Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fall Rituals: Raking and Writing

Fresh, fun, topical imaging on your station stands out like a just-raked yard in fall. And this time of the year provides plenty of opportunities for writing (and raking).

What will you write for: Halloween, Election Day, the change from Daylight Savings Time, Veterans’ Day/Remembrance Day, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve/Day?

Plus weekend chores, 4th quarter movie releases, and likely a number of local events.

Put a stationality spin on your writing, have fun, attract attention. Sound real and listener-focused. Communicate core values. Be brief, sincere and creative.

Just don’t miss the opportunity.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Radio 2010: Listening and Lifestyle Profiles...and Coaching Tool

National ratings data and lifestyle information on the major formats is again available for free in the newly released Radio Today 2010 pdf from Arbitron. Download it free here.

There's lots of good news for country:

• Fall 2009’s combined (PPM and Diary) country share was 13.4% (4.4%/4th in PPM markets and 14.1%/1st in diary markets). That’s the highest share the format has delivered since spring 2002.

• Country radio’s reach is second only to AC.

• The format was number one in every daypart except mornings (#2 behind New/Talk/Information). It was also #1 25-34, 35-44 and 45-54. It was #2 18-24, 55-64 and 65+. 18-24 was the “growth demographic” and has been “up steadily in recent years.”

• 26% of the AQH audience is 18-34 and 42% is 18-44. 18-34s aren’t just cumers; their TSL of 6:30 is just under the 7:00 average 12+ and close to the 7:00 for 25-54 and 7:30 for 35-64.

Non-ratings information on the country audience includes education (half have attended or graduated college), earnings (half live in households earning $50,000 or more), home ownership (70%) and interests (country audiences index high on outdoor activities and slightly above the norm on texting).

For programmers, one of the most useful pieces of data in any Arbitron report is the Audience Composition graph (the Radio 2010 AQH Composition for country is shown). Running graphs for cume and AQH give you a 'big picture' look at both plus the relationship between them.

After checking rankings and PPDV/PPM Weight, Audience Composition is usually the next place I go when breaking out ratings.
My expectations are that the 'comps' will roughly mirror our targeting (usually it does). But when it doesn't, it triggers a series of questions: from 'Is this an aberration?" to an overall evaluation of the relevance and ‘welcoming-ness’ of key station elements.

An Audience Composition graph can also be a talent coaching tool, particularly if you're concerned that a show isn't as aligned with the audience as it should be. Compare a multi-book average of the station's and the show's Audience Composition. If there are undesirable differences, challenge the talent to cite the specific audience appeal for the show overall as well as its specific features and content pieces.

Comparing their perceived targets to the show’s Audience Composition might be what you need to offer congratulations or to shake things up a bit.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Like THIS for Example

Sometimes a good example is the best way to make your point.

That was what Jon Robbins, Operations Manager/Adventure Radio Group/Savannah thought when he used a Mediabase monitor to issue a “What content do you have planned for Monday’s show?” challenge to his morning shows.

Jon told me, “I saw (the WMJI/Cleveland show highlights) on Mediabase and thought WOW, look at all this great ‘compelling’ content that this show covered in ONE morning. I wished that I had listened – this makes me want to listen – so I decided to share with my Morning guys and ask them what do they have planned for Monday? Cause this is what it will take to get to #1 like John Lanigan.”

Here’s the content Jon shared:

* A new study shows that one in 10 residents of New York City have bedbugs.

* Hosts discussed details of the recent news story about three Florida kids, ages 15, 13, and 11, who saved their babysitting money, bought airline tickets and flew Southwest Airlines to Nashville, Tennessee to visit Dollywood, which is actually in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

* A 27 year-old London man parked illegally and found his car “clamped” and was ordered by police to pay the fine and the towing fee, even though the car had not yet been towed. So, knowing they wouldn’t tow the car with a passenger in it, he sat inside the vehicle for the next 30 hours.

* LeBron James was on the cover of “GQ” magazine, and in the interview, spoke about a city rivalry between Akron and Cleveland.

* A couple who went on vacation is suing their realtor for using their house and their possessions while they were gone for “unauthorized sexual escapades,” resulting in stained sheets, furniture, carpets and other surfaces. Century 21 paid $7,000 in repairs, and the agent was fired.

* President Obama was scheduled to come to Columbus on monitor day to encourage voters “not to give in to fear.”

* Hosts discussed the latest round of political commercials, specifically, Ohio state politicians.

* The trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich had ended with the jury deadlocked on 23 counts. He was found guilty on one count of lying to the FBI. Blagojevich was planning to appeal the conviction and the state was planning to retry him on the other 23 counts.

* The West Wing of the White House is currently covered in a white tarp. Hosts wondered what was going on under there.

* President Obama’s approval rating has dropped to 44%, the lowest of his presidency so far.

* A twice-convicted murderer has been turned down for parole again, after letters surfaced that he had written to the family of the people he murdered, detailing how he would kill them too as soon as he was released.

* A listener poll was underway on the station’s web site. Listeners were asked to visit the site and answer this question: “Who would you rather see back in Cleveland first, Art Modell or LeBron James?” Hosts discussed each of the men.

* John read several listener emails, one from a Cleveland listener who moved to San Diego and now listens online. Other emails referenced topics of conversation from earlier in the current Morning Show.

* Hosts discussed several of the newer TV shows, such as “Hot In Cleveland,” and “Rubicon.”

* A bicyclist was seen, wearing nothing but a helmet. Police want to know his identity.

* Laurie read several listener emails regarding the Florida kids who flew to Nashville, with various responses.

* A “Newsweek” article, “The Best Countries in the World,” lists the Top 10 countries in which to live as: #1 Finland, #2 Switzerland, #3 Sweden, #4 Australia, #5 Luxembourg, #6 Norway, #7 Canada, #8 The Netherlands, #9 Japan, and #10 Denmark.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

From Audience Killer to Great Radio in Two Steps

The well-intentioned representative from (insert name of local charity here) comes to your studio and wants to tell you in great detail how your listeners can help out or make a donation. Unfortunately, a lot of listeners didn’t hang around for the specifics because they were never motivated to participate in the first place.

An artist is your guest and usually wants to talk about their latest CD, upcoming show, or something else they have going on right now. Listeners, disappointed they didn’t something personal or ‘behind the scenes,’ drift away as you play and the artist talks about his previously unheard song.

Both of these are audience killers.

You can’t blame your local guests; they’re rarely professional communicators. They don’t know what to say to make people respond. You can’t blame the artist; they’re in the moment and often just trying to get through yet another radio interview from another jock that really isn’t prepared beyond a few basics.

But here’s the thing: you can turn each into compelling radio if you 1) control the agenda that 2) finds and focuses on the Emotional Center.

Your agenda for the local guest is to find the Emotional Center in the story and use it to make listeners WANT to participate. Listeners can figure out HOW later. But if you don’t get me to WANT, you surely won’t get me to HOW.

Here’s a real example: a hospice spokesperson appeared on a morning show and spent 3 minutes talking about the responsibilities, requirements and sign-up procedures are for becoming a volunteer but never once gave listeners a reason to WANT to do this.

Audience killer.

But imagine the listener reaction if the interview started with and stuck to an Emotional Center: perhaps how spokesperson witnessed the daughter of a terminal patient put her arm around a hospice volunteer and, with a smile and a tear, told the volunteer how much she’d meant to her dad these last weeks, how much her kindness was appreciated, and how she’d always be a member of their family.

Find and tell a story like this and you’ll have great radio and a line of volunteers.

Similarly, while an artist may want to talk about a single or a new CD or an upcoming show, you have the chance to make if far more of an event for listeners if you create an agenda that includes mystery, a look behind the scenes, or that engages the artist in a way that reveals the artist as a person behind the star - itself an Emotional Center.

That’s the agenda Steve Stewart, WTNR/Grand Rapids’ OM/AM host of Scrubs in the Morning used for his Tuesday morning interview with Toby Keith. They got around to the new music, but not before Toby was talking like the golf playing, football-loving guy next door. You can listen to it including a feature called the “30 Second Meet & Greet” where a listener gets to end the call with 30 seconds to ask or tell the guest whatever they want.

Have an Agenda/Emotional Center interview story to share?