The Lives of Others

This is within your power

I spent an hour on the phone with a friend and colleague yesterday.

He had just found out he’s losing his job December 31. Merry Christmas!

I first met Ross Block almost 20 years ago when he hired me to help him with WARM in Seattle, one of the best SOFT AC stations in America. It’s still ranked #1.

Ross eventually moved back to Florida, his home, to program WSJT, a Smooth Jazz station in Tampa/St. Pete. That station was also very successful.

Smooth Jazz is the poster child for much of what’s wrong with music radio in America. It’s overly-researched, making it stagnant, bland, and predictable. It’s done nothing to recruit new listeners in over a decade. So, not surprisingly, it’s dying, and the death throes started well before PPM.

Here’s the thing…

Through no fault of his own, Ross is losing his job, and I don’t have to tell you that jobs are pretty scarce these days. Ross is not the only friend I have, certainly not the only friend you know of personally, who is being tossed aside by an industry that would rather pay CEOs and Wall Street bankers millions to kill the golden goose by firing thousands of loyal employees than spend that money on the creative types who know how to build winning radio stations.

As I’ve said before in this blog, if you have an underperforming station, I know programmers who can help you today, who are sitting on the sidelines, looking for work.*

I know, I know…

You don’t control your own budgets anymore. You have no hiring flexibility. You’re forced, by corporate mandate, to have one guy run 5 stations.

Everyone’s only following orders, right?

Well, let me offer you the deal of the decade. Can you spare $500? Do you have $500 to have one of the industry’s finest SELECTOR experts do an audit of your music system?

Ross — who is widely recognized as a SELECTOR genius — will do a detailed, 2-day audit checking to be sure your Powers are rotating evenly and efficiently, that your Secondaries make your library sound much larger than it is, and that your rules and priorities are in synch with your goals for cume and TSL in this new PPM world.

Don’t blithely believe this is happening on its own at your stations now. Your PDs are far too over-stretched to have the luxury to run weekly analyses of SELECTOR. It probably hasn’t been done in years.

Look, these are really tough times, and those of us still able to earn a living in Radio need to do more to help those trying to hang on until better days arrive.

I’m not asking you for charity, though the Season might permit it.

I’m asking that you look inside your 2010 budget, and see if you can’t find $500 to make your station sound better almost instantly. We both know you can.

Call Ross. 727.940.5186

He’s not a threat to your PD, or your VP of Programming. He’s a really good guy who has extraordinary skills with music and music rotations, skills that translate to every music format and market.

We’ve all seen enough over the past decade to understand that there, but for the grace of God…

Can we really continue to pretend that this only happens in the lives of others, that we are immune?


Make the call. Your station will sound better. You’ll feel better. Your ratings will improve. You’ll feel better still.

And maybe, just maybe, we can start something positive with this new year.

*ps. Need one of the two best programming minds for personality radio in the world? Call me. These two are so gifted they will blow you out of the water, if you just take the time to talk to them.