Friday, February 12, 2016

Need Some New Motivation? Imagine Yourself at an NFL Team Meeting

“Peer pressure is one of the greatest motivators in professional football,” former Dallas Cowboys and OU Sooners Coach Barry Switzer told the audience at the talent coaching session at this year’s Country Radio Seminar.

To make his point, Coach Switzer went on to tell the story of a particular Wednesday morning team meeting - Wednesday being the day when the entire Cowboys team would gather to watch videos of last week’s kicking game.  Everyone on the team - whether they’re part of the kicking unit or not - is present.

The video rolled and everybody watched as the individual kicking plays were shown.

It would quickly become obvious who was or was not giving their all.

As one player’s performance was called out as under-performing, Coach Switzer recalled Michael Irvin standing up and, in the presence not only of the offending player but the entire team shout, “Cut him Coach! He's going to cost us wins!"

Immediately I imagined a weekly air check meeting where everyone in the building was summoned to hear breaks from each talent’s week of shows and voice their opinions about the effort the talent was putting forth.

Knowing your work is going to be laid bare and evaluated by your teammates - not only for its in-the-moment impact, but for its positive or negative reflection on the brand and everyone associated with it now and in the future - would indeed be one heck of a motivator!

The thing is, that while we don’t generally put our on air talent through something like this (though it does give you pause), listeners do. 

And they too have a version of “Cut him, Coach!”

It goes something like: “I’m tuning out now because there must be something that's more entertaining than this.”

Hopefully we’re all aspiring to be exceptional every break (or sales call or in responding to a listener touch-point) every day. 

But a little extra motivation is never a bad thing.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Satisfaction and Switching - Listener Hot and Cold Buttons and the Impact of Switchers

Two of the many topics we track in Roadmap – A&O&B’s annual "state of country" online perceptual study – are country listeners' 1) degree of station satisfaction and 2) switching behavior.

As we shared last year in our Pre-CRS seminar, the three-year overall satisfaction level with the country stations in our survey has been consistently high with the percent of respondents reporting they were “Very Satisfied” with their country station averaging 74%.

Playing the best music, having strong and relatable talent who sound like friends, and creating a “feel good” atmosphere have topped the list of listener satisfaction "hot-buttons" for many years running. Music quantity, local DJs, and embracing new music were other qualities that ranked in the top 1/3 of listener responses.

Among listeners who expressed some level of dissatisfaction, song repetition and too many commercials were the top two reasons (again, we’ve seen these two as the top negatives for several years).  There were also concerns over music styles, music mix/chronology, and irrelevant talk/content from the talent. 

For those who were less than satisfied, we asked - among other things - about their switching habits (if any).

Here’s a slide from last year’s Roadmap 2015 presentation of the "switched-to" destinations for 18-54s, in 2014 vs. 2015.

“Another country station” (32% up from 28%), a pure play (31% also up from 28%), and a station with a format other than country (28% up from 24%) were the top responses. 

The biggest decline was “nothing in particular” which fell from 24 to 19% suggesting perhaps that listeners may be developing a self-defined hierarchy of audio alternatives. 

Sharing/switching is an important subject to track as it can identify competitors beyond cume and QHR duplication.

In fact, switching is one of the "deep dive" subjects we'll jump into at our annual A&O&B Pre-CRS Seminar next week. 

Coleman Insights’ President and COO Warren Kurtzman and RCS and Media Monitors President and CEO Philippe Generali are the research leaders in this area they've agreed to share not only their latest intel on the switching habits of country users but - importantly -  the strategic implications of that switching, particularly the different impact a of country listener who turns your station on first vs. switches to your station from another.

The industry premiere of this country listener information is just part of our annual half-day meeting preceding CRS. This year's line up of great presenters and timely topics include:

Don Schlitz, Grammy, CMA & ACM award winning songwriter, and member of the Nashville Songwriters Association Hall of Fame will share insights on storytelling including how to find ideas and bring them to life with words.

Stephanie Friedman, VP Radio Nielsen Entertainment will reveal insights on streaming data and offer streaming strategies for radio.

Attorney Stacey Schlitz will speak on contracts, protecting intellectual property such as content, and performance rights, and other issues unique to the entertainment field – all of which are especially relevant as stations become increasingly involved with concerts.

Another highlight each year is a live, intimate performance and photo op from an emerging artist/group.

To that end we're very appreciative of the continued support of BMLG’s Republic Nashville. Last year attendees were treated to an amazing set of music from A Thousand Horses. This year year our featured artist is Republic Nashville's Brett Young

We hope you’re planning to join us Monday February 8, 2016 at the new home of the Country Radio Seminar, The Omni Downtown Nashville, from 10:30 am-1:30pm. The A&O&B Pre-CRS Seminar is free and is open to all clients as well as to broadcasters in non-competitive situations. 

You can RSVP

And, if you haven't yet registered for CRS 2016 you can do so here

Monday, January 25, 2016

Rough Holiday? Nielsen and History Say You Weren't Alone

Once again the trades have been awash with news about big Holiday books for stations that went all-Christmas. 

Early on, Inside Radio reported on the impact of the over 500 stations that went all-Christmas this year: 

The Christmas format supremacy in Nielsen’s holiday ratings survey cannot be overstated, with the format ranking first in 11 of 12 PPM market reports released yesterday. Double-digit 6+ shares were the norm, as were declining ratings at non-holiday stations.  Many Santa stations doubled their December numbers and, more often than not, exceeded their Holiday 2014 performance.

Meanwhile, today, Tom Taylor at Now reported that all Christmas ruled the holiday books in 2015 and...

...broke the records for the first- and second-highest all-time high Nielsen age 6+ total-broadcast-week average-quarter-hour PPM share in any market at any time. This year AC “K103” KKCW in Portland, Oregon soared to a 21.4 share, a new all-time high in PPM. And Friday, we got the second-highest PPM share ever, Jacksonville’s WEJZ at a 19.7.
If all-Christmas wasn’t your strategy and your December or Holiday monthly looked far more like a lump of coal than a hover board, you’re not alone.

Here are five, 6+ month-by-month AQH graphs that Nielsen’s Jon Miller was kind enough to supply.

The good news for many is that your format’s peaks likely lie ahead and have at least some degree of predictability.

This allows you to get to work now on planning how you’ll capitalize on an influx of listeners in the upcoming months.

Monday, January 18, 2016

1957 Words of Inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King

This morning in “Now” Tom Taylor included one of Dr. Martin Luther King's many great quotes: 

If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.

Dr. King’s words from 1957 were part of a speech encouraging his Washington University audience to keep pressing towards their goals without violence or bitterness.

Today, these words continue to resonate across time and circumstance, and offer a personal challenge to us all.

What’s your next destination/thing you want to accomplish/personal growth or professional goal you want to achieve/outlook you want to have/challenge you want to overcome/way you'll make a positive difference in your family, community, nation and world?

What will be your first steps in moving forward?

Read more about the 1957 Washington University speech here

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

If You See Something, Say Something: Three Ways to Turn Your Life Into Awesome Content

Guest Blogger: Christie Maturo

Your life is a rich source of content.

That’s true year-round but especially this time of year. So if you haven’t mined your world for content in a while, there’s no better time than now to look at what’s around you. For example...

This caught my eye in the grocery store.

Really? A pack of pre-cooked bacon as a Christmas gift?

That started a chain reaction of questions: Who would give that?
Who would want to GET that? What if you wrapped it and left it under tree but the family had a hungry pet?

As quickly as that, a piece of original content began to take shape.

“Deliberately observing your life” and thinking about what you see is the genesis of great, original content.  

Forbes’ Jessica Hagy (@JessicaHagy) describes the process with this graphic:

Those of you who were at A&O&B’s 2015 Pre-CRS conference met via Skype my daughter Christie who is a Second City alum. At the time she was living in Chicago doing TV commercials and she spoke to us about the art of working with a partner.

She’s since moved to Texas where she’s a Professor of Theatre at Midwestern State University and is also currently co-writing and co-starring in the new web comedy series “Hey You It’s Me.”

 As an actor, sketch comedy writer and Professor, I asked Christie to author a guest blog and share her thoughts and experiences about turning what you see into content you can use on the air.

"Whenever I see or hear something funny, I always imagine, “What if this happened to me?”

I find things are funnier when you put yourself in an awkward or embarrassing situation. It takes the pressure off of anyone else and it is never hurtful or offensive if you are making yourself the butt of the joke.  

For example, what if my boyfriend gave me this pre-cooked bacon for Christmas. I’m a vegetarian! 

Does he not know me at all? Did he even buy this? Did he hire someone to shop for me? 

Is he secretly dating a carnivore? Is this some sort of sign for our future that he expects me in the kitchen cooking his lazy ass bacon every morning!?

Then I let the ideas run wild to further develop the story.

This would definitely lead to a fight. Would we break up? Would I shove the bacon in his pockets and sic the dogs on him?

How would I retell this story of the end of our relationship? To my mom? To my best girlfriends? To my therapist?

When I experience something that is unusual, I imagine all the ways it could have gotten even weirder.

True story: I went on audition the other week where the director was floored that someone who’s been on national television showed up to audition for him. Everything I told him about myself was astonishing to him.

When I think about retelling the story, I imagine what could have made this even weirder.

What if he cried at the top of my audition because he was so happy that anyone took his audition seriously enough to show up? Then I imagined him apologizing and pulling himself together and telling me to continue. 

I’d ask him if he would like a resume and headshot and he again bursts in to uncontrollable sobs. He pulls himself together, 

I begin to read for him but he starts again weeping so loudly I have to stop auditioning. We sit on the floor where he cries and pours his heart out. In the end, I leave with whatever part I want :)

Listening is just as important as seeing or experiencing things.

In a similar way, I use conversations and other peoples' stories as jumping off points.

For example, I had a friend tell me that she broke up with her boyfriend two weeks ago and just this past weekend, he shows up at her door and proposes with a stuffed Minion. He used the excuse of bringing her over his Star Wars DVDs because they had recently discussed how she had never seen them. She’s a biology professor and he thought as a self-respecting nerd, she needed to watch the movies.  

Again, what if this happened to me?

I could switch that to he brought me the movie “Waiting for Guffman” because it is about community theatre. 

Or maybe he made me a mix tape of show tunes, or bought me a book of Shakespeare’s sonnets and attempted to read them to me.

The minion is priceless. I might use that, or change it to something even more inappropriate to me.
Like maybe he brings me a stuffed Darth Vader even though he knows I hate outer space movies. 

And, since they sell Star Wars stuff everywhere, I’m convinced he picked it up at a gas station on the way to my house.

As you observe what’s around you, run through as many possibilities as you can of how it would be if what you're seeing or hearing happened to you and then imagine how weird this thing could get. 

Review your ideas and pick the ones where you can paint the most interesting stories."

With holiday get-togethers, end of year celebrations, and relatives, this time of the year provides plenty of low-hanging fruit just waiting to be turned into great content. 

Love to hear what you come up with.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A&O&B's Annual Top 10 for the Year: The Top Songs and Artists of 2015

If you need a break from your Christmas shopping list, try this list: A&O&B’s annual Top 10 Songs and Artists of the Year.

Each December we compile our research-driven list from our online and call-out data and data rankings for every song we played and tested for at least six weeks during the previous 12 months.

This year there were a total of 92 titles on our list.

Here’s our Top 10 for 2015:

Little Big Town
Girl Crush
Bryan, Luke
Strip It Down
Hunt, Sam
House Party
Owen, Jake
What We Ain’t Got
Shelton, Blake w/ Ashley Monroe
Lonely Tonight
Bryan, Luke
Kick The Dust Up
Hunt, Sam
Take Your Time
Church, Eric
Bryan, Luke
Church, Eric
Like A Wrecking Ball
Top 10 Honorary Mention: Chris Jansen who’s “Buy Me a Boat” missed the Top 10 by the smallest of margins.

“Girl Crush” was the only song this year to score a perfect 1.0 (the best Like A Lot score a song can achieve having ranked #1 in research for 6 or more weeks).  Last year there were two (“Drink A Beer” and “Play It Again”). There were four in 2013.

Contributing to the decreasing number of “perfect” score songs recently is the continuing lack of "top song consensus" week to week across markets. This underscores the importance of testing your current music on a regular basis.

Another trend we’ve been tracking is the increase in ballads among the top scorers. 

Since 2002, there have been more tempo songs than ballads in both the Top 1/3 and overall.  That trend barely held this year as tempo songs outnumbered ballads in the Top 1/3 by just a 52% to 48% margin.

Additionally, for each of the past three years, ballads have had an increasingly larger Top 10 footprint.  In 2012 there were three ballads in the Top 10. There were four in 2013, five in 2014 and now seven in 2015.

For those tracking so-called “Bro Country,” 2015’s BC titles indexed slightly lower than last year’s.

We also use our song-performance data to identify the Top Artists of the Year.

For the second year in a row and third time in the past four years, Luke Bryan was the artist point winner.  This was the fourth consecutive year that Luke placed multiple songs in the Top 10: three this year, four last year, two in 2013 and three in 2012.

2015’s runner up was Eric Church who placed two songs in our Top 10. 

The rest of the top 5 included Chris Young, Sam Hunt (who also placed two songs on our Top 10) and Carrie Underwood. 

Blake Shelton, who was our Top Artist in 2013 and who was second to Luke in 2014 finished 7th this year.

Here's where to check out A&O&B's Top 10 lists for the past three years: 2014, 2013 and 2012.

If you simply can't get enough Top 10 lists, Nielsen has more - from TV to music to snacks, you can see their continually updated Top 10 lists  here

A&O&B clients have access to free, local, online music testing using our custom software. If you have questions or an interest, reach us at or

Friday, December 04, 2015

7 Components of Todays Radio: A Quick PD Checklist

As part of her “Radio Matters” presentation at the 2015 Nielsen Total Audio Conference, the RAB’s Erica Farber shared this slide about radio's composition.

While primarily part of a larger, advertiser-directed initiative, the PD in me also saw this slide as a quick programming checklist.

How are you doing in each of these areas?

Watch the RAB "Radio Matters" video here

Nielsen Audio Conference Tweets: #nielsenaudioconf