“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.”