14 Key Strategies for Independent Radio Stations

iHeart.

Cumulus.

Entercom/CBS.

If you’re one of these big consolidators, you’re likely not going to need a refresher each year to keep up on radio industry trends because corporate does all the thinking.

But if you’re an independent operator, smaller group, regional broadcaster or someone who has to compete with consolidators like these, here’s the good news.

Independent-minded thinkers are the future of radio.

And, they’re not going bankrupt any time soon, either.

Consolidators are implementing programmatic ad buying because it is cheaper and allows them to ultimately reduce the number of sellers they pay commission too.

But the premium rates will go to independents that know how to reduce advertiser churn by making their ads more effective and thus more important.

Consolidators are moving to jock in the box type music formats that involve little talent and no local feel opening up opportunities to competitors to clean their clocks.

My Media Solutions Conference focusing on radio is for independent broadcasters who find themselves competing with even more consolidation.

And you know soon Cumulus will likely have to find a merger partner to keep up with the other debt-ridden operators who must scale up to remain alive.

So this conference is for you and your key people.

The following things are currently trending in radio and here’s how independent broadcasters can take advantage of them.

14 Key Strategies for Independent Radio Stations

  1. Reducing High Advertiser Churn – The proven sales program MoreFM, Philadelphia uses to keep advertisers renewing at high rates and premium prices.
  2. Combatting Competitors Who Cut Rates – Strategies to deal with too many bonus spots, perks to agencies, digital content add-ons and additional costly promotions.  Defense against remnant agencies stealing local and regional business for pennies on the dollar.
  3. Attracting Millennial Listeners – Specifically what this 86 million strong 18-34 money demo wants from radio.  Bonus:  what Gen Xers and Baby Boomers want. 
  4. Rebuilding Eroding Radio Audiences – Changes in hiring air talent, how to talk to listeners differently, music rotations, handling commercials, updating radio to be cool again in the minds of listeners.
  5. The Morning Show of the Future – The prototype of the new “morning man”.  A more authentic way to do premium-priced commercials.  A must-have feature more addictive than traffic or weather.  The one thing every station leaves out of mornings that in-demo listeners really want. 
  6. Eliminating the 3 Biggest Listener Objections to Radio – How to fix too many commercials, outdated morning shows and ending repetition that turns listeners off. 
  7. Longer Listening – TSL down every year since 1990.  New solutions for spot placement.  Commercial-free music sweeps.  Music rotation.  Talk vs. music.  The one promotion that will stretch TSL.
  8. Dealing with Too Many Commercials – New thinking on how to schedule all those shorter spots stations are running.  The best placement.  Alternative placements in highly competitive situations.  Best place in the hour to schedule them (PPM and non-PPM strategies).
  9. How to Program to Shorter Attention Spans – The cure for the epidemic of listeners who won’t listen to a song all the way through --- even one that they love.  What’s the right mix of chatter?  Music sweeps.  Commercial placement. 
  10. Music Discovery -- How to add the new music young audiences now expect.  How that affects hit rotation.  The science behind mixes.
  11. Digital That Makes Money –- Short-form video revenue. Subscription income from P1s.  Product placement.  Prepare for the next big thing:  SnapChat. 
  12. Creating Fresh, New Formats – A new music format and an innovative spoken word format.  How to get ahead of this trend:  weekend talk shows for music stations.
  13. Great New Options for AM Radio – What’s next after conservative talk.  A Millennial AM station?  Seriously?
  14. Podcasting – As a revenue producer.  Or a station placeholder.  The #1 podcast in the iTunes Store is an on-air radio show.  Does podcasting erode on-air audiences?  Selling them for profit.

Conference Details

  • The conference starts at 8am with registration and complimentary breakfast.  
  • The program begins at 9 am and breaks at 12 noon for complimentary lunch.
  • All breaks are included in our day together.
  • The program ends at 4 pm.
  • The Radio Solutions Conference is not available by stream or video.
  • Additional faculty contributing to this one-day seminar:  MoreFM Chairman Jerry Lee, Millennial expert & author Morley Winograd and broadcaster turned podcaster Steven Goldstein.

How to Register

There is currently a $200 discount

Register

Some companies attend with key associates and special rates are available.

Inquire about group rates

Read More  FREE SAMPLES

CBS Radio Staffing

Subscribers get INSTANT ACCESS here.

Become a NEW SUBSCRIBER and begin with How Entercom Will Ruin CBS Radio here.

Unlock these full articles …

            iHeart’s Micromanaging

            David Field's Plans for Entercom CBS

            Cumulus Merger

            The CBS/Entercom Layoffs

            Mike McVay & Cumulus

            The Sale of iHeart’s First Asset

Your new subscription includes access to every article for the past year and 3,579 in our archive like these (scroll through/latest first). Everything.

For 27 cents a day, join the thousands of members who read Inside Music Media -- insightful, deadly honest and informative.

Inside Music Media contains no advertising. Accepts no corporate money or consideration. And is beholden only to subscribers who appreciate it so much that they pay for it. I work for you.

My 2017 Radio Conference is less than 6 weeks away.

Read More  FREE SAMPLES

Radio & Short Attention Spans

You may or may not be aware that the hottest thing currently in social media by far is SnapChat.

The company is using its popularity to time an IPO.

SnapChat is a mobile app that lets users receive and send videos and photos that self-destruct ten seconds after they are viewed.

The NBA, McDonald’s, Disney and a host of other content providers are doubling down on this new social media platform.

SnapChat has 158 million daily users, staggering.

Some 2.5 billion snaps are taken every day.

The founders have corralled a different take on social media that is so opposite of, say, Facebook that with Timelines and archiving personal history exists for long-term use.

Not so with SnapChat.

If you’re with me so far, it strikes me that SnapChat, the ten second self-destructive social media wonder is like, well – good old radio.

Radio going one better and saying you have only the present to enjoy what you’re hearing and it does not self-destruct until you turn the radio off.

This begs the question that we will raise at my upcoming media conference of whether radio is spending too much time trying to be like the Internet, adapted to the world of apps, another extension of social media.

If so, we may have the answer to why this strategy isn’t working.

If young, money demo-type audiences are rejecting Facebook already for that which appears and then disappears in ten seconds, maybe this is an area where radio can excel.

Stations are stymied as to whether what they put on the air should also be available on a time-delayed basis online.

Or whether to even broadcast what’s on the air online simultaneously.

If so many prime users are saying they want to experience content in the moment and then move on, isn’t there more radio can do to fulfill their wish?

Among the issues worth considering …

Wow moments that appear only on-air and never again.

And what qualifies as a “wow” moment that is so impressive when it occurs and then even more impressive when it never occurs again.

How many should be do and how far apart?

Who will do them?

Believe it or not there are many “wow” moments radio could add to be more like SnapChat.

If CNN is on SnapChat (and it is), shouldn’t radio do SnapChat news?

Remember, the difference between what’s on the air and wow moments is an audio snap and every bit of it occurs on the air not online.

Imagine the brainstorming we will do on how to create audio snaps.

This is not about spending more money.

Or even pulling the plug on popular radio formats.

It’s about mirroring an explosive trend by young money demo audiences that is currently going unrecognized by radio.

How to create SnapChat moments on radio as well as wrestling with the best way to channel radio content is on the agenda at my upcoming Radio Conference in less than 6 weeks.

Read More  FREE SAMPLES

iHeart’s Micromanaging

Subscribers get INSTANT ACCESS here.

Become a NEW SUBSCRIBER and begin with iHeart’s Micromanaging here. 

Unlock these full articles …

            David Field's Plans for Entercom CBS

            Cumulus Merger

            The CBS/Entercom Layoffs

            Mike McVay & Cumulus

            The Sale of iHeart’s First Asset

            Lowry Mays & Fraudulent Conveyance

Your new subscription includes access to every article for the past year and 3,578 in our archive like these (scroll through/latest first).  Everything.

For 27 cents a day, join the thousands of members who read Inside Music Media -- insightful, deadly honest and informative.

Inside Music Media contains no advertising.  Accepts no corporate money or consideration.  And is beholden only to subscribers who appreciate it so much that they pay for it.  I work for you.

My 2017 Radio Conference is just 6 weeks away.

Read More  FREE SAMPLES

Programming to Gender Fluidity

One thing we are outstanding at in radio is targeting male and female audiences.

Over the decades we have contoured formats and sub-categories of formats to appeal to these audiences with precision so great advertisers trust our ability to service their needs.

Now, the discussion about male and female and other options has led to political battles over bathrooms, gender and other changes that are becoming significant.

I’m not saying stop doing what you’re doing and start programming to specific subsets of LGBTQ, but the evidence is clear that our audiences are changing and we will want to learn as much as we can since so much of our success depends on it.

The National Center for Transgender Equality did a survey of 28,000 respondents to discover that one-third chose “nonbinary/genderqueer” when given a choice of the terms that best describe themselves.

I don’t know about you, but that is major.

Perhaps more startling is a 2015 survey of 1,000 people in radio’s money demo 18-34 conducted for Fusion Media finding that only 46% of the respondents replied that there are only two genders – male and female.  Some 50% said that gender can be described over a wide array of other choices as well.

That’s half the sample!

To be sure, I am not saying our stations need radical change tomorrow.

But radio has had a habit since consolidation in 1996 of falling behind our audiences (Millennials, digital, streaming music, etc.).

It is prudent to embark on some modifications that would not scream out “this radio station does not identify with your gender”.

And what is remarkable – done right – these adjustments can fine tune the buy in on audience identification with radio stations that too frequently are being seen as outdated or not cool.

So how far do we go and where do we begin?

An aircheck of the average radio station contains shockingly offensive things to people who identify as something other than male or female and the research shows you’re looking at 50% of your audience in today’s terms with likely expansion tomorrow.

Morning shows are so gender specifically male that they could be problematic without making some adjustments.

In an industry where radio is criticized by listeners as not sounding like them stations run the risk of furthering that impression if it doesn’t take some immediate steps.

A male-female morning show or a female only morning show is the future but just the voices are meaningless without conveying the changing attitudes of audience.  This is trickier than it seems although very doable with the right understanding of audience beliefs.

On-air personalities that sound robotic or should I say voice tracked are often insensitive to varying genders because they lack warmth, emotion, connection and are often judged on the gender that they sound like.

In other words, the sound of the voice is only one component in considering programming to gender fluid audiences. 

It’s what they say that matters just as much and we don’t have to look past too many stations before we have male gender bias built into everything.

We’re going to discuss the evidence of gender fluidity and its impact on radio as well as the solutions to take prudent steps to stay ahead of the trend at my upcoming Radio Conference in 6 weeks.

Read More  FREE SAMPLES

David Field’s Plans for Entercom CBS

Subscribers get INSTANT ACCESS here.

Become a NEW SUBSCRIBER and begin with David Field's Plans for Entercom CBS here.

Unlock these full articles …

            Cumulus Merger

            The CBS/Entercom Layoffs

            Mike McVay & Cumulus

            The Sale of iHeart’s First Asset

            Lowry Mays & Fraudulent Conveyance

            The Hubbard Shakeup

Your new subscription includes access to every article for the past year and 3,576 in our archive like these (scroll through/latest first). Everything.

For 27 cents a day, join the thousands of members who read Inside Music Media -- insightful, deadly honest and informative.

Inside Music Media contains no advertising. Accepts no corporate money or consideration. And is beholden only to subscribers who appreciate it so much that they pay for it. I work for you.

My 2017 Radio Conference is just 6 weeks away.

Read More  FREE SAMPLES

Radio’s 25-Year Drop In TSL

This is the most mystifying metric of all.

Before digital media, social networking, iPhones or even short attention spans, radio began losing time spent listening.

And it hasn’t stopped for 25 straight years.

The former Arbitron first started to track the figures and each year (and into the Nielsen era) radio has posted this almost unbelievable erosion of time listeners spend with their favorite radio stations.

There are a lot of Band-Aids for this continuing loss of interest in radio, but to be fair it helps to understand the mitigating circumstances.

Even back in the early 90’s listeners complained in research studies commissioned by numerous stations that there were too many commercials, repetitive music, too much talk and not enough variety.

This led program directors to fire up their liners and sweepers to position their music stations as “more music, fewer commercials and the best variety”.

Of course, what radio was touting on the air in response to these objections wasn’t true and over time listeners got the real message that radio was not listening to them.

And, the erosion continued.

When satellite channels, digital and eventually streaming music services became a competitor, radio was left with the same complaint -- too many commercials, repetitive music and not enough variety.

What’s important is that radio listeners (and potential radio listeners) want radio to listen to them.

But now their list of demands includes even more things that they are afraid radio is not listening to.

For example …

They want a different kind of morning show – not the good old goofy gang, something different and while we have identified specifically the changes they want, most radio people cannot name them.

And they are radical changes to say the least.

Listeners want to be talked to differently --- not as a mass audience out there but one-to-one. Last year at my conference Dan Mason, Jr. shared some of his research that listeners didn’t like it when station’s tried to relate to them.

Huh?

If they didn’t like radio trying to relate to them, what did they want instead?

Most listeners know radio stations have to run commercials but they don’t like the way they sound or the way they are run.

To be fair listeners do not understand that most stations hate the national and agency spots they get because they are moronic, but as a business they must accept them and run them.

Still, there is emerging new evidence that stations can run a full schedule and mitigate some of the negatives associated with commercial clutter.

But is anyone listening? Do stations care?

Do stations even know what they can do to make the spots go down with listeners easier?

That’s why there is a growing divide between listeners and the stations they want to like. In fact, they want to crave.

Yes, they want to love radio but not something that doesn’t speak to them.

Services that listeners expect are not traffic, transit and weather – they can get these things readily on their phones.

They want an advocate. I think if you knew what that advocate concept looked like, you’d gladly run out and do it.

Our research on Millennials show they are more concerned with whether they (the listeners) are seen as being fun-loving than whether the on-air jock or personality comes off as fun-loving.

Again, what does this look like in terms that could allow stations to adapt?

And all the cash prizes (yes, cash), tickets, trips and other enticements are not as important to them as their dreams.

And there is a way to get new age in-demo listeners “hooked” by helping them achieve their dreams.

These are important issues.

We are going to discuss the problems as well as the solutions to end TSL erosion at my upcoming Radio Conference in 6 weeks.

Read More  FREE SAMPLES