Thinking like an asset
My opinion on this subject isn’t going to make me real popular with those people that occupy the position of program director or aspire to be a PD. I hope I can change your mind with these thoughts since your future depends on it. You see, if station expenses exceed revenue, you do not have a job. Most accountants view your position as a liability and not an asset. A skilled radio executive knows how to make you an asset; keeping you from getting a pink slip. Fair enough?
From my stand point, most PD’s need to be replaced; here comes the hate mail. Send it on…but please read. Consider: What’s the difference between the music I hear playing on your radio station and the music I hear playing on my iPod? Hopefully nothing; it’s actually a good thing because if your play list matches mine, then we have something in common regarding music interests. And that’s where it ends for most radio stations and why many are losing listeners to iPods.
Let me stop here and re-examine something I’ve already mentioned: “A skilled radio executive knows how to make you (PD, morning team, sports, news, traffic, etc…) an asset”. The problem is that most radio stations are not ran by “Skilled Radio Executives”. Yep! Most radio stations are ran by people with accounting, finance or “other” asset management type of backgrounds. Sorry, but radio is one of those business models that is different; the product (music) is not the revenue producing asset in radio, radio revenue comes from the people in the station, starting with the leadership and following all the way to the person that answers the phones. Here’s an example of how strongly I believe this. Recently my advice/services were being considered by a radio station. The owner was completely focused on the elements of the radio station that have little to do with generating revenue; offices, studios, formats and the current staff. I told him point blank “Sir, I could care less what your studios look like or the format you run and where you are located and how plush the offices are. My concern is that you are dipping into your line of credit to pay monthly operating costs. That’s not the first sign of a failing radio station; it’s one of the final ones. Where you are, who you employ and how it all looks is irrelevant to me and will be irrelevant to you and everyone else around soon if you don’t change. I change outcomes.”
If you dig in like this owner with a no change attitude, you’ll soon be dipping into your savings because you are going to get fired due to a lack of revenue. All the experts agree that more and more of your listeners, are moving away from radio and headed to iPods, Pandora, etc…You don’t have to be an expert in fact, just observe all the technology. Don’t embrace it, change your mind set. Newspapers didn’t change and they are the telling future of radio.
So how do you change? First, fire your way of thinking that people listen for the music. Technology has changed that…I will bet ANY program director that little ol me has a larger digital music library on hard drive than their radio station does and if I don’t, I know exactly how and where to get the song I want! We all have access to basically EVERY song that was EVER recorded; in fact I’ll make that more profound…I can get any song ever recorded in ANY language! That ought to make your station feel small and that’s what I’m aiming for. If all your station does is play songs and commercials, you are not that important anymore…sorry and you’ll soon be tapping your line of credit to pay your bills.
How? More examples are coming. I’ll call out a station in Kansas City that has what I’m talking about down to a science. The station is KQRC, 98.9 The Rock. (Disclaimer, I have never been associated with this station in any way other than as a listener). It’s the best programmed radio station I’ve listened to and the music is exceptionally secondary. This station is a revenue generating asset; their people, their promotions, their commercials, their philanthropic giving have all become “necessities” to the life of the person listening. The music simply represents an initial attraction just like with all relationships. Some of us like blonde hair, others brown or red; tall, short, big, little and so on…these guys could run the tag line: “98.9 The Rock, A Listener Involvement Station”. This station understands the listeners because they are the listeners. They (the staff) have transferred their common interests to the listeners’ common interests in everything they do. Want proof…they draw 50,000 + to their very own 1 day Rock Concert Event. Wrap your mind around that! I know college football programs that can’t sell 50,000 tickets on any given Saturday in Texas, heck there are a lot of concerts that do not draw anywhere close to 50,000 spectators! Here’s how they do it…they touch the lives of every single listener in everything they do. The music is the bait that draws a specific listener to the dial, the “on-air-ness” of their ways. These guys have a Harley give-a-way promotion nearly every quarter…often along with a muscle car. They do live broadcasts from Sturgis, South Dakota during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Mandatory Metallica, a daily segment called “shut up and rock”, Babe of the Day, and more. I’m going off of memory here so there are many, many more things these guys do on a daily basis, AND it’s all amplified with their philanthropy.
My advice, stop being a programming director and become a Station Relationship Director. The music you play is secondary. Make it so that I can’t get the information your station provides anywhere else, then you’ll be an asset.
Call me Phil @ (913) 221-2543