Category Archives: Mentor

Time for a New Adventure

Dick Taylor WBECI just recently moved to Virginia from Kentucky.

I moved to Kentucky from New Jersey 7-years ago to pursue a bucket list career goal of mine, to teach at a college or university radio broadcasting. That opportunity came for me at Western Kentucky University (WKU) in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

I knew absolutely no one when I interviewed for the broadcast professor opening, but the person I would be hired to replace – retiring broadcast professor Bart White – would become a good friend over my tenure at WKU.

Long Ago & Far Away

When one moves, it means going through all of your stuff to decide what gets packed up and moved again and what gets donated or tossed into the dump.

One of the little pieces of memorabilia that I came across was a newspaper article on my being promoted to the position of Program Manager for WBEC Radio in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. That occurred on August 8, 1975. (Picture of me on-the-air at WBEC above from the 1970s)

I had just graduated from the Masters Degree program with a perfect 4.0 grade point average from the State University of New York at Albany with a degree in Educational Communications and teaching certifications, but I found myself in a field that tight school budgets were eliminating from their programs. Going back to the “three R’s” they would say, Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic, instead of employing modern teaching technologies in the classroom.

One of the radio stations I had worked at while going to college was WBEC and being offered this position was a dream come true. It was the very position I had always wanted.

A Lot of Career Success is Luck

WBEC was a station that was very programming oriented. During my tenure as the Program Manager, and later promoted to Operations Manager over both the AM and FM properties, I went to a lot of programming conferences and competed in both air personality as well as program director competitions. I was lucky to be in the position I was in at the station I was employed by.

But as time went along, I found myself more captivated by what happened off-the-air versus being an air personality, the position that attracted me to radio since I was old enough to remember.

I decided I wanted to be a general manager.

General managers didn’t come out of programming at that time but instead they came out of radio sales. So, I decided my next job would be in radio sales.

When I got a call from a general manager I knew that they wanted to hire me for a programming position, I said I wasn’t interested. I wanted my next move to be in sales. He said, “let me get back to you on that.”

Two weeks later, he said “Let’s get together, because I have a radio sales job for you.”

Moving to his stations and the company that owned them was lucky again, as this was a very sales focused organization and I would be exposed to monthly IBIB (International Broadcasters Idea Bank) reports, lots of sales training by any sales consultant to get within 200 miles of New England and annual trips to the Managing Sales Conference run by the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB).

AR to MM

I quickly rose through the ranks from account representative to sales manager to director of sales to station manager to general manager.

General managers were renamed market managers as the age of consolidation took over after the passage of the Telcom Act of 1996.  That’s when a single company went from being able to own only 12 AM radio stations, 12 FM radio stations and 12 TV stations in the entire USA. The Telcom Act of ’96 would unleash a buying spree funded by Wall Street that would see the largest operator owning over a thousand radio stations.

Radio Ink Best Managers

In 2009, Radio Ink named me one of the best radio managers in America. I was very proud of that honor, but I had been thinking about a change for some time and I was ready for a fresh adventure.

After all, I had invested early in my life, earning the qualifications to teach and I wanted to pay-it-forward to the next generation of broadcasters by teaching at a college or university.

I was lucky once again to see an ad in Radio Ink by WKU looking for a broadcast professor to teach at the School of Journalism & Broadcasting courses in sales, management, media process & effects, radio performance and the history of broadcasting in America.

7-Years a Professor

In May of 2017, I completed my seventh year of teaching at the university. The students I’ve mentored over that time have become extended members of my family. I went to every graduation ceremony – they’re held twice a year – because I was invested in each and every one of them.

Bowling Green, Kentucky is a lovely place. But it is far from my friends and family back on the East Coast.

New Adventure Time

In the book “The Adventure of Living,” Paul Tournier writes: “Many people are never able to come to terms with the death to which every adventure is inevitably subject…The Law of Adventure is that it dies as it achieves its object.”

I’ve experienced this “death” multiple times over my life.

Something in your gut just tells you, it’s time for a new adventure.

In June, I moved to northern Virginia.

I became engaged the weekend before Valentine’s Day 2017 to a wonderful woman who is a member of the same Pittsfield, Massachusetts high school class as I. Ironically, we went to opposite public high schools.  At that time our city had two public and a parochial high school, but we now all reunion together every five years – and so we never met until our 45th class reunion.

Another part of my new adventure is this blog that I started writing almost three years ago.

I remember Ron Jacobs (first program director of Boss Radio 93-KHJ, Los Angeles, creator of The History of Rock & Roll, co-founder of America Top 40 with Casey Kasem, etc.) telling me during a phone call that he enjoyed writing more than being an air personality, program director or anything else he had accomplished in his life. I now completely understand where he was coming from as I’ve developed my own love of writing and mentoring others. Ron said he enjoyed reading my blog and that’s why he sent me his phone number one evening and asked me to give him a call at his home in Hawaii and chat.

Got a career adventure I should be considering?

Shoot me an email & let’s talk.

I’m ready for a NEW ADVENTURE.

Dick.Taylor@wku.edu

 

“Twenty years from now

you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do

than by the ones you did.

So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.”

-Mark Twain

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The Power of Repetition

119I think if I were a student in elementary school today, I would probably be diagnosed as being ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).

Back then no one had a name for it.

Poohisms

My fiancé the other evening gave me a little sign to put on my desk. It was titled “Poohisms” and the sign reads: “If the person you’re talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient, it may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”

Multitasking

What might have seemed a problem when I was young would later in my life be seen as an asset. The ability to focus on lots of different things all at once would be called “Multitasking.” Multitaskers were now seen as people who could handle lots more different work assignments and therefore were more productive workers.

General Management

As my broadcast career progressed, I rose to the position of general manager at the age of 32. General management in a radio station means you oversee the entire operation and during a typical day you’re dealing with sales, programming, promotions, business issues, engineering concerns as well as meeting with advertising clients and the station’s listeners. It can be a pretty diverse job.

Short Attention Span Theater

When I worked at Delmarva Broadcasting, the President was Pete Booker. Pete was the first person I ever heard describe the general manager job as “short attention span theater.” But once he said it, I never forgot it. And it really is what general management is all about.

Multitasking Studies

Now the reality of multitasking has been revealed in studies and it’s not good. Turns out that multitasking is problematic and research studies say it kills your performance and quite possibly could injure your brain. In fact, research conducted at Stanford University found that the multitasker is less productive than the person who is focused and does a single thing at a time.

We’re All Multitaskers Now

With the advent of the internet and smartphones, everyone is multitasking these days. And that’s a real problem for advertisers. Everyone now has “fluff in their ears” not just ear buds.

It’s especially scary to see most people getting on their smartphone as soon as they start their vehicle. Driving a car IS the most important task at that moment and no one should be multitasking while driving. It’s not about handheld devices or hands-free. It is all about the mind being diluted of full attention to the critical operation of a motor vehicle.

For advertisers, trying to cut through to a world of multitaskers is a challenge of Mt Everest proportions.

Memory Curve

When it comes to our memories, studies have found we forget over half of meaningful material we’re exposed to in about ten days. Meaningless material (like advertising) we forget in seconds.

This was so concerning to the Association of National Advertisers, they published a study on the problem in 1979. Long before the world knew anything about the internet or smartphones in everyone’s hand.

If having advertising reach effective frequency was important 38-years ago, what is it like today?

And what advertising medium can deliver it?

3 Frequency

Early in my radio selling days, I learned of the Westinghouse slide rule to calculate the effective frequency of an advertising schedule placed on my radio stations. The slide rule helped me to calculate at least a minimum of a 3 frequency for my clients and often by spending just a little bit more and using all dayparts they could do even better. They were always fascinated when I pulled out my slide rule and calculated their schedule. They always bought my suggestions and always got results that turned them into annual customers.118

I still have my Westinghouse slide ruler too.

Pierre Bouvard and Steve Marx in 1993 would publish a book called “Radio Advertising’s Missing Ingredient: The Optimum Effective Scheduling System.” It basically affirmed what the Westinghouse slide rule had shown. It takes a 3 frequency with the average listener to cut through.

The military knew this long ago. They put it this way in training soldiers:

  1. Tell them what you’re going to tell them
  2. Tell them
  3. Tell them what you just told them

In other words, the army knew it takes a three frequency to get a message to stick in the mind of new recruits.

Research Says: Messages Are More Effective When Repeated

If I were to say the words “Just Do It” you would immediately know what the brand is. Nike has been using those three words in their ads since 1988. Or how about “What happens here, stays here.” Does Las Vegas come to mind? The gambling mecca began saying this in 2004. Two more, “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance” or “We’ll leave the light on for you.” Geico and Motel 6 have been strong radio users for years and have made their brand a part of your brain whether you intended to remember them or not.

That’s effective advertising.

But in a 21st Century world of multitaskers a more recent study by Microsoft might be more on target with the frequency needed to get the job done. Microsoft concluded between 6 and 20 times was best. And yet, that may not even be new news.

The Financial Brand wrote about a book called “Successful Advertising,” and how the author Thomas Smith makes the following reflection on effective frequency:

The 1st time people look at an ad, they don’t see it.
The 2nd time, they don’t notice it.
The 3rd time, they are aware that it is there.
The 4th time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it before.
The 5th time, they actually read the ad.
The 6th time, they thumb their nose at it.
The 7th time, they get a little irritated with it.
The 8th time, they think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
The 9th time, they wonder if they’re missing out on something.
The 10th time, they ask their friends or neighbors if they’ve tried it.
The 11th time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
The 12th time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
The 13th time, they start to feel the product has value.
The 14th time, they start to feel like they’ve wanted a product like this for a long time.
The 15th time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
The 16th time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
The 17th time, they make a commitment to buy the product.
The 18th time, they curse their poverty because they can’t buy this terrific product.
The 19th time, they count their money very carefully.
The 20th time prospects see the ad, they buy what it is offering.

Now consider this: Mr. Smith penned this witty insight back in 1885 — over 132 years ago! Advertising was still in its infancy, but savvy marketers like Smith quickly figured out that “more frequency = more effective.”

Affordable Effective Frequency

You can be effective in any advertising medium, if you get enough frequency. That’s right ANY medium: radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, internet, billboards etc.

Here’s the problem, most advertisers can’t afford to attain effective frequency levels for a week let alone sustain that level of advertising 52-weeks a year in TV, newspapers, magazines, billboards, etc.

But they can by using RADIO.

Radio Gets Results,

because it’s the frequency* leader.

 

*Bonus: Radio today is also the reach leader. 93% of Americans 12+ listen to radio every week.

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The End of the iPhone

121I write about radio in most of these weekly articles. Recently, an article that compared the future of AM radio to the future of the coal industry created a lot of conversation.

People who don’t listen to AM radio wondered why this was even a topic for discussion and people who own AM radio stations felt they would never go away, even though they were actively acquiring (or had already acquired) an FM translator for their AM station.

Putting your programming content on an FM translator is NOT saving AM radio. Period

Saving Fax Machines

I remember the day I got a fax machine for my radio stations in Atlantic City. It was the day one of our biggest client’s ad agency called about the next month’s orders for their casino client and told me that if I wanted to be on the buys going forward, I needed a fax machine. Only those radio stations with fax machines would be bought.

Holy Batman! I got a fax machine that same afternoon.

Soon a dedicated phone line was installed just for the fax machine.

How important is faxing these days? I still see fax numbers on business cards and websites but really, does anybody send faxes anymore?

There’s no effort that I know of to save the fax machine.

AM Radio

I spent over four decades of my life in radio broadcasting because of AM radio. I remember my first radio, a Zenith transistor radio 103 that came with a single ear piece. I remember sneaking it into school to hear the Red Sox playing in the world series. I don’t remember what the teacher said in those classes.

The transistor liberated radio from being a piece of furniture that occupied the living where the whole family would gather around to hear broadcasts. The TV would be the electronic piece of furniture that would take that spot once radios moved to the kitchen, bedroom (clock radios) and just about everywhere else people went now that the transistor made them light weight, stylish and very portable.

119

Model 66 Skyscraper Radio, 1935; Designed by Harold L. Van Doren (American, 1895-1957) and John Gordon Rideout (American, 1898-1951); Manufactured by Air-King Products Company, Inc. (Brooklyn, New York, USA); Compression-molded Plaskon, metal, glass, woven textile; 29.8 × 22.5 × 19.1 cm (11 3/4 × 8 7/8 × 7 1/2 in.); Promised gift of George R. Kravis II; Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution

In fact, I just visited the Cooper Hewitt Museum of design in New York City that showed the evolution of radio set design from the beginning to the present.

The present is characterized by the iPhone and Google Home (smart speaker technology) neither of which looks anything like a radio.

Bag Phones

My first mobile phone was a bag phone that sat on the front seat of my car with a wire that would run out the back window to a magnetic antenna that attached to the roof. That seemed like a big improvement from the previous form of remote communication with my radio stations; the pager.

Flip Phone

The bag phone would be replaced by a Motorola flip phone. It rode in a holster on my belt. I wouldn’t trade my flip phone for a bag phone for anything at that time. It was such an improvement in cellular communications.

Blackberry

Of course, the need for more information to be communicated remotely demanded that I get a Blackberry to stay in contact with not just my radio stations but corporate. I opted for a Blackberry Pearl as it was very small and so compact, it fit into a pocket in my dress pants, that I think was designed for loose change or maybe car keys.

iPhone

I stayed away from the newest smartphone technology because it was so big compared to the size of my Blackberry Pearl. Until my son took his iPhone out of its Otterbox and put it next to my Pearl and I realized it wasn’t all that big. In fact, it was thinner than my Pearl.

I got my first iPhone soon after that. An iPhone4S. Siri would begin to write all of my emails and text messages from my verbal dictation. It made written communication a breeze.

I would stay with my 4S for what many of my students thought was an eternity, five years (2012-2017). The main reason was it worked perfectly and the other reason was I didn’t want to move to a larger phone.

Finally, the iPhone4S could no longer receive software updates because the technology was “so old” and my battery was beginning to show its age with all the nightly recharging. So, I bit the bullet and upgraded to the iPhone7 with 256GB (the same as my MacBook) and a pair of AirPods to go along with it.

While in some ways it is larger than my old 4S, it really is sleek and I quickly fell in love with it.

I would never wish to return to the days of only having a pager, bag phone, flip phone or Pearl. I would not even wish to return to my 4S, though it now is attached to my home FM system to stream music wirelessly to FM radios in every room of my home and taken on a second life.

Bye Bye iPhone

Microsoft’s Alex Kipman is the person who says that augmented reality could “flat-out replace the smartphone, the TV and anything else with a screen.”

Up to the present time, all gadgetry depended on us wearing something. But Elon Musk co-founded a new company called Neuralink and its working on technology that would blend the human brain to computers making humans one with the digital world.

No iPhone, tablet, computer, TV or radio would be needed to access the digital internet world.

Musk believes at the rate of digital development the only way humans will be able to keep up with change will be through being augmented themselves via a neural lace.

This is the stuff of science fiction with a Stephen King twist.

The questions it poses to future government regulation, education, ad supported media et al is mind boggling.

The smartphone connected to the internet has given everyone superpowers by instant access to all the world’s knowledge and wisdom. Eliminating this passive device so that our minds can be continuously linked to that information fountain is the natural evolution.

Can you see why smartphone makers aren’t worrying about having an FM chip in their devices?

The Book of Ecclesiastes (adaptation & music by Pete Seeger)

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late

-sung by The Byrds

Let’s hope it’s not too late.

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FM Chip, Data Usage & Streaming

121Apple recently introduced the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus & iPhone X (it’s 10th anniversary iPhone). Each of these new iPhones have an FM chip in them, I’ve read, that if turned on, could receive OTA FM radio signals, but these chips are not activated.

I’m not an engineer, but I suspect there’s more to making an iPhone receive FM radio than just turning on a software switch. I will let those more knowledgeable about these things weigh in on this aspect.

Streaming Audio & Data Usage

One of the reasons broadcasters cite for having FM chips activated in smartphones is that it uses less battery power and doesn’t consume your data plan like streaming does.

And the other reason is that FM radio stays on-the-air when cell towers go down in a storm, like Hurricanes Irma or Harvey.

NextRadio says it’s seen a big percentage jump in usage to their App in Florida during Irma by allowing a smartphone equipped with an FM chip to listen to over-the-air FM radio broadcasts.

Verizon’s Smallest Data Plan

I’m a Verizon customer. Have been for a long time. I was on their unlimited data plan until a Verizon rep said my data consumption was not even half of Verizon’s smallest data plan and that I could cut my monthly phone bill in half by getting off that plan. So, I did.

This past Memorial Day weekend I streamed Allan Sniffen’s WABC Rewound while driving from Massachusetts back to Virginia. I consumed almost all of my 1GB plan due to this. I called Verizon about what I could do and was told they would switch me to their new small data plan at no charge. It’s now 2GB, plus any unused data rolls over.

I have something like 4+GB now and it grows because most of my music streaming is done when I’m connected on WiFi and not over-the-air.

I expect that this will be expanded again by Verizon due to competition from other wireless carriers.

T-Mobile Unlimited Music Streaming

Back in July 2016, I wrote a blog article titled “SiriusXM Radio is Now Free.” That article still sees lots of traffic from people searching for this service. I think they thought I wrote that it was now free, but the nature of the article mused what if they made some of their music channels free and then sold commercials in those nationwide free music channels. It’s actually something that’s been kicked around by America’s only satellite broadcaster.

But in 2014, T-Mobile introduced “Music Freedom.” T-Mobile wrote, “With Music Freedom, T-Mobile Simple Choice customers can stream all the music they want – without ever touching their high-speed data – at no extra charge.”

Then in 2016, T-Mobile expanded this to more than 100 music and video services. T-Mobile CEO and president John Legere vlogged: “Music Freedom and Binge On have radically changed the way T-Mobile customers watch video and listen to music.”

T-Mobile & Sprint Merger

CNBC says that T-Mobile and Sprint are in active merger talks. If they do become one, they would become America’s second largest wireless carrier. Can you see how both Music Freedom and Binge On would provide a very competitive stance to AT&T and Verizon?

Radio’s Streaming Effort May Be Screwed

Then Mark Ramsey published part one of a two-part blog post titled “Radio’s Streaming Effort May Be Screwed – Part 1” and showed Triton streaming activity for broadcasters and pureplays year-over-year. It’s not pretty. Pureplays up 16.2% and broadcasters down 1.6%.

Radio is not getting more important in the streaming world.

I believe it’s because, like most people, I listen to OTA radio using a device designed for listening to this service, a car or home radio set.

When I stream, I go to things I can’t get over-the-air, like Smooth Jazz music.

I put two new Smooth Jazz radio stations on the air in my radio career. Both of them are gone, as is the format in most radio markets in America today. Streaming is about the only way to listen to this genre of music.

Streaming Audio & NetFlix

Streaming audio teaches people to expect a different listening experience as Netflix taught people to expect a different viewing experience. Like getting an entire season of a show (House of Cards, for example) released on the same day and not dribbled out one episode per week, like broadcast TV.

Dave Van Dyke’s Bridge Ratings just showed how broadcast radio is being impacted by streaming: “New behavior by on-demand streaming listeners has accelerated time-spent-listening attrition because radio has not been able to accommodate the volume of songs released by popular artists.”

Broadcast radio can now sympathize with broadcast television with the way new product is released to the listening/viewing audience.

JJJRH

In my broadcast capstone class, one of the books my students read was by Gary Vaynerchuk called “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World.”

Gary skillfully shows how you can’t take your message and just paste it across all the various forms of social media. That each platform is like a different radio format. Your message to be effective and cut through needs to be molded to fit the social medium. Facebook is different than LinkedIn that’s different from Twitter, that’s different from Pinterest et al.

I believe it’s the same with taking your radio station’s over-the-air signal and simply streaming it (with a few exceptions, like a 1010 WINS or WTOP).

When your offering can be as easily received, as every other audio offering from anywhere in the world, yours will need to be either the very best, very niched or one-of-a-kind.

 

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Are Sales People About to Become Extinct?

115A while back I read an article titled “Are Sales People About to Become Extinct?” It got me to thinking about how many radio sales people have been RIF’d over the years since the industry began consolidating. I remember reducing my last radio sales staff by two-thirds back in 2009 per ownership fiat. Then I would read how sales were down in the radio industry.

Feet on the Street

All of my radio life, one of the secrets to more sales was having more feet on the street. More people uncovering sales problems, coming up with big ideas and helping retailers to increase their cash register rings.

Until one day, it wasn’t.

All due to people who never worked a day in radio, let alone radio sales, making the call about staffing needs.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

You probably have never heard of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Let tell me you about it and see if it sounds familiar.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is.

Dunning and Kruger postulated that for a given skill, those who are incompetent will:

Know anyone like that?

Radio Looks Easy

To everyone outside of radio, the business looks easy. Everyone can tell you what you’re doing wrong. Trouble is, they really don’t have a clue.

So, with the advent of computers and the internet, those spreadsheet wielding MBAs were ready to show us radio folks how to more efficiently run our radio stations. One of those areas they addressed were the need for large radio sales teams.

Technology, they said, had changed the way people buy stuff.

Why not the way radio advertising is bought too?

So, sales forces were trimmed, and programmatic buying was introduced.

But is that really the problem we should be addressing?

Perception IS Reality

Mark Ritson an adjunct professor at the Melbourne Business School in Australia has showed people on that continent that of the $15 Billion Australian ad marketplace, 8.4% is spent on radio advertising and 39% is spent on digital advertising. Quoting PWC, he said the trend line is for radio advertising to decrease to 7% while digital media will account for 51% of all ad-spend by 2020.

Yet, Ritson says the digital media known as social media is “vastly over-exaggerated” by marketers for its ROI.

Digital Truths

In the current generation of digital media, we know that two things are true:

  1. No one is looking for more ads
  2. High Quality Content Rules

So, what’s the answer?

Every form of media needs to look in the mirror at itself and be honest about its advertising content and the quantity of ads it’s running. (Note: Running more bad ads was never a solution to making your budget number.)

Whether we’re talking about the songs we program, the banter of our personalities, the content of our talk shows or the quality/content of our ads, it’s ALL important in a world where high quality content rules.

Media sales today is more about building partnerships than transactions. It is one where consistency and trust are the foundation upon which today’s sales professional becomes a sustaining resource to the businesses they serve.

Human Relationships

Advertising is influencing. Influencing is fueled by relationships.

Whether it’s the relationship between an air personality and the audience or the sales professional and the client, there’s real value in building human relationships and partnerships.

The airline industry today could save as much as $35 Billion employing the use of pilotless planes. But according to Fortune “54% of passengers refuse to board a remote-controlled plane.”

Representative

I know I’m not alone about being frustrated when I call a company for help and find myself having to deal with an automated voice system. Very quickly I find myself yelling over and over and over “REPRESENTATIVE.”

Like this YouTube video guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvbtwIrMFY4

We will always opt for a real live human to work with us over a digital one.

That’s why there will always be a job for media sales professionals who are both knowledgeable and emotionally intelligent.

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Analog vs Digital

113Roy H. Williams writes a weekly article called the Monday Morning Memo. I’ve been reading it since the days when Roy used to fax it. Today it arrives every Monday morning via email.

Does it arrive via analog or digital?  Probably digital.

The fax days were when it arrived analog I’d guess.

The Other Kind of Advertising

Recently, Roy’s MMM was about “The Other Kind of Advertising.” What got my attention was that Roy made the comparison of analog world versus a digital world as the difference between Newtonian physics and Quantum Mechanics.

I was a physics major as an undergraduate in college.

In teaching at the university, I have often used elements from my physics education to give a better foundation to my students about universal principles that form the foundation for effective communication.

The Power of the Human Voice

When I speak to you, am I talking in analog or digital? You don’t care, do you? You never really even gave it a thought until I brought it up. What does get your interest is what I’m speaking to you about.

Radio gives the human voice amplification.

Word of Mouth is the Best Form of Advertising

Anyone who’s been in advertising sales has certainly been told over and over and over, that the best form of advertising is “word of mouth.”

My response to that has always been, “I agree with you!”

That’s why you should be on the radio because we are word of mouth, only we have the biggest mouth in town.

There are No Wrong People

Roy has preached for years, there are no wrong people to be reached by advertising, only wrong messages. Great advertising not only engages the mind, builds curiosity but causes people to share with other people what they’ve heard. That’s the magic of persuasive storytelling aka radio advertising.

But the Data Says

Google Analytics got everyone thinking that targeting was the most important thing in advertising. The new digital world of advertising was all about “reaching the right people.” But is that really effective?

The data for my radio stations back in northern New Jersey said that we reached the most people who were employed. So why would anyone run “Help Wanted” ads on my radio stations? Wouldn’t they, by definition, be the “wrong people?”

Turns out, that would be wrong.

People who are employed are the very ones that know people who aren’t. And then there are people looking for a better job or a job that’s closer to where they live.

Often people who ARE employed are not happy in their current job and radio help wanted ads may entice them to make a change.

Belief Systems

If you have a deterministic belief system then you are like a Newtonian physicist. If you have a probabilistic belief system then you are like a physicist who works in the world of Quantum Mechanics.

In advertising, the first group would be marketers who use predictive data and the second group would be marketers who base their decisions on outcomes.

And just like with Newtonian physics and Quantum Mechanics, both are true.

Newtonian physics was used to put Americans on the moon and return them safely to earth. But it won’t explain how your computer or smartphone work. For that you need to use Quantum Mechanics.

String Theory

One of the goals of physics is to find a single theory that unites all of the four forces of nature. These are; electromagnetism, gravity, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. In other words what ties both Newtonian physics and Quantum Mechanics together. String theory maybe that unified path.

I believe that when it comes to effective advertising, we have already found our unified theory that ties analog and digital communication together.

The message is that string, that single element that makes both analog and digital equally effective.

The person who creates that message is critical.

Who is that person(s) in your organization? Do you even have someone dedicated to this creative, innovative, demanding, hypercritical position?

Sadly, many – dare I say most – radio stations don’t today.

Lightning In A Bottle

If creating persuasive radio commercials is part of your job description, let me give you a little help. Let me turn you onto some “Lightning In A Bottle.”

Blaine Parker is a Mercury Award Winning radio creative genius. He’s just published his latest book that reveals the 3 easy rules for writing more profitable radio commercials.

WARNING: This book is short & expensive!

Full disclosure, Blaine asked me to write the forward to his book, so I can truthfully reveal to you I’ve read it and believe in everything Blaine has written to be seductively effective.

I have no financial interest in the sale of this book. My financial interest is in you, your radio station and your advertisers to effectively tell their story and get results.

You can buy “Lightning In A Bottle” on Amazon by clicking HERE.

Analog or Digital, Who Cares?

I wrote today’s post on a digital computer. You received it via email or are a subscriber to my weekly blog articles (subscriptions are FREE) via the internet.

But whether I shared all of this in a face-to-face conversation or via AM/FM radio or via HDRadio or via an internet stream, the message conveyed would be the unifying element that either caused you to read all the way to the end or bail out early.

And powerfully, persuasive messages do not cause you to remember every word, but they will forever change how you feel about a product, service, business or person.

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What Is Localism?

117I read with interest what the new Radio Board Chair of the National Association of Broadcasters, Randy Gravley, had to say in a Radio World interview about what he saw as the issues of concern for the United States radio broadcast industry.

The Most Pressing Radio Business Challenges

On the top of Randy’s list is the rise in streaming services. He feels for radio to be competitive it needs to be on as many platforms as possible but also needs to be delivering content not available elsewhere. It goes back to a real dedication to localism.

What IS Localism, Anyway?

I thought I would go to the flagship radio station owned by Tri-State Communications Inc. based in Jasper, GA to find out. Randy is the president and CEO of Tri-State Communications Inc.

The “Home” page says WJLA 101.1 FM is your source for up-to-date news, sports and community announcements. There was no mention about the radio station being available on any platform other than over-the-air. Likewise, the “About” page tells us that they can be heard in 18-counties in the tri-state area of Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. It also says: “Our signal, which remains constant (unlike AM radio stations that lower the power at sunset and sunrise), reaches our target audience of those thirty years old and older.”

I’m sure all AM broadcasters will appreciate that kind of talk. NOT.

The closest thing I could find to “localism” was that WLJA has a “dedicated, award winning staff with over 150 years of combined broadcast experience” and that they “cover all of the local news from our listening area.”

Local News

So, I went next to the “NEWS” page, which features a drop-down menu of “Local, Sports, Music.”

I started with the Local News and saw that the city of Woodstock was having an eclipse viewing gathering. NOTE: I’m reading this local news on August 31st about an event that already happened on August 21st between 1 and 4pm. I also learned that I could tour the new Northside Hospital Cherokee on Saturday, April 22nd from 10am to 2pm.

Is this an example of localism done right?

Local Sports

The “Sports” page did give me the high school football schedule, but other than a list of sponsors, nothing else.

Local Music

The “Music” page was a list of the “Top 30 Gospel Request Time Songs for 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013.” But it appears these songs are the favorites from a national database not one compiled locally by the radio station.

There was no mention of any local gospel or country groups or any information about where this type of music might be enjoyed locally in live venues.

Local Sales

It was time now to see how the radio station sold itself to local advertisers.

In big red type is said “Home to over 38,000 listeners at any given moment!*” That sounded impressive, but there was that “*” at the end of the statement. The asterisk qualified that claim with the following information: “*As rated by ARBITRON 2007 county by county coverage in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina.”

OK, there are some immediate problems with that qualifier. First, it’s 2017 not ten years ago. Second, Arbitron has been gone since September 2013 when it was purchased by Nielsen and re-branded as Nielsen Audio. Other data is sourced as of 2008.

All of these things were found on the radio station’s “Sales” page.

Everything was station focused and not advertiser focused. (Or listener focused)

The sales information didn’t scream “localism” to me. It also offered no information about advertising opportunities via streaming.

In fact, I can’t find on any page anything about being able to hear WLJA 101.1 FM over the internet or via any of the platforms that Randy says are now so critical for radio broadcasters.

Apologies to Randy Gravley

When I started to write today’s blog, I never intended for it to come off looking like a “hit job” on the newly elected Radio Board Chairman. So, I want to apologize to Randy for how negative this article became.

But he’s not alone.

And that’s radio’s BIG problem.

We know what the issues are. We talk the talk, but when it comes to walking the talk, well that’s not happening.

Welcome to radio’s “Kodak Moment.”

Smartphones

77% of all adults in America today say they own a smartphone. That number was only 35% six years ago.

But if you’re looking for the smartphone’s impact on the future, 92% of 18 to 29 year olds today own a smartphone.

Suffice it to say, if your business model doesn’t work on a smartphone, ‘fuhgeddaboudit.’

The NEW Localism

I think the new localism is whatever a person wants, when they want it. Localism no longer means a geographical area. Localism means shared interests.

When a radio station or other mass medium markets itself as being “something for everyone,” it really is saying it’s nothing for nobody.

The future of mass media is reaching the smallest possible viable audience to earn a decent R.O.I. (Return On Investment)

Welcome to the Communications Revolution

What we are seeing in mass mediated communications is a revolution. Like the other worldwide revolutions (Agricultural, Industrial) the impact of this information-driven economic revolution will be enormous.

Unlike the world’s revolutions of the past, this one will explode with exponential speed.

You can see it happening with artificial intelligence (think Alexa or Siri), robotics, self-driving vehicles etc.

Traditional Radio Faces Grim Future

And on August 30, 2017 came a study by Larry S. Miller, Director of the Steinhardt Music Business Program at New York University that says radio is faced with a paradigm shift. He outlines why radio must adapt to the rise of digital.

I know that the NAB and Nielsen have already come out with their side of the story regarding this report by Mr. Miller.

But maybe instead of throwing stones, we should stop living in our own glass houses.

Radio CANNOT survive doing things the way they’ve always done them.

If technology doesn’t seem like magic

It’s probably obsolete.

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