By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Plain talk: At too many stations – some with once-proud call letters – weekends are an embarrassment. Through utter neglect, stations injure ratings and leave money on the table.
In many cases, management doesn’t even listen on Saturday and Sunday, either because:
a) They don’t dare listen. It’s like a solar eclipse: “Look away!!!” They know their weekend is a wasteland of automation misfires and pay-for-play shows, the audition for which was the check didn’t bounce. Management just shrugs.
b) They can’t listen. There are more stations in the cluster than they can manage, and the one dismissively referred to as “the AM” gets short shrift. No names, but one station I hear airs the same disclaimer copy before and after paid shows. The voice (who was PD two-PDs-ago) says “THE FOLLOWING PROGRAM…” after the show has ended.
By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Before all the firings radio has suffered since, it might’ve seemed overstated when – four years ago — I wrote here: “tough decisions are being made, in meetings you’re not invited to. Possibly in meetings your boss is not invited to.”
My column then declared that, “if you’re in radio, you’re in sales;” and offered tips for improving the endorsement spots that only local personalities can deliver, and other ways to become a more conspicuous contributor to your station’s revenue. ICYMI: http://www.radio-info.com/2012/11/02/now-that-youre-in-sales/
Cutbacks since then – and, likely, still to come – only underline the need for on-air talent to be as sales-supportive as possible, if not actually carrying a list. To that end, this guidance about writing effective commercial copy, a task talent is often better-at than station reps, whose time is better spent pounding the pavement.
Nielsen to Present Radio ROI Study to Group Heads. Using phrases such as “they’ve finally cracked the code” and “radio’s ability to deliver sales lift of more than $6, for every dollar spent,” Clear Channel president and CFO Rich Bressler spoke during yesterday’s investor conference call glowingly about the recent Catalina Solutions group study that shows excellent return on investment for consumer packaged goods (CPG) advertisers using radio. He announced that on Monday (4/28), radio group heads will gather for a conference at CC’s New York offices to see a presentation by Nielsen’s Catalina Solutions group that Bressler also called “the first-ever, single source ROI study in the radio sector…Finally, we have the definitive proof of radio’s value.” If you remember, the study in which Nielsen worked with Clear Channel measured the sales impact for the specific media buys of 10 brands, each of which had different combinations of radio networks. Nielsen says that this group of 10 brands, which included eight CPG and two retailer brands, provided the foundation for the first normative database for radio effectiveness. Another key finding was that radio delivers a strong consumer sales response close to the time of purchase. The closer the exposure is to purchase, the higher the response. On another note, Bressler did not respond directly to the recent cuts in the sales departments at Clear Channel but made reference to them in describing the state of the company’s executive structure. “From an organizational standpoint, we create a new major market structure under which four of our senior operating executives are reporting directly to Bob Pittman and myself. This major markets operating group will collaborate directly with our local market management to oversee our operations in our largest and highest revenue generating markets from our core broadcast radio stations to our digital mobile and events business as well as a more expanded coordination with Clear Channel Outdoor.”
SiriusXM Q1 Revenue Up 11%. It was another good quarterly report for satcaster SiriusXM as CEO Jim Meyer reported that his company’s subscription total is up to 25.8 million – an increase during the quarter of 267,000. The all-important free cash flow figure was up 56% on $223 million. Meyer told analysts on Thursday, “Our solid subscriber growth, even faster revenue growth and high contribution margins have produced dramatic growth in adjusted EBTIDA and free cash flow — exactly what you would expect from SiriusXM’s highly scalable business model. We are the world leader in monetizing audio entertainment, and the way this monetization translates in cash flow is also unmatched. Our radios today are only in about 20% to 26% of the cars on the road today. So we believe the opportunity for long term growth remains significant.”
Post Piece Highlights Smerconish’s Drive to Capture Center. In a feature piece by Manuel Roig-Franzia in the Washington Post, media personality Michael Smerconish is profiled and his quest to find a political center that is hot to talk about the issues of the day is front-and-center. The story details Smerconish’s entrance into the media world, his syndicated radio career, his cable TV gigs and his decision to leave AM/FM radio for SiriusXM last year. In discussing this move and critics’ assertions that there is no centrist audience to be found in talk radio, he tells the Post, “I’m the referendum, aren’t I?…I’ve put my livelihood on the line to prove that you can.”
Indianapolis Welcomes Dave Ramsey. Talk radio superstar and best-selling author Dave Ramsey visited Indianapolis yesterday (4/24) as he presented his Legacy Journey LIVE! event at Traders Point Christian Church to a packed house. The event was promoted by Ramsey’s Indy affiliate WFDM “Freedom 95 Radio.” Pilgrim Communications VP and general manager Randy Tipmore says, “As usual when Dave Ramsey comes to Indianapolis, excitement and enthusiasm go up in the entire area as do station sales. Every time Dave comes to town we sell out in record time for record amounts. The Dave Ramsey show is the number-one selling tool we have at ‘Freedom 95.’ Dave Ramsey is pictured here (second from right) with members of the “Freedom 95 Radio” team.
‘ESPN Upstate’ Adds Local Evening Show. Sports media personality Mark Sturgis is tapped to host a live and local evening program on the Entercom-owned multi-cast serving northern South Carolina (the signals include WORD-AM, Spartanburg; WYRD-AM, Greenville; W246BU, Spartanburg on 97.1 FM and WFNC-HD3, Fayetteville, North Carolina). Sturgis moves from his two-hour show on Byrne Acquisition Group-owned sports talk WCCP-FM, Clemson to a 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm nightly show on “ESPN Upstate.” He follows the new “In The Huddle” show with Greg McKinney that airs in afternoon drive. Entercom VP and market manager Steve Sinicropi states, “Our sports coverage in terms of talent, teams and signal coverage continues to get stronger and stronger. ‘ESPN Upstate’ has become the most dominant sports network in the market. Mark has a great live and local show right now, he has a network of sports contacts and he brings a passion for sports, strong knowledge and tremendous energy to the fast-growing ‘EPSN Upstate’ audience. When you have a powerful brand like ESPN and the largest portfolio of radio stations in the Upstate to cross promote, it’s no wonder listeners and talent are coming to ‘ESPN Upstate.’”
Stephanie Miller’s ‘Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour’ Hits Chicago Tomorrow; Albuquerque and Minneapolis Next. Talk show host and comic Stephanie Miller’s comedy roadshow – the Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour lands in Chicago tomorrow and there are still a limited number of VIP tickets available for the event. The show – featuring Miller, John Fugelsang, Carlos Alazraqui, and Stephanie Miller show family members Chris Lavoie and voice deity Jim Ward – is also traveling to Albuquerque on May 10 and rolls into Minneapolis on June 7.
Premiere Networks President Julie Talbott Named Woman of the Year. The editorial board of TALKERS has named Premiere Networks president Julie Talbott as the 2014 recipient of the Judy Jarvis Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Talk Radio Industry by a Woman. The honor, also known as “Woman of the Year,” will be presented to Talbott by last year’s recipient, Heather Cohen, EVP of The Weiss Agency, at the forthcoming Talkers New York 2014 conference on Friday, June 20 as one of the highlights of an awards ceremony at which presentations will also be made for “Lifetime Achievement,” Humanitarian of the Year,” and Freedom of Speech (the recipients of which have yet to be announced). In addition to Cohen, past recipients of this prestigious award include Robin Bertolucci, Stephanie Miller, Laurie Cantillo, Grace Blazer, Kim Komando, Laura Ingraham, Randi Rhodes, Lynn Distler, Adriane Gaines, Ellen Ratner, Gloria Allred, Lisa Evers and its namesake Judy Jarvis, the late independent talk radio syndication pioneer for whom it was first presented posthumously. Upon announcing the board’s choice of Julie Talbott, TALKERS VP/executive editor Kevin Casey states, “We all look forward to the day that a special award to a female member of the talk radio community is no longer relevant or necessary – but if you look at the breakdown of the numbers of men versus women in the business, it is clear that we have not yet reached that day.” TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison adds, “We couldn’t be more delighted having the opportunity to honor Ms. Talbott for her achievements and contributions to not just talk but the entire spectrum of popular radio over the years. She is a bright, creative, dignified and extremely inspirational role model for young women looking to build a career in the radio broadcasting industry.” Julie Talbott started her career in advertising at BBDO, where she spent five years as supervisor of media planning and buying. Her love of radio took her to MJI Broadcasting, where she spent 19 years. As COO of MJI Broadcasting, Talbott was instrumental in growing the company from five people to more than 150. In 1999, Premiere Networks acquired MJI Broadcasting. At that time, Talbott joined Premiere as senior vice president of integrated marketing solutions, focusing on advertising sponsorships. In 2003, she was promoted to executive vice president, affiliate relations. In that role, she oversaw a staff that increased affiliations for programs hosted by Jim Rome, Glenn Beck, George Noory, Bob and Tom, Steve Harvey, Keith Sweat, Elvis Duran, Fox Sports Radio and others. In 2009, Talbott was named VP, content and affiliate relations for Premiere Networks and then promoted in September 2012 to extend that title to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment’s National Media Groups. In January of this year, she was promoted to president of Premiere Networks. In her current role, Talbott continues to oversee the operation of Premiere Networks radio programs and services and manages business partnerships with talent, while leading and maintaining key affiliate relationships to sell and service Premiere Networks, Total Traffic & Weather Network and iHeartRadio. A native of Kentucky, Talbott received her B.A. from the University of Kentucky and attended the Business Strategy Program at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business in 1996. Talbott lives with her husband and three children in New York. For information about registering for Talkers New York 2014 please call 413-565-5413.
TALKERS Weekly Affiliate Roundup. “Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk” is added to the program lineup at the following stations: KAOK, Lake Charles, Louisiana; KFIV, Modesto, California; KWSX, Stockton, California; WCHS, Charleston, West Virginia; and WBBA, Pittsfield, Illinois…..“Free Talk Live” with Ian Freeman and Mark Edge is picked up by new affiliates KQAM, Wichita; WBKV, West Bend, Wisconsin; WHIR, Danville, Kentucky; and WRMN, Elgin, Illinois…..“Into Tomorrow” with Dave Graveline’s weekly program is picked up by KNOX-AM/FM, Fargo.
Dean Cain Visits ABC News Radio. Actor Dean Cain goofs with ABC News Radio entertainment correspondent Joi Marie McKenzie during a visit to ABC News Radio studios to promote the new season of his VH1 series “Hit the Floor” that returns on May 26 at 9:00 pm ET.
Russian Aggression in Ukraine/U.S. Troops in Poland Top News/Talk Stories During Week of April 21-25. The turbulent political state in Ukraine, Russia’s aggression in the region and the arrival of U.S. troops in Poland were the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio during the week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 was the scrutiny of the rollout and effects of the Affordable Care Act. Following at #3 was the 2016 presidential race tied with Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy and at #4 was the deadly attack on Americans at an Afghanistan hospital tied with drone strikes on suspected al Qaeda in Yemen. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. View this week’s entire chart here.
There is nothing harder than finding effective digital sellers. So hard, it is logical to conclude that there aren’t any great digital advertising sellers. The job listings are packed with ads begging, “Sharks wanted.” “Are you a shark?” “Can you bring business with you?” “Closers only.”
The account executive turnover at major digital firms is very high. Start-ups raise funds to salary qualified, experienced shark-sellers but their hires sell—nothing. Not a little, but nothing. In talking with dozens of start-up CEO’s they share the same story: