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Radio Isn't Dead

AN OPEN LETTER TO RADIO

AN OPEN LETTER TO RADIO:

***This message does not directly reflect the opinion of anyone but me.***

RADIO........the second love of my life, next to my first love, my wife, Melodie Rose Mills. Radio, we have had some good times, and we have had some not so good times. I would like to see you succeed, radio, not diminish into the darkness, like analyst are predicting. How do we keep you alive?

There are some great radio companies that do radio 100% to the best of their ability. There are radio companies that do a good job, but make a valid effort to do good radio and to improve the products that they represent. There are radio companies that simply do good radio, with no immediate plan to make any changes or improvements above and beyond their current investment level in their properties. Then, there are radio companies that are trying to do better, but can't, because they lack the much needed resources that will allow them to succeed. There are the radio companies that are NOT doing good radio, either because they have forgotten that their primary responsibility is to serve the community in which they are licensed, they are not interested in investing in their radio products to increase their market share, they are stuck in ways of executing tasks for their stations that are obsolete, and lastly, the radio companies that TRULY believe they are doing it right, performing a service for the community, but are really doing a terrible job serving their brand consumers.

How do we fix the issues that currently exist in the radio broadcast world? I have an idea. Let's ask HER, Radio herself. Radio, how can we fix you?

(Radio:) You can:

Serve the communities where I have stations, as that is what the primary responsibility of a commercial broadcast radio station is;

Promote me. If you promote me correctly and give me the tools to keep the brand consumers compelled, I can win. This doesn't stop with my stick, digital and social, my promotional elements, OH, and it would help if you gave me good talent to work with, or at least talent that can be trained. I like your friends, but I would rather have talent that can get me the exposure I need as your radio station, rather than "friends" that can do a moderate job, fill a position and save you money. Also, I like to be as local as possible, because when things happen in our community, we need to be able to deliver the message. If we are having a tornado and you leave me alone, I can't give the proper information to our community. Please don't play music while we should be telling our brand consumers to take shelter. We might be able to save a life we would not otherwise be able to save if you leave me here alone. Don't be afraid to spend money on me to allow me to shine;

Make sure that I am technically correct. I work best if I am at full power, you keep my transmitter clean and free of debris and excess heat, OH, and my lighting is important. I wouldn't want any planes to hit the top of my head!;

Blog about me daily and tell our brand consumers what's coming up, via any channel you have available. If you set my appointments, I promise, they will come by and visit, as long as you set my appointments and are punctual.;

Develop me a digital and social plan. Define set times where you post about me on the website and on the other social media channels. I don't have a physical mouth, but a closed mouth doesn't get fed. IF you don't talk for me, people that know I am here will forget me and people that have never heard me will never stop by.;

Stay current with the times on my behalf. I have been here for a LONG TIME in most situations. If the way you are delivering audio through my network is ancient, update it. We want my sound to be fantastic. Make sure everything about my presence is BAR NONE! That is how we win, fairly.

Let's address any conflicts of split personality now. I want to win for you, along with my transmitter brothers and sisters, but let's decide exactly what we are trying to accomplish. Should you use me to strictly as a way to sell goods? Should I be more entertaining with less commercial traffic?

LISTEN TO ME and encourage others to listen to me. We can't teach people how to listen to radio if we are not trying with everything we have in our being. Even when you are working hard, WORK HARDER.

Lastly, I may be wounded, but I AM NOT DEAD, so please quit murdering me BEFORE MY TIME. There is a time and there is a place. Neither one of those are now for me.

I plan to be here to show millennials that I am a viable solution in their cars, on their cellphones with FM chips, and on the internet, where I transmit my rebroadcast in several situations. I am TOUGH and STUBBORN. The only way I will die is if YOU CONTINUE TO KILL ME!

Thank you for what you do every day to help me get out a really cool message to people that depend on me daily for traffic, news, entertainment, and other great content. I promise, if you let me continue to do my job, with the right resources, I can still win for us! I look forward to doing just that!

Love,
Radio

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50 PERCENT

50 % of the job is on air, and 50% of the job is off. How many times a day do you check your phone for any of the social media apps?

 

Me I’m up to well over 200! At least it seems like it.  Even when I’m on the air, I’m pretty much checking any social media, to interact with listeners, prep what’s coming up or just my random habit.  So even if you weren't in radio my guess is you’d be checking your phone for something.

 

Back to the title, 50% of the job is on the air and 50% is off.  Listeners aren’t calling the station like they used to, it's just a fact and product of technology.  They text, tweet, Insta, snap and Facebook.  So you need to fish where the fish are! Half of the job now includes how great you respond and interact with your listeners where they’re at! It’s almost like you need to be great at 2 jobs and in reality you do.  Here’s another level to that as well.  Drive them from social media to the radio either by calling to make your on air product sound better or just to simply listen.  It’s a game, a game that I constantly play every day, when I’m on the air and off.  I’m constantly on social media to push the brand, interact and stay top of mind to the listener. Honestly it’s annoying sometimes but your lifestyle has to mirror your listeners and whether it’s talking about your life on social media or being interested in theirs, you need to master social media, the part of the job that's not on the air.  

 

Set reminders each day to check, interact and post each hour of the day.  I know it seems a lot, but the more you do it, the more you’ll get better at social media and be in front of your listeners faces, right on their phone! Oh and don’t forget Getting in front of your listeners…. That’s the next article, and that's just more of the hustle!

 

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RANDOM RADIO THOUGHTS AS WE START A NEW YEAR

As 2017 begins, my Facebook is filled with repeating stories about how Norway is shutting off FM radio.  For gosh sakes, folks…will you read the article?  It’s not because FM has no audience there.  It’s because they’re all going digital!

Can AM radio survive?  I’d like to think it can.  But, I also think the FCC has its work cut out for it.  So many people (who put politics above all else) seem to think if we just get rid of the talk shows and start playing Beatle records on it again with “superjocks” and “jingles”, AM will turn around and revive itself.

Wish that could happen. But, before any music can be successfully played on AM in a competitive market situation (remember, many small town AM’s are still financially successful, and music can be and is part of that equation in those towns), AM’s technical issues MUST be addressed.  The major reason AM has such a small share of the listener pie anymore is that it sounds like crap!  Who will put up with the interference caused by florescent lights, computer monitors, trolley bus lines, the car next to you with a bad spark plug, lightning, etc.  Not to mention so many AM stations that roll off their audio at 3,000 hz. (that’s telephone quality for those of you who don’t know)!  

In my way of thinking, interference needs to be cleaned up as much as possible, so AM stations can go back to broadcasting in wide-band.  If a few unprofitable stations in areas that cannot and don’t support them must go away in that effort…sorry, but so be it.  Thin the herd!  You might even be able to turn the AM stereo back on.  It sounded great in wideband.

The cheap receivers being made by manufacturers must also be addressed.  Taking a “let the market decide” attitude won’t work if you truly want to “revive” AM.   Translators help, but are a band aid on an almost mortal wound. 

Get it all fixed…THEN new, innovative programming (with proper promotion) may have a reasonable chance of bringing some of the audience back around. But not until.

And will any of today’s consolidated owners put the necessary investment in it…when they’re spending tons on digital?  I have my doubts. 

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WHAT DOES 2017 MEAN TO YOU

Now that 2016 is in the rear view mirror, what does 2017 mean to you?  Does it mean that you focus on your overall growth?  Do you stay par for course, because it is comfortable?  Did you set goals for yourself, much like new year resolutions?

 

My name is Steve Mills.  I am the President/Publisher of Radio Isn't Dead.  2017 is an imoirtant year for Radio isn't Dead.  In 2017, we plan to grow our operations, offering things such as employment assistance, message boards, industry resources, and, a small redesign.  That is 2017 in a nut shell for Radio Isn't Dead.

 

The above said, no matter what 2017 means to you, make sure that you have a plan, ALWAYS.  2016 was a beast for lots of our co-workers and colleagues, myself included.  We MOVE ALONG, always trying to make sure that we "right back what was wrong," because you never know who you may have to work with in the future.  HAVE A PLAN........A SOLID PLAN!!!

 

Happy 2017!

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SO YOU WANT TO OWN A RADIO STATION......

So You WANT To Own A Radio Station…

 

I want to preface this by saying I have never owned a commercial radio station, though perhaps I might manage one before I retire.  I have been a Program Director, Operations Manager, and Assistant PD for several stations.  And I do believe I could manage a small town station if the opportunity ever came along.

I read on radio pages on Facebook and elsewhere people with the dream of owning a station.  So, consider this “Small Town Ownership For Dummies”, a category which fits me well.

Understand that, in your quest to become a radio owner, you will not have the wherewithal to purchase a big station in a big market.  Unless your rich relative is named Trump or you win the Publishers Clearing House $10,000 A Week For Life Sweepstakes, forget that.  A big station is in the millions to tens of millions of dollars.

Even a successful small town FM is going to likely cost you 7 figures.

Best to look for:  a “diamond in the rough”.  Think a small town Class A FM with a signal that covers its home county that may not be making money.  Or an AM daytime or lower power full time station WITH an FM translator, or the ability to get one cheaply.

A standalone class A diamond in the rough FM you might be able to get for between a half million and a million dollars in the right situation.   Think around $350 to $600 grand for the AM/FM Translator and up.

Yeah, I know…some AM’s are selling for as little as $25 grand.  There’s a reason for that. Either the station has been run down to the point it’s falling apart, or the signal is so severely restricted, you be better off with a megaphone. Or perhaps the marketing area is not large enough to support a radio station.  Remember, if it looks too good to be true…it probably is.

You will need a broadcast attorney and a good engineer to fill out the paperwork. Yes, they’re expensive.  No, you can’t get around it.

You will need a small number of good people.  Yes, you will need to pay reasonably, and provide benefits.  Doesn’t mean the kid straight out of college needs $50,000 a year (despite what his professor told him), but you won’t get that kid for minimum wage, either.  Pay what the market can bear. 

 

****HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAMMI SNELL****

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BROADCASTING SCHOOL DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN WHAT IT USED TO

 

Oh, how people still deride those quicky 6 month broadcasting school courses. Despite the fact that THOUSANDS of people on the air today got their start in them.

That having been said, though some of those schools are still out there, they are facing potential future issues. Why?  Because high schools, seeing a need to do more vocational training, are getting into the business of teaching what used to be taught in a “Broadcasting School.”

Want to learn the basics of computer assisted radio jocking?  Can be done in high school on programs such as Station Playlist.  (A number of high school, college, LPFM and even small market commercial stations use it. And it’s new version 5.20 just released allows for real time voice tracking…just like the big, expensive programs do.)

Want to learn Adobe Audition?  A lot of high school programs teach CS-6 now.

Journalism classes?  High Schools have them.

So, why go to a broadcasting school or college?  Because they CAN teach things that high schools don’t or aren’t.

For starters, the 2 year, Associates Degree program at which I teach has to teach remedial courses like English, Speech, Writing plus Psychology, Environmental Science, Algebra and other “core courses”.  Some of this is because some students coming out of high school do SO poorly on basic Math and English questions on our entrance exam that without the remedial courses, they would not pass the program.  And I am amazed at the number of students coming out of high school who seem to think that “writing” equals “copy and paste”.  Great, kid…you can use a keyboard, now learn to write with it.

Newswriting.  It’s an absolute MUST anymore for someone wanting to get in the business.  But, there are different types of news writing. And you must be able to differentiate between “NPR style” writing most often taught in schools and “Commercial Radio Newswriting” which is all but ignored by them.

And what type of station employs the most news writers?  It’s not non-commercial radio.

How about basic engineering?  Question for you DJ types…do you know how to solder a plug on a broken mike cable?  We teach it. Do they in high schools?  Maybe some, but not all.

And yes, we teach the Society Of Broadcast Engineer’s Operator Certification Course.  It’s basically the old FCC Third Phone/Element 9 test upgraded for today’s radio.

Do you NEED it?  No.  Does it help the station if you have it?  YES.  Because they know they don’t have to train you as much.  Could it give you a foot in the door in the hiring process?  Perhaps.

We also teach methods of research and statistical analysis.  Why?  If you become a PD, you need to know how to read that Nielsen book…and how to interpret a music test and perceptual research studies.

They don’t teach that in high school, either.

So, think about that before your son or daughter assumes they can get in the business simply by taking broadcasting courses in your local high school.

Some of us teaching in accredited college programs know what the teachers in high schools and some of the professors in some 4 year college programs don’t.

 

 

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A PRIMER FOR NEW MANAGERS

I remember the first time I was given the title of Program Director in a rated market. 

But then, once the glow of getting that promotion wears off, comes the realization that you not only have a title, but responsibility as well. 

So here’s a few things to think about: 

1.) Treat your staff in the manner you would want to be treated. 
2.) Remember that despite being the manager, things will still not always go your way. Roll with the punches.
3.) Remember, it’s a business and not personal.
4.) Accept that people are human and, occasionally, they make mistakes. 
5.) Honest mistakes should never be punished. 
6.) Keep an open door policy.  Be approachable no matter how much work is on your desk. 
7.) When things go well, credit your staff.  When they don’t, accept responsibility. 
8.) Be honest in ALL business dealings. 
9.) Remember that commercials pay the bills…and your paycheck. 

A few more here: 

1.) When you have to give bad news, understand you’re talking with human beings.
2.) Strive for excellence in all you do, and accept nothing less from your staff. 
3.) Battle hard.  But, take and give time to regroup. 
4.) When it’s time to go, leave with a smile on your face.  And, lastly… 
5.) Remember…it’s only radio.

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AND THE HITS......JUST KEEP ON COMING

 
I just read an article in the Los Angeles Daily News (http://www.dailynews.com/arts-and-entertainment/20161008/radio-what-do-am-stations-have-to-lose-but-go-back-to-music-formats) that speculated on the notion of trying to resurrect one of the former AM giants of L.A. radio with a music format.  
It’s an interesting read…and a nice sentiment, too.  The author suggested taking a station like 93/KHJ (as well as others) and bringing it back to prominence. 
God, do I wish.  I grew up on the legend of that station…even though I grew up in Ohio. I listened to the air checks. Loved the style of guys like Billy Pearl, Charlie Van Dyke, Charlie Tuna (RIP), The Real Don Steele (RIP) and (Rest his soul, too), Robert W. Morgan.  
On my first vacation from radio in the mid 70’s, I took a trip to Los Angeles.  One of the things on my agenda was to visit 5515 Melrose Avenue.  I didn’t expect to see, or meet anyone.  I just wanted to stand in the lobby and breathe the rarified air of that station.  And I did.  I froze so badly standing there that had any of those guys come thru the lobby door, I don’t know if I could have made a coherent thought come out. 
But, the reality of this: to really do something like that, and try to make it work is likely a financial impossibility today. 
Let’s chart it out: 
In 1965, the starting rate for a “boss jock” (as told by PD Ron Jacobs in his book “KHJ Inside Boss Radio”), was $15,000 a year.  For those of you who are counting, that’s $354,787.50 in 2016 money. And, I suspect, that’s about what you would have to pay to find the caliber of potential talent for such a station. And remember, multiply that times 7 because there were seven full time jocks on KHJ. (Only overnighter Johnny Williams got stuck with a 6 hour airshift.) 
Now that we have talent, let’s talk technical stuff.  AM stations fight enormous amounts of interference today.  The original KHJ towers were leveled 3 years ago.  I’m betting the signal today probably covers, if they’re lucky, about half the ground it used to.   So, I’m going to need the best engineer in the county to give me the best signal possible and will likely have to spend megabucks on improvements to the grounding system and audio processing, too. 
Okay.  Who here REALLY remembers KHJ?  “GTO’s For Two”, “The Seven Car Sweepstakes”, “The Batphone Secret Number Contest”, “The Big Kahuna”, “Beat The Bomb”, “Wheel Of Fortune” and on and on and on.  The promotions never stopped.  And, OK some were “maintenance games” like “Hi-Lo”, but others were what we call “fantasy prizes”.  Not to mention billboard, bus cards, TV ads.  So how many million can I put in the promotions and marketing budget? 
News.  You need that news presence on the street for AM radio. A ten man news department ain’t cheap. 
And whoever finances this had better be ready to do it for two to three years. At least.  Because you may not see a dime in profit before then. 
Oh yeah another thought on talent:  to work for this station, you’d better be ready to put 10 hour days, or more in. That’s why you make the big bucks.  And be ready for constant critique.  When that hotline rang, you’d better answer it. 
And before you’d premiere the station, you’d practice…for a few weeks…in a production studio, just getting the format down.  That’s how it was done. Or that’s how Ron Jacobs related it to me in an e-mail shortly before I became a PD.  (By the way, I didn’t know him well, but he was kind enough to correspond with me a few times by e-mail and on Facebook.  He even endorsed me several times on my Linked In page.  To me, that was like getting the endorsement of a higher power.) 
I wish it could be.  But, I know better.  The Boss Train has left the station on its final journey. 
Still, if some wealthy financier with some big bucks and the willingness to spend it wants to try, call me please!  I’d love to hear your plans.  Because I’d love to be, “number one then…and number one now!”
 
 
  
 

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SALON.COM? YOU'RE FULL OF CRAP

Here we go again. 
Another story from Salon.com jamming up my Facebook feed trying to spin the recently announced plans by CBS to sell or spin off the radio division as another reason why AM/FM radio will “no longer be in existence” in ten years. 
And, we’re told by this genius writer that young 18-34 year olds don’t listen to the radio anymore. 
Hey, dude at Salon:  it would be nice before you write an article that you actually do some research on what you’re planning to write instead of only talking to your preppie friends in New York. 
Because here is what Nielsen says about radio and the 18-34 crowd: 
“With 265 million Americans 6 and older listening to the radio each week, the medium reaches more people each week than any other platform.  Despite the proliferation, many advertisers perceive millennials as unreachable by radio because of the abundance of media options available to them. 
The reality, however is that millennials account for 66.5 milllion radio users each week. And, no matter which life stage millennials are in, 9 out of 10 listen to radio weekly.”
Yes, they spend a little less time listening than previously due to all their new media choices.  But 90% still listen to the radio. 
I found this information in a 5 minute search of the Nielsen website. 
You can find it, too Salon. 
But of course, you have an agenda to satisfy.  
Hey, Salon…you’re not journalists, because you’re not objective. 
Try getting some real journalists as writers, OK? 
 
 
 

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BALANCING HOME LIFE WITH WORK LIFE

Balancing work life with home life may seem to be complicated.  That said, here are some tips that you can use to do just that:

 

1.  Do as much work as possible AT WORK.  The last thing you want is a spouse that is unhappy, because you spend more time with work activities that you do with your spouse and children.

 

2.  Try going to work a bit earlier.  If you can get to work when there is LESS of an opportunity for distraction, you can get all of the big things knocked out, so that your day is caught up prior to leaving the office.

 

3.  Share the times that you are available and unavailable.  Obviously, if you read stories to your children at a certain time each day or you have a set time for dinner, these are the times that you want to make sure your co-workers are aware of, minimizing the chance that you'll get calls during that time, unless it is an emergency that needs your immediate attention.

 

4.  COMPROMISE.  Plain and simple.  We already know that there are going to be times that you need to go to work for something or have an emergency.  Unfortunately, these things tend to happen during times that you have requested off, or are in the middle of a family activity.  In this instance, you may have to address the issue, but ALWAYS compromise with the people you had plans with, so that you can fix the issue and get back to what it was you were doing.

 

These are just a few tips that could help you with some balance.  IF you have other tips, please share them on the FaceBook page.

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NATIONAL CONTESTING........A LOCAL ANGLE

Oh sure, I loved the days of big promotional budgets…a car a day in the month of May…caller 99 rips me off for one…thousand…dollars cash.   And that yacht?  Prize package #246 in the last…contest. 
Hey, those days were fun.  Welcome to 2016. 
No, I get it.  I understand why stations do national contesting in a lot of places today. But, I was intrigued at word this week of a new study from NuVooDoo that says a large percentage (I think it was 51%, don’t quote me, though) of listeners say radio contests are fixed. 
Hey, you guys on those Facebook sites, talking about the concert tickets you got for your friends…the prizes you faked, how “caller 15” was actually “caller 2”.  Thanks for your “candor”. 
But, in all seriousness, if the public is beginning to think everything in media is a rip off, got news for you…we’re in big trouble. 
National contesting has been the subject of a lot of commentary in radio circles in past years. And, not all of it good. 
I can accept that a company might like to spread its money around so they can make prizes more exciting to grab public attention.  But when you offer one “grand” prize spread out among hundreds of stations, the odds of winning are about the same as me winning the Super Bowl in 2017. 
Those odds are OK if you’re competing for the half a gazillion dollar Power Ball. But a flyaway with backstage passes to a concert, hotel and spending cash?  In some stations, that was a grand prize for a weekend contest. 
IMHO, a national contest can impact a local community…but only if you can provide some proof that someone in the local area is WINNING. 
Regionalize contests.  Do 3 or 4 or more big prizes and regionalize.  Or do contests by format. Make the chance of winning more realistic.  Not long ago, our stations did a “national” giveaway.  But because the number of stations was fairly small in the group, listeners in our area won over $20,000 over the course of the contest.  We were congratulating new local listeners every week. Do you think those people cared about it being a “national” contest? 
We really can’t afford to lose our credibility, radio bosses.   
 

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HOW TO DO RESEARCH WHEN YOU CAN'T AFFORD IT

It is generally true that the station with the best research wins. But it’s also true that auditorium music tests, focus groups and perceptual research ain’t cheap. So if you are a small station or a big fish in a little pond…what do you do?
 
First of all, if you’re a commercial radio station, an investment in a subscription to a service such as Mediabase is essential. From it, you can glean important research that can help you even if you have no budget for music research at all.
 
You simply find stations in your format in your region owned by companies that you know do some level of music research. Do a 4 station or more panel, get a 7 day run of the music on those stations and chances are you have about 90 percent or better of the station’s playlist. All for running some barter ads on your station.
 
If you play current music, you can easily figure out songs which are on the rise, and which are stiffing this way. If you’re a gold based station, you can at the very least come up with a playable list a couple times a year this way.
 
Internet music research is cheaper than a $25,000 auditorium test. If you have some budget, you could create a “Listener Advisory Board” thru your website and test music from it. Get a sample of 100-200 listeners sampling song hooks you provide a link to and have them score each song 1-7, with seven meaning “Love It”, six meaning “Like It” and 1 meaning “Unfamiliar”, 2 meaning “Hate It” and so forth. I straightened out the playlist of the first all 80’s station in America (WXST-FM/Delaware-Columbus, Ohio) just this way. In 90 days, we raised the ratings on that station by over a share point and a half and increase cume and time spent listening as well.
 
What do people THINK about your station? Ever think of having your street team hand out surveys about your station at community events and festivals? A one page survey takes just minutes to fill out.
 
But wait, you say…that’s not a blind survey. They know it’s you and your results could be skewed. True.
 
Just take it one step forward after that. Get some interns to ask “blind” questions to potential listeners in your target demographic in about 100-150 households in your area. If you know your “hot zips”, concentrate the calls in those areas.
 
Not in a rated market, or is your market too small? Go thru those written surveys again. Got a large number of surveys from one community or one zip code? It just might be an area where listening to your station is concentrated.
 
Now, compare the two results (calls to households vs. your written surveys). If the results are fairly close, chances are you may just have a valid survey.
 
You can always pick one listener at random from your written surveys, and one household from your phone surveys after the fact and send them $100 bucks as a thank you gift.
 
I know some LPFM’s that did this as a format finder. They’re paying their bills because they found out what people in their area wanted to hear. And a small town station can do that, too.
Can’t afford to pay interns? You could get volunteers from a local church or civic organization to help.
 
OK, it may not be quite as accurate or quite as effective as some of the more expensive ways big markets do their research. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.
And it just may help your small station out of a jam someday.

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WHAT YOU SHOULD LOOK AT FRESHENING PRIOR TO A BOOK

The ratings period is starting for most diary markets.  The question that runs through lots of our minds as we approach a ratings period is, "What should I do to prepare?"  Does this sound familiar?  

 

Prior to a ratings period, you should have reviewed the materials from the prior ratings period, which will give you a great snapshot of what you did really well and what you could improve on.

 

Ensuring that your talent are utilizing the vertical and horizontal recycling techniques that have been taught throughout the years is key.  Also, setting appointments and keeping the appointments that you set are really important as well.  If a listener expects that you'll give away a prize or spill the beans on something at 3:30PM, you should make sure that you deliver.

 

"Talent Checklists" are also a great way to prepare.  If you put together a checklist that gives your talent a list of milestones that you would like for them to achieve, both during a show and during the book, there should be no confusion as to the direction you are taking your station from a talent point.

 

Imaging plays a HUGE piece of the picture.  Your image is one of the most important elements of the radio station, both to the ear and in sight of your brand consumers.  Make sure the imaging on the station is super tight.  Also, make sure that the image that you portray of your station is strong as well.

 

Above is just a small handful of things to pay attention to as you journey towards the start of your next ratings period.  Please feel free to share other things that you would take a look at prior to the start of your book.

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MORE TIPS ON HOW TO MAKE A TRACKED SHOW SOUND LOCAL

 

You hear some broadcasters talk a lot about “live and local”.  While I will never say there’s anything wrong with live radio, the reality is…most radio these days isn’t live. 

There are some who will say voice-tracking can never sound live. Frankly, my experience is as long as it’s done correctly, the audience has no idea you’re not there. 

Case in point:  I was working at my teaching job at the college one night, when I got a Facebook message from a guy with whom I went to high school.  Seems he was stuck in a traffic jam in town and was listening to my show on radio and wanted to know how big the backup was.  I called our news desk and found out, fortunately for him, the backup was small.  I relayed the message via Facebook Messenger and he replied, “Man, thanks.  I see the end of it right now.  I was just listening to you and figured you’d know.” 

I couldn’t resist.  I told him, “Well, thanks.  But I gotta “truth” you…I’m sitting over at the college right now teaching my radio class.  What you’re listening to was recorded about 3 this afternoon.”  He replied, “You could have fooled me!” 

So much for the thought that voice-tracking can never sound live. 

Here’s a few other things I do that make my overnight shift sound local. 

My first stop set break every night features a “Q & A” with one of our meteorologists who gives a general look at the weather for the region overnight and into the day ahead.  It’s more regional than local because we have the biggest signal in the area and can be heard for about 80 miles around.

I do send ups to factories, plants and businesses that work third shift.   How can you find out such things?   Try Googling “third shift jobs in (town)”.  Sites like snagajob and indeed will list plenty of businesses looking for third shift workers. 

I do a one line weather forecast over a record intro once per hour…and twice per hour in the 4 am hour.  Why?  People are getting up earlier…those listeners at 4 am are early first shifters. Go to weather.gov and put your city’s zip code to get a forecast. 

Yes, I talk about station activities.  But, I also talk about festivals and other local events coming up for the weekend. 

And oh yeah…go to your local newspaper website and get the schedule of high school football and basketball games…talk about games being played Friday night or Saturday.  

If you’re really froggy, get your morning show to do your LAST break of the night with you. It’s a great handoff. 

And no one listening will likely know…or suspect…you’re not there.

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HAPPINESS........THAT'S THE GOAL

Happiness.........that should ALWAYS be the goal.  Once you find happiness, there are no more woes........well, way less woes.

 

Quite a few of us have what some would consider a lifetime in this business we call radio.  Out of those with a good amount of time in the industry, about 60% of us have at least one situation where happiness was a -10 on a scale of 1 - 10 when it comes to employment.  Consider the writer of this article within the 60%.  Like most, there are jobs and aspects of the job that you like, however, there are aspects of the job and even certain jobs that you didn't really care for, but did those positions, because those positions could only improve your knowledge in the area of the radio broadcast world that you are working within.  Some are on air that get stuck into traffic.  Others are sales people that get stuck into promotions situations.  How about the people that excels as radio operations managers, but choose to take another position within the company that they work for to improve another product, only to find themselves stuck and unable to advance any further?  What do you do in a situation like this?  The answer is below......

 

FIND HAPPINESS!  That could mean looking for another position within the current company that you are working for, in the hopes that you will seriously be considered.  This could also mean that you have to change the current working relationship that you have and that you might have to make an adjustment, namely, to the commute that you take daily to work......like in the opposite direction........bluntly put, FIND ANOTHER JOB THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY!

 

Happiness is the most important thing to consider.  There are people that make very little money in this business, but are content with their current situation, because they enjoy their job and there is not a lot of hassle as they perform their daily duties.  Most people would rather make 5-10K less per year to be able to do their job with no hassle, rather than make big bucks and have to deal with the heavy political climate that comes along with that.  The choice is clear.

 

HAPPINESS.........THAT'S THE GOAL!

 

 

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THE TALE OF A RADIO REUNION

 

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go back to the small town where I got my first radio job in 1974, and attend a reunion of the people who were the voices on the AM/FM stations from the 1960’s to the 1990’s. (Unfortunately, the 1990’s is where the local radio service of those stations basically ended.  Today, they have owners who don’t program them locally, or even have studios in the town.  And to me, that is a waste of two good frequencies).

Who filled the void created by those 2 radio stations?  An LPFM.

Yep…a 100 watt wonder that covers about 10 miles on a good day on a car radio. They hosted the reunion.

It was fun to reminisce. I was teamed up Saturday with the once young man who asked me for a job around 1976.  He became a local radio voice for more than 30 years calling high school and college sports, and doing local news.

We remembered a great radio voice who came out of the town…Chuck Collier who started his career in the town and then made Cleveland area radio listeners smile for decades.

We remembered DJ emeritus’s from the town who went on to stations like WLW-Cincinnati, WTAM in Cleveland.  And we remembered those guys who staffed stations in small towns like Hillsboro, Wilmington and Washington Court House, Ohio.

At the end of the afternoon, I was recognized for my commitment to local radio in the community.  You see, I played a small role in getting a non-profit organization started that has the license for the LPFM.  It is truly becoming the voice of small town radio in Southwest Ohio.

If I have accomplished anything in over 40 years in this business, it is making the fact that radio is…and always needs to be…local. 

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TELL YOUR STORY........AND TELL IT WITH PRIDE

So why is it that it seems half the world wants to believe that radio is dying? 
I see, hear and read stories of how radio still makes that personal connection to their local communities.
Like the wonderful job Orlando radio stations did covering the Pulse Nightclub shootings…calling in staff on a Sunday to go live and cover the news, take calls and let the listeners vent and grieve. 
Like communities all across America when a tornado hits, when a blizzard strikes, when homegrown terror attacks. 
When these things happen, it is radio that helps bind the wounds and helps the community pick itself up by its bootstraps.  Over and over again.  In city after city. 
And we do it despite the voice tracking, despite the small staffs, despite all the smoke and mirrors. 
But I also contend we are the one business that does the lousiest job of tooting our own horn when we should be doing it. 
Orlando radio…I hope you are inundating the market with promos about how you helped bring the city together.   I hope you have sales materials out on the street.  I hope a few of you might consider buying a newspaper ad to talk about the good you did. Put that ad, then, on Facebook…or on any social media platform that will let you buy a space.  
Let younger people see that radio DOES make a difference in people’s lives. 
Because then, some of them might just want to come to work for us. 
 

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SOMETIMES CHANGE CAN BE DIFFICULT, BUT FOR THE BEST

Change........no one likes it.  It is everyone's dream to achieve a level of longevity during their career, usually in one place.  While this is sometimes possible, it is a rare occasion in this day and age of radio.

 

Sometimes, change is for the best.  What are reasons to consider a change?  Perhaps you have maxed out on advancement opportunities within the organization you currently work for.  Perhaps a conflict of personality exists.  Perhaps change is a part of your 5-10 year plan.  Whatever the case, do not be afraid to embark on a new venture.  Take what you have learned from all of your experiences to date and make the next experience something that others will talk about.

 

Lastly, when exiting your current organization, make sure that you show them exactly how grateful you are for the experience you are taking away.  This is done by thanking people in person, email communication, acknowledgement of these superiors in the press release that announces your new position, amongst others.  This works in your favor, as your previous employer sees that you are thankful for the experience that you received, while the new employer sees that you are humble.

 

Change can be difficult, but it is ok.  Don't ever be afraid to go get what you feel you deserve.

 

 

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IS IT JUST POSSIBLE RADIO IS HEALTHY?

Sometimes I think I need to resign from Facebook.

I have never read more out of work DJ’s, retired (sometimes of their own free will, sometimes not) air personalities and radio wags who’ve never worked a day in the business still ranting day and night about how the business is dead, not worth a young person considering as a career and generally just doom and gloom.

Interesting then that one of the people who “gets” the fact that radio is still a powerful medium today, is a competitor.  The CEO at Sirius/XM.  According to a recent blog noted by Fred Jacobs:

“Look at all the new technology that has come to the vehicle…yet 200 million people still listen to terrestrial radio.”

That’s the world-view of SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer. He’s a committed advocate for his subscription-based company, which just turned in new record highs for subscribers, now over 30 million. But he tells yesterday’s Q2 call that what people listen to is “not going to be either/or.” When it comes to terrestrial radio, satellite and streaming, he believes “This stuff will coexist together.” …

…And he’s well aware of the hold terrestrial radio has on the larger sphere of “radio.” He figures the broad category does about $25 billion in revenue, and the AM/FM industry’s holding onto about $20 billion of that. He reiterates a familiar line – “When customers leave us, the vast majority are going back to terrestrial” radio. That’s due to price.”

To listen to the naysayers, EVERYBODY is listening online…but not to traditional radio.  And yet, according to a Jacobs blog, radio has a growing digital audience:

More than three-fourths of consumption to our stakeholder stations occurs using “regular radios” in cars (nearly half of all usage), home, work, or school – referred to as “traditional” listening.  But one-fifth now takes place on digital platforms: computer streams, mobile apps, and podcasts.  And the main takeaway here is that each year, consumption of broadcast radio stations continues to shift in the digital direction, underscoring the importance of metrics that can capture it all.

What is missing as of yet, is an accurate way to determine the numbers of people listening online.  Which is why I hope Nielsen and whomever get off their rear ends and find an accurate way to determine that metric.  Those numbers, added to the number of on-air listeners, could go a long way toward showing the sky in radio is not falling…and Chicken Little (namely all of those whining on Facebook) is wrong. 

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SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS

I just got back to work this week after an 8 day vacation.  Though some of this may be grist for a future blog, they’re just some random thoughts passing thru my mind this week. 

The “creep” of morning drive to earlier and earlier times is apparently continuing.  Remember when a morning show started at 6 am?  Not anymore.  Most shows begin at 5 or 5:30 at the absolute latest. 
But if you’ve noticed, the local TV morning news shows are largely beginning at 4:30, or 4:25.  I’ve even heard that those start times could get pushed back to 4 am in the near future. 
Does that mean morning radio will start at 4 am or even earlier?  Probably not, at least in the short term.  But more and more people are rising WAY before dawn now, especially in your more crowded, congested cities.  3:30, 3 am…even 2:30 can be a wake up time for a first shifter now. 
I know.  I have a family member who is in the building at his place of employment before 5:30 for a shift that begins at 6.  He’s up around 3:30 weekday mornings. 
And let’s be honest…there’s only so far you can stretch the shift of the morning players. 
What does this mean?  A good overnight radio host, who understands the nature of people’s earlier rising habits means it may become not only desirable, but necessary to start an almost morning like show around 3 AM…adding weather breaks and talk about the day ahead.  A full-blown morning show may not be necessary, but some elements certainly may.  
Don’t write it off.  You may have heard it here first.
Another thought: technology is a wonderful thing.  I find it amazing we don’t have to do “equalized” phone lines, or use giant push up telescoping Marti towers to do remotes anymore. 
But, there IS an issue with these digital boxes we use.  They don’t always work well or provide a really stable signal in areas where digital bandwidth is in high use. 
I heard a morning show this week where the problem was evident.  The voice of the host on remote was breaking up about every 1 to 3 seconds.  It kinda reminded me of Max Headroom.  (Yes, I’m that old). 
I would assume eventually, this will be get resolved as we go 5G, 6G, 15G…whatever. But, it sounds odd now.  I wonder if the listener is thinking the same thing. 
Sometimes, for now, the old ways may have worked better. 
 

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#CONCLAVE 41 WAS A BIG HIT!

#Conclave41 took place at the Crowne Plaza Minneapolis/St. Paul, July 13 - 15.  The Conclave Learning Conference was put in place to educate broadcasters on the current "happenings" in radio, along with education on the cutting edge procedures and formulas available to help broadcasters win.

 

#Conclave41 kicked off Wednesday, July 13th with a cocktail party sponsored by vCreative.  vCreative CEO Jinny Landerer was present and the mixer was a success.

 

#Conclave41 officially kicked into full gear on Thursday, July 14th, with the Conclave Scholarship ceremony, which awards one lucky student a $5,000 scholarship.  Immediately following the scholarship ceremony, "Ask Me Almost Anything" came alive.  This was the chance that Conclavers got to ask questions to executives from various broadcast companies.  This year's Ask Me Almost Anything's panel included Tony Coles, EVPP/iHeartMedia, Jon Zellner, EVP National Programming/iHeartMedia, Peter Bowen, VP/Market Manager/Cumulus Media, Ginny Morris, CEO/Hubbard Media, and moderated by Erica Farber, CEO/RAB.  Other Thursday events included "Programming: Beyond the Bowtie," "Digital: Building a Strategy You Can Actually Execute," "Revenue: It's All ABout Them, Not You," "Talent: How to Build a Farm Team in 2016," a panel on tune in events, revenue, imaging, ratings and streaming.  The day also featured a special luncheon with iHeart Media Senior Advisor Dan Mason.  Dan gave a great speech and really brought motivation to the room as he shared his story from years of broadcasting.  The Thursday events came to a close with a cocktail party sponsored by (WAIT FOR IT.....) vCreative.  Jinny Landerer is a very generous lady.

 

Friday events included a speed mentoring breakfast, where broadcast professionals got to spend time with some of the most powerful minds in radio and talk about anything they wanted.  Other events included social, marketing, video, and a presentation by Jacobs Media's Fred Jacobs that talked about the things that your listeners are doing when they are not listening to the radio station.

 

Friday, the Conclave also awarded the 2016 Rockwell Award to Midwest Communications CEO Duke Wright.  After accepting the award, Duke Wright spent some time sharing his broadcast career with the Conclave attendees and even shared some tricks to the trade.  Duke could have talked forever and we would have all stayed and listened.  Congratulations to the 2016 Rockwell Award winner, Duke Wright.

 

The final Friday session was on TALENT.  The panelists were Roula and Ryan from KRBE in Houston, Greg Thuder from Cities 97 in Minneapolis, BJ & Migs from KISW in Seattle, and was moderated by Tony Coles.  This panel was perhaps one of the biggest hits of the year, as we went into triple overtime.  This panel was a BIG HOME RUN!!

 

#Concalve41 was a huge success.  It was great to see a group of broadcaster come together and learn together, regardless of their current station, competitive situation or employment status.

 

Stay tuned, as information for #Conclave42 is forthcoming!

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HOW TO HANDLE BUSY DAYS

Ah, remember the old days?  When you’d come in in the morning, sit down at your desk, drink a cup of coffee, do show prep and head for the studio or production.  Work for a couple of hours, then go out for lunch…
But, now you wake up from that daydream…and remember you have to voice track three (or more) shows today, do that 5 hour news shift, schedule music for the third sister station, be on a corporate conference call.  Hope you remembered your lunch because there’s no such thing as “going out to lunch” anymore…if you even have time to eat. 
Welcome to radio today.  I had one of those days in the newsroom today where stories were breaking, both locally and nationally literally on top of one another.  It was so busy, the program director overruled the news director who wanted me to break away from the booth to do a telephone interview, saying I was definitely, “too busy”.  I called it “Newsapalooza”.  
At least it made for a quick news shift. 
So, how do you deal with all this?  Multitasking isn’t so bad.  I return e-mails, check my Facebook pages and respond to listeners all the time.  Sometimes I even do it from home (perhaps not everyone wants to do this all the time, but sometimes you have to). 
Stay on task.  Know what must be accomplished that day and stick to your list.  Be prepared to reorganize the list at a moment’s notice.  Prioritize, prioritize.  If you can combine two tasks in the same place, do them while you’re there.  Don’t waste time having to come back to the same place later. 
If you stick to it, you’ll find that list of “must do’s” has been accomplished by the end of the day…well, at least most of the time. 
Do it enough and your reward just might someday be…a lunch hour without distractions! 
Don’t I wish…
 
 
***CONCLAVE 41 is in Minneapolis at the Cowne MSP, July 13-15.  See you there!***

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FIREWORKS AND PARADES ARE A GOOD THING (BETTER LATE THAN NEVER)

 
The 4th of July holiday is here and once again, radio folks will be spreading out to ride or walk in parades, attend festivals and attend (professionally) hundreds of fireworks shows. 
When I worked in Columbus, Ohio, we had “Red White and Boom”…a massive fireworks event downtown that drew hundreds of thousands of people.  It was all day work…from sunrise till after the fireworks ended.  I can remember being as limp as a dishrag when it ended and I made the 8 mile trip to my suburban apartment arriving 2 hours after I left downtown in all the traffic.
But, it doesn’t matter whether you’re dealing with an event of this scale, or doing the fireworks at the County Fairgrounds, this is your time to shine. 
Press the flesh.  Shake hands.  Be out there for the audience.  THEY are the people who listen to you and count on you. Sure, you may finding yourself having to deal with an occasional prize pig.  But remember, if they have a diary…or a PPM, they are your livelihood.  Treat ALL with respect.  Smile. Put your best foot forward.  These are the things that local radio does best…and makes the biggest impression on listeners. 
Then, go home, take off the station shirt, put on your floppy hat and sunscreen, open a beverage and enjoy your Holiday weekend! 
 

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STAYING LOCAL

There are a lot of different thoughts on how radio should sound these days.  But most programmers will agree that the station that has that “local” sound is most often the one that wins, assuming all things like signal, promotions, budgets and the like are equal. 
Frankly, I don’t think “live” matters as much, except where a drive time shift is in place or in a daypart and format where the audience expects the show to be live. 
So what does “staying local” mean?  Frankly it means more than just saying the names of towns and cities and parks and local businesses in a voice tracked show. 
It means knowing what’s going on in your area that day and relating to it.
It means knowing what your listeners are doing and relating to that. 
Yes, it means relating to that day’s weather.  No…you don’t have to do the current temperature.  But if it was a nice day, saying “Wasn’t it a nice day today?  Wow! I got my bike out and rode 10 miles and now I’m paying for it with the sunburn!” localizes your show with the audience.  They can relate to what you’re talking about (even if you didn’t take the bike ride). 
Right now, I’m voice tracking an all night show on the top station in my town.  I encourage people to tell me where they’re listening on the station’s Facebook page and call out the names of people who like my daily posts.   And especially if they comment. 
I have a “retro request” feature that allows me to solicit requests via an “open mike” feature on our free app.  We’re just getting the audience broken into this.  But, when people leave me requests, you can be damn sure I will play their request and use their request on the air.  And yes, I actually play requests!  (If it’s not in the station’s library and I have it at home and assuming the request fits our format and is familiar, I bring the CD in and dub it into my “personal” music category.) Do you think a song that fits played at 3 in the morning will kill your station?   Neither do I.  
Yes, I do sendups to local restaurants and truck stops and businesses that are open all night.  We have a major Air Force Base in my town.  And you know it is not asleep at night.  So saying hi to the Base and talking with the military folks can certainly fit the show. 
Not long ago, we have a huge storm roll through overnight.  I mentioned right at the beginning of my show that because of the potential for a storm, “we may join our (sister TV station) for storm coverage if needed this morning.”  And it happened about 3:15 am when the tornado warnings came.   
The listeners participate.  I am “in the moment” on air every day in every hour and every break in that show. 
Do you think anyone really knows that I’m at home in bed when they’re hearing that? 
That’s what “staying local” is all about. 
 

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WHEN IT'S NOT RIGHT TO BE "FIRST"

Once again, America is dealing with tragedy.  The killing of a popular singer, and the deadly shootings at a nightclub in Orlando bring out the news hounds of TV and radio.  I have no doubt that in the past few days there have been reporters hiding in bushes, under rocks, and occupying hotel rooms there like an invasion force.

I respect the work most all of these people do.  But, I do have a concern. Radio/TV and of course the internet, it doesn’t matter.  But it’s something that never changes.  The pressure on staff to “get the story first”.  And, quite often, that push from managers leaves a station or news outlet with egg on their faces.

Remember how James Brady had supposedly died on the day Ronald Reagan was shot?  That’s what the major networks said, and had to publically retract.

We all remember the declaration that Al Gore had won Florida, and the Presidency in that election in 2000, based on polls which were so fatally flawed that it made the American media look, frankly, silly.  (And they wonder today why the public thinks so little of them…)

For a few minutes on 9/11, airliners were, seemingly, aimed at just about every city in the country.  The panic was palpable on the air.  And most of those reports?  Yep, they were wrong.

A couple years back, a few days after an Asiana jetliner went down, a TV station staffer, getting a tip reportedly from someone at the FAA ran breathlessly to their boss with what were, supposedly, the names of the crew of that jetliner.  With only minutes to go before deadline for a newscast, no one ever thought names like “Bang Ding Ow” and “Ho Lee Fuk” might not be legitimate names.  Duh!  What a retraction there.

I hear about this kind of pressure every day.  And, just like at NASA and the post mortum by Flight Director Gene Kranz after the Apollo 1 fire at the Cape, “Nobody bothered to stand up and say, “Dammit Stop!”.”

I see mistakes in stories on radio, TV and newspaper websites that would cause my journalism teacher in high school to flunk a bunch of people.  Stories that have conflicting facts with one fact at the top of the story, a conflicting fact at the bottom.  Spelling and grammatical errors, too (someone never learned when to use “there’s”, and “theirs”, you know…that type of thing).  Forgetting to tell one or more of the “5 W’s” (who, what, when, where and why).

And if you ask people why this happens, the answer is the same.  Too few people on staff, too much work to be done from the underlings to the managers and the pressure to “get the story first”.

We had a situation in my hometown when a dry hurricane caused 50% or more of the entire area to lose power for up to 15 days.  The TV stations were going berserk for days with promos telling me how “we told you this first, and told you that first”. 

I had to laugh.  OK fine, you did it.  How many people had a battery powered HDTV in 2008?  How many have one today?  How many people are actually watching television when their power is out for up to 2 weeks?

But they did have battery powered radios.

The bottom line: it’s not OK to be first, when your information is wrong.  Sometimes, it’s far better to be second.   Too bad broadcasting’s bosses can’t learn this.

Insist on quality in your news.  Not quantity of “breaking stories”.

 

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WHEN IS IT OK TO STOP THE MUSIC?

A lot of things have happened over the last 24 hours that have changed lives permanently.  The biggest news in the country is the mass shootings in Orlando.......THE BIGGEST MASS SHOOTING IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES.  I know, you are waiting for us to tie this into radio.

The question that presents itself is, "When is it ok to stop the music to talk about situations like this?"  The answer is..........always.

 

Radio's first and foremost responsibility is to your local communities.  When tragedy arises, it is the job of the radio station to inform the community of the tragedy.  While this is not a local tradegy for anyone other than Orlando, it affects the entire country.  Because of the fiduciary responsibility that we have to our brand consumers in the community, shouldn't you be allowed to stop the music and address things with your brand consumers?  The answer to that is YES.

 

We must not be afraid to stop the music to address the concerns and emotions of listeners, especially when there is a crisis.  You never know when this type of situation could actually happen in your local community.  You also never know which of your brand consumers were directly or indirectly affected by this horrible, cowardly act.  For diary markets, it is much easier to stop the music and address these issues as they arise.  For the PPM world, you have to draw a line and decide whether to cross it or not.  It is a well known fact that too much talk on a PPM station could hurt the station, but sometimes you have to be willing to take that chance for the safety and sanity of your community.

 

If you have not talked about the Orlando shooting today, it IS on to do so.  You just have to identify the right opportunity and then allow your brand consumers the ability to express themselves, as there are lots of emotions happening around each of us.

 

Lastly, please, hold your loved ones close today.  You never know when it could be the last time you get to hold them.

 

Radio Isn't Dead, but it is OUR RESPONSIBILITY to keep it alive.

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CAN WE GET BACK TO THE GOOD OLE DAYS?

It was nice when a question was asked or something was suggested to an air talent, who shared the idea with their PD, who in turn shared the idea with the GM, who had the power to say "YAY OR NAY!"  Oh, by the way, the GM was also the owner of the radio station.  The good ole days of radio.

 

In our present broadcast world, 70% of all radio stations are owned by large corporations.  The corporations, most public, have making a profit on their agenda, which means that some companies will pay to the shareholders before they pay for a promotion that would increase ratings of their properties, whi h would allow a greater return to their investors.  Does that make any real sense to you?

 

Can we get back to the goold ole days?  The simple answer is YES, we can.  What this means is, some stations will get sold and will become mom and pop operations once again.  As for the stations that continue to be owned and operated by LARGE corporations, they will need to step up their game to suceed.  

 

You have to spend money to make money.  If we all owned a restaurant, wouldn't we have to buy hamburger, chicken, and several other things in order to feed our hungry customers?  Same goes for radio.  Our brand consumers want to be consumed by the music that you play on the radio station, along with the charm of the talent that is currently on air.  Brand consumers also want to WIN PRIZES, no matter how elaborate.  You would be amazed that a radio station could win, just giving away bumper stickers and pencils with the station logo on them.  Ok, maybe not win completely, but would realize a moderate win.

 

You cannot be afraid to make a small investment, taking the chance that you will either get an excellent ROI, or no ROI at all.  Mom and Pop operations took these chances, most time with no qualitative data to support the investment.  Large corporations have the tools to analyze the market and the brand consumers within the market.  Because of this research alone, the large companies have the ability to fine target their brand consumers.

 

Getting back to the good ole days is not that complicated, but a few things need to happen:

 

1.  Your company cannot be afraid to take chances on small investments.

 

2.  Your company will need to invest in some form of research when considering substantial investments.

 

3.  Talent needs to be willing to get out in the streets and kiss babies and shake hands, like it used to be done.  Remember, perception is reality.  If your brand consumer thinks that you are the BIG STATION, then you are the big station.

 

4.  Listen to the brand consumers and what they are saying/requesting from your company.  You never know if the person requesting is related to the CEO of Kroger or JC Penney's, which could make the difference between a substantial buy, or no buy at all.

 

5.  Always do your best to entertain the brand consumer with things that they are interested in.  If Muhammad Ali's death was the big story of the day, you had better make sure that your listeners are hearing about every hour on the hour until the news has reached its peak distribution in your listening area.

 

6.  Be creative with the LIMITED resources you have.  Back in the good ole days, there weren't social media and digital assets.  Now that we have these tools to our disposal, it would be wise to do whatever you can to reach the masses.

 

Radio Isn't Dead and we can get back to the good ole days, but someone has to take the first step.  We are your biggest fan!!

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THE VALUE OF OVERNIGHT RADIO

Overnight radio in America has become a wasteland.  It’s so easy, and so cost effective to just let “robojock” run the station from Midnight to 5 and be “song-liner-song-jingle-song-liner”.  You know the drill.

We once had a webcam in the studio at one station I programmed.  Though we did voice-track overnights, I made a computer screen sized pair of faux “headphones”, and would have the jock swing the studio mike over to the computer and train the webcam on it all night long.  At least we had a sense of humor.

But, you know what?  Stations may be making a BIG mistake just letting the computer play overnight. 

No, I’m not talking about emergency weather, or news.  Most people don’t listen to music stations for that, anyway. 

I AM talking about the ever growing trend of people who get up earlier and earlier to go to work.  Many are now getting up at 3 am…some even earlier, to be at work at 5, 6 or 7 am during the week.

If you have any manufacturing base in your community, as the economy improves you’ll see more parts suppliers, factories and the like adding a second shift that can go as late as 3 am…if not a third shift all night.  Hospitals work all night.  There’s even an all-night veterinary clinic in my town.  Not to mention the restaurants and truck stops up and down the interstate. 

Now, put on your programmer’s hat.  You just may find the audience in your town is more than large enough to support a locally produced overnight show.

Doesn’t have to be live.  Just local.  With a local talent who goes after that third shift audience. This could be an opportunity, because I’ll bet “first one in…wins.”  And after 3:30 or so, that talent should be more like a music-intensive morning show.  Giving an early look at the weather for that day (no need for temperatures unless it’s 130 or 50 below at that hour), connecting with the things that matter to your audience.  You could even do a benchmark feature at 3 or 4 am.

What you create here…is an alternative to the vast oasis of song-liner-song-jingle-song-liner. It makes you stand out on the dial.

It makes your station local.  And LOCAL WINS.  

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THE CURRENT CONDTITION OF URBAN RADIO

**Please accept this disclaimer that the thoughts and views of this blog are not the belief of anyone other than the writer of this article.**

 

Today, we will step a bit to the left to talk about the current condition of Urban Radio.  Urban Radio is liked by not just minorities, but also people of other races and nationalities.  In fact, people from those other races and nationalities have adopted the "URBAN LIFESTYLE."  Yes, just like COUNTRY is a lifestyle, so is Urban.

 

In visiting with a group of people that are proven experts on this format and lifestyle, there were things brought to light, and today, we will all know what those  things are.

 

The first thing that was discussed is, "Why are all of the market dollars put towards other brands within the cluster, however, when the Urban stations ask for considerations, it always gets blown down?"  Could it be that the Urban properties that each company owns are not as important to them as the rest of their Top 40, Hot AC, Rock and Country formats?  While the answers are not verbally clear, actions speak louder than words in most cases.

 

In case you missed the memo, Urban radio is a multi-billion dollar industry, which is controlled by a handful of media companies, which happen to own the majority of the format across the country.  Urban radio, along with the lifestyle, has been hurt by such things as consolidation, where the operators do not know how to properly administer the format, or support the lifestyle.

 

Once upon a time, innovation was a part of the Urban programmer's job duty, however, due to consolidation and lack of actual bodies in these locations, the innovative side of the Urban radio format is almost non-existent when consolidation is involved.  Also, support for local urban artists has withered to a thin feather.  With this said, there are still some great innovators of Urban radio, such as Service Broadcasting, located in Dallas, TX and Carter Broadcasting, located in Kansas City, MO.

 

Several have asked what the solution is to this Urban radio and Urban lifestyle "EMERGENCY."  Truth is, even if the FCC changed rules, it would take years for Urban radio to get back to where it was in the 80's and 90's, pre consolidation.  What can you do now to get Urban radio back to where you once enjoyed it?  You can get involved.  Become part of an organization that advocates for more community involvement.  After all, radio is first and foremost a community outlet.  It is the job of radio to keep the community informed.  Also, let the Urban formatted stations know of things that are happening in the community.  After all, if you don't inform them, they will never know.  Lastly, be sure that you are actively listening.  If you actively listen and call the local radio station managers about the bad, as well as the good, you may make some progress with the local uUrban outlet in your market.  Keep them accountable to your community.

 

 

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HEY, HOW DO I GET MY RADIO TO WORK?

Here’s one that will make you smile. Especially if you read the constant stream of drivel on radio boards and Facebook about how digital is taking over the world, and radio should go to the old folks home…

In a recent blog, Fred Jacobs of Jacobs Media Strategies tells about a story that aired on Chicago TV about a guy named Byran Zehar.  Seems he just bought a new Jeep Wrangler that had a problem.  Its’ “digital dashboard” froze…making all those new audio and video toys unusable.  Unfortunately for Bryan, one of those toys…was also his car radio.

It took about a dozen trips to the dealership, rewiring and a new system to get it all fixed.  But if you watch the story, his biggest concern was not getting somebody’s online radio station, or Pandora or XM/Sirius.  It was his loss of being able to receive…local radio.

This also seems to coincide with the Jacobs Media study that says the “most important” new car feature in 2016 is…AM/FM radio.  Even HD radio ranks above Apple Play, Android Auto, a DVD player, and an in-car hard drive.

The Jacobs blog also talks about a recent NAB study of 1200 English speaking American drivers age 18-64.  Again, the most important audio source in the car, said over 70 percent of respondents…was AM/FM radio.

And again, it’s the local nature of radio that drives listeners to our frequencies.

Local radio wins.  Hands down.  Every time.

Attention, station owners…do you get it yet? 

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KIDS ARE OUT OF SCHOOL.....HOW CAN THAT BENEFIT YOUR STATION?

School is out ffor most as of today.  OK, we bet you are asking, "What does school being out have to do with radio?"  It has A LOT to do with radio.

 

Summer is here and those teenage bodies are out snd about.  They like to go to concerts, waterparks and free food.  Most radio stations have that to give away.  Perhaps the teenagers that are out of school (sixteen and older,) could assist the radio station from a promotional standpoint.

 

While millennials spend a lot of time listening to Pandora and iHeart Radio, they still sample terrestrial radio more than any of us can imagine.  They listen for the fun things that radio stations are doing and they attend.  So, if you are short on promotional staff and could use interns, consider the sixteen or seventeen year old teenager that is on summer break from school.  Now, you could give them a paid position, but you could also offer an unpaid internship......an unpaid internship that has a lot of perks.  You could make sure that the intern gets to attend all of the awesome concerts that are coming through your area this summer, you can reward them with free food coupons, CD's/music downloads, while allowing them to get experience in our great industry.

 

Another idea that omes to mind with teens being out of school is to create promotions and activities that will entice them to your brand.  I know that the teens cannot fill out a Nielsen diary, but their parents can.  The way to the parents, the ones who have the income to spend on the products that your advertisers are advertising, is through their children.  IF you are doing things with their children throughout the summer months, they will notice and sample your radio station.  Imagine a mom listening to the radio station, because their teen daughter is going to be on the air.  Mom is listening to the station, anticipating hearing her child on the air, which happens, but not before a Rusty Eck Ford commercial is played.  Mom knows that she needs a new car and that the DJ on the air is endorsing Rusty Eck.  After mom hears her child, she calls Rusty Eck Ford to set up an appointment, telling them that she heard the commercial advertising the specials that they are advertising.  She also mentions that she heard their ad on her favorite radio station.  She finds the perfect $45,000 vehicle and buys it.  This mom purchased a new car because she heard a car commercial before she got to hear her child on the radio.  

 

Radio Gets Results........through our spouses, our children and our friends.  Keep spreading the word that Radio Isn't Dead!

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RADIO: MORE RELEVANT THAN YOU KNOW

As we look at the current condition of radio, it is important to realize that no matter what the current financial outlook is for your stations, you are still relevant as a medium.  

 

As you know, the 2016 Billboard Music Awards took plae last night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.  This was a night filled of humor, music, tribute and awards.  We saw lots of people receive awards last night, including Justin Bieber, Celine Dion, The Weeknd, Thomas Rhett, and the list goes on.  How do you think these awards are possible?  How do you think that the listener/consumer was exposed to each of the records that were voted on?  YEP......RADIO.

 

Sometimes it gets a bit hard as you are trying to generate revenue to support your market.  Without revenue comes the potential demise of your local empire.  While we all feel the pressure, it does NOT have to be that way.

 

Remember, radio is first and foremost a servie to your community.  Because it is a servie to your community, you should do your best to involve the members of your community as you find ways to grow your brand in your "air space."  It is OK not to have all of the answers.  Even if you feel that you ahve all of the answers, you should still involve your "base" as you plan to expand and to be more successful.  It is OK to ask you listeners what they want from your radio station.  You might even record their responses, as you could build a really nie promo around the listener responses.  Once you get those responses, TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY, as this could put you on track to growth.  OK, so listeners do not know everything about radio and there are some things that you can launch internally that would enhance your listener experience, but the proof is in the pudding........ask your listeners what they want.  Doing this will keep you relevant in your "air space."

 

Radio is completely relevant, and Radio Isn't Dead, by all means.  It is up to you to keep the flame lit!

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WHY NOT A CAREER IN ENGINEERING?

It is one of the more “available” jobs in radio broadcasting.  It’s also one that has become very hard to fill.

It’s the job of the engineer.

Oh, I know.  It’s thankless.  The hours are often odd…and long.  You have to get up in the middle of the night and fix broken transmitters.  Your Christmas Dinner plans could be interrupted by a format change. 

And yes, you don’t make as much as you would in an I.T. Department.

That’s the problem.  You see, engineers also keep the computers running.  And once you have that skill and networking experience, why wouldn’t you go for the bigger bucks?

I don’t blame a guy for going out and getting his or her perceived value.  But, I also know an engineer in most cases in a decent company makes more than a journeyman DJ makes.  Sometimes considerably more.

And all it really takes is a love of electronics, maybe some previous amateur radio experience and a desire to “fix” stuff.

I admit, I don’t understand why engineers don’t make the money someone in I.T. makes.

I mean, who “protects the revenue” when the transmitter dies?  Or the network fails?  Or the computer crashes?   Or the antenna is destroyed in a storm?

It sure ain’t the G.M.  Or the salespeople.

The school where I am a radio instructor is considering adding a radio engineering course that would also teach the Society of Broadcast Engineer’s Certification Course.  Local engineers have said something like that would get a student’s foot in the door right out of a 2 year Associates Degree course.

Yeah, I know.   It’s not as “glamourous” as being a DJ.  In fact, at times, it’s a pain in the butt.  (Because, after all, it’s the engineer who has to fix the stuff we on air people break!)

But it is a career path.  And, there’s not enough people to fill all the potential jobs.

If you know a bright young person who likes electronics…tell them. 

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"TRUMPING" YOUR COMPETITION

The struggle is real for radio at the present time.  While the previous statement is true, you can still "Trump" your competition.  I know that it isn't easy, with the shortage of funding for promotions, multiple stations in the market and limited bodies in the building, but you can do it.

 

Are you monitoring your competition daily?  This is very important.  You need to do this to make sure that they are not doing things that could hurt your journey to the top.  While you should monitor programming, promotions and social/digital media events, you should also monitor who is buying time on the competitior radio station.  This is important, because perhaps you could provide a better value to the client.

 

Of course, you could be guerilla and show up across the street from your competitiors when they are broadcasting live and trade whatever swag they received from the competitior station for your swag.  Then, you could do a weenie roast in the summer for your valued listeners and together, roast the swag that you collected over the year from the competitor events.  That sends a serious message, both to the listeners and the competitors alike.

 

There are tons of other things you can do to "Trump" your competition, but whatever you do, make sure that you are not violating any laws of FCC regulations, as that could really turn into a bad situation.

 

The main key is PAY ATTENTION TO THE COMPETITION.  If you do that and are proactive instead of reactive, you can efficiently "TRUMP" your competition!

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SAY THAT AGAIN

Since creating my own YouTube channel, I have received numerous emails from entities wanting to promote my videos (for a fee, of course).  This morning I received an email that I just had to share.  It certainly got my attention – but likely not the kind of attention they were striving for when clicking the “Send” button. Here is just one sentence from the email:
 
"If you are obsessed in publicize the video contented being originated in your channel, kindly regress for more minutiae."
 
Atrocious, isn’t it?  This is a great example of a non-professional script writer taking on the task of writing his own commercial. 
 
I’m sure this made perfect sense to the person writing it – but he was so close to his product/service that it never occurred to him that others may not understand what he understands so easily.  It’s like describing how to do computer coding for space exploration to someone who drives a truck for a living.  However, if you spend time with that truck driver and get him to understand what you are saying, he can more easily relay the message to other truck drivers in a way that they will understand.
 
This is why a professional radio script writer is so important.  It is the writer’s job to reach the intended audience – an audience the writer is already intimately familiar with.  He knows how they think, how they feel, how they react.  He knows their language and speaks it fluently – not just the listeners’ vocabulary (as is obviously a problem from the email I received), but also the  listeners’ lifestyle. The writer knows how to craft a message to be understood.
 
If an advertising client insists on writing their own script, perhaps you can read the sentence above aloud to them one time then have them explain what it means.  That’s what they are expecting of a radio audience without trusting those whose job at the station it is to reach the audience on that client’s behalf.
 

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A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY

You never know when a unique opportunity is going to come your way.  And one is coming my way. 
No, it’s not a new job.  No, I’m not becoming a PD in a major market. 
No, it ain’t Howard Stern money.  After all these years, I’m used to that.  
My employer wants me to do something.  And I can’t reveal everything that’s going on because it’s not public yet. 
I can say it involves a type of show that I have done before.  In fact, the last time I did it, the station I worked for was number one in my time slot.  I have supreme confidence that I can do it again, because I am on a far bigger station in the market. 
It’s different.  It goes against the grain of what companies are doing today. 
It will be local.  The listeners will be able to reach me via a number of means. They will be a part of the show.  And I will employ social media as well to stay in touch with the audience. 
I am going after an audience that is being ignored.  It is one where we can be the King of The Hill in short order.  And yet, it is an audience which is rapidly growing in our marketing area. 
It will sound live, even when it’s not.  Got a few tricks up our sleeves that we’re working on in that direction.  But, technology is a wonderful thing. 
It fulfills part of a larger plan.  And it will be marketed. 
I am fortunate to be involved in it.  When we launch it, I’ll tell you more…because I’ll have a lot to talk about.
Don’t be afraid of a unique opportunity.  You never know where it can lead.  
 

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MANAGING DIGITAL ASSETS

How are you managing your DIGITAL ASSETS?  How are you monetizing your DIGITAL ASSETS?  Do you even have DIGITAL ASSETS?

 

The digital component of the broadcast world is no longer "THE FUTURE." We have all sat in meetings where the digital components come into discussion and that one person says, "it's just a fad."  Boy, those people were so wrong.

 

Let's discuss streaming.  Did you know that your digital audio stream can help your ratings?  I am not going to get into this within this discussion, but yes, there is a term called TLR, which stands for Total Line Reporting.  You should research this term.

 

How about the display side of digital?  Are you monetizing your websites?  Depending on the amount of people that you have visiting your website on a daily basis, this could generate a substantial amount of money that your organization did not have before "THE WEB."  

 

It all starts with having a thorough understanding of your digital assets and how to leverage said assets to your company's advantage.

 

Website banners generate revenue.  Injecting a separate stop set online generates revenue.  

 

If you are not currently utilizing your digital assets, or if you currently do NOT have digital assets to speak of, I would consider taking a look at the BIG DIGITAL PICTURE!!!!

 

 

***Radio Isn't Dead is currently looking for TWO bloggers to add to our staff.  Are you excited about radio?  Please send your letter of interest to steve@radioisntdead.com.***

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I CHOOSE CREATIVITY, PROACTIVITY AND LEADERSHIP

I first met Fred Jacobs years ago when he spoke at a Programmer’s meeting for a company for which I programmed a station a few years back.  And, I have continued to follow his blogs, which I recommend if you aren’t subscribed to them.  I really think he hits the nail on the head many, many times.  And a blog this week was one of them.  Here’s a quick excerpt: 

"At times, the industry’s defensiveness and lack of transparency only serve to encourage its competitors, while causing its naysayers to claim that radio’s corporate honchos are in denial.
Proactivity, creativity, and leadership are what’s needed if radio is to maintain its (800 pound) gorilla status. So is admitting that not everything is perfect, there are problems to solve, and radio has work to do.
Sometimes, the competition has the best take on how the game is being played.
It’s time to start acting like that 800 pound gorilla, and take control of the jungle."
 
I have said for years now that radio has done a terrible job of telling its story.  And to be sure, it continues today to ignore obvious issues like an over active commercial load, constant bowing to the demands of advertisers and agencies who insist it do things radio KNOWS it shouldn’t do.  (How does it know it?  They’ve done the research and it’s in their files as I speak.)  
Radio IS the 800 pound gorilla in the room…and it simply refuses to take control of the jungle. 
So, what to do?  I contend it begins with US.  The worker bees.  
I get it, even if others in the business don't. I have but, perhaps several years left to try and "make a difference" in my chosen field. I am officially serving notice that this is what I intend to do. 
You see, WE, not our bosses, control our ultimate destiny.  And WE can improve things. Find ways to make your shows make more money.  That’s what talks to these people.  Here’s a novel idea, Mr. D.J…work WITH the salespeople.  As the money rolls in…suddenly YOU become more valuable.   Talk with the advertisers when you go on a remote.  Promote YOU and your station.  You really are its best salespeople. 
It’s always been that way. 
Opportunity lies straight ahead of me…as it does you. Time to seize the brass ring.
 

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SAY AND DO WHAT YOU MEAN

When you talk, say what you mean.  When in action, do what you mean.  This is a philosophy employed by lots of radio talent and managers, however, there are others that are missing the boat.

 

If you feel strongly about something, there is nothin wrong with voicing your opinion.  With that said, if you make a statement that has action attached to it, you MUST be prepared to act on your comment.  This can be both good and not so good, depending on the statement and action associated with the statement.

 

I have made statements and acted upon them.  I made the statement that I was going to earn all of my RAB certifications.  Guess what?  I EARNED ALL OF MY RAB CERTIFICATIONS.  I made the statement that I would get my MBA.  I am working on my schooling.  I made the statement that I am ready to explore taking the next step in my career.  Guess what, I am exploring the next steps in my career with my employer.

 

Don't make statements that you never plan to act on.  This includes promises, threats and other ridiculous statements.  If you threaten to make a change in your current working situation, you'd better be ready to act on that change, because there are fewer and fewer broadcast positions available within this medium and you could voluntarily black list yourself from the industry.  Have a great Monday!!

 

**Radio Isn't Dead is looking for two bloggers.  Can you write?  DO you want to share your thoughts with someo of the brightest minds in our business?  Please email steve@radioisntdead.com for more information.**

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DEARLY BELOVED

The death of Prince lit a fire under radio. All formats took the occasion to honor him. Which shows the reach of his music. Not just the expected formats, but country and rock as well. Remember AOR? I programmed a station in 1984 that included his rock oriented songs. We were also playing Michael Jackson's Beat It because Eddie Van Halen was the featured lead guitar. 

 

His album sales went up, according to reports 40,000% since he died. Who didn't have his music? The  last few days I was reminded of the impact he made on the industry. Songs he wrote for others, songs I forgot, and his Purple Rain movie is back in theaters. Honestly, I didn't think of him as an icon until now. 

 

His Paisley Park complex will be turned into a Graceland type museum. Would he want that? As a private person I wonder. But he didn't leave a will. So it's open season on his legacy. I hope his siblings don't take advantage of his death. 

 

At my age and many others, we are losing too many artists that were part of our life this year. For whatever reason. Prince Rogers Nelson was amazingly talented. Remember that. And the joy his music brought to all. Will I remember where I was when I heard the news? No. Not like Elvis or John Lennon. But what I will remember is where I was when I played his music. I know where I was when I added "I Wanna Be Your Lover", and "Purple Rain". I scoffed at his fight with Warner Brothers and he changed to that "The Artist Formerly Known As". But I respect his fight for his persona and music. I believe that is all he wanted. I never knew him. Never met him. Sadly. He will forever be an enigma. With a wealth of amazing work left behind. 

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THE "GENUISES" ARE NOT ALQAYS RIGHT

One thing I’ve learned in my career as a radio air talent and, occasionally programmer in: don’t assume the “conventional wisdom” will always stay true.  And nothing proves that more than my experiences in gold based music programming. 
I had a General Manager who told me back in 1976 that the music of the 60’s would never be heard on radio again.  “Fun stuff”, he said, “But, it’s burned out.  People are tired of it and you’ll never hear it on radio again”.  
I wonder how he felt about that remark when oldies stations started becoming the rage. 
When I programmed the first “All 80’s” station in Columbus, Ohio in 1998, the “conventional wisdom” was the same.  “Oh, sure…(said the experts) you can do the 80’s as a once a week feature or specialty show on an A/C station.  But the music is burned out…it’s tired.  You just can’t play it as a format.” 
For two and a half years, I had a weekly audience of over 100,000 people on a rimshot Class A that didn’t even cover all of Columbus tuned in with that “burned out” music.  And we took some 4 million bucks out of the ad market in about 2 and a half years. 
I programmed a market leading oldies station that lost 50 cents on a dollar because the advertisers thought the music was “too old”.  The station, under a previous owner, had been playing a hybrid of 50’s to 80’s music.  Although I still don’t think they had it right then (I did have a chance to hear the station in those days), the station had decent ratings and made money.  The new owner did allow me to push the station a couple years farther into the 70’s, but still resisted pushing it ahead more.  Why?  “Convention wisdom says you can’t do that”.  
I wanted to do a music test of 60’s/70’s and 80’s music.  “Nope”, said the bosses, “Can’t do.  Won’t work.”
I wonder what they thought when WCBS-FM in New York returned to a “Classic Hits” format and in 6 months was #1. 
What really galled me at the time:  Two years after WCBS-FM came back as “Classic Hits”, the very same company for whom I had programmed flipped many of their stations to some variety of “Classic Hits”, including the ones I had programmed!  Playing much of the same music they said people were tired of and would never be heard on radio again.
Needless to say, I am not a fan of shortsighted radio managers…or “conventional wisdom”. But, that’s life, I guess. 
 

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GIVE IT UP

Have you? I put myself through countless interviews and even worked as a cashier at a grocery store. A friend of mine that is a HOF jock was working as a courier. I mean, what does it take? Seriously. We do what we have to, so we can return to this retched business we love.

 

At some point, people are lucky to get out. Some of us can't leave it like heroin. It's in our blood. I have an outlet in writing, but that doesn't pay bills. This will be a short blog because there is nothing more I can say. You are in. You are out. I'm in. But I'm in so I can be a part of my kid's life. I'm staying close to her. I turned down jobs away because I'm not leaving. There is a point that you realize what is important. Realize what is important and move on from there. Or get out. Your choice.

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A POSSIBLE ANSWER FOR SMALL INTERNET RADIOCASTERS

I’m sure you’ve read an article or three online and in your local newspapers about the “plight” of small internet radio operators forced to silence their stations over the recent increases in music royalty fees.  That, of course, and also the demise of Live 365, which hosted thousands of these stations. 
I feel for these operators on one hand, because I think it is reasonable for the powers that be to allow a different tier of internet broadcasting that could allow at least some of these stations to continue offering programming.  But I think these stations need to wake up and smell the coffee, too: 
Internet radio still exists.  There are still people paying the fees and offering stations as online entities only.  Plus, there are lots of commercial broadcasters, public broadcasters and even LPFM broadcasters streaming online. 
In other words:  the loss of thousands of “my 10,000 song record collection” stations, after a brief flash of notoriety…are no longer missed to any great degree. 
And still, the talk on internet radio forums goes on. “We need to get artists like Taylor Swift, Kanye West and Jay Z to talk about us and why THEY think we need to be able to operate”. 
Now, this is just my opinion, but I think they’re going about it wrong, and told them so on a Facebook group this week.  
First of all, nobody gives a rat’s patoot what the artists think. Artists talk about everything from global warming to poverty to name-your-favorite-cause all the time. It simply is not going to impress anybody to any great degree. 
I think some of these station operators are missing the boat.  Many stations disappeared when Live 365 did.  And they discovered the same thing listeners discover when their favorite radio station changes format.  After a few months, the listeners have moved on.
It’s still not expensive to stream online.  There are companies out there who can host a station for pennies a day.  What IS expensive…is the right to play copyrighted MUSIC online. 
What might impress people…is the very thing that radio, even internet radio CAN provide.  And that…is CONTENT.
Informational programming that truthfully (without hype and hyperbole) explains their situation. Testimonials from listeners who genuinely miss the contributions their stations were making.  Interviews with like-minded politicians, Congressmen and Senators. Interviews with local and regional artists who have given their stations written permission to play their music without compensation.  The stations could combine an interview with an artist with one of their songs. 
And if they can get a “big name” artist to do so and offer a song with written permission to play it? 
Now, share that usable content to other net casters.  Imagine if thousands of stations came back online with, say, three or four hours or more of legally usable programming (which could be added to over time).  Share with iTunes and other services. 
Use the power that radio has always had…to inform and entertain.  And use the creative “theater of the mind” to create programming someone might find worthwhile to listen to. 
Because right now these stations are “out of sight, and out of mind”. 
 

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YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT

But remember the next line, "but if you try sometime, you might just find, you get what you need."

It was a part of a great scene in The Big Chill. The bottom line is you want more, but if offered a position, you might get something that helps further your career. If I hadn't taken a small market Operations Manager position, then I wouldn't have had the experience to take to my next job. And hopefully the next one. 

 

Radio is shrinking. It's hard to not get "shrunk". There are ways to stay out of the shrink. That is a phrase I learned working retail. Shrink in retail, means loss of money due to product that is lost on the way to the store or within. Are you losing or shrinking due to time within your job? What you do daily can add to the company loss. You might not feel it or see it, but it adds up. Do it everyday. You do add to the bottom line. 

 

Take the idea of you CAN always get what you want. Then you get what you need. Time is on your side. 

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NEGATIVE NANCY

We've all been there!  There is that one co worker who complains about how much money they don't make.  How many hours they put in yet still don't fit in or seem to get the job done right.  They gossip, waste time and over all just poison the entire team with their bitterness.

 

What do you do if that one person is your direct co worker?  Someone you spend the most time with through your entire day.

 

I had this situation occur on a morning show I took part in.  I planned, I produced, I executed.  She shows up 10 minutes to show time and complains after not contributing ANYTHING to the entire recipe.  and then continues to complain that she isn't the star of the entire thing.  I've never felt so angry. 

 

In this current day and age of dealing with sales, promotions and programming meetings.  How does one still walk the fine line between giving the listeners and the different departments heads what they want.  All the while dealing with Miss Negative on the side? 

 

She is under the impression that her youtube channel, twitter following and her bust size dictates her place in the world.  I have tried being patient understanding and helping her with my real world broadcast experience to become better and how to plan a radio morning show.  She is not interested. 

 

What would you do?

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WHEN YOU COME TO THE FORK IN THE ROAD

Happens to the best of us in this business…just when you think you’ve settled down and found that job you can stay with till you retire, along comes an opportunity you never considered. 

Or, you find yourself, perhaps for no reason of your own, finding out you’re on the wrong side of a downsizing. 

It may be bad for you…or maybe not. 

You see, I’m a firm believer in the old saying “when one door closes, another opens”. 

Or to put it another, perhaps more humorous way, “when you come to a fork in the road, take it!” 

Every new road is an adventure.  And sometimes it’s more fun when you really don’t know where you’re going, because you don’t know where you’ll end up. 

I was working for WING-AM in Dayton, in a job I had dreamed of doing my entire life, in 1990.  When, boom!  The company was millions in debt and the poohbahs determined the AM needed to be “put on the bird”. 

Thought I was going to lose my job.  But at the last second, here came the fork in the road.  I was sent down the hall to do nights on sister CHR FM Z-93, WGTZ.  Did that for a number of months and here came another fork in the road.  The company offered me a day shift on sister WCOL-FM in Columbus.  Bigger market, better shift.   Market 34 at the time.  Life was good, right? 

Here came the fork, again.  The station was sold to Nationwide Communications, the broadcast arm of Nationwide Insurance, who decided to keep the air talent, but flip the format to country.   I had done country before so I had no issues with doing the new format.  Next thing I know, I’m on midday, and was #1 25-54 for 13 straight rating books.

So finding yourself at the fork might seem a little scary sometimes.  But if you have confidence in your abilities and yourself, taking the fork could lead you to bigger and better things than you ever imagined. 

All you have to do…is believe in what you know you do best, and take the fork.

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RADIO ISN'T DEAD!

I'm not really an expert in radio. I play one in my building though and through this blog. I would say that I have had a fair share of experiences in the industry in the last 10 years to have some sort of opinion. God, has it been 10 years already? Time flies when you're having fun and moving around the country. I've worked in Philly, NYC and Dallas at this point in my journey. 2 of the 3 stations that I worked for were in the middle of rebrands when I stepped in. This is probably gonna be a 2 parter blog because there are 2 issues I've noticed in the industry since becoming part of the 2 stations that were in the middle of rebrands: industry people with no patience in a rebrand and what I'll be talking about in this blog, the fact that radio isn't dead, but rather, we've gotten lazy and irresponsible with our opportunities. So, if you want to hear about my opinions on the latter, TUNE IN NEXT WEEK FOR THAT BLOG. You see that? I worked yah like you're a meter you sexy thing you.

 

As I've made my way through the ranks in radio, I've acquired a lot of friends that feel that radio is dead. Blah blah blah. Who invited Negative Nancy to the party anyways? Radio isn't dead….it's just getting lazy!

 

How are we lazy?

 

Denial: first of all…our problems with the industry are nobody's but our own. The thing that took me a long time to come to terms with, was that the only person standing in my way as a part of the radio industry, is me. As long as we put off what personal responsibility we do have to connect with our listeners, the longer it will take to correct what's keeping our listeners from connecting to us.

 

The Problem: I can honestly say that radio peeps for the most part have began to deteriorate in their ability to create content vs. regurgitating it. What do I mean by that? Radio isn't really keeping up with the times. #SorryNotSorry…with developments of products such as the internet, digital television and web stream, content has become easily accessible to listeners that at one point had only limited means to access it and content can now be easily created by anybody; anybody willing to put out the effort to create it, that is. During my first two radio gigs, it wasn't that I wasn't motivated to achieve success, I just didn't understand the difference between being mediocre at creating content versus just regurgitating it. If news breaks in the morning about Selena Gomez getting back with Bieber because they're expecting quadruplets, I can either restate those facts endlessly throughout the day or by 6am, we're asking our listeners what Selena should name their future children. There's a significant difference between the two and they really determine whether or not if our listeners grow tired of us or feel engaged and part enough of the conversation enough to continue being involved.

 

The Resolution: stop placing blame on other people for your misfortunes and failures in your current position in the radio industry. There is nothing that you can do about them. I repeat THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT THEM. What you can do is accept responsibility for what you can do in the industry. Have you ever noticed that when people allow their negativity to consume them it's usually steps leading to their departure? I know this because I was this. I'm not perfect by any means, but what I shoot for on a daily basis when employed is to try and attempt to make the current situation as positive as I possibly can within my own abilities. There are always going to be unpredicted events, but if we stay true to our work ethic and love for what we do, whether we leave a situation or remain in a situation, we exist in it with a clear mind that we did all we can do within our own power. The true question you have to ask yourself is "how do I exercise my power?" As long as we feel powerless, the radio industry is dead. Accept responsibility and don't let the radio industry die. It's really as plain and simple as that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ARE YOU IN THE BEST POSITION TO OWN MARKET SHARE?

** DISCLAIMER....THIS BLOG IS MY VIEW AND MY VIEW ONLY, NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH ANY OTHER VIEWS**

 

Are you in the best position to own market share?  This is something that you should consider when designing and executing any plan associated with your radio products.  This is not a trick question.  The things that you do to your brands affect the overall market share, sometimes not in your favor.  Things to look at include talent, programmers, operations managers, and content, just to name a few.

 

Suppose the cluster that you work for is made up of an Urban station, an Urban AC station, and a CHR station.  Who would you hire to program these three stations?  Who would you hire as your Operations Manager?  Let me tell you what NOT to do........  You don't want to hire a Country PD and on air talent to work on the Hip Hop station.  You don't want to hire an Operations Manager that has no knowledge of the formats in your building.  Hiring the right people is one of the ways you'll put yourself in the best position to OWN market share.  The second way to be in a good place is by producing great content.  Great content gets your listeners enticed in the station and can win you new P1's.  Lastly, great packages and promotions also assist with making your cluster at the top of market share.

 

Too many times, we see people that are talented, but in the wrong place.  Don't get me wrong, as there are some people that have started very young in CHR radio and are still there at 60 years old.  I can think of a couple of legends, which I will refrain from saying, as they may not want you to know that they are 60, but nonetheless, they are at the top of their game.  Unfortunately, there are other situations where the people that are at the helm of the ship are way beyond the target demographic in age, which can cause decisions to be made that do not fit the listener, which could cause you to lose ratings and money in the market.

 

It is very important that you consider all of these things when making hires for your stations, as your people need to fit the part.  It doesn't matter what department they are in.  Your sales staff needs to be well educated on the brands in your cluster and be able to relate to the clients that they approach daily.  The music on each of your brands needs to be tight.  The image of the station needs to reflect your target demographic.  Your promotions have to be top of the line.  If you are having an issue putting together great promotions for your brands, I would suggest a promotional consultant.  Paige Nienaber is the TOP OF THE LINE when it comes to this and you would benefit by having him in your corner.

 

Take care of your brands like you take care of a baby, as this is your livelihood.  This is also an avenue for the community to "be involved" with you via on air promotions.  Keep your listeners happy and super serve them.  That is what will gain market share for your cluster and put you in an "OWNERSHIP" situation!

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THE KEY TO "REAL" PERSONALITY

I still read comments from “old” rock jocks about how fun it was “in the old days” of Top 40 radio “when we were allowed to be personalities”.  And then they go on to talk about the joke services they subscribed to, and the comedy services they used that allowed them to “create” their “personality” on the air.

No doubt some of them did this…and I’m sure some of them may have used such services successfully.

I also realize now that many of these people are also the ones who talk about how the “consultant” got them fired…or how they lost their gig because “that jerk PD who always sided with the suits never understood what I was all about”.

Well, in my way of thinking real personality on radio has never been about joke sheets or comedy services.  Because the root word of “personality” is “person”.

I have always disagreed with people in this business who say you should never talk about yourself on air. The people who say “the listener doesn’t care about you”.

And yet when the listeners are surveyed they continue to say that one of the things that endears them to someone on the radio is that “(he/she) sounds like a real person. That (he/she) understands what I’m going through.”

I once got a job offer from a PD.  And though I never took the job, I’ve never forgotten what that programmer said she liked about my audition. “I liked the bit you had on the tape talking about the picnic you attended last weekend.  It was concise, well thought out, and the listener could relate to it.”

Yes, the audience DOES care what you’re about, and what makes you tick.  Your likes and dislikes.  Your life experiences.  The other day, over a long song intro, I talked about having to cut my grass for the first time this year.  “So what’s interesting about that?”, you say.  I live in Ohio.  And the other day was a day in late March.  We are rarely EVER cutting grass in March in Ohio. And my comment was that when I was done doing it, the first thing I thought of was “Why am I having to do this in March?”

My neighbor cut his grass about a week before me.  Guess he heard me on the air saying that and told me he thought the same thing.  So may have others in the audience, too.  Again, you’re able to relate to THEM.

Sure, a long time ago, I tried using those “joke sheets”.  But, I later discovered that when comedy or something funny happens on your show, it just HAPPENS.  You can’t force it.  But when it happens, it’s real and relatable, too.

That’s what makes me believe the key to real personality boils down to two words…be yourself.  

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TAKE 5 WITH JEFF DAVIS (WLS-FM)

Jeff Davis was and is a WLS icon.  He is also a person I can call a friend. When I was a teen I called WLS and he answered. We talked about radio. If not for Jeff and John Landecker, I wouldn't have had the courage to go into the business.

 

Jeff, what was your reason for going into radio?

 

More than one. I got the bug for radio in my one and only year in college. I was allowed to do work on the station only upperclassmen would be allowed to do so I didn't get trapped in gopherland. I just loved it. On the downside, I was 19 and my mother had four other kids to support as a single mother. So, I left college to go to work. After many tries over that summer, I finally got a yes from WABB in Mobile, Alabama.
 

How did you get from the start of your career to WLS?

 

Wow, that would be a long paragraph. I started in Mobile at WABB, doing the all night show making $100 a week, $80 after taxes. I kept $40 and sent my mother $40. I was offered a job in Montgomery but the money was only marginally better... and I really wanted to work in Montgomery. My college friend, John Valentine (Bob Somers/WQDR) then in the military was stationed in Biloxi. He called me and told me he was headed to Washington, D.C. and offered to take an aircheck and pitch me for work. A few months later I was in D.C., working for WEAM. The management there was a mess and, after seven months I moved on to WGH. WGH was an amazing experience. A radio station that had some amazing talent, WGH had a very deep-pocketed owner (newspaper). I think outside of programming, management was kind of stuck in the past but, nevertheless, a great radio station with great people. I truly loved it there. Mike Patrick, our afternoon personality, told me that WLS had a new PD. He said that I was ready for WLS. I told him that I wasn't quite there. He "coerced me" to send a tape. Long story short, WLS hired me a few months later as the "Head of Special Projects." It was kind of a meaningless title so they could get it on the books for the budget, I assume. I worked as PD John Gehron's and MD Jim Smith's assistant and then I did weekends and fill-in. It was the most incredible learning experience I've ever had. Anyway, they got tired of me hanging around so they put me on the air full time. I'm kidding. Working at WLS was incredibly rewarding because they gave you a canvas and a full compliment of paints and let you create. I think one of the most terrific things about the programming philosophy was that they trusted the talent and that allowed some damned good radio.
 

 

You have gone full circle even from your successful voiceover business back to WLS. What can we learn from that?

 

When I left KRTH to do voice overs and station imaging (and I can alway use one more client!) I thought I was done with that partof the business. And then Viacom called and asked me to help them launch Star 98.7. I did afternoons there for about three years. Afternoons in Los Angeles. That was cool. It was a very different kind of experience because it was the first time in my career that I didn't need the job and I had done just about everything there was to do in radio including national syndication. Star brought me a number of opportunities. I got to host the Grammy's for radio. I worked with Quincy Jones and Olivia Newton-John on the national announcement of the nominees. I did some live shows, too. I hosted the Rod Stewart concert at the Greek Theater. Met a lot of stars. At Star, I could relax and have fun... and believe me, I did. The return to WLS FM was completely not on my radar. I was doing occasional fill-ins for sickness or vacations or people who were snowed in. When John Landecker decided to leave, WLS management asked me to fill in until they could find someone. I figured it would be a couple of weeks. John's departure was a surprise to me but I understood. A long time continuously doing the same work and trying to bring freshness to it every night is a tough job. I think the reason they kept me on, aside from my obvious charm, is that we've had some luck with the numbers. That's not to say that it will continue improving or that it's not a fluke. It's a crazy business. But I work on that show every night like someone who's really hungry to win. I do two hours of show prep for a four hour show. It has added some time to my already busy work day but in all these years, I've never fallen out of love with being on the air.
 

 

I am a person wanting to get into radio. What should I know?

 

Give up. I'm kidding! It depends on a few variables but, first, get an education. If you can, go to a college or university that has its own radio station. Get to know the local radio people. Ask questions. Get a job as board op on weekends during the school year. One of the things that seems common in radio is that if you're there long enough, you'll get to do everything. The people in my generation were not just fascinated with radio, we were (many of us still are) madly in love with it. If you are not obsessed with it, do something else. Entertainment related jobs often offer disappointment. Being in love with it will get you past it. I guarantee you there are people who were once on the radio that still talk up the vocals when they're alone in the car. When I was a baby DJ, one of the seasoned pros told me that radio is like VD. It gets into your blood and you can't get it out. I think that's true. It's also important to learn all you can about how stations work, spend some time listening to the various eras and their contributions. Broadcasting has a very layered history. Keep informed on the common culture. What are people interested in? How can you impact them in their lives? Notice what's going on in your community and become a part of it. Those things are important in developing a relationship with listeners. But, keep in mind, you are talking to one person. You will never hear me say "Hello Chicago!" on the air or refer to listeners in the plural. The late Art Roberts, a veteran of WLS told me that when you are on the air, you are talking to that one person. If you want to visualize a friend, a relative or girlfriend, to make the connection, that's good, too. Radio personalities of that era knew that rule. They had dictionaries in the studio and their literacy was high. They often wore a coat and tie to work. It was a different, and I think in some ways better, time.

 

What is your best memory working for WLS?

 

All of it. Most people will never know what it's like to work at a radio station with a handle like WLS. Long before any of us came along, WLS was a legend. Most, if not all of us, wanted to just not screw it up! I do have some incredible experiences. The catalog of "best memories" is huge. And you know what? I'm still putting more pages in that catalog, whether it's one more or a thousand.

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ARE YOU READY FOR SUMMER?

Are you ready for summer?  Ok, not you, but you radio station.  THis is a question that it is truly time to ask, as you get close to summer, which could be pretty imprtant to the success of your station.

 

One of my most memorable summers comes via KZCH-FM in the mid 2000's.  We called the summer promotion, "THE SUMMER OF A THOUSAND TICKETS."  This was an awesome promotion.  You could win tickets to the coolest amusement and water parks, movies, concerts, merch tickets for Apple products, clothes and tickets that you could redeem for cash prizes.  This was a total WIN for KZCH-FM, Slammin' Sammy Suarez (the PD at the time,) and Clear Channel Radio Wichita, Kansas.

 

So, what are you planning for your summer promotion(s)?  Consider this as you plan......perception is reality and consider material giveaways instead of cash giveaways.  As I said in an earlier blog, listeners will LOVE YOU SO MUCH for giving them cash prizes, however, after they spend that prize, they will more than likely NOT remember where it came from.  If you go with prizes that are material, such as iPads, you can engrave a personal message on the back of the iPad and every time the listener/winner looks at their gift, they will remember where the gist came from!

 

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ALWAYS GIVE BACK

It’s 8:30 at night as I write this.  And I’ve just gotten home from a mixer for our local area broadcasters hall of fame.

No, I am not an inductee.  Far from it.  I am a board member, though and am honored to be a part of it. 

It is always a great time to be able to get with these folks.  People with whom I have worked in this job or that.  People I work with today.  People with whom I have competed with and against for many years. 

Unlike some markets I’ve worked in, in my town…we are competitive from 9 to 5.  But when the whistle blows, we are colleagues.  Even friends.  And I am proud to be around these people.  They are my broadcasting brothers and sisters.  We all share a special bond. 

The getting up at oh dark thirty to be on the air by 5.  The snowstorms and tornado coverage.  Morning drive.  Afternoon Drive.  Middays. Nights. Overnights.  The remotes. The concerts. The circuses. 

Still, we are finding it’s hard to get younger folks in the business to be part of an organization like this.  So, let me put a shout out to you young guys.  I know radio can be a nomadic life.  You may not be working in the town you’ll eventually settle down in.  But if you’re working, you are a part of this business and the fabric of your community.  So, take the time to get involved.  You are a part of broadcasting in your town.  You DO make a difference in people’s lives. 

And someday…who knows?  Maybe there’s a plaque on a wall with your picture on it in your future.  Someday, all that hard work of yours may be recognized by your colleagues and peers

But, it doesn’t happen unless you find the time to be involved with that organization in your town. 

 

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I'LL BE BACK AFTER THIS

Or so I thought. I never try to get my hopes up when I think an interview went well. Jinx? Or too full of "what ifs". But I do get my hopes up that some of the narrow-minded hiring managers would at least acknowledge my application or God forbid, let me know of its status. I know, it's asking a lot in the current industry state. It's sad when you get a timely reply from someone and you feel like the kid that got a shiny new bike for Christmas. 
 
One of my rules of job interviews, like a Bro Code, #25: Always be sure that the interview itself, lasts at least 30 minutes longer than the drive it took to get there. 
 
#43: Make eye contact, smile and give a firm handshake upon greeting and leaving. I know it sounds silly but you can be all keyed up when you get in the car. But sell yourself from start to finish.
 
#58: If they ask you to do weird stuff, do it. Well as long as it's not, like, weird weird. They want you jump in a prod room and record a few breaks (even though they've heard your demo), write some prep, or try the receptionist's homemade fruitcake. 
 
And #1: Don't give yourself an ulcer. Personally, I think I own stock in Ta-Ta-Ta-Ta...Tums.

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LISA LISA GOES COUNTRY

When I was a wee teen broadcaster wanna be, I idolized two female radio jocks in the area.   I was able to hear some great stations from Detroit, Flint and Saginaw Michigan.  Both were the most amazing CHR jocks(on amazing stations).  Probably, the most amazing talents, I have ever heard in my life.

Lisa Lisa Orlando and Juli Jay!  *swoons*  Both were gravelly voiced goddesses who ruled CHR radio.  Juli was on WTCF out of Saginaw Michigan "100.5 The FOX" and Lisa Lisa was on 93-1 WDRQ out of Detroit. 

Juli moved on from 100.5 The FOX in 1999 when the stations were bought by another broadcaster who changed the format.  Lisa Lisa had a long run on WDRQ until its sudden change to Doug FM on April Fools Day.  It was no joke.  Listeners were disenfranchised and did not think it was very funny. 

I never heard Juli again on the radio, from what I understand she was on MIX 104 in Minneapolis & she also had a successful run on a morning news station in Minneapolis doing traffic on TV.  Lisa Lisa being a Detroit native stayed in Detroit and did some time on stations like104.3 WOMC and WDTW 106.7 The Beat-- which again abruptly flipped format displacing this gravelly goddess of the microphone. 

 

I was thrilled to hear that she will be returning this Sunday to Cumulus Media's NASH FM 93.1 doing ICON weekends.  Tune in this Sunday at 3PM EST to hear "Detroit's Funky First Lady" take on an Iconic shift on WDRQ.  Welcome home Lisa Lisa, we'll always leave the light on for you.  www.nashfm931.com to stream the station live.   

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HOW TO MAKE A VOICE TRACKED SHOW SOUND LIVE

“There is no way a voice tracked radio show can sound live.”  

I hear it all the time from old hand radio pros (most who no longer work in the business and have never worked in today’s computer generated radio).  And here’s my answer: 

BULL HOCKEY! 

Now, of course there’s a caveat here.  If you work for a company which forces you to track shows in 20 or 30 markets across different time zones each day, your options are extremely limited.  And, I’m sorry to say, you probably work for one of those heavily indebted companies which have cut to the nub (and too far IMHO) to make good, local sounding radio.  You’re doing the best you can in a bad situation and you have my sympathies. 

On the other hand, if you track your local market every day, making it sound live and in the moment is actually easy. 

It all boils down to 2 words: show prep. 

Just like a morning show preps, so too should a voice tracked shift. And you should never track more than about 1 day ahead unless you have no other choice. You should look at the weather forecast to see what conditions will prevail around your area as you’re on the air.  You don’t have to fake “specifics” (nor should you), you don’t have to give fake current temperatures.  You can, over an intro on a sunny day say, “Hey isn’t the weather looking great today? Great day for a walk…We’re expecting highs near 65.” Obviously, though if weather conditions could be uncertain, the less specific you can be. (“There’s a chance of some rain here and there today.  Keep the umbrella handy if you’re going out.”) 

Do send ups to towns, businesses and schools in the region.  Know the school mascots names.  Make it a point to know how to pronounce EVERYTHING properly.  You can be in LanCASTer, Pennsylvania, or LANKuhster, Ohio.  They’re both spelled the same, but are pronounced differently. 

If you have a talkover that falls just past the hour, you can say, “It’s just past 8” (or whatever).  

If you track out of market, but in the region…learn everything you can about the city you’re tracking for. Check their daily newspaper online.  You may find a church carnival is going on, or a school fundraiser. And you can talk about that stuff.  You can go to weather.gov and get an approximate hour by hour look at the forecast with conditions. 

If there’s a big game or concert going on, relate to it!  Even if you can’t do real time scores, you can certainly let people know what’s happening there.

 

Talk about the music.  Visit artists Facebook pages and like them.  Subscribe to their Twitter feeds. And subscribe to the Twitter feeds of local schools and their athletic departments.  Sometimes you can get an afternoon sports score that you can use on your tracked show that evening.

Above all…be in the moment.  Think about what your listeners are probably doing while you’re on the air, and talk about it if you can.

You can come up with a lot of local relatable information that makes you sound local…and if you work hard enough at it…most listeners will have no idea you’re not there. 

It just takes prep. 

 

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THE SOUND

I'm still pounding on doors trying to get a gig. Sadly, I heard Tuesday that other friends were caught in budget cuts too.  I know it's hard out here, but there are jobs. I, however want to stay in Michigan for my daughter.  Better yet in town, but that's yet to be seen. 

 

Remember the radio station on "That 70's Show"? WFPP The Sound.  "And you're listening to Jerry Thunder".  One PD who will remain anonymous has turned me away because, "you don't have the sound I'm looking for". 

 

What? I don't have WHAT sound? What sound are you looking for?  I listen to that station. It's local. So I did what many of you should do, not just follow up, but with tenacity. I sent an email to him today explaining I didn't understand that statement he last gave me in 2012. To paraphrase, I told him I had the sound ..... when I worked there before for 3 years!  I had the "sound" when I did CHR in Kansas City for 8 years and 3 years in Denver. When I did Classic Rock and Hot AC in Omaha for 4 years. When I did Country in San Diego for 3 years and in Nashville. I have whatever sound the PD wants for whatever the format.  My "sound" hasn't changed in 20 years. I'm adaptable to any station needed.

 

My point is that either they think I'm out of their price range, which I'm not. Or they don't realize what a seasoned pro can bring to their party.  That's too bad.  Unless, they wan't a young jock with no idea how to prep, or a yuk-fest morning show that laughs at themselves more than the audience.

 

I'm not trying to be self-serving, just saying TELL ME WHAT SOUND YOU WANT!  Offer to do a weekend shift so they can hear what you can do, then tell me I'm "not the sound you're looking for". You might be surprised that you and I are.   I did that in the 1980's at WLOL in Minneapolis. I did that in Seattle, guest co-hosting the morning show. I batted .500 in those offers. 

 

The Sound.  More than the talent, it's the sound of the station the audience is looking for. The Sound of Music.  If you blend with it, you can go all VonTrapp on their ass. Good luck kids. 

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IS NO THE FINAL ANSWER?

Is NO the final answer?  This is a question that most of us often think in the back of our minds.  No, there isn't a promotional budget for your radio station.  No, there isn't room for a raise in the budget this year.  No, you are not qualified for this position.  No, you may NOT use this content during your show.

 

The list above are the most common NO'S that each of us get pretty frequently.  I know, getting a NO from your superior isn't really what you expected to pop up in the card deck, but, sometimes, this is how the cookies crumble.

 

The object of the game is to get past those NO'S!  If you cannot get a YES, DON'T GIVE UP!  You should continue on your goal to achieve any goal you have set for yourself.  If you get a NO the first time, rework the proposal and try to resubmit it.  If you get passed for a promotion, TRY AGAIN.  If you get shot down for an on air radio promotion, try to rework it.

 

The key here is to STAY POSITIVE, no matter what the situation.  You do NOT want your superiors to view you as impossible.  If you can't get anywhere with your goal, no matter what you try to do, consider finding a different position, either within the current company, or, in the extreme alternative, another company that has the same beliefs that you have.  Then, there will hopefully NOT be as many NO'S!

 

Lastly, remember that most of us have gone through much worse, so this is a drop in a very small bucket.  Just remember that someone out there has a need for your specific skill set, they just haven't met you yet.  Eventually, you will meet that person and a situation will present itself that will be commensuate with the experience that you have under your belt!!

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WORKING YOUR CONNECTIONS

We're all heard the adage, when it comes to getting jobs "it's all about who you know."

It's so true especially in today's broadcast world.  For example; someone I have worked with on various projects since like 2008 or so has come though with tons of paying opportunities over the years.  Had I not networked with him over the years and taken part in the various ventures and media opportunities.  None of these other things would have ever popped up.

 

It's so important to consistently network and work work work, to build your brand in the process.

Work all of your connections, take part in freebie pro bono  projects, hone your craft.  All of these things are so important as the industry gets smaller and smaller.  The opportunities become fewer and fewer.  Expand all of your possibilities by using all forms of social media to meet other like minded people that you can help, and that can help you to expand your brand and yours.  These seeds you plant by networking always come to harvest.  Get out there and be your best...And BUILD YOUR BRAND while doing what it is we all love.

 

 

Happy Networking!!!!

 

 

Booker


Program Director/Air Talent

Thebombfm.listen2myradio.com

Hits from 2K & Today! 

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YES THERE IS REAL RADIO OUT THERE

To listen to some of the critics (and old hands who should know better before commenting), you’d think the 3 or 4 big players in radio own all of the stations. 
And nothing could be farther from the truth.
Yes, the big three or 4 have their own way of doing things.  Some things I agree with, some other things I don’t. 
But there are still companies out there who hire local people and have locally produced morning shows and hire announcers and air talent who are not voice tracked from out of town.
Maybe they’re not all live 24/7, but they’re there.  In markets across the U.S. 
There are still people investing in radio stations in small town America. I know one owner who has rejected multiple attempts by a big consolidator to buy him out. He has an AM/FM combo with a translator for the AM in a small town in Ohio. And he does OK, trying to own his home county and one nearby. 
There’re lots of challenges in owning a small town station these days…mainly because the “regional rep” groups that once existed to put national ads on those station (as well as regional advertising) are very hard to find anymore, if they exist at all.  So that’s really radio at the retail level…getting out and taking good care of local customers and getting your staff (probably all two or three of them, including the newsperson) out in the community shaking hands and doing good things at what probably could be better pay.  But they love it because it is radio and it is local. 
I know an owner of a station in a town not far from Columbus, Ohio.  He and his wife invested in an AM station. (Give them credit for that…that is a REAL leap of faith these days.)  He has a translator now, too.  Took the two of them several years to get the ship afloat, but they did it.  Sometimes it was nip and tuck, especially trying to operate a local radio station in the shadow of a market with about 40-50 signals in it, but they proved local radio in a small town works, too. 
Yes, some of these stations are satellite sisters for the most part.  But, they have local programming, high school and college sports and even the old venerable, “tradio” shows.  And it still works. 
But, these stations also have active websites, even if they don’t stream.  They’re on Facebook and Twitter and engage with their listeners every day.  They know they have to be a part of the digital revolution and are doing what they can. 
You still don’t have to be a biggie to be a big hometown success. 
Why?  Because radio still works. 
 
 

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THE SOUND

I'm still pounding on doors trying to get a gig. Sadly, I heard Tuesday that other friends were caught in budget cuts too.  I know it's hard out here, but there are jobs. I, however want to stay in Michigan for my daughter.  Better yet in town, but that's yet to be seen. 

 

Remember the radio station on "That 70's Show"? WFPP The Sound.  "And you're listening to Jerry Thunder".  One PD who will remain anonymous has turned me away because, "you don't have the sound I'm looking for". 

 

What? I don't have WHAT sound? What sound are you looking for?  I listen to that station. It's local. So I did what many of you should do, not just follow up, but with tenacity. I sent an email to him today explaining I didn't understand that statement he last gave me in 2012. To paraphrase, I told him I had the sound ..... when I worked there before for 3 years!  I had the "sound" when I did CHR in Kansas City for 8 years and 3 years in Denver. When I did Classic Rock and Hot AC in Omaha for 4 years. When I did Country in San Diego for 3 years and in Nashville. I have whatever sound the PD wants for whatever the format.  My "sound" hasn't changed in 20 years. I'm adaptable to any station needed.

 

My point is that either they think I'm out of their price range, which I'm not. Or they don't realize what a seasoned pro can bring to their party.  That's too bad.  Unless, they wan't a young jock with no idea how to prep, or a yuk-fest morning show that laughs at themselves more than the audience.

 

I'm not trying to be self-serving, just saying TELL ME WHAT SOUND YOU WANT!  Offer to do a weekend shift so they can hear what you can do, then tell me I'm "not the sound you're looking for". You might be surprised that you and I are.   I did that in the 1980's at WLOL in Minneapolis. I did that in Seattle, guest co-hosting the morning show. I batted .500 in those offers. 

 

The Sound.  More than the talent, it's the sound of the station the audience is looking for. The Sound of Music.  If you blend with it, you can go all VonTrapp on their ass. Good luck kids. 

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STATION PROMOTIONS: WHAT MAKES SENSE AND WHAT IS A WASTE!

Most radio stations in today's competitive landscape DO NOT have promotional budgets, however, there are a few stations that remain with some type of a promotional budget.  The stations that do NOT have a promotional budget get creative, inviting their clients to partner with them to make a good station promotion.

 

The first thing that most stations want to give away is MONEY!  Why?  Because, they believe that if they are giving away money, the listeners will stick with them, which increases TSL and cume.  While those are valid reasons to give away money as a station promotion, what is the actual ROI?  While there may be ROI from a cash promotion, what is the long term ROI?

 

Giving away cash prizes on a radio station is not a total fail, but prizes that create that permanent connection between the listener and your radio station is the direction that radio stations should consider moving forward.  When I was in Upstate New York as a VP/Programming, the owner loved to do cash giveaways.  One question.  When the money that you give a listener is gone, do you think they remember for the rest of their lives where it came from?  I am sure that they file it away in their extended memory, but once the money is gone, they do not think about where it came from.

 

Consider trying prizes that will create a connection between you and your listener.  In Upstate New York, we did a conest called, "Guess The PIN, Win The iPad!"  After each person correctly guessed the PIN, they received an iPad Air, which was inscribed with the words, "Courtesy of Pembrook Pines Media and 94 Rock."  So, every time the listeners that won the iPads pick up the iPad, they will remember that they won that iPad by listening to 94 Rock and guessing the PIN.  They will also think about what they can win by listening for the next contest as well.  

 

There are several things that your station can do to create a long lasting relationship with your listeners.  One contest that comes to mind that generates listening and preps millennials for your station as well is a contest where the parents listen and tell the radio station why their child's school deserves your radio station to come their child's school to read a story, followed by a pizza party with the entire class or school that you read to.  Yes, this takes time out of your business day and you get to spend the day with lots of little people, but the children will NEVER forget that you came from your radio station, read them a story and provided them a pizza party.  The parents will never forget, either.  Furthermore, you WILL gain new listeners by making a committment like this to your local schools.

 

Once again, there are several things that can be done, but CASH MONEY is not the best way to get new listeners and retain your current audience. With a little creativity and elbow grease, you can come up with a super cool station promotion that will ensure that your listeners remember your station forever!

 

 

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USING THE UNFAMILIAR VOICE

I decided to launch a CHR format in the land of 100,000 stations online and needed a voice that would set MY brand apart. But be versatile enough to play POP, Dance and Rap and encompass all of the different sounds of Today's HIT music, without being odd between certain records. I chose a guy off Voice 123 that wasn't over used or over branded flexible and more than available to experiment and have fun with different reads.


 

Not that I have anything with anything against any of today's major CHR brand leader vo's. I found a guy from my home town of Detroit that had a non accented delivery and actually enjoyed doing his work and got into it sending often times a few diff reads, in a day and age of 1 page equals one page. John Zadikian's website had me excited to program a CHR.  


 

Todays music encompasses a variety of diff sounds from modern to rock to AC to even RAP.. I was beyond thrilled to find someone whose voice could cover all the bases at a price even someone at the lower level of broadcasting could afford and I'm sure that my station sounds better than your's nanananananan. 


 

Want a BoMB deal? Reach out to my VO dude John Zadikian competitive based on market to hear more of his work listen online www.thebombfm.listen2myradio.com

 

 


 

Twitter@JohnZadikian Email@ zman6754@aol.com Linked In: John Zadikian

 

 

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John Zadikian

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THE GEEKY KIDS WIN ONE

I’ve heard this so often in the radio business.  Many of us on air types, contrary to what some of our listeners may like to think, were NOT the most popular kids in school.

In fact, many of us were the geeky kids…the ones that got picked on, pranked, and pushed around.  And in schools where your first introduction to the business was in the high school radio station (Ah! Those 10 watt FM wonders!), you might really have gotten teased.  I mean…is someone who wants to sit in a room for hours a day talking to himself/herself…normal?

But, then again, WE were the kids who would go to the office and, assuming we had worked hard to get it, would grab the latest package of records that came in the mail, and head for the station with the new Led Zeppelin, Average White Band, Rolling Stones, you name it…album in your hand. 

That usually got our friends attention. 

We were the class clowns, the ones that were never expected to do much in life.

Or, we were the shy ones, until something broke us out of the mold.

For me, that was getting involved in high school musicals. And over four years, I did something like 15 of them.

I did bit and chorus parts and starring roles in shows like “Lil’ Abner”, “Babes In Toyland”, “Oliver”, “The Sound Of Music” and a few shows I can’t quite remember at the moment.

But my most remembered role…was one I never expected to get.  And wasn’t sure I could actually play the role, until I did it.  And it changed my life.

Our school was to do “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown”, the musical based on Charles Shultz classic “Peanuts” coming strip.  I thought I was a shoo in to play Charlie Brown.  I could relate to the role.  I was the clumsy, almost socially held back kid who was sure people really didn’t like me.  Asking a girl to go with me to the dance almost never happened, because I just didn’t think that little red headed girl would say yes.

The director of our musicals thought otherwise.  And when the roles were cast, I had the part...of Snoopy.

I was kinda surprised.  Snoopy was an “out there” part.  Snoopy never talks to the cast in the show...just always to the audience in those “thought balloons” you always read in the comic strip.  He’s funny.  He dances.  He sings and had a show stopping number dancing around the food dish in “Suppertime”.   It just didn’t seem like me.

But, our director had seen me as a freshman in his drama class.  He realized, I was a “ham” at heart.  And he had me “over dramatize” almost every line, gesture, and dance step.  So, I hammed it up.

The first night, at the show’s end, I got the standing ovation.  By the third night, the “Suppertime” song got a standing O…and I got another at the end of the show. We even took the show on the road to other schools for about ten performances.  I stopped the show every single night.  And a couple months later, won the “Best Actor Award” for that role.  And my classmates still call me “Snoopy”, and send me Peanuts cartoons on my birthday.

And after the show’s run was done, I was no longer the geeky, shy kid. The person I really was came out of the shell, took to a microphone, and has never looked back.

All because one of my teachers believed in me.  I’m sure you probably had one of those teachers, too.

Treasure them.  They helped guide you more than you know.   

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RADIO THEN AND RADIO NOW

I loved going to work at KMAJ-FM and V-100 in the mid 90's.  My boss, John Lee Hooker, had me running the Leeza Gibbon's countdown on Sunday afternoons and I was the overnight person on V-100.  It was a great experience.  Back then, we used CD's and carts, yet, it was magical, because I had control of what was going out over the air, one CD or cart at a time.

 

Lots has changed since CD's, carts, records, etc.  Disc Jockeys were actually DISC JOCKEYS.  Radio stations would come do live remotes in these really big "JOCK BOXES," such as the live remote box that KMAJ-FM used to have back in the day.  Back then, there had to be someone in the studio pressing buttons and controlling the volume of your Marti, as there was no such thing as a Comrex that ran over an IP, just Marti's and the use of the cell phone to call in your remote breaks.

 

Radio was great back then, but has so much potential to be EVEN BETTER today.  It is all in how you represent your brand.

 

I had a conversation with a gentleman over the weekend that is a former radio DISC JOCKEY.  He was pretty accurate in his assessment that there are lots of RADIO HOSTS and ON AIR TALENTS, but the days of the good ole RADIO DISC JOCKEY have come to an end.  I wasn't sure how to take his comment.  In the beginning, it felt as if someone was stabbing me in the chest with a knife.  As I had a chance to digest what he was saying, I had to bow down and agree that 95% of what he was saying to my face was the truth.

 

While radio has changed tremendously over the years, there are still opportunities to have fun and involve your listeners.  These listeners use you, THEIR FRIEND, to get through the work day.  These listeners rely on your recommendations for products that they consume daily.  If ever General Mills would create Greg "The Hitman" Williams cereal and sell it is Wichita, Kansas exclusively, there would be none left on the shelf.  If someone were to put "The Bert Show" as an entree' at any Atlanta restaurant, they would run out of supplies.  One more.......if they were to name a ride at World's of Fun after Rocket and Teresa in Kansas City, you could expect a delay in ride times.  The on-air talent mentioned above are TRUE PROFESSIONALS and continue to entertain the masses in their listening area.  Without them..........without their suggestions, some listeners would be lost.  This is because they understand what it takes to keep their listeners informed, excited and tuned to their radio stations.

 

In closing, yes, radio is not what it used to be.  Even though radio has changed, continue to take every chance you can to entertain your listeners and talk to them, as most of them truly are your friends, enjoy spending time with you on the radio and will take your advice, most times, before they will take advice from a loved one, in many cases.

 

 

 

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NEVER STOP LEARNING

My boyfriend has subjected me to watching the Oscars. I can't believe they're a thing. So boring. So here I am, writing my blog. I've been sitting here trying to figure out what I want to write about, but I don't really know. I thought about doing a blog on "Creating Content VS Regurgitating It," but, eh…I haven't quite fully developed my thoughts on it, because it's actually something I too, am learning about currently. It's difficult to give a whole picture when you don't know all the pieces yourself. 
 
So, there we go. That's the topic for this week. In radio, never stop learning. (Cue Peter Griffin, "I love when they say the name of the title in the movie!"). It's pretty simple, in theory. Never stop learning. You would think, at least? Here's the thing though, I have met people that for some reason, stop learning. I don't know, maybe it's the bit of ego that exists in all radio personalities…like we had some traumatizing childhood moment and we somehow find fulfillment through doing radio. Needless to say, show me a radio personality and I'll show you someone who was probably picked on as a kid. Somewhere along the way we ended up using all that jadedness and spunk to land a pretty cool gig. 
 
But, that doesn't mean we can stop learning. Once we stop learning, we begin to stop growing and once we stop growing, we fail to be able to keep up with the industry and find ourselves either jobless or sitting in redundancy. I get a lot of compliments from people telling me how talented I am. I appreciate that, but I am the queen of low self esteem. While I do agree that there is something special in regards to me as a talent, I do think I have ample room to grow. If I really want to, I can sit back and nit pick apart my shows. Instead, I allow others to do it. Mostly because, show me a radio personality and I'll show you a person picked on as a kid….meaning, I like to tell myself I'm amazing all the time. 
 
It doesn't really matter which position you hold in the radio world, there are plenty of ways to learn and grow. As a talent, however, I suggest sending your audio out and be open to constructive criticism. If a PD or an SVP hits you back it means they think you have some sort of talent that is expandable. If they don't hit you back, they don't like you. Sorry to be honest, but it's the truth. When they do hit us back though, we need to take their direction and apply it. That's when opportunities happen. When we have the dedication to actually hear or read the words directing us to be better talents and then send audio back showing such, we open the door to better opportunities. 
 
For example, one time I sent my audio off to a PD. I didn't hear from the PD for a few days and when I did, I was sent a long email of things that I could possibly work on to be better in PPM. The conversation led to even more discussion about where I was currently and when I'd be able to "talk" about other opportunities. This is because I took the direction, used it and showed that I did. In return, I have doors open if need be. This is the most important thing that we can do for ourselves in an unstable industry where jobs are few and far in-between and gone in an instance. Not only does our ability to learn and grow effect our current gig, but it effects our future gigs, as well. 
 
My suggestion? Request aircheck meetings from your PDs weekly. Also, make a new demo every few weeks and send it out to PDs that your colleagues refer you to or that you know of. Like I said, if they like you, they'll hit you back, if they don't…well put together another demo and send it out. There are plenty of people in the radio industry willing to give advice. The difference between those that are successful and those that are not is if a person is willing to take the advice. 
 
Need people to send audio to that would give you great direction? Hit me up on FB…chillin with zann. 
 

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STAY FOCUSED ON THE PRIZE AND MAKE THE ASK

Always stay focused on the prize.  This is a piece of advise that one of my mentors reminds me of every other day.  I know that sometimes it can feel as if nothing you do can get you there, but trust me, that is so far from wrong.

 

Radio is what we all want to do.  We want to do the very best that we can do at everything that we do, because our name is on that project.  Projects come my way every day.  Some of these projects are not within the scope of my duties, but I do them anyways.  There is a reason that my superiors come to me to do certain projects, even if they are not part of my job description.  That reason is, they know that they can count on me to get the job done, with no error.  When you superiors trust you enough to do these types of projects, you would expect that it is because they see your talents and know that no matter what, you'll complete the project and it will glow.  NOT ALWAYS THE CASE.  Most times, your superiors will give you projects to do, because they know you can do them, many times, not able to do them themselves, due to time constraint.  

 

You MUST always stay focused and "make the ask," when the time is appriopriate.  There are lots of NEW THINGS going on around me in my current employment situation.  I find that staying focused on your projects and the things that are happening around you will put you in the best possible situation to take the next step in your career with your employer.  If your employer knows that they can count on you, but they do not come to you to ask of your interest in a position that is currently available within the company, YOU MUST GO MAKE THE ASK for the position that you desire.  I have made the ask several times, including a few times in the last week.

 

You must ALWAYS be prepared to get an answer to your ASK that is not what you wanted to hear.  When you get that answer, or you feel that the person that you made the ask to is unsure that you are a good fit, you must share with them why you feel that you are the correct fit.  In one instance where I have recently made the ask, I felt that the person on the other end felt that I had really great experience, but not the experience that was desired, due to the volume of revenue that the radio stations generated.  My response to that individual spotlighted the experience and success that I have enjoyed over the last twenty-one years, but with a bit of a twist that went like this:

 

"I will bring to light something I have learned throughout my 21 years in this business called the “Permission Paradox.”  I have good experience, but not necessarily enough experience when it comes to the volume of the market, however, I will never be able to get the experience, unless I can land the position to show my skill………quite the conundrum, but something that I believe I can overcome, if given the opportunity. While the Permission Paradox is paralyzing at times, I would love the opportunity to beat the odds."

 

PERMISSION PARADOX.  Look that up.  This can come in real handy when you are trying to take the next step in your career and you know that you have the tools to perform the duties that are being asked of you, but the person on the other end is not sure that you are capable of handling the task that they are hiring for.  The hiring manager must be content with you and the experience that you bring to the table.  This also shows that I am focused on the prize!

 

The prize will come.  Stay focused and prove yourself with your current prize, as the prize will only get bigger as you continue to "MAKE THE ASK!"

 

 

 

 

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TAKING CHANCES

When you play the lottery, you are taking a chance.  If you win the multi-million dollar jackpot, life changes.  If you don't, you just keep trying, hoping that one day you will win the BIG PRIZE!  Now, let's apply this thought process to radio.

 

Radio, it is OK to take chances.  Some chances are going to be huge, but some are so minute that it really doesn't make sense not to at least try something new.

 

Let me share an example.  I happen to know several talented broadcasters that are currently stuck in their current situation, because they can't convince someone to take a chance on their skill set.  In particular, a gentleman that works on our editorial staff has years of programming and management experience.  He recently decided that he was going to make a change in his career that would get him in a better position to ascend within his company.  The position was an Operations position in a larger market than he has ever been an Operations Manager in.  He got the interview, and nailed it, but feared that he might not get the opportunity to show his skills, because concern was present that he hadn't been an Operations Manager in a market of that size or dealt with the revenues that come into this market annually. 

 

Barack Obama had no foreign policy experience, but was elected to the presidency for two terms.  There are CEO's that are running broadcast companies that did not have any radio experience, but the respective companies thought felt it was a good idea to put these leaders at the helm of their companies.  If broadcast companies are going to take these types of chances with executive leadership, wouldn't you think they'd be open to taking some chances within the operation?

 

The one thing that you MUST always do is make the ask.  If you don't raise your hand and ask someone to take a chance on you, you may miss the opportunity to show your true skill set.  As for the radio broadcast companies, they should be willing to take some chances on their loyal staff as well.  I can't stress the importance of this.  If you don't recognize talent and take chances, you stand the chance of your really seasoned performers jumping ship and going to your competitior, who will give them a chance to show their skill set.

 

Make your pitch.  Make the ask.  Be persistent.  You don't have anything to lose!

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THE DEATH OF LATE NIGHT RADIO

Flipping through the radio dial after midnight is sad.  Where used to be a fertile training ground for up and coming baby dj's, has turned into song, sweeper, song, sweeper, song, sweeper, segue, sweeper, song, segue, promo, spots, ID and repeat.

 

 

 

I can't possibly be the only one who misses the sound of having someone on the radio after midnight.  There have been some great syndicated programs in the past like After Midnight with Blair Garner, and The All Nite Cafe to name a few.  But lately it seems like there is NOTHING on the FM dial after midnight that is compelling to listen to.

 

I would rather have someone who is up and coming with something interesting or unpolished to say than the sterile, rehearsed, homogenized sound of imaging and songs the station plays regularly during the day -- minus the human connection.  I wish we could get back to the days of having a late nite personality on the radio connecting with people, even voicetracked or syndicated.  It's that human element that is missing.

 

Radio programmers please consider those who work 3rd shift, give them a reason to be passionate even tho it is not a rated daypart that sells a ton of spots.  Its about cohesiveness and injecting that human element.  There has to be a part time jock on your schedule that would love the opportunity to grace your airwaves in the graveyard shift, someone you could cultivate to be your next night or afternoon personality.  

 

I hope as an industry we get back to having around the clock personalities on the radio in big and small markets alike.  I know its hard in the days of limited budgets and doing more with less but there has to be someone dying for the chance to be on after midnite and give your station a personality in the land of segue, sweeper, segue, sweeper...Lets bring back the late nite DJ.

 

Follow me on Twitter @VegasBooker

     www.Facebook.com/RadioBooker 

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PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION TURMOIL

No, this is not a political post.  But, if you work in a talk radio station, it is your station’s season.  Regardless of what you think about the program hosts on your station, be they right, left or center and their views of the state of America and its role in the world, if you’re doing your job as a radio station, this is the BIG year.

But realize what this entails.

No matter what you do, someone will object to something someone (program host, newscaster, reporter) says on your radio station…at least once or twice...or more.  Happened to me a few Presidential election cycles ago.

The phone rings.  I answer.  The voice on the other line says, “Uh, you guys have been running this commercial for (candidate). Are you aware that the statement they make that says the candidate supports (insert issue) is a total lie?”

I answer truthfully. “I don’t know that to be the case, but it wouldn’t surprise me.”

Listener thunders back: “THEN WHY DON’T YOU GUYS DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT? THAT JUST PROVES YOU GUYS ARE IN THE POCKET OF (CANDIDATE). YOU’RE BIASED!”

Listeners never know anything about the rules of political advertising. You know…the one that says on candidate sponsored ads, “radio stations cannot edit political ads for any reason”. I explain the rules to the gentleman and tell him the truth.  “If you want to know who to blame for this, call your Congressman.  It was Congress who directed the FCC to write the rules this way.  They can lie all they want on a candidate-sponsored ad and we can do nothing about it.” 

I’m not sure if he believed me or not, but at least he didn’t slam the phone down when he hung up.

At our station, we are very careful about equal time. We’ve done the “Candidate Show” the Sunday afternoon before election day.  We invite EVERY local candidate to call in on a dedicated phone line attached to a voice mail, where the local candidate can record a 2 minute message to the voters explain why he or she should get their vote.

Now, you would think any candidate would climb all over themselves for 2 minutes of free airtime right before the election, right?  We have to e-mail reminders to candidates multiple times and still there are times when some just don’t call.

We’d love to extend such a thing to the Presidential candidates. But I’ve learned from experience that some (and I won’t mention names) will gladly come on the local music station for the “boxers or briefs” interview.  But they absolutely, positively will NOT even when invited, come on the local talk station.  And what amazes me is they do that even when there would be no questions!   Oh well, we tried.

So, put on the shoulder pads, helmet and shin guards…here we head toward November.  I make no predictions about what will happen…because, believe me anything CAN happen in the political climate we’re in these days.  Anyone who thinks they know what’s going to happen is likely sadly mistaken.

As for me?  I only know that next September, our town will be hosting the first Presidential debate. Yikes, I’m sure that day will be a political zoo!  And I know that on January 20th of next year, there will be a new face with a hand on the Bible.  That person will be a man or woman, young or older, a pillar of government or business or some combination of both.

And the best day for us at work?  The morning after the election in November.  That’s when the phones go quiet, and we stop getting yelled at as the partisans either sleep off the glow of their candidate’s big win, or lick their wounds after their candidate’s big defeat. 

But that day, in a talk station, is blessedly, a quiet one.  I can’t wait. 

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STAR SEARCH

I had an in person interview this week. Traveling 2 and a half hours gave me time to think about how to handle it.  It's been a while and it was with a company I previously worked for. It didn't end well, so I didn't know what to expect. I've talked with the OM before when I was a budget cut. So I knew who I was dealing with, and promising to stay in state for my daughter, about how to handle the travel if I got the job. It's funny to me how people apologize for their facilities. Considering what I've worked in the last 4 years, it was the Taj Mahal. And surprisingly somewhat, the culture of the company I left, seemed better.  Doing ultra small market and public media, I've missed having what most corporate radio jocks take for granted. Bonuses, and talent fees.  I haven't seen that since 2009.  

 

I was asked "will you miss being a manager"? NO. I want to help where I can but I'm just wanting to be an air personality again. I met my potential co-host, who is already in place. And for the first time, since I didn't have current tape, was asked to record some breaks with her to see how we would mesh.  I was a little nervous but the strangest thing happened.

 

We talked for 5 minutes, then she had some content to choose from, and we decided what would work best. And she was the lead.  I played the second for the first time in 30 years since Q104 in Kansas City when I was a Morning Zoo player. Some would think that ego would kick in. Taking back seat to a female lead. Nope.  Once we got in there, it was comfortable. I was hired into a couple of jobs where I was forced a partner and there was no chemistry.

 

I was told in one position "we don't care about your chemistry, we just want your talent." Yeah, that didn't work. 

 

It's all about chemistry. You're in a box for 4-5 hours a day and work towards a common goal. If you don't have the same goal, then it isn't happening. But I hope I get this gig because I really liked her and respected her talent and place in the market. Be the lead. I had my ride on that for a long time. It's not sour, it's not me relenting, it's me saying hey we're both good, but I don't need to do that anymore. I just want to be part of something good. If that was an indication, those 20 minutes in the production room, hashing out prep and how to finish the break, was good. I'd like to be there.

 

But it's not my choice. But it's my learning curve. So bend people. You don't have to be what you've been to be better.

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THE STORY OF MURRAY

Murray wasn't young by any means. Probably retired and working to scrape by as the security guard of my building, Murray was an older man, in at least his 60s that worked Friday and Saturday nights downstairs to keep away the rift raft and allow the rift raft that lived in the building to feel a little safer in downtown Dallas. Okay, let's be honest, what is a guy in his 60s gonna do if ish really goes down? Probably not much. But, the reality is, Murray was much more than a security guard. For most of the people in the building…he was a friend. He was a guy that saw a drunk dude and took them home to their apartment. He is also the type of guy that would just listen. Maybe you would be having a lonely night…it didn't matter, Murray always made time to make you feel like you mattered in some form. 

 

A couple of Friday nights ago, my boyfriend and I ordered a pizza. The pizza deliverer was a real douche and made me actually greet him at his car window, pay him and retrieve the pizza in the most unprofessional way. Well, okay, maybe not the most professional…but, not necessarily what's suggested in the employee manual, I'm sure. After retrieving my pizza, I headed back into the lobby, where Murray stood in his tiny office, with the door open (the door was always open) and he said, "have a good night!" I replied back with, "you too, man! Looks crazy out there!" That would be last thing I say to Murray. It would also be the last time I would see him. He passed away the next week. 

 

I'll be honest, I didn't know Murray like most people did in the building. In fact, when my friend from the 3rd floor texted me about his passing and referred to him by name, I had no idea who he was until after she told me. I didn't know him by name. Just by experience. But, the people in the building…they knew him. It didn't take long for news to spread about Murray's passing. The tiny office where Murray would hang and monitor the building from began to be garnished with roses and cards. My friend Erika said it best, "if I could have Murray as a father, I would take him in an instance." Even the people like myself, Murray had a way of creating experiences and moments for people that he wasn't obligated to. 

 

I spend most of my time talking about programming, because well, I'm in programming. But, there is so much more to radio than just those that deliver breaks on air. We have a wide variety of people with different purposes working in our buildings. Digital, sales, traffic, human resources, receptionists, promotions, housekeeping and yes, talent. Each of us has a choice each day to make a positive impact on those around us. Whether it's saying good morning, buying somebody coffee or cutting a spec for a sales person, we all have that choice. We also have the choice to be a really self involved prick. Murray…he decided to be more than that. Just a guy, posted up in a security box and never once was afraid to get involved in the most positive way. In return, not one single person has one bad thing to say about Murray. In fact, he left such an impact on people that flowers and memorial pictures lay in front of the security office in his honor. Tonight was the memorial for Murray and residents spent the evening remembering a good man that made the choice to make a positive impact on those around him. What choice will you make? I'm not saying you're going to pass way but, to put in radio perspective, if you were to lose your gig today, what people remember about you? I want to be remembered for more than a face in the hall that didn't really contribute much. 

 

RIP Murray. 

 

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EVERYTHING YOU DO HAS "SHELF LIFE"

 

As a veteran air talent and Program Director of gold based music radio stations, I can tell you one thing radio (and even television stations) are bad at is saving things that reflect the station’s history. 

I worked for 2 “legendary” AM Top 40 stations which had been reworked as oldies stations, and was shocked at the difference between the two.  The one in the bigger market kept its original record library for decades.  They kept it in mint condition, even kept the card file library that had every 45 in the room.   I was amazed at the stuff that was in there (and mostly all the original “promo copies” of the 45’s).  

When the station was getting ready to sell that library, they gave me ten minutes to go in and take a couple of handfuls of 45’s.  I looked for the local and regional hits that you never find, and came away with some real gems. 

A few years back, I worked for their sister station in a smaller market.  The station was in a beautiful modern building.  Yet, their record library was, frankly, terrible.  If it wasn’t for the album library that was kept in a locked cabinet, that place might not have had song one beyond what was already on cart in the studio.  In fact, once we went to CD’s, I completely rebuilt their library. 

That station once had a printing press for printing their weekly music surveys.  And yet, they only had but a small stack of them in the music library.  And very little about the station when it was in its heyday (though, to their credit, they did keep pictures and newspaper clippings). 

I write about this because, when your station gets sold 3 or 4 times (as many have today), often times new owners will toss such things in the trash thinking it has no “shelf life”.   And they couldn’t be more wrong. 

Do you still have an air check from your first radio station?  Sorry to say that I don’t.  Nor do many of us. Probably because you remember how bad you sounded back then and, frankly don’t ever want to hear it again.  That’s why you tossed that box of cassettes out, wasn’t it? 

Got news for you.  Fast forward 30 or 40 years, you’ll wish you hadn’t done that. 

Our building has a sister TV station.  We’ve NEVER been sold.  Not once.  Our owner is the family of the guy who started the company near the turn of the 20th century.  Our AM was his first broadcast property. 

 

 

In the 70’s, a massive F-5 tornado ripped apart a bedroom community near the city.  Our stations…radio & TV…shined that day for the lifesaving coverage they provided. We’re still known for that today. 

And yet, we don’t have the first recording, audio or video from that day, save for a promotional video they produced for the company that made our weather radar.

Gone are the tapes of the daily kids show we used to produce, if they ever were recorded.  News reports from legendary reporters, a few of whom you would know because they are big stars today.  All gone. News coverage of Presidential elections with figures like John and Robert Kennedy, clips of Martin Luther King, Junior, the early astronauts, many of whom spent time at the local airbase…gone. You see, some manager in the 90’s decided we didn’t need such a big “tape room”.  So all of that history, save for a few things that I understand went to the corporate office, is no more. 

It was all chucked in a dumpster. 

Today, we see websites dedicated to the memory of a lot of great radio.  In a few cases, the stations DID save air checks, jingle packages, surveys, video clips and the like. In others, were it not for listeners who recorded the stations and saved the tapes, those memories would be lost. 

Remember…what you do, what your station is doing on the air…DOES have a shelf life. Record those important broadcasts and save them.  MP3 files don’t take that much space.  Archive them in a folder. 

A few people were thinking at our station, though.  Not long ago we were given a file by someone in the building that had a bunch of still pictures in it.  One of the pictures was of actor Gordon Jump…you know, the “Big Guy” on “WKRP In Cincinnati.”  Our TV station is a CBS affiliate which carried the show and Mr. Jump came through on a promotional tour.  And, we put him on the air, on the 6 PM newscast filling in for the weather guy.  Imagine…Arthur Carlson, the “weather specialist”!  It must have been a scream. 

I just wish we had the tape. 

So, keep those recordings, clippings and pictures. Someday, you may appreciate that you did.  

 

 

 

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I GIVE UP

It's Lenten. Friday Fish Fry, and giving up something (if it's your thing) for 40 days and nights. We can all shadow that tradition even if we aren't doing it as a Catholic.  You could use it as an exercise to get rid of bad on air or work ethic habits.

 

Crutches are for people who need them.  Lazy is for vacations. Do you always start and end breaks the same? Do you do the same features at the same time? Are you doing features that you've done for years?  Maybe now is the time to re-think how you prep your show and structure your breaks.

 

Ideas to give up for radio Lent:

---Double time checks. I still hear them. Get out of your analog world and join us in our digital one.

---Look at the late night shows for new bits, features, and games that you can engage the audience. Fallon and Corden are ripe for picking on ways to re-invent your contests and bits. I used to do a Carnac bit called "Prior Knowledge". But that became irrelevant years ago. Because, depending on your format, they have no idea what that is. 

---Do you make a comment about the song you played before getting the calls out? Always start with the calls, then go right into your comment or bit. Identify, Identify, Identify.

---Do you mail in your weekend shift? Work it as hard as you would your weekday show. Same people plus new listeners may be in the mix. Woo them.

---We work in a box. We basically talk to ourselves. That sometimes makes us unapproachable at remotes because, well, we don't talk to people. Jump out of the box and be gregarious like a stand up and gracious. 

 

In the meantime, I'm giving up not working for Lent. 

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THE GRAMMY'S

Another one of music's most important nights in now in the books.  The 58th Grammy Awards took place last night in Los Angeles, California.  While several took home various awards, Tayl;or Swift and Kendrick Lamar cleaned house with their awards, Taylor for Album of the Year for 1989.  Note that Taylor won this award in 2010 for her album "Fearless," making her the first woman to ever win Album of the Year twice.  Kendrick Lamar picked up awards for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song, and was honored for collaborating with Taylor Swift in "Bad Blood."

 

While there are those that are not very happy with the Grammy's for diversity reasons, we will intervene to say that we believe that the Grammy's did just fine with honoring those that deserved to be honored.

 

One thing that did get my attention was the "CHIEF" of the Grammy's, talking about streaming music stations and the need for artists to be paid for their performance, on radio, in person, and on streams.  If you are playing music without paying the fees, just know that they are looking for you.

 

Lady Gaga really did well with her tribute to David Bowie.  In fact, there were tons of songs involved in the tribute, which were really delivered upon.  Of course, along with David Bowie, they paid respects to Glen Frey, Mauric White, Lemmy Kilmister, and B.B. King.  Very nice memorials.

 

Of course, Lionel Richie was there and so was Adele.  I already know how that conversation went..........("Hello, is it me you're looking for," says Lionel Richie......."Hello, it's me," says Adele in response.)  They had never met each other before last night, but was finally able to get the pleasantries out of the way.

 

Lastly, LL Cool J did an OK job last night, but next year, they should look at a new host, as people want fresh faces during these type of events.

 

One thing is for certain.........it was still "Music's Biggest Night!" 

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DIRECT FORMAT COMPETITORS IN CLUSTER PROGRAMMING AND COUNTER PROGRAMMING

In the day and age of CHR, Hot AC, CHR/R and Urban sometimes in the same cluster. Sometimes the market is over saturated with one style or multiple of the same format within the market.    How are you setting your station apart? What is your niche?   For example, I live in Las Vegas. For CHR; we have:

                 

                   98.5 KLUC   KLUC FM

                104-3 NOW FM KFRH-FM

                 93-1 The Party KPLV-FM

 

They share the same artists, but that's really about it.  98.5 KLUC tends to be much more local.  Chet Buchannon and The Morning Zoo, they do a roof sit every year, where they raise several thousand dollars in cash, gift cards, bikes.  They share stories, laugh, cry, and connect with headliners from the Las Vegas strip, and the needy in our community.   It grows by the year. They are involved in the biggest events around town, they are live all day and most of the weekend.  They can be seen around town participating in life and vibing with the city.  They are active on social media, their imaging is loaded with stationality.  It's a living breathing thing.  I don't think I've ever seen 1 billboard.  They consistently win...book after book... 

 

 

Then you have NoW FM  No morning show...voicetrack city...so so imaging...no community involvement...no real stationality.  No marketing, no station events.  Lifeless.  I wonder why?  This is one of the united states most exciting cities, but there is just a flat line there. No disrespect intended toward Andy Gil or Supajames who are incredible personalities.  

 

Then we have 93-1 The Party...syndicated AM show, voicetracked shifts rest of the day.  Slick imaging, billboards, national contesting.  But there is no real connection with the community.  No community events or charitable works.  I couldn't name one DJ on there except for KANE ( who is again, syndicated).  But they just don't seem to make a dent.  

 

It comes down to the passion, creativity, creating an online personality that can interact in real-time with the members of your community

 

They share the same artists, but to listen to the 3 stations they are incredibly different.

It comes down to passion that goes into creating the product and hype.  Not so much that Yung Jon Que is live in Middays or JB is live and connected to Las Vegas in PM drive.  Any great voicetracker can connect.  

 

 It's more than just the "Funky 4" or the "Old School" Lunch Hour...it's the passion that is put into the product.  The people that live here, live it and breathe it...you can literally feel the difference.  

 

When you head into work tomorrow.  Be objective.  Is what you are doing demonstratively better than whats on up or down the dial?  If so, ask yourself why and be honest.  Ratings don't lie.  You can cut through the clutter and hand out a real ass whipping.... it's done all the time.  But ask yourself, what sets your property apart from "the other guys".  It's not about heritage anymore, the audience is there for the taking.  Go get it! 

 

follow me on Twitter  @Vegasbooker

                       Facebook www.facebook.com/bookershow

 

 

 

 

 

 

Booker

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