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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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Joy of The Hunt

Barely a day passes when we don’t hear of someone downsized from their job.

Media people know all about it.

People in other industries are not accustomed to getting pink slips.

The other night, my neighborhood mentioned his company just finished a round of layoffs.  He is in the oil industry. We live in Houston where oil is a big deal.

The local economy is exploding. Last summer I counted over thirty homes under construction in my neighborhood.

The sudden drop in oil prices could but the brakes on that. My neighbor thinks more cuts are coming.  His co-workers are a little freaked to say the least.

Rightsizing or downsizing means your life can change on any given day.

Lately I’ve coached a number of people dealing with layoffs from media companies.

Here are a few of my suggestions if you are suddenly unemployed.

1. The job hunt takes time. Companies move slowly. Many will never respond to you even if your qualifications are outstanding.

2. The on-line application software used by most companies is difficult for  managers to navigate and no help in identifying strong prospects.

3. Your application is lost in a sea of resumes with hundreds of unqualified applicants.

4. You will NEVER get a job by just applying at the company website.

5. You must make a personal contact with the hiring manager or someone that can lead you to that person. The on-line application has NOTHING to do with getting you hired.  This is a key point.

6. Your job is to secure a phone interview. Nothing happens without it.

7. The process is slow. It will take months. Weeks will pass without a response. But don’t give up.  Keep finding  new ways to rise above the rest by sending ideas, observations and the benefits you bring to the job.

8. Apply, apply apply. The more places you apply, the more people you meet. You need just one contact to find the right job.

9. A hiring manager is out there right now looking for someone like you to fill a great job. Remember, you worked before. You WILL work again.

Now if I can just remember to follow my own advice.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Narrowcast Future

There was a point this summer when my keyboard got quiet.  I had simply tired of writing about the way things were in radio.

Memories of the great jocks,  fun stations and the way we used to do it.

Tired of the conversation from radio people that want it to go back like it was.

During that time I became heavily focused on digital media and specifically how we can use the tools to communicate.

Now my thinking is focused  on where things are going in all media.

It is going to be very different from the ‘good old days’.  These are likely to be better days. Way better.

The occasional story about a great station or jock will pop up here.  But the conversation within our industry must change.

Like it or not radio and all media are changing.  There is no choice.  Technology is the reason.

Technology is changing the way we live, how we use our time, and what is available to us.

We once thought of ourselves as ‘radio people’ or ‘TV people‘, now we are now simply in media.  The web changed how we do our jobs and more importantly what those jobs are today.

A person who concentrated on audio  must know about written content and video. Radio news reporters now produce video pieces for their websites.   The lines have blurred.

Here’s the big one.  Narrowcasting will replace broadcasting.

The day of programming to the masses is going fast.  Programming to highly focused niches  is already here.

Narrowcasting won’t kill off broadcasting this year, but the future will be more about highly targeted content than what appeals to the masses.

Some would argue that cable networks have started this trend.  Fox News serves a niche.  It is not intended to be the news channel for everybody. Those that like it, love it.

The History Channel, Cooking Channel and even ESPN are narrow in approach.  But they are almost ‘mass appeal’ narrow.

This is about being much more narrow.  Very narrow.  Instead of the History Channel, it might be Civil War Battles,  or Civil War Songs, but not covering everything about the war.

A transmitter is no longer needed to reach an audience.  And anyone can start a media outlet from their laptop using audio, video and written word.  This content can be distributed numerous ways on the web.

A pod cast created in your basement can have a larger audience than your local radio station with  interesting new sales opportunities.

Narrow your focus and program to people who are highly passionate about a subject.  This is about gathering  your own ‘community’ interested in what you have to say.

Topics that aren’t  found in mainstream media defined as radio, TV, newspapers and major websites.

A audience of dog lovers devoted to Pugs is probably small within your town.  But imagine the number of Pug fans nationally and worldwide.

Your listeners/viewers/readers are as likely to be in  Australia as in the town next to yours.

Browse I-Tunes and you’ll find hundreds of programs in a wide range of topics being produced.  This shouldn’t stop you from doing something too.

Find a subject that people are passionate about, and go for it.

The web is big. But keep your focus narrow.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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The Trouble With Content

Radio was easy a few years ago.

The competition  was limited to what people could pull out of the air locally.

Now it comes from all sides, radio, the web, WIFI, IPODS, IPhones, and I’m probably forgetting some.

It is tough out there.

So what is a radio station to do?

Simple.  Focus on creating content.

A few years ago, the President of a large radio group boasted  that his company had lots of content.  They could take it an re-use it or re-purpose it on the web and it would generate additional income.

Not so fast there big guy.  Most radio stations don’t create much of their own content.

The music they play isn’t theirs.  Imaging between the songs isn’t content.  .

Most jocks have little to say other than to plug the website or what was already said in the imaging.

That big radio company hasn’t been all that successful on the web.

Talk radio is different but most talk stations are programmed from networks.  Most local stations create very little content of their own, and probably won’t have rights to re-use the network stuff on the web.

Local news is content.  Only a handful of stations  have anything resembling a local news room.

Most stations have very small  overworked staffs focused on  keeping the station on the air.  No one in the building has time to create more content.

Yet content is being cranked out at enormous rates on the internet by regular people.  Blogs like this one and hundreds of podcasts are examples.

The web is loaded with experts and  hobbyists  each with a passion for specific subject.  They are creating content that touches the real life interests of your listeners.

Radio is competing with the guy down the street for a share of the audience’s attention.  Soon WiFi will bring thousands of  radio stations from around the world to the car.

Content tells your story , builds the brand and most importantly adds value to the lives of your listeners/readers/viewers.

People already spend more time on line each week than they do listening to your radio station.

Facebook’s size is equal in population to the fourth largest country in the world.

The station website will be the primary channel from which your audience will access your stuff.

The thinking at radio must change.  Instead of being a radio station with website attached, it will be a website with radio station attached.

Your station either becomes an important part of their on-line experience or you go away.

This is not about putting the same old  stuff in a new package. This is about creating content that that is not heard on your  transmitter.

New day.  New time.  New rules.

Radio can‘t worry about the train leaving the station when the rocket ship is heading to Mars.

Let‘s hope it hasn‘t already left.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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McLuhan Revisited In The Narrowcast World

Change is the most exciting part of media today.

A couple of years ago media was separated by delivery method.  You had radio, television, newspaper and magazines.  Today on the internet they all converge into well…media.

Newspapers are still hung up on delivery of a printed product and trying to increase dieing circulation.

Television is caught in a world where an outdated network concept is beginning to collapse.  The end of networks could bring the end of local over-air TV.

And in radio the ratings service is causing stations to broaden their approach at the very time the audience is demanding something more personal.

Big media companies must change how they view these franchises.

Radio stations, television stations, newspapers and the internet are simply pipeline.  A delivery method.

This pipe is no different from what transports crude oil, natural gas or water.

All that matters is the content running through the pipeline.  Not the pipe itself.

This should be an ‘ah’ moment for big media.  Instead they focus on the pipeline and fixing unfixable problems like newspaper circulation.

Newspapers must now think like radio or television stations by using video and audio programming to supplement their written content.

Television needs audio and radio needs video.

It is likely there will be no actual TV station or radio stations in the future. These will be replaced by a content portal  on the Web  using the best of all media to communicate.

Most exciting is the ability to narrow the focus and provide very specific content to highly passionate audiences.  The day of one size fits all is over.

Audiences can be small locally yet huge on a world wide scale.

The New York Times should be a world wide brand for news content long after the last paper is printed.  But they have to stop thinking like a newspaper.

These information portals will offer multiple streams of rich content.  They’ll do it on the consumer’s schedule not that of some network.

It is a narrowcaster’s world.  We’re seeing the dawn of ultimate customer focus.

Big media take notice while those established brands still matter.

Marshall McLuhan’s theory no longer applies.

The medium is no longer the message.  It is simply a method of transportation.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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Tough Times Require A Different Mindset

If your General Manager seems grumpy it’s because this budget season is the toughest most of us can remember.

People are losing their jobs not just on air, but in many key positions like Sales Manager.

Not to alarm you but almost no one is secure.

It is very tempting to eliminate a high salary to help make EBITDA.  No I don’t really know what it is, but I know my department has to hit the number, so does yours.

One PD certainly can handle two, maybe three stations in tough times.  Or so the thinking goes.

Most owners are less worried about the integrity of the product than the integrity of their bank loan.   In other words, without the bank loan, there is no business to worry about.

It’s really that simple.

If you were one of the lucky ones chosen to stay during your station’s latest round of cuts.  Good going.  You’ll be working harder, with less help and probably no raise or bonus this year.

Don’t take for granted you’ll be there in six months.

This is the time to step up more than ever.  Show your manager that you are a valuable member of the team.

Nobody is going to keep weaker people in a tough economy.  We’ve even seen many good ones riffed.  But that doesn’t mean it has to happen to you.

A friend of mine said his station is doing zero based budgeting.  He’s not a fan.

I told him this is the next step in his development as a manager.  If you can shine in the tough times imagine how good you can be when things are great.

Do your best to protect the station bottom line. Avoid unnecessary expense and work with your staff to do the same.

We’ll get through this, we always have.

This time might be harder than in the past.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2008 in Radio programming

 

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The Narrowcast World

For a couple of years, one hundred commercial free music channels seemed like a big deal.

But XM and Sirius now sound strangely like commercial radio.

IPODs and MP3 players changed how we consume music.

HD is a nice idea, but so far little more.

Through all the changes local radio still wins in the car.

But not so fast.

Today Chrysler announced their 2009 model cars will have WIFI connections.

That is the sound of a paradigm shifting.

Local radio is in trouble.

Broadcasting in the purest sense is dead.

Welcome to the narrowcast world.

Internet ‘radio’ stations suddenly have new importance.

Broadcasting means programming directed to large, broad audiences having similar tastes. The things that made Top 40 and AC work in our culture.

But now, every car eventually will have access to hundreds if not thousands of internet radio stations.

It is no longer necessary to program to broad tastes in one geographic area.

Imagine a world of ‘narrowcasting’.

Internet stations with the potential to create thousands of highly targeted formats each reaching a world-wide audience.

Ownership of a terrestrial station required licensing, transmitters and money.

Internet stations are cheap to launch.

And “look Ma, no FCC!”

The barrier to entry was money and a license, now the barrier is content.

Wouldn’t you hate to be the guy who just overpaid for all those Clear Channel broadcast licenses?

It’s a new day, with new rules.

And it happened just when everyone said radio was dull and unimaginative.

This change will be no less significant than when television challenged radio head on.

Bring on the innovators!

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2008 in Radio programming

 

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My Day Job

CBS television is doing a story about people over 50 who have re-invented themselves. I kinda fit into that category.

At 25 many of us thought we would work in our chosen field for the next 40 years or so. Of course it’s rare today for anyone to spend an entire working lifetime in one career.

Ask me at age five and I could tell you what I wanted to be.

A disc jockey.

Oh, how proud my parents must have been.

No medical school for their boy. He’s going to be a disc jockey.

Back home in New Jersey a doctor named of all things, Alan Furst started up practice near my parents place. Mom must have beamed when other mothers stopped her in Acme and asked about ‘her son the doctor’.

I’m not sure how she answered. My guess is she smiled and never got around to saying her son, the ‘non doctor’ Alan Furst was playing the hits in Pittsburgh.

Radio was great fun for me for many years.

When it became time to move on, I was lucky to join a great company with great people; DMX Austin Texas.

DMX creates music, video and messaging for retail businesses. Walk through any mall or Las Vegas casino and you’ll hear our work.

At first I thought branded music would be just like radio.

Silly me. It’s nothing like radio.

We can teach the basics of music scheduling. But branded music projects require a very different talent and skill set than radio.

At DMX we match music to the visual environment.

Designers think in texture, attitude and mood. For the most part ‘playing the hits’ doesn’t fit.

Music design is audio branding.

Some retailers really understand branded music.

It’s easy to tell you’re close to a certain major retailer’s store when you hear their music pumping in the mall. Music is a huge part of their brand image.

Some radio programmers are able to make the leap to branded music. But radio experience doesn’t guarantee success.

Our Music Designers are good partly because they haven’t been locked in to rigid radio rules.

Music Design is an art.

The Designers come from wildly varied backgrounds.

One plays in the Los Angeles Symphony and knows more about classical music than should be humanly possible.

Another dressed sets before joining DMX. She combined her love of music and her talent for visual design to create amazing branded music programs.

These personalities couldn’t be more different from one another. Yet they bring great skills and ideas to our projects.

These are people who feel it.

They can walk into a room and identify artists and styles that fit perfectly to the decor. In some ways they are more decorator than programmer.

Their fabrics and colors are voices, instruments and textures.

How I fit into this group is anyone’s guess.

Music branding has given me some new ideas about branding radio. I’ll share these ideas with you in coming weeks.

We’re always interested in finding new talent. Please feel free to contact me at alan.furst@dmx.com

 
 

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Manage Self, Not Time

The first thing to know about time management is you can’t manage time.

(Well that kinda blows that apart.)

Time comes, it goes. It is a constant.

You can’t ‘save’ time either.

Time is the ultimate ‘use it, or lose it’.

We all have the same twenty-four hours everyday. Some people are just better at using their time than others.

Good time management is good self management. People who use their time well take time to set priorities, create a simple plan and then design an action list to achieve them.

Here is a simple system that I recommend to time crunched program directors.

First, think in terms of a week and do all your planning on a weekly basis.

Pick a regular time for your planning. Sunday morning works best for me.

Write down everything you have to achieve during the week. Include both work and personal items. Remember, your work and private life are connected.

Review the list and rank all of the items in order of priority.

Once you’ve outlined the priorities schedule time into your calender to work on each one. Again looking at the week as a whole.

Make sure you schedule important things into your calender like thinking, writing and LISTENING to your station. We are pulled in a dozen directions and don’t think of these things as priorities.

Managers don’t have to do all of the things on their list. Their job is to see the work gets done. Think about delegating tasks and projects to your staff.

Tony Robbins teaches that instead of having a long ‘to do’ list, you create a list of clearly defined ‘outcomes’ for the week. Under this system, you can often complete your objective without doing every task on your list.

He likes to chunk connected items to make one outcome. Robbins’ system is a very strategic approach. Changing from a long list of tasks, to outcome thinking can take you from having a hundred items to do, to ten that week. It is very powerful.

David Allen who wrote “Getting Things Done” uses a completely different system. He looks at anything with two or more tasks as project. Allen’s method is to keep you focused on the ‘next action’ in each one. It too is quite powerful.

Allen’s company offers an excellent add on to Outlook which helps you stay on track.

Achieve Planner is another excellent software. I like the power of creating full projects and it has a ‘next action’ feature. Rodger Constandse has included all kinds of great tips to help you with productivity. Their site is listed to the right of this page.

David Allen’s software and Achieve Planner offer free 30 day trial periods.

There are many other good systems. I used Franklin/Covey for years. They have paper and electronic planners.

Any system is better than no system. Many people combine the best of them to create their own personalized way of staying focused.

The best program directors take the time to focus on their priorities and set a plan to achieve them.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2008 in Radio programming

 

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Think Beyond Just A Job

It’s been great hearing from people checking in on the blog this week. Emails and comments are always welcome. Don’t be shy.

Several people have mentioned they are between gigs. This is usually not by their choice of course.

I can relate since I’ve been asked to vacate the building on more than one occasion.

Remember being fired is part of the cultural ritual of radio. You must be fired periodically in order to renew your membership in the brother/sisterhood.

Now that you’re out, what do you do?

I recently came came across Dan Miller’s books. The first was ’48 Days To The Work You Love’ and next is “No More Mondays”.

Dan’s mission in life is helping people find their passion and put it to work for them. Perhaps it is in a business of your own or something you do on the side as free lance. He is all about helping you take control of your own destiny.

The Dan Miller 48 Day’s podcast is available through ITUNES. The link to Dan’s website is listed to the right of this page.

Use the time between gigs to really think about what you want to do.

Radio jobs are changing rapidly. You can’t rely on the old ways of finding jobs. Take time to think about your strengths and work on a path that really suits your interests and talents.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn says, “Work harder on yourself, than you do on your job”.

In other words take the time to improve your skills, make contacts and work on things that will help more than just earn a paycheck.

View being fired as a great opportunity to meet new people and learn more about yourself.

Most people tell me the new job is a better than the one that turned them out.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2008 in Radio programming

 

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