Thursday, June 30, 2011

Celebrating the Fourth: How Listening Changes During the 4th of July Week

The Mill Pond “river walk” gets a makeover around Halloween for fright walks. Santa can be counted on to ride through every street in the borough on a fire truck just before Christmas. And there’s a town-wide garage sale each spring.

But the 4th of July in Milltown is something else altogether with no less than eight events this year: a fishing derby, two runs, a near two-hour parade, free music and food plus kids' rides at Borough Park, Best Apple Pie and Most Patriotic House contests, and finally some pretty impressive fireworks to end the day.

If Milltown had a radio station, they’d be challenged to keep up with the borough.

Hopefully your station is not only keeping up with but playing a strong role in listeners’ lives this weekend.

Arbitron’s analysis of 30 PPM markets last year shows that the total radio listening (all formats) for July 4th and 5th dips below the year’s daily average while listening on July 1, 2, 6 and 7 exceeds that average. 

The primary trigger of the drop is away from home listening that declines on the 3rd through the 5th while the amount of listening at home remains flat across the week.

However looking just at country, specifically among 25-54s in 5 randomly selected markets, holiday listening to the format is significantly more consistent across the week, staying relatively flat while the market's total listening drops.

How will you take advantage of a competitor who lays in an extra day of voice tracking, plays a syndicated special and calls it good?

Have a great (and proud) 4th!
Special thanks to Arbitron’s Jenny Tsao for providing the data and graphs.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Making Fans "Off the Field"

The big crowd at Yankee Stadium showed that they remembered him with something just short of a standing ovation as he walked to the plate. JasonGiambi paused just outside the batter’s box to acknowledge us by touching his hand to the brim of his batting helmet. 

Then he promptly hit a rifle-shot home run to right. There was another round of cheers.

Coming to the Bronx in 2001 was not without its challenges. Giambi signed a big contract just three months after 9-11 and was replacing the much-loved first baseman Tino Martinez. But his performance as a Yankee, including his highlight-reel homeruns, earned him many fans.

I liked him as a player too, but it was something he did months before he ever played his first game for the Yanks that made me a Jason Giambi fan.

That event happened in December, 2001. Matt Lauer and the Today Show took a young boy who’d lost his firefighter father on 9/11 to Yankee Stadium where they met, among others, the newly arrived Jason Giambi. The boy was asked who his favorite Yankee was and replied “Tino.” Jason said he was sorry (to be replacing Tino) and began a game of catch with him.

Everyone, Giambi included, had tears in their eyes.

It was beyond touching.

It was that unguarded moment of compassion - that peek behind the curtain - that made me think that a player with this kind of heart would be someone worth rooting for.  More than 10 years later I still remember that TV moment vividly; it was what made (and keeps) me a Jason Giambi fan to this day.

Listeners don’t forget talents’ actions either.

I’ve moderated plenty of station panels where listeners can recall in great detail how a particular talent remembered their name, asked about a family member or a circumstance they’d been told about months before, or how they just were open, engaging, real, and interesting.

I’ve also heard from listeners left with bad impressions because they thought a talent was aloof or too self-important because they sat at a table or didn’t make an effort to engage them in conversation.

Brands are a collection of personal experiences.  Your daily performance on air is a huge part of that, of course. But so is what you do off the “field.”

Don’t miss moments to connect.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

When News Breaks Out...

Gord Eno, Program Director of 93.7 JR-FM (CJJR-FM) pens an excellent, weekly memo to his staff.

I received this week’s missive from Gord the day after having just completed a listener panel which included some discussion on where listeners go first for news (it wasn’t radio). 

Gord graciously allowed me to post his memo here. Some will view this as another indictment of traditional media, but they'd be missing the point.

While watching TV coverage of the Stanley Cup celebrations inside the arena, CBC cut to video of a burning police car outside their studios. From that point on, I was scanning the channels seeking more information.
My mistake Wednesday night was not digging deeper than the #canucks and #nhlplayoffs hashtags I was following on Twitter for the game or searching Facebook for updates.

I defaulted to what I was watching on TV, the tried, true and dependable CBC. It appeared their coverage was struggling, resorting to sensationalizing events they couldn’t support with video. Finally, when I was able to find other sources, the images were of police were guarding empty intersections and video of stragglers trying to find their way out of the downtown core. One channel even included night shots of street cleaners peacefully making their way down Georgia.

Those images did not even come close to what I saw early the next morning. Nor did it have the impact of the aggregated videos and pictures that began spreading yesterday afternoon.

The real story of the rioting was portrayed online, much of it through social media. Thousands of images and videos were taken from hundreds of perspectives. In fact, there was criticism that the people who passively stood by to document the destruction and violence were part of the escalation.

As it turns out, the very same documentation that may have been a catalyst to the crime is now evidentiary in arresting the criminals. Blogs, Tumblr, YouTube and Facebook pages are posting the faces of thugs caught in the act in order to publicly expose and identify them.

It is working with a vengeance. The public has provided names, backgrounds, even phone numbers of the identified. Apparently some have already been arrested.

Now, today there are fears expressed that the vigilance has devolved to vigilante with inaccurate accusations and intense personal attacks on people whose status updates are deemed contrary to current popular opinion. Young Offenders Act infringements have also been cited.

But it was also Twitter and Facebook that created the ground swell movement to motivate hundreds of volunteers to team up and clean up the mess left by rioters.
Through this, a wall of positive reinforcement rose from the sheets of plywood covering broken windows. Heartfelt comments written by real Vancouverites, ensuring us and the rest of the world that the ugly Vancouver they were exposed to Wednesday night is not the beautiful Vancouver we all saw, experienced, and loved during the 2010 Olympics.

I suspect social media will play a big part in our understanding of what happened to us Wednesday night and how we will move beyond the tragedy and feel optimistic about the future.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Crossing Paths: Country's Millennial vs. Boom Era Music

Albright & O’Malley's Roadmap 2011 (our 5th annual online perceptual) continues to provide valuable insights into where country radio is at the moment and where it is headed.

One part of each study is devoted to music, more specifically, trending the listener appeal of various music clusters. 

At CRS 2011  we revealed some top line data* that showed ascending passion scores for millennial music and a corresponding decline for Boom-era music.  

I spoke about this with Inside Radio’s Paul Heine for his article “A Changing of the Guard at Country Radio” published Friday (06/10/11) which also included observations from, among others, Coleman Insights President/COO Warren Kurtzman (“The best country position in the market is the one based on millennial music.”) and Greg Mozingo, PD of WIL, St. Louis, (the market’s leading music station 6+) whose station is heavy into millennial music including Jason Aldean , Lady Antebellum and Miranda Lambert and artists Greg calls "superstars" and "great newcomers."  
A&O's Roadmap clearly shows that these as well as other millennial artists are indeed scoring well across the board 18-54. 

But, having said that, as the next chart shows, 25-54 listener passion is still very high for millennial music from pre-millennial artists like Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith  and Alan Jackson.

While the data also shows that passion scores for Boom Era music have become noticeably softer over time, and that the best scores are coming from older demos, this isn't to say that all pre-millennium songs don't test well - plenty still test very well.
Nor is this a blanket recommendation that all pre-2000 titles should be purged from your station. Many of our own successful stations play varying degrees of the Boom era and late 90's music daily. The correct music mix for you depends on your competitive situation and may well be different from that of your competitors or from stations in other markets.
Rather, this is about how the passion for millennial music, from newer and established artists, spans such a wide demographic. 

Last year Inside Radio/Research Director, Inc. PPM released a format study reporting that while country’s AQH composition is heaviest 35-54, country’s weekly cume ratings varied little across 18-34 (16.6), 18-49 (16.5) or 25-54 (16.4).   

The broad strength of millennial music is, of course, great news for a format where the cume ratings are nearly identical across 35 years.

*Unless otherwise noted, all data is from Albright & O’Malley Roadmap on-line surveys of listeners recruited from station database and social media initiatives and as such is subject to any inherent biases

Upcoming blog teaser: Country and Arbitron’s Alpha Boomer demo.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Your New Favorite Filter?

Here’s a filter to get a fast read on value of something: ask, “Does Anybody Care?” 

One PD and I use this filter all the time. For the most part, items that pass the filter get on the air. Things that get a “Nobody cares,” don’t.

In our filter, “Nobody cares” is defined as unremarkable, lacking the ability to grab attention, or generate demand/tune-in, or create word of mouth.  Our definition also includes ambivalence or indifference, or that most people don’t care about this element to the degree they might care about something similar or as much as they care about another element in the same category.

“Nobody cares” elements may seem neutral, but they’re not.  They dilute the passion for your brand and are an invitation for listeners to seek out something they do care about. Too many "Nobody Cares" elements risk turning your station into a “negative brand.”
The purpose of a filter is to remove undesirable particles or keep them from mingling with the final product.
Try this one on your music, the break you’re about to do, a promotion you’re running, something you’re about to tease, or a long-standing element on your show.
“Does Anybody Care” is a tough filter, but it's effective and just might become your favorite.