Saturday, December 20, 2008

This Year We Gifted a Goat

What’s the best gift you’ve ever given? Chances are it was something that the recipient truly valued – perhaps even something that changed their life.

Like maybe a goat.

My wife and I were recently introduced to Heifer International - an organization that purchases animals for impoverished people with the goals of helping the recipients feed themselves, earn a living through livestock, and care for the world.

Their online and their direct mail pieces feature nearly a dozen different animals you can give along with pictures and stories of the life-changing potential of these gifts. The direct mail piece featured a different (and high-powered) celebrity endorsement accompanying each animal while online you could watch celebrities in informative videos.

It was a compelling presentation and we were moved to gift a goat and a flock of chicks.

Yes there are radio parallels here – the power of a positive, heart-touching stories, words that paint pictures, multi-platform strategies, the use of endorsements – but these are for another blog.

Today I just wanted to share our ‘discovery’ with you.

Who knew a goat and some chickens (or a pig, llama, or water buffalo) would wind up on our ‘best gifts ever given’ list?

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Connecting and Celebrating YouTube Style

YouTube Live is coming to a computer near you Saturday, 11/22. Reflecting the "scale and diversity of content on YouTube” it will feature approximately 50 performances by Internet born stars as well as Grammy award winners.

A common thread among these diverse performers is a massive following on YouTube.

A common thread among the attendees is the desire to connect with and celebrate each other (which will no doubt will yield new videos they will share and star in).

Many of our client stations have embraced uploading digital video including multiple stations uploading terrific videos of their Nashville/CMA activities.

But because YouTube means being seen as well as seeing, let’s think about creating opportunities for viewers of our videos to be the stars of them as well.

What’s coming to your market that many of your core users will be excited about, and how can you create a “see and be seen” video event out of it that will encourage listeners to connect in a meaningful way? What events could you create to connect communities of listeners who are pet lovers, hunters, skiers, etc. What sponsors could be brought in to enhance these experiences and generate revenue?

Here are thinking points about YouTube Live including who will participate and why and how advertisers are being integrated into the event. There’s also a quote from YouTube CMO Chris Di Cesare on the relationship between YouTube Live, its attendees and sponsors.

Hopefully you’ll be inspired to create a vehicle for connection and sharing – whether it involves blogging, chatting or something more ambitious like video (read the full Brandweek article here).

• YouTube Live is about connection and self-celebration of the YouTube community

• Planned events reflect the community’s core interests. For example, Guitar Hero is one of the community’s favorite themes so live Guitar Hero events were created.

• Participants are being empowered to share the celebration with others

• Sponsors are natural fits with YouTube and/or are providing something of value to enhance the experience. For example, sponsor Virgin America is handling some of the travel arrangements while Pure Digital is providing some attendees with free, branded Flip Mino camcorders to record the event.

• About YouTube and advertisers CMO Chris Di Cesare says, “YouTube is less than 3 years old and the site's phenomenal growth has been spurred by keeping the users first in everything we do. While it is a delicate balance, allowing advertisers to participate in an additive way benefits all involved. YouTube Live is a great example of that. This is first and foremost a community event but sponsors are participating in a way that shows they value the YouTube community. If users look at the sponsors as heroes given their participation and value to the event, everybody wins.”

Di Cesare also noted that pre-roll ads for long form, online content are both “expected” and accepted by the community and that YouTube is continuing to experiment with other models as well.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Voice of Everyman

By Mike O'Malley

Studs Terkel died last week.

Studs was a National Book Award medalist, activist and Pulitzer Prize winning author. Over his 96 years he was also a stage and radio actor, disc jockey, Chicago and later nationally syndicated radio talk show host and TV star.

Studs’ writing “celebrated the common people he liked to call the ‘non-celebrated’.” His stories were about how ordinary people live, the little aspects of their lives, what divides and unites people, how people feel about their jobs, and “people who give us hope and through them we have hope.”

Speaking about crafting his stories, Terkel likened it to first extracting a small amount of gold dust from tons of ore, then using forms and molds to craft that dust into jewelry.

Personal, connected to the audience, relevant, observant, interesting, encouraging and self-edited. What an inspirational checklist for talent!

I don’t know all I should about Studs Terkel, but I’m going to learn some more. I’m going to read some of his works to see what I can learn about telling wonderfully interesting stories about the lives of everyday people.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Traits of Market Icons

by Mike O'Malley

This weekend I was part of the reunion of New York City country radio broadcasters (starting from my left are the killer former WYNY staff: Bill Rock, Shelli Sonstein, Dan Daniel, Randy Davis and Jim Kerr).

I’m not big on reunions – I’d rather talk about the future than the past – but this one was something special because it was a chance to see again some great talent and friends that I had the privilege of working with for 5 years.

On the commute home I thought about what it takes to be a market icon as so many of the talent at this gathering were:

• Consistently delivering a show that has strong horizontal attraction; that is, that has an audience that tunes in everyday, not just a few times a week or month, but 4-5 times a week because they want to. While the reasons why listeners tune in on a daily basis may be different with each talent, the best have the ability to leverage their strengths to command a daily following.

• The ability to attract new listeners over the years, not just hold on to an aging core, by evolving, staying relevant and fresh, and communicating in ‘today’s’ style

• The art of self-revelation done in a way that draws people to them rather than repelling them by being self-absorbed.

• An outgoing personality that initiates relationships with listeners

• Thoroughly understanding your listeners and how and why they use you and your station

• Being well-versed in things that their listeners care about and being able to communicate that interest in the same way that two friends would

• Being passionate about and a proponent of their format and station - whichever one they were working in at the time

• Being accessible, touchable, and humble, and maintaining a sense of ‘every man’ despite being larger than life at times

• Having a sense of humor about life

• Loving what they do and letting it show

Market icons work hard at their craft on and off the air. Are you up to the challenge? Do you have more observations about icons in your market you’d like to share?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This Is Really A Short Blog Because...

A lot of people have the same attention span as a goldfish - about 9 seconds.

No, really.

This makes me want to think about promos and imaging, talent breaks and newscasts, all content on air and online.

Are they attracting and retaining listeners’ attention? Would they be better and more powerful if they were more concise in the same way that a tablespoon of orange juice concentrate is more powerful than a tablespoon of orange juice because the water is removed?

Lead with your point. Add only what increases the entertainment value, engages me and/or stimulates my interest. Evolve, don’t repeat. Include a lot more feelings and a lot fewer facts. Make me want something first; I can figure out how to get it later. Be relevant. Make me see myself in your content. Surprise me. Be emotional, passionate even. Be a personality in 9 seconds.

Still got your attention?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Business Advice from an 18th Century Potter

I was recently re-reading Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae” and the story of 18th century potter Josiah Wedgwood. The business advice Godin suggested Wedgwood might have given to his less successful brother and fellow potter seemed so appropriate for radio that I couldn’t resist adapting a few:

• Create special, unique programming elements that are so compelling that people will seek them out and talk about them.

• Train your staff to perform in ways that are unique to your station.

• Have and live up to the highest quality standards in all you do.

• Since everything you do is top quality, prominently attach your name to your work.

• Display your product at every opportunity keeping both the display and product fresh.

• Regularly generate unique, premium content on a large scale.

• Program and market to heavy users while avoiding niche pressures.

Don’t these seven ideas form an appropriate check list for what PPM says are hallmarks of successful stations: compelling and timely content, repeatedly doing what works, and generating reasons for listeners to return often?

Sunday, August 17, 2008


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…“

OK, as much as I love Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities,” that’s just a bit dramatic even for me.

Still, in one 48 hour period I had the best of times - an exceptional customer experience with Continental Airlines – and the worst of times - a terrible customer experience with American Airlines.

For me this was also a case of brand wisdom and brand foolishness because these experiences will have lasting impact on how I view these companies and how good a customer I will or won’t be in the future.

While on the road, to my complete surprise (and delight), I received a thank you from Continental Airlines for having flown one million miles with them. Inside the expensive looking box they sent was a personalized luggage tag with Continental’s million-miler logo, a new personalized Platinum frequent flyer card with the logo, and a nice letter from Chairman and CEO Larry Kellner.

The gifts were nice and certainly appreciated. But it was the letter meant the most to me. It seemed personal and heartfelt – even to someone like me who occasionally casts a cynical eye on such things. Reading it I felt honored and proud to be such a loyal Continental flyer.

But when I came to the part of the letter that said my perks would be extended to my wife as well, I was floored. Here was a company who really ‘got’ what it’s like to have to fly this much! Heavy flying not only impacts the flyer but extracts a big toll on those left behind. Here was thank you not only to me for flying but to Wanda for her sacrifices too. What insight!

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a better experience with an Airline.

At the other end of the week’s travel continuum was my experience with American Airlines and a cancelled flight.

I understand that cancellations and delays are a part of life and I harbor no hard feelings when these occasionally happen. But how the airline treats me in these instances DOES matter to me.

In this case American put me up in a second-rate (I’m being generous), non-business-travel-friendly motel that smelled of mold and stale cigarettes, didn’t appear to have been updated in decades, had no business facilities, and sat on the side of an Interstate with no opportunity to walk anywhere for dinner.

American gave me a $10 dinner voucher (when was the last time you had dinner for $10 that wasn’t fast food?) and of course it could only be used in the hotel that I already didn’t even want to take my shoes off in.

No one apologized for the inconvenience of the cancellation which, according to the hotel van driver said happened “all the time” and even asked me, “What did they say it was THIS time?”

Had American opted for a modest, business-friendly hotel in a location where one could walk to a restaurant and redeem a $15 food voucher, it would have gone a long way. Instead, I had to shell out for round-drip cab fares to downtown to find a restaurant that was open late, pay for the meal and for an extra day’s parking charge at the airport (all tolled about $75) and – most importantly - lose a half day at home which is so precious to a heavy flyer.

Whether American doesn’t understand what being a heavy flyer in 2008 is like or doesn’t care, I don’t know.

What I DO know is how each of these experiences made me feel. On the one hand I felt Continental tried to do the maximum they could for me. Meanwhile American made me feel that they were trying to do the least they could for me.

American likely doesn’t know that I fly 100,000 miles a year. Nor could American have known that I’m going to have to seek additional carriers this fall as Continental will no longer be serving some of the cities I regularly fly to.

Guess who won’t be first on my list?

In focus groups, listeners tell us similar stories all the time. “The DJs just stood around.” “No one ever came over to talk to me.” I thought they were rude.”

We also hear, “They made me feel important.” “They know my name.” “They just seem to love what they’re doing.” “They treated me like I was their friend.”

Which perception do you think will be more likely to generate listenership?

How do YOU want to be perceived?

You’re in the cockpit.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Your Performance vs. Your Plan

Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching.”

And you can hear a lot just by listening – provided of course you know what you’re listening for and that your listening is an active rather than a passive activity.

I recently spoke on ‘how to critically listen to your radio station’ at a group’s GM meeting The goal was to help them be better critical listeners of their stations by identifying key programming elements and creating a framework to help them evaluative what they heard.

Of course these ideas are appropriate for programmers as well.

Here’s a three-step plan for how to critically listen to your station. Use it to compare your plan vs. your performance, your intentions vs. your execution.

STEP 1: Create a listening plan.

“Critical listening” means evaluating what you hear. But because there are so many components to the final product, your critical listening will be more effective if you have a plan that will serve as a reminder of what’s important and help you focus your listening. It will also keep you from becoming sidetracked by any single thing, good or bad.

Later the plan will help you assess what you’ve heard.

Develop your listening plan with your PD so you’re both on the same page.

Start your listening plan by completing the following:

1. Broad and narrow target demos:
• Their Lifegroup Values:
• What’s most important to them this week:
• What are the needs/wants/likes of the station’s fans vs. its cumers

2. Music position and focus:

3. Specific ratings goals:

4. Unique value positions or ‘advantage(s)’ (maximum of 2):

5. Most important activities going on at the station this week:

STEP 2: Record specific evaluations and observations as you’re listening.

Make notes on how closely the on air product matches each of the items in your listening plan. Consider:

1. Overall, how aligned is the product to the target listener’s tastes and values?

2. Is the music position and focus is clear and reflective of the overall strategy?

3. Can you readily discern the station’s unique advantage(s) and core benefit(s)?

4. Does the imaging reflect the right attitude and communicate relevant messages?

5. Are today’s most important station elements and tactics receiving the most attention?

6. Is the execution in sync with ratings goals?

7. Evaluate the morning show as a cume magnet and as an important cog in the overall product.

8. What other factors (service, community commercial load, etc) are important to consider in your competitive environment?

STEP 3: Discuss what you hear and take any necessary actions.

Refer to your analysis for specifics in evaluating what you heard. Meet with your PD and discuss.

Did what you hear match your expectations? If it did, can the envelope be pushed further? What did we do well in one area that could be applied in another?

If not, did the problem stem form a lack of knowledge, difference in vision or interpretation, action/execution, or something else?

Write a few sentences to summarize what you heard and the actions you’re taking as incorporate them into your next critical listening session.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Brand O

Eight years ago, about the time the Oprah magazine debuted, I wrote about Oprah as a brand and suggested these radio applications:

1. Discover what makes you special to your consumers and deliver that uniqueness on as many platforms as possible.

2. Only engage in those things that reinforce your brand’s positives. Never compromise your product or brand integrity.

3. Be relentlessly in your pursuit and maintenance of consumer trust.

Why reference an eight year old article today?

Because besides still being utterly relevant, our guest on today’s Albright and O’Malley bi-monthly Client Wide Conference call was legendary programmer John Gehron who is the GM of Harpo Radio and programs XM’s Oprah and Friends Radio channel.

John shared with us some tenets that make Oprah and Friends Radio special:

1. Know what your brand represents (for the Oprah brand, it’s “Live your best life.”)

2. Protect your brand. Examine tie-ins for potential damage and for what your brand will get out the relationship.

3. Understand and respect the audience. There’s a difference between women and “Oprah women.”

4. Put the product first. Go the extra mile for the audience; little things are noticed.

5. Understand that you are a product supplier. Find other distribution channels that your listeners use and put your product on them.

6. Encourage synergy.

What to be a great brand? Study Oprah.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Seeking Elmo

Changing tastes, lagging brands, increased competition, evolving consumers, and increasing difficulty in attracting your target’s attention: sounds like this could be a list of challenges facing any number of industries including ours.

In this case though, we’re talking about the toy industry and Mattel and its Fisher-Price line in particular. Today’s Wall Street Journal noted the company had it’s first quarterly loss in more than three years and was hurt not only by the weak economy, but also by factors like a struggling brand (Barbie) and the lack of a hot, new item, like last year’s T. M. X. Elmo.

Innovation of course is one way to keep a brand prosperous. If you attended the A&O pre-CRS Seminar, you know that one of Starbuck’s brand traits is ‘staying fresh through innovation.’

However trying to deliver too much of a good thing can confuse consumers. Mattel’s Magic of the Rainbow” fantasy doll did so many other functions too (a remote control, CD-ROM game, button-activated fluttering wings) that, “‘Girls asked – is this a doll?’” according to Chuck Scothon, Sr. VP of Mattel’s girls division who admits, “We put too much in.”

The challenge for Mattel – and arguably other industries including radio – is to be “fresh and new” without being so overly innovative that consumers are left confused by what the core product actually is.

Brands are a promise of value and experiences. Violating your promise or delivering an ‘average’ consumer experience diminishes the brand’s power. Delivering on your promises and providing an exceptional experience strengthens your brand’s power.

Examine each item in your station’s brand folder and determine how powerful it is, considering relevance, customer experience, stand-out-ability, freshness, and its potential to generate new listeners on its own or via word of mouth.

• Is the listeners’ experience in synch with what they truly want? If not, how do they need to be modified?
• Are your true brand assets attracting your listeners’ attention?
• Is your station on multiple platforms? How is the quality of that cross-platform experience?
• How can you deepen your station’s brand experience?

“Something in the Air” author Marc Fisher, speaking at Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute of Politics listed ‘reinvesting in creativity’ as one of radio’s top ways to be innovative.

Consider doing just that in the next week. Spend a few hours with your creative staffers reviewing what on your station that can be evolved, updated, spun or reinvented to deliver not only a better brand experience, but one that causes listeners to tell others about.

In the process, you might discover your station’s next Elmo.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Lost and Found

Starbucks has been underplaying its expertise says CEO Howard Schultz (

Somewhere between opening stores and inventing new Frappuccino flavors, Mr. Schultz says the company’s expertise in coffee selection and roasting – what the company believes to be a strong competitive advantage - was downplayed.

Now, with its new “Pike Place Roast” debuting today, the company will focus on its superior brewing and roasting abilities, joining McDonalds and Dunkin’ Brands in the battle for drip coffee consumers.

Those of you heard Starbucks Director/US Store Level Marketing Bill Black at our A&O Pre-CRS Seminar in Nashville, will remember Bill sharing that one of Starbucks’ goals was returning to its core business by stripping away distractions and asking questions like, “Who are we talking to?” “What do we do?” “What’s our benefit?” and “What unique attributes do we have that we can leverage?”

Touting their unique brewing and roasting skills then certainly makes strategic sense.

Imagine your station doing the same introspection. Would it help you insure that your strongest competitive advantages were being highlighted and not downplayed or hidden by the superfluous?

Try using Starbucks' questions to begin building a brand folder for your station. Then use that folder as a filter to refine what’s on your air. You may find some competitive advantages that have been lost.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Everything I Know About Radio I Learned From Baseball

By Mike O'Malley

OK, that’s completely untrue of course.

But baseball does provide endless analogies and, with Opening Day 2008 today, I was thinking about baseball axioms that can also apply to radio. Here are five.

If you have a good fastball, throw it

The fastball is the ‘mother pitch’ from which nearly all others pitches evolve. Pitchers who can command their fastball control the game. Fastballs help hold runners on base. Sinking fastballs induce double plays. Fastballs thrown to different parts of the strike zone keep hitters off balance.

Even when a batter knows the fastball is coming, they can be kept off balance with a two-seam and a four-seam version, and when the fastball is thrown to different parts of the strike zone.

Breaking pitches are great, but it’s the fastball that’s baseball’s number one pitch.

Think of your station’s fastball as is its true competitive advantage. It’s what you’re famous for, what sets you apart. It’s what you’re going to use to beat a competitor. It’s the pitch you know best, the one you’ve mastered, the one you should throw most often.

Throw your fastball when you’re in command of the game to hold down and demoralize the opposition. Throw your fastball when a game starts to get away from you and you need to go back to the basics and regain control.

While you may have a couple of other pitches you can throw, when you throw your fastball correctly, you’ll control the game.

A strong bench makes a big difference

Your superstars play nearly every day and usually get the majority of everyone’s attention. But over a season, you won’t be as successful without a strong bench.

The best managers make everyone feel important and useful. They keep them mentally as well as physically ready to contribute to the team’s success, and put them into situations where they can have personal success and help the team at the same time.

Every radio station has bench players: weekenders, promotional staff, and people in other departments whose contributions can make a huge difference. The time you spend with them – ideally one-on-one – will pay huge dividends. Keep them in the loop. Make them part of the programming community. Find reasons to deliberately insert them into situations where they can be successful and their contributions valued.

Nobody bats a thousand

Despite hours of practice, preparation and an incredibly strong set of skills, outs happen to great hitters. But each at bat that doesn’t result in a base can provide information for the next at bat which is why many players use digital video to study themselves and each other.

Studying the minutiae of mechanics or tendencies may be tedious, but it promotes understanding of what could be done the next time to improve the chances for success including, if necessary, making adjustments.

Our version of ‘game film’ is ratings data. Studying ratings data trends can help stations understand why their last performance was good or not, more likely to be real or a fluke. It can expose specific areas that either require attention to grow, or are significant contributors to success that must be defended.

Some stations have perceptual information which gives added perspective to ratings data.

Players who study themselves and opponents claim an advantage. Similarly, stations that have studied their game films know how they got to where they are have a much better chance of getting where they want to go.

Touch ‘em all

Don’t be so busy watching the ball go out of the park that you forget to touch all four bases.

Look at the big picture as well as the granular. Solely focusing on one to the exclusion of the other will lead to headaches of massive proportions.

Play country hardball

Baseball announcers seem to love this expression. They use it when a team is going all out, playing to the edges, scrapping, doing anything and everything to win.

Teams that play hardball believe that anything is better than losing. Teams that play hardball have players who give Herculean efforts, take bold chances, have a ‘take no prisoners’ attitudes, and – with their goal in sight – never, ever let up.

Every market has stations that play hardball. They never miss an opportunity. They’re relentless. They’re intimidating. They’re openly envied. They win. Hopefully they’re you.

Got some of your own you’d like to add?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Year-Round Programming

NBC is trying something different for network television: a year-round schedule of programming instead of what has become a typical lineup of 9 months of regular programming followed by three summer months of reality shows. Media Life reported,

"With TV ratings falling and an increasing amount of new media distractions competing for viewers’ attention, many think it’s impractical for the broadcast networks to effectively go dark for three months out of the year...Meanwhile, cable networks have had tremendous success during the summer, often with highly regarded scripted shows like TNT’s “The Closer,” USA’s “Monk” and FX’s “Damages,” disproving broadcast’s long-held belief that people won’t commit to serials in the summer."

It’s not unusual for radio – especially in non-continuously measured markets – to do our own version of ‘going dark’ with limited contesting, putting marketing on hiatus, or waiting until we’re ‘in a book’ to do talk-about promotions. Certainly economics is a factor.

Still, some stations will find this an opportunity to do something special in a relative vacuum.

Cable networks apparently are having success with this.

At your next brainstorming session, consider what original and audience building ideas you could institute at a time when many of our competitors are ‘dark.’

Friday, February 15, 2008


Living on the road, you wind up eating at a lot of chains. The primary reasons are that they are likely to be some in reasonable proximity to your hotel - wherever THAT may be. They’re often open later which is really helpful after a day of flight delays. And they’re highly predictable in that you pretty much know what you’re going to get (generally speaking, the fewer surprises there are on the road the better).

Beyond that, there’s rarely anything to get excited about. One is about as good as the other.

So I was a bit taken aback when I got more – no a lot more - than I expected from a visit this week to the Texas Road House in Richmond, IN. I wasn’t surprised that the food was good, cooked the way I asked for it, and was priced at what I thought was a relative bargain. I’d been there before several times and that’s what I’d come to expect.

What surprised me on this visit however was how every employee that interacted with me sold the experience of eating there.

Yeah, it’s a chain restaurant. But no one I came in contact with tonight apparently had gotten that memo. They were more of the mindset, “I’m proud of this place, I’m having a great time working here, and I really (no, really!) want you to enjoy your time here, too.”

It seemed to me (the occasionally cynical New Yorker) to be genuine. Servers laughed, had fun with customers, and really did sell the experience. And it was a good one.

Interestingly, I’d just that same day come from a radio station where that very same feeling permeates the hallways and the on air product. This staff – top to bottom, on air and off – apparently never got the memo that you could actually ‘get away’ with mailing it in.

They apparently never got the memo that said, “Radio’s not as much fun as it used to be.”

They apparently never got the memo that said, “You’ve got quite a ways to go to get to win this thing, so just do the best you can with what you’ve got and set your sights low.”

And they certainly never got the memo that says, “All stations sound the same anyway, you can’t make a difference, so just fly under the radar and you’ll have the best chance of continuing to collect a paycheck.”

Apparently this restaurant and this radio station got a different memo. They got one that says: “Create an atmosphere where people have fun, feel valued, and feel like they are part of something special and unique. Do these things and they’ll want to come back again and again.”

Now THAT’S a good memo – and one that I hope lots of people will get.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A "Taylor"-Made Reminder

I’m always excited when our artists receive national exposure, so I was thrilled to see Taylor Swift appear in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal (February 9-10, 2008). She not only had a great photo on the front page, but also a second photo and a near half-page in the weekend section.

The story was less about the music Swift makes, and more about the music she consumes.

Like many young music fans, Ms. Swift makes most of her music discoveries online, where she jumps among music categories on iTunes. ‘I’m definitely a country artist and proud of it,’ she says. ‘But I don’t think genres are going to be a huge part of how we categorize music in the future.’

While it’s interesting to read Taylor’s comments on five of her recent downloads (Keith Urban was the only country act), to me the take away is yet another reminder of the real-life way music is discovered and consumed by so many in our cume.

The Wall Street Journal ‘gets’ this and provides a link where you can listen to clips of Swift’s personal playlist.

What is your station doing to demonstrate you ‘get’ it, too?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Thousand to One

If you were handicapping a sporting event and put a team’s odds at 1000 to 1, you’d be saying their chances of winning were a real long shot.

I came across my own thousand-to-one long shot last week while analyzing a fall book for a client. It was the PPDV (per person diary value) for a male cell and it came in at 1,052. That’s one diary equaling 1,052 people. 1052 to 1 if you will.

When I calculated the same cell for females, I got a second cell with a PPDV nearly as large: 987. 987 to 1.

Would you consider the reliability of the ratings for that demo a sure thing or a long shot?

PPDVs in and of themselves are not the sole measure of reliability, but they certainly are an indicator. Average 18-34 and 35-49 PPDVs have been noticeably on the rise since 2003 and, as of two years ago, had already approached 700 and 600 respectively.

Now it appears things are getting worse.

I contacted some fellow consultants in several formats including country to see if they’d begun seeing 1000 PPDVs. Unfortunately they had.

One national rep’s researcher even said 1000+ PPDVs are now “very common” and are moving out of the 18-24 cells and into the 25-34 and 35-44 cells, and for women as well as men.

I also checked with Mike Oakes who does a good bit of behind the scenes ratings research for A&O and he recalled a near-1600 PPDV for 18-24 males and an over 1700 PPDV for 18-24 females - and this was in a major market two years ago. He also recalled PPDV instances over 1000 for men and women 25-34 and one for men 35-44.

We’re already living with rankings where stations with the most, raw QHRs can rank 4th, 5th or worse in a market, and where stations with far less are the market leaders.

We’re already living with PD Advantage reports which tell us that, on successive books, our 10-year core audience is 20-30, then 40-50 and then 30-40.

Now it appears that 1000+ PPDVs could be the next big thing to play in your market.

I ‘get’ the enormity of the challenge of measuring an audience, and this isn’t meant to be a rant or a witch hunt. It’s a recommendation – and a warning - to you that if you’re not in the habit of regularly checking your PPDVs when you receive your numbers, you need to do so starting today. And if you don’t like what you see, you need to call for action.

If PPDVs consistently reach into the 1000+ range, the odds are that confidence levels in our ratings will posted as “long shots.”

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Resolving To Be A Better Programmer

Eight years ago I wrote "25 New Year’s Resolutions for PDs and OMs." It generated a lot of positive feedback and many said they referred to it throughout the year.

Each December since then, I’ve made it a tradition to add five new resolutions to the original list. Now, as 2008 begins, there are 60 resolutions in the latest version A&O clients received.

In no particular order, here are 10 of my favorites and the year they first appeared. Try some that you think will have the biggest, most positive impact on your station and on your personal and professional life.

I hope you have a personally and professionally rewarding 2008! And sometime during the upcoming year, I'd love to hear how the resolutions you selected worked out.

1. Resolve not to manage by crisis. Create and adhere to a personal, daily schedule that insures each day's most important tasks -- the ones that will truly move the station forward -- will be completed. (2001)

2. Get out of the station one day per month and do a full-blown competitive monitor (p.s.: don't monitor at home). Critically compare targeting, uniqueness, imaging, morning shows, overall talent, music mix, and other key listener benefits and opportunities. Develop plans to attack your competitions' weaknesses and for shoring up your own vulnerabilities. (2001)

3. Program with immediacy, maintaining a mindset of, "How can I get this on the air right now?" (2002)

4. Don't stop at the first right answer; that's what most people do or expect. To stand out, keep thinking until you come up with at least three more ways to make things bigger, better, more unique, memorable, and fun. (2003)

5. Build a team, not a group of players. A team is more than the sum of its parts when 1) there’s respect for and appreciation of the many one-of-a-kind roles that make essential contributions to a team’s overall success; 2) each person recognizes that their individual performance impacts everyone else and accepts responsibility to always perform at their best; and 3) that everyone else realizes they are better as a group because of each other, not because of any one player including (and especially) themselves. (2004)

6. Increase your positive, creative stimuli. The more time you spend in this environment, the more positive and creative you will become. Seek out people, places, adventures, and media that will elevate and encourage rather than deflate and damage. Excuse yourself from negative discussions and individuals and avoid downbeat situations whenever possible. (2004)

7. Invest in talent training in a similar way you’d invest in sales training. Set a new bar for talent and replace those that can’t achieve what you need them to. Increasing the DJ entertainment value on your station will pre-empt satellite radio’s new talent focus and offer a non-duplicatable alternative to IPOD-like devices – not to mention other terrestrial competitors. Begin this in earnest now while we still have the critical mass of listeners and personality association. (2005)

8. Be a “Hijacker.” Find ways to put yourself in the middle of what everyone is talking about in order to steal the limelight. (2005)

9. Spend time with both your strategies and your tactics. Each is necessary for success. It’s tempting to spend an increasing amount of time on just tactics, but too much tactical focus can put your core strategy at risk. Additionally, failure to make tactics a coordinated part of your overall strategy can result in tactical underperformance. (2007)

10. Everyday, make a conscious decision to enjoy your job, to have fun at work and to create a positive environment for those around you. The attitude you choose each day will be reflected back to you from your co-workers. If you would really rather do something other than radio, you should do it. But if you're going to continue in our industry, don't live in the past, dwell on what you don’t have, or get dragged into the depressing lair and unproductive lamentations of malcontents. If you do, you'll be unable to see the opportunities that lie ahead. Even worse, you'll miss the magic, joys and triumphs that happen around you everyday. (2003)