Today's post is a guest entry from Tom Yates, owner, manager, DJ, and salesperson at The Coast, KOZT, Mendocino. Some of you may recall that among other major market operations, Tom programmed KLOS "back in the day," and was the first PD of KLSX in the late '80s. Not long after, Tom "dropped out," and with his friend and partner, Vicky Watts, bought the station, and have been running it ever since. The Coast features major market jocks who have gravitated to Mendocino to make a life and to do great radio. The station was recently honored with its third Crystal Award, and in the most recent Arbitron for Mendocino County ranked #1 12+ and in most other key demos.
At a time when the trades are filled with news about major broadcasters firing hundreds, flirting with bankruptcy, shedding key personalities, killing research, and burning the furniture, I thought you'd find Tom's outlooks refreshing and insightful.
The Coast staff, with Vicky and Tom at the far right.
A lot of space and time has been spent on the cutbacks and downward spirals of a lot of the major media groups. A few weeks ago there was considerable attention given to the double handful of smaller stations that basically turned off the lights and left the keys in the door... all true and all sad for this business we love....
... but in between the giants and their giant problems (with all empathy to the good folks who've gotten the boot and those who just couldn't go on), there're literally thousands of stations still making it, mostly because they're broadcasters doing... uhhh... broadcasting... or, more correctly for a lot of us, disseminating programming, using all the old tools we've always had, and using the new tools (and a few toys) that have become available.
Even with the economy, we're still an important part of our clients' lives (and budgets) because we continue to work at serving our communities and strengthening the loyalty of our listeners... just Communications 101. Sure, we're all watching our budgets, but we're not cutting back on what makes us strong:
Programming that works for listeners and advertisers alike, without compromise of the basic values
Staying in touch with their aspirations and needs, and delivering to - and beyond - their expectations
Being there when they need us, whether it's marketing advice, help with a fundraiser or just being a source of information and entertainment.
There's so much made of the delivery systems available - and we use 'em all... streaming of course, cellphones (thanks for the iPhone app!), last year we'd never heard of Twitter and on and on. BUT if there's nothing on your station that's special, they're not going to listen, even if your morning show hand delivers it to their door.
Way too many are careful of only what they consider their "core programming," and don't get that whatever's on the air at the moment is the station at that moment. That includes crappy spots, meaningless promotions, mindless liners, stopsets that never seem to stop, lack of long-term strategies and relationships for listeners and clients - too often with a basic lack of knowledge of what made us an important part of people's lives to begin with.
Too many good programmers don't have an equal say in what they're ostensibly in charge of, and too many good sales and marketing people don't get partnered intelligently into the mix. It's easy to blame the economy, but a lot of what is shaking out does seem to come in the voice of Eeyore, instead of taking a deep breath, rolling up your sleeves and forgetting the concept of an eight hour day; getting back to basics while taking in all the changes and opportunities that are presenting themselves, and making them work for your communities and your station, whether terrestrial, cyber or some new mode someone's inventing right now.
Television was supposed to kill us, then color TV, 8-tracks, cassettes, cable radio, satellite, and on and on. What's happening now, again, as sad as it is for the good folks who've been "downsized," is Darwin's theory in vivid action. The folks who understand how to communicate and don't confuse the box with the contents are (and will continue) doing fine. The non-communicators and folks who don't get it and don't look at the whole package will go the way of the Dodo.
Broadcasters? Real broadcasters? We'll continue to evolve and thrive in tandem with the folks we serve. It's tough for a lot of folks right now, but ending with Nietzsche instead of Eeyore: "That which doesn't kill us only makes us stronger."