Posted by O.B. Vious on August 19, 2009 at 11:01:57:
Love this guy's blog about the radio industry. Check out the latest post:
By Jerry Del Colliano
CBS is doing commercial free Mondays in Washington at Fresh 94.7.
This is nuts.
Here's how they put it:
We agree - the other stations in town play too many commercials. Wouldn't it be nice to hear music when you're at work without all the commercials? It would. That's why we're giving you Commercial Free Mondays on 94.7 Fresh FM.
Every Monday, from 8AM to 6PM, you'll hear all of Today's Fresh Music without the commercials. Zero...nada...NO COMMERCIALS AT ALL! Share the news with your friends & co-workers and change that office radio station to The New 94.7 Fresh FM!
First of all I can tell you that anything a radio station brags about, listeners do not believe.
Every good programmer today can back that up.
Don't make promises -- deliver.
Times have changed. The only people who believe our boasts are working at the station making the boast.
So what do you think it says to the local advertising community when a radio station is treating commercials like the Swine Flu?
I don't get it.
Don't get me wrong. Dan Mason is one of the best radio execs out there and this is just one issue. Some Clear Channel people have accused me of favoring CBS but I'm just saying they do more things right than wrong. Yet, I disagree on this one.
How do you pitch advertisers and prospects on spending money at a station that infers that less of their commercials is better for the workday?
Hell, that's the US Airways model -- not the one a troubled radio industry should be embracing.
Commercial free anything is so old it goes back to program directors who tried that trick (sometimes successfully) when they were manipulating the diary. Why dust off this dangerous strategy in the middle of a recession?
I know ...I know.
Stations that do well in the People Meter play a lot of music -- or so the many new "experts" on PPM believe.
It's not station loyalty.
It's got to be "more music".
As a former program director you'll never get me to argue that music is not important -- hell, I'll go one step further and say music discovery (something radio does not do), is even more important in today's world of iPods and file sharing.
But this notion that you can play your way out of the diary into PPM favor by shutting up your jocks and becoming a jukebox is a short-term fix at best and a long-term nightmare that I'm warning you about.
And the ultimate concession to PPM Zenis that you really can't cram anymore music into a workday than by eliminating the jock and the commercials.
Radio without commercials on Mondays makes me wonder whether they are not setting themselves up for radio without commercials on Tuesdays as well. Why would you want to do this?
Be careful what you wish for in your promos.
Wouldn't it be nice to hear music when you're at work without all the commercials?
Okay, my answer to that question on the "Fresh" website is yes!
How about Internet radio at work or my iPod as I listen through those cool new Etymotic earbuds.
I know. It's a promotion. That's all.
But I think it's more.
Where is Randy Michaels when you need him?
Randy would attack the station going "commercial free" while he seriously cut his own spot load and then would play some dirty trick on his competitor at the agency level. I kid Randy, but still -- betcha he'd do it.
Radio is on a slippery slope and not just with listeners.
You can't go on-the-air and trash commercials by inference and then expect advertisers to buy ads. Maybe you could spit in their faces before, but advertisers are looking for something beyond radio and things like this give them a good excuse.
Look, CBS isn't the only group making mistakes like this.
Clear Channel raising its rates 15% after ten years of bastardizing the mediums' rates is a mistake.
And when Lew "Don't Call Me Tricky" Dickey decided to re-do his agency business, consolidate the accounts, piss off local Cumulus clients, he backed down quietly presumably do as not to lose face.
Sources in several markets tell one of my Repeater Reporters that Cumulus has made some exceptions after agency heads supposedly called Atlanta and threatened to pull their business. There are only a few ways this agency outrage could have forced the Dickey's retreat and I'm sure the Dickey dictators are thinking the same thing -- local account executives put them up to it.
As the Repeater Reporter puts it: "Whether they did or not, those AE's are now on a special Dickey list. . . and will have a 1/2-life future with CMLS!"
Oh, and their jobs may be in jeopardy. Check the help wanted ads for Local Sales Manager in Florence, S.C.
I love the last line:
"Also required is the ability to be flexible as our business is fast-changing".
Like flexible enough to pack a UHaul without throwing your back out.
Radio is blowing it with advertisers -- just at the wrong time.
Maybe because the industry gets away with commercial clusters loaded with 5-8 units -- a waste of any sponsors money to be sure. That's the original insult because even if listeners come back, advertisers will not.
And if you're thinking, our station doesn't do this -- keep in mind that many start music sweeps by saying their commercial free or uninterrupted -- you know, without commercial interruption.
I mentioned previously in this space that advertisers are telling my podcasting franchise clients that they are either not buying local radio or cutting back and yes, they are actively looking for alternatives -- like new media.
Why is it that so many smart radio people are coming up with so many dumb ideas?
One reason is that they don't understand generational media.
When I taught my USC students about generational media, I always said that each generation has just as many things in common with the other generations as it does differences.
The trick is to know the difference.
Steve Jobs does.
Radio executives do not.
Radio people would figure it out if their draconian bosses would treat them like they had a brain.
So, sit back and enjoy commercial free Mondays.
Have a good time cramming spots into bloated stop sets.
Keep using your cheapest production people to record unremarkable ads that don't get noticed and don't make a difference.
And continue to send what's left of your sales force into see agencies and clients without empowering them to solve one single marketing problem of theirs.
PPM means nothing -- even if you get away with stripping the personality out of your stations to make them more music friendly -- if you keep treating advertising like a disease.
Oh, by the way -- in my years of teaching at USC, no student ever told me they wouldn't listen to a commercial.
Just not the ones on radio.
They are too bad.
I don't want to end without a positive solution -- so here it goes:
1. Cut your spot load to a maximum of eight per hour, 12 in morning drive. Units!
2. One spot per stop set -- stopping is good, short attention spans love it. Don't fight me on this. They're not listening to it your way, try pleasing the next generation.
3. Never say commercial free on a commercial radio station.
4. Hire Randy Michaels to do an attack on your competitor.
5. Sorry, 4 wasn't positive. I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me.
6. Help your advertisers test their commercial before you run them.
7. Hire more sales people -- train them, enable them to solve just one marketing problem that every client has.
8. Don't raise rates until you deliver more measurable results for your advertisers and then once you do -- raise them a lot more than 15%. Then you'll get it.
When you are ashamed of running commercials on-the-air -- or at least pander to listeners -- you need to take a serious time out.
Commercials alone are not the problem -- too many of them are, but the real issue is lack of local personality.
The Super Bowl is loaded with commercials -- to some, the commercials are more important than the game. No one says on the air, fewer commercials on this year's Super Bowl.
Radio fell out of love with commercials a long time ago.
Now advertisers are.
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