Industry Views

Pending Business: Don’t Take Your Air Talent for Granted

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

Photography - SearchingI’ll bet dollars to doughnuts the updated sales facts below are nowhere to be found in your radio station’s collateral material. This bold challenge is in front of you today as a wakeup call before the calendar becomes your frenemy.

The traditional calendarized selling events are about to begin starting with Valentine’s Day and you need to be current. Ratings, on-air lineup, and outside marketing may be out of your control but sharpening your selling skills and updating presentation materials is totally a selfie.

I’ve used many “wow” stats on sales calls – sometimes together, sometimes separately – but they’re always an important part of the pitch. Radio metric showstoppers with local appeal are mission critical in today’s fast-moving sales environment. Here’s a three-point, freshen-up to be integrated strategically when packaging or in stand-alone radio presentations. Use them or lose them, but at least choose to consider them.

— Nearly 80% of listeners say they would try a product or service recommended by their favorite radio personality, so says The Power of Local Radio Personalities study published by Katz last year. Now that is one heavy duty number! Careful about making this a universal, across-the-board statistic. Recommending a retirement community to the Gen Z audience is a non-starter. But when the radio talent is talking to that 55+ crowd in the right talk radio environment, that sound you hear is the phone lighting up with leads. When great creative is delivered by a great radio personality the audience comes alive.

— “79% of on-line searches are initially prompted with hearing an ad on radio,” according to Harvard Media, a Canadian marketing firm. The hard number may seem high for many of us, but the concept of using radio to enhance a multi-platform campaign, especially at the local level, is a tried-and-true formula. Call the concept what you will – media mix, multi-channel/platform – consistent messaging across the board delivers results.

— Digital disconnects. Ad blockers are in. According to a recent Hubspot survey update, 64% of ad blocker users say ads are intrusive while another 54% say ads are disruptive. Talk about negativity compared to the nearly 80% of radio listeners who consider their favorite personalities a trusted friend. We all want to hear what our friends have to say!

Chances are your basic sales materials are 2022 rollovers. Freshen up your look and give yourself a new reason to make the next call.

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at: Steve@Lapcomventures.com

Industry Views

Monday Memo: Baseball Bonanza, Part 2

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

Joe Pags - Talkers MagazineIn last week’s column, we outlined the playbook for selling radio’s 2023 baseball season. This week, how smart stations leverage the franchise to build Time Spent Listening.

Plan now to OWN the games

They’re also on SiriusXM, where you can decide which team’s feed you want to hear. And “The MLB is back on TuneIn, and this year TuneIn Premium is the destination for all things baseball. With a Premium plan, listeners get access to live play-by-play of every single game — with no blackouts.” Here in New England the NESN 360 app, “in partnership with the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Bruins and Major League Baseball,” $30 per month, “with a first-month promotional price of $1.”

So – post-exclusivity – what’s an AM/FM affiliate to do?

— Goal: Be KNOWN FOR having the games, by embracing the team. Waving the flag conspicuously, regardless of where fans hear it, can score you diary credit. Don’t quote me.

— During Spring Training, I’m wary of airing games Mon-Fri 6A-7P. But nights and weekends, why not? It’s conspicuous, also useful in diary markets, where ratings measure what’s NOTICED. And, hey, in March, every team is in first place.

— Can you go to Arizona or Florida? Admittedly not-inexpensive but ask your team network about Spring Training packages and arrangements. Some stations bring advertisers who commit early, hosted by the rep who sold the most.

— As Opening Day approaches, count-it-down in your on-hour ID. Then…

Graphics - Logo

 

Avoid the banana syndrome

 Use baseball to recycle audience in and out of games.

— Dumbest-thing-I-hear-most-often on baseball stations: During the game, when the network calls for a station ID, the station announces that it’s “your [name-of-team] station. Ugh. It’s like printing the word “banana” on the yellow peel.

— Your station’s on-hour ID – in any hour – is beachfront property. It’s where you sign your name, where you explain yourself to listeners you’ve trained to “check-in for a quick FOX News update, every hour, throughout your busy day.” Games invite listeners who might not otherwise cume your station, so use those 10 seconds to tell them why/when to come back for something else useful.

— “CATCH-up when you WAKE-up, with a quick morning update and your AccuWeather forecast, on your ONLY local news radio, [dial positions, call letters, city of license].” Opportune, since the game might be the last thing they near at night.

— Then in NON-game hours, use top-of-hour to wave the flag. Plug team-and-time of the next game you’ll air.

Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books; and “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and the E-book and FREE on-air radio features Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins.” Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke

Industry Views

Remaining Optimistic About Radio

By Walter Sabo
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host

An article in the Los Angeles Times shows a picture of a radio DJ next to a control board boasting the headline, THE RESURGENCE OF RADIO. Dateline: 1982.  This headline appears in various forms every few months in articles and blogs throughout the country. Writers discover radio! The power of radio! The popularity of radio! Why is radio either dying or being rediscovered when neither is true?

Recent artifacts: Every single press release from Nielsen reveals that radio is doing fine thank you. After decades of promoting its television clients and bashing radio, now that Nielsen measures radio – son of a gun – radio is thriving, it’s alive, it’s growing, it’s a success. Nielsen’s tone is one of surprise that radio attracts large, loyal audiences.

Why is radio’s 100 years of success a revelation rather an assumption? First it is because radio is ubiquitous. Walk into a store, radio. Turn on the car, radio. Wake up, radio. The sound of radio has always been everywhere and continues to be everywhere. Maybe once a year I go to a gym and hear Spotify, but I have to ask an employee where that music is coming from and they are never sure! Television is not everywhere; it has to be turned on. Magazines, websites, books, direct mail have to be considered and then opened. Not ubiquitous. Radio’s ubiquity renders it invisible on the media landscape. Radio wins by losing.

Radio salespeople sell radio to negotiators, time buyers. The job of a negotiator is to criticize and devalue the product being pitched. That’s their job. A salesperson spends nine hours a day with negotiators telling them that their product is at death’s door. To a radio salesperson, every day is a bad day. They become immersed in the pessimism of radio’s future.

“Do you realize that most 19-year-olds discover new music from the Internet?” declares a time buyer to a radio salesperson. Oddly, the fact that 19-year-olds occasionally find new music on other audio media is a dark mark against proven radio. Until this moment, the location of new music discovery had never been a deal point for the Honda dealer time buyer. But, boy this “discovery” business is charts-and-graphs serious!

To perform as a programmer or talent in radio one must be an optimist about its future. A programmer or host is intimate with listener response to their work. Radio stars see the millions and millions, and millions of dollars raised for quality charities every single year by their words, their appeal — their credibility. TV stations and newspapers rarely conduct fund drives. Have you ever heard a local TV anchor ask for donations for – anything? No, probably because it wouldn’t work as well as a pitch from the morning host on your station. A powerful, yet unseen, spokesperson can be quite persuasive to a listener to donate their money to a charity.

SiriusXM satellite radio’s lead investors, Apollo and Blackstone jointly engaged me to consult the company on site for many years. During that time, I became well-acquainted with the initiatives of all-digital audio platforms: AudibleAmazonPandoraSpotifyGoogle and many others.

At digital media conferences spokespeople for those companies would sit on panels and bash the dinosaurs called AM and FM. However, those same companies insisted on branding themselves as… radio! Spotify RADIO. Pandora RADIO!

Walter Sabo is a long-time radio industry consultant and thought leader.  He hosts and produces a network radio show titled “Sterling on Sunday” 10:00 pm-1:00 am ET.  www.waltersterlingshow.com.   walter@sabomedia.com

Industry Views

WICC, Bridgeport Star Lisa Wexler Guests on Harrison Podcast

Lisa Wexler, a woman of many accomplishments and talents, is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Wexler hosts the daily 10:00 am to 12:00 noon show on Connoisseur Broadcasting’s western Connecticut news/talk giant WICC, Bridgeport. In 2013, she was elected Westport/Weston Connecticut Probate Judge – and re-elected two more consecutive times as a Republican and recently a fourth time as a Democrat…. all by wide margins. Wexler has been the recipient of numerous broadcasting awards and accolades, including the prestigious Gracie Award. She is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the New York University School of Law. She is admitted to the New York and Connecticut Bars. She co-wrote the international best-seller, Secrets of a Jewish Mother (Penguin/Dutton, 2010) with her mother, Gloria Kamen (an advice columnist) and her sister, Jill Zarin (one of the original Housewives of New York City). Listen to the podcast here

Industry Views

How to Justify Your Ad Rates

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

Why did the chicken cross the road?  To go to the bank!

Have you been to the supermarket lately? The dairy section where eggs are typically available is looking more and more empty. I shop at the biggest supermarket chain in Florida where a dozen and half eggs cost $8.70, or $5.70 a dozen.

The price of a dozen large eggs has gone up from around $2 to nearly $5. So where are all those rich chickens? Some families are raising their own chickens to beat the high cost of eggs. Others are looking for alternatives to the traditional supply chain, like buying eggs directly from the farm. Talk about adopting the farm-to-table concept! Why haven’t we all adopted an alternative to that simple protein packed egg? Later for the nutrition questions and suggestions, for now let’s learn the basic lessons in this game of chicken or the expensive egg.

1)         Classic supply and demand. Welcome, Captain Obvious. Demand stays constant, supply goes down, prices go up. What’s in your pricing formula?

2)         We are creatures of habit. Unless you have an allergy or other medical prohibition, chances are you’ve been eating eggs as a source of protein since childhood. Most will pay more to stay with the same tried-and-true rather research an alternative. How are you motivating your prospects to move away from habitual buying to trying your station/concept today?

3)         What happens when supply improves? Once accustomed to paying more, we may never see that $2 dozen again. Let’s face it, most radio stations never sell out 100% of their inventory. So how do you keep that value proposition high year-round through various economic cycles.

4)         One year in the making. The price of those now expensive eggs increased 60% in a year. Do you have a mid-term or long-term strategy or are you still stuck on making the month?

5)         The rationale. Our skyrocketing price of eggs is being reported as the result of an avian flu. Almost anyone can understand that cause and effect equation. How about your sales strategy? Is yours that easy to understand?

Maybe this “eggcersize” seems a bit of a stretch. But consider this simple reality. The price of almost everything has increased, yet my radio friends still struggle with price management. It’s the same for almost every audio-based medium. Let’s not chicken out of the innovative pricing approaches we need during this challenging economy.

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at: Steve@Lapcomventures.com

Industry Views

Monday Memo: Baseball Bonanza

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

Joe Pags - Talkers MagazineAs The Beatles sang, “It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter.” Baseball – even Spring Training while it’s still chilly in March – says “Here Comes the Sun.” That’s what baseball means… to listeners.

To local advertisers, it’s an opportunity for The Little Guy to sound big. In the words of one GM – who has made a pile of money selling baseball – “It’s ego and envy.”

Sales: It’s a thing, not a number

 The sponsorship package cannot be quantified on a-cost-per-ANYTHING basis. It’s not “efficient” in agency terms, but baseball is powerful “reputation appropriation.” Translation: Advertisers can tell the world they’re big-enough for baseball.

— The rapid-response plumber, the roofing repair guy, and the lumber yard or hardware store or any independent local retailer slugging-it-out against big box competitors can be part of the Astros or the Braves or the Cardinals or the Dodgers or the Rangers or the Giants brand.

— Low-hanging fruit: Prospects who are, personally, fans. For decades, we’ve been telling reps at conservative talk stations to pitch businesses that fly big American flags. So which local retailers do you know to be baseball fanatics?

— Milk the value-added stuff affiliates get. Include some tickets in the package. Take ‘em to a game and bring ‘em up to the broadcast booth for a selfie with the radio team. Can you rent a sky box for a game and throw a client party?

— Make a list of guys-who-own-guy-stuff businesses. Home improvement and auto repair have always been opportune.

— Second and third-generation retailers might family-feud about other things. But grandfather AND father AND son can agree on this expenditure lots quicker than you can get consensus about a ROS spot package on “Kiss” or “Lite” or “Magic.”

— Baseball is a high-affinity branding opportunity. I don’t know when I will need to buy a tire…because nails lurk. But I already know where I’ll buy it, because they advertise in Red Sox games. And get this! All year long, that particular advertiser says, in all his commercials, in a thick Boston accent, “You go, Red Saux!”

— Warm list: Who’s advertising on stadium signage? That’s an ego clue. But it’s just branding. Radio can add-value to that expense by “telling your story,” and adding a call-to-action.

— Baseball = beer, so prospect DUI defense attorneys, and auto body shops. 😉

— Reps: You’re not calling from KXXX. You’re calling from Padres Radio. The team logo is in your email and sales material.

— Way-back-when: As Mickey Mantle launched one into the cheap seats, Mel Allen would proclaim it “another Ballentine Blast!” Back to the future: I’ve been at games where everyone there got a free something because the team did such-and-such. Can you invent a cool feature for local sponsorship? Every listener who says they heard ___ gets free ____ the next day.

IMPORTANT: Update copy as the season progresses. This is a franchise, not plug-N-play programming that babysits nights and weekends. Nothing says auto-pilot and disserves clients like spots and promos that crow “Baseball is back!” in July.

I was the Motor-Mouth Manager

War story: I programmed WTOP, Washington in the 1980s, long before there were Washington Nationals. We were your Orioles Baseball Station; and I was managing a union shop…but I ended up joining AFTRA because our announcers were newscasters who couldn’t say “Mid-Atlantic Milk Marketing Association” as rapidly as I, an ex-1970s Top 40 DJ.

— So – believe it or not – the company paid my initiation fee. And every time there was a change in that 65 seconds-of-copy-crammed-into the 60-second opening billboard that ticked-off all the sponsors, I got ‘em all in, and I got $10-something in my Pension & Welfare Fund. Sweet. But I digress…

— To OUR ear, that whole word salad sounds hellishly rushed. But to ADVERTISERS, it’s like having your caricature on the wall at the see-and-be-seen steak house. Every business named there is a someone, associated with everyone else there. They’re part of a local Orioles or Mariners or Mets Baseball Who’s Who. And everyone who isn’t isn’t.

— I’ve been on calls with reps closing baseball packages because “It’s worth it just for the promos!” So, include sponsor mentions in ROS promos.

— That said, sell enough in-game frequency to be heard. Two or three spots per game won’t be.

Next week: Avoiding the most common error I hear baseball stations make.

Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books; and “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and the E-book and FREE on-air radio features Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins.” Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke

Industry Views

Stars and Their Platforms

By Walter Sabo
Host/Producer, Sterling on Sunday
Media Consultant

Lucille Ball earned 50 shares with her classic TV series, “I Love Lucy.” Every year during her summer hiatus she would make a movie. Name a Lucille Ball movie.

Lucy was the all-time star of television but couldn’t open a movie. Each medium creates its own stars and rarely does a star transfer from one medium to another.

Some examples: “NYPD Blue” first season star David Caruso couldn’t wait to break out from TV and become a movie star. He recently retired from 10 years of work on the TV show “CSI Miami.” Exceptions? Maybe three: Michael J FoxWill SmithSteve McQueen.

The phenomenon of single medium stardom is true throughout all crafts. Great magazine writers struggle to turn in a publishable book. Book authors are challenged to condense their thoughts to 1,000 words. Megyn Kelly is a cable star but couldn’t cross the golden bridge to broadcast TV.

Every year a local TV weather person bugs the local talk station to fill-in on a talk show over a holiday. How does it go? Beware the fifth minute. After five minutes all of the passionate feelings the TV talent has about their pet topic have been expressed. With two hours and 55 minutes to go, the local weatherman is in trouble hosting an unscripted radio show. Where is the prompter? Where are the phone calls? But put a radio morning host on TV and the results are just as awful. The radio host looks fat because they have no idea how to dress for TV, they don’t understand the cue lights on the cameras and the prompter is confusing.

Which brings us to the relationship between radio and podcasting

One of the burdensome falsehoods of the moment is that radio talent should be churning out original content podcasts. It’s just audio right? Radio is good at talking! Podcasting has fostered its own stable of stars including Joe RoganAdam CarollaAnna Farris and Ben Shapiro (I know he’s a radio guy, but he’s a better podcaster). To a listener, the production styles of a podcast and live radio are strikingly similar, but you know that the production environments are completely different. Talent who intuitively understand on-demand audience preferences thrive hosting commercial-free podcasts. Radio talent excel within the disposable, often-interrupted flow of a live broadcast. Podcasts allow for thinking time, pausing, editing, correcting and fancy production beds. Live radio? You just better get to the next thing. The mindset of a podcast star versus a radio star must of necessity be appropriate to their unique performance stage.

Most radio managers have met with resistance when asking their talent to make original content podcasts. (Not air checks.) Radio talent is right to resist! Creating a very good radio show is demanding and often exhausting. After three or more hours on the air, no performer has the energy to hop into a production chair and attract a million downloads. Tragically mandatory podcast dictates leave little opportunity for talent to say, “I can’t do a podcast well. I’m a radio performer and isn’t that what you hired me for?” My goodness – such a radio talent would be labelled insubordinate, not a team player, and not part of the future!!!

To be productive and on-brand podcasts offered by a radio station should be hosted by podcast stars. The odds of a radio star creating a winning podcast are about the same as finding a Lucille Ball hit movie.

Walter Sabo is a long-time radio industry consultant and thought leader.  He hosts and produces a network radio show titled “Sterling on Sunday” 10:00 pm-1:00 am ET.  www.waltersterlingshow.com.   walter@sabomedia.com

Industry Views

Dr. Murray Sabrin Guests on Harrison Podcast

One of the most prolific talk radio interviewees of the past three decades, Murray Sabrin, Ph.D. is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Sabrin is professor emeritus of finance at Ramapo College of New Jersey.  Sabrin, who made New Jersey political history in 1997 for his groundbreaking third-party gubernatorial candidacy as the Libertarian Party nominee, is widely recognized as one of America’s leading voices on libertarian ideology. Harrison and Sabrin take a deep-dive into the ongoing problems of our times – inflation, health care, endless wars, excessive taxation, illegal immigration, and the alleged erosion of civil liberties under the crushing overreach of big government. Harrison, a First Amendment advocate who maintains a neutral partisan philosophy, says, “Libertarianism is an ideology with which I do not necessarily fully agree in terms of practical application – but one that I support as a guideline to keeping the unwieldy task of running 21st century America within the compass direction and spirit intended by the Founding Fathers.” Harrison wrote the foreword in Sabrin’s latest Amazon paperback best-seller, From Immigrant to Public Intellectual: An American Story (Talkers Books, 2022). The book follows Sabrin’s rise as an immigrant child with humble beginnings to forge a stellar career as an educator, author, history-making third party political candidate and media influencer. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, please click here.

Industry Views

Local News Matters Most

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

Beard - ForeheadWhy? Done right, it makes you special. Because new-tech audio competitors don’t do local news, and with most broadcast radio hours now robotic.

“Why waste your time with AM/FM radio?”

Responding to that recent SiriusXM Marketing campaign, NAB president & CEO Curtis LeGeyt:

  • “Unlike our competitors, listeners do not need to fork over a monthly subscription fee, purchase a program or afford an expensive mobile data plan.”
  • “During times of emergency, Americans are not told to turn to SiriusXM for lifeline information. They are not going to get emergency alerts, hear up-to-the-minute reporting or find out where to get help on Pandora or Spotify. No other audio medium can replicate our service when lives are in danger.”
  • “Broadcast radio also provides an engine for economic activity. When local businesses want to get the word out about their goods and services, local radio stations provide an affordable way for them to advertise and reach the consumers who live in their area.”

These are not “normal” times

  • When Trump was on the front burner, his controversies alone changed daypart-to-daypart, even hour-to-hour. The talk part of the news/talk format remains largely static, no minds change. But our news content is dynamic.
  • In a monsoon in Las Vegas (NOT a misprint) someone drowned; and video of rain cascading through the ceiling onto blackjack tables at Planet Hollywood went-viral. We prayed as Kentucky drowned and Buffalo got snowed-under. After tumbleweeds piled-up around her Colorado home blocking windows and doors, Marlies Gross told AccuWeather: “We have so many fires here, and we have a drought and those tumbleweeds, they would just go up and explode into flames all over, and we probably would go with it.”
  • After 2+ years of arguing about vaccines, Polio is back and COVID is back again’ and RSV isn’t just a kid thing. Increasingly noticeable in my travels: Without being required to, people are re-masking.

It’s easier to add Occasions than Duration-per

Translation: There’s little we can do to keep someone sitting in a parked car with the key on Accessories. And AM/FM has never had more competition. So, to keep ‘em coming back, keep telling them something they can’t hear elsewhere, and make it sound different than last hour.

And TELL THEM that’s what you do:

  • “Are you on-the-road? Stay up-to-speed with us!”
  • “What happened since breakfast? We’ll tell you before dinner.”
  • “Stay close to the news.”

Be known for knowing. And tell them when and how you’ll tell them, on various devices.

Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books; and “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and the E-book and FREE on-air radio features Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins.” Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke 

Industry Views

Pending Business: Package for Profit

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

Matt Damon - PhotographyIs it just me, or has packaging become a lost art?

What was once a go-to revenue builder, has become a function of muscle memory and is presented with the enthusiasm of watching paint dry. Am I getting at least a “maybe?” If so, and you feel like the packaging treadmill is going to wearing you down, let’s regroup. For the manager and ultimately the seller, every package must answer four basic questions:

  • That is the (revenue) goal?
  • What is the timeline?
  • What is the unique factor?
  • If it fails to sell, do we drop it or revise?

Now let’s review the 10 basic packages:

  • New Business. You should have a simple new business package available each quarter that can either be sold as is or serve as a start point.
  • Event Tie-In. Like the title says, this package will help your advertiser benefit from an event your station is tied into or sponsoring.
  • New On-Air Talent. This is where you show the value-based opportunity to work with a new talent in your lineup.
  • Special Programming. Every radio format will run a special program of some kind during the year. From election coverage and exclusive interviews to countdowns, just package and sell.
  • Slow Season. Is there a special package offered on a limited basis to help power through when business hits a red light?
  • Sports. Needs no definition, just a little updated creative thinking.
  • Calendar Holidays. This is the gift that never stops giving. Mother’s Day, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, come every year. What’s new in your package?
  • Base Programming. News, Traffic, Weather, if your radio station offers the basic service elements, talk to your programming people for new packaging ideas.
  • Emergency Programming. With direct coordination of programming, emergency programming offering special weather, disaster or other community-oriented programming can always open a new door. Remember this type of programming is always a spotlight for radio’s immediacy.
  • Bundling your digital and social media assets can help move the needle with local advertisers. I’m not advocating a giveaway, just suggesting competitive thinking in the fast moving, high growth digital advertising universe.

Back to where we started. This is the simple takeaway: Packaging is the art and science of selling with a value component that easily answers the question, “Why buy now?”

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at: Steve@Lapcomventures.com

Industry Views

Radio’s Valuable Asset

TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison says one of the most valuable assets possessed by the radio industry, at this juncture, is the actual word radio itself regardless of which platform carries its content. At this morning’s TALKERS editorial board meeting, Harrison stated, “The rush to abandon the word radio in favor of audio is short-sighted, foolish and a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. This trend is indicative of a major blind spot regarding the basics of media theory and the delicate three-way relationship between form, content and institutional branding.”  Harrison continued, “The rush to convert the ‘magical’ business and products of radio to the utilitarian term audio is akin to the motion picture industry theoretically abandoning the words filmmovie or cinema in favor of video… or the journalism industry trading in the word news for information or data… or the automobile industry ditching the word car for vehicle.”  Harrison concludes, “Looking back, maybe the captains of the railroad industry should have stayed in the train business after all and focused on modernizing and improving it as opposed to getting hung up on transportation and winding up with nothing.”

Industry Views

SABO SEZ: RECEPTIONISTS AND GROUND INTELLIGENCE – Be nice to the human at the front desk (if there is still one).

By Walter Sabo
Producer/Host
Sterling on Sunday
Media Consultant

When thinking about the changes in the radio industry I’ve seen during my career, I’m dragged to memories of the lobby of WXLO-FM in New York (WOR’s FM sister).  The station was on the second floor of 1440 Broadway. WOR-AM was on the 24th and 23rd floors.  In technical terms, the place was a dump. Dirty linoleum. Ancient office furniture.  The original ceiling was spray painted black to hide the fact that it was not an acoustic drop down ceiling. Not one window in the place. BUT the signal was the best on the FM band. WXLO was the first station to hire me almost out of college. I needed a summer job between my junior and senior year but WXLO did not have summer jobs.  The general manager, Arthur Adler offered me a full time job which I accepted immediately.

For my on-boarding process Arthur walked me to the fluorescent sales area and pointed to an empty cubicle.  Then, he vanished. Next his secretary escorted me to the personnel department many flights up.  I was seated next to an official person who was gathering many forms for me to fill out. These forms included the all-important TUITION REIMBURSEMENT form which compelled RKO General (the station’s then-owner) to pay for my last semester in college. (I attended Rutgers at night and had the credits transferred to my diploma school, Syracuse University.) On the official person’s desk sat a three-ring binder wide opened to the KHJ (Los Angeles) TALENT page.  Wide open. Staring at me, beckoning, teasing me to look. What could I do? Robert W Morgan, morning man, HIGH five figures a year.  The Real Don Steele, PM drive mid-five figures. Every other jock was paid AFTRA scale.  It was a crash course in radio economics and I wasn’t even a legal adult.  But I digress. Now for the point.

A few days later the front door on the second floor was banging. The receptionist, a kind, timid person, hit the intercom key and asked who was knocking?  Even back then, at 40th and Broadway visitors were a high security issue. That door was locked for about a million good reasons. Who was at the door?  A “menacing” man in a fancy suit and perfect hair said his name, but the receptionist did not recognize him or his name. He repeated,  “I’m THE PRESIDENT OF THE COMPANY.”  That’s what he said.  But he wasn’t. He was the vice president.  I learned a lot then too.

A receptionist is not just the gatekeeper to the business. He/she could be the gatekeeper to your career, or fortune. That is, of course, if the establishment you are visiting still has a receptionist.  My brother, the smart one, is a financial big shot. Highly respected, oddly humble. Companies come to him for funding. Executives seeking financial backing sit with his receptionist for an unusually long time. When the visitors are invited from the lobby to the conference room, they are ALL invited into the conference room – including the receptionist. The meeting starts with my brother asking the “receptionist” for her impressions of the guests.  Then it is revealed that the receptionist is actually a high ranking, decision-making executive.

The second floor receptionist at WXLO let her feelings about the boisterous vice president be known and said VP was not titled for long. Dumb companies have eliminated receptionists and instead greet visitors with touch tone wall phones and posted extensions directories.  The loss of ground intelligence is significant – especially if the station is located in a high-priced downtown office building designed to impress.

Plus a lot of executives waste time running to the door to get food orders. False economy.

Walter Sabo is a long-time radio industry consultant and thought leader.  He hosts and produces a network radio show titled “Sterling on Sunday” 10:00 pm-1:00 am ET.  www.waltersterlingshow.com.   walter@sabomedia.com

Industry Views

Pending Business: The Endorsement Ad

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

The question is simple. The answer took me years of trial and error to come up with.

“How do you set prices for an endorsement ad?”

This simple question came up during a recent interview I did for a sports website. Sellers and managers be forewarned, price must balance the scale with value and selling the value of a true endorsement ad. There’s lots to the digest in that least sentence. The price=value concept, a “true” endorsement, and selling & managing the endorsement ad.

I digress, back to the fresh-from-the-field experience of how to develop a pricing strategy. There are four universal components and a possible fifth and sixth for your consideration.

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