HD Radio Marketing is easy . . .

December 1, 2006

it’s just making the product live up to the marketing that’s hard.

Mark Ramsey at Hear 2.0 answers the latest report about another $250 million pledged to promote HD radio. Mark’s most excellent point –

You can’t expect to win over an audience for a new technology when the motivation for the existence of that technology is based on the needs of an industry rather than an audience.

Back in 2005, the HD people ran a $10,000 contest for radio promos selling HD Radio.

Encouraged by others to enter the contest – I asked myself – how would I promote HD on my radio station – KFOG.

I would talk to our listeners in language that speaks to THEM rather than pumping sunshine up the backsides of the HD execs and it would address how this whole new HD idea would improve our listeners FAVORITE RADIO STATION – not “radio” in general or generically.

So I made a KFOG promo and entered it in the contest. Obviously, it didn’t win or even get acknowledged.  Too local probably.  They awarded the prize to a cute promo that probably made the HD execs and radio insiders feel great about themselves – but wouldn’t sell a single radio.

At least not on KFOG.

Ok – I’m not bitter – really. 😉

Anyway – the really sad part is – I wish I could’ve run my promo on KFOG back then.

Even today, a year later I still can’t run it. Not in good conscious anyway.

I couldn’t run it then, and I can’t run it now because we can’t make the claims made in the promo true (claims that were demanded by the HD people to be included in the copy)

That’s the biggest problem with HD – it’s all marketing (mostly bad) with very little substance (even worse).

I’ve LINKED to the KFOG promo for your enjoyment.

I’m pretty sure I know how to talk about HD with our listeners more effectively than the national “discover it” stuff – but the product actually has to deliver before I do.

I believe it’s going to depend on individual radio stations to make HD relevant to their listeners.

Right now – we’re not set up to do that and another $250 million in inventory wasted on promoting “HD Radio” generically isn’t going to do that either.

This promo has been sitting on my Hard Drive, waiting to become true for over a year now.

Maybe 2007 will be the year the HD radio people will call me and scream with joy – “You can finally run the promo! It’s all true! It’s all 100% true! ”



Basking in our own Glow

July 20, 2006

It was a particularly great day at 55 Hawthorne (station address) today.

We had great meetings with listeners last night -which kicked off great discussions and ideas today – and then we learned both KFOG and KSAN had great spring books. Yeah.

Now back to work.


Actually – it’s important to take a moment to reflect on just how amazing it is to be here at KFOG/KSAN.

The greatest part is how aware everyone is of all the threats and opportunities there are in the new media world confronting us.

There are no heads stuck in the sand here.

No one here needs to be sold that the world is changing and will require different things from us. I never once feel like I’m banging my head against the wall discussing these issues. I’m so happy this blog doesn’t need to be an outlet for frustration in that regard. It actually helps me because I find many of the thoughts I’m having become more focused by blogging about them.

We’re actually quite fortunate here in that our terrestrial success has afforded us – what seems to many I’m sure – the luxury to discuss, debate and examine these issues fairly intensely. It’s pretty fuckin awesome.

This was probably our last creative get together before Cumulus execs get more heavily involved in them – and I hope that facet of what we do doesn’t change – or if it does – get’s even better.
Hey . . . . I heard that.


Satisfaction vs Engagement

July 19, 2006

This week at KFOG – we’ll get some listeners together after work to talk about radio in general and KFOG specifically. It’s pretty informal, not scientific or a even real “focus group”.

We use these conversations as a starting point for a day of internal dialog about radio in general and the station specifically. I always find it an enlightening and worthwhile experience.

KFOG has been doing this a few times per year for about 11 years and was probably one of the first. Lots of stations do these types of things now.

One of the easy themes to latch on to in these exercises is the level of “satisfaction” exhibited by the participants.

Seems natural enough. In theory – a satisfied listener is a listener who has no motivation to listen to something else.

Not so fast says Brian Manning in this article titled: Measure Engagement, Not Satisfaction

Like I said – we’re not actually “measuring” anything in our little get together, but I think these points Brian makes are valid.

Satisfaction tells you whether or not you’re doing something wrong. It should be the baseline target, not an end in itself.

Just showing up and not pissing off the customer USED to make one a winner. And you can succeed on satisfaction alone. Brian uses the comparison of Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. Both are successful – Dunkin satisfies – Starbucks ENGAGES.

In radio – take perennial Top 25-54 San Francisco station KOIT. It satisfies (obviously) – but does it ENGAGE?

Why pay attention to engagement? From the article:

Engagement, because it comprises a deeper, more persistent relationship, should be the aspirational goal.

Brian says there are five reasons why measuring engagement is more valuable:

1. Satisfaction is a measurement of past experience, not an indicator of future behavior.

Just because a customer hasn’t had a reason to complain doesn’t mean the relationship will weather a bad experience in the future or a competitor’s enticement.

2. Extremely satisfied customers often act and behave no differently than less satisfied customers.

Researchers at the Gallup Organization have found that extremely satisfied customers of a leading supermarket chain, on average, spend no more than less satisfied customers. It is only when a customer is both extremely satisfied and emotionally attached that purchasing behaviors shift.

3. Engaged customers become the medium for the message.

These passionate advocates actively promote your brand and products through viral and word of mouth marketing, often without realizing they’re doing it.

4. Negative engagement can hurt you more than you know.

Look no further than Sony BMG’s recent spyware troubles, started by a groundswell within an engaged blogosphere. Never mind the consumer boycotts and class action lawsuit, more telling is the fact that a Google Blog Search for “Sony + spyware” returned nearly 35,000 blog posts. That’s the online equivalent of a billboard-sized “Beware of Dog” sign.

5. Engaged customers add more to the bottom line.

Customer Management reports, “Gallup’s research suggests that for all kinds of companies, fully engaged customers — those who score in roughly the upper 15-20 percent on Gallup’s measure of emotional engagement — deliver a 23 percent premium over the average customer in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth.”

Brian closes with this:

I predict an increasing number of companies will follow suit and begin to generate engagement by tapping into the social and technological capabilities of the internet to empower customers.

Being aware of the distinciton between Satisfaction & Engagement can kick the conversation up a notch.

Asking “how can we satisfy listeners?” probably ends with “play the new Gnarles Barkley” or some other variation of “what’s the music test say”.

Asking “how can we more fully engage WITH listeners?” starts off a whole new conversation.

Personally, that’s the question I’m more interested in.

“KFOG-ization of Meathead Radio”

July 11, 2006

I confess . . . that’s what I thought when I first heard about Fred Jacob’s Neo-Radio concept a few years back.

Now, I do tend to say things like this because I find that the humor in hearing it said out-loud overwhelms any underlying truth to what’s actually being said.   For example – the other day I called Luna Bar snacks “Snickers Bars for Hippy Chicks“.  But I digress.

The fact was – I was aware of the concepts Fred was touting – I even agreed with them – but I had associated them exclusively with AAA Radio generally, and KFOG specifically.  Those were OUR ideas – and we stole them from NPR – so go get your own source material bub!

I was wrong.

The reality of it is the Fred was taking the disparate emerging trends in what later I’ve come to call Nu-marketing (Seth Godin etc…) and rewrote them for radio under a single concept – neo-radio.

It was pretty radical when you think about it.

Instead of standard radio consultant fare of pitching a new “licence-able” radio format, with a zingy new name, meaningless but crafty slogan, highly researched play-list and standardized image voice – Fred was selling ideas.  A new way (for many) to approach the very performance of radio itself.  An underlying philosophy that put the listener (GASP!) smack dab in the middle of the whole thing.

So – my former ill formed opinion notwithstanding – Fred deserves major props for being the torch-bearer on making rock radio sound and behave more like HUMANS.

Specialty programming can cut thru

July 9, 2006

Here’s a blog post about KFOG’s most popular weekend shows – Acoustic Sunrise.

“The iPod-based ability to spontaneously play any or all of my songs combined with the fact that I actually get most of my audio in the form of podcasts, has really cut into my radio listening. However, I’ll still come back for KFOG’s fabulous acoustic sunrise on Sunday mornings. In addition to being acoustic-only, which is nice, it’s selected with excellent taste and draws on the considerable live-show archives of the station.” 

Admittedly it’s a little like something we might have written ourselves – but it appears genuine.

The show is HUGE for KFOG listeners – it’s nice to see some blog action on it.

It’s soooo quiet out there in the blogosphere in regards to radio.

Secret Sauce?

July 6, 2006

I guess Coke still has a “secret formula” that Pepsi can’t wait to get it’s hands on.  Does anyone really still believe the “Secret Sauce” story – or even care?

In radio there really isn’t any secret sauce any more.  Thru BDS you can tell what any station is playing and when, and how often – how they’ve adjusted their library over a certain amount of time blah blah blah.

Of course if you BDS KFOG right now (1:25 PM) you’re likely to see a 13 minute blank.  We’re playing a few acoustic recordings of Bruce Cockburn live in our studios.

Maybe there is secret sauce after all?

Where “Local-ism” rubber meets the road

July 5, 2006

For all the talk in the radio business about “local-ism” few stations actually get it. Let me shill for one of my own stations for a minute.  I promise there’s benefits if you’re willing to listen.

KFOG gets local on many levels -from large to small.

Here’s an example of a small On-Air thing that won’t get the press releases our larger efforts warrant – but still deserves attention.

For well over 10 years – KFOG morning co-host Peter Finch has been producing a local weekly 3 minute audio program called FOGFILES featuring the COUNTLESS quirky, interesting and fascinating people and issues unique to the Bay Area.

Does it drive listener-ship in an Arbitron measurable way? (“move the needle”) Of course not. And that’s exactly why so few radio stations do things like this.We have Dave Matthews and U2 songs to deliver ratings (so does everyone else BTW) – but what Fogfiles does is even better in my view.

It delivers good-will and authenticity.

Fogfiles could not be produced anywhere BUT here. And only by someone like Peter who has a connection to the community and a sense of what’s going on here.

That’s authentic. By airing these programs it communicates that the station believes these people and issues are important.

Doing this has become part of the KFOG story. It’s a story listeners tell themselves and each other – and thus aides in deepening their connection with the station and our efforts.

It’s my view that radio “local-ism” is the sum of many many many small efforts – not just a few big ones like the yearly holiday charity concert.

Fogfiles is one of MANY small parts that contributes to a much larger story about KFOG’s local-ism. But it all starts with ACTUALLY CARING ABOUT THE LOCAL COMMUNITY.

As the late, Johnny Cochran might have said – If you don’t care -it won’t make it on air.

You can’t listen to a few FOGFILES episodes and not get that Peter cares.

Can you imagine pitching this kind of feature to stations these days?
The thing is – its not difficult for ANY station to do. But the difference here is that FOGFILES is Peter Finch’s baby.  He genuinely enjoys making it every week. Month after month. Year after Year.

It’s a part of how he expresses himself artistically.  In other words – he’s not executing a mandate handed down from management.

It’s authentic.
That’s tough to “copy” and that’s what makes it so powerful.