That Mo Fo Brandmeier

When I was the PD of Nine FM we had a morning show issue.  We had to get rid of a morning show that didn’t fit the direction we were taking the station in but my GM wouldn’t allow me to cut bait until we had a solution.

Serving Chicagoland from the suburbs, we had the hurdle of being suburban stations which were held to Chicago standards.

I pitched an idea I thought would work brilliantly, especially since our variety format was geared toward gold pop-rock hits from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s.

I told Harvey Wells (the GM) I wanted to reach out to Jonathon Brandmeier’s “people”.  He laughed.  He didn’t laugh because Johnny was a bad idea, but because he and I both knew we didn’t have $2million a year to pay Johnny B.

At the time, Brandmeier was on the air in LA and just doing ok.  In fact as I continued to pester Harvey (I don’t give up easily) things changed and Brandmeier was off in LA and rumors were swirling about his return to Chicago to be near family.  I argued Brandmeier would be back.  If LA didn’t work, Chicago was going to work AND I’ve long felt that the rise of Eric & Kathy in mornings was directly related to Johnny B’s absence in morning drive in Chicago during E&K’s rise.

None of that mattered.  I didn’t want Brandmeier to do a live morning show.  I wanted his “best of” shows.  I wanted to play his best of shows in between the Cars songs and other pop-rock 70s & 80s songs we focused on.  These were the songs that were popular when Johnny was at his height.  I wanted to hire a team of interns and producers to cut up these “Bits of Brandmeier” so we could fit them in between songs in morning drive and eventually afternoon drive.

The Portable People Meters were on their way and I believed (and I still do) that stations with star talent should build their stations around those stars.  Music stations have nothing unique.  Anyone can play Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Greenday, and EVERYONE did.  Top 40, Hot AC, Modern Rock, Rock, AAA, Alternative, AC and Variety WERE ALL PLAYING THE SONG.  The only formats that weren’t were Urban or Country!

So my plan was to convince Brandmeier’s “people” to license his “best of” shows to 9 FM so we could boast BRANDMEIER MORNINGS.  Then when the PPMs came I would also run BRANDMEIER in Afternoons.  Needless to say, Harvey didn’t buy into it.  While a smart radio station in Chicago did bring Brandmeier back….they failed to build a station around him and the audience he brings.

The result was, The Loop didn’t fit Brandmeier, and Brandmeier didn’t fit The Loop.  You would think the folks at Emmis would have know this since they watched this same movie play out with Mancow.  Your morning star has to be the star of the station, not just the star of mornings.

This all centers around my theory that if TV Land played re-runs of Johnny Carson’s tonight show opposite Leno and Letterman, TV Land would show huge numbers.  Upon further reflection though I’ve changed my tune and I believe Carson would have to air earlier on TV Land.

So if there was one PD willing to run the “best of” a top tier morning show that once was….is there one more?  Perhaps not.

The bigger question is:  Steve Dahl, Mancow Muller, Kevin Matthews, Danny Bonduce, Wendy & Bill, Eddie & Jobo, Drex, Eric & Kathy;  Where is your 24/7 stream of your “best of” shows?  Where is your flashback podcast?  I’d listen to commercials on a podcast to hear Steve & Garry from the 80s.

Heck, I’d even pay $5.95 a month.  I bet others would too.

P.S.  We ended up hiring Steve Fisher and pairing him up with Joey Fortman for mornings and they worked very well together.

10 Tips for NTR Radio Success

Radio: 10 Tips for Interactive & NTR Success in 2009

Interactive isn’t about technology. Some people think better interactive is providing the advertiser with a platform that incorporates the web even though the audience isn’t interested in the content. Podcasting little league games comes to mind. No one wants to listen to podcasts of little league games, so why would someone want to sponsor that? Great interactive and NTR should be about connecting the audience and advertisers in new ways that create win/wins for all parties involved, including the conduit (radio). It doesn’t have to cost a mint, or confuse everyone. It just needs to work.

Here are 10 things you can do to make your Interactive & NTR Initiatives more profitable and relevant to your audience in 2009:

  1. Drop your current bandwidth provider. Save $200/month or more per station. If you have more than 10 stations, think of the savings per year. If you have 20 stations…that’s $48,000 a YEAR!!!!
  2. Sign up for a free UStream, justintv or StickAM account and get UNLIMITED audio bandwidth with video bandwidth FREE. A funny thing happens when video is added to your audio….the audience gets bigger!
  3. Hook up a webcam at a point of interest for your audience and include it in your stream. You can buy a camera for less than $100. Here’s a hint, do not put the camera in your studio unless you have something truly of interest for your audience. If you don’t (and most stations truly do not), see if you can get camera placement at a neighborhood hotspot or common traffic spot. At less than $100 a camera, you can get more than one and provide video information as well as your audio.
  4. Stream your regular station on 1 feed but entice listeners to watch your video and listen to new versions of your station. Create these side channels without an HD signal…and with internet listening and viewing in mind. PCs are cheap (Under $500)….and you can buy SAM Broadcaster software for under $500 to run your songs, audio entertainment, and spots.
  5. Don’t waste time, creativity and energy devising ways to exchange analog dollars for digital dimes. Make the web sales upsells to regular packages at the station. 10% to be on the main stream channel, and $250 a month to be on all additional streams combined. Make it simple for sales and their support team to succeed. Use TargetSpot or Affiliate services to fill the rest of the avails.
  6. Be selective in the clients you choose to do business with. I know…”you can’t be choosy because you have budgets”…but you need to be. You need success stories. You need clients that can benefit from radio. Look at the top 10 national radio advertisers for 2008. Cross off the one that completely flopped, which is the HD Alliance. What you have left is: #1 Geico, Home Depot, Macy’s, AT&T, Verizon, McDonalds and John Commuta’s Bankruptcy Info Tapes. What do they all have in common? They’re average things for average people and/or direct response oriented. Geico and Commuta are direct response. Radio sales people should only accept business from clients who sell regular things for regular people. Those are the clients that have the best chance to return month after month. These clients also fall under basic life needs: food, clothing, shelter, finance….things people must have to survive in good economic times and bad.
  7. Get every member of your sales staff and airstaff a weblog and show them how they can turn it into profits and exposure. Blogs are free. How can anyone expect your sales rep with a bad necktie to represent himself as a marketing expert if he has no clue how to market himself and the radio station? How can he speak to the client about CPM, Adwords, SEO, CPC and every other buzz word if he doesn’t know how they work? He can’t. Now if he’s blogging about the successful advertising campaigns he’s building for the Organic Coffee Company in town and showing examples and posting audio of the spots, video of the breakfast broadcasts, and pictures of smiling customers….business owners will catch on. They might even call the station or post a comment on his blog asking how they can get in on the action! Cat blogs (your boring diary) are not what the staff should be engaging in. The airstaff needs to write about the audience’s interests, the sales reps need to write about the client’s interests, and the promotions/public service person should be blogging about what the audience/community/clients care about. That’s the way to grow the stations digital foot print and that’s path to revenue success.
  8. If you have a cluster in Anytown, USA build a social network for your town. Don’t have that sort of IT Muscle? No problem. Go to and get one for free. It works just like Facebook or MySpace except you can customize Ning for your needs. Make it look the way you want. If you have 3 stations or more and your staff can work on the blogs and content together, you can also pool the collective cume of multiple stations into one social network! Imagine the power of mobilizing this community! Brittany Spears has a Ning Network. T. Boone Pickens has one too. So should you. When you have audio, video, interactive, and community news….you’re not just a radio station anymore. You are the community.
  9. Use texting to extend TSL and grow revenue. Place produced teases at the beginning of each commercial break with a trivia, music, community, or current events question: “Do you know which band boasts the bragging rights to White Out, text the answer to 99229 and you could win a pair of tickets to see Slumdog Millionaire at the Mark 6 Theatre…the answer’s coming up in 4 minutes on Oldies 104.7. Play the spots then play: “If you guessed the Monkeys…..HEY HEY you’re right! Mike Nesmith’s mom invented White Out….blah blah blah…now text Monkeys to 99229 for your Mark 6 movie tickets from Oldies 104.7!” The alternative is allowing jocks to give a laundry list of upcoming bands and telegraph a commercial break. I’d rather increase chances for extended listening, grow the SMS database, and make some money. After 1 week, 1 texter wins tickets and all the others get 10% their next movie ticket pruchase or free popcorn when they show their text to the theatre. Radio works if we work it. Don’t have enough production help? Have your jocks do it live or in voicetracks.
  10. Use texting to administer community information that is better left off the air. During the school closing season it’s a great community service to keep people updated on school closings, but reading off the list of schools on the air doesn’t help the listener, the sponsor or the station. Use your SMS powers to sign up parents for your SMS School Closing Updates. They don’t have to call anyone, and they don’t have to go online. They simply need to check their cell phone where a message stating classes at their school is closed appears. Now an enterprising radio station might even sell that feature ahead of time to the mall for instance or to a pizza place. The message would present the school closing info and offer 10% off of pizza that day knowing that parents would need to feed their kids lunch while home from school on a cold day. The possibilities are endless with the right tools and some creative thinking. The key is to remember that this opt in list is only for school closings. You don’t want to be the radio station that cried wolf. By the way, there’s even a way to send SMS blasts for less than $100 a month…

I know….Twitter wasn’t in there…neither was facebook or linked in…..but I think is enough for now. Feel free to add yours.