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Posts Tagged ‘Larry Gifford’

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

Top 10 Lessons Radio Can Take from David Letterman

Top 10 Lessons Radio Can Take from David Letterman (as heard on Episode 102 of the Radio Stuff Podcast)

10. People like lists.

9. Try new things. Crazy things. Challenge conventional wisdom.

8. Surround yourself with a team you trust.

7. Sometimes you have to leave a job to find greater success.

6. Produce. Plan. Prepare. Script. Rehearse. And then do what feels right in the moment.

5. Bring guests into your world. Own your interviews.

4. Don’t be afraid to fail.

3. Self-deprecation is an effective tool to win over an audience.

2. Surprise the audience.

1. Even a kid from small town Indiana can be a big time talk host.

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INSIDE RADIO STUFF #100

RS 100 coverI just recorded and edited the 100th episode of the Radio Stuff podcast. It features an extensive interview with Cumulus and Westwood One personality Jonathon Brandmeier. It also marks the milestone by sharing memories with original co-host Deb Slater and listening back to a few favorite moments. I realized of all 100 episodes this one is among the most challenging. Primarily due to production. This experience reinforced the importance of caring about the details and asking for help when you need it. Here’s how it all came together.

LANDING BRANDMEIER
I had been talking to Brandmeier and his team about doing the podcast even before the new show was announced on WLS and Westwood One. We have mutual friends and had some business dealings in the past year so it wasn’t really ever about IF he’d do it, but WHEN the timing would be right. They wanted to wait until about a month into the new show. Last week I suggested the 100th episode and Johnny made it work.

Our call was scheduled for 10:00 a.m. PDT immediately following his syndicated show. I asked for 30 minutes, we talked for an hour. I started rolling tape and talking to the Radio Stuff listeners while waiting for the phone to ring. I don’t have a phone coupler, so I plug the phone directly into the board, place the phone on the desk. I record my part into a microphone and the phone mic sends my voice to the guest. In this case, I was talking for about 8 minutes before he called. Rolling before the interview is an NPR trick to capture everything. I blogged about it with Anna Sale a couple of months ago. My monologue and our opening exchange become a teaser clip I released 24 hours in advance of the podcast. His opening line to me after I answer the phone is the first thing you hear on the podcast.

 

THE CLIPS and DROPS
Brandmeier uses a lot of audio during his show and our interview was no different. However, the phone distorted the audio he was sending down the line. So, I had Brandmeier send all the clips after the interview to insert in post. The clips, for the most part, are longer than what he sent down the line, so I had to find the parts he used, edit, insert them and silence the phone version. For example, I used about 20 seconds of the audio from this video in the show.

THE LEVELS
After recording, even though I thought the levels were perfect, my voice entirely dominated Brandmeier’s, so I went through the entire interview and adjusted all my parts to blend more seamlessly with Johnny and then raised the gain on the whole file.

DEB SLATER
Deb recorded her voice on her end and I recorded my voice on my end. She then sent her file to edit in a higher quality audio. I recorded her right after Brandmeier and forgot to unplug the phone from the board. So, that means I recorded her too. I tried to silence the phone quality version of Deb, but I couldn’t get it all. You’ll hear it switch back and forth especially when she’s laughing or talking over me. My mistake. Won’t do it again.

During our chat she mentioned several moments from early Radio Stuff shows that I found after our call and inserted in post production.

ASKING FOR HELP – PART 1

After receiving that tweet from John Collins about the return of the fake town crier after the second Royal baby was born, I put an all call out for audio of the town crier.

It worked! I received this email a few days later;

Dear Larry,

You asked on Saturday for a clip of the town crier announcing Kate’s baby.
Here’s how 680 News in Toronto reported it.

https://soundcloud.com/bandanachap/royal-birth-town-cryer

Downloadable WAV (but from internet feed), 12MB, 1:10.

There’s a lesson in how radio has no borders any more.

Journalists in London capture the sound, and beam it around the world.

An all-news radio station in Toronto edits the announcement into their piece, broadcasts it to their listeners in Toronto, and right around the world on the internet.

A listener travelling on a train in Britain hears the piece, thinks “that might be interesting”, hits rewind on his mobile app, records it for posterity, and makes it available.

Congratulations on Radio Stuff 100, and here’s to many many more.

All best,
Weaver

ASKING FOR HELP – PART 2
After realizing the town crier was going to be a topic of discussion, I again asked twitter followers for help.

Geoff McQueen saw it and tagged DJ Dapper Dan and within an hour it was done. DJ Dapper Dan also had some thoughts on the fake town crier.

“That chap Appleton did not have the permission to cry from the Royal Family, they just said they didn’t object and that he should consult the relevant local authority which he failed to do as far as we know over here. Anyway he is not a bona fide Town Crier as you have to be appointed by a Lord of The Manor, A Local Authority or Similar level of accepted Government Body. He is not, never has been and is not likely to be. But fair play to him, he got a lot of publicity!”

ASKING FOR HELP – PART 3
I also reached out directly to Radio Today host Trevor Dann to see if he would offer a toast for the 100th episode. Trevor has been a supporter and reoccurring guest over the course of two years and I was happy he agreed to record a little something for the show.

CONCLUSION
I sometimes wonder why I go through all the hoops I do to create a show each week, but it is because I want it to be great. I don’t always hit out of the park, but when all is said and done I’m usually extremely satisfied with the product and proud to put my name on it. Johnny said it in the interview and I believe it to; you have to do the show for yourself first and not worry about who is listening.

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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

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.

 

2015-03-17 09.26.48

 

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.

2015-03-17 09.34.23

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.

2015-03-17 15.31.16

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.

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.

Radiodays Europe: Getting Out of the Comfort Zone

radiodays_europe_mit_vorlaeufigem_programm5_evo_list_itmes_compSo, this week I’m off to Milan, Italy for Radiodays Europe. The response I’ve received from the U.S. and Canada is measured, if not skeptical, and a tad bit insulting to our radio brothers and sisters around the world.

“Radio days – what? I never heard of it.” – This is the typical response I receive followed by, “it’s cool you get to go to Italy. Enjoy it.”

Translation: This must be a way to write off a trip to Italy on your taxes. I get it.

“You know, Larry, you’re going to find Europe, the U.K. and the rest of the world are about 10 years behind us, but by all means see for yourself.”

Translation: There’s nothing for U.S. radio to learn, they’re all copying us!

The reality of it is, I’m excited to be going. Yes, I love Italy. But, frankly, I love radio more. In the past five years, I’ve met some crazy talented, creative, radio trailblazers from around the world and I anticipate nothing less at Radiodays Europe. For me, I learn loads by getting out of my comfort zone. This should do the trick.

Here is what I anticipate most:

1. Terror & Breaking News: There is a lot to be learned from people who have experienced and reported on terrorism. In one session, we will be hearing about #Je suis Charlie from two French newsrooms; Radio France and of Radio France International. As terrorism refuses to recognize borders, we must learn from our radio friends who have been faced with it becoming a local story.

2. The Royal Prank: Funny is subjective and in some cases deadly. I’ve been fascinated with what happened when 2DayFM pranked a London hospital pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles checking up on then-pregnant Kate Middleton. Three days later one of the nurses they fooled committed suicide. The story continues to make headlines as recent as last week when an Australian court ruled the radio station violated the law and now faces huge fines. Mel Greig, the host who impersonated the Queen, will elaborates on what happened, what she’s learned through it all and what lessons the radio industry can take from it.

3. Morning Show Successes: I hope Z100’s Elvis Duran and BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans are honest and transparent with us. These guys have hugely successful breakfast / morning shows. Both hosts will be in attendance to hopefully help us better understand what makes them work. I interviewed Evan’s assistant producer Graham Alban’s last year and I hope the host is as forthcoming and thoughtful.

4. Millennial Insights: I content kids don’t hate radio, we just haven’t made it compelling enough for them to care about it. It should be instructive to hear how others are capturing the attention of the next generations and getting them to consume (consciously or not) the radio. Presenters from Serbia, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, and the UK will all share insights.

5. The Role of the Radio DJ: This is important. In the wake of Apple plucking one of radio’s greatest DJs from the BBC, it is prescient to have a discussion of the evolution of the radio DJ and the important role curation plays in the future success of music radio.

6. Radio’s Social Media Strategy: There are a number of sessions focused on social media. I bet none of them will satisfy every GM I’ve ever met in radio who wonders, “how do we monetize twitter?” But, I look forward to hearing how others are delivering cool social media experiences for their audiences, how they’ve increased real engagement with their brand, and just listening to success stories from the front lines of radio’s internal struggle with social media.

7. People: Meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends can be inspiring. Hearing people’s “radio stories” and triumphs is a highlight of these events. Often the most interesting people are sitting with you in the audience. Get to know them. Have a drink. It’s fun to spit ball ideas with smart people who “get” radio.

SIDENOTE: Strange to me that there really is no session around sports radio; coverage, the format, play-by-play.

Starting this weekend, I’ll be blogging about my Radiodays Europe adventures at LarryGifford.com, live tweeting @giffordtweet and filing stories in the U.S. for Talkers.com and in Canada on Airchecker.ca. Listen for a full recap of my experience on the Radio Stuff Podcast.

 

10 Things To Make You Better Than Everyone Else

The other day my wife and I were talking about my new weekly email (see: email #1) and were throwing around possible enticements to get people to sign-up. I wasn’t sure I wanted to promise anything more than the weekly communication and blurted out, “I’m not sure I want to promise them 10 Things To Make You Better Than Everyone Else to get them to sign up” It was a flippant, off-hand remark that got us laughing and then I thought, “hmm. It would be fun to write.” My wife cautioned that if I did it would need to be helpful too. (Always the voice of reason.)

THE PITCH

Sign up for the email if you like. It’ll be chock full of links to radio stories, audio and video, radio related pictures, plus my observations, discoveries, and insights. I promise I won’t give away your information. And it’s free. Let’s call it viral swag. Wait! Let’s not. That sounds like an STD. Let’s just say if you like radio stuff as much as I do, you may like this too. For easy sign up click here.

THE LIST: 10 Things To Make You Better Than Everyone Else

game of life1. Stop keeping score. Ironic considering the list this item appears on. But seriously, this will free you from the chains of ego – at least in part. So much of what riles us up is constantly comparing ourselves to the people around us. We compare our talents, which can be motivating. But, we also take stock of who got which desk, who got a new computer, who went to lunch with the boss, who is in the PDs office and for how long, who gets more air time, which show gets more promotion on air, who is voicing more commercials, what show got bumper stickers or billboards, who is on stage at the station concert and which bands are they introducing and on and on and on. Stop it. You’re going to drive yourself insane. If you’re not being treated fairly, take your official compaint to human resources. But, by fairly I don’t mean equally. Not everyone gets a parking spot, a performance bonus, a cushy office, or even a free t-shirt. Be supportive of each other’s success and opportunities. Trust me, if you stop keeping score and start cheering each other on you’ll feel better about yourself and find your job more personally fulfilling, because of the impact your actions have on the success of your team.

asshole2. Don’t be an a – – hole. This might seem cheeky, but really there’s no need to terrorize your co-workers, bully subordinates, or stride through the building like you are above it all. We all deserve better. And more and more people I talk to are instituting a “No a – – hole hiring policy.” (Like this guy) So, finding and keeping your job is getting tougher and tougher if you insist on being a sphincter.

3. Be present. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually (if you are inclined.) I know some will say this is mumbo-jumbo. Okay, move on. For the rest of you… being in the present moment will make you more engaged, more reliable, more likable, more productive, more balanced, more mindful and the list goes on. This means letting go of what happened last hour, yesterday or last week so you can focus on what’s happening right now. It also means to stop thinking about what’s next or getting emotionally engaged in events that haven’t happened, but might. Sometimes the easiest way for me to shed those nagging thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow is to make a list of what’s racing through my brain so I don’t forget it and I can address it at a later time in a more focused, productive way.

greatness4. Aspire for greatness. People like to be around positive people who believe dreams can come true. I actually had someone tell me after a coaching session they didn’t want any more feedback on improving their show, because, “it’s good enough” they just wanted me to grow their audience. What a buzz kill. When I took over as program director at ESPN in Los Angeles I was quoted in the trades predicting the station would be #1 in the market. Lots of people laughed. But at the end of the day do you want to work with people who believe greatness is possible or work with pessimists (they like to disguise themselves realists) who are satisfied with the status quo? Greatness please. I always want to work with those people who dream big and take action to achieve it.

5. Present solutions not problems. This is what I call “being an owner” or “see a problem, fix it.” Too often people carry their problems across the radio station being sure to let it spill a little on everyone’s desk before dumping the mess and all their attached emotions in the (insert manager position here)’s lap. This instantly relinquishes them of the responsibility of whatever is going on and leaves it up to management to solve. Or so they think. We are adults, right? Trust me, the results will be swifter and more satisfying if, before you march in and demand resolution, you consider what that might look like. I would even approach it as a pitch to solve a problem at the radio station that will; increase morale, save the company money, increase efficiency, etc. Management has enough problems to solve. If solutions are offered it’s easier to act on them in a timely manner. Vice-versa is true too. Management can’t tell employees to work smarter, collaborate or increase output without offering tools and solutions to do so.

listen6. Listen. This means actually hearing what people are saying. Studies have shown only 7% of communication is verbal, 93% is non-verbal (55% body language, 38% tone of voice.) So, put down your devices, move away from computer screens, and communicate with people face to face as often as you can. Focus on what they saying. Listen. Don’t just use the time they’re talking to figure what you’re going to say next. Communication only works when the message sent is the message received, otherwise it is miscommunication. This also applies to listening to the radio station you work at. Hear what is going over the air tell people specifically what you like.

7. Make “what,” “how” and “why” equal partners in making decisions. I’m a big proponent of strategic thinking. Knowing what you want to do, why you want to do and how it can be done seems logical enough, but in a radio station atmosphere I’ve witnessed more than my fair share of knee-jerk reaction decisions based on nothing but spite, fear, or an attempt to save face. Regardless if you’re a board operator or the chairman of the board, keeping this in mind while making decisions is key to garnering internal support for changes. It’s human nature to want to know WHY a decision is being made and if you are the decision maker you should have an answer other than, “Because.” This applies to all levels of employees.

Second-Chances8. Give people second chances. The old adage is you only have one shot to make a first impression. But, what if we just declared that old. Some people get nervous, have bad days, always make a horrible first impression or are simply miscast. I know I’m as guilty of anyone as painting someone with a broad brush on a first impression, putting them in a box, or diminishing their value to me based on a single interaction. That’s silly. Humans are fallible. Be human and realize you may be the one who made the mistake this time and give people a second chance before writing them off.

9. Be open to uncomfortable ideas. No need for any safe words here. Get your mind out of the Cosby gutter. This is about challenging conventional wisdom. This guy is doing it and I only wish he wasn’t so combative, angry and intent on hording his solutions until you hire him. But this can apply to changing where you sit in the studio, what color the walls are, experimenting with new bits or talent, or rebranding a heritage station to be more in touch with the way people consume radio today. Be the guy or gal who encourages evolution. The person who says, “Yes, and…” and add to the discussion instead of shutting it down with a, “no!” or even worse, “we’ve never done that here.”

10. Be a part of something bigger than yourself. We’re in this big crazy world together so why not pitch in to help make it a better place to be. You could volunteer at your favorite charity, share knowledge with people who could use it, raise funds, raise awareness, or help find solutions to community issues. It could be as simple be creating a personal mission in how you want your actions and activities to impact others. When you are selfless in your actions the energy you exert is minimal in the scope of life, but the impact can be life changing for you and others. It also gives you a broader perspective on how your actions make a difference. And I believe when we are conscious and purposeful with our actions the impact is greater and more positive than if we take action in a vacuum and let the chips fall where they may.

Purpose

And those are 10 Things To Make You Better Than Everyone Else. Feel free to share additional items, feedback and stories below.