Category Archives: Gen Y

Has Country Music Finally Gone Digital?

We are DEFINITELY getting there… well the fans anyway. Let me explain.

As fans continue to demand what they want when they want all of the music industry has struggled to keep up.  Some genres like Pop and Rock tend to have a younger demographic so those fans have been quicker to adopt and more demanding than the older, not-as-tech-savvy Country Music fans.  BUT…

Country Music fans are getting younger and more technologically advanced in their increasingly complicated and busy lives.

How do you know that Ben?  Well, after looking at all the data from the largest Country Music festival in the world (CMA Music Festival, held every June in Nashville) the results are very promising!

Without getting into specifics, CMA members can email me for those, the digital marketing effort put forth by CMA for the event was a huge success and the fans really responded to it.  Here are the highlights:

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Radio, will you marry me? #NABradioshow


It’s all about ENGAGEMENT, engagement, ENGAGEMENT!!

At the recent National Association of Broadcasters Radio Show in Philadelphia leaders from all over the radio industry gathered to compare notes and discuss the state and future of radio.  These notes are from several sessions during the event which concentrated on the digital space and how to make it work FOR radio rather than AGAINST it.

Good examples of digital in use

  • Humane Society invests $350k in radio using social media and gets back $3.5 million over one weekend in donations. (Canada)
  • Ford Focus
  • Tennis Shoe Company: created funny “Naturists” viral videos (100k views overnight).
  • Dunkin Donuts: “Everyone Runs on Dunkin”. User-generated content – How do you run on Dunkin?

How to make digital work

  • Stations should be able to turn a profit for their online business in 18 months if they are taking it seriously.
  • Use existing technology (a lot of which is free) and spend your time creating content.
  • Currently radio is getting 2% of local digital pie, which is probably what we deserve considering how seriously we’re taking it.
  • is an online brand for all things sports in Boston (very specialized).  Good job!
  • GAP Broadcasting loyalty rewards programs are bringing in amazing royalty.  Good job!
  • Driving more traffic creates a bigger audience and thus drives up the rate.  Sell for higher rates because of larger audience.
  • Multi-channels of HD may work to create a bigger collective audience.
  • CBS Radio putting on the air using one of their HD channels in Los Angeles.  Good example of how online radio is working its way into main stream.
  • Microsoft Zune HD will help bring younger audience back to radio with it’s RDS-enabled HD tuner.

These are trends and examples of what the panelists are seeing bubbling up to the top in the marketplace.

  • (crowdsource radio)
  • (online personalized radio – AWESOME!)
  • (digital industry news site)
  • (digital content news site)
  • (supposed eBay killer)
  • (hyper-local neighborhood tool that MSNBC just bought)
  • (celeb gossip and publishing platform)
  • Cloud computing (the next big thing: using the internet (cloud) for all of your software needs. Having everything on the web and not on your own computer hard drive)
  • Casual gaming (trend is easy-to-play games that anyone can play quickly and in their web browsers)
  • User-generated content (giving users the power to publish content they’ve created to websites such as YouTube)
  • Episodic videos (short videos that have interwoven story lines that are one-step up from user-generated content)
  • Entrepreneurs tirelessly increasing and bettering the tech
  • Change your day.  Get up an hour earlier, read blogs, and everything else.

WHICH HALF OBSERVATION: Finally! Radio is talking about technology other than AM/FM/XM.  We’re a little late to the game since most of these online technologies have grown without incorporating radio.  For too long, radio thought it was insolated from any “new tech”.  With Pandora and more recently Jelli, Radio needs to run full speed ahead if its to stay relevant.

Can Radio “get it’s cool back?” #NABradioshow


Some of the top programmers in the industry discussed digital media and how to monetize it as well as the state of the industry and how to best bounce back.

Some quick examples of what some stations are doing right:

  • Hot97 100k text msg subscribers, 90k twitter followers, 150k iPhone app downloads
  • Power 106 126k TW, 50k MS friends
  • 20 MM uniques/ week at Clear Channel online / iphone app

Cyndee Maxwell, Former Director/Assoc Editor R&R Magazine: “So everyone agrees that social nets help with ratings.”  What about revenue?

According to the responses from all the group PDs on the panel they are still looking for ways to monetize.  Most are still treating the digital space as a hobby.  All group PDs agreed that radio MUST treat digital as a viable, main source of business before results will be realized.

Other tips from the panel:

  • JAY STEVENS, SVP Programming Radio One: We have got to get FM tuners into every mobile device, cell phones, iPods, etc.
  • RICK CUMMINGS, President Programming Emmis Communications: We’re just not top-of-mind.  Critical to on mobile devices to “get our cool back”.
  • Lots of stations aren’t using Radio Data System.  ALL STATIONS NEED TO USE IT!  It helps compete with iPods, Zune, etc.  (RDS = displays song, artist info on radio displays)
  • Lots of talk about “getting our cool back.”

CYNDEE: “Do the stations have to program differently for the online stream?”
GEORGE ROMANO, Executive VP Programming, Clear Channel Radio: “No. It’s the radio station.”

WHICH HALF OBSERVATION:  WHA??????  I think we need to program a little differently because of how listeners are used to using online music.  But that’s just me.  I can’t believe that a top programmer wouldn’t realize that listening online is different that on-air.  Especially with the likes of Pandora and Jelli popping up, listeners are being conditioned to listen much differently online, namely the fewer number of interruptions.

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” said the Radio Industry #NABradioshow


Several giants in the biz as well as a few of radio’s most successful consultants held a session to discuss what radio needs to get back on the right track.  Below are some quick notes from their discussion.

ED CHRISTIAN, CEO Saga Communication: Radio is in trouble because the businesses that support radio are in trouble.  We have to be more than radio.  On-air, online, on-site.  Create multi-platforms and package together.  Stop thinking in the old radio thinking.

MARK RAMSEY, Consultant:

  • Understand the competition – We’re not only competing with ourselves anymore, we’re competing with the iPod, Twitter, Facebook, and a ton of other digital media vying for the same eyes and ears that radio is.
    • Mark mentioned one client that ran radio, billboard and Twitter campaigns.  The client got 170 orders from the billboard, 200 orders from radio, and 1700 orders from Twitter!
  • It matters not how many we reach. It matters if they take action.
  • We’re not selling spots anymore.
    • Radio is the funnel, the top of the funnel. Everything is integrated.
  • Go to other non-radio events (SXSW) to get some perspective.
  • Drop Arbitron. No longer about reach.  It’s about engagement and getting listener to take action.
  • The Power of the Megaphone. The top of the funnel gives all the other channels a voice, meaning, radio can be the starting point for all other digital media tactics.

BILL FIGENSHU, President Peak Broadcasting: There are two opinions in the press. 1.) Radio is dead or Radio is fine or, conversely, 2.) it’s a perception problem.  NEITER ARE TRUE.

  • STOP expecting Radio to perform like its 1999.  Large spot loads, high margins are gone.  Advertisers are getting used to instant feedback.  Radio has to get better at metrics.  We have to raise the level of the quality of content. Spend the money!!  “Pumping the wattage into your cottage” IS DEAD.
  • START putting money into program creation.  Too many are playing to NOT LOSE instead of TO WIN.  Need more creative young people.  At least one person at each station that can connect to the listeners.  No more 1 PD for 6 stations.  No more “safe lists”.  Consumers don’t need us like they used to (iPod, Pandora).  KHJ is dead.

HEIDI RAPHAEL, VP Greater Media:  RETOOL our business.

  • Retool: need to be innovative.  JetBlue is good example.  Look to other industries that have faced similar challenges.
  • Resolve: We are an audio entertainment industry.  We need to reorganize how we do things.  Is the current sales structure working?  NO.  Match what people are good at with what they do for your company.
  • Share resources with other companies that aren’t traditional radio companies.  (e.g. and CBS
  • Reignite: Well done is better than well said.  Roll up your sleeves mentality from industry bosses and leaders.
  • Sew Some Seeds:  Bring new people into the business.  Reach out to high school / colleges to bring them in.  Some schools have jr radio programs.

Why is everyone stuck on the LOCALISM and DISASTER PREPAREDNESS.  I think if we are counting on these elements to “save” radio we’ll be waiting for a looooong time.  Nobody, especially young people, think of disaster preparedness.  Until you’re 30 aren’t you 10 feet tall and bulletproof?

Plus bad radio is bad radio, I don’t care if it’s local or not.

LARRY ROSIN, President Edison Media Research: Radio doesn’t have an HR strategy.  He focused on getting more, younger, better people into the biz.

JOHN DeBELLA, On-Air WMGK-FM/Philadelphia:  We have stopped investing in ourselves so how can we expect anyone else to do the same.

  • We have to advertise ourselves (more than just ‘most music in the morning’).
  • Let’s build a farm team!  Use your HD3 channels.  Apple just introduced an iPod with FM, next (prob) HD radio tuner.
  • Make radio about the listener
  • Make radio about the content

JOHN PARIKHAL, CEO Joint Communications:

  • Kill all czars.  Czars screw things up and starve the country.  They wrecked Russia.  Start asking questions.
  • Stop lying to yourself.  You can’t take true action until you stop lying to yourself
  • Focus on the change.  If you’re not proactive around change. To get what you want, start with what you have.
  • Create a mental outcome of what you want.  (I think my mom taught me this.)
  • Look 90-120 days out.  Inside of that you’re not being proactive.
  • Listenomics.  Listen to your clients.
    • Lego, Dell, P&G all have great stories about how listening to their consumers helped turn around their businesses.
    • Immediate is more important than Local.  Local is a subset to immediate.
    • Write a speech to sell a 20 year old to working in media.  Then give it to a 20 year old.  Will it make them WANT to work in radio?

Czars aren’t listening.  They are hallucinating.

FRED JACOBS, President Jacobs Media:

  • Stop looking back at the “Golden Years.”
    • Tom Daschel quote, “I below there’s a reason the windshield is bigger than the rear view mirror.”
  • Stop with slogans, develop solutions.  Who are we marketing to?  Ourselves? No!  The consumers.
    • Why are we using these instead of trying to solve the problem?
      • 70s: Radio is Red Hot
      • Less is More
      • Radio Heard Here
  • Need to do an Industry SWOT analysis
    • “Where else are they gonna go” – the 7 Dirty Words of Radio.  These are the words we’ve used for so long instead of trying fix our media.
    • Economies of Scale – 3 more.  While these are good (sometimes). They have ultimately hurt the quality of content on air.
  • Customer Service.  Radio hasn’t had any for a while.
  • Go outside the industry for a little help.  We’ve been inside too long.
  • No voicetracking.  People care about personalities.
  • Nurture and marketing what we have.
  • Re-think sales depts. and processes.

Lots of info here from some of the main players in the industry.  I hope it helps.  Post any questions below.

WHICH HALF OBSERVATIONS: I sure hope the industry can move as quickly as these guys and gal think.  However, these topline, “big picture” ideas usually get watered down in middle management as those in the middle try and keep others from bubbling up to the top.  Thus, continually keeping innovation out of the formula.

How Social Media Helped Elect a President. #NABradioshow

Lessons in Social Media & Mobile
Case Study – Obama for America

Scott Goodstein of Revolution Messaging was in charge of Senator Obama’s social campaign and downloaded the attendees on what it took to get a senator elected president with the help of social media.

First and foremost

Secondly, don’t be afraid to experiment.  Social media can be very powerful but you have to be afraid to try (and fail) at new tactics and strategies that incorporate social media into the traditional plan.

Social Networking sites used:
Faceook, MySpace, Twitter, MiGente, BlackPlanet, Eventful, LinkedIn, Eons, (Disabled Americans social network) 

Next, make sure you’re adding value for your listeners.

  • Don’t try and change the world or fix anything.  Try to add to the process.
  • Text messaging was used at event in SC.  30k attendees.  Didn’t give conversion #.
  • Allow consumers to engage & validate.
    • Artists created posters.  The campaign didn’t ask them to they just did it with elements the campaign already had out there.  In this case, promotional photos.
    • Consumers created videos.  Same as above.  User-generated content exploded all over the internet because the campaign provided the tools and made it easy for the consumers.
    • Move the marketplace.  Inspire the consumer to want to be a part of your brand/cause/event.

The campaign used mobile/text/iPhone app in the following ways to engage a new generation of voters:

  • News feeds
  • Policy info. Get info about the candidate’s platform straight from the source.
  • Videos
  • Office locations.  Made it easy for potential volunteers to easily find a place to volunteer.
  • Call friends. Used your phones contact list to keep track of who you’ve called to action.
  • Wallpaper
  • Ringtones
  • Photos
  • Sign ups
  • Send hope

42% of teens say they can text while blindfolded.

13 to 17 year olds send 2000 texts/mo on average (Source: Nielsen)

Finally, social media can DEEPEN THE INTERACTION & the CONVERSATION with your consumers, fans, listeners, viewers, voters to make a difference and move them to action!

WHICH HALF OBSERVATIONS: Unfortunately, the Radio industry doesn’t move as quickly as it should.  Perhaps a player will emerge in the next year or so that IS doing these things right and the bottom line will help legitmize the extra efforts, and maybe help re-elect Radio as the media choice for the next generation.

Get people buzzing about your brand! #NABradioshow

Presenter: Mark Hughes


  1. Push buttons (what do people talk about?)
    1. the Unusual
    2. the Outrageous
    3. the Taboo
    4. the Hilarious
    5. the Remarkable
    6. Secrets
  2. Capture media
    1. Types of Stories (STORIES ARE CONTENT!!)
      i.     David & Goliath
      Ben & Jerry’s did in 4 years what it should have taken 18.  They took on the giant Pilsbury corporation and drew attention to itself when Pilsbury threatened their common distributor that they would pull their business if the distributor trafficked Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.  B n J’s held a press conference, picketed Pilsbury and created a lot of BUZZ in the media.
      ii.    Unusual & Outrageous
      Half, Oregon was pursuaded to change it’s name to, Oregon by founder Mark Hughes.  Good Morning America did a story on the company the day it launched.  Mark had an offer from eBay 19 days later!!!)
      iii.   Controversy
      iv.   Celebrities
      v.     What’s Hot in the Media Already
      Bush’s Pretzel – Lay’s Potato Chips harnessed the power of what was already happening and inspired the country to “save the country, buy Lay’s instead of pretzels”
      Swiftboat Veteran’s harnessed the power of what was already going on in the market and lead George W to victory!
  3. Advertise for attention (Mark said to read his book 🙂
  4. Climb Buzz Everest (Mark said to read his book 🙂
  5. Demand Creativity
    Mark gave the example of how Heny Kissenger told his speech writer to re-write the first draft of his speech.  Upon submission of the second draft Henry remaked, “I guess I’ll read it now.”
  6. Police your Product
    1. Volkswagen example, “on car sign ‘Don’t buy a Volkswagen’.”  Volkswagen hadn’t been policing their own product and had a LOT of makeup work to do.

Audio stimulus stays in the brain 5x longer than a visual stimulus before it starts to fade.  Think the Jaws theme song and how it stuck with you for decades after you last heard it.

QUO VADIS?  Where are you going?

  1. You can: React to biggest communication revolution 2 gain audience.
    i.      Facebook – It only took 6 months for FB to gain 50 million users.
    ii.      iPod took 3 years
    iii.      Internet took 4 years
    iv.      TV took 13 years
    v.      Radio took 38 years
  2. You can also: React to advertising landscape 2 gain advertisers.
    1. Example given was to hold a press conference in your home market and announce “We are no longer selling ads to local advertisers!”  This is an overstatement meant to draw attention.

The most important thing to do is to TAKE ACTION in some way!!!!!
Do something that will create buzz for your station!!!

WHICH HALF OBSERVATIONS: It’s time for Radio to stop thinking of itself as Radio or Broadcasting or the first “social network”.  It’s time to get serious about building the brand of Radio and local market brands.  Create some BUZZ, TAKE ACTION and stop everything you’re doing that even resembles the good ole days!!

Gen Y’s Idea Currency

The currency of Advertising is Ideas.

Have you ever had a boss that could never admit he was wrong?  Took credit for your ideas?  Played two employees against each other?  Old school managers, I think, believed that admitting an error or not being able to develop their own ideas showed weakness.  They ruled with an iron fist or worse, a deaf ear.

For the next generation of American employees, especially those in a creative discipline, middle and upper management HAVE TO TAKE A DIFFERENT APPROACH.  With the New World Order (aka Gen Y) upon us, a more collaborative work atmosphere is taking shape.

The new mission for managers?  Concentrate on FINDING the best idea rather than HAVING the best idea.  Those that harness the ingenuity of Gen Y will be the successful ones.  They are as smart as our generation maybe smarter, but their work styles are vastly different.  They are identified by flex hours, constant contact, hard-working/hard-playing types that don’t have to take life or work as seriously as prior generations.

So Gen Y managers:  Listen to your people, give them room to do their jobs, give them a goal and get out of the way.