Radio’s Local Problem

localIn the past few weeks I have talked a half-dozen or so smart radio people from around the world — men, women, talent, managers, consultants, and researchers representing all formats – and we all agree that “local” is a major differentiation point for regular old radio’s battle against internet streams and digital juke boxes. However, there is always a caveat. It depends on how you and your station breathe life in to the idea of “local.”

One of the best descriptions I’ve heard recently is being local in radio means “living and playing in the community you are broadcasting to and reflecting your experiences on air.”

It’s less about finding stories that happened in your city. (Ex. “There has been a shooting in the 1400 block of Elm Street. No injuries.” or “A local boy is growing his hair to raise money for a sick friend.”) It’s about the details you choose to share in small ways that signal to the listener you are one of them.

It’s the difference between announcing  how cool it is your favorite band is playing at a local club or talking about how the last time you were at the local club you were reminded how awesome the acoustics are and you can’t wait to see your favorite band play there. It’s a subtle, but important difference.

I often explain to talent that local is less about location and more about sharing, reflecting and exploring those things that impact most of your listeners in an emotional, physical or mental way.

 

Secrets to Podcasting Success

death-sex-money-1400In May 2014, Anna Sale launched the podcast “Death, Sex & Money” from the studios of WNYC. She had been working in news for public radio in New York City when they asked for ideas for podcasts and she was given a green light to pilot her concept.

In the 10 months that has followed, Anna’s podcast has hit #1 on iTunes and she’s learned a ton about producing a successful podcast. Lucky for us she shared her revelations at Radiodays Europe and with the Radio Stuff Podcast.

“If you’re thinking of starting a podcast just start recording,” Anna told me in the  echo-filled hallway following her session. “When I came up with the idea of “Death, Sex and Money” it was this idea on a piece of paper and I had a sense of what I wanted it to feel like, but the step between that sense and then making something that actually is taped and scripted — that’s the place where you need to be experimenting. So sit down, book an interview, tell somebody you’re in a pilot phase for your podcast, but just do it. That’s going to get you into using those muscles of learning how to make your podcast. I would not think about strategy. I wouldn’t think about audience growth. I wouldn’t think about anything before I started trying to make the show and making sure it was something that I could get really in to and that I’d be proud of.”

During a session titled “30 Ideas in 45 Minutes,” where we both presented ideas, she shared these ideas around the production of a podcast. (Here they are listed as documented by our friends at Earshot Creative.)

RDE2015-23701. Record everything. Always. Start your audio recorder before anything happens.
2. Not getting somewhere in an interview? Just… wait.
3. Edit mercilessly but keep the space. Take out whole chunks of dullness, but retain the human pauses that add to the dramatic tension.
4. Don’t suppress your natural reaction, even when it makes noise. It gives the listener permission to smile and it builds your personality.
5. End with a bold set of compulsory questions. Anna always asks standard, personal, powerful sometimes rude questions that could ruin the dynamic earlier, but provoke great answers at the end.

In our one-on-one discussion Anna and I talked about a few other lessons she has learned.

Podcasts are intimate. Be vulnerable. I asked her how vulnerable she’s been. Anna didn’t hesitate, “I’ve talked about being adrift in my relationships and not knowing if I was ready to commit and having real big questions about what I wanted my life to look like, because I’m a woman in my 30s figuring out if I’m going to have a family, if this was going to be the guy I was going to be with and that was one of the first episodes so that felt pretty vulnerable.” Listen here.

Podcasts are what grow other podcasts. Despite being featured on NPR radio stations across the country through “This American Life,”  the “Death, Sex, and Money” podcast didn’t see an audience impact until the “This American Life” podcast was posted. In hindsight, it makes sense to Anna, “Podcast listeners know how to use podcasts. And so why not go to those listeners first? People are still learning how to use on-demand audio. If you’re not already a podcast listener figuring out that you need podcast player on your phone and how to search and how to download and how to subscribe — there are some steps to that.”

People are still discovering the world of podcasting. Case and point; this was tweeted out this week by “P!nk” who is familiar with radio, but brand new to podcasts;

Podcasts are not broadcasts. Podcasting gives you permission to “go there.” You can presume the audience is ready to go there with you. When doing a radio show you have to assume there are kids in the car, mixed company, and there are the FCC guidelines to consider. Not so much with podcasting. And those weren’t the only differences for Anna, “The thing that was hard was losing all the constraints of radio. A clock is your friend in radio, because you know at a certain point — you just have to talk until 12:01 and the next show is going to come on. And you just have to avoid dead air for that long. In podcasting, you can go for however long you want. You have the freedom to make the podcasts as long as they need to be instead of filling the clock.”

Sharability matters more than news hooks. “I never knew how long the tail of episodes can be, because coming from news it is like you put something up, it goes out and that’s its moment,” Anna said.  “In podcasting, the discoverability is so much longer. So, the idea of making something evergreen and when someone is going to find your podcast — you can’t presume they’re finding it right around the time it comes out. Because, what I’ve noticed is when people discover the podcast then they’ll listen to several episodes and binge listen.”

Add your podcasting tips, insights and secrets to the comments below. Check out all the Radio Stuff Podcast interviews from Radiodays Europe by listening to Episode 94 and Episode 95.

Subscribe to the Larry Gifford Media “Radio Stuff” email and each Tuesday you’ll receive an email with all sorts of stuff about radio. Sign up here.

 

 

Radiodays Europe 2015 – Day Three

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Dennis Clark & Larry Gifford

Day three of Radiodays Europe in Milan, Italy kicked off with super insightful presentation by Dennis Clark, VP of Talent Development for iHeartMedia.

“These are the good ole’ days,” he started. Afterward I asked him for the Radio Stuff Podcast why he believes that. “Because if you’re good and you have an audience and listeners are connecting to you that is a product and they’ll follow you.” Clark referenced Howard Stern’s successful move to SiriusXM and Chris Evan’s jumps from BBC Radio 1 to Virgin Radio to Radio 2.

On stage, Clark offered a road map to building a successful radio show.

 

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He talked about the importance of defining roles and shared the initial roles outlined for Ryan Seacrest’s Show in 2005. He suggests revisiting personality profiles two times a year because life changes and you need to be able to reflect those changes on air. For instance, you might get engaged, divorced, lose a lot of weight, or your young child starts going to school.

 

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Clark made it clear there can only be one captain on the show and that is the host. “Every time you open the mic you have a new listener. Like a good party only one person opens the door to welcome the new people to the party. (On radio) that is the host. Introducing the around. Make them feel included.”

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It’s also important to Clark for shows to identify what they do as either “branding” or “humanity.” In the slide below, the bigger the cloud the more dominant of a role it plays on the show.

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There were great presentations throughout. Even I got a chuckle from the big room on Tuesday when I reimagined opening lines of famous novels to make a point about the power of a declarative sentence vs. asking a question.

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Here is a link to a blog written by Steve Martin (Just as funny and talented, but this one blogs) for Earshot Creative summarizing the “30 Ideas in 45  Minutes” session. Thanks to James Cridland for snapping the photo (really you should sign up for his newsletter: JamesCridland.net — you know it’s a smart piece because it ends in .net) and loads of appreciation to Nik Goodman for having me on his session. You can check out his fine company BOUNCE, right here.

Some of my takeaways… 

You can’t innovate without action.

To do social media well you need to invest in people and technology. And you need to do social well. (Sidebar: Snapchat is where it is at right now. Though that trend could vanish in the next six seconds.)

Your enemies and your flaws aren’t terrifying and gruesome. Think of them as future partners and your true distinctive features. Embrace them both.

Visualizing radio is unneccessary and getting less clunky and more exciting to do and do well. Make sure it enhances the on-air content and the show brand.

Up Next

The convention concluded with the announcement that Radiodays Europe 2016 will be held in Paris, France.

paris2016

Loads more Radiodays Europe talk on Thursday in this week’s Radio Stuff PodcastSubscribe to the Larry Gifford Media “Radio Stuff” email and each Tuesday you’ll receive an email with all sorts of stuff about radio. Sign up here.

Radiodays Europe – Day 2

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Elvis is in the Building!

Whoa! Talk about information overload. What a crazy day. It started early for me paling around with my new buddy Elvis Duran. The Z100 and iHeartMedia syndicated morning host kicked the morning off with a chat in front of 1,200 delegates. But, before he took the stage he chatted on the Radio Stuff Podcast. (As did all the speakers I’m featuring here today.)

Sneak preview! Duran on Program Directors, “To be a coach as if I’m in a sporting event — if I’m a football player. I need someone to whisper in my ear what the play is, what our goal is for that play and for that game, and be there to be a cheerleader for me. And when I have a bad show I want them to come up and say, ‘Hey, you know what? You’ll have a good show tomorrow. You’ll have a good game tomorrow. Let’s work on these things and you’ll be better tomorrow. That’s what I need from a manager.”

G Whiz

2015-03-16 10.40.31Media Strategist David G. Hall (Former PD of KFI and others) offered up “Five Simple Tools to Make Your Show Better,” including the idea of “partnership.” This is one of the first thing a show, a host and management need to do. Work together to express expectations, roles, and responsibilities. It goes both ways and trust is one of the key ingredients to make it work. He also suggested shows prepare their shows as early as possible and then upgrade it throughout the day as your show prep marinades in your brain and new (better) ideas surface.

Does Anyone Have Ira Glass’ Phone Number? 

2015-03-16 11.58.29This was a great session by WNYC producer and host of the Death, Sex and Money podcast Anna Sale. If you can’t get Ira Glass to plug your podcast that’s okay, but use other podcasters to promote your show, “podcasts are what grow other podcasts.” It’s simple logic really. It’s more meaningful when podcast listeners hear about your podcast on another podcast because they can download it immediately. If they’re driving and hear about it on a radio show they’re likely to forget by the time they reach their destination. She preached the importance of keeping podcasts intimate which includes the hosts being vulnerable. And shareability is key. So, it’s preferred podcasts are more evergreen than pinned to a news hook, because the tail of listening is so long and episodes are consumed during binges.

Hey Facebook Listen Up!

“Facebook needs us, more than we need Facebook.” Those words are still echoing through my head. Danish Broadcasting Corporation Audience Researcher Rasmus Thaarup was full of social media insights. He believes as Facebook clears the clutter of cat videos and such, quality content — the kind radio provides — will be cherished by Facebook. And he’s already seeing results in increased impressions as they use it to deliver visual add-ons to their radio content (pictures, videos) without paying for them. His group also closed over 100 social media profiles this past year and are focusing on pages for true personalities / characters and radio station main pages.

He’s also big on SnapChat. Here’s his slide explaining why it’s a great fit for radio:

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Radio is Sick in the Head

Consumer psychologist Adam Ferrior diagnosed radio as borderline personality order. This session was one of the most interesting and creative.

For instance, Ferrior contends radio’s competition is not other radio or audio or video or TV or movies — it is people doing nothing. We need to change people’s behavior. The easiest way to do that is to get people to do something for you. It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s real and it’s called the Ben Franklin Effect. Ikea implements it and creates massive customer loyalty by making you assemble your own furniture. What then would a radio station look like that was run by Ikea? I’m glad you asked.

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No More Pranks

2015-03-16 16.50.33This is M2015-03-16 16.24.51-1el Greig aka the “Royal Prank DJ.” Read about the incident here if you’re not familiar. I am impressed with how open and honest she is about the whole incident and aftermath. She shared death threats that she received through social media, admitted she spiraled into a 12-month depression, and she is  adamantly opposed to radio hosts pranking unsuspecting victims in the future. “Don’t do it. The joke has to be on us. Take the piss out of yourself.”

Day 3 of Radiodays Europe is Tuesday. Follow along with #RDE15

 A reminder all of these guests will appear on the Radio Stuff Podcast, which flights and jet-lag willing will post on Thursday. Subscribe to the Larry Gifford Media “Radio Stuff” email and each Tuesday you’ll receive an email with all sorts of stuff about radio. Sign up here.

Radiodays Europe 2015 – Day One

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2015-03-15 14.52.23I’m in Milan, Italy for Radiodays Europe and these are pictures and observations. I’m also filing daily reports for Talkers.com. The event trade show and networking began Sunday. It capped off with a presentation by BBC Radio Director Helen Boaden. Monday will be highlighted by a session featuring syndicated morning guy Elvis Duran.

 

 

Radio

One of the first things one realizes when visiting beautiful, European countries, where they don’t speak English, like Milan certain words give your peace and relief because they’re the same; radio is one of those words. There are over 60 countries represented here and most if not all call radio, “radio.” How’s that for sense of global community?

Radio City

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As a warm gesture to Radiodays Europe and to help unite Milan’s radio community all the radio stations are working together and broadcasting from La Fabbrica del Vapore. It was the brainchild of Radio2 RAI morning host Filippi Solibello who was also the lead campaigner to attact RDE to Milan. He will be on the Radio Stuff Podcast this week. Here are some photos of the Radio City.


Milan Radio City

Just like everywhere else radio remotes vary in size and quality.

Radio Battle

Solibello also has created the first European Radio Championship: Radio Battle. He would host  one hour show from Milan and two radio hosts from other countries would compete in a live simulcast from their studios and the battle was about music and the way the DJs presented it. Listeners would vote on twitter. He calls it the “gamification of music radio.” He’s hoping to bring it to the U.S. and Canada soon.

Radio is a Performance

This station was entertaining crowds with a DJ spinning records while a saxophonist and drummer accompanied live on stage. Watch this.

 

Elvis is ALIVE! Kasem not so much

I spotted this display on the trade room floor from Premier Radio and Futuri. Notice the sign with Ryan Seacrest, Elvis Duran and Casey Kasem. I’m not sure I would include Kasem in my top three talent who symbolize the future of radio. I’m just sayin’…

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Innovation

BBC Director Helen Boaden addressed the conference last night. I write about it in Talkers.com today. One point she made that resonated with me that I want to share here is this.

“We must never forget that at the heart of our success, if we’ve got a future, has got to be great content. And great things is two things I think in radio. It’s firstly the everyday. Radio offers great comfort and habit and sometimes we take those things for granted, but in a fast changing and confusing world there is a very profound human need for reliability, regularity and yes — comfort and humor. But, the everyday is no longer enough if you’re going to get attention so it is really important for you to create for your audiences whatever technology they use wonderful events that they remember.”

Swag?

At all of these conferences you end up with a bag full of fancy advertisements and I certainly I have that. But I also received this. Not sure it’s my color.

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Ciao for Now

Day two highlights to come. Follow along on twitter #RDE15.

Subscribe to the Larry Gifford Media “Radio Stuff” email and each Tuesday you’ll receive an email with all sorts of stuff about radio. Sign up here.

Airchecks. Dreaded Airchecks.

Paul Kaye

Paul Kaye

One of the issues that I hear from talent quite a bit is how airchecks suck. They dread them. Talent feel like they’ve been slimed by negativity afterwards when they just want some support, strategy and a plan to improve. They know what sucked. How do you fix it?

Paul Kaye, Talent Development Director for Newcap Radio and Ops Manager for the Vancouver radio cluster has been writing a series of articles for AllAccess.com about airchecks; The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. He talked to talent around the globe and is passionate about making radio talent remarkable. So, I invited him on the Radio Stuff podcast this week.

Our chat is about 30 minutes long. Some key take aways for me:

  • PDs, talent (and often GMs) need to agree on show goals to help focus the coaching sessions and set expectations.
  • Trust needs to be earned by both sides or it all falls apart.
  • Airchecks are not about “managing,” “nitpicking,” or listing negatives, they should be constructive, mostly positive, and helpful in achieving goals.
  • They should be as short as possible and as long as they need to be.
  • Hallway feedback; be timely, specific and supportive.
  • It’s never okay for PDs to throw coffee cups at the talent.

Paul and I also realized through out chat that there really is no system in place for training PDs how to manage and coach talent. It’s all trial and error with mostly error. If the industry is serious about talent being the differentiation between streaming radio services and satellite compared to local radio we need to address this and continue to invest in remarkable talent.

Click the image below to listen to the show!

RS 93 cover

 

Subscribe to the Larry Gifford Media “Radio Stuff” email and each Tuesday you’ll receive an email with all sorts of stuff about radio. Sign up here.

The Curse of Subjective Adjectives

This is a phenomenal blog post; it’s fun, insightful, sensational, great, super, terrific, and awesome.

Depending on who you are.

Subjective Adjectives

 

Seriously though, we have an issue we need to discuss. Radio hosts, anchors, reporters, game announcers and production script writers have all seemingly slipped into a subjective adjective trough. I hear newscasts, morning shows, sporting events, and station promos filled with adjectives, yet not a single image is conjured.It’s anti-theater-of-the-mind.

It’s the curse of the subjective adjective.

“Here is a sad/shocking/funny story…”

“She tends a lovely garden.”

“This game is crazy.”

“The most amazing giveaway ever.”

Subjective adjectives are — subjective. It’s a description influenced by your personal belief or opinion. More often than not it’s a word that carries no meaning or weight to the listener. It’s what I call an “empty” word, because they have no real meaning and they leave me empty inside. I’m hearing them all the time now and thought it worthwhile to address.

 

FIGHT BACK

Here are two ways to combat subjective adjective abuse. Feel free to add your own methods in the comments section.

1. Find objective adjectives about the same subject. Objective adjectives are not only accurate, but they are also image inducing.

EXAMPLE: Most people can’t visualize “an awesome apartment building.” However, they can visualize “An apartment building towering 112-floors into the clouds complete gold encrusted toilet seats in each unit, self-cleaning bedrooms and a live-in man servant.”

2. Use your subjective adjective as inspiration to better describe it. Which details can you share that make it sad, lovely or crazy?

EXAMPLE: “A dumb bank robbery suspect is under arrest after sending police on a crazy chase in the countryside.”

Ask yourself: What makes him dumb? What made the chase crazy?

INSPIRED RE-WRITE: “A robbery suspect who left his work ID badge on the counter of the bank is under arrest. He ran out of gas after leading police on a 90 mile an hour pursuit passing horse and buggies on one-lane roads in Amish country.”

 

THE REALLY BIG FINISH

Every time a subjective adjective is used a radio listener dies a little on the inside. And then turns on Pandora.

Subscribe to the Larry Gifford Media “Radio Stuff” email and each Tuesday you’ll receive an email with all sorts of stuff about radio. Sign up here.

 

 

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