"If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever" St Thomas Aquinas
Three web site launches, final draft of our white paper on broadband deployment in the EU (still needs work - as I read it), zero draft of my narrative, powerpoint and related notes for presentation of our annual econometric models - US and EU ad spend forecasts (2006), and one speech - all in the past week and each an example of great creative collaboration. No time for blogging.
The speech was given before the 30th annual Conclave, the longest running radio programming conference in the world. Great show Tom & Danno - thanks for the invite. The 90 minute talk was an overview of one of our new six-hour leadership in media seminars - A Great Program Director. I am very grateful to the gifted Kipper McGee who served as my editor (in a photo finish performance) cutting slides and making my presentation better in the process. Kipper, you're the best - thank you coach.
The Conclave's highest honor, The Rockwell Award, was presented to Dave Sholin. Dave's career has been one of leading by example, he's bright, he's passionate about radio and music, he cares about people. Gracious, charming, affable and beyond his many talents, which are considerable, Dave Sholin is a mensch. Congrats Dave on an honor well deserved. Those that know him will understand when I say - stay tuned, Dave Sholin's contributions are far from over, his finest hour yet to come, and we are all blessed by his good work.
It was great catching up with and learning from each of these rock stars - while breaking bread. Don Kelly, Mark Masters, Kipper McGee, Jim Watkins, Greg Doyle, Larry Bentson, Mark Niblick, Kurt Johnson, Brian Kelly and Ed Salamon. Please allow me to add - I will never again visit Minneapolis without making certain we dine at both JP's American Bistro- 2937 Lyndale Ave South and J.D. Hoyts - 301 Washington Ave. N. - each getting my highest recommendation; Pat Montague, my friend and the owner of J.D. Hoyts is a gem in the F&B trade ( his "buddy bowl" alone gets him into my food hall of fame). More on Conclave later this week. But first , thanks to these very cool folk...Debbie & Dave Sholin and family plus...Aundrae Russell, Greg Johnson, Neill Dixon, Tom Oakes, Paige Nienaber, George "Geo" Cook, Donna Halper, Joel Denver, Chris Shebel, Liz Laud, Wendy Paulson, Lee Abrams, Andy Bloom, Tom Kay, Alan Handelman, J. Pat Miller, Chris Krok, Loyd Gary Ford, Marc Kalman, Mark Bolke, Brad Savage, Tony Garcia, Denise Lutz, Rick Thomas, Marc Ratner, Alexander Court, Jonathan Little, Mancow, Art Vuolo, and the always exceptional Jane Dyson. Special appreciation to the good Doctor - living legend Jerry Boulding - his kind words of introduction made my summer.
My favorite rich person, Bobby Rich, gives voice to my fellow Bill Gavin Quarter Century Honor Roll recipient, and a gentleman I have great respect for, Pat O'Day...one simply amazing person...you need to read this...
JACK, and the host of imitators that will quickly follow, (not knowing why, they always just follow) will fail. It may create a bit of a buzz initially as they are finally abandoning short playlists, but it will eventually fail because:
1. It isn't how many songs you play. It's how you play them. An art gallery can have a million paintings but if there is no theme, no clustering of impressions, no planned surprises as you walk around a corner or down the hall, you just have a gallery full of paintings. Nothing more, nothing less!Programmers who devised this are oblivious to the fundamental truth that art forms must be presented with emotion or they stand alone -- naked, cold and impersonal!
2. JACK will fail because...Read all of Pat's comments here
Sunday, July 24, 2005
"If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever" St Thomas Aquinas
Sunday, July 17, 2005
"I don't care about you being first, I care about you being right" Paul Drew
As a young music director for RKO in Chicago the experience was a wake up call. Each year end music directors prepared a report for corporate - the peak position (using national charts) for each song that had made the station playlist. This RKO liturgy was pure Paul Drew. Three great lessons wrapped in a pragmatic accounting task. Being my first at bat in this ritual, I checked in with my fellow RKO MDs. Two, Guy Zapoleon in LA and Dave Sholin in San Francisco, seemed confident they had "played their cards well" both advised this was a serious exercise. The parable of talents came to mind, I would reap what I had sown. Shpilkes. As it happened my scorecard was mixed. Tsoris. In the process I learned three important lessons. First, grading one's own work against a standard is powerful - people don't argue with their own data. Second, what you count you improve. Third, what we allow we encourage. The process was a staid reminder of what really mattered. Our charter was to play the hits and we were held accountable and responsible to produce that result. Later when I had the opportunity to talk with Paul about the process he said "I don't care who played it first, that's easy, I care about how often we get it right - I don't care about you being first, I care about you being right." Smart and wise gentleman Paul is, he truly understands what counts.
Lucky for us in media the important metrics and measures, the counting, involves the most simple of arithmetic. The media business is not nearly as complicated as some would have you believe. To properly and fairly appraise media today we have no need for advanced theoretical mathematics, no reason to create elegant algorithms, the math required to gain understanding need not rise to the levels of algebra or calculus. Let's face facts - we are not dealing with the higher orders of math needed to solve The P vs NP Problem here, it's only the media business not a shuttle launch. What circumstances now demand is that we see reality as it is, not as it was, nor as we wish it to be. Simple arithmetic will provide the needed insight.
Bad couple of weeks for the dead tree guys. First the NYT - Time split on confidential sources. Send your reporter to jail, defend the public's right to know versus Give up your source, no one is above the law. Serious stuff no matter your opinion, very serious. We need a federal shield law and nothing short of it and we need it now. I urge you to please join me in writing to members of congress this week.
Then, talk about your simple arithmetic, Q2 numbers evidence circ declines for Tribune, Knight Ridder and McClatchy. The last of that bunch is a surprise since the McClatchy gang has enjoyed some 20 consecutive years of circ gains. Tony Ridder said big market ad revs were up only 0.4% - the two numbers most important, circ and ad rev, are symptoms of the bigger problem - leadership. Perhaps J.K. Rowling will end up this year's only real winner in the dead tree trade.
Leadership in action. Need an object lesson in the power of observation and simple solutions? Joseph Medill Patterson, grandson of the Chicago Tribune founder, began New York Daily News in 1919. Having observed that broadsheets were difficult to read in crowded rush hour trains - he introduced the first tabloid. Occam's Razor at work.
Are you dialed into Jimmy Cramer, the Prophet from Philly? JC's Mad Money may be the single best use of TiVo. He points out the facts on GE's performance. The A students (my editorial not JC's) at Immelt's GE continue to amaze, Q2 earnings up 24%. It's power, finance and materials biz brought home the bacon. But what about their broadcast holdings? Ad sales for NBC's fall prime down $700 million from last year. Jeffrey Immelt stated the obvious "We have to do a better job on the programming front. That's what we're all working on." Bravo to Immelt for coming out, his admission sets a fine example for others. Let's hope it gins up the discussion and delivers us some real must see TV. Losing 700 million tends to create a fresh clarity and renewed focus on what matters.
News Corp is getting into the internet business - yawn.
Produce five million viewers for an online event while putting the cable and broadcast folks to shame in the process and you get offered a much better job. Live 8 producer Kevin Wall is named to head a new outfit called Network Live - a jv with AOL , XM and AEG (a concert promoter that also owns venues). The announcement said "three leading entertainment companies" wow - is that the flock XM now flys in? It is past the time the street starts demanding XM and Sirius publish listenership numbers. Once we out these guys and their tiny numbers we can still praise them because they may well deserve kudos for "best sleight of hand." Meanwhile back at the ranch, America On Line Latin America files 11, TW out 160 large - ouch!
John Rook deserves your bookmark...there's some thinking going on over at his place...
Create the kind of programming a listener doesn't even think of turning off. Programs that become magnets for listeners. Let that programming become what you are known for...day in and day out. No promotional campaign can beat it.
A radio wizard of another era said it best. Bill Gavin told me it's not what you say you are but who you are that counts. In frustration of not being able to match a competitor with advertising dollars, Bill reminded me radio has a very valuable advantage over most products its self. Slogans and advertising campaigns on other media such as television and billboards are fine, but radio misses the point entirely when it fails to use its self to promote its self. That competitor who spent a vast amount of money in promoting it self, was wasted as my station with no outside advertising campaign continued to be top rated. Gavin said, see John, its what goes out the speaker that counts, not what you paste on a damn billboard.
Kudos and five stars to you JR! Dear reader, you should take the time to read the important things this gentleman has to say, the obvious is almost always the hardest to see - his writing including the bonus of obvious lesson is here. Since he brought up Bill Gavin it reminded me...
At Bill Gavin's retirement gala, I was named one of 25 on his Quarter Century Honor Roll, the last awards Bill was to give out. To be named one of Bill's 25 along with rock stars like Clive Davis, David Geffen, Chuck Blore, Berry Gordy, Paul Drew, Pat O'Day, George Burns, Rick Carroll, James Gabbert, Mo Ostin, Elmo Ellis, and Joe Smith remains one of the most special achievements of my career. I was the youngest named, the kid among that group of giants; when first told of the honor I was certain there had been some mistake. It remains, to me, an honor of great significance, a recognition without equal (sui generis). This is difficult to explain to those that did not know the amazing Mr Gavin, the person John Rook correctly calls a "radio wizard." Thanks John for reminding all of us about Bill. Read John's entire article here
While you're out crusin around check out Jaye Albright - 10 Biggest PD Mistakes - here's a taste...
6. Has a 'not invented here' attitude about new ideas and approaches. Doesn't bother to network or seek objective opinions of knowledgeable counsel.
5. Under-estimates the competition.
4. Sees radio as a craft, not an art. You can get everything you need to know by copying winning radio stations in the same format in other markets.
Well said Jaye! You may read her entire post here
Light, if any, blogging this week, too much going on.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
"Speech is conveniently located midway between thought and action where it often substitutes for both" John Holmes
The three most rapid, effective means of communication? Telephone, Text (email), and no question - Tell All Access. Saw this tonight posted in Net News
Message to BILL PRESS: please contact SAGA's President ED CHRISTIAN immediately.
It is therefore reasonable to conclude...Bill did get the message...the entire industry got to read Ed's mail and...when you absolutely positively have to get a message to anyone count on Joel Denver & Company. As I have said here before, Joel and his All Access crew are the goods.
Have you read what my favorite rich person has to say? Not Mr Buffett, nor Mr Welch, and no, not my close personal friends Mr Bentson and Mr Hartman but Mr Rich himself, Bobby Rich. I always listen to the counsel of my rich friends, especially Bobby, read his writing here
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail" RW Emerson
Bill Gable, a Toronto performer, serves up his pov "Researching Ourselves to Death".
If JACK stations find success in certain U.S. markets, it could be due to the attitude more than the music. “Playing what we want” is an affront to homogenized radio and may strike a chord with listeners. But what is the shelf life of that? And will an “oh, wow” song still elicit that reaction two years from now?
In the long run, compelling radio wins. Musically, JACK’s broader playlist is becoming more and more available through various means to the individual listener.
Thanks Bill. You may read his writing here
It seems to me - how one defines the word "compelling" has become important to the discussion. As I have written before...
Let's agree to stop describing our programming as compelling unless something actually happens on the radio station after the morning show that is not a liner, a sweeper, a promo, that day's music log, or one exceptionally good phone bit with a contest winner. . More here
What Tom Kent does is compelling. What Bobby Rich creates is compelling. Fred Winston, in five words, paints a picture rich with patois - compelling. Today we are blessed with much great talent, performance art is their metier. These gifted people create proprietary intangibles - the alchemy that puts people in the tent and keeps them coming back to the show. These people are not announcers, certainly not disc jockeys, they are that rare animal - the performer, the talent, the star of the show. Talent is radio's last sustainable barrier to entry, no matter the format. The popular excuse today for not hiring talent (e.g., the morning show "challenge" it seems every PD has) is "there's nobody out there" - nonsense. Our talent problem is a symptom, we have a leadership problem.
Too few are obsessed with finding, developing and leading creative people. The tradecraft required is casting and directing. To serve as a program director one first needs to appreciate and respect talent. A great program director works for talent, bringing out the best in each performer. It's all about servant leadership. Like the artistic director of an Opera company, the great program director knows you don't fix a poor box office by simply telling Pavaratti to "sing better" nor do you blame the performers when you've picked the wrong production to stage. Ordering great talent to read, verbatim, poorly written liners is akin to telling Picasso to copy a stickman sketch onto a series of matchbook covers, while it may work - purely as a novelty - it's actually a waste of everyone's time. Why put a Ferrari into a go-kart race?
Directing talent to deliver your message in their style unlocks creativity, engages the imagination, inspires the high wire act that is communication and, at its best, the result is entertaining, engaging, arresting. In the big picture - the research and music computer stuff is easy, simple - the leadership of creative people is difficult, complex. The latter affords the optimum ROI.
One final thing - are your liners spam? Clutter? What purpose is being served? Why is it on your air? Begin by taking things off your radio station. Use the old butcher's rule "cut the fat, expose the meat." Then listen and ask the question - the one every programmer must ask...Why?
Speaking of great talent...I am reminded of something Bob Shannon wrote about KVIL without Ron Chapman..."like The Rolling Stones without Mick Jagger: They're still playing music, but a long-familiar voice is missing" There is a lot of great talent out there, find them, hire them, provide a positive environment for these gifted creatives. Let them know what you want, draw the boundaries in chalk - you'll be amazed once you give them permission to have fun on the radio. To turn up performance even more - catch them doing something right.
Can you tell me the definition of a "reverse morris trust?" Well it's a safe bet any ABC manager can. News in today's Wall Street Journal that ABC may sell it's radio gets the attention of former ABC rock star John Rook. You will find John's take, The XYZ of ABC, here.
[FD: Mr. Winston is a client of my employer]
Saturday, July 09, 2005
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." GB Shaw
No matter your opinion of the latest jockless oldies stations, here is one observation difficult to refute - the manner and velocity of this format's propagation only serves to again confirm the irrational power of industry herd instinct. Too many in leadership are directing station people to fix their sick stations by launching a jockless oldies format ASAP. This seems to me analogous to a physician who, upon hearing of the amazing curative powers of one certain drug, makes her morning rounds issuing a directive that the same one drug be given to all patients without respect to diagnosis. "Prozac for everyone" - a move some may view, perhaps, as ripe with malpractice potential. To date, conversation in the trade is proving to be more interesting, and certainly more entertaining, than the subject stations. "When all you can say is 'more music' you ain't got nothin" so said our charming and delightful Uncle Lar.
A format based upon a diverse music library, an apparent contrarian sequencing of titles and an attitude may or may not produce a sustainable competitive advantage. No jocks is certainly better than bad jocks when the audience is presented no other options. It is still early in the game, too early to have the facts needed for any fair evaluation. Some of these jockless stations are, in fact, well produced. The music logs well cooked, the sweepers adding a cool bite of snark, the stations are indeed fresh - in contrast - with the other juke boxes in the market. Beyond this these stations may actually remain somewhat fragile, recovered from their sickly past but still in guarded condition. They might now suffer from a special case of anorexia, this presents as a loss of appetite for any depth of creativity, and this may yet prove to be acute. Of course there are also the celebrated cases where a heritage station has been converted - the hope being the numbers will prove all involved to have been right (you gotta break a few Faberge eggs to make an omelet, no worries - the eggs are not nearly as popular as they once were).
Clearly, the objective is to produce the best numbers as quickly as possible at the lowest cost, nothing wrong with that. But is the jockless, anti-corporate radio stance actually too clever by half? While this approach may turn out to be a brilliant, cost effective near term solution, we must ask ourselves if this approach is the best way to compete for the future. What are we doing to listener expectations? The best PD ever to key stroke Selector working with the best imaging director on the planet working with the coolest, hippest vo person now living will create the greatest, albeit potentially prosaic, juke box in history. What they will not create, however, is a great radio station. A great radio station, in my opinion, has a soul, is a true "wonderment" to use one of Steve Wynn's favorite ways of defining his new opus. As the amazing Mr Wynn has said it's "not as simple as different...the art of it all is in...new ways of expressing the timeless fundamentals."
Please allow a digression here. When asked how important gambling is to his business he ranked it fifth in importance saying "you've got to love the process, you don't do this to run a gambling joint, why shouldn't this place be one of the most beautiful places in the world, let us be that ambitious, you can fall on your ass for half the price." My notion is...we need more Steve Wynns in this world, we need more leadership obsessed with building something great, leadership with a pathological, undiluted, and urgent need to win, leadership possessing a genuine will to win.
Perhaps more troubling is what appears to be a complete lack of courage, a visceral anguish and fear of any head-to-head competition, a deadly aversion to risk deeply rooted in a myth - the canard of first mover advantage. Should you be first to employ this jockless oldies approach you need have no fear of any direct competition. Industry leadership seeming to have lost the courage, creativity, commitment, talent and stamina required to compete and prevail in any such old fashioned winner take all format brawl. That the #1 billing station in America is seen by many as invincible, considered by so-called experts to be an impossible to challenge incumbent, this lack of imagination alone may say everything about radio's current state of affairs. Kudos to Jim Ryan, he has done more than create a great radio station, he has somehow convinced his competition to serve an unprecedented new role, that of financier, their charter to willingly capitalize his continued success.
John Rook, ever the keen observer and phenom, offers up some headline news and some comments worth reading...
(AP) ISTANBUL, Turkey -- First one sheep jumped to its death. Then stunned Turkish shepherds, who had left the herd to graze while they had breakfast, watched as nearly 1,500 others followed, each leaping off the same cliff.
JR goes on to say...
I had little appreciation for following the herd, always looking for a way to distinguish myself and the programming I was responsible for in a way that was never a copy of someone else's creation. Sure I found motivation from anothers programming, but I constantly searched for ways to make my radio station, or stations, different than the others...
It seems to me today, we have mostly sheep not only in programming but in top management and sales also. Blindly following the herd - over the cliff. Those of us who made meaningful contributions in creating an era in radio still held up as an example of greatness can only hope the industry will change course and move away from the sea of sameness that exists today.
Bravo John! Your exemplary leadership puts you in league with Mr Wynn.
Read JR 's complete writing here
Mark Cuban tells us to forget about "the good ole days"...
It’s not the job of our customers to predict how our products and services should look in the future. Customer can tell us how to fix operational and transactional items. They can tell us how to make it easier for them to do things. They rarely, rarely, rarely can tell us what where our businesses should be next year or after that. Relying on your customers for strategic direction is a recipe for failure. That’s managements job.
That’s what makes the entertainment business so challenging. It’s difficult to come up with something original that puts a smile on a customers face. It’s not easy to invest in something new, knowing it could fail and you have to raise the bar even further to make your customers happy. But that’s the sport of business.
The smart ignore the reminiscing about the good ole days and focus on creating unique and improved experiences.
If you do it right, 20 years from now they will write stories about you that will be far better than being called part of “the good ole days”.
Read all of Mark's comments here
Thursday, July 07, 2005
"There is nothing, nothing that can compete with a radio commercial for irresistible emotional communication but you gotta remember that it's the audience's imagination that completes the picture" Chuck Blore
Chuck is a national treasure, a rare creative genius, a sage and a teacher. He created some outstanding TV commercials for me over the years, each experience a pleasure and a unique learning opportunity. He understands that beyond the big idea you need great writing and inspired, real performances. We can all learn something from Chuck, find him on the web here.
What you hear most on radio today is not writing...it's typing. Writing is what Chuck does, it is the foundation of killer creative, the big idea is brought to life by a process which demands writing well. Kudos to the RAB for conducting writing seminars, an excellent step to help radio become better for listeners and for advertisers - bravo! Don't just send the continuity person, send your promotion director and production director as well.
Bill Figenshu opens shop. Smart guy, check out his new full-service professional services firm here
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
"In a crisis - grow! That's the only creative possibility...take a risk and expand" Lew Hill
The father of listener-supported radio, Hill was down to his last few bucks when he wrote those words. He went on to lead significant innovation heading his Pacifica radio group. John Leonard's Nightsounds and Bob Fass' Radio Unnameable are but two examples of the exceptional works produced during Pacifica's better days. The tragedy is the spirit of Lew Hill's original intent was lost long ago. The muse that inspired Lorenzo Milam has left the building. Pacifica, once a well spring of fresh and original programming, has become a joke, a total mess, a vision lost, an echo chamber influenced by stupid internal politics. Lost in this process... intellectual honesty and free, open expression...good audio gone bad...sad. Some very fine work continues at many excellent community radio stations including KBOO (once a part of Lorenzo's KRAB Nebula, and a place I have worked) and WORT.
Ed Christian says it like it is..."Let's not be boring to the listeners. We need to reinvent creativity and not be afraid to take chances...if we do compelling radio, then we can sell ads. It's pretty simple, but we forgot the model...let's be bold, be creative and take some chances." (From Inside Radio). Bravo Ed!
Live 8 has been instructive on many levels. The Sir Paul and U2 version of Sgt Pepper's LHCB was up for sale and download less than one hour after his performance, it's holding in the top ten at the itunes store - game changing, you bet. Staci over at paidcontent provides this recap:
AOL drew roughly 5 million unique visitors during 12 hours of Live 8 live July 2, with peak simultaneous viewing of 175,000 -- and, according to the BBC, peak delivery of 50 gigabits a second. Numbers we're still waiting for: the number of plays Saturday (ie how many times were live concerts actually viewed) and the initial post-concert on-demand use. An AOL spokeswoman told me the usual rule of thumb for video on demand is 10X live usage, which should bode well for AOL during its six-week on-demand window.By comparison, ABC drew 2.9 million viewers and a 1.1 rating/5 share for its two-hour primetime highlights show. No ratings from MTV until later this week but, as we noted earlier, the brand clearly took a hit from many viewers for its VJ commentary, heavy use of commercials and and cutaways from performances of The Who and Pink Floyd in progress. Read more, via paidcontent, here
Said it before, will say it again. All that is important is what's on the tube or what comes out of the speakers, everything else is a footnote.
Monday, July 04, 2005
"The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get the old ones out" Dee Hock
Once upon a time Dee Hock suggested financial institutions collaborate to create new financial products. Captains of the banking industry thought him crazy. Today we enjoy the convenience of Dee's once radical and revolutionary notion because it's everywhere we want to be, his idea was VISA.
Lots of good reading to share. First Doc nails it again. This from his Syndicate keynote:
"New media never replace old media. They only "threaten" the old media that fight them.
The old always fights the new. Right up to the point where they adapt, fail, or get borged.
Language is always a problem. You can never make sense of the new in terms of the old.
Language is our biggest problem right now." Check out his slides here
Gerry Cagle has always been a maverick. From his salad days as wunderkind and uber-cool programmer (KCBQ, KHJ, KFRC, et al) up to and including his present groundbreaking projects, Gerry has continually been one to make things happen. Check out his commentary, "What's Next", Gerry is spot on about the mess music radio is in, you may read it here.
Sean Ross gets the conversation started on jockless v. jocked, he also provides a good preface to the subject matter - find it here. Jaye Albright blogs about...just about everything and she is so... right on time, read all about it here.
The legendary, and brilliant, John Rook offers up a fresh pov, time and time again, check him out here.
Jesse Walker opines on the format named in honor of Brookline's most famous son and offers a suggestion about what's next:
The point is to embrace radio's unique strengths as a medium—the ones the broadcast business has been burying for years.
Jesse says create a new kind of radio, read him here. His thoughts brought Big Daddy Tom to mind. That gentleman's great legacy lives on today at Jive95.
For the record, evoking the "shuffle" analogy (ala ipod) while perhaps vogue is nothing new. My recall is it was Dennis Constantine, the architect of KBCO, who first used "shuffle" on-air way back in the 1980s.
Got some emails from my former Chicago colleagues about another credit where credit is due item. The facts this time around concern the first promotion focused on gaining office listening. Creative suggesting a station is one everyone in the office can agree upon, the so-called office compromise approach. It did not first happen in the 1980s as suggested by some, it happened in the early 1970s when Jim Schulke popularized what he called "the office listening game." Listeners designed posters as part of the in-office event. "Everyone at the office agrees...WJIB soothes the savage beast" was one such poster. Jim's format was the first to dominate offices nationwide via FM radio. We stole the idea when we launched WFYR in 1977 and reworked it again as the "Listen while you work game" for Bonneville in 1982. Clark Schmidt and others of the CBS FM O&O gang were early pioneers in this area as well. I liberated my share of Clark's cool Cozy copy back in the late 1970s. Jack Kelly, now living in Italy where he presides over his Italian and French Riveria media empire, may have been the first to use Schulke's everyone agrees at work suggestion in a TV creative circa 1979. Jack created an animated cartoon while at WCLR (now WTMX), Chicago. In it a character walked a tight rope - "not to hard, not too soft, just right, and everyone at the office agrees". The Viacom tribe reinvented the daypart strategy around the mid-1980s. They were the first to focus all of their marketing on a single listening location, very savvy and successful and totally misunderstood at the time. My thought is WLIT (when it was WLAK), Chicago may have been the first Viacom to use this strategy (Jack Taddeo). Mark Edwards, Kurt Johnson, Phil Redo and Gary Nolan also made significant contributions in this area.
Finally, the concepts of clustering spots and sweeping music came nationwide first to FM via Schulke and his SRP team. It was Jim who told me he was inspired by Drake's "More Music" model. My recall is the first FM station to use this approach was early "album rocker" KGB, San Diego when programmed by genius and former Drake collaborator Ron Jacobs.
Of course with each and all of these so-called firsts it is certain others also played a role, should you wish to name someone not properly recognized here please do get in touch. We promise to help set the record straight as best we can. Thanks.