Randy and Jeff hosted a panel of on-air talent at the Worldwide Radio Summit in Hollywood on Friday, which included:
Gary Bryan – KRTH Los Angeles
Dave Ryan – KDWB Minneapolis
J Cruz – KPWR Los Angeles
JoJo Wright – KIIS Los Angeles
Kane – WITH Washington DC
Frankie & Geena – KHTS San Diego
And Paul Oakenfold – club deejay/producer and host of Planet Perfecto on Sirius XM.
The conversation quickly became entertaining when Randy asked each member on the panel about past mistakes they had made, and what they learned.
J Cruz thought it would be compelling to tell the audience that if they didn’t come out to his on-location show that night, “you are a p*&&y!” Station management disagreed.
At Z 100 in New York, Gary Bryan interviewed an artist who had a song called “Jap Song,” which was about being a Jewish American Princess. This led to the bright idea of a “JAP For A Day” contest, which included a $5000 shopping spree and Chinese take out. The newspaper the next day had the Z 100 logo on the front page and the headline “Vile On The Dial.”
Jojo Wright did a “Get Buck Naked” contest for concert tickets, and a young woman ran around the station van sans-clothing to win. The next day, her boyfriend blabbed to local media that the young woman who said she was 18 was actually a girl of 17.
Geena The Latina was surprised at the reaction when she thoughtlessly used a phrase she had heard in her household growing up, calling someone “an Indian giver.”
Paul Oakenfold was new to moving from a club booth to working in a broadcast studio at a pirate radio station, and learned how to not leave the fader up on the microphone when regaling ones mates with risque tales from last night’s party in the club.
Frankie was in the studio having a phone conversation with a woman who gave her address, phone number and specific details on the activities that she had planned for Frankie when he came over to her house. Frankie then learned that the VoxPro was potted up and the entire conversation went on the air.
Dave Ryan described when his show followed a creative impulse to watch the film “Anchorman” when it came out on DVD in it’s entirety – on the air, and broadcast running commentary on it. Dave said it was hilarious, for about ten minutes.
The program director at WFLZ had encouraged Kane to “push the limit,” so Kane spontaneously picked up a local prostitute on a corner near the station and brought her into the studio for that night’s show. Once in the studio, the prostitute threatened everyone with a large wooden-handled Outback Steakhouse knife and refused to leave until the producer rushed out to buy her vodka.
After much laughter, the moral of these stories were that even the greatest among us make mistakes, that most errors can be recovered from and all mistakes are learning experiences.
DAVE RYAN ATTACKED BY DRUNKEN WOMAN!
You may have heard about the loud altercation that took place during The RLC air personality panel, and we’ll get to that. But first, let’s review the other important topics discussed during our panel at the Worldwide Radio Summit.
Randy asked the panel about the viability of interviews in a PPM world, whether they were to be avoided completely or if there was still value in having guests on.
Jojo Wright pointed out the positive association between the on-air host and a celebrity when the interview goes well. Gary Bryan shared his theory that the host must “bring the interviewee into your world and make them part of your show,” instead of turning over the show to them.
Geena The Latina echoed that idea, sharing that she and Frankie turned interviews into a “Are You Smarter Than ______? segment where listeners compete against a big star in a trivia contest.
Randy reminded everyone that the interviewers like Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon and other talk hosts insist without exception that every guest bring a story.
“Interviewees hate radio because most hosts do not prep for the interview, and boring interviews are a tune out.” – Gary Bryan.
When interviewees declare too many topics “off limits” for questions, Dave Ryan says that his show has learned to quickly say, “we’ll pass.”
SYNDICATION AND VOICE TRACKING
Randy brought up L&L Broadcasting, a new company formed by Larry Wilson that is dedicated to “Live and Local” programming.
Randy asked the panel about the advantages and disadvantages of syndication and voice tracking, and whether the trend was towards more computerization or more towards being live and local.
JoJo mentioned being on the air in Los Angeles the previous week when a 5.2 quake hit. He opened the microphones in the middle of a song and started relating to listeners in the area within seconds. “You can’t do that when you are voice tracked across the country. That just won’t ever be the same as being live.”
Kane countered that some program directors force local content at the cost of being compelling. “The local pig fair is important, but…” Kane emphasized the importance of being relevant, and pointed out that “boring local is still boring.”
Gary Bryan brought the unique perspective of being an on-air talent and a program director, and shared his theory that regular listeners to your show learn the signals on when to tune out.
After a while, they learn that if the station promo always plays before a stopset, it’s a signal that commercials are coming next. Gary advocated airing the station imaging voice only going into music, and endorsed hiding weather and traffic on the back side of commercial clusters.
On the subject of balancing money vs. selling one’s soul, Kane described the back-and-forth between a sales department who views endorsements as a transaction and on-air talent who view live spots as a “reputation-based thing which we try to protect.”
Dave Ryan recalled listeners who complained “I took your word for it,” after ordering flowers from a 1-800 service that Dave had endorsed but that turned out to be not-so-great. Dave declined doing further ads for that retailer.
Geena said she does not “take anything that her mom might hear about and buy that would make all her hair fall out,” and said that she and Frankie create the commercials with the hope of making them so entertaining that listeners might not realize that they are commercials and stay tuned in longer.
Randy pointed out that Paul Oakenfold’s show was popular worldwide with primarily music with little talk, while on the other end of the spectrum Dave Ryan’s show went up in the ratings during the transition from diary to PPM while playing only two songs an hour.
Gary Bryan said he’s learned to “make every second count” in a high song count environment in PPM, and basically start each segment “in the middle of the conversation.”
J Cruz told the audience that you may not grab the attention of the audience if the call letters are the first thing out of your mouth. He says it is better to start with a sound, a clip of audio or a compelling headline to capture interest in 3-4 seconds.
Questions were flowing in from the audience throughout the panel, and one woman scoffed at Dave Ryan’s suggestion that his show was collaborative, team effort. She mentioned being a previous member of Dave’s show and accused Dave of being abusive, egotistical and mean-spirited to everyone at KDWB.
Dave recognized the woman and pointed out that if she had show up for work on time – or sober – that things would have been different.
The conversation degenerated into a shouting match and Sat Bisla from All Access moved to grab the mike when….
…Dave announced the whole argument was staged.
The woman was Sarah Lee, formerly a co-host with the Nick Cannon show in New York City and of the Ace And TJ Show in Charlotte. Sarah agreed to improvise a staged conflict as a way of introducing the topic of staged content to the panel.
Randy joked that everyone’s heard of “breast augmentation.” He asked the panel about their philosophy concerning “content augmentation.”
Jojo Wright jumped in first with the idea that “crazy makes good radio.” Jojo said that whenever he’s made up a story to get a reaction, no matter how crazy the story is listeners call in with crazier stories from real life.
Frankie agreed that he is a bit of a mess in his personal life, and that he sometimes plays that up a bit to make the story better or to make the conflict bigger.
J Cruz said “sometimes the audience needs encouragement” and that having a friend voice an opinion or a story as a caller can enhance what is about to come.
FRED JACOBS TECHSURVEY 10
If you aspire to be up-to-date with what your listeners are listening to and what they use to listen to it, you should pay attention to the results of Jacobs Media’s Techsurvey, shared annually at the Worldwide Radio Summit.
You know it’s Fred Jacobs presenting “Techsurvey 10” when most of the room is scrambling to take smartphone pictures of each and every slide. Here are some highlights:
- Daily AM/FM radio listening remains fairly steady but is eroding, mostly because listeners are not engaged with radio as often.
- The percentage of respondents who reply that they listen “under an hour per day or don’t listen to AM/FM radio” is growing steadily through the last three Techsurveys. Those listeners are spending more time with digital options such as Pandora and Spotify.
- HD Radio is looking slightly better, with usage increasing as more new cars come equipped with HD radios and as more drivers figure out how to use it.
- The younger the listener, the more likely they are to use headphones – which is a problem if you are in a market where PPM devices are measuring listening by what they can hear. 17% of listeners overall say they use headphones “half the time or more,” but that number increases to almost 40% with Generation Z.
- Also, younger listeners are much move involved with digital platforms. For instance, Pandora usage is at 22% overall but 42% for Generation Z. Also a whopping 93% of Generation Z listeners are hearing their music via streaming video. (Perhaps radio stations should be buying more Youtube ads?)
- Finally, we’ll share a finding that some of us were surprised at. When asked “Would you be willing to sign up (provide your name and email address) in order to listen to the station that sent you this survey’s stream?” 72% said yes. This is helpful knowledge as radio sales departments compete with Pandora, which collects info on each new user for use in their client’s advertising strategy.
Keep in mind: If you are reading this outside of the United States, these results reflect answers given by US listeners only.
Also, the survey respondents were solicited via Jacobs Media client radio stations, so the results will tend to include more regular AM/FM listeners than average.
We won’t spoil the rest but you can visit the Jacobs Media website where Fred and his team will be posting the full study shortly at www.jacobsmedia.com. You can also read Techsurvey 9 from last year, which is still up and still very useful information.
Thanks to Joel Denver and the team at All Access for inviting The RLC to be a part of the Worldwide Radio Summit 2014 and congratulations on a successful conference.