Friday, May 31, 2013

So Much Great Data Your Head May Hurt

If you subscribe to Billboard Magazine, go to your June 1, 2013 edition and open it to the double truck full page of infographics ("Two Screens, One Broadcast") integrating stats from Nielsen minute by minute TV ratings and Attensity Media social media numbers created by social/streaming charts manager William Gruger after TV broadcast of the Billboard Music Awards.

Here's just a piece of it:

The red line is the estimated number of viewers in each minute in millions.  The dips are commercial breaks.  Right in the middle of the chart is 8:58 when Taylor Swift performed "22" and the next peak after that is Kacey Musgraves doing "Merry Go Round."

The black dots above the blue chart are the high points of the number of Tweets in thousands.

Ponder these questions:
  • Does the content drive the social activity?  
  • Does the social activity drive usage?

Does this have anything to do with your radio show?


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Does Anyone "Binge" On Your Blog?

In the news:
I will leave it to smarter minds than mine whether waiting until the weekend to gorge on one whole TV series by viewers is good or bad for the future of Netflix and all of traditional media, but this much is clear:  creating something so delicious that the audience can't wait to fully savor it all in one lengthy session is greatness defined.

Are you podcasting and blogging every day?  Is it so terrific that your listeners make a point of coming to your website or through social media to savor everything you created this week?

If not, as good as your traditional ratings and audience shares, your content isn't good enough to compete in what is certainly to become tomorrow's media.

Heck, if you're not reading this material every single day, MY content isn't good enough either.

I'm working on it.  How about you?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

For Your Tool Kit

My recent items (5 Last) "Measure It To Manage It", Simple Stats To TrackGauging Your Growth and Radio Management Vital Signs attracted a helpful, welcome response from Andrew Curran, COO at DMR:
Love your series of areas to measure. 

Since you mentioned having people start a spreadsheet, I thought I’d share with you one that we developed with a variety of Key Performance Indicators in mind. 

Feel free to pass it along (click to download the xls)

One tab is a detailed view and one tab is a top line management view.
A new acronym to add to your vocabulary:  "KPI."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Saga, Ed Christian, and Steve Goldstein rank high on my list of the most admired, fastidious and committed radio broadcasters. 

What a shock to read that they've gone from being leading members of the Arbitron Affiliates Advisory Council to the subject of a lawsuit by the ratings giant.

If Saga is guilty, who among us isn't guilty of something that Arbitron's attorneys decide is worth making business life difficult?

Anyone who knows Ed and Steve has to be aware that they run one of the tightest ships in radio, so if ARB has decided to send a message to the industry that when it comes to business matters, they're not at all concerned about being friendly and cooperative to all of their customers, they chose a great target.

This one is going to be worth watching, and yet most Arbitron legal actions against non-subscribing stations are kept under wraps, so we may never know the outcome in court.

Meanwhile, the list of generonyms just grew by one more word. 

Don't even think of calling it "an ARB bonus" in internal staff memos or employment contracts unless you are an Arbitron subscriber!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Connect Personally And Keep It Real

For the last few days I've been sharing info-graphics from "State of Listening in America" which haven't gotten press coverage and yet I believe impact you very directly much more than than "good news" headlines picked up by media the day after the New York data presentation.


Listeners have deep affinities with DJs and value the time spent with them.

Listeners expect a lot from us.

How have you delivered on those hopes in the last few minutes on your air?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Radio Cornerstones Of Lasting Engagement

"State of Listening Today," according to Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman, “Confirms that radio’s reach and appeal remain strong regardless of the platform, geography, ethnicity, or age group.  American listeners – particularly younger generations – feel a strong connection to their favorite on-air radio personalities – which is made stronger by social media – in a way that isn’t replicated by other media.”

The study also helps explain why:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It Was Actually More Than Just Great News For Radio

The trade press coverage of "State of Listening in America" in the last week has focused largely on the many positive aspects of radio in 2013 as a vehicle for advertisers.

Dr. Subramanyam also did something very clever at the conclusion of the presentation in New York that hasn't gotten the coverage that I feel it deserves.  Once the media buying targets were nodding "yes" to data about the reach, impact, target and power of radio, came this advice I want to underscore. 


These are the messages that I wish more of our trade media had covered and that all of us in radio need to share with our production departments, our talent and our clients.

Pass it on!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Our Uncertain Economy

Prosper Research's monthly tracking of consumer attitudes has it's up's and down's this month:

  • Those very confident or confident in chances for a strong economy wobble in May, decreasing slightly to 39 percent. With the up / down action we’ve been seeing with confidence this year, it’s evident that consumers are struggling with feelings of uncertainty regarding the economy.
  • Eight out of ten consumers feels that there will be “more” or the “same” number of pink slips handed out over the next six months, increasing slightly over a year ago. So even as the official US unemployment rate continues to decline, consumers seem unable to quell their concerns.
  • Consumers are feeling uncertain about employment because their guts are telling them what the numbers are telling us – the unemployment rate is down because the opportunities are slim and an increasing number of capable, working age adults are being labeled “discouraged” – and are lost from the labor force as a result.
  • It appears that, at least in recent months, consumers have become a bit more comfortable in their ability to meet monthly spending demands, with a decreasing number of consumers saying that there’s too much month at the end of their paychecks “all” or “most of the time.”
  • However, more than a quarter of adults 18+ reported that they are feeling “worse off” financially compared to a year ago.
  • And, while consumers may feel that they are getting better at handling their month to month expenditures, it appears they may be doing so at the expense of their savings, with the US personal saving rate currently remaining at lows not seen since just before the Great Recession.
  • New discoveries from our Analytics Unit provide support that happiness increases with age. Members of the Silent generation rank as the happiest in America followed by Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

(5 Last) "Measure It To Manage It"

16.     Number of local stories on your website with listener comments/reactions
17.     Number of blog posts by every personality ranked by page view and responses.
18.     Open rate of your weekly e-mail (to determine effectiveness of subject lines, etc.)
19.     Text Club subscriber rate and unsubscribes
20.     Website Metrics: 
           a.  Unique Users
           b.  Total Pageviews
           c.  Top 5 Most Viewed Pages

 - a final set of numbers from some smart managers willing this week to share what they watch to be sure their stations pace toward their goals.

No doubt, you can think of many more.

So can I, but if you have 20 priorities, do you have any priorities?

Start with this 20 and focus on the handful of them where you find your farthest from where you want to be that will move you forward fastest to where you need to be.

Once you ingrain the levers on them in your daily execution, pick another five and repeat until all 20 metrics are positive.

Only then, start to look for more metrics to measure and manage.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

(More) Simple Stats To Track

Readers have been sharing the numbers they watch like clockwork to be sure their stations pace positively.

A few more:

11.     Number of public appearances per week by each on air personality/estimated number of people who attended each appearance
12.     Number of cold calls per week by salesperson
13.     Number of spec spots presented to new prospects per week
14.     Number of irritating commercials which harm listening levels per week
15.     Number of advertisers per month (and names) on your competition, not you

Thanks to BCAB for inviting me to moderate their research panel which featured Chris Byrnes, Warren Kurtzman and Sean Ross, providing the idea for creating a list of key objective management data.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Gauging Your Growth

I started the list with just five.  Now, thanks to many readers, you're going to want to start a table or a spreadsheet to track these numbers on the same date each month:

6.     Annual survey of email database: how satisfied are you 1-10? (% "very vs % not)
7.     # of Facebook friends + gain/loss + followed by # of people
8.     Twitter followers (gain/loss)
9.     Total number of units available for sale per week/revenue = average unit rate (track for total and also by sales person)
10.     Number of different advertisers per month by business category

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Radio Management Vital Signs

Crucial (but no-cost) numbers to track to make sure your station is on course:

1.     Call your station’s business office phone.  How many rings before someone answers?
2.     (if you have ratings) Weekly cume (daily cume if PPM) trend
3.     Target demo TSL (daily sessions if PPM) trend
4.     Track streaming hours tuned monthly.
5.     Contacts in your listener email database (grown/loss)

Write these numbers down on the same date every month.  If they're not consistent or even better, growing, you're dying.

What else do you trend to be sure you are on pace toward your goals?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Country's Gen X (Conversation)

My Country's Gen X Problem post initiated a Facebook dialog:

  • Bob McNeill:  Of course country has a 35-44 problem. The average age of a country listener has been right in the middle of that demo for decades and now, with the influx of pop, they're disenfranchised. We never learn.  Country has always been the only adult format that's sustained by current music. Balance is always the issue. And with that, the development of core artists that aren't disposable as they are in pop formats. Disposable songs and artists are a danger to the country format. I fear we're allowing the music business to drive the direction of the format which is problematic since radio and records do have divergent goals at some point.
  • Ralph CipollaClassic Rock PDs (and Sales folk) have been lamenting the inevitable march of time... now, they face what traditional Oldies stations did 15 years ago. The cell they owned - 35-44 - is now a secondary demo, as the format is firmly rooted 45-54. And each year, it gets one year older. The "newest" legitimately fitting songs in the format are now 25 years old, Led Zeppelin I is 44 years old and was the music of those who are now 60+ years old. Throwing in a category of polarizing Grunge & Metallica songs works for some stations with Rock roots and little competition, particularly in The South, but can be a disaster for others. I've always been interested in the Country airplay vintage v. audience age connection that appears to defy the typical music vintage to listener age if/then equation.  Is this a potential opportunity? A difficult-to-reach young cell appears to be coming along and could be welcomed into the fold, while a traditional core demo sees the ever-growing distraction of Sports/Talk & Talk & time-shifting tech that Arb can't yet measure - but they remain in attendance and need to be the object of a re-doubled engagement effort - assuming its not just a music issue (is it ever?)
  • Drew Edmundson:  I've always been more of a variety guy (mixing the classics in with the new) in pretty much any format. People 35-44 like new songs (I'm 44 and love Lady A, Zach BB, Aldean, etc). I think there needs to be a healthy dose of older songs so as to not alienate that demo.  I do nights on a country station as well as afternoons on an AC station and I see many crossovers. Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Kelly Clarkson, Lady A, Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, etc.  I look at this as a good thing for the country format.
  • Leslie Humble As a DJ/Programmer of Country Music dating back even before my days at WSM and The Grand Ole Opry, I see several factors at play. A large section of the age group 50 - 65 hate the Pop country with the semi Country vocal over Rock/Pop instrumentation. The aforementioned 35-44 Cell is on the edge of being torn by the extreme fragmentation that is today's micro cell centric choices. Even 35-44 should be more incrementally targeted.  Two things: Going back to Jaye's original thought on capturing the 35-44 demo. Isn't it the same as it's always been? Lifestyle. Target your promotions, on air comments, remotes, to a 40 year old woman for that demo. Lifestyle. As far as the music....I must slightly disagree that Garth or 90's are as far as you can go. Even if it's testing that way. I do national voice over work mostly now and my shows are live ones. I see 20 year olds jumping up for Hank Jr., John Anderson, Mel McDaniel, Charlie Daniels and on and on. It reminds me of the story of how top 40 was discovered by Todd Storz by watching the same song played over and over on a jukebox. The music that demo and others will accept is also a self perpetuating thing. How many of us feel like we helped "break" or Make a hit record by playing it? Musically WE tell them what is a hit or good in many cases. The only distinction, to me, is that the PRODUCTION VALUES, must be of the level we expect today. 

    Jaye Albright
    : Thanks, to all of you.  Personally, I don't think that it gets solved by playing 90's or earlier for a mainstream or a "new country" station, since the majority of 35-44 available to country radio today were not listening to country music when they were teens.  It's about balance, as more than one of you have noted. The great majority of today's A artists, almost all of which have emerged in the last five years aren't crossover acts.  Right now, country has 18 touring acts able to fill arenas, which is an unprecedented development in the history of the format.  We do have a handful of them you'd call "crossover" acts, but still the vast majority get played only on country radio.

    PS:  If this piqued your interest and you want some specific advice on what to do next, click on the CRS 2013 session "
    Younger Country: Is 18-34 the New 25-54? and listen to very savvy panelists John Dimick/Lincoln Financial, Chris Huff/KSCS and Sean Ross/Edison Research share their perspectives on coalitions vs conflicts between tastes of the wide country  demographic targets.  It's an hour well spent, if you missed that session at CRS.
  • Saturday, May 11, 2013

    Country's Gen X Problem

    Arbitron's full Radio Today 2013 annual update tracking all format quantitative and qualitative trends reflects both change and growth as my blogs of the last week have previewed.

    It highlights something troubling that you're going to want to look at locally. 

    Has recent under-30 growth hurt 35-44?

    * All of the demographic proportions have remained relatively steady except for adults 18-24, which rose to its highest level in a decade, and adults 35-44, which declined to its lowest.

    *  The country and new country formats are a strong performer in TSL, regardless of age group. Among the 16 top formats, it was tied for No. 1 among persons 12+, and was No. 1 by a full hour among persons 12-24. It ranked No. 2 by a wide margin among adults 18-34, was also No. 2 among adults 25-54, and third with adults 35-64.

    Suggestion:  look very carefully at 25-29, 30-34, 35-39 and 40-44 in local perceptual and music test data.  Arbitron's data tracks actual PPM and perceived diary usage data, but isn't designed to be used to choose your most effective target, but 35-44 is going to be with us for too long as a marketing target for our clients to ignore any weakness there.

    It's the only target cell in 2013's national averages where it appears that country radio is failing to get its fair share of the total population.

    * Radio Today 2013 (get the full client exclusive report at "" (the Arbitron customer site where you download data)

    Thursday, May 09, 2013

    Scarborough Surprises

    Radio Today 2013 was posted on "" this week (that’s the customer site where you download data) and it's full of fascinating facts about every format.  The country format data is  especially interesting, as it reflects both change and growth.

    Where do country radio listeners go when they are on the Internet? 

    Really, no big shocker in those stats, given that when you look at country listeners in 2013 you're looking at a very large mass audience, but what did surprise me is this comparison of country listener behaviors compared to the average radio format:

    "Take college courses?"  Who knew?

    Just another indication of powerful positive info on our busy and engaged audience today, just the kind of people advertisers want to reach.

    Wednesday, May 08, 2013

    Country Radio Listener Education Levels At All-Time High

    More great info from Scarborough and Arbitron:

    The 51.4% of the Country + New Country adult audience that has attended college reached an all-time high in Spring 2012.

    - Radio Today 2013 was posted on "" this week (that’s the customer site where you download data)

    Tuesday, May 07, 2013

    Country Radio Listeners Are Affluent And Becoming More So

    Radio Today 2013 was posted on "" yesterday (that’s the customer site where you download data).
    As Country remains the No. 1 format in America with an all-time-high 12+ national share of 14.2, there is also very exciting qualitative data along with the quantitative for every format. 

    I am going to share a few quick headlines over the rest of this week, which hopefully entices you to dig into the data, comparing it to your local stats.
    The 26.1% of Country + New Country adult listeners that resided in households generating $75,000 or more per year in Spring 2012 was an all-time high.

    The study is also chock-full of other info about Country (and all of the other top formats).

    Monday, May 06, 2013

    My Inscrutable Blog Post

    Sometimes attempting to "explain" something that simply didn't make much sense in the first place only serves to further cloud an issue.

    I hope to avoid doing that here.  My New In 2007; Obsolete In 2013 post made sense, I hope, to the people I work directly with since it was designed to serve as a somewhere coded, confidential and personal reminder.

    However, a comment came in over the weekend from an innocent reader who can be forgiven for feeling that it was...
    Completely biased and useless rhetoric. I have no idea what this post was intended to accomplish. Could you clarify? I mean, how does an iPhone age and model relate to an elder and youth relationship? And what is the goal of a new phone as compared to the goals of each an elder and younger in a mutually satisfying relationship? What are you saying?

    I appreciate the feedback and emailed my commenter:  "As I travel and listen to radio, I hear too many personalities talking to an audience that maybe existed at one time - "next hour, we'll..." "more details on our website" etc etc and I keep trying to get their attention and tell them to talk like real people do by reminding them that the only way to avoid cultural obsolescence is to be sharing emotions and telling stories each time you open your mouth. I use Dick Clark and Ed McMahon, rest their souls, as examples as I coach this point by noting that Dick was remaining relevant right to the end as he counted them down every New Year with Ryan while Ed was selling adult diapers and insurance to old people.  Staying fresh, current and contemporary is a personal choice, requiring the breaking of deeply-ingrained old habits which die hard.  Am I a voice in the wilderness?"

    My correspondent replied, perhaps teaching the lesson far better than I did...
    I believe the essence of radio has always been company, entertainment, and information for the masses. But it has always been one sided. Interactive media like web blogs, chat, and social sites like Twitter have influenced this, clearly, as they cater to individual interaction. The question may have become how can radio become more interactive? Less pretense and more camaraderie is appreciated and demanded by the radio audience today, in my view. And to at least sound (believably) interactive is crucial.

    Why didn't I think of that?

    Any time you read this blog and feel like improving on it, please add a comment or clarification.  Help me to "at least sound interactive."

    Saturday, May 04, 2013

    New In 2007; Obsolete In 2013

    An internal Apple memo now calls the original iPhone, launched less than seven years ago (to put it more kindly) "vintage."

    How are you doing in that department?

    Fortunately, there aren't many areas of our culture moving faster than the tech world, but move they do.

    If you're still talking to the same "personal listener" you created when you first got into radio, it's likely that you're as "today" as American Family Publishers.

    Every parent knows:  young people aren't going to make the effort to understand and relate to their elders.

    If anyone in an older person to younger person relationship is going to "speak the language" of the other person, only the older of the two is fully-equipped to understand and communicate to the other.

    Take a bite out of today's "apple" before it takes a bite out of you.

    Thursday, May 02, 2013

    Terrestrial Radio

    Another from my intermittent series of "Trachman treasures:"

    As opposed to radio that's bounced off a satellite or grabbed from "the world wide web."  In other words, "us." Or, what's left of us.

    Somebody expects us to need a descriptive word in the near future. It reminds me of "the private sector" - which, by implication, legitimizes every business the government cares to get into.

    It used to just be "business." It used to just be "radio."

    Well, fellow terrestrials, what can we do to ensure our survival in an era when we're just one segment - perhaps some day, even a minor segment -- of all the radio that's out there?

    Come close and listen carefully; I have a plan.

    Here are six ways we can survive this new competition, or any competition:

    1.  Listener and community involvement.
    This is radio's most natural turf. Talking about, and participating in community events on the air.
    Instructing DJs to use packaged material only as a back-up. The main source of raps should be about the DJ's life in the community, and how he or she responds to it. Encourage him to talk about his children's school; the local athletic teams, the traffic on Main Street, the colorful late-night movie host on TV, the latest campaign to clean up the downtown area.  Encourage some expressions of opinions; it doesn't matter whether everyone agrees or no one does. What you need now, above all else, is live humans behind the mike. Start a station campaign that reflects a community wish or un-met need. Any time some big event is going on in town, don't just send a news team to report it; send staffers to participate. The goal is to make your station central to everyone's perception of the community.  Be there and be visible!

    2.  Timeliness.
    Another of radio's inherent strengths that we've ignored.  Jocks should be informed, not just about what's going on in the community in general, but also about what's happening at this minute. On an elementary level, every DJ on the air should pop his/her head out the window once an hour, to see if (regardless of what the forecast says) it's raining. Or fogging or snowing. Or windy or partly cloudy; if the sky looks "ominous" or "glorious" or whatever else. But timeliness is not limited to weather. Are there local streets blocked off today because of construction or a parade?  Is some recording act appearing in town today (even if the competition is sponsoring them, it's still your town)? Music is generic.  Real personality is specific to this place, at this moment.

    3.  Real personalities.
    "Where can I find some?" asks the GM. Well, you grow them. You hire people who are passionate about life, and teach them how to do it within the confines of a radio format. (It's what Jay Trachman  wrote about every week of his life as long as I knew him.) Helping to develop and guide them is part of what he did, and now I do. If your management needs help, have them email me. I have a dog-eared old copy of "The Art Of Personality Radio," I'll share with you.  (Really.)

    4.  Identity.
    Your station should be perceived as a "thing," an identifiable entity that stands out from everything else in the market. And the fact that you play twenty Classic Hits in a row isn't going to do it for you, any more than saying the right liner cards will. Not for much longer.  What is your station "about"? What sets it apart -- that the listener can perceive -- from everything else available?  If the music you play is the only answer you can give, you're headed for trouble.

    5.  Promotions that cause chatter.
    Ask programmers to tell you their favorite contests, and many respond by telling you about their biggest or most unusual prize. The contest itself should be fun to listen to, and make your listener want to share the experience with others. When it all comes down to the competition saying, "The fifth caller wins $1 million!", your station ought to be someplace else.

    6.  Being fun to listen to. 
    I believe a station becomes fun to listen to when it is perfectly obvious that the DJs are having fun themselves. You can't mandate it; "Have fun, or you're fired." But each of the items above helps build an atmosphere of fun for the performers. When they're involved with this community on this day, participating in the life of the listener, expected to be creative, invited to respond to events, I think you'll find most of your staffers are having fun on the air, and that's contagious. As Jay mentioned over and over again for as long as he lived and wrote, "Having Fun Is Good For You."

    Wednesday, May 01, 2013

    Check The Bookcases Around Your Radio Station

    Hopefully, after a full free year as a CMA member last year thanks to 2012 "The Year Of Radio," I am hoping that your management saw the amazing return on investment and joined for 2013.

    If so, something amazing is back this year after living online for a few years.

    It's the CMA Directory, full of the contacts you need at your fingertips almost constantly:  artists, management companies, record labels, talent representatives and booking agents, publishers, publicity firms and of course every radio station, syndication company and satellite broadcaster in North America.

    I don't know about you, but there are times that opening a browser and searching just isn't as convenient as opening and paging through a fact and content-filled book.

    Thanks CMA, for bring it back!

    I am betting that whoever opened the envelope this week with the new one quietly snagged this incredible, useful resource and added it to their office reference bookcase.

    Before you have to run all over your building yelling, "help, I need the new CMA Directory, who has it!," now would be a good time to locate it and let everyone in management, programming, marketing, promotions and sales know where it is.

    Before too long, they'll all find that they have a need for it.