Tag Archives: library

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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BASIC RADIO Q & A

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?

Sure!

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.

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Music Meetings … Time & MATH!

Music Meetings … Time & MATH!

(Alternate Title)  It’s Summer Let’s Go Surfing USA!

I often dust off old stories.  Way back in the 80s at KHEY AM & FM in El Paso my music director was John Hunter.  John was smarter than me.  He had a ear for music.  John was good at picking hit records.

As I recall our weekly routine,  Monday was a clean up from the weekend day.

Tuesday was air check day.  Air checks with each full time talent.  We also reviewed their production.

Wednesday was Music day.  In the morning we listened to new music.  new singles, album cuts and various things we had found.

We reviewed charts, we did our own call out. At night we had young folks dial out and play hook tapes and fill in Scantron forms.  I’d run the forms and crunch the numbers.

We’d make our music moves and adds.  Then we put them into the music scheduling software.  If I remember correctly the computer had an intel i386 processor.

John and I made our changes, made our adds, and got everything ready to schedule.  Then we’d hit schedule to schedule a week of music.  We’d then leave for a nice lunch.  Our favorite place was Kiki’s right there on Piedras street not far from the station.  We took our time because if we came back to soon the computer would still be scheduling.

When we finally made it back it was time to review the log and fill unscheduled positions.

Then we took music calls from 2 till 4pm.  The record folks had their own number to reach us.  They didn’t have to go through the receptionist.  We had a phone jack and phone right there in the music room.  At 2pm we plugged in the phone and it started ringing.  At 4pm we wrapped up our last call and unplugged the phone.

Sure we’d call back folks who called the general number and left a message but they were not our priority.  We had a good relationship with our regional record folks.  At Christmas John and I used to thank them listing all the things they had done for us during the year.  Then we told them they each had “3 gimmes.”  Three times during the year we would add or make a rotation change to help them out.  And we kept score.  We had one rep used all three in January alone!

By the way Friday was promo day.  Liners, promos, promotions, imaging, production and paperwork for whatever promotions were going on.  Weekends tended to have a promotion or theme and that was checked for perfection before execution.

My least favorite was early in the week there was a managers meeting.  They droned on because there were a couple of folks who were part of our management team that liked to vent. After I complained about it our GM did put a different department head in charge of each weekly meeting.  When it was my turn I did stand up meetings and brought a stopwatch.  If the business manager wanted to vent I have the topic 5 minutes.

My key point is that music got it’s own full day of attention.

The decisions were thoughtful.  Songs were actually listened to and evaluated.

John and I knew that we had to establish new songs.  Place them in clocks where they could be pre sold.  We created and ran imaging pieces for new artists and songs. Then we always looked at the number of weeks we had played the songs in C rotation and the number of plays they had.  We had set minimums before a song could advance to B.  The same with a minimum number of weeks and plays in B before we would consider a possible move up to A.

Combined with research and we posted up book after up book.

I’m not going to reveal the metrics here. I’m just seeding your brain with the thought that there are measurable data points from which to make music decisions.  Yes, there is art and feeling that it part of it too.  The great news is that Musicmaster can create some wonderful reports I used to do by hand.  Oh, I can now schedule a week of music in just a few minutes. That Kiki’s lunch today would be a working lunch today!

If you move a song up too fast you drive the “unfamiliarity” of your music.  That will hurt your ratings.  If you are too slow you risk-playing songs longer than your audience wants to hear them.  There is a sweet spot between familiar and burn that is much like riding a wave while surfing.  If you’re too early or late it can mean wipeout or loss of momentum.

If you don’t know the music metrics (and there really are minimum spins/weeks that really work to build ratings.)

Call Keith Hill 253-453-8888

Get Your Music Right!     

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Summer Salad with just the right amount of Tomatoes

Summer Salad or Tomato-Gate

Three years ago I said the word “tomatoes” and all hell broke loose.  Now, it gets dusted off every year for another look to see if anything has changed.

The background.

There is an annual convention in Nashville known as the “Country Radio Seminar.”

It’s an annual pilgrimage for America’s country radio stations to where the music is made.  Back in the 70s, Tom McEntee and some others thought it be a good idea to get radio and records together.  I’m not sure what his original idea was, but good things were to come out of it.

I’m not sure who first said “Growth Through Sharing”, but my hunch is Ed Salamon.

The concept was, we would meet in Nashville and share what we were doing back at our stations.  At the time, there was typically only one country radio station in each market. So if we met up, we could share our research, experiences, promotions, methods and systems, and learn from each other.  Further, we felt we could connect with the labels and the artists.  That way, we would be stronger than pop, rock and other genres. With “Growth Through Sharing”, we’d make country stronger in ways the other formats wouldn’t be able to replicate.

About 1989/1990, the sharing took a back seat.  I know.  I was on panels in the early 90s.  I’d look out from the stage and see folks from stations I competed with.  We couldn’t share in the same way we did before we doubled up in so many markets.  Garth Brooks, along with Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson and the newer sound from Nashville had made country less twangy and more mainstream.  At the same time, CHR had a problem.  To Rap or Not to Rap was the question.

Country Radio Seminar continued, but it was a little less “sharing” than intended.

We would still be there every year to see old friends. The sharing took place in the hallways.  There were some great discussions at breakfasts and lunches, but less so in the meeting rooms and on the dais.

About four years ago, I was contacted about a panel on music scheduling.  The agenda committee person who contacted me knew I was famous for the topic.  There were three others on the panel – programmers from Nashville, Wichita, and Savannah.

We had the typical conference calls about planning what we would talk about.  I suggested that I lead with some real basics.  I planned to cover categories, coding, tempo, sound, gender, core – non-core and the like.  I’d provide screenshots from the software we used to schedule music.  I’d explain how to properly schedule an hour of music and teach young folks how programmers keep the audience listening longer. That’s job one for a music scheduler.  The cume (or head count) of the station is essentially a function of the format.  Only a certain number of folks prefer country. However, we can make more money by getting those folks to spend 5, 10 or 15 minutes longer with the station.

One metric you need to understand is our currency in radio. It’s the almighty “quarter hour.” One person who listens for an hour results in four quarter hours of credit, and four people who listen for 15 minutes each also results in four quarter hours credit to the station.

My point that day was to help teach, share and demystify what programmers in the know were doing to make folks listen longer.

You see I am older.  I have accomplished some good things in my radio career.  So when I think of CRS, I still think of growth through sharing.  I like the concept of giving back to the young folks in the industry.

So on that dais that day during the Q&A, I was asked about percentage of coding and I answered.  I said “don’t play females back to back” because they are a minority percentage of your music mix.  I also said, “When you go back home to your station, check the percentage of females. If it’s over 15% take some out.”

Nothing happened.

Folks inside the industry knew that what I was doing was helping young programmers.  I was giving away something for free that you’d otherwise learn the hard way, or pay to learn from a researcher or consultant.

It wasn’t until a couple of months later that Lon Helton and Russ Penuell interviewed me about those same topics that all hell broke loose.  Russ called me and we went over what I covered at CRS.  Russ, Lon and I all shared the same vision, to help the young folks in our industry.  I can still hear Lon saying, “What do say we dust off that music scheduling stuff for the kids from Dover, Delaware and Citrus, Florida who didn’t make it to CRS?”

My answer … “Sure!”

When Lon published “Country Air Check” to the worldwide web that night, it all started.  I had a Twitter account I never used. That night, I got my first tweet from a Martina McBride fan named Jan in New York. In a word: “Douchebag”.

As it escalated from there, I found myself on radio shows, television shows, and in hundreds of newspapers and web sites.  Tomato-Gate became a top trending Twitter topic and Facebook was on fire with pieces of salad being tossed and thrown in every direction. I answered every email, call, post and tweet that I could.

At first, I simply wanted to communicate an understanding of the issue.  You see, I had tested that simple 15% metric and knew it to be truth.

In the early 90s, I had been hired by Moon Mullins in Nashville to be an associate consultant for his company.  We were famous for putting on new country radio stations and winning high ratings.  However, by the late 90s, the ratings were slipping for the format.  The trade press then was full of articles saying “Hot Country” had cooled off.  Moon said to me once, “Oh well, perhaps the music isn’t as good right now.” I argued with him, because our research scores on songs were the same as they had been seven or eight years earlier.  He simply said, “Well, it has to be something. Figure it out young man.”

I went back to my office and worked.  I created an analysis of every measurable metric I could think of: percentage of current music, recurrent music, gold titles, library size, turnover times, coding compositions, twang, pop, mainstream, songs about God, songs about pickup trucks, groups, number of top 10 songs by the artists, length of the songs. I even analyzed the stations by years the same morning show had been in place, transmitter power, antenna height, money invested in marketing and the size and scope of prizes given away.

In all, one metric had changed.  In the early “halcyon” days of country, we played 15% females – principally, Reba, Wynonna, and Trisha Yearwood. However, by the late 90s, the percentage was much higher.  I saw stations that played 19%, even up to 27% females, like Shania Twain, Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Jo Dee Messina, The Dixie Chicks, Lee Ann Womack, Terri Clark, LeAnn Rimes, Deana Carter, Mindy McCready, Chely Wright, SheDaisy and so on.  To compound the issue, it wasn’t just one or two titles by each. There were nearly a dozen Shania Twain titles, ten by the Dixie Chicks, seven, eight or nine by Martina McBride. So as a percentage, it had grown considerably.

I won’t get into the deeper reasons why women who listen to country radio make the choices they do.  I’ll just say that more women listen to country radio than men, and they listen longer.  So, the programmers on country radio stations must study the listening habits of women.  In fact, the greatest single bias in country music radio is tuning our product to women so they will listen longer.

Welcome to America.  It’s a meritocracy.  It’s a free market.

We do not play more men or less women because we have any biases towards them.  We play more men and less women because of the behavioral bias of women radio listeners.

How can I be so sure about this?

I went to Moon Mullins and told him what I had found. He told me to take some of our clients and make ‘em guinea pigs.  Probably not something I should share.

I took four stations and cut the number of females by removing the weaker testing titles.  Instead of eight Shania Twain songs, I cut it to the four best testing. Instead of three Terri Clark titles, I cut it to the two best testing.  Instead of seven Faith Hill titles, I cut it to the five best testing.  By using this research stratification, I tuned the databases to meet the 15% metric used in the early 90s.

A few months later we had our answer.  The four best Arbitron ratings performances we had were from these four stations.

So today in the news, I see that Bobby Bones will have a specialty show that plays only female country acts.  The Tennessean has an article about it as well.  They have dusted off Tomato-Gate only to find that not much has changed.  In fact, the percentage of females on the country charts is actually down a tiny bit.

I hate to tell you that the attention brought to the subject has gotten more folks to realize the truth of the metric.

I never meant harm to anyone.  Some see my comments as having helped the conversation.  If it has done some good, I am happy about that.

The truth is, inside the radio and record industry we know what works and what doesn’t.

It’s a “sausage making metric” that folks outside of radio didn’t even know about.

Just because a “know not” world reads something less than 50%, they think there is misogyny embedded.

It is not.

It’s simply a metric driven by the response of the audience.  Much like the amount of flavors kept on hand by a Baskin Robbins ice cream store.  They stock the most of what they sell the most.  They stock less of what there is less demand for.

Now go enjoy your salad. The amount of tomatoes or any element is up to you.

If you want the highest ratings, call me and we will implement some Gordon Gekko-esque things that we won’t bother to explain to those who wouldn’t understand anyway.

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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