Monday, June 26, 2017

Episode #034:
Skip Mahaffey: All Radio Needs is (K)Love
Morning Host, EFM's K-LOVE Stations

Skip Mahaffey
     Whenever you mention ‘great radio people’, invariably the name Skip Mahaffey comes up.

     After decades as a morning ratings magnet, his CMA and Billboard Award-Winning “Skip Show” has been dominent for decades, winning in markets from Tulsa to Phoenix, St. Louis to San Diego, Los Angeles, Tampa and Dallas.

Now Skip captains mornings on one of the most innovative plays in radio, EFM’s K-LOVE stations whose approach to ownership, quality programming and business model are changing both the complexion of branded audio content and the lives of listener's they serve.

Click to Learn more about this innovative media concept

Check out Skip's book

Follow Skip on Twitter

Friend Skip on Facebook

(Hear the EXPANDED PLAY of this interview)

by David Martin

Announcer, DJ, Personality. Three of the audio talent types which we’ll focus on in this piece. We acknowledge there are others including voice actor, raconteur, host, interviewer, narrator, anchor, storyteller and reporter. All deserve respect.

Announcers are most often readers. They’re the professionals engaged to deliver the words of others. The highest paid in this group are the commercial voice over announcers.

DJs have played a role in radio since radio started playing records. Today the DJ involvement in music radio ranges from high profile to low key depending on the station, the format and the daypart. The highest paid “DJs” are not working on the air at all but in clubs and at events on the EDM circuit. They’re not voices or DJs in the traditional sense. Their skill set involves reading the crowd and mixing the music to create a moment. Calvin Harris was last year’s biggest earner at over $30 million. There are radio DJs that make a very good living working in markets of all sizes. Pro tip: DJs who also do other work (e.g., commercial voice over, imaging work, copy writing or become known as the go-to MC for local community events) do exceptionally well.

Personalities are the rarest breed of voices. They are the show, no matter their particular style. Whether they be crazy bigger-than-life characters or serious soft-spoken intellectuals, personalities connect with listeners and create a habit forming relationship. Personalities have the unique ability to become part of a listener’s daily routine, they become family. The highest paid personalities generally work in major markets however there are many working outside the majors.

One of the questions I often get from radio talent is “How do you get ahead and become successful in this industry today?” My response has remained the same over the years. First, hustle. Today is not a dress rehearsal, make something happen. Get serious about your craft and dedicate yourself to doing what it takes to reach your potential. Never give up. Get out there and connect, engage with others. You’re only as good as your network.

Let me add two more from Cubs manager Joe Maddon. Try not to suck. Do simple better.

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.