Radio Tactics – Hot or Not

You would be surprised (or maybe not) to see the emails I get from people in the radio industry confirming management tactics that defy the imagination.

At the same time, on occasion, a broadcaster or two connects with their local market to distinguish themselves in an era of poor management.

It’s all available to us for learning purposes.

Take what a Cumulus employee said about a new company policy that tightens the noose around the necks of local salespeople.

Cumulus Rate Alert System

Last week Cumulus implemented a new rate integrity system from its bunker in Atlanta.

Keep in mind that Cumulus has the philosophy that all local sales should be driven by national "brains". Cumulus uses Skype cameras at sales meetings and account execs are required to follow the book exactly as the mothership writes it.

Now, apparently, Cumulus has established “floor rates” set for all markets and when an order goes into the main system back in Atlanta with rates that are below the “floor” level, it sets off a literal "Big Brother" email alert to none other than the Dickey Brothers, Jonathan Pinch and Gary Pizzati.

One reader said:

“According to my sources, 2000 alert emails were generated the first day alone!

Keep in mind that none of the Dickey Brothers have had to rely on local selling to make their living. They were, after all, born into the right family.

In a month that saw Citadel cut sales commissions by 50% at one of their clusters, do strategies that seem to demoralize account executives accomplish their mission?

Hot or not?

Larry Wilson’s Local Initiative

His Alpha Broadcasting Portland stations did a “Paint the Town Clean” promotion recently that would warm the hearts of radio enthusiasts who think radio needs to get down and local real quick.

Personalities and staffers worked with the city to paint over graffiti. That public service initiative isn’t new to radio, but it is sure new to radio in the middle of consolidation. The stations teamed with a paint company (I wouldn’t be surprised to find out it was a sponsor) and they got listeners involved.

Now I know this promotion didn’t come from central command and you can’t make listeners think that they might win something that is simultaneously being offered to many other stations, but is this promotion in this day and age hot?

Guess the Missing HD Radio Station

Okay, it wasn’t a promotion in Hartford but it really happened.

Here’s a reader account:

“It's not just CC that is downgrading engineering.

"I bought a new HD clock radio for my wife because the CBS 50K AM in Hartford doesn't come in well where I am due to poor ground conductivity and interference. They stream the AM signal on their FM HD2. Last week, my wife said the radio didn't go on. I checked it and no audio. I checked everything, then tuned up to HD3 and it worked fine. HD1 also worked fine. Then I realized that there was simply no audio on HD2.

"Yesterday, about a week later, I checked again and still no audio. I called the station, was connected with someone in engineering, who first said he wasn't the engineer for that station, but asked why I was calling. I told him, and he walked over and checked, and said "Oh Yeah, there isn't any audio". Last night when I checked, the signal was back on HD2”.

It’s one thing if listeners don’t notice HD radio. They never really took to it anyway but it’s amazing -- no feed for a week and no one at the station noticed.

People Meter Panic

Have you seen that Cumulus is now imitating another “C” broadcaster – this time, not Citadel or Clear Channel, but CBS.

CBS was first to build People Meter hit radio stations that attract huge cume in Los Angeles, New York and Detroit. Keep in mind People Meter numbers do not necessarily reflect listening but it’s the only ratings game radio broadcasters have these days.

While Myrtle Beach is not exactly New York in size, Cumulus is using its new format “I” (The "I' must stand for Imitation of CBS). The "I" format is also on Cumulus stations in Dallas, Nashville, Indianapolis and Pensacola. You get the idea. The recent format changes are on Cumulus stations that are not performing well so imitating CBS means nothing to lose.

Hit music.

Few if any jocks.

Even “Commercial Free Mondays” like CBS used to do it and “10 Songs in a Row Every Hour”.

Radio operators are figuring out how to place nice with the People Meter. CBS got out in front. But "I" radio is a direct ripoff.

Not hot and not even cool.

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