Worldwide Radio Summit Opens In Hollywood
April 23, 2015 at 5:27 PM (PT)
The annual WORLDWIDE RADIO SUMMIT launched two full days of sessions TODAY (4/23) at the HOLLYWOOD ROOSEVELT HOTEL, with today's panels focused on radio's future, sales, brand building, and programming, plus a look at JACOBS MEDIA's TECHSURVEY 11, NUVOODOO's latest ratings research, BENZTOWN's "Iron Imager" contest, and a keynote from the BBC.
Experts Look At Radio's Future
After conference hosts SAT BISLA and JOEL DENVER welcomed attendees, JACOBS MEDIA VP and jacAPPS Pres. PAUL JACOBS moderated a panel looking at the future of radio with one of the more high-powered panels to be featured at a radio conference, including PANDORA Founder TIM WESTERGREN, EMMIS CEO JEFF SMULYAN, BBC RADIO 1/1XTRA Controller BEN COOPER, RDIO CEO ANTHONY BAY, TRITON DIGITAL Pres./CEO NEAL SCHORE, and PANASONIC Dir./Connected Services and AUPEO! Managing Dir./CTO DAVID TAYLOR. The discussion covered a wide range of topics but stressed the need for data to offer targeted advertising in a media world increasingly looking for that information.
WESTERGREN said that the tech industry is "obsessed with new stuff" and not as much with the way people consume music, and praised radio as "the way people consume music" with "one button," adding, "radio should not get too obsessed themselves with those shiny objects." He warned, though, that radio should not "lose sight of its local history," suggesting that it "rewind back" to its local roots. PANDORA, he said, is following radio into ubiquity, but noted that the one-button ease of use is radio's advantage and competitor's "holy grail": "Run towards that," he suggested.
Later, he noted how advertisers are asking for increasingly detailed and specific target audiences, which poses a danger for traditional radio based on present inability to offer listener measurement with as much "rich data" as digital competitors. And JACOBS drew applause when he added that radio needs to stop looking at listeners as cume and that listener data is the key.
COOPER asked the audience to stand up, then asked everyone who has a smartphone to sit down, at which point the entire audience sat down; he asked those with spouses or partners whether the last thing they do before sleeping is to say something loving or to check the phone one more time, generating laughter.
"We are obsessed with our phones," he asserted, adding that the answer to radio's questions about its future is "in your hand." And he advised operators to not concentrate on protecting what they have but concentrate on cooperating on things like the U.K.'s RadioPlayer. He also pointed at radio's "authenticity" as an industry advantage, but warned that radio can't "sleep through" the development of the connected car as he said it did with smartphones.
Focusing on the connected car, TAYLOR noted that "all of the stuff that we're putting together now is connected, and that creates great opportunities for radio." He said that the average driver listens to audio 14 hours per week in the car, and most of that is to traditional radio; the connected car systems have, he said, tried to replicate the smartphone experience up to now, while radio is "one button, very easy," with most people setting Preset 1 and never changing it. While terrestrial radio is, he said, declining in some markets, it is "very strong" in most.
SCHORE suggested that the industry stop looking at itself as "radio" and start looking at itself as "audio." With that in mind, the single word to describe the industry's situation, he said, is "exciting." "Accept that technology is our friend," he said, with the challenge to create content that generates consumer engagement while eschewing the traditional station-vs.-station competition.
SMULYAN, joking that he was put on the panel to talk "hip and cool" but that he was the only one in the room wearing a tie (other than, he learned, one other audience member), said that radio is a "challenged business" in light of the outflow of capital from radio and inflow to other audio services. Touting the FM chip in smartphones, he suggested that "The world is coming to our side," criticizing the smartphone as "inefficient" for audio streaming and radio's job is to get the chips turned on to deliver audio efficiently.
"We're going to win this," he said, adding that the chips will double Time Spent Listening and will help radio compete for interactive revenue as in the ALLSTATE test with EMMIS-generated NEXTRADIO and that the NEXTRADIO interface is "cool" and will help as users move from unlimited data to metered use, changing their behavior.
BAY noted parallels between audio and the television business, with the latter moving from being delivered primarily over-the-air to being delivered by cable and satellite, with broadcast television "figuring out their roles." The value in radio, he said, is not in its towers. Responding to SMULYAN's NEXTRADIO promotion, BAY retorted that the hard part isn't getting onto the smartphone so much as it is getting people to use it. He said that there shouldn't even be a debate over getting the FM chips turned on, but that the focus will need to be getting people to use radio on their phones once the chips are activated, something with which SMULYAN agreed.
SCHORE noted that the business is moving towards a one-to-one relationship with its customers, delivering customized or on-demand content, but SMULYAN, agreeing that the industry needs to do what consumers want, decried the cost of doing so, stressing that data costs, borne now by the industry and, he said, increasingly by the consumer in data fees. Nevertheless, SCHORE insisted, the opportunities offered by technology can overcome those additional costs even if online consumers will accept fewer commercials on streams than they will tolerate on traditional radio.
JACOBS asked WESTERGREN what he'd do for the future if he owned a radio station, the PANDORA host said that he would "overinvest" in local programming, citing radio's ability to drive audiences to local businesses.
Programmers' Perspective On Management And Sales
RAB President and CEO ERICA FARBER moderated the day's second session, a panel of programming executives discussing the art of cooperation between sales and programming to sell radio's unique qualities.
Asked what is changing on the programming side, EMMIS President/Programming RICK CUMMINGS cited the influence of technology and the need to have programmers be executives; Rock 3MMM/MELBOURNE and TRIPLE M NETWORK Content Dir. MICHAEL FITZPATRICK noted that his company renamed PDs "Content Directors," reflecting the need to concentrate not just on what airs on the station but what comes up on smartphone and the need to "keep radio relevant." ARABIAN RADIO NETWORK COO STEVE SMITH said that his content managers need to be able to recruit talent from all over the world and also need to be "damn good at social." SERVICE BROADCASTING Urban AC KRNB (SMOOTH R&B 105.7)-Urban KKDA (K-104)/DALLAS Director of Operations GEORGE COOK said his role has evolved into being a "connector" of people to people and people to experiences, while CUMULUS SVP/Programming MIKE MCVAY said his company continues to call PDs PDs but that they have many additional duties other than just picking records as in the past, yet that the "show biz" element remains. And iHEARTRADIO Chief Product Officer CHRIS WILLIAMS talked about the level of curation Has moved "beyond music" to knowledge of things like technology and other trends.
On the relationship between sales and programming, CUMMINGS agreed that the two sides work together more than in the past, when he would put yellow caution tape between the sales and programming offices; "That changed a long time ago," CUMMINGS said, noting that PDs increasingly have incentive bonuses tied to sales goals. But WILLIAMS said that the success of the programming also drives sales, not just with ratings but with engagement. MCVAY said that the industry has reached the point where it is now looking towards what it can do for advertisers rather than the other way around. FITZPATRICK said that his content team now includes a sales representative, because clients want "bespoke solutions" from programming.
The quality, or lack of it, in radio commercial production also came up, with CUMMINGS noting that the issue has been raised many times before in past conferences and has not been addressed. Younger customers, he said, are looking for engagement, and the industry will, he added, catch up to that. MCVAY pointed to his company's "SOUND SOLUTIONS" team in DALLAS producing creative commercial content. SMITH said that radio needs to stop making the price of the spot the first thing negotiated and move towards working on the creative elements first.
Big Data For Radio: TechSurvey 11
After BENZTOWN sent the competitors for its "Iron Imager" award -- two-time defending champion CUMULUS Hot AC WPLJ-Country WNSH (NASH FM 94.7)/NEW YORK's DAN KELLY and challenger SEAN GALBRAITH of EVANOV Top 40/Rhythmic CIDC (Z103.5)/TORONTO -- off to work on this year's recipe (Classic Hip-Hop), FRED JACOBS took the stage to unveil results from JACOBS MEDIA's TECHSURVEY 11; see full coverage in the separate news story here in NET NEWS TODAY.
Lunch featured PREMIERE NETWORKS' JOHN JAY AND RICH and UNDISCOVERED SOUL, with ANDY GRAHAM joining the hosts for an impromptu musical interlude featuring mouth percussion.
Building Brands in a Crowded Field
EON MEDIA GROUP Managing Director & CEO and ASIA POP 40 Executive Producer ROB GRAHAM opened the post-lunch schedule with a panel on brand building with CUMMINGS returning to fill in for absent EMMIS NEW YORK SVP/Market Manager DEON LEVINGSTON along with RED BULL RECORDS SVP/Promotion and Integrated Marketing JOE GUZIK, POLLACK MEDIA GROUP Chairman/CEO JEFF POLLACK, 5FM/SOUTH AFRICA PD TIM ZUNCKEL, and COLEMAN INSIGHTS President/COO WARREN KURTZMAN.
KURTZMAN said the most challenging short-term issue for radio is to build brands to succeed in the face of increased digital competition given financial constraints, pointing out how radio, still in the lead, has lost its monopoly on compelling audio content; ZUNCKEL spoke of the challenge of retaining talent and leveraging his brands in a shrinking revenue market; CUMMINGS echoed KURTZMAN's comments about how radio lost its monopoly status as competition increased; POLLACK offered that the "key is to be in as many places as possible," rather than stressing exclusivity ("I don't think people care. They want hits... radio is a great place to hear hits"), and added that his work with a streaming music client shows that the most streamed songs happen to be the same hits on the charts, indicating that radio remains a primary music discovery choice.
Offering information from COLEMAN studies, KURTZMAN explained his firm's "Image Pyramid," a graphical representation of a station's images in various categories, weakest to strongest, and the "Brand Content Matrix," showing a graph ranging from strong to weak brands and poor to great content, with the best in the upper right quadrant (strong brand, great content).
ZUNCKEL noted his audience's eagerness to connect and engage with the station, but noted that the introduction of digital media allows the listeners who might be most passionate about his station to also hear BBC RADIO 1 and compare the two, increasing the necessity for his own station to maintain high quality. CUMMINGS noted the challenge of "breaking through all the noise" and the importance of being "all over the place," building the brand and connecting with advertisers who would benefit from association with the brand (joking that cognac makers are more likely to work with his Top 40/Rhythmic KPWR (POWER 106)/LOS ANGELES than banking services). GUZIK compared his label trying to break new artists as launching several new brands into the market during the year, and added the observation that young listeners may not realize that they heard an artist or song first on the radio, saying that they heard it "in the car," indicating that they think of a station as its brand rather than "radio."
KURTZMAN, agreeing that radio stations were quick to embrace social media, nevertheless rushed in before determining with research what the audience wanted from them in social media. "A lot of radio stations," he said, "are guilty of doing it because they think they gotta do it." And after a video showed the successful move of KYLE SANDILANDS and JACKIE O and rebranding of MIX 106.5/SYDNEY to KIIS 106.5 accompanied by a major marketing campaign, an audience member asked whether such a rebranding can be done without a million dollar expenditure, leading BISLA to point out that a panel on FRIDAY's agenda will address that situation.
From Britain To The World
The BBC's COOPER returned with his BBC RADIO 1/1XTRA compatriot, Head of Music GEORGE ERGATOUDIS, for a special keynote presentation. ERGATOUDIS discussed the difficulties inherent in the overwhelming number of choices for music, stressing the need for brand building and basing the station's image on hosts and production. He showed the breakdown of listening among all listeners and millennials that showed younger listeners spending less time listening to radio, with YouTube and subscription services taking a larger bite of listening. But he pointed out that royalty and label pressure may change the landscape for SPOTIFY et al., and asked whether young audiences accustomed to getting their music for free will be willing to pay for on-demand music. APPLE's coming revamping of its music services, ERGATOUDIS said, may change the landscape yet again, and he said he expects his former host ZANE LOWE's destination, iTUNES RADIO, will relaunch in a big way as well.
COOPER said radio's problem is with "its distribution and its hardware," alleging that radio was sleepwalking when APPLE unveiled the original iPhone and adding that the industry has to pay close attention to mobile phones. He highlighted the competition for users' time from not only audio services but games, adding that streaming music is the 14th most used smartphone activity but radio is 33rd, "behind banking." More children in the U.K. (1 in 3) have a tablet than a radio (1 in 7), he said, and in the last 10 years, radio has lost over 29% of 15-24 year old listening in the U.K. (and over 50% of 10-14 year old listening).
But COOPER also voiced some encouragement, discussing how RADIO 1 reacted to young listeners flocking to YouTube by visualizing more content -- not a webcam in the studio but live performance footage, celebrity interviews (but not dry interviews; rather, his staff develops comic ideas that have gone viral, like writing a song for HUGH JACKMAN to sing, and a contest involving DANIEL RADCLIFFE and a mouth full of water), and DJs "having a laugh." He also discussed his stations' use of social media and trying new and different social media services.
Looking At The 'Likelies'
NUVOODOO's annual presentation for WWRS continued the company's analysis of ratings respondents with a fresh batch of data. President CAROLYN GILBERT and EVP LEIGH JACOBS looked at the people most likely to respond to NIELSEN's offer and carry meters, surveying 2,102 respondents in NOVEMBER and finding that people under 25 years old are already reporting that they spend more time listening online than they do to over-the-air music -- PPM "likelies" say they like radio but are listening more to online services as well. For P1 listeners, the survey showed, music and "to get in a better mood" are the primary reasons for listening.
Other revelations included that "likelies" are more likely to want to connect with stations through contents than social media; Facebook is the strongest social media player for those respondents, with Instagram coming up fast with the youngest audiences; "likelies" like radio, more likely to say radio is never going away, but also largely not thinking that stations are interested in their feedback.
Flipping The Script On Programming Philosophies
The day's final session, moderated by iHEARTMEDIA's MARC CHASE, examined whether stations would be better served concentrating on the "intangibles" instead of continuing to treat music programming as a science. MCVAY returned to fill in for absent CUMULUS EVP/Content & Programming JOHN DICKEY alongside HUBBARD's GREG SOLK, iHEARTMEDIA/INDIANAPOLIS' ROB CRESSMAN, RADIO DOBLE NUEVE/LIMA, PERU's MANUEL SANGUINETTI, and RADIO ONE/INDIA's ANIL MACHADO. The panel discussed balancing the non-music elements of programming with careful music selection and positioning ("that ship," CRESSMAN said, "has sailed"). MCVAY countered that the music programming does matter and great programmers get excited over especially good segues (and admitted to talking up records in his car). SOLK counseled that programmers sometimes "go with your gut" and use research smartly, adding that the problem isn't in doing the research but in how it is used.
Another Day Coming Up