Thursday, December 07, 2006

"It's about working with a great staff, in a great market, for a great company, with a great franchise. The great ones eventually figure it out." Fred Jacobs

Fred Jacobs and his Jacobs Media gang do good work and, as it happens, do a good blog as well. Yesterday Fred posted about the important role environment plays in the success of a media property. Fred cited Google trend data for Howard Stern and Opie & Anthony in making his case going on to use another illustration - the conditions of success related to pro athletes..."Sometimes athletes - and DJs - don't realize the difference that a new environment can make - good or bad. In market after market, we see jocks get greedy, leave a great station and killer situation for something less wonderful. And most of the time, their results pale in comparison. And conversely, we see personalities move to a great station and finally thrive - after years of mediocrity. That combination of player, coach and team can make all the difference in the world." Bravo Fred! Well said. Read Fred's entire post here

My sense is "casting" plays a critical role in the success of a show and of a station. The art of casting can be complex, a calculus of multidimensional functions including not only "place" but as well those most mercurial of variables - timing and luck. Some talent fail to "travel" well. Robert W. Morgan, one of the great performers of Top 40 radio, famously failed in Chicago. A great player in the wrong situation. Steve Dahl continues to be very successful in Chicago and a significant anomaly when one understands his is the only show attracting a competitive audience on an otherwise ratings-dead station. In Steve's case he is the player coach and his co-stars and support staff the team. A great player making the best of a situation on his own, against all odds. Rick Dees was WHBQ, a household name in Memphis, and he failed in his first LA run at KHJ. Another great player in the wrong situation. Fred's suggestion that the combination of player, coach and team is effective while certainly true is, in fact, a most rare circumstance. Casting a show, casting a station and providing the ongoing leadership (and positive environment) needed for creative people to do their best work remain fundamental but often elusive collective keys to success. It is never as easy as it looks and success can sometimes happen as a result of compounded failure, a fine example is the relentless hard work of Drew Horowitz and Barry James that led them to creating the perfect morning show for WTMX; Eric and Kathy are today the Chicago morning show but it was a long hard road and years of failed shows before Drew and Barry scored big. A failure to act can also produce unexpected success - not deciding is, in reality, a decision with consequences (e.g., Wally Phillips placed as a temp in morning drive until management could find a qualified performer, lucky for all involved that they failed to find a replacement).

Not only a good idea, a truly great idea: Catch people doing something right! Tom Webster and the Edison Media Research folks are in the hunt, a talent search for "30 UNDER 30", the thirty best young talents in radio under 30 years of age. Read all about it and get involved with your nominations here. Congrats, kudos and bravo to Tom and team Edison.


Anonymous said...

David, excellent post. I do recall the many failed morning shows that Drew and BJ had to suffer through before they finally hit it out of the park. Did you hear that Drew has been promoted to EVP of Bonneville? Rock on. Cheers. Susan