Play Records & Meet Girls

50th Anniv WRKO logoLast summer, WRKO held its 50th Anniversary Reunion in Boston. The original five personalities that kicked off “Now Radio in Boston” were all there; Chuck Knapp, J. J. Jeffrey, Al Gates, Arnie “Woo Woo” Ginsburg and Joel Cash.

Radio’s Best Friend, Art Vuolo, recorded the anniversary dinner and Saturday night reunion broadcast over 680AM-WRKO. I bought the two-DVD set, enjoying it all thoroughly.

Growing up in Western Massachusetts prevented me from hearing WRKO’s 50,000-watt Boston signal because of its directionalized North/South pattern and so hearing this incredible radio station was a delight only when I traveled to the eastern end of the Bay State.

Now Radio

For those that aren’t familiar with Boston Radio, WRKO brought the formatics of 93-KHJ Los Angeles to Boston under the leadership of General Manager Perry Ury. Before the station’s switch to Top 40 in March of 1967, the station was known as WNAC.

The Big 68 became WRKO with the launch of the new format and RKO Radio Consultant Bill Drake.

WRKO General Manager Phil Zachary

At the time of the reunion, Phil Zachary was Entercom’s Market Manager for Boston and overseeing WRKO. Phil was promoted to Market Manager of Entercom’s Hartford, Connecticut properties after the Entercom merger with CBS Radio.Phil Zachery

It was what Phil shared at the WRKO 50th Anniversary Dinner that most resonated with me and it’s what I’d like to share with you in this week’s blog.

Phil started off his talk by saying, “I got into radio as a disc jockey to play records and meet girls, like most of you, but I wasn’t as good as most of you, so I ended up as a manager,” adding that he’d been in radio for 41-years, 33-years as a general manager.

What WRKO Meant to Me

Phil grew up in Connecticut listening to parent’s favorite radio station 1080AM-WTIC, so he wasn’t one of the original members of the staff when WRKO was launched as Now Radio back in 1967. But he wanted to share with the audience what WRKO meant to him. Here’s what he shared:

“I was 13-years old and living in Hartford when this station (WRKO) came on the air. If you wanted to be in radio, there was no better place to grow up because there was WPOP, WDRC, 13-WAVES in New Haven and WPRO in Providence and everyone was working to get to New York or Boston, so I heard a lot of you guys as you were working your way up and I got to tell you I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for you.”

“To me, you guys (the radio personalities) were superstars. It is what caused me to say, this is what I want to do for a living. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

“I have 300-employees now in this region and the thing I lament so much, and the thing you really need to celebrate here tonight, is that you are artists, you were real craftsmen, you were entertainers, you were right every bit, every bit, the equal of that music you played. And to this day, I can’t hear those records without hearing you between those records. And without those elements in-between, without who you were in-between, those records were meaningless to me. They don’t mean anything to me. And they don’t mean anything to a whole generation of people who grew up believing you were a part of those groups. That that’s who you were.”

“I have to sit here and thank you with all my heart, not only for making my young life so special but for allowing me the spark and the privilege to earn my living for the last 41-years in this business. You did that for me. You put me up here at this table. I am so thrilled and proud to be here with all of you because I listened to every one of you on the radio. Every one of you!”

“And I said, ‘How can I ever be as good as Mike Adams, how could I ever be like Chip Hobart, how could I ever be like J. J. Jordan…how could I ever be THAT FREAKIN’ GOOD…and that’s what’s missing today, is we just don’t have those types of people, and we don’t have those program directors.”

“There isn’t a day that I come off that elevator and the first thing I say to myself is, ‘holy shit, I’m general manager of WRKO,’ but the second thing I say to myself is, ‘holy shit I could have been on WRKO if I had a great program director, that cared about me, that called me on the hot line and said don’t do that again.’ And that’s what’s missing now, is that we don’t have artists anymore. We don’t have kids that come on the air before the Polish show on Sunday morning and play the tapes and play on the cue speaker the show they really want to do. We don’t have that anymore and one of the reasons we have the show on Saturday night (WRKO 60s Saturday Night) is because I can’t let that die. It can’t go away.”

“So please know how much you mean to me, how much you mean to our business and how honored we are as Entercom to be a part of this celebration.”

Thank You Phil

My own personal story is a parallel to what Phil shared. And I am in complete concert with all that he said.

We are real radio guys.

Radio’s legendary personalities have been lovingly captured by Art Vuolo and I encourage you to check out his website HERE and order some DVDs.Art Vuolo DVD recording

For those of us who made radio a career 50 years ago, it will remind you about why you got into this wonderful crazy business.

For those of you who want to know what radio was like before the internet and social media, it will be a wonderful, inspiring learning experience.

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After this article was written, a research report on the power of personalities was released this week. Tom Taylor’s NOW (4-24-2018) writes: “On-air talent is a huge draw” for AM/FM radio listeners, says Lauren Vetrano, Director of Content Marketing at Cumulus/Westwood One. She presents results from a new study with Vision Critical/MARU, and says “We asked 2,617 consumers how they felt about radio personalities. The results show a strong affinity and trust that marketers can use to their advantage in audio creative.” 68% of respondents “were able to name their favorite AM/FM radio DJ, personality or show.” More than half (52%) “say the main reasons they choose to listen to their favorite station” are specific people or shows. Lauren says “having a connection is about more than just preference…listeners develop loyal relationships based on humor and trust.” Read “The relationship between personalities and listeners is personal” by clicking HERE

You might also enjoy an article I wrote on this same subject back in September 2015 titled “We Never Called It Content.” I wrote:

Larry Lujack, The Real Don Steele, Robert W. Morgan, Dale Dorman, Ron Lundy, Salty Brine, Bob Steele, and so many, many more. These names I’ve dropped are all no longer on the radio. Terrestrial radio anyway. We radio geeks like to think they are now Rockin’ N Rollin’ the hinges off the pearly gates.

Everyone can understand the circle of life. People retire, people pass on.

But this past week saw the “forced retirement” of more big names in radio.

To read the entire article, click HERE 

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Do The Right Thing

Do the Right ThingManaging people is a challenging proposition.

In fact, back in February of 2017, I wrote a whole article about how “Radio would be a great business…if it weren’t for the people.” You can read that article HERE.

The reality is; however, radio IS a people business.

Great radio is created by great people.

Dress Appropriately

I was immediately taken back in time when I read a recent Fred Jacobs blog article recapping a panel he moderated at the NAB2018 convention in Las Vegas. The panel was called “Fast Track to the Future” and you can read Fred’s article about it HERE.

The one big thing the panelists all appeared to agree on, wrote Fred, was that the radio industry needs “to move quickly, strategically, and soundly with as little interference and friction as possible.”

GM’s CEO Mary Bara was tasked with helping to re-write GM’s 10-page company dress code. Bara reduced that document to just two words: “Dress Appropriately.”

As soon as I read that, I thought of the Jacor Employee Handbook that was condensed by Randy Michaels when he led that radio broadcaster. Randy was reported to have turned it into just four words: “Do the Right Thing.”

I’m sure Randy, much as did Mary Bara, got some pushback from the company’s HR department, legal eagles and management. Bara’s reasoning for this two-word policy is golden.

“What I realized is that you really need to make sure your managers are empowered – because if they cannot handle ‘dress appropriately,’ what other decisions can they handle?”

Employee Handbooks

Every company these days has created an employee handbook and crafted a mission statement.

Reading these handbooks are as exciting and memorable as spending an evening with your life insurance salesperson. They’re full of legalese. They tend to drain you of your enthusiasm rather than inspire you.

Billionaire Sam Zell’s handbook when he took over Tribune opened with a simple statement: “Rule No. 1: Use your best judgment. Rule No.2: See rule No. 1.” I’m sure Sam was inspired by Tom Peter’s writing in his book “In Search of Excellence” about his grocery store in Connecticut, Stew Leonard’s, where their rules for customer service are literally written in stone: “Rule 1: The customer is always right. Rule 2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread Rule 1.”Stew Leonard Customer Policy

These are what I like to think of as “horse sense rules.” Just plain common sense.

There’s no ambiguity. They are crystal clear, easily remembered and implemented by everyone in the organization.

Company Mission Statements

Likewise, if your people can’t immediately share your mission statement, then it’s got problems. In fact, your customers should be able to identify with your mission statement by the way your employees perform, even if they don’t know a single word in your company mission statement.

Let me try one out for you and see if you understand what I’m trying to say. Southwest Airlines has the following mission statement: “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride and Company Spirit.”

I fly only Southwest Airlines and have been for years, I can attest that before I even looked up their official company mission statement, I enjoyed that type of treatment from them when flying.

Empowerment by Doing

A side note on the Southwest mission statement, they also commit to all their employees that the company will provide “the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer.”

I believe that’s what keeps Southwest a consistent leader in their industry. They empower their people by exhibiting the desired behavior throughout the enterprise. From the top of the company to the bottom, everyone exhibits the very qualities to each other they want deliverd to the company’s customers.

Leadership today is all about inspiring people and empowering them to believe in themselves, their company and the path that lies ahead. (For more on this, read “3 Leadership Lessons” HERE.)

Leadership

Barry Drake (“40 Years, 40,000 Sales Calls”) was a guest speaker in my university Capstone Class and shared these thoughts about leadership:

  • A leader is anyone other people will follow.
  • A leader must have integrity.
  • A leader must do what’s right and what’s best for the enterprise, even though they realize not everyone will be happy with some of the decisions that have to be made.
  • A leader must earn their people’s respect every minute of every day.
  • Be aware of everything going on all around, all of the time. Read all the trades, read the latest news about business and anything else that will impact your business and that of your radio station’s advertisers.

Management vs. Leadership

The radio industry needs leaders, not managers, in all levels of the organization. Radio’s CEOs need to empower their people. They need to “reward excellent failures and punish mediocre successes” says Tom Peters.

Radio needs to stop playing defense and start playing offense.

Turn your people loose.

Management is doing things right;

leadership is doing the right things.

-Peter Drucker

 

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What’s Changed in 98 Years?

Global Ad Spending Graph 2018 & BeyondIn the year 2020, commercial radio will celebrate its 100th birthday. Hopefully, by then, America’s two largest broadcasters will be out of bankruptcy. But before we light the candles and begin the celebration we need to face reality. Global ad spending, according to Zenith (see graph) will see newspapers, magazines, radio, cinema and outdoor all fighting to be the tallest ad-supported midget. TV will be marginally growing, but the internet will be the big winner; raking in more advertising revenue than, print, radio, cinema and outdoor combined. That’s sobering news.

It’s a Digital Future

Last week, I shared with you a “Readers Digest” version of a webinar I attended hosted by Kepios’ Simon Kemp. If you missed it, you can read it HERE

The essence of where things are headed will be influenced by the “next billion” people coming online. The “FLAAG” companies, Facebook-LinkedIn-Amazon-Apple-Google, are already in the process of having all of their interfaces, working on all devices, in the same way on a global basis. With a million new users a day joining the internet, mostly from underdeveloped countries, everything will be designed for the lowest common denominator.

Radio, Then vs. Now

Bob Shannon’s book “Turn It Up! – American Radio Tales 1946-1996” is a fascinating read. The legends of the radio industry share their own personal radio adventure as well as give their view on how radio is today. (Note: “today” being the mid-nineties when the book was being written.)

Chuck Dunaway said, “The formats haven’t changed in all these years – it’s just the music that changes.” “I still hear the stop sets falling in the same places and we’re still playing and programming to Arbitron (now Nielsen Audio), and not to the listener.”

Bill Figenshu noted that “when Wall Street started to pay attention to radio, it became more of a financial play and the corporations were turned over to the financial folks, who didn’t understand the value of local content.” “As a consequence, many radio stations, particularly those owned by large groups, sought to cut costs and localism, and being part of a community became a luxury; it didn’t happen everywhere, but it happened in lots of town and cities.” “It hasn’t been a good thing for radio or its listeners.”

That pretty much sums it up. Even after another decade since the book was written.

Radio hasn’t really changed but the world it operates in, has.

Time Spent with Ad-Supported Media

On Tom Taylor’s NOW, Jerry Lee is sharing his new book called “How to Grow Your Revenue More Than 20% by 2020.” In a recent headline, Jerry wrote:

“In Radio, we have two major problems. First, we are running far too many commercials for today’s audiences. Second, the commercials are awful. Our listeners can’t skip through the commercials. If they want to listen to their favorite station, they have to endure the seemingly endless commercial break or switch to another station that isn’t playing commercials at that moment.”

Sadly, the reality may be worse.

Time Spent with Media GRAPH

PQ Media released a graph showing the time spent with media that is ad-supported is going down while the time spent with consumer supported media is going up. This is even more worrisome when you realize that total time spent with media has been steadily increasing every year since 2011 and is projected to continue increasing through 2021.

Joe Mandese says that “advertising is falling to the lowest share of time spent with media ever.”

The Speed of Adoption of New Technology

technology-adoption-rates GRAPH

This graph shows how our world of technology adoption has picked up speed with each new innovation. But maybe even more important are the words Marshall McLuhan said about “the medium is the message.” McLuhan meant “that the form of a medium embeds itself in any message it would transmit or covey, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.” McLuhan was prophetic in realizing how the very medium itself can impact society, by not only the content it delivers but also by the characteristics of the medium itself.

You probably can come up with lots of examples yourself that demonstrate this observation by just comparing how newspapers, radio, TV, Facebook and Twitter, delivering the same content, influence how it’s received.

Radio’s Future

The radio I grew up in was not what’s commonly referred to as “The Golden Age of Radio.” That was the period of time before TV. I grew up in radio’s “2nd Golden Age,” one of a music based, youth-oriented radio. Radio that appealed to my emotions.

Radio that’s winning today, like Public Radio/NPR and Christian Radio, are touching people emotionally and appealing to things their listeners are passionate about.

Ignore people’s passion and emotion, and your radio station will die on the growing pile of media clutter.

 

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Who Controls the Future of Digital?

digital futureI recently participated in a Hootsuite webinar by Simon Kemp on “The Future Forces of Digital, 2018 & Beyond.” It’s eye-opening and rather intuitive in its conclusions for where the internet of things is headed. Let me share with you what I learned.

The State of World Digital 2018

First, a dose of current reality:

  • World Population: 7.593 Billion
  • Population connected to the internet: 4.021 Billion (53%)
  • Active on social media: 3.196 Billion (42%)
  • Unique mobile users: 5.135 Billion (68%)
  • Active mobile social media users: 2.958 Billion (39%)

Right off the bat, seeing that 68% of the world’s population are now mobile users, most likely on a smartphone, was a wake-up call. And while social media is now ten years old, the world is still joining the conversation on social media at a rate of a million new users every day.

USA Digital 2018

Now that you have an idea of what’s going on globally, here’s what Simon told us about the current state of digital in America:

  • USA population: 325.6 million
  • USA population connected to the internet: 286.9 million (88%)
  • USA population active on social media: 230.0 million (71%)
  • USA population that are unique mobile users: 234.8 million (72%)
  • USA population that are active mobile social media users: 200.0 (61%)

We are past the tipping point for both mobile use and internet connectivity in America. In fact, 69% of Americans have now shopped online.

The researchers are forecasting content that inspires and educates will be more valued by this growing digital audience going forward, versus content that informs and entertains.

What Do We Do?

The big question we need to be asking ourselves in media is, what can we do that will make our target audience so excited about it that they would be willing to pay for it?

NPR/Public Radio and Christian Radio have figured this out and it’s why we have seen both formats doing so well in both audience ratings as well as listener support.

Every radio station should be asking this question, when planning any activity.

How Do We Know What Our Audience Wants?

Mayor Ed Koch knew how to find out what his constituents wanted. He asked them. Repeatedly.

Everywhere 3-term NYC Mayor Koch went, he asked “How am I doing?”

To get the answer to this question for your media property, ask your listeners. Your goal is to find out what your target audience wants, needs and desires in order to learn what will inspire them, educate them and make their lives better.Maslow's Needs Pyramid

Think Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” pyramid.

Tap into Your Influencers

Radio’s top influencers are their P1 listeners. To really understand your target audience, your P1 listeners are the ones you need to intimately know and take care of. Station logo’d stuff ought to be freely flowing to these important people, but it doesn’t stop there.

Your P1s are the people who understand what your target audience really cares about, and why. Think of them as consultants to your brand.

Lowest Common Denominator

In the next two to five years we can expect technology to accommodate the next billion users of digital media. People in the developing world, are the ones that will be shaping the internet.

They will impact ALL internet and mobile users.

Again, Simon gave these examples of that next billion users impact:

  • 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 content is texted 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 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.

When Mr. Kemper walked his audience through this part of his presentation, I immediately thought of having Apple put FM receivers into their iPhones.

FM, HD Radio, DAB, DAB+ etc. are 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.

 

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Sales Motivators

Salesmanship begins when

Salesmanship begins when the customer says “NO”

This week, I thought it might be fun to share some of the sales motivators I’ve used over the years. I hope you enjoy them and find some inspiration from reading them.

 

  • Eighty percent of success in life is showing up. -Woody Allen
  • Fail your way to success…
    • Deal with rejection: You’re not judged by the number of times you fail, but by the number of times you succeed. However, the number of times you succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times you can fail and keep on trying!
  • SW, SW, SW. Next!
    • Some people get hung up on rejection, while others are fueled by it. Some Will, Some Won’t, So What? Now move on!
  • Life is made up of small pleasures. Happiness is made up of those tiny successes, the big ones come too infrequently. If you don’t have all of those zillions of tiny successes, the big ones don’t mean anything. -Norman Lear
  • Babe Ruth hit 714 Home Runs. He also struck out 1,330 times.
  • What Is Hustle?
    • Hustle is doing something that everyone is absolutely certain can’t be done
    • Hustle is getting the order because you got their first, or stayed with it after everyone else gave up
    • Hustle is shoe leather and elbow grease and sweat and missing lunch
    • Hustle is getting prospects to say “yes” after they’ve said “no” twenty times
    • Hustle is doing more unto a customer than the other guy is doing unto him
    • Hustle is believing in yourself and the business you’re in
    • Hustle is the sheer joy of winning
    • Hustle is being the sorest loser in town
    • Hustle is hating to take a vacation because you might miss a piece of the action
    • Hustle is heaven if you’re a hustler
    • Hustle is hell if you’re not
  • Listen More and Sell More
    • As a salesperson, you probably spend as much as half your time listening. But scientific tests show that most people listen at an efficiency level of only about 25%. Here are five guidelines for effective listening that should help you get more out of what your customer is saying:
      1. Find areas of interest, even in dry subjects. Listen to every subject for useful information.
      2. Listen for ideas, not just facts.
      3. Hold your fire. Don’t judge what a person has said until you completely understand it.
      4. Fight distractions. Concentrate. Learn to tolerate a speaker’s bad habits.
      5. Listen to difficult, heavy material as an exercise for your mind.
  • Don’t Quit

Is that what you want to do?

Quit?

Anybody can do that.

Takes no talent.

Takes no guts.

It’s exactly what your adversaries hope you will do.

Get your facts straight.

Know what you’re talking about.

And keep going.

In the 1948 Presidential election, the nation’s leading political reporters all predicted that Harry Truman would lose.

He won.

Winston Churchill said, “Never give in. Never. Never.”

Sir Winston stuck his chin out and wouldn’t quit.

Try sticking out your chin.

Don’t give up.

Ever.

  • NOTICE: If you ever want to sell your product to our company, be sure your product is accompanied by a plan, which will so help our business that we will be more anxious to buy than you are to sell. -D.W.Beverage, Jr. and Associates

 

Just some of the thoughts that inspired me when I started out in radio sales.

Thoughts that I also shared as I moved up to sales manager, station manager, general manager and market manager.

Thoughts I would share with my students in my broadcast sales classes too.

Got a quote or story that has inspired you?

Please share it in the comments section.

Thank You for helping me to pay-it-forward to the next generation.

Aspire to Greatness

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The Past is Not Prologue

200px-Duck-Rabbit_illusion

Thomas Kuhn used the duck-rabbit optical illusion, to demonstrate the way in which a paradigm shift could cause one to see the same information in an entirely different way.

One of my favorite weekly reads is Tim Moore’s “The Midweek Motivator.” You can sign-up for Tim’s weekly wisdom here.

This past week, Tim wrote about how people inside radio stations are asking him, “is radio failing?”

Now Tim’s a student of history, and he responded with “If you care about history (because the past is prologue) here’s the simple truth: some large groups are faced with debt loads that will either force bankruptcy or massive reorganization.”

Tim’s analysis about how America’s two largest broadcasters dug huge debt holes that can’t be re-filled by current operating revenues is spot-on. With radio, like a lot of businesses, it’s a matter of buying it right from the get-go. Start out upside down and most likely you won’t have a good day.

A system that is over-reliant on prediction through leverage, hence fragile to unforeseen “black swan” events, will eventually break into pieces.

-Nassim Taleb

Technology

Crystal balls are hard to come by but my tea leaves are leading me to believe that mass mediated communication is confronting more than just debt loads. What we are also dealing with is “paradigm paralysis.”

Radio’s leaders are holding onto a set of beliefs and views that radio is invincible.

Thomas Kuhn coined the term “paradigm shift” in his influential book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” in 1962. The business world adopted this terminology of “paradigm shift” to describe a profound change in a fundamental model.

Paradigm paralysis, on the other hand, is the inability or refusal to see beyond the current models of thinking.

Let Me Share a Story

John C. Harrison told this story at the First World Congress on Fluency Disorders held in Munich, Germany in 1994. See if you see a parallel to radio and the advent of satellites, streaming, podcasts, and smart speakers.

In the late 1940s a man walked into a laboratory of a major photographic

manufacturer in America to demonstrate a new photographic process.  But

he didn’t bring along a camera or film.  He brought along a red box with a

shiny steel plate, a charging device, a light bulb and a container of black

powder.  The picture he created was faint but discernible.

 

“But where’s the film?” they asked.  “Where’s the developer?  Where’s the

darkroom?  Why, that’s not really photography!”  And so, the company

passed up an opportunity to acquire the process for electrostatic

photography, or xerography…a process that has grown into a multi-billion

dollar industry.

 

Why did they pass up such a great opportunity?  Because the people who

saw the process were suffering from PARADIGM PARALYSIS.

 

Call Me an Outsider

Joel Barker wrote a book called “Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future.” Joel says that anyone who develops a new paradigm is often labeled an “outsider.”

Truthfully, when you’re running a cluster of radio stations, you don’t have time to think let alone take a step back and look at things with a fresh eye. I know. I’ve been there.

What teaching and now blogging have given me the opportunity to do is listen to everyone talk about the prevailing paradigm of radio broadcasting, in all of its subtleties and contrast it, to what I’m witnessing taking place before my eyes and ears by the end users of mass media.

And what I sense may be happening, is the radio industry being on the verge of a “black swan event.”

Black Swan Events

Credit card companies, who amass tons of data on their customers, still managed to miss the huge financial crises in housing back in 2007-2009.

When a tidal wave struck Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, the predictive model used to calculate how high the protective wall should be built, provided for a 20-foot wave. Yet, the wave that struck the plant was 24-feet high.

AIG, an insurance company in the business of predicting risk, missed seeing the financial collapse that bankrupted them.

Digital Advertising

Now Facebook is dealing with a black swan event over their data breach by Cambridge Analytica. Only this black swan could have major implications for how digital advertising is bought and sold in the future. The UK and Europe will put in place in May 2018 the “General Data Protection Regulation,” that will protect their citizens’ personal data or offending companies will suffer stiff penalties and fines.

So, what the Facebook story is doing, is making its two plus billion users aware of such massive collection and abuse of our data, but the fallout from this breach of trust will impact the ad supported business model of everyone in the digital advertising world.

30% of American Homes Don’t Have a Radio

Edison Research and Triton Digital’s annual “Infinite Dial” research just produced this astounding statistic. Close to a third of America’s homes no longer have a radio set in them.

Many people see smart speakers as the way back into the home for radio. But are they really?

Cable TV & Over-The-Air (OTA) TV

In the beginning, cable television was called “Community Antenna Television.” The concept was simple, TV stations were primarily located in big cities and the suburbs couldn’t receive those TV signals. So, antennas were placed high on mountains and cables would carry the signals received to homes in the valley.

TV operators loved this back then. It was like getting a power increase for no money.

Ah, but remember, there’s no such thing as a “free lunch.”

As the cable industry grew, channels such as ESPN and CNN and The Weather Channel were born and would compete with OTA TV.

Then along came streaming video.

Netflix

At the end of March 2017, one year ago, Netflix surpassed cable TV with its number of subscribers. And if you were to add up all the other streaming video services available to today’s television consumer, the lead over cable wouldn’t be a couple million viewers, but tens of millions.

What happens when a household begins subscribing to these advertising free channels? They find it almost impossible to return to ad supported ones.

Smart Speakers

Now we circle back to the smart speakers, Amazon’s, Google’s, Apple’s and Microsoft’s for starters. Instead of a handful of audio choices, the smart speaker delivers an almost infinite choice, and many, advertising-free.

When you put a prime rib steak next to hamburger and they are both the same price, which do you think most folks will choose?

The smart speaker lets you customize your favorites, much like the pre-sets on your car radio does. I’m willing to bet that the average consumer will end up with about 3 to 5 favorite audio streams they spend the bulk of their listening time with.

In fact, Nielsen’s Total Audience Report released in the second quarter of 2017 said that 87% of OTA radio listeners spent their listening time tuned to one of their three favorite radio stations. And 58% of that time was spent listening to just one station, what Nielsen calls their 1st Preference or P1 station.

Why would we expect this number to grow with the advent of smart speakers?

Goldstein’s Words

I think Steve Goldstein summed it up best in his recent blog when he wrote, “Commercial radio should put down the hammer and stop searching for nails. As they think beyond the stream, they will see how people are using audio media these days and create on-demand solutions in-sync with the vast opportunity of the exploding Smart Speaker universe. On Smart Speakers, the listeners are asking for it.”

 

 

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Voice Command

Voice CommandIt’s only been about two months and Alexa has changed the way I interface with my devices.

I’ve had Siri since I switched from a Blackberry to an iPhone4S. (The S stood for Siri.)

The new smartphone was such an improvement over my Blackberry Pearl that I never used Siri much in the beginning, later, I would use her to type my text messages, but that was about it.

Enter Alexa…

All that changed this past Christmas when my fiancé, Sue, put an Amazon Echo Dot into my Christmas stocking. It took about two weeks before I finally got around to plugging the Dot into electrical power, downloaded the Amazon Echo app to my iPhone7 and connected the Dot to our house Wi-Fi.

Now Sue has never been thrilled by all the remote controls to operate our TVs, radios and audio systems. And truthfully, I wish it could be simpler too.

Alexa teaches us both new tricks, by simply talking to her artificial intelligence voice. And we both love it!

Hey Siri…

Once adapted to Alexa, I began to use Siri to do more things on my iPhone7 and AppleTV.

We cut the cord last year but to satisfy my news diet, I put in Sling TV with the news package. The rest of our TV watching is filled up with Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube. New movies that we missed at the local theaters or never played in our area are viewed using iTunes.

Finding something to watch used to be rather tedious, but now, I just say “Hey Siri…”and she goes off and finds it, offers me the viewing options available to me (I always opt for the FREE route) and the program begins immediately.

GARMIN

Something that has long been on my bucket list has been driving across America from coast-to-coast and seeing those things I’ve only seen by flying over them. Places like Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon etc. Lucky for me, that’s been on Sue’s bucket list too.

We put up a big map of the United States in our kitchen and have lined out the route we plan to take with bright yellow dots marking our planned stops along the way.

In preparation for this 8,000-mile, eight-week trip, I bought the latest GARMIN SmartDrive 61 GPS. It comes with the ability to do “Voice Commands” for plotting your next destination, finding hotels, restaurants and points of interest.

Thanks to Alexa and Siri, I quickly embraced this feature.

But it doesn’t stop there, my new GPS also links to my smartphone and displays news bulletins, real-time traffic, weather conditions, my complete contact phone book, helps me to find parking and then remembers where I parked when I want to return to my car. And it makes it all easily accessible by just using my voice.

But You’re a Radio Guy

Whenever I write something about new technology, what I hear back are things like, “You’re a radio guy” or “you love technology.” The meaning being, I’m not like your average consumer. But, I believe that just as Amazon has changed the way we shop for just about everything, Alexa will bring about a similar change in the way we interface with our devices.

Carnegie’s Constant Reminder

One of the many radio publications I would read daily was Jim & Cathy Carnegie’s Radio Business Reports (RBR). If there was one thing I remember most about that publication under Jim’s reign, it was about dealing with change. Jim constantly banged the drum warning the radio industry “to get with it or be left behind by it.”

He reflected change by taking his own publication and changing the way it would be delivered and cover the broadcasting industry. He led by example.

Seniors & VADs

I know the young person’s perception are that senior citizens (anyone with an AARP card) is stuck in their ways and not likely to adopt anything new. Well, I’m here to tell you, you would be wrong. Especially, when it comes to voice activated devices (VADs).

I fully anticipate that seniors, aka Boomers, will lead the adoption of these devices. One of the reasons being they enable us to eliminate the multitude of buttons and collection of remote controls by simply using our voices.

What I Learned About Seniors from a Pharmacist’s Son

Back when I was put in charge of a thousand-watt, daytime, Music of Your Life radio station, I remember going out and meeting with clients to build up my new radio station’s client base.

One day, I walked into a pharmacy thinking that my “old folks format” would be perfect for people needing medication. Well, I never got the pharmacy on-the-air for drug announcements.

Upstairs above the pharmacy, the youngest member of the family had started an electronics division, selling the latest computers, phones, and other gadgets. He told me he’d love to be a big advertiser on my radio station catering to the over 65 age group.

Why?

Because, he told me, unlike young people who when something new came out, would look at it and say, “I’m going to wait until they come out with the new and improved version,” seniors would buy it on the spot.

What he learned was, seniors felt they could afford to have the latest technology now, and if something better came out, they’d trade up to that next. And this was almost 40-years ago!

Now, with my AARP card occupying a place in my wallet for more than decade, I can tell you, that’s exactly how I feel.

Get on board the change train

OR

Get left behind

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