Friday, August 25, 2006

"In a world where nobody seems to know what's going to happen next, the only thing to do to keep from going completely nuts from frustration is plain old-fashioned work."

"Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people." Leo Burnett

One of the best hamburgers in the country may be enjoyed in Milwaukee inside the Victorian brownstone that is home to Elsa's on the Park. Citysearch reviewers give the burger a 9.9 out of 10 and I agree with that near-perfect review. Google Maps with reviews here.

Brian Kelly, the music radio maven, suggested Elsa's for lunch. The near-perfect burger was a fine compliment to Brian's perfect take on music programming.

Ever the sedulous programmer, Mr. Kelly's proffer was simple and programmers are responsible for discovering new music. Waiting for labels alone to suggest or deliver new music is an unacceptable strategy. The charter of a music programmer includes being an advocate for your audience, serving the listeners by being constantly dialed-in to what's happening now. Music stations playing currents are, in fact, in the fashion industry. What is this year's fall fashion in music? What's fresh? cool? tight? In the words of Leo Burnett this involves plain old-fashioned work. It demands a gifted ear. It involves deep emersion, dedicated listening, a passion for discovery, a relentless drive to surprise and delight. A constant hard focused search for the breathtaking! The add as approbation, as spins become encomium.

Over lunch we talked of programmers that add titles without ever hearing them - addition by pure metrics. While perhaps BDS perfect these stations tend to sound a touch sterile, one can almost detect the subtle indications of legerdemain, the white noise feel of a "machine" at work. In contrast, there is something special, something dramatically different about music stations programmed by people who love music. There is some ineffable "x factor" at work that gives these stations a certain magic, a jouisance clearly in evidence on the listener side of the radio. In programming (as in political campaigns, retail, et al) contrast is everything. When the contrast becomes palpable, the empathy driving it visceral, then the contrast becomes a powerful force of nature. This is one of the elements at work behind the scenes at every great music radio station.

Brian cited a perfect example. Gym Class Heroes. Their tune "Cupid's Chokehold" does not enjoy the advantages of being "worked." It's a priority to no one but Brian because...Brian's listeners love it. Cupid's Chokehold is one of those tunes...nobody loves it but the listeners and their advocate, one very bright programmer who does business on the listener side of the radio.

Programming a music station? What is your new music rule set? What is your solution set for staying slightly ahead of your audience? How exactly are you creating contrast? If you will allow use of a military metaphor here please let me invoke the words of Thomas M.P. Barnett and suggest that what is needed now is "less Clausewitz, more Sun Tzu." This is precisely the approach that Brian has put into play to wonderful positive result.

My thanks to Brian for introducing me to Elsa's and to Gym Class Heroes and for his spot-on refresher on "listening." His radio station, 103.7 KISS FM, sounds great and they're now streaming so check them out.

Bonus: What really matters most? Scobleizer says...

I’ll tell you what executives from big companies (like Kraft, Procter and Gamble, GM, and others) who were at MSN’s OWN ADVERTISING CONFERENCE told me. An influencer is worth THOUSANDS of times more than a non-influencer (influencer is someone who tells other people stuff, which is why blogging is getting so much advertising attention lately). That’s why Google is charging more per click than MSN is (Google has more influential users).

Bravo Robert! Read his entire post here

Tony Malara has passed, a great loss. Knowing him from his days with CBS Tony had a special charm and grace, an ability to light up any room. Tony was a gentleman, he worked to help others and served as the voluble, implacable, affable and gregarious host of rituals for the Broadcasters' Foundation. His upstate NY swagger tempered by years in the A-list orbits of the city, Tony made things happen with an alacrity, brio and warmth all his very own. Beloved broadcaster, husband, father and grandfather. At this past spring's NAB Tony presided over the Broadcast Pioneer's breakfast, as usual, he left us laughing, feeling good, wanting more. He will be missed.

The Katie Couric crew is doing dry runs for the new 6:30 show and they're using an opening with vo by Walter Cronkite. Sept 5 is the debut, we'll have to wait to see if Walter's work makes the final.