Group Execs Look At State Of Radio At NAB Panel
September 24, 2009 at 12:33 PM (PT)
THURSDAY's NAB RADIO SHOW opened with a breakfast panel of group executives offering their outlook on industry issues from the recession to digital and the battle over performance royalties.
GAP BROADCASTING Pres. GEORGE LAUGHLIN said "We're starting to feel a bottom here," but the company is forecasting 2010 at "flat to negative 5(%)." CLEAR CHANNEL CEO MARK MAYS agreed that "we've definitely hit a bottom" and said he sees "a lot more positive signs than negative signs" for the first half of 2010. MAYS said that as the gross domestic product grows, advertising will grow. REGENT Pres./CEO BILL STAKELIN drew applause by touting the "new opportunities, exciting opportunities to grow" in the industry, "not just to make money, but new opportunities to grow new businesses," while ICBC Pres./COO CHARLES WARFIELD agreed and added that he is seeing "positive signs that give me the sense that we've gone through the worst." WARFIELD said 2010 would be "no worse than flat," which he sees a plus.
MAYS offered that "the investment community will return," suggesting that as revenue improves and cash flow grows, investors will return to the business, although "it will be different from what it has been in the past," with alternate investments affecting to what extent investors come back. LAUGHLIN said that the industry's digital strategies will become more important in attracting investors, later saying that radio companies will need to get at least 10% of their revenue from digital to be attractive to the investment community. WARFIELD said that the opportunities are for small, local, efficient operators and in digital platforms, but he said that he doesn't expect transactional activity to pick up until after the next six to nine months.
On the industry's people and the effects of the companies' travails on the staff, LAUGHLIN advised companies to make their hard cuts in the upcoming budget season and get them out of the way for 2009 so that 2010 can be "positive." WARFIELD said "straight talk makes for straight understanding," noting that "we made some very difficult decisions on an employment level" but "we can speak honestly to our employees." STAKELIN noted that "we have to recruit young blood into this industry," saying that the people leading the business "are getting long in the tooth."
Moderator DAVE KENNEDY, CEO of FLYCAST, prompted the panelists to speak about their companies' innovations, and LAUGHLIN responded with how his company has restructured its sales staff, dedicating salespeople to digital, and cooperation with competitors (including sharing engineers with CUMULUS stations). MAYS trumpeted his company's digital initiatives and claimed that CLEAR CHANNEL is focused on "hyperlocal" efforts, including community advisory boards and community outreach. STAKELIN pointed out that while FM radio has been added to iPOD Nanos, many FM stations do not utilize RDS and therefore can't take advantage of the new song-tagging offered through the devices; "those of us who lag behind will be left behind in the new digital world," STAKELIN asserted. At ICBC, WARFIELD stressed local marketing and branding to establish their brand and position in their communities.
Continuing on the digital category, STAKELIN charged that the industry in the past operated on "fear" of new technology and businesses, but added that radio is best at driving users to online sites and products. MAYS said, "We're gonna try a lot of different things ... some of them are going to fail and some are going to be successful," but that the industry will have to keep trying, and that new content for digital platforms will continue to offer growth opportunities.
Among other comments, MAYS noted that the same number of units are being sold, but for "a s--tload less" (rate-wise). "We've contributed to our own deflation" with pricing strategies, MAYS admitted. STAKELIN added that he sees a shift of ad dollars to event marketing and other alternatives. "Only a manager who's asleep is still sending people out to negotiate rates on 60s and 30s," STAKELIN charged.
Asked by KENNEDY to reflect on what the industry did wrong before the downturn, LAUGHLIN said that the business became "fat and happy" rather than investing in innovation, but had righted itself, a position echoed by MAYS, who noted that "nobody likes to change ... particularly when you've been successful." MAYS said that the business should have reinvested more in digital platforms, although he said that radio's digital platforms are successful today. STAKELIN said that the independent station owners should have gotten together to push the positive aspects of radio, and criticized the industry for cutting back on research. WARFIELD noted that "we do not support one another" and suggested that the industry band together to talk about the advantages of radio to help end the "pricing crisis."
Also on the agenda was the "performance tax," with the panel praising the NAB and the industry in general for battling thus far.
Coleman Unveils PPM Findings For 'High Performers'
COLEMAN INSIGHTS unveiled the latest stage of its PPM analysis series at the NAB RADIO SHOW, "Mapping the DNA of PPM," with a look at "The PPM DNA of AMERICA's High Performance Stations." COLEMAN's JOHN BOYNE and ARBITRON VP/Programming Services and Development GARY MARINCE were on hand to present the study's findings and look at how stations' "vital signs" compare against "high-performance" stations.
Among the findings, cume is more likely than TSL to differentiate high performers from other stations in most formats. High performers generate more listening occasions, not only longer listening; they also have slightly higher P1 compositions in both cume and AQH than other stations, and generate 2 1/2 times more TSL from those P1s than from average listeners.
In the Mainstream AC format, high performers achieved "huge" levels of cume, 33% more than for the average station in the format, but just 12% more TSL than average AC stations. For Country, a similar story unfolded, with cume 28% higher and TSL 9% higher than average stations in the format. In Oldies, high performers outcumed others 26% but actually had 9% less TSL than average. Alternative high performers, on the other hand, cumed 21% more than other stations but had 32% higher TSL, possibly due to strong morning shows; Alternative high performers have higher percentages of P1 cume and AQH and more listening occasions than average stations.
Among Urban ACs, TSL was also high, 30% greater than average stations, with cume 23% higher. Spanish music stations, with all formats like Regional Mexican and Tropical combined, showed cume 15% higher and TSL 16% higher than average stations. Commercial News-Talk stations have significantly higher cumes than average stations in the format: cume is 51% higher and TSL is 20% higher. Public News-Talk stations showed much lower cumes than commercial stations, but cumes for high performers were 74% while TSLs were only 2% greater.
The study used APRIL, MAY, and JUNE numbers from the first 20 PPM markets, and looked at all stations and stations above a 1.0 share with persons 6+. A "performance index" was applied to reduce the differences between markets and equalize what shares mean from market-to-market; the index uses the average share of the top-10 stations in the market as a baseline and indexes an individual station against that number.
Avery Honored With MIW Award
The First Annual MENTORING AND INSPIRING WOMEN IN RADIO (MIW) Achievement in Programming Award was presented to CBS RADIO Urban AC WBAV (V101.9) and Urban WPEG (POWER 98)/CHARLOTTE OM/PD TERRI AVERY before the Group PD panel THURSDAY morning.
Group PDs Have Their Say
THURSDAY morning's "Group PD Super Session" covered the impact of the PPM, talent development, and radio's place in a digital world. On the impact of digital assets on programming, EMMIS' RICK CUMMINGS, listing his stations' uses of social media and texting, noted that participants are "our biggest fans," and CLEAR CHANNEL EVP GENE ROMANO agreed, likening it to past generations of jocks working the phones and showing up at events. RADIO ONE SVP/Programming Content JAY STEVENS said that TWITTER "was almost made for PPM," allowing real-time, ongoing promotion ("it's mandatory"). SAGA EVP STEVE GOLDSTEIN called social media a tool to allow stations to increase promotion beyond what's on the air, but added that stations have to offer value to convince listeners to follow their feeds. BONNEVILLE Talk WTOP/WASHINGTON VP/News and Programming JIM FARLEY related the story of a cable news channel that used TWITTER to alert viewers when an often-delayed shuttle launch would finally happen, but he also noted that the industry is "still trying to figure out how to monetize it."
The panel was enthusiastic about the addition of FM tuners to iPOD Nanos; STEVENS told of his difficulties dealing with MICROSOFT in trying to arrange promotions with the new ZUNE HD with HD radio and suggested that radio embrace the iPOD instead. CUMMINGS said that he senses that young listeners don't think of radio as a "dinosaur," but that they have other choices and use their cell phones and other devices; he suggested that getting tuners into cell phones and iPODS is an important step in radio "getting our cool back."
But GOLDSTEIN warned that stations are not using RDS properly to scroll song titles, which will be an important element for the iPOD Nano's song-tagging feature. "If your station has not implemented RDS technology," CUMMINGS advised, "you need to get that done." STEVENS described looking at poor displays and equipment when askng about radios at electronics stores, a situation he characterized as contributing to raising generations without radio. "Every device should have a radio tuner," asserted FARLEY, "because we are the emergency voice in times of trouble."
GOLDSTEIN noted that while developing iPOD apps to spread his station's stream is addictive, the fact that the streams split advertising and aren't counted with the primary signal for PPM purposes is a reason that the rift with AFTRA over using simulcast spots on streams "has to be resolved."
CUMMINGS said that his position on HD Radio has changed and that variations on standard formats are "not the answer" to driving HD Radio demand; his company has moved to leasing multicast channels for specialty foreign-language programming and traffic data. FARLEY suggested that public radio has been more innovative in the HD Radio category.
On the introduction of the PPM, FARLEY said that it freed radio from "teaching to the test," liberating programmers from doing things specifically to get people to write the stations' call letters down. "It frees us to do good radio," FARLEY said. "It's not the format that wins," FARLEY asserted, "it's great radio." CUMMINGS added that the meters are exposing when talent isn't performing as well as management thought they were.
The panel disagreed on talent development, with FARLEY saying that the industry doesn't have a farm system and ROMANO insisting that his company has "minor leagues" akin to Class A, Class AA and Class AAA levels. CUMMINGS interjected that 20-year-olds are not interested in the business; he said that the industry has to "right-size" the business and then embrace the digital world, because "that's where they (the 20-year-olds) are."
GOLDSTEIN said his company pays "a great deal of money" for morning shows in small markets to keep them and build equity. STEVENS said that radio people "need to be mentors" to help bring young people into the business, while ROMANO said that stations can't rely any more on young people who want to be on the air, but should rather identify talent and groom them to be on-air personalities.
Philly Hit With 'Marketing Blitz'
PROMOSUITE's "Marketing Blitz" afternoon series of panels offered a spirited exchange of ideas about creative ways to get the word out about stations' programming, from stunts to social media. On one panel moderated by ALL ACCESS' own JOEL DENVER, audience participants formed teams to devise launch scenarios based on real-world examples, with coaching from NEWCAP's STEVE JONES and C.P.R. and CLIFTON RADIO's PAIGE NIENABER. EMMIS INTERACTIVE's REY MENA offered tips on developing interactive strategies for broadcasters, while DMR's TRIPP ELDREDGE discussed the effect of PPMs on marketing and PROMOSUITE's CRAIG ZIMMERMAN and RACHEL FIELD discussed e-mail marketing.
7:30-8:45a Group Executives Super Session Breakfast
8-11:45a Measurements and Mathematics for the New AM Proof Rules
9-10a Winning Strategies for Local Radio - National Trends, Local Opportunities
9-10:15a HD Radio Initiatives: Today’s New Opportunities
9-10:15a Deon’s Awesome Finance Session
9-10:15a New Era, New Opportunity: Maximizing of Radio for Multicultural Audiences
9-10:15a Digital Best Practices for Radio
9-10:15a The PPM DNA of America’s High Performance Stations
9a-5p Exhibit Floor Open
10:30a-1:45p Group PDs Super Session
11:45a-1:45p Exhibit Floor Lunch
12-3p PromoSuite presents The Marketing Blitz
1-5p The Jacobs Summit
2-3:15p Crisis Leadership: Providing Strength and Clarity through the Storm
2-3:15p Changing of the Guard: How the New FCC Will Affect Your Station
2-3:30p Practical Datacasting Today
2:45-3:30p Tower Leasing NTR: Positioning Your Vertical Assets Online
3:30-5p FCC Brainstorming Session on Consolidated Licensing & Related Systems: Seeking Your Feedback
3:30-5p. Exhibit Floor Closing Party
6-9:30p NAB Marconi Radio Awards Reception, Dinner and Show