Conclave 39 Offers Lessons On Everything Radio
November 17, 2014 at 4:40 AM (PT)
The CONCLAVE LEARNING CONFERENCE's 39th annual convention, held in conjunction with the MINNESOTA BROADCASTERS ASSOCIATION filled SATURDAY with sessions on programming, sales, and management tracks.
Ginny Morris Honored
Opening the day, HUBBARD Chair/CEO GINNY MORRIS was honored with the CONCLAVE's 2014 ROCKWELL AWARD, telling the assemblage that only people in the industry think that "radio is not cool," pointing out the appeal radio has to listeners, clients, and the community. "They don't know we aren't cool," MORRIS said, "so don't tell 'em." She called on the industry to find "new and better ways of doing what we do."
NAB's Smith Stresses Value Of Localism
NAB President/CEO GORDON SMITH gave the keynote address for the day, praising broadcasters for their public service and decrying the "unrelenting attacks on broadcasting," asserting that broadcasters are the "indispensable part" of communications, being "live and local, and everybody else is trying to be what you are." SMITH pitched his speech towards the MINNESOTA BROADCASTERS ASSOCIATION attendees, calling them "the face of local" and lauding what they do for the state's residents. He warned that musical performers are "going to come right at us" during the next Congress campaigning for a performance royalty from radio and also recounted the NAB and iHEARTRADIO's efforts to hold the line on streaming royalty rates with the Copyright Royalty Board. He also touched on the issues of STELA (the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act), online public files, changes in the tax deductibility of advertising, the pending spectrum auctions, AM revitalization, and net neutrality, which he said will delay the proposed rewrite of the Communications Act.
Learning the "New Fundamentals"
ENTERCOM/MADISON OM DAVID MOORE, GREATER MEDIA Rock WRIF/DETROIT PD MARK PENNINGTON, and CUMULUS/ATLANTA OM ROB ROBERTS instructed attendees on the "new fundamentals" of programming in the new media landscape in the opening Programming Track session. Prompted by moderator DRAKE DONOVAN's question about changes in the business, PENNINGTON cited PPM as one of the major changes in radio over the past decade, but noted that "content is content... if you have good content, you're gonna do well." ROBERTS suggested that listeners still want the same things they wanted back then, like air talent that "aren't jerks," and MOORE pointed out that the ability of stations to interact with their listeners has increased. ROBERTS stressed the importance of execution, referring to a blog post he recently read suggesting that stations try ignoring "best practices" and hoping that his competition does that so his station, executing the fundamentals well, will win.
The panel discussed the importance of coaching, ROBERTS saying he prefers to concentrate on one break at a time and working on that before moving on to another issue. Another change addressed by the panel was the advent of social media, MOORE noting that social offers talent the ability to show "tons more personality" and PENNINGTON relating how his morning team DAVE AND CHUCK THE FREAK were able to bring 100,000 followers from their previous station, crosstown BELL MEDIA Alternative CIMX (89X). But ROBERTS warned stations not to try to "break the Internet" with stunts, suggesting that things like KIM KARDASHIAN's picture shoot last week, promoted as being done for free, more likely was the result of millions of dollars changing hands; stations, he offered, are best at doing less ambitious but more warm social media posts. The question of how to excite Millenials was met with initial silence, but PENNINGTON said, "if we give them good content, they'll come around" and MOORE advised, "make sure your stream doesn't suck" while not trying to obviously target that audience; ROBERTS said that Millenials are worth chasing because "once you get them, you own them" but warned that they have "built-in spam blockers" making them resistant to direct pitches (and noted in addition that they refer to stations by frequency, not slogan).
CUMULUS' EMILY BOLDON asked the panel about where they find and develop talent without being able to mine smaller market and overnight talent anymore; ROBERTS said that an advantage of consolidation is the availability of interns across a cluster who might be a source of future on-air talent. PENNINGTON said his station uses its HD2 channel, which is voicetracked, to groom talent.
Social Media Done Right (And Wrong)
Doing social media the right -- and wrong --way was the topic for JACOBS MEDIA social media guru and ALL ACCESS columnist LORI LEWIS, joined by CUMULUS Country WNSH (NASH FM 94.7)/NEW YORK and corporate PD BRIAN THOMAS and HUBBARD Adult Hits WARH (106.5 THE ARCH)/ST. LOUIS PD KEVIN ROBINSON on a panel that featured some disasters like BILL COSBY and ROBIN THICKE's Twitter mishaps. "If there's any conflict with your brand, don't do it," LEWIS advised while showing off some of the COSBY memes referring to allegations about the comedian's sexual misconduct, and the DALLAS COWBOYS' #CowboysUK hashtag that didn't read the way the team thought it would. "Don't think you can control behavior," LEWIS said. "You can't."
Asked about things that didn't work for them, THOMAS remembered having part-timers picking fights online with listeners over political posts ("don't lose 50% of your audience by telling them who you voted for"). "It's always an overzealous weekender looking for a full-time job," THOMAS said. ROBINSON said talent needs coaching on what to do and not to do in social media; his station has a best practices memo to guide talent on things like use of copyrighted material, and also has a 12-person digital team.
Among examples of doing things right, THOMAS showed NASH FM midday host KELLY FORD's post with a photo of the light-beam tribute on the 13th anniversary of 9/11 that drew hundreds of retweets and favorites. THOMAS himself was also featured in artist LUCY HALE's Instagram photo, and his own behind-the-scenes photo on Twitter with COLE SWINDELL at a BROOKLYN show also drew retweets and more followers; a LUKE BRYAN-tweeted selfie posing in front of a taxi-top NASH FM ad was also a hit for the station.
LEWIS also advised stations to monitor social media using Tweetdeck or HootSuite to stay on top of what's being said about them, but also to monitor what's happening with artists and others. And asked about station control of personal social media accounts, ROBINSON said that his station asks talent to separate personal from professional and establish professional accounts, and advises talent to remember that they always represent the station. THOMAS said that his staff understands that when they go out, they're always representing the station; he said he is "lucky" to have a staff that understands.
Asked what the most effective social media vehicle is for their stations, THOMAS said that FACEBOOK is more appropriate for stations targeting adults 35-plus, but more contemporary formats need to concentrate on Twitter and INSTAGRAM. ROBINSON said that FACEBOOK works for his station, but that the primary need is to get people to click back to the station website.
And ROBINSON advised that managers should not force hosts to post, because posting with too much frequency makes the posts "wallpaper." "When you have something to say," ROBINSON said, "say it."
Lunch With Talent
Lunch was accompanied by a panel of talent from the MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL market, including iHEARTMEDIA Top 40 KDWB morning man DAVE RYAN, CUMULUS Active Rock KXXR (93X)'s "HALF-ASSED MORNING SHOW" members JOSH BITNEY, NICK BORN, and ALI MATTA and HUBBARD Hot AC KSTP-F (KS 95)'s LARRY MOON and STACI MATTHEWS. The group bantered with moderator MARK BOLKE on topics like defining crew members' roles on their shows, dumbest management instructions (RYAN remembering when the PD was redubbed "Listener Advocate," while MATTHEWS recalled being told not to bother with FACEBOOK because "it's not a thing"), "planned spontaneity," and best bits.
Production, Promotions, Programming Strategies On Display
After lunch. a production panel -- the first at the CONCLAVE in several years -- featured CBS RADIO/ST. LOUIS Production Dir. TIM BURT, BENZTOWN Director of Programming and Imaging JUSTIN CASE, and iHEARTMEDIA Hot AC national and MINNEAPOLIS local Imaging Director DAVID "DIEGO" TOMERLIN on the panel moderated by DRAKE DONOVAN. The panelists discussed the things they need to effectively do their job (CASE stressed communication, DIEGO needs a "really fast computer," BURT looks for "clear, concise copy" and a cooperative client), changes over the last five years in how they approach production (CASE has slowed his pace, DIEGO instituted PRO TOOLS templates and better organized his files, and BURT said he spends more time delving into the manuals to learn the capabilities of the technology and software he uses), writing for the radio, and dealing with burnout.
Following that panel, CPR's PAIGE NIENABER, HUBBARD Talk KTMY (myTALK 107)/ST. PAUL-MINNEAPOLIS PD ALY DANIELS, and NORTHERN LIGHTS Hot AC KTWN (K-TWIN)/MINNEAPOLIS Assistant Promotions Director MICHAEL PEARSON took the stage to talk about promotions on a panel moderated by PHIL STRIDER. DANIELS advocated developing a "symbiotic relationship" between sales and programming that she said is the "secret to the success of myTALK," helping bring in revenues even when ratings dip. NIENABER warned against telling sales that a promotional idea is stupid, because that makes programming "seem like a speed bump." He also described himself as a "HALLMARK holiday obsessive," looking to tie promotions to every holiday, and advocated using teases to draw listeners into promotions.
In a subsequent session, veteran programmer JOEL BURKE, PD at FIRST DALLAS MEDIA Contemporary Christian KCBI/DALLAS and former longtime Country KYGO/DENVER PD, offered a "battle plan" for taking on competition, invoking the late basketball coaching legend JOHN WOODEN's ability to win championships with different styles of UCLA teams by avoiding pumping the players up too high or worrying about scouting the opponent, instead remaining steady and preparing for each game. He noted that of the factors involved in ratings, the only one within a station's control is "what we do," and outlined his strategy of "attacking yourself," advised stations to have a mission statement, and suggested that stations do a S.W.O.T. analysis -- strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
And the day closed with a "training camp" session on talent development, moderated by CUMULUS' EMILY BOLDON with CUMULUS SVP MIKE MCVAY, CBS RADIO News-Talk WCCO-A/MINNEAPOLIS' BOB SHOMPER, and iHEARTMEDIA Top 40 KDWB and Triple A KTCZ (CITIES 97)/MINNEAPOLIS' RICH DAVIS on the panel.
Concurrent sales and management tracks covered topics like mobile and digital sales, regulation, leadership, and emergency plans.