Tag Archives: stop sets

USE YOUR EARS…  AND BRAIN!

USE YOUR EARS…  AND BRAIN!

Ed Hill programmed several radio stations.  Among them top rated country stations in Salt Lake City and Seattle.

Ed knows what he is doing.  He learned as a jock from the great program directors of years ago that he worked for.  Plus Ed is smart.  He never just imitated another radio station.  He thought about his station, it’s brand, it’s images, it’s fun factors and then created fresh locally meaningful content.

Ed’s been out of country radio for a couple of years but he’s still got that great brain. Here is his insightful post about listening to the one country radio station in Los Angeles.

I reprint Ed’s post here.

I have been out of country music and radio for almost two years. Listened to Go Country in LA and they have imaging on the air that is years old. I mean they mentioned “your iPod” who has an iPod?

Another big issue… The songs and the themes of the songs we’re all the same. Pure vanilla. Whoever is programming that station is not paying attention to the details. I never listen to radio anymore but decided to listen to see what has happened to the music.
This one jock said “ Here’s the latest from….
It was an act I have never heard of so I asked my 21 year old daughter who that was and she had no idea.

Then the female jock was promoting the morning show and she said… Set your alarm clocks . Clocks. Yes she said clocks. Yes CLOCKS.

Does anybody get reviewed anymore? The radio audience is shrinking. You have to be better than what I heard or you will accelerate
the inevitable slow decline into irrelevance.

Ed couldn’t be more right.

Might I suggest you take a full day outside of your own radio station and listen all day.

Attack your own station like it was your competition.  Think, “This station is programmed by an idiot.  Let me pick it apart!”

Make a list of every weakness.

Every anachronistic thing.

Every thing that is self serving and not listener benefit centric.

Then fix things.

It’s not just your career. It’s the career and welfare of everybody who works at the station.  Get it right!

Are you qualified to be PD of your station?

If you think so prove it!

Ed and I are not related.  We are brothers of different mothers.  Ed is that ok with you?

Get Your Music Right!  Get Everything Right!

If you need help call Keith Hill 252-453-8888        

 

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A NEIGHBORS QUESTION ABOUT MUSIC ON THE RADIO

A NEIGHBORS QUESTION

So this past week I was on the road to a great local cluster of radio stations.  Live local mornings, middays and afternoons on stations that serve the community.

When I got back it was relaxing to go over to a neighbors for a nice home cooked dinner, wine, and conversation.

“So what did you do this week?”  I was asked. Well a lot but what I said essentially was “we freshened the music libraries of the Classic Rock  and Country stations.  The country station we tuned to be a little newer or a little less gold.”

My pal is a chemical engineer and his wife works for a realty company.  So what they know about radio is that there are two knobs. If they don’t like a song they switch the station.

He said.. “do people’s tastes change?  I mean once you get the music right … why do you have to change it?”

I explained that even if you have research on the market tastes folks who listen to the station do change how they feel about those songs.  I  explained call out research and auditorium music testing. It forced me to explain “hooks” and how that it is simply stimulus to response research.

Once you sort in the songs that are best to play often, midrange songs to play some and lesser songs play rarely and poorly testing songs are taken out, then you put that tested music on the air.  Like anything organic as you play those great testing songs your P1 (preference one) audience over the time of three to six months will begin to fatigue on them. Different folks have different responses.  Some folks never tire of hearing their favorite songs.  Others literally will say.. “I love that song and its one of my all time favorites but BIG 109 plays it every hour and has worn it out.”

Now they don’t play it every hour.  They might play it every day in a different hour but you listen to the station so much that you are exposed to those same 450 songs a bunch!

So I explained to my chemical engineering friend that while folks do have feelings about songs those feelings change as we run up the odometer count on those songs.

One of my analogies is that songs have a color.  When they are fresh they are green.  We often call fatigue of a song “burn.”  The phase is “folks are “burned” on a song means that they have tired of it because of the many impressions or exposures of plays of the song.  I explained “Power, Medium, and Light” rotations.  I call burned songs brown.  We rest them to “re-green” them.

I even explained platooning as a thoughtful system of resting a small number of those power songs that are most played.  We might rest them for four weeks.  When we bring them back we might rest another chunk of say 8 to 10 songs for 4 weeks.  That way there are always songs that are resting.  We pick the most played by the “odometer” count, in that category, to rest.  When we return the songs there is a library play “odometer” that doesn’t change.  It never resets.  It’s always cumulative.  However, the plays in category “odometer” we reset to zero when we move it back to play after resting.

My chemical engineer friend said, “huh, I didn’t think it was that involved.”  He added, “I thought once you put in the best songs you were done except for adding new ones.”

Then after some more wine I learned more about the making of chemicals.  It involves chemistry which is much more complicated than radio programming.  But I did hear about giant mixers.  Think of the mixer you might have in your kitchen but the size of your house instead.  I’m glad my friend makes oxo and glycol.

Apparently I need all those chemicals for the radiator of my car and somehow the oxo ends up being important in plastics for the steering wheel, taillight lenses and faceplate of the radio.

Two friends had dinner and talked radio.  Sort of.

Is your music right? Fresh?   Stale?  Burned?

Get your music right call Keith Hill 252-453-8888   

If you need oxo or glycol I know a guy.

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AN HOUR OF ALL FEMALES ON COUNTRY RADIO

Women of iHeart Country

Bobby Bones just got a promotion.  He will be VP, Creative Director of iHeart Country.

You can tell Bobby works hard.  Bobby has invested lots of long hours of work for iHeart Country stations and their collateral platforms and festival promotions.  He’s an asset for the company.

iHeart like many other larger broadcasters use shows to save salaries on the local level.  Plus in many cases you could never get that level of talent locally.

On the down side it isn’t local.  While there is technology where Bobby can record liners for a station in Bakersfield and they can play them back.  So to some it sounds like Bobby is actually there when he talks about Whiskey Flat Days.

Local jocks can not only talk about these things generously and intelligently but they can make live appearances.

But in the same way we loved David Letterman it is possible to have radio network syndication work to some level.

I also say BRAVO to more “creative” on radio in general let alone IHeart radio.

Some of my radio buddies and me would go on Rock N Roll and Country field trips!

We went to see the places where Lynyrd Skyryd, Otis Redding, Ricky Nelson, Bill Chase, Jim Croce, Stevie Ray Vaughn and others had come to life’s end.

I came up with the idea that we would each make cds of music we would play for the others in the car. We chose themes.  One guy did famous songs and the songs they were stolen from.  I did a cd with two versions of every song.  One version was fully produced and one acoustic.  As we played our cds we told stories about the songs.  It occurred to all of us that this is what radio should be like.  It was a group of experienced radio folks.

I am a music scheduler.

Yes, I am the guy who gave a metric of the amount of women I’d suggest on country radio and called them tomatoes in the salad.

There are countdown shows and they work.  Even though typically you’d never play one to four hours of nothing but currents.  Under a specialty umbrella various concepts can work.

One of the things the women who advocate more women on the radio say is that “it’s never been tried!”

Bobby also announced he will be launching a new show the “Women of iHeart Country.”  I guess from the name it will be only or principally on iHeart stations.

I’m glad Bobby will be trying an hour of all females.  Then we can see how it does.

How do YOU think it will do?   Post your thoughts on Facebook at The UnConsultant

Keith Hill 252-453-8888       

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FUN FACTOR – CHRISTMAS IN JULY!

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!

http://streamdb9web.securenetsystems.net/v5/KKBO

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BIG SUCCESSFUL RADIO BRANDS

RADIO BRANDS

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          

 

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SUMMER REPORT CARD

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.

MUSIC

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

MORNINGS

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

PROMOTIONS

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

PEOPLE (Software)

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

TECHNICAL (Hardware)

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        

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WE NEED A RADIO STATION THAT PLAYS 50% FEMALES!

WE NEED A RADIO STATION THAT PLAYS 50% FEMALES!

So I write a blog saying country radio should hire more women General Managers, Program Directors and lead morning show air talent.  I posted it.  Put links to it on Facebook and Twitter.

Three years ago I responded to every post I could for about 5 months.  I also would respond in the discus and comment sections of web sites for famous newspapers and online publications with stories about “tomato-gate.”

I came to a few conclusions.  I was correct about the metric I had suggested to country radio.  My strong feeling was advocates of women in country music just wanted me to fold my tent and go home.  One of my mentors told me to shut up and go in a hole.  This too shall pass.  I rejected that advice.  I stayed with it.

The opposition started to go away.  The last ones to stay just started posting foul language and ad hominem attacks.

Yes there were death threats.  One was from a female who had been air talent on a CBS Country station in a large market!

Every year on the anniversary of “tomato-gate” the topic gets dusted off and written about. The annualized questions now are “is it better or worse for women?”  And  “what is percentage of females country radio is now playing  X number of years after the controversy?”

To me it’s not a controversy it’s a metric.

There are folks who want to see my research.  It’s really very simple the radio stations own the ratings research from the Arbiton and Nielsen companies.  It’s proprietary.

I have pointed out that the 12+ and now 6+ data for many markets are posted on websites like Allaccess.com or Inside Radio.com.

With a subscription to Mediabase  you can get playlists of stations with a an elegant set of dashboard metrics and tools.

I say my metric is empirical.

Look at the playlists and the ratings.  You’ll see.

I have been asked, “what happened when you removed males?”

Well we do remove both males and females to tighten a library to be just the best hits. However just removing males would make the female percentage go up unless we opted for instrumentals, dead air, tones or songs from genders other than men or women.

One thing I’ll say about the fine folks who proclaim, “You don’t know what would happen if you played 50% females now do you?”

Well I do know what would happen but you are right it’s NEVER been tested!

These women ask me, “well, then tell us how we can improve the plight of women in country.”

My answer has always been we play great songs.  So write, record and promote more songs like “I Hope You Dance,” “Automatic,” and “The House That Built Me.”

I return to the idea that there NEVER has been a radio station that has played 50% females.

So I make a plea here for a station in a top 75 market that is PPM rated with full market coverage signal to play 50% females for six months so we can empirically see what happens.  (That’s a test AND empirical)

It would seem to me the Change The Conversation folks Beverly Keel, Leslie Fram, and Tracy Gershon and voices like  Marissa Moss could find a consortium of women to purchase one radio station and prove it.  Heck women are half of America and go fund me is out there.  Get to work and buy a radio station with the parameters I have listed.  Get the Suffragettes to join in.  Sell shares of a corporation.  Might I suggest, “The Keith Hill is Wrong Corporation.”   No.  Go ahead and call it “The Fairness For Women In Country Radio Corporation.”

Hire a staff of the best programmers.  Run TV commercials for it.  Have Billboards for it.  Give away prizes.  Do concerts to promote the station.

SHE FM.

FEM-FM

YOU GO GIRL 103!

Make sure that you play at least 50% of the songs by female singers. Expose all that great talent you talk about.

Then six months later WE will have ratings results.

Until then I endure twitter.  It’s a cesspool of foul language.  Anyone can say anything.

Other topics to help derail us from the issue.

Well Bro Country has ruined country.  Wearing baseball caps backwards blah blah blah.  Ok, but what does that have to do the 15% metric I claim?

Marissa Moss wrote a fine article for Rolling Stone about sexual harassment and misconduct in the country music industry.  Imagine Harvey Weinstein in Nashville running a record label.  There are also stories of CRS and promotion people taking artists to radio stations. Moss details the harassment that female artists and female promoters are subjected to.

I do not deny that these wretched behaviors exist.

Ms. Moss did research. I take it that means she made calls and interviewed folks.

I don’t know how many calls.

I have no doubt these things have happened and continue to happen. However, harassment is a different issue than what are the best metrics for composition of music that will yeild optimum time spent listening to country radio.

Flat tires and broken transmissions are both issues with cars.  They have the car in common. However, they are separate maladies.

Sexual harassment and the percentage of songs by female singers are separate issues in the same industry.

I wonder the (N) of Ms. Moss’s research?  How many people did she interview?

When we do research in radio we want it to be statistically reliable within a confidence interval. We do studies where the (N) of the study (N is the number of folks in the survey) is as low as 700 but up to 2000 respondents.

I estimate there are well over 20,000 folks employed in the country radio and record promotion industry.  I think to be statistically reliable and then extrapolate the data to represent the behavior of the industry you’d have to talk to at least 400 people.

I don’t posit a complete set of solutions for harassment.  I will say there are laws against assault and sexual assault.  I’d suggest women who are assaulted in the manner that Ms. Moss’s article uncovered use the laws that exist. File complaints and use the law.  If you have been harassed the law is on your side. My claim would be thes call to the police and complaints should be made right away.  Do not wait 6 months or year or two or ten or more years.

On twitter folks will post,  “can you believe that asshole!”

What do YOU want done… instant death without due process?  I suspect there are those who want just that!

Then in previous articles I used the term “mom filter.”  Women on twitter scoff at this as if it’s some kind of slam.  Inside radio stations we discuss our content. We ultimately do not want that 38-year-old mother of two children to be embarrassed by the content on her favorite radio station.  We don’t want the child exposed to the content to ask, “mommy what does blank-blank mean.”

But on twitter I am an insensitive man with NO understanding.  Uh I had a mother, aunts and have nieces.  I have programmed free radio aimed at women for 38 years successfully.

“Hill must think all women have to be mothers!”  No.  I want ALL women to listen as long as possible.  I’m fine with listeners whose family looks like “Eight is Enough” or women who do not have children. To me they are all listeners with ears. (A genderless feature of this)

Twitter is a cesspool. Some discourse starts out civil. Then I believe out of frustration it often turns away from the core of the discussion.

I make a post. Then folks tweet back to me. Then when the logic tightens in on them in the advocacy of their position they then claim I am “trolling” them!  Hey you tweeted to me first!!!!

Then “I see you only follow five people on twitter and all five of them are men!”

One is my local TV station.  (Male?)  One is my local newspaper. (Male?)   One is the president of the United States. (Who is famous for tweeting but yes he is a male)  One was a writer for the guardian who coined the term “tomato-gate” (yes he is a male)

I un-followed that TV station and Newspaper that are uh… male.  I added Marissa Moss who is female and made this complaint about me.   Now I have parity on twitter.  I follow one male and one female.  ( I took males? out because lord knows we want parity in who I follow on twitter!)

Now back to my cheerful suggestion for those who want to advance the women in country music.  Come together.  Get funding.  Buy a radio station in a top 75 SMSA with a full market signal.  Then play 50% (at least) females.

One more idea while I am making suggestions.  Start a campaign to encourage the major country music labels in Nashville to drop already established pop females for country duets.

Instead of Pink, Tori Kelly, Bebe Rexha why not go over to the Listening  Room and take in some Suffragette shows. (Monday Nights)  I am sure you will find female performers who could sing those duets elegantly.

Wait… do I see this tweet directed at me in my future?  “Hill says take off crossover pop females from country radio too!  Clearly misogynist Hill should be dragged by his male parts behind a pick up truck!  Bastard!”

Lastly, I claim oddly that radio airplay is the only Enterprise on planet earth where 50% parity won’t happen.

It will and can happen in elected positions, being doctors, lawyers, pilots, sales, management, creating visual arts, writing, home construction you name it.  We have equal opportunity and the possibility of the real outcome that women can occupy 50% or more of the jobs in all of these spaces.

Songs played over country radio will be selected based upon the ear traffic of the listeners. It’s not up to the gatekeepers or creators of the music product itself.  It’s up to the listeners.

Expected Tweet “Hill refuses to force upon the market place what they need.  What the listeners want Be Damned.”  (Expressed in other ways)

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MISOGYNY IN COUNTRY RADIO?

MISOGYNY IN COUNTRY RADIO?

Three years ago I said “tomatoes” and all hell broke loose on planet earth.

Every year on the anniversary of that event the press dusts it off and looks at measurable metrics and proclaims nothing has happened or perhaps things are “oh my God” slightly worse for female country singers.

I have decided to cause more problems.

You see this article is broader in scope regards females in Country.

First I want to address the radio programming side if things.  I feel its well established that contemporary formatted country radio stations break slightly in favor or women in terms of cume audience composition.  (Cume is the unduplicated head count listening to a radio station) Much like when they announce at a major league baseball game that today’s attendance is “48, 375.” That’s the cume of that baseball game.  Country radio’s cume can be 55% to 65% female.

Furthermore there is a “currency” upon which we use to measure the value of radio listening and that is the almighty “average quarter hour.”  For simplicity sake I will describe it as 15 minutes of listening or exposure to a radio station.  The reason why I call it a currency is because it helps create an equivalency for us to value the total listening to radio.  Think of those quarter hours as our “dollars.”

One person who listens one hour gives a station four quarter-hours.  Four other people listen fifteen minutes each and that also yields four quarter-hours to the radio station.

Hence, a station might have 100,000 cume listeners and 578,372 quarter-hours.  It’s that total collection of quarter hours that is the important metric of value.

Most country radio stations generate north of 65% of their quarter hours from women. Sometimes the number of quarter hours generated from women on country radio can go as high as 85%.  So you see why country radio programmers think about programming that women prefer and will listen to for longer periods of time.

My claim (and real world experience) is that women listen to country radio stations longer when the mix of songs broadcast is about fifteen percent female.  When that percentage is higher without conscious thought they simply fatigue faster and automatically respond by listening less.

Now that being said I have to weigh in on something else about country radio and gender. Because country radio depends on appealing to women and generating the maximum number of quarter hours possible from women I’d suggest that we employ more women General Managers, Sales Managers, Program Directors, Promotions Directors and Morning air talent.

Years ago I consulted KXKC in Lafayette, Louisiana.   It was a country station that launched and attacked a heritage country station KMDL.

The program director for KXKC was Renee Revett.  I remember meetings early on where a team was assembled and Renee was the only female.  A bunch of men were discussing promotions for KXKC and Renee stopped the meeting and said, “would you like to have a woman’s point of view on this?”

Renee gently but firmly proceeded to euphemistically beat us with a two by four and wake us up. The filter needed was, “what does more than half our audience think of this?”

While I think managing a radio station is principally a from the neck up proposition I do think that more female managers would be a good thing.  There are decisions that will be made where empathy, understanding and point of view could make a difference.  The greater our real understanding of the majority of the audience (in terms of quarter hour value) the better we can optimize the station.

The same holds true as in the role or Program Director.  That person needs to first hear in their head what the station ought to sound like.  (In radio we call it an “air check”)  Then that program director works on getting the station closer and closer to that ideal air check that they hear in their head. Once again a females perspective and understanding would be a very good thing.

Over time morning shows have been slowly changing from male only shows or male lead shows to some shows that have female leads.  Laurie DeYoung in Baltimore was one of the few female lead morning shows 24 years ago.  Today I am working with a growing number of female lead morning shows.  The great news is they instantly have that “mom filter.” They understand so many things and present important topics with the correct verbiage and nuanced touches that are right for the audience.

I am considered the World’s Biggest Misogynist for metrics that I suggest for female singers in the mix of music on country radio stations.

When it comes to the GM and PD chairs in country radio stations perhaps I’m guilty of Misandry.

Actually my claim is this.  There is no gender bias in my advice regarding music played on the radio.  Instead in this wonderful free enterprise place called America I chase profit and meritocracy.  I play music on radio based upon metrics that yield the highest ratings.  And when it comes to making hires for country radio I say hire the best regardless of gender.  Make sure you have folks on your team who truly understand the target audience!  Since your target is women you might want to lean female in your management and programming team.

I wonder what the “tomato throwers” think of me now?

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CUTTING GOLF BALLS ON A BAND SAW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now those hard drives are very inexpensive.

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

Ask your PD and Chief Engineer to check every song!

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

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

Uh…  More Demand = Higher Rates!

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

Want help with better audio?  Better Music Scheduling?

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

Call someone who can fix it!

Keith Hill 252-453-8888       

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

No Wonder You’re Not Making More Money!

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

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

So, I started smiling and dialing.

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

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

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

#1 Rule Of Being A Radio Manager

COFFEE AND MBWA

 

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

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

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

#2 Rule Of Being A Radio Manager

ANSWER QUESTIONS DAMN IT.

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

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

Make decisions DAMN IT!

#3 Rule Of Being A Radio Manager

NEVER EAT LUNCH AT YOUR DESK.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEVER EAT LUNCH AT YOUR DESK.

#4 Rule Of Being A Manager

RETURN EVERY PHONE CALL MESSAGE

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

First, time for one more round of MBWA!!

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

When it comes to mail use TRAF!

Trash, Route, Action, File.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RETURN EVERY PHONE CALL MESSAGE.

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

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

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

Have fun!  Drink Coffee!

Wander Around!

Make Decisions!

Take People To Lunch Everyday!

Return Every Phone Message!

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

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

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

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

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

Keith Hill 252-453-8888

Many of you are digging a hole this way

When you could be

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