All posts by Gary Berkowitz

Remotes: Make ‘Em Great

Gary Berkowitz

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

From radio’s earliest days, remotes have been a part of our landscape. Today, they still cause much talk at radio stations. Should we do remotes or not is the most commonly asked question (especially among programmers).

At many stations, remotes are necessary, especially this time of year (summer).  So, with that in mind, here are a few tips to make them work for the client as well as your station.


Avoid having talent remotes or call in’s on the telephone. Listeners are used to hearing them over the air with finely tuned audio chains. Years ago, getting a good remote phone line was complicated and costly. Not the case today. If you do remotes, invest in one of the many systems that easily produce digital quality over any type of phone.

If you are going to have a PA at the remote, avoid feedback. While PD at WJR in Detroit, we did many remotes and always seemed to have a PA problem. Our Chief Engineer, Ed Buterbaugh, came up with a great solution. Instead of having one or two large PA speakers (that usually cause feedback) he bought 10 smaller, high quality speakers. He would surround the remote site with these. Each had a separate volume control so we could adjust each individually. Since there were many speakers, they did not have to run at high levels. We never had feedback on remotes again.


The fact that listeners cannot see us is a great part of the radio mystique. When we go out on remote that goes away. It is for this reason that we must look great with equipment and sets as well as talent. If you use a van, make sure it is spotless and always polished. It should not have body damage and the inside should be neat and clean.

Leave the “card table” home. Get an impressive looking “set” to bring on remotes.

All station personnel should be “dressed for success.” Some type of “station wear” should always be worn. Unless you are at a pool/beach/summer outdoor promotion, T-shirts are a no-no. The station should invest in contemporary outfits. Remember that first impressions are lasting ones!


1. Have a plan. Know who is responsible for what. Review and go over the day before. Load the van the day before. Make sure the van is neat and clean inside out.

2. Make sure the account executive is at the remote. Since this is their account, they must plan to be there for the entire event to make sure that client relations are handled in the correct way.

3. Get to the remote site at least two hours ahead of the event. Have plenty of banners and giveaways at the site. Balloons are great. They are inexpensive and kids love them. Do not forget the helium tank. Having some type of gimmick can also be most effective. Some stations have a mascot that hands out pictures. Some have the Money Machine. The more you have to offer the more attractive you are to not only the client, but to perspective listeners.

4. Test the connection to the studio. Make sure you have a good line, and the board op can hear you and you can hear them. In this day and age of advanced technology there is no excuse for the first breaks to be sloppy and all over the place.

5. If you are going live, make sure there is good communication from the remote to the studio. The talent at the remote site must have working headphones to hear.

6. Have a plan/script for all drops/call-in’s. Keep remote drops to :60. Write it down so you do not end up repeating yourself repeatedly. Pre-plan each drop with the client so they will know exactly what they will be getting.

7. Do an email blast before the remote. If you have a database, send out e-mails to the database letting them know that you are coming to their neighborhood. Invite them to come and meet you. Won’t you look great to the client when you load the place up with people!

Finally: Record the drops

When you are doing one or two drops an hour, many stations find that recording the drops is more effective than doing them live. This way if an error is made, it can be re-done. Over the years, I did many a remote this way and listeners never realized the talent was recorded. This also allowed talent more time at the remote site to meet, entertain and talk to listeners.

Hopefully these tips will help you turn your next remote into a win-win for everyone!

Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations.

Gary can be reached at (248) 737-3727 or

All Things Christmas

Gary Berkowitz

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.

By: Gary Berkowitz
President, Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

“It’s all about how you decorate your station for the holidays.

Here’s a programming checklist and suggestions as we approach Christmas.

Programming checklist/suggestions as we approach Christmas:

  1. The on-air presentation should remain up and contemporary. Sometimes when stations go to all Christmas music, the jocks tend to “soften” or bring the presentation down. The on-air delivery should be up, fun and exciting.
  2. When opening the mic, the jocks should always open with a line like: B106.1 The Christmas Music Station. (Please do not refer to the music as “Holiday Music” always call it Christmas music).
  3. Other key Positioning lines to consider:
    • 100% Christmas Music
    • All Christmas Music, All The Time
    • Non Stop Christmas Music
    • All Your Christmas Favorites all Season
  4. Reinforce these lines every time. Not just sometimes. It’s critical to drive home the “All Christmas” message. It will not get tired.
  5. The goal is to “dress up the station” with Christmas cheer. This is a six-week tactic. Sound great and get all the ratings credit.
  6. The right music list repeats a lot. You may get some complaints. That’s ok. Wondering about your list? Call me and I’ll tell you.
  7. Dress the website for Christmas. Use the line “The Christmas Music Station.” It’s very important that when a listener goes to the website, it reflects what you are doing on the air. Same for Facebook pages. Do what you can with them to make it look like Christmas.
  8. Have high production values. Use lots of holiday jingles. If you cannot get new Christmas jingles in time, take your current ones, and be creative. Add bells, chimes, and ho-ho-ho’s to make them sound Christmas.
  9. It’s all about Christmas. All live liners and recorded sweepers refer to Christmas.
  10. Get involved with as many Christmas promotions as possible. Local sings, shows that are coming to town (Radio City Music Hall Christmas, etc). Look at a contest tactic like “Christmas Song of the Day.”
  11. Attention diary markets: No matter what the Arbitron, Ooops, I mean Nielsen people tell you, change your Arbitron SIP. Make sure it says “Christmas Music” “Xmas music” etc.

Before his current tenure as President of the company that bares his name, Gary Berkowitz spent many years being involved in every aspect of the operation and management of some of America’s most successful radio stations. Gary was the first Program Director at the legendary PRO-FM, Providence. He transformed WROR, Boston from an Oldies station to what would become one of the first AC’s in the US. Gary then went to Detroit for Capital Cities Communications to program News-Talk powerhouse WJR, and WHYT. Under Gary’s leadership WHYT experienced the highest ratings ever as a CHR. The next step was when Gary launched one of the first Hot AC’s, Q95, Detroit with another #1 success story.

Gary started his Detroit-based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting in 1990 and has been helping AC stations grow and achieve higher ratings ever since. Results driven, attentive and highly passionate best describes his style. In 2012 he was inducted to the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame as well as the WERS (Emerson College, Boston) Radio Hall of Fame.

Editorial: Station Information Packets, Old School Marketing Techniques That Still Work and Show Your PD Some Love!

Gary Berkowitz_300By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

The Nielsen reporting process with SIP’s (station information packets) can affect your ratings. Return your SIP every book. Make sure air talents are not rushing through or not selling calls and frequency. The #1 goal is to do everything to insure listeners know who they are listening to for increased recall.

GM’s & Owners: Programmers need love too! Have a weekly meeting or lunch out of the station to catch up and allow your PD quality time for important matters. Tell a jock you heard a good break. Send a note after a jock does a nice job at a remote. Walk by the studio and give thumbs up.

Do you have a “relationship” with your P1’s? This is the #1 and most important way to achieve strong ratings. You can play all the right songs; have all the right sweepers and the best jingles in the market. If you’re missing that hard-to-describe link that bonds the listener to your station, the ratings will most likely not be there. Remember the old saying “People Listen to People They Like.” Is your station likable?

Loyal listener databases still work. A little “old school” can go a long way. The days of unlimited marketing budgets are long gone. Take advantage of technology that is sitting on your desk today and is free. A listener database is a great way to speak to your best listeners and thank them with special offers that mean something to them. Many stations are wasting this by dumping worthless promotions into these databases. “Here’s whats happening at WAAA” does not mean anything. It sends out a message that communication from my favorite station is really spam.

Better: Send out an e-mail blast on Wednesday that says when you will play a secret song on Thursday. Give a “special number” to call to win $100. Make sure they understand that this contest is only for them (those who received the email). For $100 a week (less than some spend on lunch) you may set yourself up for a ratings spike. Don’t forget to start asking new people to sign up for your database.

“Change” is not adult radio’s friend. This is especially important with female based formats. When thinking about adjustments, think them over carefully. When changes in programming are made on a whim it could ultimately hurt or even worse, open up an opportunity for a competitor. By the way, listeners are more aware of on-air changes than we think. Yes, they hear that “extra spot.”

The earlier the better with marketing. If you are marketing for the book, starting early in the book is preferred. Many believe that it takes 60-90 days for changes to affect a rating book. Whether or not that is true, it makes sense to start early, and allow the cumulative effect of your marketing affect the book. This is especially important in one or two book markets.