Thursday, February 24, 2011

CRS 2011: Art of the Schmooze

The two parts of CRS I love the most: 1) the learning/sharing part and 2) the connecting with people I know and didn't previously know part.

New or veteran attendee, the first part is easy. The agenda here or cool new app for your Android here or iPhone here offers you plenty of learning and sharing opportunities.

And (shameless plug here), you can also check out the agenda for Albright & O'Malley's pre-CRS Seminar here beginning at 12:30pm Tuesday and ending in plenty of time for you to make the Country Radio Hall of Fame Dinner. It’s a great addition to your CRS experience and if you haven’t registered to attend yet you should NOW by emailing me or Jaye Albright .

Now, for the connecting with people part.

If you a natural at meeting and engagine with people, you can skip the following links. But if you need some encouragement in the ‘business schmooze” department, here are a few links.

Master the Mingle

Mingle Like a Pro

How to Mingle and Make Small Talk

Show Them What You Know and Who You Are

How to Introduce Yourself to Someone You’ve Never Met

I really hope to see you at CRS 2011. And I hope our first meeting will be at A&O’s pre-CRS Seminar Tuesday at the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Jaye and I would love to meet you, talk radio, and enjoy CRS with you.

Try out yor new schmooze skills. Or just use the fact that you read this blog as your icebreaker. ;->

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Look at Me! Lok at Me! The Power And Value of Spectacle

Professional wrestling, Lady Gaga and Jeopardy – they all “get” the power of “Spectacle.”

Spectacles cut through noise, attract attention, generate audience, and cause talk even if for just a short period of time.

Last week’s Jeopardy “Watson” spectacle combined myth (“man vs. machine”), familiar characters in unfamiliar roles (retired champions not only playing each other but a machine), tension, backstory, showmanship, someone (or thing) to root for (or against), plenty of advance promotion, and multiple iterations (in this case three episodes) to further build the story, hype and audience.

The Jeopardy spectacle was apparently enough to change a significant number of viewers’ habits as the show scored its highest ratings in six years, with the first night alone up some 25% over its average, finishing second for the day.

There may or may not be a lasting benefit for Jeopardy, but the point is the spectacle was a much talked-about change agent that resulted in a lot of people breaking their media consumption pattern even if for a short while.

If you’re not already doing so, think about spectacle as part of your audience-growing strategy.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WHY SO DOWN? 7 Tips for Scheduling Music in a Down Tempo Cycle

Every year has music cycles where the currents are be too “something” – too fast/slow, male/female, poppy/twangy, etc.

We’re now in a cycle of down-tempo current music. More than half our currents are down-tempo and we’ve been ballad-heavy since at least the first of the year.

Still, there’s no reason for your station to take a tempo hit. There are plenty of good testing tempo songs to play. You may just need to tweak your scheduling system a bit.

If you’re looking for tempo, start with the class of 2010.

Albright & O’Malley’s Top 20 of 2010 was evenly split with 10 ballads and 10 songs that had a medium tempo or better. Looking at the top 1/3 of our testers of the year there’s more tempo; 57% were medium or up-tempo songs.

Additionally, more than 60% of the top 50 in Mediabase’s 2010 Country Year-End Chart had tempo.

2/3 of A&O’s top Recurrents today are medium or up-tempo.

Looking at the millennial era, the last time ballads out-numbered tempo songs in the top 1/3 was 2001.

Checking even wider, the tempo composition of the Top 25 songs in A&O’s 1st Quarter Gold Sort (all eras) is 10 slow, 9 medium and 6 fast titles.

If you’re playing these eras and still having trouble getting sufficient tempo, here are a few places in your scheduling system to check:

• Search depth: Gold categories can handle a deep search; just set your minimum separation to avoid tighter play than you wish

• “Tandem” rules: set one tight (like Tempo as a segue rule with minimal restrictions) and one looser (like Energy as a sweep rule)

• “Archaic” rules: these are rules that were valid at one time but not now may be unnecessarily keeping otherwise playable songs from scheduling.

• Review clocks and eliminate any over-scheduled categories.

• Suspend Clock Energy or Opener if you’re using either to make more songs available around the hour

• Temporarily suspend play of your lightest, slowest gold

• Run an audit/post-scheduling analysis to see if there are other rules that could temporarily be relaxed until the cycle shifts (make a note of these so you can revisit them later).

Regularly making tweaks to your system to accommodate changing music cycles is a natural part of the scheduling process. “Set it and forget it” will leave you with too many unscheduled positions or worse – a mix that’s not what it should be.

Have a question, need a hand with coding, rules or other scheduling issues, or want to share your ideas?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Long Life Span of Kind Words and Dismissive Behavior

Last week I got the chance to say thank you in person to Willard Scott for a simple act of kindness and professional courtesy that he did more than 20 years ago.

It was 1987 and I was the new PD at WYNY in New York City. That night at midnight, we’d flipped the then NBC-owned AC station to Country. The following morning on the Today Show, Willard finished up his forecast by unexpectedly congratulating us on the flip and wishing us, as NBC brethren, much success.

It was unnecessary. It appeared genuine. We were thrilled and felt like we’d made a new friend.

The camera then cut to Bryant Gumbel who made a sour face while saying something dismissive about the format.

It was unnecessary. It appeared genuine. We were disappointed and felt talked down to.

This past Groundhog’s Day, Willard graciously listened while I recounted the story and offered my thanks. He even indulged me with a photo op.

After all these years I’ve never forgotten the polar responses from these two broadcasters and how it made my staff feel. If you’ve talked to listeners, you know they too can long remember how a talent has treated them and how that made them feel.

What impression will you and your talent leave today?

It could last for 20 years.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

OPEN WIDE: How To Be Welcoming To Country's Diverse Cume

Country cuts a wide demographic swath attracting roughly equal cume ratings 18-34, 18-49, 25-54 and 35-64. In fact, the cume rating among 18-34s and 18-49s is slightly higher than even 25-54 or 35-64 (Inside Radio/Research Director Inc. PPM Format Norms 2010 Study). 

Run an Audience Composition Report and review how your station’s elements are aligned with your cume distribution goals.

Are these elements and their execution adding or repelling the cume you’re seeking? Are they improving the chances of converting that cume to AQH?

You'll want to look at more, but here are three to get you started:

Music: Strong music from artists outside our 'traditional superstars' is a trend that’s well under-way. “Core” or “Essence” artists are different by demo. How are you managing this?

Services: “What,” “how” and “how frequently” you deliver are equally important. Weigh these against what you know about your audience’s use (or non-use) of services. Are your services (content and execution) aligned with your target cume?

Talent: Content (relevant, unique, engaging, sticky, ‘must hear’) and delivery (execution, efficiency, style and platforms) – are these very or not very likely to attract and engage the cume you’re seeking?

Country is getting great sampling 18-34 and 18-49.

Are you as welcoming as you can be?   

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Albright & O’Malley's Pre-CRS Seminar Lineup Announced. Wow!

I hope you’ll bet at CRS 2011 in Nashville March 2-4. It’s a great agenda so come prepared to learn and share.

And if you’re in Nashville Tuesday, March 1 (hopefully to attend the Country Radio Hall of Fame Dinner –yes it WILL be a special one), I hope you’ll join us earlier in the day for Albright &O’Malley’s annual “Seminar before the Seminar.” We’ll get underway at 12:30 at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Each year A&O puts together a lineup of industry leaders as well as those outside of radio to share their thoughts, often in never-before-seen presentations.

Here’s what’s in store for you this year:

Paul Jacobs of Jacobs Media will present the Arbitron/Jacobs Media Study, “Goin’ Mobile,” an ethnographic research project revealing how Americans use and are engaged with mobile devices. Through a series of video interviews, listeners reveal how their smartphones have become part of their daily lives, the degree to which their smartphones have impacted their consumption of other media including radio, the critical reasons why smartphones have gone from the “next big thing” to the “most essential thing,” and how the future of mobile devices will impact us all. Segments will be shown that weren't available when "Goin' Mobile" debuted at the Radio Show in 2010.

Larry Rosin, President of Edison Research, has presented his company’s American Youth Study 2010 to wide acclaim, The study, in conjunction with, surveyed the media habits of America’s 12-24 year olds. Now, for the first time ever, Larry will look at young country fans and reveal how they see radio’s role in music discovery, the impact of Pandora, how new competitors have changed their radio listening habits, what new challenges lie on the horizon, and more. This is a must-see.

Townsquare Media/A&O’s Ray Massie will present a social media workshop, “Facebook--The Freeway of Love.” Most anyone over 16 can use a freeway or Facebook. But like a 16 year old with a new driver’s license, crashes, near misses, and the flashing red lights of the Highway Patrol are part of most stations experience. Ray will show you what to post, how to post, and the secret algorithm formula Facebook uses to determine what appears in the newsfeed which will boost your ratings--if you find the right ramp.

In a different take on Facebook, Talent Coach Tommy Kramer will present a session called, "The Truth about Phone Calls, Facebook, and Twitter." Phone calls. Facebook. Twitter. You Tube. A little of each goes a long way, and the answer to "how much is too much?" is "less than you think." Tommy will show you what the difference is between reaching out to listeners...or trying to fit a bowling ball through a straw.

Jaye Albright will open the event by presenting the findings from Albright & O’Malley’s 6th annual “Roadmap Study 2011” – the nationwide, online poll of country radio listeners’ perceptions on music, the station of country radio and more. The study is currently in the field in over 50 markets in the US and Canada.

Mike O’Malley will conduct a one-on-one discussion with Tennessee Republican Committee Chairman  Chris Devaney, about what radio can learn from political strategists. Topics will include building grass roots support, focusing on the few core issues that may define a campaign or candidate, the art of words/speech making, using social media, attracting attention and more.

And of course there will be music! Our sponsor UMG/Nashvlle, will present Kip Moore and Randy Montana who will close the event.

If you’re in radio and attending CRS (and not in a competitive A&O market – sorry!), you’re invited to join us. It’s free, but you will need an invitation. Just let Jaye ( or me ( that you’d like to attend.

The Country Radio Seminar is all about sharing knowledge and ideas. So is A&O’s pre-CRS seminar.

I’m excited about them both!