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Posts Tagged ‘spots’

Clocks, Spots and Sponsorships – Oh My!

commercialsI recently monitored seven news-talk radio stations across the country to analyze their spot loads, sponsorships, and programming clocks. The stations were all Top 20 radio markets with varying ownerships (iHeart Media, Cumulus, Bonneville, Cox and others).

Among my findings…

Stations average just over 16 minutes of commercials and promo time per hour in morning and afternoon drive. That includes blinks, :10s, :15s, :30s, and :60s. That being said, one station was as high as 20 minutes each hour while another was a low as 12.

On the whole, these stations seem to abuse the PM drive listeners more than the morning drive audience. Nearly all are guilty of loading up more commercials and longer stop sets on the drive home. Several stations increased the spot load by three minutes in PM drive, another punished listeners with a seven minute commercial break.

Six of the seven stations have neglected their live streaming presentation with overlapping audio, announcers cut off, out-dated spots, commercials replaced by extended (120 second) show promos or worse (four minutes of PSAs). Luckily, no one was using rights-free music to fill the void.

As it pertains to sponsorships, five to 10 “name mentions” per hour for news tags, traffic center, studio sponsors, etc. seems to be the average. These are name mentions only with no call to action. However, I listened to one station that only had one element sponsored the whole hour — and it was a little sad. On the flip side, there was a station that sponsored everything and sometimes with as many as three different clients simultaneously. That particular station had a whopping 23 sponsored elements in each hour.

The clocks were all different; some had long segments and long spot breaks while others chose bite-sized segments and easy-to-swallow commercial breaks. There are stations trying to sweep the quarter-hours to increase AQH, others are driving for occasions with non-stop teasing, and then there are the hosts who just talk and talk and talk in hopes of extending TSL — or more likely they’ve abandon all formatics in favor of their ego.

It was an interesting exercise that reminded me about the importance of balance. Like with everything in life, radio shows need balance. Too many spots, too long of a segment, incessant commercial breaks, or a NASCAR approach to sponsorships all get in the way of the listening experience. Oh, and stations please assign someone to listen to the web stream often, take notes, and fix ‘em.

Top 10 Posts of 2014!

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

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

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

8. Radio is Overloaded. I WANT to love radio, but I am increasingly dissatisfied with the return on my investment of time.  Gang, we got a spot problem. There’s way too much clutter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Radio is Overloaded

Radio Spots as TissuesThe other day I was flipping through the dial and every one of the ten stations I flipped to was in commercial at the same time. Yesterday, I was air-checking a new morning show and between the commercials, traffic, weather, and canned commentaries I listened for 30 minutes without so much as a “good morning” from the new personality.

Tragic. Opportunity missed. Quarter-hours lost. Radio listener’s discouraged.

I listen to quite a bit of radio. I love radio. I should say I WANT to love radio, but I am increasingly dissatisfied with the return on my investment of time.  Gang, we got a spot problem. There’s way too much clutter. We’re strangling content to squeeze blood from a turnip. Enough already.

I know I’m not the first to bring it up. I just watched a talk Jerry Del Colliano gave at Talkers 2014 and he brought it up too.

It was also a discussion in the #SRCHAT (Sports Radio Chat) on Twitter last night too.

That last one caught the attention of many on the chat. We are willingly sacrificing what’s best for the listening experience to accommodate a revenue model that was introduced in 1921.

1921.

Let that sink in.

The same year radio began to sell spots; World War I ended, Warren G. Harding was inaugurated as President, and KDKA created the first radio news room and broadcast the first ever baseball game on the radio.

Radio commericals have had a good run. But, the time has come to rethink the way we monetize our content. We don’t need to eliminate them altogether, but we need to value our platforms at a much higher rate, creatively collaborate on projects with advertisers and be willing to say “no” a whole lot more often to spots that don’t match our brand or meet our production quality standards.

(Insert a spit take from GMs and GSMs across the country)

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The more we load up our hours with limitless units of :05s, :10s, :15s, :30s and still even :60s, the faster we’re pushing the next generation of radio listeners to competing audio content providers.

Think about this. The #1 thing in every research project radio has EVER conducted (hyperbole intended), commercials are what listeners react the most negatively too. And you know what we say? “Oh, they always say that. Just ignore it.”

I’m afraid we can’t ignore it anymore.

It’s going to take creativity, guts, leadership, ideation and innovation. Raise your hand if you have an idea. The solution isn’t going to likely arrive from the corner office. I’m looking at the board ops, producers, talent, reporters, street-teamers, and sales assistants. We need to start asking different people how we can solve this problem. So, I’m asking. Do YOU have any ideas?

IDEA STARTERS

  • Co-branding opportunities / strategic partnerships (studio, phone lines, text, street team, events, etc.) I know this is happening in some stations already but usually it’s undervalued and tragically it’s often flighted-in instead of signing an annual.
  • Multiplatform solutions or coordinated Brand Takeovers (audio, video, text, web, stream, podcast, app)
  • XAPP Media – interactive online/mobile spots
  • Creating exclusive online stations for partners co-branded with radio station featuring exclusive promotions/access/messaging for partners. (Listen to the Jones Honda Hits Music Channel on thisradiostation.com for your chance to win a trip to the Honda 500)
  • Invest in great copy writers.

Add your ideas in the comments below or email me at larrygifford1@gmail.com