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Fred Jacobs is President of Jacobs Media, a media research and consulting firm. Jacobs Media clients have included CBS Radio, Premiere Radio Networks, Citadel, Greater Media, MTV Networks, Playboy, Amazon, Electronic Arts, NPR, Sylvan Learning Centers, and Taubman Malls. Learn more about the company here.


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August 2011

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« Radio's Puzzle Master | Main | Cancelling Radio »


Dick Hungate

Absolutely, one-thousand-percent correct !!
And this is yet another reason why I've decided to
re-invent myself and exit radio for 3 years of seminary.
Much of this intransigence started years ago with a
"top-down" management style, over-controlling Cox Radio
CEO by the name of Bob Neill. He certainly is a smart
guy, no doubt, and I DO know he has good intentions.
(In other words, I'm not trying to do any character
assasination...nor paint him as "Dr. Evil" from the
Mike Myers movie franchise). And he isn't the only
culprit in this seeming gridlock over measurement.
And Cox was, indeed, generous with me when they let
me go in July of 2005 to cut costs...so I'm not trying
to be a little bridge-burning worm here; I like 'em.
Having said the caveats, there IS a huge Mel-class ego
which manifests itself in constant micro-management of
his market leaders and second-guessing of the OP's,
PD's, MD's and even jocks about seemingly small stuff.
Cox program managers of mine more than once took heat
because Neill was on the listen-line and heard me play
(on a daily, one-song "deep cuts" featurette, no less)
something shocking such as "Rain" by the Beatles or
"Can't You Hear Me Knockin" by the Stones. Result? A
very popular daily feature called "Dick's Vault" (the
idea for which came from Fred Jacobs himself...you
know...the guy Cox, Richmond pays all that retainer to
for his brilliant creative oversight?) that actually I
heard done on a cassette of the same thing, taped off
of WCSX in Detroit...well, that 2:30 pm daily feature
simple went away. Why? To placate Neill. (If you're
going to have a "vault" feature, you're probably not
going to reach for "Hey Jude", agreed ??) But the
song hadn't "tested"....there we go again with that
dreaded "t" word...which, generally, is defensible.
But not for a deep cuts feature! Wake up and GET IT,
some of you corporate radio dudes...or just GO AWAY to
Hilton Head, Huntington Beach, Long Island or ANY
damned place as long as you're not on your Blackberry
scorching the earlobes of that market manager to whom
you SUPPOSEDLY gave not only the accountability but
also the authority to run his or her market for you!
You can't have it both ways. You LOVE IT when they
deliver you 15%-higher-than-even-your-rosiest-forecast
for-that-market-cluster net figures on December 31st.
Yet...on a day-by-day basis...you can't butt out and
let GM's be GM's, OM's be OM's, PD's be PD's and (most
crucial from the LISTENER'S....our customers!...point
Ahem...swallow...deep, cleansing breath...re-focus.
O.K.....(This little "aside" is brought to you by new
improved Xanax. Try it today! You'll love it!).
Anyway...whether the example du jour of not being able
to reach overall consensus is a people meter or a new
competitor for Arbitron (which is being tested in the
Fredericksburg, VA. market now)...our industry has a
certain disjointed, unfocused, Keystone Cops quality
that isn't getting better. 2005 becomes 2006. Next
think you know it's 2007. And not much ever changes.
If it's frustrating for some of us enlightened insiders
...just how much MORE frustrating do you suppose it is
for an agency buyer holding millions in Geico, CarMax,
Anheuser-Busch, Home Depot, etc. ad cash? They WANT
to believe in the future of terrestrial radio, because
they still are young enough that it holds a soft spot
in their hearts (the iPod, thankfully, didn't exist
QUITE yet when these buyers were teenagers...nor XM
and Sirius). But when their perception is that we
not only play the same 250 songs ad nauseum (granted,
Jack, Bob, etc. formats that "play what they want" up
that number to a shocking 700....ooooooooh!...they
still are lying, of course, with that positioning
mantra on the air, because at any given point in time
there is a fixed playlist...which is fine with me as
a former major-market PD/MD/jock...but, nonetheless,
a trick is being played on their audience, which DOES
detect that deceit after listening only a few weeks)...
...anyway, but when the agency buyers' perception is
not only that we are repetitious but ALSO that we seem
to be fighting amongst ourselves all the time, it can
make the buyers say, "Screw it...I'll earmark this cash
for the Yahoo homepage ad rotater, instead. So every
sixth person who clicks for his email will see the
Geico critter some 14 inches from his face instead of
hearing his British accent over his Honda speakers.
Hey...it's not MY money, it's my CLIENT'S ad money.
Doesn't really matter to me! Maybe I'll check back
in 2009 to see if the honchos ever settled on a true
radio listening measurement tool...or if they still
are squabbling over who will sign-off on a people
meter test in Houston....

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