Fifty years ago, on November 7, 1967, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act, legislation that created America’s public broadcasting system. In signing the legislation, President Johnson expressed the hope that one day, public television and radio stations would satisfy “America’s appetite for excellence” and “enrich man’s spirit.”
The Public Broadcasting Act created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which today supports nearly 1,500 public media stations across the country, including Michigan Radio, by distributing federal funding amounting to roughly $1.35 per citizen, per year. The legislation helped usher in a new era of independent, non-commercial media dedicated to public service and education.
Former WUOM-FM (Ann Arbor) General Manager Edwin Burrow and Program Director Jerrold Sandler played pivotal roles in ensuring that funding for public radio was included in the Public Broadcasting Act, which was originally written just for public television. Those efforts helped ensure the financial future of both National Public Radio and the hundreds of local stations that make up the public radio system today. You can read more about how the Public Television Act became the Public Broadcasting Act in this 2005 story from Current.
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: Seth Resler Jacobs Media Strategies
In 2015, we added a new feature to our radio industry blog called The Guest List. The concept is simple: We invite a notable person in radio (or a related industry) to write a “Top 5 List” for us. We launched it in part to take some of the workload off of Fred Jacobs, who has been blogging daily for over a decade. The feature turned out to be very popular, with many of our lists going viral on social media or attracting a steady stream of search engine traffic. Here’s a look at why this blogging strategy worked, and why radio stations should consider seeking similar blogposts from influencers in their markets.
1. It’s an easy ask for the guest authors.
You never know what kind of reaction you’re going to get when you ask people to write a guest blogpost. Some people have a lot of confidence in their writing ability, others don’t. If people don’t know what to write about, thinking of a topic can be a big hurdle. For these reasons, I have found that people are much more receptive to being a guest on a podcast than being a guest on a blog.
Fortunately, the Guest List format makes things a lot easier on our authors. We suggest a topic (though we allow them to choose their own if they want) and spell out the simple five-item list format. For most people, this makes the process of writing a blogpost much less intimidating than starting from scratch.
Inviting guests to write has added breadth to our blog with positive results.
3. The headlines attract readers.
Deride it as “click bait” if you want, but the truth is, the “Top 5 _______” headline is a surefire formula for drawing traffic to your website. It works for a few reasons: First, it tells you exactly what the blogpost is about without giving away so much information that you don’t feel like you need to actually read it. It piques readers’ curiosity by making them wonder, “What are the five ______s?” They can only get the answer by clicking on the link.
Finally, it implicitly guarantees to the reader that they can scan the blogpost before they have to commit to reading the entire thing. When I conduct website usability tests, I see that nothing scares people off like dense blocks of text on a website. The advantage of lists is that the reader can scan the subheadings and then, if they like what they see, go back to the beginning and read the post more carefully.
4. It gives our guests a reason to share our blog with their followers.
Web content goes viral when influencers — people with lots of online fans or followers — share their content with those fans. Our guest authors are usually influencers with a slightly different following than our own. For example, when Mignon Fogarty shares her guest blogpost, it reaches a lot of podcasters. When Luke Bourma shares his, it reaches a lot of cord cutters. This has enabled our blog to reach beyond just radio broadcasters and find new fans in other arenas.
5. The format is search engine friendly.
One advantage of the Top 5 List format is that it forces you to include keywords in your blogpost title and throughout the post itself. Even if you don’t know anything about search engine optimization, you’re likely to write a search engine-friendly post with this format. It’s hard not to.
Radio stations can use Guest Lists to enlist influencers in their market to contribute posts to their blogs the same way that we do. Find some experts in areas that interest your listeners — food, local music, sports, beer, etc. — and ask them if they would like to write a post. Many will jump at the opportunity.
For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at [email protected] or 1-800-968-7622.
Back before the turn of the century, radio station owners often did market research to find viable programming “holes” in a market. Often it didn’t even take research, just an experienced radio nerd with a sense of what was to be popular. Once identified, the task was simply to put it all together and hit the air.
Beautiful Music to Lite AC
I was in Atlantic City doing one of Bonneville’s beautiful music formats and Jerry Lee was in Philadelphia doing Bonneville’s Matched-Flow beautiful music format on WEAZ (EZ 101-FM).
Jerry Lee has always been a leader in the radio industry and with the research of Bill Moyes, they moved WEAZ from beautiful music to Lite AC and re-branded the station B101 (with new WBEB call letters too). It was a very gutsy move!
Jerry’s success with the new format saw me take WFPG-FM from beautiful music to Lite AC and re-brand as Lite 96.9 a few years later.
Timing is Everything
The year was 1989. The country would soon be headed into a recession. The format switch at WFPG-FM saw us go from #2 in the 12+ Arbitron Ratings to #1. Even better, we took the #1 positions in all the key buying demos.
As the economic conditions tightened in the early 90s, the number of stations deep being bought in Atlantic City regionally/nationally would go from five to three to one. And WFPG-FM was the one.
We delivered our first million-dollar bottom-line year in 1991. We repeated that performance in 1993. Meanwhile, the other radio stations in the market were just about making ends meet.
Signal, Signal, Signal
In real estate, the key to having a winning property is all location, location, location.
In radio, the key to having a winning property is signal, signal, signal.
WFPG-FM had one of the market’s only 50,000-watt non-directional signals at that time. Two other 3,000-watt radio stations were already programming a light adult contemporary format, but when we put that format on our huge signal, they both bailed, one changing to classical music and the other to classic rock. It left WFPG-FM as the market’s only Lite AC radio station and with the most popular music format at that moment in time.
What I’m seeing is too many “me too” stations on the air today.
Me too is not a viable strategy.
The future for any venture in a 21st Century world is to zag when others are all zigging.
Look at any successful enterprise and you will see two things:
1) not everyone loves what they do; and
2) they’re famous for what they do. (Think Howard Stern.)
Howard would make Sirius Satellite Radio something special and unique. 124It’s why they forked over hundreds of millions of dollars to have Howard join their team.
What happened to the OTA radio station’s when Howard left for Satellite Radio?
They had an Excedrin headache for quite a few years.
Reprinted by permission.
Dick Taylor has been “Radio Guy” all his life and is a former professor of broadcasting at the School of Journalism & Broadcasting at Western Kentucky University (WKU) in Bowling Green, Kentucky and he’s currently seeking his next adventure. Dick shares his thoughts on radio and media frequently at https://dicktaylorblog.com.
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
Here are 6 ideas that, if implemented will not only make you sound better but you’ll probably raise your numbers too! Your consultant will be checking back to make sure they’re all done by the end of the week (lol)!
BE LOCAL. Build in positions on the clock to mention people, places and events. Take advantage of traffic reports to sound local. Former KVIL, Dallas morning man/PD Ron Chapman did it best; “The accident is at Main and Second, right in front of McDonalds.” Dallas listeners could always picture exactly where the accident was. Being local is important, but being good is key. Always strive for the best product that reflects local tastes.
BE HUMAN. Remind your talent that they are like actors. Actors use scripts. Their “interpretation” brings the words to life. The same applies to station benefits. If jocks just read them they will not work. Adding the human touch and not losing the message brings them to life. But, be careful not to allow jocks too much room to “interpret” the liners. Many times, in their attempt to do this, the focus and point gets lost.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? PROMOTE YOUR BENEFITS. Every time a jock opens the mic they should promote a benefit of the station. It is hard enough to get listeners to hear our message. Frequency is key here. Music quantity and at work use are essential.
THE LOST ART OF AIR-CHECKING. It is so important that talent understand what you expect. It also strengthens your relationship with them. Doing an aircheck session will alert you to things you may not normally hear. This goes for live, in-building jocks as well as voice-trackers. Do one today and hear the difference tomorrow.
STAY CLOSE WITH PROMOTIONS. Seems like every advertiser wants a promotion to go with their schedule. That’s why the program director should be the final link in all promotions. Make sure they are right for the station, and executed properly to help improve ratings. Example: How does this promotion increase occurrences of listening or cume? Are we talking about it enough/too much? More and more we learn: Promotions are the icing on the cake. Music is still the #1 reason people listen.
ARE YOU OVERUSING YOUR VOICE PERSON? If your voice talent is on the air more than your jocks, you may want to review that. Use your jocks to sound live, local and vibrant. Trust me. Your listeners like your DJ’s.
Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations. www.garyberk.com
On November 1, WDIV-TV (Detroit) raised a total of $76,000 for the nonprofit organization THAW, The Heat and Warmth Fund.
The Gift of Warmth telethon, held from 5:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. included special reports from Consumer Investigative Reporter Hank Winchester, the head of WDIV’s “Help Me Hank” Consumer Unit. He explained how the money would be spent to help people in crisis pay their utility bills during the cold winter months.
Donations called in to the Local 4 phone bank and submitted through a link on the station’s website, ClickOnDetroit.com, totaled $38,000. DTE Energy, who sponsored the telethon, generously matched those donations, bringing the total to $76,000. This is an annual event the station has hosted for many years.
THAW provides utility assistance for Michigan residents in need and energy efficiency education for people across the state. People who receive help from THAW include the elderly, unemployed, underemployed and disabled individuals who find themselves in an energy crisis. Of those helped by the nonprofit, more than 70% have a child or senior in the home.
TEGNA Inc. has announced it has partnered with Cooper Media to launch Quest, a new ad-supported adventure and exploration multicast network free to consumers. Quest will initially debut early next year across TEGNA’s station portfolio as a new multicast channel. TEGNA will receive an ownership stake in Quest and will share in the network’s revenues.
Quest will capture the wonder, imagination and excitement of the natural and man-made world and features shows about natural history, engineering and science, as well as military history and man’s greatest achievements. The only broadly-distributed factual-entertainment multicast network, Quest will show how the world really works and will not only entertain but will inform and educate viewers as well.
“As part of TEGNA’s ongoing content transformation initiative, we are always examining ways to reach new and underserved audiences through entertaining, informative and relevant content across platforms,” said Dave Lougee, president and CEO, TEGNA. “Quest will do just that. It will offer engaging programming that will appeal to a national audience currently under-represented by multicast networks. Launching Quest across our portfolio is also a cost-effective and advantageous use of our valuable distribution capabilities.”
TEGNA owns and operates WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids.
Cooper Media is the newly-formed parent company of both Quest and the Justice Network, a 24/7 multicast network delivering mystery and investigations entertainment programming with a commitment to safety. The Justice Network debuted across TEGNA’s multicast portfolio in early 2015. Both networks are founded by Cooper Holdings Chairman Lonnie Cooper.
“Quest is a fresh take on a nature and science factual entertainment network designed specifically for the growing over-the-air multicast audience,” said Steve Schiffman, CEO of Cooper Media. “We are thrilled to build on our thriving partnership with TEGNA to fill a programming gap in the multicast space and to double down on the growing over-the-air segment.”
Mobile App Developer Doubles Staff In Past Year Bingham Farms, MI.
The mobile application space is growing, and jācapps, a leading provider of mobile solutions, has recently made several important personnel moves to accommodate its continuing expansion. The company has more than doubled its staff in the past year as it enjoys significant growth in all business categories, including radio, logistics, health care, travel and tourism and others.
“Each of these moves enables jācapps to invest time and resources to develop new products as well as providing our clients with outstanding service,” comments jācapps President Paul Jacobs. “Our rapidly expanding list of clients is expecting more from us, from websites to new platforms, and of course, great mobile applications, and this expanded team is up to the challenge.”
jācapps is pleased to announce:
Jody Messinger has been promoted to VP, Operations. “Jody joined us almost two years ago as Director of Production and her impact on how we operate was instantaneous and has allowed us to scale the way we have,” said company COO, Bob Kernen. “This promotion will allow Jody to further expand her impact on the growth of jācapps by taking on an expanded range of responsibilities. She’s proven herself again and again, and we’re delighted to recognize that.”
Ben Levy has been promoted to Director of Software Architecture. “Our growing technical platform and expansion into new devices and technologies requires putting more emphasis on advanced development capabilities,” said Kernen. “Ben has always been one of our go-to guys when it comes to new technical challenges and opportunities and it’s time that becomes his primary focus instead of a side gig.”
Nathan Turner has joined jācapps as Director of Product Development. Nathan joins jācapps from his previous position as head of UI/UX design at web development firm, Entrega. “It was time for us to have some senior leadership over our design group and Nathan brings tremendous expertise and creativity,” said Kernen. “We’re excited for him to make an impact on our overall product strategy.”
These moves cap a year where jācapps has expanded all areas of the business, including design, UX, development, customer service and business development. “jācapps is a Detroit success story,” remarks Jacobs. Our area is full of talented, hard-working, creative people, and everything about our company reflects that ethic.”
The Michigan Muslim Community Council honored WXYZ-TV (Detroit) and Investigative Reporter Simon Shaykhet with its “Fairness In Media Award” Sunday night. The award is given to an individual and news outlet exhibiting a willingness to use honest and fair reporting to tell the story of the community.
The station and Simon Shaykhet were also recognized for their recent work on a series of special reports titled Muslim American: Inside a growing Michigan community.
The series was a team effort: Digital Reporter Alexandra Bahou and Photographer Editor Johnny Sartin were also part of the collaboration.
During the exclusive report, several aspects of the community were covered, including the history of Dearborn, education about Islam, holy month of Ramadan and fear and discrimination. Above all, the series gave a unique perspective into what it means to be Muslim American.
“It’s a great honor for WXYZ-TV and we are so proud of Simon Shaykhet and the rest of the team who worked so hard on this project,” said General Manager Mike Murri. He added, “This award is truly special, and shows the commitment we have to being fair and truthful, especially at a time when news outlets are being questioned for their fairness.”
Entercom has unveiled the management structure the company will follow after its merger with CBS Radio.
“From day one of the merger announcement, we have said that we wanted to assemble the best team in the business,” Kramer said in the memo to company employees. “Regardless of whether you wear an Entercom jersey, a CBS jersey or one from the opposing team – we want to make sure that we have the best starting line up on opening day.”
Among the many appointments, it was announced that Michael Doyle, currently Entercom president of sales operations/regional president, will have regional responsibility for Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Rochester and Seattle.
Following the merger, Entercom will assume control of the CBS stations in Detroit: WWJ-AM, WXYT-AM, WDZH-FM, WOMC-FM, WYCD-FM and WXYT-FM.
On November 9, 2017, the FCC approved the Entercom/CBS merger.
Former Alpha Media (Saginaw) General Manager Shannone Dunlap has joined Black Diamond Broadcasting as Director of Business Development.
Dunlap told All Access, “I’m excited to join the Black Diamond Broadcasting team. As a young, independent media company that’s growing extremely fast, this position carries a great responsibility, as well as being a tremendous opportunity for me and my family. I’d like to thank Mike Chires and Norm McKee for their trust in me.”
Dunlap spent the last decade as the GM of Alpha Media in Saginaw, Michigan. Prior to that she held Manager, GSM and NSM positions for Digity, NextMedia, as well as Cumulus, Emmis and CBS-Buffalo.
Dunlap has also served on the board of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. She began her newly created position in Traverse City, November 1.