Category Archives: Programming

What I Learned From Buying a New Car…

Gary Berkowitz

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

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

My lease was up and after 10 or so years of driving a Honda (loved it), I decided it was time for a change. Cut to the chase, I wind up with a GM vehicle. Best part: it has an HD radio, which my Honda did not. I am now excited!

When the salesperson was explaining all of the bells and whistles of the new car, we finally got to the radio. Here’s how the conversation went:

Gary: Wow, it has HD radio.
Salesperson: Really?
Gary: Yes
Salesperson: I’m really not sure what that is.
Gary: Let me explain (and I do).

She looks at me and says: “I just thought it meant the radio sounded better.”

Needless to say, I love all the HD channels. New formats. New music choices. The audio is great and the signals are pretty solid. I just wonder how many people are out there and have HD in the car but are unaware of it. I guess you could say we have not done a stellar job promoting HD radio. There’s still time.

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

10 Common Traits of Winning AC Stations

Gary Berkowitz

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

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

Have you ever looked at the ratings and wondered: How do certain AC’s always come out on top? Do a “programming x-ray” on the most successful and consistently high rated AC stations and you’ll quickly see the common elements that make them winners.

After many years of working with AC’s around the country, here’s my top ten list of the common traits of winning AC stations.

1. They understand their listeners music taste. They know that if the music is not right, their ratings will not be right. To them, music research is like a utility bill. It always gets paid. Successful AC’s don’t want their “lights turned off”, so they do the research (you know what I mean!)

2. The golden rule is “Win at Work.” Everything rallies around 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sure the other day parts are important, but 8-4 is where you will get the majority of your ¼ hours. When the book comes in, that’s the first place they look to see how they did.

3. They are “brilliant with the basics” and understand how to combine them with a fun, congenial atmosphere. They don’t “read” liners. They deliver them in a warm, natural, friendly way so the listener feels good about listening to their station. They do an amazing job of making sure their listeners ALWAYS know who they are listening to whether it’s a PPM or Diary market.

4. Winning AC’s have personalities who are more concerned with being likable than funny. In sales, the line is “People BUY from people they like.” In programming “Listeners LISTEN to people they like.” Are your personalities “likable”?

5. AC winners follow a conservative road. “When in doubt, leave it out” is their rule. Whether it’s a bad spot, or bad lyrics, they don’t overthink it. They just leave it out. Remember, “You only get hurt by what you play.”

6. They position themselves with true listener benefits. They ask their listeners why they listen and they mirror that. They forget the useless language (We Love You, You’re The Best”). They sweat the small stuff. Like not talking about listening at work at 5 p.m.

7. High performing AC PD’s are not concerned with “content” as much as they are with “companionship.” The big AC’s have personalities who understand what it is to be a listener’s friend. To a listener, having their favorite, comfortable AC station on is as important as anything in the work environment.

8. They have a phone app. It’s tough to buy an AM-FM radio these days. If you don’t believe me, go into a Best Buy and look for one. The world revolves around the phone. If you’re not there, well…. you know the rest! Get that app today!

9. They make effective use of Facebook and Email marketing and do not abuse it. Successful AC’s know that Facebook is still the 500 lb. gorilla with their base and they post often with information that is useful to their base. Listener emails always contain a strong reason to open and read it (like secret contests and giveaways only for them).

10. Consistency is job #1. Day in and day out, they sound the same. Always smooth. Always warm and friendly. Everyone does formatics the same. Its smooth. Winning AC’s are like the restaurant that has mastered great service, fabulous food and a great environment.

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

Are your personalities ‘Difference Makers’?

Gary Berkowitz

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

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

 

There’s a lot of noise out there in radio-land these days. Digital. Internet advertising. Podcasting, Apps, Alexa and many others. Now don’t get me wrong, I think that’s all important. Very important. But, we may need to slow down for a second and look at an area that is a key reason listeners listen and that is the on air personality. Whether you have talk show hosts or DJ’s on a music station, listeners enjoy and more importantly want their local radio stations to have personalities.

The other day I was scanning thru Rick Sklar’s “Rockin America”. It’s the story of what is arguably one of radios most successful radio stations ever, WABC in New York. In his book, Rick details what made WABC so successful. He devotes a full chapter to the air personalities and how important they were the station’s success.

I would like to share just a few of his quotes from Rockin America. After you read them, ask yourself: How is my station with our on air people? Would my listeners think of our personalities like New York listeners thought of WABC’s? Could this be the missing link for greater success on my radio station?

From Rockin’ America…

  • The impact of WABC cannot be summed up in a corporation’s profit and loss statement.To the listener, radio is a personal medium.
  • During the dozen years of its heyday, WABC, its music and its air personalities became an intimate part of the lives of tens of millions of people who lived in the Northeast.
  • Mornings without Herb Oscar Anderson or Harry Harrison, afternoons without Ron Lundy or Big Dan Ingram, evenings without cousin Brucie were unthinkable to WABC listeners.
  • Those voices, each so unusually amiable and delivered with the warmer than life resonance of the WABC sound, were friend, family and counselor all in one.
  • The songs they played were so popular that they became the national hit music for America. Their appeal crossed every demographic barrier.

Think about it. Can you say these things about your on air personalities? I believe that on music driven stations we sometimes focus too much on content and not nearly enough on how our jocks sound and come across to the listener.

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

Are We Doing A Good Enough Job Promoting Our Apps?

Gary Berkowitz

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

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

I am having some work done on my house. The other day one of the carpenters walked into my office and said, “I hear you’re a big shot radio guy.” I replied that I was not a big shot, but I was in radio. He is 35 years old and is clearly a music fan. He also likes radio. Here’s how the conversation went. I will refer to him as “John.”

John: I love music, but these days, I get everything I need off my phone. Straight music and no commercials. But I do like listening to the radio too, but I don’t have a radio. I’ve got to think that between phones and the Internet, radio must be hurting.

Me: Well those things (Internet, satellite) have definitely created more choices, but…have you tried downloading radio station apps on your phone?

John: What? (key reaction)

Me: Yes, many of the radio stations have apps and you can download them for free. Then you can listen to any radio station on your phone.

John: Wow. I did not know that. Can you show me how to do that?

Me: Sure.

We then went to the App Store and put in one of his favorite stations here in Detroit. And like magic…it downloaded!

John: Wow, this is great. Can I do this for all the stations?

Me: Yes.

John: Wow. This is great, and it’s free too!

So what does this brief but telling conversation mean? Here’s what I get out of it. As an industry, we have not done a good job in letting our listeners know that these apps are available. We have not communicated that “if you’ve got a phone, you’ve got a radio.” Now John can easily listen to his favorite radio station. I never thought that as an industry we did a good job promoting what HD radio was. Apps are different as, unlike HD, everyone has a phone and we have a world of listeners out there…as long as they know how easy it is to listen to us.

As for John, when he came back the next day to finish his work, guess what? I heard THE RADIO in the background, loud and clear (on his phone)! If you have an app, let’s ramp up the promotion of it. I’m not sure listeners are hearing it or getting the message.

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

‘Content’ or ‘Companionship’

Gary Berkowitz

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

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

OK, I’m going to say it. “Companionship” is more important than “Content.” Sure content is the buzzword these days but it takes a special something to be considered a “companion.” Yes, its great to have both but nothing causes more occurrences of listening on a daily basis than being a “companion” that the listener enjoys spending time with day after day. Content may get em sometimes. Be their companion, and they will always be with you.

Why is so much radio content “low hanging fruit”? Radio seems to always go for the easy to find, not always compelling material. One of the PD’s I work with refers to bad content as “low hanging fruit.” If you’re going to do content it must not only be compelling, but of high interest to your demos and listeners. After all, can you imagine “The Today Show” doing “This Day in History”? Not gonna happen! Unless you have killer content, another song will serve you better.

Do you have a “relationship” with your P1 core? The #1 and most important element to getting consistently 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. This is where your personalities come into play. They are “The Secret Sauce” between the music.

In sales they say “People buy from people they like.” In programming its “People listen to people they like.” Is your station likable? Think about “content or companionship.”

New Music is weak right now with AC’s biggest “feeder format” CHR. Don’t fall prey to “we have to freshen up.” Playing proven, familiar music still wins out every time. Discipline is needed now, and yes, this can change at anytime.

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

With April Fools’ Day Coming Up, Plan Your On-Air Pranks with Care – Remember the FCC Hoax Rule

David Oxenford - Color
David Oxenford

By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP,
BroadcastLawBlog.com

With April Fools’ Day falling on a Sunday this year, perhaps the potential for on-air pranks is lessened. But, then again, who knows what weekend talent may be planning? So, as we do every year about this time, we need to play our role as attorneys and ruin the fun by repeating our reminder that broadcasters need to be careful with any on-air pranks, jokes or other bits prepared especially for the day. While a little fun is OK, remember that the FCC does have a rule against on-air hoaxes. While issues under this rule can arise at any time, broadcaster’s temptation to go over the line is probably highest on April 1. The FCC’s rule against broadcast hoaxes, Section 73.1217, prevents stations from running any information about a “crime or catastrophe” on the air, if the broadcaster (1) knows the information to be false, (2) it is reasonably foreseeable that the broadcast of the material will cause substantial public harm and (3) public harm is in fact caused. Public harm is defined as “direct and actual damage to property or to the health or safety of the general public, or diversion of law enforcement or other public health and safety authorities from their duties.” Air a program that fits within this definition and causes a public harm, and expect to be fined by the FCC.

This rule was adopted in the early 1990s after several incidents that were well-publicized in the broadcast industry, including one case where the on-air personalities at a station falsely claimed that they had been taken hostage, and another case where a station broadcast bulletins reporting that a local trash dump had exploded like a volcano and was spewing burning trash. In both cases, first responders were notified about the non-existent emergencies, actually responded to the notices that listeners called in, and were prevented from responding to real emergencies. In light of this sort of incident, the FCC adopted its prohibition against broadcast hoaxes. But, as we’ve reminded broadcasters before, the FCC hoax rule is not the only reason to be wary on April 1.

Beyond potential FCC liability, any station activity that could present the risk of bodily harm to a participant also raises the potential for civil liability. In cases where people are injured because first responders had been responding to the hoaxes instead of to real emergencies, stations could have faced potential liability. If some April Fools’ stunt by a station goes wrong, and someone is injured either because police, fire or paramedics are tied up responding to a false alarm, or if someone is hurt rushing to or from the scene of the non-existent calamity that was reported on a radio station, the victim will be looking for a deep pocket to sue – and broadcasters may become the target. Even a case that doesn’t result in liability can be expensive to defend and subject the station to unwanted negative publicity. So, have fun, but be careful how you do it.

David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline. Access information here. (Members only access).

There are no additional costs for the call; the advice is free as part of your MAB membership.

The Robinson Report – Different

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

Kevin Robinson

By: Kevin Robinson
Robinson Media

“The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.” – Albert Einstein

Coffee – Starbucks vs. Dunkin Donuts.

Smartphone – iPhone vs. Android.

Religion – Protestant vs. Catholicism

None of the above is “better” than the other, only different.

The “better” is determined by the end user, not the designer.

The human brain has seven slots of short-term memory (give or take two slots) at any given time. As brand marketers, our job is to grab just ONE slot and then print it to long-term memory.

Often times, “professional copywriting” is tremendously “same” and not different. The result washes over the end user and never “prints” in the “seven slots.”

While re-watching the historic and elaborate Naptown Rock Radio Wars, it’s clear that WIBC against WIFE was about who was  different. When WNAP came to morally disrupt Indy radio history it was clearly different and messy – far from “better.”

So do something about it.

Listen, read or see the brand you shepherd.

Of course you think it’s better – you designed it.

But is it ‘different’ – from your competition.

Are there aural activators, unique talent and surprises that create “differentiators”?

Different  is the new “better.”

A word of caution: being “different” carries a heavy tax.

You’ll initially be on an island, alone.

And sometimes that’s what makes it “better.”

Kevin Robinson is a record-setting and award-winning programmer. His brands consistently perform in the Top Three 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 he has coached CMA, ACM and Marconi winning talent.  He lives in Indiana with his wife of 32 years, Monica. Reach Kevin at (314) 882-2148 or robinsonradio@aol.com.

Programming, Promotion and Digital/Social Media Sessions at 2018 GLMS

Here’s a quick summary of the programming, promotion and digital/social media sessions at this year’s Great Lakes Media Show, March 6-7 in Lansing.  Full descriptions can be found on the schedule here.

Comprehensive Digital Strategy: How to Connect Everything from Google Analytics to Social Media
Wednesday, March 7 10:10 – 11:00 a.m.
Presented by Seth Resler, Jacobs Media Strategies

31 Things You Need to Know to Get a Job Right Now & 8 Reasons Why You are the Future of Broadcasting
Wednesday, March 7 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Presented by Jay Kruz, WREW-FM Mix 94.9 (Cincinnati)

What You Have to Know To Be A Program Director in 2018
Wednesday, March 7 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Presented by Kevin Robinson, Robinson Media

Double your Audience
Wednesday, March 7 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Presented by Paige Nienaber, Clifton Radio & CPR

Also of Interest:

Drones and Tools
Wednesday, March 7 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Presented by Brian Town, Michigan Creative

Radio Broadcasters and the Digital Dashboard
Wednesday, March 7 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Presented by David Layer, National Association of Broadcaster

And don’t forget the Exhibit Hall is open for a preview on Tuesday from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. and again all day Wednesday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m!

The Robinson Report – The Black Mirror

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

Kevin Robinson

By: Kevin Robinson
Robinson Media

“I am not the only person who uses his computer mainly for the purpose of diddling with his computer.” –Dave Berry

The Black Mirror is a dark series – found on Netflix – which explores the danger of techno-paranoia and all things “computer.”

Spring 1989.

As a large market content creator in Phoenix, hours of the day where dedicated to generating research, program management, event scheduling and media staffing.

Utilizing an IBM 236 with 10 meg hard drive (!!), all critical issues – solved.

Research reports – employee memos – program management.

All behind the CRT.

Late one day, the boss stuck his head in my office and said…

“…You can’t create greatness staring at a computer screen…”

It was as right 29 years ago – as it is today.

Before Windows – before Internet – before iPhone.

We can all learn from those words – today.

Daily, we bunker down – waiting for the next big thing.

When – we need to be creating – the next big thing.

The tools we use remain simply another tool, not a content creator.

Intoxication our technology generates allow us to miss early great opportunities.

Why not – just one day a month, migrate away from our Black Mirror(s).

Free your mind from the noise of our business.

Justin Bieber (talent – discovered on You Tube) launched Carly Rae Jepson’s career – with a Tweet.

Model Kate Upton – discovered on You Tube – doing The Dougie at a Clippers game.

Comedian Bo Burnhan – practiced in his bedroom before posting his funny at age 16 – on social media.

The Olympians we’re watching – thousands of hours creating GREAT – before they make it to our screen.

So – go.

Now.

Leave.

Create your next – big thing.

Kevin Robinson will be speaking again this year at the Great Lakes Media Show (GLMS) March 6-7 here in Lansing.  For details, click here.

Kevin Robinson is a record-setting and award-winning programmer. His brands consistently perform in the Top Three 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 he has coached CMA, ACM and Marconi winning talent.  He lives in St. Louis with his wife of 30 years, Monica. Reach Kevin at (314) 882-2148 or robinsonradio@aol.com.

The Robinson Report – Prep

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

Kevin Robinson

By: Kevin Robinson
Robinson Media

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” -Benjamin Franklin

Everyone, everywhere needs to prep.

Executive ChefHockey PlayerFlorist.

If you’re a speaker,  you need an “Elevator Speech.”

Check out what coach and educator Fred Miller says about that here.

Sellers (and we all are):  Sandler Institute’s Jody Williamson has pre-call tips for you  here.

We’re often asked, “Does Robinson Media do a prep sheet for their clients?”

The answer:  No.

We recommend that when prep services are up for renewal, drop them.

Most of which are typically soaked with The Daily Horoscope, Today In History and The Impossible Question.

With our ‘Three in Three’ prep exercise we teach, you quickly learn you don’t need them.

Plus, when talent develops their own prep,  there’s emotional equity.

You literally can prep content in the time it takes to read this article.

Audiences are engaged by the stories, topics that emotionally resonate and the theater of your show.

Look to  the Internet, a local paper or simply by obsere the world around you.

Still think you need prep sheet? There’s plenty of free stuff out there.

If you can’t find it here, you probably don’t need it.

Just so you know: It took over 60 minutes to prep this article.

Uncomfortable about cutting the prep sheet lifeline?

I know a guy.

Kevin Robinson will be speaking again this year at the Great Lakes Media Show (GLMS) March 6-7 here in Lansing.  For details, click here.

Kevin Robinson is a record-setting and award-winning programmer. His brands consistently perform in the Top Three 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 he has coached CMA, ACM and Marconi winning talent.  He lives in St. Louis with his wife of 30 years, Monica. Reach Kevin at (314) 882-2148 or robinsonradio@aol.com.