10 Questions with ... Roy Sampson
March 5, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Education: University Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)
- 30+ year radio veteran of Programming, Marketing and Broadcast Operations
1) Where and what was your first job in radio? Who are some of your mentors?
WEBB-A/Baltimore. I was inspired by a host of great young broadcasters in the Baltimore market at the time, among them: Guy Brody, Curtis Anderson, Bernard Miller "Mr.B" ... also great programmers: Jerry Boulding, Al Jefferson, Larry Dean and the legendary personalities of Baltimore radio. Couple that with the opportunity to interact with broadcasters from Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York, legends in our business, Hank Spann, Jerry Bledsoe, Bobby Bennett, Butterball, and so many more...
2) How long have you been with iBiquity and what are your current duties and challenges?
Over seven years, and it's been the most fun I've had in this business. During my tenure the evolution of our industry and the impact of the digital revolution has been incredible. Radio's dominance in the dashboard is threatened for the first time ever with the multitude of new consumer entertainment options now available. My job is to ensure that stations get the most "bang for their buck" from their HD Radio investment. The challenge is to help managers and promotion people think outside the box and learn to treat their new multicast signals like any other new format to be nurtured, supported and promoted.
3) What are some of the things most programmers and radio executives don't know about HD radio that could give them a ratings advantage?
One thing hasn't changed since the days of Gordon McLendon, Alan Freed and Bill Drake: Content is King! As an industry we start to spiral in on one issue, like streaming, or banner ads on our website and forget the basics of our business. Today's programmer knows that stations need a digital identity. But now, in addition to sound, the essence of a station must have a look and interactive connection with its listener base. Listeners now expect to interact instantaneously with the source of their entertainment via the devices they use.
Probably the most important issue for programmers and executives alike to focus on is the ability to use HD Radio multicast channels to turn tune-out into tune-over. Why share your P1s with your competition when you could be sharing them with your own HD2 channel? If you pull even a .8 share from your competition with your HD2, you can sell that in combo with your main channel while at the same time make the competition less efficient since that .8 came at their expense! You become a more efficient buy while at the same time making the guy across the street less efficient.
But there's more. As a technology, the HD Radio feature set continues to strengthen. Features like Artist Experience (the ability to add an album cover image or advertiser's logo to show on newer car radios) can elevate the "sound," "look" and "feel" of radio with today's listener in a PPM world. And the ability to monetize the technology by selling the visual with the audio spot is an ability that never before existed in radio. Don't you think Geico would like to see the gecko show up on that car radio during their spot?
And stations with translators can utilize the latest wrinkle in the HD Radio saga - the ability to rebroadcast your HD2 digital channel on your analog translator, in effect getting another unique FM signal in your market for a fraction of the cost of a new station. It's instant revenue, and stations in markets as large as Atlanta and as small as Decatur, IL have been generating audience and revenue, while at the same time taking audience (and advertising dollars) from their competition.
4) In transitioning from a successful major-market programmer to iBiquity, what were some of the most immediate challenges?
I had to look deeper into what consumers of radio expect from us as an industry. When you're in a market, you learn everything you can about the market. But when you do what I do, you need to do a deep dive on ALL the markets, learning what is the same everywhere and what is unique to a city or geographic region.
It has been a seamless transition, because I'm working with a group of professionals who are passionate about radio from the broadcast as well as the technical side. They truly amaze me with their detailed attention to the new challenges of our industry. And all our engineers come out of local station operations in large and small markets alike, so I know when I have one of my guys speak to a local station, they will be speaking the same language.
5) What are some of the new developments in HD Radio Technology that are evolving in 2013?
There's a lot happening in all areas of digital broadcasting, but especially in automotive. There are now 31 automotive brands that currently offer HD Radio Technology in 165 different models, over half of which have it as standard equipment. In fact, an HD Radio-equipped car is currently sold every 9 seconds, 24/7/365!
Original features like digital sound quality, multicast channels and Program Service Data (PSD) are firmly established, and exciting new features like Artist Experience and Digital traffic now enter the broadcast business model. Let's not forget that radio is currently the ONLY media consumers use that is not fully digital. If we don't start offering the basic features that the iPod, Sirius/XM and Pandora have had for years we run the risk of having broadcast radio end up three menu levels down in future car infotainment systems.
Visit www.hdradio.com and check out the latest developments.
6) As you look down the road, do you feel that HD Radio Technology is going to continue to grow and what are some future advantages many radio people would not be aware of?
It's a digital world ... heard any hot new analog devices lately? Right now, over 2,200 stations have converted to digital technology, with nearly nine out of every 10 people living within the coverage area of HD Radio stations. Digital provides consumers with a superior experience over analog. The future is now. PPM encode all your channels, develop and focus your brand and sharpen your content. Promote across ALL your digital platforms. It's not about streaming, or your website, or your main channel, or even your HD multicasts. It's about your brand. It's not either-or. You need to be everywhere your listener is, because people want what they want, when they want it.
One of the biggest advantages is one that is invisible to programmers, but much-loved by GMs and their corporate accountants: The revenue stream that come from leasing bandwidth to traffic providers. No audio at all, just bits and bytes, sending traffic updates in the background to navigation units by Garmin and provided as standard equipment in upcoming select Lexus and Toyota models, all free of charge to the consumer.
Technology is on the fast track. An interesting quote from Joseph B. White of the Wall Street Journal should resonate with everyone in our business: "In the not too distant future, a car with a radio that receives only AM or FM will qualify as an antique." Everyday listeners are getting a digital first impression and more options as to how and where they receive content. Content is King ... but so is the consumer.
7) At this year's recent CES Show in Las Vegas, a lot of auto manufacturers have agreed to make HD standard equipment on their new cars. What immediate effect do you think that could have?
Instant audience! Your content is "front and center" on the dashboard, what Detroit calls the "center stack." Factory-installed digital technology keeps broadcast radio on a level playing field in the car. For example, content provided on your multicast channels is immediately available without the consumer having to connect anything, bring in another device or pay fees. Streaming a station in your car via your cellphone data plan is just another form of pay radio ... one where you don't participate in the revenue.
The auto infotainment system is not your father's radio, only showing frequency. It sounds different, it looks different and with touch screens you can say it "feels" different! It's important to focus on quality implementation of our digital signals, providing the consumer with a compelling and consistent experience.
8) What's your read on the format music-wise how do you feel HD Radio Technology factors in the future of Urban radio?
Absolutely! Urban is a powerful format that sets trends. The format has always broken new ground and influenced the industry. Urban has the ability to do for HD Radio stations what the Quiet Storm and other unique Urban programming did for FM. Brand extension with multicast channels can be the catalyst for new forms of Urban formatting and unique content. Elements of the format can be targeted and presented on a multicast channel with clients brought on board early via inventive marketing. This allows them to be an intrinsic part of the presentation of a station's main and multicast channels beyond just buying spots. You can see Gospel moving in that direction going forward as well.
9) Is Urban radio moving swiftly enough in keeping pace with outside media pure plan competitors attempting to invade its space, especially given the streaming options growing in auto dashboards? How does HD Radio technology factor in these developments?
We have to keep up the fight against other media trying to steal what radio does best and ride on our coattails. Explore and stress how the Urban format can bring unique content to listeners. Elements like personality features from morning shows, music segments like "Love Zones" and "mix" shows, live events, NTR events/concerts, Urban entertainment talk and interactive audience music generation are just some of the ways we can keep the format fresh and relevant.
Also, let's not forget how the potential for new revenue from data services and client logos via Artist Experience can figure into a station's presentation and revenue.
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
No regrets! Radio is an awesome industry and I'm excited about its future. The game has changed, but the goal remains the same. And I can't imagine a better place to be right now than iBiquity. I get to talk to stations throughout the country and help them move into radio's future. What could be better for a lifelong broadcaster?
Name the one gadget you can't live without.
Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens!
Describe your favorite meal?
Great Maryland Seafood
What's your favorite reading material?
A great book, "Wisdom from a Jazzman," by Jay Lang
Check it out!
Do you feel that Urban stations should be more careful not to blindly copy formats but tailor them specifically to the age and racial make-up of their own markets?
The strength of the station is the ability to target the ebb and flow of the market. It's what radio does better than anyone. The ability to focus a station locally is a revenue and ratings advantage that should never be overlooked or taken for granted. We also have national multi-entertainment personalities that can position a station hi-level with a target audience. Knowing what to use and how much is the key.
How important is consistent marketing and contesting to a station's overall success?
More important today than ever before.