Tag Archives: Radio Ink

Time for a New Adventure

Dick Taylor WBECI just recently moved to Virginia from Kentucky.

I moved to Kentucky from New Jersey 7-years ago to pursue a bucket list career goal of mine, to teach at a college or university radio broadcasting. That opportunity came for me at Western Kentucky University (WKU) in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

I knew absolutely no one when I interviewed for the broadcast professor opening, but the person I would be hired to replace – retiring broadcast professor Bart White – would become a good friend over my tenure at WKU.

Long Ago & Far Away

When one moves, it means going through all of your stuff to decide what gets packed up and moved again and what gets donated or tossed into the dump.

One of the little pieces of memorabilia that I came across was a newspaper article on my being promoted to the position of Program Manager for WBEC Radio in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. That occurred on August 8, 1975. (Picture of me on-the-air at WBEC above from the 1970s)

I had just graduated from the Masters Degree program with a perfect 4.0 grade point average from the State University of New York at Albany with a degree in Educational Communications and teaching certifications, but I found myself in a field that tight school budgets were eliminating from their programs. Going back to the “three R’s” they would say, Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic, instead of employing modern teaching technologies in the classroom.

One of the radio stations I had worked at while going to college was WBEC and being offered this position was a dream come true. It was the very position I had always wanted.

A Lot of Career Success is Luck

WBEC was a station that was very programming oriented. During my tenure as the Program Manager, and later promoted to Operations Manager over both the AM and FM properties, I went to a lot of programming conferences and competed in both air personality as well as program director competitions. I was lucky to be in the position I was in at the station I was employed by.

But as time went along, I found myself more captivated by what happened off-the-air versus being an air personality, the position that attracted me to radio since I was old enough to remember.

I decided I wanted to be a general manager.

General managers didn’t come out of programming at that time but instead they came out of radio sales. So, I decided my next job would be in radio sales.

When I got a call from a general manager I knew that they wanted to hire me for a programming position, I said I wasn’t interested. I wanted my next move to be in sales. He said, “let me get back to you on that.”

Two weeks later, he said “Let’s get together, because I have a radio sales job for you.”

Moving to his stations and the company that owned them was lucky again, as this was a very sales focused organization and I would be exposed to monthly IBIB (International Broadcasters Idea Bank) reports, lots of sales training by any sales consultant to get within 200 miles of New England and annual trips to the Managing Sales Conference run by the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB).

AR to MM

I quickly rose through the ranks from account representative to sales manager to director of sales to station manager to general manager.

General managers were renamed market managers as the age of consolidation took over after the passage of the Telcom Act of 1996.  That’s when a single company went from being able to own only 12 AM radio stations, 12 FM radio stations and 12 TV stations in the entire USA. The Telcom Act of ’96 would unleash a buying spree funded by Wall Street that would see the largest operator owning over a thousand radio stations.

Radio Ink Best Managers

In 2009, Radio Ink named me one of the best radio managers in America. I was very proud of that honor, but I had been thinking about a change for some time and I was ready for a fresh adventure.

After all, I had invested early in my life, earning the qualifications to teach and I wanted to pay-it-forward to the next generation of broadcasters by teaching at a college or university.

I was lucky once again to see an ad in Radio Ink by WKU looking for a broadcast professor to teach at the School of Journalism & Broadcasting courses in sales, management, media process & effects, radio performance and the history of broadcasting in America.

7-Years a Professor

In May of 2017, I completed my seventh year of teaching at the university. The students I’ve mentored over that time have become extended members of my family. I went to every graduation ceremony – they’re held twice a year – because I was invested in each and every one of them.

Bowling Green, Kentucky is a lovely place. But it is far from my friends and family back on the East Coast.

New Adventure Time

In the book “The Adventure of Living,” Paul Tournier writes: “Many people are never able to come to terms with the death to which every adventure is inevitably subject…The Law of Adventure is that it dies as it achieves its object.”

I’ve experienced this “death” multiple times over my life.

Something in your gut just tells you, it’s time for a new adventure.

In June, I moved to northern Virginia.

I became engaged the weekend before Valentine’s Day 2017 to a wonderful woman who is a member of the same Pittsfield, Massachusetts high school class as I. Ironically, we went to opposite public high schools.  At that time our city had two public and a parochial high school, but we now all reunion together every five years – and so we never met until our 45th class reunion.

Another part of my new adventure is this blog that I started writing almost three years ago.

I remember Ron Jacobs (first program director of Boss Radio 93-KHJ, Los Angeles, creator of The History of Rock & Roll, co-founder of America Top 40 with Casey Kasem, etc.) telling me during a phone call that he enjoyed writing more than being an air personality, program director or anything else he had accomplished in his life. I now completely understand where he was coming from as I’ve developed my own love of writing and mentoring others. Ron said he enjoyed reading my blog and that’s why he sent me his phone number one evening and asked me to give him a call at his home in Hawaii and chat.

Got a career adventure I should be considering?

Shoot me an email & let’s talk.

I’m ready for a NEW ADVENTURE.

Dick.Taylor@wku.edu

 

“Twenty years from now

you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do

than by the ones you did.

So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.”

-Mark Twain

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Is Your Iceberg Melting?

94This past week was another tough one for the wonderful people who work in radio. Most people who get into radio do it because they’ve caught the “radio bug” and the work becomes their life’s passion. I know that’s how it is for me.

When I caught the “Radio Bug”

From my earliest years, I knew what I wanted my life’s work to be. I built a radio station in my parent’s basement and broadcast to the neighborhood (about a 3-block radius) on both the AM and FM bands using transmitters I bought from Radio Shack.

When I started high school, I earned my 3rd Class Radio/Telephone Operator’s License, Broadcast Endorsed from the Federal Communications Commission in Boston. I wasn’t old enough to work, so I had to get a Massachusetts Work Permit. They didn’t have a category for disc jockey, so they branded me as “talent.” (I never told them I had to take meter readings every half hour in front of a transmitter that put out 1,000-watts of electromagnetic power. If I had, they would never have given me my work permit.)

College Radio

In college, it was radio that paid for my bachelors and masters degrees. I took my college’s carrier current radio station, got an FM broadcast license and was the first general manager.

Radio was in my blood.

RIF’s

After the Telcom Act of 1996, radio began its road down the consolidation path funded by Wall Street. It was during this period of time a new acronym would come into radio’s every day lexicon, RIF’s, or Reduction In Force. In other words, people were being terminated in huge numbers.

This past week, I sadly read about another round of RIF’s taking place among our country’s biggest owners/operators of radio stations. It breaks my heart.

RIF’s from the Manager’s Perspective

We all feel sorry for those that have unexpectedly lost their job. What we often don’t read about is the perspective from the other side of the desk, what the management is going through when these decisions are made at corporate.

I lived through it in 2009 as a Clear Channel Market Manager.

It’s NOT FUN.

With each corporate meeting, I would come home with a flash drive that could not be opened until a specific date/time with who I would have to RIF next.

I RIF’d my entire news and promotions departments.

I RIF’d DJ’s and PD’s.

I RIF’d my national sales manager, my director of sales and local sales managers. With each round of RIF’s I got more hats to wear. The work still needed to be done, it didn’t go away with each round of RIF’s.

I hated my job.

Then my regional manager showed up unannounced and RIF’d me.

His manager showed up after he had RIF’d all of his designated market managers and RIF’d him.

The company president RIF’d the senior regional managers.

Then the CEO RIF’d the president.

It was not a happy time, but believe it or not, being RIF’d to me was better than being one of those that found themselves with more and more hats to wear, with more and more responsibility, without a penny more in pay.

There were many folks who told me to find another line of work, but they didn’t know that broadcasting was the only thing I ever wanted to do.

Except for one other thing, teaching and mentoring the next generation.

My education was in teaching. Both my bachelors and masters degrees were in teaching.  My best teachers were those who worked in the field first and then came into the classroom to teach.

Paying It Forward

My long term goal was always to one day teach at a college or university the very things I had done all of my professional life.

My big opportunity presented itself at Western Kentucky University’s School of Journalism & Broadcasting in 2010.

When I was RIF’d by my regional manager, I had met or exceeded every goal I had been given and was paid bonuses for my accomplishments. I was even named one of radio’s Best Managers by RADIO INK magazine. The issue of the magazine with me in it came out almost the day after I was RIF’d. Funny how life is: good things happening at the same moment as bad.

One Door Closed, Another Door Opened

When my last management job came to an abrupt end with Clear Channel, my broadcast professorship door opened at WKU.

Let me tell you, going from being a radio market manager to broadcast professor is a steep learning curve. But with the help of Charles H. Warner at NYU, John Parikhal of Joint Communications and others, I successfully made the transition and became successful at teaching. In fact, my new broadcasting educational work branch opened my eyes to all kinds of new and exciting learning opportunities.

I started this BLOG and a column for RADIO WORLD magazine during this time.

Those have lead to numerous invitations to appear on podcasts, Vlogs, articles, and broadcast interviews with others sharing stories of my work and experiences.

I’ve done research on the radio industry and their employment needs in the 21st Century. I’ve presented panels every year at the national conference in Las Vegas as well as been an invited broadcast expert on many panels at both BEA and NAB.

I’ve presented seminars at state broadcast associations and done training sessions for broadcast companies.

In short, I’ve been more active in broadcasting on so many levels than I ever was as a radio manager.  And I’ve loved every minute of it.

But I’m not going to candy coat what’s happening, not only in radio but in all ad supported media. It’s a revolution.  Not an evolution.

In revolutions the first thing that happens is destruction of the old. We’re still living through that period right now and it’s not fun. I get it.

Our Iceberg Is Melting

Back in 2008, many people picked up a copy of Ken Blanchard’s book “Who Moved My Cheese?”  I know I did. It’s a great read.

But maybe the book everyone in broadcasting should be reading today is “Our Iceberg Is Melting” by John Kotter. Kotter is an award winning author from the Harvard Business School.

Like Blanchard and Johnson’s Cheese book, Kotter writes a simple fable about doing well in an ever-changing world.

The fable is about penguins in Antarctica that discover a potentially devastating problem to their home – an iceberg – and it’s melting away.

It’s a story that will resonate with anyone in broadcasting today.

Read about how the penguins handle their challenge a great deal better than many broadcasters are doing today. Kotter’s book walks you through the eight steps needed to produce positive change in any group.  You will not only enjoy the read, but will be guided with valuable insights to deal with our 21st Century world that is moving faster and faster every day.

The Big Take Away

When corporate, middle management and all employees are on the same page with regards to change, it is amazing what can happen, despite adverse conditions.

These are lessons for people who already are in broadcasting, for broadcast students, enlightened colleges are already teaching the concepts, skills and providing the tools that will be needed going forward. My students know that the future is not bleak. They understand the history of broadcasting that brought us to where things are today and they are as pumped as you and I were when we were their age to craft the future of broadcasting in the new century.

I’m excited.

They’re excited.

The best is yet to be.

 

 

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Out, damn’d spot!

28Lady Macbeth says this line in Act 5, scene 1. The line has made for ironic jokes and marketing schemes. The Bard’s lady, where the blood spot becomes dyed into her conscience and where the king and queen persist in imagining that physical actions can root out psychological demons, Shakespeare’s Macbeth is an exposition of how wrong they are.

This all came back to me when I read about former CBS Radio President Dan Mason speaking at Radio Ink’s Hispanic Radio Conference in March about how many radio spots should run in a typical hour of radio programming; his answer was 8 to 10 units. Whereas the typical radio station these days is running 14, 16, 17 (or more) units every hour and Mason says that’s probably too much.

On Twitter Radio Ink tweeted “Is Dan Mason correct? You should be playing 8-10 units per hour.” I tweeted back “YES.” To which Dan Mason tweeted back “@DickTaylor @RadioInk not easy to execute in today’s environment but this is the goal we have to work toward!” And to which I then responded, “@radiodanmason @RadioInk Agreed. No one ever said it would be easy. But moving in this direction needs to be the industry goal.”

Then the next day Radio Ink printed this headline as their lead story “We Would Pay More For Shorter Stopsets,” from ad agency executives Blair Overesch and Jeff Chase of Walz Tetrick Advertising in Kansas City. Their clients include the World Champion Kansas City Royals and Dairy Queen. They bemoan how their clients become lost in long horrible-sounding commercial clusters.

The Birth of the Radio Ad

When the commercial radio was born in 1920 the only way operators of radio stations could figure out to support the expenses that came with running a radio station was by the sale of radio advertising. They copied the model of newspapers and magazines of that time. And here we are almost a hundred years later and nothing has really changed in this business model, except the birth of the Internet. The Internet of Things (IoT) has been the big disruptor of just about every business model.

Look Outside Your Industry for New Ideas

It’s said that Henry Ford came up with the idea of the automobile assembly line when he visited the meat packing plants of Chicago. There he witnessed how cows were disassembled. It was done on a disassembly line. And so the story goes that Ford had an “Ah hah moment.”

Radio needs an “Ah hah moment” when it comes to its business model. But what could it possibly be? Where would we go, as an industry, to find this new business model? Not in the world of ad supported media, that’s for certain.

Casino Gambling & Changing Business Models

Casinos in America started in Nevada in 1931. New Jersey would be the second state in America to legalize casino gambling in 1978. So for almost half a decade, Nevada – Reno & Las Vegas – had a monopoly on this type of gambling activity. New Jersey would also enjoy a boom from casino gambling during the 80s and early 90s as the seaside resort saw a new casino opening up every year. Casinos made money on gambling. Period.

What changed was the wave of states legalizing casino gaming all across America in their search for new revenue sources. Vegas and Atlantic City would find that trying to live off of just gambling handles was quickly eroding. Their business model was being disrupted.

The Most Profitable Resort in Las Vegas

Can you guess which Las Vegas casino makes the most money? It’s not located in the heart of the “The Strip” where thousands of visitors walk by every day. It’s actually Wynn Resorts.

Billions of dollars move through Las Vegas every year. Casino operators do everything they can think of to have visitors gamble away as much of their money as possible while they are in Vegas. But Wynn changed the casino business model for his properties. Steve Wynn decided that with the explosion of casinos across America, he needed to move in a new direction. He needed to become less dependent on high rollers sitting at gaming tables for the bulk of his revenue. Non-gaming activities at Wynn’s Wynn & Encore Casinos account for 67% of the company’s revenues.

Focused On the User Experience

Steve Wynn is totally focused on the visitor or user experience when he builds a casino. He gives his full attention to every detail. This type of focus can be seen in the Bellagio, a casino Steve Wynn built over 16 years ago and has since sold. It’s number two in revenues in Vegas.

Becoming Less Dependent on Advertising

The smart radio operator will take a chapter from Steve Wynn’s playbook and move their stations off of full dependency on the ad supported business model. Steve Price at Townsquare Media appears to be doing just that with ad supported radio at the hub of their strategy. Price said he wants Townsquare to be the largest local digital content business, the largest live event business, and the largest digital marketing services business in their radio markets. Chairman and CEO Steven Price says, “We believe our diversified strategy remains sound, demonstrated by the stability of our local advertising business and the outsized growth in our other businesses.  In addition, we further diversified our business, with approximately half of revenue now derived from sources other than the sale of terrestrial radio advertising.”

Monetizing a Media Company Beyond Advertising

It’s not about throwing the baby out with the bath water. Steve Wynn didn’t abandon gambling. In fact, Steve Wynn makes more money than every other casino operator in Vegas by doing everything just a little bit better than his competitors – both in Vegas as well as elsewhere. He just unhitched his properties from total dependence on gambling revenues. I believe Steve Price is pursuing a similar path as Wynn with his media company. I believe that Townsquare can run 8 to 10 radio ads in an hour and make money. Moreover, make money for his advertisers by putting them in a radio spotlight and increase TSL and audience ratings by making his listeners happy with the proper balance of advertising and entertainment. Done in this way it is a win-win-win.

What’s your plan?

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