hate BIG AC 108!”

I’m not going to give you 100% of the answer here in a free blog post. I will just tell you then there is a way to get more quarter hours posted to your station by thinking of your radio station as two radio stations. One by Monday through Friday and another radio station on the weekends.

Depending on the key images you need to drive home, and the situational position your station finds itself in your market you can make choices. One is to “throw a party for the format on the weekend.” Things like a 2 fer Weekend, Block Party Weeeknd, A- Z Weekend, Superstars Weekend etc. Another choice is to highlight an essence lane of your music. The 90’s weekend on BIG AC 108! The 80’s Weekend on BIG AC 108! If your Country, Classic Hits or Rock there are even more choices for themes.

These themes allow you to take your station, moves some parts around but still maintain your format and name but just snipe a banner across it that says this weekend “Party – Fun – Music Arranged Slightly Different.”

Under the umbrella of “The Block Party Weekend” you can play 4 Elton Johns, then 4 Fleetwood Macs, Then 4 Eagles songs. Your jocks can celebrate the music by throwing in tid-bits of interesting information about these artists, songs and bands.

 

Rock Blox

Or A Block Party Weekend in the Country

 

What did your station do this weekend? Same old same old? What if I was across town and my station was having a party this weekend? People gravitate to the fun, the excitement, the hype, the search lights, the confetti and cake. Please someone from a rock station call me.. next weekend a pretzels, peanuts and beer weekend! Every time you hear a two-fer of an artist call we will spin the prize wheel. You’ll win snacks. It’s just a fun factor and its driven by the music programming. Which might certainly be a little different than Monday through Friday. The same but a little different, that’s what I recommend on the weekends!

Need help with determining whats right for your station on the weekend? … and then executing it correctly?

Call Keith Hill 252-453-8888

Please follow and like us:

Artist Separation – uh, Wrong Question!

Artist Separation – uh Wrong Question!

I’m often asked about artist separation. Many times a program director will ask me, “How far we can get the same core artists apart from each other. In Hot AC, in Country, in Classic Hits and Classic Rock…?”

It used to be in country stations any of your jocks mornings, midday or afternoon jocks would bring the log into the PD office and point out if there were two songs by the same artists in an hour. “Look at this Garth Brooks at 9:01 and again at 9:54!”

Horrors! That will cause tune out. Not!

The truth is you should push like artists apart. Spread them throughout your schedule. And if you have lesser non core/ non star artists yes they should be much further apart.

One tool in MusicMaster I love is the artist separation analysis. Look at this screen shot.

Yes there are 10 Blake Shelton’s on the day and once they were just 50 minutes apart. However on average those 10 songs are 1:52 minutes apart. The average listener has to listen 1:52 minutes to hear a Blake Shelton this on day this station.

Now, those 4 Tim McGraw’s … I might find that instance of 56 minutes separation and juggle it a little further apart. I teach my music programmers that in these reports there is a “zone of improvement.” The things that I can see that do call for some touch up when the engine of the music scheduling software has done its paint by number. And that “paint by number” is all done with the settings that I have given it.

The real question is … “how is your core artist density?”

Take for example this Classic Hits station where there #1 Core artist is the Eagles.

There are 11 plays of Eagles records on this station in one day. Once 1:42 apart. The longest without an Eagles is 2:36 minutes. That happens overnight between sometime in the 1 am hour and the 4am hour. Otherwise its steady Eagles about every 2 hours. 2:03 on average. Good thing. I told this PD if I could go more than a single hour 5a to midnight without a play of the Eagles I knew he hadn’t check the log. He has.

It’s this care in making sure your core artists are there at regular intervals that help build tsl / atse.

In some formats you want artist every hour. I have a country station in a competitive battle in the south where our top 5 core artists (Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan) need to be represented every hour as often as we can.

Here is a day with 19 Kenny Chesney songs. On average every 1:15. Once 45 minutes apart and I see that happened in the 11pm hour. We could use one in 1am or 2am. (and that gap might be part of what I call the zone of improvement.)

What’s the right artist separation on your station? Wrong question! The question is what’s the right artist density on your key core superstar artists? The Mt. Rushmore faces of your station and format. They need to be there.

Now channeling being the Merrill Lynch of music scheduling. You have artist density questions? We have answers. Keith Hill 252-453-8888

Please follow and like us: