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RTDNA Takeaways

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These are reminders, thoughts, takeaways, interesting observations and things I want to remember from the national RTDNA Canada conference.

Tell Stories…

Great stories are built around moments, take the audience somewhere and decode jargon or spin. Those three areas are what have helped to make CBC journalist Susan Ormiston such an impactful international correspondent. She shared her secrets on storytelling with the crowd at the RTDNA Canada national convention.

Stories evolve around moments. Ormiston explains, “Creating environments for moments to happen or simply focusing on a moment” is what she attempts in her storytelling. There is a warning, “moments cannot be manufactured, but they can be managed.” For instance, building trust with an interview subject helps create an environment where vulnerable moments are more likely to take place.  “Trust,” she says, “It’s a relationship. Never persuade yourself that someone won’t want to talk about something.”

REMINDER: Don’t Be A TV Anchor…

The TV news anchor is dying.

The head of CTV Wendy Freeman fired the first shot across the bow, “in 5 to 10 years will there even be TV anchors?” Corus/Global VP Troy Reeb added, “The asking price for a good anchor has been in decline and will continue to be, the asking price for a good reporter is expected to climb.” He also noted brands aren’t being built on the shoulders of anchors, but around the credibility of reporting. And then Ali Velshi hit it home, “I don’t think the highly paid TV anchor is a sustainable creature.”

Buzzwords – words and concepts that dominated discussions.

“Multi-platform” – I blogged about that here.

“Mobile” – 94% of millennials have smart phones, mobile first thinking, reporters using phones for everything…

“Monetization” – how do we make money with… native content, snapchat, etc…

“Change” – the industry is changing, technology is changing, audience expectations are changing and if you/we aren’t changing fast enough we will lose.

Apps and Devices Speakers Love…

Twitter – it’s changed the game for distributing and curating content and for live moment-by-moment coverage where microphones aren’t allowed like courtrooms.

iMovie – great for radio reporters also tasked with filming and editing video pieces on the run.

Voddio  – Voddio, is a professional-grade video and audio editor App for mobile journalists and story tellers, that supports rich editing of two tracks of video and up to four tracks of audio.

Amazon Echo – Ali Velshi loves Echo. Watch the video. It is rather awesome.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkOCeAtKHIc

Favorite Quotes of the Conference

“$150 million dollars is what’s going to go to the bureaucratic morass that is the CBC.” – Troy Reeb, Corus/Global

“I bemoan the day when we decide we don’t need context anymore.”  – Susan Ormiston, CBC

“It’s Facebook and the 7 Dwarves.” – on Social Media platforms

“We need to start thinking about big stupid ideas. We’re not an industry that typically thinks up stupid ideas. We need more stupid ideas. Stupid ideas are stupid until they are breakthroughs.” – Ali Velshi, Multi-platform Content Creator

“I’ve never given up the thought of returning home to Canada , but it won’t because of a man named Donald Trump. He can’t bully me.” – Ashleigh Banfield, CNN. She dedicated her entire keynote address to the “human wrecking ball” Trump and trying to explain how he’s in the position he’s in.

It’s Not Beats1’s Fault, Blame Steve Jobs

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Click image to listen to my review of Beats1.

Beats1 is on the air!

I’m underwhelmed thus far and I blame Steve Jobs. He taught me to expect the unexpected. He created products that at first blush seemingly made no sense (an iPad? I have an iPhone. Why do I want something bigger?), but were nearly instantaneous culture changing innovations. He created a brand expectation that sadly Apple can no longer live up to.

In my mind I was really hoping Beats1 was going to be revolutionary, be a paradigm shift for radio, inspire a new generation of broadcasters and push the industry back on it’s heels a bit. I imagined that they would figure out a way to integrate a song an hour from everyone’s personal iTunes collection weaving it seamlessly into the fabric of the radio station making it a truly personalized experience. I envisioned a XAPP Media type vocal recognition program which would allow you to say out loud, “buy this song” and it would instantly download to your iTunes account. I counted on Apple to create the fully integrated, connected, social savvy, second screen radio has been struggling to create. My expectations were too high.

Instead, so far, the bigger impact of Beats1 is for rising artists who get a global spin and ideally, for them, an instant international fan base. (Also, Pandora founder Tim Westergren’s dream. AUDIO)

As it impacts radio, Beats1 seems more of a blast of the past than a quantum leap into the future:

Shouting city names over records.. Radio does this.

Live reads. Radio does this.

Pre-Recorded outdated promos. Radio’s got those in droves!

DJs that talk too much. Radio’s got ‘em.

DJs in multiple locations. Yep..

Dead Air. Sure.

Celebrity DJs. Requests. Listen call-ins. Social media engagement. Radio does all that too.

What exactly is the innovation here?

It’s week one, so we’ll give them time to get settled and check back in next month or so. Meantime, if you hear something truly unique let me know.

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6 Seconds

2015-04-16 10.03.05There is a new app called “6 Seconds” created by digital music pioneer Michael Robinson. I’ve blogged about his DAR.FM service before. This new app turns thousands of digital radio streams from around the world into an instant Spotify or Pandora with one advantage – unlimited skipping.

“It’s a free app for Android and IOS that takes a totally new approach to internet radio,” Robinson tells the Radio Stuff Podcast. “We put the artist and song first, let users indicate what style of music, artist or even specific song they want and then we go find the station’s that match that.”

Essentially, “6 seconds” allows people to listen to the music they want while discovering new radio stations around the globe. When the song ends, the listener hears the next song or commercials or whatever the radio station is playing until they “left swipe” to skip to the next song that relates to your initial search.

In my test of the app (see screenshots below),  I searched for The Beatles and was given a list of about 20 stations currently playing Beatles songs.

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I chose “Come Together” on KVRW (a Lawton, Oklahoma station I would never have listened to otherwise) and then tested the skip feature.

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Next came, “Do You Want to Know a Secret.”

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That was followed by “Sister Golden Hair” by America (not the Beatles but same genre).

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Next up was “Jumping Jack Flash” by the Rolling Stones.

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So far, so good. And then the Beach Boys. On the surface it seems to fit until I realized it was a Christmas tune, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

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Perfect? No. Clever? Indeed. I love that I’m not only discovering new music, but new radio stations (many seemingly online stations) and I like can favorite stations I like to return whenever I want. Go ahead and download it and try it out.

Looking for an anoter review? Radio futurologist James Cridland test drives the app too.

Radio is Overloaded

Radio Spots as TissuesThe other day I was flipping through the dial and every one of the ten stations I flipped to was in commercial at the same time. Yesterday, I was air-checking a new morning show and between the commercials, traffic, weather, and canned commentaries I listened for 30 minutes without so much as a “good morning” from the new personality.

Tragic. Opportunity missed. Quarter-hours lost. Radio listener’s discouraged.

I listen to quite a bit of radio. I love radio. I should say I WANT to love radio, but I am increasingly dissatisfied with the return on my investment of time.  Gang, we got a spot problem. There’s way too much clutter. We’re strangling content to squeeze blood from a turnip. Enough already.

I know I’m not the first to bring it up. I just watched a talk Jerry Del Colliano gave at Talkers 2014 and he brought it up too.

It was also a discussion in the #SRCHAT (Sports Radio Chat) on Twitter last night too.

That last one caught the attention of many on the chat. We are willingly sacrificing what’s best for the listening experience to accommodate a revenue model that was introduced in 1921.

1921.

Let that sink in.

The same year radio began to sell spots; World War I ended, Warren G. Harding was inaugurated as President, and KDKA created the first radio news room and broadcast the first ever baseball game on the radio.

Radio commericals have had a good run. But, the time has come to rethink the way we monetize our content. We don’t need to eliminate them altogether, but we need to value our platforms at a much higher rate, creatively collaborate on projects with advertisers and be willing to say “no” a whole lot more often to spots that don’t match our brand or meet our production quality standards.

(Insert a spit take from GMs and GSMs across the country)

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The more we load up our hours with limitless units of :05s, :10s, :15s, :30s and still even :60s, the faster we’re pushing the next generation of radio listeners to competing audio content providers.

Think about this. The #1 thing in every research project radio has EVER conducted (hyperbole intended), commercials are what listeners react the most negatively too. And you know what we say? “Oh, they always say that. Just ignore it.”

I’m afraid we can’t ignore it anymore.

It’s going to take creativity, guts, leadership, ideation and innovation. Raise your hand if you have an idea. The solution isn’t going to likely arrive from the corner office. I’m looking at the board ops, producers, talent, reporters, street-teamers, and sales assistants. We need to start asking different people how we can solve this problem. So, I’m asking. Do YOU have any ideas?

IDEA STARTERS

  • Co-branding opportunities / strategic partnerships (studio, phone lines, text, street team, events, etc.) I know this is happening in some stations already but usually it’s undervalued and tragically it’s often flighted-in instead of signing an annual.
  • Multiplatform solutions or coordinated Brand Takeovers (audio, video, text, web, stream, podcast, app)
  • XAPP Media – interactive online/mobile spots
  • Creating exclusive online stations for partners co-branded with radio station featuring exclusive promotions/access/messaging for partners. (Listen to the Jones Honda Hits Music Channel on thisradiostation.com for your chance to win a trip to the Honda 500)
  • Invest in great copy writers.

Add your ideas in the comments below or email me at larrygifford1@gmail.com

And the #1 Radio Story of 2013 is…

top 5Here it is. The Top 5 Larry Gifford Media blog posts of 2013. No surprise that new and social media resonated with readers. Readers were riveted by the poor judgment of colleagues in Atlanta and a little scared and confused by the ratings hit Talk Radio formats took in 2013. But, nothing captured the hearts and minds of radio folk more than the sudden death of radio’s Kidd Kraddick.

Rode Rec25. Five Apps All Radio People Should UseI realized the other day how much time, energy and money I’ve saved thanks to online, iPad and phone apps. I have more apps than I need, but some seem especially useful for radio work. So, from one radio guy to you — here are five apps that you may never have heard of that just may change your life or at least make you more productive and effective.

Nate Riggs4. How Radio Can Better Embrace Social Media A post from 2011 that still resonates today. “Don’t try to do everything all at once. Pick one thing that you’re going to do 110% and get really good at. If it’s a Facebook page invest your time and energy in building a community around that Facebook page and engaging in that community. I think it’s a perfect complement to radio, because radio is traditionally a push medium; we listen to radio.” – Nate Riggs

steve3. A Journey Into “Instant Unemployment” and How to Avoid It Three Atlanta talk hosts are fired following a poorly planned and executed “comedy” bit. The reality of the situation is, regardless of ratings or talent, most radio hosts walk up to and around the “line” everyday. They are the stunt actors of radio willing to dive off the top of a building, walk through fire, or wreck a motorcycle to get a laugh, to get some ink, and to increase ratings. And we love them for it. From time to time, they’re going to cross the line. It’s going to happen. PDs need to be there more of than time than not. Truth is some will lose their job (See: Dan Sileo) and some won’t (See: Rush Limbaugh).

rush-pubshot2. The Free Fall of Talk Radio

Talk stations are tumbling in the ratings and no one knows why, though there are many theories.

It’s political fatigue. It’s too repetitive. It’s too depressing. It’s too angry. It’s too boring. It’s humorless. It’s predictable. It’s not entertaining. It’s all commercials.

Former radio star, now internet radio sensation Tom Leykis chimes in, “Talk radio went from Rush Limbaugh’s bells, whistles, jingles and parody songs and everything to a line up of people reading bill numbers.” He went on, “It’s devoid of humor, entertainment value or mirth. These are not radio personalities.”

He wonders aloud if anyone in the radio business getting the message?

KiddKraddick1. Kidd Kraddick’s Last Selfless Acts

There’s really no way Kidd could have understood the impact he’s had on so many people and the radio industry in general. He even made an impact to radio friends around the world. The reaction on Twitter, Facebook, and coverage in news has been overwhelming. One listener credits Kidd for “restoring his faith and belief in FM radio.”

And I too have found myself caught up in it. I didn’t know Kidd, but I’ve respected him from afar and have never heard anyone say a bad thing about him. No one. Which, in this ego-fueled industry, isn’t just rare – it’s an anomaly. It’s the exception to the rule.

To honor Kidd’s legacy, I have extracted some of the rules of life and radio he’s left behind. These rules come directly from words and phrases used by his family of colleagues and listeners.

If you missed the rest of the countdown you can catch up on blog posts #25-16 of the year here, and #15 to #6 here.

Thanks for making 2013 so great. I raise my glass to you and wish you  a bright, ratings-filled, drama-free 2014!

Here’s a link to the Radio Stuff Podcast New Year’s Special which counts down the most listened to episodes of the year.

Counting Down the Top Posts of 2013 #15 to #6

LGM 2013 count down

As the New Year approaches we continue the 2013 Count Down of the year’s top blog posts (#25 to #16 here). Interesting to note, one of the blog posts below (#12) was written and posted in October 2010, yet still gets tons of traffic each year.  Another  (#15) was posted in May 2012.

#15 Brock & Salk Turn a Battleground into Common Ground

Despite being posted in May 2012, this post detailing the relationship and partnership of Seattle sports talkers Brock Huard and Mike Salk was popular, because Salk left the show for a gig in Boston this year.

#14 Does Internet Radio Value Radio More Than Radio?

Observations of a radio guy seeing signs of how the internet has hi-jacked the brand of “radio” that the industry has developed and earned through decades of blood, sweat and tears of building relationships with listeners.

#13 Recipe for a Paula Deen Parody

Oh, Paula Deen…

#12 Look Who’s Talking: Jim Cutler

Profiling one of the best voice artists in the world.

#11 The Producer Game Is Changing

I offer a response to a host’s open letter in Talkers about his producer and I offer 20 Tips on being a more effective producer.

#10 For Different Results – Change

In the wake of my resignation from KIRO Radio, I offer some observations. “Too often, I hear employees (hosts, producers, board ops, etc) want more, expect more, and demand more, but are unwilling to change to get it. There’s an overwhelming sense of entitlement in our business from the newcomers to the veterans…”

#09 Arbitron Panelist,”F— this!”

Real audio from a real panelist fed up with PPM.

#08 Wanted: A Passionate Disruptor or a Computer Literate Promo Assistant

One reason why traditional radio stations are having trouble attracting young, creative talent.

#07 77 Websites for Radio Hosts, Producers, Anchors and Reporters

A growing list of must-bookmark websites.

#06 The Keys to Sports Radio Success

The inspiration for this comes from a sports radio chat on twitter (#srchat). The question — what are your biggest pet-peeves of sports talk radio? — was posed to everyone on the chat including special guest Clear Channel’s VP of Sports Bruce Gilbert. I’ve taken their answers and turned-them-inside-out like a secret decoder ring to unveil the keys to sports radio success.

The top 5 posts of 2013 will be unveiled next week!

Let’s Talk Turkey!

Imagine…

A traditional radio company, a big one, finds that after years of success revenues are dropping and they’re losing a significant share of media buys — maybe even half as much as previous years. The suits get nervous. Something must be done. So a meeting is called. There’s a brain storm. Someone pipes up, “Hey, how about something to do with the internet?” People nod. But, quietly they are concerned that there’s no money there and it will likely cannibalize whatever is left of the traditional radio business. Smarter, cooler heads prevail. Imaginations run wild. Ideas are hatched. A vision is shared. Two years later, this big, old radio company is running the eighth biggest music streaming platform in the world — shattering expectations, goals, and super-serving their audience with a social radio experience unlike any other.

Sounds inspiring, no?

Okay, I took some dramatic liberties but that is essentially the story behind Karnaval.com, the number one start-up in Istanbul, Turkey according to Wired Magazine. It’s a multi-media, digital radio service created by the largest radio group in Turkey Spectrum Medya.

ali-abhary“It’s great to be singled out like that,” said Spectrum Medya CEO Ali Abhary. “But, it is even more poignant as a radio station, with radio being one of the oldest and not necessarily the sexiest mediums out there, for us to be on that list with those other great companies is a wonderful testament to what radio can be and that radio doesn’t need to have this dodgy, old image that it sometimes does.”

On this week’s Radio Stuff podcast, Abhary explained why Karnaval.com was an important business extension for the radio company.

“Just like in any other market, in Turkey we see radio revenues flattening and in fact radio’s share of the advertising pie has reduced. Historically about ten years ago it was about 6% and now it’s about 2.8%.”

Abhary’s challenge was to create a digital business that complimented the terrestrial radio stations, but didn’t cannibalize their traditional revenues. Enter Karnaval.com – a “radio rich,” digital platform that streams their five FM stations and 11 niche formats (Jazz, Classical, hard to find Turkish music among them.)

It wasn’t an easy sell for the traditional radio employees.

“It did take some time, but I think everyone has bought into it now. We promote our stations now as ‘Metro FM is a Karnaval.com station,’ our radio IDs are broadcast that way.” Abhary understands the trepidation, “Seeing this sort of disruption in their business is a little disconcerting at first, but I think they all understand now the value and the power the digital element can give and the great story that it gives to advertisers and listeners alike.”

Employees were the first hurdle. Listeners caught on quick and loved it straight away. So much so, they expanded the vision to include social interaction through the San Mateo, California company Jelli. Now listeners can vote songs up or down in real-time influencing the streaming radio’s playlist.

The next challenge was advertisers.

og_karnaval_400x400“It took a while to get it out there. Are you trying to sell ads to digital buyers or radio buyers? We’re able sell advertising on a targeted basis whether it’s targeted by device or by demographics or geography of listeners. The digital buyers are able to understand that. We’re also able to price it on a cost-per-listen basis. And they get that as well. But, the challenge is they don’t have audio creative, typically. The radio buyers on the other side, they have the audio creative but they don’t have necessarily the understanding of targeting or the digital capabilities that digital radio has. So, we actually did a two-pronged approach. We have our terrestrial FM team selling the Karnaval.com inventory that we have to regular FM buyers and we’re saying, ‘Who cares whether sound people are listening to is being transmitted on FM frequency to an FM receiver or via a Wi-Fi to a mobile phone or to a laptop connected to the internet? It doesn’t really matter as long as the sound is there.’ And the radio buyers have now bought that on and they’re starting to send us old-fashioned radio buys to the platform. The digital buyers at the same time whether it’s using audio or not using audio through rich media, pre-roll videos and whatnot, are also buying on from there. For a business that’s about a year old we’re doing fantastic revenue growth right now. ”

In just over a year, Karnaval.com is meeting and exceeding its goals and serving over 6.5 million unique users each month accounting for 21 million hours of listening. Karnaval.com uses its FM stations to promote the platform in addition to social media, TV commercials and sponsoring concerts. Through the concerts they can create unique content for the digital users such as back stage artist interviews and acoustic sets.

“The great thing about the service is that it has a lot of rich experience as you listen to radio that is beyond just listening to audio. So, as a song is playing you have artist biographies, discographies, a lot of photo galleries, we have an integration with Ticket Master where if an artist has a concert in town it will let you buy tickets to see that artist as you are listening to the song.”

Karnaval.com is not trying to compete with the Pandoras and Spotifys of the world. But, interestingly enough one of the “big services” in streaming music approached Karnaval.com this week in an effort to buy advertising for their own online music service.

I would encourage you to check out Karnaval.com or download the app, And you can try, but be forewarned it is all in Turkish. Regardless, it’s a great model for radio and new media success.

(Credit: I was first introduced to Karnaval.com from UK radio futurologist James Cridland