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7 Podcasts Helping to Make Great Radio

rs134cvrI love radio. I love making it, making it better, making it relevant and accessible, making it meaningful and making it informative. I love listening to radio and being entertained, amazed, challenged and surprised. I also love talking about it. That’s why I’ve relaunched a new season of the Radio Stuff Podcast. (You should listen, subscribe, share and rate it on iTunes.)

In making episode 134 of Radio Stuff sponsored by Promo Suite, I realized my podcast has been influenced by many others. Some are about radio and making great audio, some are storytelling focused and others are interviews about the business.

Here are seven podcasts I’m listening to for insight, information, context and entertainment. All of these are available on iTunes in addition to other platforms.

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Bob Schieffer’s “About the News” – The CBS news veteran talks to journalists, bureau chiefs, editors, and executives about the news. It’s a behind the scenes chat with names you know and with people who lead the news industry.

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James Cridland Radio Futurologist – Londoner turned Aussie, James brings his written words  to life with 3 to 5 minute podcast shots. Great international perspective on our industry.  howsound_social_medium

HowSound – This is a master’s class in audio storytelling. It’s a bi-weekly podcast produced for PRX and Transom and dives into technique, storytelling formulas and structure with lots of examples.

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Radio Today – the great Trevor Dann consistently delivers this weekly listen about radio in the U.K. And Europe. He talks to the news makers and icons. Plus, David Lloyd Radio Moments.  sound-off

Sound Off Podcast – Canadian and radio pro Matt Cundill shows off production value and a great sense of curiosity in this weekly podcast about radio. I’m featured in the next episode.

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Barrett Sports Media Podcast – this is a newly launched podcast by veteran sports radio programmer turned consultant Jason Barrett. He’s talking to talent and management about how they do what they do and addressing the big headlines in radio each week.

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Under the Influence – this is a marketing podcast that’s also a radio show on CBC. It’s a great listen, well researched and highly produced. A good example of how to take seamingly disparate stories and connect them through a show theme.

What podcasts are you listening to for inspiration, instruction or example?

Radiodays Europe 2015 – Day Three

2015-03-17 10.31.19n

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.

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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.

Radio Odds and Ends

I drove a total of about 10 hours yesterday to catch up with radio friends and listen to the radio. It also gives you time to think, come up with new ideas and dream a bit. I have a renewed focus and a more positive attitude starting my day today. Here are some things I heard, saw and thought that may be of interest to you.


OVERHEARD

I heard a bunch of a election coverage. There was no greater test for my brain than flipping between NPR and Fox News Radio coverage of the midterm elections; different tone, different language, different storylines. Both were biased. Both served their audiences. Neither was misleading.

Non-stop election coverage is rewarding for anchors and reporters, but hard work. I heard national anchors and local reporters all lose their thoughts, get choked up by dry mouth, and fumble through names and issues they weren’t prepped to discuss. You can’t over prepare for a night like this.

I didn’t hear anyone fumble and most of the coverage was informative and timely with the right level of excitement and urgency.


OVERSAW

I saw this on the 405-South heading out of Los Angeles. I had to turn around and drive by again to snap this photo going 60 miles an hour (not recommended).

KFI

TAKEAWAY: I think KFI is threatening me.

Two points here. It’s hard to be funny and I think they’re trying to be funny. Humor is tough and extremely subjective. Use it with caution. Secondly, how is “stay connected” any different of a benefit from most other radio stations? Keeping listeners connected (to news, community, music, etc.) is really the goal of most stations regardless of format. It doesn’t provide a differentiation point


WORDS OF WISDOM:

“Best advice (I’ve received) is to go through life with an “F— it!” attitude. Nothing is as bad as you think it is at the time. You can survive practically anything. And the best way get through things is to realize that it’s all going  to pass.”  – Perry Michael Simon, AllAccess.com, on the Hermosa Beach Pier Plaza.


FLASHBACK:

A note to the country morning show host who opens each break with the double time check (11 minutes after 7, 7-11 on your home for…) stop it. The 80’s called and it want’s the analog time check back please. Stick with the digital read out. It’s shorter, simpler, and easier to understand. Rule of thumb: never have listeners do math in their head when you’re just trying to tell them the time.


TEASE ME: 

“The Mayor joins us next to talk about the election” is a programming note not a tease. Find a way to make me want to listen. Instead of WHO you’re going to have on think of the WHY you WANT him on and WHAT he’s going to provide that’s worth sticking around for.


TRUTH TELLING

“There are some really good 40 second ads out there (in Los Angeles) that have been padded into a minute. If you could sell ads in multiples of :10 instead of :30s or :60s could the creative be rather better than it currently is? Because the creative of some of the ads I was hearing was not quite as high as I was hoping it would be.” – Radio Futurologist James Cridland on the shores of Laguna Beach


NETWORKING TIP

Bring a gift. I feel both special and inadequate meeting with James Cridland. He arrived with a thoughtful gift for me and all I brought was a camera so we could take our picture together. His was more useful to me than mine to him. 🙂

bookJames Cridland and Larry Gifford

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

Lessons from NextRadio, London

September 16, 2013 1 comment

nextradioSo are you smarter? Did you learn anything? What’s your big takeaway?

Just some of the questions flying my way following Next Radio 2013 in London.

Briefly here are my answers: perhaps a little, yes, and radio has a future.

For those interested in the details read away. (or listen to the podcast)

 

Radio is full of ideas people.

This became clear quickly by just talking to the people seated around me. But on stage the creativity oozed at times. Towards the beginning off the day, there was a presentation about creating open source, personal radios from a box of doodads and thingamajigs which will allow you to avoid shows you don’t like to hear.

9728428525_7fe8a092b8_cTeam Rock’s Billy Anderson bound to the stage and paced like a rock-n-roll lion in cage as he explained his fledgling project.

“I created Team Rock by looking at what I need from radio.”

He emphasized it’s not a radio format, it’s a community. Radio serves as a marketing arm for the popular rock magazines he also acquired.

And Absolute Radio presenter Geoff Lloyd brought his quick wit, quirky insights and a very long pointer to explain that as long as we treat our listeners as idiots, they will be have as such. Which means it’s okay to talk about that things that may not be obvious for your target demo.

“People’s big passions fall through the cracks of research. Everybody has a thing that you wouldn’t expect about them. Great radio is interesting people being their authentic selves.”

Radio’s problems and opportunities are universal.

Mobile. Like most radio conferences “mobile” was buzzing around the room like a bee hovering over lemonade.

From field use:

“The iPhone changed broadcasting completely. It’s like a comrex built by someone with taste.” – Reporter Nick Garnett from BBC Radio 5live

To optimization:

BT0YostIAAAc13wJames Cridland declared, “mobile is massive!” as he shared escalating numbers of people who access websites through mobile devices. And not so subtly nudging radio stations who haven’t optimized for mobile to get with the program.

Mobile was one of the keys to electing President Barack Obama in 2012 according to Blue State Digital‘s Gregor Poynton. He talked about how his team’s digital media strategy helped to re-elect the President. And with everything they did they kept this mind:

“Tell a great story and let them be apart of it.”

It’s fairly easy to argue that radio isn’t always telling great stories on mobile and other platforms, and we’re even worse at engaging listeners.

It’s about them, not us

Over and over the mantra “know you audience,” and “use your data” were repeated by men, women and at the end by a computerized voice who unapologetically ripped radio for it’s “shit social media” practices.

“Only post stuff they will care about. Post stuff that will turn people into listeners. Be useful, meaningful.”

Bruce Daisley, the managing director for Twitter UK also beat the drum.

“Users first, last and always.”

And Michael Hill from UK Radio Player has designed the latest iterations of that platform  with a fans first mentality.

“It’s about discovery, getting them to listen to the radio they love.”

Ratings systems aren’t perfect no matter where you live

About half way through the day a gentleman from RAJAR (the UK equivalent to the Arbitron diary service though it measures listening on all devices) took the stage and the collective eye-rolling and faintly audible sighs let me know that no matter where you are in the world, ratings systems aren’t perfect.

Or as Radio Today‘s Trevor Dann tweeted:

“There have been some useful and some inspiring sessions at NextRadio. This is isn’t one of them.

Beer and Radio bring the World Together

Finally, I learned that despite our distances radio people from the UK, Germany, Serbia, Sweden, the U.S., Zimbabwe, and places in between are generally smart, fun, passionate, enjoy talking radio and love share stories over a drink.

 

 

 

Eight Things I Takeaway From HIVIO

hiviologo_finalHIVIO is a made up word pronounced as a mash-up between hive and radio (HI-vee-oh). While billed as radio’s FIRST ideas festival, this is a concept that is going on its third year in London with radio futurologist James Cridland and “NextRadio.” Regardless, Mark Ramsey assembled an invite-only gathering of radio folks in San Diego to sit and listen to thought leaders and brand builders from outside the radio industry; from Google and Pandora to the San Diego Zoo and Uber. The festival was live streamed and is now being carved into individual videos to be released in the coming weeks.

(This was a big topic of conversation on Radio Stuff Podcast with an interview with Ramsey and loads of clips)

After sitting through the six hours or so of streaming video, I was agitated, inspired, embarrassed, hopeful, and at times confused. Here are eight of my big takeaways.

1. For radio to thrive it needs four things: strategy, innovation, creativity, and unique content. These concepts were echoed through the day in part of whole by every presenter. Mark Ramsey’s opening presentation set the tone, “It’s time in this radio industry of ours to stop saying, ‘where did that work?’ and start saying, ‘why not here, now?’”

Chad Robley, CEO of the digital agency Mindgruve touched on those ideas too saying radio’s advantage over digital competitors include established listener engagement, brand equity and reach – and he pointed out, “you have permission to innovate on top of that and reach across platforms.”

2. Radio is losing respect from people who want to be fans. Presenters were at times laughing AT  — and at times speechless of — radio’s inability to “get it.”

Michael Warburton of San Diego Zoo snickered at the prospect of radio pitching website banners ads as a digital solution.

Patrick Reynolds, Chief Strategy Officer of Triton Digital, was dumbfounded, literally speechless for five seconds and visibly taken aback when a radio person asked if they had plans to compete with PPM-type measurement devices.

3. Radio is afraid. Mark Ramsey calls them hard questions that need to be answered, I call it resistance to innovation and change. The fear radio has of the unknown keeps us rooted in the past. This was most evident to me during the presentation of the Google + hangouts, when the women presenting could barely finish their prepared remarks due to constant haranguing from radio folks worried that Google + is going to swipe their listener databases. Really? Aside from what the women pointed out, “Google’s motto is do no evil,” Google + has 500 million users – I’m guessing their not looking to pinch the data of a couple thousand P1s you’ve collected. It also confused me, since Google+ is a social network and the industry happily hands listeners over to Facebook and twitter with reckless abandon.

4. Radio is losing listeners, fans and supporters, because it’s hard to listen to. This point was hammered home by Bryce Clemmer, Founder of Vadio.

“When I rented cars on trips for meetings, I never use Sirius or anything, because I felt like I was a loyal listener to broadcast itself and therefore I actually went through this thought process: I want to support the broadcasters that I’m trying to innovate. But, at the same time, after I’ve been traveling for a year now, it kind of became unbearable. And the reason being is because there were so many commercials, the experience itself — there was so much repetition, and naturally as a human you can’t deny if it’s not a good experience, you’re not going to use it. No matter who you are.”

5. Radio isn’t trying hard enough to be great. Shows need to worry about every detail. It’s not good enough to be “good enough” anymore. San Diego Zoo Global brand manager Michael Warburton talked about why they spend so much money and time to make things great.

“Because it matters to a lot of people. If a consumer or client or anybody sees that you’re willing to put ‘all in’ and make something as great as it can be, they are going to appreciate it that much more.”

More specifically, Gary Cramer, the founder of the National Comedy Theater, pointed out the problems with most ensemble talk shows…

“You don’t have some person who is an intern who you throw on air, because you need ‘three’ and they’re just all over the map. So many morning zoo shows are just a nightmare to listen to, because they don’t have a cohesive plan as to where to go. I think they’re just chattering and saying whatever comes to their mind. And they’re not going one direction.”

(For an idea who of who’s doing it right, Cramer points at Mark & Brian, Kevin & Bean, and Phil Hendrie)  

6. Pandora has keyed in on radio’s advantages. While radio is bemoaning PPM and FM in cell phones and crying over lost placement in the dashboard, Pandora is busy studying what radio is doing right. Pandora CTO Tom Conrad said there are “all kinds of things” radio does especially well that Pandora hasn’t touched yet..

  •  Local community integration
  • On Air Personalities
  • Spoken word content

When pressed on one thing Pandora may key in on, Conrad was cautious, but his personal ambitious is to make it feel less robotic and add more life to the music service. 7. Radio needs to emulate Pandora’s filter for hiring people. I blogged about how radio and internet competitors are taking different approaches to hiring for similar positions here. Conrad has a few filters that are worth stealing: HIRE PEOPLE WHO ARE:

  • Smart
  • Self-motivated
  • Passionate about some aspect of their work
  • And who are… not assholes.

8. Radio needs to step up in a big way. Triton Digital’s Patrick Reynolds has these words of wisdom for radio broadcasters.

“Be everywhere, starting with mobile. Anything that plugs in is capable of delivering audio and you have to be in all those places.” – even if it’s your toaster.

“Invest in understanding (your) audience. Where does it come from – geographically? When does it come – day part-wise? On what device does it come? What registration data do I know about it if anything?”

“Where sneakers to work, because it’s going to get disrupted on an ongoing basis and you’ll be running around ragged.”

And eight other things overheard…

“Radio is in a great position to disrupt itself.”

“Radio needs to operate more like start-ups.”

“Why are you on Pinterest? Facebook? twitter? vine? Why do you even have a website?”

“There is an expectation of having a higher purpose… a “return on mission” as important as “return on investment””

“…build a relationship with consumer, be relevant in their lives, tell stories, be innovative, always do and try new things.” (Talking about San Diego Zoo, but could just as easily be radio)

“It’s not the new devices that are innovation, it’s what people are doing on those devices.”

“Get in the middle of transactions.”

“They’re all going for your audience. It is critical you invest mind share and invest in resources to fight for your audience.”