Writing Radio’s Wrongs. 10/01/18

We are under construction, wearing hard hats, Carharts, carrying tools and equipment. Sweating in the hot sun. Listening to the radio is a tough job, so tough we’re driving Ram 3500 dualies to work. We bring our lunch too.

As we build this thing, we invite your comments, suggestions, your ideas-good and bad. We’ll read them all and reserve the right to edit.

From time to time we’ll have guest commenters, essayists and all around smart asses join us.

We already have top-flight engineers, news guys, jocks, salespeople, manager types, corporate types and owners standing by to throw gas on fires or put them out.

George and I have no interest in rehashing the past, neither us believe that yesterday’s radio was as good as it seemed to be at the time. However, history does have its lessons good and bad. Those lessons are worth your time and worthy of discussion.

Radio is in a new era, there is more competition than ever before and it’s coming from every direction. All of you are going to have to get better in every way because if you don’t, radio will die. George and I have spent our lives in the business, we believe that would be a damned shame. We want to help and move radio into the future.

We’ve been owners, managers, corporate guys, PD’s and jocks. We’ve been involved in every format, including religion if you can believe it. (Do I have some stories about that experience!) We’ve worked with great people, great companies and for a few genuine dirtbags in our careers.

We know we can help.

Thanks for listening,

George Johns & Bob Christy (pictured on top discussing the future with our friend and Consultant, Ray Fulcher from Jet Propulsion Labs and Parson’s Engineering)

 

myFM

Bob:

I turned on KBIG or MYfm 104.3 this morning just before 10. I missed the ID because I needed to talk to my yard guy. When I finished with him and got back to the radio, I couldn’t believe my ears, I heard a clean, smooth segue from Rihanna to Maroon 5 with Kendrick Lamar, excuse me, “featuring Kendrick Lamar”.

The levels even matched, how refreshing!

Of course, the sweeper they played into Pink’s song was electronic, compressed beyond anything that makes any technical sense and it buried the soft intro of the song. At least it was tight!

I’m almost 20 minutes into this and NO DEAD AIR. I’m holding my breath though. So far MYfm is head and shoulders above WLTW and KKGO. Somebody in the house is paying attention to dubbing and has a working knowledge of where to put a cue tone. Good on them. IHeart should send whoever does the dubbing at MYfm to New York and have him or her teach a class at WLTW.

Question, how many women on the air use the last name Foxx? Are they sisters, cousins, daughters or what. See if you can find me a Lisa Johnson out there, somewhere, anywhere.

I’m up against the stop set, so tell me what did you hear? When you listened?

Geo:

Bob, I started off with the top of the hour ID which garbled KBIG and Los Angeles (on purpose I think) I have no idea why they hide from Los Angeles, but so be it. I found the music very listenable even though like you say, the same sounding.

MYfm sounded very slick until they went into a stop set. It blended well, very tight and the levels were good. However in the commercial break which included promos for their contest called “Easy Money,” everything started and stopped. It was like they were proud of all the units they were carrying and wanted us to count them. (I resisted)

They even had a traffic report buried in the middle but the guy was talking so fast I had no idea what he was talking about. The levels on each spot were different making the whole experience stick out even more.

Bob:

George, why is this so hard?

Geo:

Their contest called “Easy Money” has an easy name to remember but I couldn’t figure out how to play it. Every promo and liner had too much copy jammed into it so it was hard to figure out what they were saying. They were also giving away tickets to a theme park but that was also rushed sounding and hard to understand.

The weird thing Bob about MYfm is the station is, what I would say, medium in tempo until somebody says something. Then it’s too fast which doesn’t fit the overall sound of the station. The other strange thing was that they had some sort of electronic liners in between each tune. It would have been nice to hear a cold segue now and then seeing as the PPM device already knows the name of the station.

Bob:

I heard one cold segue. It was nicely done.

Geo:

Lisa Foxx, I wonder if she’s related to Linda Foxx? The only time she spoke was to sell me their contests. She and the station are not very proud of LA because they never mention it. I guess she was professional but wasn’t very interesting or entertaining unless all you cared about was contests. She talked so fast that it was hard to hear any emotion in her voice. In fact, because she talked at the same level and speed it was fairly easy to mentally tune her out.

At some point in the middle of a stop set, they popped in some news which turned out to be just a promo for another IHeart station, KFI. Speaking of IHeart, it was promoted more than anything else and other than bankers, I don’t know who would care and I rather doubt that they listen to MYfm.

Even though my report is rather negative, I actually enjoyed my listening experience.

Bob:

George, We used to have conversations about how to make a successful station better. MyFM is successful, there are some things they could do to improve it, improve it a lot.

Stop writing copy that is too long for the allocated time or just let the talent slow down, who the hell is in a hurry to listen to 8 spots in a row? When the mic opens, listeners know the dreaded and interminable commercial set is coming. When you see the PPM graphs you can see the listeners leave. usually by the 2nd or 3rd unit. The drop off is huge and they come back when the set is over. They are obviously well trained. The cue for them is the jock talking.

Maybe the talent could do the occasional live sweeper or liner and not drop the cue that a long commercial break is coming up. TV has learned this, they go into spots cold from time to time.

As far as the contesting, you are on the money, win a grand, how? Kinda Easy Money?

I heard a Kings-Ducks ticket giveaway, Lisa read it so fast, it was a waste of time. Slow her down, please! The delivery is so much faster than the overall pace of MYfm it makes for a strange sound, the same with the produced liners and sweepers, too hot for the rest of the product.

I heard two songs in an hour that weren’t cotton candy pop, Meagan Traynor and the Kings of Leon and sure enough, they were played back to back. Then MYfm was back to the Justin Bieber sound again. This has always been a problem for radio stations playing pop music, but there are ways around it.

The only dead air I heard was going into, get this, the stop set, about 4 seconds of silence and the spot came banging in. Like I said the other day, I’ve heard more dead air in the last week than I’ve heard in 10 years, what the hell is going on?

Geo:

Amen to that Bobby. It was hard for me to figure out if Lisa had any talent besides being able to talk fast which didn’t fit the texture of the station. As I’ve always said to the talent, you don’t want the folks to look at their radio when you’re on but if you get them to do it once in a while, you’ll soon be a star. Lisa didn’t make me look once.

As I said Bob, they were pleasant enough to listen to, but the surprise is that they are actually # 1 in LA, they sound more like a mid-charter to me.

Bob:

As far as content, the IHeart features are okay, TV, new movies, etc, it’s all good stuff to put on the radio, but it’s not local. It would be easy to localize it, make a part of the station. I suppose somewhere in the massive chain of command, there is someone who counts all the times the features are played, runs down the hall screaming “We ran 9222 features this week across our platforms!” That’s fine I guess, but it does nothing for the stations. An old dog I talked to about this a few days ago, said, “You know when ABC was in the radio business, they had 14 of the most successful stations in the country and the only time you ever heard ABC was if they ran the network news.” I guess they do it to make the banker’s happy. Fixing it would be easy, right?

Geo:

Very easy.

Bob:

Man, it’s hard to get around the “rushed” presentation. MYfm, especially in middays, is, for most of the audience, a background experience. If you’re going to stop the station to do a giveaway, don’t throw away it away!

Not to beat up poor Lisa, but the one time I heard her do something that wasn’t written on a card or on a computer screen, she said, “I wish I was at a spa” or something like that. Lisa, you have a dream job compared to virtually all of the listeners to MYfm. You sit in a nice, clean, air-conditioned room for 5 hours a day and play music on the radio. Your listeners sit in cubes and do grunt work, they’re stuck in traffic, they’re trying to balance raising kids, their job and they’re probably are married to a jerk. Don’t bitch to them about your job. Lisa, some of your listeners have more than one job, both of them really suck and going to a spa for them is as likely as going to the moon. Think before you open the mic.

We’re going to do the MyFM morning show next. I can’t wait, it will be fun, I hope.

Geo:

I’m ready if you are

6 thoughts on “Writing Radio’s Wrongs. 10/01/18

  1. In 1972, at Indiana University’s Radio-TV journalism courses, the standard was 75-five-letter words-minute, with all numbers spelled out in words. I have always tried to adhere to that standard ideal. Fast-talking seems to be the standard today. Then, if it does not fit into a :59-1/2-second time frame, the production people digitally-process the voice track to make it fit, which speeds up the delivery after the pitch of the voice is corrected ! Can you imagine enforcing WIBC’s Fairbanks Broadcasting / Chuck Riley production standards in the electronic media world today ? As I learned from you, George, less copy (but more colorful, descriptive, picture-painting words) is much, much more. Then the best voice in the station can shape and create an image…something you can’t do when you’re trying to “beat-the-clock” !

  2. One additional comment: The only time I would “rush” the copy would be the times the station had to air the full attorney-approved contest rules disclosure announcement, which usually aired only once per day at carefully selected times at the end of the last stop-set just prior to going into news. We did not have websites then, so we had to essentially read the rules on the back of the direct mail piece to satisfy Mike Bader and Dick Fairbanks. Did any of the stations either of you gentlemen managed or consulted ever receive complaints about the contests and / or the rules ?

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