Industry Views

Monday Memo: The Local Radio Advantage

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imIf you’re a news/talk station, don’t assume that you own “news radio” in your market. Imaging is important, but it merely talks-the-talk. You walk-the-walk with local news copy that delivers what solid commercial copy does: benefits. Just doing local news makes you special. But do listeners simply hear a station voice… reading something? Are you merely… accurate? Or do you deliver “take-home pay,” unwrapping the story to tell the listener something useful?

In many homes, there are now fewer radios than smart speakers. And nobody has ever said: “Alexa, please play six commercials.” But she can play millions of songs. So do streams and YouTube.

What can make a music station different from all those other audio choices is the way you help folks cope, how relevant and empathetic you are, how you sound like you have-their-back as day-to-day news has them wondering “What NEXT?”

And boosting tune-in exposes your advertisers better. So, Time Spent Listening is still the ballgame. Specifically, you need to add occasions of tune-in, and this week’s column begins a three-part series of news copy coaching tips that can help bring listeners back more often.

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Simply rewriting source material can make a huge difference. Press releases torture the ear. They’re formal, and prone to jargon and spin (especially from politicians). When they’re from the police, they’re written in cop-speak. And most press releases are written inside-out, emphasizing a process, rather than the consequence to listeners.

Process example: “At Thursday’s work session of the Springfield City Council, a decision was made to move forward with Community Days this year. The annual Community Days celebration is scheduled for June 16 and 17th. Council members made sure the Community Days funds will be handled by an independent accountant. Councilwoman Sharon Grant said…”

Re-write to lead with consequence: “The annual Springfield Community Days celebration will be June 16th and 17th. After last year’s controversy, Council members made sure the Community Days funds will be handled by an independent accountant. At Thursday’s session, Councilwoman Sharon Grant said…”

That simple tweak is well-worth the minimal effort. Listeners are mentally busy. Remove “Styrofoam words.”  Example: “State Police say they are investigating a possible case of child endangerment after a seven-month-old child was treated for severe injuries.”

Simply delete “say they.”

Next week: Ripped from the headlines… 

Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of The Local Radio Advantage: Your 4-Week Tune-In Tune-Up,” and “Close Like Crazy: Local Direct Leads, Pitches & Specs That Earned the Benjamins” and “Confidential: Negotiation Checklist for Weekend Talk Radio.” Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke and connect on LinkedIn

Industry News

Townsquare Promotes Mike Pettis to Market Manager for Sedalia, Missouri

Townsquare Media promotes Mike Pettis to market president/chief revenue officer for its Sedalia, Missouri media cluster that serves West Central Missouri. That office operates news/talk KSIS-AMim “News Talk 1050” and two music brands. Townsquare regional vice president Robert Wawrzyniec says, “Mike is the ideal executive to lead Townsquare’s broadcast and digital operations in West Central Missouri. Most important, he knows the Sedalia market and what resonates with its listeners and advertisers. His expertise in creating, developing and executing exceptional local multi-platform solutions for advertising and marketing clients, as well as driving new business opportunities and forging important community partnerships, has resulted in deep client relationships and a strong commitment to listeners. I am looking forward to working with him in his new role.”

Industry Views

Monday Memo: We Don’t Just Do Live Audio Anymore

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

What used to be “a radio station” is now the hub of live AND on-demand audio AND video AND text and graphics. As we populate all the platforms with which we share listeners’ attention (and advertisers’ do-re-mi), I’ve gathered tips from the pros:

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Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “Close Like Crazy: Local Direct Leads, Pitches & Specs That Earned the Benjamins” and “Confidential: Negotiation Checklist for Weekend Talk Radio.” Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke

Industry News

Salem Partners with Just The News for Podcasts

Salem Media Group announces a new partnership between the Salem Podcast Network and Just Theim News for its podcasts from John Solomon, Victor Davis Hanson, and “Bauer and Rose” on the SPN platform. The agreement allows Salem to market and sell the podcasts to its array of advertisers and provide additional promotional support. Salem SVP Phil Boyce says, “John Solomon and his team are a perfect fit for Salem and will provide an additional layer of news credibility to the stories he covers. When you add Victor Davis Hanson’s podcasts, and those of Bauer and Rose, it makes the partnership complete.” Solomon comments, “Salem Podcast Network has amassed one of the most formidable audiences and lineups in the industry. We are excited to be joining the team and introducing our news and analysis to a whole new audience.”

Industry Views

Pending Business: AI vs the Personal Connection

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imReady to go back to the future?

We may need more than Doc Brown and Marty McFly to understand this one: product reviews written by A.I., not humans.

It’s the subject of a debate happening between the mighty Gannett company, owner of Reviewed, and a group of writers and editors who work there. According to The New York Times, the writers and editors group claims several reviews were A.I. generated. The posted reviews in question were run through A.I. detection software and the results were a slim to none chance humans wrote the reviews in question. Gannett says, not so fast, the reviews in question were authored by real humans.

Now here is where we need a time machine to take us a few years into the future. Let’s look at the reviews on our favorite go-to shopping, restaurant or travel review websites. How do we know who really wrote those reviews? This could be a whole new level of truth and proper disclosure in advertising.

Consider the possibilities of A.I.-generated reviews. Is every consumer offering feedback comfortable sharing their name on a Google review when many businesses ask for a positive review? There is a simple alternative to the A.I.-generated product review debate, and it’s right in front of you.

The answer should be part of your daily talk radio local sales mission statement. Demonstrate to your advertisers and prospects the proven results your on-air talent delivers every day. Chances are you may be taking for granted how to bring to life the credibility and trust your local on-air talent earns with each show. Global events, roller coaster economies and shifting political dynamics are all part of the daily conversation on your talk radio station. As your air talent distills the issues for the audience, take a few calls and engage in an energetic dialogue, they develop a bond that is unique to talk radio.

So, imagine the difference in the mind of the consumer when they hear the review or referral from a trusted source versus wondering if the review or referral they read is from a human or A.I. generated.

Is that the DeLorean time machine I hear?

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: Beware the Banter

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imRadio talkers: What is this hour about? How will listeners benefit from listening? And how long do you expect them to wait to hear that?

To quote Jerry Seinfeld…

“There is no such thing as an attention span. This whole idea of an attention span is, I think, a misnomer. People have an infinite attention span if you are entertaining them.”

Are they entertained hearing about your weekend? About your sidekick/board-op/screener’s weekend? By a long, self-amused, produced show intro? Or are they quickly engaged, by your invitation to weigh-in-on topic du jour? Or by your offering them Q+A access to a guest who can address their concerns?

What if they believe the promos?

 As each day’s news causes us all to wonder “What NEXT???” smart stations methodically invite on-hour listening appointments, for “stay close to the news… a quick update, throughout your busy day.” Whether that’s a network feed or a local newscast, whoever delivers it reckons what is relevant to the lives of the mentally busy, in-car listeners our advertisers want as customers. In consultant-speak, it’s “take-home pay” for tuning-in.

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They may listen mostly to other stations that play music, but those stations aren’t as informative. So – as the weather forecast signals the end of that on-hour update – can you freeze the driver’s index finger in mid-air between the steering wheel and the button for “Kiss” or “Magic” or “Cat Country?”

 Does your A-block rock?

Most common miscalculation I hear? Extended banter before the first break. A-block ends with (finally) a specific, inviting call-in proposition or teases the guest coming up… after the break, when the show really begins.

Better: Tee-up what’s-up immediately as the hour begins. Try this: Make the very first thing you say a question which includes “you” and/or “your.” Then say hello, and swap takes on that topic with your sidekick/board-op/screener.

One warning: Sounding so-quickly-engaging may divert your screener. The phone’s already ringing.

Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “Your Trusted Voice: How to Attract New Clients More Efficiently than Competitors Who Spend a Fortune on Advertising.” Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke

Industry Views

Monday Memo: Sell Yourself a Schedule

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imI asked my pal, longtime radio seller, now retired: “How often were you asked, ‘How much would you charge for ONE commercial?’”

“Many times!” he guffawed. “I told ‘em ‘Keep your money! It won’t work!’” And he would explain to the prospect that repetition is the key to radio advertising.

Pitch like your happiest advertisers

Smart reps schedule commercial flights using the Radio Advertising Bureau’s Optimum Effective Scheduling formula (OES), because “message retention and recall begins after three exposures.”

Don’t stop there. I don’t know WHEN I’ll need to buy a tire, but when that next nail finds me, I know WHERE I will buy, because that retailer advertises enough to own “tires” in my mind. Purchasing a whole car is more foreseeable, and I’ve read that it takes many buyers 90 days to pull the trigger. So, if the copy is just right, always-on always works.

Programmers: Are you selling your station, on its own air, with the frequency we preach to clients? And – no matter how often you freshen your imaging – is the benefit statement as consistent as the many ways “Liberty-Liberty-Libbberty” assures us “you only pay for what you need?”

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Sales 101: “Your best prospect is…”

Say it with me: “…an existing customer.”

To be clear: Nothing you say on-air will add cume, because the only people who hear your imaging are already listening.

Hey, who wouldn’t want a bigger budget for billboards over the Interstate? But it’s…the Interstate. Many who give it a glance (at most) don’t even live here. Some of those who do might give you a try. And whether they do or whether they don’t, there’s very little you can do to keep them sitting in a parked car, listening. So how can we invite them back more often?

Tip: On-hour news appointments, “a quick [name of network] update, throughout your busy day” as the world we live in has listeners wondering “What NEXT???” This is increasingly useful for music stations, with music now commoditized by non-broadcast competitors.

Rip me off

On-air promos accomplish three things:

— Defining the station, labeling your button in the listener’s mind.

— Asking for more occasions of listening, thus the newscast tip above.

— Listeners REMEMBER having-listened. Not just opportune in diary markets, where we want diarykeepers to round-up. 😉 In PPM markets, awareness drives use. So, in both cases, ratings are a memory test. And this matters even if you don’t subscribe to ratings, because advertisers need prospects to hear that tire commercial multiple times.

So, it’s worth your time to review all imaging and promos now airing. Of each piece, ask yourself: What does this accomplish? Does this convey why/when/how the listener should/can listen more often?

To hear 21 examples of imaging work I’ve done for client stations, click “DO listeners understand why to spend more time with you?” at HollandCooke.com

OK…ONE exception…

I asked my bud, who sold a lotta radio for a lotta years: “What if the request to buy ONE commercial was a pop-the-question surprise, to air when the hopeful groom knew she would be listening?”

“Ka-CHING!” he winked, “and I’d nick him good! You know what that ring cost?”

Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and “Your Trusted Voice: How to Attract New Clients More Efficiently than Competitors Who Spend a Fortune on Advertising.” Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke

Industry News

iHeartMedia: Study Reveals Disconnect Between Consumer and Marketers

iHeartMedia and Malcolm Gladwell’s Pushkin Industries release the results of a study conducted by Morning Consult and Advertiser Perceptions that explores the growing disparity between consumer values and behaviors and marketing priorities in the U.S. They say that the report “underscores the increasing urgency for marketers to reset and realign their marketing and media plans with American consumers to ensure the success of campaigns in an increasingly polarized post-COVID economy.” iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman comments, “This research is a reminder of how different we marketers are from today’s consumers, especially post-pandemic. Based on these results, we need to challenge ourselves as we build marketing and media plans to be sure we use real consumer data and not just trust our instincts and personal experiences. These personal biases are too detached from the consumers most marketers are trying to engage, and which are often behind major marketing misfires. This study aims to level-set the conversation to benefit both our audiences and advertisers.” Some of the key findings from the report include: 1) While 40% of consumers report that they’ve never heard of NFTs, that number drops to 0% for marketers; 2) 62% of consumers have never heard of the TV show “Succession,” while less than 5% of marketers have never heard of “Succession”; and 3) Almost one-third of consumers have never heard of pickleball, while all marketers [surveyed] have heard of pickleball. The findings were presented by iHeartMedia’s Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeartMedia’s Digital Audio Group, and author and podcaster Malcolm Gladwell at iHeartMedia’s AudioCon 2023 on Wednesday (9/13).

Industry Views

Pending Business: Pulling the Rug Out from Under

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
President

imWhen was the last time you went shopping for a quality living room rug? Not an oriental, because that is just too easy. We’re talking high quality living room rug that will blend in and stand the test of time… and the dog. Next to fighting with a credit card company, it’s the worst shopping experience ever.

Try this at home when you have nothing better to do. Chances are you want to find the rug of your dreams, so you check out the major department stores. Up the escalator, walk through home furnishings and an employee may or may not be available. Most likely not, so you head to an adjacent department, and someone sends someone who barely knows the product and selection.

This scenario is repeated at most major department stores today, so off we go to our favorite furniture store where rugs are an accessory, like belts in the men’s store. No go here. Time to head over to the carpet, tile, and rug store.

Employees here are a bit more available and knowledgeable, but the quality and selection are just not quite right. Time for the expensive specialty store where expertise and service are #1 and so is price. $10,000 for that!

Time for the online experience to take over with countless purchase options, reviews, and confusing virtual reality options. This is getting painful. The attempted purchase is frozen in frustration. What does this have to do with what we do? Live and learn.

— Are you always available for your advertisers? When business is soft you lob in a mandatory attempt and move on. When business is through the roof, are you quick to return a call or open a new door?

— Do you simply walk through the same motions, or reflect the energy and enthusiasm of an exciting program lineup? Think of the rug seller, flipping through those rugs. Boring!

— Do you earn the price or just blame the boss? Since day one, some sellers find it easier to blame the boss instead of earning the value proposition.

— Are your advertisers frozen in frustration? Feel free to use the phrase that pays. Defrost that frozen decision maker before your competitor does.

A great program director once told me, the best on-air talents observe life with a pad and pen. Their notes come to life when the mic goes on. The same is true for great sellers and managers. Every purchase experience can improve your 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: We Have a Winner

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imTHE Best Bit I’ve Heard This Month was by Gene Valicenti, morning host, WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence.

Among advertisers he endorses: Pinnacle Discount Center, where TV prices are SO low ya wonder if the merch’ is hot. It was a hole-in-the-wall before Gene tripled its business… not a tough sell when every customer gets to “Spin the Wheel!” on the way out for even-deeper discounts or a FREE bonus TV.

“You’ve got an uncle in the TV business,” Gene says, and “Uncle Bill” gives him TVs to award listeners who chime-in on topic du jour each morning.

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As Amazon Prime Days began, Gene spontaneously texted Uncle Bill – not a set-up, I’m told – challenging him to beat Amazon deals. ONE MINUTE later, Uncle Bill replied: “Yes! 15% less for any same-model TV Amazon is offering.” Even if nobody took him up on the offer, the gesture slam-dunks this retailer’s category ownership.

Even if you aren’t making a station advertiser a hero: How can YOU localize The Big Story?

Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “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;“and Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books. Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke

Industry News

Greenville’s News/Talk 98.9 WORD Adds Erick Erickson Show

Audacy announces that WYRD-FM, Greenville, South Carolina “News/Talk 98.9 WORD” adds the WSB, Atlanta-based, syndicated Erick Erickson show to the 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm time slot, effective tomorrow (6/21). Audacy Greenville-Spartanburg SVP and market manager Steve Sinicropi says, “With the arrival ofim Erick Erickson as the new afternoon talk show host on WYRD-FM, an unsurpassed team of talent will serve the Upstate, north Georgia and western North Carolina. Erick’s thought-provoking discussions, unyielding insight and captivating presence will be a welcomed addition to our listeners and partners. Erick will complete News/Talk 98.9 WORD’s incredible lineup, allowing us to provide unmatched content for listeners and the largest and most effective platform for advertisers.” Erickson is syndicated via Compass Media Networks.

Industry News

IAB: 2022 Podcast Revenue Rises 26%

At this year’s IAB Podcast Upfront, the IAB released the results of its U.S. Podcast Advertising 2022 Revenue & 2023-2025 Growth Projections study and concludes that “podcasting continues to be one of the fastest growing digital channels, growing two times faster than digital advertising overall.” The report, byim PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, “quantifies annual podcast advertising revenues generated over the past year, analyzes revenue share by ad category and content genre, and forecasts future revenues through 2025.” The study says the top revenue-generating content genres are Sports (15%), Society & Culture (14%), and Comedy (14%) and have taken the lead from News and Political Opinion content (down from 19% to 12%). IAB VP, media center Eric John says, “In-person sports, lifestyle events, and in-store shopping have come back in a big way, taking the lead from news which held the top revenue genre spot since 2018. Podcasting revenue naturally reflects that shift in consumer behavior and it will be interesting to watch how the balance changes going forward.” He adds, “Both mass and niche advertisers like the audiences, targeting, and ROI along with the brand-safe and suitable environments that podcasting offers.” See the complete report here.

Industry News

iHeartMedia Expands Branded Podcast Studio

iHeartMedia announces that it is launching Ruby, the first dedicated team of its kind from a major media company committed entirely to the production, sales and marketing of branded podcasts. The company says it has “built one of the fastest-growing slate of branded podcasts globally with 30 original series from major brands such as T-Mobile, IBM, Intuit QuickBooks and Mattress Firm,” and that the “launch of Rubyim represents an expanded commitment to one of iHeartMedia’s most premium products allowing advertisers to engage audiences with creative, longform native content.” iHeartMedia goes on to say, “Ruby’s branded podcasts allow advertisers and their brand partners to spend upwards of 30-45 minutes with their target audience in a unique environment, with opportunities for storytelling that are not possible anywhere else in their media mix including social video. With distribution across the iHeartRadio app and all other major platforms, native podcasts from Ruby connect brands to audiences by translating brand messaging, products and services into original and engaging stories that audiences love.” See more about Ruby here.

Industry News

Audacy Releases Fourth State of Audio Guide

Audacy releases its latest “State of Audio” guide. This fourth installment of the company’s bi-annual e-book explores audio’s impact throughout the brand funnel, from awareness and intention to action. Highlighting case studies from today’s biggest brands, the guide gives advertisers a look into how they can use radio, podcastsim and streaming for everything from brand awareness to consumer purchase. Audacy chief marketing officer Paul Suchman says, “Audio holds the title as the undisputed leader of brand-building channels – working its magic with the one-two punch of massive reach and beloved and trusted personalities. But if you’re thinking of Audio as just a top-of-funnel play – good for sparking a conversation but not driving conversion – think again. The truth is the game has expanded in recent years and audio is now a truly multi-purpose platform. Thanks to precision targeting, authentic influencers whose listeners follow them across channels, and advanced measurement, marketers are uncovering the best-kept secret in media – audio’s ability to drive impact at every funnel stage.” See the “State of Audio” guide here.

Industry News

Bill Frady Named Late Morning Host at 106.3 WORD, Greenville

Audacy’s Greenville, South Carolina news/talk WYRD-FM “106.3 WORD” names Bill Frady host of the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon program. Frady has been with the station hosting the Sunday program “LockNLoad” and serving as a fill-in host. He now expands his role with the station to the new daily program, “Straight Talk withWYRD-FM - Podcast Bill Frady.” Audacy Greenville-Spartanburg SVP and market manager Steve Sinicropi states, “Bill Frady has provided great content doing swing shifts on ‘106.3 WORD’ for years. Bill is a native Greenvillian, a recognized firearms expert, and a tremendous conservative voice that will complement WYRD-FM’s incredible news and talk talent lineup. Adding Bill Frady to our full-time, on-air team will provide great content for listeners and new opportunities for advertisers. I look forward to hearing Bill on the air and on the station’s expanded 100,000-watt signal.” Previously, Audacy announced the plan to move WORD’s talk programming to the 98.9 frequency in which the station will be branded “News/Talk 98.9 WORD.”

Industry Views

Monday Memo: Who? When?

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? YES.

— Myth: Call letters are less important in PPM markets than in diary markets, where that diary is a memory test.

— Fact: Call letters and timechecks are MORE important in metered markets, because there aren’t enough meters. Every…single…one…matters a LOT. And awareness drives use.

Sure, listeners wear watches, and tote smartphones, and there’s a clock in the dashboard. We’re not timechecking because they don’t know.

— Timechecks help make the station habit-forming. They teach listeners what-we-do-when.

— Timechecks imply that busy people (the ones advertisers want as customers) will be on-time if they listen. “WINS News Time…” on New York’s iconic All-News station sets a tempo.

— And timechecks are local information. Syndicated hosts forced to say “[minutes] before the hour” remind us that they’re somewhere else.

Graphics - Logo

In its 1960s Top 40 heyday, WABC’s promos boasted that more people listened every week “than any other station in North America!” And shortly before his untimely death, retired PD Rick Sklar told me the simple secret of his success.

— He compared the Arbitron ratings diary to “that little blue book you got in school when there was a quiz. There are two questions on the quiz: What did you listen to? And when did you listen?”

— Back then, most stations used turntables, but WABC already played music on carts. And right there, at the end of the song, there was a WABC jingle, and an ear-splitting “DING!” because timechecks were “WABC Chime-Time.”

— So “we gave them the answers to the quiz,” by DJ-proofing the station. Even if the jock was going song-to-song, he had to jump-in and timecheck.

And you are…?

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