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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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Me And My Wifi

A black Emerson Radio made in the 1940s first captured my imagination.

It was around 1960 that my mother brought the radio to me.  I was sick and she hoped it would help me feel better.

Little did she know how that afternoon would change the direction of my life.

The first station I remember listening to was WCBS with Jack Sterling doing mornings I think.

This radio thing was fascinating to a five year old.

Even now you can hand a radio to me and I’ll sit for hours tuning the dial to see what’s on.

But the most amazing device I’ve found is the CCrane WIFI Radio.  It brings the entire world to me.

Pick a location or format and bam you are there.

If WIFI Radio isn’t the future, I can’t wait to see what is.

Having the ability to listen to Oldies from over a hundred sources, or Reggae from WSTX St. Croix and news from 2UE Sydney is great.

It has rekindled my appreciation for local radio.

For a program director it is a great way to hear how other stations sound just like we used the skywave to hear the big Top 40s in the 60 and 70s.

I rarely listen to music radio from local stations.  Now CBS FM, K-Earth or WLNG are a few of the music stations that are always playing in my office.

For variety the morning show on Capital FM in Nairobi Kenya offers something interesting late at night local time.

It’s a good thing I don’t have WIFI in the car.  I’d probably get lost in the radio and drive right by the house.

Any radio junkie will find a whole new world, literally, with the WIFI.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2008 in Radio programming

 

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Hello Syracuse

The plan was to fly into Syracuse, spend a night with my son and his family and then drive to Canada for a meeting.

Then the flu wrestled me to the mat and changed all that.

I spent the next couple of days in bed asking the ghost to bring a cold ginger ale up from the kitchen.

The house I was staying in is 150+ years old and quite haunted.

There are all kinds of stories of strange happenings in the house. Fans and lights turn on at will and thermostat settings do what they want.

The ghost was either stubborn or lazy because the ginger ale I ordered never arrived.

Syracuse is one of my favorite towns. We lived there for a few years in the 90s. It’s probably not a place I could go back to (is 200 inches of snow per year the reason perhaps?), and yet we have more friends there than anywhere in the world.

Syracuse is a as close to stepping into a time machine as it gets.

For example, the same people are anchoring the news on TV that were there in 1993.

The same people are on the radio.

Some of the stations even sound pretty much like they did then with jock shouts and jingles.

Advertisers use the same tired jingles on their TV and Radio ads they’ve used for decades.

Every promotion this weekend was a look backward. It was a reunion this or a reunion that.

There was a Classic Car Reunion the Disco Reunion and some other reunion.

No wonder I felt like I was traveling in the Wayback Machine.

Ok, I admit I always stop at Heid’s in Liverpool for a hot dog and shake, that’s as retro as you can get.

The ‘Cuse could use a little fresh thinking and so can many other towns.

I don’t care if you’re in Lubbock or Green Bay as a PD it is up to you to pay attention to things around you. Really listen to your station and the competition and find ways to make your station sound fresh.

People inside the stations can be as resistant to change as those outside. Keep fighting for it.

It can be very difficult if your market is somewhat isolated and you can’t hear radio from bigger markets. How can your talent learn?

I strongly suggest you take time to listen to your entire market, here are some suggestions.

  • Look for tired promotions and dump them
  • Kill tired language
  • Promotions that are being over done by all of the stations, like ‘reunions’
  • Look for places that people go that have been ignored by the stations
  • Brainstorm a list of new ideas
  • Find fresh events to participate in
  • Buy a WIFI Radio and listen to other markets
  • Or listen on line to stations that stream
  • Network with PDs outside or your market
  • Get your station staff to listen to big market stations
  • Look at websites for ideas

Look at all of the elements, the language you use, the promotions, and especially the ‘sacred cows’.

Sacred Cows make great burgers.

Think fresh.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 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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