Archive for November, 2007

Turning Off A TV Career

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Once again, journalists are turning to Tanner Friedman for insights on the media business.

Today’s Detroit News focuses, for a second time in recent weeks, on the end of a distinguished television career for WXYZ-TV’s General Manager Grace Gilchrist. We are quoted in this story, with some analysis.

Why all of the fuss about a General Manager, whose face isn’t familiar to most viewers, leaving the station? Because news is often about exceptional happenings. Serving as a General Manager of a major market TV station for 13 years and working continuously for an entire career in that challenging business, then leaving on your own terms, is the exception – far from rule. That’s why it is receiving so much deserved attention.

Tom Bender—One of Detroit Radio’s Stars Continues to Shine

Monday, November 26th, 2007

As someone that likes to preach “tradition” in radio programming and formatics, I was quite pleased to read today in Crain’s that longtime Greater Media guru Tom Bender has been promoted to senior vice president and general manager of Greater Media Interactive. For more than 20 years, Bender has served as regional market manager for rock station WRIF, classic rocker WCSX and, more recently, for adult contemporary WMGC.

Though I have never met nor spoken to him, Bender obviously subscribes to everything that makes for outstanding radio: True personalities that resonate with listeners, continuity of format (and personalities) and an understanding of and appreciation for the local Detroit market.

Just think about it: Each of those stations is chock-full of some of our town’s all-time superstar talents, in virtually every daypart—from JJ & Lynne and Ken Calvert to Jim Harper, Drew & Mike and Arthur P. To a man and woman, they know Detroit and we know they’ll be there for us—at the same time each day—whenever we turn those respective stations on.

Congratulations, Tom. The industry desperately needs a few more hundred leaders and visionaries just like you.

Taking Advantage of the “24 Hour News Cycle”

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Last night, Tanner Friedman enjoyed a case study in the “24 Hour News Cycle.”

A client called me in the evening with a news story – not just an idea or tip – a bona fide story involving their business. It was 6:45 p.m.

At one time, someone in my position might have said “let’s talk in the morning and decide what to do.” But, because of the Internet, 24 hour all-news radio, beefed up morning television, a wire service bureau locally and newspaper journalists with home access to their newsrooms’ systems, we broke the story immediately.

By 8:15pm, a wire story was online. Early in the 9pm hour, multiple newspapers carried the story on their web site. At 9:30pm, our client was being interviewed on live radio. This morning, TV newscasts ran the story repeadtely and the daily newspapers had it prominently, in one case on the front page.

It doesn’t happen every day. But, news can be broken, strategically, at any hour of the day or night to tell stories and deliver messaging. It is another example of how news is changing, in this case positively.

Video Games Next Messaging Frontier

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

There’s enlightening news out this week about the hottest way to get your message in front of consumers. The fastest growing ad tactic – buying space with video games online.

Advertising including in-game ads and on video gaming sites is up 39% while other media ad spending is relatively flat, according to a new Business Week article. And it’s not cheap. Total spending for 2006 – $370 million. The Yankee Group reports online in-game advertising could cost up to $600 million per buy.

Think online video gamers are just teenage boys with too much free time? Think again. The average online video game player is 36 years old. And the latest research shows women are just as likely as men to be online gamers.

Media consumption is changing. Entertainment is changing. So should your view of how to reach your targets.

Web 2.0 Innovation All About 1 to 1 Interaction

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

As Tim Smith, president of Royal Oak-based Skidmore, Inc. says in the new, November 19th issue of Crain’s Detroit Business, Web 2.0 is as much about approach and mindset as it is about the latest online technology. It’s finding ways to continually and proactively interact with your audience in order to form productive, impactful relationships.

To be sure, social networking and blogging are becoming more prevalent and useful to a wider range of entities—from corporations and businesses to community groups and not-for-profits.

This week’s Crain’s “Innovation” issue also addresses the world of blogging in detail, including its legal and marketing aspects. We are quite pleased to be included in reporter Bill Shea’s piece, in particular with our regularly updated blogs continuing to grow in popularity. Our recent blog on Tom Ryan’s firing by WOMC, in fact, snagged over 100 unique visitors in its first day of posting as well as comments from radio industry veterans and casual listeners alike.

Overall, garners thousands of visits per month (and growing) with our up-to-the-minute blogs on hot communications topics and issues du jour serving as our biggest site driver. It is most rewarding on both a professional and a personal level.

CNN To Do “More with More”

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Finally, some good news.

We have taken up much space on this blog pointing out media outlets trying to do the impossible – “more with less.” So, it’s about time somebody decided that they actually need more staff to cover more news.

CNN announced today they plan to boost their staff off correspondents by 10 percent – adding 15-16 positions, spending millions of dollars to “generate original news content.”

CNN plans to beef up its staff at bureaus around the world, effective early next year. Hopefully, they will also give their new correspondents the resources they need as well.

As we say at Tanner Friedman, “Content is King.” Finally, a major organization is appropriately showing respect for royalty.

WDFN Morning Show Fans Fan Flames of Discontent, Affect Change

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

Shame on WDFN management. Hurray for WDFN management.

Days after announcing the axing of their live, local morning show for syndicated programming, WDFN this week reversed their decision. Citing tremendous fan input, the a.m. team has been reinstated—for now at least—according to the station website.

Could this be a positive turning point for traditional radio? Are today’s radio decision makers finally beginning to understand that you build listener loyalty and ratings through on-air continuity and personality coupled with local originality and content?

Only time will tell.

Relationships Are Key to Becoming a Rainmaker

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

Have you heard the one about the PR firm that thought new business could be attracted by having employees cold calling, while discouraging its staff from become actively involved in industry groups or non-profit initiatives?

It’s actually no joke but, rather, a shortsighted, ineffectual approach to career pathing employees and developing future firm rainmakers.

I’m often asked by young industry professionals: How do you bring in new business? The answer is simple—build relationships:

• Do a great job serving existing clients. They are your greatest referral sources.

• Get involved. That can include industry organizations such as PRSA and IABC, business groups, as well as community and non-profit organizations. Get out there. Do some pro-bono work. Buy a ticket. Join a Board. Make a difference.

• If/when a client or employee leaves, take the long view and demonstrate class upon their departure. Clients can come back. They also refer. Employees, on the other hand, could one day be in a position to hire you. Burned bridges are seldom repaired.

• You have to give to receive. Building relationships is a two-way street.

Relationship building does not happen overnight. It takes time, patience and hard work. Harder than picking up a phone and cold-calling? Absolutely. Then again, challenging and effective beats narrow-minded and worthless any day of the week.

A Must Read – AP Chief’s “Fork In the Road”

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

Whether you are a Tanner Friedman client, a fellow communications professional, a journalist or just someone interested in what we do, please take two minutes of your time and read this short article.

The CEO of the Associated Press talks about the “fork in the road” for media and makes several on-the-money points that echo the discussions taking places inside our office every day.

Importanty, he says what many others are afraid to articulate. Booming “portals” like (which is maybe how you found this blog) are a significant and user-friendly source of news, but produce no original journalism. Where does the journalism come from? Entities that are struggling. Scary stuff if you care about the news.

Tom Ryan Firing Latest Radio “Black Eye”

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

I’m not quite sure how to feel this morning—angry, sad, disgusted or worried—with the news in the Oakland Press that longtime Detroit radio legend Tom Ryan was fired yesterday after his show by WOMC-FM after 25 years at the station. Ironically, he began his career as an intern for his morning co-hort Dick Purtan some 42 years ago at the iconic “Keener 13,” WKNR-AM 1310. Last year, ‘OMC also jettisoned another Detroit radio “classic”—Tom Force. More recently, WNIC parted ways with 30-year midday veteran Gene Maxwell.

Anyone who knows me knows of my love of traditional radio borne of a childhood listening to AM radio personalities in the early 1970s. These giants of the airwaves also played the hits, but that was just a bonus (if not, at times, a distraction). We listened to hear our heroes talk up a song intro or banter with a listener on the air. It was larger than life, magic. Today, like the dodo bird, that ethereal “theater of the mind” is moving towards extinction, and for what? Better margins?

Across the country, sales-focused managers making programming decisions have always been a recipe for disaster. The quest for larger profits, in turn, has led to consolidation, and the misguided “vanilla-izing” of local radio. Where once radio was filled with on-air “Superstars” with a true connection to their respective markets, now we have “cost-effective” card readers who play songs from ever-shrinking, over-researched music playlists. Is it any wonder the next generation of radio listener continues to leave in droves for satellite receivers and MP3 players?

I would suggest today’s radio decision makers be required to take a few courses in radio history for proper perspective. Live, local “Personalities” in all dayparts—not just morning drive—are a vital ratings resource that should be cherished, not discarded. What should be thrown away are the playbooks from which these suits and their corporate consultants continue to operate from. It is time to go back to basics or risk irreparably ruining this medium.