Panel Offers International Perspective On Radio
September 30, 2010 at 8:49 AM (PT)
How broadcasters in other countries achieve success was the topic of a THURSDAY morning session moderated by ENTERCOM VP/Programming BILL PASHA at the NAB/RAB RADIO SHOW in WASHINGTON.
CANADA's ASTRAL RADIO EVP/Content ROB FARINA said that his company has eliminated the name "Program Director" in favor of "Brand Director" to better describe the changed focus of the position. He noted that Canadian radio tends to carry larger staffs, preferring not to put too many duties on any individual's plate. Similarly, ORION MEDIA Top 40 BRMB/BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND PD PAUL KAYE noted his station's focus on digital assets over the last 12 months. His company has not added more staff for digital properties, he said, but is retraining present staff to handle the new media.
CLIFTON RADIO/NEW WORLD COMMUNICATIONS VP "Fun 'N Games" PAIGE NIENABER observed that Canadian stations "still grow talent" while American radio has aliminated its farm system. FARINA said that his company is active in "grooming the next wave of talent," actively reaching out to high schools and career fairs and auditioning young talent for development; KAYE noted AUSTEREO's success in AUSTRALIA in using a website to allow aspiring talent to post audition tapes online and called for more creativity in the method of looking for talent, and later praised AUSTEREO's use of social media in general as "untouchable."
On EUROPE's advanced cell phones and mobile apps, KAYE stressed the importance of apps and the need for the apps to offer "more than just the radio station." He cited a news station in GERMANY that includes a speed trap warning feature in its app as an example of offering additional value.
NIENABER, reminding the audience "we're in show business," noted that Canadian stations remember that fact and do things like reality-TV-style stunts, inspiring him to stage a promotion in MEMPHIS that gave away JUSTIN BIEBER tickets by having someone wear a lapel camera streaming his point-of-view walking around town, with listeners charged with finding him using the visual clues so they could get the tickets from him. FARINA described his company's use of "superhero" costumes for the street team at Top 40 CIBK (98.5 VIRGIN RADIO)/CALGARY as one way to get listeners to walk away saying "wow."
"Radio is the original social network hub," FARINA asserted, adding that technology offers radio the opportunity to reassert itself in that category.
The panel also discussed using national or international brands like VIRGIN RADIO and the effect of networking and unified national brands in ENGLAND (KAYE's station remains local while competitors are being absorbed into national brands). "It's forcing us to be smarter about local," KAYE said of his competition's move to networked programming.
Asked by PASHA what the biggest mistake is that American stations have made, FARINA cited "rash decisions" made in the wake of the introduction of the PPM. He said that Canadian radio's biggest mistake was a deficiency in establishing brand identities, noting that after launching BOOM in TORONTO to success, agencies asked when the brand would be launched in other markets so they could buy ads on it nationwide. KAYE agreed on the issue of responding too quickly to PPMs and other challenges in AMERICA, which he said "chipped away" at brands. In the U.K., he said, the mistake has been ignoring the development of talent for the last 10 years. NIENABER also scolded radio for knee-jerk reactions, saying that if radio owned the top restaurant in town and the local newspaper changed food critics, "we'd change the menu." He advised radio to be more decisive on devising and approving promotions and to take more risks, noting that "the greatest home-run hitters in baseball struck out a lot."