What are You Grateful For?

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving this year with family and/or friends that are special to you. In our case, our children and grandchildren are literally spread out from east coast to west coast, so it’s impossible for us to be with all of them. Fortunately, we do have children and grandchildren living close to us here in Virginia and we celebrated Thanksgiving with them in our home.

Gratitude Thought Starters

In the devotion before our meal, my wife prayed:

“Heavenly Father, when I have food, help me to remember the hungry; when I have work, help me to remember the jobless;  when I have a home, help me to remember those who have no home at all;          when I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer. And in remembering, help me to destroy my complacency; bestir my compassion, and be concerned enough to help; by word and deed, those who cry out for what we take for granted. Amen”

She then asked everyone to lift their dinner plate to reveal a different “Gratitude Thought Starter” that she had written especially for each one of us to think about and share with everyone. They were things like:

  • Name something you smiled or laughed at recently.
  • What is something you learned this year and are thankful for?
  • What is a song you’re grateful for?
  • What is a memory you are thankful for?
  • Name someone you’re grateful for.

And when I looked down at what was under my dinner place, I read:

  • What blessing in disguise are you grateful for?

I was seated at the other end of the dinner table from my wife, about half-way around, and when it was my turn to share, I said, “I don’t understand mine. I will pass and you can come back to me.” My wife said to me, “Think of it beyond the box of traditional Thanksgiving things.”

My Blessing in Disguise

After my wife shared her blessing, all eyes turned to me and I said:

“I’m grateful for all the times I’ve been fired.”

Which left everyone dumbfounded.

I realized that every time I had been fired from a job in my life, what always came next was better than what I had left behind.

The First Time I Was Fired

I was half-way through my undergraduate degree program at college when I was told by my radio station general manager that if I didn’t work the insane hours he wanted me to work, then I would be fired. I handed him my key and walked out the door.

I placed a higher value on doing my best in school and earning my college degree, than I did working in the career that I loved, radio.

Before the week was out, the other radio station in town called me and hired me to work for them. The hours were better (fit with my school schedule), the pay was better and I got to play the music of my generation that appealed to people my age.

The Second Time I Was Fired

For the next two decades I would enjoy being promoted and hired away for better and better jobs.

In 1997, the stations I had been the general manager of for 13 years were sold to new owners. I was called to a 3pm lunch by one of the partners of the new ownership group. He explained that one of the partners was to be the “managing partner,” and that my job would end with that lunch.

But, what came next in my life were two new general manager jobs that took me to Delaware/Maryland and Iowa, that provided me with new professional growth and a renewed enthusiasm for the radio business.

The Third Time I Was Fired

While I was managing in Iowa, the phone rang one day with the owner of radio and TV stations back in New Jersey asking me “What can I do to get Dick Taylor to come back and work for me?” As the station group I was working for was in the process of selling the group to Cumulus Broadcasting, I was anxious to return to New Jersey and be close to my two sons. I also was thrilled to once again be able to rejoin the New Jersey Broadcasters Association (which made me a Life Member in 2010).

However, that job would end in three short years, when the owner who hired me unexpectedly passed away while on a cruise. The stations were put up for sale and the number of managers were reduced from three to two, with the board deciding the last hired should be the first fired.

That’s when I was recruited by Clear Channel to manage their Lancaster, Pennsylvania properties. It would also be the second time I got a change to move radio stations into a completely new facility, while growing ratings and revenues.

Clear Channel would promote me to a station group back in New Jersey and all went well until the Great Recession of 2008, when the world would see the company doing massive RIFs (Reduction In Force).

After completing all of my property’s mandated RIFs (none of which I agreed with and fought hard to prevent) my regional manager came into the radio station unannounced, proceeded to my office and fired me.

Ironically, the day that it happened, the latest edition of Radio Ink magazine came out naming me one of the best general managers in radio.

In that same magazine, would be a classified ad for a radio broadcasting professor position at Western Kentucky University. I applied for the position and was hired by the School of Journalism and Broadcasting. Teaching at a university had always been my next career goal after working in radio. I wanted to “pay forward” what I knew to the next generation of broadcasters.

Always Be Grateful

The lesson in life that I want to share with you is, we can’t see how the twists and turns of one’s life will play out in the moment they occur, but if we choose to look for the positive in each event, we will find it.

Henry Ford put it this way:

Whether you think you can or think you can’t,

you’re right.

The simile to those words I would contend are:

Whether you think what happens to you in life is good or is bad,

you’re right.

Pick the positive, what have you got to lose?

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Grateful for the Motivating Thoughts

One of the entertaining aspects of watching Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso” show is watching how Ted, played by Jason Sudeikis, motivates his footballers, as well as the boss who hired him and his kit man who maintains the field and the locker room.

For anyone in management, this show is a master class in the art of motivation, and how to value people.

Gratitude

With Thanksgiving approaching this Thursday, I thought it appropriate to share the wisdom I’ve collected over the years, from some incredible folks.

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“Standing still is the fastest way of moving backwards in a rapidly changing world.

Imagination is the highest kite one can fly.”

-Lauren Becall

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“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”

-J.R.R. Tolkein

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“We all become the stories we tell ourselves.”

-Tom Asacker

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“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

-Albert Einstein

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“Eighty percent of success in life is showing up.”

-Woody Allen

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“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 a thing.”

-Norman Lear

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“NOTICE

If you 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.”

-Don Beveridge

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Today, we live a world consumed by measurement. The internet, along with social media, has put data tracking front and center. To people selling traditional media, where user estimates are still the currency, it might be good to keep this wisdom from Albert Einstein in mind. Einstein’s fame was based on numeric calculations that helped us to understand the universe, so it might surprise you that he had these words printed on a sign that hung over his desk at Princeton.

“Not everything that counts can be counted,

and not everything that can be counted counts.”

Have a

Happy Thanksgiving

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Celebrating Our 3rd Anniversary

It seems like only yesterday, that we met,

yet I can’t remember my life before Sue.

Grateful for our Wonderful Life Together.

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Back next week with a blog to motivate your thinking in a positive direction.

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Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

It’s always been my belief that unless you first build a positive culture in the workplace, nothing else you try to accomplish will ever come to fruition.

So, when I read this famous quote that business guru Peter Drucker was alleged to have coined, “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” it came as no surprise that the foundation of any successful enterprise is built on its culture.

In fact, most people don’t quit companies or leaders, they quit organizational cultures.

“The best way to improve the team is to improve yourself.”

-John Wooden

The Learning Never Stops

In my capstone classes, students learned that their time at the university should be considered a launch pad to a lifetime of learning. Leaders never stop learning.

“When I am through learning, I am through.”

-John Wooden

Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude

Your own personal culture is your attitude. Whether it is positive or negative, it’s yours to control.

As a hiring manager, I always hired people on their attitude; everything else can be trained.

In life, more than any other factor, your attitude pretty much determines where you will go –  and how far you will go.

Ron Lundy

One of my favorite radio personalities was Ron Lundy. I first heard Ron on Music Radio 77 – WABC and immediately fell in love with the contagious, upbeat, positive attitude he presented on his radio show.

When WABC switched formats from music to talk, Ron Lundy found himself out of work, but would eventually be hired by Joe McCoy at WCBS-FM.

Every air shift on CBS-FM was already filled, so in order to create a time period for Ron, Joe McCoy would need to shorten everyone’s air shift, and convince his general manager why this hire would be beneficial to the radio station.

As I heard the story, Joe’s pitch to his GM was that Ron wasn’t just a powerful personality that would attract more listeners to CBS-FM, but that Ron was the type of guy that provided a positive culture inside the radio station, inspiring everyone to do their jobs better.

Attitude in Managing

One of my radio mentors was Phil Weiner (WBEC/WQRB/WUHN/WUPE). When I departed for my first solo general manager position in Atlantic City, he shared with me the most important thing he learned as a general manager, “Whatever your attitude is, when you enter the radio station each day, that will become the attitude of your fellow employees. Keep your problems to yourself and always maintain a positive, upbeat, enthusiastic attitude.”

It may have been the most important advice of my forty-year radio management career.

In my second career as a college professor, knowing that one’s attitude is contagious, I brought that same positive attitude and energy into the classroom.

“Attitudes aren’t taught, they’re caught.”

-Margaret McFarland

Everyone You Meet Can Teach You Something

No matter how far in life you’ve gone, or how many degrees, medals or trophies you’ve earned, stay humble. Every person you meet carries knowledge about life that you can benefit from. Stay curious and be willing to soak up the wisdom from everyone you come in contact with.

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

-John Wooden

Radio is a People Business

All of my life, I’ve invested my energies in the development of people. Many of them today are owners and managers of their own broadcast operations. As a general manager, I was proud to work with some great and talented individuals.

“You handle things. You work with people.”

-John Wooden

When it comes to managing people, one size does not fit all. I treated each member of my team for the unique personality they were, valuing their talents, and skills, as well as understanding that we all come with our own issues, problems and demons.

Great radio stations, full of talented people, can be an exceptionally exciting workplace.

“The worst things you can do for those you love

is the things they could and should do for themselves.”

-Abraham Lincoln

It’s important to have a culture that allows people to fail. Often the greatest wisdom comes from things that go wrong. As long as you have given your best effort, you are never a failure.

Great managers and teachers are great coaches of people.

The Big Four

Consider these four things when creating culture in your organization:

  1. Culture is created by the behaviors you tolerate.
  2. Change starts with YOU. You can’t expect your people to change if you won’t.
  3. Leadership gives you a voice at the table, not the voice.
  4. Listen to everyone and take their opinions into account when you make the final decision for moving forward.

“Much can be accomplished by teamwork

when no one is concerned about who gets the credit.”

-John Wooden

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Almost Heaven

Sue & I are taking a few days off to rejuvenate our souls and connect with the beauty that is fall in West Virginia.

John Denver got it right, when he penned “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

I hear her voice in the mornin’ hour, she calls me
The RADIO reminds me of my home far away
Drivin’ down the road, I get a feelin’
That I should’ve been home yesterday, yesterday

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mama
Take me home, country roads

Coming next Sunday, a blog article about how

“Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast.”

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What is The Future of Radio?

Ten years ago, I was in Las Vegas presenting at the Broadcast Education Association’s annual international conference. My presentation was called “This Changes Everything.” It outlined things that would be changing in our world in the decade to come.

“Prediction is difficult…especially about the future.”

-Yogi Berra

Remembering 2011

2011 was the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, and already we were witnessing a world where mediated communication was social, global, ubiquitous and cheap. It was the beginning of the social media revolution.

Groupon, which came into existence only a couple of years earlier, grew its revenue to over $1.6 billion in 2011. And yet, the doomsayers were already forecasting its demise. As this chart shows, revenues for Groupon did drop below 2011, but not until 2020.

A contributing factor to this downward revenue trend for Groupon might be that it’s estimated that only about 1% of Groupon users ever became regular customers of the businesses whose coupons they used.

TWITTER

A decade ago, Twitter was the most popular social media platform with more Fortune 100 companies using Twitter than any other social media platform.

As we begin the third decade of the 21st century, we know that the previous decade will now be known most for the impact of Facebook, not Twitter, when it comes to social media dominance.

Media Adoption Rates

In 1920, the adoption rate for commercial AM radio was incredibly fast, only to be eclipsed by the introduction of TV. However, both of these two forms of communication would be dwarfed by the adoption rates of the internet followed by the use of mobile internet made possible by the smartphone.

These last two brought about revolutionary changes in how we communicate.

In fact, the famous Maslow “Hierarchy of Needs” pyramid, might be updated to look like this:

How the World is Connected to the Internet

At the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, 85% of the world’s population connected to the internet via wireless mobile devices.

To put that into perspective, only 80% of the world was connected to an electrical grid in 2011.

Today, 92.6% or 4.32 billion people connect to the internet wirelessly.

Top Three Gadgets of All Time

A decade ago, The History Channel came out with a list of the “Top Gadgets of All Time” and they were:

  1. Smartphone
  2. Radio
  3. Television

Hat Tip to Mary Meeker

None of these things were a secret, but it was Mary Meeker that tied all of these changes together in her presentation “Internet Trends 2011.” Her presentations are worth your time to view. The most recent one being 2019, before COVID19 disrupted everything. You can view that presentation HERE

What we do know is COVID19 took all of the changes that were slowly taking place and accelerated them dramatically. Think “warp speed.”

The big three takeaways from 2011 were:

  1. Every media consumer is now a media producer
  2. Smartphones are changing the world of mediated communications
  3. Media is now social, global, ubiquitous and cheap

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”

-General Eric Shinseki, retired Chief of Staff, U.S. Army

What Technology Might a Baby Born Today, Never Use?

Let me throw out some thought starters for you to consider. Please feel free to add to this list.

  • Wired home internet
  • Dedicated cameras
  • Landline telephones
  • Slow-booting computers
  • Dialup Internet
  • Hard Drives
  • Electric typewriters
  • Movie Theaters
  • Computer Mouse
  • Remote Controls
  • Desktop computers
  • Phone numbers
  • Prime Time TV
  • Fax machines
  • Optical disks
  • Record player
  • Cassette player
  • CD Player
  • VCR or DVR
  • Radio
  • ?????

“My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. Everything else was secondary. Sure, it was great to make a profit, because that – was what allowed you to make great products – but the products, NOT THE PROFITS, were the motivation.”

-Steve Jobs

So, What’s the Future of Radio?

In 2011, one hundred college students were surveyed about what they believed the future of radio was, here were their top three positive comments and their top three negative comments:

POSITIVE COMMENTS

  1. Radio will re-invent itself. It is always evolving.
  2. Radio has a bright future as long as there are cars. It’s the first choice for drivers.
  3. Satellite Radio will expand as subscriptions become cheaper.

NEGATIVE COMMENTS

  1. Devices are coming out that will allow iPods and MP3 players to be played in cars.
  2. Smartphones will gradually take over radio entertainment.
  3. The only time people listen to radio is in their cars. Even then, they have CDs & MP3s.

Radio’s Car Radio Paranoia

Then Fred Jacobs came out with a blog this week about the seemingly bleak future for AM/FM radio in cars. You can read that HERE

At the annual CES (Consumer Electronic Show) Fred’s been asking about the future of car radio every year, and noticed that more recently auto manufacturers are reluctant to give a direct answer if there might come a day when AM/FM car radios won’t be standard equipment.

For Elon Musk and Tesla, that day is already here.

How to Build Brands

Ernest Dichter is known as the father of motivational research. Over 50 years ago he did a large study on word-of-mouth persuasion that revealed the secrets of how to build brands. Dichter said there are four motivations for a person to communicate about a brand:

  1. Product-Involvement: the experience had to be so novel and pleasurable that it must be shared with others.
  2. Self-Involvement: people want to share the knowledge or opinions, as a way to gain attention, have inside information, or assert superiority.
  3. Other-Involvement: a person wants to reach out and help to express neighborliness, caring or friendship. They are often thought of a “brand evangelists.”
  4. Message-Involvement: the message is so humorous or informative that it deserves sharing.

“Win the hearts of the people, their minds will follow.”

-Roy H. Williams

So, if you are in the radio business, OR are a radio listener, the question you need to honestly ask yourself is:

How does your brand measure up?

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Put Your Hands on the Radio

In our lives, each one of us experiences moments of uncertainty and doubt. Graduation from high school often means moving out of our family home and being on our own for the first time. Some of us go off to college, join the military, or begin a trade or profession, often struggling to survive with a myriad of life challenges, many we may have never even considered before.

One Person’s Story

JC knows these feelings all too well. In his early 20s, he set out to find his fame and fortune. He departed his “windy city” hometown for Hollywood.

If day-to-day survival for JC wasn’t difficult enough, his beloved dog was hit by a car. The vet bill would be $900, money JC didn’t have as he was barely earning enough to pay his rent.

A Loving Father

JC knew what he must do, but he hated the thought of it. He picked up the phone and called his father back in Chicago, telling him how his dog had been hit by a car and that he now needed a $900 loan to pay the veterinarian bill.

“Dad, should I just give up on this thing and come home?” he asked.

“No, don’t come home” his father told him,  “I’ll give you the loan, you gotta stay put.”

Inspiration in a Time of Desperation

Then his father added, “Don’t stop believin’.”

“That’s beautiful, Dad” JC told his father jotting those three words into his little note book he kept for inspiration when writing songs.

Life is a Journey

By 1978, JC had moved to San Francisco and was enjoying success as a keyboardist for a rock group called the Babys.

It was when another rock band, Journey, invited him to join their group, and the words of his father would then resurface.

Journey was in the middle of recording tracks for a new album and while they already had recorded 17 songs, their producer wanted one more tune. Journey’s Steve Perry turned to their newest member and told him to “go home and see what you got. I know you’ve got something.”

JC poured over his notebooks for inspiration when he came across the words his father told him when he harbored thoughts of giving up his dream and moving back home.

Don’t Stop Believin’

With those three words along with “hold on to that feeling,” the creative process began.

JC and his bandmates would go on to create a song about a boy and girl who “took the midnight train goin’ anywhere.”

Radio Needs to Start Believin’

Jonathan Cain’s father words would be the spark that would ignite Journey’s iconic song “Don’t Stop Believin’” from the album ESCAPE.

Those words from a father to a desperate son have gone on to inspire fans around the world for more than 40 years.

Let’s not forget that it was radio that made this song a listener favorite.

Don’t Stop Believin’, hold on to that feelin’.

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Oh, The Insanity

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) submission to the Federal Communications Commission for the FCC’s 2018 Quadrennial Regulatory Review is eye-opening.  You can read it for yourself HERE. It left me shaking my head.

The NAB told the commission that “’local radio stations’ Over-The-Air (OTA) ad revenues fell 44.9% in nominal terms ($17.6 billion to $9.7 billion) from 2005-2020.” Local 2020 digital advertising revenues by stations only increased the radio industry’s total ad revenues by $0.9 billion bringing them to $10.6 billion.

The NAB’s solution to the problem is for the radio industry to become more consolidated.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over

and expecting different results.

-Albert Einstein

Say What?

Back in the mid 90s, the radio industry was telling anyone who would listen that the problem with the state of radio broadcasting in America was that the industry was made up of little “ma and pa” radio stations/groups which could not scale and if the ownership caps weren’t lifted the radio industry would perish.

Excuse me, but I’ve already seen this movie and how it ends. So, why would doing more of what didn’t work, result in a different outcome.

The Media World Has Changed

I don’t think anyone would contest that the media world we live in has changed dramatically since 2005. Facebook, the world’s largest social media company with over 1.84 billion daily active users, opened its doors on February of 2004. YouTube began in 2005 and Twitter in 2006.

Google, the dominate search engine on the internet, began in 1998 and internet retailing behemoth, Amazon, began in 1994.

The new internet kids on the block that dominate our day are WhatsApp (2009), Pinterest (2009), Instagram (2010), Messenger (2011), SnapChat (2011) and TikTok (2016).

The Top 10 internet companies at the end of 2020 raked in 78.1% of the digital ad revenue ($109.2 billion).

All Ad Dollars Are Green

While we like to break money spent on advertising into distinct categories like digital media, traditional media etc. the reality is the total number of advertising dollars is a finite number and in the end you can’t tell a dollar from digital from a dollar from analog advertising.

“You can’t handle the truth!”

Colonel Jessup

(played by Jack Nicholson in the 1992 film “A Few Good Men”)

Since 2005, many young entrepreneurs have created a better mousetrap to capture those advertising dollars. No one ever made a regulation or a law that prevented the radio industry from doing what any of those internet companies did. The passenger railroad industry never thought of themselves as being in the transportation business but only the railroad business. That’s why it found itself challenged by other means of people transportation, namely the airlines.

The radio advertising industry was born by entrepreneurs that learned how to create a product that attracted a large listening audience, which in turn enabled them to sell audio advertising to companies wishing to expose their product or service to these consumers.

Unfortunately, we found ourselves challenged by new media competition. Initially, it was television, but transistor portable radios, along with car radios, allowed our business to reinvent its programming and flourish once again.

With the advent of the internet, radio was caught flat-footed.

If that were its only problem.

Radio Stations (2005-2020)

In 2005, America had 18,420 radio signals on the air.

  • 13,660 AM/FM/FM Educational radio stations on the air
  • 3,995 FM translators & boosters
  • 675 Low Power FM stations.

By 2020, those numbers increased to 26,001 radio signals.

  • 15,445 AM/FM/FM Educational radio stations
  • 8,420 FM translators & boosters
  • 2,136 Lower Power FM stations

18,330 vs. 26,001

That’s a 41.8% increase in the number of radio stations.

While radio folks were busy trying to steal radio advertising from the station across the street or consolidating with their former competition, the internet folks were focused on selling more advertising. From 2005 to 2020, the sale of digital advertising grew from $12.5 billion to $139.8 billion. That’s an increase of 118.4%.

But during that same time, radio grew its digital advertising footprint by $0.9 billion.

Quantity vs. Quality

When radio regulation began in America under the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) the decision was made by that regulatory body to focus on the quality of radio programming versus the quantity of radio stations they allowed to broadcast. Only people or companies with the economic capital to operate a radio station in the “public interest, convenience and/or necessity” would be allowed to obtain a radio broadcast license.

I believe you could say that the radio industry’s downfall began when we ceased worrying about quality and went with the more signals we license, the better for radio listeners mantra.

Sydney, Australia

Sydney is a major city in the country of Australia with a population of 5.312 million people. There are 74 radio stations on the air in Sydney.

By comparison, Los Angeles (America’s second largest city) has a population of 3.984 million people and 158 radio stations serving its metro.

In July 2021, radio revenues in Sydney were up 11.3% year-on-year according to Milton Data.

The Benefits of Pruning

Gardeners know that pruning is the act of trimming leaves, branches and other dead matter from plants. It’s by pruning a plant that you improve its overall health.

A beautiful garden is one where the plants have been trained to grow properly, to improve in their health/quality, and even in some cases to restrict their growth. Pruning is a great preventative gardening and lawn care process that protects the environment and increases curb-appeal.

The irony of gardening is, the more fruit and flowers a plant produces, the smaller the yield becomes. Pruning encourages the production of larger fruits and blooms.

Why do I share this with you?

I believe that everything in the world is interconnected. You can’t for a moment think that what makes for a bountiful garden would not also make for a robust radio industry.

Today’s radio industry is so overgrown with signals and other air pollution, that it has impacted its health.

Doing more of the same, and expecting a different result is insane.

It’s time to get out the pruning shears.

Less Is More

I believe that the way to improve the radio industry in America, to have more advertising revenues to support quality local services including news, sports and emergency journalism, along with entertainment by talented live performers, is by reducing the number of radio signals.

AM radio is the logical first place to start.

Elsewhere in the world we are seeing that not only the AM band being sunset but the analog FM band as well. The world has gone digital.

American radio has one final chance to get it right by correcting for past decisions, hurtful to radio broadcasting, in creating a new and robust digital broadcasting service.

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Does Radio Sound Choppy to You?

What I mean by that “choppy” observation is that radio has lost its flow. Today’s radio for the most part is herky-jerky. On-air production is constantly starting and stopping with every programming element and to a life-long radio guy, poor on-air production grates on my ears. It’s like a train wreck.

Where’s the Flow?

What I loved about listening to radio growing up was each station’s on-air production. The flow of programming elements was exciting. A radio station’s jingles flowing into the next record with the air personality working their magic in the mix.

But today, we hear a commercial end – a jingle plays and ends – a record begins – and then maybe an announcer (I dare not call them a “personality”) read a liner card. It’s all so disjointed and it’s anything but smooth.

Moreover, every programming element is generic. The station has no local feel about it.

Great On-Air Radio Production is Hard to Find

One of the stations I enjoy listening to for great on-air production is WETA-FM out of Washington, DC. WETA-FM is a classical music station, but its flow is seamless. Its personalities are personable and, for me, they are the #1 reason I so enjoy the station, along with the fact that WETA-FM brings this same detailed attention to every programming element.

Another Washington, DC radio station that delivers flow, personality and is a pleasure to listening to is News Radio WTOP. This radio station is usually the nation’s top billing radio station and has won every radio award; more than once.

You can’t transplant either of the stations, as they are fully programmed to serve their marketplace and no place else.

Syndication & Voice Tracking

The reason most radio stations don’t have great on-air production and flow can be attributed primarily to syndication and voice tracking.

With syndication, stations on the network need to all wait for network cue tones to fire their programming elements. Also, if their local production isn’t perfectly timed out, there will be gaps between the programming elements or a programming element will be cut-off.

The other problem with syndication is that it’s not unusual to hear a radio commercial repeated more than once in the same break. I’ve heard the same commercial play three times in a single break, sometimes this occurs with the same spot playing back-to-back.

With voice tracking, an announcer is tracking for multiple stations and never is really able to focus on a single station or radio market. It sounds like they’re talking at me and not to me. Often, they seek out generic content that can be tracked in multiple markets. I don’t need Facebook content read to me, I’m on Facebook.

The Listener Experience

Great radio is all about creating a fabulous listener experience, unfortunately that is rare on today’s radio dial.

Sadly, I understand how under-staffing means that today’s radio talent is wearing multiple hats (often more than four, according to the latest research from Fred Jacobs) and has little opportunity to give any one of their responsibilities more than a moment’s focus.

I often think what your favorite NFL team would look like if the quarterback also was the team’s coach, punter and played defense.

Or how would football fans feels if their team was under the same ownership as three other NFL teams and their quarterback also played for one or more of those other teams.? My thinking is that this would spell the beginning of the end of raving football fans.

Well, as I travel around America, I hear the same announcers on multiple radio stations.

How can any radio station expect to have listener loyalty when their on-air announcers don’t even have station loyalty? Listeners know great radio when they hear it. They will continue to listen to your station only until something better comes along, and we all know it’s easier to retain a listener than to acquire a new one.

Until the listener experience is Job One, today’s radio will be contributing to its own undoing.

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Invest in the Future

In life we have three important choices: 1) accept things that can’t be changed, 2) muster up the courage to change the things that can be changed, and 3) be blessed with the wisdom to know the difference.

Radio’s WHY

In last week’s blog, I asked “What is Radio’s WHY Today?” In reviewing blog reader comments, I saw a common theme expressed, that radio should be LIVE & LOCAL. But does being “live” really make a difference in and of itself? If seasoned radio people are being honest with themselves, they would have to admit they had heard lots of bad “live radio” over the years. When it comes to being “local,” what is local today? We live in such a connected world, that in order to live the lives we’ve become accustomed to, requires a global supply chain. Any disruption, will negatively impact our happiness faster than a bee sting.

Radio’s guiding principle is relevance. People will gravitate to things that have relevance to them and their lives. Let me give you one example…

Fundraising

When it comes to raising money for a good cause, radio stations continue to turn in an outstanding performance, why? Because people feel these causes are very relevant, so they support these events.

Unfortunately, much like a retailer’s weekend sale, when the radio station’s fundraising ends the people depart for other activities that are higher on their relevancy scale.

The Amazon Lesson

In Seattle several decades agao, Jeff Bezos began Amazon in his garage. His guiding principle in building this company into the behemoth it is today was to invest in the future. Identify the constants of the people who use your product or service and build on them with relentless focus. In other words, be relevant to your customers.

For Amazon, it meant offering everything at the lowest possible price and delivering it to people’s homes faster and faster.

“When you have something that you know is true,

even over the long term,

you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”

-Jeff Bezos

Great Radio

Great radio will always be about the listener, knowing what is relevant to them and delivering it 24/7.

Great radio provides community and companionship.

Great radio creates FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) in the listener.

Great radio stations are highly focused on the audience they have set out to serve. They’re not trying to please everyone, but only to super-serve their target audience.

Less is More

The venture capitalists thought the way to riches was by putting more and more radio signals on the air,  quantity over quality and in so doing abandoned the very essence of what makes great radio.

“Successful businesses are those that continue to find ways

to best fulfill (their customer’s) core needs.”

-Jeff Bezos

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Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales