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CELEBRATING A 50 YEAR OVERNIGHT SUCCESS

1010 WINS New York and KYW Philadelphia are celebrating fifty years as ‘All News, All The Time’.

Radio Reloj in Cuba started doing All News in 1947.  The only station doing the format longer.

WINS and KYW are remarkable success stories.

Both launched when a few station owners were experimenting with All News. Gordon McLendon being the most notable. Others would follow and many would fail. WINS and KYW have evolved to become digital brands as well.

The stations are famous for the slogan “Give Us 22 Minutes, We’ll Give You The World”.  The format clocks are virtually the same as when they started.

All News matters even as media usage changes and AM listening declines.

Last week the ‘Storm Of The Century’ threatened and then missed New York and Philly. KYW and WINS kept listeners informed with traffic, weather and live press conferences.  Boston took the brunt of the storm and sister WBZ had reporters live from all over the metro.  Business as usual for an All News station  Their cities rely on them during  breaking news and weather emergencies.

Mayors and governors told the public before the storm to keep their phones charged and use them to get emergency information. Radio was barely mentioned as a source for information. These officials apparently didn’t consider the internet, cable and cell service might be interrupted during the storm.  Yet, a battery powered radio would be a lifeline.

Houston is the only top ten radio market without an All News radio station. Houston is prone to hurricanes and serious flooding and home to a major shipping channel, chemical plants and oil refineries. A place with serious traffic problems and perfect for All News.

Radio One tried the format in Houston. But economics and poor signal made it unfeasible to continue. Radio is a business after all.  (Full disclosure, I was Program Director of KROI for part of its run. The digital audience was growing rapidly. But time ran out.)

All News grows slowly. WINS and KYW were not  overnight successes. A big story, disaster or a serious weather event is usually needed for a station to catch on. KROI had none.

But, there is a big opportunity in creating a Houston All News franchise. A great signal, deep pockets and patience  is needed for the format to succeed. Houston deserves and needs a KYW or 1010 WINS.  Hard to imagine the sixth largest radio market wouldn’t support one over time.

By the way, WCBS did a great job covering the storm too. Their 50th is less than two years away.

Another slow starter with staying power.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Radio programming

 

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Houston Take Cover

Hurricane Gustav is fresh in our minds so Ike should get everyone’s serious attention.

The forecast storm track has shifted again this time toward the east bringing it closer to Houston and Galveston.   This is very serious news for people living in that area.

WWL New Orleans set the standard for hurricane coverage.  That bar is very high.

Houston has one major news station KTRH which did a terrible job during the last hurricane.  They stayed with network programming and baseball instead of going into full coverage.

KTRH is handling their coverage pretty well this morning.

Through the miracle of WIFI I’m able to monitor KILT FM.  As expected  the Hudson and Harrigan morning show is all over it.

H&H as they are known have been the morning team on KILT since the top 40 days.  The players changed over the years, the current team has been together for over thirty years.

They know the town very well.

KILT coverage is focused on closings, evacuations and routes.   It will not surprise me to hear KILT rolling through the next few days in full coverage.

They have live coverage of Mayor White’s press conference.  Remember this is a music station.

KTRH is still promoting an Astros game broadcast tonight.

The Houston area could get caught flat footed simply because all models had this storm tracking toward Corpus Christi.   Many people are waking up to a unexpected situation this morning.

There are thousands and thousands of people who have never been through a hurricane.  Houston has been very lucky for a long time.

Radio must do its part to help people get out of harms way.

The storm track is found at the hurricane network. http://hwn.org.  The network is expected to be in action on 14.325 USB shortwave tomorrow morning.  They stream the audio for those without a radio.

KTRH is heard at 740 AM. Check their stream on their website.

KVLI Beaumont which is east of Houston is 560 AM.

KILT FM is streaming on the net and on WIFI.

WWL broadcast every news conference live, and made sure the public was completely informated.

Let’s hope Houstonians get the same support from their local radio.

Oh and not so fast there Corpus, you’re not out of the woods yet.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2008 in Radio programming

 

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Creating A Sparkling Station

Gordon McLendon was the owner of KLIF Dallas and KILT Houston among others during the 50s, 60s and 70s.

The McLendon stations were innovators and very colorful.

He was the first to try an all news format, but Top 40 was where McLendon made his mark.

The stations were really promotion vehicles, with music and DJs attached.

McLendon promotions were imaginative and exciting.

A McLendon promotion could generate thousands of participants. They often included treasure hunts or other ‘event’ type promotions designed to stop traffic and get notice for the station.

Sometimes the promotion was so big and successful the city had to pass new laws to prevent traffic jams and property damage.

Other owners and PDs would fly into Dallas to listen and take notes. They’d try to identify what worked and bring the magic back to their own station.

McLendon was hard to copy, in part because he was so original and so driven.

The “old Scotsman” had a simple rule posted in the studio.

“Be funny, be informative or be quiet”.

Talk to any former McLendon PD or jock and they’ll tell you he meant it too.

McLendon believed certain elements made a station stand out from the others. He called these “sparklers’.

To quote from a McLendon memo; “a ‘sparkling station’ means one that is: alive, exciting, animated, buoyant, vivid, spirited, fresh, topical, exuding on air a feeling of what’s-going-to happen-next and something-continually-going on.”

“Such a station doesn’t just happen. It takes WORK by the Program Director and all concerned– lots of work. And if that work is not a labor of love, rather than a labor of continuing effort, the chances are that the station will sparkle only briefly.”

McLendon was so serious about the subject he laid it out in a ten page memo to Program Directors.

Every element was important.

He wanted the Program Director to pay attention to everything on air. The memo even outlines the right and wrong approaches to ‘time and temp’.

Does your station ‘sparkle’? Does it sound ‘immediate’ or ‘topical’?

Pretend you are a Program Director coming from out of town. Take a room at a local hotel for two days and listen to your station. Fill a notebook with everything you hear.

Is there anything you would ‘steal’ and take back to put on the air?

Is your station alive, exciting, animated, buoyant, vivid, spirited, fresh, topical, exuding on air a feeling of what’s-going-to-happen-next and something-continually-going-on?

In other words does it ‘sparkle’?

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2008 in Radio programming

 

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