What’s Changed in 98 Years?

Global Ad Spending Graph 2018 & BeyondIn the year 2020, commercial radio will celebrate its 100th birthday. Hopefully, by then, America’s two largest broadcasters will be out of bankruptcy. But before we light the candles and begin the celebration we need to face reality. Global ad spending, according to Zenith (see graph) will see newspapers, magazines, radio, cinema and outdoor all fighting to be the tallest ad-supported midget. TV will be marginally growing, but the internet will be the big winner; raking in more advertising revenue than, print, radio, cinema and outdoor combined. That’s sobering news.

It’s a Digital Future

Last week, I shared with you a “Readers Digest” version of a webinar I attended hosted by Kepios’ Simon Kemp. If you missed it, you can read it HERE

The essence of where things are headed will be influenced by the “next billion” people coming online. The “FLAAG” companies, Facebook-LinkedIn-Amazon-Apple-Google, are already in the process of having all of their interfaces, working on all devices, in the same way on a global basis. With a million new users a day joining the internet, mostly from underdeveloped countries, everything will be designed for the lowest common denominator.

Radio, Then vs. Now

Bob Shannon’s book “Turn It Up! – American Radio Tales 1946-1996” is a fascinating read. The legends of the radio industry share their own personal radio adventure as well as give their view on how radio is today. (Note: “today” being the mid-nineties when the book was being written.)

Chuck Dunaway said, “The formats haven’t changed in all these years – it’s just the music that changes.” “I still hear the stop sets falling in the same places and we’re still playing and programming to Arbitron (now Nielsen Audio), and not to the listener.”

Bill Figenshu noted that “when Wall Street started to pay attention to radio, it became more of a financial play and the corporations were turned over to the financial folks, who didn’t understand the value of local content.” “As a consequence, many radio stations, particularly those owned by large groups, sought to cut costs and localism, and being part of a community became a luxury; it didn’t happen everywhere, but it happened in lots of town and cities.” “It hasn’t been a good thing for radio or its listeners.”

That pretty much sums it up. Even after another decade since the book was written.

Radio hasn’t really changed but the world it operates in, has.

Time Spent with Ad-Supported Media

On Tom Taylor’s NOW, Jerry Lee is sharing his new book called “How to Grow Your Revenue More Than 20% by 2020.” In a recent headline, Jerry wrote:

“In Radio, we have two major problems. First, we are running far too many commercials for today’s audiences. Second, the commercials are awful. Our listeners can’t skip through the commercials. If they want to listen to their favorite station, they have to endure the seemingly endless commercial break or switch to another station that isn’t playing commercials at that moment.”

Sadly, the reality may be worse.

Time Spent with Media GRAPH

PQ Media released a graph showing the time spent with media that is ad-supported is going down while the time spent with consumer supported media is going up. This is even more worrisome when you realize that total time spent with media has been steadily increasing every year since 2011 and is projected to continue increasing through 2021.

Joe Mandese says that “advertising is falling to the lowest share of time spent with media ever.”

The Speed of Adoption of New Technology

technology-adoption-rates GRAPH

This graph shows how our world of technology adoption has picked up speed with each new innovation. But maybe even more important are the words Marshall McLuhan said about “the medium is the message.” McLuhan meant “that the form of a medium embeds itself in any message it would transmit or covey, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.” McLuhan was prophetic in realizing how the very medium itself can impact society, by not only the content it delivers but also by the characteristics of the medium itself.

You probably can come up with lots of examples yourself that demonstrate this observation by just comparing how newspapers, radio, TV, Facebook and Twitter, delivering the same content, influence how it’s received.

Radio’s Future

The radio I grew up in was not what’s commonly referred to as “The Golden Age of Radio.” That was the period of time before TV. I grew up in radio’s “2nd Golden Age,” one of a music based, youth-oriented radio. Radio that appealed to my emotions.

Radio that’s winning today, like Public Radio/NPR and Christian Radio, are touching people emotionally and appealing to things their listeners are passionate about.

Ignore people’s passion and emotion, and your radio station will die on the growing pile of media clutter.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

Who Controls the Future of Digital?

digital futureI recently participated in a Hootsuite webinar by Simon Kemp on “The Future Forces of Digital, 2018 & Beyond.” It’s eye-opening and rather intuitive in its conclusions for where the internet of things is headed. Let me share with you what I learned.

The State of World Digital 2018

First, a dose of current reality:

  • World Population: 7.593 Billion
  • Population connected to the internet: 4.021 Billion (53%)
  • Active on social media: 3.196 Billion (42%)
  • Unique mobile users: 5.135 Billion (68%)
  • Active mobile social media users: 2.958 Billion (39%)

Right off the bat, seeing that 68% of the world’s population are now mobile users, most likely on a smartphone, was a wake-up call. And while social media is now ten years old, the world is still joining the conversation on social media at a rate of a million new users every day.

USA Digital 2018

Now that you have an idea of what’s going on globally, here’s what Simon told us about the current state of digital in America:

  • USA population: 325.6 million
  • USA population connected to the internet: 286.9 million (88%)
  • USA population active on social media: 230.0 million (71%)
  • USA population that are unique mobile users: 234.8 million (72%)
  • USA population that are active mobile social media users: 200.0 (61%)

We are past the tipping point for both mobile use and internet connectivity in America. In fact, 69% of Americans have now shopped online.

The researchers are forecasting content that inspires and educates will be more valued by this growing digital audience going forward, versus content that informs and entertains.

What Do We Do?

The big question we need to be asking ourselves in media is, what can we do that will make our target audience so excited about it that they would be willing to pay for it?

NPR/Public Radio and Christian Radio have figured this out and it’s why we have seen both formats doing so well in both audience ratings as well as listener support.

Every radio station should be asking this question, when planning any activity.

How Do We Know What Our Audience Wants?

Mayor Ed Koch knew how to find out what his constituents wanted. He asked them. Repeatedly.

Everywhere 3-term NYC Mayor Koch went, he asked “How am I doing?”

To get the answer to this question for your media property, ask your listeners. Your goal is to find out what your target audience wants, needs and desires in order to learn what will inspire them, educate them and make their lives better.Maslow's Needs Pyramid

Think Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” pyramid.

Tap into Your Influencers

Radio’s top influencers are their P1 listeners. To really understand your target audience, your P1 listeners are the ones you need to intimately know and take care of. Station logo’d stuff ought to be freely flowing to these important people, but it doesn’t stop there.

Your P1s are the people who understand what your target audience really cares about, and why. Think of them as consultants to your brand.

Lowest Common Denominator

In the next two to five years we can expect technology to accommodate the next billion users of digital media. People in the developing world, are the ones that will be shaping the internet.

They will impact ALL internet and mobile users.

Again, Simon gave these examples of that next billion users impact:

  • Literacy: lower levels of literacy will require different interfaces
  • Language: a greater variety of language needs will inspire new content formats
  • Technology: varying devices & connections will impact content format
  • Motivations: new wants, needs, and desires will inspire new products & services.

Most of today’s internet content is texted based but as populations of lower literacy levels sign-on, that will change this. Voice commands, image search and video content will become more dominant in the future.

Economies of Scale

Technology companies are already working to have all devices and interfaces operate the same way on a global basis. Everything will be designed to cater to the lowest common denominator because it makes fiscal sense. It’s already happening on Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

When Mr. Kemper walked his audience through this part of his presentation, I immediately thought of having Apple put FM receivers into their iPhones.

FM, HD Radio, DAB, DAB+ etc. are different standards for broadcasting OTA radio signals and do not meet the test of a global standard.

The Next Internet Revolution is Coming

Look for the next billion to drive the next internet revolution in the areas of:

  • Search: SEO will look very different for voice-centric search
  • Social: People’s social media interactions will be more video than text
  • Shopping: E-commerce orders will depend on spoken word
  • Addressing: URLs & Hyperlinks will move from text to image

Convergence

Something I researched back when I was an undergrad, convergence, is coming to fruition in my lifetime. Every form of media will be delivered over the same pathway and received on the same type of device plus it will be on-demand and on our schedule, not the creator’s schedule.

 

15 Comments

Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

Sales Motivators

Salesmanship begins when

Salesmanship begins when the customer says “NO”

This week, I thought it might be fun to share some of the sales motivators I’ve used over the years. I hope you enjoy them and find some inspiration from reading them.

 

  • Eighty percent of success in life is showing up. -Woody Allen
  • Fail your way to success…
    • Deal with rejection: You’re not judged by the number of times you fail, but by the number of times you succeed. However, the number of times you succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times you can fail and keep on trying!
  • SW, SW, SW. Next!
    • Some people get hung up on rejection, while others are fueled by it. Some Will, Some Won’t, So What? Now move on!
  • Life is made up of small pleasures. Happiness is made up of those tiny successes, the big ones come too infrequently. If you don’t have all of those zillions of tiny successes, the big ones don’t mean anything. -Norman Lear
  • Babe Ruth hit 714 Home Runs. He also struck out 1,330 times.
  • What Is Hustle?
    • Hustle is doing something that everyone is absolutely certain can’t be done
    • Hustle is getting the order because you got their first, or stayed with it after everyone else gave up
    • Hustle is shoe leather and elbow grease and sweat and missing lunch
    • Hustle is getting prospects to say “yes” after they’ve said “no” twenty times
    • Hustle is doing more unto a customer than the other guy is doing unto him
    • Hustle is believing in yourself and the business you’re in
    • Hustle is the sheer joy of winning
    • Hustle is being the sorest loser in town
    • Hustle is hating to take a vacation because you might miss a piece of the action
    • Hustle is heaven if you’re a hustler
    • Hustle is hell if you’re not
  • Listen More and Sell More
    • As a salesperson, you probably spend as much as half your time listening. But scientific tests show that most people listen at an efficiency level of only about 25%. Here are five guidelines for effective listening that should help you get more out of what your customer is saying:
      1. Find areas of interest, even in dry subjects. Listen to every subject for useful information.
      2. Listen for ideas, not just facts.
      3. Hold your fire. Don’t judge what a person has said until you completely understand it.
      4. Fight distractions. Concentrate. Learn to tolerate a speaker’s bad habits.
      5. Listen to difficult, heavy material as an exercise for your mind.
  • Don’t Quit

Is that what you want to do?

Quit?

Anybody can do that.

Takes no talent.

Takes no guts.

It’s exactly what your adversaries hope you will do.

Get your facts straight.

Know what you’re talking about.

And keep going.

In the 1948 Presidential election, the nation’s leading political reporters all predicted that Harry Truman would lose.

He won.

Winston Churchill said, “Never give in. Never. Never.”

Sir Winston stuck his chin out and wouldn’t quit.

Try sticking out your chin.

Don’t give up.

Ever.

  • NOTICE: If you ever want to sell your product to our company, be sure your product is accompanied by a plan, which will so help our business that we will be more anxious to buy than you are to sell. -D.W.Beverage, Jr. and Associates

 

Just some of the thoughts that inspired me when I started out in radio sales.

Thoughts that I also shared as I moved up to sales manager, station manager, general manager and market manager.

Thoughts I would share with my students in my broadcast sales classes too.

Got a quote or story that has inspired you?

Please share it in the comments section.

Thank You for helping me to pay-it-forward to the next generation.

Aspire to Greatness

3 Comments

Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

The Past is Not Prologue

200px-Duck-Rabbit_illusion

Thomas Kuhn used the duck-rabbit optical illusion, to demonstrate the way in which a paradigm shift could cause one to see the same information in an entirely different way.

One of my favorite weekly reads is Tim Moore’s “The Midweek Motivator.” You can sign-up for Tim’s weekly wisdom here.

This past week, Tim wrote about how people inside radio stations are asking him, “is radio failing?”

Now Tim’s a student of history, and he responded with “If you care about history (because the past is prologue) here’s the simple truth: some large groups are faced with debt loads that will either force bankruptcy or massive reorganization.”

Tim’s analysis about how America’s two largest broadcasters dug huge debt holes that can’t be re-filled by current operating revenues is spot-on. With radio, like a lot of businesses, it’s a matter of buying it right from the get-go. Start out upside down and most likely you won’t have a good day.

A system that is over-reliant on prediction through leverage, hence fragile to unforeseen “black swan” events, will eventually break into pieces.

-Nassim Taleb

Technology

Crystal balls are hard to come by but my tea leaves are leading me to believe that mass mediated communication is confronting more than just debt loads. What we are also dealing with is “paradigm paralysis.”

Radio’s leaders are holding onto a set of beliefs and views that radio is invincible.

Thomas Kuhn coined the term “paradigm shift” in his influential book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” in 1962. The business world adopted this terminology of “paradigm shift” to describe a profound change in a fundamental model.

Paradigm paralysis, on the other hand, is the inability or refusal to see beyond the current models of thinking.

Let Me Share a Story

John C. Harrison told this story at the First World Congress on Fluency Disorders held in Munich, Germany in 1994. See if you see a parallel to radio and the advent of satellites, streaming, podcasts, and smart speakers.

In the late 1940s a man walked into a laboratory of a major photographic

manufacturer in America to demonstrate a new photographic process.  But

he didn’t bring along a camera or film.  He brought along a red box with a

shiny steel plate, a charging device, a light bulb and a container of black

powder.  The picture he created was faint but discernible.

 

“But where’s the film?” they asked.  “Where’s the developer?  Where’s the

darkroom?  Why, that’s not really photography!”  And so, the company

passed up an opportunity to acquire the process for electrostatic

photography, or xerography…a process that has grown into a multi-billion

dollar industry.

 

Why did they pass up such a great opportunity?  Because the people who

saw the process were suffering from PARADIGM PARALYSIS.

 

Call Me an Outsider

Joel Barker wrote a book called “Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future.” Joel says that anyone who develops a new paradigm is often labeled an “outsider.”

Truthfully, when you’re running a cluster of radio stations, you don’t have time to think let alone take a step back and look at things with a fresh eye. I know. I’ve been there.

What teaching and now blogging have given me the opportunity to do is listen to everyone talk about the prevailing paradigm of radio broadcasting, in all of its subtleties and contrast it, to what I’m witnessing taking place before my eyes and ears by the end users of mass media.

And what I sense may be happening, is the radio industry being on the verge of a “black swan event.”

Black Swan Events

Credit card companies, who amass tons of data on their customers, still managed to miss the huge financial crises in housing back in 2007-2009.

When a tidal wave struck Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, the predictive model used to calculate how high the protective wall should be built, provided for a 20-foot wave. Yet, the wave that struck the plant was 24-feet high.

AIG, an insurance company in the business of predicting risk, missed seeing the financial collapse that bankrupted them.

Digital Advertising

Now Facebook is dealing with a black swan event over their data breach by Cambridge Analytica. Only this black swan could have major implications for how digital advertising is bought and sold in the future. The UK and Europe will put in place in May 2018 the “General Data Protection Regulation,” that will protect their citizens’ personal data or offending companies will suffer stiff penalties and fines.

So, what the Facebook story is doing, is making its two plus billion users aware of such massive collection and abuse of our data, but the fallout from this breach of trust will impact the ad supported business model of everyone in the digital advertising world.

30% of American Homes Don’t Have a Radio

Edison Research and Triton Digital’s annual “Infinite Dial” research just produced this astounding statistic. Close to a third of America’s homes no longer have a radio set in them.

Many people see smart speakers as the way back into the home for radio. But are they really?

Cable TV & Over-The-Air (OTA) TV

In the beginning, cable television was called “Community Antenna Television.” The concept was simple, TV stations were primarily located in big cities and the suburbs couldn’t receive those TV signals. So, antennas were placed high on mountains and cables would carry the signals received to homes in the valley.

TV operators loved this back then. It was like getting a power increase for no money.

Ah, but remember, there’s no such thing as a “free lunch.”

As the cable industry grew, channels such as ESPN and CNN and The Weather Channel were born and would compete with OTA TV.

Then along came streaming video.

Netflix

At the end of March 2017, one year ago, Netflix surpassed cable TV with its number of subscribers. And if you were to add up all the other streaming video services available to today’s television consumer, the lead over cable wouldn’t be a couple million viewers, but tens of millions.

What happens when a household begins subscribing to these advertising free channels? They find it almost impossible to return to ad supported ones.

Smart Speakers

Now we circle back to the smart speakers, Amazon’s, Google’s, Apple’s and Microsoft’s for starters. Instead of a handful of audio choices, the smart speaker delivers an almost infinite choice, and many, advertising-free.

When you put a prime rib steak next to hamburger and they are both the same price, which do you think most folks will choose?

The smart speaker lets you customize your favorites, much like the pre-sets on your car radio does. I’m willing to bet that the average consumer will end up with about 3 to 5 favorite audio streams they spend the bulk of their listening time with.

In fact, Nielsen’s Total Audience Report released in the second quarter of 2017 said that 87% of OTA radio listeners spent their listening time tuned to one of their three favorite radio stations. And 58% of that time was spent listening to just one station, what Nielsen calls their 1st Preference or P1 station.

Why would we expect this number to grow with the advent of smart speakers?

Goldstein’s Words

I think Steve Goldstein summed it up best in his recent blog when he wrote, “Commercial radio should put down the hammer and stop searching for nails. As they think beyond the stream, they will see how people are using audio media these days and create on-demand solutions in-sync with the vast opportunity of the exploding Smart Speaker universe. On Smart Speakers, the listeners are asking for it.”

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

Voice Command

Voice CommandIt’s only been about two months and Alexa has changed the way I interface with my devices.

I’ve had Siri since I switched from a Blackberry to an iPhone4S. (The S stood for Siri.)

The new smartphone was such an improvement over my Blackberry Pearl that I never used Siri much in the beginning, later, I would use her to type my text messages, but that was about it.

Enter Alexa…

All that changed this past Christmas when my fiancé, Sue, put an Amazon Echo Dot into my Christmas stocking. It took about two weeks before I finally got around to plugging the Dot into electrical power, downloaded the Amazon Echo app to my iPhone7 and connected the Dot to our house Wi-Fi.

Now Sue has never been thrilled by all the remote controls to operate our TVs, radios and audio systems. And truthfully, I wish it could be simpler too.

Alexa teaches us both new tricks, by simply talking to her artificial intelligence voice. And we both love it!

Hey Siri…

Once adapted to Alexa, I began to use Siri to do more things on my iPhone7 and AppleTV.

We cut the cord last year but to satisfy my news diet, I put in Sling TV with the news package. The rest of our TV watching is filled up with Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube. New movies that we missed at the local theaters or never played in our area are viewed using iTunes.

Finding something to watch used to be rather tedious, but now, I just say “Hey Siri…”and she goes off and finds it, offers me the viewing options available to me (I always opt for the FREE route) and the program begins immediately.

GARMIN

Something that has long been on my bucket list has been driving across America from coast-to-coast and seeing those things I’ve only seen by flying over them. Places like Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon etc. Lucky for me, that’s been on Sue’s bucket list too.

We put up a big map of the United States in our kitchen and have lined out the route we plan to take with bright yellow dots marking our planned stops along the way.

In preparation for this 8,000-mile, eight-week trip, I bought the latest GARMIN SmartDrive 61 GPS. It comes with the ability to do “Voice Commands” for plotting your next destination, finding hotels, restaurants and points of interest.

Thanks to Alexa and Siri, I quickly embraced this feature.

But it doesn’t stop there, my new GPS also links to my smartphone and displays news bulletins, real-time traffic, weather conditions, my complete contact phone book, helps me to find parking and then remembers where I parked when I want to return to my car. And it makes it all easily accessible by just using my voice.

But You’re a Radio Guy

Whenever I write something about new technology, what I hear back are things like, “You’re a radio guy” or “you love technology.” The meaning being, I’m not like your average consumer. But, I believe that just as Amazon has changed the way we shop for just about everything, Alexa will bring about a similar change in the way we interface with our devices.

Carnegie’s Constant Reminder

One of the many radio publications I would read daily was Jim & Cathy Carnegie’s Radio Business Reports (RBR). If there was one thing I remember most about that publication under Jim’s reign, it was about dealing with change. Jim constantly banged the drum warning the radio industry “to get with it or be left behind by it.”

He reflected change by taking his own publication and changing the way it would be delivered and cover the broadcasting industry. He led by example.

Seniors & VADs

I know the young person’s perception are that senior citizens (anyone with an AARP card) is stuck in their ways and not likely to adopt anything new. Well, I’m here to tell you, you would be wrong. Especially, when it comes to voice activated devices (VADs).

I fully anticipate that seniors, aka Boomers, will lead the adoption of these devices. One of the reasons being they enable us to eliminate the multitude of buttons and collection of remote controls by simply using our voices.

What I Learned About Seniors from a Pharmacist’s Son

Back when I was put in charge of a thousand-watt, daytime, Music of Your Life radio station, I remember going out and meeting with clients to build up my new radio station’s client base.

One day, I walked into a pharmacy thinking that my “old folks format” would be perfect for people needing medication. Well, I never got the pharmacy on-the-air for drug announcements.

Upstairs above the pharmacy, the youngest member of the family had started an electronics division, selling the latest computers, phones, and other gadgets. He told me he’d love to be a big advertiser on my radio station catering to the over 65 age group.

Why?

Because, he told me, unlike young people who when something new came out, would look at it and say, “I’m going to wait until they come out with the new and improved version,” seniors would buy it on the spot.

What he learned was, seniors felt they could afford to have the latest technology now, and if something better came out, they’d trade up to that next. And this was almost 40-years ago!

Now, with my AARP card occupying a place in my wallet for more than decade, I can tell you, that’s exactly how I feel.

Get on board the change train

OR

Get left behind

14 Comments

Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

“Corporate FM”

corporate fmKansas City Filmmaker Kevin McKinney originally released his movie “Corporate FM” in 2012, but unless you lived near a community that was screening the film or attended a film festival where it was being shown, you probably never saw it. Or even heard of it.

Amazon Prime

After re-editing the film in 2015 to reflect updates and changes in commercial radio since 2012, McKinney decided it was time to let more people access the information he covered in the film and just released it on Amazon Prime. (Here’s the LINK ) “Corporate FM” explores the consolidation of radio after the Telcom Act of 1996 and how big corporations with the help of Wall Street and private equity firms swallowed up the radio industry in America.

February 1996

I remember the day that President Bill Clinton signed the Telcom Act of 1996 into law. Clinton signs Telcom Act of 1996It was supposed to provide competition between the phone companies and the cable companies with the goal to increase services and reduce prices to the consumer.

Inserted into the bill at the 11th hour were two paragraphs that would change the radio industry forever.

In the film, Robert McChesney, Professor of Communication Studies, University of Illinois points out that commercial media lobbyists, without a single public hearing or any public debate, would insert these paragraphs and open up the consolidation floodgates for radio/TV. Politicians would later say they didn’t know what they were voting for. Even President Clinton would say that he didn’t know that those two paragraphs had been added before he signed the bill into law.

Cumulus and Clear Channel

As the McKinney film told the story of the rise of Cumulus and Clear Channel, it reminded me of my time with both of those companies.

In Waterloo, Iowa I was running the #1, #2 and #3 radio stations. When Cumulus took them over, John Dickey showed up at the stations and proceeded to tell all of us gathered in the station’s conference room what our new logos would look like, what our new jingle packages would sound like, who our new station voice guys would be, how our playlist would be compiled, who are new consultants were etc. To say we were all stunned would be an understatement.

Then later when I was working for Clear Channel (after the Bain/Lee takeover, but before it became iHeartMedia) in Sussex, New Jersey, we received a survey from corporate asking us how local decisions were made about branding, marketing, promotions, music and the like. I assume a similar survey was sent to every market cluster inside Clear Channel.

When the results were tabulated at HQ, we then received directives that no longer would those types of decisions be made on the local level. Local radio had changed.

Local Bands

Growing up, local radio was a way for local bands to get exposure and grow their audience. “Corporate FM” tells the story of how Jewel became a national artist being discovered by local radio and played on-the-air in San Diego.

In fact, it was seeing a drop in attendance at live shows that got McKinney to wondering what was happening, and giving birth to his movie about the consolidation/corporatization of the radio industry.

I know a local band here in Winchester, Virginia “Sons of Liberty.” They play all over the Shenandoah Valley and beyond. They have a CD that Rob McKenzie of Fireworks Magazine spoke glowingly about. Where you won’t hear the “Sons of Liberty” music is on the radio.

Oh, they’ve been heard on an FM radio station (98 Rock) out of Harrisonburg, Virginia on their Sunday night “Wet Paint” show that starts at 11pm. But as “Corporate FM” points out it takes repetition to have an audience become familiar with anything, and for someone to decide they like it, or don’t. Radio used to provide that type of exposure and then monitor audience reaction to see if the record was a hit or a miss. (Remember features like “Champ & Challenger?”)

Sneak Preview

ABC Radio Networks used to air a feature hosted by WABC’s Chuck Leonard called “Sneak Preview.” The network would call affiliates of the ABC Contemporary Radio Network to get their hottest new song and then play it to a nationwide audience. I remember being at WBEC in Pittsfield, Massachusetts when we told Chuck that our hottest new song was “Tracy by The Cufflinks.” He told us he had a terrible time trying to find a copy of the song in New York City.  But Chuck Leonard did find it and it played over the ABC network to a national audience. That was how radio made the hits.

Fifty to Six

“Corporate FM” tells how in the 80s ninety percent of mass media in America was owned and controlled by about fifty different companies, but after the Telcom Act of 1996 it was down to just six corporations.

“Most radio studios are completely empty after 7pm and for the entire weekend.

They set the phone lines to “busy” so callers will believe that someone is there.”

-Slide shown in film

Big N Rich

The popular country recording artists “Big N Rich” addressed the FCC in Memphis, Tennessee. They told the commissioners that one person in a corporate office today can dictate what 35, 55, or 100 stations play.

“Let’s say an artist puts out a song with a political viewpoint and that corporate person says I don’t believe in that position so we’re not going to play that record (Dixie Chicks?). One guy can affect what 30 million people get to hear.

That’s censorship.”

-John Rich

Fatherly Advice

Dick Fatherly says “the broadcasters have become the victims, and the winners are – who do you think? -Goldman Sachs.”

Josh Kosman, who wrote the book “The Buyout of America” put it this way: “Private equity took the radio business that was doing pretty well and gutted it.”

Josh has studied how private equity has impacted all industries in America. He used a simple example to explain the difference between you or I buying a house and a private equity firm buying a business doing a leverage buyout (LBO).

When we buy a house, we put down say 30% as a down payment and then take out a mortgage for the 70% balance.

When private equity buys a radio station, they make a small down payment and then the radio station they’re buying takes on the debt for the balance, leaving the radio station with crushing new debt.

The private equity companies then charge management and other fees, making back their down payment money, and a whole lot more. So, it’s zero risk to them.

It reminds me of the guys on the Atlantic City Boardwalk who used to entice you to let them guess your weight and if they got it wrong you won a prize. The only way those guys lost is if you didn’t pay them to guess your weight. For if they got your weight right, they gave you nothing and if they got your weight wrong, they gave you a prize that was valued less than what you paid them to play the game.

“Financial deals allow the corporate owners to keep their stations after bankruptcy.

This prevents local owners from reviving local radio.”

-Slide shown in the film

For those who hold out hope that if/when the big corporate entities fail, and it will return radio to local operators once more, that slide should send a chill down your spine.

America’s bankruptcy laws now favor the debtor in the corporate world.

Conclusion

This is probably a film that many will miss and that’s unfortunate. It’s only a little over an hour in length. It’s well worth your time.

For this is a film not just about what happened to the radio industry but what is happening to our way of life, in industry after industry. This modus operandi is being repeated today.

The people in the film offer their ideas for making radio great again.

I won’t spoil that for you, so you’ll have to watch the film.

Some of the statements made by various participants have since been proven wrong from the time the film was shot. Some of the statements are also inaccurate in terms of how today’s FCC license renewals can be challenged.

In all fairness, many people are still believing that the way it was, is the way it still is. Only it isn’t. Those laws have been changed by corporate lobbyists too.

I hope you will watch the film “Corporate FM” and then post your comments here on DickTaylorBlog dot com.

Note: Don’t have Amazon Prime, you can rent this movie for $2.99

57 Comments

Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

Radio Stations Aren’t Performing Like it’s 1999

Calendar 1999Remember when spot loads were small, rates were high, profit margins were 30% to 50%+ and revenue growth was double digit. I do.

What Happened?

Change happened.

FM radio replaced AM radio.

And AM radio stations are adding FM translators in an attempt to stay relevant.

An Abundance of Listening Options

Today there are too many radio stations playing the same program features, repeating the same positioning liners and doing the same things that we used to do 30 to 35 years ago.

Pureplay streamers are relentlessly competing for our listeners’ ears.

Listening options are infinite.

The Internet Tore Down the Gate

Traditional media was born when the “gates” to being a media property were very high. For newspapers those high gates consisted of having to buy large printing presses, paper, ink, etc. For radio & TV those high gates were things like having a broadcast license, a transmitter, studios, etc.

Traditional media enjoyed being gatekeepers for news, information and entertainment because there was no place else to go.

Legacy media enjoyed attracting huge audiences, huge margins and lots of cash flow.

The Gatekeepers of the 21st Century

The new gatekeepers are called listeners, readers and viewers of media.

The new gatekeepers are accessing their media via their smartphones, tablets, computers, smartTVs and now voice activated devices such as Alexa, Google, Apple and Cortana.

Bottom Line

Long stop sets no longer need to be tolerated by listeners or advertisers. Every element that goes out over-the-air needs to be thoroughly vetted from the listener’s perspective.

And your streaming product cannot be an afterthought. It’s your future and if you expect it to grow into your new revenue source, you need to give it your full attention.

Listener Supported

Have you noticed the growth of Christian formatted radio stations? Have you noticed the growth of NPR and public radio?

These radio stations depend on listener support as well as business underwriting.

If your station stopped selling commercials and asked its listeners to donate money to support it, would they?

Our Challenge

The challenge for broadcasters is to build audio brands that our audience doesn’t just casually listen to but feels they can’t live without. To do that, your media property needs to know your listener so well, that you are creating a product that they find engaging in every way.

It’s time to play to win again versus a decade of trying not to lose.

Consumers Have a Choice

Here’s the reality of today. Consumers of media have lots of choices for how they want to spend their time. They don’t need us. It’s up to us to create a reason for them to want us, to need us.

NAB Radio Show 2009

Now here’s the ear-opening part of this article.

Most of these points were made during an NAB Radio Show presentation I attended almost a decade ago.

It’s 2018, how many of these issues are the same today?

Why is that?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

28 Comments

Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales