It's 7:16 on a Saturday morning and I've already folded a bunch of clothes, updated JEDcastradio.com, and went for a run. My two daughters, Jeanie and Jackie, are in town for a rare appearance. I don't want to wake them so I'm typing quietly in my home studio.
One day you're tiptoeing around the house so you don't wake your babies. Next thing you know you're tip-typing in the study so you don't wake your adult children. Often on the air an older person will call in and observe - "It goes so fast. Enjoy it while it's here." And then radio truth becomes life truth and next thing you know you're sleepin' in a bathtub.
On my run this morning - don't get too excited, the three or four of you, I don't run that often - I had to stop and take a picture of the sun coming up over Community Park where I played baseball as a kid... and my kids played softball... and my nieces and nephews play baseball and softball now. I don't know if it' because there's so much personal history in Community Park, or if the sunrise really was that beautiful. But either way I had this overwhelming desire to trot a couple hundred yards north and sit a few meditative moments in the St. Thomas More church... where I went to mass as a kid... and my kids went when they were kids... and my nieces and nephews go now.
After a while memories hurt your eyelids.
Release them and it hurts worse.
Yesterday I sat on a panel at the Purdue Northwest Commercialization Center about branding. Shanoor and Silva Divarj were the guest presenters. They own their own branding firm. They talked about research, design, naming... and patience. They said that it takes at least six and as many as 10 to 15 years to really build up a brand.
And of course that traditional thinking was shot down by others on the panel and in the audience. Branding? As a long-term process? That sounds foreign in an age when social media can catapult a brand to stardom in a day. What are the fundamentals of branding in this kind of environment? That's basically what Jim Perez of Vision Worldwide said.
I was asked about my branding, and, reluctantly, I had to share my dilemma. We have this excellent brand - WJOB. It's been around since 1923 and, believe it or not, people in northwest Indiana and Chicago's southland trust our brand. They come to it in times of local crisis. And many regulars come to us daily to hear what's going on around the Calumet Region and laugh.
That's what we do. And that's how we're thought of - as this longtime staple that's always there when you need us and is there for a couple laughs about the comic nature of this Region. But that's about it. Don't expect much more from WJOB.
We're changing this perception among listeners by constantly trying new things with the many students and recent grads we get from Purdue Northwest. But we are not slowly changing the perception of WJOB among business owners, agency buyers, marketing account reps at big companies, etc. They still think of us as old WJOB, no matter what we do.
And what are we doing?
No kidding. We have now reached 1,000,000 views on Facebook Live videos... and we've only been doing it for eight months. Facebook Live itself is only a year old. That's a lot of video advancement, a lot of connections with local people. But for some reason ad buyers don't buy it. I understand that Facebook Live is still really new, and, despite the huge disruption it's caused, a lot of people still don't understand where Facebook Live belongs on the marketing spectrum.
Another thing we're doing is gathering local podcasts and putting them on an aggregating website and then playing them on the radio and promoting them. This is only a few weeks old. We put out a call to find local podcasters, and starting with the "Hey My Man" podcast by two local jamokes, we've found a few. We started playing these podcasts on the radio from 2-4pm on WJOB AM 1230 and 104.7 FM.
This is a lot of technological advancement that is leading to a lot more connections with potential clients of local businesses. But I have a hard time explaining it to advertisers, especially when I call it "WJOB video" or "WJOB podcasting." You can see their eyes glaze over.
So I've developed another concept. It's called a "JEDcast," after me. I am the first JEDcaster. It's hard to explain what it is, really, because until this morning laying in bed listening to Alexis breathe rhythmically, I couldn't simplify the explanation. But here's what I came up with and what I just put in as the tag line at the top of JEDcastradio.com.
Podcast. Video. Radio.
Two out of three make a JEDcast.
This you can understand. If you do a podcast and send it to us and we play it on the radio, then it's a JEDcast. If we Facebook Live a show in the studio and put it on the radio, then it's a JEDcast. If you do a radio show and later edit it into a podcast that you post on the internet, then it's a JEDcast. Etc.
Do you understand? I hope so, especially if you're someone who buys advertising.
Now don't get me wrong. It's not like we're not sucking at least some revenue out of the increased impact of Facebook Live and podcasting. We can see it in our radio numbers. For now, Facebook Live and podcasting have a strategic impact and not a direct financial impact. Technically, we lose money every month on Facebook Live. We started live video streaming in 2010 and have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get to this point where we can garner a million views. It'll take a long time and a lot of revenue to recover that investment.
So back to the branding problem... Shanoor, this master marketer, asked me about WJOB and the Facebook Live success. I explained what it was about and then he asked a question -
"And what's this name you mentioned - JED something or other?"
I told him and the 50 or so people in the room that what just happened with Shanoor is what happens with potential ad buyers. I tell them all about the great things that WJOB is doing to use students and recent grads to Facebook Live a ton of stuff for the local audience... and how we're going full bore into bringing podcasting to radio.... and then somehow I casually mention JEDcast and that's the thing they focus on.
It's as if there's a wall, a mental wall. People who want to spend money to find more customers can't comprehend that little old WJOB could do anything groundbreaking that could disrupt the market and give them an edge in the marketplace.
But mention a new website with a new concept and they get curious. So that's my dilemma. We know here at the station - and the three or four of you know it too - that we'll continue to Facebook Live and podcast and do radio and mix all three together to produce things beautiful and be innovative... but what shall we call it?
I have my misgivings about introducing any new terms. I've tried it several times. The three or four of you who read my blog and follow my travails through the media world may remember when I owned the Calumet Press newspaper. That 85,000 circ rag cohabitated with this 93-year-old radio station and we had to come up with something. We tried a bunch of terms and concepts to unite them.
The LOVE unit - Listens, observations, views and other exposures.
That's just some of the crap I've come up with. And it has cost me dearly, in time and money. The one thing I learned through all of this is that the only brand - and this includes The Calumet Press - that people really know and buy into is WJOB. Anything else will take years to develop and will probably die.
So that's the knowledge base I'm leaning on in trying to determine how to bring Facebook Live video, podcasting and traditional radio together under one roof.
Maybe that's the problem, now that I write it out on a Saturday morning to the three or four of you - maybe I shouldn't try to bring them under one roof. That's another discussion with the three or four of you for another day. Right now there's long, drooping streaks of sunshine - does anybody remember sunshine? - across the hardwood floor and I'm hungry as hell. I'd get up and gorge myself on eggs and potatoes, but one of my wayward daughters is sleeping in the living room next to the kitchen. Don't wanna wake her.
One day you're tiptoeing around the house so you don't wake your babies... Next thing you know you're sleepin' in a bathtub.