"What magic there is in a girl's smile. It is the raisin which, dropped in the yeast of male complacency, induces fermentation." P.G. Wodehouse
"Nothing succeeds like reputation." John Huston
"Television contracts the imagination and radio expands it." Terry Wogan
Today's image: Cool Hand Luke by NontrivialMatt. Great shot. Thank you for sharing.
Inside baseball: Radio sports ace Les Grobstein delivered a rant yesterday during The Big 89 Rewind on WLS. Les wondered why sports radio stations in Chicago were not offering fans anything worth listening to at night or overnight (pbp excepted). His suggestion being Chicago was not some backwater and fans deserved better than dated (i.e., delayed) syndicated programming. Les made a valid point. He said out loud what fans must be thinking, he was speaking as an advocate for the listener. Kudos, Les.
The quick, easy and wrong answer would accuse operators of being cheap, too cheap for their own good some would say. My sense is the more honest, pragmatic answer would involve sales making this an issue of risk management. 7pm - 5am inventory is perhaps the most undervalued asset in radio. The problems related to a lack of demand are exacerbated by management's benign neglect. One could make the case that the majority of stations (of every format) have decided that this 41% of their daily inventory is just not worth the effort, not worth the investment in programming nor the attention and focus of sellers. This serves as an excellent exhibit in self-fulfilling prophecy.
Operators are not willing to invest in product because they are convinced demand will not be there no matter the audience developed. Being #1 at night too often viewed as a Pyrrhic victory - "So what, we can't sell it!" This is the same logic frequently used in walking away from renewal of sports rights - "We can no longer make the math work." While it may indeed be easier to save a dollar than to bring a dollar in, that's no way to build or grow a business. This is another bad habit developed over the years become accepted practice. As Samuel Johnson reminded "The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken."
The dirty little secret here is nobody likes live sports programming at night or overnight but the listeners. They never got the memo giving them the heads up that all the good stuff happens between 5a and 7p. The cost-benefit calculus ensures management remains averse to any 7pm - 5am investment. The elephant in this room is sales. We have a crisis of confidence when it comes to betting on 7pm - 5am programs because the conventional wisdom tells us that even if we do develop a strong following we won't be able to monetize it sufficiently. The result is a kind of prior restraint with respect to programming innovation and audience development. Moreover, a market for barter programming is created and sustained. My thought is this is the crucible of Les' finding, that time and place devoid of acceptable options. Not to disparage network or syndi offerings, there's an abundance of good properties out there. It seems to me, at the core of this argument, we're talking the quality of local execution.
Clearly, the solution set involves creating demand and teaching sellers how to be much more effective. Imagine a day as being one hour, would you throw away almost 25 minutes of that hour? 7pm - 5am, nothing but upside. No matter your format, give it a go. Make something happen. Why continue pushing to make 100% of your number depending on only some amount close to 59% of your inventory. You can and should be using it all. Forget getting better. Start getting different. Change the denominator. The words of Hunter S. Thompson come to mind "Buy the ticket, take the ride."
Here's the biggest single competitive advantage - should you get serious and try this - it's all yours, no one is likely to follow. 41% of radio's daily inventory seems a terrible thing to waste. Can I get a witness?
LATER: Sales rock star Sheila O'Connor and others weigh in via comments. Thank you very much.
Four criteria: Gap CEO Glenn Murphy suggests four criteria that justify marketing spending; The brands must have...
- Good product
- Well-run retail environments
- "Imaginative, creative" message for the target consumer
- Be able to answer the questions: "Is the consumer ready to respond to the marketing? What is the psyche of the consumer? How are they feeling at that moment?"
More, thanks to Natalie Zmuda writing TV Ads 'a Waste of Money' for Back-in-Black Gap, via AdAge.
Same cool night feed, different damn channel: Web 2.o impresario Rob Barnett has moved the flag, his blog is now here. Please make a note of it.
Congrats & cheers: Rob Curley joins the Las Vegas Sun. Les Moonves & CBS for agreeing to join the 4A/ANA task force on ad integration fees. Eddie McLaughlin and Bob Bruno on their induction into the New York Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. Good to see NYBA is also honoring the great Roger King.