Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Recognizing the Beginning of Radio Advertising

A little bit of history from today's RAB Radio Sales Today....

Today marks the anniversary of a very important, yet rarely celebrated event in Radio's history. At 5:15 p.m. on August 28, 1922, in New York City, a man identified only as "Mr. Blackwell" delivered what is widely believed to be the first paid Radio commercial. The ad was broadcast by station WEAF, cost $100, and was sponsored by the Queensboro Corporation of New York.

The rambling 10-minute spot was an effort to educate the listening audience about the novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, as a tie-in to the Queensboro Corporation's recently opened cooperative apartment complex in Queens, Hawthorne Court. The text of the commercial began as follows:

"I wish to thank those within the sound of my voice for the broadcasting opportunity afforded to me to urge this vast Radio audience to seek the recreation and the daily comfort of a home far removed from the congested part of the city, right at the boundaries of God's great outdoors, and within a few minutes by subway from the business section of Manhattan. This sort of residential environment strongly influenced Hawthorne, America's greatest writer of fiction. He analyzed with charming keenness the social spirit of those who had thus happily selected their homes, and he painted the people inhabiting those homes with good-natured relish."

Upon hearing about the new commercial trend, Radio pioneer Lee de Forest reportedly exclaimed: "What have you done with my child? You have sent him out on the street... to collect money from all and sundry... [and] made of him... a stench in the nostrils of the gods of the ionosphere."

Despite de Forest's haughty protests, other companies slowly began to utilize the medium for advertising purposes, including the American Express Company, the Tidewater Oil Company, and the two large competing department stores in New York -- Macy's and Gimbels.

I find it very interesting that the rate was $100 for a ten-minute commercial. By today's standard that ad would cos
t $1,283.33 or $128.30 a minute. Pretty good rates for 1922!

To figure out what a dollar is worth from back in the day click here:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We Live In A Global Society

At the radio station we are a family. Sometimes a dysfunctional family, but a family nonetheless.

This morning, my friend Alex Santa Maria who happens to be our Morning DJ and Music Director on MEGA stopped by my office to say hi. He was so excited to tell me about his daughter Sheila and her new adventure. Sheila is 17 and a high school student in Phoenix. She just left home to study, immerse herself in the language, customs and culture of Japan for six months as a foreign exchange student. The more Alex told me, the more excited I got hearing about it! I was wondering how at 48, I could take a sabbatical and be a foreign exchange student.

Alex also shared with me that he is going through a little separation anxiety as well. Although, before she left, taking advantage of technology, Sheila set Alex and Veronica up on Skype so they can video conference each other. It's just as simple as logging on to the internet and a couple of mouse clicks later.... wal la...they are communicating a world apart! This should help ease Alex's anxiety once he figures out the time zone issues.

Alex is definitely the proud father! He was glowing as he was telling me about Sheila. I love seeing Alex like this and hearing the stories!

As Alex and I were speaking, I was reminded of a story that Fran shared with me when she was studying for her International MBA at the Thuderbird School of Global Management. She had a professor who said that since we live in a Global Society, "the greatest gift you can give your children, is to expose them to a different country every year". Fran and I subscribe to that philosophy and have taken it to heart and have tried to do this with the girls. Although, being a foreign exchange student is the ultimate gift. I hope that our girls will have the opportunity to study abroad some day too.

Back to Sheila...... Sheila is an exceptional artist and a talented writer as well. Through the years, Alex has shown me Sheila's artwork and it is incredible. I have always been amazed by here drawings and sketches. To give you an idea of how talented Sheila is, the picture below is a sketch she did on the flight to Japan. It is a drawing of all of her new friends that she met on the way over.

Someday, I hope to have a Sheila Santa Maria original on our wall!

Sheila's has started a Blog where she is keeping a diary of her experience. Click Here:

I'll be anxious to check in on it over the next six months to hear about her adventure and see more of her artwork.

Here are a few more links to Sheila's art work.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I Don't Get It!

I went to Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall with the girls this evening and something happened that I just don't understand. Maybe someone can explain it to me.

We went into two makeup stores (teens need makeup), Sephora and Bare Minerals and then walked by Armani and Metropark on our way to have dinner at the Grand Luxe. There was one common thread among these five business establishments, they all were playing dance music from "Deep House" to current remixes. As a matter of fact, Armani had a live DJ mixing.

This is what I don't understand. If five establishments are playing dance music why doesn't dance music have a bigger commercial footprint on terrestrial radio here in the United States and specifically in Phoenix? I don't get it. Walking through the mall, I heard a disproportionate amount of dance music compared to other current types of music. Why do retailers feel that dance music works for them in their stores but we can't seem to have any great success with it on the air?

Before everyone comes out of the woodwork and tells me that in Phoenix on Energy we have a bad signal,crummy programing and don't know what we are doing, Stop! That's not what I'm talking about. Say what you want about our station, you are entitled. I'm talking big picture, about dance music as a viable sustaining format on radio stations across the country. After all, dance seems to do well in Europe, why doesn't it do better domestically?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that dance music hasn't had it's success's on the radio. I am suggesting that it hasn't been a hugely successful, sustaining format. Pure dance stations are simply niche formats that rarely break a one share. Yet, you go to the mall and aggregate all the music genres played in the stores and I can assure you that dance represents much more than a one share of all the music types being played in there.

I'm a big fan of the genre and the format. We brought the format to Arizona and have been committed to it for five years. I'm anxious to get your take on the disparity.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Empty Seats, Premium Inventory and A Missed Opportunity

I read today that NBC Universal has hit the jackpot with their Summer Olympic coverage. the ratings are huge and they have generated over $1 billion in advertising. Just in the last week they have added an additional $10 million dollars to their coffers because they held back inventory in anticipation of big ratings and additional demand for TV ads.

This is in stark contrast to all the empty seats you see at the venues when you watch the events on television. I read that the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee is actually busing in volunteers to fill the seats so the events don't look so empty.

Allegedly, all of the events are sold out and the majority of tickets go to corporate sponsors who don't use them for the preliminary events.

It just strikes me as odd that NBC is breaking ratings and revenue records, yet the seats are empty for a world class event that only happens every four years.

I don't get it! If in fact the corporate sponsors have extra tickets, I think they missed an OLYMPIC size opportunity. They should have given the tickets to the locals or the tourists who traveled to China and did not have tickets to the events. All this would do is create good will for their brand. What could be so bad about that?

I can remember many times at the radio station when we have had extra tickets to a concert or sporting event at the last minute. We would always make sure that the tickets got used. We also made sure that the people who we gave the tickets to new they were from the radio station. It's just good PR!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What You Can Learn From Your Kids If You Pay Attention

School has started in Arizona and this morning I was signing last minute releases and forms for our eleven year old who started middle school. On one of the forms she needed to fill in her email address, she challenged me on that and said that she never uses her email any more. I found that very odd since she is on the computer almost as much as I am. She is my go to IT person at home because she knows how to use the computers and internet better than anyone.

I asked her why she doesn't use email and she told me that she text messages and uses AIM instead. Interesting.....

Tonight, I had to pick up my oldest from her first high school social. While at dinner, I sent her a text and asked if I could pick her up early. Of course, she said no and wanted to be picked up at nine. I texted back "OK". At nine, when I got to the school I sent her another text telling her I was in the parking lot waiting for her. She sent back a note saying she would be right there. We never talked on our cell phones to each other.

While in the car going home we were discussing how she was planning on getting home from school tomorrow. She told me that she was getting together with an older friend of hers who drives and that she thought she could pick her up and take her home. She then went on to say that when she got home she would talk to her friend on Facebook and firm things up and then let me know what her plans were.

Wait a second! My little one doesn't use email and my older one doesn't talk on the cell phone. But they both are big into text messaging and social networking (AIM, MySpace, Facebook) as a normal way of communicating. What's going on here?

Then I was reading Fred Jacobs Blog today titled "Email Is For Old People" and it all became crystal clear. In it he sites research from the Bedroom Study and Jupiter Research which states ..........
"The rise of social networking activity, coupled with texting and incessant cell phone use, has created a notable decrease in the use of email".

To top it all off, Fran signed up for Facebook today and added me as a friend. How ironic. I'm living this research.

My point is that conventional forms of communication are rapidly changing and becoming obsolete for the younger generation. As broadcasters and marketers we need to understand what is going on and be proactive. The reality is, as much as we want to believe that we know what is going on, we can learn a lot from our kids. Talking with my girls is like having daily mini focus groups. Kids today are on the cutting edge of technology and communications! Talking with them helps me become more relevant and understand how to best communicate with our listeners and customers.

Read Fred Jacobs Blog "Email Is For Old People" Here:
Read The Bedroom Study Here:
Read The Jupiter Study Here:

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Lesson In Brand Loyalty Up In The Air

I was in New York the beginning of the week visiting our national rep firm and clients. I had good meetings and it was a successful trip.

This was also the first time I had flown on US Air since they started charging for soft drinks and water. Boy, was this the topic of conversation on the plane, that along with the charges for checked baggage. The consensus from fellow passengers was that it stinks to have to pay for drinks and checked bags.

Personally, I would rather pay a few extra dollars up front and have the cost of a soft drink built into my ticket. As a business traveler who usually has to pay a premium for my ticket, I don't like being fleeced at forty thousand feet. I just feel violated, having to reach into my pocket when they ask me for two bucks for a can of Diet Coke, this after I just paid $400 for a airplane ticket. Call me crazy, it just bothers me. If they are going to charge on the plane, I think that they should comp their Elite travelers a free soft drink or water. Don't stick it to your best customers.

It will come as no surprise to you that I was talking about this at work the other day. Our Program Director, Beau Duran shared the following story with me. I asked him If I could put it on the blog. This is what Beau had to say.......

"On a recent flight from Chicago to Phoenix we were delayed leaving Midway because of storms in the area. We sat on the tarmac at Midway for over an hour before we were finally able to take off. Upon landing in Phoenix, we learned there had been a huge storm here knocking out power to the airport for a little bit. The power outage caused a domino effect that left all of the gates full in the terminal, thus we had nowhere to deplane. We sat on the runway at Sky Harbor for over an hour and a half waiting to get off the plane before we could finally get into a gate. We finally got off the plane after 2:30, more than 3 hours later than we should have.

To the best of my knowledge nobody on our plane seemed to upset. I think most people have come to think things like that are just part of traveling nowadays, at least that was the mindset I was in. Neither I nor the person I was traveling with made any sort of stink with airline employees. We just shrugged our shoulders and went about our business.

About a week later, I received a note in the mail from Southwest apologizing for the hassle and offering me a flight credit on a future flight. I thought it was a nice gesture and expected a 50 dollar credit or so. I was shocked to open it up and see a 200 dollar credit, more than enough for a roundtrip flight to anywhere on the West Coast. To say the least I was very pleasantly surprised.

When compared to the recent increase in fees from airlines for checked bags, pillows and blankets and even soda and water on US Airways, it is no wonder why Southwest is handily doing better than its competitors. That one move certainly gained my loyalty for a long time to come".

Beau Duran

Program Director