Industry Views

SABO SEZ: Stream to Success

By Walter Sabo
Consultant, Sabo Media Implementers
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host, “Sterling On Sunday”
Talk Media Network

imIn May 2007, I was enjoying the brand-new app called YouTube. Still independently owned, still relatively unknown. Some of the videos pulled millions of viewers, more viewers than enjoyed by ESPN or any cable network. More interesting, the videos with high counts were not made by NBC or ESPN or any traditional video source. High view count videos were being made by people with no experience in traditional media, they were experimenters producing in their basements and bedrooms.

As these new performers were pulling major view counts, they revealed that they worked at Starbucks, were going to school and wanting to make enough money to get out of their parent’s house. Wait. Some video creators were winning more viewers than ESPN and they were broke? Simultaneously major brands like Pepsi and Budweiser knew they had to enter the online video space and each attempt was a disaster. BUD TV! Online video entertainment was a brand-new medium; USG User Generated Content.

I started a company called HITVIEWS. The goal was to placed brand messages in User Generated Content. The first company. No one had ever done it. We gathered the top video performers and started to marry them with brands like Pepsi, FOX TVTimberlandMTV,  CBS TelevisionIBMLogitech, many more. A TALKERS conference introduced the first Influencer (we called them “Web Stars”), Caitlin Hill, to radio executives.

From this pioneering initiative into online video, I can share a significant amount of information about the ingredients of a successful video campaign.

  1. Use video stars, influencers, to deliver your message. It’s a different medium and requires different stars.
  2. Engage every capability of the platform. The videos with the highest view counts demand the most interaction with the viewer. Click now. Comment below. Make a response video. Send a text back. THEN answer all responses. Every single viewer response must be answered by you or it is wasted.
  3. It’s not radio or TV. Don’t bother putting up videos at a fixed day and time. Put up as many videos as you possibly can. Two days is too old!
  4. Funny works best.

Online video success makes the medium the message. The touch screen, mouse, keyboard. Audio, video capabilities must all be integrated into the entertainment. If full functionality is not part of the show, the show is boring.

Walter Sabo has consulted the largest media companies worldwide in digital initiatives. He was the on-site consultant for SiriusXM Satellite Radio for nine years. He can be reached by email at and his network radio show can be discovered at

Industry Views

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

By Walter Sabo
Sterling on Sunday
Media Consultant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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