Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Frequency Is Your Friend

You know the statistics.  The average person is exposed to anywhere from 247 to 5,000 messages per day.   A person needs to hear new information at least three times before it registers in his/her mind for immediate recollection.  It takes even longer to become truly familiar with, and develop an affinity for, anything new.  All of these factors played into the development of optimum efficiency scheduling (OES) for radio in the 80’s.

OES is a simple mathematic calculation:   divide the station’s weekly cume audience by the average quarter-hour (AQH) audience. The result is the turnover ratio.  Multiply that by 3.29 and you have your station’s OES number.  It was originally developed for sales as a tool to help sell more commercials and create success for advertisers.   Smart programmers started using it as a tool in calculating music rotations.    Now more than ever it is critical that you use this formula for your station promos and imaging.

Here is an OES grid calculated from the averages of the Spring Books of 11 of our Albright & O’Malley & Brenner clients:

Clearly Frequency is your friend.   In this example, a promo that airs 8 times per day Monday-Friday between 6a-7p for one week will be heard by one half of your cume three times.  That frequency barely meets the minimum for retention level.  Effective promos and imaging need to be played to be heard and absorbed.  

These important messages sell the unique differences that set your station apart from your competition.   Use them to create additional appointment listening and remind people that they need to come back time and time again or they will miss something.  Treat your promos and imaging like songs.  Develop power, medium and light messages.   Make sure the power messages are scheduled frequently enough to be absorbed, understood and effective in developing an affinity with your listeners.    Make sure your voice is heard in the clutter of messages your listeners are exposed to every day!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Insane Courage

If you haven’t seen the movie “We Bought A Zoo” I would highly recommend it.  Yes it is predictable and sentimental, but it is also inspiring, motivating and it makes you feel good about humans.  It is a strong reminder that people can accomplish anything when they work together and have a positive mental attitude. 

One of the best lines in the movie is Benjamin Mee sharing these words of advice with his son, “You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just literally 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery, and I promise you, something great will come of it.”  

As you go through the day today, call on that 20 seconds of courage to help you share a new idea, make a tough decision, face a person or situation you have been avoiding.  Present it in a positive way.   Seek out the people who can help you implement and or resolve whatever it is you are trying to accomplish.    Apply this principle to your work and personal life and something great will come of it. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nashville - Expect the Unexpected

CMA Awards week is winding down in Nashville and I am reminded once again how amazing it is to work in the country music business. The CMA is dedicated to bringing the poetry and emotion of Country Music to the world.  The awards show certainly accomplishes that goal.  You can always count on a few surprises during CMA Awards week. 

Just last night Tim MGraw entertained a crowd of 200 people in a cozy 3rd floor bar on Broadway with a full band show for over 90 minutes!   It is clear that he has a renewed enthusiasm for his new music, performing and country radio.  

BMLG Head Scott Borchetta surprised Tim with a plaque for Nielsen BDS’s Most Played Artist of the Decade Award for all genres of music.  He was emotional and humbled.    Then Tim surprised the crowd by welcoming special guest Ne-Yo to the stage.  Ne-Yo shared his thoughts on the power of mixing genres of music and talking about the similarities between R&B, Country & Gospel.   Even the most jaded radio person had to be surprised and impressed by the duets.   Faith stood by the sound board in her Pony Tail and sweatshirt and enjoyed watching her man bring down the house.   It was truly a special evening.

If you are in country radio or a fan of country music, you must experience CMA Music Fest or CMA Awards week.  The common bond that links country music fans, radio and artists is strong.   The CMA declared 2012 “The year of Country Radio”.   Every station, GM and Program Director was given a free membership to the CMA.   If you have not taken advantage of that yet, do it NOW.    Contact Brandi Simms at the CMA for more information.  Renew your membership for 2013.   It is a small price to pay to support an organization that contributes so much to our industry.  

Brandi Simms
615.664.1607 direct

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Community Feeds The Soul


Radio has the unique opportunity to be a community for our listeners.  It is human nature to seek out like-minded people with similar core values to surround yourself with; to find a place where you belong.   It is a simple concept on paper but much harder to execute in practice.

Music formats have the benefit of song to bring their fans together.  Talk stations have the power of storytelling and healthy debate.  All stations have the ability to do “good” in your neighborhood.    You can’t accomplish creating a community by being a jukebox without a soul.    It is not enough to play the hits, run a few contests and deliver Hollywood news.   You have to help the community connect on multiple levels to establish a bond that cannot be broken.    

Engaging personalities are the key.   Yes the word engaging is over-used, but it is oh so appropriate.  In the thesaurus under engaging you’ll find:  appealing, charming, likeable, enchanting, disarming, involving, engrossing, participating, absorbing, taking part, securing, retaining, and connecting.   Someone who exudes all of these characteristics is exactly who you need on the air. 

The key is finding talent who are interested in people.  You need personalities who have an innate ability to bring people together and get them talking.   People want to share.  They want to hear stories, give their opinions and have a chance to be heard.   The stations that work hard to include listeners in every break are doing it right.  It creates the perception that everyone listens to and interacts with your station.   It validates their choice, creates a human energy and gives them a sense of belonging to something powerful.
But that is not where it ends.  You need to connect everywhere your community is connecting.   Your text club, e-mail database, Facebook page, website and blogs are all important interactive tools that bring the community together.   These tools are no longer a luxury, they are a necessity. 

A true community has a kinship, a cooperative spirit, a neighborhood feel.   It feeds the soul with companionship, music, conversation and fun.   It makes life more interesting, bearable and worth living.  What have you done today to make your radio station a true community for your listeners? 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

“The Crowd is So YOUNG!”

Watershed 2012 What A Beatiful Crowd!
Wathershed 2012: What A Beautiful View!

The first annual Watershed Country Festival at the Gorge in George, Washington is history and proves once again that country is a lifegroup and not a demographic.   The most heard comment from the non-country fans at the show was, “The crowd is so young!”  It is shocking how many of them expect the country fans to be old, toothless and living in trailer parks.  The stereotypes may never leave the country format but events like this continue to silence the critiques and bring new fans to the format.

Granted, music festival fans are a somewhat unique breed.  They are hard core country fanatics who appreciate the value of seeing dozens of artists over three days in one of the most beautiful concert venues in the world (The Gorge is a mini version of the Grand Canyon with great acoustics and a breathtaking view).  However, from the parking lot to the post show departure the lifegroup diversity is obvious.

Yes the parking lot was filled with a lot of pickup trucks but also plenty of upscale SUV’s, convertibles and Mini-vans.  The ages of the crowd streaming into the show ranged from the cradle to the grave.   The bulk of the fans were females 20 to 50.   With temperatures reaching 103 each day, the most popular outfit was the bikini with cowboy boots and a stylish cowboy hat, but there were plenty of average people with their shorts, tank tops and baseball caps too.  

These people came to party, enjoy music and soak up the sun.   Several security people commented that while it was one of the biggest festivals they have ever seen at The Gorge (bigger than Dave Mathews, The Hip Hop Summer Jam & Sasquatch), it was for the most part orderly, respectful and without incident.    Artist after artist celebrated the passion of this audience, the youth who knew the words to even the oldest, most traditional songs and the beauty of the venue. 

Five regional Country radio stations were on-site greeting and interacting with the fans and every station fans at their booth.  Young people sported station call letters on hats, shirts, tattoos and stickers.  Just further affirmation that radio reaches 93% of all Americans each week.   If you are in country radio and you have never spent three days in the trenches with the fans, shame on you!  Seek one out; watch and learn.  

Watershed now joins the ranks of dozens of amazing country music festivals:  CMA Music Fest, Country Jam, Country USA, The Hodag Country Music Festival, Stage Coach, Bayou Country Superfest and more.  All serving a country lifegroup that is diverse in age, careers, income levels and lifestyles but all of whom share a similar set of core values; God, Family & Country (the music and the USA) and proud of it! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

That’s Why They Call It Work

We “Radio Rats” are lucky, even the worst day at work can be fun infused.  It’s show biz baby!  Very seldom (if ever) do you wake up and not want to go to work.   But the reality is it is work.  Now more than ever you have to have an excellent work ethic to survive.  Economic woes, consolidation and technological advances have created the perfect storm.   Everyone is over worked and overwhelmed; many are underpaid.  The survivors are the people with a positive mental attitude who roll up their sleeves and just DO IT.
Don’t let the volume paralyze you.  Take the opportunity to create great radio by using the amazing tools we have at our finger tips.    Yes, you have more jobs than ever before, but parts of that job are made easier by slicker production tools, software programs to help you find the answers and powerful engagement tools to bring you closer to your audience.  Embrace those advantages and put them to work for you.
Here are few reminders to help you tackle your daily work load:
1.      Make a list so you can see exactly what needs to be done.
2.      Color code or rank the items by importance.  Some will be Urgent, some important, some “If time permits”.
3.      Always tackle the toughest item first.  Doing the thing you dread the most first will free your mind to finish the other items and your dread will be gone.  In fact many times you’ll think “that wasn’t so bad.”
4.      Check off each item as you get it done.  That visual representation of your accomplishments will actually increase your productivity.
5.     If an item is on the list for more than two days then ask yourself, “Is this really necessary?”  If you determine that it must be done, get it done on day three.
6.     For e-mail and paperwork, it is best to practice the “touch it once” philosophy.  As often as possible you want to deal with it and file it away or delete it. The reality is you will never get back to it no matter how good your intentions. 
Remember what American Inventor Thomas Edison said, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."   Overalls are pretty damn comfortable to wear and extremely easy to work in.   Strap them on and get to work!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Welcome To The 140 Character World

If your message isn’t clear in 140 characters, it is TOO LONG!  Brevity is a necessity in the new world order!  Make every word matter.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Role Models & Path Pavers


The passing of Kitty Wells has me contemplating the power one person has to affect change and influence others.   Miss Kitty is one of those pioneer women who paved the way for females in every industry.  She is the original Queen of Country Music.  Her 1952 hit “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” was banned from radio airplay by NBC.  The Grand Ole Opry asked her not to perform it.   In spite of all that, the song climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard country chart.  It was the first No. 1 country song ever recorded by a female artist.  Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and even Taylor Swift can thank Kitty for being the first. 

Barbara Walters fought her way to the top in a TV world where many believed that no one would take a woman seriously reporting hard news.   In 1976 she became the first female co-anchor of network evening news, working with Harry Reasoner on the ABC Evening News.  She went on to win many daytime and primetime Emmy’s, lifetime achievement awards and has a long list of accolades covering many decades.

In October, Erica Farber will be honored by the Library of American Broadcasters as one of their “Giants Of Broadcasting”.   Erica is credited with being the first woman to become general manager of a major-market radio station (RKO’s WOR-FM Boston in 1976) and has had a long and successful career in broadcasting & publishing.  She is the only female on the list of honorees.  

These three accomplished women have inspired generations of females in music, television and radio to strive for the top.   The climb is getting easier but it is still a hike.  Yes, “we’ve come a long way baby” but we are far from there. 

I have been asked in many interviews “Why aren’t there more women in radio programming?”  My answer is always, “most women are too smart!”   They want to have a life.  Radio programming is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week job.   You have to be willing to battle to break the glass ceiling, put up with the good ol’ boys club and have such a great passion for it that you don’t mind what you are giving up to get there.  Now I’m thinking that maybe those women just needed a good mentor to show them the way. 

Take time today to seek out a young woman in our industry who is just starting out.  Be a mentor and help her see the possibilities.   Never underestimate the power you have to help transform another person’s life.   A huge THANK YOU to Kitty, Barbara and Erica for your drive, determination and dedication to paving a path for the rest of us.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mass Relevance: Illusive but Powerful

No matter what your product or service, if you can achieve “mass relevance” you are bound to be more successful.  It is particularly important for businesses that rely on advertising revenue to survive.  You have to aggregate a mass audience in order to have something to sell.  

Let’s break it down.  Mass: a body of coherent matter and often of considerable size.   Relevant: bearing upon or connected with the matter in hand; pertinent.  Put those together in reference to content creation and you have topics that appeal to the masses.  In an age when information is plentiful and communication happens in so many new forms, it is even more critical for content creators to look for subjects that are relevant to the masses.   

Roy Williams’s principle about advertising in 2012 can be directly applied to on-air and on-line content creation:   “I hear a voice whispering in the night:  Relevance and credibility, ad writer, are the words you must engrave on your heart if you will write ads that move the needle.  The customer is asking, ‘Does this matter to me?’ They are looking for relevance. And their second question is, ‘Do I believe what they’re telling me?’ They are looking for credibility.   The public is no longer looking for a perfect icon to worship. Most of them are looking for an equally-flawed friend with whom they can connect.”

Increase your mass relevance by watching and listening for the topics that people are talking about.   Here are a few sites that can help: http://www.trendingtopics.org/, http://www.reddit.com/, http://www.buzzfeed.com/,https://twitter.com/WhatsTrending/

Look for topics that are common to all of us:    
Relationships: (couples, families, friends, workplace)
Pop Culture: (entertainment news, celebrities…)
Personal Growth: (self-improvement, fulfillment at home and job, spiritualism, etc.)
Health and Beauty (Dieting, exercising, makeovers, anti-aging, pampering, etc.)
Shopping-Consumerism: (Example: “Bargain of the Week” )
Style: (trends, fashion, cars, home, personal space, etc…)

Keep in mind that the internet is not the only source for great content.   Google estimates that 129,864,880 different books exist in the world, and it claims to have digitized 15 million of them—or about 12 percent.  Just think of all of the information that has not made its way to the internet.  It gives a whole new meaning to the words “think outside the box”.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Death Of "The Program Director"

It is time to stop mourning the death of the Program Director and celebrate the birth of the Brand Manager.  The days when programming one radio station was a full-time job are gone.  If you are still using the title Program Director, you might want to consider making the move to this more accurate title.   A growing number of radio companies are now calling their PD’s Brand Managers.  It more accurately reflects how the job has evolved.  

When Lay people asked what I did for a living, I used to say “I am responsible for everything you hear coming out of the speakers on your radio; music, commercials and personalities.   A few years ago, I had to start adding the website, stream, Facebook, twitter, e-mail club, text club, HD stations, NTR programs and events.  The station call letters now represent a brand that is used for content distribution on multiple formats across a growing number of platforms.  

There are many, many definitions for a Brand Manager but I like the one found in the Brand Management Study guide:  Brand management includes developing a promise, making that promise and maintaining it. It means defining the brand, positioning the brand, and delivering the brand. Brand management is nothing but an art of creating and sustaining the brand. Branding makes customers committed to your business. A strong brand differentiates your products from the competitors. It gives a quality image to your business.  Brand management includes managing the tangible and intangible characteristics of brand.  In the case of service brands, the tangibles include the customers’ experience. The intangibles include emotional connections with the product / service.”

As you embrace your new role, one of the key responsibilities will be to develop a brand book for your team.  It will insure a consistent set of core values and standards for the use of your call letters throughout these platforms.   It is critical that you continue to meet your customer’s expectations.  Here is just one of many excellent sites that can help you develop this resource:
It is tough not to long for “the good ol’ days” but remember there are five key stages to mourning; denial, anger, emotional despair & sadness, reorganization and then LETTING GO AND MOVING ON!!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Get On Board the Twitter Train



The debate rages on, twitter vs. facebook, which is the most engaging and deserves your attention in order to keep you “connected” in the future.   The reality is, you need both.  They each have a different function.  facebook will continue to be the place to share stories, photos, videos and more, with your friends.  In fact, you can include much more because you have more space to work with.  Plus, you have the attention of the audience for a longer period of time.   

The power of twitter is its mass reach, ease of mobile use, immediate call to action and entertainment value!   It is so much easier to create and post a 140 character tweet than it is to craft a well thought out facebook post with great content.  twitter is a great tool for our changing human behavior.

Columnist Will Robinson writes “We think quicker and are distracted easier. According to the BBC, ‘The addictive nature of Web browsing can leave you with an attention span of nine seconds.’ That’s the attention span of a goldfish! Thus, we must learn to be compelling in that short time frame. Craft your message to engage the goldfish, and you will win by being heard.”  

The impact of this shift in human beings is huge!  Not only does it affect our ability to completely digest any knowledge or communication, it makes us impatient, unforgiving and sometimes a little cranky.  In Fact, right about now you have either stopped reading or are wondering “When will this end?”

For all of the ‘goldfish” humans, Twitter is the perfect communication tool.  The expectation from the user is totally different than with facebook.  When people follow someone on Twitter it is because they enjoy that persons quick witted observations about life OR they want to get up to the minute reports about a topic or a service.   They like the simple “broadcast” messages without a lot of interaction.   If you do want interaction, the world of hashtags awaits.  The advent of hashtags has allowed communities of followers to share thoughts on all kinds of topics. 
The Twitter Train has already left the station but it is never too late to jump on board!   If you don’t have a Twitter account, get one.  If you do have one, work on expanding it.  Improving your tweetablity will help you communicate more effectively in our A.D.D. world.   Study the Twitter policies and best practices, learn to use and understand this new form of communication and Enjoy The Ride!!! 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

We Need New Lyrics & A New Melody For This “Same Old Song”

Today was the day to dissect the newly commissioned CRS Research Study and I have to say that I felt like I was hearing the same song I have heard over and over again.   So I got to thinking, how can we apply David Houle’s futurist mentality and attempt to write some new lyrics and a fresh melody?
According to Larry Rosin, Edison Media Research, the top three things listeners want and expect from their favorite radio station continue to be what they have always been:

*The Best Music for My Tastes
*Presented by people I know and trust
*Who Support and care about their local community

And by the way, Rosin pointed out that he does research in many countries and the findings are similar.

Knowing these to be facts, how to we use the forces of the “Shift Age” to create a more relevant, engaging product for the communities we serve.   First and foremost, you must focus on local with a global perspective.  Let’s treat the “Flow to a Global World” as an opportunity to create a community of local listeners who share their thoughts and opinions about how the changes in the world are affecting their lives.  You need your TRIBE (the right individuals bragging endlessly) to be interactive and vocal.  

Radio has a unique advantage to other products and services because we already have a built in community of fans who love what we do and are willing to tell their friends.   Recognize the power of the “Flow to the Individual” and the effect of the “Accelerated Connectedness of the World” and take advantage of the technology available to allow increased two way communication.  Listeners must be able to take ownership and believe they are running the radio station.   We cannot remain a passive, “one to many” medium.  You must be active on Facebook.  You need text messaging capability.  Your station content must be available on multiple platforms on the internet.  The new digital natives expect all of this and you will lose them if you do not deliver.    

And last but certainly NOT least, you must continue to support your local community.   Gen Y is quickly becoming the largest segment of our coveted 25-54 demo.  This generation is the first in decades to truly believe they can make a difference in the world.   They want life to be better for all.  They believe in giving back and they look for opportunities to help.  Enlist their services.  Join forces to do “good in your neighborhood” and allow them to be the ones to brag about it.  

Finding a new twist on an old theme is never easy.  Seeing the possible is a gift and I may not have even scratched the surface here, but my creative juices are starting to flow and I hope to find a way to write a brand new song for this industry I love.

Are You A Futurist

If you are a leader of a company or a brand manager with employees and you don’t know what a futurist is, you need to learn and become one quickly.   That was just one of many profound takeaways from futurist David Houle’s presentation at the Country Radio Seminar.  His favorite definition comes from a colleague who describes it as someone who has the ability to “sell something that doesn’t exist to people who can’t see it”.   Now more than ever, you need to see, embrace and sell change at an exponential rate.

Houle sees 2010 as the start of the transformation decade.  We are in a “Shift Age” with three forces upon us that will cause a change in nature, character and form.  This shift age will force us to change the way we do business and build relationships.  The companies and individuals who can see and understand these three forces will thrive in the transformation decade. 

The (1) Flow to Global, (2) Flow to the Individual and the (3) Accelerated Connectedness of the world are affecting everything we do in a very profound way.  Houle warns that conventional thinking and projecting the rate of change by the current pace will be the demise of many businesses.  He quoted 19th-century Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno, “We should try to be the parents of our future rather than the offspring of our past.”

According to Houle, we now live in an age with no time, distance or place limitations on communication.  It is the age of “disintermediation”, the removal of the intermediary.  The individual holds all of the power.  There is no alienation because you can always find your “tribe” on the social network.

Houle elaborates on how the shift age will empower individuals and affect business.   The explosion of choice combined with the creation of two realities in every individual’s life is setting us on a course of change like we have never seen before.  You have to manage your “physical reality” and your “screen reality”.  Any information you need is at the touch of your fingertips.  Conventional ways of teaching and learning are outdated.  Intellectual property is the wealth of the shift age.  Creativity and inventiveness will be even more critical to success. 

When asked how radio can overcome being seen as a passive consumption medium, Houle encouraged us to “focus on the emotion” and “build on the unique relationship” we have with our community.  Focus on the five C’s; creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, content and context.  These are the keys to education and also to understanding where we need to be in the future.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Value of Face and Phone – NOT Facebook, Texting Or E-mail

They consider this "talking to each other"

Interpersonal communication is becoming a lost art.  Technology has created a generation that prefers electronic communication to actual conversation and we are just now starting to experience the negative ramifications. 
Since the day of the caveman, facial expressions, vocal intonation and body language have helped people understand each other and share ideas.  Without these key elements of communication, misunderstandings happen frequently.  Passion, urgency and a deeper understanding can be lost.  Questions and clarifications are often left “unspoken” because it takes too long to write.
You can probably site several examples where e-mail, text or an on-line post created hard feelings or a misunderstanding between co-workers or friends.  Too often people hide behind the written word when they do not want to confront the person face to face.  It is easier to be negative and accusatory when you do not have to see the person’s reaction.   No matter how many times a manager preaches “use e-mail for information and recaps only”, you still have those employees that use it for critique and questions.
It is important to remember that electronic communication is read from the perspective of the person reading it.  If they are having a bad day, had a bad experience with the topic you chose or had a confrontation with you the last time you spoke, your message will be read defensively no matter how you try to approach it.
Another challenge is the loss of creativity.  There is a magic that happens when humans brainstorm together that you cannot capture in electronic communication.  Seeing and hearing someone’s enthusiasm will often trigger more creative ideas in others.  Concepts evolve and usually improve when people are in the same room sharing ideas. 
Electronic communication can also stifle productivity.   If you have to go back and forth more than two times, PICK UP THE PHONE or WALK DOWN THE HALL!   A conversation can take two or three minutes where the game of e-mail ping pong can go on for an hour.  
It is time to return to more face to face conversation.  Teach your children to understand the importance of body language and facial expressions.  Encourage your friends and co-workers to meet in person, communicate by phone and cut down on the use of e-mail and texting.   Relationships, Creativity and Productivity will all improve.