Tag Archives: Inside Radio

The Importance of Free Speech

Tom Taylor NJBAI had the honor this past week to attend the 71st Annual New Jersey Broadcasters Association (NJBA) Conference and Gala held at the Tropicana Resort and Casino on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City.

I plan to share more information about this East Coast NAB style event in a future blog, but today I want to focus on something Tom Taylor said that I feel is critically important for all broadcasters to hear.

Tom Taylor Receives Lifetime Achievement Award by NJBA

I’m sure, like me, you are still experiencing some “Tom Taylor Now” withdrawal since the time Tom announced his retirement in December of 2018 and his daily coverage of the radio industry ceased publication. For anyone who’s lived around the Philadelphia area, Tom’s style was akin to that of Channel 6’s Action News. You got all the news you needed to know, delivered in an easy to digest style, sometimes accompanied by a sense of humor.TT NOW

NJBA President/CEO Paul Rotella and his Board of Directors’ selection of Tom Taylor for his 31-year run as a radio trade journalist was well deserved.

How It All Began

Tom was the son of a radio broadcaster. He was born in North Carolina and started at a radio station where his dad once worked.

Tom moved to New Jersey over 40 years ago to program the heritage WPST in Princeton, New Jersey and he has lived in the Garden State ever since.

Tom left WPST after 12 years with the title of Station Manager and Vice President of Programming for Nassau Broadcasting to begin a career in radio trade journalism. First for Kal Rudman’s Friday Morning Quarterback (FMQB) and then to Jerry Del Colliano’s Inside Radio, both based in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

For the last six years of Tom’s radio trade journalism career, he rejoined Robert Unmacht and Kristy Scott to form RTK Media and publish Tom Taylor NOW – Radio’s Daily Management Newsletter. That publication ended on Friday, December 28, 2018 with Tom writing his “Final sign-off for the daily Tom Taylor NOW Newsletter.”

Tom’s “One Quick Word About Journalism”

In his acceptance speech, Tom said something I believe all broadcasters should hear about the importance of journalism in today’s world and the role of radio/TV operators in carrying out our responsibility to the communities we are licensed to serve. Here’s what Tom said:

“I spent 31 years as a New Jersey-based trade journalist. During that time, no boss or business partner ever said ‘Don’t do that story, because it will make somebody mad.’ Or, ‘be nice to so-and-so.’ More than ever, we need to support good journalism. And as local broadcasters, the responsibility is especially on us, because people look up to us – or down to us – as ‘the media.’ We’re really in the crucible.

This is something I said at the opening session of the recent NAB Show in Las Vegas – Regardless of your politics, does anyone in this room really believe that journalists are the enemy of the people?

Mark Twain said this – ‘Free speech is the cornerstone of every right we have.’

Let’s not forget that – or why we became broadcasters in the first place.

There’s an old joke, where the guy says ‘I wanted to be on the radio when I grew up. But then, I was told I couldn’t do both.’ On the inside, part of us is still a little kid, and that’s probably a good thing. But the rest of who we are is… (are) grownups who have a responsibility to the community. As long as we remember that, we should have listeners (and podcast users, and video consumers, and social media fans).

Here’s the other thing I said at the NAB Show – Plan well. Try new things. And adopt some extra confidence and pass that along to the folks who work for you. It’s contagious. And as you go home from Atlantic City – keep having fun with broadcasting. Because I believe, and I’ll bet you believe, that it’s still magic.”

Thank You Tom

Tom Taylor is still an inspiration to broadcasters everywhere and I’m grateful for this friendship that has spanned over 35 years since moving to Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1984 and becoming a member of the NJBA.Sharan & Tom Taylor

You and your lovely wife Sharan, have earned your retirement.

Live well. Live long. And be happy.

 

P.S. Scott Fybush produced a podcast with Tom Taylor and you can hear that HERE 

The part with Tom begins in 11:16 minutes into the podcast.

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It’s Like Mowing the Yard When the House is On Fire

Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 1.38.20 PM copy

Ladies & Gentlemen, we have a problem. Our business model is broken.

Trying to make your daily, weekly or monthly budget while ignoring the 800-pound gorilla in the room is akin to the title of this article.

The Big Disconnect in Local Media

Nancy Lane is the president of the Local Media Association. Her latest article on LinkedIN really caught my attention. Like the fact that only 1% of publishers/station managers/GMs agree that their sales reps do a good job when it comes to selling digital. Why do you think that might be?

Gordon Borrell Knows

LMA research notes that most traditional media sellers have too many things to sell, making it hard for them to be consultative.

I’ve been hearing Gordon Borrell tell broadcasters exactly what they need to do to grow their slice of the ad pie for a couple of years now. At seminars I’ve attended, Gordon always adds that the companies doing the best job of growing their digital sales, employ sales people dedicated to only selling digital. It’s probably why this month Gordon Borrell was quoted as saying, “The pool of dollars is stunningly large, and radio often doesn’t get more than a ladle dip in the shallow end.”

Finding Good Sales People

If you’re a sales manager, director of sales or GM, the best way for you to find good sales people would be if your current staff would recommend working for your broadcast station, right?

Well, Nancy’s LMA found in their research that current media employees recommending others to work at their company came in at a 3. To put that number in perspective, the company that does this kind of research for all industries, found historically with all of their clients, that an average score for employees recommending their company as a good place to work was 36. In fact, the company hired to do the research by LMA had never seen a score of 3 before. It was the lowest they’ve ever seen in the history of their research.

That news alone should be a BIG wake-up call to everyone in media, since talent recruitment/retention was cited as the #1 challenge.

Digital is a Marathon, NOT a Sprint

A couple of the hard realities of digital is that it will take a long-term commitment and there still isn’t an overall business model to effectively monetize the audience being attracted.

Another hard reality is that the time to see a return on a company’s digital investment is longer than many CEOs want to hear about, plus the digital margins won’t look anything like the fat margins enjoyed by legacy media companies of the past.

Just One Example

To try and put all of this into a little more in perspective, let me share some of the cold hard facts shared in an article titled “Thinking of Starting a Podcast, DON’T.”

Jordon Harbinger writes “We are in the golden age of podcasting.” So why when asked if everyone should be starting a podcast does he give this super complicated advice: “DON’T.”

Here’s why, Harbinger has been hosting a podcast since 2006 (The Art of Charm) and candidly admits that if he had to start all over again today, he’s not sure he would. “It’s never been easy and it’s not easily profitable,” says Harbinger.

Today, Harbinger says his podcast is grossing about $480k/year, but in the beginning, he was spending around $10k/month with no promise of an immediate return on that investment. In fact, he suspects if you were to add it all up, they’d be just barely in the black after six years.

The Problem is Us

Bob Hoffman, aka The Ad Contrarian, says that technology has impacted all aspects of the advertising business. Before technology, ad folks were flying by the seat of their pants and their gut. However, Bob says now that we have technology, he’s not convinced we still have any better reality of what works and what doesn’t.

Hoffman sums it up this way, “In my mind, advertising technology has lost its credibility for two reasons. First, we haven’t acknowledged the unanticipated consequences of what has ensued. Second, we have refused to act honestly and correct the errors of our expectations. Instead we have created an ongoing crisis of credibility with a constant stream of half-truths, lame excuses, and public scandals.”

If digital is our future, we have to fix this big disconnect.

Going Deeper

The Local Media Association has offered their research report for FREE and you can download a copy by following this link HERE

As LMA President, Nancy Lane puts it, “One thing is clear, the disconnect is hurting the industry’s ability to move the needle when it comes to growing digital. Politics, defensive postures, silos and more still exist. That needs to end tomorrow and only strong leadership will change that.”

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History’s Technology Rhyme

Transistor Radio, Car Radio and Rock & Roll

Transistor Radio, Cars & Rock ‘n Roll

I’ve written before how history never repeats itself, but usually rhymes. So when I was reading an article in the NY Times about “Tech’s ‘Frightful 5’ Will Dominate Digital Life for Foreseeable Future” it hit me. Here was how history was rhyming when it came to communications. Fasten your seat-belt, this will get bumpy.

What this article’s author Farhad Manjoo wrote was how Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft (others include Netflix in this mix) came along at a perfect time to roll up their user base. They were in the right place, at the right time in other words.

Geoffrey G. Parker, a business professor at Tulane University has co-authored a book called “Platform Revolution” where he explains how these tech companies were able to ride the perfect wave of technology change – that being a decrease in the cost of IT, an increase in connectivity and the introduction/fast adoption of mobile phones.

And when it comes to advertising, these companies are in the right place to leverage digital marketing and enjoy most of the benefits of this growth area as well. In fact, since there is a sense that these major digital companies will receive most of the online advertising monies, traditional media – like radio & TV – could see advertising monies return to them.  Let’s hope that happens.

So, where’s the rhyme in this story? Well consider this other time in communications history when television burst onto the scene after the end of World War Two in the 1950s. Radio, a lot of people thought, would cease to exist. Radio’s stars, programs and advertisers, to a large measure, jumped into television. Radio had to find a new act.

Radio was in the right place, at the right time for the birth of three things when TV came along; the transistor radio and the car radio. Both of these technology advancements would be the savior of radio along with one other important development; rock ‘n roll.

Radio was in the perfect place to ride the baby boomer youth wave of rock music, cars and transistor radios. Television grew in large measure by scarcity, only two or three television networks and few TV stations.

When broadband came along, that scarcity factor went poof. Radio now sees its dominance in the car being challenged by a digital dashboard.

The newest radio format to have come into existence – all sports/talk – is now 29 years old. Clearly, innovation in the radio world has stalled.

The good news is radio in America has more reach than any other form of mass media. The bad news is it sees annual erosion of its TSL (time spent listening). This can be fixed. To do this, radio needs to address the very factors that are causing its TSL to erode.

The thing most often heard from consumers about what they dislike about radio are its commercials. Yet, commercials don’t have to be a tune-out factor. No one tunes out the Super Bowl when it’s a blowout because they want to see what other clever commercials might still be coming on their television.

Most radio stations long ago did away with their copywriters. These masters of the spoken word who can craft a story about businesses need to be enticed back into the radio business at every radio station.

The number of commercials in a break needs to be reassessed by the radio industry as well. You can’t kill the goose that lays your gold revenue egg and expect it to continue to lay you golden eggs.

Bring back personalities. They not only sell the music (the record companies need you!); they sell your station and through live reads, your advertisers’ products and services.

Those who remember Paul Harvey News & Commentary will tell you that page two (his first live read commercial) was always something you turned up the radio for. I remember reading Paul Harvey brought in more money for the ABC Radio Network than everything else they did. And everyone loved Paul Harvey’s commercials and bought the products he talked about.

I think retired CBS Radio President Dan Mason said it best when he said this about radio:

“Without community and companionship, we have nothing.”

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