Sunday, August 30, 2009

Radio CAN Thrive...Just Different

We all know there are more challenges ahead for the radio business. We also know that the newspaper business is, arguably, in an even tougher position than radio. An article published on the website makes the case that newspapers (and their on-line strategy) can have a positive future by understanding and taking advantage of what the new news reality has made scarce.

The radio business, music radio in particular, must understand that the way we've been providing programming and selling advertising must change and adjust (differently than has already occurred) to the new reality. A lot of what we offer is no longer scarce and we must figure out how to proceed with entertainment programs and consumer & client services that provide the opportunity for abundant listener value and revenue going forward. Radio stations that are non stop music machines (PPM be damned) and offer little else for listeners and advertisers are doomed. Not tomorrow, but I don't believe it will be as long as ten years either.

After reading the article I thought so much of it could apply to radio. So I took some of the key themes and bring them to you here:
News Corp (NYSE: NWS). and other traditional news businesses are hand-wringing over how they will make money on the internet. I think they are focusing on the wrong problem. bosses should be taking this opportunity to re-examine old assumptions, to rebuild their product for the 21st Century.

we quickly realize that it lost touch with its customers a long time ago, and that the model for the future will most likely look very different to what we are used to.

We kept buying (using radio), though, because we didn’t have any choice.

...all of a sudden, there is choice

...understand what is becoming commoditized and abundant, and what new scarcities are created as a result

The good news is that every abundance creates new scarcities and this is where the news (insert RADIO here) industry must go to make money in the 21st century. The scarcities created (and enabled) by abundant news are interesting stories, thought provoking analysis, conversation and community, and trust/verification.

...They do, however, have the option of leveraging their standing in the community to generate other revenues.
...the real money will come from leveraging the position in the community to offer services no one else can.
The final sentence says it all.

How strong is your station's position in the community? Are you prepared to leverage it for fun and profit? Do you have a community strategy? How can those community ties be turned into revenue? Hint: a folding table with a lone DJ doing breaks from a car dealer lot doesn't constitute community.

If you want to read the entire article click here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Super Science Friday!!

From the TED conference this past July--the science of motivation and the science of wireless electricity.

Video One: The idea of what motivates people turned on its side.
Video Two: What if electricity was wireless? Tesla came up with the idea 100 years ago, but MIT is figuring out how to make it practical today.

Two different subjects -- both worth watching.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Be Aware...Very Aware

Earlier this month you may have read or heard about the FCC appointing a Chief Diversity Officer. His name is Mark Lloyd. Al Peterson's NTS Media gave us some insight...

So, Who Is Mark Lloyd?

Although Lloyd’s name may not exactly be a household word today, chances are Talk radio broadcasters will get to know him better in the months ahead due to his recent appointment by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski as the agency’s new Associate General Counsel and Chief Diversity Officer. A communications attorney, Lloyd (pictured) was most recently the VP/Strategic Initiatives at the Leadership Conference on Civil Education Fund. He’s also served as an adjunct professor of public policy at Georgetown University, and was a visiting scholar at MIT. A one-time broadcaster, who worked at both NBC and CNN prior to his legal career, Lloyd was also previously a Senior Fellow at the Center For American Progress. In that role he served as co-author of the group’s 2007 report, The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio which promoted steps to “encourage more responsive and balanced radio programming.” Among the steps the report recommended is a requirement that commercial broadcasters who “fail to abide by enforceable public interest obligations pay a fee to support public broadcasting.”

On the surface, Mr. Lloyd is an accomplished individual and one would think a reasonable choice for the position. Then, after a little research, I came upon these videos from just last year. Please take the time to watch them and listen very carefully to what he has to say. This is the man in his own words. There's no spin...just Mr. Lloyd speaking about things as he sees them. I challenge you to pay attention to this. Please share this post with as many people as you can.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tell Me A Story

I'm watching CBS's 60 Minutes tribute to its long time producer Don Hewitt. For 36 of the show's 41 years this guy was the mastermind and the ball-buster (said in the most respectful of ways) that created a wildly successful show--that's still going strong. What was the secret of Hewitt's success? Why do people still watch 60 Minutes today?


Whether it's an old stalwart like TV's 60 Minutes or a successful radio show or our use of Facebook we are all telling stories--or should be. "Tell me a story" was Don Hewitt's mantra. Clearly the stories were good. Clearly the stories were interesting. Clearly the art of storytelling captured an audience.

If you have young children you know that from a very early age kids crave stories. I can't count how many I've told my own kids. My twin boys are almost 8 and they still request my tall tales.

So let me tell you a story...

Once upon a time in a land called the stations used to tell a lot more stories.

Think about it.

You can check out 60 Minutes story and tribute to Don Hewitt here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Social Media Fad


As an active Facebook user I have found myself somewhat of an evangelist for it. I really enjoy it. It allows for interaction with far many more people than face-to-face, phone, or email would ever allow. Now granted, there are things I know now that if I didn't know wouldn't matter, but overall it's been a very positive experience.

I've had more than a few conversations with people (all older) trying to explain to them why it's worth their time joining in on the revolution. OK, I didn't call it a revolution--but you know what I mean. In fact, the video that follows I found through social networking. My friend Mark Ramsey posted this on his hear2.o blog., but it was when it was posted on Facebook it found me.

Social Media has has exploded, but it has just begun. Understand the fundamental change it represents and you will be miles closer to understanding what's ahead.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Coldplay Get's It Right and Get's On 60 Minutes Too

Lead singer Chris Martin of Coldplay was interviewed on 60 Minutes tonight and said, "We rely more on enthusiasm than actual skill," he told Steve Kroft. "Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically and people will like it more."

He went on to say, "I can't dance like Usher. I can't sing like Beyonce. I can't write songs like Elton John," he said. "But, we can do the best we can with what we've got. …. And so that's what we do. We just go for it." Of course the fans of the band would argue otherwise. They have sold lots and lots of music at a time when the music industry is sales challenged.

He and his bandmates had other interesting and entertaining things to say, but that's not the point of this post. I want to focus on his enthusiasm comment and how refreshing it is. I will take it at face value that he was sincere and use it to implore all of my radio friends that right about now we could use an extra shot of enthusiasm--for our listeners, for our co-workers, for ourselves.

Enthusiasm alone doesn't make something entertaining but it's far better than humdrum "time to make the donuts" thinking. It's not easy and these days it might be down right near impossible to muster such energy. I hope not. And to quote Chris Martin, "just go for it."

Here's the link to watch the entire segment.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Talk About Making The Listeners Feel Loved And In Control

Props to national talk host Rusty Humphries for an excellent invite he posted to his friends on Facebook not long ago.
This is a terriffic example of how to engage with your listeners. Bravo!

Click on the picture to check out Rusty's site.

How Social Is Your Brand?

There's a company called Vitrue . They have products that help brands become more "social" -- more on that in part 2 of this post.

Upon reading a PR story on this company I was intrigued enough to go to their web site to learn more. I guess their PR worked--at least on me! Once at the site they had a tool called the "social media index" that allows you to compare two brands and see who is more social. They explained how it works this way:
The Vitrue SMI report is an easy to understand measurement of your brand's online conversations. Based on our patent-pending technology, index scores are comprised of various online conversations from status updates to multi-dimensional video sites. The Vitrue SMI score provides a snapshot in time to help make sense of the overwhelming amount of measurable data.

We derive the Vitrue SMI by reviewing popular social media sites. We update the Vitrue SMI once daily. Our sample set represents different dimensions of social interactivity:
  • Social Networking - general sharing
  • Video Sharing - high engagement of viewing time and authenticity of dimension
  • Status Updates - aka Micro-Blogs; key influencers who chatter and actively push content
  • Photo Sharing - social meta data
  • Blogs - general blogsphere, commentary mentions
The index numbers are not intended to be used in absolute terms; rather, they provide a numerical basis to compare the social media prominence of two or more terms. We frequently update the algorithm based on changes in usage patterns, overall traffic and social network results.
I gave it test run--thought it would be fun to test two sets of rivals...Bill O'Reilly vs. Keith Olbermann and the NY Yankees vs. the Boston Red Sox. Here's how they did:

Interesting snapshot. It would be fascinating to track over time.

Part 2:

So here's the scoop on this companies new product as outlined on Media Bistro's WebNewser this morning:

Vitrue SRM Debuts

VitrueSRM.jpgSocial-marketing company Vitrue debuted its Vitrue SRM (Social Relationship Manager), which it describes as a Web-based application suite that enables brands to manage, schedule and automatically publish across Facebook and Twitter. The Vitrue SRM also offers measurement and real-time analytics.

Vitrue said Vitrue SRM consists of three components: Social Publisher, which lets marketers fully customize and format their wall posts, including images, branded URLs and additional content blocks; Social Planner, enabling marketers to plan, create and execute customer communications months in advance; and Social Insights, which delivers real-time, rich analytics to monitor brand communication.

Seems like a reasonably useful product. I particularly like the real-time analytic capabilities. A suite like this might very well be an answer for making our social networking activities less tactical and more strategic.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Now We're Talkin' Digital Strategy

If you are old enough to remember the LP, there's a good chance you fondly remember that buying a new album was more than just listening to the music; there was also the cool album jacket to read over and look at. You poured over the liner notes, the lyrics (if they were included), and of course the album art. Remember the album art craze? People actually took those album covers and turned them into wall hangings. Seems like decades ago-hey wait a was!! The album jacket was, in many cases, also the place to find out about the bands fan club--as close to social networking as we had in those days.

Starting with the cassette, and then the CD, and now digital media much of that experience has been lost. Of course there is no shortage of information about our favorite bands--a simple Google or Wikipedia search sees to that. It's not quite the same and the extra steps somehow don't replicate the experience of the album jacket.

As artists try to connect with fans a new trend may be emerging that screams of success--don't buy a single; don't buy an album; buy a APP. That's right, artists/labels are now developing their own apps that not only deliver the music but video, games, and yes, possibly the modern equivalent of liner notes and lyrics. Right now these apps are popping up for the Apple iPhone, but can Blackberry and others be far behind?

Very smart. Why sell a song or two when you can sell an experience? Why limit fan interaction to just music when it can be so much more than that? Why why why? The list goes on and on...

Hmmmm, sounds like what I have been talking about for years--radio is (should be) more than just the music (PPM be damned!) and more than just a single audio stream and more than simply a glossy "one-sheet" website. Now we're talking digital strategy folks!!

Read on for the full story

The Album Is Dead, Long Live the App

By Eliot Van Buskirk
August 4, 2009 |

The iTunes music store sells single songs at approximately the same price, with artist presented in more or less the same way.

Apple’s app store, however, is still somewhat like the wild west (at least as far as music goes), where the rules are being made up in real time. Artists and labels can sell music alongside other digital offerings through the app store at any price from zero to $999.99.

As we suggested last summer, this creates an opportunity for artists and labels to distribute a new type of product, especially because the app store concept is spreading to other mobile phone platforms.

On Monday, six of the 20 most recently submitted music apps to appear in the App Store featured a single artist: Jason Carver, Jessica Harp, Jimmy Cliff, John Butler Trio, Kadence, or The Cribs. Each showcases music videos, photos, news, photo-jumble games, concert listings, and/or community features that let fans share photos with each other. And all of them were made with iLike’s iPhone app toolkit — as was Ingrid Michaelson’s app, pictured to the right.

Since iLike launched the service in May, about 250 of the over 300,000 artists with access to iLike’s dashboard feature have launched customized iPhone apps through the system.

“We’re encouraged by the positive response our create-your-own-app platform has generated, and this is only the beginning,” said iLike CEO Ali Partovi. (The company also announced a new version of its Local Concerts app on Tuesday, with concert listings based on your music library, push notification for shows, maps to venues, and concert information sharing.)

These artist-specific apps, which labels also develop in-house, place a constantly-updating tattoo on fans’ phones. It’s like having a music subscription, but in the sense of a fan club, rather than in the sense of subscribing to music in general as one would with Rhapsody.

Many of iLike’s music apps are free and promotional. Other apps contain full songs, and cost money.

Dave Dederer, former singer and guitarist for the Presidents of the United States of America and current Melodeo business development vice president, released one of the first of these, which charged $3 for four albums plus exclusive material. His company sells another $3 app containing streaming versions of top 100 hip hop songs in the iTunes store (iTunes link).

The app store broke the rules for selling music through iTunes, and the ramifications of that are beginning to be felt. Now that iLike has allowed app creation to scale across hundreds of thousands of bands, and other mobile platforms are emulating Apple’s modular app concept, the artist-specific app could — in addition to being the new MySpace page — become a formidable music format in its own right.

If that happens, the idea of buying a bundle of music won’t die with the album — it will survive with the app.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Seeing Red And It's Good!

Seeing red doesn't usually evoke thoughts of anything good except if Red is a radio station--a radio station that just received it's Spring 09 Arbitron ratings.

I want to congratulate my client, Opus Broadcasting's Red 104.3 (KEZP) in Alexandria, LA for a job well done and another stellar ratings performance!

Usually I don't blog about ratings--generally, it's not what this blog is all about. However, in this case I have made an exception. Why? Three reasons:
  • Red is a station that successfully programs Alternative Rock at a time when the format has experienced its fair share of difficulties.
  • Red is an Alternative station that is not dependent on its gold library. We are 70% current/recurrent!
  • Red/KEZP management had the guts one year ago to launch a radio station that most management teams wouldn't have the guts to even think about, let alone do it.
Let me share the numbers with you.

As a reader of this blog you know I do not make it a practice to turn my posts into bold-faced pitches for my services. For today, I am doing just that. I designed, built, and implemented this format on behalf of my client. Now, one year later and two rating periods under our belt there is a great story to tell and I am proud to tell it.

If you have an under-performing station and are thinking about a change give me a call [952.401.9067], send me an email [] and let's talk about how Red could work for you.

Happy 1st anniversary Red 104.3!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

No More Radio (Shack)

Looks like the folks at Radio Shack are gearing up for a pretty big change. Could it be? After all these years the word "radio" appears like it might soon be gone for good at those electronic stores down the street at the strip mall. Hard to blame them for wanting to change their name given the fact that these days most people don't buy radios anymore (except for devices that come with them). I bet you still will be able to go there and buy capacitors and diodes-(shhhh, don't tell anyone). Talk about geeky! Not exactly 21st century cool.

Remember the old catalogs that among other things featured stereo systems that showed you the good system, followed by the "better", then "best" system? They tried so hard to be taken seriously in the stereo receiver and speaker world--never happened.

So what are they going to be called? [Not sure this is cool either] The Shack. Oh well.

And just like radio stations, The Shack apparently is not immune to goofy promotion ideas. To kick off their new name they are going to have bands play (no names mentioned) and have contests at free events in New York and San Francisco called the Summer Netogether far, so good. But wait!!! Get this...they are going to stream the events 3000 miles across the country (ooooh) on 14 foot tall laptops. Their words. Wow! Someone should tell them that streaming events and very large screens are commonplace today and this will excite NO ONE.
There you have it. No more Radio Shack. An uncool new name and a lame kick off promotion. Same great diodes! Best of luck with that.