Three words: “House of Cards.”
Last weekend, Netflix turned loose Season Three of its acclaimed series about a failing US government and the corrupt President of the United States who presides over the whole system.
Netflix released the whole season to its subscribers at one time. Every episode. For $7 a month! Last year, I spent a small college savings account on buying the episodes of the first two seasons because I came to the table after everyone else. But once purchased, I couldn’t stop watching the series. The writing is as sharp as a razor. The plot twists and turns. It makes me feel like a virgin rider on the world’s most notorious rollercoaster.
In other words, I am hooked. When this year’s offering hit Netflix, just as I did at the end of last season, I binge watched all thirteen episodes. It was like escaping to a place where my needs came first. Every nod to the camera (and me) was an expectation met. From costuming to color balancing, the show transformed me from a TV viewer into a starving animal bent on capturing its prey. In other words, nothing short of a heart attack or EMP was going to interrupt me. (more…)Read more
In my recent years, I’ve had the chance to work with a couple of wonderful and amazingly successful Radio Programmers. Here I share 5 lessons I’ve learned from them.
Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a story beloved by millions. Like Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Dr, Seuss told a tale of a sour Christmas-hating man who achieves forgiveness and redemption even after his many bad deeds. The story was told in a way small children understand. For me, it also explained why people do the bad things they do; why goodness often is the end result of badness.
It did NOT explain why some still can only mistrust even as they stare into the faces of those who wish to help them.
So, with deference to the author for I am no poet, MBMI now presents a story of one broadcaster’s quest for redemption in the eyes of his employees, and the hard learned truth that life goes on.Read more
The budget friendly option is tempting. Especially during periods of economic turmoil with no solution on the horizon. I’ve witnessed members of the board who decided to hire a technician who thinks a lot but knows very little. Inevitably, those board members tend to be very sorry for their actions. At the end of the day, it costs them too much.
Too many self-proclaimed media or brand gurus have persuaded themselves that they are in the know; actually calling themselves revolutionaries of their businesses. These people become the quick fix, and we all know how attractive a quick fix is to someone who is desperate.
Differentiation is a great buzz word right now and it seems everyone wants to fight the Status Quo. Don’t let these trendy phrases and concepts allow so-called soft-spoken “fighters for better tomorrow” to destroy what you have built.
Too few leaders recognize that even Steve Jobs created staggering ideas and proposals that, sadly, had no market value.
So, what happens when reality strikes? We know that it does strike far too often and without mercy. It takes no hostages. It does not negotiate. (more…)Read more
A century and a half ago or more in the American west, droughts could come over the land that were so lengthy that lakes turned into deserts, booming riverfront bars became just more abandoned buildings in once bustling ghost towns, and the settlers…well, the settlers would become very superstitious. They’d do anything, pay anything, to bring them life-giving rain. Roving rainmakers, charlatans all, came out of the woodwork to provide relief and relieve the affected townspeople of their savings.
Even native American tribes had a long history of petitioning their gods for relief through the custom of the rain dance.
That’s why what you do when your brand experiences a drought is so important.
The broadcast pioneers of old knew how to deal with audience drought, and it had nothing to do with magic. Reversing down trending audience numbers is a matter of executing detailed analysis of available information and then using elbow grease to provide consumers with what they really want.
This article details everything that you should do, from the moment you receive ratings or brand information until the point that you act upon that knowledge. (more…)Read more
As we broke out into meetings, and I was with all of the Promotion Directors and Marketing Directors, I suggested that really nothing great has ever been achieved in a conference room and since it was the middle of Winter and we were at the Ritz in LA, why not take it to the pool and do it in the sun.
You would have thought that I’d suggesting putting puppies in a blender.
The majority of our promo meeting, after we labored through some lame mission statement, was to try and create a form (they so loved their forms) that we could use to grade our promotions and events.
My thought, which was totally lost on the sheep, was that Promotions serves so many masters and that “success” or “failure” is really subjective based on what department you come from, that this seemed like kind of a waste. They looked at me like I had eels crawling from my ears.
I get that a lot. (more…)Read more
I’m an old jingle guy. During my years as a radio and television programmer and talent, I used and/or created at least twenty different jingle packages. I also spent five years of my career creating jingle packages and programming for a large Dallas-based jingle company. Later, I worked closely with the King Of Jingles, the late Tom Merriman (the TM of TM Productions) and his court jester, my good friend, Tony Griffin. The lessons I learned are exceeded only by the tall tales they would tell over a good, stiff adult beverage at the end of the day. The drinks aside, I recall that they taught me four secrets of creating a custom jingle package. I’d like to share them with you. (more…)Read more
For decades, the majority of American radio programmers have followed one consistent rule when programming music: Play the hits! Why not? After all, in the past, most listeners used radio as their primary source for discovering and enjoying the most current songs in every format genre. There were few other choices besides MTV or a friend’s mix tape. For the most part, radio was king. Record labels and radio enjoyed a love-hate relationship that further established radio as the authority on what was, and wasn’t, worth their audiences’ listening time and money.
As radio and records’ music taste and fashion monopoly/axis became more powerful, American radio programmers tightened down libraries and playlists proportionately in the quest for more and more listeners. In general, the old rules still apply to most North American playlists and so do the consequences of it.
The theory is simple but somewhat counterintuitive: Play hits over and over because people want to hear those songs. Repetition creates more opportunities for listeners to hear those familiar favorites, creating more listening opportunities that equate to more overall time spent listening. According to the theory, more cume will drive through the radio station to hear the big songs. Large TSL and cume drive up share, and share drives revenue. When revenue is up, everyone is happy, so repetition is a good thing.
Or, it isn’t. (more…)Read more
In Europe we have different opinions regarding analogue switch off and going all digital. The radio markets in the different European countries are structured sometimes very different and have different histories and backgrounds. My home country is Finland. We are an European country and one of the Scandinavian countries. There is one main difference: Finlands private radio market is doing very much better than our Scandinavian neighbours.
In Norway, Sweden and Denmark the public broadcasting sector is very strong and the commercially funded private radio industry has a market share of the listeners representing something between 25 – 35%. They also have much weaker FM networks for private radios compared to the public broadcaster. In Finland commercial radio and public broadcasting have divided the audience 50/50 for many years. Commercial radio has a much bigger share for audiences under 55 and in the older demographics public broadcasting is the leader.
This market situation explains a lot why Sweden, Norway and Denmark are pro digital and keen on announcing switch off dates for FM. Norway was the first country to announce that in 2017 FM will be switched off. But there are conditions involved. 90% of the population needs to have access to digital broadcasing and over 50% of all listening needs to be digital before a switch off can be made. What will happen to the other 50% at that point? I do not think they will automatically go digital just because FM will be switched off. (more…)Read more
The portion of the argument that stands out to us, but has been missing from the discourse until today, is that radio operators do so in the public interest and as expected by the public. While radio companies generate advertising profits from the overall benefit of their licenses, those profits, if any, are invested in providing a unique and free service to the people who actually own the airwaves: We the People. (more…)Read more
It seems almost incomprehensible that professionals with so much knowledge, skill and understanding of the high stakes at which they operate, could make fatal errors. But they do. Often.
In the early 2000s, the Air Force accumulated mishap data from the previous decade, which revealed that about 80% of aviation accidents were caused by pilot error. Not surprisingly, many of those errors were caused by the inability of the flight crews to process the information flow they received and execute effectively. These pilots could no longer assess situations, danger, or develop life-saving responses to the data because they were too busy with other things. In the Air Force, this is known as Fatal Task Saturation; the effect of too many things being asked of a pilot at one time.
In the air, the first rule is to fly the airplane. “Aviate, Navigate and Communicate” is the common phrase known to all fighter pilots. When handled in the appropriate order, tasks generally do not overwhelm pilots. So, what is the phrase that protects your frontline employees from a terrible crash and burn situation?Read more
Robert is more than a “radio guy.” He is a trained and licensed surgical nurse, an EMT, a philanthropist and an all around good human being.
Last week, Robert, his family, his extended family, and many throughout the Balkans were brought to their knees by a weather event that received very little attention in North America. Families have lost their homes, businesses, food and water supplies, and more, due to disastrous flooding that has affected more than two-thirds of the region.
Tomorrow, Robert leaves with a Red Cross convoy that will offer support, supplies, medical attention and hope to the region. We admire Robert and support him in this effort. We hope that you will offer your thoughts and prayers for Robert and the people who he will assist on this journey.
If you operate a media outlet of any type in the flooded region, MBMI would like to offer its support to you, for free. If there is anything that we can do to help you as you deal with this disaster, please contact us. We stand ready to assist. (more…)Read more
Knowing my friend as I do, this position is custom made for him and it is in one of the cities he desired to be in the most: New York City.
My buddy has been extremely successful there before, just as he has been successful in virtually every challenge he has accepted. (more…)Read more
The guys in the white lab coats say there is a reason for this. I’m told that a negative experience is immediately stored in our brain’s long term memory, while a positive experience needs to rattle around for more than twelve seconds before checking in to that part of the brain. The reason for this dates back to the prehistoric days at the rock quarry so that Fred and Barney would know when a tarantula was about to sneak up on them! “Fight or flight” is the plot of any well-written cartoon, don’tchaknow! (more…)Read more
Last week, the industry flocked to Hollywood, CA for three days of learning, listening, eating, drinking and networking, called Worldwide Radio Summit 2014. The event enjoyed its fourth year in 2014, attracting the biggest and most influential roster of radio and music industry professionals (more…)Read more
Things were different before the copier. Why would we ever need an expensive thing like that?
Things were different before the fax machine. Wow! What’s wrong with Federal Express? Isn’t it hard to use that fax thing?
Things were different before email. Who needs email? Faxes are great. And this Internet thing is such a fad. Who can understand it?
So, yes, things were different before consolidation, for many a frightening event in a timeline of events that set in motion events that changed our lives. Like copy machines, faxes and emails, consolidation raised fear. Remember how you couldn’t figure out what a domain name was? What did we need all this techy stuff for, anyway? The principle of change through consolidation often conjures the same specter.
Employees worry about losing their jobs, their self-respect, and the esteem of their colleagues. The rules change, too. So does interaction with superiors and subordinates. Our colleagues often become our new bosses. The whole world turns upside down with the stroke of Acquisition’s pen. Your email has old acquaintances reaching out again, in fear of the unknown after years of acceptance of consolidation.
Looking back, those early days of consolidation were frightening to many of us. Today, conditioned by years of operating in an atmosphere of “Am I next?” many of the GMs who survived the first wave fear being the men and women they once were. In today’s business world, regardless of industry or application, strong managers must set aside their reservations and remember it is their responsibility to lead, to grow, and to create value.
One of the best radio stories that demonstrates this notion involves a General Manager in Baltimore, Maryland in the early days of consolidation. This GM was known for his management prowess, leadership, and decisiveness. Some of the most skilled managers and talent in the country moved to Market #19 just to work for him.
On the fateful day that he learned that his facility had been bought by a large broadcaster bent on consolidation, this GM called together his staff and promised that things would change for the better, providing that each employee remain confident and fearless, while performing just as he or she had for years before consolidation.
“Let’s achieve new heights based on the benefits of consolidation,” he said. “Have no fear. I’m going to be the same guy tomorrow that I am today.” He was, too.
A few weeks later, the Baltimore Orioles placed concurrent calls to every major radio and television GM, to offer tickets on the field to witness Cal Ripken’s record-breaking Game 2131 at Camden Yards. One catch: The tickets were ten thousand dollars. First come, first served.
Greatness is born of courage and leadership. Without courage, rarely can one lead. At that moment, this General Manager could have considered the political ramifications of asking his new boss for unbudgeted marketing money. He could have quietly thanked the caller and asked for some time to think about it. He could have put his own skin before the success of his station. Instead, he saw those tickets as a way to show his courage and his leadership and grasp an opportunity to make a statement to his new consolidation masters. It was a gargantuan risk. He committed to the tickets. Then he called his new boss.
The next evening, the ticket winners wore the station’s sport shirts to that special game. You can see them as Cal runs by the winners, sees the shirts, and stops and runs back to shakes the hands of those winners. In front of the whole world. In front of every potential listener. In front of every meaningful buyer of advertising. It’s all on the ESPN tape.
The GM later moved to another company in a top five market. He remained fearless, left that company after awhile, and started his own. He is still fearless.
In this round of consolidation, step up and be fearless. The copier is waiting.