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Posts Tagged ‘Radio Stuff Podcast’

Prepare for the Pink Slip

If you have a job in radio right now, Tom Leykis has a message for you.

Iceman-Radio“I’m sure in 1947 the ice-man didn’t see Frigidaire coming and thought the idea of a machine that would cool items would be ridiculous. Sure enough, nobody shed a tear when the icebox went away. Where did the poor ice-man go? Nobody cares!”

Leykis, in an interview with me on the Radio Stuff Podcast, believes radio stations are about to become yesterday’s news.

“They don’t see it. They don’t plan for it. A lot of people are going to be in a world of hurt when the ax comes down. I know they don’t want to hear what I’m saying.”

While you’re still working in radio, Leykis suggests the following:

Don’t be a company man. Many of the companies we know today will be gone, sold, or consumed. At some point there is going to be a fire sale of stations that people overpaid for and everyone will be working for someone else like Google or Facebook or for no one at all.

Don’t assume your job is forever. Assume you have 2 months to clean out your office even if you have more than that.

Get prepared. Make sure you have your own website with your personalized URL. (Tom secured “BlowmeupTom.com” in the mid 1990s. When his show disappeared off radio everyone went to BlowmeupTom.com to find out what was going on.) Also, get your own email address separate from the radio station. This allows your listeners to find and connect with you when they come in with a clipboard one day and say, “Alright, you’re done now.”

Keep Listener Emails. You can use them later when you need to build up a new audience especially if you’re doing an internet project. Tom combed through 10,000 emails over 2-years to build a database and reach his listeners to start his new business.

Tom talked directly to “big stick” talk hosts who rely on call letters, national lead-ins, and big signals for success. “Do you really think after you walk-out of that station you’re going to have numbers that big? You have to look at yourself and say, ‘Is my content unique? Is it special? Can it stand on its own without a big signal or Rush Limbaugh on before me?’ Can my stuff stand on its own? I think a lot of people have not been honest with themselves. I think a lot of people have not looked in the mirror and said, ‘you know what – I need a better act.’”

Is it time to start your podcasting career?

4 Principles for Creating Memorable and Impactful Radio Show Content

460)_9410455At RadioDays Europe, Graham Albans was a panelist. He’s the 26-year old assistant producer of the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2. It’s the most listened to radio show in Europe.

He shared his experience, insights and some show prep secrets with the Radio Stuff podcast this week.

Here are four things The Chris Evans Breakfast Show team keeps in our mind as they are making content for the show.

1. What comes out of the speaker, starts with what happens in the office. “We need to decide what kind of experience we want the listeners to have and generate that kind of feeling at the desks. We’re a hyper-positive and fun show and so we’re a good, fun team. We sound like we’re having a good time, because we are having a good time making the show. ”

2. It’s not our show, it’s their show. “It’s not about us, it’s about the listeners. Everything needs to reflect the listener. We don’t just tell our stories, we tell the stories of the listeners.”

3. Third thought radio mentality. This is a simple principle to apply whenever you’re coming up with ideas. Here’s how it works; “Your first thought – whatever it is – is likely rubbish and you should throw it out with the trash. Your second thought is starting to get somewhere — you’ve built on the original idea — and this is where most people stop, but you can take it one step further. The third thought is typically more personal, more unique, and you’ll be a million miles away from your first thought.”

4. Make the little things the big things (Make the big things the little things). Instead of talking to the biggest celebs, try interviewing a 5-year old school girl about a spelling quiz she has today. “It’s taking an everyday, ordinary experience and putting it on a pedestal.”

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.

Ideas Are Overrated

“We’ve all got great ideas. Everybody on the street has an idea.”

– ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd

Colin-Cowherd-Interview-607x265

What’s the difference between a good show and great show? Topic development. At least that’s the case if you ask ESPN Radio Network host Colin Cowherd who discussed it at length in an interview with the Radio Stuff podcast.

“The one thing I’m really proud of is topic development. We love Wednesdays. Monday and Friday we’re trapped talking about football, but we love Wednesday shows. You come in and find a little blip on a transaction wire and we’re like, ‘that’s funny!’ and ‘that makes me think…’”   

4 KEYS TO TOPIC DEVELOPMENT ACCORDING TO COLIN COWHERD

Don’t worry about being right, be interesting.

“I take stuff from my kids, I take stuff from sit-coms, books, ideas. I always think – just try to be interesting. It’s not about being right. Guys tend to want to be right, instead of get it right. Just be interesting. Try to find compelling topics that everybody can play along.”

Personalize the story

“I think how would I react? I think about that with athletes; Would I retire now? Would I take less money to be surrounded by better teammates like Kobe Bryant now? Because, we’re all human no matter if you’re rich or a school teacher or a basketball player or you’re a local dentist or a baker. We’re all human beings. Men have the same basic needs and wants and ego. Women have the same needs and wants. We’re all the same. It’s just some people have different economic stratus and different interests.” 

Put in the hours

“I think about my radio show a lot. Radio never leaves you. It’s not like being a garbage man where your run is done for the day and you’ve done it — or a mailman and then you go home and you don’t have to worry about it until the next day. Radio is with you almost like being a doctor. You’ve got clients, you’ve got things that are constantly swirling in your head and I write down notes several times a week.”

Get a producer who wants to produce

“A really good radio producer, to me, doesn’t want to be an on-air person. They want to be a producer. And they get really good at it. And they try to elevate the on-air person with good guests, playing to his strengths, playing to her strengths, staying away from weaknesses.”

LISTEN to Colin Cowherd on The Radio Stuff Podcast

For the Love of Ratings and Your Livelihood, Tweet Smart

twitter-logo-breakI’ve started to wonder if twitter is inherently negative. Don’t get me wrong, I love twitter. But, recently I’ve noticed an avalanche of stories involving radio and twitter’s dark side; threats, trolls, listener backlash, industry bullying, and firings over tweets. We talk about it extensively on this week’s radio stuff podcast.

Is it Twitter’s fault?

“You really can’t say it is all twitters fault,” says Lori Lewis, Jacobs Media’s Digital and Social Media Strategist, on the Radio Stuff podcast. “All of these folks are not using Twitter constructively, nor are they using it strategically. So when they shoot off at the mouth, they say in appropriate things, if it just backfires on them or nobody is interacting with them, it’s absolutely not Twitter. It’s every individual’s use of the platform.”

Oh. Okay, so why do this? Why put yourself out there? Why participate in social? And if you choose to do it how do you do it right?

Thankfully, Lori Lewis has some suggestions.lorilewis_1323706974_59

WHY BE SOCIAL? IT’S A RATINGS THING.
“I can’t tell you how many talent I get to work for and their ratings correlate their social use. It’s amazing and could be coincidence, but there is a major market radio station, they have one talent that is a social brand – the midday personality – he outshines the entire radio station weekly after weekly after weekly — he’s always number one. Now, he’s the new person on the radio station. Everybody else is legendary. Everybody’s been there for decades and they don’t participate in any of the social tools and while their ratings are good, isn’t it ironic that the social brand really outshines them?”

AVOID SOCIAL MEDIA AT YOUR OWN PERIL
“You’re just making room for your competitor. You don’t have to Twitter. People don’t have to embrace social, but all you’re doing is making it harder for yourself and making it harder for your future. This is where the puck is going and if you think it’s cute to say you don’t know those apps, you don’t use those platforms – that’s your prerogative, but there’s someone younger and faster ready to take your place.”

USE COMMON SENSE
“It takes skill to humanize a brand and come off naturally. You really should watch your grammar. There is nothing attractive about using the letter ‘u’ for you. We don’t have to look like 12-year-old girls when we are tweeting. I think you have to remember at the end of the day that social is as public as face-to-face and it’s almost louder than it is face-to-face. Because, when your tweet shows up in my live feed and you are cussing or you have bad spelling or grammar or it’s just not funny – it’s just substandard – it’s almost more offensive.”

STUDY THE PLATFORM
“Twitter is the most simple platform of all the social tools out there. Yet, you really have to study it. You really have to listen. Listen to the founders of Twitter, listen to the CEO Dick Costello, and listen to all the VPs of brand development. How are they expecting users to use the platform? And then when you have studied it enough and you have watched people who are really winning on Twitter, you start understanding the strength and you start using twitter appropriately.”

BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR WHAT YOU TWEET
“So many people think the social space is an unrestrictive playground and they can say and do whatever they like. And you know what? You can, but so can your bosses. And if you are the voice of a radio station, if you are the face of a brand, — it doesn’t matter if you are on the air or not on the air – it doesn’t matter who you are, if you have any affiliation with a brand and you say something that is questionable, that gets a rise from a lot of people, your boss also has the right to do and say whatever they wish too. And people really need to get over themselves.

trollTAKE CONTROL FROM THE TROLLS
“One of my favorite things is just to block people. But there’s no golden rule out there. I see this happen more on Facebook, because the comments lay there more publicly than looking at tweets. There’s no rule that you have to let those comments sit there for everyone to read. Delete that stuff. If it’s inappropriate, if it’s vulgar, if it just doesn’t fit, if it’s weird…there’s no rule that it has to stay. Trolls will bait you and they will get you to say things you would never ever say in public.”

Read more from Lori Lewis in her MERGE column on All Access

Arbitron Panelist,”F— this!”

“The first couple days I’m wearing this thing and I’m turning into radio just trying to get these points and then finally I said, ‘Well, f— this.’” – Former PPM panelist

PPM

How many times have you wanted to say ‘f— it.’ to Arbitron? Those were the words of a caller I will call “Joe” to the Tom Leykis Show on New Normal Network.

Listen to the comments in context here.

This is a taboo topic of conversation for terrestrial radio and it would disqualify a radio station’s ratings faster than you can push “scan” when the Kars-for-Kids commercial starts up. However, it was the Top Story on Radio Stuff’s podcast. (editor’s note: Arbitron emailed their responses to our questions, so we had a British bloke voice the answers on the podcast. It’s worth a listen for that alone.)

DISCLAIMER: As a programmer, I have praised Arbitron for measuring my genius programming with precision when ratings are high and cursed them when they dropped. (Certainly there must be a sampling error, no?)

ARBITRONADO2

Joe v. Arbitronado

So, I sent the audio from “Joe” to Arbitron’s Director of Programming Services Jon Miller and asked him what he thought. He says it sounds like things are working the way they should.

 “Arbitron has safeguards in place to help ensure the integrity of our PPM ratings. In this case, the panelist’s comments are a demonstration of some of those safeguards, such as calling households if their compliance in carrying the meter falls off.”

Caller Joe complained to Leykis:

man-141052_640 “I started getting all these phone calls. I’m thinking you know who the hell is this calling me? We’ll it’s Arbitron. So apparently this meter has something that can tell when you’re moving and when you’re sitting still. And so when I’m not moving, they’re calling me – pretty much harassing me about why am I not wearing the meter and they can’t get accurate ratings and I need to be wearing my meter. Well, after about two weeks of this, they called me and said, “You’re not wearing the meter!” and I finally said, ‘alright, fuck this. Send me a box and I’m sending all this shit back.’”

Miller wouldn’t go so far as to characterize the company’s behavior as harassment, but the calls are part of the quality control.

“Arbitron monitors compliance with its instructions, contacts households who aren’t complying and works with them to improve their carry habits whether through coaching or other incentives.”

The 2010 Broadcast Architecture study on PPM panelists talked to one woman who clipped her meter to a ceiling fan, Joe plopped it down in front of a radio, and I’ve heard that others have attached them to pets. So, Jon Miller, how do you know when a panelist is cheating.

“The PPM has a motion detector built into it allowing us to capture both the motion records and media exposure from that day. There are thresholds for how many hours of motion a day we require for our panelists to be counted in the days ratings, and the more they wear the meter the more incentives they receive.”

And then there’s sample size. It wasn’t brought up by the caller, but it is commonly heard uttered in anger and echoing through the hallways outside PDs offices.

“PPM’s sample sizes are designed to deliver the same level of statistical reliability as the Diary survey, but with less total sample. We accomplish that by surveying listeners for a much longer period of time (28 days in just one PPM survey month) compared to the one-week diary timeline. This level of detail, thousands and thousands of days of measurement across a single month, allows us to see so many granular things with PPM data that we just can’t with the Diary.”

Parting Shots

“If Arbitron is the standard in terms of traditional AM and FM radio then it’s a flawed standard.” -Joe the caller

Joe’s point would be more valid if he wasn’t just complaining that he wanted to earn the money without doing the work.

Jon offers some real valuable insights here for everyone in radio.jonmiller

“One of the most fascinating things I’ve seen over the 5+ years that PPM has been in use is how much and how fast listening habits are evolving and changing. Nothing stays static in PPM, and we’re finding that radio listening is dynamic. This continually motivates broadcasters to continue offering compelling content on stations with clear and strong brand images, so that they can cut through with listeners in an ever more crowded media world.”       – Jon Miller, Arbitron VP of Programming Services

Clear. Strong. Brands. Cut Through.

And I would add this:

“PPM isn’t perfect, but it’s all we’ve got.” – Larry Gifford 

Upon Further Review

We can’t force our ideal listeners to participate – it’s a roll-of-the-dice and sometimes you roll snake eyes.

Arbitron is weeding out at least some of the cheaters. Good.

We can’t know “true” listening behavior without NSA quality spy equipment and the violation of our listener’s constitutional rights.

Stations and panelists are both trying to game the system. Makes me wonder who Arbitron is gaming.

The sample size is what it is, unless stations want to spend even more ridiculous amounts of money to be told your station is still – awesome, sucky, irrelevant, vital – depending on the time of the month.

The success or failure of your station is in the hands of Caller Joe. Good luck.

Identifying Hit Stories

“Go find a group of guys in your target demo, eavesdrop on them, and listen to what they’re talking about.”

rick scottThat’s one way Sports Radio consultant Rick Scott of Rick Scott & Associates suggests you know if you have a hit story on your hands. I called Rick up after the arrest of ex-Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with murder. To me, it seems like manna from heaven for sports talkers who typically have a hard time finding talk-worthy topics in June and July.

“It’s life. Sports is a microcosm of life.”

Rick agrees, this is a whopper of a story, “When it happens in sports there is a magnifying glass on it because all of these athletes are special performers who make a lot of money, they’re in the spotlight, and like any other celebrity people have an interest of what’s going on.”

What surprised me is the lack of interest outside Boston and some other select cities. On the Wednesday night’s #SRCHAT on Twitter, hosts weren’t engaging with the story. Owen Murphy recapped the conversation on his “Steal This Idea” blog here, but among the highlights were these gems.

  • One host said: Scale of 1-10 it’s a 2 in my market. People are amazed it happened, but it won’t be a day to day listening driver.
  • Another said: it was a news story, but I found it a difficult topic to drive a show with today
  • And another said: it’s not that big in (my market). It’s fun to riff on but not attracting new audience

Rick doesn’t buy it,

“Anybody who says that I think is being naïve.”

During our interview on Episode 8 of the Radio Stuff podcast, Rick points to the speed of these stories circling the globe as being a major reason why markets who aren’t seemingly connected are still interested. Fans have access to all the news now and they’re interested in hearing what local hosts think about these big stories. (He joined us at 39:00 into the podcast to discuss a radio ideas festival and then Hernandez. You should listen to the whole exchange.)

Once you know you have a hit, what do you do with it? Rick has taught many hosts and PDs the “Topic Tree” method of topic development. Imagine the trunk of the tree as the core story and the branches are all the different ways you could talk about it.

“You sit down and say what are the various angles? You may want to take it from the angle of him being an athlete, you may want to take it from an angle that he’s had a troubled past and this isn’t the first time he’s been into trouble, you may take it from the standpoint that athletes don’t get exceptions — nobody gets a free pass, and  you just branch it out from there. There are so many different avenues you could go and that’s what is great about it – we each have different views and opinions and take it down a different path. And that’s really what the audience is looking for – that insight, that perspective — what does this mean?”

Hernandez Topic Tree

Aaron Hernandez Topic Tree Sample

There you go.

  • Play the hits.
  • Find a way into the story.
  • Make a topic tree.
  • If you don’t think your listeners care, eavesdrop on them.
  • Don’t be naïve.