“Back to the Future” Moments for PodcastOne’s Agovino. As part of his “weird-new” role as PodcastOne executive vice chair, Mike Agovino is discovering more “differences” in the podcast marketplace than “commonalities” to challenges encountered the last ten years by digital music and broadcast streaming entities. “It is much less about the science of advertising and it is much more about the art of advertising,” he remarks to Mark Ramsey Media president Mark Ramsey in a 30-minute, one-on-one interview during this past week’s hivio 2015 conference. Having spent ten years inside Triton Digital as its chief operating officer, Agovino recounts that the company had “an ad platform, a content delivery network, and it built apps for people. With hundreds of brand names across the canvass, there is a very scientific approach to connecting the right ad to the right person at the right time to create some kind of results,” he declares. “It is so much ‘science’ that, if you live in it long enough, you lose your feel for the ‘art.'” Approximately 27 years ago, self-described Howard Stern “freak” Agovino was living in New York and faithfully listened to the fabled morning man every day. When it was time for the former president of Katz Radio and ex-chief operating officer of Clear Channel Radio Sales to lease a new car, he drove 15 miles out of his way to the Long Island dealership for which Stern regularly voiced a paid endorsement. “That was me saying ‘thank-you’ to Howard,” Agovino emphasizes. “It was not me necessarily wanting” to give that particular establishment the business but “it was me giving appreciation to Howard for all the laughs.” Stern’s “influence” over Agovino to sign the car lease was considerable and as he hastens to add, that meant he had to drive that extra 30-mile (roundtrip) distance “for every service visit” for a three-year period. “It is love for a show,” Agovino insists. “That was not part of my last ten years but it is very much part of what we do at PodcastOne, so it is “back to the future.’ It is digital media, but it is one-to-one and back to the art form of what made me fall in love with radio advertising.” When Agovino gets together with his former Katz co-workers, he points out there is considerable laughter. “We enjoy what we went through back then and we talk about how much fun the business was. More times than not, when you get in a discussion with someone you have known for 25 – 30 years in the audio business, the closer you get to the present moment in the discussion, the less fun you will be having. That sucks for all of us and it is unfortunate.” He has, however, rediscovered the ‘art’ piece of the business and Agovino did not realize how much he missed it. What he has found to become important on the podcast side is that, “It is almost less about targeting a listener and more about making sure you have a great match of product to host. When you try to apply the science of audio impressions to what is happening right now in podcasting, none of the numbers work. They do not make any sense because … there are no rules. We might say to someone who is the right match with the right host we won’t let anyone else in because the credibility of this voice speaking about your brand will last as long as we can continue to make the acquisition of customers in that model an efficient thing for you.” PodcastOne is looking at having its hosts talk about an advertiser a minimum of two minutes throughout the course of an hour without, as Agovino explains, “doing it more than ten seconds at any point – and there is no copy. It has to start from a place of authenticity. The host has to ‘buy-into’ the product or you move onto the next host because it is not going to work for the long haul.” One of the “most traumatic” days in Agovino’s radio sales career occurred when his rep firm lost WMAL, Washington, D.C. but picked up cross-town WTOP the same day. For years, he had been proudly touting WMAL as “the voice of news” in the nation’s capital. “If you approach this with deep sincerity,” he remarks, “it is difficult” to suddenly knock on doors, talking up what had been the competition. “Traditional” ratings metrics, Agovino opines, will not matter that much in this space, although he concedes, “They will happen” and they are “easy enough to produce.” Much more important will be “attribution metrics and convergent metrics. There are many ways to analyze how a particular show produces results within a specific category.” The most recent stats Agovino has seen indicate there are 21.3 million hours of podcasting listening a day. “It is hard to know how big the universe is and how big a piece of that universe you have,” he mentions. A different economic model exists in podcasting since, as Agovino explains, “For the most part, the hosts are taking risks with you and they are not getting guaranteed seven-figure annual checks: We are in this together.” He suggests, “If you have a talent who has influence and impact on a ‘tribe,’ figure out a way to [do a podcast], but you cannot do what you did with streaming. You cannot move it over to digital and expect it to work. This is an infinite dial with niches and sub-niches. Expansion of shows will be tremendous. Things that we are doing and bringing up are ‘kid-in-a-candy store’ stuff for me.”
Public Relations Maven Defines “GMOOT.” After working as public relations director at the Columbia Business School, Richard Laermer founded RLM PR in 1991. He was among the participants at Los Angeles’ hivio 2015 seminar who maintains the audio world is in a state of flux. “Many brands underestimate their audience,” Laermer notes to Mark Ramsey Media president Mark Ramsey in a one-on-one interview. “There is no sense of teasing-out the information about that brand, starting with something small; building upon it; and getting people excited about it.” Referring to Google as the “ultimate PR player, author-media trainer-blogger Laermer states, “They have built upon one message, which is the democratization of everything – even their missteps have always been messaged as the democratization of ‘X,’ ‘Y,’ or ‘Z.’ I respect that a great deal.” One major problem with brands is that everything is short-lived. “In the PR and advertising world, we refer to it as ‘GMOOT,'” Laermer points out of the “Get Me One Of Those” acronym. People who stand behind things “get ahead much faster,” he states. “That seems like common sense but as Aristotle said, ‘There is nothing common about common sense.’ Every single person we interact with – regardless of age – is looking for something to talk about and something to report. If we are consistent, we have the ability to give them that.” It is Laermer’s contention that “public figures” such as on-air personalities and podcasters need to convey what they stand for, “what they believe in, and what they are certain about” because, “These are things that people actually care about. People do want to know what a ‘personality’ thinks about ‘the issues.’ In the land of the tease, you want to be certain that people will come back for more.” Advising that, “It cannot be about the technology,” Laermer states, “It has to be about who are you and what you are putting out there.” Featuring 11 Ramsey-conducted interviews and five presentations, the two-day hivio 2015 conference was held Thursday (6/4) and Friday (6/5) at Hollywood comedy club The Improv.
“Secret Weapon” Reveals Radio’s Greatest Ally. As vice president of talent development, iHeartMedia‘s Dennis Clark is often referred to inside the company as its “secret weapon.” Interviewed in Los Angeles by Ramsey Media president Mark Ramsey during hivio 2015, Clark emphasizes that talent is the “difference maker of what radio is today” and what the medium could be in the future. “At iHeartMedia, we realize that our point difference is the talent we have on our radio stations,” he acknowledges. It is up to an individual talent though to have personal drive and that starts, Clark suggests, when they raise his or her hand. “They might become super-irritating or annoying, but we really love it,” he comments because it shows that a person “has the energy and the spirit.” At that point, the person has most likely researched the station for which they want to work, or what their “act” could be. “It has to be a great show inside what the station is,” Clark states. “The person has to really know [that particular] station’s brand, its overall, 24-hour mission, and where [he or she] fits into that package.” That philosophy of Clark’s, which he readily admits is not easy-to-teach, applies to all day-parts, not simply morning drive. In order to get his point across to talent, Clark uses examples of other people “who have built a brand.” For example, Bobby Bones – who formerly did mornings on iHeartMedia Austin CHR KHFI “Kiss-FM” – approached (iHeartMedia’s Premiere Radio Networks) with the idea of syndicating his 6:00 am – 11:00 am morning drive program to country stations. “We listened to his show as-is and felt it could fit,” Clark recounts. “The opportunity came for him in Nashville” on iHeartMedia’s country WSIX-FM “The Big 98″ and “he went all-in. His CHR experience has been very helpful for him. He understood – and was a great student of – branding. It is very important that talent [get] that.” While iHeartMedia has quite a number of talented on-air personalities at its hundreds and hundreds of stations, no one has a higher profile than “American Idol” host and television production mogul Ryan Seacrest. Not only does the man spearheading morning drive with Ellen K on CHR KIIS “Kiss-FM” accept direction, he welcomes it. That, Clark stresses, is a characteristic of a great talent. “It goes to show his drive. Really great personalities have many ideas, but they also know when something is not working. Each show is unique and the ideas have to come from them. Ryan seizes the opportunity to have the conversation at the right time.” Years ago on Seacrest’s show, there was a producer whose nieces and nephews were big fans of “Hanna Montana,” the 2006-2011 Disney Channel television program starring Molly Cyrus. Seacrest played a few of her records, even though the label – Hollywood Records – was not actively promoting them. “At the time, it was a fad and it became a phenomenon,” Clark explains. It might be said that one particular social media platform is also “a fad that has become a phenomenon” and Clark declares, “Twitter has been the best thing for radio. It is now; it is in the moment; and it is interactive.” Among the beliefs at iHeartMedia is that the more ears that hear their company’s shows the better – regardless of method of distribution. “This is a cume business,” Clark puts forth. “The more you invite – the more people will come. The more that they hang into a show, [the greater the chance that] they could become raving fans and disciples of the brand you are developing.” The two-day hivio 2015 conference was held Thursday (6/4) and Friday (6/5) at Hollywood’s Improv.
Are Television Ratings No Longer Relevant? A production of Chicago public radio station WBEZ, “Serial” was a hot topic of conversation during the two-day (Thursday, 6/4 and Friday, 6/5) hivio 2015 seminar in Los Angeles. Among those invoking the Peabody Award-winning podcast was TV Guide Magazine Los Angeles bureau chief Michael Schneider, who possesses more than 20 years covering the television business. Regarding “Serial,” he points out to Mark Ramsey Media president Mark Ramsey that, “It is a game-changer and has television people talking, and you don’t hear television people talk too much about audio. You can see the impact of ‘Serial’ on television, which is ironic because ‘Serial’ reminded television people of ‘Dateline NBC‘ and ’48 Hours.'” the most Perhaps the most important issue in television these days is ownership. In announcing their fall lineups, TV network executives indicated they are picking up more of their own in-house productions. “That’s the way [the networks] still make money,” Schneider explains. “They are not making it on advertising anymore because ratings are going down.” NBC and Fox are in the distribution space; however, as the former 12-year television editor of the trade publication Variety points out, people no longer consume programs on those networks live. “They are watching their shows time-shifted, on Hulu.com, or someplace else.” It is Schneider’s contention that television ratings no longer matter. “Look at Netflix – look at Amazon,” he stresses. “We constantly bug Netflix to have them tell us who is watching, but they will not do it. I have no idea who is watching ‘Orange is the New Black.’ All they say is that it is their top-rated show, but that does not help me at all.” Given they do not sell advertising, there is no need to disclose that information – and they are not doing so. Several of Schneider’s friends work at Netflix. Their feedback is that Netflix has figured out just what the audience wants and the company has it down to a science. A strong partisan of CBS Radio Los Angeles alternative outlet KROQ morning drivers Kevin & Bean, Schneider downloads their four-hour show each day. “They do a fantastic job and I love them,” he proclaims of the recent Radio Hall of Fame inductees. “When you take out the music and commercials, they do about two hours of content every day. I have a ridiculous one-hour [one-way] commute.” By the time Schneider leaves for work and then returns home, he has listened to all two hours of the “Kevin & Bean” content. “In the ‘old days,’ I would have heard bits and snippets of their show going in, but nothing on the way home,” he states. “Now, I get a concentrated two-hour dose of that show every day. I am more in-tune to what they are doing.” As a result, he has become even more of an “avid fan” of their daily broadcasts since he feels a greater investment in the program. On the flipside, he no longer listens to the terrestrial station (KROQ). Particularly this time of year, which is Emmy campaign season, Schneider is moderating panel discussions with major television stars and producers. Relevance to a radio audience is that Schneider is a podcaster for Los Angeles public outlet KCRW (Santa Monica Community College). He brings along a digital recorder to his panel sessions and is able to have a “bonus edition” to his “The Spin-Off” podcast. “Suddenly, I am doing four podcasts a month,” Schneider explains. “All I have to do is ask my pals at KCRW to edit it down a little bit. We are in the early experimental stages of podcasts where we can get away with doing something like that. People are hungry for content so they dig it. The more I give, the more I hear from people.”
Seven AEs Sue Clear Channel Claiming Civil Rights Violations. In a suit filed in the Eastern District of Louisiana by seven current and former AEs working at Clear Channel’s New Orleans stations, the group charges that after the economic downturn of 2008, accounts were redistributed at a meeting in Gonzales, Louisiana in February of 2009 in such a way that helped ease the financial hit Caucasian AEs were taking through the redistribution. The complaint alleges many of the redistributed accounts had been built up by African American AEs. The complaint – filed jointly by Wil Watson, Gary Watson, Prixie Montgomery, Ave Gaines, Darnetta Mahaffy-Nelson, Dinah Campbell, and Brandin Campbell – details salaries before and after the redistribution and concludes, “As a result of the redistribution of accounts, whether intentional or negligent, African-American account executives were disparately, and negatively, impacted, to their severe economic detriment as compared to their Caucasian counterparts…Overall, African-American account executives lost on average more than 40% of their 2008 income in 2008-9. On information and belief Caucasian account executives lost no more that about 15% of their 2008 income, on average, during the same period of time.” Three of the seven were fired, they allege, after complaining about the practices. The seven seek relief, punitive damages, general damages, attorneys’ fees and statutory remedies.
It’s Official: Kevin Graham Named Brand Manager at WEEI, Boston. As rumored late last week, sports talk programmer and personality Kevin Graham is leaving his PD and co-host role at Cumulus Media’s KFNZ, Salt Lake City “1320 KFAN” to become brand manager at Entercom’s WEEI. According to his bio on the KFNZ website, Graham was one of the architects of KFNZ as the station was built in 1996. He’s worked as programmer at KTAR-AM, Phoenix; WXYT, Detroit and other sports talk outlets. In addition to programming KFNZ, Graham co-hosts the “Gunther & Graham” PM drive show with Kyle Gunther. Graham has extensive experience in the digital sports arena assisting in building ArizonaSports.com in Phoenix and as the founder/editor of SportsMashup.com. He’ll begin work at WEEI in September, taking over for longtime programmer Jason Wolfe. Entercom Boston GM Jeff Brown states, “WEEI is more than a radio station; it is an entire sports ecosystem. From our on-air talent to Red Sox play-by-play to WEEI.com, where we had 1.4 million unique visitors just last month, WEEI is a more complete sports brand than ever before. We are thrilled to announce today that Kevin Graham will lead WEEI as our new brand manager. His background both in front of and behind the mic, along with his years of digital sports experience made him the best choice to lead WEEI. Kevin will bring a fresh perspective to the entire WEEI team and our complete package of digital sports assets.” Speaking about his new gig, Graham comments, “I am honored and excited to join the WEEI team. WEEI is one of the most recognizable and powerful sports radio brands in the country. With great resources, amazing talent, and one of the best digital brands in sports, the sky is the limit. I can’t wait to get started, especially with the Red Sox in the midst of such a great season.”
“The State of News/Talk/Sports Programming” Panel Set for Talkers Los Angeles 2013. A diverse and powerful panel of front-line programmers has been set for Talkers Los Angeles 2013 that will explore the major issues of programming within the present-day news/talk/sports realm. Participating panelists include (in alphabetical order): Robin Bertolucci, PD, KFI/KTLK, Los Angeles; Skip Essick, PD, KMJ-AM/FM, Fresno; Andy Ludlum, director of news programming, KNX/KFWB, Los Angeles; Don Martin, senior VP sports programming, Fox Sports Radio/Clear Channel Media & Entertainment; Chuck Tyler, PD, KRLA/KKLA, Los Angeles; and Bill White, PD, KQTH-FM/KFFN-AM/FM, Tucson. The panel will be moderated by TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey who states, “This will be a fast-moving discussion that will really capture the flavor of today’s talk radio programming scene and do so with a solid Western states perspective – which makes this California edition of our two-part national conference so valuable. It will present a diverse array of formats including news/talk, all-news, and sports talk, as well as company types ranging in size and varied styles of corporate culture.” This third annual installment of TALKERS magazine’s West Coast convention is set for Thursday, October 10 and is already shaping up to be a blockbuster. The gathering is closing in on being an advance sellout some six weeks before the event so it is advisable for media professionals interested in attending to register now. It is again being presented in association with the Los Angeles Press Club and held at the historic Steve Allen Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. Registrations – $149 per person – can only be taken over the phone. For sponsorship information or to register, call 413-565-5413. More agenda details coming in the immediate days ahead.
New Jersey’s WCTC, New Brunswick Makes Big Local Moves. Saying “there is a thirst for local content in this market,” WCTC, New Brunswick “The Voice of Central New Jersey” PD Bert Baron announces that the longtime news/talk station will debut a new and completely revamped on-air lineup starting Monday, August 26. The Greater Media-owned station is making mass changes to its weekday programming, moving Baron from his two-hour afternoon slot to morning drive, where he will host “Jersey Central with Bert Baron” from 6:00 am to 9:00 am. Baron says his show will include “everything you need to know in New Jersey – news, sports, events, entertainment, politics, lifestyle, traffic and weather.” Following Baron will be the Courtside Entertainment-syndicated Laura Ingraham, who moves up one hour from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. From 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm, WCTC will carry “The Tommy G Show,” the first time a terrestrial radio station will simulcast a daily internet radio show in New Jersey. “Tommy G is very unique and brings a Jersey angle to what is happening here. He’s a radio name with a great presence in the market. He gets Jersey,” says Baron. Tommy G, who was also named to this year’s TALKERS magazine Frontier 50 – A Selection of Outstanding Talk Media Webcasters – tells TALKERS his show is “all about New Jersey and what Jerseyans are talking about,” and says his show could change the face of local talk radio. “I’m introducing ‘syndi-local’ to talk radio and consulting others on the process, showing that companies can save money while talent can build their own business and brands. It’s a win-win,” says Tommy G, who will be joined on Mondays by the New York Times best-selling author of “The Soprano State,” Bob Ingle. Following Tommy G and replacing the syndicated Mancow is another new show hosted by longtime New York metro area talent Steve Malzberg. Malzberg’s show is syndicated by Newsmax, and will be carried live from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Says Baron, “Steve is a name in the area,” and despite being a national show, it’s expected Malzberg will discuss “a fair amount of local and regional news and topics.” From 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm, WCTC, which is the flagship station for Rutgers University sports, debuts “BTN Live,” a sports talk show about the Big Ten, the NCAA conference Rutgers begins competing in this fall. Baron, who along with Tommy G, is well known for his community involvement, says he believes the changes are not only necessary but that stations must embrace how local content will make them stronger. “We will be much more local in our approach to serving our listeners – from our shows to remote (broadcasts) and our community involvement. For us it will be cost effective. We will make noise in the radio landscape.”
Todd Feinburg Subs in Boston and Louisville. Boston-based talk show host Todd Feinburg is filling in for WBZ-AM, Boston’s Dan Rea on the evening program tonight and tomorrow (8-22/23). Next week he’ll be heard 829 miles away on Clear Channel’s WHAS, Louisville sitting in hosting the 9:00 am to 12:00 noon slot on both Thursday and Friday, August 29 and 30. The multi-faceted Feinburg spent many years working full time at Entercom’s WRKO, Boston.
WIP-FM, Philadelphia Announces Howie Roseman Show. CBS Radio sports talk outlet “SportsRadio 94 WIP” is announcing Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman will make weekly appearances on the afternoon drive show with Anthony Gargano – accompanied by Eagles play-by-play voice Merrill Reese – every Monday from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm live at Chickie’s and Pete’s in South Philadelphia. The station states, “In addition to discussing each week’s game with Gargano and Reese, Roseman will take calls and talk with fans on site at Chickie’s and Pete’s. The show is the first of its kind. It is the only live weekly interactive radio show with an NFL general manager. The show, sponsored by Miller Lite, can be heard live on 94WIP, online at www.cbsphilly.com and via the Radio.com application for a variety of mobile devices. The show will debut on Tuesday, September 3 due to the Labor Day holiday and be heard on Tuesday, September 10 due to the Eagles-Redskins Monday Night Football debut on September 9. From 5:30 pm to 6:00 pm a leading Eagles player will join the show each week.
Hangin’ with Mike Tyson. Fox Sports Radio Network nationally syndicated host Jay Mohr (l) poses for a shot with former boxer Mike Tyson (r) in the Fox Sports Radio studios in Los Angeles. Tyson visited Mohr’s program to talk about his life after boxing, being a dad and much more. They also chatted about a recent run-in at a frozen yogurt shop, as well as Tyson’s upcoming FOX Sports 1 cable TV show, “Being Mike Tyson.”
Country Act The Lost Trailers Cuts Custom Theme Music for Dial Global’s “Sunday Night Football.” The theme music to Dial Global’s “Sunday Night Footbal” this season is a tweaked version of The Lost Trailers’ single “It’s Goin’ Down Tonight” that features football highlights, sound bites and customized lyrics. The company announces, “The new theme music, performed by The Lost Trailers and powered by Early Shares Music, will debut during the first regular season NFL broadcast on Thursday, September 5 which kicks off at 8:00 p.m. ET. The highly anticipated season opener between the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos will feature Kevin Harlan and Boomer Esiason behind the microphones.” The band’s founding member Stokes Nielson states, “We are truly excited to be a part of the NFL broadcasts on Dial Global. We are huge sports fans and we can’t wait to help the announcers kick off every Sunday night game, because it’s goin’ down tonight, every Sunday night, all over America!” The band previously collaborated with Dial Global Sports, customizing their top 10 single “Holler Back” for the network’s opening montage in Super Bowl XLIII.
Bradley Manning Verdict/Gender Issues, OK Thrill Kill Case, Averted Georgia School Shooting, NSA Surveillance Program, U.S.-Egypt Tensions, Syria Chemical Weapons Allegations and ObamaCare Implementation Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (8/21). The 35-year sentence handed to Bradley Manning and his desire to begin gender change procedures; the case of three Oklahoma teens suspected of slaying Australian college baseball player Christopher Lane; a Georgia School staffer talks an armed man out of firing and averts a tragedy; the scope of the NSA surveillance program; the U.S. policy regarding Egypt; allegations Syria is using chemical weapons against citizens; and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.