Friday, July 31, 2015

40 "Sound Bites" from Conclave 40

These days it’s hard to find time in a schedule or money in a budget for attending industry conventions.

That’s unfortunate, because when great minds - passionate about radio - get together, good things happen.

If you’re in country radio and have been to CRS, you;ve experienced that first hand (register for CRS 2016 here )

Similarly, the Conclave 40 Learning Conference which took place in Minneapolis earlier this month was both a solid, non-format-specific learning/sharing experience as well as a chance to connect with others who share a passion for great radio (learn more about the Conclave here).

As programmers and consultants, we spend time a lot of time with listeners. But being a part of the Conclave’s Speed Mentoring Panel Friday morning turned the tables. For two hours it was about spending time with those in our industry seeking their next career step or looking for sounding boards for their ideas.

It was quite a wide funnel of people that I had the privilege of spending time with (in 7 minute increments) - from college students with designs on careers from station management to artist management (shout out to Seaton Hall who sent multiple students to Conclave) to major market talent - from those who had a detailed personal growth plan to those who didn’t have an immediate answer for, “What are you best at?” (but that’s a future blog).

The mentoring panel was just two hours of the two-day agenda. There were multiple high-quality sessions with great thinking and usable ideas.

In the spirit of, “we’re all smarter when we share what we’ve learned,” here are 40 bullet points from Conclave 40 (includes paraphrases and, when possible, attributions).

You can also search #conclave40 on Twitter for convention tweets.

If you attended and have other bullets to share, feel free to leave them as a comment below. Love to share them!

Opening Session: “Ask Me Almost Anything”

Ginny Morris, CEO/Hubbard; Mary Quass/CEO NRG Media; Dave Paulus VP/GM Max Media Norfolk; Pierre Bouvard, CMO/Cumulus Media; Brian Kelly/VP Programming Entercom discuss timely issues. Moderator Joel Denver

1 - The industry cannot afford not to invest in talent. The pendulum swings…things are swinging back to appreciation of talent. (Morris)

2 - The time it takes listeners to come back to the station after they tune out is getting longer because there are more choices and nothing to bring them back.

3 - We have to have the courage to ask for more money for commercials. Figure out what cost is and have the courage to sell it. (Quass)

4 - No other medium in the world does so much to denigrate commercials (Bouvard)

5 - Every station should implement provides an enhanced experience for listeners and advertisers (Bouvard)

6 - IBM employees use social media to send out success stories and case studies.

7- Streaming is the coat of doing business. If that's what the consumer demands we have to provide it. (Paulus)

Make Your App More Than Just The Station Stream, and Monetize It Too

Angie May-Cook (Emmis), J. T. Tarrants (WCSX Detroit), J. Pat Miller (Scripps, Milwaukee); Moderator: Paul Jacobs

8 - Your station is unique and your app should look unique as well. Great mobile apps start with great strategies

9 - Don’t build apps for listeners; build them for lifestyles.

10 - Mobile revenue is low because radio sells it like spots. Two different approaches: “Where Hip Hop Lives” app (free and subscription) and WCSX’s client-integrated Deer Hunter app. 

11 - Don't think of mobile as receiver but as the hub of listeners’ digital lives. As such mobile must supply content listeners truly value.

Taking Your Show Online: Podcasting, Streaming and Beyond

Perry Simon (All Access), Sean Ross (Edison Research). Moderator: George Woods (Radio George)

12 - Reasons to podcast: because you want to do something that conventional Radio doesn't do, you have something to say, to help get a job. Reasons not to podcast: It's hot, someone told me to do it, make money.

13 - All social – but Facebook especially – drives a huge portion of podcast audience

14 - Monetization: brand advertising (not ‘spots’) will be the future – as well as subscription models including selling of archives, P.I.’s, merchandising, live or on–location events

15 - Think “60 minutes of music” instead of ‘replacing commercials.”  For extra music consider songs you wouldn't play on FM

16 - Streaming alternative: “File On Demand”

Edison’s Share of Ear Results

Larry Rosin/President, Edison Research

(For these notes, Millennials defined as 13-34 year olds)

17 - AM FM Radio share of ear 55% of all audio combined BUT just 39% for Millennials

18 - Millennials’ Distribution of Time Spent with Streaming Audio: Pandora 49%, Spot iffy 27%, I-heart  10%, iTunes 8%, other brands 11%

19 - Millennial Device Usage: 35% listen on a radio receiver but 32% is listening is via mobile; computer 17%. In cars, music is 86% of audio content

20 - Location of listening to streaming audio: Home 52% - AM-FM gets 25% while streaming audio gets 29%; Vehicle 29% (AM-FM 68% which is nearly identical by generation); Work 13%; Other 6%

21 - 85% use radio in the car regardless of age but newer car owners use a higher percent of other platforms/devices besides FM/FM. The challenge is to provide content that will make people want to choose you: unique content you can't get elsewhere drives even limited FM users back to FM: sports, NPR-style content, morning shows. 

22 - The big challenge is people who just want music... Radio needs interaction and relationship with music.

23 - Nothing has hurt radio’s perception more than its lack of advertising

Beyond The News Feed

Garrison Cummings (Digital Manager, Green Bay Packers), Glenn Woods (Radio One); Moderator: Lori Lewis

24 - Understand and create messages for each segment/persona of the audience. The Green Bay Packers identified three fan types and created messages for each: Hardcore: stats/infographics/advance info; Casual: family posts/it's game time conversations; International: history/packers roll call (where are you watching)

25 - Focus on end users feelings

26 - "Shares" are significantly more valuable than "Likes"

If You're Doing Your Job The Same Way You Did Last Year, You're Behind

David Moore, Madison, WI, Tom Langmyer, Milwaukee, Scott Masteller, Baltimore; Moderator: Chuck DuCoty

27 - Identify the core competencies you want your radio station to focus on (example from WBAL: Ravens Flagship, big local stories, social, ratings, production)

28 - Get production pieces done in advance so they can be used immediately after an event; demonstrates to listeners that the station is really on top of everything.  

29 - “When we look for sellers we look for high bandwidth people who are engaged in their community. Radio needs problem solvers.”  

30 - Non negotiables in hires: demonstrates passion for the business; recognizes that it's a privilege to work in this industry; ambitious with strong work ethic; ability motivate and coach talent (Programmers)

What Your Audience is Doing When They’re Not Listening to You

Fred Jacobs/President, Jacobs Media
Results are from Jacobs’ Tech Survey 11

31 - Emotional-related reasons are significant in driving listenership

32 - Women are more social than men; Facebook is #1; country women index higher on Pinterest than women with other format preferences

33 - Acknowledgement is extremely meaningful to listeners. “Want to connect with Millennials? Acknowledge them.”

34 - Create good content. Make it easy to share and people will.

35 - Email is #1 way to interact with listeners. 

36 - Podcasting is not a phenomenon yet so there is an opportunity to create something good and have it stand out. Country users index low for podcast consumption; sports is highest

37 - The younger the listener, the more likely they are to do most of their radio listening in the car. Almost 60% of country users can connect a device in a car; 20% own a connected car

The Next Frontier in Audience Databases

Erica Dreyer (NRG), Paul Cramer (Triton), Jennifer Williams (Greater Media)

38 - Use databases to create moments of surprise and delight (send tickets, freebies, etc.). Whatever surprise and delight you deliver will wind up on social media

39 - Have an option to use a social login. 86% do not want to create another username and password. Facebook is most used; Google + is #2 

40 - Initially ask for age, gender and zip. Over time, ask for small additional bits of information. Meanwhile, move anyone who has not interacted with the station in a year (i.e., opened an email) to an inactive file so your database count is always accurate

Bullets from a convention are great but being there is better from the opportunity to extract something specific for your situation, to post-session discussions, to spending a couple of days with people who are as passionate as you are about our industry.

Hopefully 2016 will find a line item in your budget to attend a conference where you can come away with new ideas and be re-energized about our business.

Friday, July 10, 2015

"Back When Radio Was Good" - A Week with Beats 1

Initial reviews of Beats 1 have ranged from “brilliant” to “meh,” but many who’ve written about it – pro Beats 1 or not – have taken the opportunity to snipe at radio: “Beats 1 sounds like radio used to sound when it was good.” Or, "will Beats 1 make radio cool again?”

There are a lot of places to start a discussion about Beats 1. But setting music, (lack of) commercials, and expectations aside for the moment, Beats 1 does have an excitement about it that’s driven in large part by the talent.

You don’t have to listen long to realize the Beats 1 talent have significant mic presence. The “song-sweeper-song-talent” sequence has been replaced by stretches of “song-talent-song-talent.”  

And for the most part, the talent (especially the three "anchors") - pull it off.

It seems that the rule of thumb might be, “you can always talk about the music,” except that there were instances of excellent picture painting too. 

London-based Julie Adanuga delivered an interesting tease/pay-off on Beats 1’s first day with the tease (“Grab your ID - you’ll need it in a bit”) and then a song later began a club music set by delivering the radio version of a Vine clip as she told us of our arrival at “the club,” that we were all on the guest list, and told first-time club-goers, “this is what it feels like” to be in the club.

It could have been terribly hokey; instead it was visual and fun - and quick.

If you buy into the “throwback criticism,” Cousin Brucie describing the elevator ride to the top of the CBS building and the 113th floor as he opened the “Love Hour Half Hour” on CBS-FM might come to mind.

Similarly when Beats 1 NY talent Ebro Darden did his gritty “we’re on the streets” segment and “took us through the Boroughs,” New Yorkers might have channeled the 60s spirit of WWRL-AM.

Also apparent was the talent demonstrating their interest, knowledge and passion for the music.  

Talent as advocate-cheerleader-champion of their station's music and artists is a frequent coaching point today.

Check out Kid Leo “back when radio was good” as a critic might say, selling the music.

Audience acknowledgement was a significant part of the launch. I was repeatedly recognized as a member of the Day One Crew and told that we were on a Day One Journey together. Phrases like “thank you for being a part of history” and “if I had kids I’d tell them about this” might have come off like hype except the talent seemed genuine about it all. 

In aggregate I was made to feel like I was part of a movement. “Beats 1 Worldwide” and “Broadcasting around the world” along with the requisite personal and geographical acknowledgements added to the feeling that we were part of something akin to a new counter-culture where the whole was more than the sum of its parts.

A footprint so big that anyone in the world might be listening along with you undoubtedly contributes to this feeling. But local radio has a long history of creating in-market communities too. Howard Stern’s audience would probably agree.

That’s not to say that the Beats 1 talent doesn’t get off the track; there's inside talk that can be tedious and irrelevant, talking over music to the point of being annoying, repeatedly shouting a word or phrase that comes off like a failed effort at creating excitement, occasions of too much self-indulgence, and breaks that sound undisciplined and unprepared. These were disappointments.

Still, comments like “when radio used to be good” - at least in terms of the talent-generated excitement - remind us that an air staff of passionate, creative, music-loving, listener and format advocates, who are uniquely entertaining and integral to the overall programming, help define a station in a non-duplicable, extremely positive way.

The payoff from the time and effort spent on finding, valuing, coaching, and encouraging genuine talent, is a more entertaining radio station with a passionate audience that feels connected.

And that's hard to “beat.”