Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pride in Product: the sequel - Prophet and Loss

The following review is courtesy of one of Cleveland radio’s best known and most successful air personalities:

"The cost-cutting at CC certainly played out on the air yesterday. In the noon hour WMJI was playing Song Sung Blue by Neil Diamond. It faded out an after about 30 seconds, they played a jingle and nothing. Finally the SAME song comes back on. I had to leave my car for five minutes....came back and the song was STILL tracking. It took about 20 min. to get things back to normal. While that was going on, I switched over to MIX and there was also dead air.”
Spare me the excuses on competition from the Internet and satellite radio, iPods or anything else the NAB's putting the blame on. Here's the only fact you need to know. Radio done this way is killing itself with friendly fire.

You’ve most likely read – or at least heard about the alleged Clear Channel programming memo that’s been circulating around for the last couple of days. I'm told it's a legit memo. It certainly reads like one that would come from those visionary souls.

Judge for yourself and enjoy.

“What seems to have finally made its way to our market has been in place for some time in other large/major markets. I've streamed & heard the changes so far in LA, NY, CHICAGO, PORTLAND, PHOENIX, DALLAS & PHILLY. 8 sec talk breaks inside a sweep (no beds ever), 20 maximum into breaks. ALL breaks MUST have content that is MUSICALLY related. Also, it is no longer necessary to BEGIN and/or END a break with call letters. All the 'bragging' monikers i.e. #1 hit music station....GONE. We don't brag anymore.

“Absolutely NO HYPE what so ever. No appointment times, ever...anymore. If you have tickets, you just give them away with NO previous mention at all. Also, periodically there will be NO GIVEAWAYS outside of AM Drive on the entire station to let it 'breathe'. Absolutely no jock TOPICS or ? of the day crap. Of course, this is station sensitive and Programmers are expected to tailor and customize new implementations for each station and format. EVERYTHING THERE IS A FACT.

“Now here's my opinion. After soaking it up for awhile, these stations DO sound cleaner and clutter free. The crosstown is playing hype promos that are :48 in length...we're 40% through our stopset already. Quicker imaging (when used, if not a dry, dead segue) transitioning to the next creates a non hype environment for the listener. Any jock that seriously thinks its about them, and station second will be gone within a week...If your an old dog and can't learn these new tricks, you SERIOUSLY better start looking. But what about PERSONALITY you ask? A.) Your AM Drive show IS your station's personality. B.) Your jock page on the website, do your personality there. Don't know web design? Get with it. That's where radio is headed.

“The major purpose of this new programming is to cater to the desires of the normal, non P1 listener. Request line callers, friends & family that pat you on the back, contest participants, interactive bit groupies...are only 8% of our TOTAL audience. Apparantely, the other 92% could care less and want ONE and ONLY ONE thing from the station. MUSIC. If I can remember correctly, this perceptual study was done over a period of 2 years, demo 18-34P, with a sample size of 10,000 people. The number complaint among the study? "The DJ guy never says the name of the song when its over." Hence, BACKSELLING now outranks frontselling. Yes, RULE #1 that we were taught as jocks for YEARS is now thrown out the window. Some markets have it worse than other depending on how corporate they are.”

Reading between the lines....this memo, if real, tells me that they’re suffering from an acute case of connectile dysfunction with realism. Then again, searching for logic at Clear Channel is as easy as finding a burger at a vegan convention.

Here’s my translation:

Clear Channel realizes that their Prophet systems work most efficiently when fewer and briefer elements are input. The less garbage in, the less garbage out.

Their engineers are spread so thin that repairs are limited to temporary cosmetic bandages. Maintenance? That word was expunged from the official Clear Channel dictionary years ago and the lack of it explains why most of those Prophets are malfunctioning.

The new programming regulations must be their latest effort at putting a stop to the continual blunders and bloopers that repeatedly occur during voice-tracked hours. They include wrong call letters, dated giveaways (when they run in the wrong hour, day, or in one case – week!), botched spot breaks and dead air. Am I leaving anything out?

How are all those discrep reports logged when something goes amiss while the lone board op is dealing with crisis in another studio? Do the missed, out-of-date, or bungled spots discrep themselves? Inquiring clients want to know.

Based on this memo, I predict Clear Channel will....

...boost the number of voice-tracked hours on most stations. Who needs personality? Who needs to payout benefits when you can hire button-pushers right out of broadcast school for an hourly wage.

...increase spot loads. Less is no more.

...reduce the number of voice-tracker announcers and increase the number of stations for those that remain.

...rerun breaks or full shows - another reason to remain non-topical.

...cut back on IT and web design.

...not renew most production content contracts.

...hack promotion and marketing. Fewer giveaways, less follow-through. The stink of human in those departments can be eliminated.

…do another round of playlist tightening. Bring back the viewpoint that you’ll never get hurt by what you’re not playing.

And what did we learn?

The brain trust at Clear Channel is doing everything the opposite of what they should be doing to save their sorry-ass music stations.

If being out of touch with reality is a prerequisite for working at Clear Channel, this memo writer is in line to be its next national music format programmer. Then, again, maybe Clear Channel’s on to something by hiring programmers like the one that wrote this.

Evidence disappears when you destroy it.

One more thing. If this memo proves to be a hoax - I'll still stick with my predictions.


Johnny Morgan said...

Mr. Gorman,

Just happened across your blog, and thank God for it!

I look forward to what success, experience and common sense tells you is wrong with radio today, and how to fix it.


Scott carpenter said...

I don't know about the Prophet thing. That memo reminds me of dozens I've seen at radio stations when they begin to go downhill and the pds start to panic.

I got out of full-time radio years ago, I now v/t for kicks at my old alma mater CHUM, Toronto. I wanted to see if I could vt a show from home and make it sound live. It's amazing that we go against practically all accepted programming norms with this, i.e . 6000 titles, features, an "old style" on air approach, LOTS of personality and content. You should hear the positive comments I get, and some from top radio programming professionals too.

It's amazing isn't it? But it shouldn't surprise anyone. CC is headed for the dust heap of history with operational standards like those in the memo, and sooner or later real radio will re-emerge.

HearMeNow said...

They just don't get it...
Think of all the places you can get JUST MUSIC...XM, Sirius, IPods, CDs, Internet radio, ect.
Trust me on on FM is going to be rare, as rare as it is on AM now, in the not-too-distant future.
You cannot compete with someone's IPod. YOU CAN'T!
Look at the really successful AMD and PMD shows. Most are very talk heavy. Look at how many FM stations are going with a talk format! Doesn't Pitts-puke have three FM talkers already?!?!?
Go ahead and play your song-liner-song-liner-song-liner commercials song-liner-song, ect..
I'll put on people with PERSONALITY and kick your *** all day. Maybe not this very moment, but it's not too far off!

HearMeNow said...

I need to correct myself. Pittspuke does not have three fm talk stations...don't know who I'm thinking of...but I do think they recently 104.7 to all talk.

John P. said...

Pittsburgh has two talkers--104.7 is a CC station, and 93.7 is a CBS station.

Anonymous said...

Voice tracking as an alternative is okay but to do daily shifts that are strictly voice tracking leaves me cold.