Friday At WWRS 2016: Radio Listening Behavior, 'Complicated' Programming
April 15, 2016 at 5:37 PM (PT)
The WORLDWIDE RADIO SUMMIT 2016 is in its final day TODAY (4/15) at the HOLLYWOOD ROOSEVELT HOTEL. The day's sessions include everything from music testing to the business side of podcasting, plus the annual air talent and music testing panels.
Turn On, Tune In, Turn Off
Starting the day, RCS WORLDWIDE's PHILIPPE GENERALI and COLEMAN INSIGHTS' WARREN KURTZMAN offered a mini-keynote on "The Components of Tuning Behavior: Switching vs Turning," outlining their companies' analysis of listening occasions that showed 62.7% of all occasions involved people turning on the radio and just listening to one station, then turning the radio off, dwarfing occasions in which people tune to or from another station, and that listening occasions that start with turning on the radio last five minutes longer than those that start with a switch from another station; and a look at behavior of P1 listeners, who are even more prone to turn on-listen to one station-turn off behavior than the general audience. KURTZMAN offered tips on building a station with strong branding and content, including creating awareness, establishing a strong position for the brand, becoming known for multiple attributes, and passion.
Programming In A Digital World
AMPLIFI MEDIA's STEVE GOLDSTEIN, who joked that the panel could be titled "It's Complicated," hosted a session on audio programming's future, with help from POLLACK MUSIC & MEDIA GROUP's JEFF POLLACK, MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO Triple A KCMP (88.3 THE CURRENT)/MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL's JIM MCGUINN, AUSTEREO Active Rock TRIPLE M NETWORK-3MMM/MELBOURNE's MIKE FITZPATRICK, and SHAZAM's PETER SZABO. The panel talked about streaming and digital strategies, podcasting as a "natural extension" (in FITZPATRICK's words) of radio, and the changing role of the program director.
FITZPATRICK noted that in research, the first word people use when talking about podcasts is "radio," while the first word that comes to their minds when talking about streaming is "music"; "if you're going to take on SPOTIFY," he concluded from the latter, "you're going to lose." He added that his company's research found that ideal podcast length is 30-60 minutes and that listeners' primary activity while listening to podcasts is "just listening"; he said that adding radio production values to podcasts would be beneficial, although he did not have any research to indicate that.
Making the Hits
After a DMR/INTERACTIVE presentation by President ANDREW CURRAN on research into how radio P1s use mobile devices and the growth of smartphones, COLUMBIA's LEE LEIPSNER, ATLANTIC's PETE GANBARG, BIG DEAL MUSIC's KENNY MACPHERSON, EON MUSIC GROUP's TIM HAGAN, and ELEMENT 1's CHRIS WOLTMAN joined moderator RITCH ESRA of THE MUSIC BUSINESS REGISTRY to talk about developing and breaking hit music. The panelists discussed radio's role in making hits, strategies and timing, picking singles, developing career artists (as in WOLTMAN and GANBARG's process for TWENTY ONE PILOTS), patience (like LEIPSNER working HOZIER's album for a year before it hit and the slow build of LEON BRIDGES), and social media engagement.
Social, Digital, Go
COX MEDIA GROUP's TIM CLARKE discussed social media and digital strategies with INTERACTIVE ONE/RADIO ONE's DAMELLA DUNHAM, CBS RADIO Country KMLE-Top 40 KZON (LIVE 101.5)/PHOENIX's TIM RICHARDS, EON MEDIA GROUP's ROB GRAHAM, and ZEN SHARK MEDIA's MICHAEL SHARKEY. The discussion looked at measuring social media effectiveness (reach, not "likes"), podcasting (RICHARDS said that his stations are developing original content for podcasts with current talent through PLAY.IT), morning shows and "first occasion" listening, what skills talent needs to have now that they may not have had to have before (SHARKEY suggested that talent needs to have a willingness to be coached, recalling from his TAMPA programming tenure that BUBBA THE LOVE SPONGE "couldn't be coached" but MIKE CALTA, who ultimately replaced BUBBA at COX MEDIA GROUP Talk WHPT (102.5 THE BONE)/TAMPA, showed a willingness to be coached), and using video.
And The Winners Are... (in a separate post)
The WORLDWIDE RADIO SUMMIT INDUSTRY AWARDS were presented at a luncheon with a performance by MATT GARY, presented by WESTWOOD ONE. Look for the winners in a separate post here at Net News.
Also, CUMULUS Hot AC WPLJ-Country WNSH (NASH FM)/NEW YORK's DAN KELLY was vanquished in his title defense in BENZTOWN's IRON IMAGER contest, with AUSTEREO Active Rock 2MMM (TRIPLE M)/SYDNEY's "SIDESHOW MIKE" ANDERSON winning the title this year. The combatants both produced News-Talk format imaging in the competition.
It's About The Music
BBC RADIO 1/1XTRA Head of Music CHRIS PRICE opened the post lunch schedule with a talk on passion vs. data in programming music; he cited the music that came out of LOS ANGELES' LAUREL CANYON as inspiration for his own love of music, and warned that stations relying solely on data to program music are "doomed."
PRICE was followed by the annual STRATEGIC SOLUTIONS RESEARCH music rating panel, with the audience using meters to pick the hits. SAT BISLA moderated the session with PRICE, ASIA POP 40's DOM LAU, ALPHA MEDIA's PHIL BECKER, iHEARTMEDIA AC KIOI-Top 40 KYLD (WILD 94.9)/SAN FRANCISCO's MARK ADAMS, iHEARTMEDIA/DETROIT's TONY TRAVATTO, SIRIUSXM HITS1/VENUS' KID KELLY, and SOUNDOUT's ROB SISCO (who provided his company's research information on the songs) weighing in.
More Podcast Talk, On Demand
WWRS' second podcasting panel focused on the business end of the medium with JACOBS MEDIA "Digital Dot Connector" and ALL ACCESS columnist SETH RESLER moderating and PANOPLY's ANDY BOWERS, WNYC STUDIOS' DEAN CAPPELLO, AUDIBLE's ERIC NUZUM, LIBSYN's ROB WALCH, and RAW VOICE/BLUBRRY's TODD COCHRANE on the panel.
CAPPELLO told radio stations concerned that making podcasts might cannibalize their broadcast audience that "it's where the audience is going" and that WNYC "takes the holistic view" in trying to be wherever the listeners are; NUZUM, the former NPR podcasting chief, added that people want the programming they want to be available when they want to listen to it. "It's a 12-year-old overnight sensation," NUZUM joked, suggesting that the hurdles to podcasting's growth- difficulty of use and programming not resonating with a wider audience - are evaporating. COCHRANE described the technical process of posting a podcast, and WALCH, asked how people are accessing the shows, produced his iPhone and noted that iOS (Apple Core Media and iTunes) is the primary podcast platform by a 5-to-1 margin, providing 67% of referrals with second-place STITCHER at just 2%. "If you're not in iTunes, you're not a podcast," WALCH asserted.
BOWERS described how he and SLATE got into podcasting, starting with BOWERS reading SLATE articles "out loud in my closet," and quickly growing to add panel shows like SLATE's "POLITICAL GABFEST," about which BOWERS said he asked the hosts to talk about politics as if they were at a bar after appearing on political TV talk shows. He described podcasts as "a club that you join," making the connection between host and guest closer; following up on that, NUZUM said that the authenticity of podcasts are "what make it work." NUZUM noted that "the bar to entry is almost nonexistent," illustrated by his teen son and his friends doing a podcast about skateboarding in BARCELONA and WALCH's son starting a podcast when he was 5 years old.
While CAPPELLO noted that podcasting has affected the sound of public radio's broadcast shows, BOWERS suggested that stations allow young staffers to try experimental shows as podcasts. CAPPELLO cited the need for passion by the hosts for successful podcasting; BOWERS advised that many of the tricks of radio do not work for podcasts, leading him to characterize podcasting and radio not as siblings but as "cousins." Radio, BOWERS said, "is a lean-back medium," while podcasts are opt-in and require a "really serious hook" to keep people interested and subscribed. CAPPELLO agreed that radio and podcasts "are two different things," joking that public radio can "take 42 minutes of compelling content and make it 58 minutes of radio," while podcasts have more flexibility. His company, he said, has "made a big investment in personality," looking for people who don't necessarily fit his radio station but "expand our portfolio." NUZUM said that he asks his staffers, "who are we talking to and what do we want them to have?," suggesting that the answers are different for radio versus podcasting and what AUDIBLE is doing with its coming audio project.
On the proper length of podcasts, WALCH noted that despite the perception that shorter is better, some of the shows with the largest number of downloads, like DAN CARLIN's "HARDCORE HISTORY" and "THE JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE." can last two or three hours.
WALCH, asked about the download numbers, joked that "everyone lies," and noted that the average is between 1,800 and 2.100 downloads. COCHRANE added that his and WALCH's clients are largely independent and that radio has an advantage in having experience creating programming and telling stories.
On promotion, BOWERS pointed to his network's cross-promotion on its own shows and occasional buys of promos on other podcasts; CAPPELLO added that cross-promotion on radio for podcasts generally does not work, but social media and cross-promotion on podcasts work much better. And WALCH said that word-of-mouth marketing is "the only thing that gets a podcast up to Tier 1."
COCHRANE charged that the image that podcast measurement is a mess is "bullsh-t," pointing to work by the INTERACTIVE ADVERTISING BUREAU and the accuracy of numbers from LIBSYN and his own BLUBRRY, although he noted that if a show has been downloaded through iTunes, "it goes down a black hole" in which things like how deeply into a show someone has listened is unavailable. "The state of measurement is good," COCHRANE said. "It's getting better." BOWERS agreed, saying that while the measurement may not be equal to that for websites, the metrics available for downloads "are good, they don't suck. They could be better." And as for iTunes, WALCH said, "APPLE wouldn't give the key to the iPhone to the FBI. What makes you think they'd give it to us?"
The End, With Personality (And Wine)
The conference sessions concluded with the annual air talent panel with ENTERCOM Hot AC KALC (ALICE 105.9)/DENVER's BJ HARRIS and JAMIE WHITE, ENTERCOM Country KKWF (100.7 THE WOLF)/SEATTLE and SUN BROADCAST GROUP's FITZ, iHEARTMEDIA Top 40 KYLD (WILD 94.9)/SAN FRANCISCO's JEFF "JV" VANDERGRIFT, iHEARTMEDIA Top 40 WKQI (CHANNEL 955)/DETROIT's MOJO, iHEARTMEDIA Alternative KYSR (ALT 98.7)/LOS ANGELES' JEFF "WOODY" FIFE, and SOUTHERN CROSS AUSTEREO Top 40 HIT NETWORK/AUSTRALIA's BYRON COOKE, with DENNIS CLARK of iHEART RADIO as moderator. The panelists talked about how Internet action -- streaming or video -- has taken them beyond the boundaries of their broadcast markets, including MOJO's exchange with JUSTIN BIEBER that became viral via TMZ and led to his being recognized in LONDON. BJ added that "it's not us that's gone global, it's the audience that's gone global."
The panel also discussed brand building, with WHITE pointing to her engagement with fans on FACEBOOK and HARRIS explaining how he can count on the people who hate the show but listen even more than the fans, because he and WHITE can engage the haters. FITZ said that talents' brands are "24/7... if we're out of your faces, we're out, period." VANDERGRIFT discussed balancing his two brands, his morning show persona and "THE DOGHOUSE," his show with DAN "ELVIS" LAY that was recently resurrected as a talk show on iHEARTMEDIA News-Talk KKSF-A (TALK 910)/SAN FRANCISCO, and noted that establishing his solo morning show was in effect starting over in the market, which was more familiar with "THE DOGHOUSE" than JV as an individual. MOJO credited PD TONY TRAVATTO with insisting on branding everything on his station with MOJO references.
Building a brand from zero upon his move to LOS ANGELES was especially difficult, FIFE acknowledged, with the addition of having to differentiate his show from competitors KEVIN AND BEAN on CBS RADIO Alternative KROQ; he said that the plan was to "outwork" the more established show and pointed to ratings -- "we're kicking their asses 18-34" -- as evidence that the plans worked.
And the panel compared their use of social media, offering tips on making the most out of their activity, like VANDERGRIFT marshaling THE DOGHOUSE's fans to get the word out for the new TALK 910 show. HARRIS said that social media is "number one," the most important marketing tool for shows, and advised that "stupid" viral videos and GIFs will outperform practically anything else; FITZ added that shows should establish benchmarks on social media, and FIFE touted the engagement of being able to continue online the conversations started on the show.
The convention's final event was a wine tasting reception hosted by ABC RADIO with performances by DUKE DUMONT and GUORDAN BANKS.