Chapter One; The Future Of Radio ?

Chapter One; The Future Of Radio ?

Postby Tom Jeffries » Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:56 am

The Future Of Radio?

Not a Clue.

It would be very easy to sit back and snipe at the latest radio disasters and play the ‘back in my day’ card. Well, it’s not 1977 - so what the heck are media people going to do, to stem the flow of red ink, that is undermining newspapers, radio, TV and magazines, in just about equal measure?

It turns out that we have learned same painful truths about the consumer’s desire for content. First - paywalls at Newspapers have been, for the most part, a bust.

They tried one at the Vancouver Province and they gave up. All the paper wanted was 99 cents and people wouldn’t pay it!

Turns out, studies show that people merely scan newspapers, and ignore the ads, unless a specific sale or bargain is highlighted.

A lot of the rules that we thought applied, don’t anymore.

When you have the publisher of the Vancouver Sun and Province asking everyone on staff to take a buyout - and so many did, that the newspapers big draws took the money and are gone. Now we have former interns and part timers having to try and lure a dying market. The essence of showbiz? Timing. This was NOT a great time to take a flier, and they crashed.

CORUS, a National Broadcast powerhouse, had to cut 2% of its staff to make the numbers last quarter. How long can you continue to do that?

People are being fired because they are well paid and the cuts are in every department. The remaining staff are fried already. You cannot have one “Brand Manager” responsible for 5 or 6 radio stations and expect anything other than bland anarchy.

The rule changes allowing one company to own many radio outlets has been a mess from day one. NOW, in Canada - 6, count ‘em - 6 - Companies own all he media.

The Politicians love it! The newsrooms are gutted so no one is asking any questions!

The media as we knew it = died when the Internet took over the world. 40% of the Population of the United States, check in with Facebook everyday. Can Radio make the same boast?

People are struggling, so they are not spending. That means advertising is tight. Stations are cutting each others throats to get ROS spots on....anything, to keep the lights on.

Meanwhile, all the talent that could make this soup palatable, have been canned. You have rookies making fools of themselves in major markets and it’s not their fault. It actually takes TIME to learn how to be a “personality”, or at least sound like a human being on the air. BUT - this new model gives these folks little development time and so we have an inferior product that the sales people can’t sell, end result: the audience walks away from you and they are not coming back.

Twenty years ago we didn’t have Satellite Radio, and now Pandora (*Internet enabled car) Networks.....fighting for your attention.

It’s going to be a dog fight, and you better bring a .50 calibre.

The news that FM chips are being installed in smartphones - will allow people to tune in and not use any bandwidth. The data cost savings alone, will make this a big deal - so - maybe there is some life in the old Radio, yet.

The one thing that I need to impress upon you, is that Radio is a people business. You are a servant to the listener. You HELP them and become like a surrogate friend. Sit in a lineup at a Bridge and hopefully the voice on the radio (*if there even is a voice on your station), will keep the audience calm, amused, and LISTENING. Not an easy trick.

The other side of the coin is the people INSIDE the station, and the sales and marketing team, that bring home the cheese every month.

If you don’t have a leader that instills a quiet confidence in your team, you are done before you throw on the mike. You HAVE to believe in what you are doing, and you have to trust the process. Not easy. Radio attracts a lot of real ‘characters’ and so it must be like herding cats.

If you are lucky, you will wind up on a station with great wingers.

The numbers are a lot smaller than they were, when I was in the biz, but it is very important to have GREAT people, or you are dead.

Allow me to tell you about just ONE great person I worked with and why I never forgot his professionalism, kindness, talent and generosity.

His name was Marc Webber - but he called himself Marc Chambers.

We worked together at CFUN and when I was back at CJCH in Halifax, Marc saw his dream come true and got to work at 1050 CHUM. Blessed with a wonderful voice, Marc also was a football freak. He was the Stadium voice for the BC Lions, before he passed, tragically, way too young.

The reason I bring up this fine man here is simple.

This is the kind of talent our business needs. Marc could read spots, do a great shift - do news, if you asked him to - plus was great in public and made friends for CHUM and CFUN wherever he went.

He also saved me.

I was fired, er, ‘downsized’ by Rogers, at the turn of the Century. I was shocked and humiliated. I had worked by can off, and provided KISS-FM with solid ratings and I backed up Fred Latremouille, for 5 years. The Station threw me to the curb.

After a short nightmarish year, my severance was gone. In desperation I took a job at JR FM, and eventually, 600am, doing mornings.

It didn’t last. Long story short, I was in trouble. 51. I had a Mortgage, a wife that didn’t work and two hungry cats.

At this time Marc was trying to get a streaming media service going called, I believe, Air America.

He had been at it awhile, and we got in touch and he was his usual supportive self.

A few days after I reconnected with Marc, the lease on my Honda ran out. To buy it, was around $7,000 - it may as well have been a million.

No Car? I was beside myself. I had about a grand and my RRSPS. Trouble. I mentioned it to Marc in an e-mail. In less than 24 hours he wrote a letter on Air America letterhead saying that I was to be working with this Company - starting salary of six figures etc.

Yes, I was planning to work for the Company, but wow!

I got the loan, after the loans officer called Marc to check. How is that for helpful? He knew I was in trouble. He could have ignored me.

The Company never did make it - but Marc was there for an old friend - to lend a hand, when no one else stepped up. He saved me, and asked for nothing in return.

That is called a gentleman and a friend.

That is the kind of people I want at my Radio Station - how about you?
Tom Jeffries
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 604
Joined: Mon May 06, 2013 9:06 am

Re: Chapter One; The Future Of Radio ?

Postby kal » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:53 pm

I'm unclear on the impact of FM decoder chips in phones. They seem to be in some of the lower-end phones. I see no sign of one in my Samsung Galaxy. I've only run across one person who actually listens to FM this way (it was to Rock 101 BTW). I'd rather have an AM radio but the problem is cramming in an antenna. Besides, if Europe is a good indicator, AM radio is all but finished. I could find only a handful of stations still on AM across the parts of Europe I traversed a couple of years back. We here in North America have a way to go before that comes to pass here. I only know two people who have kept their satellite radio subscription after the free-use period ran out.
kal
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 480
Joined: Fri Jul 05, 2013 12:04 am

Re: Chapter One; The Future Of Radio ?

Postby CKNF » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:55 pm

Tom Jeffries wrote:The Future Of Radio?

That is called a gentleman and a friend.

That is the kind of people I want at my Radio Station - how about you?

Agreed...that's exactly the kind of people I'd want around as well and the kind I'm hoping are still around for when the time comes. Great post Tom.
CKNF
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 258
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2010 6:25 pm

Re: Chapter One; The Future Of Radio ?

Postby jon » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:12 pm

kal wrote:I'm unclear on the impact of FM decoder chips in phones. They seem to be in some of the lower-end phones. I see no sign of one in my Samsung Galaxy. I've only run across one person who actually listens to FM this way (it was to Rock 101 BTW). I'd rather have an AM radio but the problem is cramming in an antenna. Besides, if Europe is a good indicator, AM radio is all but finished. I could find only a handful of stations still on AM across the parts of Europe I traversed a couple of years back. We here in North America have a way to go before that comes to pass here. I only know two people who have kept their satellite radio subscription after the free-use period ran out.

I have a Samsung ATIV s, which is a Galaxy that runs Windows Phone 8. The specs say it has a built-in FM receiver, but the only app I tried seemed to be streaming local stations instead of using the receiver.

Windows phones are like that. There are lots of hardware features that don't have apps yet that can use them.
User avatar
jon
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 8975
Joined: Mon May 08, 2006 10:15 am
Location: Edmonton

Re: Chapter One; The Future Of Radio ?

Postby Tape Splicer » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:33 pm

I can't speak to where radio is going, as I've been away from the industry for several years. I can however speak to what I see the younger folks in our family doing with media.

Our son and his wife, who are in their 40's as well as the younger adults and kids are all plugged into their smart phones. They use the internet for music and information; share images and comments on facebook and seem to ignore the mainstream media all together. They also watch movies and play games online.

Only time will tell what the future holds for both radio and television.

I agree with the above comment about the internet causing a major shift in the world of communication. I know that I listen to XM or some stations from other countries online, so I guess that I am part of this change as are we all.
Tape Splicer
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 788
Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2011 4:45 pm

Re: Chapter One; The Future Of Radio ?

Postby kal » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:38 pm

I have young sons, working professionals in their 20s. They have the car radios tuned to AM730 when driving to and from work and otherwise it is Rock101 or the Bellingham equivalent. There, that's a couple of data points. The tend not to watch TV news but do read the Vancouver Sun.
kal
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 480
Joined: Fri Jul 05, 2013 12:04 am

Re: Chapter One; The Future Of Radio ?

Postby Tom Jeffries » Sat Aug 24, 2013 7:38 pm

Interesting comments and they are appreciated.

Radio fed me for nearly half a Century and I met some of the most incredible people, while having fun (for the most part), doing it.

What makes me sad is that I am at that point in my life, as in in Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game”, where I am trying to slow the ponies down.

I wish you all a great Labour Day weekend - and to some of the Family starting new shows in a few days - good luck and hope the ratings are kind.

Change. Get used to it. Was ever thus.
Tom Jeffries
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 604
Joined: Mon May 06, 2013 9:06 am

Re: Chapter One; The Future Of Radio ?

Postby jon » Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:21 pm

kal wrote:I have young sons, working professionals in their 20s. They have the car radios tuned to AM730 when driving to and from work and otherwise it is Rock101 or the Bellingham equivalent. There, that's a couple of data points. The tend not to watch TV news but do read the Vancouver Sun.

My brother-in-law is in his mid-40s and he doesn't like FM, preferring AM radio in the car because of the superior signal. Although we have some higher, better placed towers for our FMs here in Edmonton, we still don't have Vancouver's mountains, so FM can be noisy.
User avatar
jon
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 8975
Joined: Mon May 08, 2006 10:15 am
Location: Edmonton

Re: Chapter One; The Future Of Radio ?

Postby Tom Jeffries » Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:13 pm

Walk down your street and ask how many people actually have a Radio. I wonder what kind of numbers we would come up with. I have not owned a radio, other than in my car, since - gad - 1973?
That means it’s cars and now, smartphones and moving radio content onto multi platforms.

I only listen to one show on a regular basis....and that is exactly what goes on my BBM Ballot.

In the day, we would pray for friends to get ballots. It never happened. I did get called once and had to (darn) say I was in the business.

Good ratings to all.
Tom Jeffries
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 604
Joined: Mon May 06, 2013 9:06 am

Re: Chapter Two - Universal Rules

Postby Tom Jeffries » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:22 pm

The radio of 2013, is something I do not recognize, as it has morphed, and I am cool with that. Things change. That’s what makes media - change.

BUT, with that being said there are a few things that never change in radio. I wanted to impart some hard leaned lessons on to YOU if you happen to be plying the airwaves.

I wish you every success, in a business that gave me a decent living and a treasure trove of memories.

The lessons are simple.

Rule NUMBER ONE and ALWAYS.

BE NICE. That sounds insipid. It is NOT. You get the rep of being a swell head or mean to people, you will wind up sweeping the streets. Being sincere and helpful goes along with the package. You never know who will turn out to be a person who might say nice things, or not - just when you need a new gig, or maybe that PD job is down to ‘who do we like the most’, and ‘is easiest to work with’. Counts big. Trust me.

NUMBER TWO: NO NEGATIVES. I don’t care if your house burned down, I don’t and no one else cares. All that matters is the top quality break that’s coming up in thirty seconds. You want to whine and gripe about work, watch how fast no one will have a beer with you, after the shift. Just a word of friendly warning. I am sure not the guy to tell you how to run your life - but the people I still miss were the smiling, funny ones....not the one or two that spent their time complaining or spreading gossip.

NUMBER THREE: Never ignore the first two rules.

NUMBER FOUR: Kharma.
You get back what you put in, and if you try and cheat the system or fiddle away, you will get it back in your face, just when you can least afford to face the backlash. It happened to me once and I learned, boss. It smarted. Big time.

I made every mistake in the book, and I just hope that the above sincere advice for rookies helps you or a friend. I feel that people that have been on the air for years should pass along something to the new crew.

I’ll be listening.
Tom Jeffries
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 604
Joined: Mon May 06, 2013 9:06 am

Re: Chapter One; The Future Of Radio ?

Postby Tape Splicer » Mon Oct 07, 2013 8:44 pm

Tom; Those rules aren't only for those in the broadcast business, but for all of us retired or actively working through life. It's the whole "Golden Rule" thing.applied to the real world. Thanks for reminding us.
We recently lost a very good friend who was "uncle" to the world, one person at a time. He lived out what you said above. and His memorial will be full of love, memories, laughter and I am sure a few tears for what WE have lost. He is OK and not suffering.
Tape Splicer
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 788
Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2011 4:45 pm

Re: Chapter One; The Future Of Radio ?

Postby Tom Jeffries » Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:40 pm

I am very sorry for your loss. My condolences, and may your friend find Peace and relief from any suffering. I hope the pain ebbs and the good memories crowd out the feeling of loss.

That is the hardest part for me. The missing of the people that I worked with. I never took any of them for granted, but I was too cavalier and didn't wring every drop of memories, from every day - because even in a long career, it is over in the blink of a Consultants dead left eye.

If you are not into moving and seeing the Country - radio is not a good choice. You’ll move. A lot. I did as the son of a Naval Officer, so I was used to it. It is not for everyone.

Ego.
That is a tricky one. Be proud of your work and carry yourself with pride, but man, don’t we all love the ‘look at me’ types. I can do without that.
I was always low keying what I did for a living, when socializing. I know that sounds weird....but let me tell you; hear this line “Let me hear your RADIO voice”, and I soon learned to say I was a telemarketer. That shut them up.

BUT - you can’t let asshat PD’s and fellow jocks run you over. Pride is fine, but it only carries you so far. It’s better to be a great broadcaster and let your work do your work for you.

You will have good days and bad days - but that is NOT what the listener cares about. You are the same every day. A friend. A kind word in their ear, as they sit in the goldarn tunnel...again.

Vancouver Radio is now fighting a global war. I just had to worry about beating stations in this City - now, with my smartphone, I have World radio in my hand, and 4500 songs in the Ipod and the Iphone that I always carry.....
That was NOT the case, “Back in the day”.

If you want to find how far we have come - rent, or watch “Help” with the Beatles.

I rest my case.
Tom Jeffries
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 604
Joined: Mon May 06, 2013 9:06 am

Re: Chapter One; The Future Of Radio ?

Postby radio guy » Thu Oct 10, 2013 3:23 pm

... there is no broadcaster with a better understanding of radio than the great tom jeffries! it is so cool that he's writing for this site. keep up the good work, tom!

... by the way, do you remember the big "phrase that pays" contest at kiss FM? i'm trying to remember exactly what phrase it was the person had to answer their phone with to win. man, was that ever a monster of a promotion! :lol:
User avatar
radio guy
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun May 05, 2013 3:06 pm

Re: Chapter One; The Future Of Radio ?

Postby Tom Jeffries » Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:43 pm

God, I just drew a blank - I did “The Phrase that pays” at CFUN too.

Think it was simply answer the phone “I listen to KISS-FM”.
I stand corrected - if we could have a coherent friend bail me out here?
I only did the contest a thousand times at both stations and the whole thing was a long time ago.

The big 50 grand contest was “This year is Kiss Year (97) and now give me my money”. That I think, is correct.

As for “great” - no - Freddy and Bill Hughes and a few others were great - I was a journeyman jock, with the luck to have teachers like Fred, Chuck McCoy, Bob Wood, and J. Lee Smith.

But, thanks for your kind words. You are too generous.
Tom Jeffries
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 604
Joined: Mon May 06, 2013 9:06 am

Re: Chapter One; The Future Of Radio ?

Postby radio guy » Thu Oct 10, 2013 5:05 pm

Tom Jeffries wrote:The big 50 grand contest was “This year is Kiss Year (97) and now give me my money”. That I think, is correct.

... yes, that's the one! thank you for remembering that for me! and keep up the great writing! :lol:
User avatar
radio guy
Advanced Member
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Sun May 05, 2013 3:06 pm

Next

Return to Tom Jeffries Book Deux

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest