In April 2017, I asked “What can radio do that other media can’t?”
And the answers to that question continue to pour in.
Jay Clark’s Answer
Jay Clark shared the story of a 5-station radio cluster in a non-rated market that he consults. The stations’ new Market Manager invited Jay to do a station review and make certain everything was being done the best it could be to serve the market. The two FM stations had market acceptance and well-established air staffs. Unfortunately, most had never been coached, and those few who had been coached, it was years ago. Coaching is like maintaining your car you need to do it on a regular basis.
The music rotations and station imaging were basically stagnant. Two of the three AM stations were still playing music, but brought in zero revenues.
Note that everyone who worked at the stations was included in the discussions about the changes that needed to be made and were excited about contributing to these stations’ new directions.
The two AM radio stations were changed from music to talk, one with religious programming and the other with sports programming. Now both of these stations are seeing the flow of dollars for the first time in years. While no revenue giants, they are growing listeners and dollars.
All air talent received coaching. Music and music rotations were all upgraded. Traffic and a new Sales Manager bought into new inventory control metrics.
While these changes were taking place internally, both the Market Manager and the new Sales Manager were out in the community meeting and listening to current clients, potential clients and market leaders. In less than a year, both of these individuals established themselves as important figures in the community.
The stations are actively involved in local charity events. They’ve also learned how to marry these events with potential advertisers to demonstrate the power of radio and their stations.
For example, a local automotive dealership they approached about radio advertising said he didn’t believe in the power of radio and that’s why he hadn’t used it in years.
However, his favorite charity was an annual food drive.
The stations ran the next food drive at his dealership and the success of that drive convinced the owner to start a large radio advertising schedule that continues airing.
This same formula was repeated with other charities with the same positive results.
What you give to your communities will come back to you.
It takes shoe leather to make sales and grow revenue. The management team at these stations rolled up their sleeves, met with the movers and shakers in their community, listened to them and responded to what they heard, made the cold calls, and created advertising programs that got results.
Sales year to year were up 22% in the last quarter of 2016. Sales in the first quarter of 2017 were up 28% over last year. Expenses were flat.
Radio is a “Contact Sport”
What the management of these stations did is what every radio person knows: hit the streets, get face-to-face with decision makers, bring ideas and make things happen.
Train your sales people and make them more productive.
Do all the right things, consistently, every day to achieve success for your people, your advertisers, your charities and your community.
Be good neighbors who become good friends.
People always do business with people they know and like.
The essential point – Community & Companionship
Jay’s consulting of these stations helped them to reflect the marketplace and its diversity over the five different radio stations. After all, it’s a lot easier to sell in a small or medium market when the business community listens and likes your radio stations. Three of the stations were a franchise in the market place. All they did needed were updating and revamping to better serve the community’s needs. Because people grew up with these signals they had something that the new players do not, tradition.
Tradition and franchise are radio’s great advantage;
it’s what radio has that other media does not.
Fortunately, management recognized and agreed that you can’t be successful by eliminating the very people who make your local stations “family” to their community. A local air staff, combined with national programming that is localized by constantly changing pre-produced host intros, outros, and breaks, is critical to serving the marketplace.
Because the local air staff lives in the community, they understand their audience. They are engaged in local sales promotions and charity broadcasts. They are the face of these radio stations to the listeners in the community.
Jay says, “an essential point that many, in their quest to chop costs, forget.”
If you’d like more details about all of this, you can give Jay a call on his cell phone at (212) 203-1331 or shoot him an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We all have mentors and Jay Clark, a Pittsfield, Massachusetts boy like me was one of mine. From Pittsfield to New York City, Jay has done it all and seen it all.
Remember, great local radio is about attention to the details: station management that is focused on their people, sales personnel who are on the street focused on the station’s clients, constant attention to local production and keeping things fresh, national programming that complements the values of the market combined with live and local personalities engaged in their community and being dependable companions.
7 responses to “Great Local Radio is Community & Companionship”
Hooray for Jay! As a big fan – especially his name – for years, the pros who grew up & on radio get it! Smart use of in-house resources with an experienced coach enables stations to prove themselves every minute of every hour. Tune-outs are fatal. Turn-ons last. With major Boston FM start-ups even the overnights built presence: the audience is smaller but consumption is more intense. Grab ’em by the ears and they come back for more. Radio sure does have Tradition & Franchise. And, it continues into its next hundred years as “Everywhere, Wireless and Free” on millions of receivers…old & new. A few years back, the handle “Everybody Gets It” was applied to a 5kw heritage AM and promptly proved the local area could…and did. A year later a broadcast wannabe put a bulldozer into the tower wetlands, without permission. Also proving: While one hands-on pro can fix it…. just one uncontrollable nutcase will blow it. Congrats to Jay! Thanks to Professor DT! Let’s hear it for Nor’east Broadcast Boomers. And, here’s to “The turn-arounds. Without the cost.” Clark, Boston. http://www.broadcastideas.com
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Right On Clark !
Tradition & Franchise take years to create and seconds to tear down. -DT
I’m with a Media Arts School (including radio) and have been in radio for 61 years. There several stations in Michigan which are great examples of your article. WHMI in Howell…WHLS & WSAQ and two others in Pt. Huron & WTCM and WKLT in Traverse City. They cover local events with 2 and 3 news people and each has a specific formats & serve both their listeners….and more importantly, their advertisers. Just an FY.I..
Thank you for stopping by to read the blog.
These positive radio stories need to be heard and I’m grateful you took a moment to share them. -DT
How many of these stations have live announcers at least from 6am to midnight?
Dick, saw this quote from the CEO of SiriusXM this morning: “What we keep asking ourselves is, if we were to get involved [with a streaming company]…how can we change that equation in a way that would be beneficial to our shareholders?”
As you’ve said, once “shareholders” became the prime moving force in radio, local and good radio began the slide. I was anxious to share this with you as it is SO right from the horse’s mouth.
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Yes Rick you’re right. The first part of great radio is taking care of your people, who then take care of your listeners and advertisers.
The stakeholders reap the benefits of the first two being done right.
Thank you for sharing that with our readers of the blog. -DT