The Question Radio Itself Has Yet to Answer

86That was the subject of an email I received from a reader of my blog recently. The writer went on to eloquently state why he felt the way he did, even citing articles on the topic. He had my interest and I asked him if we could speak on the phone.

The BIG Question

This reader’s (who asked to be kept anonymous) big question was “What can radio do that other media can’t?”

And it’s a very good question.

In 2017 when many are using the internet for things that only radio could provide in the past, is radio’s future being the poor man’s smartphone, tablet or iPod when it could be more?

“NPR and SiriusXM, in addition to the new exploding podcast marketplace, have had no trouble creating personalities and programs,” but my reader writes “why does FM commercial radio continue to stick with playing the hits, past and present, at the expense of personalities, thinking it will make them money when the biggest radio companies have trouble paying off debts on the stations they seem to have paid too much for?”

Well it was a well-known fact all of my radio life that you make money in radio at the time you buy a radio station. Buying it right makes all the difference. And those big radio companies went on a buying spree using other people’s money (Wall Street) and it’s much like student loan debt, no one worries how much debt they’ve accumulated until they are asked to replay it.

Is Local Radio Local Anymore?

My reader quotes Westwood One’s Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard from an AdExchanger interview as saying “A local radio station gives you traffic, sports, weather, great music, funny DJs and talks about your town,” he said. “Spotify has these robotic music playlists, which are awesome, but there’s no one telling you what happened at the Giants game last night.”

My reader says Pierre (who was my first Arbitron representative back in the 80s) makes a good point, but wonders if Pierre ever took the time to hear what passes for much of local radio these days. My reader feels that much of today’s FM radio stations do a combination of great music and robotic, Spotify-ish playlists, and relatively little in the way of “traffic, sports, weather…funny DJs and talk about your town” stuff.

Sadly, I’ve heard similar things said at radio meetings where the person starts off by saying “now don’t quote me on this, but…”

TELCOM Act of 1996

It was President Bill Clinton who signed the Telcom Act of 1996. That act was supposed to bring competition to the phone and cable television industries thereby lowering costs of each to the consumer. While that didn’t happen quickly (some might wonder if it ever did) it did cause the quick consolidation of the radio and TV industries. We went from a country where the largest radio operator could own 12AM-12FM-12TV stations to virtually whatever their pocketbook could afford. And with Wall Street Bankers waiting in the wings, what a company could afford was a lot.

Low Power FM & Translators

For the non-radio folks who read this blog, Low Power FM signals and Translator signals are virtually the same thing, with the exception being that Low Power FM stations originate programming and translators don’t. Both are received over the air on the FM radio dial. Both have increased the number of FM signals on-the-air in America today.

The latest FCC (Federal Communications Commission) report as of the end of December 2016 shows that there were 4,669 AM radio stations on the air in America. Over on the FM dial, 16,783 signals now beat the airwaves (FM, FM educational, translators and low power FM).

To put things in perspective, at a time in America’s radio history when the number of FM signals equaled the number of AM signals on the air, 75% of all radio listening was to FM. So you can only imagine what it’s like today.

93% of Americans 12+ are reached weekly by AM/FM radio says Nielsen.

So while the Telcom Act of 96 caused radio to consolidate under fewer owners who own more stations, adding to the signal overload was the advent of low power FM and translator signals. So much to program and no one home to do the work.

Enter computers, voice tracking, and syndication. This is same computer technology that is employed by Pandora, Spotify, Radio Tunes, SoundCloud and many others.

When TV Challenged Radio

In 1952 TV was born again. It was birthed just before World War II but the war years put broadcast radio/TV development on hold. After the war ended, things began to ramp up quickly for TV.

In 1953, Elmo Ellis was hired to fix 750AM – WSB in Atlanta. Ellis would write about “Removing the Rust from Radio Programming” for Broadcasting/Telecasting (now called Broadcasting and Cable magazine).

One of the points Mr. Ellis made was that a stack of records and a turntable do not a radio station make, though many broadcasters persisted in that very belief.

It was the very same philosophy I employed when I launched a “Music of YOUR Life” radio station. I felt that to be successful, you needed more than just Al Ham’s music list, you needed the personalities that complimented the music.

Both my reader and I are in complete agreement in that a radio station is more than just a song list.

Less Is More

The problem today is that with the “land rush” by broadcasters to own as many signals as they can, we have seen our country’s biggest broadcasters put themselves into a debt situation they cannot get out of and smaller broadcasters have signals and streams to manage but not the revenues to properly execute them.

If we go back to the beginning of broadcasting in America, we see that the FRC (Federal Radio Commission) that predated the current FCC felt that quality over quantity of radio stations should be the rule of measure. By limiting the number of stations, the FRC was attempting to insure the content of those stations on the air would be of the highest quality and also by limiting the number of stations; the advertising revenue that is the life blood of free over-the-air radio could be sustained.

What Can Radio Do That Other Media Can’t?

This brings me back to the question my reader originally posed and asked me to answer.

But before I do, I’m going throw that question out to my other readers – to date over 80,000 from all over the world – to weigh in with their thoughts.

What do you feel radio can do that other media can’t?

Is any radio station you know of doing it right now?

Is this a sustainable future for over-the-air radio?

I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts.

45 Comments

Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

45 responses to “The Question Radio Itself Has Yet to Answer

  1. Dear Professor DT,
    1. Radio is everywhere, wireless and free.
    2. All stations do this but are failing with content and presentation.
    3. Absolutely, there is a huge, bright future, accomplished by: Communications, Connection & Strategy. Combine the best elements of personality, information, news & music.
    It doesn’t take a big investment to curate. Stand Up, Stand Out and Stand for Something Great & Relatable. Thank you.
    Clark, Boston. http://www.broadcastideas.com

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Anothder good one Dick! Oh how I miss the 12-12-12 days!

    As to what can radio do that no other media can? In my opinion, integrate itself into the community. For example, I remember listening to WLNG on the East End of Long Island, when it was run by Paul Sidney. That station was the eyes and ears of their community. From local high school sports to Swap and Shop. From what was going on around town to the local merchants’ latest sales. I think that a radio station that is the place to go for school board meeting results, for information about what’s happening in the town council, to know why Main Street was closed last night, or to find out who had a new baby, is a service that can’t be duplicated. Not talking about a 50,000 watt AM major market station here, but even they can focus in on the community. If you’re doing a local talk show, don’t sound like a second rate version of Rush, talk about items important to your listening area. Action happening in the City Council or the School Board can give the listeners a reason to tune to your station, because it’s info they can’t get anywhere else!

    Back in the Musicradio days at WABC, they had a News Department that was more than twice as large as what they’ve got today as a News/Talk station. Back then, it was the cost of doing business to have a City Hall reporter and 24/7 local news staffing. Telling folks about what was happening in NYC was an important part of their mission back then. Today, too many stations try and get away with network affiliations or News/Traffic services that don’t even pronounce local streets properly. You may give the appearance of “serving” the audience, but are you really giving them anything they can’t get a hundred other places.

    While you will hear people chanting the “local, local, local” mantra, I fear that many in the business don’t really understand what a really local radio station is, or what it can mean to a community! More talk about what’s happening with the new 9th Street corridor into town, and less talk about President Trump and Congress is, IMHO, what radio can do better than other media today!

    Frank

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hal Widsten

    Everything you and those responding is dead on, Dick. With two of the largest Radio ownerships on the brink of bankruptcy, it seems unlikely that the economic shackles will come off until big change occurs. All of us who have been in the business know what it needs to flourish once again. I believe there will be some agony before anyone gets a chance to do it. I hope I am still alive when that happens.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Don Beno

    From a music stand point….I would have to say radio is doing the best job at playing the hits….rotating them properly and avoiding “stiffs”. This in contrast to how things were done in the past….with “favor adds” and dropping the hits before they played out.

    With that said…..that ain’t enough anymore folks. I can get the hits anywhere. I can get the classics anywhere. I can get MY FAVORITES anywhere……on-line, Pandora, Youtube, MusicChoice, etc.
    We talk about additional stations (LPFM or repeaters)….but these other choices for music have changed the rules.

    What can music radio do that these other jukebox services can’t?
    Radio personalities can be your friend between those songs.

    Everyone loves their good friends…..on the other hand….we all have those boring friends too.

    Today’s air talent, IMO….sound like those boring friends.

    Like

    • T. Jay Dexter

      Agreed. What makes people stay up late to see their favorite stars parade the talk show circuit talking about their next project and see a 30 second movie clip? I could just turn on Entertainment Tonight or one of the other tabloid shows just after dinner and see the same clip and hear the same interviews.

      It’s PERSONALITIES!!! It’s Conan, the two Jimmys, and other late night hosts that mix interviews with excitement, freshness (monologues) and personal recurring schtick that keeps people from going to bed early.

      And these same hosts are making big paychecks (not minimum wage) for entertaining their audiences.

      There was a time in radio where air talent could do this kind of stuff outside of Morning Drivetime hours. Mostly weekdays, but some stations did it on the weekends as well.

      So the radio know-it-alls (who really don’t know $*it) kill off their personality talent and maybe keep some air talent at near-minimum wage levels to say only what’s on the cards in front of them. And now look at the mess they are in.

      Do you really think if late night shows were to switch to generic, unfamiliar hosts who could not have fun, be themselves nor be creative and could only do Charlie Rose-styled interviews with celebrities on a darkened, quiet set, would the Big 3 networks get better ratings and make more money? Heck no!

      So why does radio think they can when they’ve had 20 years to prove it under the 1996 act?

      Like

  5. In my opinion, unique local content is the future for radio. The more time-sensitive it is, the better, because if it’s time-sensitive, unique, and local, then it plays to radio’s strengths as a real-time, local medium. Anything else can be exported to any other medium and potentially be stronger there, putting radio in a less desirable position. I see local stations doing their unique local thing and tying it in to social media (typically Facebook) and this does seem to enhance the experience without driving people away from their primary presence (your broadcast frequencies).

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Willie...

    Boy, is this a subject that’s near and DEAR to my heart!! #1, Radio can be a *COMPANION*!! That is what is TOTALLY ABSENT from too many of those automated, voice-tracked stations that fill the dial! #2, Radio is PERSONAL. When you’re listening to the radio, and there is a pleasant Personality at the mic between the songs, they can (and SHOULD!) sound like they are speaking just to YOU! I was taught to address the audience in the singular, and while it “felt weird” at first, it soon became second nature! 🙂 It was such a joy to get letters, e-mails, and calls from listeners that said, “It sounds like you are talking JUST TO ME!” ***BINGO***!!! 🙂 That’s the thing that *RADIO* can do, that MOST other media simply can’t! (Unless it’s live streaming that’s also local.) Some of the other commenters here addressed the LOCALISM aspect, and that is also part of the appeal of radio. Hearing them pronounce the names of the towns and streets that you KNOW, means that this is someone who KNOWS YOUR AREA! That deepens the connection listeners have to the station! “Hey! They pronounced Greenwich correctly!” 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. When RADIO became Real Estate I could hear the nails being pounded into the coffin. Will “Realtors” have the wisdom and wealth to INVEST in the Product? I’m not as hopeful as those saying … “All we need to do is be Local!” It’s not over for RADIO. But, it has changed. Dramatically. An Industry that has inflicted self-inflicted wounds time and time again HAS to “Walk The Walk” instead of “Talking The Talk.” My Radio Pals in Small Markets have a better shot at it than The Big Boys in The Big Towns with the myriad of Big Signals and Big Names. Too often we have looked UP to them instead of to The Roots of REAL RADIO in smaller areas where their stations and signals are Community SERVANTS, a Reliable UTILITY, and a Familiar FRIEND. Brand LOYALTY is hard to create and keep. Even more difficult today with choices abounding EVERYWHERE. Especially in the palm of our hand with our phones. A place where a transistor Radio formerly resided as a “Lively Companion.” Let’s look back. At least a little. The Future for RADIO (and simple survival) may come from where we’ve been. We can build from there. Michael Neff. Market Manager – Seven Mountains Media – Wellsboro / Mansfield PA. WNBT AM/FM – WOGA-FM.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Chip

    I agree with Willie. Studies have shown for years that most people tune in to the radio for companionship. People like companionship and people like friends, and radio can be both. The music…is the ‘window dressing’, so to speak. And people like their music & air personalities in a warm & friendly & caring manner. You can teach people the basics of music and programming, you can teach ’em how to run a station on a budget be it big or little, but you can’t teach “nice”.

    Like

    • “Nice” of you Chip to make that point. Seriously, I could not agree with you more. Dan Mason said radio offers “Community & Companionship” and without it you don’t have radio. Thank you for stopping by and contributing to the discussion. -DT

      Like

  9. Autumn

    Good Morning Dick,

    I work for a local radio station on the Outer Banks in NC and I am 29 years old. I have been in radio for 8 years and I can honestly say the change in music and how we receive it has changed the way radio stations operate. I PAY for Spotify, which clearly is a big no no for someone who is on a “local” radio station. Why do I pay for Spotify? Because I am tired of hearing the same songs over and over again. The rule is “PLAY THE TOP 10” regardless of what the listener actually wants to hear right? Think about this for a second…. millennials (me) want and need things on demand right now, thats why we search social media. We like to be in peoples business and we like how fast we can receive information. Want to know where the best blueberry muffin is at in your area? Post on Facebook and let the comments roll, just like music. I want new music ALL the time. I love music. It’s my job. My job however is put in jeopardy due to “older” PD’s sitting there and not letting go of the control of programming a station. I mean that in the sense of, who says we have to ONLY play the “top” songs? Why can’t we play the brand new song that was just released yesterday? I can go on Spotify and listen to that song and that artists WHOLE album. So why can’t I play that song? Because it’s not a “hit” yet? Because the record company didn’t call and offer you backstage passes to the artists next show? WHY? I get told time and time again that “it’s just what makes radio work”. CLEARLY that is the case because stations are going bankrupt. We don’t have “local and live” voices anymore because the stations can’t afford someone to be there. We need to let control (just a little) move over to the younger generation and let us save radio in a sense. I am not saying radio is dead because it never will be BUT something has to change and it has to change now. I am not saying that us younger kids can do a better job, I’m just saying something needs to change. Everything is available at all times on one device, and radio needs to step up and realize that too. When an artists releases a song I want to hear it NOW not a month from now when I know all the words and you play it 25 times a day because it’s just NOW a “TOP 10” song.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jay Clark

    A couple of things: One of the worst days of my Radio life was when I was ordered to blow out 12 excellent news people at WABC. That order came from the top manager for ABC Radio who lived and worked in Los Angeles, not NY City. Letting people go through no fault of there own is hard enough, but letting them go when you know it is a wrong decision is even worse. I vigorously fought that move but lost and the rest is history. it remains in my mind, one of the biggest mistakes the company made during that period, so thank you Frank for bringing that fact up. I agree completely. As for what radio does better than any other media?? — Localism, it just plane works. WPRO Providence, WTIC Hartford, KHITS Los Angeles, Detroit’s Wheels, WTKS Orlando, and of course WABC NY all had their best ratings and bottom line days when they reflected the communities they served. Dick, both you and I learned that lesson early on in Pittsfield Mass. with WBRK and WBEC. Given the economics and competition now, verses then, can localism work today? There is at least on example I can share. August last year a friend of mine ask if I could help revitalize a group he had taken over in Sebring FL. Yes, a small, non-rated market. The good news is that their country station is live weekdays from 5:30AM to 7PM. Their News Talk Station includes local live programming, as do their AC and ESPN Sports stations. All of these signals carry local news, and weather reports. The new market manager and sales manager have made sure the stations are very involved in raising money for local charities and the community. We just finished a three station promotion surrounding the 12 hours of Sebring, This included carrying the race live from the Sebring International race track. Clearly the biggest event of any year in the area. The staff does an average of two to three paid remotes a week and volunteer their time at local charitable events. My point is they are out in the community daily and come on the air prepared not only to introduce music, but to talk about where they live and topics that effect their neighbors. Does this approach still work??? The stations billing year to year is up 22% for third quarter 2016 and 28% for the first 3 months of 2017. FYI, no political dollars are included. In the mean time, expenses have remained virtually flat. The staff is happy, ownership is happy and of course management is happy. It’s hard work but I have always felt that radio is really a one on one communication tool thus it should act like ones best friend. My definition: A friend is someone you enjoy being with, is Interesting, good company, informs you while discussing things that effect your life and most of all, is there for you in time of need. Pull that off with a sales staff that is interested in actually helping their clients get ahead, along with management that cares about the people who work for them and it works. How much elbow grease are you ready to expend???

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay, we’re on the same page. Thank you for giving more detail to the often heard “Live & Local” chant that many say but don’t put into practice.

      You can’t just talk the talk, but you need to walk it too.

      Sounds like they are doing it in Sebring, FL.

      Thanks for stopping by the blog and adding to the discussion.

      -DT

      Like

    • Willie...

      Another post that makes me want to stand and cheer! 🙂 I am most fortunate to be working for a station that is also LIVE & LOCAL! It’s a stand-alone, 100% listener-supported, and live-staffed 24/7/365! 🙂 WIHS radio in Middletown, CT. I’ve been blessed to be a part of this team since Oct 2011. 🙂

      Like

  11. The problem is the factorization of the radio “product”. Make it as cheaply as possible and nobody will notice. The problem is, people DID notice. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. This works great for large companies in other industries, but not so great in radio, especially once the tipping point was reached. Sure, you’d see it succeed in syndicated radio such as Howard Stern or even Rush Limbaugh, but back in the 80’s and 90’s they still understood that you had to break from syndicated programming to provide news and traffic updates.

    People liked having the local connection, and then slowly that faded away. Now instead of your Midday or Afternoon guy being local, they were voice-tracked for pennies on the dollar. Similar to automation in factories, this drove the cost of producing a product go down, but it was in an industry that really can’t afford that. Radio is very similar in scope to a “sales” job, and you have to have good people with local connections to get the selling done. Tell me WHY I should listen to you, make me miss something if I don’t. Make me feel left out because ALL of my coworkers are talking about something that happened and I missed it because I was listening to Spotify.

    What radio did is the equivalent of a car dealership playing sales videos on a loop, with a phone in front of the video display that I can pick up to order my car. Chances are, I’m not going to buy the car, because the video/operator on the other end didn’t take the time to get to know me, didn’t inform me of what features the car had that were important to ME and, most important of all, didn’t make me feel like they were part of my community.

    So, if all I am able to get is robotic playlists with commercials, why WOULDN’T I go listen to Spotify instead? Spotify, unlike radio, actually gets to know my tastes and gives me music that I like, oftentimes weeks to months before radio plays it (because they are too afraid of the duds). And with debt loads like they have, who blames them? After all, even a single station is a multi-million dollar business (not factoring in the debt load). I think in order to get back to the glory days, radio companies have to get smaller, and nearly every major player that exists today will have to fail. Too much debt will always factor into the amount of money they have left for programming and talent, and until that debt is gone the cost cutting will continue.

    BTW, yes, I am writing this in the perspective of a (well educated in radio) fan. I have been following the industry with great interest since I was a kid back in the 80’s, but I’m also now smart enough to realize that radio is a business, and I am the product. I also understand that, if I am the ultimate product, radio should be investing in things that attract me to listen and listen longer, so they have more earholes to sell to advertisers. And I firmly believe that to do that given all the competition you have for my ear holes, I need a better reason than hearing Guns and Roses for the umpteenth time, or I’ll just pay Spotify 9.99 a month and listen to it in higher quality with no commercial interruptions on my own schedule.

    Sorry for the long rant, but I feel this is an important topic. And as someone who still believes in the magic of radio, I’m still pretty passionate about it. Some of my fondest memories were winning contests and getting my requests played on the air, and there was a time where I would beg for dialup internet just so I could listen to what my local DJ had to say even when I was 700 miles away.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I would definitely enjoy listening to personality, local radio again the only problem is, “Where to find the personalities today that can replicate true personality on the radio?” I love in a Top 20 TV market and the local newsreaders act snobbish, murder the English language something terrible, and can’t ad lib anything to save themselves.

    A radio would have to hire radio veterans out of retirement to show the young folk how it’s done. A lot of local morning radio shows nowdays don’t cut it for me. Their idea of funny isn’t mine.

    Of course, I also believe that today’s radio people don’t really understand the concept of anything about a radio station.

    Maybe I should start a training school for these types of radio personalities. But then again, the station owners would have to be trained to fund the additional personnel and convince advertisers that these new personalities will bring in more listeners.

    If only I could live long enough to see (hear) this happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Reblogged this on artversnick and commented:
    Maybe, just maybe, we will see the return of local radio. Eventually, those debt burden conglomerates will need to unload many properties. One can only re-organize so many times before the obvious is apparent. They will probably sell to “local” people, especially in the 50+ markets. For another discussion is the grooming and nurturing again of local content and talent, if and when that happens.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. One aspect of Telecom ’96 suspending 12-12-12 is that it opened the door to heretofore illegal concentration of media, where one entity owned multiple “competing” media in one market, encouraging corporate-managed news, information and the black-balling of personnel whose opportunities in their market were then drastically limited by one employer with multiple facilities and an axe to grind. As an undergraduate at Kent State University in the late ’60s, we debated the issue of concentration of media. It was then clearly illegal, and heavy fines could result if, indeed, the route to “justice” for the audience did not wind up being a license revocation which had happened at some major market facilities that had stepped over the line. Quo vadis?

    Liked by 1 person

    • As a member of the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association at that point in time, we fought very hard to NOT have the massive consolidation of radio happen. We predicted the future quite accurately as it turns out Rich.

      Thanks for contributing your thoughts to the discussion. -DT

      Like

  15. We operate a high school FM station in West Virginia known as “KNIGHTS 91.5, WRSG.” We have students as young as 12 and 13 (8th graders) voicetracking shows with music that oftentimes they have selected. I keep telling them (and told them today) that we want to bring back the personality radio of the 50s-70s. A station cluster for which I part-time is co-owned by a gentleman who worked in Pittsburgh radio, and totally understands live and local. One of our three stations is live 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. There IS a future in radio…I’m blessed to see it every day!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I am blessed to see the future of radio everyday by teaching four radio classes at WRSG Radio. Students as young as 12 and 13 do daily voice-tracked shows, and constantly encourage the older ones to ‘up’ their game. Of course, we stream, giving my students even more bragging rights. I encourage them to promote themselves on social media, as I want to create local radio personalities, thereby replicating personality radio. Oftentimes, THEY select the music. Again, I am fortunate to see radio’s possibilities every day.

    Like

  17. NeilM

    Radio can provide entertainment and education without interfering with day-to-day activities. For example, you can work (in many jobs) whilst listening and you can drive without looking at a screen. You cannot do either of those things with the Internet or TV without interruption or complete safety.

    Of the many thousands of stations, there are few that are good. We have a local station that has a great presenter as he informs and entertains at the same time. He’s a journalist so he often gets the best questions to his guests and squeezes the answers out of the guests before the know it. Of the better stations doing it really good, you have to look at why they are good. I have a friend that woks on a commercial station and spends most of his show regurgitating the provided script and, of course, the playlist. He’s a rebel so occasionally drifts by going off piste, but is soon reeled back in. It’s the demand to pay the bills that forces the playlists. Unfortunately, the faceless radio stations are in the very high numbers, and you could be listening to anything, anywhere. The stations have no personality.
    On the other hand, let me put out a great model for you. Radio Caroline http://www.radiocaroline.co.uk Despite the pressures it faced over the years, and the ever-present costs to run, the station has presenters that actually enjoy their shows, they are personable, and get involved with their listeners. That engagement is critical in a social media world. Because they can do their own thing they are not forced into becoming just another clone.

    Can over-air radio be sustainable? Well, it has to be. If you can’t get WiFi, you can’t tune in online. There are thousands of square miles of land with no Internet, yet you can receive over-the-air broadcasts from land-based or satellite-based stations. In certain countries, bandwidth issues of cost and limits stop Internet-based streaming from being cost-effective. However, streaming has provided an additional method of getting a station and it s content out there, without the overheads of the transmission antennas and equipment, plus the limitations of best frequency availability and licensing. It’ll be a while yet before we lose over-the-air radio, imho.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Bill Schweitzer

    What food for thought. Having started in radio with a high school internship in 1968 at County KEEN 1370 in San Jose, CA I was exposed to a very community involved station. During my radio nomad years to Oklahoma, Indian and Ohio most of my employers had local news, remotes, contests. The first station I owned in the 80’s (WHDM-AM) in McKenzie, TN, I actually expanded our local news coverage and enjoyed a reasonable level of success with a 500 watt station playing oldies and country “gold” hits. Fast forward to the mid 2005 and my purchase of KDUN-AM Reedsport, OR none of the past formula’s worked. Expended high school sports (well received-financial bust) local news (lots of talk in the downtown coffee shop- financial bust) live 6AM to 10AM and 3PM to 6PM with community events, received with shrug. Two experienced local broadcasters working with me scratched their heads as did I. After months of soul searching and starting to sell spot packages at $2.00 a holler, I was told in confidence by a business owner that a sales rep at group owner in nearby Coos Bay gave advertisers an ultimatum, their rates at his station would increase if their spots were heard on KDUN. Clearly I was at a disadvantage as new owner coming from California (Oregon folks are not fond of us). I will say in smaller markets relating to the community and in turn the “local” business owner helps in the revenue development area as well as stations understanding that social media, local newspaper, wrapped mobile studios and news cars contribute to a stations identity. (sorry for the long post)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Bill,

      I think you just gave everyone insight into how the “old ways of doing radio” may not work in today’s 21st Century world.

      Thank you for all you wrote and contributed to the discussion.

      I very much appreciate you stopping by the blog and sharing your experiences. -DT

      Like

  19. Alan Peterson (The 'Radio World' Guy)

    I too passed through a M.O.Y.L. radio station back in my mid-20s … the one that Al Ham himself programmed, was able to listen to and could hotline the jocks at any hour: WMAS-AM, Springfield Mass. While the music sold itself to a hungry and grateful audience, there really was no personality involved there. Give the name of the artist but don’t give the title, make certain you progress forwards through the decades (dont play a 40s tune after a 60s tune), and don’t associate the music with a certain era, event or person (“the Eisenhower Years” for example). The music was ripe and ready for a personable approach, but it was Liner Card City all the way. Two years of that format was enough for me.
    That, and those 65+ station groupies were a bit hard to take.

    Like

    • Hi Al,

      Thanks for contributing to the discussion and sharing your story.

      Al Ham came to our station when we kicked off the format. WUHN in Pittsfield, MA was one of the early MOYL stations. I loved the members of our Music of YOUR Life club. The Berkshires has a lot of NYC “big names” who have weekend homes in those hills and so our roster was impressive and really helped in selling advertising.

      I went from MOYL to Bonneville Beautiful Music in New Jersey. So I was selling seniors before it was cool.

      I noticed a recent Erica Farber podcast featured Bob Hoffman and he was saying how so many advertisers were missing the audience that spends the MOST MONEY — SENIORS! He’s right, but everyone thinks the “shiny new thing” will work better. In this case, it isn’t for so many. RADIO is still “Red Hot because it works.” -DT

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