Tag Archives: WFPG

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

WFPG Transmitter SiteFor thirteen years I was the general manager of WFPG AM/FM in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The stations were successful. I was active in Rotary, the local chambers of commerce, community social programs in addition to running the radio stations.

We did the state’s first LMA (Local Marketing Agreement) adding a third radio station to our operation.

We had a print division that did zoned coupon mailers and produced an annual calendar for local advertisers.

I was in the zone, my comfort zone.

Success Is a Poor Teacher

When new ownership took over the radio stations in my 13th year of managing them, one of the owners was to be the “managing partner.” He didn’t have the equity stake to invest, so his contribution was to move to Atlantic City and manage the stations for the group. That meant that everyone in the radio stations were needed but me.

As I set out to find a new radio general manager position, I would be faced with something new that the broadcasting industry had never had to deal with before, consolidation. Consolidation was like a game of musical chairs, only in this game when the music stopped, you were out-of-a-job.

I thought that my long period of success would be a plus in finding my next position but kept hearing “you’ve been at the same place for over a decade?” I would soon learn that this wasn’t perceived as a positive.

My Road Trip

Eventually, I would land my next GM position and move to a new state. That would lead to a series of moves every two to three years after that as consolidation kept changing the landscape of the radio industry as we knew it.

Delaware, Maryland, Iowa, Pennsylvania and back to New Jersey a couple of more times would be my life over the next decade.

While I never would have chosen this path, what I would realize was that I learned more over this period of time than being in the same place for the previous decade. That being successful and in your comfort zone is a poor teacher.

College Professor

Seven years ago, I made a career change. I went from market manager of a cluster of radio stations for Clear Channel to broadcast professor at Western Kentucky University. I was moving out of my comfort zone BIG TIME.

That first year was a lot of heavy lifting as I created every course, every lesson, every test for each of my classes.

Eventually, I grew to a new comfort zone at the university. I was on university senate and several committees. I graduated from the university’s master advising certification program and advised around 100 students each semester. I graduated from the university’s police academy and my office was a campus “safe space” for students, faculty and staff. And I was active in state broadcast associations along with founding and directing a radio talent institute on campus.

Why Comfort Zones Are Bad for You

Staying in a comfort zone feels peaceful and relaxing. Comfort zones are not challenging. They become limiting and confining. They can produce a sense of boredom.

I know I certainly had that feeling of “Is That All There Is?” during my long tenure in Atlantic City.

Change is the only constant you can depend on in the world. Nothing stays the same. If you’re not growing then you’ve “gone to seed.”

WWJD

What Would Jobs Do?

My fiancé shared with me the last words of Steve Jobs and it’s illuminating.

Jobs said that in the eyes of others his life had been the symbol of success. However, Jobs found that apart from his work, his life held little joy.

Steve had stayed in his comfort zone.

Once you’ve accumulated enough money for the rest of your life, you need to change your focus to pursuing objectives that are not related to wealth.

It is why I started this media mentorship blog in January 2015.

Happy New Year 2018

The new year is traditionally a time when we all look in the mirror of our lives and contemplate where we want to go next.

If you want to grow in 2018, decide to get out of your comfort zone.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

– –Steve Jobs

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Radio’s BIG Opportunity

54I know that radio needs to be planning for the future and the future is not going to be like the past. However, to ignore the present makes no sense to me whatsoever. Here’s what I mean, take a look at this quote:

“Japan is selling more adult diapers than diapers for children. Think about that for a moment.” –Joseph Coughlin, founder of the AgeLab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Coughlin’s point is, that while Millennials may be getting all the buzz in today’s media and advertising world, that retailers must be on alert to the aging Baby Boomer population that have all the money. Coughlin recently addressed the International Council of Shopping Centers Conference telling the 4,000 attendees important facts they need to know in order to grow and prosper.

Coughlin advises that retailers would be better to focus on the aging generations than the younger ones.

Robbing Banks

Willie Sutton has been famously quoted as responding to a reporter’s question about why he robbed banks all his life as saying “because that’s where the money is.”

Well, if you’re in the retailing business or the media business, the money today is with the Boomers and it’s time to focus on them more than anyone has in the past.

Coughlin’s Research

The research I’m going to share was reported in the Tampa Bay Times and you can go to their website for more details about all of this.

Coughlin pointed out that fewer people today are having kids and the result of that reality is the over-60 folks will outnumber the little people aged 1 to 15 by 2047. What’s interesting, is that Coughlin points out this has never happened before.

But if you’re smart like Willie Sutton, you need to consider the fact that right now nearly 70 percent of all disposable income in the economy is controlled by Americans in the age 50 and over group. (50 is the age that AARP sends you your first invitation to become a member. I know that, because that’s when I became a member of AARP.)

College Towns #1 for Retirees

Coughlin also said that retirees are attracted to college towns. Many colleges offer low or no-cost tuition to seniors plus they have lots of educational and entertainment programs that are often free or at very low cost.

My university put on a production of Beauty & the Beast with all of the original Broadway show sets and costumes, but the actors were from the university theater department and the full orchestra was made up of teachers and students from the music program. I have been to many Broadway shows in New York City and I’m going to tell you it was as good as any of them I’ve seen and the cost to park for the show was free, the seat I had was front row center and the cost of my ticket was $5.00; try and beat that!

Corvette City

Bowling Green, Kentucky is the home of the Chevrolet Corvette. The average age of a Corvette owner is 59 years old. So you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that Coughlin says that luxury products that are high-tech and high price are bought by senior citizens.

But it’s not just cars. It’s everything. Grocery stores, drugstores, health, beauty and fitness and more.

With this crowd what’s in high-demand is internet proof. It’s experiences they can’t get online.

Beautiful Music

This week a station group in Michigan announced a new format for WBZX in Big Rapids.  The new format is beautiful music with the station’s new branding: “Beautiful 104, as beautiful as Northern Michigan.”

One of my favorite stations and the one that gets voted #1 every year in the local newspaper as one of the “Best of Naples” is WAVV in Naples, Florida. Both the music and the ads are perfectly targeted to their audience. Even better, the station maintains a commercial load of only eight commercials per hour. Four times an hour they stop the music and play two sixty-second commercials and then return to their unique musical offering.

Senior Power Radio

None of this should come as a surprise to anyone. Ken Dychtwald wrote about this back when I first became a general manager of an Al Ham “Music of YOUR Life” radio station to be followed by managing a Bonneville Beautiful Music radio station in Atlantic City. The Age Wave clearly laid out the opportunities that would be coming.

Well, that day is here. Senior Power Radio is a true opportunity to leverage people who grew up on broadcast radio and will embrace any radio station that is focused on their needs.

It’s time for some smart broadcasters to make some money by focusing on the “interests, convenience and necessities” of the Baby Boomers; because we’re going to be around for a while.

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Memories of Pinky

PinkyShortly after I arrived in Atlantic City to begin my 13-year run as general manager of WIIN/WFPG, I would be interviewed by Atlantic City Magazine about some of the changes I was making at the radio stations.

WIIN was a news station with a five person news staff, a full-time sports director, even a plane in the sky over the South Jersey Shore doing traffic reports in season. WFPG was the iconic Bonneville Beautiful Music formatted radio station with an hour I.D. that many remember for the sound of ocean waves, sea gulls and buoy bells. During my interview with the magazine I was asked about Pinky and his WOND radio show Pinky’s Corner, to which I replied something to the effect that he wasn’t on my radar and what he did made no difference on my operation; basically a one-liner in a much longer story on South Jersey radio.

By the time I arrived in South Jersey Pinky had been doing his radio show longer than I had been sucking up oxygen as part of the human race.

Sunday morning November 1st I woke up to the news that Pinky had passed away Saturday night at the age of 88. He had retired only earlier this year after heart surgery in May had caused Pinky to call in sick for the first time in his 57-year radio work history.

I have so many memories of Pinky.

As a competitor I remember calling on advertisers that told me they bought ads in Pinky’s show so he would never say anything negative about them. Hard to argue with that reason. I remember Pinky broadcasting his radio show by the cash registers as I was checking out with my groceries at the supermarket. I remember the time when Pinky was without a remote location sponsor to do his show from, so he took the latest technology – a bag phone – and hopped in the back of Atlantic City police cars and did his radio broadcast live on patrol, the kind of thing that COPS does on TV.

My radio career would take me to the Midwest and one day my office phone would ring and it would be Howard Green, the owner of WOND, home of Pinky’s Corner. Howard said to me “Dick Taylor, what would it take for me to get you back to Atlantic City and working for me?” I said, “Make me an offer.” He did. I took it. I returned to Atlantic City.

Because Pinky always did his radio show from a remote location, he was usually never in the radio station broadcast center. One day, I saw Pinky walking towards my 3rd floor corner office. I said “Hi Pinky,” to which Pinky said “I have no confidence your ability to manage this radio station,” then turned around left. It’s always nice to receive that kind of positive encouragement from your team when you start a new job.

I would learn those words were due to that Atlantic City magazine article of over a decade earlier. Pinky had an incredible memory. He remembered everything. He even did his radio commercials from memory for his clients who sponsored Pinky’s Corner.

When we were approaching Pinky’s 45th year on-the-air, I conspired with his remote sponsor to throw a big 45th anniversary celebration surprise party during his live radio show. The casino folks agreed and it was a surprise that I’m sure Pinky never expected to have occurred on my watch.

Another thing I remember about Pinky was that during my time as the WOND manager, Pinky wouldn’t say the call letters or the frequency of the radio station. No matter how I cajoled Pinky he would not change his ways. I commissioned a research study of the people who listened to Pinky’s Corner and found that 60% of the people who listened to Pinky every day did not know the call letters of the radio station his show was broadcast over. But I still couldn’t change Pinky’s mind.

Frustrated I went to the company owner, Howard Green, and asked for advice. Howard’s response was priceless. “Don’t ask me” he said. “Pinky one time had t-shirts made up with his picture drawn on them and the words ‘Listen to Pinky’s Corner’.” Howard said when he saw them he said to Pinky “Pinky, you didn’t put the call letters or the frequency of the radio station on your t-shirts.” To which Pinky replied “and you didn’t pay for the t-shirts.”

Since Atlantic City uses unaided diary recall I decided to put the WOND call letters in every station break and between every commercial during Pinky’s Corner I could squeeze them into. Then Howard Green became ill while on an ocean cruise, lapsed into a coma and died. The next day I turned on Pinky’s Corner to hear what Pinky would say about his friend and employer of over four decades and what struck me most was that Pinky was saying the station call letters everywhere. And that would continue from that point forward. I guess I’ll never know the reason why that change occurred.

I’m happy to say that Pinky and I became friends, who respected one another’s abilities and love of the radio business. I always enjoyed seeing him on my annual trips back to Atlantic City for the New Jersey Broadcasters Association conventions.

For so many people in South Jersey, they don’t remember a time when Pinky wasn’t on their radio. He truly was one-of-a-kind.

Thank You Pinky for making WOND, like the slogan said, “Radio You Can Depend On.”

WOND LOGO

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How to find RADIO sales people

I worked in the radio industry for over forty years. In that time, I attended a lot of meetings, conferences and worked with radio companies owned by “mom & pop” to iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel).

The most often heard question everywhere I went was “How do I find people to sell for my radio station(s).”

Well I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is, it’s going to get worse. So what’s the good news? You’re not Google.

I was drawn in by an interesting article called “5 Reasons You May Not Want to Work for Google.”  It makes some excellent points from the employee’s point of view. But the bigger question is WHY do so many people aspire to work for Google?

Google has created a powerful employee brand. Google did this by building a culture. The culture then virally spreads the good word about working at Google.

Radio has been good at building cultures over the years. I just finished reading Ron Jacob’s “KHJ – Inside Boss Radio” and Ron pulled back the curtain on this iconic radio station from its Top40 birth in 1965.

Just like Google, KHJ created a powerful employee brand. Every disc jockey aspired to work there. Every performer wanted their record played on KHJ. KHJ went from being the misfit of RKO General (its owner) to becoming the economic engine that would lead the entire media company. It even out-billed KHJ-TV9 in Los Angeles.

Think KHJ’s general manager asked “How do I find people to sell for my radio station?”

When I was managing WFPG in Atlantic City I was often asked where I found my sales people. I used to joke that it was easy, because the station was located in front of a bus stop and we’d just abduct them while they were waiting for the bus. The real answer was, we created a powerful employee brand in South Jersey.

We had the reputation of being a fun, professional and winning place to work. We had applications coming in on a weekly basis for just about every position.

Sitting just a short expressway drive from Philadelphia, many rookies would be told to head for Atlantic City and WFPG to learn the business. We had earned the reputation for producing top talent both on-the-air and in sales.

Most radio stations are afraid to lose people to bigger radio stations in larger radio markets, but not us. We knew that only enriched our employee brand. Word gets around quickly that you’re the path to radio’s big show. That type of buzz helps to keep your pipeline of great candidates full.

Every employee I hired, I told “Tell me where you want to go and I will do my best to get you there.”

I tell my students today what I told my employees for years: “what will you do this quarter that you can add to your resume of successes?” Success only happens if you plan to be successful.

Now you may be wondering if I ever lost a sales person to another radio station in my market and the answer is yes. I lost sales people to other stations when they were offered the job of sales manager or general manager. I celebrated their good fortune right along with them.

I also remember some people who left because they thought all radio stations operated the way we did only to learn that they didn’t. Some of those people returned and became even better employees than when they left.

It’s never been more important for radio station owners to focus on creating a strong employee brand. A recent study by the Career Advisory Board says 93 percent of hiring managers feel they can’t find the right talent for their jobs. The job applicant pool hasn’t been this lean since 2008. You can’t stop the aging process of 77 million Baby Boomers set to retire and the brain drain that will be created as they walk out the door.

The companies that put their focus on creating a strong employee brand will be the winners.

Remember, if you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.

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