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Effective coaching is helping to unlock a person’s creative potential to maximize their performance. 

One of the worst coaching experiences I had as a DJ was when I turned off the mic after a song intro and the PD suddenly burst into the control and said, “Don’t ever say anything that stupid again!” I was shattered. Every time I opened the mic for a month I feared that what I said would be perceived as stupid by the PD. He will remain anonymous to protect the guilty. 

The tendency of most programmers and managers is to point out what’s wrong by critiquing (synonym: criticizing) a talent’s performance. Yes, pointing out the parts of performance that needs work is important to the coaching process. Equally important is pointing out and reinforcing what’s working or what the talent and show is doing well (see Self-esteem below). 

A Good Coach Is A 

  • - Collaborator
  • - Master interviewer
  • - Sounding board
  • - Awareness-raiser
  • - Counselor
  • - Teacher
  • - Problem solver
  • - Adviser
  • - Amateur psychologist

The old view: The program/brand director is a boss that critiques talent and molds them into who they think they should be. 

The new view: The program/brand director is a coach, facilitator and collaborator that helps bring out the strengths of talent and thereby giving talent ownership of their growth. 

The relationship between the PD and the show: is ideally a partnership of trust and honesty, openness and safety, and of minimal pressure. 

The environment: The environment is based on trust and safety so that talent can experiment, be creative, fail and know they’ll still be loved. 

Self-esteem is the life force of personality, and if that is suppressed or diminished, then so is the person and the performance. Stress and burnout increase. 

Develop the art of collaboration by asking questions before making judgments. You will find that about 80% of the time the show will make the point for you.

 Randy Lane
 The Randy Lane Co.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 9 April 2014 01:08

It has been more than three years since the last PPM-measured markets were launched in the US and Canada.  As an industry we have learned a lot about ratings, most of which has been good for radio.  However, reflecting on what we have learned, I wonder if we are focusing so much on reducing tune out that we have ignored or paid insufficient attention to what makes a person a loyal fan.  And, I wonder if part of the declining loyalty to radio stations as evidenced by a decline in listening to the medium as a whole is a function of reacting incorrectly to the data we generate from PPM.

PPM is great at measuring audience.  I think everyone will agree that it has shown us that there is a big difference between what people think they are listening to and what they are actually are listening to.  PPM has also helped radio cleanse itself of a lot of self-serving programming “junk” that stations used to run because pre-PPM there was no evidence that it was hurting the ratings.

However, I think that PPM may have caused radio programmers to become slaves to the “in the moment” and lose track of what really builds ratings.  I know from all the research that Coleman Insights does is that what really builds ratings is not eliminating every possible tune out, but rather offering emotion-evoking reasons people can love the station.  When people like or love a station they tune into it every day or even several times a day.  When we reduce tune outs all we do is “maybe” save a quarter-hour.  We don’t build loyalty.  People don’t come back to a station tomorrow because of a reduced tune out today.

Furthermore, I have become convinced that when radio programmers only focus on reducing irritants they run the risk of eliminating the very content that builds loyalty.  I am talking about things like personality talk, morning show bits, midday and evening program features, new songs, community and charity events, etc.  Some of these programming events may be the very things that create emotional responses and cause a listener to become a fan.  Yes, a small percentage of the audience may tune away from some programming, but if half of the audience hears that same content and becomes addicted and listens every day, that will quickly compensate for a small amount of “in the moment” loss.

This can happen on a small scale with a station feature or on a large scale with a major community service event like a radiothon.

Of course, there is a tension between the impact in the moment and the brand value.  I think of it like an XY graph, where the X axis is the in the moment audience value, from negative to positive and the Y axis is the potential brand value from low to high.


Some events may be positive on both dimensions, others negative on both dimensions.  Decisions based on that insight are easy. But the reality is that there is a lot of content that is not as clearly located on the “in moment/brand matrix.”  This is content that may show a little loss in the moment, but is very positive for the brand.  What do stations do with this content?  Are they willing to stand behind the value to the brand and keep running the content no matter what PPM says?

There is an old story about the ratings of a radio station and how ratings are built that I learned years ago from programming great Michael O’Shea.  He taught me that in the share of every station there are two numbers, the number to the left of the decimal point and the number to the right (e.g. 6.0, 6.3, etc.).  He told me that the number to the left is affected by the big things that a station does, like what it is known for and the big benefits the listener gets from the station.  The number to the right is based on the tweaks and minor modifications that the station does to the music, the commercial sequencing, etc.  You can make a mediocre station only slightly better by working on the number to the right all the time.  You can make a mediocre station great by working on the number to the left of the decimal.

This is done by evoking emotions and making people seek out your station. PPM has cleared out a lot of unneeded junk, but I think it has also thrown the baby out with the bathwater in many cases. What do you think?

Jon-Coleman_Coleman-Insights-130x130 Jon Coleman
 Chief Executive Officer
 Coleman Insights

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 9 April 2014 01:01
Emmis Digital’s NextRadio is being criticized for not being successful enough, fast enough. Is that a valid criticism? Perhaps — but Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan says NextRadio was designed for a slow rollout. It’s available only on a few carriers and phone models right now, but more are expected to come on board over time.

So what exactly is NextRadio? Just about every cell phone in the world has an FM receiver on board. But in the United States,  the receivers on most phones are never activated. NextRadio is an app that lets listeners hear local FM stations over the air — not via streaming — on certain phone models from Sprint, Boost, and Virgin.

Smulyan started the initiative for FM in cell phones, and it is, he’s said, his most important contribution to the radio industry. He believes that as more consumers are being moved to metered data plans, they’ll soon find streaming audio is too expensive — and says research shows that younger consumers, many of whom have never been exposed to portable FM, like the idea of a radio they can keep in their pockets.

I’m one of those on the fence about NextRadio. I love radio, and I think radio remains strong (there is evidence), and I love the idea of every phone being a radio. But there’s every reason to believe consumers will continue migrating to digital for some audio entertainment — which I suppose is a good argument for NextRadio, so radio is available on the same devices. Meanwhile, Audi has just announced in-car WiFi, and others will be sure to follow. That will encourage the shift to digital even in an arena where radio has long felt safe. It might even nullify the argument about data charges.

Though Jeff Smulyan speaks of an intentional slow start for NextRadio, I can understand the criticism. After all, we’re living in a world where new companies can see millions of customers within months of launch. We’re in a world of rapid adoption, so when this NextRadio thing doesn’t seem to be happening quickly, complaints are understandable.

I know the industry is promising big ad dollars to Sprint and others to promote these phones. So let’s assume for a moment that you’re an average consumer who hears an ad talking about the NextRadio app. Like most consumers, you don’t pay attention to the details and probably don’t hear that the app is on new Sprint phones only. Oh, and it’s not on all Sprint phones — just on certain models. And what’s a “new” phone? Your phone isn’t old — you got it maybe a year ago. So you go to Google Play or the App Store and search “NextRadio.” And unless you have one of the few phones that can use it, it doesn’t show up.

I tried it on my phone, which is almost two years old. The search gave me nothing for NextRadio, but it did offer alternatives — Slacker Radio, 8tracks, and dozens of other radio apps. As a consumer who took the time to look it up, I’m now frustrated and won’t look any further.

Let’s assume for a moment that those NextRadio ads, which play on hundreds of radio stations, have reached millions of people. And most of those who are interested enough to look for the app can’t find it. Will that experience prompt them to go out and buy a new Sprint phone? Probably not.

If the ads work, if millions became aware of NextRadio, if millions look for the app, and if nearly all of them can’t find it — then almost all those ad dollars are wasted, or even counterproductive.

Why not have a Next Radio FM app that works on all phones and can be found on all searches? Of course, we know they can’t do that right now — not all carriers and phones are offering FM. But the consumer doesn’t understand that. In this app-centered world, they hear about an app and want to try it. They probably don’t even get that it’s designed for FM over the air — to them, it’s just an app to listen to the radio.

Why can’t NextRadio be offered as a station-streaming app like TuneIn or iHeart, at least as an option until many more phones and carriers are on board? (I’m sure TuneIn and iHeart would work with NextRadio to provide station data.)  I asked Jeff Smulyan about that, and he said it hadn’t been considered and might confuse consumers. But I think consumers are just as likely to be confused by hearing about an app and then being unable to find or use it.

The NextRadio app needs to be available to everyone on every phone. When listeners go to use it, and they have the right phone with an enabled FM chip, they could get a message explaining, “You’re listening on FM radio and not spending any money on data charges.” Those who use NextRadio as a streaming app could see a message that says, “You’re paying data charges to listen, but you don’t have to. Some phones have FM radio embedded. Click to learn more.”

Problem solved.

I have no idea whether consumers will embrace NextRadio. I think it’s worth the effort, and I’m thrilled to see this industry behind it. But there’s an opportunity to make this a bigger win for radio. If we don’t get a lot of consumers onto phones with FM right away, at least we can provide another access point. And when more phones with active FM become available, there will be an app for those phone buyers that they may well be using already, with a familiar interface and features. No conversion required.

It’s worth considering.


- Eric Rhoads

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Last Updated on Friday, 28 March 2014 12:05

Actually, we’re joking – it’s not a pyramid like that. “Freytag’s Pyramid” is a centuries-old method of storytelling that’s worth revisiting as you prepare content. To demonstrate it, let’s reach for a Budweiser.

You may recall the touching Budweiser Super Bowl commercial about a puppy who made friends with a horse. The puppy was being given away to a new home until the Budweiser Clydesdales heroically intervened. The puppy and horse lived happily ever after. The end.

You can use that same framework of Freytag’s Pyramid to tell stories on your show by outlining the various points within the story where the action, motivation and conflict change course.

The five points of the Pyramid are:

1. Exposition – inciting moment

2. Complication – rising action

3. Climax – the turning point

4. Reversal – falling action

5. Denouement – moment of release

If you have learned The Execution Rule Of Four in one of our workshops, you may recognize that as a simpler version of Freytag’s Pyramid for outlining the content on segments of your show and for multi-segment content that goes on for several quarter-hours.

It’s another example of how the basics of storytelling relate to helping you create more memorable content on your show.  To learn more, check out this recent Harvard Business Review article on the Power Of Storytelling.


by Jeff McHugh | The Randy Lane Company

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Last Updated on Saturday, 22 March 2014 04:15

I’ve held off on writing about Apple’s CarPlay for one key reason.  Whenever there’s a technical breakthrough – especially when it comes from Cupertino – there’s a rush to be first, to analyze it, to philosophize about it, and to pronounce it as “a game-changer.”

Apple’s CarPlay may, in fact, change the way that consumers connect their iPhones to their cars.  Like many things Apple does, it should simplify the process and make it more elegant.  This is necessary because something as simple as pairing one’s phone in “connected cars” can be as difficult to solve as a Rubik’s Cube.  But even if CarPlay is as sweeping a development as some claim it to be with supposed massive implications for radio, the reality is that it will take time for this new telematics innovation to play out and be absorbed by the main players involved.  This is, after all, the auto industry, and things don’t just start changing overnight.

So rather than taking a screaming BREAKING NEWS! approach – like CNN or Fox News would – to this big “connected car” story, let’s step back and take more of a considered, analytical, and thoughtful point of view – like NPR would.


By the way, the first thing you might have noticed is that it’s called CarPlay – not CarWork.  This is fun stuff – being able to easily port the content in your iPhone over to your Mercedes.  As the automakers always say, it is all about a great driving experience, and Apple obviously shares that sentiment.

Given the difficulty that consumers have faced with telematics and the “connected car” (and the J.D. Power ratings bear that out), this can only be a good thing.  At The Radio Show (and subsequent presentations), Strategy Analytics’ Roger Lanctot has shown his company’s tests that challenge consumers to “find radio” the first time they plop down in the seat of a “connected car.”

Sometimes it’s funny, but mostly it’s a reminder that there’s no standardization in this industry.  And while part of Apple’s mindset is to provide a simple, direct, and familiar interface with your dashboard, none of this works with the “other 50%” – Android devices.  And so Google is racing to accomplish some the same things with its platform.  This was a topic at DASH and an event that has since come true, as both behemoths – Google and Apple – are angling for real estate in the dash.  That should affirm for you just how big a space this is and will be.

As the Apple vs. Google drama that has played out with phones and tablets now migrates to the “center stack,” automakers now are left to grapple with the implications.  And while it would be easy to rush to conclusions now, this is something that will need to sort itself out over the coming months and even years.  Some OEMs will jump right in, while others will assess and perhaps choose to stay with their own models and architectures.

Apple has made it simple for consumers to easily adjust to new things because of their standardization – whether it’s their apps, their font, their Siri, and all their other features.  Once you’ve learned how to use your iPhone, there’s no adjustment to using an iPad.  Or now the dashboard in the Volvo S60.




For radio, nothing’s changed.  Consumers have been able to pair their phones with their cars since the advent of AUX IN jacks, the leap to Bluetooth, and then embedded apps in the center stack.

The real reminder from Apple’s expected-yet-surprise announcement on Monday is that every radio company should have its own “connected car” go-to person, and every cluster should have a designated sales marketing rep to accommodate and serve the auto community as things move quickly.  In short, a mobile and “connected car” strategy is rapidly become table stakes.

Anyone who tells you that Apple’s announcement is game-set-match or checkmate for radio (or a big boon for Pandora or anyone else) has no idea what they’re talking about.  Like all of consumer electronics and technological innovations, the only given is that there are no givens.

It’s another reason why there will be a second DASH conference in October.  Because for radio, the automotive industry, HD radio, and all the other players in this drama, there will continue to be debate, the need for continued learning, new partnerships, and opportunities for company CEOs and managers who recognize what’s up for grabs here.

The challenge for radio remains the same – how to make its brands ubiquitous in cars, how to provide a seamless streaming experience, how to ensure its visual presentation on dashboards is on a par with Pandora, SiriusXM, and iPods.  Don’t let others scare or alarm you about Apple’s new telematics solution for cars.  Use it as motivation to address the key challenges that radio brands space in the rapidly changing “center stack.”

And what is it about your content that will make consumers want to seek you out, above and beyond the infinite choices they now have when they get behind the wheel?  What’s your why?  What are consumers hiring radio to do while they drive - and is radio delivering?

At jacAPPS, we can design and build you great apps, and now Apple has made it easier to connect your iPhone – at least in some vehicles.

But the hard part – mapping out and building your proprietary, local, personality-driven essence; the qualities and attributes that make you different, unique, and great – well, that’s on you.

So is CarPlay a game changer?

Nope.  Same game.  Now just a little easier for some consumers to play.

The big story is that Apple has reaffirmed the importance of the “connected car.”

Now the ball’s back in our court.



- Fred Jacobs | President, Jacobs Media


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Last Updated on Thursday, 6 March 2014 11:24

If you have the luxury of a healthy research budget, you’ll be spending a big chunk on your next perceptual survey, but are you getting data that will motivate change? Are you getting the standard template questions used by every station in the country, or something customized to your brand? When designing a survey, it is important that you roll up your sleeves and craft questions that produce answers your team can actually use. This means working backwards from the solution, not forward from the questions.

Baseline audience information is important to assess, but many surveys provide little else. Knowing who plays the most music or which station has a “too much talk” perception is helpful, but what are you going to do with that data? This is especially true of tracking surveys. We ask the same questions year after year, tracking trends in perception. This information is nice to know, but it doesn’t always (or often) lead to real progress.

For example, if I asked you, “Do you think I’m a good consultant?”, there is little I can do with the responses. I will get an impression, but I cannot take any action.  But if I ask you, “What specific things could I do to improve the service I provide that would give you what you need to succeed at your station and your show?”, I have information I can act upon.

So the question “What specific things on (station) make it your favorite station?” is a good one. That’s because it would answer the question “Which of our features, attributes or benefits are most promotable and have the greatest chance of creating a listening habit?” It could provide information that leads to an immediate restructuring of your on-air promotion strategy.

Work with your research company to start the project from scratch, without templates. Begin the questionnaire process with a careful assessment. What answers will empower you to take a specific and decisive action? Try to reduce questions that provide general impressions, instead searching for information that will help you move forward.

For each question you want answered, follow up with “What action would you take if you had an answer to that question?” If you cannot answer to that second part, then it should not be on the survey.

In other words, ask yourself: “If I knew this, I would do that.”

Here are some examples:

Music: “If I knew the specific artists and songs my audience identifies with most, I would adjust how we position and image our station in promos”

Features:”If I knew the audience’s level of interest with celebrities, I would immediately adjust who and what is featured in teases and Hollywood News content.”

Marketing: “If I knew where our audience prefers to vacation, I would adjust prize packages and trips in our contests and giveaways.”

So put your own research to the actionable test. Are there mostly questions that inform, but are not actionable?  How many of those questions led to a specific reaction?


   - by Tracy Johnson

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Last Updated on Friday, 28 February 2014 05:43