Tag Archives: Radio Personalities

Radio Is the Load Bearing Wall of Audio Media

Rich TunkelRich Tunkel of Nielsen Audio delivered this message at the 71st Annual NJBA Conference and Gala in Atlantic City, New Jersey along with this slide (see below).Nielsen Audio Media Reach

Tunkel pointed out that when it comes to total media usage in America today, the ten and a half hours of daily media use has remained unchanged year-over-year. However, Nielsen is seeing shifts in what and how media is being used during the day. The big increase is in the use of internet connected devices, with almost seven out of ten homes now having a device capable of streaming audio content.

RADIO is King of All Audio Media

92% of adults in America today listen to radio each week according to Nielsen’s Q3 2018 survey. That’s more than twice the reach of streaming audio on smartphones It’s almost five times the reach of podcasts, and virtually six times the reach of satellite radio.

Yes, there’s more competition for the ear than ever before, but broadcast radio is “the load bearing wall of audio media.”

I love that description!

A load bearing wall in a building is the one wall you can’t take down without having the entire structure collapse. And so, it is with reach via the medium of audio. If your advertising buy doesn’t include radio, you’re missing the masses with your message.

Nielsen’s New Research on the Impact of Radio on Light TV Viewers

When it comes to reaching America’s light TV viewers, radio dominates. (see below)radio_reaches_light_TV_viewers

Light TV viewers are most of us in today’s world. We are commuting, busing our kids and grandkids to their activities, leading active lives ourselves and are now spending less time home in front of the tube.

Rich Tunkel showed a real-life demonstration of how taking an advertiser’s TV budget and diverting 50% of it to radio, the advertising campaign increased its reach by over a 100,000 people without increasing the dollars the advertiser spent. In this case it was a 45% lift in reach.

I’ve known Rich for years and have never seen him deliver more impactful data on the power of radio advertising.

‘Nielsen Media Impact’ brings together consumer media behavior information data Nielsen Media Impactacross TV, digital, and print media into one easy to use planning interface. It’s a product that should have everyone in radio sales salivating to get their hands on.

Radio #1 in Reach

Reach, for the advertiser, has never been more important. Radio’s 92% reach of adults in America is unchanged year-over-year and that’s a statistic worth shouting about, especially with huge losses in reach of television and newspapers.

Radio’s ability to reach the masses is why Proctor & Gamble has returned to radio as a major advertiser since the summer of 2017. Over the course of the year in 2018, P&G virtually tripled its radio advertising. 2019 could see P&G become radio’s biggest advertiser.

Why Radio

One of the panelist’s on Rich Tunkel’s NJBA panel was Stuart Burkhoff. Stu is the Senior Director of Media Strategy and Planning for Altice USA (4th largest cable provider in the US). He shared with the audience why radio is important to him using a clever acronym called RADIO, which stands for:

 Relevant

Authentic

Delivery

Impact

Original

Radio is relevant for all kinds of people, whether they want sports, news or entertainment. Radio has authenticity with listeners because of its radio personalities who are stars in their communities and have earned their love and trust. Radio delivers an advertiser’s message with impact, and radio is the original, it’s the audio medium that’s been around for almost a hundred years and still works. In fact, radio may be entering its finest hour.

Each of Tunkel’s panelists stressed the importance of the local radio personality to powerfully deliver their message and endorse the product. Radio personalities have never been more important to advertisers.

In today’s world, reach continues to be the most important factor when deciding which medium to use to get an advertising message out.

Radio is the undisputed reach & frequency leader.

It’s the…

Load Bearing Wall of Audio Media.

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Great Expectations

OR FMI read with great interest the five part series by Matt Bailey on “The Alexa Effect.” In the 5th and final installment Matt shared what he called the “radio weapon Spotify will never have.” What is it? The radio personality. He wrote:

 

  • “A radio personality can tell you the backstory of a breakthrough artist that makes you want to hear her work.”

  • “A radio personality can point out that crazy line in the second verse to stay tuned to hear.”

  • “A radio personality can engage you to smash or trash a song on the station’s social media.”

  • “A radio personality can give you the chance to be among the very first to hear a new song by a star artist.”

“A radio personality can add context that will make listeners excited to hear a song that otherwise would simply be weird and unfamiliar. It’s a deeply personal and emotionally engaging weapon no algorithm can match. When we stifle their voices and their role in introducing new music simply to avoid potential tune-out, we might win a few tenths of a point in the PPM battle, but we will lose the new music war to Spotify.”

Consolidation & Voice Tracking

I don’t disagree with Matt, but I lived through the ramifications of the Telcom Act of 1996 and the consolidation of radio stations, along with the rollout of voice tracking.

Clear Channel called it “Premium Choice,” and we were told it would replace our local personalities with big market talent.

I watched in market after market as radio personalities, who were like members of the radio listener’s family, were sent to the unemployment lines. Relationships that took years, even decades to establish, wiped out in an instant.

Early Media Expectations

I grew up at a time when the family television set received a signal from a couple of antennas on the roof. We had two channels, which meant we received two television networks, CBS and NBC. If you wanted to change the channel, you had to get off the couch and change it. There was no remote control.

Our radios had both the AM and FM bands, but I remember wondering why. I often scanned the entire FM band to hear nothing at all with only the AM band picking up radio signals.

My early media expectations were two TV channels and AM radio stations. The radio provided a lot more variety, plus I had a radio in my room and our family had a single TV located in the living room. I controlled my radio, my parents controlled the family TV.

Media Expectations Change

In time, I would come to expect television to be in color, to be connected to a cable and have a remote control to easily change the multitude of channels I could now receive, from the comfort of my couch.

Radio would expand to the FM band and a whole new type and style of radio was born. The one thing that connected AM and FM radio was the radio personality. Every station had them and the decision to listen to one station over another was because of the radio personality.

In fact, I wrote an article on the power of the radio personality back in 2015 entitled “We Never Called It Content.”

I wrote this article after reading about the latest round of “forced retirements” in the radio industry.

And if you thought this type of downsizing was only occurring in large radio metros, the movie “Corporate FM” told the story of how in the 80s, ninety percent of mass media in America was owned and controlled by about fifty different companies, but after the Telcom Act of 1996 it was down to just six corporations.

New Media Brings New Expectations

Let’s fast-forward to today. I cut the cord on cable TV two years ago and all of my television viewing is streamed. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sling TV and YouTube provide me with more hours of television entertainment and information than I could ever have time to watch, and I’m retired.

Amazon Echo provides me with all of my audio entertainment and I do mix it up between stations via TuneIn and the pureplays like Pandora and Amazon Music.

I also read a lot and subscribe to several online newsletters that all link to the original source of the material.

Which leads me to this conclusion, my calendar age did not cement my media habits. They’ve been fluid all of my life.

My 21st Century Great Expectations

  • I expect NPR to open up my world to things I should be aware of, that I might not have been. I expect them to also provide me with more depth to the stories in the news. I expect them to have all of this posted online for almost immediate access. They don’t disappoint.
  • I expect my television viewing to be On Demand and commercial free.
  • I expect my music listening to match my mood and be there by simply asking Alexa to play my favorite channels when I want to hear them.
  • Finally, I expect I’m not alone in these “21st Century Great Expectations.”

Rewound Radio DJ Hall of Fame

On Saturdays, I enjoy asking Alexa to play Rewound Radio so I can hear another fabulous radio personality featured in the weekly “DJ Hall of Fame.” The other weekend they featured WOR-FM out of New York City and the air personality was Johnny Donovan. OR-FM air checks are all in stereo and the music mix has plenty of variety. It was a time when Music Radio 77 – WABC dominated the world’s airwaves on the AM band. But the one thing I notice in these weekly trips down memory lane is how integral the radio personality was in the total program. They were a constant companion. They really were radio’s “secret weapon” to attracting faithful listeners.

The question I ponder often is, was this period of radio history akin to the vaudeville period of theater. It filled the right hole at the right time but won’t ever be coming back again.

I welcome your thoughts.

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Get The Led Out

mrr_peabody_canvasLed for Lunch (an hour of Led Zeppelin music) pre-dates a lot of things, not the least of which is my iPhone. But this radio programming staple along with “Two-fer Tuesdays” and “Million Dollar Weekends” (in a billion dollar world) remain on so many radio stations. It’s like Mr. Peabody’s Way-Back Machine broke down in 1972.

My iPod contains a large variety of music. You would probably toss your cookies if you had to listen to it. Variety has always meant something different to each individual. That’s why radio stations that promote “the best variety” are usually wrong with a wide variety of listeners. Another worn-out, if ever appropriate, positioning phrase.

Howard Stern and Adele have a lot in common. They’re one-of-a-kind. They both understand they are not for everyone and they don’t care. We are attracted to people like that. Successful radio stations are like that.

When CBS lost Howard Stern to Sirius Radio, it suffered a meltdown. When Comedy Central lost Jon Stewart, it didn’t. Why? Comedy Central seized the opportunity to move in a new direction by attracting younger demographics, as well as increasing its black and Hispanic audience. It also read the tea leaves and made the show more accessible on the social media platforms. The result is the show is doing better than Stewart with where the “cut-the-cord” millennial’s are getting their media fix. Radio needs to embrace this changing audience usage pattern and have fulltime people paying as much attention to IoT (Internet of Things) as they do their over-the-air product. (Personally, I love both the new Daily Show & Nightly Shows and they are becoming a habit.)

Speaking of habits, they take a long time to cultivate, but once you get people in the habit of doing something, they aren’t quick to change. (It’s the reason I publish this blog every week. I’m trying to get you in the habit of expecting it and reading it.) Too many radio operators, in the name of budget cuts, eliminated the very reason many listeners had the habit of tuning into their radio station. Personalities are what differentiate a radio station and create the habit of daily listening.

Personalities and radio stations that are part of the fabric of the community will be found on every radio, including the new digital dashboards appearing on the latest vehicles. If people want what you create, they will find you.

The art of the tease has changed in a world with smartphone access to Google. If you tease a viewer or a listener, you better be the only place they can get the pay-off or you have effectively sent the person packing for another source.

Demographics are so yesterday. Psychographics are today. I like many of the same forms of entertainment that my grand kids like. (They also probably can operate my smartphone better than I can.) If age was ever a good way to define listeners or viewers, we definitely know it isn’t now. Pick a tribe you want to super-serve and then do it relentlessly.

What should you focus on most? Everything. The devil’s in the details and no one’s focused on the details anymore. All great entertainment is laser focused on the details. Go see a Cirque du Soleil performance if you need an example to emulate or watch the coaching staff instead of the playing field during a college or NFL football game.

Nothing stays the same. You’re either getting better or getting worse.

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New Radio World Column Premieres

Thirty years ago Michael C. Keith entered a small New England college to start a new career. Keith had just spent the past ten years as a professional broadcaster and was now transitioning into the world of teaching. The first thing that he would learn was the only textbooks available at that time were woefully out-of-date. Radio was now format driven and there were no textbooks available in 1986 that were teaching the kind of radio Michael Keith had just left. So, Keith decided to write his own textbook. He called it simply “The Radio Station” and he pitched his manuscript to Focal Press.

If you like to read the entire article, simply click here: Focal Press Updates “Keith’s Radio Station”

This is the premiere of my new column in Radio World that will appear quarterly.

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Different or Better?

In education, we measure students by GPA (grade point average). The higher a student’s GPA, the more everyone believes that student is the higher achiever. In school, that measure is usually pretty accurate, but what about when the student graduates?

The best baseball players don’t always become all-stars. The best scientists don’t always win a Nobel Prize; the best known do.

Stanford’s business school once tried to learn what their most successful graduates had in common. They found two things. They all graduated in the lower half of their class and they all were very good at socializing. Being able to work a crowd, it turns out, is a skill-set that leads one to be successful.

Lee de Forest wanted to be called “the father of radio.” He even tried to use the “Miracle on 34th Street” concept having the post office make that determination. Only unlike in the movie, the United States Post Office did not deliver the mail addressed “the father of radio” to de Forest. Worse, de Forest never really understood his own Audion tube that made the radio we know today possible.

Edwin Howard Armstrong, the creator of FM radio (that is also the way the audio on your TV set gets delivered too) did understand the science that made the Audion tube work, but most people don’t know Armstrong.

Armstrong was better than de Forest, but de Forest was different.

Nielsen Audio measures better, something audiences really can’t distinguish. However, different is something that audiences can distinguish.

Think of top rated radio personalities. Were they better or different? Howard Stern? The Real Don Steele? Salty Brine? Dale Dorman? Paul Harvey? Jean Shepherd? Wolfman Jack? Etc.

I’m sure you will say they were better, because they were different. They were also all well promoted; either through self-promotion or a radio company that promoted them.

Today, every streaming audio service calls themselves “radio” and they’ve all copied the best practices of radio stations and one another that eliminate their differences; except one. Pandora. Pandora uses their “Music Genome Project” to put together their stream. Is it better than a music format that a person curates? Probably not. But it’s different.

Radio used to be filled with innovators dreaming up different. We need to let those folks back into the business and turn them loose. It’s why FM radio finally got traction and HD Radio never did.

It’s time for radio, like Steve Jobs did for Apple, to “Think Different.”

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