Back next week with the year’s most impactful articles
on DTB in 2018.
Back next week with the year’s most impactful articles
on DTB in 2018.
Back next week with the year’s most impactful articles
on DTB in 2017.
Now I’d like to share a guest article by a fellow broadcast educator/mentor from England, Richard Horsman. When I read Richard’s article on his blog (rhorsman.blogspot.co.uk) I knew I wanted to share it and with his permission, I am. Enjoy!
I spent 23 years in all training broadcast journalists, the first decade or so of that whilst still working long hours in a broadcast newsroom at The Pulse in Bradford, latterly as News Editor through some turbulent times.
I’ve been extremely privileged throughout my professional career. I didn’t have a day of unemployment between 1 October 1980, when I was taken on as a copywriter at Pennine Radio, and 31 August this year. That’s remarkable given the volatile nature of the radio industry.
More importantly, at a human level, I’ve been extremely privileged to work with over four hundred trainees who passed through my courses.
I’ve always refused to use the word “student”. My trainees are treated like newbies in a newsroom from day one. It serves most of them well. Those who respond positively to the ethos avoid the pitfalls.
Too often “students” are whiny creatures, especially as undergraduates, living in a small and narcissistic world of lectures, assignments and (for many, by no means all) an all-consuming social life.
Given the choice of an interviewee, they’ll look to someone like themselves. Given a choice of topic, they gravitate to education, housing, binge drinking and sexual health. Relating to the lives and interests of an audience of over-forties on BBC local radio doesn’t cross their self-obsessed minds.
Many lecturers indulge lax student attitudes by being lenient towards late arrival in sessions, and no-shows are tolerated so long as they’re not too frequent. Students are rarely professional in their appearance, and increasingly lack even basic conversational skills, never mind the sophisticated interpersonal communication techniques required to get a quote out of a reluctant interviewee.
Don’t even mention “talking to someone on the telephone”. I’ve seen some skulk away down a corridor with a mobile rather than hold a simple conversation in an open office.
It’s also fair to say “students” are not popular in newsrooms.
I’ve lost count of the number of employers with horror stories of placement candidates they’ve encountered (not mine) who turn up late for blue-chip placements, sit in a corner showing no initiative throughout the attachment, play with an iPhone and miss that once in a lifetime opportunity to impress.
So we need professionally-minded news trainees, not students. At least not that kind of students.
My trainees are treated very differently.
Historically, they’ve been dragged from student haunts in Hyde Park, Woodhouse and Headingley and the shiny bars and clubs of Leeds to report on real stories in Bradford, a multicultural and socially disadvantaged city just 9 miles away, but which for many could as well be on Mars.
In all but the last couple of years I have required male trainees to wear collar and tie, at least for the first few weeks until the expectation of smartness when facing members of the public becomes ingrained.
We start our transmission days on BCB Radio with a bulletin at 0800. A kind of earlies, the best I can do given the sorry state of public transport. This is Yorkshire, not London. 0500 starts are not an option and would upset University security.
Trainees describe the immersive, month long BCB newsroom experience as being “like a freelance gig you can’t be sacked from”. Unlike the real world, they can still come back for a second and a third day even if their performance on the first wasn’t up to scratch.
There are tears, of course there are.
Facing a live mic, in front of a real audience, is a daunting experience. There’s no option to stop and start again, no possibility of dissolving into giggles when there are four thousand real BCB listeners in the audience, whose lives are affected by the content of your bulletin. Not just your mates through the glass, having a fun experience in a class at Uni.
I always had a rule that in the newsroom I was an editor, and would behave as such. In my office I could be a compassionate tutor when having private conversations about strengths, weaknesses and outside concerns. At least one cohort referred to my office as “the situation room” … as in “Dickie wants to see you in the situation room”.
Dickie. Using the name was a privilege the trainees earned, once that had been through the process and proved themselves competent to run the newsroom unaided. Once they’d taken the phone call offering a job, or battled the demons holding them back from overcoming their fears on air.
Beyond all this, it’s a true privilege for me when a young person, or even more so a mature career-changer, puts their future in my hands. A privilege and an enormous responsibility.
The process involves an amazing degree of trust for trainees to get out of their comfort zone, to go on air, to walk down a strange road, to keep editing at three minutes to transmission, to accept a placement hundreds of miles from home. It’s often life-changing stuff, and I hope I delivered my side of the bargain in the majority of cases.
The process is pure alchemy. Raw trainees go in, golden journalists come out. At the end of the course there is a directness in the gaze and a firmness in the handshake that means that person will convince an editor to take a chance on them in a live environment with audiences far, far bigger than BCB. If I can deliver that, I rate it a success.
I’m not giving up teaching completely. I’ve just completed a fortnight in which Leeds Trinity trainees made four excellent hour long programmes, broadcast live. I’m starting a visiting role at Sheffield University in the new year, with a course that has won many accolades. And I’ll be back running a month on air (actually three weeks) for BCB in April. I’m up for a bit of travel, if any of my overseas audience fancy a novel input from a mildly eccentric and strongly opinionated Brit.
In conclusion – it’s been an immense privilege to be able to contribute something to the development of so many journalists, so many of whom now hold senior editorial and presentation roles in news at levels I could never dream of achieving on national radio and TV.
I’m so grateful to have had that opportunity in life, and to have this recognised by the BJTC as the voice of the industry in broadcast training.
I’ve never been lauded with academic honours, I really don’t fit in that world. I leave my faculty position as I arrived, a plain “Mr”, but I’m so proud of my BJTC award … and even more so with what my trainees have achieved over the years.
Next objective? National treasure.
I recently just returned from my first real vacation in many years. I joined some of the members of my high school class for an 8-day Caribbean Cruise.
We sailed aboard Carnival’s Splendor and it was wonderful.
Behind The Fun
Carnival offers a special behind the scenes tour of the ship on the last sea day of a cruise. It’s a very extensive tour that starts on the bridge and time with the captain, Splendor’s Roberto Tine.
Next, we travel to the ship’s engine room and visit with Splendor’s chief engineer Mario Testa.
What we basically learn is that everything on today’s cruise ship can be fully automated, but a full staff of people man the controls and make the decisions.
The Carnival Splendor can carry 3,012 guests along with a crew of 1,150.
The Key People
One of the light boards on the ship had pictures of the key personnel on the Splendor and showed four people, the captain, the chief engineer, the head of hotel operations and the cruise director.
The person just about everyone on the Splendor came in contact with was cruise director MarQ Anthony.
His Facebook page really tells the story of this dynamic personality. People write on his page things like: We will definitely be returning just for MarQ and his funny, crazy self. He blew it away. Truly an epic vacation. The most memorable moments of the cruise included the very talented, energetic, and hilarious MarQ, our cruise director. I won’t forget this cruise anytime soon! Carnival has a jewel with MarQ and some other staff members on that ship. MarQ was fantastic, phenomenal, amazing, and overall the most energetic and fun person I’ve ever met. He made every single event my mom and I attended on the ship memorable and we had a great time. The best part was seeing how much he enjoyed everything he did and his effort to connect and build relationships with people throughout the cruise. We looked forward to hearing his wake-up calls and getting into any event he was involved in on the ship. We loved you MarQ and we look forward to (hopefully) seeing you again!!!
I have to say, I concur with everyone’s comments and MarQ IS Carnival in my mind.
People Attract People
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how it’s people that attract people. I wrote that article to emphasize how it was the radio personalities that put a fire in my belly to be a part of the radio business. I worked in radio for over four decades and then seven years ago I transitioned into teaching when I became a broadcast professor at a university. I wanted to light fires in the bellies of my students for the radio industry.
We never get a second chance to make a first impression. For my fiancé this was her first cruise. For me it was my second one but my first was about three decades ago, so it was like the first time for me too.
Good first impressions come from projecting a positive image and doing that comes from your attitude. MarQ led a team of people on the Carnival Splendor that had a positive attitude. Anna is the head of training and staff development on the Splendor and was the person who led our group of 16 people on our tour. (Note: the Behind The Fun tour of the ship is limited to a maximum of 16 people)
The crew’s section of the ship is like a city within a city. It’s not as flashy as the guest accommodations but it is clean, comfortable and Carnival makes every effort to ensure that their team members are happy and well cared for. The hiring business model appears to put hiring people with the right attitude first. Everyone on the Carnival Team was upbeat, positive and fun to be around. They don’t just make a great first impression but reinforce that impression with every encounter.
The cruise was a wonderful vacation. We visited four islands over our eight-day cruise, we saw many wonderful and amazing things, we even rode a Segway, but what we will remember forever were the people of the Splendor and how they made us feel.
In the end, it’s not about stuff or things, but people-to-people encounters.
So much of the cruise experience could be fully automated, but it would pale with the experience we enjoyed because of the wonderful people on the Carnival team.
Almost every radio station impacts more people with their broadcast signal than the 3,012 guests aboard the Splendor, but they lose their advantage when they automate and voice track their product. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Clayton Christensen wrote in the “The Innovator’s Dilemma” that businesses are disrupted not because they ignored threats to their business but because they didn’t recognize the threats to their business.
Radio can’t dilute its core business while in pursuit of possible ancillary activities.
Radio’s core business are talented people totally engaged and focused on their service area, 24/7.
I’m off on an 8-day Caribbean Cruise with members of my high school class, but will return next week with a story about what you could learn from WABC Rewound, a community band in New Holland, Junior Achievement and a retired Catholic priest.
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There are some things in life you can’t have too much of.
You can’t have too much fun.
You can’t have too much wisdom.
You can’t have too much love.
Too Many College Bowl Games
My university invested a ton of money to upgrade to Conference USA. We won our bowl game in Florida this year too. Did you watch our team win? Probably not. Turns out attendance at the plethora of Florida college bowl games is down.
“When the Outback Bowl in Tampa announced an attendance of 51,119 on Monday who watched Florida dismantle Iowa 30-3, it became the sixth college bowl game among eight in Florida to have a decline in attendance from the previous year,” reports the Florida Times-Union.
NFL TV Viewership Decline
Rolling Stone magazine wrote that one of the big stories of 2016 was the decline in viewership of the NFL. How big was the decline? Down 8%.
Prime Time games were down the most with an audience erosion of 10 to 12%.
The Federal Highway Administration says that by 2025 passenger miles traveled will have increased 72%. Why? Because that same agency says our population will have increased by 26% by that same year.
Tell me the road you commute to and from work isn’t already over congested.
Why is Country Music not the Top Radio Format in Nashville?
Nielsen Audio did a research study in 2014 and said the top radio format in America was country music. Ironically, the top radio station in Music City aka Nashville was NOT a country station. And it’s still not.
The latest ratings for Nashville show the highest rated country music station is ranked #7. The following radio formats are all ahead of that country station: Adult Contemporary, CHR, Sports, Urban AC, Talk and Variety Hits.
However, if you combine all of the audience of the many country format radio stations in Nashville, you will have a higher share of audience than the number one radio station commands.
Less Is More
So while you cannot have too much fun, wisdom, or love, you can have too many choices of products and services. Great for consumers’ maybe, but not for business owner/operators. Ask those who are dealing with the increase in college bowl games, NFL games, traffic congestion or playing country music in Nashville.
Radio is experiencing its own issues with supply versus demand.
The FCC will open up two windows for new translators this year. That’s after 750 new FM translators were signed on in 2016. Currently there are 19,778 FM signals beating the airwaves throughout America. Compare that to 4,669 AM radio stations currently on the air.
At the point in America’s history when the same number of AM radio stations equaled the number of FM radio stations on the air in America (end of 1992), 75% of all radio listening was to FM radio.
The Psychological Aspects of Overpopulation
This brings me back to my own undergraduate college days and psychology class. I remember learning about an experiment about putting too many rats into a confined space.
“As the number of rats rose above a certain level, the effects became rather dramatic,” wrote Albert J. M. Wessendorp, Psychologist-Psychotherapist. The rats displays behavioral disturbances, death rates rose, male rats began to show deviant sexual behavior and more. You can read more here.
Whales are known to commit collective suicide in order to control overpopulation.
What about you and me? How are we impacted by overpopulation (or over choice)?
The research says even human population growth is subject to limits. If we fail in controlling things ourselves, mother nature will begin to do it for us. (Think: Climate Change)
Radio Station Overpopulation
I love the radio business.
I share these thoughts because I’m concerned that the current overpopulation of the FM band is not taking into consideration the laws of physics or the impact of anything that gets overpopulated.
The FRC when it was formed (Federal agency that pre-dates our current FCC) it made it its mission to see America have quality radio stations or a large quantity of mediocre ones. We now look back on this period of time as “The Golden Age of Radio.”
Wessendorp writes that Maslow taught us that “People are only stirred into action when they feel their basic needs to be threatened.”
Have you looked at the revenue forecasts for radio for 2017? Are you feeling threatened yet?
What You Can Do
Next week I will continue with this topic and offer up what I believe is a solution to radio’s problem in an overpopulated entertainment world.
The words you use can make all the difference in the outcome of whatever you’re trying to do. Visual mediums can get lazy with wordcraft thinking the visuals will carry the message. Radio can’t.
Colleges teach two kinds of writing: creative and journalistic. One is made of whimsy and the other is fact-based. Effective radio ads are written to persuade. Few do.
In my sales class we spend time exploring how to write messages that cause the listener to see themselves doing what it is we want them to do. People must first envision something in their mind before they will ever actually do it.
Walt Disney said:
“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
So you’d think that when my students produce their radio ads in their sales presentation during finals week they would be filled with persuasive wizardry. They’re not. They’re filled with all of the tired old clichés that comprise most radio ads. Why, because they’ve been brainwashed with them without even realizing it. Even though they have no impact, rating a big zero on the persuasive scale, they are still filling their brains.
Clichés Have No Father
While we’ve all heard them – like “plenty of free parking,” “committed to excellence,” “fast friendly service,” “these prices won’t last long,” “in business since 19–,” – and know them, we have long stopped connecting them to anyone or any business. They are in a sense orphan phrases that fill-up an advertisement but don’t deliver the goods. And they usually are what cause an advertiser to say “radio doesn’t work.”
You don’t listen to clichés and neither will anyone else. Stop using them.
George Johns is a famous programming consultant and he puts it this way:
“He who controls the language controls the budget.
We don’t Bing or Yahoo things we Google them.”
Google means search. It’s why the parent company re-branded itself from Google to Alphabet.
What’s Your Point?
Whether you’re selling advertising for your radio station(s) or you’re writing radio copy for one of your clients, you should distill your message into a single compelling sentence.
The last presidential election had two candidates. One candidate made a consistent, compelling point and the other had a “basket of deplorables.”
Long after people have forgotten all the dry details of the race, they will never forget those red ball caps and that single compelling sentence.
It’s a New Year and time to stop using worn-out words and tired old clichés. To quote the great advertising man David Ogilvy:
“You cannot bore someone into buying your product.”