Wednesday, December 23, 2015

If You See Something, Say Something: Three Ways to Turn Your Life Into Awesome Content

Guest Blogger: Christie Maturo

Your life is a rich source of content.

That’s true year-round but especially this time of year. So if you haven’t mined your world for content in a while, there’s no better time than now to look at what’s around you. For example...

This caught my eye in the grocery store.

Really? A pack of pre-cooked bacon as a Christmas gift?

That started a chain reaction of questions: Who would give that?
Who would want to GET that? What if you wrapped it and left it under tree but the family had a hungry pet?

As quickly as that, a piece of original content began to take shape.

“Deliberately observing your life” and thinking about what you see is the genesis of great, original content.  

Forbes’ Jessica Hagy (@JessicaHagy) describes the process with this graphic:

Those of you who were at A&O&B’s 2015 Pre-CRS conference met via Skype my daughter Christie who is a Second City alum. At the time she was living in Chicago doing TV commercials and she spoke to us about the art of working with a partner.

She’s since moved to Texas where she’s a Professor of Theatre at Midwestern State University and is also currently co-writing and co-starring in the new web comedy series “Hey You It’s Me.”

 As an actor, sketch comedy writer and Professor, I asked Christie to author a guest blog and share her thoughts and experiences about turning what you see into content you can use on the air.

"Whenever I see or hear something funny, I always imagine, “What if this happened to me?”

I find things are funnier when you put yourself in an awkward or embarrassing situation. It takes the pressure off of anyone else and it is never hurtful or offensive if you are making yourself the butt of the joke.  

For example, what if my boyfriend gave me this pre-cooked bacon for Christmas. I’m a vegetarian! 

Does he not know me at all? Did he even buy this? Did he hire someone to shop for me? 

Is he secretly dating a carnivore? Is this some sort of sign for our future that he expects me in the kitchen cooking his lazy ass bacon every morning!?

Then I let the ideas run wild to further develop the story.

This would definitely lead to a fight. Would we break up? Would I shove the bacon in his pockets and sic the dogs on him?

How would I retell this story of the end of our relationship? To my mom? To my best girlfriends? To my therapist?

When I experience something that is unusual, I imagine all the ways it could have gotten even weirder.

True story: I went on audition the other week where the director was floored that someone who’s been on national television showed up to audition for him. Everything I told him about myself was astonishing to him.

When I think about retelling the story, I imagine what could have made this even weirder.

What if he cried at the top of my audition because he was so happy that anyone took his audition seriously enough to show up? Then I imagined him apologizing and pulling himself together and telling me to continue. 

I’d ask him if he would like a resume and headshot and he again bursts in to uncontrollable sobs. He pulls himself together, 

I begin to read for him but he starts again weeping so loudly I have to stop auditioning. We sit on the floor where he cries and pours his heart out. In the end, I leave with whatever part I want :)

Listening is just as important as seeing or experiencing things.

In a similar way, I use conversations and other peoples' stories as jumping off points.

For example, I had a friend tell me that she broke up with her boyfriend two weeks ago and just this past weekend, he shows up at her door and proposes with a stuffed Minion. He used the excuse of bringing her over his Star Wars DVDs because they had recently discussed how she had never seen them. She’s a biology professor and he thought as a self-respecting nerd, she needed to watch the movies.  

Again, what if this happened to me?

I could switch that to he brought me the movie “Waiting for Guffman” because it is about community theatre. 

Or maybe he made me a mix tape of show tunes, or bought me a book of Shakespeare’s sonnets and attempted to read them to me.

The minion is priceless. I might use that, or change it to something even more inappropriate to me.
Like maybe he brings me a stuffed Darth Vader even though he knows I hate outer space movies. 

And, since they sell Star Wars stuff everywhere, I’m convinced he picked it up at a gas station on the way to my house.

As you observe what’s around you, run through as many possibilities as you can of how it would be if what you're seeing or hearing happened to you and then imagine how weird this thing could get. 

Review your ideas and pick the ones where you can paint the most interesting stories."

With holiday get-togethers, end of year celebrations, and relatives, this time of the year provides plenty of low-hanging fruit just waiting to be turned into great content. 

Love to hear what you come up with.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A&O&B's Annual Top 10 for the Year: The Top Songs and Artists of 2015

If you need a break from your Christmas shopping list, try this list: A&O&B’s annual Top 10 Songs and Artists of the Year.

Each December we compile our research-driven list from our online and call-out data and data rankings for every song we played and tested for at least six weeks during the previous 12 months.

This year there were a total of 92 titles on our list.

Here’s our Top 10 for 2015:

Little Big Town
Girl Crush
Bryan, Luke
Strip It Down
Hunt, Sam
House Party
Owen, Jake
What We Ain’t Got
Shelton, Blake w/ Ashley Monroe
Lonely Tonight
Bryan, Luke
Kick The Dust Up
Hunt, Sam
Take Your Time
Church, Eric
Bryan, Luke
Church, Eric
Like A Wrecking Ball
Top 10 Honorary Mention: Chris Jansen who’s “Buy Me a Boat” missed the Top 10 by the smallest of margins.

“Girl Crush” was the only song this year to score a perfect 1.0 (the best Like A Lot score a song can achieve having ranked #1 in research for 6 or more weeks).  Last year there were two (“Drink A Beer” and “Play It Again”). There were four in 2013.

Contributing to the decreasing number of “perfect” score songs recently is the continuing lack of "top song consensus" week to week across markets. This underscores the importance of testing your current music on a regular basis.

Another trend we’ve been tracking is the increase in ballads among the top scorers. 

Since 2002, there have been more tempo songs than ballads in both the Top 1/3 and overall.  That trend barely held this year as tempo songs outnumbered ballads in the Top 1/3 by just a 52% to 48% margin.

Additionally, for each of the past three years, ballads have had an increasingly larger Top 10 footprint.  In 2012 there were three ballads in the Top 10. There were four in 2013, five in 2014 and now seven in 2015.

For those tracking so-called “Bro Country,” 2015’s BC titles indexed slightly lower than last year’s.

We also use our song-performance data to identify the Top Artists of the Year.

For the second year in a row and third time in the past four years, Luke Bryan was the artist point winner.  This was the fourth consecutive year that Luke placed multiple songs in the Top 10: three this year, four last year, two in 2013 and three in 2012.

2015’s runner up was Eric Church who placed two songs in our Top 10. 

The rest of the top 5 included Chris Young, Sam Hunt (who also placed two songs on our Top 10) and Carrie Underwood. 

Blake Shelton, who was our Top Artist in 2013 and who was second to Luke in 2014 finished 7th this year.

Here's where to check out A&O&B's Top 10 lists for the past three years: 2014, 2013 and 2012.

If you simply can't get enough Top 10 lists, Nielsen has more - from TV to music to snacks, you can see their continually updated Top 10 lists  here

A&O&B clients have access to free, local, online music testing using our custom software. If you have questions or an interest, reach us at or

Friday, December 04, 2015

7 Components of Todays Radio: A Quick PD Checklist

As part of her “Radio Matters” presentation at the 2015 Nielsen Total Audio Conference, the RAB’s Erica Farber shared this slide about radio's composition.

While primarily part of a larger, advertiser-directed initiative, the PD in me also saw this slide as a quick programming checklist.

How are you doing in each of these areas?

Watch the RAB "Radio Matters" video here

Nielsen Audio Conference Tweets: #nielsenaudioconf