Category Archives: Sales

Radio Knows What to Do

Munster RadioRon Robinson is a Canadian radio curmudgeon that writes a weekly column in Radio Ink. A recent column asked the question, “Will More Data and Tech Help Radio?I thought I’d take a go at answering this question in this week’s blog.

Spoiler Alert: The Answer is NO

Radio seems to be awash in data and tech, more is not what’s needed. Radio knows what to do but isn’t doing it.

Education that is not put into action, is simply entertainment.

Likewise, having too much information can be as useful as not having any information. Moderation is the key to everything.

People Listen to Radio

I have no doubts that people are listening to radio. Unfortunately, the proliferation of radio stations has fractionalized any one radio station’s listening audience. Gone are the days of big double digit shares of listening to any radio show or radio station.

Nobody cares if your radio station is #1. (They never did.)

Are Your Listeners Responding?

For the advertiser, it’s always been about cash register rings. That’s the ONLY audience measurement they ever cared about.

To accomplish driving this metric, means an investment in the copywriting process. It means advertising representatives who know how to find each advertiser’s unique characteristic that will become their story. It means having relatable communicators who can tell the story in a way that engages the listener and inspires them to action.

I personally have been studying why people do the things they do for over three decades. And have been a disciple of Roy H. Williams aka The Wizard of Ads for almost as long.

Any radio person serious about getting their advertiser results should be investing in their people’s education at the Wizard Academy.

Social Media

I’ve been writing this blog for almost five years now and post it to different social media platforms. Looking at the metrics about where readers come, from #1 would be from Facebook. Facebook not only comes in first, but what comes in after it, is far behind in impact.

I’m thinking that your local advertisers may be experiencing something similar if they’ve used Facebook to promote their business.

Technology

I began streaming music when living in the greater New York City area and WQCD – CD101.9 FM dropped its smooth jazz format. In my radio career, I launched two different new smooth jazz formatted radio stations and fell in love with the music and the artists.

To take a break from monitoring my own radio stations, I’d turn on CD101.9.

When they left the air, I was forced to go online and find a streaming smooth jazz station. So, in essence, the radio industry by removing this relaxing format at station after station, forced folks like me to go elsewhere for their music fix.

You Can’t Go Back

In my many travels, I’ve had the opportunity to hear a couple of OTA smooth jazz radio stations that brought this format back. I found them hard to listen to. Here’s why, they are cluttered, and the streaming smooth jazz channels I enjoy are not.

Much in the way that Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube have made television clutter free viewing, streaming audio via my Amazon Echoes has done the same thing for my music listening.

Anyone who’s had a car with an automatic transmission, won’t want to return to the days of shifting, or has had a car equipped with air conditioning won’t buy a car without it.

It’s Innovation Time

Radio needs to do what others are not.

The successful radio stations of the future will be ones where their people are 100% focused on its content, and nothing else. They will be niched to satisfy a defined audience so perfectly, that those listeners will find little need to go anywhere else.

They will be people communicating with other people, live in real time and with relevant content.

Fred Rogers put it this way, “L’essential est invisible pour les yeux.” (What is essential is invisible to the eye.)

More data and tech won’t take radio to the next chapter.

People will.

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What’s in a Name?

WKU-SJBIf you are a high school senior and are considering a career in broadcasting or journalism, what term would you Google to find the best colleges or universities for this field of study? Probably you would type in “broadcasting” or “journalism.”

School of Media

What would you expect a “School of Media” to offer? Well, since “media” is the plural of “medium,” you might say it means “something for everyone in the area of communications.”

The problem is, in my honest opinion, when you try to be all things to all people, you are special to no one.

Journalism

If I wanted to be a journalist today, I would need to know how to write, shoot pictures & video, collect audio and produce all of it for every media platform. But the job would remain one of being a journalist.

Broadcasting

Likewise, to be a broadcaster today, I would need to also be able to write for the internet, as well as shoot video & still pictures, along with doing on-camera and audio recordings. But the job would remain one of being a broadcaster.

Media-ist

Here’s where things get sticky. There is no job that I know of that is called a “media-ist.”

A high school graduate trying to decide on what type of career they might like to pursue will speak in terms that are standard job descriptions. Broadcasting & Journalism are well-established careers. “Media-ist” is not.

Olympics

The first modern Olympics was held in Greece on April 6, 1896. Olympiads that came in first won the Gold Medal. The Silver Medal was for second place and the Bronze Medal was for third place.

Over the decades, the equipment and physical abilities to win a medal changed dramatically, but the Olympics have never changed the names of the medals that were awarded. Why? Because they’ve been well-established benchmarks of athletic achievement.

The Big Name Change at WKU

So, you’re probably wondering why I’m writing about all of this in today’s blog. Well, this week I learned that Western Kentucky University’s School of Journalism & Broadcasting, where I was a broadcast professor for 7-years is changing its name to “School of Media.”

WKU alumni around the country are not pleased.

The College Heights Herald reports that alumni are concerned about the lack of emphasis on journalism the new name would create.

“To me, it’s burying the part of the program that has brought the most national reputation to the university. It’s a program that presidents over the years have cited for its success. To me, it buries the part of the program that has been so important to Western.”

-Robert Adams, former director of student publications, former editor-in-chief in 1964 and a retired WKU professor of journalism

The building that the school’s newspaper occupies is named after Bob Adams. Bob went to school at Western and then worked at the university until his retirement. Bob was there when the program went from two classes offered in the English department to the School of Journalism & Broadcasting. He has had a front row seat to its evolution for over 50-years.

I think Bob Adams makes a very valid point when he says the new name is not what people are looking for when searching for a college.

RADIO

When Apple was working to develop its own online streaming audio service “Beats 1” they brainstormed for months on what to call it, and finally decided to call it “Radio.”

Pandora, like so many other audio offerings, also called its service “Pandora Radio.”

Radio is a term that has been used since the advent of broadcasting music and voice through the ether. It’s a term that is almost 100-years old in commercial audio broadcasting, beginning with the sign-on of KDKA in Pittsburgh in 1920.

Why would developers of modern forms of audio communication use the term “radio” to describe what they do? Because everyone knows what it means, even though it now has many more applications from its origins.

Board of Regents

WKU’s Board of Regents will vote on making the name change official at their next meeting on August 2nd.

When you build a name, a reputation, a brand if you will, changing it can be very risky. (Think New Coke and what a disaster that was for the Coca Cola company back in 1985.)

A brand name helps people to identify why you exist, how you plan to proceed and what people will gain from doing business with you, or in this case, attending your school. A brand helps you to differentiate yourself from others.

Communication is critical in marketing and having an established brand name is an integral element in communication to anyone in the market for your product or services.

Changing the name to “School of Media” to me is like throwing the baby out with the bath water and if it becomes a reality, the 2019-2020 academic year will become the beginning of building a new brand.

One thing that I learned in my 50-years of being in the advertising business is, it takes more energy to establish a brand new brand than promote an established one. After reading how economically challenged the university is these days, I’m skeptical the money is there to properly fund the change of name.

 

 

 

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Radio Is the Load Bearing Wall of Audio Media

Rich TunkelRich Tunkel of Nielsen Audio delivered this message at the 71st Annual NJBA Conference and Gala in Atlantic City, New Jersey along with this slide (see below).Nielsen Audio Media Reach

Tunkel pointed out that when it comes to total media usage in America today, the ten and a half hours of daily media use has remained unchanged year-over-year. However, Nielsen is seeing shifts in what and how media is being used during the day. The big increase is in the use of internet connected devices, with almost seven out of ten homes now having a device capable of streaming audio content.

RADIO is King of All Audio Media

92% of adults in America today listen to radio each week according to Nielsen’s Q3 2018 survey. That’s more than twice the reach of streaming audio on smartphones It’s almost five times the reach of podcasts, and virtually six times the reach of satellite radio.

Yes, there’s more competition for the ear than ever before, but broadcast radio is “the load bearing wall of audio media.”

I love that description!

A load bearing wall in a building is the one wall you can’t take down without having the entire structure collapse. And so, it is with reach via the medium of audio. If your advertising buy doesn’t include radio, you’re missing the masses with your message.

Nielsen’s New Research on the Impact of Radio on Light TV Viewers

When it comes to reaching America’s light TV viewers, radio dominates. (see below)radio_reaches_light_TV_viewers

Light TV viewers are most of us in today’s world. We are commuting, busing our kids and grandkids to their activities, leading active lives ourselves and are now spending less time home in front of the tube.

Rich Tunkel showed a real-life demonstration of how taking an advertiser’s TV budget and diverting 50% of it to radio, the advertising campaign increased its reach by over a 100,000 people without increasing the dollars the advertiser spent. In this case it was a 45% lift in reach.

I’ve known Rich for years and have never seen him deliver more impactful data on the power of radio advertising.

‘Nielsen Media Impact’ brings together consumer media behavior information data Nielsen Media Impactacross TV, digital, and print media into one easy to use planning interface. It’s a product that should have everyone in radio sales salivating to get their hands on.

Radio #1 in Reach

Reach, for the advertiser, has never been more important. Radio’s 92% reach of adults in America is unchanged year-over-year and that’s a statistic worth shouting about, especially with huge losses in reach of television and newspapers.

Radio’s ability to reach the masses is why Proctor & Gamble has returned to radio as a major advertiser since the summer of 2017. Over the course of the year in 2018, P&G virtually tripled its radio advertising. 2019 could see P&G become radio’s biggest advertiser.

Why Radio

One of the panelist’s on Rich Tunkel’s NJBA panel was Stuart Burkhoff. Stu is the Senior Director of Media Strategy and Planning for Altice USA (4th largest cable provider in the US). He shared with the audience why radio is important to him using a clever acronym called RADIO, which stands for:

 Relevant

Authentic

Delivery

Impact

Original

Radio is relevant for all kinds of people, whether they want sports, news or entertainment. Radio has authenticity with listeners because of its radio personalities who are stars in their communities and have earned their love and trust. Radio delivers an advertiser’s message with impact, and radio is the original, it’s the audio medium that’s been around for almost a hundred years and still works. In fact, radio may be entering its finest hour.

Each of Tunkel’s panelists stressed the importance of the local radio personality to powerfully deliver their message and endorse the product. Radio personalities have never been more important to advertisers.

In today’s world, reach continues to be the most important factor when deciding which medium to use to get an advertising message out.

Radio is the undisputed reach & frequency leader.

It’s the…

Load Bearing Wall of Audio Media.

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Convention Time in Atlantic City

NJBA 71st ConferenceI’m off again. This time I’m back to New Jersey for the 71st Annual New Jersey Broadcasters Association Conference & Gala to be held at the Tropicana Resort & Casino in Atlantic City.

This year’s conference theme is “The Majesty of Radio.”

The conference is expected to attract over 500 broadcasters and over 70 broadcast students from around the mid Atlantic region.


Harry Hurley

I’m especially excited that Harry Hurley will be honored as “Broadcaster of the Year.”

 

Tom Taylor

Tom Taylor

And that Tom Taylor will be honored with a “Lifetime Achievement Award.”

NJBA President/CEO Paul Rotella puts on a conference as impactful as the NAB annual shows in Las Vegas.

I’m proud to be a lifetime member of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association.

 

Next week, I hope to share with you, some of the highlights.

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Is Radio Being Disrupted or Simply Lacking the Human Factor

slide ruleI was a physics major in college. The slide rule was a necessary piece of equipment when I was going to school. Hewlett-Packard then came along and replaced it with a line of scientific pocket calculators.

When I began my radio sales career, I adopted the DayTimer written system for keeping track of my schedule and appointments. Then Palm came along and I replaced it with their Palm Pilot Digital Assistant.

When I became a general manager, I wore a pager. That soon was replaced by a Motorola flip phone.

Then Research In Motion (RIM) came along with the Blackberry and suddenly my flip phone and Palm were replaced by a single device.

I loved the size of my Blackberry Pearl smartphone and it wasn’t until I realized that the iPhone4S was the same size as the Pearl and more versatile that I switched to my first iPhone. I also saw Blackberry phones were clinging to life and wanted to adopt an ecosystem that would be around as long as I would be.

Today, I’m fully immersed in the Apple ecosystem and could not imagine what would ever get me to leave it.

Disruptive Innovation

I thought for years that these disruptive changes were due to mechanical innovation. But was that the core reason? Could it be something else?

In 1943, Thomas J. Watson of IBM is credited with saying, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” And Ken Olson of Digital Equipment Company (DEC) while acknowledging the growth of people using personal computers, said he couldn’t understand why.

The Human Factor

How important is the Human Factor in the future of a company, or even an industry?

October 6, 1997: Michael Dell makes an infamously bleak appraisal of Apple’s fortunes. Asked what he would do with Apple, the founder of Dell Inc. says he would “shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”

Where do you think Apple would be today if Michael Dell had been put in charge? What did Steve Jobs, who had just returned to lead Apple say to Dell’s assessment? “We’re coming after you buddy!”

Jobs gave Apple a vision, backed it up with management fortitude and people with the technical skills to make the Apple vision a reality. It was those human factors that carried Apple to become one of the most valuable companies in the world.

Apple’s market value (at the time I was writing this article) was $948M and Dell’s was $27M.

Radio’s Human Factor

Which brings me around to the industry I loved for over 50-years, RADIO. The aspect of radio that first captured my attention was the radio personality. These were the people who built the relationship with the listener.

Then there was the dedicated radio programmer who created the stationality, the promotions and like a good sports coach, kept the radio stars playing together as a winning team.

While it appears, too much of the radio industry is focused these days on mechanical things, blaming it for disruptive innovation, maybe the real culprit is radio’s loss of the “Human Factor.”

“Absolutely everything begins with imagination.”

-George Johns

Howard Stern was never really replaced when he left OTA radio for Satellite Radio. Howard Stern, like him or not, has a vivid imagination. For his listeners, he creates a style of radio that they have to hear.

My favorite part of the Stern movie, “Private Parts,” is dialog between the audience researcher and Stern’s WNBC program director Kevin Metheny, aka Pig Vomit.

RESEARCHER: The average radio listener listens for eighteen minutes. The average Howard Stern fan listens for – are you ready for this? – an hour and twenty minutes.

PIG VOMIT: How can that be?

RESEARCHER: Answer most commonly given? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”

PIG VOMIT: Okay, fine. But what about the people who hate Stern?

RESEARCHER: Good point. The average Stern hater listens for two and a half hours a day.

PIG VOMIT: But… if they hate him, why do they listen?

RESEARCHER: Most common answer? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”

Does anyone want to listen to your radio station to hear what comes next?

“Radio only needs to move @ the speed of life.”

-George Johns

 

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The Voice Interface

Siri Voice InterfaceThis week I sat in on the Fred Jacobs webinar “Mobile Strategy for Radio: What we learned from Techsurvey 2019” and the #1 take away was “voice (not just smart speakers) is the next important user interface at home and in the car.”

I wasn’t surprised.

The Lowest Common Denominator

Here’s where we can expect technology to be headed to accommodate the next billion users that will be joining the digital media party. The next internet addicted people are those living in the developing world, the ones that will be shaping the internet over the next five years or less. They will be impacting ALL internet and mobile users.

What are the characteristics of these folks?

  • Literacy: lower levels of literacy will require different interfaces.
  • Language: a greater variety of language needs will inspire new content formats.
  • Technology: varying devices & connections will impact content format.
  • Motivations: new wants, needs, and desires will inspire new products & services.

Most of today’s internet is text based, but as populations of lower literacy levels sign-on, that will change this. Voice commands, image search and video content will become more dominant in the near future.

Economies of Scale

Technology companies are already working to have all devices and interfaces operate the same way on a global basis. Everything will be designed to cater to the lowest common denominator because it makes fiscal sense. It’s already happening on Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

Why Apple won’t ever put FM receivers into their iPhones.

FM, HD Radio, DAB and DAB+ are all different standards for broadcasting OTA radio signals and do not meet the test of a global standard.

The Next Internet Revolution is Coming

Look for the next billion to drive the next internet revolution in the areas of:

  • Search: SEO will look very different for voice-centric search.
  • Social: People’s social media interactions will be more video than text.
  • Shopping: E-commerce orders will depend on spoken word.
  • Addressing: URLs & Hyperlinks will move from text to image.

Convergence

Something I researched back when I was an undergrad, convergence, is coming to fruition in my lifetime. Every form of media will be delivered over the same pathway and received on the same type of device plus it will be on-demand and on our schedule, not the creator’s schedule.

Fred’s latest webinar shows that were deep into this transition.

If you’d like to take a Deep Dive into this subject, watch this Hootsuite webinar from 2018 HERE

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Great Expectations

OR FMI read with great interest the five part series by Matt Bailey on “The Alexa Effect.” In the 5th and final installment Matt shared what he called the “radio weapon Spotify will never have.” What is it? The radio personality. He wrote:

 

  • “A radio personality can tell you the backstory of a breakthrough artist that makes you want to hear her work.”

  • “A radio personality can point out that crazy line in the second verse to stay tuned to hear.”

  • “A radio personality can engage you to smash or trash a song on the station’s social media.”

  • “A radio personality can give you the chance to be among the very first to hear a new song by a star artist.”

“A radio personality can add context that will make listeners excited to hear a song that otherwise would simply be weird and unfamiliar. It’s a deeply personal and emotionally engaging weapon no algorithm can match. When we stifle their voices and their role in introducing new music simply to avoid potential tune-out, we might win a few tenths of a point in the PPM battle, but we will lose the new music war to Spotify.”

Consolidation & Voice Tracking

I don’t disagree with Matt, but I lived through the ramifications of the Telcom Act of 1996 and the consolidation of radio stations, along with the rollout of voice tracking.

Clear Channel called it “Premium Choice,” and we were told it would replace our local personalities with big market talent.

I watched in market after market as radio personalities, who were like members of the radio listener’s family, were sent to the unemployment lines. Relationships that took years, even decades to establish, wiped out in an instant.

Early Media Expectations

I grew up at a time when the family television set received a signal from a couple of antennas on the roof. We had two channels, which meant we received two television networks, CBS and NBC. If you wanted to change the channel, you had to get off the couch and change it. There was no remote control.

Our radios had both the AM and FM bands, but I remember wondering why. I often scanned the entire FM band to hear nothing at all with only the AM band picking up radio signals.

My early media expectations were two TV channels and AM radio stations. The radio provided a lot more variety, plus I had a radio in my room and our family had a single TV located in the living room. I controlled my radio, my parents controlled the family TV.

Media Expectations Change

In time, I would come to expect television to be in color, to be connected to a cable and have a remote control to easily change the multitude of channels I could now receive, from the comfort of my couch.

Radio would expand to the FM band and a whole new type and style of radio was born. The one thing that connected AM and FM radio was the radio personality. Every station had them and the decision to listen to one station over another was because of the radio personality.

In fact, I wrote an article on the power of the radio personality back in 2015 entitled “We Never Called It Content.”

I wrote this article after reading about the latest round of “forced retirements” in the radio industry.

And if you thought this type of downsizing was only occurring in large radio metros, the movie “Corporate FM” told the story of how in the 80s, ninety percent of mass media in America was owned and controlled by about fifty different companies, but after the Telcom Act of 1996 it was down to just six corporations.

New Media Brings New Expectations

Let’s fast-forward to today. I cut the cord on cable TV two years ago and all of my television viewing is streamed. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sling TV and YouTube provide me with more hours of television entertainment and information than I could ever have time to watch, and I’m retired.

Amazon Echo provides me with all of my audio entertainment and I do mix it up between stations via TuneIn and the pureplays like Pandora and Amazon Music.

I also read a lot and subscribe to several online newsletters that all link to the original source of the material.

Which leads me to this conclusion, my calendar age did not cement my media habits. They’ve been fluid all of my life.

My 21st Century Great Expectations

  • I expect NPR to open up my world to things I should be aware of, that I might not have been. I expect them to also provide me with more depth to the stories in the news. I expect them to have all of this posted online for almost immediate access. They don’t disappoint.
  • I expect my television viewing to be On Demand and commercial free.
  • I expect my music listening to match my mood and be there by simply asking Alexa to play my favorite channels when I want to hear them.
  • Finally, I expect I’m not alone in these “21st Century Great Expectations.”

Rewound Radio DJ Hall of Fame

On Saturdays, I enjoy asking Alexa to play Rewound Radio so I can hear another fabulous radio personality featured in the weekly “DJ Hall of Fame.” The other weekend they featured WOR-FM out of New York City and the air personality was Johnny Donovan. OR-FM air checks are all in stereo and the music mix has plenty of variety. It was a time when Music Radio 77 – WABC dominated the world’s airwaves on the AM band. But the one thing I notice in these weekly trips down memory lane is how integral the radio personality was in the total program. They were a constant companion. They really were radio’s “secret weapon” to attracting faithful listeners.

The question I ponder often is, was this period of radio history akin to the vaudeville period of theater. It filled the right hole at the right time but won’t ever be coming back again.

I welcome your thoughts.

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