Wednesday, March 9, 2011

THE DAY I KNEW WE WERE IN TROUBLE...

Sorry for the delay in posting...I'm a couple weeks overdue, I know.

You may have noticed a new name of this blog (see banner above...it's no longer "Why Radio Sucks"). We'll talk about the reason for the change later.

For this week, I'm curious to know:

Was there a defining moment in your career when you knew "we" (the industry) were in trouble?

For me it was about five years ago at a remote, when a mother and her 9-year-old daughter approached our tent and table on the way into the mobile phone store.

The two approached our prize wheel and I greeted them. The mother, enthusiastically points to our banner, looks to her daughter and says, "Katie, look! Is that the station you listen to?"

I'll never forget the look on the young girl's face. It was a look of confusion, almost bewilderment, as she reluctantly answered, "I don't know?" In fact, she admitted that she didn't know the name of any local radio station. "I just listen to my iPod," she admitted.

I thought to myself, "You mean she doesn't listen to the Top 40 station every day after school when she's doing her homework? She doesn't listen to and keep track of The Top 8 at 8? She doesn't think the night jock is a superstar? How could this be???"

The mother, clearly embarrassed, grabbed the girl's hand and led her away from the prize table, into the store.

Of course, examples like the above are only too common nowadays...but I remember the initial impact hearing that for the first time had on me: "You mean you're a kid, and you don't even know what stations exist in your own town?" I thought. It was definitely a tough pill to swallow, and a reflection of a depressing trend and rough times to come.

So what specific event made you realize rough times were coming? What one event will be forever scarred in your brain?


Sunday, January 30, 2011

MOM AND POP, PLEASE LET ME COME HOME!

It's amazing how the radio industry has come full-circle in some ways. Take working for a "Mom and Pop" radio company.

I can remember many years ago, working for a mom and pop radio station. In fact, the first three stations I worked for in my career were all single-owner radio stations. And oh, how we'd all sit around and talk about how much we wished for the opportunity to work for "the big guys;" a "real" radio "company!"

"Yeah, those guys have everything!"

"If only we could leave this little dumpy station and work in a real building, with big money and a fleet of vehicles!"


The cliché you don't know what you have 'til it's gone couldn't have been more true in this case.

Many of us did indeed get to the big leagues. Don't get me wrong, I owe a TON to "corporate" radio. It was an awesome ride and I was given some incredible opportunities to do some amazing things, that probably wouldn't have happened without being part of the big company I worked for.

But here we are in 2011. The tide has turned. And how ironic is it, that so many people working for "the big boys," would today give their left nut to be back at a mom and pop? A place where a PD can actually make decisions, coach talent, pick music and not have to run three different stations. You know, actually "do" radio, instead of just being the guy whose only real decision-making power means writing up the weekend schedule of voice trackers. Where a jock can be a personality (remember those?) and form relationships with listeners; not just promote a website in the form of 10 second talk breaks.

Yup, times have changed. Today the happiest PDs I know work for mom and pops.

I'll leave you with this quote--an actual statement made by my best friend while giving his resignation at a major radio company. He had worked at said company for two years.


GM: "Well aren't you gonna miss radio, Joel?"

PD: "Sir, I've missed radio for the past two years."



......
.

Monday, January 24, 2011

THE WHORING OUT OF OUR BRAND (BROUGHT TO YOU BY MCDONALD'S)

The integrity of our business slips away more and more every day. I see it. I hear it.

This week let's talk sales: NTR (non-traditional revenue). More specifically, let's talk about "studio naming rights." You know, where the sales department sells the actual "name" of a radio station's studio to a client. And suddenly, you're now broadcasting from "The Captain Crunch Studio." Yeah, super-wack...for a few reasons:


It confuses listeners. I've heard from listeners many times, that they actually think the DJs are doing all their shows from a McDonald's now. They just don't understand. And I don't blame them.

What about talk radio? I've heard top-of-the-hour IDs saying "Live from The Popeye's Chicken News Studio," only to hear the national Fox News feed seconds later. Really? So the national news guys are also broadcasting from said chicken establishment? Now that's just silly. And once again confusing.

It gets even weirder when a station who names their studio, runs a syndicated show who also names their studio. You get a local top-of-hour ID that may say "Broadcasting live from the Throckmorton Auto Insurance Studio," only to hear minutes later the syndicated programming saying the show is actually broadcasting live from The Harvey Schmidlap Car Audio Studio. Huh???

And they name everything now. The studio, the van, the traffic center. Ugh. They should name the promiscuous intern if they really want to get their brand "out there!"

I'll leave you with this. Look, I get it. Radio sales (and the economy in general) is in a world of hurt, and at the end of the day do I "get" selling studio-naming sponsorhips? Sure I do. If it helps keep the lights on, whatever. But sales and programming peeps, at least do this:

-Pick a name that fits your format...and that doesn't sound silly. I once did afternoons where my traffic guy announced he was giving his report from "The Bimbo Bread Traffic Desk." I nearly pooped my pants when I heard that.


-And limit the brand to five syllables or less, please. Swear to God, there is a major market station that not only sells the name to their freeway system's "traffic camera," but the name is ridiculously long. You'll here a break that says, "Okay, let's check the 101 Freeway and take a look at The Rio Vista Hermosa Casino, Resort and Spa Traffic Cam." Not kidding. Make it stop, please!

*the actual brand names in the above article have been changed to protect the guilty. Except for "The Bimbo Bread Traffic Desk." That was the real name, and too ridiculous to change.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

SYNDICATE HYPOCRITE...WHO ME?

I've been thoroughly enjoying writing this new blog, especially hearing from you, my peers and fellow-colleagues in the business who love radio as much as I do.

Many have e-mailed me telling me how much they enjoy the discussion; others have suggested I come up with a more "positive" title for the blog. I often find myself explaining to friends that it's not radio, per se, that "sucks," but rather the "industry" and what's become of the business. That part sucks.


But perhaps one of the most interesting morsels of feedback to date came to me in the form of a short Facebook comment that simply read:

Are syndicated Sunday night music shows helping?

For those who don't personally know me, this Facebook comment was referencing the fact that the author of this blog (me), hosts and produces his own syndicated show on (you guessed it) Sunday nights.


And although the poster did not elaborate, I pretty much took the message as "Who are you to say that radio is on the wrong track by being less live and local, when you yourself are the one pumping out syndicated programming?" Am I part of the problem???

I thought it was an excellent question, and makes a great subject for this week's topic.


Syndication.

Good or bad? And here's my answer. I believe--and feel free to throw in your two cents--that syndication can be used sparingly, and in the right places, to compliment a station's local programming and add to the success of the station.

I also believe that often stations have too much syndication on the air, and there's nothing worse than a station that's lost its identity due to "syndication overload."


Let's look at two examples, good and bad, in formats I know.

BAD EXAMPLE: An Urban station that runs both Steve Harvey in the morning and Michael Baisden in the afternoon. In fact, any station, any format, that runs syndicated programming in both their AM and PM drive.

Really??? You're allowing your morning and afternoon drive to not be local? I mean, I really don't even have to elaborate on this, do I? Giving up both drive times on any station is just mind-blowing to me, and makes less sense the bigger the market. I mean, if I'm in D.C. and turn on WHUR, it should "sound" like D.C., right? Apparently that's not the priority anymore.

Do you know how depressing it is, to fly into a different city and jump in my rental car, and excitedly turn on the radio, hoping to get an earful of "the sound" of that city, just to discover it's Ryan Seacrest...again.


GOOD EXAMPLE: A station that sprinkles small doses of unique syndicated programming into their schedule--shows that would be tough to duplicate on a local level.

Take KHHT-Hot 92.3FM in Los Angeles. They have all in-house programming except for a one-of-a-kind weekend show called Top 10 Now and Then: a really fun, themed, Saturday morning show that compliments the station's unique format. Then there's the nightly Art Laboe show. Art is a Southern California legend and has become one of the driving forces of the radio station. He's from L.A., so even though the show is technically "syndicated," Art's the "Godfather of L.A. Oldies," so it only makes sense that he is an integral part of the station.


You see the difference here? There's a huge difference between a station that fills up as many hours as they can with blasé, bland and non-local syndicated programming, and the station that thrives on good, quality local content and only adds syndication in as an "accent"--syndication that fits in with what the station does, its market and targets

As a PD, I look at any syndicated show and ask this question--could my station do the same show locally, but better? And the answer is usually yes.

For example, when I programmed Hip-Hop radio, there was a handful of mediocre (some downright lame) "countdown" shows. Why couldn't we do a countdown show on the weekend--our own? So we did. We created our own weekend countdown show, hosted by our morning guy. It was our city's top 30 songs, with our personality. It was not only custom-tailored to our market, but what a great way to cross-promote our morning show on the weekend, and tease what was coming up Monday morning! Simple stuff here.


On the other hand, there are indeed some syndicated shows that have advantages because they are syndicated. Take for example, Sunday Nite Slow Jams (my show). Here's a Slow Jams and dedications show, that, because it is national, is able to connect callers from one city to another. A Fresno station's listener can call in and give a dedication to their girlfriend in Albuquerque. A girl in Wichita, Kansas can call in with a message to her Mom in Portland, Oregon, and so on. These things simply can't be done inside a local show. So in essence, the show has an advantage because it's syndicated.

Another show that comes to mind that might be hard to duplicate is The Baka Boyz. Here's a weekly Hip-Hop mix show that is programmed so well, with such amazing hosts, that it would be very tough for a station, at least not a major market station, to duplicate. Here you have two amazing emcees and mixers (Nick V and Eric V) who helped build Power 106 into to what it is today, on your radio station for three hours. I'd put those guys on any station I was programming.


Yet again, the un-hosted Hot Mix radio mix show is another gem--this is actually a "pre-mixed" mix show, where your local talent fills in the talk breaks. Talk about the best of both worlds! I've worked with scores of very good "local" mixers throughout the years, but have yet to see anyone match the quality and consistency of Hot Mix.

I could go on, but you get the point. And the story holds true in all formats. Stations should be very mindful that they are "picking and choosing" just the right syndicated shows, and always keeping their focus on their local programming. Use syndication as an accent; something special...not something just to fill up your entire Sunday with because it's "easy" and "always there." And stop just "throwing" those shows on. Really take time to package it, as a valuable feature for your listeners. Localize it, promote it, and set it apart. Don't just rip it in and leave it alone. Your station's better than that.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Okay Radio: You Want a Ted Williams, Here Are Hundreds More Ready To Go!

This is a continuation of my Ted Williams post from yesterday, if you haven't seen it, please read it here.

Corporate radio, VPs, station owners, and voice over agencies...I know you're kicking yourself that you weren't quick enough to snatch up Ted Williams, but that's OKAY! Lucky for you, there just might be a few more qualified, out-of-work, radio folk out there! And most of these guys haven't even had drug problems!





Kid Corona
Experience includes mornings on KXOL/Latino 96.3 Los Angeles, KSFM Sacramento, KRQ Tucson, KPTY Phoenix. Hungry, talented, hard working, and ready to go! kidcorona@kidcorona.com.




Slick
I am a passionate personality, who will probably never get over my love affair with radio. Some of the stations I have been on are: "Y95"/KOY-FM, "Hot 102"/WLUM, KRQQ, KOHT, KNST, KDKO, "Power 1450"/KKPW, "Power 1490"/KJYK, KIIM, (Country) 1290 KCUB, "104.1 The Hog"/KKHG, "790 Mighty KCEE", "97.1 Cool FM"/KWFM, "Cool 1450", 580 KIKX, and KAIR. slickshow@gmail.com


Mucho Martinez
Nights, middays, afteroons, mixshows, mornings, promotions, MD, APD, experience. Worked in Tucson, Bakersfield, LA, Nogales; KOFH, KOHT, KBDS, KRQQ, Spanish, English, Spanglish...this bum has a radio voice in multiple languages. muchorespeck@gmail.com


Fox Feltman
20 years radio and voice over experience. Program Director, Operations Manaager, Air Talent. Multi Format (CHR, Hot AC, Classic Hits). Worked in Markets such as Philadelphia, Monmouth-Ocean, New Orleans & Atlantic City. Looking for work, have a family of four. I can help you, please help me!! foxfeltman.com, foxfeltman@aol.com, (850) 368-0712


DJ Juanito
'Member me? Hell,if it will worked for a bum on the street I might as well give it a shot, 'cause Lord knows I've tried everything else!!! When you think of the first man to set foot on the moon who do you think of? If you guessed Neil Armstrong your correct! How about the first movie ever made? Roundhay Garden Scene in 1888, and the first song a human ever recorded? That would be Au Clair de la Lune in 1860! Wow! And if you've ever wondered what was the first song ever released on Universal Records, that would be Feels So Good, written and produced in 1996 by me. I went down in music history and can't get a radio mixer gig to save my life! I will mix and produce for food! And if you want back to back HITS, I'm talking real hit records, then come talk to me! I'll see you soon on the freeway off ramp! I'll make sure to have my turntables and mixer with me! juanitofx@gmail.com.





Davin & Ana
Collectively worked in Denver, Phoenix, LA, Boston, Providence, Sacramento, Tucson, & more... Call letters include: KIIS, KZZP, KKFR, KONN, KQKS, KBPI, WWKX, WCLB, KSFM, KRQQ, more! http://www.realityradio.me/


Joe "Verb" Arrigo
KKUU Palm Springs (U92.7) Morning Show Host/APD 2002-2004, KXPS Palm Springs (Team 1010) Sports Talk Host 2002-2004, Co-Creator of "The Basement" on KKUU Palm Springs (2008-present), KQCM 29 Palms, CA PD/Morning Show host 2004-2008.

Lost my job after I broke his arm in 2008. Looking to get back on air. Would love to get back into sports talk, but also would love to get back into CHR/Top 40. j.arrigo84@hotmail.com.






Kevin "Slow Jammin'" James
The "original" Slow Jams creator, Kevin has worked at KHHT/Los Angeles, WHUR/Washington DC, and WKYS/Washington DC. He has his own studio and just wants to do a show again. kevinjames@slowjam.com


Heather Larson
Experience includes mornings at KZZP/Phoenix. I have experience as a morning radio personality and producer, broadcast entertainment news writer, SEO content writer, freelance magazine and web journalist, podcaster, niche blogger, and web news editor. I just graduated from Boston University in May 2010, where I earned a Bachelor’s of Liberal Studies, or BLS. I attended online from Phoenix, Arizona. I also hold a certificate in journalism from Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix, as well as three certificates in radio broadcasting from Ohlone Collge in Fremont, California. everythingheather@gmail.com.


And finally, although this video is not a radio person looking for work,
I felt it fit the topic...



from http://www.drinkingwithbob.com/



POST YOUR AD HERE FOR FREE!
Out-of-work radio peeps...send your pic or video and info to rdub@slowjams.com.
Thanks to my Slow Jams Pal Lisa St. Regis (KISQ) for this great idea.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Spin on The Ted Williams Phenomenon


First of all, I am ginuinely very, very happy for Ted Williams, the homeless ex-radio jock, who, overnight, was discovered by millions through a viral video. An amazing story indeed, that made us all feel warm inside.

But today, while reading about all the job offers Williams has received, in just the last 48 hours, a disappointing realization came over me. Reading about the "feeding frenzy" of potential employers that surrounded Williams like hungry vultures (he even has an agent now) started to sicken me.

Why? Because I realized that these employers are only doing it for their benefit. They don't care about Williams. They just want the press.

If Williams hadn't gone "viral" would they still be beating down his door?

If Williams didn't have millions of YouTube views, but rather just "walked in" to fill out an application, or called any of those radio stations for a job, do you think he would've had the same results?

I'm guessing that these same employers, who are anxious to use Williams' misfortune for their gain, wouldn't have even returned his call. But as soon as they realized they could "get famous," they ascended on the guy like a pack of junkyard dogs on a steak.

Well radio, I've got news for you...there are thousands more Ted Williams out there. They may not all be living on the street, but how many radio people do you know that are out of work, trying the best to feed their family, and relentlessly searching for another gig? I know major market jocks who'll take anything now, just to survive--and they've never had drug or alcohol problems.

So to all you radio stations out there who are kicking yourselves for not grabbing up Ted Williams before the other guy did. Rest assured, there are many more Teds out there. Go get 'em.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Take My Board Op, Please!

I've been listening to a ton of talk radio over the past few years...just another sign I'm turning into my Dad a little more each day. I swear, I'm "this" close to going out and buying some Rockport shoes, just to get it over with.

So I'm listening to talk radio, and often (at least in my city), hearing these awful (and blatant) errors when it's time to play local content (stopsets, etc.) And not just a two-second mistake, but often two spots playing over each other, in their entirety, a local liner from the syndicated host absolutely buried under loud bumper music, and a cornucopia of other screw-ups that would drive any PD in the 90s to storm the control room to personally hand-deliver a pink slip to the board op.

The problem today...there are no board-ops.

Now here's what I don't get. Follow me on this kids. Once again, yes, I know it's a "cost" thing. But wait! Stations are still spending tens, often hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve their sound. Tower moves, tower height increases and transmitter upgrades, heck, the fancy audio processing in the rack room alone racks up tens of thousands of dollars alone, if not more...and all to make the "sound" of the radio station great, right?

So we agree that stations are still spending money on their "sound," right?

Well then let me ask you, what sounds worse than two commercials running over each other for three whole minutes, local and national feeds cut off in mid-sentence, and music beds that trail on for minutes after the announcer finishes talking? Why and how is this "sound" problem that is so glaringly obvious overlooked? Heck, I remember getting hotlined from PDs if I had a bad segue. Now...it's like, who cares?

If a "hum" suddenly appeared in the audio chain, I guarantee you the station would pay for an expensive piece of equipment that would fix it, if need be. So why wouldn't they spend some cash to eleviate the "butchery" taking place in so many un-manned studios (and I'm not talking about lesbians).

If a company will still spend tens of thousands of dollars on "equipment" that improves the sound of a station, why wouldn't they spend eight bucks an hour on a "human" that improves the sound of the station? I don't get it.