All posts by Gary Berkowitz

Alexa Won’t Help If Listeners Don’t Know Who To Ask For!

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

Lately, you can’t pick up a trade without reading an article about Alexa and smart speakers. The consensus is that smart speakers (Amazon, Google, etc.) will bring radio back into homes where radios have been disappearing over the past decade. I support this theory 100%, but there are a few areas to carefully look at as we enter this new territory. If listeners don’t know you’re there and if they don’t know who to ask for, smart speakers will be just one more technology that we (radio) will compete with versus be a part of. With that in mind, please keep these ideas in mind.

Do more than run obligatory liners about Alexa skills. Saying, “Alexa, play Magic 106.5” may not be enough. We need to explain to listeners that we are available there and wherever they have a smart speaker, they have us. The same goes for smartphones. I have recommended to many stations the line “If you have a phone, you have a radio.” Campaigns should be developed that explain the smart speaker explosion (as well as phone apps) and how to listen to us. Be creative. Be fun. This is what radio does best. Making your station a “must listen” on smart speakers is crucial for our new found “in home” success.

I continue to hear stations (in all formats) do a poor job of on-air ID. Jocks more often than not, rush thru, mumble and do not SELL the call letters and dial position. This will have a very adverse effect on smart speakers, because, as the title of this article says, “Alexa won’t matter if they don’t know who to ask for.” Whether you’re a dairy or PPM market, it does not matter when it comes to Alexa. She is all about recall, so it’s back to the future! This all reminds me of “The Bob Morgan Mantra.” Bob was the market manager of CBS/Rochester for many years. In every meeting, Bob reminded us that we had to be “Brilliant with the Basics..” Alexa has brought that back into the forefront (not that it ever left).

Catchy, fun and memorable (sing along) jingles could have a rebirth. We have been in a very “drums and call letter” style of jingles for a while. I suggest that stations use catchy jingles to help listeners remember who they are listening to. Put aside cool and hip. Think “sing along” and “memorable” so when they say “Alexa, play … they say you because they remember you.

Talk content will need careful management to ensure that the Alexa message is clear and easy to remember. Do you want your jocks selling more listening opportunities (Alexa, Google Home) or some tertiary pop culture story (Ok, ok … take it easy on me for saying this!).

In summary. This new smart speaker technology is going to require us to go back to the basics of doing “memorable programming”, so listeners put us top of mind. So, remember, Alexa won’t matter, if listeners don’t remember who to ask for.

  • Call letters and dial position always first, last and in many cases, in-between.
  • Clever,creative promos that tell listeners that they can listen to us on their smart speaker. Go beyond the sweeper.
  • Acquire easy to remember Alexa skills.
  • Review imaging to ensure that it clearly addresses smart speaker technology.
  • Discovering jingles that are clever, memorable and excel in “sing along.”

Smart speakers are giving us the opportunity of a lifetime to be part of a technology that is exploding. Let’s not miss the train! I’m ready to get on-board. How about you?

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

The 5 Things Every Format Must Do For Better Ratings

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

Yes, this is a newsletter that is mostly focused on AC radio. But with the spring book just around the corner (March 28), I would like to review 5 things that EVERY station, regardless of format, needs to look at to give you the best shot at a good outcome when spring results are released. If you play music and have on-air personalities, this information is for you.

1. Identify your station properly and frequently. I sometimes get tired of hearing myself say this, but you cannot give your call letters and frequency enough. 85% of diary keepers report listening by entering (in the diary) the EXACT FREQUENCY. Say it slow. Say it often and sell it effectively. Have you noticed that when you ask a listener what station they listen to, they almost always say 100 POINT 3. They usually do not say “100-3…makes me wonder why some stations drop the point. Just sayin!

2. Focus your music. It’s easier than ever to find out the most important songs for your format. Discover them and play them often. Bigger is not better. It astounds me that some smaller market programmers feel that having a large playlist is important because they are in a smaller market. This makes no sense. Think about it this way. The McDonalds in Rapid City, South Dakota (market #251) is no different than the McDonalds in New York City (Market #1). Same menu. Same look. Listeners want the hits, not secondary or mediocre songs.

3. Promote your benefits. If you have a killer morning show, promote it. If you have a two hour at work kick off, focus on it. If you play the most music in your market, let the market know. Promoting the benefits of listening to your station far outweigh the benefit of promoting what is going on in the world of say pop culture.

4. “Companionship is more important than content”. If your personalities are not companions to your listeners, it won’t work. Its not what they say as much as it is “how they say it.” Radio is all about that friendly voice coming out of the speaker. Yes, people listen on many different types of devices, but the one thing that still wins out are personalities that are inviting, welcoming and friendly to the listener.

5. Use your contesting to create additional “occurrences of listening.” Look at it the way retail does. Just ahead of big weekends or holidays, supermarkets offer, for example, Coke products for .50 for a two-liter bottle. Why so cheap? Cause they want to get you into the store. They figure they can sell the product at cost, and hopefully, you will spend additional dollars while you are there. Your contesting should do the same thing. Use it to “get them to turn you on.” Then it’s up to you to get them to spend additional time. One more thing on contesting. Forget about “forced listening.” in today’s world. It does not work.

Please think about these 5 points as they apply to all formats that play music. Put them into practice and you’ll be happy this summer when spring results are released!

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

To My General Manager: A few things I Would Like To Tell You…

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

Dear General Manager,

There are a few things that have been on my mind. Please allow me this letter to tell you.

PD’s need positive reinforcement too. Since most GM’s come from sales, they sometimes treat the PD different. If you haven’t figured this out yet, us PD’s can be a weird combination of sensitive, paranoid and “artsy-craftsy.” Yes, at times, we are not easy to manage, but that’s why you’re there. Tell me when you hear something you like or something you heard that got your attention. Positive or negative, I need to know you’re listening and paying attention.

Please know this. I understand that we are a business and I get how we make revenues. At the same time, please realize that the #1 complaint I get from listeners is not about the music. It’s that we play too many commercials. If we’re going to kill it with way too many spots, please don’t complain to me when the ratings are released and don’t look good. I may need to remind you of this conversation. “We have to add another unit, but they won’t notice.” Trust me. They notice.

When you walk around the building, please put a smile on your face. Even though things are not always perfect, its important for all of us to see you feeling good and most important, confident. You really do set the tone of the building. When (and if) the trades are buzzing (for better or worse) about our company, please address it. We dislike rumors as much as you do.

When you tell me about what your wife and her friends think, you lose credibility with me. I love input, but the “My Wife and her friends” line wears thin, quick.

Let me help with promotions. It’s my specialty. I hate it when the AE walks in trying to slam a promotion down my throat (since they have already agreed to it). Bring me into the discussion before we present and more important, commit. In most cases, we will be able to offer a better promotion that will work for the client as well as our station. I’m happy to work with the AE’s on the proposal. I know where and how it will best fit into the station brand.

The most important thing you can do for me (as your PD) is communicate what is going on. Be honest, especially when things are not good. I’m better when I know.

Change is inevitable. Everyone in the programming dept knows that. Can you be the first GM to allow air talent to say goodbye when the time comes? Why is it that when TV people leave, they usually get to say they are moving on. In radio, personalities just disappear in thin air. Listeners do not like that. I realize there are some circumstances where we cannot allow a talent to say something, but many times a quick goodbye would go over well with our audience. We’re always trying to build a relationship with listeners. Then at the end, their favorite DJ just disappears. Trust that I will know which talent can be trusted to leave in a positive way and say goodbye to the listeners.

Can it wait until after my air shift? I realize you have deadlines but discussing it with me when I’m on the air is never good. No matter what you’d like to discuss, it will most likely distract me and that’s never good. Whether I’m live or voice-tracking, please…can it wait?

Yes, I need a small “expense budget” for my airstaff. Spending time away from the station with talent is important. I would love to be able to take them out for a lunch every now and then. This will reap big rewards.

In conclusion: Programming people are like middle children. We aim to please. We get up every morning with the goal of winning by doing great radio. We’re in it because we love it. Please be our leader and know that our goal is to make the radio station successful with both our listeners and the inside people who make it happen 24/7.

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

All Things Christmas! It’s All About How You Decorate the Station

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

Whether you’re an all “All Christmas” station, or just spice in Christmas music with your regular format, there are a few easy steps to make it sound as special as the holiday itself.

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. If anything, the on-air delivery should be up, fun and exciting.

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). 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

Reinforce these lines every time. Not just sometimes. It’s critical to drive home the “All Christmas” message.

The goal is to “dress up the station” with Christmas cheer. This is a 6-week tactic. Sound great and get all the ratings credit.

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.

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.

It’s all about Christmas. All live liners and recorded sweepers refer to Christmas.

Get involved with Christmas promotions. 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.”

Attention diary markets: Change your SIP. Make sure it says, “Christmas Music,” “Xmas music,” etc.

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

10 Tactics Diary Markets Can Steal From PPM Markets

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 are many lessons diary markets can learn from PPM markets, which measure actual listening versus perceived (diary) listening. With that in mind, please consider these key points that, if implemented properly, could be the key to higher ratings this fall.

Music in the morning counts. There are only a handful of personalities who can do content that is better than an extra song. For many years, we believed that “bits” in the morning were more important than music. PPM has quickly taught us this is not the case. If you are a music station, make sure you are playing at least eight to 10 songs an hour in the morning.

8 a.m. – 4 p.m. is the “sweet spot” for adult-driven stations. In PPM markets, if you do not get the major share of listening here, you will not get it at all. This means your morning show should be winding down non-music elements by 8 a.m. as you get into a more music mode. Many ACs (in PPM markets) have dropped the 8 a.m. information package.

TSL is all about adding “occasions of listening.” Sure, song to song is important, but not nearly as critical as increasing occasions of listening. This has always been the case (in diary markets), but we see it’s more so in PPM markets. How do you increase occasions? Read the next few points.

Tactical contesting is back, and not surprisingly, cash is king! In most PPM markets, cash is proving to be a very strong tactic for increasing occasions. If it works with PPM, why wouldn’t it in diary-based markets? How much moves the meter? Call me and I’ll share the answer with you.

Commercial-free hours work. Again, it’s a great way to increase the occasions of listening.

No surprise here: too much DJ banter is a tuneout. Yes, DJs are important. They need to be warm, friendly, and inviting, but on a music station, listeners are coming for the music, so keep the DJs tight and to the point. Your jocks need to be “companions” to your listeners.

When the music starts, keep it going with very little interruption. ID and image, yes, but do it quickly, and always let the listener know the music is not stopping.

There is substantial tuneout when spots come on. In addition, PPM is teaching us that listeners appear to have a “second sense” for when we are about to stop for spots. I refer to it as the “Pavlov’s dog theory.” When they hear the jock doing a typical back-sell and station or sales promo, they know you are about to stop the music, and tuneout comes even quicker.

Get back to the music as soon as possible. Once the stopset is over, get back to the music quickly.

Listener availability is not always there 7 p.m. – midnight. Many PPM-market ACs are struggling with this, as they were used to huge night numbers in diary. PPM is showing us that AC listeners don’t listen from 7-12 in the evening. Take advantage of that in diary markets.

In conclusion: Yes, there are differences between PPM and diary measurement, but there is a lot to be learned from a system that measures actual listening and behavior. PPM is clearly illustrating that listeners want a music-heavy radio station that does not interrupt too much. When it comes to non-music elements, use moderation. Jocks, yes, but keep them tight and moving. Contesting, yes, but make sure you are offering something that interests listeners. Information, yes, but keep it short and to the point.

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

Salespeople: Here’s How To Make Live Reads Work

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

If you were to ask any successful PD what the secret to their success was, I am sure they would tell you that being sales-friendly is one of them. I certainly believe that, and continue to be sales-friendly myself. Which takes me to live reads, arguably one of the most requested and successful tactics for today’s radio advertiser. To get some solid advice on how to make live testimonial reads more successful, I spoke with Peter Connolly. Peter owns LIVE, The Personality Advertising Specialists in Detroit. He creates and manages live local radio endorsement campaigns all over the U.S.

GB: What are the most important strategies for a live read, testimonial spot to be successful?
PC: An AE, PD, or any manager should be able to do a marketing gut check and immediately tell if this is the right customer for a live read campaign. Only start a live read testimonial campaign if you believe the results will be dramatically better versus a recorded :30 or :60. The client must have a strong story to tell in two short sentences.

Focus on the client’s needs. A few years ago, while working with Steve Marx (our sales consultant), he became frustrated when he realized we ditched our customer focus and had a one-size-fits-all “live read” solution to everything. We went from highly customer-focused to a “live read drive-through,” and the first step was skipping over the critical step of understanding customer’s unique strategic and tactical needs and challenges.

GB: When you book airtime on a radio station, what is the first thing you expect the salesperson to do?
PC: They must take the live endorsement work seriously. Get me as close to the talent and any other resources they have for maximum return on investment. I want them to make sure their talent has all the tools necessary to win for our client. If there are any problems or issues, bring them to your agency or account’s attention at once. All of us want client success.

GB: What is the biggest mistake a salesperson can make that will get in the way of a successful live read?
PC: If a salesperson does something that loses our trust, we are probably done.

GB: If you cannot coach the talent, what are some tips you would give the local salesperson for coach?
PC: We never start a campaign without meeting talent in person. If our talent is in Rough and Ready, California or Two Egg, Florida, we go there. How can we expect talent to have clarity and belief in our client’s product and goals, and most importantly, to be personal with our client’s messaging as a partner if we don’t take the time to meet them in person?

GB: Can a PD be helpful with a live campaign? How?
PC: Yes. PDs are the best asset to a client and AE, especially for a live read campaign. We know PDs are the ultimate marketer and primary talent coach at a radio station. Often, we reach out to a PD to use their relationship and expertise to fix a delivery issue. PDs can have exposure to research, ideas and events we need.

GB: How long should live reads be to be effective?
PC: We only do :60s, and we have many campaigns that span six to eight years. We never expect a live read to go longer than one minute (some PDs think we do). Often, some of our best live reads are less than 60 seconds. It’s most important that they be very personal, clear, and well prepped units. We want these to be longterm, multi-year campaigns with key accounts. Unfortunately, some customers are not set up for long-term annuals.

GB: Should they have music under them or not?
PC: Never.

GB: How should the salesperson manage the client’s expectations?
PC: We have some clients that have tethered us to digital performance metrics. Radio and especially live read results are far broader than digital metrics and lead generation. For strategic and tactical battles, radio and live reads are still an incomparable tool for providing far deeper, longer-lasting results. Make a list of results that you can track over a continuum.

We also do a lot of agency work. Agencies are expert at looking more deeply at sales results that are far broader than those of a digital vendor. These campaigns have resulted in and contributed to staggeringly higher market share, far higher web sales, far higher phone metrics, and have made unfair gains in market share at a far lower budget. Finding these results is very tough, as we’re dealing with humans. I always ask the clients’ salespeople, who interact with actual customers, for their input.

In conclusion, as a programmer, I like live reads. They help a person’s personality come out, and if done right (and not overused), can form a strong bond with the listener. It can be useful content as it’s (hopefully) helping a listener solve a problem or need. I’ll take a sincere live read any day over a loud, screaming recorded spot or senseless talk for talk’s sake.

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

The Fall Book Is On. Now What?

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

The fall book is on and before we get too deep into it, here are a few basic and easy to implement tactics that will help you get a better outcome.

Air Talent: Personality? Yes. Excessive talk? No. Listeners do not know that our jocks are often reading liners. Work with them to deliver the message in a warm, friendly, natural sounding manner. The best talent can take liners and make them sound like they are full of personality. The best sounding stations are benefit driven, but do not sound like liner card radio.

Music Flow: Keep the music tempo flow even. Spend the time to make sure that every segue flows. Familiarity continues to be a key element. New music continues to be a limited pool to choose from. Only play the proven current hits as you start the book. Keep the music up but don’t overly push tempo.

Jock liners & production: Have you freshened these lately? Old copy allows jocks to fall into a comfort zone. Have you freshened your music promos, hook promos and station promos in general? Short and to the point is always best.

Usage: The more research I see, the more it becomes very clear that AC radio stations are used for relaxing, unwinding and helping to “keep things calm.” Many programmers have fought this over the years trying to replace it with up, hot, hip. Presenting your station the way listeners use it is important. Recommendation: do not fight the easy/relax part. It is how they use it. Include it in your verbiage and let your listener know that they have found the radio station that helps them relax and feel good.

Basics 101: Slowly and deliberately selling calls (name and frequency) and position. Calls always first & last. Making sure your music position is clear, simple and most important, unique. Brand your name to everything you do. From weather, traffic and other items, always make sure they have your name “embossed” on them. In diary, over 80% of diary keepers record listening by exact frequency.

Local: You hear a lot about local these days, and yes, is it is important. Letting your listeners know what is going on in their world still matters. Great localization ideas include:

– Use local points of interest in traffic reports (“The accident is right across from the McDonald’s at 3rd and Main.”).

– Do a “”Here’s what’s going on in town today” segment on the morning show (much more useful than some of the bits that are out there).

– Write liners and allow jocks to talk about people and the places they are listening. Local names, people and places still work.

Morning Show Idea: Take an idea from ABC. Do a weekly “Person of the Week” on Friday mornings. Salute a local person for a contribution they have made to the local community. Ask listeners for nominations.

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

Programming Advice from Warren Buffett

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

Well, kind of. I recently read an interview with “The Oracle of Omaha,” arguably one of the savviest investors of all time, Warren Buffett. While reading through his interview, it occurred to me that many of his points could easily be applied to radio, so here’s my drill down on what he said about investing and how it applies to radio programming.

When Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett makes investing decisions, he focuses on one thing only: the facts. He says your opinions and emotions aren’t likely to help you.

WB: “Being contrarian has no special virtue over being a trend follower,” Buffett says. Instead, the Oracle of Omaha suggests taking a pragmatic approach to investing decisions. First, gather all your facts. Next, learn how to dissect them to find the pertinent information you need to make your decision. For Buffett, that means looking for the pieces that are “important and knowable.”

Radio Translation: If you know me, you know that I always say “I would much rather argue the facts than the opinions.” When making programming decisions, gather up the right information and facts. Example: Your GM comes in and says, “Everybody I know hates a song we’re playing.” Opinion, yes. Fact: If the music test says it’s great, play it. Or: “A listener called to say we play the same song over and over.” Chances are, when you look it up, the facts say you’re not, but that listener most likely just does not like that song.

WB: “If something’s important but unknowable, forget it,” he says. “I mean, it may be important whether somebody’s going to drop a nuclear weapon tomorrow, but it’s unknowable.”

Radio Translation: You don’t know what is going to happen in your market or station. Always be the best you can be today and be prepared for market changes, but do not act on them until necessary. 99% of the time, these things do not happen.

WB: Whether or not you choose to invest in something should be based on your research, not on your reaction to what other people are doing and saying. As Buffett puts it, “what others are doing means nothing. Concentrate on the facts, not how you’re feeling.”

Radio Translation: Forget about “what you hear” in the market. More often than not, it’s gossip that is not accurate.

WB: “Don’t watch the market closely,” he told CNBC amid wild fluctuations. “If they’re trying to buy and sell stocks and worry when they go down a little bit … and think they should maybe sell them when they go up, they’re not going to have very good results.”

Radio Translation: Worry about your station, not your competitor. More often (almost always) listeners are not sitting around with a “scorecard” on you and other stations. They don’t compare.

WB: Though it’s tempting to sell when the market begins to drop, giving in to your fear is not a sound strategy. “You cannot possibly succeed that way, you’ve got to do the opposite. It’s when you’re not scared you probably want to sell, and when you are scared, you probably want to buy.” Even when the market it tumultuous, it’s helpful to tune out other investors and concentrate on what you know.

Radio Translation: Research and facts can and will guide you in a tumultuous market, and most of them (markets) are tumultuous today. Use your research like a pilot uses radar. My son, Michael, is a Captain with Spirit Airlines. I once asked him what happens when he is in the clouds and can’t see a foot in front of himself. His reply: “In bad weather, a pilot trusts and uses his instruments.” In radio, we should treat our research like “instruments”. Trust it and let it guide us properly.

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

Tactics that Increase Ratings. Yes, These do Work!

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

As we approach the fall book, here are 10 “easy to implement” tips that will make a difference in the way you sound, and the outcome of the book.

You may read these and think “we already do these” but please take a closer look. Many “basics” often get overlooked or forgotten.

Keep the music familiar and focused. Be careful and choosy with new music. Check the log carefully daily for balance and flow. Avoid clumping of any same sounds. Keep the tempo “even.”

Sell the music position and the benefits of listening to the station. Music is the #1 reason people listen to the radio. Sell your music quantity and quality benefits. Specific music quantity benefits work much better than generic. Example: “Continuous Half Hours” are better than “Long Sets.”

Own at work listening. Winning 8 a.m. -4 p.m. (real at work hours) is the key to 25-54 ratings success. Make sure you are using your morning show to promote the stations at work benefits. Stop talking about at work by 4 p.m. After all, who wants to be reminded of work late in the day?

Morning fun. Keep the morning show bright, up and most important, loaded with interesting, fun and compelling material. Remember, there is a difference between “fun” and “funny.” If your morning show is music based, play at least nine songs an hour in AMD.

Branding. Attach your calls to all services and features. Make sure it is not “Your traffic” versus “WXXX Traffic” Sell your positioning statement and key benefits. Always, when going back to music from spots. Always, on the end of weather when going back to music. Nielsen reports that over 85% of diary keepers record listening by exact frequency. Avoid “phantom cume.” Calls and frequency can never be said enough.

Use as much “Appointment” promotion as possible. Creating more occasions of listening is the #1 way to increase time spent listening. Make sure each morning show promo has a specific reason and time for tune-in. Same applies to contesting. Let them know when you will be playing your contest.

Keep listener testimonials fresh. Listener testimonials are strong weapons to credibly promote the key station benefits. Make sure all testimonials talk about a specific thing such as morning show, most music, best music etc. Stay away from “stroke” testimonials such as “we love you.” Live testimonials versus phone type’s sound and work best.

Watch the talk. Keep the personality but also keep a lid on extra, non-essential talk. It is amazing how much unnecessary talk happens on radio stations.

Sell “More Music Weekends.” Many stations have a much more music intense sound on the weekend due to lower commercial loads and less services. Take advantage of this and promote as a benefit. “Weekends always mean more music” or “It’s a More Music Weekend.”

Production elements. Make sure all liners and sweepers clearly promote the strategy. If it’s more music, focus on it and sell it hard. Work in some jingle cuts you have not used in awhile. Look at prior packages that have not been used recently. If re-writing liners/sweepers be careful not to lose the basic point.

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

5 Things All Air Talent Can Learn from Dan Ingram

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

The headline on June 25 was shocking: Dan Ingram was dead. Dan has been called the “World’s Greatest Top-40 DJ.”  I would have to agree since I got to listen to him daily growing up in New York City,  where WABC was our local station. For those of you who do not know who Dan Ingram was, please allow me a brief introduction.

He spent over 20 years doing afternoon drive at what was arguably the most successful and highest rated Top-40 station of all time, WABC in New York. While doing that, Dan was also one of the leading commercial voices in America. If you’ve never heard Dan, it would be worth your time to spend some time with the many airchecks that are all over the internet.

During his long tenure at WABC, Dan was easily one of the most imitated DJ’s in America and all over the world. After all, what jock wouldn’t want to sound like “Big Dan.” WDVD, Detroit PD Robby Bridges spoke to Dan once, who told him he always envisioned his show as “second person singular.” The intimacy of radio at its best is you are entertaining the listener one-on-one — so never “you guys” or “everybody,” always “you.” Once you listen to Dan’s airchecks, you’ll quickly hear that Dan Ingram was an artist. An entertainer. A master of his craft who understood how to use radio to its maximum.

Radio has changed a lot since “Big Dan” was on WABC, but there are many lessons that today’s personality can learn from Dan and his success. Here are my top 5.

1. Dan Ingram always sounded happy. How he felt “personally” did not often come across on the air. His larger than life personality and smile was part of every break, every time. Jon Wolfert, President of JAM Productions in Dallas who worked closely with Ingram said, “I think that he did let in some of his personal feelings about songs, events and situations, but he did it in such a humorous way that it never got in the way. Doing that made you feel like you were listening to a real person who was living in the same world you were. The beauty of Dan is that he did his show on several levels at once; the casual listener, the radio insider, the advertising world. But no matter which group you were in, there was always something there for you to smile at.”

2. Ingram was PPM friendly before PPM was even a thought! WABC had fairly strict guidelines about talk. That did not get in Dan’s way. He became the master of inserting huge personality into every break, even if it was :08 long. He seemed to “bask in the glow” of how good and effective he could be with these short but great “breaks.” Dan understood the “magic of brevity.”

3. Nobody was more creative with station imaging than Dan Ingram. He wrote the book on how to use jingles to add fun, excitement and forward motion to your show (while doing a killer job identifying the station for ratings). Dan Ingram clearly knew that “keepin it moving forward” was paramount to his and the station’s success. When you listen to an Ingram aircheck, listen for his meticulous use of the station jingles. From name sigs to quick shotgun cuts, he moved beautifully from song to song and sometimes commercial to commercial with WABC jingles.

4. Nobody prepped like Ingram. When he was on WABC they had board ops. I had the chance to visit him one day while I was in high school. For me, that day was so impactful, that I can still remember every minute of the visit. In between songs, Dan would call out all the cart (cartridge) numbers that he wanted to use next, as well as the jingles he wanted to insert. He would clearly tell the board op when and how he wanted the sequence to happen. This made the engineer as important as Dan, as they had to work as one to make the sound happen. Only the best board ops could work with Dan. He was quick, tough and fast and knew what he wanted. If the engineer could not keep up with him, they would not work that shift again! Jon Wolfert puts one more spin on his prep. “During the songs he’d set up the next break with the engineer as you described. But he never came into WABC with his adlibs pre-written. He’d show up 5 minutes before air time, having thought of an opening topic in the elevator on his way up to the 8th floor, and just sit down and do it. That was the gift. You can’t learn to be Dan. But it certainly is a worthy goal.”

5. Ingram knew that “Fun and Companionship” was what it was all about. That’s why his material was always about the music, artists, the station and, of course, as Joe McCoy, (Dan’s PD at WCBS-FM in the 90s) put it, “The king of the double entendre”. McCoy went on to say that Dan was “the thinking man’s DJ.” “He played with people.” If Dan was not happy with something at the station, he found a way to make a joke out of it with his quick, “smile in voice” way. No matter what was going on in the world, Dan knew that his listeners expected a fun, up-lifting experience. McCoy also added that “some of Dan’s best moments were on the jock-crossover breaks. They were often better (and more fun) than any of the music they played.” Ingram knew that “Fun and Companionship” was what it was all about.

Yes, radio has changed. But there’s a lot to be learned from the pioneers of contemporary radio. Dan Ingram was just that. A pioneer who paved the way for all of us.

Rest in peace Kemosabe and thanks for everything you gave and taught us.

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