Category Archives: Radio

Vegas Bound!

So I’m headed to Las Vegas on Sunday.  CAN’T WAIT!  I love that town.

This will be my first visit to the NAB Show.  The National Association of Broadcasters holds one of the largest trade shows for the TV, Radio, and (now) Online broadcasting industry.  I’m told it’s attended by a Who’s Who’s in the industry.  I’m excited to learn something new.

Of course, most trade shows I’ve attended could have just as easily been downloaded from YouTube.  So fingers crossed for the big ole NAB.  🙂


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.

Bad radio is bad radio, right? Even if it’s live and local. #NABradioshow

NPR’s TERRY GROSS made an appearance at this year’s NAB Radio Show.  She reversed her normal role of interviewer and became the interviewee.  Below are some quick notes from the interview session hosted by Fred Jacobs.

NPR’s Fresh Air hosted by Terry Gross is an award-winning radio show that really prides itself on getting the story behind the story. 

WHICH HALF OBSERVATION: ALL radio on-air personalities and producers could learn a thing or ten from Terry’s technique and how she produces her show.  Her shows are always compelling, interesting and insightful.  Radio is usually missing all of these things.

All the interviews are pre-taped and PRODUCED so they are interesting.  A lot of local radio personalities get caught up on the whole live & local thing.  Terry’s point is that she would rather the interview be compelling and interesting rather than live.  I completely agree.  A live interview can be great.  But, more often than not it’s a LOT better once it’s been edited and all the boring stuff, pauses, umms and ahhs have been edited out.

Terry’s Magic Formula: Lively, dramatic, truth.  Don’t worry about what you look like.  Worry about the product.  Whether it is live or not is NOT IMPORTANT.  Create a GREAT PRODUCT first.

Ingredients for a GREAT interview:

  • Review past interviews and go deeper
  • Respect your guest
  • Do your research
  • Talk TO them, not AT them
  • Don’t ask “generic” questions
  • Don’t trivialize their lives or careers

Fresh Air Staff:

  • Exec Producer
  • 3 Assoc Producers
  • Several Contributors
  • Weekend Producer
  • 2 Assoc Weekend Producers
  • Assistant

WHICH HALF OBSERVATIONS: I would love it if the rest of radio would take a page out of Terry’s interviewing playbook and use these tips to create better, more entertaining on-air content.  I think the entire radio industry would benefit.

Action items to make your business better. #NABradioshow

Digital Best Practices
from Daniel Anstandig of

In a word: BRILLIANT

Brilliant actionable tips for local radio and others to make their digital presence more focused and able to work harder for them.  These are from Daniel Anstandig, President of McVay New Media, as presented at the NAB Radio Show in Philadelphia on Sept. 24, 2009.  Find him on Twitter @anstandig.  By far the best session at the show!

Year 1:
3-5% of broadcast revenue should be digital
7-10% of broadcast cume should be the amount of unique visitors your site receives
Your site should average about 3 Page Views per visitor

Year 2:
5-8% rev of broadcast revenue should be digital
10-15% of broadcast cume should be the amount of unique visitors your site receives
Your site should average about 5 Page Views per visitor

For every 400k in rev ur trying to generate u need one seller.

Daniel has re-written the job descriptions for everyone at your radio station so you can do your part in the digital revolution.  I plan to post them as soon as I receive them.

1. You HAVE to have an intuitive user interface
If your users don’t understand what it is that you want them to do on your site they won’t be coming back.
• To check your station’s site(s) go to: and

2. Enable new discovery
If new users can’t find your site you’ll be scratching your head wondering why your online audience isn’t growing as fast as it should be.
• Submit to social bookmarking sites like and
• Daniel also pointed to as a great example.

3. Instant gratification
Everything online is about instant gratification.  I want what I want and I want it now!!!
• Scrolling feature box is 60% more effective getting users to visit a second page on your local site.
• Also, Daniel pointed out that the ‘Listen Live’ button is more effective in the upper left portion of your homepage.

4. Adapt based on past use
This is an advanced technique that some stations can use to target ads (namely from Google) based on past data from users that visited their site.  Check out Google ad manager.  It’s free for goodness sake!

5. Emotional meaning
This is radio’s number one ‘ace in the hole’.  Radio connects to the listener in a way TV, print, out of home and even typical internet cannot do.  Your website should mirror that connection.

1. Off site links in same window. 
Any time you link off of your site make sure it opens in a new window.  All it takes is a target=”_blank” added to the HTML for the link.

2. Poor content. 
Well duh?  Of course, looking at several local station sites this may not be as obvious as one might think.

3. Outdated/irrelevant content. 
Daniel gave a great example of a station’s site that had school snow closings listed on the homepage.  The problem was that it was APRIL and hadn’t snowed in months.  C’mon radio!  Please, pay attention to the www.

4. Compatibility. 
If someone can’t properly view your site then what’s the point?  Check out to make sure it works correctly in a ton of different browsers (Firefox, IE, Opera, Chrome, and a bunch you’ve never heard of.

1. Leap from broadcasting to crowdcasting.
It ain’t about broadcasting to the masses anymore.  It’s about connecting to the ones that are really listening.

2. Databasing
McVay New Media suggests collecting these data fields for your email database: First Name, Last Name, Address, Date of Birth, Gender, Mobile Phone #, and a few targeted survey questions where the answers will add value to your stations.

3. Analytics
Subscribe to now.  They will monitor your traffic for you.
Subscribe to Google Analytics now.  It’s free and is almost always easier to use than the analytics tool your parent company has set up for you.

1. Embrace the show outside the show. 
What Daniel means by this, he explained, was that your talent, sales, management, promotions/marketing all have to buy into this whole internet thing.

2. One station he works with signs off each morning with, “we’re moving over to our Internet studio”.  Even if this content is pre-recorded it gives the sense of being live and sounds GREAT online.  Daniel also sited,, as a great example.

You HAVE to have a purpose and strategy when jumping into the digital realm.  Know where you want to go before you start your journey.  One to three word mission statement. E.g. Local active moms or affluent ski bunnies.  Haha

Other tidbits from
Reach (broadcast). Engage (web). Capture (listener).

Reach: use your own signal to promote your site/content.
Engage: make sure you engage and interest your audience on a continuous basis once they get to your site(s).
Capture: make sure you capture some data so you can message back to them to drive ratings and revenue.

Hope these help.  Get more from

WHICH HALF OBSERVATIONS: Dear Radio Industry, please do all of these and do all of these now!  If you do your part to raise Radio to the next level it will benefit everyone.  More traffic, more engagement, more ratings, , more revenue.

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!!