Luck, Signal & Being Unique

123Back before the turn of the century, radio station owners often did market research to find viable programming “holes” in a market. Often it didn’t even take research, just an experienced radio nerd with a sense of what was to be popular. Once identified, the task was simply to put it altogether and hit the air.

Beautiful Music to Lite AC

I was in Atlantic City doing one of Bonneville’s beautiful music formats and Jerry Lee was in Philadelphia doing Bonneville’s Matched-Flow beautiful music format on WEAZ (EZ 101-FM).

Jerry Lee has always been a leader in the radio industry and with the research of Bill Moyes, they moved WEAZ from beautiful music to Lite AC and re-branded the station B101 (with new WBEB call letters too). It was a very gutsy move!

Jerry’s success with the new format saw me take WFPG-FM from beautiful music to Lite AC and re-brand as Lite 96.9 a few years later.

Timing is Everything

The year was 1989. The country would soon be headed into a recession. The format switch at WFPG-FM saw us go from #2 in the 12+ Arbitron Ratings to #1. Even better, we took the #1 positions in all the key buying demos.

As the economic conditions tightened in the early 90s, the number of stations deep being bought in Atlantic City regionally/nationally would go from five to three to one. And WFPG-FM was the one.

We delivered our first million-dollar bottom-line year in 1991. We repeated that performance in 1993. Meanwhile, the other radio stations in the market were just about making ends meet.

Signal, Signal, Signal

In real estate, the key to having a winning property is all location, location, location.

In radio, the key to having a winning property is signal, signal, signal.

WFPG-FM had one of the market’s only 50,000-watt non-directional signals at that time. Two other 3,000-watt radio stations were already programming a light adult contemporary format, but when we put that format on our huge signal, they both bailed, one changing to classical music and the other to classic rock. It left WFPG-FM as the market’s only Lite AC radio station and with the most popular music format at that moment in time.

Me Too

What I’m seeing is too many “me too” stations on the air today.

Me too is not a viable strategy.

The future for any venture in a 21st Century world is to zag when others are all zigging.

Look at any successful enterprise and you will see two things:

1) not everyone loves what they do and

2) they’re famous for what they do. (Think Howard Stern)

Howard would make Sirius Satellite Radio something special and unique. 124It’s why they forked over hundreds of millions of dollars to have Howard join their team.

What happened to the OTA radio station’s when Howard left for Satellite Radio?

They had an Excedrin headache for quite a few years.

17 Comments

Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

17 responses to “Luck, Signal & Being Unique

  1. Howard Stern also changed the dynamics of morning radio and led to the demise of the “boss jocks,” by being genuine and real on air. Excedrin headache for sure, but we all had to change.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brian Battles WS1O

    He also has a brilliant agent

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How many great formats have gone town the tubes over the years because of the “me too” stations? There are enough listeners for one station to do well with a format, but add a second and they both suffer. Too many in radio seem to miss that creative gene. Just look at how many radio shows are done the exact same way as Rush Limbaugh’s show. Since his rise to fame, every “creative” talk Host/PD/Consultant has taken his format as gospel, leading to thousands of sound alike shows.

    Frank

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Zag vs Zig is all about strategic ascertainment, aka Softrock intro as MASSachusetts Appeal AAA, WEEI/FM Boston, ’77. Signal IS essential but dull content can make big 50kw AM’s dead last. Same for good Class B’s. Built a fringe 80-90 A, ’89 (WNNH, New Hampshire’s Oldies 99); when folks in some parts couldn’t hear it well, our sales teams told advertisers there were so many listening they just sucked the signal right out of the air. All in all, The best is yet to come. May all boats rise from the ETM-CBS merger! Clark, Boston. http://www.broadcastideas.com

    BTW, My granddad’s sister did middays on WPG, Atlantic City. Thanks, again, Professor DT.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mike

    I agree with everything you have to say, but unfortunately the Corporates who are more interested in the almighty dollar instead of programming. This is why you have so many “Me too” stations. When you have non radii people running radio, this is the result. I would have loved to have owned my own station but the “Bad Guys” made sure that would not happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Greatttt INFORMATION. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Most owners/operators are to quick to change a format. worrying about the other guy..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, they are “fever babies” and forget the very things we tell all radio advertisers — it takes time. Farmers know that you don’t plant a crop today and expect to harvest it next week.

      Thanks for adding to the discussion Jeffrey.
      -DT

      Like

  8. Lawrence Berezi

    I’m just about three years in radio; although I developed content and report news as a journalist, I had thought that programming distinguishes a station from another and gives you that edge. Here in Africa, your wide and heterogeneous audience want the best of entertainment, information and education from radio.
    I still do agree with you take that “signals” count. that is the sure way to get to your audience uninterrupted.

    Like

  9. Lawrence Berezi

    I’m just about three years in radio; although I developed content and report news as a journalist, I had thought that programming distinguishes a station from another and gives you that edge. Here in Africa, your wide and heterogeneous audience want the best of entertainment, information and education from radio.
    I still do agree with your take that “signals” count. that is the sure way to get to your audience uninterrupted.

    Like

    • Hi Lawrence,

      In other countries where regulations limit the number of signals serving a defined area, programming might indeed distinguish one radio station from another. Here in America, the overcrowding of radio signals has changed the old dynamics. Today, the operator with the best signal is most likely the one to dominate when everyone is programming their radio stations the same.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective. -DT

      Like

  10. Appreciate your wisdom Dick. It would be helpful for me if your main point were bullet points. Often I only have time to peruse and that’s what I look for, the nugget of what you’re saying. Peace!

    Liked by 1 person

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