Lenders Snag iHeart

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Bernie Vs. Hillary

You can learn a lot about radio when you look elsewhere.

When Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated last Thursday night, they spoke volumes in their own way about what is wrong with traditional media and why Millennial audiences are not understood.

Hillary answers questions about Sanders 70% support by young people which they don’t have to be for me, I’m for them.

That sounds like a parent.

Wrong answer.

Bernie lets Hillary beat him up when he presses her on her vote for the Iraq War no matter how visibly irritated she appears because it’s not cool to get into a meaningless shouting match.

In fact, Millennials dislike confrontation which makes debating before them particularly challenging.

Don’t worry; they didn’t watch the debate on cable. They saw what they wanted to on YouTube.

Hype doesn’t work so Sanders is careful to be humble about his accomplishments while Clinton is more forceful.

Baby boomers between the ages of 50-70 want to see a woman president in their lifetime.

Millennials 18-34 absolutely know they are going to see many women presidents in their lifetime and maybe even an LGBT chief executive. So, while baby boomers only have so long to see their wish come true, Millennials want what socialism has to offer even over electing the first woman president.

Madeleine Albright said there would be a special place in hell for any woman who doesn’t vote for Hillary.

Huh?

Millenials don’t believe in hell.

How did socialism go from a bad word to something good?

Because capitalism has not been good to Millennials who graduated from college to a lousy economy, unemployment or underemployment, college debt, glass ceilings, and the ravages of Wall Street.

But how can – let’s be honest here – an old white man (74) become president with the support he is getting from young people?

Or on the alternative, how did baby boomer Steve Jobs get to be so iconic among this same generation?

Both looked to Millennials as the change makers and then the older generations adopted later.

So Millennial audiences 18-34 don’t hate radio, they hate the kind of radio stations are doing.

They dislike hype, which is epitomized by radio stations.

They crave authenticity in a world of bullshit. Notice how Hillary said she’d consider revealing the transcripts of her $200,000 Goldman Sachs speeches and how young people wonder, what’s there to consider. Just do it.

And she still hasn’t done it.

Radio hasn’t had a revolution since progressive rock in the 1960’s.

It has pioneered precious few new formats after all-news and conservative talk.

Radio needs a revolution if it is to have meaning in the lives of almost 90 million Millennials.

And a voice that actually sounds like the audience it wants to attract.

Or at least saying something that their youthful audience can relate to.

There are many formats that do not exist today that can be created for Millennials.

It doesn’t matter if Millennials are in love with their phones. That has nothing to do with the future of radio.

As I’m writing this I looked up to gaze out of my office window to a golf course where a young man just hit his drive, put his club away and pulled out his phone while he walked 200+ yards to his ball.

The phone didn’t stop him from playing golf (although it might irritate the hell out of older players). He likes golf and his cell phone – both.

In your heart you know that radio is not as good as it was at befriending audiences. If it were, voice tracking would be off the table. Sweepers would be outlawed and meaningless commercials that are the antithesis of no hype wouldn’t be stacked up one after the other for eight minutes every half hour.

I don’t know who will win the presidency.

I do know that an old white man who is admired by young people is worth studying because Millennials have disrupted everything and they are about to disrupt politics in 2016 as never before whatever party wins.

Lying is out (politicians lie).

Boasting used to be a right. Now it’s a bad move. Yeah, I’d like to crow about every prediction I ever made about media that came true but who cares?

Hillary said she believed in the death penalty and Bernie walked it back and said the government should not be killing people. He got the louder applause.

Stand for something or you stand for nothing.

What does radio stand for?

Not much.

Repetition in music, not discovery.

Savings over entertainment.

Abuse of social media for promotional purposes not entertainment or enlightenment.

No news at all.

No one-on-one communication.

Nothing to binge on even over the weekend.

We can do better than this.

Can we name the top five things Millennials value this year?

If you’d like to continue the discussion, reserve a seat at my upcoming April 6 New Radio Conference in Philadelphia.

Stand up to ratings that are inaccurate and killing the business.

Sean Hannity and researcher Richard Harker will be there live to discuss disturbing findings about how certain formats are losing the majority of their audience to PPM technology and ways to deal with this inequity. (Harker did a survey for Hannity’s show that will shock when you see how much audience was lost to PPM). And it’s not just talk stations taking a hit.

See exciting ways to do a Millennial Makeover of your radio station.

Former Cox and CBS programmer Dan Mason will join me in providing useful ideas that can transform your station from the past to the future.

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Cumulus Scandal Over Inappropriate Relationships

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Give Your Station a Millennial Makeover

All the financial experts agree – flat is the new growth curve for radio.

Putting the consolidators who are staring down bankruptcy aside, there are a lot of good operators being forced to sell in markets where rates have been driven down by desperate stations.

And even the good radio companies are uncharacteristically laying off – Emmis, for example handed out 32 pink slips.

All of this begs the question, how DO you succeed in a zero growth business?

  • Give your station a Millennial makeover. If radio keeps fine tuning formats that just aren’t resonating with young money demos, it just keeps stunting radio’s growth.
  • Focus on these 6 hours each day to return 50-60% of your profit. No one has resources they had years ago. Now, hyper focusing on the 6 hours that can bring in the most revenue makes sense. But which hours are they?
  • What to do with 7pm-5am. If I told you you could start a new radio station somewhere in that time period and nurture it until it is ready to fly on its own, would you believe it? How about learning from someone who did it.
  • Avoid podcasting. It’s not your friend. Will not make money to make it worthwhile. Even the latest Serial is laying an egg compared to the first one. Podcasting is for older listeners looking for an alternative to political talk radio. There’s no way to adequately monetize podcasting for radio owners. But there is one thing that podcasters – the good ones – do that can cross over to your station.
  • Ditto with digital. No matter how many times we say it, digital by radio stations comes out sounding like, well – radio. With salaries being cut, jobs being shared, people be laid off and not enough potential upside to make digital worthwhile, don’t do it. But podcasting is doing something right that radio ought to steal.
  • Cut spots, raise prices and then re-invent the commercial. It’s easier to just take the stuff agencies give us or run spots that our cheapest air talent can produce but that’s not going to get you higher rates. And radio cannot survive as your low cost leader. That’s a loser’s game plan. We asked Millennials if they hate commercials. No, they said … and they shared the kind they would listen to.

Sitting back is not the answer.

No business ever grew by getting smaller.

Millennials don’t care for radio but they are not that wild about streaming music services or podcasting for that matter.

That says opportunity.

So what I am proposing is about funneling resources to the things that are guaranteed to at least bring in more revenue if not tap into a need that even Millennials have for something new and better.

Here are a few other critical issues:

  1. What to do with 75 million baby boomers 50-70. That generation is still almost as big as 83 million Millennials. Is it possible to do hybrid formats that cherry pick demos from each?
  2. Mastering digital as a revenue source not as part of your radio station. I’ll tell you flat out, it’s video, video and more video, but the rules have changed even in the past year.
  3. Gender neutrality. Young girls want to look like boys, dress like boys, wear boy’s clothes and assume “traditional” boy roles. And boys are comfortable reassessing their gender preferences.  This is going to have a major impact on what we are and what we say to audiences.
  4. Radio’s most dangerous competitor is user-generated content. Your audience wants to be your new PD. Most stations don’t really get this so they are assuming the traditional role of content creator assuming that audiences are content consumers.  More than ever, this is just plain wrong.
  5. Dealing with shortened attention spans requires a major revamping of radio’s format clock, delivery and formatic elements.  This is an audience that doesn’t even listen to songs they like all the way through, how do you work with that?
  6. How radio can be like Netflix and create binge content – that’s right, programming to binge on – for audiences that demand it. There is a great example of radio bingeing that few people even in the industry recognize.
  7. New forms of revenue such as subscriptions and product placement (“mentions”). Audiences 45 and under gleefully buy apps like it is nothing and most don’t use 25% of them even when they pay. Money left on the table ripe for the picking.

Now, does THIS sound like a dying business to you?

If you’d like to continue the discussion, clear April 6 for my New Radio Conference in Philadelphia.

Sean Hannity and researcher Richard Harker will be there live to discuss disturbing findings about how certain formats are losing the majority of their audience to PPM technology and ways to deal with this inequity. (Harker did a survey for Hannity’s show that will shock when you see how much audience was lost to PPM). And it’s not just talk stations taking a hit.

And former Cox and CBS programmer Dan Mason will help with the Millennial Radio Makeover – useful ideas that can transform your station from the past to the future.

See the Program / Reserve a Seat

Inquire about group rates

If you’d like to stay close to the Hub Conference Center, find nearby hotels here.

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Ding-Ding-Ding! Round 2 – Mary Berner vs. Lew Dickey

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Obama’s Visit to a Mosque

If the Republican candidates needed anything to tee off on in New Hampshire, President Obama came through for them today.

Obama visited a mosque outside of Baltimore and basically said this land is your land and this land is my land.

That Muslims are welcome here and that they didn’t have to choose between being a Muslim and an American.

This stuff is so instructional from the perspective of generational media.

Older voters (and radio listeners) may tend to get riled by this one.

Younger voters, the ones who helped elect Obama and from whom he hopes to preserve a legacy are championing his call.

The media business panders the way politicians pander.

How many times have you had to watch advertisers say “I”, “you”, “your way” on commercials aimed at Millennials almost as if the rules don’t apply to them.

Which they don’t, by the way.

And some voters believe that all Muslims are bad people and they shouldn’t be allowed in the country.

Let’s do the math again.

Almost 90 million Millennials some of whom have Muslim friends, love dreamers who should become citizens, want free college, free health care and Wall Street punished for screwing the middle class.

And there are 75 million baby boomers between 50-70 who tend to believe the opposite.

Then there is radio, an industry run by baby boomers who think the world never changed.

Hell, the radio industry ignored the Internet, Napster, social media and streaming music services while busily cutting costs to do a poorer job.

Radio has to be more inclusive if it wants to see a rebirth among the money demo.

  • Top 40 radio, progressive and rock radio was a radical idea back in the 50’s and 60’s. What has radio offered in the last 25 years that is equally as radical and compelling?

  • Republican candidate John Kasich got in the face of a questioner at a New Hampshire rally the other day and said he was not going to suck up to him with his answer. A reporter interviewing the questioner afterward said he was satisfied with Kasich’ answer. Radio, too, must stop sucking up and start standing for something new and different.
  • Radio has it all wrong. Radio must become a community not a computer in a closet playing the same songs over and over and airing meaningless self-serving sweepers.
  • Radio must fund itself. I’m not saying use the public radio model and beg for money.  But win over listeners by discovering companies (advertisers) who address their needs, share their values and offer value. Then speak to them authentically and even guarantee the sponsor’s authenticity.  This is a topic I’ll bet you’ll love. Right now radio is running anything it can get paid for as a commercial and no one is listening which guarantees radio will never earn a premium price for what they do.
  • Personalities never go out of style. Sorry, iHeart and Cumulus, two radio groups who can’t resist reducing expenses by reducing the number of well paid radio personalities. Look at Cumulus in New York. New “Frickin’ York and they have amateur hour on their Nash station mornings imported from Nashville. Here’s what I’m saying. They should have done an Underground Local country station for New York because most New Yorkers don’t like country but the ones who do could be had by making it a special community.

This stuff is so fascinating and so doable.

We’re going to continue this conversation at my April 6th Philly New Radio Conference but let me thank the folks who have registered so far and give special props to the groups – many independents – who are sending more people than CBS sent to the NAB Radio Show when Scott Herman was its chairman.

Independent operators are the future of radio – there is no other way back.

If you’d be interested in having this discussion, please reserve the date April 6th for my one day New Radio Conference in Philadelphia.

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iRot Radio’s Assault on Competitors

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