Maybe someone from iHeart will email me.. is Tenille Townes – Somebody’s Daughter not “One The Verge” Anymore?????
Marissa Moss are you paying attention? Dr. Watson?
Maybe someone from iHeart will email me.. is Tenille Townes – Somebody’s Daughter not “One The Verge” Anymore?????
Marissa Moss are you paying attention? Dr. Watson?
Just so you know. I will remove the tape and keep talking!!!!!!
Coming soon more lessons about Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Tenille Townes records. I did not say “payola” .. I whispered “new payola.”
COUNTRY RADIO SEMINAR 2019 50THYEAR!!!! AKA WHAT’S WRONG WITH COUNTRY?
I love country radio seminar. I’ve been to a lot of ‘em.
Me and Martina before I said “tomato”
Tom McEntee and those folks who helped create the seminar had a great idea. Country can be a strong format by embracing the labels, artists and sharing information and intel.
The Motto was and remains “Growth Through Sharing.”
Easy for anyone to say the agenda may not be what we need. In fact I know they have tried to address the input that “there needs to be more for small market folks.”
Here are thee most important things that won’t be discussed in any session.
Those would be:
Charts Are Useless
The charts are virtually useless because of the large numbers of stations from the same companies. Then those companies play the same new songs all in unison. It’s the New Payola. Two major corporations make a deal. The big label group gets major chain to play the same new record multiple spins a day on the same days. In exchange that group gets valuable promotional trips to give away to see one of the labels other major superstar acts.
The New Payola
The New Payola warps the charts and creates worse product for radio airplay. It’s in the labels best interest to keep cranking out new acts that get streamed. It’s immediate cash. Protecting the Mount Rushmore Superstars isn’t something the labels worry about. Those stars make more money from touring. The labels don’t’ get much of that pie. That’s why the labels do more to create a Russell Dickerson than to keep a Luke Bryan at a high profile level.
Who? Nameless Faceless Acts
This chart and label combination is the cradle and incubator of creating many more nameless and faceless artists. They manufacture their careers via artificially trumped up played singles. Radio needs stars much more than it needs songs.
Is This Even Country?
The strength of country has always been the excellent and robust song writing community. Then their fine material gets recorded. Have we stretched the production rubber band past its breaking point? I think what can be presented as country can be quite wide but now more than ever radio has listeners complaining about the music saying, “that ain’t country.” I am not suggesting we dust off Hank Sr. and Ernest Tubb. What I am suggesting is that there needs to be a production discussion. The problem seems to be the streaming revenue model will never reflect what radio needs. So revenue from streaming is more than just a competitor for time it pulls the product further away from what radio needs.
Radio Could Be Better – Two Things Scream For Attention
Radio is a local medium. The concept of voice tracking from outside of the market feeds the transmitter but leaves a lot not done. Who is cutting the ribbon at the remote opening the new cell phone store? Who is at the high school tailgate party? If the highest profile personalities are from four states away they can’t do these things. Let alone describe the weather, road closures, or things that are happening in that local marketplace.
Partly because there are fewer local radio announcers there is less time to write and produce quality commercials. Radio (Country Radio and all formats) run awful commercials. Poorly conceived, poorly written and produced with about as much care as taking out the garbage.
Our big problems are USELESS CHARTS, THE NEW PAYOLA, STREAMING HAS LED TO FACELESS ACTS, A LOSS OF AN IDENTIFIABLE COUNTRY SOUND, VOICE TRACKING, AND AWFUL SPOTS.
Sure could use a robust industry discussion on these topics.
The CRB Board isn’t interested in my voice. Why I actually share and tell uncomfortable truths. I’m politically incorrect. And the folks who run the CRS are political and politically correct. If they let Keith Hill have a voice why he’ll say that we actually play 15% women and then say the word “tomato.” God Forbid!
FUN FACTOR – CHRISTMAS IN JULY
This blog is going to be FUN!
Your mission if you choose to accept it is to listen to KKBO Bismarck on July 25th.
KKBO is 105.9 BIG RIG COUNTRY.
The excellent PD / Morning Man is Sid Hardt. Great voice, great with listeners, cares about the community and understands that building a radio station audience involves making things memorable. Often that comes as the result of being FUN!
Tomorrow on the BIG RIG it will be “Christmas In July!”
You’ll definitely hear “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” and if you listen long enough I suspect you’ll her Burl Ives, Bing Crosby and Gene Autry.
You’ll hear Santa Claus! (if you recognize who Santa is voiced by post in on The UnConsultant Facebook page.
Ho Ho Ho. Prize, Christmas records and FUN!
The best way to communicate this FUN FACTOR today is listen to 105.9 BIG RIG COUNTRY!
Last week I was at Conclave in Minneapolis. It’s always good to dust off your brain and go to class to learn. The first panel was the best for me.
Jim Ryan talked about WCBS-FM. It had been a big brand in New York for years. Then it was Jack for a short run. Then back to WCBS-FM, in part because that brand was so BIG.
Jim told the story of needing to update the 60’s and 70’s based station to become an 80’s station. Who was the personality who played those songs as currents? Why Scott Shannon recently jettisoned from Cumulus WPLJ.
Jim felt that the addition of Scott along with that 80’s product would be a combination that worked. Boy has he been right. WCBS-FM has been in the top 3 rankers 25-54 all the time.
Jim also told the story of Patty Steele being diagnosed with breast cancer. Jim encouraged her to take it to the airwaves not only as bonding and sharing with the audience but to help other women going through this.
Ratings spiked. It turns out our personalities being real is important. Furthermore those cume numbers we look at are more than numbers they are real people. They have lives. They have life hassles too!
Jim also shared the truth of Fresh 102.7 being a poor brand. They went out and asked folks what kind of radio station Fresh 102.7 is? No one could really articulate a clear singular message.
Now it’s been relaunched as NEW 102.7. It’s up against Jim’s old home of WLTW (Lite FM) he knows Lite’s strengths for sure.
WLTW is Iheart and they are playing two very long stop sets every hour. (sometimes 9 minutes)
NEW 102.7 has some commercial free hours and limits the non-commercial free hours to two 5-minute stop sets. I think if WLTW doesn’t respond they will be given a hair cut of some kind for sure.
Jeff McCarthy of Midwest Communications talked about the mega CHR he has WIXX-FM.
One of his stories is about partnering with the iconic Green Bay Packers. When the Packers won the Superbowl the WIXX-FM van was the first thing in the victory parade. WOW!
Scott Jameson shared stories of the 50-year legacy of 92 KQRS. It was clear that while there are thousands of reasons for KQ’s giant successes. None more prominent than the long tenure of powerful morning man Tom Barnard.
I’ve been in sessions in the past where air checks of Tom doing top 40 at WDGY were played. Tom was also the booth announcer for KSTP-TV 5 in the Twin Cities. Hometown boy slays dragon. Bravo Tom.
Big personalities. Being real. Giving back to the marketplace. Thinking BIG!
When asked how to build a successful radio brand Jeff McCarthy said, “THINK BIG.”
Is your station thinking BIG?
Card tables and duct tape won’t do it. Voice tracking won’t do it. Standing in the back of the room at remotes won’t do it.
It’s a lot of work. Be prepared to get tired and achy. You can be very successful 30 years later.
Wanna Build A BIG Successful Radio Brand?
Call Keith Hill 252-453-8888
SUMMER REPORT CARD
Half the year is over. The second half of the year is ahead.
I suggest its time to give your radio station a mid-year report card.
For your convenience you can print this section out and fill in the grades.
Check Your total active library size A B C D F
Check the turnovers of every category A B C D F
Check the most played in every category A B C D F
Check the least played in every category A B C D F
Check your core artists for last 90 Days A B C D F
Check histories of all currents A B C D F
Check histories of most played in every cat A B C D F
Do clocks and logs have The right mix A B C D F
Music computer specs and speed A B C D F
Overall music grade A B C D F
Aircheck entire morning show from today.
Were we local every half hour? A B C D F
Were we topical every half hour? A B C D F
Was there fun every hour? A B C D F
Was there “ear candy” every hour? A B C D F
Were the longest breaks short enough? A B C D F
Phones? A B C D F
Were the listeners the stars? A B C D F
Basics Time/Temp/Weather A B C D F
Image & Name Of Station A B C D F
Overall Morning Grade A B C D F
Cluttered of uncluttered? A B C D F
Easy to understand? A B C D F
Fun to listen to? A B C D F
Prize Appealing to the target? A B C D F
Promos fresh and interesting? A B C D F
Too many or too few? A B C D F
Street level (how do we look?) A B C D F
Website and Social Media Space A B C D F
Overall Promotions Grade? A B C D F
INSIDE THE STATION – BUILDING AND STUDIOS
Studios clean and neat? A B C D F
All equipment work correctly? A B C D F
Enough computers to get the job done? A B C D F
HVAC right? A B C D F
Sound proofing? A B C D F
Lighting? A B C D F
Chairs? A B C D F
Conference Room? A B C D F
Look that guests, winners and clients se A B C D F
Overall Studios and Building A B C D F
Morale? A B C D F
Feeling of Team? A B C D F
Communication inside the building? A B C D F
Management in the tranches? A B C D F
Is their leadership A B C D F
Stress level? A B C D F
Transmitter health A B C D F
Transmitter building (clean? cool? dry?) A B C D F
Audio Chain (loud, clean, no distortion) A B C D F
Automation (ease of use and health) A B C D F
STL (clean and reliable?) A B C D F
Generators A B C D F
Software for air checks A B C D F
Mic processing right? A B C D F
Robust reliable internet? A B C D F
Streaming clean and reliable A B C D F
Alexa skill working correctly A B C D F
Overall Technical Grade A B C D F
Overall Station Grade A B C D F
Now there are many other things that can be on this list. I think now is a good time (after the Spring book sampling period) to reflect and make a to do punch list of things to work on.
There are lots of things that will be station specific. There is a lot to this one.
Is your station FUN? A B C D F
I’ll be writing more blogs about FUN being memorable and the factors that help to make radio stations big successful brands. It’s difficult to win the Indy 500 with a car with several mechanical problems. Also tough to win when the driver isn’t tested, trained, rested and distraction free.
It takes personalites, connection to the marketplace, doing things that captivate the marketplace to breath life into radio.
Step One build a good strong house.
Step Two, decorate it with shutters, landscaping, welcome mat, art on the wall and vase with fresh flowers on the table. Perhaps a “Home Sweet Home” stitching are what’s for.
IF you radio station was a house is it correctly decorated?
Need Help? Get Your Music Right! Get Everything Right!
Call Keith Hill 252-453-8888
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
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
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!
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
BASIC RADIO Q AND A
There’s a very dysfunctional argument I can make about consolidation and the biggest radio companies bringing real peril to radio. I’m not going there. The real key is to ask, “What is the right thing to do?”
My claim there are some real key basics that have been forgotten, lost or in some cases never learned by radio folks.
Just like Ockham’s Razor simple answers are often correct.
Let me posit that often the simplest and most basic examination would be instructive.
Q1: What is the most important lesson or fact that would be helpful to dust off for radio folks?
A1: First and foremost it’s a business. Yes it’s an informational and entertainment medium that is used by the general public, but the most important thing we seem to have forgotten is that radio is a business.
Q2: What business is radio in?
A2: The core business of radio stations is to successfully market and help sell products and services. The bottom line is radio is a method of advertising.
Q3: What are the keys to being a successful advertising medium for radios clients?
A3: The real answer is to make sure that the spot advertising is well crafted and correctly scheduled to reach a sufficient number of folks for the advertisers to get a return on their investment.
Q4: What part of that process is radio falling down on?
A4: All of them. (The spots are poorly written and produced, the schedules are poor, and in many cases they do not reach enough folks enough times to work)
Q5: What do we need to do to make it better?
A5: Holy Defecation Batman, I’m glad you asked, but the answer is long and many a winding road. May I pontificate?
I’ve been in radio stations where the sales department have meetings that talk about the radio stations goals, the incomes they want to produce, now get out there and kick the door in and take their wallets!
We need to dust off the simple reality that we exist to solve retailers and service provider’s problems. We have to go into their businesses and uncover their pain. Do they have images that need to be developed? Do they have an awareness problem?
They know their businesses well. Often they are family businesses developed via sweat, tears and dreams. Some businesses began on a napkin in a coffee shop and after a year of dreaming the in-laws loaned money to get them started. There is a long story. Do we know it? Or do we just want to show up with a package to be a named sponsor in the “Trip A Day In The Month of May Giveaway on Country 109?”
We must first figure out what exactly when broadcast will move the needle for them.
Once we have the problem and solutions in mind then and only then can we craft a radio spot campaign. Too often the brainstorming, thinking, creativity is compressed into a few minutes because its “production” that needs to get done. We’ve all heard Addy award winning spots. They are funny, they are memorable, they pull on us emotionally, they motivate folks to buy.
“there will never be a better time that right now”
“4 convenient locations with free parking and friendly helpful salespeople”
“call 453-8971, that’s 453-8971, that number again is 453-8971”
“for all your widget needs”
Then we sell and schedule the spots by… wait for it… price.
Imagine building a house that needs $1000 worth of nails and saying, “I only have $750 to spend on nails!” We approach radio schedules like traveling just 80 miles of the 100-mile journey is a thoughtful plan!
And because the product is best marketed on our #1 rated country station but they can’t afford the rates we put together a plan that includes spots on 4 of our 5 station cluster like a patchwork quilt will serve us just like a Tuxedo for a wedding. It’s a damn jacket shut up and put it on!
Yes, we in radio need to do all we can to build our cumes and get our time spent listening and average time spent exposed as high as possible.
The way the advertising schedules and campaigns should be crafted is by knowing the reach and frequency necessary to get the results that the client will need to be at least reasonably satisfied. I think of radio is an exceptionally great reach and frequency medium. We reach folks who are employed, have money and want services and products that make their lives better. They also want to know about good deals. They also want to know about new things, cool things, and fun things.
We can certainly charge more for our spots especially when we return the value to our clients. When they get $2 in return for every $1 of investment we can hold our head high when we go see them again. When the returns go to 3 to 1, 5 to 1, 10 to 1 we begin to create demand for our radio services. We actually get those folks “addicted to our advertising.”
Our Mistakes Have Included:
We dispatch sales folks to sell them advertising damn it! We put our sales folks hands in vices and turn them tighter and tighter to sell more, faster, and now!
In some radio companies the sales meetings are like this:
We write poor spots quickly.
We don’t put enough brainpower into creating spot campaigns that will be memorable and work.
We take advertisers money for schedules that is a size 7 shoe when they need size 11EE.
I see the best processes in smaller and medium markets. I see better processes where the owner of the radio station is a retailer too. They own food stores, restaurants, car dealerships, and the radio station. The owner lives in the marketplace and is on the board of the hospital and bank. Has taken his or her turn as President of cities merchants association. He or she is on the School Board and Treasurer of The Susan G. Komen activities in the market.
I spend a lot of time worrying about Music scheduling, morning shows, promotions, air checking and ratings analysis. Everybody who works in the station(s) needs to realize this is a business. We need our processes to serve our clients.
Lowry Mays who founded Clear Channel many years ago did so with his old pal Red McCombs. Red owned car dealerships and knew how radio worked to help sell cars. Lowry one time when asked, “What business are you in?” answered was “I sell tacos.”
You might be offended by that answer but may I suggest Lowry had a better understanding than many of the operators of radio stations today. At the end of the day the spots have to work for the client advertisers. Otherwise we will become a dead rabbit roadside.
That’s a picture I won’t post.