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Welcome To The Learning ConferenceJul 22, 2009 -- 6:48pm
(Those who attended the 2009 Learning Conference received a Program Guide that began with the following 'Welcome' remarks contributed by Executive Director Tom Kay.)
2009 is proven to be a year unlike any other and it’s a bit difficult to pretend otherwise. Hundreds if not thousands of our comrades have been shown the door by their respective employers. Personal and family economies have taken hits unseen since the Great Depression.
Our industry has to endure the double whammy of our reduced workforce dealing with disappearing advertising dollars caused by the economic landscape.
With this as a backdrop, it would be easy for anyone in the business to pass on attending this year’s Learning Conference. Many have.
But you didn’t, in spite of all the legitimate reasons you’d have for missing it.
Could it be you still hold an innate belief that what we do is important? Important enough to learn how to communicate with your public better and more efficiently? Important enough to sacrifice personal time and expense to share a weekend of learning and networking with fellow industry members?
The fact that you are here - reading this – shouts the answer loud and clear: Yes!
By being here, you make important declarations: That you want to be clearly identified as a media warrior who understands battles are won in the field, not in a bunker. That you are seeking answers in a place that is home to like-minded dreamers and doers. That our current confrontations are worthy of being addressed. That you are ready to replace negativity with positive action gained by knowledge. That you understand solutions to our challenges begin by taking a path to their discovery.
Congratulations on knowing that path begins here!
Welcome to the Learning Conference: a place where negativity will be replaced – if only for “48” hours – by an astounding but very real positivity created by conjoined hearts and minds. A place where together we will craft the necessary tools of change!
Enjoy your Learning Conference!
On Being Different, Important and in need of Your HelpApr 30, 2009 -- 4:48pm
Posted by Tom Kay, Executive Director of the Conclave.
Let’s face it. The Conclave is different as an industry organization.
And it’s certainly different as a non-profit organization.
Just about everything about it is different: its mission, its organization, its membership.
And make no mistake; it carries a very different importance…one, that on occasion, we must visit and revisit.
When the Conclave fulfills its mission to educate those who are licensed to serve in the public interest, it is easy to dismiss its role as a broadcast industry non-profit as inconsequential in the face of those asking to cure cancer or making crippled children walk again.
But please know what the Conclave does is integral in growing and maintaining the health and well being not just of radio, but of American communities.
In the cities, towns or village that you live in, radio stations are licensed with a mandate to serve the community in many ways. For example:
• To share crucial details of an Amber Alert.
• To warn when a tornado is on the ground.
• To let you know why traffic is stopped on your way home.
• To tell you details of your community’s drive for blood donors.
• To raise money for flood victims.
• To conduct promotional campaigns to secure donations to feed hungry children.
• To inform you with news of your neighborhood.
• To entertain you throughout the day.
By now, we are all painfully aware that radio stations are not required by their license to train those they hire to perform these and other important responsibilities, so its no surprise that this essential teaching is simply not occurring at either the station nor corporate level.
There is one organization in the country recognized by the same government that grants radio licenses to educate the personnel who are needed to perform these critical tasks detailed above, and more…no matter the station’s format.
And now, the Conclave needs your help.
The industry recession over the past several years has taken a toll on everyone, including the Conclave.
Like many non-profits, the Conclave’s financial health is being severely challenged.
What can you do?
If you are part of a larger company or organization operating in the industry, please consider supporting the Conclave with the purchase of a Learning Conference sponsorship. Doing so is not only good business; it directly allows the Conclave to continue its mission of education.
If you are someone who has been helped by the Conclave in any way over its 34-year history, consider making a private, individual donation to the organization.
And we’ve made it easier for you to do so.
On the Conclave website at the bottom of the blue buttons on the left, there’s a shiny new “Donate” button.
Click on it, and you’ll be on your way to helping the Conclave make our industry even important in your community.
Click on it, and you’ll be on your way to receiving the quiet thanks of your family, friends and neighbors for keeping broadcasting alive and vital NOW, when we need it the most.
After the Cuts-An Open LetterNov 07, 2008 -- 12:19pm
Submitted by Bill Figenshu, President/CEO of Figmedia1 LLC.
The events of the last few days have made me proud to be an American. Believe me, I'm not one of those real verses fake Americans that was created in the presidential campaign, I just think we are all so fortunate to live in a country as wonderful as this. No matter who you voted for, you had to get a bit misty eyed watching history unfold before us in Chicago, and New York, and on the streets and cities in the US and around the world.
I am also proud to be a broadcaster, and yes, an American Broadcaster. The amazing pictures of the throngs of people truly excited to see the change from the long dark night that defined the last few years got me to thinking, I can't remember a time when the streets were filled with people after an election .. mostly young people ... mostly young people excited and hopeful for the future of the country they want it to be. One can't help but be inspired.
Is it possible that we can exhibit the same leadership and inspiration in the radio business that we saw on TV and heard on the radio from President Elect Obama? Is it possible for us to re-think the entire radio industry and move beyond the cuts? I believe it's fair to suggest that the past few years have not been radio's best. There has been much written about it so I won't go into the past by finger pointing as to the blame.
There is plenty to go around.
Is it possible for us to realize that for radio to succeed in attracting future generations of listeners, we must fundamentally change our whole way of thinking about the way we program, sell, engineer, market, finance, and LEAD the next generation of radio staff, advertisers, and listeners. In the next 12 months, I believe you will see a continuation of a contraction in the radio business. It WILL get smaller in staff size AND IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL, listener size.
What will radio look like ... AFTER THE CUTS?
How can we redeploy the limited resources available to make our medium exciting and attractive again? How do you make the cuts, yet leave the creativity and intact? Right now, in the autumn of 2008, we have the opportunity to define the NEXT GENERATION OF RADIO. If we have the leadership and understanding, vision, and the will to win, we can make our business succeed well beyond the current, outdated ... hang on it's going to get bad ... mentality that is the norm today.
I make a living successfully positioning radio stations and other media platforms. I advise company leaders on the right direction by reading the trends that will shape our world over the short to medium term. Radio will not be able to begin redesigning its future until it ends the cutting. The sooner it ends, the better off you will be. There can be no creative process in the atmosphere of fear.
Never before has there been so much opportunity for radio than there is today. We have so much going for us, but in order for radio to succeed in the next decade we are going have to change the way we approach the advertisers, consumers, and potential creative talent that might NEVER CONSIDER RADIO. Why? Because we are not telling the great story we already have!
I don't believe radio has a perception problem ... I believe radio has a reality problem in addition to the perception problem! Lest we forget, there are still a few amazing facts that would be the envy of every Internet start up or large online portal.
Can you imagine a business that is already distributed to 100% of the online computers, cars, and homes throughout America?
Can you imagine a national medium that already has a local sales organization in place in every city and town in this country?
Can you imagine a technology that 100% of the consumers already know how to use? (On, off, tune!)
This is where we have the perception/reality problem.
Even Google does not have the incredible local distribution and reach that we have. So why do we have a perception problem?
Answer - We are NOT doing the basics well.
We are defending the past rather than embracing the future.
In the past few months, I have spoken to many Internet company CEO's about the incredible cume that radio has. Not one CEO ever even thought about considering radio as a means to attract consumers. Why? No one told them! In the past two years, I have had the opportunity to speak to many creative, talented, young people who capture million of hits on everything from Face Book to You Tube about considering radio as a creative outlet. Not one ever considered radio as an option. Why? No one asked them!
The reality is that we have NOT embraced the new technology fast enough to capture the next generation of listeners.
The reality is we are NOT attracting young, creative people to our companies.
The reality is we are NOT embracing new creative ideas in order to attract a new generation of listening.
The reality is we are NOT leading the charge of radio innovation using all of the above.
For those of you that disagree, perhaps you have some individual story of innovation you might point to, ("Well, at my station we bla, bla, bla ...") and I get it! But by and large we are still operating like it was 1998 except we have stopped marketing, researching, innovating, and listening to our employees, advertisers, and listeners.
If we expect to stop the erosion of revenue and time spent listening, we had better start designing our companies for the future instead of the past or present. This will require vision, focus, creativity, and above all, leadership.
As someone that ran a few large radio companies and stations, I understand and accept the financial reality that plagues us all right now. Advertisers are scared and not spending, costs are rising, competition is fierce and the future costs money. Radio operators have to cope with on line expenses not contemplated in 1998.
So perhaps we might take a cue from the millions of people assembled in Bryant Park on election eve that it's time for a radio extreme makeover. It's time to consider changing the way we operate our radio stations and companies by embracing new ideas, fostering innovation, and redesigning the way we operate day to day. And after the cuts, consider the following,
CREATIVE VISION MUST BEGIN AT THE TOP. CREATIVE INNOVATION MUST BEGIN AT THE STAFF LEVEL OF THE LOCAL STATION.
Local, experienced management is the key to successful radio. Top down management may work for nationwide franchises, but the dynamics of local community broadcasting are best left in the local community.
It's time to put control back at the station level where it can really succeed with advertisers and listeners. 80% or our revenue is local, and 80% of the decisions should be too. The next generation of managers will not succeed if all they know how to do is manage expenses and write reports for corporate. They must be encouraged to look for talent in every department, and department heads must make a commitment to look beyond the provincial radio world for talented people.
The Internet is full of young, visionary people as is your city. Make it attractive to work at the station by offering them the creative outlet they crave beyond AM and FM.
Radio is more than AM and FM broadcasting today. Invest in distribution to where the people are by using your station to promote alternative listening and participation. Strong radio brands are money in the bank if you distribute to where the people are. There simply must be more investment in Internet, and mobile platforms. Radio brands can transcend their own current distribution by putting the emphasis on content, and then push it to every viable platform.
Right now, there are thousands of advertisers looking for an economical way to keep their name in front of consumers, but it's not about selling spots, it's about offering ideas. Ideas require creativity beyond the on air copy. Management must be open to new ideas. The notion that it worked five years ago is totally outdated thinking. No one is doing business the way it was done before.
ADVERTISERS WANT TO HEAR WHAT RADIO IS DOING DIFFERENTLY TODAY THAN FIVE YEARS AGO. What are you doing different today?
Listeners and advertisers are expecting their brands to change with the times. This recession, downturn, or whatever it is WILL RECOVER! When it does, radio has the ability to lead the way if we are in the right position to take advantage of it.
What is our life after the cuts?
Making cuts to reduce the cost of producing and presenting radio is necessary today, but putting the station in a position to succeed must also be considered. Radio can emerge as a more creative, innovative medium if it starts right now with the resources remaining.
The extreme makeover of radio must start at the top, the bottom, and the middle.
Now is the time to set the vision, provide the leadership, and execute the plan.
Bill (Fig) Figenshu
Our Economy and My Letter to the BoardOct 13, 2008 -- 12:54pm
Submitted by Tom Kay, Executive Director, The Conclave
The following is an email I sent to our Board last week. While it generally addresses the 2009 Conclave budget that will be discussed at our fall meeting Saturday (10/18), I thought you might appreciate getting a glimpse of how I view the important issue of budgeting inside the larger heading of “mission”. Your comments, as always, are appreciated:
As we approach our 34th annual Conclave planning meeting (AKA, The Conclave Board of Directors Fall Quarterly Meeting), I feel compelled to share some thoughts with you as you prepare to come to Minneapolis next week.
We have much to discuss and be proud of: our scholarship programs that now total over $95,000, the move of the Learning Conference to a new venue (Bloomington) and month (mid-July), our revamped websites, our new initiative for 2008 – The Conclave Webinars, TalenTrak, our expanded Communique, and our anticipated new educational opportunities for 2009 – The Conclave Urban Conference and the Conclave’s W.E.C.A.N Women’s conference.
That’s quite a handful of projects for an all-volunteer outfit like ours, especially now that the national economic climate of fear and uncertainty have finally caught up with an industry whose economy, fear and loathing got there years ago.
And yes, the Conclave is being asked to perform budgetary magic like everybody else. Just last night, I ended my first attempt at crafting our 2009 budget, having proudly brought our initial revenue and expense figures to within $20K (I started with a differential of around $90K). I won’t belabor the point of whether there was a ‘plus’ or ‘minus’ in front of that figure. Our final budget will ultimately look like many other non-profit (and for-profit) budgets for the coming year: very few added items, more deleted items, and in almost all circumstances - shrunken dollar amounts sure to disappoint virtually everyone gathered at our meeting table.
But here’s what will make our budget different than others.
Ours will be constructed with a sense of mission, not concession. Of sharing, not avarice. Of resiliency, not obstinance.
And finally: of hope, not fear.
Perhaps it is no accident that organizations like the NAB have finally taken notice of our little band of renegade broadcasters. In the past, that group of well-meaning professionals defined ‘resource’ as something found on Wall Street. For some time, our industry has been made painfully aware (and the rest of the nation is now finding out) that banking solely (pun intended) on that resource fails to pay the dividends it once did.
The broader view of ‘resource’ is now being defined to finally include the very essence of broadcasting: the people who have chosen it as a vocation.
The fine folks of the NAB have come to realize what many PDs, MD’s and talents through the years have come to know as true: the Conclave educates, inspires and connects professionals (and students) of our industry like no one else.
And for over 3 decades, unlike others who purport to teach via conferences, it has done so without regard to profit.
Which brings us back to budgets.
Next week, when you cast an eye to what’s been envisioned for the Conclave, remember whom we do all of this for – the managers, programmers, and talents who produce the broadcast content so essential to the very fabric of America.
When you view the numbers, remember that those budget items don’t just represent dollars. Each item represents a commitment to those who put their trust in us to continue to be harbingers of education, spirit, and hope.
Because the numbers are not as large as we’d like, extra effort and sacrifice will be asked of each board member to make sure each dollar represented on the budget is maximized for success.
Our industry deserves no less.
You deserve no less.
While these are challenging times that may cause weak knees to buckle and weaker spirits to quit, you know that we cannot and will not go away.
We are the font of learning.
We are hope.
We are the Conclave.
My First WebinarOct 10, 2008 -- 1:47pm
Submitted by Jay Philpott
This week, The Conclave blazed another trail by adding to its already impressive slate of educational products on yet another emerging platform: the webinar. In addition to information and outreach through its website, the Conclave Communique via email, session audio, KLAV-TV video and even a book (full disclosure - I wrote "Ain't Misbehavin' Just Conclavin"), The Conclave is now presenting additional learning and actionable information from the idustry's top leaders with it's webinars. Conclave webinars are instructional and interactive events that allow the presenter and participant to engage in the same give and take discussion you've come to expect from any Conclave event, live or web-based.
Firstly, thanks to Fred Jacobs, the first webinar host, for his dissemination of Jacobs Media's 2008 Tech Survey. What a great way to experience my first webinar! In his presentation, Fred unveiled the results of a research study that took in the responses of over 27,000 participants...and he shared it for free! Focusing on today's devices and their uses by the audience of today, Fred was able to show how important a multi-platform and content-rich presentation is and will grow to be THE important concerns of programmers in the future.
Key highlights of his webinar revealed that while tech devices and usage is certainly strong in the younger demos, it has taken root in older demos in surprisingly strong fashion. By reviewing Fred's data on texting habits, mp3 usage, satellite radio acceptance and FM radio's resiliency, we were able to see opportunities and challenges for the future.
The key findings showed us that content needs to be available in many other places in addition to the "tall tower in the cornfield". Podcasting is a growing opportunity for stations with a 38% increase in just the past year, the use of video on station websites is increasingly crucial as we must evolve our mindset away from being an audio only medium. Radio and other audio products delivered on the internet are being consumed in greater proportions, satellite radio is not the threat that it was once thought to be, and HD radio has not caught on yet. Even though radio listening is affected by iPod usage, radio is in fact a desired feature that listeners would like to see included in the next generation of the device. The Jacobs study also highlighted social networking, gaming and the huge popularity of texting combined with the trend of cell phone-only households that shapes audience attitudes toward how a station should contact and interact with them.
Solid information - ammunition for action! Thanks again to Fred Jacobs for sharing the results of the latest Tech Survey, and making it available.
Conclave Webinars...I'm a big fan!
Digital Media Strategy ChecklistSep 11, 2008 -- 9:44pm
by Daniel Anstandig, McVay New Media
As Digital Media has matured in the marketplace, many models have emerged for strategic development of websites. At McVay New Media, we consult for media companies who are entering the digital space, and we design and implement digital media strategies for companies on eight cylinders: content, community, communication, commerce, monetization, movement, management, and measurement.
Without thoroughly considering and planning for any one of these areas, the digital media strategy of that company may be vulnerable.
If your company is developing a digital media strategy, these are some of the questions that must be addressed to ensure your success.
- What type of content will be featured on your website?
- Who will be responsible for producing this content?
- Will the content be delivered in the form of text, audio, or video?
- What type of technical platform will this content require?
- Is the content going to be syndicated to iTunes, Shoutcast, AudioRealm, or any other "Internet Yellow Pages" site?
- Will the content require any "RSS" feed functionality?
- Is any of your content going to be repackaged for e-mail distribution?
- Does your site give the audience freedom to establish a community around your content? This may be in the form of "social networking" from forums to comment-posting functionality.
- Does your content lend itself to augmentation from "user generated content?"
- How are you harnessing the traffic on your site? Are you managing a database of users on the site?
- Are you maintaining active e-mails as part your user database?
- How will visitors interact with your brand?
- Do you have a dedicated “Listener Relationship Manager” at the station who is designated to reply to all general communication that comes into the station?
- Do you have a policy for air talent on how quickly listeners should expect a reply to any e-mail or other communication?
- What type of technology will you use to facilitate communication between visitors and your station staff? Are you going to limit communication to e-mail? Or, are chat rooms, instant messengers, and/or “live operator” modules going to be available?
There are two sections of this strategy that account for revenue. Commerce is the part of your revenue strategy that accounts for businessàconsumer transactions. This may be in the format of merchandise: t-shirts, hats, concert tickets, etc. It may also be in the form of digital downloads or digital access, such as online classified ads, loyalty clubs, or password protected content.
Some of the questions that must be answered in this portion of the strategy are:
- What type of store front / shopping cart functionality will you need for your site?
- Do you have a merchant account?
- What is your strategy for controlling inventory in your store?
- Who will serve as the customer service representative at your station when a visitor has a problem?
The second section of this strategy that accounts for revenue is Monetization, which pertains to businessàbusiness related transactions.
- What exact product will you be selling online?
- Who will sell the product, and what type of training do they require?
- Do we need to recruit someone to lead the interactive/digital media sales efforts?
- What is the revenue potential in this marketplace? (often, we provide this analysis for clients based on regional revenue audits)
- What is the best way for this station’s sales staff to integrate selling interactive—without distracting important attention from the core product (on-air advertising)?
This portion of the strategy accounts for how you will "traffic" listeners onto and through your website. This includes recruitment of audience onto the site as well as navigation through the site.
- What is your strategy to move visitors onto your website?
- How will you utilize search engines to direct interested customers to your site?
- Has your site been optimized for search engines, and what is your plan to maintain healthy-search-engine-friendly sites?
- What type of on-air cross promotion will be utilized to support the website?
- If you are streaming, are you diligently cross-promoting to your on-air properties?
- How will you retain visitors on the site for more than three pages--the average number of pages viewed on any site?
- Who will lead this initiative inside the radio station?
- Do you have a Content Management System that is accessible to the entire staff, so that content may be manipulated online by anyone?
- What systems do you have in place to traffic your ads?
- Who will manage your streaming technology, and who is responsible for technical problems?
- Who will lead the sales initiative for interactive? (In many cases, it serves radio stations best to have someone other than the GSM responsible for championing interactive sales behind the scenes).
Responsible tracking of your site’s metrics is essential. You will need to have an analytics program such as Google Analytics or WebTrends.
These analytics/measurement systems will help you define popular areas of your website, how long visitors are staying and where they are coming from.
Remember that streaming measurement is just as important as website measurement; make sure every tune-in or view is counted.
- What metrics program will you use?
- Is it necessary to commission third party audits for this site? (this is dependent on your sales strategy)
- What types of reports will be opened to the sales staff on a regular basis?
- How often will our consultant review the metrics with us to refine our content strategy? (How can our content creators learn from the metrics?)
MORE INFORMATION ON DIGITAL MEDIA STRATEGIES is online at http://www.mcvaynewmedia.com.
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