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?