Radio’s Best Feature

96The one constant in life is change.

What makes our world different than the world we grew up in is the rate of change in technology.

Adoption rates for technology over time according to the U.S. Census,  shows us that it took about 45 years for 25% of Americans to adopt electricity, 35 years for 25% of Americans to adopt the wired telephone, about 32 years for 25% of Americans to adopt radio, 25 years for TV, 15 years for personal computers, 12 years for mobile phones, 8 years for the internet and about 5 years for 25% of Americans to adopt smartphones.

Nearly nine in ten Americans today are on the internet and 77% of Americans now own a smartphone according to Pew Research.

K.I.S.S.

Most people who have any sales training at all know all about “KISS.”  Some say it means “Keep It Simple Stupid” and others will tell you it means “Keep it Short & Simple.”

But either way the message is the same, keep things simple.

“You have to work hard to get your thinking clean and make it simple.”

-Steve Jobs

Quite possibly our biggest challenge in the 21st Century is to keep up with the rate of accelerating change.

The More Things Change, the More They Are the Same

I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase uttered more than once in your lifetime. Every generation has thought that the rate of change was beyond their ability to cope.  A couple of centuries ago Henry David Thoreau told his contemporaries to “Simplify, simplify, simplify.”

Technology – especially information technology, the basis of our social networks – is speeding up exponentially. The famous Moore’s Law predicted this for computer chip development.

Exponential growth rate is an evolutionary process.

In his book “The Singularity Is Near” Raymond Kurzweil showed how civilizations advance through building on the ideas and innovations of previous generations, a positive feedback loop of advancement.

Each new generation is able to improve upon the innovations of the past with increasing speed.

Kurzweil wrote in 2001 that every decade our overall rate of progress was doubling, “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st Century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).”

Only 17 years into the 21st Century and it feels like Kurzweil nailed it with his prediction.

It Still Takes 9 Months to Make a Baby

While it’s true so much of our world is uncontrollably speeding up, we are still human beings and we still pretty much move at the same pace biologically as we always have. Technology doesn’t transform our human nature.

Our need for love, touch, companionship and community will always be part of our humanity no matter what technology brings.

Radio Reaches 93% of Adult Americans Every Week

The latest Nielsen Audio research reports “radio leads all other platforms when it comes to weekly reach (93%) among adult consumers – and with new insights available to compare radio to other platforms on a regular basis, it’s clear that radio is an integral part of media consumption for millions of Americans.”

Great radio makes a human connection, engages its community and is a companion.

Radio’s best feature in a world of complex technology is that it’s simple to use.

It’s that simplicity I believe that makes it the #1 media favorite.

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Great Local Radio is Community & Companionship

95

In April 2017, I asked “What can radio do that other media can’t?

And the answers to that question continue to pour in.

Jay Clark’s Answer

Jay Clark shared the story of a 5-station radio cluster in a non-rated market that he consults. The stations’ new Market Manager invited Jay to do a station review and make certain everything was being done the best it could be to serve the market. The two FM stations had market acceptance and well-established air staffs. Unfortunately, most had never been coached, and those few who had been coached, it was years ago. Coaching is like maintaining your car you need to do it on a regular basis.

The music rotations and station imaging were basically stagnant. Two of the three AM stations were still playing music, but brought in zero revenues.

Note that everyone who worked at the stations was included in the discussions about the changes that needed to be made and were excited about contributing to these stations’ new directions.

AM Changes

The two AM radio stations were changed from music to talk, one with religious programming and the other with sports programming. Now both of these stations are seeing the flow of dollars for the first time in years. While no revenue giants, they are growing listeners and dollars.

FM Changes

All air talent received coaching. Music and music rotations were all upgraded. Traffic and a new Sales Manager bought into new inventory control metrics.

While these changes were taking place internally, both the Market Manager and the new Sales Manager were out in the community meeting and listening to current clients, potential clients and market leaders. In less than a year, both of these individuals established themselves as important figures in the community.

Community Involvement

The stations are actively involved in local charity events. They’ve also learned how to marry these events with potential advertisers to demonstrate the power of radio and their stations.

For example, a local automotive dealership they approached about radio advertising said he didn’t believe in the power of radio and that’s why he hadn’t used it in years.

However, his favorite charity was an annual food drive.

The stations ran the next food drive at his dealership and the success of that drive convinced the owner to start a large radio advertising schedule that continues airing.

This same formula was repeated with other charities with the same positive results.

What you give to your communities will come back to you.

Revenue Growth

It takes shoe leather to make sales and grow revenue. The management team at these stations rolled up their sleeves, met with the movers and shakers in their community, listened to them and responded to what they heard, made the cold calls, and created advertising programs that got results.

Sales year to year were up 22% in the last quarter of 2016. Sales in the first quarter of 2017 were up 28% over last year. Expenses were flat.

Radio is a “Contact Sport”

What the management of these stations did is what every radio person knows: hit the streets, get face-to-face with decision makers, bring ideas and make things happen.

Train your sales people and make them more productive.

Do all the right things, consistently, every day to achieve success for your people, your advertisers, your charities and your community.

Be good neighbors who become good friends.

People always do business with people they know and like.

The essential point – Community & Companionship

Jay’s consulting of these stations helped them to reflect the marketplace and its diversity over the five different radio stations. After all, it’s a lot easier to sell in a small or medium market when the business community listens and likes your radio stations. Three of the stations were a franchise in the market place.  All they did needed were updating and revamping to better serve the community’s needs. Because people grew up with these signals they had something that the new players do not, tradition.

Tradition and franchise are radio’s great advantage;

it’s what radio has that other media does not.

Fortunately, management recognized and agreed that you can’t be successful by eliminating the very people who make your local stations “family” to their community.  A local air staff, combined with national programming that is localized by constantly changing pre-produced host intros, outros, and breaks, is critical to serving the marketplace.

Because the local air staff lives in the community, they understand their audience. They are engaged in local sales promotions and charity broadcasts.  They are the face of these radio stations to the listeners in the community.

Jay says, “an essential point that many, in their quest to chop costs, forget.”

More Details

If you’d like more details about all of this, you can give Jay a call on his cell phone at (212) 203-1331 or shoot him an email at: jay@jayclark.biz

We all have mentors and Jay Clark, a Pittsfield, Massachusetts boy like me was one of mine. From Pittsfield to New York City, Jay has done it all and seen it all.

Remember, great local radio is about attention to the details: station management that is focused on their people, sales personnel who are on the street focused on the station’s clients, constant attention to local production and keeping things fresh, national programming that complements the values of the market combined with live and local personalities engaged in their community and being dependable companions.

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Is Your Iceberg Melting?

94This past week was another tough one for the wonderful people who work in radio. Most people who get into radio do it because they’ve caught the “radio bug” and the work becomes their life’s passion. I know that’s how it is for me.

When I caught the “Radio Bug”

From my earliest years, I knew what I wanted my life’s work to be. I built a radio station in my parent’s basement and broadcast to the neighborhood (about a 3-block radius) on both the AM and FM bands using transmitters I bought from Radio Shack.

When I started high school, I earned my 3rd Class Radio/Telephone Operator’s License, Broadcast Endorsed from the Federal Communications Commission in Boston. I wasn’t old enough to work, so I had to get a Massachusetts Work Permit. They didn’t have a category for disc jockey, so they branded me as “talent.” (I never told them I had to take meter readings every half hour in front of a transmitter that put out 1,000-watts of electromagnetic power. If I had, they would never have given me my work permit.)

College Radio

In college, it was radio that paid for my bachelors and masters degrees. I took my college’s carrier current radio station, got an FM broadcast license and was the first general manager.

Radio was in my blood.

RIF’s

After the Telcom Act of 1996, radio began its road down the consolidation path funded by Wall Street. It was during this period of time a new acronym would come into radio’s every day lexicon, RIF’s, or Reduction In Force. In other words, people were being terminated in huge numbers.

This past week, I sadly read about another round of RIF’s taking place among our country’s biggest owners/operators of radio stations. It breaks my heart.

RIF’s from the Manager’s Perspective

We all feel sorry for those that have unexpectedly lost their job. What we often don’t read about is the perspective from the other side of the desk, what the management is going through when these decisions are made at corporate.

I lived through it in 2009 as a Clear Channel Market Manager.

It’s NOT FUN.

With each corporate meeting, I would come home with a flash drive that could not be opened until a specific date/time with who I would have to RIF next.

I RIF’d my entire news and promotions departments.

I RIF’d DJ’s and PD’s.

I RIF’d my national sales manager, my director of sales and local sales managers. With each round of RIF’s I got more hats to wear. The work still needed to be done, it didn’t go away with each round of RIF’s.

I hated my job.

Then my regional manager showed up unannounced and RIF’d me.

His manager showed up after he had RIF’d all of his designated market managers and RIF’d him.

The company president RIF’d the senior regional managers.

Then the CEO RIF’d the president.

It was not a happy time, but believe it or not, being RIF’d to me was better than being one of those that found themselves with more and more hats to wear, with more and more responsibility, without a penny more in pay.

There were many folks who told me to find another line of work, but they didn’t know that broadcasting was the only thing I ever wanted to do.

Except for one other thing, teaching and mentoring the next generation.

My education was in teaching. Both my bachelors and masters degrees were in teaching.  My best teachers were those who worked in the field first and then came into the classroom to teach.

Paying It Forward

My long term goal was always to one day teach at a college or university the very things I had done all of my professional life.

My big opportunity presented itself at Western Kentucky University’s School of Journalism & Broadcasting in 2010.

When I was RIF’d by my regional manager, I had met or exceeded every goal I had been given and was paid bonuses for my accomplishments. I was even named one of radio’s Best Managers by RADIO INK magazine. The issue of the magazine with me in it came out almost the day after I was RIF’d. Funny how life is: good things happening at the same moment as bad.

One Door Closed, Another Door Opened

When my last management job came to an abrupt end with Clear Channel, my broadcast professorship door opened at WKU.

Let me tell you, going from being a radio market manager to broadcast professor is a steep learning curve. But with the help of Charles H. Warner at NYU, John Parikhal of Joint Communications and others, I successfully made the transition and became successful at teaching. In fact, my new broadcasting educational work branch opened my eyes to all kinds of new and exciting learning opportunities.

I started this BLOG and a column for RADIO WORLD magazine during this time.

Those have lead to numerous invitations to appear on podcasts, Vlogs, articles, and broadcast interviews with others sharing stories of my work and experiences.

I’ve done research on the radio industry and their employment needs in the 21st Century. I’ve presented panels every year at the national conference in Las Vegas as well as been an invited broadcast expert on many panels at both BEA and NAB.

I’ve presented seminars at state broadcast associations and done training sessions for broadcast companies.

In short, I’ve been more active in broadcasting on so many levels than I ever was as a radio manager.  And I’ve loved every minute of it.

But I’m not going to candy coat what’s happening, not only in radio but in all ad supported media. It’s a revolution.  Not an evolution.

In revolutions the first thing that happens is destruction of the old. We’re still living through that period right now and it’s not fun. I get it.

Our Iceberg Is Melting

Back in 2008, many people picked up a copy of Ken Blanchard’s book “Who Moved My Cheese?”  I know I did. It’s a great read.

But maybe the book everyone in broadcasting should be reading today is “Our Iceberg Is Melting” by John Kotter. Kotter is an award winning author from the Harvard Business School.

Like Blanchard and Johnson’s Cheese book, Kotter writes a simple fable about doing well in an ever-changing world.

The fable is about penguins in Antarctica that discover a potentially devastating problem to their home – an iceberg – and it’s melting away.

It’s a story that will resonate with anyone in broadcasting today.

Read about how the penguins handle their challenge a great deal better than many broadcasters are doing today. Kotter’s book walks you through the eight steps needed to produce positive change in any group.  You will not only enjoy the read, but will be guided with valuable insights to deal with our 21st Century world that is moving faster and faster every day.

The Big Take Away

When corporate, middle management and all employees are on the same page with regards to change, it is amazing what can happen, despite adverse conditions.

These are lessons for people who already are in broadcasting, for broadcast students, enlightened colleges are already teaching the concepts, skills and providing the tools that will be needed going forward. My students know that the future is not bleak. They understand the history of broadcasting that brought us to where things are today and they are as pumped as you and I were when we were their age to craft the future of broadcasting in the new century.

I’m excited.

They’re excited.

The best is yet to be.

 

 

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What Are They Thinking (about Radio)?

93My Capstone Class students read several books on management during the semester. Some are on personal management, self-improvement type books if you will, because how can you manage others until you can first manage yourself.

One of the books we read is Barry Drake’s “40 Years and 40,000 Sales Calls – Thoughts on Radio and Advertising based on a Lifetime of Customer Contact.” I highly recommend this book as a MUST READ for anyone considering a career in broadcasting or is currently working in broadcasting or is curious about what such a career is like.

When we finished the book and our discussion of the book, we did a Skype session with the author, Barry Drake.

AMAZON Synopsis

Just in case you aren’t familiar with Barry’s book, I will share with you the Amazon synopsis:

“Barry Drake retraces the steps of his forty year broadcasting career to delight readers by telling stories and bringing to light things that have changed and so many things that have not.
Growing up in a media household, Drake saw the birth of television and the impact of local radio personalities. He picked up knowledge of business working in fast food and retail.
In radio, Drake began in the day of AM domination and participated in the rise of FM. Later he went on to head companies in radio and television.
40 Years 40,000 Sales Calls is loaded with Drake’s opinions on the current state of the media, radio in particular and what advertisers want. What makes this book unique is that the opinions all come from direct contact with advertisers. There is no B-school philosophy. Just real world knowledge obtained over forty years of real world work.

One hundred percent of the net proceeds from the book’s sales go to the Broadcasters Foundation of America to assist broadcasters who are in acute need. The Foundation does not endorse or subscribe to the views expressed in the book.”

So What Questions Float in Student Minds After Reading this Book?

You might be amazed as what goes through my student’s brains.  Let me share with you some of their questions:

  • How do the RAB (Radio Advertising Bureau) sales modules for the RMP exam compare to his own personal selling strategy?
  • Where does he think he’d be if he didn’t grow up in a radio heavy household (both Barry’s dad & mom worked in radio)
  • Barry said he fell in love with radio when he saw “the magical relationship between the radio station, the radio performer and the listener.” Now that we’ve entered the age of digital and voice tracking, is that relationship still magical in your opinion?
  • When you are selling to a customer what is the most important step in building a relationship with your customers?
  • How do you think broadcasting and broadcast sales will change in the next 10-20 years? Where do you think the radio industry is going?
  • Do you have any regrets in choosing a broadcasting career?
  • Do you see local radio becoming more popular than syndicated radio?
  • Did you ever want to switch careers?
  • What defines a leader?

I think you can see from just a sample of the questions my students had, we covered a lot of ground in that class session with Barry.

Barry Drake’s Wisdom

Barry says the biggest issue going forward will be competition for people’s time. Time will be at a premium in a world with unlimited media choices.

To be successful you will need faith. Faith in yourself, in your career and that everything will work out just fine if you dedicate yourself to your work with everything you’ve got.

You become what you think about, so focus your thinking on where you want to go.

Radio is “show” plus “business.” The business needs new ideas and innovation and that will soon be in the hands of graduating students.

Building Relationships

Barry said there are three things to building advertising relationships with radio station clients:

  1. Show that you care
  2. Bring lots of ideas
  3. Respect the value of people’s time

Leadership

A leader is anyone other people will follow.

A leader must have integrity.

A leader must do what’s right and what’s best for the enterprise, even though they realize not everyone will be happy with some of the decisions that have to be made.

A leader must earn their people’s respect every minute of every day.

Be aware of everything going on all around all of the time. Read all the trades, read the latest news about business and anything else that will impact your business and that of your radio station’s advertisers.

3 Things You Need to Be Successful

  1. Role Models are critical (Pick one for yourself, someone you can emulate)
  2. Find a Mentor (Have at least one. More is better.)
  3. You’ve got to have a horse to ride (In other words, you have to have an opportunity to apply your skills. Join a company you believe in, that has people you like working with and a mission you are ready to commit to.)

And in case you were wondering about that one student’s question about whether Barry ever thought about switching careers, the answer was:

“NO! Never once.

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The Radio on Main Street Podcast Featuring WKU Professor, Dick Taylor

1In this Radio on Main Street podcast, RAB’s President & CEO Erica Farber, speaks with Dick Taylor, Broadcasting Professor at Western Kentucky University School of Journalism & Broadcasting.  Dick is a passionate educator and speaks about the need to make new generations aware of career opportunities in radio advertising sales and management.

Dick says stations, broadcast associations and educators need to be more proactive – even suggesting introductory radio sales training programs  as early as high school.

Listen to the podcast here.

 

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DO YOU NEED TRAINED SALES PEOPLE?

1You know the answer is “YES,” but U.S. institutions of higher education don’t.
Read more in my column in the April 26, 2017 RADIO WORLD here.
 

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How to Win in the Game of Life

Me in Las Vegas April 2014Wisdom is wonderful thing. Unfortunately, most of us don’t acquire wisdom until we’ve put a few years on the calendar. Let me share some of the wisdom I’ve acquired, much of it from the school of hard knocks. I think I’ve earned my Ph.D. at that school.

Don’t Confuse Education with Intelligence

A colleague of mine, Kelley Coppinger a professional-in-residence in our university’s AD/PR department said that. I knew it was golden as soon as she uttered those words.

Two Kinds of Intelligence

There are two kinds of intelligence: how smart you are or IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and how emotionally tuned in you are to people or EQ (Emotional Intelligence).

Most colleges focus all of their energies on IQ but more forward institutions of higher education are recognizing the latter, for it is the one that matters most in the game of life.

Have a Plan

Everything is won or lost in the preparation stage. What’s your plan? You have to have one. You have to believe in it. You have to write it down and you have to follow it religiously.

Without a plan, you’re like a person driving a car without a destination. Any road will take you there.

If you don’t have a plan, then others will plan your life for you.

The Fundamentals

As a hiring manager, I hired for attitude and then looked to be sure the person was also trainable.

You have to acquire the basic skills and knowledge of your trade in order to effectively and efficiently complete the tasks that will lead to successful fulfillment of your plan.

It’s easier to win at the game of life when you already know what you need to do.

Goals

Zig Ziglar always used to say “You’ve got to have goals.” Goals keep you focused.

Focus on the now. Focus on the moment you’re living in, don’t worry about the past or the future. Worry about present moment.

Write your goals down and put them where you will constantly see them. They are your action steps, with target dates of completion.

“A goal is a dream with a deadline” wrote Napoleon Hill in his book “Laws of Success.”

Attitude

Everything starts with having the proper attitude. Attitude is a choice. Choose wisely.

Life is not a straight line. Everyone’s path is guaranteed to be filled with twists, turns and pot holes.

Life is a game of adjustments.

When something unexpected occurs, make adjustments to stay on goal.

Success in life is not about what happens to you, but how you deal with what happens to you.

Show Others Why They Should Care

When you engage the people around you, when you involve them in the goal, they change. When the people around you change, they change the people around them. Roadblocks get torn down, problems get solved, good things happen.

I have a picture in my office at the university that I’ve hung in every office of every media organization I’ve managed. The picture has the caption that says if you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.

Winning is a Goal

Soldiers on the battlefield fight to win. Players on a sports team play to win. Programmers of radio stations play to win. Sales people play to win.

Make it your goal to win in everything you decide to do.

Win Together

Winning is a team sport. Make sure everyone is committed to each other’s success if you’re in management. Make sure everyone is focused on the same goals by having them written down.

Make sure you have buy-in on the goals.

Clearly define the goals, confirm everyone is in agreement and on the same page. Then have everyone commit.

Celebrate Your Success

As you travel toward each of your goals, be sure to celebrate every success along the way. Don’t be afraid to take chances. Make your journey joyful. Make others joyful too. Share the love.

Be dependable. Be consistent. Don’t get distracted. Stay on your plan. Have FUN.

Be Coachable

Even the best in any profession know that having a coach is important. Encourage feedback on your work from those you look up to. Recruit a mentor or two or three to be part of your personal improvement team. Offer to mentor others. We learn so much when we help another person in the game of life.

It’s Often Who You Know

I don’t care what line of work you’re in, life is a relationship business. Successful people quickly learn the importance of building relationships and support networks.

The best time to build a new relationship is when there is nothing more on the table than making a new friend, learning about another person’s goals and life experiences, and enjoying the present moment of their company.

Life is Reciprocal

If you do your very best at everything you tackle and if you care about other people, life will return to you all of the same.

The Bible says as you sow, so shall you reap.

Newton’s 3rd Law says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

And Zig Ziglar says:

“You can get anything in life you want,

if you just help enough other people get what they want.”

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