Worldwide Radio Summit's Saturday Sessions: Building Community, Thinking Differently
April 28, 2012 at 5:40 PM (PT)
The WORLDWIDE RADIO SUMMIT 2012 started its SATURDAY sessions at the W HOLLYWOOD with a panel on "unconventional radio" offering ideas on outside-the-box thinking in radio, covering topics like the worst things radio does (not enough marketing money, not enough time spent on content, repetitive music) and the best, building a social media presence, monetization, and what works in the multi-platform world. Moderator ANDREW PHILLIPS of ABC RADIO/DARWIN, AUSTRALIA hosted ABSOULTE & DOWSE CEO PHIL DOWSE, COLEMAN INSIGHTS Pres./COO WARREN KURTZMAN ("we can't just talk about content, we have to talk about building brands ... that goes hand-in-hand with strong content"), SLACKER Pres./CEO JIM CADY (who previewed that his service will soon launch local and live content), ARJANWRITES.COM blogger "ARJAN WRITES" TIMMERMANS, and MULTIBRAND MEDIA INTERNATIONAL President BILL PASHA ("when you put out a product people want, they will pay for it") for the session.
Radio and Social Media
JACOBS MEDIA and ALL ACCESS' LORI LEWIS moderated a panel on community and brand building, with case studies including GREATER MEDIA Rock WRIF/DETROIT's campaign to get DETROIT RED WINGS goaltender JIMMY HOWARD voted to the NHL All-Star Game, with GREATER MEDIA VP/Program Development BUZZ KNIGHT explaining how the WRIF team, led by Market Manager STEVE KOSBAU and PD MARK PENNINGTON, mobilized listeners using the web, FACEBOOK and Twitter; CLEAR CHANNEL VP/Digital Programming Platforms ZENA BURNS discussing her trajectory at the company starting as the "digital PD" for the company's NEW YORK cluster in 2006; Hot AC LINCOLN FINANCIAL AC WSTR (STAR 94)/ATLANTA PD SCOTT LINDY's recapping of how his station used online contesting to rebuild its brand and how the station's listener community "took over the promotion" by posting clues to help each other solve the contests; NEWCAP VP/Programming STEVE JONES retelling his story about JIMMY BUFFETT "letting his fans take control" by organizing meet-ups between local concerts in ATLANTA and permitting the local Parrothead club (and, subsequently, others) to use certain trademarks; and marketing consultant MICHAEL BRANDVOLD with advice gleaned from his experience with building the KISS fan experience, including permitting "KISS Army" conventions and other activities, suggesting that stations "listen to your fans" to glean what they want.
"The connection with your audience is everything," KNIGHT said. "It's what you live for." BURNS said that "community is what's special about radio" but warned that "we are in danger of resting on our laurels" by not gravitating to how people form and maintain communities today. LINDY discussed how the return-on-investment of social media can't be quantified but that no other marketing can be quantified, either, relating anecdotal evidence to show that social marketing has a cumulative effect on audience size; BURNS agreed that "if you believe direct mail affects your ratings ... you have to believe" that social media has the same effect.
LEWIS took radio to task for not having a strong social media response to news like WHITNEY HOUSTON's passing, asking whether radio should have a plan in place to mobilize their Facebook and Twitter presence when news breaks. JONES asked why stations are afraid to experiment, pointing out that while radio stations are loath to alter their logo or colors, GOOGLE has built one of the biggest brands in the world and "they f-ck up their logo every week." TOM LEYKIS, stepping to the mic from the audience, alleged that while the panel's comments are interesting, "it's all about cost-cutting," and the budget cuts have rendered the station's service to listeners irrelevant and ceded the position to Twitter and Facebook.
How To Make Hits
A high-powered panel of music executives discussed how hits are made and radio's role in the process in a late-SATURDAY-morning session, with GLASSNOTE's DANIEL GLASS, BOARDWALK's EVAN BOGART, CAPITOL's GREG THOMPSON, ELEKTRA-ATLANTIC's MIKE CAREN, WARNER BROS.' PETER GRAY, AZOFF MANAGEMENT's RICHARD PALMESE, and PEERMUSIC's SAM KLING discussing breaking artists and developing acts (and working with radio) with moderator RON SPAULDING of INGROOVES FONTANA. Panelists noted the importance of working closely with radio to grow an artist as one of many resources used in the process, and PALMESE noted the competition with other media taking up people's time and how that has changed the way music is broken.
While several panelists said that it takes longer to break an artist, CAREN said that he does not perceive that, nor does he see the competition as making things harder than in older eras (when, he said, "people read books"); he said that humans are still the drivers of the process, relating the joke about PANDORA's algorithms that "no matter what you like and dislike, you'll end up on COLDPLAY."
Growth In Asia
The growth of radio in ASIA was the topic for a post-lunch session with executives from several broadcasting companies in that region, with HIT FM/BEIJING's VIRONG DAI, MBC MUSIC AND AUDIO GROUP/DUBAI's CLAYTON FITTS, BBC ASIAN NETWORK's MARK STRIPPEL, PLATINUM RADIO's MOHAMMED AL-MULHELM, TOKYO FM's KEN NISHIKAWA, and E.A.U. CO.'s YASUKI HAYASHI joining moderator EON MUSIC MEDIA's ROB GRAHAM. The discussion ranged from use of social media and radio's importance in the case of JAPAN's tsunami and nuclear emergency to licensing popular music TV competitions like "THE VOICE" and "POP IDOL," as well as cultural differences (AL-MULHELM noted that the use of the "f-word" in business situations is not remarkable in the WEST but is frowned upon in some cultures).
The Beats Go On
Rhythmic music and DJ culture's spread around the globe was highlighted in an afternoon session moderated by SYNDICATION ONE's GARY BERNSTEIN. The panelists included artist C.C. SHEFFIELD, EMMIS Top 40/Rhythmic KPWR (POWER 106)/LOS ANGELES' DJ FELLI FEL, BAKA BOYZ NICK and ERIC VIDAL, ULTRA MUSIC's PHIL NIEVES, LISTEN UP's LUKE NEVILLE, and syndicated "IN THE MIX WITH HK" host and artist HOWARD "HK" KESSLER, who noted that much of the pop chart consists of dance music with pop vocals and lyrics on top. NEVILLE said that many European DJs are moving to AMERICA because "the scene here is so big now."
The panel discussed the state of electronic dance music, the continued strength of remix culture, the difficulty of breaking through the "clutter" of overloaded playlists (with NEVILLE pointing to how the BBC uses "tastemaker" specialty DJ shows which act as a filter to help break music into regular play, mix shows (BERNSTEIN noting that most mix shows are subject to playlists controlled by PDs rather than DJs) and social media (SHEFFIELD said she uses Twitter and direct messaging to collaborate and trade beats with others).
The summit's final panel featured talent and agents in a freewheeling session moderated by ANDREW PHILLIPS that was dominated by the presence of LARRY KING.
KING, who arrived and left to standing ovations, kicked off the discussion by relating his oft-told story about an attempt at an early-career late-night tryst with a listener while tracking an entire skipping album on his overnight shift, CBS RADIO Top 40/Rhythmic WLLD (WILD 94.1)/TAMPA morning man ORLANDO described radio as "about a lot of fat guys and ugly guys getting laid" and told his own request-line pickup story featuring a call that inadvertently got on the air, and EMMIS Top 40/Rhythmic KPWR (POWER 106)/LOS ANGELES morning man BIG BOY remembered an embarrassing moment when he showed up for work when he wasn't scheduled and another early gaffe when he got the station's slogan wrong.
UNITED STATIONS RADIO NETWORKS "HARD DRIVE" host LOU BRUTUS recalled being on a rock tour bus that ran over a suicidal man, and GREATER MEDIA Rock WMMR/PHILADELPHIA morning team PRESTON ELLIOTT and STEVE MORRISON recounted stories about unusual tattoos and unfortunate comments that ended up in the show's Instant Replay machine as frequent drops. "The failures," MORRISON said, "are, many times, better than the successes... it's the things you slave on that go down in flames." "OPEN HOUSE PARTY" host JOHN GARABEDIAN told the story about an expletive that didn't get edited out of his syndicated show.
On defining their personalities, KING said that the secret, told to him by ARTHUR GODFREY, is "there's no secret. Be yourself." BRUTUS advised that hosts share their interests outside of their show with the audience, creating an extension of one's personality ("This is the kind of nerdy stuff I'm interested in"). KING added that hosts should be honest ("If you goofed, say you goofed. What are they gonna do, kill me?") and take risks.
KING explained his celebrated deliberate lack of preparation for interviews, saying, "I like the moment" and insisting that he thinks of the first question the moment an interview starts, maintaining spontaneity. "Hopefully, I was a conduit" for viewers, he added, asserting that he was "always in control" even though he likes to be surprised, especially in comedy.
Agents ERIC WEISS and GLENN GOLDSTEIN spoke about finding talent (GOLDSTEIN said aspirants send him MP3s, to which KING asked, "What's an MP3?"), leading to a discussion of how the field has changed and the effect of cutbacks and investment-oriented management on job opportunities. WEISS said that talent today starts the same way they always did, volunteering and being persistent, and added that he tries to get the talent "in front of managers." ORLANDO noted that opportunities like that given to BIG BOY 18 years ago are fewer and farther between today; BIG BOY wondered "how in the hell would I get into radio today? Are you really listening to airchecks?"
BRUTUS advised talent to listen to DAN INGRAM airchecks as an example of how to do radio well ("he was a frickin' genius"), and ORLANDO recommended a YOUTUBE video of JOJO KINCAID on SAN DIEGO's old KKLQ (Q106).
Asked what they would tell management, BRUTUS said, "don't kill personality." WEISS said that management should stop looking outside the medium for talent and, instead, develop the talent already in radio. BIG BOY asked that they "let talent be talent"; GOLDSTEIN said that radio was "built on... passion and competition," and lamented the loss of passion in the business and observed, "nobody ever cut their way to number one." And ELLIOTT said he would suggest that management "do an overnight shift."
Responding to a question from the audience on how they chose their battles as they developed their careers, MORRISON said the best advice is to "step back, take a breath, and ask yourself, is this the battle?" He described overly contentious talent as having "LENNY BRUCE syndrome." BIG BOY said that he understands that he works for a company and a brand and "I'm still answering to someone." "I gotta make sure that if I'm fighting for something, it's the right thing," he said.
The event concluded with a cocktail party and more artist showcase performances at HOLLYWOOD's S.I.R. STUDIOS.