The End of Retail Business

Going Out of BusinessIs the retail industry dying?

Stores that I grew up with, like Toys R Us, Sears, K-Mart, and Radio Shack are either in bankruptcy or out-of-business. Other retailers are reducing the number of locations to become more profitable to their investors.

The local retailer finds themselves even more challenged to deal with the likes of Walmart and Amazon.

Radio Lives on Local

The prescription for the radio business is to focus their programming on their local community of license. In other words, be VERY local in everything they do.

If the radio station you listen to could be transplanted into another city without changing a single thing about their programming, other than their weather forecasts and traffic reports, then that radio station isn’t really local.

If, on the other hand, you drive into a community and you have no idea what the people on the air are talking about or who the people they’re talking about are, then you have come upon a LOCAL radio station that is serving the people of their listening area.

Local Retailers

In the smaller markets I’ve managed radio stations in, we didn’t really do much business with those big box retailers. Sadly, in most cases, after the grand opening schedule and remote broadcast, they pretty much stayed away from local radio.

The local businesses that lined the main street, or were located in a strip mall or populated the surrounding small towns, were the life-blood of a local radio station.

As Walmart and Amazon strip away the ability for these small merchants to make a living, radio’s business base is likewise being decimated.

21st Century Retailing

Retailing is being disrupted. While some retailers are closing, we also see companies like Apple, Amazon and even Coca Cola investing in building new brick and mortar locations.

The change that’s occurring according to Greg Satell is that “the primary function of a physical store is not to drive transactions, but to service and support customers.”

In other words, retailing is being reimagined.

Radio Reimagined

Radio is giving up its major strength by not having live, local personalities on the air 24/7. Successful small retailers are winning because they engaged in their community and are part of the community’s fabric. They are owned and staffed by dedicated people who believe in super-serving their customer base.

We are living in a time of too much automation and algorithms.

The moves being made by the Apples, Amazons and Cokes to get closer to their customer base by having local people serve their local community is an indication that the pendulum is starting to swing in the opposite direction.

Radio cannot ignore this change in the wind.

Radio needs to unlock the enormous potential of people serving people.

Radio’s Why

A couple of weeks ago, I got a lot of people talking when I asked “What’s Radio’s Why?” What it can’t be any longer is, “we’re #1” or “we have the most listeners.” Nobody cares.

There are more radio stations on-the-air in America, than at any time in the history of radio. Ironically, there’s less choice of formats to listen to and there are less people working per station today as well.

It’s time for radio stations to define an audience for each station and then super-serve that audience. The radio stations who’s audiences are the most dedicated and passionate will be the winners, not the ones with possibly a larger, but passive audience.

Just as each station’s audience is clearly defined and targeted, businesses that are seeking those same people will become just as defined, and a win-win business relationship can be built and sustained.

As I lived through the consolidation of radio and the automation of tasks, I felt that the radio industry applied technology to many of the wrong areas of the business. The air staffs were the first folks to be eliminated in favor of voice-tracking and automation. The main radio station phone line, the listener’s first point of contact, was automated instead of having a live person to greet the caller.

The radio industry eliminated, through technology, the very points where the “rubber meets the road.” The people serving people point.

The Human Connection

I own a lot of Apple gear. I didn’t buy any of it at an Apple store. I bought it online. My iPhones from Verizon. My other gear online from Apple.

What the Apple stores mean to me is a chance to go in and play with the equipment, to ask questions and, like when my MacBook Air crashed, to have a place I can go and have it repaired, almost overnight.

The Apple stores are my human connection to Apple.

The radio industry was built on the human connection. Radio’s air personalities were constantly promoted, in print, on billboard, on television and they were always out and about in the community being highly visible. During consolidation, radio lost its way due to non-radio investors who only saw the money-making benefits of cutting costs to widen margins. Once this “Best Practice” type of thinking wormed its way through the whole broadcast industry, those benefits were quickly marginalized.

Values Shift, Not Disappear

“The businesses that thrive over the long-term,

not only see where value is shifting from

but where value is shifting to and race to get there.”

-Greg Satell

This is radio’s wake-up call.

Is anybody listening?

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Things I’ve Learned Over 66 Years

Dick Taylor WBECThis past Friday, October 12th, was my 66th birthday. Notable because according to Social Security I’m now at “full retirement age.”

Commercial radio is 98-years old, but the first 30+ years of radio – often called “The Golden Age of Radio” – was broadcast more in the style of today’s television.

The radio I grew up with was format radio, born in the 60s.

So, you might say, today’s radio and I, grew up together.

However, no matter what your career path has been, I’m willing to bet, you and I share more things in common than we differ. See if you don’t agree.

25 Things I Learned Over the Years

  1. Don’t worry about things. The things you do worry about usually never happen and things you never even considered happening, do.
  2. Life is a celebration. Welcome each day as you would New Year’s Day, as a new chance to start over and do something new.
  3. Love who you are. You are one-of-a-kind and there will never be another you.
  4. Be grateful and show gratitude for everything that happens in your life. It happened for a reason and its part of the growth process.
  5. Laugh a lot. You will never be able to control what happens in your life, so learn to find the humor in what happens.
  6. When bad things happen in our world, take the advice of Fred Rogers’s mom and look for the helpers. Even better, be one of the helpers.
  7. Never miss an opportunity to let someone know how much they mean to you.
  8. Never spend more than you earn. There will always be a “rainy day” and you need to be financially fit to float above the flood waters of a life crisis.
  9. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,”said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He’s right. Don’t be afraid to speak out.
  10. Mentor others with all that you know. Sharing is caring.
  11. Always say “Please” and “Thank You.” It matters not whether you’re the parent or the child, the employer or the employee, the teacher or the student, courtesy counts.
  12. People learn from what you do, not what you say. You can’t just talk the talk, you must walk it too.
  13. Over the years, I’ve come to understand that just being there for another person is the most important thing you can do. Be sure to hold on tight to each and every friend you meet in life.
  14. Write hand-written “Thank You” notes. They always make the most impact on those you are grateful for.
  15. Plan for the future, but stay flexible. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” sang John Lennon in his song Beautiful Boy, and he was right.
  16. Try to live a balanced life: spiritual/home/community/work but don’t fret if things get out-of-balance at times, because they always do.
  17. Forgive, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself.
  18. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is unknown. Live in the present.
  19. ‘There ain’t no big time.’ Many of us in radio spent years honing our careers to rise to positions of more responsibility or to perform in larger radio markets only to learn nothing really changes. People are people, nobody’s perfect, and most of the same challenges remain.
  20. There’s always someone you can reach out to for the answer you seek, you don’t need to have all the answers, but you also shouldn’t be afraid to ask others for help.
  21. Everything in life comes to an end, including life itself. Embrace life.
  22. No matter how fast the world today moves, nature continues to move at the same pace it always has. Spend more time in nature and calm your soul.
  23. Serve others, you will be amazed how it changes your life for the better.
  24. If you do the work you love, you will never call it work. After over four decades in radio, I went into college teaching, both never seemed like work but a true labor of love.
  25. And finally, believe that the best things in your life are yet to be. To paraphrase Henry Ford, whether you believe that’s true or you don’t, you’re right.

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It Was Always a “Good Day!”

harvey_ozy_1When I started in professional radio, 51 years ago this week, there was a gentleman broadcasting that captivated my attention, his name was Paul H. Aurandt. The radio audience knew him better by his middle name, Harvey; Paul Harvey.

He broadcast six days a week, just like all radio personalities did back in those days. It was a time when all radio was delivered LIVE. Paul Harvey was heard over the ABC Radio Networks with his News and Comment week day mornings and middays. His Saturday noon-time broadcasts were extra special broadcasts that were always sure to surprise and delight his audience of as many as 24-million people a week. Paul Harvey News was carried by 1,200 radio stations in America, plus 400 American Forces Network stations broadcasting all over the world.

Page 2

The first commercial break in each broadcast was clearly announced with the words, “now page 2.” And it caused me to turn up my radio and give Mr. Harvey my full attention as he told me about another great product that he personally used. The ad copy, just like the news and comments, were all crafted by the mind of Paul Harvey.

I bought my BOSE WAVE radio due to Mr. Harvey telling me how wonderful music sounded coming through its speakers and baffle system design. It started me on the path to owning several BOSE products as a result.

Paul Harvey News had a waiting list of sponsors to get on his program. In 1986 his News & Comment broadcasts were rated #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5 in network radio programs when he was the focus of a CBS 48-Hours broadcast commemorating Paul Harvey’s 70th birthday.

Bob Sirott did the profile piece and it showed Paul Harvey as few ever saw him. I encourage you to watch the segment on YouTube by clicking HERE 

Paul Harvey News

On April 1, 1951, ABC Radio Network premiered Paul Harvey News and Comment. His Chicago based broadcasts were often called “the voice of the silent majority” or “the voice of Middle America.”Paul Harvey (2)

Paul Harvey was making so much money for ABC, they added a third daily broadcast to the schedule on May 10, 1976 called, The Rest of the Story. These broadcasts were written and produced by Paul’s son, Paul Harvey, Jr. for its 33-year long run.

While Paul and his son maintained this entertaining feature which was based on true stories, not all critics agreed, including urban legend expert Jan Harold Bunvand.

I know from my own personal experience of the two times Paul Harvey included stories based on my hometown of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, that Mr. Harvey played fast and loose with the facts of the events to tell a good story. It made me wonder how all the other stories I heard might have been so “massaged.”

Iowa

In 2000, I was managing a cluster of radio stations for Connoisseur and Cumulus. We carried Paul Harvey on my 100,000-watt KOEL-FM. It was the only thing, other than local news in morning drive, that stopped the flow of the best in country music.

I remember being in my car at the time Mr. Harvey’s noon-time broadcast came on the air and hitting the scan button to hear Paul Harvey News and Comment on virtually every station my car radio stopped on. In media, that’s called a “road block,” the same program or advertisement, broadcast at the same time on multiple radio or television stations.

$100 Million Dollar Contract

In November of 2000, Paul Harvey had just inked a new 10-year contract with ABC Radio Networks when a few months later he damaged his vocal cords and had to leave the air. It wasn’t until August of 2001 that Paul returned to the air waves, but only with a reduced clarity and vocal presence in his voice.

I remember this very well as I was now back in Atlantic City running a cluster of radio stations, and my AM radio station WOND-AM1400, was the Paul Harvey radio station for South Jersey.

I had been cajoling Mr. Harvey’s secretary in Chicago for months before he lost his voice for customized promotional announcements to be voiced by Paul Harvey to promote his daily broadcasts over WOND radio.

One day in the fall of 2001, a reel-to-reel tape came in an envelope from Chicago addressed to me. It contained my customized, Paul Harvey voiced, WOND announcements. I was thrilled, but just a little disappointed when we played the tape due to the hoarse, raspy sound of Paul’s voice when he recorded them.

Before the end of 2001, Paul Harvey was back to full vocal dynamics.

Touched My Heart

It was after watching the Bob Sirott piece produced for 48 Hours a second time and then sharing my personal Paul Harvey memories with the love of my life, Sue, that I found myself choking up and tearing up about the heartfelt emotional impact that this gentleman from Tulsa, Oklahoma had made on me.

Using only wire copy and his manual typewriter, Paul Harvey crafted a broadcast of words that vividly created in the mind of the listener exactly what he intended. His full vocal range, the power of the dramatic pause and dynamic inflection completed his radio magic, what most like to call radio’s “Theater of the Mind.”

Could you imagine Paul Harvey doing podcasts?

I have no doubt that they would have been as popular as the original SERIAL podcast was from NPR.

Paul Harvey didn’t use any music or sound effects.

Paul Harvey created great radio, that was welcomed into homes all across the globe by his great writing ability and vocal acting talents.

Paul Harvey (3)

Harvey receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005

Good Day

Paul Harvey died on February 28, 2009 at the age of 90.

Three weeks after his death, ABC Radio Networks cancelled the entire News and Comment franchise.

At the time of his death, he had less than two years left on his 10-year contract.

Paul Harvey called himself a salesman, not a journalist, newsman or anything else. He loved his sponsors saying “I am fiercely loyal to those willing to put their money where my mouth is.

He never would have promoted his broadcast as “commercial free,” as he understood that this free, over-the-air medium called radio, was a powerful way to move product for his advertisers and that it was those very folks that paid all the bills for him and the ABC Radio Networks.

Imagine that, radio ads that were as cherished to hear as the rest of the broadcast itself.

That’s the definition of “GREAT RADIO.”

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What’s Radio’s Why?

WHYSimon Sinek says people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Watching the live streams of the 2018 Radio Show sessions and reading all of the reporting on the meetings in Orlando this past week, left me asking the simple question: “What’s radio’s why?”

College Kids on Radio

The RAIN Conference in Orlando put four college kids from the University of Central Florida on stage and asked them about their radio listening habits.

Spoiler Alert: They don’t have any radio listening habits.

These four students said things like “radio is obsolete,” “there’s no need for radio,” and “it’s very rare that I listen to radio.”

To these kids, radio doesn’t have any “why.”

What does?

YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify…in other words things that stream what they want, when they want it.

Write The Wrongs About Radio

George Johns and Bob Christy are getting together to write a blog aimed at fixing radio, by writing about the things they hear radio is doing wrong.

“(Radio) has to evolve to be relevant in today’s world,” they write. “There has been almost no evolution in radio (and) what George and (Bob) want to do is challenge radio to evolve and become relevant again.”

They write the  3 basics of great radio are: 1) be professional, 2) be interesting and 3) be entertaining.

The 25-54 Demo

Fred Jacobs wrote about the fabled radio demo of 25-54, also known as, the “family reunion demo.” It never really existed, except as a way for an agency buyer to get the C.P.P. (Cost Per Point) down for a radio station they really wanted to place their client on.

You would have thought as the number of radio signals increased, that the variety of programming choices would have too, but the reverse happened. Radio offered less choice of programming and music formats. As Fred writes, “broadcast radio surrendered its Soft AC, Smooth Jazz and Oldies stations to SiriusXM and streaming pure-plays.”

Millennials are not kids. I know, both of my sons are part of the millennial generation. They are both well-entrenched in successful careers and raising families.

The college kids referenced earlier are part of Generation Z. And those kids don’t know (or care) what radio even is. They don’t even know what life was like before smartphones. And smartphones have really replaced just about every other device Millennials and Boomers grew up with.

Norway Turns OFF Analog Radio

Norway is a country of about 5.5 million people. Norway turned off their FM signals almost a year ago and went all digital using DAB+. So what’s happened to radio listening in Norway?

Jon Branaes writes, “Norwegians still choose radio when they think it’s worth choosing. Radio has not lost our biggest fans but the more casual listeners.”

Norway has also seen FM listening replaced by internet delivered radio, which grew significantly after turning off analog FM signals. They expect smart speakers to contribute to even more of that type of listening in the future.

The Takeaways

Radio first needs to know its “WHY.” Then it needs to communicate it, clearly and simply or suffer the consequences.  Bud Walters of Cromwell loves to say, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Until the radio industry figures this out, getting new people to listen (or former listeners to return) will be a challenge.

“FM is not the future. DAB+ (digital broadcasting) can keep radio relevant in a digital future of endless choices.” But Jon Branaes adds, “Radio must respond with its core strengths – being live and alive, useful and present in listener’s lives.”

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Mister Radio

mr rogersI didn’t grow up watching “Mister Rogers Neighborhood.” The television in my family’s house was connected to two different antennas that each picked up a single television station. One TV station was affiliated with the NBC television network and the other with the CBS television network. My childhood mentor was Captain Kangaroo. Bob Keeshan’s broadcast was on commercial television, so I was also exposed to products such as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid, where the “sugar, sugar, sugar…is already in it.” Sad, that I remember that sell line over 50-years later, more than any other lesson taught by that show.

Fred Rogers

I think I really became aware of the impact that Fred Rogers’ telecast made on children when in 2003 my oldest son Chris called me and said, “Dad, today’s a very sad day, Mister Rogers died.”

But my quest to learn more about this man really came about when I viewed the documentary on Netflix called “Mister Rogers & Me: A Deep & Simple Documentary Film.”

“I feel so strongly that deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex.”

-Fred Rogers

Deep & SimpleDeep & Simple

Fred Rogers learned of this concept from a friend, mystic, activist and author in Durham, North Carolina by the name of Bo Lozoff. Bo wrote a book titled “Deep & Simple.” I bought a copy of the book from the Human Kindness Foundation, which Bo and his wife Sita founded. I wanted to read about the three core tenets of a deeper life that inspired Mister Rogers.

$20 Million Testimony

rogers-pastoreOn May 1, 1969, Fred Rogers appeared before Senator John Pastore’s Senate committee to explain why they should continue to fund PBS (Public Broadcasting System) for another term at a cost to the taxpayers of America of twenty million dollars. If you’ve never seen Mister Rogers’ testimony, I encourage you to stop, and take a moment to view it now. Click HERE

Spoiler Alert, Senator Pastore gave PBS its $20 million funding.

Be Real

What Fred Rogers did before the Senate hearing, was the same thing he did on his TV program, in interviews and in life. He was himself. He was being real.

His truthfulness and sincerity were never in question.

2002 Dartmouth Commencement Speechdartmouth-rogers

In May of 2002, Fred Rogers was invited back to his alma mater, Dartmouth, to give that year’s commencement address. It was powerful in its deep and simple message. Here are some of the things he said that day, that I feel have importance to the radio broadcasting industry.

Mister Rogers told one his favorite stories about the Seattle Special Olympics, where nine contestants, all of them physically or mentally disabled, were to run a 100-yard dash.

The starting gun fired and all of them began to run. One little boy stumbled, fell and hurt his knee. He began to cry. Hearing him cry, the other eight children turned around and ran back to him. They picked him up, linked arms and all joyfully crossed the finish line at the same time.

What makes this story so powerful, Fred Rogers told the graduates, was that

“Deep down, we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win, too. Even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then.”

Radio used to operate with this everybody wins type of esprit de corps, a feeling of pride, fellowship, and common loyalty, to its staff, its advertisers and its community of license.

You Are Unique

Fred told the graduates that day that each one of them is unique and special. No one will ever be like them.

Radio stations used to be unique and special when I was growing up. DX’ing (listening to distant AM radio signals via the night skywave) was a cornucopia of theater for the mind. Every station was unique. Every radio personality was special. To not listen to any one of them left the radio listener with a sense of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

Choices

Fred Rogers said that he was very much interested in choices.

“What it is, and who it is, that enable us human beings to make the choices we make all through our lives. What choices led to ethnic cleansing? What choices lead to healing? What choices lead to the destruction of the environment, the erosion of the Sabbath, suicide bombings, or teenagers shooting teachers. What choices encourage heroism in the midst of chaos?”

Radio has been constantly faced with choices over its nearly 100-years.

When television was born, radio chose to move in new directions and created new kinds of programs that would engage the next generation of listeners.

“What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

-from Saint-Exupery’s Little Prince

What’s Essential About Radio?

In the 21st Century, who’s asking this question? What’s essential about radio today? What’s essential about the people who broadcast over your radio station?

Fred Rogers told those Dartmouth students that commencement day, they were graduating because of the people who helped them become the people they are.

“Anyone who has ever graduated from a college, anyone who has ever been able to sustain a good work, has had at least one person, and often many, who have believed in him or her. We just don’t get to be competent human beings without a lot of different investments from others,” said Mister Rogers.

bill gableThis past week, news spread that Brother Bill Gable had died. For many of us, it was the time he broadcast over The Big 8 – CKLW out of Windsor-Ontario, Canada that endeared him to our hearts. His best friend, Pat Holiday shared a story about what made Brother Bill and the rest of the air personalities at CKLW essential radio listening. Pat wrote:

“Each day on CKLW the big deal was the show opener. We’d all try to outdo each other. No, ‘Hi…how you doing?’ stuff. It HAD to be larger than life. We’d all do our best to do some crazy or funny or amazing thing to set the tone for the rest of the show. Something mesmerizing. So much that you’d think, ‘Holy shit that was great. How am I going to top that?’”

This is in such stark contrast to what we hear over the radio today.

George Johns shared a blog post from his radio friend Bob Christy that was titled “It’s Over…” The blog was written by Bob after he had spent a couple of hours listening to New York City’s #1 radio station. You can read the complete blog article HERE 

The essential element for most radio listeners, the air personality, was throttled to four mic breaks per hour. Worse, the personality sounded uninterested according to Christy and the only local story he shared was ripped off the internet.

Bob ends his post by asking, “So is it fair to judge a station by listening to one break or for ‘only a few hours,” hell yes it is. The audience will give you one shot, you better be ready and make it count.”

Won’t You Be My Listener?

Radio has choices. It will either work to become essential in people’s lives again, or it won’t. Will it continue down the path of being shallow and complex, or return to its roots, being deep and simple? Great radio is more than anything you can see, hear or touch. Great radio is community and companionship. Great radio is LIVE and engaging to its target audience.

Great radio is created by dedicated radio people who spend every waking hour focused on delivering great radio.

I wish for the people in today’s radio industry to possess the wisdom, strength and grace to make the choices the industry needs, to make it the best radio it can be, going forward.

 

 

 

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Radio’s Wizards

Wizard NotebookI remember how a weekly fax changed my radio life. It was called the “Monday Morning Memo,” and it was written by a guy in Texas by the name of Roy H. Williams.

Every Monday, I couldn’t wait to get into the radio station and check the fax machine for his latest missive. It never failed to ignite my soul.

Things That Won’t Change

I’ve written in this space about Jeff Bezos of Amazon and what he considers to be the most important question most people don’t ask about their business and that is “What won’t change in ten years?”

Roy’s Monday Morning Memos are an excellent example of focusing on those universal things that won’t change about branding, marketing and selling. They are those universal concepts that will don’t change with the latest technology.

Secret Formulas

In my broadcast sales class at the university, I would spend the end of the semester with each class reviewing principles of Roy’s book “Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads.” All of Roy’s books are a must read for anyone in radio sales.

Here’s an example of some of the things that won’t change for great radio advertising:

  • Surprising Broca – most radio ads are predictable and use clichés that listeners have become adept at tuning out. Great radio ads seduce the listener and then persuade.
  • Words are Keys – you know the product, just by the ad keys used by the brand. Let me give you a couple of examples: “We’ll leave the light on for you” or “Just Do It.”* Do I need to tell you the brand name or what they sell? Do these two companies surprise you with their ads?
  • Engage the Imagination – people only go to places they’ve already been in their mind. The skillful ad writer will engage the listener’s imagination and take the listener where they want the listener to go.
  • Sleep is the mind’s eraser – when we go to bed, sleep is the process where the mind clears itself for the next day. Like an eraser on a chalkboard, sleep wipes away all of the advertising messages a listener is exposed to that day. Knowing this is why, building a radio schedule that delivers the minimum frequency to be effective, is so important.
  • Power Verbs – present tense and present progressive tense verbs conjure up powerful images in the mind. How often to most radio ads use them? Sadly, not very often.
  • The Secret Path to Miraculous Ads – Roy says “journalistic writing is an objective presentation of the facts in an attempt to inform, not persuade. Creative writing is the telling of a story with wit and charm in an attempt to entertain, not to persuade. And Poetry is writing to communicate a new perspective in a brief, tight economy of words. An attempt to persuade.” Will your ad persuade a listener when they hear it? Emotion is KEY. They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. How do you feel after viewing this ad for State Farm called “Never”?

Fearless Flyers

Fearless-Flyers_Chet-Young-at-the-Beach_780This past Tuesday, September 11, 2018, America remembered the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on America in New York City, Washington, DC and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. My class at the Wizard Academy was supposed to have 29 students. Only four of us showed up: Dr. Kevin Ryan, a famous writing coach from Utah; Chet Young, a big salesman with a booming voice from Burlington, Iowa; Akintunde Omitowoju, a senior programmer of Nintendo games from Kyoto, Japan and me, a radio station general manager from Atlantic City, New Jersey.

It took place in a small, converted gym in the offices of Williams Marketing in Buda, Texas just one week after 9/11 in 2001.

Roy has the students come up with a special name for their class and ours became the “Fearless Flyers.” Each of us flew on a commercial airliner whose crew outnumbered the passengers.

This past week I learned of the passing of Chet Young. His niece dropped by the Wizard Academy to see if this magical place her Uncle Chet always talked about really existed. It does.

Roy shared a memory of our class in this week’s Monday Morning Memo’s “Rabbit Hole.” You can read more about it HERE.

Positive Things YOU Can Do

Roy H WilliamsWant to make your radio station more effective for your advertisers and more engaging for your listeners? Then do those things that will not change for effective radio in ten years.

Subscribe to Roy H. Williams’ “Monday Morning Memo,” read the Wizard of Ads book trilogy and make plans to spend a week at the Wizard Academy to learn directly from the Wizard of Ads, Roy H. Williams.

Thank You and God Bless You Roy.

Wizard of Ads Coin

*Motel 6 & Nike

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Watch the Media

John ShraderI was recently invited to be a guest on the radio show and podcast “Watch the Media with John Shrader.” The program airs on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus radio station and the podcast of the show can be heard on SoundCloud.

John had some interesting questions and I thought I’d share them, along with my answers in this week’s blog article.

What is the State of Terrestrial Radio?

If we look at the topline number of how many Americans listen to terrestrial radio today versus the last ten years or so, that number is remarkably stable. Unfortunately, what has changed are the TSL (Time Spent Listening) and PUR (Persons Using Radio) numbers. They’ve been in a steady decline since 2007. That’s 11-years of erosion.

What’s not pretty is the accompanying loss of revenue that comes with losing 30% of your TSL.

Radio revenues today are characterized with such phrases as “flat is the new up.”

In 2017, U.S. commercial radio’s over-the-air income declined 2% year-over-year, according to BIA Advisory Services’ Q1 2018 “Investing in Radio Market Report.”

In should be noted that, the same report showed that radio stations reported a 9.7% increase in online revenues over the same period.

Radio Revenue Recent History

During the 1990s, ratings and ad revenue rose rapidly. According to the Radio Advertising Bureau, industry revenues grew from around $11 Billion per year to nearly $20 Billion between 1994 and 2000. After 1996, revenues grew by double digit percentages every year until 2001.dollar sign

PBS reported that “The collapse of advertising budgets that came in 2001 after 9/11 hit radio hard, cutting revenues by 8-percent that year to $18.4 Billion.”

In February 2005, then Viacom (today CBS) President Leslie Moonves told the L.A. Times this his top priority was returning the business to a “growth path.” Moonves recently sold off all of CBS radio stations to Entercom.

2017 Radio Revenues

In 2017, radio revenues ended at $13.87 Billion; not exactly a “growth path.”

BIA SVP and Chief Economist Mark Fratrik summarized the situation for American radio this way:

“Revenues are growing for broadcasters online but not over-the-air. We do not expect over-the-air advertising revenue of U.S. radio stations to grow much this year or in the near future. There is an unprecedented number of new audio entertainment and information sources and new advertising platforms competing with radio, including many that are unregulated. It’s an aggressive environment that competes for audiences with local radio.”

Who are Radio’s Listeners and Where do They Listen?

In general, today’s radio listeners are on the backside of Everett Rogers “Diffusion of Innovation Curve.” diff-of-innovationThey are part of the Late Majority and Laggards.

car radio.jpgThe primary way people access radio today is in their car. But by 2020, it is estimated that 75% of the cars sold will be connected to digital services.

Today’s heaviest radio listeners are reported to be Black or Hispanic.

Radio’s best listeners tend to be employed full-time versus unemployed. That’s great news for radio sales people to share.

What’s alarming is the fact that recent research showed that 29% of all American households don’t have a single AM or FM radio in them and even more alarming, 18-34 year old households are now at the tipping point of radio ownership. 50% of those household don’t have a single AM or FM radio in them. That probably explains how monthly online audio listening reportedly increased from 5% in 2000 to 64% in 2018.

Edison Research has more HERE

What’s the Future for Podcasting?

Podcasting is still growing. About 26% of people over the age of 12 have listened to any podcast in the past 30-days. However, 36% of Americans still don’t have a clue as to what podcasting even is. So, it would appear there’s a lot of growth potential.

Great podcasts, like great radio personalities, tell great stories.

Something to watch is Amazon. It laid off its entire original podcast staff in August.

What’s the Impact of Smart Speakers on Radio?

Tom Webster at Edison Research says “smart speaker adoption is the fastest tech adoption we’ve ever tracked in the Infinite Dial research. It went from 7% to 18% in a year.” echo

Smart speaker growth isn’t slowing and these new devices are replacing radios in the home.

I got my first Amazon Echo for Christmas 2017. By the end of Q1 2018, I owned three of them. 100% of my in-home radio listening now occurs via a smart speaker.

These things are addictive.

65% of people who own a smart speaker say they wouldn’t give them up.

What’s Radio’s Future?

People my age grew up with radio. Our parents controlled our home’s only television back in the 60s/70s. Radio was a way we could escape and connect with people our own age and the music of our generation.

Much as we created radio for our generation of listeners, today’s future broadcasters will need to mold it for their generation.

We are living in the days of a communications revolution. Not since the invention of the printing press and movable type has the world of communication been so rocked by change. Revolutions are messy, the future is not always clear, major disruption is par for the course.

New ways of communicating are being created.

Radio, as we knew it, is not coming back.

ON DEMAND

We now live in an ON DEMAND world. It has changed the way we use all forms of mass media. People going forward will want what they want, when they want it.on-demand-cpe

Netflix created the new phenomena of binge-watching TV shows. I do that now too. I also binge-listened to the podcast SERIAL on a long car drive after that weekly podcast had completed season one.

What Won’t Change?

What we know is that people will always be drawn to great story telling. Our brains are wired for stories. We also know that people will want to be connected to others like themselves.

Dan Mason puts it this way, radio is all about community and companionship.

I don’t see that changing, do you?

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