Monday, June 19, 2017

Episode #033:

In Search of Radio Excellence
Jeff McCarthy, VPP/Midwest Communications

Jeff McCarthy, VPP
Midwest Communications
You may not see Jeff McCarthy hoarding headlines, mainly because he’s been too busy… quietly and consistently helping build Midwest Communications into one of America’s fastest growing, privately held radio powerhouses.  

For over 30 years, he’s been Vice President of Programming for a company that Wisconsin Radio Hall of Famer and Rockwell Award recipient Duke Wright started as an AM/FM combo in Wausau, Wisconsin, then added another 100,000 watt FM and leading AM in Green Bay.  Now the company has over 70 stations in 7 states, with recent acquisitions in Nashville, Evansville and Michigan, to name a few. Impressively, Jeff has managed to raise his family in the same town all those years.

One key to all his successes: EXCELLENCE.  In this episode, he reveals some of the approaches, tips and techniques that helps him achieve, maintain, and increase standards an ever-growing group of quality stations. 

As a veteran broadcaster, market dominating PD, and now VP overseeing product for one of America’s fastest growing groups, Jeff shares advice for ANYONE wanting to advance in the industry today?

He reveals the traits he looks for in a prospective air talent or PD, and explains what makes one candidate stand out over another.  He also has JOB SURVIVAL TIPS for people who
wants to make themselves INDISPENSABLE and prepare to move up through the ranks at a good company like Midwest Communications.

by David Martin


What’s in a name? That is the key issue at the heart of any discussion of brand. It also happens to be the title of an influential book from the last century by the brilliant advertising scholar, John Philip Jones.

My thought is it’s possible and practical to reduce the concept of brand to the unvarnished answers for a couple of urgently important questions. What’s in your name? What do you stand for?

Here’s a pragmatic exercise which will help you to prepare for those two questions.

Provide the following questionnaire to every performer. Leave spaces for their written response. Let them know their answers will be kept confidential. Ask them to be honest and share their true feelings. Give them three days to think about it and return it completed.

What’s unique about your show (station) compared to all of the other shows (stations) in our market?
Why do people listen to your show (station)?
When people tune in to your show (station) what do they expect to hear?
How would one of your listeners describe your show (station) to a friend?

Provide another questionnaire to every associate not on the air adjusting the questions as follows and leaving spaces for written response. Provide the same instructions as above. Pro tip: we’ve used other versions of this questionnaire in LAB sessions and via listener email polls for decades and gained valuable insights.

What’s unique about NAME OF TALENT compared to all of the other talent in our market?
What’s special about CALL LETTERS compared to all the other stations in our market?
Why do people listen to CALL LETTERS?
When people tune in to CALL LETTERS what do they expect to hear?
How would your friends describe CALL LETTERS?

This isn’t a scientifically valid poll and there are no right or wrong responses however you should look for patterns. Remember to look for what’s not there. Anything missing?

Let me suggest your participants are now ready for an all hands session with one purpose – an open discussion of those two urgently important questions. What’s in our name? What do we stand for?

Developing and building a brand involves complex calculus rather than simple arithmetic. The fundamental moving parts include attitudes, perceptions, values and feelings. Getting everyone in your organization on the same page is always a smart place to start. Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Episode #032:
Tips from a Top 10 Market
Tony Lorino, PD
Star 94.1/Atlanta

Tony Lorino
PD, Star 94.1/Atlanta
Tony Lorino is proof that even in radio, good people CAN finish first!

After great runs at numerous large and major markets, including Milwaukee, Kansas City and Atlanta, Tony offers thoughts on making ANY station great, and shares insights for ANY broadcaster relocating to a new locale?

Tony has worked with some great people over the years (including former Brandwidth guest Brian Kelly) and shares some of their best advice. He also reveals things some ‘not-so-good’ bosses have taught him to avoid!

Perhaps most importantly, he lets you know EXACTLY how to be on the ‘short list’ for the next big gig.

Your Act 

Every performer develops a reputation. Performers become known for attributes, intentionally or not, in the minds of audiences, co-workers and employers. 

What is your act? The most successful performers are able to answer this important question with clarity. Invariably, the stars among performers are those who resolve what they stand for. They’re relentless in this pursuit using focus, persistence, creativity and optimism to earn their reputation. 

Aware their act is a work in progress star performers seek and use feedback to course correct. They understand a skill set is dynamic and are dedicated to continuous improvement. They are also open to developing new skills and abandoning others as needed. 

On the day job we recently assisted a client in their search for a new morning show co-host. The performer hired set herself apart in a number of ways. First, she could clearly articulate the value of her act, the specific attributes she would bring to the job. She was able to say here is what I will bring to the show on-air, here is what I will bring to the cluster off-air, and here is what I’ll need to make those things happen. Perhaps most impressive of all – she created a video which addressed those three topics including testimonials from listeners, colleagues and two former managers. 

If your listeners, co-workers, and managers were asked to describe you in three words what would they say? Finally, what’s likely to be the most frequent response should those same people also be asked “What does s/he stand for?” 

Monday, June 5, 2017

#031: Make Mine Medium!

Chris Murphy
OM, Midwest Family Media, Springfield, IL

Chris Murphy
OM, Midwest Family/Springfield, IL

Don’t let his wicked sense of humor fool you. CHRIS MURPHY is as serious about creating winning radio -- as he is in making radio fun. And he’s in a medium market after winning in the majors, for quality of life and other reasons he shares.

Growing up in a “Radio Family”, Chris stayed in the business anyway. After on-air with a station roster that includes powerhouses like Magic 98 in Madison, WI, and KS-95/KSTP in the Twin Cities, Chris brings a major market attitude, while making a home ─ and career ─ in the medium market of Springfield, IL.

There he has served as morning host on a music station, anchor and host for a News/Talk station, Operations Manager for the entire cluster, and as this is being published an announcement is being prepared for his latest promotion!

Chris shares some of the skills required to move up the ranks at a good company, as well as some surprises he’s had along the way. He also shares some great tips for prioritizing duties when juggling a lot of different functions.

Show Prep #2

Show prep for performers.

Begin your prep for tomorrow’s show at the end of today’s show. What did you have planned for today’s show that didn’t make it to air? Will it still be relevant tomorrow?

Put it down on tomorrow’s prep sheet. Any new ideas come up during today’s show? Pro tip: put everything in writing. Use a one-page prep sheet to stay organized and focused.

When you’re not on stage (i.e., on the air) you need to be alert and aware of the world around you. Pay attention. Notice what’s happening. Put yourself into the mindset of your target audience. Stay open to suggestions and ideas. Make notes on your prep sheet.

Be smart about social media. Use it to stay in touch and tuned into what your audience is talking about. When you’re not on stage, listening and watching are more important than engaging. Engagement is a good thing but choose your moments and don’t allow engagement to be your only use of social. Strive for a passive/active balance which leans passive. Note what seems to be shared and mentioned most often. What’s trending? How can you use this on your show?

Today’s high five. Day of show, develop a list of the top five things your audience is or will be talking about today. One of your roles as a performer is companion. You have the important job of keeping your audience in touch with the things they need to know in order to navigate successfully in their social orbit. Make your listeners “feel” they know what’s up.

Start each show with a plan. A basic road map of what you’re planning to do every set of every hour. Place your top five into sets across your show. When repeating one of your five make it fresh, that is, deliver the same message in a totally different way. Keep in mind people are always tuning out and tuning in every set.

Trade secret: collect cool people. There are a bunch of cool people in your audience. They may or may not text, email, message, or call you but they’re out there listening. The most successful performers are constantly in the hunt, looking for ways to connect with these cool people. They’re the leaders of your pack. Cultivate the cool kids and find ways to make them feel special, make them the stars of your show.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Episode #030:

Online Marketing Superstar

Online Marketing Rock Star
If your email list or digital strategy is still a "work in progress", THIS is the episode for YOU!

AMY PORTERFIELD is NOT broadcaster, but every smart media person can learn a LOT from her online marketing skills and approaches.

She authored one of those big yellow “Dummies” books all about Facebook and was named by Forbes as one of the Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers. Then, Amy spent over 6 years working with Peak Performance Coach, Tony Robbins, managing his content marketing team and major online campaigns.

Since the entire Brandwidth concept focuses on ways in which traditional media can and should be using ALL avenues of engagement, Amy shares lessons and observations from her mega-successes (…and some things she’s learned NOT to do!).

Take Action

To generate momentum, action-by-action is a more effective approach than step-by-step says Amy Porterfield. It’s wise counsel.

The most successful people I know share a few attributes no matter their profession. One of those traits is an bias for action. Until you take action, until you commit and squeeze the trigger, nothing happens. Too often there’s nothing going on but a lot of talk (ready, aim, ready, aim, ready, aim, aim, aim).

A careful study of the situation is important, developing and discussing options is essential however being decisive and taking action is what wins the day.

On the day job we use a simple framework.

What needs to be done?

How do we get it get done?

When do we take the action(s) required?

We’re blessed to work with some amazing people. It’s not unusual for us to see teams understanding what needs to be done and knowing how to do it, and somehow they’re failing to take action. I have been involved in some killer white board sessions after which…nothing happened.

This happens across all endeavors.

How many people know they need to lose weight and know how (diet & exercise) but fail to act?

Taking action is the powerful secret hiding in plain sight. It’s damn hard to do especially when the chances of failure are ever present. Never give up.

Gratuitous sports metaphor: Jordan and LBJ set scoring records because they also set records for scoring attempts.

Our counsel is learn how to fail faster to succeed sooner. Be bold. Take action!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Episode #029

Life After Radio...(sorta)
Bobby Rich

Bobby Rich is the epitome of “AWARD-WINNING BROADCASTER”,
and in this episode, you’ll hear why!

He's been elected to the Arizona Broadcasters Hall of Fame, named R&R AC Personality of the Year and honored locally as Best Of Tucson by The Weekly. His 94.9 Morning MIX named “Best Of The City” by Tucson Lifestyle magazine and "Best Local Radio Show" in Arizona Daily Star Readers Poll. Greater Tucson Leadership gave Bobby their "Community Leadership Award" and Tucson Advertising Federation chose him for the prestigious “Golden Mic Award". And his under his leadership,Mix 94-9 was named R&R’s Station of the Year.

Although Tucson has been home for over 25 years, Bobby is perhaps most highly regarded as the original creator of HOT AC, as PD of San Diego’s KFMB-FM/B-100. There he also herded the market-dominant and equally award-winning “Rich Brothers” morning show.

Proudly stating that radio was his first love, and will be his last love, he now is channeling that passion to his online station B100-dot-FM, "the station so bitchin’, it’s not even a dot-com, it's B100 dot-FM"!

He shares the ONE thing separating winning shows and stations from those that aren’t, and reveals secrets that have made ALL of his stations so successful. He also reveals his thoughts on where radio is headed next.

Show Prep #1

“The key is not the will to win, everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” Those words from legendary coach Bobby Knight are worth writing down, remembering and putting into daily practice.

A few show prep tips for programmers, the leaders that set the stage and tone for great performances.

Empathy is critical. Programmers must be able to understand their target audience, their talent, their boss and the competition.

Know what your target audience is talking, thinking, and concerned about. What’s captured their interest today? Establish systems to ensure your team gets this.

The great programmers agree, you need to support and encourage talent for them to win. To bring out their best, first show talent that you care. Do this by catching them doing something right and providing honest, positive feedback. Communicate with talent daily. Phone, email, text, one-on-one, the manner of contact is less important than the contact. Be responsive, show respect and appreciation.

Expectations need to be crystal clear. What do you expect to hear and see from your team? What are the standards? Are you certain they understand? Does everyone know what “par” is? That predetermined number of things that must happen in their air, social and digital work. Make it simple for team members to score themselves.

What’s the role of talent at your radio stations? You and your boss need to have a deep understanding of the part talent plays in your strategy. Lead with a “no surprises” philosophy. Keep your boss dialed-in to your plans and what’s happening on and off the air with each talent and team member.

What’s happening across the street? While your demo competitor(s) may not share your programming philosophy – they may even suck – it’s important you grasp what they are trying to do.

The single most important activity which deserves to be on your daily to-do list is listening and watching. Listen to your station, to your market, to your boss and especially to your talent. Watch what’s going on in social and digital. Listen, watch, reflect, decide, and take action.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Episode #028

Emmy Award Winner KEN LEVINE
Tips on Keeping the "SHOW" in Show Biz

Ken Levine holds the distinction of being the first (and perhaps ONLY) Emmy Award winner to be our guest.

He was a top on-air radio DJ using the air name "Beaver Cleaver" on some great heritage CHR stations in markets like San Diego and LA. With Ken's success, this moniker was later adopted by countless copycats.

Later, he moved to TV and Film, both as writer and director, advisor and director for top hits like M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frazier, Everybody Loves Raymond, the Simpsons, Dharma and Greg and many others. 

Then, he was able to fulfill a lifetime dream, doing play-by-play for Major League Baseball teams including the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres.  
He’s also written a number of laugh-out-loud boo

Just when we thought it was safe to go back to the radio, he returned to radio as co-host of KABC’s Dodger Talk radio ─ along with other Sports Talk shows.

Now, as an instructor at UCLA, Ken has a perspective on media today like few others ─ and hosts a hilarious new podcast, Hollywood and Levine

With Ken's wit and wisdom, you'll find this episode as entertaining as it is informative.

One-minute Martinizing

“To create suspense provide the audience with information,” so said the legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock. To illustrate, he often used this scenario. You show the audience a bomb, an explosive device, under a table. You then show them a couple seated at that table unaware of the bomb. Now the audience has information. They know the unknowing couple is in danger. What’s going to happen? Suspense is created.

The best Radio is performance art. In cases of live or real-time delivery, the challenge is to take advantage of the moment. It’s an opportunity to get the audience involved in the moment. To get the audience interested in what’s going on now and what’s going to happen next.

Steve Goldstein, the programming ace now a rising star in the podcasting space, has suggested a unique difference in podcasting and broadcasting from the listener point of view. In podcasting, or any on demand audio, tune in or listening happens from a beginning. Contrast this with broadcast which is linear and “joined in progress.” Steve’s suggestion is spot-on. Think about it.

Broadcasters need to be mindful of what’s happening on the listener side of the radio. You’re driving a bus, one which people are constantly getting on (and getting off). Give those on the bus reasons to stay on and make those getting on feel good about their choice. Give those getting off a reason to get on again. Provide the riders – your audience - with information which encourages interest, promotes engagement (continued listening).

The well-crafted tease is an excellent solution in promoting a critical element of great Radio - forward momentum. The best teases are arresting, they capture audience attention and interest. They involve the listener getting them to think “what’s going to happen next?”

Here’s the test. Would the tease get your attention? Would the tease keep you tuned in? “Coming up, Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran” would likely fail that test. Write teases from this frame of mind. You are taking the audience behind the scenes and giving them the inside on what’s coming to your stage next. Engage their imagination. Tease.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Episode #027:
The NEWS on Today's Mediascape
NBC Radio's Crys Quimby

Crys Quinby is the highly regarded broadcast journalist, News Director and PD, who is currently National Director of Programming for NBC Radio News and the 24/7 News Service. She has also served as anchor for such market leading brands as Fox News Radio, CNN and rne of America’s consistently top-rated and top-billing stations 1010 WINS in New York. Notably, she was Program Director at sister station WCBS Newsradio after a successful run in Los Angeles programming CBS owned KFWB and anchoring on KNX.

Now that she works with HUNDREDS of stations, Crys shares advice for anyone seeking to advance their career, or just starting out in the industry. She outlines the that TRAITS are most valuable to radio teams today. In a rare glimpse into the hiring decision-making process, she reveals what makes one stand out candidate stand out, when faced with two seemingly equally qualified candidates. 

Crys offers a unique perspective on the industry, and shares some RARE observations and offers 'thee ONE WORD' of advice for anyone wanting to advance within a good operation.

One-minute Martinizing:


What separates the great performers and market leading stations from the average? It’s a short list of attributes which the winners have mastered. Among them is creating a strong sense of place, an ability to relate, connecting with local needs, interests and sensibilities.

The most successful shows and stations fit their market, play an active role in their community, and come to be known as a trusted source of what’s happening. The most successful shows and stations become a habit, a part of their listener’s daily life. Listeners are taught to feel if they didn’t listen today they missed something and they’re not in touch.

Radio’s real-time delivery sets the stage for being in the moment – it’s an opportunity created fresh every hour. The key is to make the show/station sound like your market in the moment. The A students are masters of target listener vocabulary, they ensure local vernacular is always dominant.

The first step is being preoccupied with what your target is talking about and getting into the conversation. Shows and stations at the top of their game lead the conversation, their targets are talking about them (what’s on the show/station).

Let me suggest something should happen on the air at least once every twenty minutes which clearly indicates a sense of place and a sensitivity to the moment

You can localize everything. WCCO weather guy Mike Lynch doesn’t just tell listeners the conditions in Anoka, Minnesota, instead he name drops a local landmark and says “Sunny and 76 degrees at Sparky’s CafĂ© in Anoka.”

Homework: What’s truly unique about your market? Discover the essence of your market. The objective is to reflect the local flavor and celebrate local differences.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Episode #026:
How Does My Station REALLY Stack Up?
Andrew Curran

President & COO, DMR Interactive

Okay, so you have a radio station. Beyond "on-air", where ELSE should you be engaging with current and potential listeners to get their attention TODAY? Smart broadcasters know their best advertisers by name, but what about their most valuable listeners?

In this episode, you’ll get the inside scoop on the POWER OF P1’s…and the best ways to earn their loyalty, from someone who has studied them like few others. Andrew Curran is President and COO of DMR/Interactive, who is also in demand as a frequent panelist and presenter at broadcast events, including CRS, RAIN, Morning Show Boot Camp and the WorldWide Radio Summit.

Andrew also shares practical ideas for how you can enhance listener engagement by using info you already have, to better understand WHO and WHERE your listeners are ─ and what REALLY interests them. All without breaking your budget!

His insights and experiences, tips and insights will help you understand how to WIN by working smarter, not harder - whether you’re in PPM, diary or even an unrated market.

Connect with Andrew:

One-minute Martinizing:
In your quest to build a great brand whether it be a show or a station here’s a question to ask often. Is every element now on the air pulling its weight, making a contribution which makes our sound unique, remarkable?

Every hour, we all have the same sixty minutes of canvas. The most successful audio packs a punch in each one of those minutes. Sometimes it’s what you don’t put on or take off the air that makes the most important difference in your sound. My suggestion is you should always under-program your show/station.

It’s easy to get into the trap of putting things on and forgetting to revisit the ongoing value of those things. Here’s an example from the day job. A popular morning show staged five benchmark features every weekday. Two of those had been on the air for over three years. All sounded relevant, contemporary and good brand fits. Our question was were they still working to enhance the brand? Was each the best use of minutes used?

We decided on a test. Without saying anything about it we dropped one of the longest running benchmarks.

The response? Three messages before the end of the show. 1 call, 1 text and 1 email. We ran the next two days without the benchmark. Total messages after three days? Five. We never brought it back or talked about it and used less clock time to stage a new benchmark in its place. We knew the new element was connecting when listeners sent us unsolicited positive messages about it and a client asked about sponsorship. Dare to delete!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Episode #25:
17 Survival Tips for 2017

There are some who say radio can be hell, but it’s a dry heat!

No question, the mediascape continues to evolve in ways foreign to many people. However, there are any number of clues as to ways in which things are likely to move, and importantly, ways in which YOU can prepare to success.

In this 15 minute episode, we’ve compiled some of the best CAREER ADVICE from top radio performers, managers, and media thought leaders to help you sharpen your career survival skills.

We’ve also created a cheat sheet of “17 Career Survival Tips”, inspired by these guests.

Insights from:

(Click "PREVIOUS EPISODES" link on lower right for their full episodes.)

One-minute Martinizing:
Hot Wash

Successful performance artists share a secret. They care enough about their craft, about their success, to carefully study each performance. The playbooks of great athletes, winning politicians and legendary broadcasters include a discipline and dedication to critical self-reviews. It’s an important part of the process of becoming and staying successful. The objective is to notice what’s working and what’s not. The goal is to make every performance great getting there one step at a time.

The military conducts what they call a hot wash or after-action evaluation immediately following a tactical or kinetic operation. It’s a formal review which produces a set of lessons learned. In the cases involving our military lives are saved, in broadcasting the hot wash can save and, more importantly, make careers.

Here’s the hard part. Listening to your show every day – no exceptions – is not fun. It’s a time suck and, after all, you were there, you’ve already heard it, right? No, not really. The concept is to put yourself on the listener side of the radio. You need to hear the entire performance. You should take notes on things you notice. What’s working? What’s not working? How does it feel? What could you change to make the show better?

In my experience, winners including Dave Letterman, NFL MVPs, and a bunch of very successful radio broadcasters, have all included a daily hot wash or after-action eval as part of their day. Give it a try for ninety days. You’re right, of course, that’s a big commitment but you’ll discover it produces big results. Go for greatness. Thank me later.