Thursday, April 23, 2015

An Important Award You May Have Missed this Week: “Serial” Earns a Peabody

The big awards talk-abouts early this week at country stations have been centered (and rightly so) on the ACMs: big stars, big production, and a Guinness World Record for a live awards show audience.

But another awards presentation this week should also catch our attention: the Peabody Awards which recognize “stories that matter.” This is attention-worthy because one of the awards was given to the “Serial” podcast from NPR.

As reported Tuesday in Tom Taylor’s NOW , the Peabody judges declared Serial “the first unquestionably mainstream podcast.”

“Serial” was referenced multiple times at last week’s pre-NAB RAIN Summit West and was credited with, among other things, raising awareness of podcasting and bringing new users to the genre.

I found the podcast last fall amidst its considerable media attention and WOM and was hooked before the halfway point of the first episode.

It’s easy to understand the popularity of “Serial:” a suspense story with Romeo and Juliette undertones. There's crisp writing, great story pacing, excellent narration, and characters brought to life: people you trust or don’t –or change your mind back and forth - as you learn about them, often via their own words. It’s put together as well as any mystery in any medium.

For this reason alone, “Serial” is important to radio. It's an excellent example of superior story-telling – an skill many of our talent are working on daily.

It also serves as an important reminder that the entertainment bar is continually being raised around us.

But “Serial” is also important from a numbers standpoint.

About 1 in 5 Americans listen to podcasts according to Pew.  Similarly, Edison Research’s Infinite Dial study found 17% of the 12+ US population listens to podcasts monthly including slightly more than 20% of 18-54s who are regular listeners.

A&O&B’s Online Perceptual “Roadmap 2015” found comparable data among US country P1s, roughly 1 in 6 18-34s and 1 in 7 35-44s listen to podcasts at least “a few times a month.”

Of course these numbers don’t mean that 20% of Americans have heard all or even any episodes of “Serial.” Edison puts that number at 3% with awareness at 10%.

Still, in February 2015, the NY Times estimated Serial's downloads at 68-million. 

The point is, going forward, there will be more shows like “Serial” (listen here) that capture the attention of the growing podcast audience.

The biggest and best ones could become as relevant to talk about on your radio show as what’s hot on TV or YouTube. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Your Morning Show On TV: How to Get the Most Out of a Cutaway

Whether your talent is already appearing on a local TV morning show or you're attempting to make this happen, your probable goal is to increase your morning footprint and have those TV viewers sample your morning show.

But these cutaways will have the greatest impact if they also add value to the TV station.

Here are four steps to maximizing your TV opportunity:

1 - Make the TV morning show look good. Just as in a multi-person radio show, each player - in addition to being interesting in their own right - needs to give others in the room opportunities to look smart, be funny, etc.  Same goes for you and your TV partners.  If the TV talent look forward to your segment because it gives them an opportunity to shine, the segment will be significantly better.

2 - Prepare something fascinating to share. This is not the time to wing it. You’ll either be perceived as interesting and entertaining or a waste of time – there’s not much in-between. 

3 - Engage the TV talent in your story.  Let them know in advance what your content is so they can prepare, participate and look smart to their viewers (making you look smart too of course).

4 - Always deliver a dual call to action:  “Watch the TV partner and listen to your morning show.”  Give a reason for each.

Have an experience or tip to share?  Leave it here.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Getting Out What You Put In: First Baseball-Themed Blog of the Season

Because I have the talent (?) to find a baseball-related analogy for almost anything in life, MLB’s opening week is always an exciting time for me.

Not only does it spell the end of "there’s nothing to watch on TV," the opening games hold the promise for a brand new season of baseball metaphors and also affords the opportunity to throw out the first baseball-themed blog of the year – two things for which apparently I am both physically and mentally unable to avoid doing.

For a couple of months now my new favorite baseball mantra has been “Respect 90.” It comes from Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon who also has made the phrase part of his Twitter profile (@CubsJoeMadd).

Specifically, “Respect 90” is about respecting the 90 feet between home plate and first base. Players demonstrate their respect by running hard from home to first, even when it’s likely their routine grounder or pop fly will be nothing more than an easy out.

Of course “Respect 90” is far more encompassing. The code can be applied to every aspect of playing the game thus demonstrating not only respect for baseball, but for the fans - and even a player’s own self-respect.

A ballplayer may have multiple opportunities a day to Respect 90 – 4 or 5 times while batting and maybe a few more during the game in the field.  Most talent have at least that many opportunities every hour via mic breaks alone.

What if starting tomorrow we as talent determined to “Respect 90” and never mail a break in again, instead going ‘all out’ every time we opened the mic?  Can you imagine how incredible such a station would sound?

Furthermore, can you imagine what listeners and clients and competitors would think if every mic break, every piece of production, every spot, every appearance, every sales call, promotion, etc., etc., embraced the concept of “Respect 90?”

Joe Maddon explained the rewards of respecting 90 this way: 

“Understand whatever you put out there will come back to you. If you give respect, you’re going to get respect in return...If you really believe that and live by that, a lot of things will come your way.”

Embracing “Respect 90” may indeed bring good things to you.  

But you won’t be the only one reaping rewards. 

Some previous catchphrase-related blogs: Polish the BrandLovin’ on the Music, The 'Does Anybody Care' Filter

Monday, March 30, 2015

Using a Mental Scale to Balance Your Creative and Analytic Thinking

I can’t recall a time in my radio career - as Programmer or Consultant - when I didn’t think that the PD's chair was the best seat in the house.

The PD's office remains the place where magic happens (or should). It's the place where the merging of analytic and creative thinking produces an offspring called "awesome radio."

It's a daily tightrope walk. Too much left brain and the station is boring. Too much creative and the station isn't strategic. 

But with the right balance, "awesome" and "magic" can happen with regularity.

Unfortunately time and personnel pressures have a way of delaying or even derailing things - especially creative thinking.

If you find yourself balance-challenged, try imagining a "Content Scale:" methodological or systematic on the left, over-the-top creative on the right. Compare your project's optimal position vs. where it now stands, then take action if you feel the present position too static or if the creative is blurring something important. 

You can make a mental scale for anything.

Surprise and Delight
Emotional Impact
Communication Blasts    
Individual Acknowledgement
Vivid mental images
Comfortable Execution
New listener-station interactivity

Of course you won't likely be using an actual scale.  But the scale imagery is a reminder to check your balance of left vs. right brain thinking and actions so you can be strategic but not clinical, and fun and fascinating without losing your brand's vision and essence.

If this has put you in the mood for more creative thinking, here are a few related posts you might enjoy:

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Need a Challenge in 2015? Try these Two

It seems that hardly a daypart goes by this time of year when you don’t encounter some sort of “resolution-for-the-new-year” piece.

This isn’t one of those – at least not exactly. 

Instead it’s a two-fold challenge not just for this year but for years to come: “What new things will you learn and how will you contribute to an ‘environment of high expectations’?”

The challenge is different from a resolution in at least two ways:  the camera angle and the ongoing opportunity factor.

Too often the camera angle on a resolution is directed at elimination while we live in a world of creation.  By continually pointing your camera away from subtraction and toward addition – from adding great content on the air to bringing new ideas to help clients – you'll always be thinking about adding value.

Adding value is related to the cultivation of high expectations.  

Successful athletes often point to how they’re continually challenged to be their best by the actions and work ethics of their teammates. You’ve likely been in, or at least heard about, this type of environment. It’s one that's either stimulating or uncomfortable, depending on whether or not your focus is on making valuable contributions.

Way back when I used to write an annual New Year’s piece that was like a pick-and-choose list of “radio resolutions.”  For fun I reviewed that list (which ultimately had grown to 60 ideas) over the holidays and decided that while many were still relevant and valuable, they really were subsets of learning and of cultivating an environment of high expectations. But presenting them as part of a check-off list gave them an unintended “finite” feel.

So here’s one more thought: when you challenge yourself to learn new things and to be a daily contributor to (or perhaps a leader of) an environment of high expectations, instead of subtracting something from a ‘to do’ list, you open the door for an on-going, ever-growing, dare we suggest even unlimited opportunity for positive growth for you and those around you.

Resolutions are effective for some folks I suppose, but I much prefer the process of addition rather than subtraction.

Monday, December 22, 2014

One More Year-End List: Country's Top 10 for 2014

This time of the year we’re tripping over “End of the Year” lists.

Still, we’re pleased to add one more – A&O&B’s annual “Top Songs of the Year.” Each year we publish for clients the final research-driven rankings of every song we added over the previous 12 months. There were 88 in all in 2014. 

Here are this year’s Top 10 songs:

Luke Bryan
Drink A Beer
Luke Bryan
Play It Again
Brantley Gilbert
Bottoms Up
Blake Shelton
My Eyes
Frankie Ballard
Sunshine and Whiskey
Blake Shelton
Doin’ What She Likes
Florida-Georgia Line
Dierks Bentley
Drunk On A Plane
Justin Moore
Lettin’ the Night Roll
Luke Bryan

This is the third consecutive year that Luke Bryan has placed multiple songs in the Top 10 and third time in four years that Blake Shelton has done it. To put that in perspective, the only other artists to have multiple songs in our Top 10 were Brad Paisley who had two in 2011 and the Zac Brown Band who had 3 in 2010.

“Drink A Beer” had the top “Like A Lot” score - a perfect 1.0 (the song’s rank average over the last 8 weeks of its life as a current) and spent 13 weeks as our number one testing song.  In addition to his Top 10 finishing titles, Luke also appeared on the 12th song of the year as part of Florida-Georgia Line’s “This is How We Roll.”

This made Luke Bryan our Top Artist of the Year.

Blake Shelton, who was last year's Top Aritst, finished number two to Luke. Blake had two songs in the Top 10 this year as well as one more in the 20s. 

This is the second year in a row that Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton had the most titles in the top 1/3 of all songs tested.

Meanwhile, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Florida-Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum and Cole Swindell had good years too with each placing two titles in the Top 30.

Notably absent from among the top test titles were Historical Superstars – major artists that had multiple yearly hits prior to 1997.

Total Positive scores were similar to what we saw last year. However “Favorite/Like A Lot” scores for all songs were softer again this year. Anecdotally, market-to-market, we’re seeing an increasing lack of consensus on the biggest hits each week making local research ever more important.

Here’s an Infographic with more.  Enjoy!

You can also check out our Top 10 lists for 2013 here and 2012 part one here and part two here.

And if you're fascinated by America's fascination with end of the year lists, you'll enjoy this from the Washington Post.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gen X and Boomers: Biggest Holiday Spenders

Just ahead of Black Friday, Prosper Insights and Analytics released their November Consumer Snapshot which included projected holiday spending by demo. 

Some $135-billion is forecast to be spent this year with Gen X and Boomers projected to account for two-thirds of these purchases. 

While Millennials are often chased, they are projected to account for just 18% of all 2014 holiday spending.

If your target audience includes 35-64s, you might want to share this "holiday pie" with your advertisers and prospects:

Prosper Insights and Analytics also has a holiday spending video here and more data here in their "Retailers to Watch" report.