Thursday, December 03, 2009

Help Dene Hallam's Daughters: In my blogs I like to get right to the point and not waste your time. Please help insure that Dene's wonderful daughters get a good education. Moby of Moby in the Morning has set up an Educational Trust Fund. Here's a link to the information:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Hidden Meaning of Taylor Swift's Big CMA Night: Conventional wisdom is that Taylor Swift won Entertainer of the Year because she's arguably the hottest artist on the planet. I think it goes deeper than that. This is the beginning of yet another changing of the guard in Nashville. Think about it. The incredible Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and George Strait (fellow nominees) have all been hit makers for a decade or more. Taylor was the only recent hitmaker in the bunch. It's not about who's more Pop or who's more Country. Nor is it soley about Taylor's amazing talent. The message from the CMA voters came through loud and clear: It's time to shake things up. Taylor Swift is a glorious lightening rod for that change.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fourth Single Syndrome: Have you noticed that several of our biggest stars are out with their third or fourth singles from current album projects? No problem with that if the material is great. The problem is that much of it is not. Therein lies the rub. I think strong songs like those by David Nail and Luke Bryan may not be getting their just airplay as we instead give more spins to that weaker song by the bigger artist. Just because an A+ act has a song in the Top 10, it does not mean that it is a hit, or worthy of power rotation. I'm just sayin' ...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Enough Already: Country Boys, Country Girls, Country Men, Country Women. Is it just me, or are these themes overdone in Country songs of the last few years? Just asking.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Write Like Your Life Depends On It: As we all get more tech-savvy, let's not lose sight of the power of the written word, whether it's in our web copy, on-air imaging, or any copy associated with radio stations.

It's easy to become enamored with how something looks or how the audio bells and whistles sound. It's harder to craft the messages that will resonate with our target audiences.

In visual marketing, only the right words combined with great layout and visuals will produce the desired results.

Is there a compelling story ready to motivate your audience? Write and re-write until it's right. Your professional life depends on it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Country At Conclave: Thanks to former R&R Editor Paul Heine for his coverage of the Country panel I was privileged to moderate:

Thursday, July 16, 2009
How To Upset The Status Quo

MINNEAPOLIS –The annual Conclave radio conference opened up Thursday afternoon (July 16) with a textbook story of how old-school, street-level warfare can still damage entrenched competitors, especially in today’s environment of cutbacks and limited resources. Ron Allen PD at country KVWF (the Wolf)/Wichita, told the tale of how, in February 2008, Connoisseur Media signed on as the market’s seventh country station and how the Wolf has since defeated all but two of them. In the winter 2009 Arbitron ratings, KVWF is one-tenth of a share away from the market’s No. 2 country outlet.

Renegade branding, complete with on-air howls and a 25-foot inflatable wolf for appearances, made the station stand out, Allen said. Instead of another lackluster station van, Wolf staffers drive a bright orange truck – with paw prints all over it.

“We blind-sided the competition; they weren’t expecting the full court press,” Allen told attendees at the Country Cage Match session, moderated by Joel Raab, president of Joel Raab Associates. “We came in with the attitude that every event will be challenged.”

As the last one to the dance, KVWF had to improvise to put its paw prints on concerts and other events traditionally dominated by its established competitors. When the Wolf was told it could not participate in an event at the 10,000-capacity Kansas Coliseum, the station set up large displays at three main access points to the venue, giving it what Allen called “high visibility.”

Don Jacobs, market manager/VP of the Results Radio cluster in Sioux Falls S.D., also shared war stories from a new country sign-on. When Garth Brooks came to town for six sell-outs, Jacobs distributed 6,000 Brooks masks with the station’s Kickin’ Country logo printed on the back. “When you’re in later than everyone else, you have to take a different approach,” he said.

Mark Phillips, PD at the nation’s first Wolf – Cumulus Media’s KPLX/ Dallas – bemoaned that many stations don’t excel at the basics: “Everybody is short-staffed, resources are limited, but I still hear a lot of basics that aren’t being done right, starting with the music.” Remarkably, Phillips pulls a four-hour afternoon shift in radio’s fifth largest market. “People think I’m crazy but you need to lead by example.” The strategy appears to be working: KPLX is No. 2 in the market among listeners 6+ in Arbitron’s June PPM report with a cume of 1.2 million.

Phillips says his day starts at 5 a.m., taking notes on the morning show, monitoring the competition, working on the music. By two in the afternoon, it’s show prep time. In between, he says he makes a lot of time for communicating with the airstaff. “When people are insecure about their jobs, you need to make them feel important. There’s a difference between leading and managing.”

Country Radio Broadcasters executive director Ed Salamon shared 10 programming strategies from his tenure at WHN/New York in the ‘70s.

“The country life group in New York wasn’t obvious,” he said. (The No. 1 radio market has since gone decades without a full-signaled country outlet.) So Salamon had to “find out exactly what it was about country music that made sense for our listeners” and that included not using the word “country” in on-air imaging. “We used a lot of listener voices on the air, taking advantage of all the beautifully unique accents, from Long Island to the Bronx to New Jersey. And we campaigned like politicians to win listeners over one at a time.”

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Michael Jackson - Elvis Radio Connection: I remember when Elvis died. If you were there, think about it. Nary a mention on the CBS evening news; Time Magazine buried the story in the back of the issue.

RADIO was there. Radio was where we mourned and shared our thoughts and feelings. Callers could request Elvis songs. Programmers could air specials within minutes. I was a Dee Jay in Chicago then and remember the adrenaline rush of our relevance.

Michael Jackson dies and radio's role, is diminished. TMZ dwarfs CNN and the major networks along with radio in reporting news. How quickly did voice tracked stations respond?

As I noted last week, I have decided to be optimistic. As an industry we can recapture our extreme relevance, but it will take a lot of hard work. Are you prepared for when a major Country star (heaven forbid) dies? Are you using the excuse, "We're understaffed" or do you have a plan? We must lay down the gauntlet.

Economically, radio will get healthy again. In the meantime, we have to work harder and more creatively.

To quote an old Country song, "time's a wastin'" ...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

“Less” Is the New “More”: Heard this line on one of the news channels. You’ve got to be kidding me! There seems to be some sort of a campaign going on to make people feel like its OK lose a job, have income, benefits and pensions chopped up. As long as we’ve got “love." Puhleeze!

I’ve seen my share of economic downturns in my lifetime, but never one quite as severe as this one. Challenging? Yes. However, I refuse to be negative about future prospects for me, my family or the industry I love with a passion.

I have decided to be optimistic. You can make that decision, you know, and take pro-active steps toward improving your situation. Those steps will vary widely based upon your circumstance.

What have you done today to make things better?

Good luck. Be optimistic. That’s half the battle. The other half? That’s a lot harder.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Kudos To Nashville Record Labels: I've noticed an interesting phenomena lately. Quite simply, when a song is released to radio and early indications say, "this is not a hit" the labels are backing off much more quickly. I have advocated this strategy for years. In the past, it seemed like any release from a major label would be pushed into the 30's on the charts. This practice of pursuing the inevitable "miss" wasted valuable time and dollars.

The one caveat in all of this is that if the labels genuinely believe in something, they shouldn't give up because of initial resistance. If that were always the case, many great new artists never would have broken through. Again, true belief is powerful. I remember the early resistance to Shania Twain. Need I say more?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Is It Just Me? Watching the Grammy Awards last night I couldn't help but notice that the sound mix, at least to my ear, was superior to what we usually hear on Country Music awards shows. Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney never sounded better live. Just wondering.