Editorial: “Utility”

KevinRobBy: Kevin Robinson
Robinson Media 

It rings inside – like it was yesterday.

As a young talent and just off a record ratings book, the ‘consultant’ came to visit and outlined that the big audience, during my show, was a product of – the music.

NOT personality.

The explanation was classic – radio is like any other ‘utility.’

Listeners turn it on, expect it to be a service for a short time, and turn it off when they are through.

Just like the power company, the sewer district, or the gas provider.

Through the years, even in the pre-consolidation world, this thought has been announced and endorsed at countless seminars and conventions.

Regrettably, it’s often become the self-filling prophecy – reflected by lifeless brands all over the country.

Media across our country is homogenized, syndicated, and voice-tracked, resulting in a benign, utilitarian state.

We continue to be in love with our digital assets – while not mastering consistent local, compelling content for our mother-ships.

You can craft recorded audio – even syndicated – with a local and compelling sound.

I challenge you to listen – actually HEAR – your brand for 20 minutes, today.

Does your station sound custom for your local market – and reflect what’s happened in the last 24 hours?

Or, do you find your product simply a background service for your listener?


You can choose – Utility.

Or choose to develop a compelling brand that makes the switch harder to flip.

Kevin Robinson is a record-setting and award-winning programmer. His brands consistently perform in the Top 3 of the target – often times as the list leader. In his 35 years of radio, he’s successfully programmed or consulted nearly every English language radio brand. Known largely as a trusted talent coach, he’s the only personality mentor who’s coached three different morning shows on three different stations in the same major market to the #1 position. His efforts have been recognized by Radio & Records, NAB’s Marconi, Radio Ink, and has coached CMA, ACM, and Marconi winning talent. Kevin lives in St. Louis with his wife of 30 years, Monica. Reach Kevin at (314) 882-2148 or [email protected].

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of the above article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Editorial: Clear & Simple Call to Action

Jeffrey Hedquist 2013By:  Jeffrey Hedquist
Hedquist Productions, Inc.

Clients, advertising agencies, producers, broadcasters, and writers – have all (me included) done it. It’s a common, but detrimental mistake:

Including more than one call to action in a commercial.

Multiple call to actions can work in print and can occasionally work on TV, but attempting it on radio can delete your effectiveness.

It happens when we mistakenly assume that people are poised, writing instruments in hands, awaiting the vital information that will change their lives. Most of your listeners are engaged in other activities – driving, talking on their cell phones, working, cooking, performing craniotomies…

Giving them a choice of ways to respond is a bad idea.

Hopefully your message is compelling enough to make them want to respond. Now, make it easy for them.

When you’re advertising consumer products, the task is fairly easy. These products are usually available at many locations. People need only ask for the item or have the message that you’ve reinforced in the commercial brought to mind at the point of purchase.

With other kinds of advertisers there are several response vehicles to consider. The listener can call, vote, write a letter, visit a location, attend an event (concert, seminar, free demonstration), or visit a website. Often, in an attempt to cover the bases, we include them all. It’s like throwing several objects to someone simultaneously. Rather than catch even one, they’ll lose focus and catch none. Toss just one object to them and they’ll probably catch it.

You only have 60, 30, 15,10, or 5 seconds to elicit a response. Don’t confuse your audience. Narrow their choice of responses to one.

Only minutes ago, I left the recording studio having recorded a series of radio spots for a major national advertiser created by a large international advertising agency. The spots included two calls to action: a 10-digit phone non-memorable number and a moderately long URL. Both repeated twice. In my not-so-humble opinion, including both will reduce their response rate significantly, but in this instance; I was only the hired voice, not the advertising consultant.

If a website and/or telephone call (this should be rare) are the only ways for a prospect to respond, then create and air two versions – one with the phone number and one with the URL. See which pulls more responses. It’ll usually be the one with the website.

Don’t include both in the same commercial. Dividing the mind will divide your results.

Here’s one way to tell me if this was useful and what you’d like to hear about in the future: email [email protected].

© 1997-2016 Hedquist Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of the above article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Broadcast Auction Bids Heat Up

The FCC is stepping up the pace of the bidding rounds in the forward part of the incentive auction. Beginning June 13, the agency started conducting three rounds of bidding per day, up from the previous two. Initially, experts suggested that the reverse auction could run a maximum of 51 rounds. However, the new schedule may mean that the auction could end in late June – early July.

While it’s not clear when the forward auction begins, the agency has now set July 1 as the deadline for wireless auction applicants to make their upfront payments.

MABPAC Fundraiser: Let’s Go to the Ballpark!

Please join the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Political Action Committee (MABPAC)
for the Detroit Tigers v. Chicago White Sox baseball game and fundraiser on Monday, August 29, prior to the 2016 MAB Summer Advocacy Conference.

Guests will enjoy the game and picnic-style dinner and drinks in one of the private party suites located by third base.

What: Tigers vs. White Sox
When: Monday, August 29 – Suite opens at 6 p.m.; Game time is 7:10 p.m.
Where: Comerica Park, Detroit
Cost: $250/person

Reserve your spot by clicking HERE.

Space is limited and is available on first come, first served basis. Reserve your tickets today!

NOTE: In compliance with the Michigan Campaign Finance law, only personal checks/payments can be accepted. No corporate checks, please.

Questions? Contact Elena Palombo at [email protected] or 517-484-7444.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you at the game!

Senate Committee Greenlights Internet Gaming Bills

capitol3Senate Bills 889 and 890 allowing eight Michigan casinos to launch their own Internet gaming websites were voted out of the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee, despite testimony claiming the bills are unconstitutional and would cost the state “hundreds of millions of dollars” in lost revenue from tribal casinos.

Legislation includes a statement that says the Legislature finds that the Internet is “an integral part of everyday life for a significant number of residents of the state,” and that “Internet wagering on games of chance and games of skill is a core form of entertainment for millions of individuals across the world that generates billions of dollars in revenue for governments.”

The bill would grant licenses for Internet gambling in Michigan for just companies that currently have a casino license. This would include the Detroit casinos, and with tribal governments that have a gambling compact with the state. The bill would also require the licensees to make a non-refundable $100,000 application fee and a $5 million license fee (which could be refunded if a license is not granted).

The bill also imposes a 10 percent tax on gaming revenues, which the Legislature would appropriate.

NAB Reminder: Enhanced Electronic Newsroom Technique Best Practices

NABAll television stations that are using Enhanced Electronic Newsroom Technique (ENT) to caption their news programs should regularly review their compliance with the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s) rules, promptly respond to consumer feedback, and implement technical solutions to improve service to viewers who are deaf or hearing-impaired. Failure to comply could lead to FCC fines, a mandate to use real-time captioning instead of ENT, or other penalties.

Nearly all television programming must be captioned to serve the needs of viewers who are deaf or hearing-impaired. For several years, many television stations used ENT to provide captions for their live newscasts. ENT is an automated technique that converts the words in a teleprompter script into captions. ENT is an accurate, cost-effective alternative to full real-time captioning. However, the FCC proposed in 2013 to phase out ENT because too much news content was not scripted, and therefore not captioned.

NAB successfully negotiated with the FCC to allow many television stations to continue using ENT for the captioning of live news programming if they comply with certain best practices that characterize Enhanced ENT.


In-Studio Programming All programming that is produced in-studio must be scripted, including in-studio news, sports, weather and entertainment programming.
Weather Weather interstitials within a news program must be scripted. The FCC allows some flexibility given the relative difficulty of captioning multiple weather segments. Although the scripts for weather interstitials need not exactly track the words used on air, the captions must accurately summarize the audio text that accompanies the visual information on the screen and describe weather forecast information.
Pre-Produced Programming All pre-produced programming segments must be scripted to the extent technically feasible.
Live Programming If not scripted, all live programming, including interviews, live on-the-scene and/or breaking news segments must be supplemented with crawls and other textual information.
Training Television broadcasters must provide training to all news staff toward improved news scripting.
Compliance Television broadcasters must appoint an “ENT Coordinator” to track the newsroom’s compliance.

*All stations except for the four major national broadcast networks and their affiliate stations in the Top 25 DMAs are allowed to use ENT to caption live programming.

The option to use Enhanced ENT remains critical to the ability of stations in small and medium market to offer local news and information programming. The FCC, however, considers the accessibility of such programming for the deaf and hard of hearing to be of paramount importance and will only permit continued use of ENT captioning if stations consistently follow the best practices for Enhanced ENT. The FCC is actively monitoring television station compliance with these ENT best practices through consumer complaints and surveys. Not only will failure to abide by them potentially result in enforcement action, but also may cause the FCC to extend the requirement that local news and information programming be real-time captioned to all markets.

NAB recommends that all stations create a program of regularly scheduled checks of your Enhanced ENT to ensure compliance with the best practices, on a biweekly or monthly basis.

Going forward, broadcasters should consider further improvements to their ENT process. Key areas for attention include:

  • Synchronicity and pacing of captions
  • Accuracy and completeness of captions (e.g., missing words, especially right before a commercial break)
  • Size and format of captioning text and captioning window
  • Ensuring that scripts for all weather reporting within news programming closely track the words spoken on the air
  • Response to viewer comments about captioning

NAB also recommends that stations retain internal samples of ENT captioning for comparison to future progress.

Additional information can be found in NAB’s counsel memo regarding Enhanced ENT for live programming. NAB also plans to provide further guidance and training resources to help stations to further improve Enhanced ENT in the near future. Please watch NAB’s newsletters for details.

Urgent EAS Notice: New Equipment Requirements

eas-logo_300MAB ABIP inspector R. Dale Gehman has issued the following advisory.  Please review your EAS equipment immediately to assess your situation.

If you need further assistance, feel free to contact the MAB at (800) 968-7622.

R. Dale Gehman – GC&C – June 20, 2016

A new set of EAS Rules and Guidelines adopted by the Federal Communications Commission become effective on July 30, 2016, mandating the following:

1). All EAS Participants must have an operational EAS Decoder that recognizes the new FCC EAS ‘FIPS’ Code #000000 (National Location Code).

2). All EAS Participants must have an operational EAS Decoder that recognizes and acts immediately to ‘relay‐to‐air’ an EAS Activation received coded with the EAS Event Code; ‘NPT’ (National Periodic Test) that is received with a valid ‘FIPS’ Code.

3). All EAS Participants must register with the FCC’s new ‘EAS Test Reporting System’ (ETRS) once the ‘ETRS’ server is operational. The FCC will release a Public Notice announcing the launch of ‘ETRS’ and that upcoming notice will specify a WEB‐URL link that Stations must use to complete their ‘ETRS’ registration.

4). Once item ‘3’ above occurs; Licensees will have sixty (60) days to establish an account and enter each Station’s data into the FCC’s ‘ETRS’. Once ‘ETRS’ is operational, Stations must log in and report all EAS Activations to the FCC’s Server using the log‐in account registered for each Station.

5). FEMA has scheduled a National EAS Test for Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016 at 2:20 PM EDT. The National EAS Test will originate using the new EAS FIPS Code 000000 (New National Location Code) and using the modified EAS Event Code ‘NPT’ (National Periodic Test).


Unfortunately, many of the original 1996 vintage EAS Decoders/Encoders must now be replaced as they cannot be upgraded to accomplish both the modified response to receipt of an ‘NPT’ Event Code nor can they be upgraded to recognize the new ‘000000’ FIPS National Location Code.

An example of vintage EAS Gear that cannot be upgraded includes, but not limited to; TFT’s EAS911, the Gray SAGE ENDEC and most of the 1996 era EAS boxes.

Most Stations previously upgraded to current vintage EAS Gear that polls FEMA’s IPAWS-CAP Server via the Internet, in compliance with the FCC Rules. Licensees should insure that current vintage EAS Gear has the latest software and firmware updates prior to July 30, 2016!

Stations that continue to operate with vintage EAS Gear that has not been upgraded successfully to recognize the National FIPS Code ‘000000’ and upgraded with a modified response to the EAS Event Code ‘NPT’ – will be in violation of the Rules on August 1, 2016, a violation that subjects the Licensee to a significant monetary assessment and notice of violation upon inspection.

Longtime Broadcast Engineer Ren Flagg Passes

Ren_Flagg_300The MAB has learned that Renwood Carl “Ren” Flagg passed away on June 14 at the age of 78.  Flagg was a longtime broadcast engineer in Michigan, starting in 1961 as a transmitter engineer with WWTV/WWUP-TV in Cadillac and Sault Ste. Marie.
In 1967, he joined WJRT-TV in Flint as an engineer overseeing studio operations and maintaining a microwave link from the Fisher Building in Detroit to the WJRT studio in Flint.

In 1968, Flagg moved to WILX-TV/WJCO-AM in Jackson where he oversaw the technical operations of the (then) combined TV/AM studios and transmitters.  From 1973 to 2000, he was sales manager of Cruse Communications, based in Okemos.  His most recent position was with Spring Harbor University, where he was a video engineer in the communication department.

Flagg was known for his brilliance and keen sense of humor.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Janice, and two children.  Services were held on June 18.

Free MAB Web Training on Wage/Overtime Laws

When Taking Care of Business Requires Working Overtime

Responding to the Department of Labor’s New
Overtime Pay Obligations: A Guide for Broadcasters

Wednesday, June 22, 2016
2:00 – 3:15pm ET

On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor published final regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that more than doubled the minimum salary level necessary to be exempt from the Act’s overtime rules.

While the changes affect all businesses subject to the FLSA, broadcasters in particular may feel the impact of the changes given the staffing models used by many TV and radio stations.

The new requirements will go into effect on December 1, 2016, and broadcasters need to take steps to adapt to, and minimize the impact of, those changes prior to that deadline.

Communications and Employment practice attorneys from the Washington D.C. law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman will be online to discuss what the new requirements will mean for broadcasters come December, and how these changes affect the existing exemption for certain employees at small market stations.


Scott R. Flick, Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
Rebecca Carr Rizzo, Counsel, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
Moderator, Oscar Rodriguez, President, NASBA & Texas Association of Broadcasters

Register here by June 21 to receive login details.