Industry Views

Monday Memo: At This Week’s NAB Show?

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imThank me later for these Blackjack tips, based on many convention years’ experience, sometimes painful:

— Loiter, looking for a new shoe, then sit-out the first hand. If no Aces appear, grab a seat.

— If no Aces appear in the second hand, up your bet.

— Decline Insurance, statistically a sucker bet.

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— No matter WHAT the dealer is showing, ALWAYS-ALWAYS split Aces and 8s.

— Stand, Hit, Split, or Double-Down on-the-assumption-that the dealer’s hole card is a 10.

— If you’re dealt a hard 17 or higher – or A,8 or A,9 – or 10-10 – always Stand.

— Those “free” drinks they bring get REAL expensive if you’re losing while waiting for your refill.

— The shoe can be kind… or cruel. Keep playing as long as you’re winning… but DO NOT think of winnings as “playing with their money.” It’s yours. If you lose two consecutive hands, bug-out.

Safest bet in ‘Vegas? DON’T. And DO-tell if you’d like to grab a cuppa cawfee if you’ll be there for NAB.

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 Views

Monday Memo: The Irresistible Offer

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imHaving written thousands of commercials and promos, I’ve become a copy connoisseur. And, admittedly, a tough grader when it comes to delivery. Sell me and you’re good.

So, all four flight attendants caught my ear as I flew to/from a radio conference in Hawaii. The pitch came toward the end of 10+ hours each way nonstop Boston/Honolulu; and aboard the quick hops to/from Kauai.

They sounded neither sing-songy, as though they were reading; nor falsely enthusiastic. That alone impressed me. Thirty years ago, I scripted such announcements – and coached flight attendants – when I programmed 3 live USA Today Sky Radio channels aboard Delta, United, and Northwest Airlines. Back to the future…

They were hawking the Hawaiian Airlines Mastercard, which, already having a wallet full of plastic, I didn’t need. Each dollar spent earns a Hawaiian Mile (double miles for restaurant purchases), which would be tempting if I wanted to visit again. But I wasn’t sold… yet. I had been to Hawaii once before, on vacation, and only went this second time for business. Travelogue here recently explains that we East Coasters have quicker paths to paradise.

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Typically, these affinity cards come with a signing bonus. Another one I have awarded 20,000 points if I used it to make at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days. So, I smiled when these flight attendants emphasized that – using the promo code on applications they were handing out – I could quickly earn 80,000 miles, a bonus “you won’t see if you sign-up online.”

And as an announcement aficionado, I noted how all four recited this line verbatim: Unlike other cards that ask $1,000 or more purchases to qualify, “Just buy a cup of coffee or a pack of gum, and you’ve got 80,000 Hawaiian Miles.”

And they explained that 80K was enough for a free round trip from Boston or New York to Honolulu, or TWO round trips from a West Coast airport… DARN tempting… if I ever want to go back to Hawaii. Still not sold.

The clincher? I can also use those miles on JetBlue, which services my home airport, Providence, and flies to the Bahamas. SOLD. And my first purchase was indeed for a cup of coffee, and I did get the 80,000 miles. So, this is my restaurant card now.

Every time I’ve told this story in a client station sales meeting, at least one rep says, “Spell that all out again?” and starts writing. Successful sellers anticipate and address objections as well as that inflight announcement. Ditto commercial copy you craft for local retailers. Welcome aboard.

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 Views

Monday Memo: April Fool!

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imPick a day, any day. At least one news item will have the little voice in your head hollering “TELL me you’re kidding!” After recent headlines, and as various plots thicken, that little voice might need a lozenge.

In olden times, DJs’ and hosts’ April 1 on-air shenanigans would amuse and/or upset listeners. Some of these gags cost jesters their jobs. Expect less of that today, as the local talent ranks have thinned. Maybe A.I. DJs will come up with something.

As cutbacks were cascading on April 1, 2008, my gallows humor headline was: “Farid himself now voice-tracking True Oldies, using on-air name Fred Soulman, as staff cuts force management on-air. The Mystery Oldie-of-the-Day winner gets 1,000 shares of Citadel stock or $1,000 cash, whichever is less. APRIL FOOL!”

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Back to the future: Many surviving jocks and talkers and newscasters have something in common, what consultants call “word economy.” It’s never been more important than during these dizzying days, but it’s nothing new. All along, those who took only 7 seconds to make a point seemed to be more successful than those who took 17 seconds. When I was a DJ, I stole a line from WABC’s Dan Ingram, who intro’d the Elton John song, “Someone Shaved My Wife Tonight.”

If you’re spinning the hits, streams are spinning more of ‘em, without eight-unit stopsets. So keep it moving. Doing news? Listeners are wondering “What NEXT?” and if you’re telling them, succinctly, they’ll find you helpful and habit-forming. Hosting a talk show? Understand that every other media experience listeners favor is interactive. Busy caller traffic (something local advertisers notice) lets you own topic du jour.

And whether you’re a DJ, news person, or host: Every…single…minute…someone just got in the car. Reset frequently-enough that they’re up-to-speed.

But don’t take my word for it. Being April Fool’s Day, I’ll let these funsters (some immortal) demonstrate this word economy I preach:

“I saw a bank that said ‘24-hour banking,’ but I don’t have that much time.”

— Comedian Steven Wright, my Block Island neighbor

“When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.”

Rodney Dangerfield

“I was going to have cosmetic surgery until I noticed that the doctor’s office was full of portraits by Picasso.”

Rita Rudner

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”

Groucho Marx

“I hate housework. You make the beds, you do the dishes, and six months later, you have to start all over again.”

Joan Rivers

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 Views

Monday Memo: Remember “The Book?”

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imBefore the bound copy arrived – at which point all work stopped – Arbitron would send “Advances.” Even those topline numbers ground things to a halt, and had some PDs doing cartwheels, others out on the ledge. ‘Seems quaint now.

Back to the future: Measurement is continuous in bigger markets; and Nielsen Audio surveys other rated markets twice a year, and that Spring 2024 survey begins Thursday. But don’t tense-up. Nothing changes the day the survey begins. Radio listening is habit, earned before the sample is polled.

So even if your station doesn’t subscribe, figure that we’re all in Continuous Measurement mode, and do the 5 things that play the ratings game by its rules:

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1. Promote off-air, reminding existing listeners to keep coming back; and asking those who don’t to give you a try. It’s common for stations that do still promote off-air to show billboards and run TV spots JUST as “The Book” begins. Smart stations shopped smarter, when media were on-sale in January, inviting the sampling then that could be habit by now.

2. Keep ‘em listening longer each time. Just a few more minutes could earn another Quarter Hour of listening credit, although there’s little we can do to keep someone sitting still in a parked car. So…

3. Get ‘em back more times per day (“vertical maintenance” in consultant-speak); and…

4. Get ‘em back more days per week (“horizontal maintenance”); and…

5. Be more memorable, since ratings are a memory test. It is well-worth every effort to be as helpful and relevant and self-explanatory as possible. Tip: “You” and “your” are magic words. And be considerate. Listeners are mentally busy. Boil-it-down.

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 Views

Monday Memo: Happy Campers

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imFor spring break this year, Sarah and I revisited Sandals Grand Bahamian all-inclusive resort – NOT inexpensive, and very worth it. We’ve already booked same-week-next-year, and we think we know who we’ll see there then.

Among those we chatted-up at beach bars: Owner of a HVAC service company in Iowa. He arrived ahead of 16 employees and +ones (“the other 16 are back there keepin’ the heat on”). And get this: He said that, for some, it’s their first airplane travel. And they land in Nassau! WHAT a boss, eh?

Another business owner we met topped that! He had 38 inbound next-day for a long weekend. To qualify for this “President’s Club” trip, those 19 reps each moved a million dollars of product in 2023.

“Selling what?” I had to ask. “All the things nobody wants to buy,” he quipped. His company is a rack jobber, meaning it has agreements with retailers to display and sell products in-store. Think cigarette lighters and the thousand other items you see at gas stations and convenience stores.

Going right into Larry King mode, I learned about those sunglasses that retail for $19.99. He buys ‘em by the palette, 19 cents each. And when I asked “What was HOT 2 years ago, and is NOT now?” he replied, without hesitation, “masks.”

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He caught my ear when he used the term “liberal” to describe regions. In talk radio, that’s a political term. But the way he used it reflects Michael Jordan’s famous quote, “Republicans buy sneakers, too.” Like politics, commerce is regionalized. And he spoke in practical terms: Phone charger cords sold in the northeast are predominantly iPhone-compatible. “Get much-south-of New York,” and Android cords are also popular.

Contributing to inflation: Pre-pandemic, the usual business model was that the store paid for what his company delivered. Some clients were big-enough to change that, to paying-upon-SALE, which bar codes enable. So, the rack jobber is on-the-hook for “inventory shrinkage” (shoplifting and pilferage). But the arm-wrestling continues… and at least 19 reps are winning.

Heading for our final-night-there dinner, we passed the President’s Club reception in a VIP area; and next morning at breakfast, we spotted President’s Club T-shirts. We expect to see more next year, because, as the boss winked, “those wives want to come back!” and they tend to be supportive of long workdays in the meantime. 😉

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 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 Views

Monday Memo: Calculating Taylor Swift

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imNow that every single thing is a political argument, the angry social media conversation about Taylor Swift is unsurprising. And with the Super Bowl looming, the decibel level amps-up.

So, kudos to SiriusXM and CNN host Michael Smerconish. I’ve previously cited him here as technique worth emulating when it comes to:

– Polling the audience on an ongoing basis (a sponsored feature on smart radio stations)
– Leveraging social media to give audience ownership of the show; and
– Genuine curiosity. His centrist approach earns him scorn from both sides in this Cold Civil War we’re living through. I can relate. When I managed WTOP, Washington, the quickest way to make the phone explode was to announce a crowd estimate for an abortion rally. Both sides jammed the lines to damn the number.

This preposterous Swift kerfuffle had been all heat until Smerconish shed light on it this past weekend. Noting rumors shared by FOX News that she would photobomb the Super Bowl with a Joe Biden endorsement, his poll question was “Could Taylor Swift determine the outcome of the presidential election?”

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Just now, you answered that question in your own mind. But – for our purposes – the more useful approach is to consider information Smerconish curated unfiltered by personal politics:

– Swift has 279 million Instagram followers
– She has (so far) sold 4.35 million pricey tickets for The Eras Tour. Its “record-shattering revenue” (so far) is $1 billion+
– $200 million (so far) in tour merchandise. Her gray $45 T-shirt is now sold-out in all but 3XL and 4XL.
– 26 billion+ Spotify streams in 2023.
– SSRS polling: 59% of USA adults identify as Swift fans, 63% of women; and her fans are evenly divided 50/50 between Democrat or Dem-leaning and Republican or GOP-leaning.
– On her urging, several hundred thousand Americans younger than 25 have registered to vote.

Add it all up? “Taylor knows your social media interactions, where you saw her on tour, how much merch’ you’ve bought from her website, she knows the size of your T-shirt, the number of downloads you’ve made. We’re embarking on an election cycle which will be (a) the most expensive in history, and (b) will see much of the money spent on ‘micro-targeting,’ the use of online data to tailor – pun intended – advertising messages to individuals based on the identification of recipients’ personal vulnerabilities and interests. In order to target effectively, data is essential. And Taylor’s got lots and lots of it, and on a demographic that is exactly what the Biden team needs the most: disproportionally female, young, and passionate. With truly the touch of a button Taylor Swift is uniquely situated to use the data at her disposal to impact the presidential race.”

Leave it to your nerdy consultant to ask: Are WE using OUR listener data to OUR benefit?

Bigger-picture issues:

– Privacy: We have all volunteered LOTS of information about ourselves. Look what pops up in your email and your social media.
– Vulnerability of the Electoral vote process: The last two Republican presidents took office after losing the popular vote. Taylor Swift is my coastal Rhode Island neighbor, and if she votes here, neither of us matter. Our state has four electoral votes. Just 40 thousand-some popular votes in three key states gave Biden his 2020 win.
– Tone: The measurable appeal of Swift’s sunny disposition vs. “I am your retribution.”

Good for us. News/talk radio is in the suspense business. “What JUST happened??? What happens NEXT???” So, we should wish Nikki Haley well.

Inquisitive Smerconish sounds like dispassionate Mr. Spock: “What [Swift detractors on the right] should be worried about is her data.”

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 and connect on LinkedIn.

Industry Views

Monday Memo: Baseball Station? Own It!

By Holland Cooke
Consultant 

imAs The Beatles sang, “It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter.” ‘Still is, eh?

Baseball – even Spring Training while it’s still chilly in March – says “Here Comes The Sun.” That’s what baseball means…to listeners. But with games also on SiriusXM and Tune-In and team apps, baseball isn’t the exclusive franchise AM/FM affiliates used to enjoy. So, BE KNOWN for having the games.

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To local advertisers? In the words of one GM – who has made a pile of money selling baseball – “It’s ego and envy.” And while second and third-generation retailers might family-feud about other things, 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 or Froggy.

Help yourself to your February Baseball To-Do List: http://getonthenet.com/BaseballFebruary.pdf

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

Industry Views

Monday Memo: Plan Now for Your Bonus Day

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imTake a day off. You get one free this year.

Programmers: When was the last time you really listened?

— Not the way you usually hear it, at low volume in the office…but “out there,” where/when/how listeners hear radio. Schedule dedicated listening time, away from the station. I promise you will find it an ear-opening experience.

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— In 2024, you have no excuse NOT to take a day to listen…because it’s a Leap Year. You get an extra day, a February 29, courtesy of Pope Gregory XIII, in 1582 (as in “The Gregorian Calendar”). So, heaven help you if you miss this opportunity.

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

CES100th, Radio Roots

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imIf you’ve been seeing CES coverage on network and cable newscasts this week, you’ve heard it called “the Consumer Electronics Show,” despite we-the-media being told not to. They want us to say “CES,” although, years ago, the Consumer Electronics Association changed its name to the Consumer Technology Association, not its first rebrand.

Back in 1924, it was the Radio Manufacturers’ Association, and eventually it became the Radio & Television Manufacturers’ Association. For all those years – and for decades after it morphed into the CEA – this organization advocated for companies that made… things.

Back-to-the-future: Many of the big stories at CES2024 aren’t about products that come in a box. Artificial Intelligence is big here this year, nonchalantly referred to as “AI.” But – because we should avoid initials that aren’t self-explanatory – you’re hearing CES called “the Consumer Electronics Show;” and smart reporters use “Artificial Intelligence” on first reference.

And one particularly insightful session I attended got me thinking about radio’s “initials.” When we say our call letters, do listeners think about what we were, or what we can do now do?

“All Media is Social Media” panelist Isabel Perry, VP of emerging technology at pioneering digital agency DEPT said a mouthful, in a savvy British accent: “Your brand is not what you tell your customers. It’s what your customers tell each other about you.” And declaring that “media is now communal,” fellow panelist and former TikTok executive Melissa Eccles urged “Invite people to participate.”

Robotic music stations with too many commercials are disadvantaged. Swifties don’t need FM to hear Taylor. She’s already on their phones…and Alexa, and SiriusXM, and YouTube, and streams. Talk radio that’s I-talk-you-listen is a caricature. Media consumers expect to interact. As Larry King said, “I never learned anything while I was talking.”

Yes, there are huge TVs and flying cars here, and CES is still gadget heaven. But 100 years ago – when families sat around large AM receivers, seeming to watch what they were hearing – simply broadcasting at-them was a business. I leave Las Vegas reaffirmed that ENGAGING people is now, in gambling parlance, table stakes.

Covering CES this week for TALKERS, I’m also offering stations 60-second reports. Help yourself at HollandCooke.com.

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 Views

CES2024: AI, Sustainability, “TV,” Inclusivity

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imAfter 4G enabled Uber and other apps now-common, inventors are flexing 5G. And grab-the-armrest for what 6G and 7G will bring. Just when we’re blasé about Wi-Fi, we are told that Li-Fi will use light to transmit data.

Artificial Intelligence? ChatGPT was training wheels. AI’s impact is just beginning to unfold. As it does, Consumer Technology Association research points to concerns over privacy, disinformation, safety, and job loss. 74% believe the federal government should regulate AI safety.

Sustainability is huge here: Solar panels – some are small foil strips — will replace batteries in many applications. And we’re seeing a cube-shaped portable inflatable “smartfarm” that can grow produce anywhere.

What we used to call “a television” becomes the Intelligent Hub for your home, connecting with appliances, security cameras, and thermal imaging for tele-health. It’s an e-commerce platform, like your smartphone… interactive – like betting on live games – and with immersive experiences Netflix is rolling out.

Inclusivity is big business at CES: We’re seeing hearable glasses for people who are vision AND hearing impaired, including some “chic” designs. And lots of tech here helps us as we age. With women’s health a $1.2 trillion market, mattress sensors can trigger cooling during menopause. And Artificial Intelligence will bring drug discovery breakthroughs.

I’m reporting for TALKERS readers, every day this week. Help yourself to today’s report here: http://getonthenet.com/CES2024-Thursday.mp3. It can air until Friday. And I’ll be posting daily 60-second reports you can download at HollandCooke.com.

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 Views

When I Say “Technology,” You Think “Silicon Valley?”

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imInventors from around the world are in Las Vegas this week for CES2024.

AirForestry is a Swedish company using 5G to develop a harvester drone that hugs the top of a tree, prunes-off branches on the way down, saws-off the trunk, and carries it to the nearest road. Electronic glasses from Canada’s e-Sight help the visually impaired conquer conditions like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Even legally blind people can achieve up to 20/20 enhanced vision.

From Poland, Vasco Electronics introduces its Translator E1 earpiece that translates 49 languages in real-time. And from Hong Kong, the Oclean X Pro Digital Sonic Electric Toothbrush uses a tiny built-in 6-axis gyroscope that tells you – on an interactive touch screen – how well you brushed, and which areas need more attention. And you know that technology is changing everything when the CEO of the world’s biggest beauty company, L’Oreal, is here from France to deliver a keynote.

“The winners are…”

Among this year’s Consumer Technology Association Innovation Awards: a “4D Food Printing System for Future Food.” The Care-pet bed for dogs and cats monitors their breathing, heart rate, and rest, via Bluetooth you can share with your vet. And with the 2024 election looming, there’s a blockchain-based voting system.

Bosch is addressing a sad news story we keep seeing on all these big-screen TVs: ItsGun Detection System” uses Artificial Intelligence to merge video and audio to defend-against school shootings. Designed to reduce reaction time and quickly mobilize emergency response plans, this system helps secure approach and entry points, by detecting guns and sound signatures of gunshots, even estimating gunshot direction to help make learning environments safer.”

In addition to daily TALKERS columns this week, I’m offering daily 60-second radio reports. Help yourself to today’s here: http://getonthenet.com/CES2024-Tuesday.mp3. It can air until Friday. And I’ll be posting updates you can download at HollandCooke.com.

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 Views

Monday Memo: Hello from Las Vegas!

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imThis week, more than a hundred thousand inventors, investors, and techy-nerds from over 150 countries swarm Sin City for CES2024. You’ll be seeing all about it all this week on network newscasts and cable news channels and social media.

And yes, there are square miles of products being introduced here, the “Consumer Electronics” that were the roots of this event. But the big buzz this year will be Artificial Intelligence, at which we-the-legacy-media are looking at over our shoulder, as ChatGPT et al and text-to-speech are augmenting – in some cases displacing – human radio and television talent.

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After we’ve spent decades learning how to use his software – Bill Gates tells Inc. magazine that – soon – we won’t need to. He describes your “agent,” your A.I. assistant, a constant companion, in your earbud, that has what Gates calls “a rich understanding of your life.” Think Alexa or Siri…on steroids.

Want to send an email? Just start talking. You’ll never miss a birthday, and you’ll know about flight delays and weather and traffic tangles without checking. And YOUR agent will know your FRIENDS’ agents. Even Gates admits that these virtual social secretaries could faux pas: “Suppose you want to see a friend. If YOUR agent talks to THEIRS, you DON’T want it to say, ‘she’s seeing other friends Tuesday and you’re not included.’” Oops.

Sure, it’s gadget heaven here. And some of these TVs are so big that I can’t figure out how they’d get through the door at home. But, year after year lately, services upstage things at CES. This year’s keynoters include the CEO of L’Oréal and Hyundai and Best Buy and Walmart and executives from McDonalds and Northwestern Mutual and Walmart, as technology changes almost every aspect of life every day.

How big is CES? Even the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center isn’t big-enough. There will be exhibits and sessions up and down The Strip, so I’ll be getting-in my steps. And I’m reporting for TALKERS readers, every day this week. Help yourself to today’s report here: http://getonthenet.com/CES2024-Monday.mp3. It can air until Friday. And I’ll be posting daily 60-second reports you can download at HollandCooke.com.

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 Views

Six Reasons Radio Listeners Ignore Your Morning Show

imConsultant Gary Begin of Sound Advantage writes in a piece for TALKERS today about why some morning radio shows fail to launch. He offers six reasons for this that can be avoided if management really wants to create a successful program. Reason number one? Because the hosts are just not that good. See Begin’s complete article here.

Industry Views

Monday Memo: News Tune-Out/Tune-In

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

im“Most registered voters avoid the news at least some of the time. Of those who disengage, over half avoid national politics coverage,” according to the “Voices of Value 2023 Report” by the Pell Center at Salve Regina University.

It’s a survey of registered voters in Rhode Island, where I live, and this data mirrors national polls: “Democrats and Republicans hold deeply negative views of their political counterparts. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans and Democrats view their political opponents as very close-minded. Independents are less likely to judge their counterparts as harshly.”

— Also reflecting national data: “More Rhode Islanders trust local than national news, but Republicans and Independents are less trusting than Democrats, given their concerns of partisan media as a threat to democracy.”
— “All parties are skeptical of news from social media sites as they are concerned with fake news and disinformation.”
— “Partisan differences exist beyond this fatigue of national politics. Republicans are the most likely party to distrust the news media and the least likely party to say they avoid the news. Over half receive most of their news from FOX News.”

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What this means to radio:

— If you do local news, tout it.
— If you’re an affiliate, remind them that you’re FOX News in the car. It’s the source they trust. Those who disengage aren’t listening.

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 Views

Monday Memo: Time Management? Don’t Even Try

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imNews flash: Time cannot be managed. But tasks can.

As we install a new PD at a client station, I will share with you what I’m sharing with him: Four techniques I myself have found EXTREMELY helpful over years of dancing-as-fast-as-I-can in several management positions.

1. “Map” your week. Use a spreadsheet, to create a schedule that doesn’t change week-to-week. Slot-in items like:
a) If you’re on-air: Your show + prep + when you do your daily promo/blog, post/social media, etc.
b) Talent meetings.
c) Regularly-scheduled Boss Time (see “folders’) below.
d) Is there a weekly staff meeting or department heads meeting? Do you routinely meet with sales? Slot it in.
e) In-bin and phone time (see below).
f) Days you’re available to do-lunch, or for sales calls.
g) MBWA time (“Management By Walking-Around”). Build it in.
f) What else?

Tip: Round-up. If something takes 45 minutes, slot-in an hour, to allow for bathroom breaks, checking voicemail, or running-across-the-street for a cuppa cawfee. Consider doing so even if there’s free crankcase coffee there at the station. It’s fresh air. Building in a couple short walks each day can really help you clear your mind between events.

This map you are making is “a living document,” subject to ongoing revision. But plan-your-work-and-work-your-plan, and you’ll find that lots more gets done. You’ll also find that people respond by being more punctual for you.

Tip: Find a hiding place. Always-being-in-your-office tempts interruptions. Two decades of management – and 23 years as a landlord – taught me how some issues that seemed “urgent” to people seeking your attention tend to resolve themselves before the would-be interrupter finds you.

2. Show your boss two file folders, one with your initials on the tab, the other with his/her initials on the tab. Give him/her the one with your initials, and keep the other one. Then, schedule a regular meeting (that goes on your map). The meeting can be weekly, daily, Monday/Wednesday/Friday, whatever. Lock it in, show up on-time.

Pledge to each other that you will avoid ad hoc, single-topic conversations. Unless someone is bleeding or something is on fire, the conversation can wait for a scheduled meeting. Toss a note, or pertinent document, into the folder.

I started doing this when I worked for a particularly “spontaneous” GM. NO NAMES. His half-dozen daily “Got a minute?” interruptions were extremely disruptive. And he was flattered when I showed him the respect of blocking-out Quality Time for issues we shared. Sure, he’d back-slide from time to time. When he did, I would ask, politely, “Do we need to handle this now, or should I put it in The Folder?” He took the hint; and praised me later, during my Performance Review, for suggesting the idea, which he instituted with the sales manager, business manager, and chief engineer. THANK ME LATER FOR THIS ONE.

3. Don’t answer the phone! That’s why there’s voicemail (and caller ID). Phone calls about every little thing are a torturous pause button and invite long workdays and more and taller piles of half-finished tasks. Set aside two times per day to schedule and return calls. Quality Time. Try it, and you will REALLY thank me. And I saved the best for last…

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4. Touch each piece of paper ONCE. See “In-Bin time” in your weekly map above. Do one-of-the-following with every piece of paper or email that finds you:
a) Deal-with-it instantly (i.e., scribble a response and return to sender), or otherwise bring the issue to closure; OR
b) Send it to someone else (“delegation” in management lingo); OR
c) File it; OR
d) Circular-file-it (sort your mail over the wastebasket); OR
e) There is no e).

Ritualistic as all-of-the-above may seem, YOUR LIFE WILL CHANGE if you take these suggestions literally. Things are busy enough that no routine less structured will suffice. And conducting yourself accordingly will send an important message to the people you work with.

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 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 Views

Monday Memo: Be Conspicuous When Competitors Are MIA

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imIn a recent column, I outlined win-win radio/TV station alliance tactics. This week, as stations are finalizing 2024 budgets, a tip for advertising your station on TV.

Dominate in January. Why:

— It’s a buyer’s market then, and your message won’t compete with other stations’ promotion. Slaves to conventional wisdom, they will be running DURING the Spring book, because they forgot that radio listening is habit, which will be set long before diaries and PPM will collect data. Smart stations derive a benefit message and set that habit BEFORE the book.

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— If you can trade for over-the-air stations, the price is right. In January they’re lean too. Can you trade – or afford to pay cash for – cable? Two reasons cable might be a better deal:

1. You can target your signal pattern better than over-the-air channels, whose coverage footprint is bigger than yours; and

2. You can buy channels with programming similar to yours. FOX News Radio affiliate? Buy FOX News Channel (and Newsmax).

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 Views

Monday Memo: How Talk Radio Imitates Lunch

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imHere’s actual news copy, from Joe Connolly’s business report one morning on WCBS, NY: “One third of all domestic flights are now late, by an average of one hour.”

Note: That wasn’t the headline, it was the entire story. As-much-as half of Connolly’s script is one-sentence stories. Espresso, not latte. Just the factoids, ma’am. The essence. What the listener would likely retain (and quote later) from the story if copy were longer.

Here’s some HC lore – and promo language – that’ll be familiar to programmers and talent I work with:

The first 5 minutes of the hour are for facts.

The next 55 are for feelings.

Your news people, and/or your network, fuss to make 00-05 a handy digest of the-very-latest-about the stories they reckon to be relevant to your target listener. Your on-air imaging should promise accordingly. Invite busy, in-car listeners to make an hourly appointment, “THROUGHOUT YOUR BUSY DAY.”

The people with whom that benefit statement will resonate are high-TSL users who don’t want to feel “OUT-OF-THE-LOOP, WHEN YOU’RE OUT-AND-ABOUT.” And they’re the listeners your local direct retail advertisers want to meet the most. Every time they stop the car, they spend money.

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What happens at lunch is what should happen on-air

Picture Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer at that coffee shop on “Seinfeld.”

Suppose Jerry heard Connolly’s report earlier that morning and mentioned that story. Because ratings are a memory test, this is a home run, even if Jerry doesn’t say “WCBS” when he repeats what Joe reported. Joe made a deposit in Jerry’s memory bank. If Jerry does say “WCBS,” it’s a grand slam.

Then, George chimes in: “AN HOUR LATE???  THAT’S NOTHING!  WAIT’LL YOU HEAR WHAT HAPPENED WHEN MY PARENTS TRIED TO FLY TO FLORIDA LAST WEEK!” Now Elaine and Kramer are engaged; and they too might have stories.

Jerry shared what he heard 00-05, information of interest, facts. George is that first caller you want the screener to put through. Elaine and Kramer are listeners who can relate, might contribute their feelings, and will at least remember.

Because ratings methodology can give you an entire Quarter Hour credit for as-little-as 5 minutes of actual listening, the-most-opportune topics are compelling stories listeners just heard on-hour, which you then offer callers your air to weigh-in-on.

Why? People believe your promos. They stopped-in for their on-hour update. Then, at 05, before an index finger can travel from the steering wheel to the “Kiss” or “Lite” or “Magic” button, engage them.

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 Views

Monday Memo: TV Synergies

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imI am always impressed when I see-and-hear radio and TV stations swapping product.

— The most obvious asset is weather. Many radio stations’ forecasts are voiced by local television meteorologists, often gratis because their boss assigned them to, as part of an information alliance. So, the radio station’s weather cred’ stands on the broad shoulders of the weather brand the TV station promotes so relentlessly.

— For some news/talk stations, simulcasting a television newscast is the only way they can air local news in the afternoon. Turn lemons into lemonade. Radio people who love to hate TV audio under-estimate how loyal viewers are; and how conspicuous and convenient this can make the radio station.

— Especially if the deal includes promos – on both stations – voiced by trusted local TV anchors, offering that “If you can’t be home in time to SEE us, you can HEAR us…”

— In every market where we have executed this strategy, the TV talent has remarked about how many compliments they get for being on radio.

— Deal point: During simulcast newscasts, the TV station supers “Heard live on WXXX 8:50 AM.”

How’s THIS for resourceful?  

— A radio station’s afternoon drive newscast consists of a 60-second live shot (or prerecorded live-on-tape) from a local TV newsroom, voiced by the TV anchor who ticks-off “the stories we’re following” that will be seen on evening newscasts.

— The radio station wraps it into a four-minute package, including:

— that live headline package, at the end of which

— the TV anchor hands off to radio’s traffic reporter, then…

— the traffic reporter teases weather into a radio spot, and…

— after the commercial, the weather comes on.

— And here’s the kicker…that live shot from the TV newsroom is a commercial for the TV station! To the listener’s ear, it’s a free newscast from a credible, branded source. Possibly a trade for TV time to advertise the radio station?

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Another win-win synergy: Reciprocal excerpting, with attribution 

Translation: Each station gives blanket permission for the other to grab, from the air, whatever it wants, crediting the originating partner.

— There will be times when someone from the radio station is on-scene; or when radio scores a newsworthy interview that TV can use the audio of. More often, thinner-staffed radio will use TV sound more than vice-versa.

— When I programmed WTOP, Washington, WUSA9 let us help ourselves to their newscast audio (“And the mayor told Channel 9…”). Each day, our desk and theirs compared assignments, and we recorded every WUSA newscast.

— True story: The news director from NBC4 came to my office and said, “You can use OUR sound, and you don’t even have to say ‘Channel 4!’ Just STOP saying ‘Channel 9.’”

— It was a flattering offer, but we remained loyal to WUSA, the once-upon-a-time WTOP-TV. Decades later we were still getting mail addressed to “WTOP-TV.” And both stations being CBS affiliates contributed to the lingering impression that we were siblings, so the confusion was actually useful. Does your radio station have a long-lost TV brother? 

Radio takes TV where it otherwise can’t go: in-car

Note how aggressively TV stations are programming their apps and websites. They want to be a news brand, not just a news station.

— A smart TV station should want to give radio a ROSR (Reporter On-Scene Report) during the day (when radio audience is high and TV audience is low), because doing so serves to promote the upcoming evening TV newscast.

— WARNING, based on experience: This can be a tough sell to over-protective TV news directors, who may fret that by going-live on radio they’re alerting other TV stations to the story. Stinkin’ thinkin.’ Other TV stations could show up anyway, and they wouldn’t be as-well-known for covering the story as the TV station that’s also already reporting it on radio.

Local TV news is a hungry critter…

…with a limited budget. Which is why some TV stations toss-live to their radio partner’s host: “Gene, what are your callers saying about the congressman’s abrupt resignation?” Arrangements like this were commonplace even decades ago, when TV had to equip the radio studio with equipment more elaborate than modern day video chat requires.

The calculus is simple

Radio + TV > Radio – TV or TV – Radio

(Radio PLUS television is greater-than Radio MINUS television or television MINUS Radio.)

Even if you’re a music station that doesn’t do much news at all, these opportunities are worth exploring. At least trade spots, because neither station can afford to promote as much as it should.

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 Views

Monday Memo: Stamina, Systems, Support

By Holland Cooke
Consltant

imFeel busy? Try keeping-up with these four:

— Like George Clooney’s character in “Up In The Air,” Mike McVay attained an elite status earned by only a handful when Continental Airlines was the principal carrier in Cleveland, his home base. And he’s still at it, consulting full-time since 1984.

— “Rhode Island’s anchorman” is ultimate split-shifter Gene Valicenti, who hosts 3 hours of radio on WPRO at 6AM (11 years), then at 6PM he co-anchors on NBC10 TV (31 years), both top-rated shows.

— For 10 years I’ve been riding 138 miles with owner Jay Philippone from his home in Pittsburgh to Connect FM + Sunny 106 in DuBois PA. He lived there when his children were young, then moved to the Burgh’ when he bought stations in nearer West Virginia; and “because you get home quicker from Pirates and Penguins and Steelers games.”

— And for 20 years I’ve followed owner Paul Gleiser “106.3 miles door-to-door” from his home in Dallas to KTBB + KRWR in Tyler-Longview. Why the trek? “My wife gets to do what she wants to do” in the culturally rich Metroplex, and where she is a university professor.

How DO they do it?

“On the cusp of my 65th birthday,” Jay laughs, “that’s a good question!” As bosses, he and Paul are innately motivated. Gene sets the alarm for 5AM, but – because “I just can’t wait to get on the radio — I find myself getting up earlier,” to execute a show he and his producers mapped-out the day before.

Their love for our craft is clear. Mike says he’s “up late and up early because l absolutely love what I’m doing. I really don’t feel like I’m working for the most part.”

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Their routine seems anything-but

Gleiser has gone-though “a lot of tires” making his trans-Texas trek 4 days a week since 1991 (on Wednesdays in his ATW Creative Services studio in Dallas). And he makes the most of all those miles: “I’m in the News and Talk business, so I use that time to consume news and keep myself current.” As does Philippone; and all that back-N-forth time affords them an invaluable perspective listening in-car, where AM/FM radio is still #1.

Mike McVay travels 3 weeks a month (down from 48 weeks X 5 days pre-pandemic), unlike Gene Valicenti’s 6AM + 6PM gigs that keep him closer to home. And, yes, Gene naps between shows (“30 minutes, longer makes it worse”). But by 5PM he’s in the bustling NBC10 newsroom, where “I start to work on the 6P TV script” he’s given, “which I go through and rewrite almost every story and tease, to make the copy sound like me.” 

Technology: Friend or foe?

“Yes!” Gleiser quips. “There are only tradeoffs.” On the plus side, the pandemic-necessitated telecommuting that has transformed so many other industries has shown radio new options.

Jimmy Failla’s first affiliate remote was from KTBB, where – minutes before airtime – Internet service failed. If I hadn’t seen it in person, I wouldn’t have believed that we fed New York via an iPhone hotspot. And as Failla’s frequent fill-in, Paul has hosted the show from KTBB and from home in Dallas and in-studio at Fox/NY, and my trained ear can’t hear the difference. And when Valicenti does his radio show at home Monday and Friday mornings, he can even do his live NBC10 TV simulcast hit there.

Philippone raves about the Radio.cloud automation system “that allows us to work and manage the product and diagnose transmitter problems from anywhere.” But he confesses that “I’m still working on a perfect way to manage my In box, to be able to keep-up” with the volume of communication and information, the velocity of which is “lots faster than pre-Internet/pre-Email days.”

During my 17 years as McVay Media news/talk specialist, I learned lots from Mike about keeping organized. “Obsessive about detail and staying focused on the job at hand,” he types meeting notes in real-time. “I do everything I need to do as quickly as it can be done,” which also means making the most of all that time in-flight. He warns managers to “prioritize properly, so the crisis of one person doesn’t become a crisis for someone else.”

It takes a team 

Gene Valicenti admits “I got lucky with two good producers,” one at WPRO the other at NBC10. “They’re both fast and technologically-savvy,” and his radio producer “can quickly find something during commercial breaks.” He talks with both producers several times each day, and they talk to each other. “It’s all about cross-promoting, cross-purposing” on-air material from station-to-station, win-win.

Paul Gleiser IS his stations. He has a PD, but he himself is owner, GM, Sales Manager, Promotion Manager, and choosy endorsement spot talent. “It’s an unusual management structure,” in which “everybody is in Sales, and everybody knows their job, and has tenure, almost zero turnover” (the last couple openings were because two longtime staffers died suddenly, too young).

Jay Philippone is at his Pennsylvania stations Mondays (interacting with each staffer and finalizing his visit to-do list) and Tuesdays (“meetings day”) and Wednesdays (follow-through). He has a full-time GM and “she’s been on the job 30 years next month, someone to make sure things get done and ‘the trains run on time.’”

Hitting Pause 

Mike urges “find time to turn it off. Let your brain be on rest, and entertain yourself.” He’s a sports fan, and binge-watches his favorite TV shows. Jay will “take a half day and not work, just read,” and he calls that decompression “really, really worthwhile.”

But retirement? McVay: Nope. Gleiser: “And do WHAT?” Philippone: “I’ve been in radio since I was 19 and I love what I do.” When I ask “If you didn’t do this?” Jay admits “I don’t have an answer,” and he thinks “it would be easy to lose a sense of direction.” As did his retired friend who said “it sucks.”

Valicenti is struck by the reach of WPRO’s station stream: “You would not believe how many rely on it,” and when it hiccups “we hear about it!” And not just from locals using the station app and smart speakers. He has a big following in Florida, seasonal snowbirds and Rhode Island ex-pat retirees who are frequent callers. When the time comes? “Maybe doing a radio show from Florida,” where – vacationing recently in Naples – he was greeted by New England accents when spotted in restaurants callers had recommended.

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

Industry Views

Monday Memo: What Aren’t You?

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imThanks to those who sent comments on last week’s column “Gradually, they know you,” which recommended brevity in explaining to listeners who you are.

Equally important: Clarity that you’re NOT what listeners DON’T want. If you’re a host or programmer, you want to understand listener turn-offs as well as Viking Riverboat Cruise Lines seems to know their prospects.

Promising that “We do not try to be all things to all people,” the Viking brochure promises:

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No children under 18.

No casinos.

No nickel and diming.

No charge for Wi-Fi.

No charge for beer & wine at lunch & dinner.

No umbrella drinks.

No photography sales.

No art auctions.

No inside staterooms.

No smoking.

No waiting in lines.

No format lights, butlers or white gloves.

And the brochure details an “Environmentally Considerate” culture “reducing impact through design & technology,” i.e., solar panels, recycling & waste management, etc.

With SO many audio competitors, we can’t risk ambiguity.

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

Industry Views

Monday Memo: Gradually, They Know You

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imThanks to those who sent comments on last week’s column “Beware The Banter.” For those asking how-much-is-too-much, this follow-up.

The old “Dick Van Dyke Show” depicted the life of TV writers. Collaborators Rob Petrie, Sally Rogers, and Buddy Sorrell spent their workdays in an office, riffing. The weekly script that emerged was careful with show host Alan Brady’s brand. He was a personality viewers came to know, one week at a time.

In offices like that, there’s a living document they call “The Bible.” For that first pilot episode, it might have been a single page of bullet points. A more recent example might have fleshed-out sitcom characters in broad strokes: Jerry is a comedian. He and Elaine used to date, now they’re friends. Elaine is from Maryland and she can’t dance.

Week-by-week, as we come to know these fictitious friends, new details humanize them further, and “The Bible” gets thicker. It guides writers, so they don’t burst our bubble by telling us Elaine is from Connecticut.

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Similarly, your listeners come to know you, accruing your identity, one anecdote at a time. You may be as-surprised-as-flattered when you meet a listener who plays-back something about your life that you might not even remember sharing.

So, know that they know you. And when the boss or the consultant reminds you how mentally busy listeners are – and encourages you to keep-the-show-moving – you needn’t fret that you’ll sound like Sgt. Joe Friday in “Dragnet.” Final TV reference, I promise.

My point: The litmus test for whatever you share is relatability. I was born on the same day as one of the children of 50+ year WTIC, Hartford morning host Bob Steele, and my dad was forever bonded by his amusing baby stories. They were nuanced references, not longwinded rambles.

Remain humble about listeners’ attention.

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

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