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Posts Tagged ‘Radio Stuff’

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

Radio Lessons From The World’s Oldest DJ

sally hille

In the 1940’s Sally Hille made her debut on the radio. Today she is, according to Guinness, the oldest DJ in the world. I was lucky enough to chat with her last week on the Radio Stuff podcast. Three things really stuck with me.

She was a writer.

Sally’s first role in radio was as a writer. How did our industry ever turn our backs on that? TV shows and news programs have writers, movies have writers, Broadway has writers why does radio seemingly insist on winging it and/or using “whoever is available” to write sales copy, station production, and bits for radio shows? This is something that has frustrated me as a programmer over the years. While at ESPN, I tried to do my part by hiring a fulltime writer who worked primarily for Mike & Mike. It was an underappreciated position that disappeared soon after I left. Radio needs every advantage it can get and impactful writing will increase the impact of commercials, increase TSL and likely occasions. It’s hard to quantify the impact of a writer on the success of a radio station, but I believe it is the quickest way to make a noticeably positive impact on the listening experience. Hire writers.

Women are still getting shafted.

“Don’t you know people don’t want to hear women on the radio?” That was the PD’s reaction after Sally snuck on-air in the 1940’s to identify the radio station. The conversations haven’t changed over the years. When I started (and still today) I hear arguments that people won’t accept women doing play-by-play or being a lead host on a show. (I often hear similar arguments as it pertains to different races and ethnicities.) There are exceptions to the rules, but within the past few weeks I’ve seen sports radio networks and stations get banner headlines in the radio industry trade publications, because they hired women to host weekend shows. Most women on FM morning shows remain relegated to being the traffic gal, the news chick, or the bimbo. We need to do better.

RS 103 coverPodcasting isn’t too technical.

I encourage aspiring broadcasters to make a podcast and record it regularly (weekly or daily) in order to find their voice and style. The great thing about podcasts it that they are as long as you want, you can experiment with new ideas, you typically get positive feedback from listeners and you begin to build a following. For many reasons, most never do it. Usually, I hear something to the effect, “I’m not that technical” or “I couldn’t figure it out.” Sally’s show is essentially a podcast that is then broadcast later. She has a Yeti microphone ($129 or so), a free audacity editor and she uploads her podcast to Podomatic (I prefer SoundCloud.) She’s 95-years-old. No one has an excuse anymore.

Conclusion

The other thing I take away from my conversation with Sally is that the men and women who came before us, in radio and life, have much to offer in terms of experience and insight. Take time to sit with family and friends and ask them about their life. You’ll both be surprised at how much you enjoy it.

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Categories: Talent Tags: , ,

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.

Don’t Be a Serial Hater

serialThe Break Up

It’s not news that our society and media love to build things up and then tear them down. The latest example is the This American Life produced podcast “Serial.” As the final episode of season one is about to post, there is a ripple in the force of “Serial’s” success.

“Serial” captured magic in a bottle. It’s a podcast that investigates a 15-year old murder case and the conviction of Adnan Sayed. Millions are listening, some even waiting in anticipation for its weekly Thursday release. Personally, I’m a fan. In my house, it was a topic of conversation at Thanksgiving with friends, fodder for the weekly Skype call with the in-laws, weekly hypothesizing with radio clients in Cape Town, Los Angeles and Ithaca and one night my wife and I chose Serial over TV and listened together. It’s even beginning to influence the way I’m telling stories and using audio on my podcast Radio Stuff.

The Deal with Ramsey

Despite the early positive press, my own tongue-wagging, the very successful season two fundraiser, and the ever-growing audience for the show there are some in the media who seem to want it to go away now or pretend it’s no big deal.

I’m not sure why.

Mark Ramsey of Mark Ramsey Media is one of them. He dismisses it as “overrated” on his Facebook page with a link to an article by Variety. I rebutted in the comments of his post suggesting his comment was shortsighted and he encouraged me to read the article and listen to his podcast. I’ve done that now. It inspired this post.

The Case Against “Serial”

“The podcast is really no more or less engrossing than the countless other true whodunits common all over movies and TV. Even an average episode of a relatively low-profile TV staple like NBC newsmagazine “Dateline” routinely features cases like Syed’s; you could even argue recreating these crimes for TV is a more sophisticated form of storytelling.” 

Variety criticizes “Serial” for being unoriginal and using tried and true storytelling methods. And then later declares “Serial” irrelevant to the success of future podcasts, because it’s too unique and difficult to recreate. Oh, and there’s more.

“The problem with “Serial’s” success is that it won’t represent an inflection point for podcasts for one simple reason: Even if the hype for this show grows to a level where it brings podcasts exposure to a new audience segment perhaps even more sizable than that of current core podcast devotees, there’s little else like “Serial” for this wave to listen to that will keep them around to sample more content.”

In their podcast “Media Unplugged,” Mark Ramsey and Tom Asacker decided to rebuke one article’s claim that on the heels of “Serial’s” success this is the golden age of podcasting. Here are some of their arguments. (My comments are italicized and in parenthesis.)

  • “I was met with a splash page asking for donations to fund a second season.” (Crowd sourcing worked! Not sure why that is a negative. If pop ads bother you I might suggest exiting the internet altogether.) 
  • “Only 15% of Americans are listening to podcasts, it’s not a dramatic change from before “Serial.”” (That’s 47 million people and growing. The golden age of TV was the late 1940’s and 50’s but there are far more people watching TV today than then. This seems irrelevant to “Serial’s” success or the argument against being a golden age of podcasts.)
  • “Being #1 on iTunes doesn’t mean it’s popular. The iTunes ranker is not a reflection of popularity it’s an algorithm – momentum and comments rather than raw popularity. Plus, the iTunes ranker is not the sum total of podcast consumption.” (For some reason this seems like a personal issue with Ramsey. I’m guessing if “Media Unplugged” became #1 on iTunes he wouldn’t parse popularity versus momentum and comments, which also seem like perfectly fine factors of popularity.)
  • “”Serial” has 18 million exposures less than an average episode of NCIS on CBS.” (NCIS is the #1 drama on TV. “Dateline,” which is probably more appropriate to compare, maxes out at 7 million viewers. But, since when are we judging radio/audio content success versus TV? We never have. It’s a ridiculous comparison.)
  • “There is an orgins story to this podcast: This American Life launched it. It’s a platform and all these distribution points called public radio stations.” (So, this is the old “don’t try this at home, kids” warning. I think most smart people in the radio/audio space realize the impact that had, but that shouldn’t keep them from trying or also launching podcasts on the backs of established brands)
  • “They used the “what happens next” method of storytelling, the genre “murder mystery” is as old as Agatha Christie, and the style as old as Dickens. Somehow in the world of podcasts it’s fresh.” (Excellent. We should be using every trick in the book. There’s no need to recreate the wheel. Good storytelling is good storytelling.)
  • “Most podcasts are like most blogs, most books, and most music; if they’re hitting maybe tens of thousands of downloads then they are lucky.” (This only further proves the growing success of podcasts. Two years ago experts like Mark and Tom wouldn’t have uttered podcasts and blogs in the same sentence as books and music. Now they’re putting them on equal ground. Either books and music have failed horribly or podcasts have risen in the ranks.)

The Opposite of Prosecution

Maybe I’m a glass half-full guy, but “Serial” makes me excited. And not just for podcasting, but for radio. I can hear a whole new wave of personal journalism on news-talk radio stations right around the corner. I can imagine newscasts with that familiar, intimate tone, personal asides and anecdotes (or “folksy” as Variety called it) that sucks you into the “Serial” narrative.

As a news-talk PD I was passionate and supportive of enterprise reporting and in-depth investigations and I believe “Serial” has cleared the way for commercial radio stations to move forward in that direction with gusto. Yes, there’s a risk it won’t work. Which means there’s a chance it will work. Go for it.

The model of launching a podcast off the success of a radio show is one that any radio station in the country could duplicate with varying degrees of success depending on the strength of the brands involved. You could also launch podcasts off of non-media brands or TV partners or local celebrities. Be creative. Use this as an idea starter.

I’m not sure why it’s a negative to borrow successful story-telling techniques. Regardless if it’s from CBS, Agatha Christie or Dickens, it all seems like good company to keep. Look at cable news. They built 90% of their programming on the models talk radio created. I guess my point is sometimes we get so concerned with being original and unique or “innovative” that we forget about “cultivation” and “ideation” which allows you gather all available assets, ideas and thoughts and repurpose them to greater success. We should do more of this.

And finally, with all due respect to the naysayers, I think anytime any audio content captures the imagination of people or the media, we should celebrate it. Far too often radio and audio creators crossover onto print, digital and TV for all the wrong reasons. “Serial” seems like just the lightning rod our industry needed to regain our swagger and expand our personal definitions of what’s possible in this space as it pertains to content creation, monetization and our definitions of success.

Radio Stuff “Radio News Quiz” – Week 3

Radio News Quiz 3The Weekly Radio Stuff “Radio News Quiz” debuts on Thursday in the podcast. It’s 10 Questions about this week in radio news. In the podcast, we discuss the stories and use lots of great audio. Here we post the question and offer links to the answers. If you get all 10 correct you win the respect and admiration of your peers.

THE QUIZ

1. What RADIO event kicked off this week with a live, rocked-out version of the national anthem?

(Answer

2. At the Talkers 2014 session, Radio insider Jerry Del Colliano said music radio has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. This week, he made headlines for predicting the demise of another genre. What was it?

(Answer)

3. A Yankees reporter learned a valuable lesson this week about recording press conferences on an iPhone app. What was it?

(Answer)

4. Why did the Morning Zone at 91.3 Modern Rock in Victoria, Canada dial-up its sister-station 95.3 The Peak in Calgary?

(Answer)

5. Which popular radio host just launched a clothing line at Macy’s?

(Answer)

6. What did Mike Tyson do on Canadian TV that all radio interviewers can learn from?

(Answer)

7. Why did the San Francisco 49ers suspend play-by-play announcer Ted Robinson?

(Answer

8. What inappropriate or insensitive song was used to launch a format change in Rochester from Oldies to Country on 9/11?

(Answer)

9. Which talented podcaster was the host of the Fox Sports Radio 2001 Year in Review which paid tribute to 9/11 from a sports perspective?

(Answer)

10. What RADIO STATION did Joan Rivers debut on as a talk show host?

(Answer)

Seven Hours with Tom Leykis

Leykis1When Tom Leykis showed up for lunch at Avant in Buellton he was decked out in his trademark, dark sunglasses, mussed up hair, a black shirt, and a Cheshire grin. His voice was softer than it once was and rough like sandpaper. The effects of a black mold infection years ago in his Hollywood Hills home.

As we sipped local wines and grazed on our trendy lunches we turned to the thing we have most in common; radio. Tom, not unlike his on-air persona, is full of opinions and certainty when it comes to the business. And let me tell you – he’s done his homework, he’s put in sweat equity and he deserves a seat at the table. It’s why he was invited to Talkers New York 2014. It’s why countless, nameless talent and executives still call Tom to see how he’s doing it;

“IT” =  Internet Radio, Making a Profit, Having Fun, Engaging with Fans, and Learning the World of Terabytes and Bit Rates

The reality is Tom’s entrepreneur spirit is the driving force. He wants to make money. He wants to make radio. And so he’s doing it. (Tom isn’t shy about the fact the New Normal LLC will turn a profit this year and generate more revenue than Clear Channel and Cumulus combined.)

“The radio business model has been broken,” he told me. “I don’t know if the model can ever be fixed. But, the good news is there is still an audience for what we do.” There are approximately 35,000 unique listeners a day to the Tom Leykis Show according to data from Triton Digital. And it’s growing.

DesRS 61 coverpite his bemoaning big broadcast companies and calling out executives by name, 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. I divorced the appliance from the concept a while ago.” He likens radio’s resistance to new distribution channels to the Rolling Stones insisting their music only be heard on 45rpms. That would be ridiculous. Of course, they created content and put it on albums, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs, and mp3s.

And that’s radio’s new normal.

Tom (and others like him) has discovered, “people want content and will go wherever they have to go to get. Who the hell was Marc Maron five years ago?”

After a chat for the Radio Stuff Podcast
around his kitchen table and a two-hour discussion of radio between Tom, me and his listeners it was time to bid The Professor goodbye.

For the record: Tom assumes people think he’s crazy, but he’s out to prove them wrong. He told me he’s having more fun, believes he’s more creative, compelling and entertaining than ever and promises his proudest moments are still in front of him.

 

 

The Man Who Broke the News About JFK

gary delaune50 years ago today the news of JFK’s assassination spread throughout the world by young radio reporters covering a once-in-a-life-time event. What they didn’t know is the impact covering that story would have for the rest of their lives. Asked to retell what they did, how they felt, what they knew and when they knew it each November 22 for the next five decades.

Gary Delaune is one of those guys. He was a 30-year-old anchor preparing for the one o’clock news at KLIF in Dallas with plans to rush out to see the President’s speech immediately after.

“I was in the studio by myself at the time. I had just done the Noon news. That’s when I got a phone tip asking me what I knew about the shots being fired at the motorcade and both Kennedy and Connelly being hit.”

Delaune was a guest on the Radio Stuff podcast.

“I signaled the DJ and at about 12:36:55 during a song called the Chiffon’s “I Have a Boyfriend,” 1:38 deep into the 45 r.p.m., the old-style record, we broke in and had the bulletin and of course at that point on it was almost incessant.”

Now, 80-years-old, Delaune remembers every detail, every character, everything except Saturday. He reported all day long, but doesn’t remember doing any of it. Sunday, was different. He was witness to the Lee Harvey Oswald perp walk and assassination by Jack Ruby.

ruby“He was on one side of the cameraman and I was on the other with Bob Baxley, the Pulitzer Prize winning photographer. As Oswald came out Jack took a step and a half from the crowd of newsmen and pumped him full right into Oswald’s gut.”

Jack was no stranger to Dulaune and was even hanging around the day of JFK’s shooting.

“Jack Ruby was at the Dallas Morning News and he serpentined his way through the streets and got to KLIF. He was a groupie. You know, one of those guys who is a hanger on. He wanted to be somebody and hung around KLIF and radio stations. And he started answering the phone, ‘Jack Ruby, KLIF News’ – anything he could.”

Delaune’s full account and complete retrospective of radio’s role in covering the events that weekend are explored in this week’s Radio Stuff podcast.