CCU: The New Less Is More

You've got to hand it to Clear Channel CEO John Hogan. He could teach President Bush a thing or two about how to handle the quagmire in Iraq.

When Hogan loses, he simply declares victory and withdraws.

That's what he did last week when Hogan circulated an ominous email around to Clear Channel employees to tell them that his personal crusade to lower commercial loads -- Less is More -- is so successful that in some cases Clear Channel stations will be free to -- ignore it.

Hogan describes Less Is More as an "unqualified" success. He's right about that choice of word -- unqualified.

The dictionary's preferred definition of "unqualified" is: (of a person) not officially recognized as a practitioner of a particular profession or activity through having satisfied the relevant conditions or requirements.

Well, now I can understand why Hogan chose "unqualified".

Here's his new iteration of Less Is More or what I'd like to call Less Is Anything We Say It Is -- in Hogan's own words:

"In some cases, we will be reducing inventory further. In other cases, we will be increasing it. In all cases, the changes are designed to give you the greatest opportunity to compete effectively for listeners and for revenues."

Come again?

Did you just say in some cases you will be increasing inventory? How can that be called Less is More?

There is a credibility gap here. Don't email this article to advertisers because they'll have even less respect for radio.

Hogan adds:

"And we remain committed to maintaining our competitive advantage of having the lowest commercial and promotions loads – as well as the shortest spot breaks – in our markets".

But some Clear Channel employees simply see this as another rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

"We've gone from two spot block(s) per hour, to three and now back to two. They're still five+ minutes per block."

Sounds like "shortest stop breaks" to me.

If you really want to get the radio industry back in the thick of things, you have to start by calling a knave a knave.

Memo to John Hogan: no one -- including advertisers -- ever believed that less was more. All they had to do was listen to a Clear Channel station. No one -- including radio groups -- believed that Less Is More would help the broader radio industry. It has done more to heap ridicule on it and LIM has not helped to increase ratings or advertising.

If this is radio then radio has no chance going forward.

Want some honest answers?

• 12 units an hour max -- a unit is a spot (10 seconds, 30, 60 or whatever -- a unit is not two spots).

• Don't run your commercials in blocks. The younger the listener, the more they reject it. Of course, far be it from me or even the next generation to tell radio people how to program a radio station. But for those of you who would like to do better, a hint: Commercial, music, commercial, music, commercial, music -- a music sweep with no commercials -- commercial, music, and so on. All the great brain trusts would like to cram their garbage (commercials) into two or three stop sets. Listeners and advertisers want it differently. So keep stuffing those awful commercials into unlistenable stop sets at your own peril.

• Improve your commercials by 25% and improve your bottom line by at least 25%. Study Jerry Lee's WBEB Philadelphia experiment and learn from a very rich man. His company may not be as large as Clear Channel, but he's a heck of a lot smarter and he doesn't have to engage in double talk about less being more at some stations during some dayparts. Lee is delivering more for less -- now that's an idea.

Clear Channel, considered an industry leader due to its ownership of 1,100 radio stations, has helped suck the life out of a once prosperous radio industry.

So let's have a good hearty laugh at their faulty thinking and embarrassing double talk.

Then, go and do the opposite.

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