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My Favorite Blog Posts of 2015

As a guy who has been blogging over the course of the last five years it is heartening to see stats rise from 1,500 views in 2010 to over 33,000 in 2015. But, and I presume my fellow bloggers will concur, the most popular blog posts arent neccessarily the ones the writer loves, adores or sweated over. So I give you my favorite posts of the year, even if they didn’t get the attention I wished they did.

snl40It’s Time For Your SNL Moment – Love it or hate it Saturday Night Live’s 40thanniversary show can serve as inspiration for your next radio event.

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.

Paul KayeAirchecks. Dreaded Airchecks. – 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?

Secrets to Podcasting Success – In May 2014, Anna Sale launched the podcast “Death, Sex & Money” from the studios of WNYC. 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.

What Do You Do With An Idea? – In recent weeks, clients have been sharing with me the anxieties associated with following their gut or executing on an idea.

RS 100 coverInside Radio Stuff #100 – How I landed the interview with Jonathon Brandmeier and how it all came together.

Broadcast Interview Scruples – The relationship between a broadcaster and an interview subject has triggered my curiosity. Let me tell you why.

Cirque du Radio – I was at the show Kooza last night and saw this awesome assembly of remarkable talent. It’s a really, really talented troupe. A couple things struck me as it relates to radio

FOR ONE DAY ONLY; ELVIS WILL BE IN THE BUILDING

elvis-duran1Elvis Duran, one of America’s most popular radio personalities, is a headliner at this year’s Radiodays Europe in Milan, Italy (March 15-17, 2015). Duran will take the stage and pull back the curtain on the Z-100 Morning Show which is based in New York and heard in 70 markets across the country.

Duran is excited for the opportunity, “I’m honored to be participating in this event. This is a great chance to show how connected we all are through the power of radio.”

Joining him on stage is the Vice President of Talent Development for iHeartMedia, Dennis Clark. Dennis’ role is to nurture the best and most talented radio people in the industry and he works directly with key radio personalities, such as Duran and Ryan Seacrest. They’ll discuss how to create a show that consistently delivers huge audiences, and will reveal the ingredients that makes Elvis Duran the most listened to Top 40 Morning Show in the states.

GIFFORD HEADS TO MILAN, TOO

In a much lower-profile billing, I will be a workshop leader on Sunday (“Fast & Furious”) and co-presenting a session on Tuesday (“30 Ideas in 45 Minutes”). In addition, I be blogging here and on Airchecker.com, filing exclusive reporters for Talkers.com, recording the Radio Stuff podcast in Milan, tweeting whenever possible @giffordtweet, @theradiostuff and facebooking on the Larry Gifford Media page.

RELATED: Radiodays Europe founder and manager Rolf Brandrud featured on the Radio Stuff Podcast

BUT, WAIT! THERE’S MORE

I’m excited that the U.S. radio industry will be well represented this year’s. Here are just some of the other notable U.S. presenters and workshop leaders making the pilgrimage to Milan March 15-17.

  • Anna Sale, producer at WNYC, is leading a session on “Death, Sex and Money; How to Start and Succeed with Podcasting.”
  • David G. Hall, media strategist, is presenting a session titled, “Five Simple Tools to Make Your Show Better.”
  • John Vorhaus, creative consultant, is leading a workshop on “Your Radio Brand” and presenting a session on “How to be Funny When You’re Not.”
  • Steve Jones, music industry veteran, is hosting the session, “Be Like a Rock Star!”
  • Larry Rosin, Edison Research, is diving deep into the “Stream Battle.”
  • Marty Garrison, VP Technology for NPR, is co-presenting “What if Technology Was Your Best Friend After All.”
  • Joel Sucherman, Sr. Dir. Digital Developments for NPR, will discuss “Mobile Apps; More Than Just Live Radio.”
  • Dennis Clark, VP Talent Development for iHeartMedia, is presenting a session on “Making Radio Personalities Relevant in 2015.”
  • Warren Kurtzman, President & COO of Coleman Insights, is discussing, “Aristotelian Dramaturgy – How to Create Compelling Personality-Driven Content.”
  • Bryce Clemmer, CEO of Vadio, is co-presenting a session on “Radio Worth Watching.”
  • Rob Green, VP of Streaming for WideOrbit, is presenting “From Linear to Digital.”

The complete list of sessions and speakers and ticket information for Radiodays Europe is available at www.radiodayseurope.com
Radiodays Europe

Launched in 2010, Radiodays Europe is the largest and most important international radio conference in the world. It is also considered to be the best with high quality content, great speakers and a huge program with over 100 speakers in 55 sessions over 2½ days. In 2014, it attracted 1300 delegates from over 60 countries.

When Copyrights Trump Commercial Creativity (Spoiler: Always)

copyrightI was listening to radio this morning and heard a spot for a local restaurant trying to be relatable by exemplifying how hard it is for working adults to find time to eat breakfast. They preached the importance of the first meal of the day. And wouldn’t you know it? They have a quick, easy, affordable breakfast sandwich you can pick-up on your way to the office to help solve your problem. Not a bad spot overall, but at one point the announcer says, “before you know it Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho it’s off to work you go!” and then fairly quietly layered underneath was the unmistakable original recording of the seven dwarfs singing the song.

That’s a problem.

  • It’s not an original work created by the advertiser.
  • It doesn’t qualify under “fair use” exceptions.
  • The song isn’t in public domain. The only songs that are public domain in the USA are songs and musical recordings published in 1922 or earlier. This song was released in 1937. (Check out the website here with examples of public domain works http://www.pdinfo.com/)

So, that means either Disney licensed copyright permissions to a local breakfast joint in central coast California or the restaurant and radio station stole it. It probably wasn’t intentionally and in fact, it was a solid creative choice, but the law doesn’t factor in intent, creativity or ignorance.

What should they have done? Here’s some advice from business law firm Brooks/Pierce:

“To secure a license for a musical work, you will need to contact the publisher directly. You can obtain publisher contact information using the repertory databases maintained by ASACP (www.ascap.com), BMI (www.bmi.com), SESAC (www.sesac.com), and/or the Music Publishers’ Association (www.mpa.org). If a sound recording license is also needed (e.g., for dubbing an original recording), you will also need to contact the record company directly. Record company contact information can sometimes be obtained by the music publisher and is often also available on the copy of the recording (e.g., the CD liner notes). Publisher and record company contact information may also be located on the U.S. Copyright Office’s website (www.copyright.gov).”

That’s a lot of time, work and likely money for a :07 sample of a song in a :30 radio ad that you’re charging 50-bucks a spin for on your radio station.

Here’s the kicker. Even if the radio station didn’t produce the spot they can be held liable for copyright infringement. (Production Directors and Traffic Directors listen up!) Penalties can range from $150,000 to $250,000 per infringement and up to 10 years in prison. And in this case, Disney doesn’t shy away from going after little guys, because once you knowingly allow one entity to infringe a precedent is set. Typically a cease & desist will be the first action taken, but I wouldn’t press your luck.

Be careful out there.

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Top 10 Posts of 2014!

Each year I find it gratifying to look back and take stock. It’s been a fun, frustrating-at-times, insightful, enlightening, empowering year thanks in a large part because of you. What I write on these pages is a reflection of what I’m experiencing in the world as it relates to radio. Here are the posts that drew the most attention this year for one reason or another.

photo 310. Stop Questioning, Start Creating. This was a talent-focused piece on how to best engage listeners and a plea for the world to stop asking so many questions. It’s an engagement device that really doesn’t work as well as you think it does.

9. 1,000 Miles of Radio Listening. This entry was inspired while moving my family from Seattle, WA to Atascadero, CA. It reflects my time in the role as a real radio listener. (Spoiler: Radio remains, to my dismay, mostly cliché, predictable, forgettable, and crammed full of poorly written commercials.)

8. Radio is Overloaded. 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.

PETE CARROLL LOMBARDI 27. Building a Championship Team. Sometimes we need to look beyond the four walls of the studio or station to be inspired for greatness. This entry focuses on Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and how he built a World Championship team.

6. How to Quit Your Radio Job in 10 Steps. There is going to come a time when you want out of your radio station. Here is how to do that with dignity and grace.

5. Fun Cannot Be Formatted. This was a 50% inspiration and 50% kick in the ass. A major portion of people in radio have forgotten how to have fun. The future success of the industry depends on the spontaneity of personalities and giving them permission to try new things and fail.

4. Six Tips for Co-Hosting a Radio Show or Podcast. Co-hosting a radio show or podcast seems like it should be easier because there are two of you, but that also means there are twice the problems. Here are some tips to get you started in the right direction.

3. Making Sense of Another Radio Firing. Anthony Cumia, the second half of Opie & Anthony, was fired by SiriusXM over the weekend for a series of offensive tweets he made about African-Americans after a woman physically assaulted him in New York City. I examine the firing from a radio perspective.

Leykis12. Seven Hours with Tom Leykis. This my takeaways from spending the day with former radio star turned internet radio star Tom Leykis. Tom doesn’t hate radio. He says he’s been doing it too long, made too many millions off of it and has too many friends still in it to hate it. “I love radio. NOT the appliance, but the concept.”

1. Prepare for the Pink Slip. This entry is the most viewed blog post of 2014 and it also originates from my day with Tom Leykis. It is full of advice from Tom to those of us still working in the traditional radio business.

(AUDIO) Radio Stuff Podcast – Episode 1

Radio Stuff Podcast LogoListen to the inaugural “Radio Stuff” podcast with Deb Slater (@deb_slater and www.debslater.com) and me. This first podcast we listen to how different radio sources treated the Cleveland story about the three women found after years in captivity; WTAM, Fox News Radio, NPR, Rush Limbuagh, BBC, and Radio Australia. We also talk about Paula White who got drunk before her final Friday night shift at BBC Radio Stoke. We listen to News Talk 980 CJME (Regina, Canada) and host John Himpe’s thoughts on a would-be seriel killer allowed to watch Dexter. We listen to radio station imaging from 100.3 The Sound in LA and 99.3 The Vine in Wine Country. We talked to XL 1010 Jacksonville’s Chad Scott about a new sports radio chat on twitter #srchat, and we debate the decency of a Fresh N Easy commercial. There’s a lot here! Enjoy. Let us know what you like, what you want more of, and what you could do without. And please send contributions, tips, audio, insights to both of us at radiostuffpodcast@gmail.com

 

Radio Stuff Podcast – Episode 1

Don’t Rush to Judgement

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I do not condone Rush Limbaugh’s word choice and characterizations of Sandra Fluke. No woman deserves to be called a “slut” or ” prostitute” or any other derogatory phrase. I do not condone ex-WDAE morning guy Dan Sileo’s characterization of three African American NFL players as “monkeys.” Howard Cosell was fired nearly 30 years ago for pretty much the same thing. I also heard the “n” word un-bleeped on a syndicated show last week, which I do not condone.

So here are my questions…And answers.

Why is this happening? How is this happening? Who is to blame? Who is responsible? How does this impact radio? How should radio deal with it?

Talk radio is a tight rope walk. We ask talent to spend three hours a day entertaining, informing, dishing big opinions and driving conversations. We want hosts to “cut through the clutter,” “be passionate,” and “take risks,” while simultaneously protecting our company brands. This is hard to do and mistakes will happen. This is why companies provide a net in the form of board operators and producers. Talent need to rely on and respect these roles more — and the people in these positions need to speak up and take action when a talent crosses the line. Here is an idea; use the dump button…or tell the host they’ve gone too far. If you sit there and laugh with them like it’s a 1960s fraternity house, the content will likely degenerate. This isn’t the producer and board operators fault, but it is their responsibility along with the host.

What frustrates me is that radio is getting beat up as a dying industry everywhere I look and these outdated, racist, sexist, and irresponsible comments reinforce those claims and further suggest the medium is irrelevant and obsolete. The reality is radio has been and can continue to be a remarkable platform for lively debate and conversation about important issues and help to provide understanding. At its best talk radio is informative, entertaining, compelling, thought provoking, in-the-moment, interesting, fun and relevant. As an industry we provide the sound track to people’s life, we start conversations, we tell stories of triumph and tragedy to better understand the human condition, we care for and take care of our communities, and we create an invisible, powerful, connective tissue through the lives of our listeners which creates an amazing bond that has helped stations across the country in the past year alone raise millions and millions of dollars for good causes.

That being said, we are in a business that requires an understanding that things will get said that shouldn’t be said. Mistakes happen. This is talk radio. We will provoke at times and upset groups of people. As a PD it is my job to be calm in the middle of the storm. Programming decisions should never be made in the middle of a fire storm. It is our job (my job) to listen to the people complaining, listen to the actual audio of what was said, and then formulate my response. If lines were crossed –apologies should be made (as insincere as you may think he was, at least Rush did this). And then after everyone takes a deep breath, ask yourself a couple of questions; is this show representative of the kind of show you want on your station? Does it attract the audience you are targeting? Is the host chronically crossing the line ( your line, the FCC’s line, the community standards)? and if so, is the reward ( ratings and revenue) worth the risk? We are in the radio business and we need to make business decisions.

Finally, radio needs a shot in the arm and not another punch to the gut. Somehow, someway everyone who believes as strongly in this medium as I do needs to be actively promoting its awesomeness. 90+% of everyone (a totally made up stat) listens to radio. They are already believers in the medium, let’s remind them of it. Tell your friends why you love radio (#iloveradio) and I will do the same. Together we can rekindle people’s passion for absolutely free, wireless, instant information and entertainment available nationwide at the touch of a button…that is still legal to access while driving.

“You Play To Win The Game!” – Herm Edwards

This Super Bowl week, I thought it would be appropriate to share some inspiration and insights that I learned from one of the great NFL coaches Herm Edwards. When I was at ESPN, Herm was invited to speak to a group of managers and I was lucky to be included.

“Our greatest obstacles in life are created by people who try to put limitations on us.” This is how coach Edwards started his speech. Simply put, don’t let others define what is possible for you. However, he stresses the importance of going about your life’s journey with integrity and vision. We are all leaders. People are watching and following our lead. It doesn’t mean you have to make a big speech or even be liked. A true leader, according to Edwards, lifts people’s vision and performance beyond their normal talent level. Do you help make people exceed their expected potential?

Another area coach Edwards touched on was “accountability.” He says you need to know and do your job.  Take responsibility. Hold yourself and others at a high standard. Do the right thing on purpose. Your words and your actions should match up.

And finally some parting words from coach Edwards…

  • Stay true to your vision. Do not let circumstances distract you. 
  • Trust those who work for you and with you – and sometimes that means taking a risk.
  • Set an example – perform tasks that you would ask others to perform. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
  • Stay humble. There were a lot of great things accomplished before you were born. 
  • Remember, you chose your profession. It didn’t choose you.