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CUTTING GOLF BALLS ON A BAND SAW

Grunge … and I don’t mean the rock style from Seattle!

I’ve spent all of my adult life trying to get folks to listen longer to radio stations.

That involves lots of things.  Improving music scheduling, morning shows, promotions, jingles, liners, commercials, the name of the station, the images of the station and more.

There is one thing I want to pontificate about because lots of radio stations do such a poor job with audio.

Lots of our general managers came from sales.  So, they are often at a big loss when the chief engineer comes into his or her office.  When that engineer says anything from “b minus voltage supply” to “lossless 16 bit stereo” they hear “ooga-booga”

Back in the 70’s when we actually played phonograph records on the air our audio was pretty good. That’s what we call “analog” audio.

The first quality automation systems used mp2 technology for the audio.  It is a digital method of storing and playback of audio. It’s also known as a “lossy” format.  Some of the information is lost when creating the playback audio.

Along the way other parts of the audio chain in radio stations have become digital.  Who wouldn’t want a digital stl (studio to transmitter link) to improve the audio?

Here’s the problem. If the entire pipeline of that audio isn’t the same digital scheme the audio gets changed in some very bad ways.

I heard lots of analogies from engineers to explain this.  I’ve heard meat grinders, train wrecks and buildings after earthquakes used to describe the resulting audio.

My favorite was from an engineer who explained it this way. Imagine two pitchers where one is empty and one is full of water.

Pour that water back and forth all day.  There are losses but that’s analog.  Now imagine those same two pitchers but this time one is full of golf balls. When you use the same digital compression scheme all the way thru its like pouring golf balls back and forth. It’s a perfect transfer.

However, many radio stations have a mix of mp2, uncompressed wav files, and some mp3s!  Now imagine taking those golf balls and cutting them on a band saw.  Then dump all of those pieces on the floor.  Now try to glue those pieces back together to be whole golf balls again.  There is loss because of the sawing of the band saw.  There are odd cuts.  Golf balls are reassembled haphazardly and very few are even close to perfect.

The resulting audio is gritty, grungy, edgy, and quite frankly unpleasant.

Yes, lots of listening takes place on small speakers on low quality radios but that’s not an excuse to make that audio even worse!

When our value is based on how many quarter hours of listening we get anything that degrades that is a serious mistake.  The audio on your station is a twenty four hour a day issue!

God forbid you need a new heart value.  You want a faulty one?  It’s cheaper!

You go for the correct and more expensive fix because your heart is a 24/7 thing that your life depends on.  Treat your radio stations audio the same way!

I hear lots of radio stations that have gone digital on some portion of their audio chain.  Then I hear a song that is truly grungy. Often I can tell it’s an mp3.

Years ago there was a reason to have those mp2s.  Hard drives were expensive back when we put those mp2s on the air.

Now those hard drives are very inexpensive.

Step one is to make sure every song is an uncompressed wav file.  Make sure every step in that audio chain is the same bit rate. Your audio will be wonderfully clean and your time spent listening will instantly go up.

Ask your PD and Chief Engineer to check every song!

Then make sure you have great music scheduling that tricks folks into listening even longer!

Optimize time spent listening.  Your ratings will be higher.  The same advertising schedules will reach more folks with even more impressions.  Your advertisers will get better results and higher ROI.  Advertisers will re-buy. You can drive your rates!

Uh…  More Demand = Higher Rates!

This isn’t a problem limited to small markets.  I’ve heard the worst audio in top 15 markets.  In fact there’s even one very poorly named country station in a Top 15 market I specifically make fun of and give my “worst audio in a major market award.”

Want help with better audio?  Better Music Scheduling?

Do you need better time spent listening or average time spent exposed?

Call someone who can fix it!

Keith Hill 252-453-8888       

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RETURN EVERY CALL DAMN IT (aka No Wonder You’re Not Making More Money!)

No Wonder You’re Not Making More Money!

Recently I had a three and a half year contract come to an end.  I had some things to replace the business and income but not all of that has come to fruition.  So, I have dusted off my old selling skills.

A very good old friend of mine chastised me for not digging my well before I got thirsty.  He’s right.  I should have never let my Harvey Mackay skills get rusty.

So, I started smiling and dialing.

I didn’t realize that in the last few years that folks in business had increased their sales resistance so much.  More than that they really have lost the ethics and good business practices of returning phone calls and emails.

One old friend I called had been selling network programs to radio for 35 plus years.  He sold me a network program clearance in New York some 35 years ago!  Over time we have helped each other many times.  The stories he told me are frightening.  He told me about one VP of Programming of a chain that he has called 35 times with out even one returned courtesy call.

A mentor of mine gave me the quick General Manager course a long time ago.  I am going to recite it here and now to just plain help some folks.

#1 Rule Of Being A Radio Manager

COFFEE AND MBWA

 

Do you like coffee? Great!  (if not identify the beverage that you like and can walk around the building with)  Show up at 8am or before.  Remember you lead by example.  Get your coffee.  (or water, tea, Coke, Dr. Pepper, Diet Pepsi etc)  Now wander around the building.  If you have never been exposed to MBWA let me be your teacher. It stands for “Management By Wandering Around.”  When the on air light goes off in a studio… stick your head in and say “Hi.”  If you have a positive comment about a break or bit, go ahead and say, “love that bit about peanut butter!”

As you walk around you might be asked questions.  If you can answer and it’s not something you need to keep away from other ears go ahead and answer.  Otherwise just say come see me in my office at 9:45.  Then answer there.

Spend some office time with the door open.  Folks will drop by with questions.  Answer them. The truth is, we really only need managers to do ONE thing. Make decisions!

#2 Rule Of Being A Radio Manager

ANSWER QUESTIONS DAMN IT.

You’re greatest likelihood of failure will be your inability to make decisions.  Make up three, three by file cards.  On one write, “YES.”   On one write, “NO.”  And on the last one write, “IN SIX MONTHS.”

When you can’t come up with an answer reach into you top desk drawer and pick a card.  That’s better than punting.  If you want to increase the likelihood of your success throw away the “IN SIX MONTHS” card.

Make decisions DAMN IT!

#3 Rule Of Being A Radio Manager

NEVER EAT LUNCH AT YOUR DESK.

Always eat lunch but NEVER at your desk. Even if you are on your way to being Twiggy, order something small and take one bite. Lunch is about business.

One day every week take an employee to lunch and pay!

Ask them about how they are doing.  What resources they need to perform better.  Ask them about their lives.  Let them tell you about their kids or hobby. Eat, drink and keep your mouth occupied a lot.  Make eye contact and LISTEN.  Show them you care about them as a human being.

One day every week take an existing client to lunch and pay!

Thank them for their business.  Ask them how things are going.  Is there anything we can do better?  Eat, drink and keep your mouth occupied a lot.  Make eye contact and LISTEN.  (You notice a theme on this one right?)  Show them you care about them as a human being.

One day every week take a prospective client to lunch and pay!

Yes, you are not the account executive.  You let them know you are just being the Ambassador of the radio station. You can help answer questions and know how a well-executed marketing campaign will work.  The key is to listen to them and gather information. They will tell you why they are not yet advertising.  Shut your pie hole and LISTEN!  At the end of the lunch thank them for their time.

One day every week take a community influential to lunch and pay!

Have lunch with the mayor, city councilman, school board members, folks on the hospital board, local clergy, Chief of Police, Sheriff, folks who run the animal shelter, Superintendant of Schools etc. Enjoy your lunch.  Ask a few questions then eat, drink and shut your pie hole. You’ll learn more about your market.  You are the leader of this frequency, which is public space.  We are supposed to serve folks who live in marketplace.  The airwaves belong to them we just hold the license right now.

Lunch is your opportunity to build a bridge to your employees, clients, possible future clients and influential city leaders.  Good managers know that they often run into the same folks in a marketplace doing multiple things.  The person running the Chamber of Commerce owns a business that is one of your advertisers.  He or she is also on the bank board where you applied for a loan to get that translator you want.

The woman who is the Chairperson for the Susan G. Komen walk also owns a business that is a client of the radio station.

NEVER EAT LUNCH AT YOUR DESK.

#4 Rule Of Being A Manager

RETURN EVERY PHONE CALL MESSAGE

When you get back from lunch you will have mail and phone messages.

First, time for one more round of MBWA!!

Then back to the office.  Open and read all mail.

When it comes to mail use TRAF!

Trash, Route, Action, File.

The mail that is useless and a waste of your time throw in the trash.

Some things need to be routed.  You can simply write on the mailer about new fangled digital stl boxes “Vernon ???”   Put in the mailbox of your engineer Vern!

The mail that hits your desk that causes something to be done by you goes into an action pile. These are the mailings where you need to make a call, write an email, or write a letter.  Then make those calls, write those emails, or write those letters.

File.  This is the stuff that you might need. Things from the FCC, leases, agreements, contracts, even a flier from a tower painting company.  You might not need tower painting right now but when you do you’ll have materials with offers from vendors.

A filing system isn’t a filing system.  It needs to be a retrieval system.  If you can’t find something you need from a file in 30 seconds you have a poor filing system.  Even that flier about tower painting think where might look for it  I write on it  “TOWER”  “PHYSICAL PLANT” “TRANSMITTER”  “FCC.”   Then I make 4 copies of it.  I place one in the “Tower” file, one in the “Physical Plant” file, one in the “Transmitter” file and one in the “FCC” file.  You might think I’m nuts.  But, I don’t waste time finding things.

In the electronic world it’s easy to create folders both on your computer, a copy on your thumb drive and a cloud drive.  Even with these kinds of files I make multiple copies of documents and put them in electronic folders with several names.  So when I have a research pdf I want to keep I place copies in “MUSIC”  “RESEARCH” and “CALL OUT.”  I don’t waste time looking for things.  I find them!

Now return every call. You have messages and recorded phone messages from callers.  Call everyone back on those pink “while you were out” slips.  You never know when there is a thirty thousand dollar order for a farm implement company just being phoned in.

You may think sales calls are a waste of your time but in the one minute elevator speech the person on the phone may tell you how their service can save you $900 a year on something you currently pay for.  They might also point out that they can deliver it at a higher quality for that lower price.

I have a GM who does just this.  One afternoon he called me and asked me if I had ever heard of a particular vendor.  He then told me of the price they had for something we were about to purchase.  Their price was a lot less than a vendor I had recommended.  I now recommend the one he pointed out to me. He takes calls.  He returns calls.  I can tell you he’s kind for about a minute.  After that if you waste his time he will shred you with some strong language. But he takes calls and he returns calls.

RETURN EVERY PHONE CALL MESSAGE.

In the afternoon do another round of MBWA.  Leave your door open and answer questions from the folks who come in. If you don’t know what to do consult the decision cards in your top desk drawer.

Please don’t leave until 5:30pm or 6pm.  Work.  Talk with your people. Coach your people.  Listen to your sellers at the end of the day. Empathize with them. Celebrate their victories. “At a boys” are a reason to be a manager.  This is the short course.  In GM 201 I cover the roles you can play.  One big one is “cheerleader!”  For those big or tall male managers just the thought of you donning a grass skirt and pompoms is a vision that makes it worth it.

One company I work with recently had a managers meeting and as part of the lead up there is a company wide sales meeting.  I saw a video of the VP of the company standing on chairs leading the sales folks to the dance of YMCA.  Other than he was standing on chairs, (don’t want anyone to get hurt especially a manager who positively cheerleads!) he was being a companywide cheerleader! He was having fun and showing them without saying the actual words, “work hard but for gosh sakes have FUN!”

Have fun!  Drink Coffee!

Wander Around!

Make Decisions!

Take People To Lunch Everyday!

Return Every Phone Message!

I realize managers are busy.  I see the folly of having a manager oversee multiple clusters in a region.  Often I hear the number one problem is they can’t find qualified sellers.  Did you ever think about what would happen to the experienced seller who just moved to you area who just dialed the station and said I want to talk to the General Manager?

I hear lots of radio stations where I could fix their music, morning shows, positioning and help them make hundreds of thousand of dollars more.  There are even stations that have one kid running the music computer for five stations.  In a quick call I could offer a solution that improves their music AND saves them money.  But because mine is a “sales” call they don’t have time.

They are stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime.

I’ll keep calling because the folks who do take the call will get the deal, the improvements and increased top line cash flow.

If I don’t call you, feel free to test me and see if I return calls.  (Hint… I do!)

Keith Hill 252-453-8888

Many of you are digging a hole this way

When you could be

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50,000 Watts Of Goodwill

50,000 Watts of Goodwill

The theory of regulation by the F.C.C. of the airwaves is the scarcity of the spectrum space. We all agree that so we don’t all get on similar frequencies and interfere with each other that we need a regulatory body to thoughtfully plot where those frequencies can be used. They assign power and antenna heights or patterns so that there is broadcast coverage for the people. The essence is that we will at least at some level use these frequencies to serve the public, to do some kind of good.

When I was a kid and young man I learned the super value of the work done by stations like WCCO, KMOX, WHAS, WBAL, KDKA and others.  They were places to turn to for folks to get news and information that was vitally important.  In snowstorms, tornadoes wind and hail, floods and the like.  They also covered local ethnic festivals, charitable events and were there to provide entertainment in between.

It was because of the cornerstone of news and life saving information that these kinds of stations had high ratings and could demand the highest adverting rates.  By the way the spot advertising campaigns broadcast on these stations worked robustly. They delivered huge results back to these advertisers.

When I think back on my own career there is one event that changed me.

I was program director of WMID in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  It had been a legendary top 40 station in it’s hey day.  It had one more hey day left in it.  I was hired to take it MOR/Big Band. Southern New Jersey was aging, lots of folks moving there to retire and AM was more the band of older demography.

Management had already put in place an All Star Line up of personalities for the most part. Ed Davis was thee morning man of the market.  His newsman was Howard Berger.  One of the biggest talk personalities of the market was Don Williams.  I rounded out that staff with some other hires that were just solid air folks like Fred Sharkey and Elise Sommers.

I started the softball team mostly because I wanted to play softball.  I got a sponsor for the team.  We got uniforms.  I remember turning over the naming of the team to the listeners and we became the WMID Station Breakers.

We ran promo-psa’s that said we would play your team for fun and to raise money for your event. We would show up with folding tables, a pa, and sell baked goods and do play by play of the game there.  We did 50-50 raffles and played other silly games where we gave away prizes, but the key was to raise some money for schools, churches, and community centers.

One local fire department we played didn’t get it.  They beat us 60 to 1.

One day sitting in my office I got a call from the director of the Children’s Seashore House. It was a place where kids came to get help from injuries or debilitating diseases.  We talked about how the WMID staff would come out, play softball for fun and do play by play over a pa.  They could sell baked goods or hot dogs and we’d raise money for them. The date was set.

We showed up and played the staff and faculty of the Children’s Seashore House.  There were other groups there from Churches and Civic centers selling cookies and cake.

After the game the director asked me if we could play the kids.  These kids were on crutches, in wheel chairs, some had very limited motor skills.  I said yes not knowing what would happen.

I huddled up my gang and told them the plan.  We would ham it up.  Throw away the ball, fall down, drop the ball etc.   It was to let the kids play and win.  (Something I had wished those firefighter we had played earlier understood!)

I was pitching. And up was a young man in a wheel chair.  I got very close to the plate and lobbed a ball softly so the teacher helping him could at least bunt the ball.

The young man got his first single in a softball game ever!  From there stolen base.  Advanced on another hit and finally to home.

We made sure every kid who wanted got a chance to bat and be on base.

No one will ever remember the score.

I just remember the tears of happiness from the parents and teachers of these kids.  They were happy.  It was their day in the sunshine playing and winning softball.

That’s over 30 years ago and I still remember it today.  It was one of the most heartwarming events I had ever been involved in.

WMID had not been in the top 10 for years in ratings.  The station was good.  The morning show was excellent.  The promotions and imaging were A+.

Atlantic City was a fun town because of the Casinos.  I remember a old fashioned Dance-A-Thon I set up with listeners at a Casino all to raise money for Leukemia.  Elise, who did afternoon news and I danced in the event and raised a bunch of money.  We had listeners who didn’t want to dance in a marathon so I talked Elise into doing it with me and they could sponsor us to raise money for every hour we danced.

We had fun.

WMID was #1 or #2 in 12 plus and 25-54 my entire tenure there.  I’d tell you it was the programming.  But the truth is we did 9000 things right.  Not the least of which was give back to the community.

I wasn’t even doing for ratings.  I was doing it because it felt good to us.

I have an old friend who after winning a major broadcast award for Community Service and someone said to him afterward, “it so good that you do these things to help your community.”  He is a very funny morning man and very smart. His response was, “oh I didn’t do it to help anybody, I did it for the ratings.”

Knowing him that’s pure BS.  The truth is he knows how to create ratings and loves people in the first place.  He has a sister with an awful disease.  He regularly does charities to raise money for the foundations that help folks with her disease.  But, he rarely brings up his foundation reason.

WDIA in Memphis is where the titles of this week’s blog came from.

WDIA was the first station with full time programming aimed at the African American community. WDIA was dying as one of the 6 radio stations in Memphis playing country, pop and classical block programming.  It’s when they added a block of African American programming and music that the fate of WDIA changed. You see 40% of Memphis was black and they didn’t have their own station until WDIA made a format adjustment.

It was classically one of those stations that was “the People’s station.”

They started a “Goodwill Fund.”  They were raising money to help provide transportation for poor black kids to get to schools.

For years WDIA has used as it’s top of the hour verbiage with the legal id..  “You’re Listening to 50,000 Watts of Goodwill W-D-I-A Memphis.”

In most places using an industry term like “Goodwill” would be like saying “where are carts are cued up.”  It might not mean anything meaningful to a typical radio station listener, except WDIA provided “Goodwill” and called it just that, “Goodwill.”

Dictionary dot com defines Goodwill as; an intangible, salable asset arising from the reputation of a business and its relations with its customers, distinct from the value of its stock and other tangible assets.

My question to you;

What has your station done to earn some “Goodwill” in your marketplace?

For Help Building the Measureable and Tangible along with the “intangible” at your stations call Keith Hill 252-453-8888

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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?

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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

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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

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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?”

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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.

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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

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What Is The Best Library Size?

The good folks from MusicMaster have allowed me to be part of their Pro Team.  The aw-shucks in me combined with my snarky attitude makes to say… “what a mistake on their part.”  The truth they have the best music scheduling software available on planet earth.  There remain really great questions about what philosophies you have to best achieve the best rating results.  The longest ATSE (Average Time Spent Exposed – in PPM-measured markets) and TSL (Time Spent Listening – in legacy Diary markets.) So for as long as they’ll let me be part of the Pro Team, I plan on pontificating about some of the ways to think about the best way to go about scheduling music for excellent results, bonuses, better job offers and getting your competitors evicted from their homes.  See today, I’m snarly and FUN!

“So, Keith what is the best library size?”

Answer 172 songs!   See, I promised snarky and fun.   Seriously,  I go waaaaayyyy back to one of my old bosses and mentors Julian Breen. When I was a baby PD and Julian had forgotten more than I would ever know about radio he used to say, “Gentlemen your library size is your station’s blood pressure!  How high do you want it to be?”  First, you’ll notice we have evolved and now have women music directors, PDs, and general managers.  I believe the intelligent approach to library size involves first making the decision to program your radio station for your P1’s. The folks who spend the most time with you.  DO NOT pick a library size to appeal to your P2’s or P3’s… you’ll end up just playing 5 songs and that will wear out your P1’s.

If you have Nielsen, Eastlan or some research intel you’ll be able to get a handle on those P1 listeners.  It used to be that P1’s would spend 18 to 20 hours a week with your radio station.  That’s rare today.  The belief is that folks have more choices of distraction… the internet, phones, and audio other than radio.  In future articles, we can get into how to fight those things. For now, let’s imagine a station with 12 hours a week average listening by it’s P1s.  That 12 hours means they listen 102 minutes a day. (1 hour and 42 minutes a day)  Then you need to know the typical number of listening occasions. Let’s say its 5 occasions a day. Well, that 102 minutes divided by 5 is 20 minutes 24 seconds.  Now a moment is truth from someone who has studied it way too much.  Those 5 occasions end up more typically being 20 minutes in the morning, 38 minutes in midday, 28 minutes in car in the afternoon, then 4 minutes and lastly one more time for 12 minutes in the evening. The point is morning shows can run 20 minutes to 40-minute occasions.  Middays can run a little longer.  It might be 50 minutes or over an hour and with perhaps one interruption.  Afternoons in-car listening can be around 30 minutes.  Evenings often these days show shorter length in the occasions.  In PPM markets it can be many more listening occasions but shorter.

The truth is, listeners don’t listen as long as we think.

I claim if you take your P1 ATSE / TSL and divide by the occasions you end up with what you should program for.  Important to note these are average of the P1’s  There are those rare P1’s who spend 4 or 5 hours a day.  God give me their addresses!!!!! We don’t want to wear them out with rapid turnover that causes fatigue. So, we’re not going to play 15 songs over and over every hour. Though many years ago Mike Joseph (who sadly recently passed away at age 90) used essentially 30 songs which were turning over every two hours.  He achieved great success with this simple formula.  The truth is listeners don’t listen as long as we think.  Yes, the sales manager is going to tell you our station is on in a big retail advertiser all day long and they are complaining of repetition.  Ask him/her why one spot a day isn’t enough for them in their advertising schedule?

There are different answers to the library size question depending on your format.  If your format has currents and recurrent material or if you are a library based classic hits station.

Let’s quickly wrap up a thought on a station that plays Currents, Recurrents, and Gold and that needs essentially 15 songs an hour.  And for simplicity lets say there are 5 currents, 5 recurrents, and 5 gold.

A Power Currents                 2 Per hour – 5 Songs – Turnover 2 ½ hours
B Medium Currents            2 Per hour – 7 Songs – Turnover 3 ½ hours
C  Light Currents                 1 Per hour – 5 Songs – Turnover 5 hours
D Power Recurrent             3 Per hour – 21 Songs – Turnover 7 hours
E Reg Recurrent                   2 Per hour– 30 Songs – Turnover 15 hours
P Power Gold                         3 Per hour– 57 Songs – Turnover 19 hours
R Regular Gold                     2 Per hour– 62 Songs – Turnover 1 day 7 hours

Well, that’s 187.  (See that 172 earlier was the consultant in me slashing your playlist)

Those turnovers (or repeat intervals) on currents are based on those P1 average times.

Recurrents have some fatigue because they are older.  And the gold is the best stuff from your Gold pool that creates the impression of variety.  Musicmaster offers the excellent tool and facility for auto platooning (Thanks Joe & Scott it’s EXCELLENT!!!)  You could find 5 more power gold and 5 more regular gold lets say and platoon rest 5 songs in each all the time.  I like to rest songs 3 to 4 weeks.  I also like choosing most played in the category.  That way the 5 most played Power Gold move to the Platoon Rest bucket and sits out for 4 weeks.  While 5 fresh songs come in.  And by choosing the most played over time all the songs in the category should take their turn in the timeout rest Platoon Bucket!  What you want is a long enough of a rest so that your P1’s get to the point where they feel you play a song too much.  Just then you rest it.  Its gone for 4 weeks and then they hear it again and it has gone from brown burned to fresh re-greened in their mind.

Next time my pontification on Artist Separation.  While most programmers think of Artist Separation… I will suggest that the wrong way to think about it.  Instead, I’ll introduce you to “Artist Density.”  My claim, the right artist density drives listenership longer… ratings higher and you’ll be driving a newer nicer car as the result of what happens!

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