Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday Morning Radio Rant

C'mon ... what would Monday Morning be like if I didn't complain about radio?!?!?
Got this from Ron Smith Saturday Morning:
Ronnie Rice does not even own a computer. But every once in awhile, he passes things along to his webmaster. This appeared on Ronnie's Facebook page early Saturday morning and clearly wasn't ghost-written:
"This is Ronnie Rice speaking: I have known schmucks before, but Jan Jefferies at WLS-FM takes the cake. This weekend (5/24/13 - 5/26/13) was dedicated to Chicago's Own. Knowing there are listeners who love their own Chicago bands, why did this moron eliminate The Shadows of Knight, The Cryan Shames and The New Colony 6? He's not from Chicago but he should know better. Not only is it an insult to the forerunners of Chicago bands, but also an insult to the fans. Now I know two Dicks at WLS, and Jan you are one of them."
lol ... too funny. And absolutely true ... the last time he put together a Chicago tribute weekend we got Chicago, The Buckinghams and Styx ... and that was about it ... there wasn't much more. KNOW the city you're programming to. The Chicago music scene has a very rich heritage and was key to the sound of the '60's ... but if you listen to the station (and I swear that I no longer know a single person who does!), there really are no more '60's in the mix. "Classic Hits" ... the format that Jefferies promised the media would set WLS-FM apart from all of the other stations in town ... playing the exact same music ... doesn't allow for much more than John Mellencamp, Steve Miller, Bob Seger, Journey, Boston, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel and about six other artists to get played with any regularity.
Ronnie Rice ... one of the leaders of the Chicago Music Scene back then ... is spot on. Know your audience ... or lose them. Jan Jefferies: they're already gone. Simply put, you should be, too.
Borrowing a page from the never-ending Forgotten Hits soap box, All Access columnist Perry Michael Simon asks ...
Why did you get into radio?
That's not a trick question. I really want to know what drove people to do this for a living. Was it the glamour of being that disembodied voice talking to the world? Was it the desire to be famous, or at least as famous as being a radio host makes you? Was it the need to be heard by as many people at once as possible? Was it hearing one of the greats of the past and thinking that someday you wanted to be him or her when you grew up? Was it not having anything particularly better to do with your life? Was it the allure of hooking up with request line callers? (Don't lie, you know what you did.) What was it?
I thought about that when I saw a press release for a station changing formats this week, and I saw the phrases "Today's Best Music" and "more music" and "the best of 2000s and today," and I wondered ... did anyone get into radio for that? That's focus group speak. It's how we got Mix and Variety and The Station Everyone At Work Can Agree Upon and Silently Resent. Look, I'm not going to argue that some stations do very well with more-music-less-talk and liner card readers and voice tracking and automation. It may very well be the route to victory, in the short term, at least -- I doubt that it'll fend off customizable, skippable streaming music forever -- and I don't begrudge the Lites and Qs and Zs and Mixes of the world their success. But when I hear The Best Of The '80s, '90s and Today, I wonder who can do that for very long without wondering whether there were better career choices, like maybe actuarial work or industrial equipment sales or acupuncturist. If you can do that, more power to ya.
But I didn't get into radio thinking, hey, I want to make the very best Today's Best Music Mix station. I didn't want to do Another Commercial-Free 10-Jamz-In-A-Row. I wanted to be part of something with personality, and something that would ultimately be different. I didn't know what that was going to be, but it ended up being talk radio, and unusual talk radio at that, thanks to management willing to take risks and be patient. And now, there's sort of stagnation there, too.
And if I asked the next generation of adults why they'd want to go into radio, they'd say that they wouldn't. All the reasons we wanted to do radio are no longer reasons to do radio at all. You don't need to go on the radio to reach a mass audience, even an international one. You can get famous much faster, and for free, doing YouTube videos than from doing radio. Radio isn't generating stars like it once did, so there's less "I want to be like him / her" going on. And nobody even calls request lines anymore, so you're back to Craigslist for your hookups.
Which means the radio industry has to take a long, hard look again at where we've gone and where we're going, and how to attract creative people to the business. That's not the same as signing up celebrities to dabble in radio, which is an answer I've been given before; how often does THAT work out? (That, sadly, is a topic with which I have some gruesome personal experience ... ) No, it's more about offering some of the excitement and creative freedom that got sucked out of the medium when everything got focus-grouped into "Today's Best Music." It's offering actual career paths instead of the prospect of being voice tracked out of a job. And, most of all, it's realizing that the long-term prospects for the radio medium, whether over the air or over the Internet, depends on developing content with personality and creativity -- a reason, in short, for people to listen to your station or show or channel rather than an all-you-can-eat jukebox or a customized stream -- and that needs creative, motivated people. You won't get them with "More Music, Less Talk." You won't get them with cookie-cutter Angry Guys In Ties political talk. You won't get them with Your Wacky Morning Zoo Here's Today's Celebrity Birthdays Coming Up Next A Phone Scam. Only an industry that encourages taking chances, that embraces innovation, that isn't locked into doing exactly what the competition is doing because you'd rather take a chunk of someone else's 25-54 billing than grow your own piece of the market ...
... And there I go again, daydreaming. Sorry, I know, I'm talking to myself. I do that a lot. But I have a vested interest in encouraging the radio -- excuse me, the audio entertainment -- industry to grow and prosper. Radio has the resources to be the leader in developing talent for the next era. All it needs is the will to do it, and the desire.
-- Perry Simon
You've heard us say it a thousand times ... when is radio going to get a clue? (There've just got to be THOUSANDS of kids out there today thinking: "Yeah, when I grow up I want to give the time, temp and call letters three times every fifteen minutes ... and then just clam up for the rest of the hour! That sounds like a great career choice to me!!!") Personality and variety is what made radio great ... all we've got now is clone after clone after clone. It USED to be you could tell which station you were listening to by the music they played. Not anymore. They all seem to be working from the play list ... and man, what a bore THAT is!!!  
Here's a piece Gary Theroux sent us ... he got it from programming genius John Rook who is singing the same song we are about ignoring what quite likely is the most desirable demographic ... people who actually RESPOND to radio ... and have the disposable income to do something about it!   
PrimeTime Women — The Executive Summary1. Women control most of the consumer spending decisions worldwide, and in the United States, most of the corporate and small business spending decisions as well. In the consumer sector, women bring in half or more of the income in 55 percent of U.S. households. In 27 percent of U.S. households, single women are the sole earner, and 30 percent of working wives out-earn their husbands. Women operate as the “Chief Purchasing Officer” in almost all households, and are estimated to make 80 percent of all household buying decisions. This includes handling the majority of purchasing in such traditionally male categories as investments, automotive, consumer electronics, and home improvement. In corporations, they constitute 50 percent of managers and professionals, 58 percent of purchasing agents and managers, and 53 percent of wholesale and retail buyers. In addition, they make most of the decisions on office equipment, services and supplies, and employee financial and insurance plan providers. In the small business arena, women have accounted for 70 percent of all privately held startups over the last 15 years. Their growth in numbers, employees, and revenues has outperformed the general economy by two-fold, three-fold and four-fold, respectively. Women are different from men, and their buying decisions are based on different attitudes, priorities, and decision styles. To be effective in marketing to them, companies need to apply different messages, media, and communication approaches. The insights and principles of the GenderTrends Marketing Model set forth in my first book, Marketing to Women, will help companies reap significant competitive advantage, resulting in sales and share boosts, as well as increases in customer satisfaction among both men and women.
2. PrimeTime Women — women 50–70 years old — control spending for the households with the most money. With the aging of the Baby Boomers, the population of consumers over 50 is growing astronomically fast (up 45 percent from 2000 to 2020), while the population under 50 is actually declining (down 2 percent 2000 – 2020). These consumers have enormous economic clout. They’re in their peak earning years and expect to continue working well into their 70s. They already control 79 percent of the financial assets in the United States and will keep accumulating more, as they continue to bring in two paychecks, and add to that some inheritance money from their parents. They have the greatest discretionary spending power of all consumer segments, because their expenses decline when their kids launch their own households. On a per capita basis, consumers over 50 spend 2.5 times what the average person spends. Women over 50 exert greater spending influence than women under 50, as they handle more of the household decisions independently of their husbands; as their children consult them on spending decisions in their own newly established households; and as they become an increasing percentage of the older population.
3. Boomer women are the first generation of PrimeTime Women and are radically different from any generation of women in history. This is the dawn of PrimeTime. Thirty years ago you couldn’t call the ages between 50 and 70 years old “PrimeTime.” Advances in awareness, knowledge, and practice of new health, wellness, fitness and nutrition behaviors has extended life expectancy by more in the past 100 years than in the 1,000 years preceding it. More important, the quality of life has been substantially enhanced; in effect, rather than an extra ten years being added to the end of life, they have effectively been added to the middle of life. Both men and women in their 50s and 60s report these to be the happiest decades of their lives. At the same time, Boomer women have shattered the mold of how women have lived their lives for all the generations before them. They are the first generation of women to attend college in numbers
about equal to their brethren; the first to enter the workplace en masse, with the majority bringing home a paycheck of their own; the first to have control of whether and when to have children, which significantly
affects job seniority and career progress; and the first to win regulatory rights that give them control of their own financial matters equal to men. Relative to previous generations of women, these are far from small, incremental changes. They are a radical transformation of women’s role in the household, political, and economic infrastructure of our society. This represents a watershed opportunity for marketers. Never
before have consumer households had such substantial spending power, driven by the advent of two-paycheck households, and the increased longevity to accumulate spending power over time. Never before have there been so many consumer goods available and relevant to fulfill wants and desires beyond basic food, clothing, and shelter needs — goods like travel, consumer electronics, telecommunications, financial instruments, entertainment, and many more. And never again will marketers have the opportunity to be first to market with this new cohort of high-spending consumers.

4. Most marketers are missing the boat and the opportunity because they’re trapped in their own outdated stereotypes. First of all, we in the Western world suffer from a bad case of youth myopia. On an emotional level, as a culture, we aspire to the characteristics of young people — energetic, high-spirited, physically
strong, impulsive, and colorful; and we are ignorant about the true qualities of older people — experienced, resilient, even-tempered, patient, intuitive. We let ourselves be buried in all the baggage that comes along with the only terms we have had for the midlife market: “middle-aged,” “mature,” “aging,” and “senior” all carry connotations of dumpy, frumpy, sober, and slow. Not surprisingly, none of those descriptions sound particularly appealing to today’s marketers, even those at senior levels of management who may themselves be PrimeTimers and ought to know better. Second, marketers either truly believe, or proffer as a rationalization, the explanation that young people are the prospects with the most lifetime sales potential. “Get ’em while they’re young,” they say, “and they’ll buy your brand for life.” Nonsense. That may actually
have been true back when there weren’t that many brands to choose from in the 1950s, and when most brands enjoyed a substantial and perceptible point of difference versus their competitors. That was 50 years ago, folks. In today’s marketplace, where consumers are confronted by an excess of choice, and many categories are seen as collections of fairly interchangeable commodities, everybody tries new stuff all the time. And in fact, the research shows that older people are actually at least as likely to try something new than younger people — probably because their needs, preferences, and priorities are changing and they are looking for new options. Moreover, anyone who thinks “Well, at least younger people have lots more purchase cycles in them than older people do,” might want to do their homework and check their facts.
They might be surprised to learn, for example, that of the 13 cars that an average household buys over its “lifetime,” seven — the majority — are bought after the head of household reaches 50. It baffles me when I read that marketers are worried that their customer base is “older,” that they are desperate to reach younger consumers, that they are willing to pay substantially more for media that reaches younger people, that programmers and content developers are scrambling to develop properties to deliver younger audiences. Twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings are lovely people, but as prospects, they have a fraction of the spending power of the generation ahead of them. Personally, if I were a marketer looking for
a competitive advantage, while the rest of the market duked it out over the young buyers that have no dough, I would court the consumers who have the most moolah. Call me crazy.

5. To effectively market to the PrimeTime Woman, you have to understand who she really is. PrimeTime Women regard their 50s and 60s as the prime of their lives. Unlike PrimeTime men, they don’t experience midlife as a crisis; to them it’s more like a liberation. What psychologists have characterized as the “empty nest,” supposedly a time of loss and sadness, PrimeTime Women experience as “the next quest,” when after
decades of suppressing their own preferences and passions in favor of focusing on family needs, they are finally free to return to themselves, to experience “My Time.” They’re healthy, strong, and energetic, and the launch of the kids frees up time and money to pursue old passions and explore new possibilities.
Menopause, far from being the mysterious mood monster that takes over their lives, is well under control, and actually brings a bonus — post-menopausal zest, as Margaret Mead called it, a boost in energy experienced as increased creativity and productivity. PrimeTime Women are mentally strong, and getting stronger every day. And their new awareness of their mortality gifts them with both a greater appreciation for life and a stronger sense of legacy, the urge to contribute and give back. Thanks to hormone shifts, combined with their greater life experience, they feel more assertive, confident in themselves, resilient and capable of handling whatever life throws at them. PrimeTime brings more peace, equanimity, strength, confidence, appreciation, and perspective. They’re at a stage of human development when they experience
greater drives for authenticity, to find and behave as their “real selves,” rather than their youthfully created “social selves,” and they feel free to exempt themselves from many of the social constraints and conventions that bound them when they were younger. Contrary to popular opinion, PrimeTime Women are not in denial about their age or appearance, not fighting tooth and nail to retain or reclaim their “lost” youth. Sure, gravity happens; everything is a little less firm, a little less smooth, a little more bumpy here and there. But unlike their younger selves when they were in their 40s, Prime-Time Women have made peace with their appearance. They care about looking their personal best and are glad to avail themselves of help from nutrition, exercise, clothing, hair color, and cosmetics, but marketers who think they are desperate to look 20 are completely missing the point. The PrimeTime Woman redefines beauty on her own terms, and it is anything but skin deep. Instead, it comes from a combination of her external physical features, which she is comfortable with, and her internal self-confidence, which radiates strength and serenity. She thinks she looks great, and she doesn’t appreciate marketers who tell her she doesn’t measure up.

6. Marketers who understand the new dynamics of the PrimeTime consumer market, and the new dimensions of the PrimeTime Woman, have many ways to leverage these insights into major business opportunities. The first opportunity is simply to recognize PrimeTime Women as a high-opportunity market segment, and instead of “worrying” about having too many older consumers, count yourself lucky and
court these big spenders before your competitors figure it out. And before you invest the billions it takes to open foreign markets, jumping the hurdles of unfamiliar customs and alien regulations, make sure you haven’t overlooked the customers in your own backyard. Second, develop new products to serve PrimeTime Women’s merging needs as they move into midlife, changing physically and developing new lifestyles. You have a large segment of prosperous consumers who have needs that have never been explored before.
Opportunity? I think so. Third, use your new insights to boost the effectiveness of your marketing programs and communications. Get more bang out of every buck in your sales and marketing budgets by developing and tailoring your marketing programs to better align with PrimeTime Women’s gender culture. And enhance the breakthrough, relevance, and appeal of all your marketing communications by both reflecting and speaking to PrimeTime Women’s real priorities and interests. Don’t make the catastrophic mistake of thinking this opportunity applies only to those industries conventionally thought of as “senior categories:” hearing aids, medicines, fiber products, recreational vehicles, orthopedic shoes, and anti-aging potions. This book has provided myriad examples of industries that can and will grow based on PrimeTime Women’s opening up to new activities, interests, needs, and priorities.
7. PrimeTime Women are the healthiest, wealthiest, most educated, active, and influential generation of women in history. This is their PrimeTime. And it’s your prime marketing opportunity. PrimeTime is the Promised Land, and PrimeTime Women hold the key. It is a moment of marketing opportunity unparalleled in history. Never before. Never again. Don’t miss your chance to win the hearts, minds, and business of Boomer big spenders — PrimeTime Women."