RBR-TVBR asked Rob Moore, General Manager/Programming and Station Operations, Timeless Cool Music to talk a bit about the new format, and today’s radio programming environment in general. Timeless Cool offers an easily perceived “wider variety” than existing formats, and voids the excessive repeats of music found along the radio dial. The 24/7 format is delivered via satellite and is available on a market exclusive basis. We asked Rob:
As a format PD, tell us about some of the biggest missed opportunities out there for radio stations.
Most programmers miss the fact that there is a tremendous opportunity to stand out in their market place with a stand-alone franchise, and a real reward in doing so. Unfortunately, current “safe” lists are the same from market to market in each format. Imaging from station to station sounds as though it is produced by the same person, with language and elements indistinct from one station to the next. There is nothing new and hasn’t been for decades. Programmers implement small corporate songlists, and are afraid or uninterested in implementing any new imaging concepts that they haven’t used before, which were used before that by someone else. Radio programming discussions are often used to recall old call letters and past stations, as such discussions are typically aimed backward to past situations and accomplishments. The missed opportunity is not recognizing that the adult demo has moved on. If we don’t start looking forward and recognize that the listeners we call disenfranchised now constitute a large, growing, and desirable cell, they will continue to move on without us.
How are the listening demographics changing now?
You have to recognize that in the age of endless on-line music options, satellite radio, IPOD’s, etc, a station needs to resonate in a viable, credible, and unique way to gain loyalty and TSL from available cume. The word “playlist” was an exclusive word to radio 15 years ago. Now, it is part of the lexicon and language of America. Not only do consumers understand the term, the also recognize now when a list is limited. Don’t look now, but we are now in the age of narrowcasting that we use to hear was coming. Increased listening options will continue to share with traditional radio options. AS stations shares continue to level for many stations, the question of “who is listening” will continue to gain importance in the marketplace. With boomers (and their income) burgeoning in the 35 plus category, the opportunity to strike a chord with them takes on tremendous importance in the quest for a stations financial viability. We have seen in decades past a hyper sensitivity to the 18-34 demo. So, this new generation of 35 plus has been underserved by radio to some degree, for some time now. Connecting with this demo is taking full advantage of these demographic trends and shifts.
What will they look like in 5 years?
In 5 years, this demo will still control major purchasing decisions. They will increasingly be seen as a prime target for advertisers. They will still be influential in the business community, and they will continue to influence expenditures of their businesses, as our research shows they do now. At Timeless Cool, we believe successful targeting of this demo is a long-term strategy with long-term benefits. Here’s the thing; this format is not merely available; it is also desirable, for now and for years to come, given the constitution and economic impact of the demo.
Tell us more about your history in the biz.
I was fortunate in that I was schooled early on in my family’s radio business on the fact that that “qualitative matters”. I learned firsthand that creative programming and billing are not mutually exclusive concepts. I was a part of stations that made money by carving out a quality franchise that could not be duplicated in the marketplace. Those experiences have colored my thinking when it comes to targeting with music programming in any market. I also saw this work on a national scale in multiple markets when I was with The Breeze. I spent some time at Netradio.com where we as programmers had 15 playlists to create every day for multiple formats. All of these experiences put me in the way of some great music, and have been instrumental in my understanding of the demo that is 35 plus, in terms of their listening heritage from an historical standpoint. I also spent some time at a non-profit radio company in a programming capacity. So, I know what it’s like to need to create, establish and monetize a viable franchise when you are not a top-rated station. You can have the success you need as an operator, but you limit yourself by being the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th option of an existing format.
What is the 35+ Demo most turned off to with music stations on the radio today?
Reviewing our own research, many comments start off with the same 4 words: “I had given up…”, on finding a station, and on radio in general. I keep using the word disenfranchised, but I believe that in the adult demo in particular, the disenfranchised user is a growing and desirable segment of the radio audience. I think the killer for this demo is the perception of repetition; repetition of the same formats as their business travel takes them from market to market, and repetition of songs within these formats. Most music formats have biased their playlist to a younger demo. And the standard adult formats of AC, Oldies, Smooth Standards, and Classic Rock leave a ton of artists, many of whom we would call familiar, “positive identity” artists, by the wayside. This adult demo is far more aware of this than radio might think. As we have seen time and again by their own comments, this demo has migrated to talk radio and their IPODS. The remain actively interested in music; they just don’t expect a station to recognize this interest. When they find a station that actually fits their tastes and lifestyle, they will lock on with loyalty and TSL. Our research shows many in this cume are Doctors, Lawyers, Professors, and other professionals, even buyers, and they get the appeal of the format. They are decision makers at their businesses, and often their first contact is an inquiry regarding ad rates. They understand the qualitative appeal of the format, because they are part of it themselves. This is the punch line to connecting with the new 35 plus: Taking a unique and forward thinking position in your market is good business, and for many stations, the best opportunity to resonate with both buzz and billing. On the other hand, being yet another AC or oldies station in your market is, ironically, far more risky these days than radio is yet to admit. This demo is not waiting for you to play the same “tested” songs that flamed out years ago, and are readily available on other stations. They will need a reason to find and stay with you, and a limited, duplicate playlist will not cut it for the new 35 plus.