10 Questions with ... George "Geo" Cook
March 8, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- President/Chief Strategist -- Geometric Media Consulting, Charleston, SC/Atlanta
- Programming/Interactive Consultant -- PSP Consulting, Washington, DC
- Branding + Digital Media Strategist -- The Hampton Agency, Atlanta
- Dir./Programming + Operations -- Sheridan Broadcasting Co., Pittsburgh
1) Where and what was your first job in radio? Early influences?
Call screener/producer for a talk show at local AM station in my hometown, Charleston, SC. At that time, very interesting and influential guests on the show included (now South Carolina Congressman) James Clyburn, sports legend Muhammad Ali, political/community activist Julian Bond, among others. Meeting and interacting with these outstanding individuals early in my life and career helped me look beyond my immediate circumstances and surroundings.
As far as early programming and management influences go, there are quite a few people who have been instrumental in my personal and professional development in large and small ways, including Jerry Boulding, Jerry Clifton, Mitch Faulkner, Hector Hannibal, Steve Hegwood, Don Kelly, Randy Lane, Alfred Liggins, Dave Martin, Quincy McCoy, Paige Nienaber, Steve Smith, Mary Catherine Sneed and Alvin Stowe, just to name a few. And now, I have the good fortune of working daily with Michael Erickson and industry icon Hymen Childs, two of the best broadcasters in our industry.
2) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
No, my focus would purely be on advertising, digital branding and social media.
3) What do you plan to do different now that you're communicating in a PPM world? Does anything surprise you along the lines of new media platforms in terms of effectiveness with the audience?
I try not to get mired in the metrics and minutia of PPM. From my vantage point, we are in the "content and connection" business, so I focus my energies and efforts on helping my brand and my staff create deeper and more meaningful relationships with our listeners, advertisers and partners every minute of the day. Innovation is key. I work with my team to leverage everyone's talents and efforts to create breakthrough content and experiences at every consumer touch point for K104. Ultimately, I believe that the success of our relationships and ideas will be reflected in the station's ratings and revenues as we are beginning to see now.
4) How you prefer to be promoted on new records? And how do you feel about playing local Dallas artists' records ... or would you still prefer to wait until the research validates it?
Whether local or national, I've never been one to wait on anyone to bring a hit record to my attention. Whether it's online, in the clubs or in the streets, if you have a hit record, eventually I'll find YOU!
5) How has the focus of brand distribution changed for radio in general, given the advent of opportunities like smart phone apps and side channels?
The brand experience for consumers happens where and when they want it now. No matter the product offering, most people tend to gravitate towards brands that are convenient and make their lives easier. For radio, that means making your brand available at every consumer touch point, from websites to smart devices, and understanding that each experience a consumer has with your brand, no matter where and how your brand is encountered, helps to define and shape consumer feelings, attitudes, opinions, and levels of loyalty towards your brand. So the question is: Are you creating content and experiences that help your brand attract listeners, deepen your relationship with them and allow you to be a trusted, familiar, convenient companion all day, every day? If not, determine how you can make your brand more relevant, meaningful and useful to your listeners beyond the signal emanating from your tower.
6) Because of callout research, are today's Urban and Urban AC programmers going to be slower in adding and playing new music? And what is the maximum number of spins a record in power rotation could be expected to receive in a given week on K-104?
PPM certainly favors the familiarity of hit records. But with that said, listeners still come to the radio to not only hear their favorite songs, but also to discover new music, which remains an important image to win for Top 40 and Urban stations.
Songs in power rotation on K104 spin upwards of 100+ times per week.
7) Of all the skills you have gained through the years, is there an area you'd like to improve?
Yes, learning HTML 5 and augmenting my time-management skills and resources. (Technology was supposed to help, but I'm not so sure about that sometimes.)
8) What's your read on the format music wise nowadays?
I'm excited about the music and artists in the format today, especially Drake, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne and Rihanna. For years we've needed new superstars to rise and take their place as music leaders in the format. Hopefully, these artists ... and other new artists ... will continue their successful ways and positively impact the format in 2011.
9) As you assess the financial shape of the industry today, are traditional budgetary expectations still taking precedent too often over the investment on the product and human resources channeled into it?
I'm in a very fortunate situation where ownership and senior management believe in investing our people and our product every day. I wouldn't have it any other way. And I would encourage other companies to operate in the same way. Better products = better consumer engagement.
10) As you look back over your career ... any regrets? Missed opportunities?
Contemplating too long to pursue a programming position in Jacksonville, FL when Steve Smith and Kevin Metheny presented the opportunity to me. As it turns out, the guy who ended up in the position was Doc Wynter, now SVP/Urban Programming for Clear Channel. That's my "one that got away" story. But right now, I'm very happy to be a part of the Service Broadcasting family as the Brand Manager and PD for K104. I feel that I have one of the best jobs in media. I simply can't believe that they pay me to be surrounded by great people and great music every day.