Smart People Aid Radio

Smart People Aid RadioApril 1, 2014

radio - By: Bill Pasha

There is something about the electricity of a convention’s exhibition floor that brings out the social animal in people. From the moment that the contemporary drum corps snared and bassed their way into earshot last Monday at the RadioDays Europe 2014 convention, it was clear our MBMI crew would be in for a wild ride.  We were not disappointed.

 

The constant and steady stream of delegates paraded in front of exhibitors as organizers wisely chose to position coffee stands in the center of the room each morning, lunch at the heart of the floor each day, and the bar at the very back of the room.  Want a Guinness?  No problem, just make a right at the jingle sellers, a left at the commercial scheduling software booth, and follow until you reach the bar, next to the German music consultants.  Genius, the likes of which I have only seen in Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks’ guest management lines.

 

The good news for those of us trying to generate business was that the food and drink on the floor were top shelf, attracting highly intelligent attendees whose employment scope ranged from producers to CEOs. Many of them asked questions, spoke with our staff and engaged us in unexpected and deep conversations about the 21st Century Business of Radio.

 

To be honest, our MBMI team learned some important things from those conversations.  The most important take away was that the radio business, both in North America and abroad, not only has changed but is still evolving in a radical way.  Sometimes, the evolution was perceived as very positive, such as in areas of digital delivery, ease of consumer access and use, and electronic audience measurement that can be repurposed and applied to monetization methods.  On the other hand, some of the “progress” was perceived as dark and foreboding.

 

The unsettling perception by some of an industry filled with fear led MBMI President and Founder Bill Pasha to ask a question on his personal Facebook page and on MBMI social media:

 

“If you had the power to change one thing that you believe would improve the radio industry, what would it be?”

The inquiry generated more than fifty thoughtful responses from professionals in every market size.

Rick Peters,
the CEO and Managing Partner of Bluewater Broadcasting, lightheartedly suggested the elimination of all consultants. Thanks, Rick. You’re a sport. Then, among the many calls for the repeal of the 1996 Telcom Act, Rick offered a suggestion that had significant merit in the American arena. Peters suggests that the FCC should make a rule to require broadcasters to maintain a live human being in every radio station, 24/7/365, to add depth to the emerging talent pool. The unintended consequence of such a rule might be to create jobs that have been eliminated by consolidation.

Dianne James,
the owner of Internet-based Solstice Radio, gave her two cents by saying that improved ratings and associated tracking will improve the ability of agencies to buy radio, making the industry easier to monetize. Dianne, also is a proponent of content development rooted in useful information and comedy.

MBMI European Consultant Robert Brndusic-Dedus
pointed out the huge differences experienced by Radio on each side of the pond.  Where America is discarding hopeful talent because of a lack of entry-level positions, the talent pool in Europe is shallow, with many ‘consultants’ who have opinions, but little real world radio time spent in a broadcast facility.  Of course, we consider inexperienced people who offer suggestions to radio professionals to be a real challenge and a potential disaster for the operators who choose them.  Every day, Robert advises his European partners to teach their programmers to entertain and be natural before they turn them loose behind the mic.  This mantra falls in line with the one held by News/Talk aficionado, Don Anthony.  Don says that the only thing that matters is to create something brilliant. Here! Here!  Nothing is more important to our future than what comes out of the speakers.

Chicago metropolitan morning show and creative thinker, Joe Cicero,
kicked in several thoughts and suggestions. Joe writes, “Let Social Media be an extension of what you do on air. If it doesn’t mirror your programming it’s a waste. Use it to amplify your message and get people to listen. Getting likes, shares, etc., doesn’t do anything if it doesn’t brand your station. It’s the QUALITY of the like. They post things and ask share share share. I’m sure they sell that they have that many likes, but are they doing anything to backup the brand.

 

Many programmers,
both past and present, complained about national contesting, the lack of local content, and too few ownership restrictions.  The concerns ranged in scope from lack of support when disaster strikes, to on-air people who simply don’t have the training required to fully understand his or her job.

Technology
was blamed for the decline in usage of the medium.  This could very well be a root source problem, and our thanks to Dallas Kincaid for sharing his thoughts.

National Voice Over Talent Jeff Laurence
provided four discreet tips for the industry.  He maintains that we should:

  • Target advertising buys to the appropriate age demos, not the whims of young buyers.
  • Eliminate silly deejay chatter in favor of something that is lifestyle relevant.
  • Create an environment of real personal interaction with listeners, so that they know that your radio station has not been mummified.
  • Cease rebroadcast of analog sister stations on digital streams to encourage new content development.


Tom Ross, Entercom’s Corporate Creative Director,
wrote to say radio should, “Quit thinking of itself as a mature industry rather one that was a century ahead of its time conceptually. Radio is the most powerful local real time, collective consciousness-charging platform…ever. As we and those behind us come out from under or inside our self-programmed iSolation pods once we realize how lonely it is, we couldn’t invent a better medium to share moments and memories that make us necessary while here and relevant once gone.”

Nielsen Audio’s Dexter Beane,
a very intelligent lad, stated, “I would have turned HD radio over to the kids. Get local colleges & even high schools involved. Let them run the HD stations with a couple of adult supervisors. Let them program the stations, do the air shifts, sell some ads – and learn. They’re the ones that are going to have to carry the torch soon. Promote it thru the schools themselves & social media. These are kids – word would spread fast.”

There were too many comments to print all of them here, but please feel free to join the discussion at facebook.com/multibrandmedia, or by commenting below.

 

So, while our feet ached from long hours of standing and chatting about our business, we certainly were privileged to spend that time with some very, very smart people.  In the next few weeks, our staffers will attend Worldwide Radio Summit in LA, NAB in Las Vegas, Canadian Music Week in Toronto, and talk to our clients around the globe.  The flow of information will be tremendous.  We would like to share it with you.

 

Sign up to receive our new monthly MBMI eNewsletter.  We may even have a contest to name it.  If you would like to be included, simply click here to provide your name and email address.  We’ll get it right out to you.

 

Next week, more from the RDE14 conference and WWRS in LA.  Don’t forget to check for pictures and updates from WWRS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

Radio image by Tom Godber

Leave a Reply