Tuesday, December 30, 2008

DIY and Retro "in" for 2009

One of my favorite websites, Trendhunters, just released its Top 20 trends for 2009 by way of Trendhunters TV.

Predictions about what will be hot is always tricky business but watch carefully...it might just trigger a great idea you can use to start a trend of your own.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Thinking About 2009

There's been lots of talk about the credit crisis, the housing crisis, the automakers crisis and the economic crisis in general. And yes, plenty of talk about the radio crisis--amongst us radio folks.

Do you think the listeners know there's a radio crisis? Probably not. All they know is whether there is a radio station or stations that fulfill their needs as listeners.

Fulfillment and needs--two very good words to keep in mind as we steer our ships into 2009.

Maybe this is a little old school, but, if we focus our attention of finding ways to better serve our listeners we might discover new ways of formatting radio stations, new ways of connecting listeners with advertisers, and new ways to use our digital platforms to better connect and entertain listeners.

In 2009 radio companies that find ways to bolster their R&D budgets will have the best chance to be the big winners going forward.

R&D budget? Radio? Yes, R&D and radio! If Proctor and Gamble does it for 100 year old soap products we ought to be doing it for our radio products.

Here's a few ideas you might want to consider.

1--Find $30 a week to pay a new talent to try something new on the air for 2 hours every Sunday morning at 3am. For an investment of $1500 per year you might just discover someone or something new that could mean your future success.

2--Start attending local events again...festivals, community groups, or even high school football games. Talk to your neighbors, they might have something interesting to share.

3--Think about topics other than Hollywood gossip to talk about on the air. There's a phone topic right there: when you are not talking trash what else do you like to talk to your friends about?

Each idea is very low cost and very different from each other but yet all three are about the same thing: the listeners fulfillment and needs. Are these ideas groundbreaking? Hardly. They are basics we used to take for granted.

But then again, we used to take for granted that a newspaper would be printed and delivered to our house every day of the week and not just on certain days of the week.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Quotes of Creativity and Innovation

Enjoy this short presentation; it might inspire creativity or the desire to take a shower...you'll see.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bravo! Bravo!

Inside Radio had this in their afternoon update.

Live, from Chicago -- its overnights.
At a time when most stations are fighting to stay local outside of drive time, Salem is launching a live and local overnight show on WIND, Chicago (560). PD Marcus Brown says they see an opportunity to reach a "neglected" late-night listener. WIND weekend host Geoff Pinkus will host "Chicago Overnight."

I don't know any additional information, but at face value it's great to read about something other than a layoff.

Do You Have An Appointment?

Appointment listening is built into talk radio and presumably big morning shows have their fair share. What about music-centric dayparts and radio stations?

Now more than ever, with more stations making the choice to minimize the presence of personalities or forgo air talent altogether, what are you airing worthy of someone remembering to tune you in?

Inside Radio reported this morning:

More consumers pick silence.
The Consumer Electronics Association’s annual study of audio consumption finds that 13% of respondents aren’t listening to any form of audio entertainment these days, up from 4% a year ago and 2% in 2005. Consultant Sean Wargo says “It’s harder for consumers to decide where to allocate their time, so in some cases they’re just turning off the sound.”

In-car listening is down the most.
Blame the cell phone and fewer miles logged, but the number of consumers who listen to any form of audio while behind the wheel continues to drop. The CEA’s annual survey finds 83% listened to the radio, a CD or MP3. That’s down from 92% three years ago.

The new Britney, Kings of Leon, or classic Zep might be enough for some in the near term but I do not believe it will be enough for too much longer. What we program today will leave lasting impressions or is it lack of impressions.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This Post May Make You Smile

Came across Comics.com --a searchable comic-strip website and found these "radio" comics. There were thousands available and I thought these might be smile invoking...and we all could use an extra smile. And yes, you can click on each of the comics to see a full-sized version.
Arlo & Janis

The Born Loser

Get Fuzzy

Friday, December 12, 2008

***The Newswatch Never Stops

***Except if you are a newspaper reader in Detroit. It seems home delivery might be reduced to three days per week. See the story below.

Maybe radio stations should consider turning the transmitter off during low cume dayparts. Sorry, I couldn't resist. Let's hope my snarky "sense of humor" is not predictive of what's around the corner.
Report: Detroit papers likely to cut delivery

Published report says Detroit newspapers likely to cut home delivery to 3 days a week

DETROIT (AP) -- The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press are leaning toward cutting home delivery to three days a week, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The Journal, quoting a person on its Web site whom it didn't name, said a final decision has not been made. But the newspaper calls it the "leading scenario."

The papers have separate newsrooms but their business operations are combined under a joint operating agreement.

Leland Bassett, a spokesman for the partnership, would neither confirm nor deny the Journal report but said a news conference was planned for Tuesday.

"We do expect to announce a new, more dynamic business model, and the focus is on maintaining and strengthening two very strong and independent newspaper voices," he said.

There already are signs of change. Both newspapers have Web sites promoting Sunday and Thursday home delivery and online access on other days at a cost of $15 for three months.

Bassett said the promotion has been up for weeks. Asked if it's the sole option for subscribers, he replied: "We will be announcing ... a wide range of dynamic options. Those are still being finalized."

The Detroit market would be the largest in the country to lose seven-day home delivery if the strategy is adopted, said Rick Edmonds, a media analyst at The Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank in St. Petersburg, Fla.

"I think doing nothing is really not an option," said Edmonds, noting the industrywide revenue slide. But there are risks, he said, especially if staffs are cut and loyal print readers find that a redesigned paper is just a "shell" of the old version.

"For some people, the newspaper is part of their routine," Edmonds said. "Those folks are not going to be happy if it doesn't come on Monday and Tuesday."

The Journal said home delivery would be limited to Thursday, Friday and Sunday, with an "abbreviated" print edition available at newsstands on other days. Readers would also be directed to the papers' Web sites.

The changes likely would mean major job cuts, the Journal said.

The Free Press, owned by Gannett Co., had a daily circulation of 314,554 at the end of March; 618,324 on Sunday. The News, owned by MediaNews Group Inc., had daily circulation of 178,280. It does not publish a print edition on Sunday.

Bassett said the papers recognize the "tremendous importance of digital communication and finding ways to better deliver news and information to people in ways that are most convenient to them."

Reporter M.L. Elrick, vice chairman of the Free Press unit of the Detroit Newspaper Guild, said there's anxiety in the newsroom.

"Everyone here is afraid we're going to have staff cuts," he said. "I wish I had my sources call me as often as my colleagues have called the past couple days. No one knows where this is going to end up."

A Radio Station Employee Pop Quiz

How many can you answer correctly?
  1. Would you listen to your own station(s) if you didn't work there?
  2. Do you even have time to listen to your own station(s)?
  3. Do you find your station(s) interesting to listen to?
  4. Do you secretly listen to satellite or internet radio for a different(better) variety of music?
  5. Do you secretly agree with listener complaints when you get them?
  6. Would things change if you were more empowered to make changes?
Loaded questions for sure. If enough people choose to answer I will crunch the answers and publish the results next week.

Bonus question: Would your listeners miss your station if it were taken off the air?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Brian Williams Shows His Generation Gap

Recently Brian Williams, the NBC Nightly News anchorman, jokes about technology at a speaking engagement (Adage had the video). It's really more like a body check [for you hockey fans] about technology. The subjects? Ebooks and streaming (err, radio).

It was humorous...especially when he talks about mastering the technology which he referred to as equipment. He was talking about an iPod Touch. Seemed a little overstated to me.

Whether it is a physical book or a portable radio what Mr. Williams is missing here is that great content needs to be platform agnostic and should work anywhere and anytime on any device. That goal has yet to be reached, but we are getting closer, much closer.

I wonder how many people will choose to stream local radio when it's hard to tell the difference between a stripped down radio station and one that is created in the bedroom of a 19 year old?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Steve Young - R.I.P.

Today I write about a fellow radio warrior and friend -- Steve Young. Last night I found out he had passed away while on vacation.

It's always so shocking when someone you know dies so unexpectedly. I had just spoken to Steve the week before Thanksgiving and last ran into him at the R&R/NAB convention this past September. We've been running into each other for a lot of years and each time we'd say: here we are, another convention. We survived another year.

At this years convention I shot some video of people I talked with and one of those people was Steve. I posted it on this blog back at that time and as a tribute to Steve I am posting it again.

My sincere condolences to the family and friends of Steve Young.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Power of Radio

This is a very funny story! Florida Republican congresswoman hangs up on President Elect Barak Obama--twice. Why?? It wasn't partisan politics, nope, it was RADIO.
"I thought it was one of the radio stations in South Florida playing an incredible, elaborate, terrific prank on me"

Now, one could debate whether these pranks are appropriate or not. That's another post entirely. But make no mistake about it--what's between the records IS what makes radio special and unique.

MIAMI -- When a man sounding remarkably like President-elect Barack Obama called a Florida congresswoman Wednesday, she assumed it was a crank call.

So Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen hung up. But, the Miami Herald reports, this was no prank.

"I thought it was one of the radio stations in South Florida playing an incredible, elaborate, terrific prank on me," Ros-Lehtinen told the newspaper. "They got Fidel Castro to go along. They've gotten Hugo Chavez and others to fall for their tricks. I said, 'Oh, no, I won't be punked."'

The call came about 1 p.m. Obama congratulated her on her re-election, saying he was looking forward to working with her as the ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs committee, Ros-Lehtinen told the newspaper.

The conversation lasted about a minute when she cut Obama off, telling him she wasn't falling for the hoax and that he was a better impersonator than the guy on Saturday Night Live, she said.

Then Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff, called the congresswoman to tell her it wasn't a joke. But she hung up on him, too. It took a call from Rep. Howard Berman, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, to persuade Ros-Lehtinen that Obama really did want to talk to her.

When the two finally talked, Ros-Lehtinen said she and Obama had a good conversation and she congratulated him for his victory despite how hard she campaigned for his opponent, Sen. John McCain.

He didn't even blame her for mistaking him for a radio-station prank, she said.

"He laughed a lot, saying in Chicago they do it all the time," Ros-Lehtinen said. "He said, 'I don't blame you for being skeptical."'

Repeated calls by The Associated Press to two office numbers for the congresswoman rang unanswered after hours Wednesday. An e-mail message to an Obama spokeswoman after hours wasn't immediately returned.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Serious Newsmen ARE NOT Funny!

A very out of character promo for PBS. Good to see and good for a chuckle.

Even the VO is not in the norm--Doc Morgan's booming voice loud and clear.

Your Turn

"Radio Is My Life". Remember that saying? I do. I said it. I lived it. And I still love the industry today. [I think the NAB or RAB might have distributed a button that said that some time in the early 80's.]

It's much harder to imagine people mimicking that phrase today. What kind of life would we be talking about? Not there was ever any guarantees, but compared to today there were abundant opportunities to learn, grow, and perform. Yes, perform. Remember we are in the entertainment business.

Now before you think this post is all about the "good old days"...there was plenty of crap then too! This post is really about what could be now and in the future.

This blog launched last year at about this time and over these months I have tried write posts that were honest, encouraging, educational, and hopefully interesting and entertaining. I will let you be the judge.

I see many opportunities for today's radio industry. Right now, however, I look around at the economic realities that most radio companies are dealing with and with few exceptions I fear that some of these opportunities could slip through our fingers.

The rest of this post I would like to turn it over to you. How do YOU see it? What does 2009 hold? What do you think are our best opportunities? Concerned about posting? Post anonymously if you would like.

I am interested in what you have to say.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mark Ramsey's New Book

Please allow me to recommend Mark Ramsey's new book "Making Waves."

I have known Mark for many years and worked with him at hear2 and Mercury and I can tell you he is one of our industry's brightest minds. This book will be a quick and easy read but I can't think of a more important book for radio people than this one.

Dana Hall at Radio-Info just posted a brief interview with Mark. Here is the link.