Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"If you do what you've always done, you get what you've always gotten." Johnny Martin

"I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward." Thomas A. Edison

"Creating without claiming, Doing without taking credit, Guiding without interfering, This is primal virtue." Lau-tzu

Formats done right win. The play's the thing
: The summer books are rolling out for radio. Kudos to the Z100 gang in the city. #1 12+, #1 18-34 and #2 25-54. Proof positive there is nothing wrong with the format. It's alive and well when done right. Vinnie & crew should be getting more credit, the little owner that could is getting it done - WBLS puts up a #1 25-54 (#3 AMD and #1 PMD). Same story with "oldies" - done right it's a winner. One year ago KRTH posted a 2.6, now, programming ace Jhani Kaye delivers a 3.6. Brian Thomas' WCBS-FM put up a 2.2 one year ago with Jack, now, he delivers a 3.7 with a solid CBS-FM reinvention.

The wayback machine: The last time Z100 posted #1 12+ was 1989. The last time WLTW was not #1 12+ was 2001.

In all of art, it's the singer not the song: The words of PJ are relevant here. It's not the format (song), it's the singer (the execution). Please allow me to disabuse you of another clearly stupid notion. Formats do not get stations into trouble, management get formats (and stations) into trouble. Cohort replacement is a very important variable. As Sheila O'Connor once said to me decades ago..."In 2010 Born To Run by Bruce will be elevator music." The notion that one could put on a format and then freeze dry the safe list, the approach, the strategy and tactics was, in point of fact, never valid. Yes, it could and did produce results for years. It is less than wise to expect the same results to continue forever. As Dwight Case said "Content is not programming." The winners mentioned in this post are programming their stations in real time. They are working in a living performance art. One of the oldest and last "live" performance arts. They understand. It's about going to work every single day totally obsessed with one goal - to commit great radio. All that's important is what comes out of the speakers, what's on the screens. Everything else is a footnote. Let me also remind you - as has been written here for some years now - it's not about radio, it's about audio. Period. Paragraph. The secret to success remains must create proprietary intangibles (innovation!).

Ask the one who knows they know: The rule of thumb for outdoor is "No more than seven words and two things to look at, clear reads and recall in 1.5 second exposures at 750 feet." That good counsel is the result of decades of research. Here's a free trade secret for those with the courage to act. Involved in an out of home campaign. In addition to all of the cool agency creative that played great in the conference room we added one other creative. The one we asked the art director of the outdoor company to create using two goals: 1) people will see it 2) people will remember it. The art director delivered a creative the station people, without exception, hated. The colors were all wrong, the design, the look totally sucked, they said. Not our image, they said. In the focus groups the art director's design won by a huge landslide. The lesson here is simple. The guy who does hundreds, maybe thousands, of outdoor executions a year knows what works and what does not. Ask her to assist. P.S. - the client green lighted (not with the research winner) the #2 focus group choice. The agency creative that played "ok"(#3) in the conference room won the day. They passed on the creative only the target voted best of show. The takeaway - compromise is the enemy of greatness. Ask the right people for help. Refuse to settle. Take the leap, go for greatness.

Congrats & cheers: Dave Van Dyke
joins ABC Radio Networks as VP, Affiliate Relations.