Tag Archives: music scheduling

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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Moneyball

What if Billy Beane programmed a radio station?

Billy Beane famously used “Sabermetrics” to build the Oakland Athletics into a winning team. He had the challenge to field a quality and competitive team with a much lower payroll than major franchise teams like the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox.

Sabermetrics which gets its name from the Society Of American Baseball is essentially … math! More than just slugging percentage or batting average sabermetrics drilled down to specific situations. With a left-handed pitcher and two men on base what percentage of the time does Joe Jones get a hit?

Partly because I look like Brad Pitt it’s my claim that I approach Music Scheduling like Billy Beane approaches baseball.

What if Billy Beane programmed a radio station?

I propose to call it TSL/ATSE Metrics.  (Time Spent Listening / Average Time Spent Exposed Metrics)

Further, I claim you pick your cume when you selector your format.  Bill Moyes of the Research Group used to say, “every market has a certain size life group for each format.”  A “life group” is the number of folks who prefer and basically use a particular format or genre of music.

I know that when your music mix is correct by certain metrics that you can trick listeners to listen longer.  Huh, that’s what I do for a living folks.  I trick folks into listening to their favorite radio stations longer.

I have famously (and infamously) used the analogy of tossed salad to describe the right mix of music for radio.

My claim is it’s a good analogy.  You want to mix your music by era, tempo, gender, core-non-core and format specific sound codes.  You also want the percentages of these components to be “tuned” to that life group.

This is me and  Martina McBride before I ever spoke in public advising stations that more than 15% females in country music stations music mix would be ill advised.

The tossing of the salad is to create the impression of variety.  Much like that salad you wouldn’t want to get a forkful of onion, onion, onion, onion.  That would be like playing Hip Hop, Hip Hop, Hip Hop, Hip Hop or on a country station High Twang, High Twang, High Twang, High Twang.  You generally don’t play slow songs back to back. In a format where the female component is a low percentage you (say 15%) you wouldn’t play females back to back.

And regarding the math metrics imagine going to your favorite restaurant and ordering a salad and when your server brings you the plate it’s 90% onions?  or 50% carrots?  It’s obvious when you use out of tolerance metrics.

When I listen to a station and look at their music I can quickly spot… “hey, there’s way too little core music product in here.”  Or “whoa this library has way too many slow songs for this “Movin” format.

My claim is the percentage of core non-core, slow medium and fast tempo, male, female, and various format specific sound codes need to be at certain percentage and metrics to tune your music for your life group and optimal ratings driven by TSL/ATSE.

Do you know what the right music coding and composition metrics are for your station?

Unless you’re just happier than a clam with your ratings you should find out.  There are two possible problems.  Your music is not tuned and you don’t know it.  Or your music is not tuned and you do know it. Yikes!

To make sure your music is “purr-fect”  Call us.  Keith Hill The UnConsultant and Allie The UnCatsultant.

I’ll make sure it’s right even if he doesn’t!  – Allie

 

 

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Is Your Music Right?

There’s more to music that most folks realize. The key to tricking folks to listening longer is by driving the “perception of variety” in your music mix. Changing eras, sounds, genders, tempos, core-non core.
I use the great visual tools in software today to allow me to “eye” my music so my “ears” will be happy. Feast your eyes on this…

 

But is this right? In terms of spreading the codes (sounds) do you have the peanut butter spread evenly on the bread all day? There are even more tools to make sure you can see if your percentage of each code is right hourly and for the day.

 

If you’re not sure your music is right then you have a problem. A one level you don’t know what you don’t know. It may be right by accident but that’s unlikely. Instead, you can learn, fix, and implement the right plan to make sure your music is tuned.
In the financial industry an advisor, fund or stock that performs the best is said to have the highest alpha. Here’s a quote from investopedia.com.
Alpha, often considered the active return on an investment, gauges the performance of an investment against a market index or benchmark which is considered to represent the market’s movement as a whole. The excess return of an investment relative to the return of a benchmark index is the investment’s alpha.
To make sure your music has the highest alpha factor call me
My cell is 956-874-8981 Keith Hill

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