CRS Feedback: First Time, Long Time
February 26, 2014
Twenty-nine panels and gawd knows how many live performances, including a couple from Rockers Motley Crue and The Doobie Brothers. Four long nights and countless conversations, some longer than others. At least 25 people I'd never met before. Fewer than 10 cocktails for the week, but fewer than five hours of shut-eye per night. Two really sore feet. An irritatingly large hotel valet parking bill. And holy crap: A random encounter with Little Richard!
How was YOUR Country Radio Seminar?
That was my question this week and I polled a specific combination of people: Those who had never been before and those who hadn't attended CRS in a long time.
Clear Channel Country WUBL/Atlanta APD/midday personality Angie Ward hadn't been in a while, so I was curious to get her impression: "Thoroughly enjoyed my first CRS in eight years. A ton of great insight on digital media and radio. I really appreciated the interactive app that helped me schedule my day and easily keep track of which seminars and events I needed to be at and where they were located." Among Angie's favorite acts last week: Sam Hunt and Clair Dunn, who played The Stage on Broadway."
I had the pleasure of sitting next to Southern Belle, LLC Country WFKY (Froggy 104.9)/WVKY (Froggy 101.7)/Frankfort, KY PD/afternooner "Jumpin'" Jim Beam at Friday's (2/21) New Faces Show. He attended with the station's midday personality Cricket; both were first time CRS attendees:
Jim Beam: "I have come back energized from CRS and ready to engage and get to work on becoming the best radio station we can be," said Beam. "The best session for me was 'Radio ICE - Broadcasting In Case of Emergency.' It's very important as a radio station that we are prepared for the worst and execute when the community needs us the most. My favorite events for the week were UMG at the Ryman and the Grassroots Promotion Sunset Dinner. Overall I really enjoyed the experience and look forward to attending again next year."
Cricket: "I've talked so much about new ideas from CRS, I literally have laryngitis! CRS for me reinforced our mission to serve our community, not only in the studio, but on the streets. This is where radio sets itself apart from all of these devices because we have faces! From the artists to local leaders to the guy listening on third shift at the factory, they should see our faces and know who we are.
"As a small town radio station that seems to always have an uphill battle, my favorite part about CRS was 'Perseverance' with Little Big Town followed by their performance of "Sober" at the UMG Luncheon. Even though localism comes first, I was also relieved to hear the do's and don'ts in this digital era from CRS keynote Gavin McGarry and his take in the '11 Reasons Social Media Could Save Radio.'"
It was great to run into my old friend, co-worker, former competitor and onetime Curb Records rep from back in the day, Craig Powers. He's been back in radio for years and currently serves as VP/Operations for Cameron Broadcasting/Bullhead City, AZ: "It's been 10 long years since I've been to CRS. I've missed it big time; CRS is the single best radio, record, marketing education you can get. My first one was back in 1990. Now in 2014, it's bigger, better and even more entertaining. The haircuts are tighter, spikier and the jeans are slimmer. Some of my former West Coast Regionals are now label VP's -- they have a lot more grey hair, too!
"Between the New Faces Show and the UMG Luncheon I saw a lot of traditional Country and Pop Country. At New Faces, I saw fresh new Country and even what I call 'Metal Country' from Tyler Farr. I'm still not sure if I loved it or hated it yet. Half the crowd gave him a standing ovation and I sure don't want to be one of those old guys like I saw at CRS back in 1990 that said, 'Diamond Rio, Brooks and Dunn and Billy Ray aren't Country!'
" I attended at least 12 sessions, three luncheons and three dinners and I enjoyed most of the Seminars. 'Brand Like A Rock Star' featured strong visuals and Steve Jones had a great presentation. 'The Do's and Don'ts of Social Media' was incredible; I learned a lot of new tricks. In one session, the marketing guy from YouTube said that they have one billion uniques every month. And you thought you had a big cume?
"Ten years later, I learned we still have a lot of work to do. We need to take calculated risks, provide new compelling, unique content on our stations and build more fans from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and more.
"These are exciting times for us. We have lots of doors opening and lots of challenges for us as an industry moving forward. Now is a great time to be in Country radio because the cheese is moving again and only you can change it. Ten years later, I've learned I'm still learning and it feels great!"
Another first time CRS-er is Alana Lynn, Townsquare Media Country KAWO/Boise MD/morning show co-host. Alana was one of three Rusty Walker Scholarship recipients: "Though I had never met him, being in radio you always hear the legend of Rusty Walker. Given his impact on our industry, I knew the thing I wanted most out of CRS was as much knowledge as possible. What I walked away with was a new appreciation for our business. Wait. Business is too sterile a word for what we do. I gained a new appreciation and love of our radio culture.
Sessions were strong and informative. Brand. Brand. Brand. Tweet. Facebook. Instagram. Pinterest. It's funny that branding and social media were at the forefront of discussion because in my opinion, these were the things radio invented!
"Social media -- create communities to share information, ideas, personal messages and other content. I'm pretty sure that's what every morning show in the country does and has been doing for years. Check.
"While I talked to many who were eager to implement the newfound possibilities of social media, I found myself getting excited, too, because finally radio is embracing the marketplace. Listen, I love this business. Quite a bit. It's all I know after having a morning guy as a dad and then, when finally old enough, becoming one myself. A morning person. Not a man. I have never been as excited to blog as I am now. It's an extension of me, of my show. It gives me a chance to interact with my listeners on a level I could not have done without the ease of Facebook, the simplicity of a Pin, or the effortlessness of a Retweet. I get to take my show and station to a platform that we, as an industry, tried to ignore until we simply could not deny its reach.
"What I took from CRS is that radio is still very much alive. The people in it are good people. The music that comes through those speakers every day does make a difference. It was summed up nice and sincerely by Kip Moore at the UMG lunch when he said he had fallen into a really dark place, but radio helped pull him out by sticking with him and his music. At CRS I felt like radio was finally starting to pull itself out of its dark place and starting to realize its place in the world. Have a rad day!"