It’s 4am on Saturday morning and I wish like hell I could sleep in until six. It doesn’t happen. It’s the curse of the morning radio host. Even on your days off, you wake up ready to talk.
Instead, I’ll blog with the three or four of you. Did you ever think you’d be a blog reader? Did the three or four of you ever think that you’d have a relationship with a guy who talks every morning on WJOB? Do you wear deodorant every day? Have you changed your sheets in the last week?
That’s how intimate it gets with us, I suppose. Sometimes I’m okay with that. Sometimes I don’t want to think about your sheets. And sometimes I don’t necessarily want to continue to tell you about My Radio Life. A lot of it’s boring. Some of it’s revealing not only about radio, but about me. That can get a little uncomfortable.
Here’s part of the boring part for you – I’m working on a brochure for some marketing. I’m not kidding you. I know that if you read this blog and you haphazardly listen to my morning radio show, then you know all about PMS – the Passive Marketing System.
Basically, we decided – Debbie, Ryan and I – that we could either hire people to go out and sell radio ads… or we could just keep WJOB small enough so that we really don’t have to. It’s the chicken or the egg. It’s Ginger or Mary Ann. It’s Michael Jordan or LeBron. Either we pay for people to sell, or we don’t.
There are a lot of people associated with WJOB. Many do work in the studio and out. But on a regular basis at the Purdue Commercialization Center, it’s mostly Debbie, Ryan and me. That’s not a lot of regular payroll. And it seems to work. So if we increased our numbers, then we would certainly increase our payroll and, I perceive, our headaches.
So we keep it small. Where we come into challenges is when we want to expand into something other than radio, which is where we are right now. We got lucky with Facebook Live streaming video. They do what we have been trying to do for several years – build a streaming video network in which you can immediately archive your material for later viewing. It’s brilliant on Facebook’s part, and we can only say this because we thought of it a long time ago. We just couldn’t get it done. The project is just too massive. We almost buckled under the weight of what we were spending to build our “vertical digital streaming system.”
So there. Now we’re moving from PMS (passive marketing system) to “mild marketing.” In this system, we split out a certain amount of our radio days into spending time on marketing. This is a challenge. Debbie has a ton of things to do holding the station together. Ryan has a ton of crap to do to produce our morning show and to act as sports director (he’ll be driving to Indianapolis in a couple of hours to announce the state softball title game with Crown Point in it), and I have a ton of crap to do to instruct the interns and other part-timers and to host my own show and “JED in the Money.” Our plates are full, but we also see the need to bring in a little more money to invest in new technologies.
We’re on the cusp of something here. The three or four of you can feel it, and so can we. The success we’ve had Facebook Living our morning show and other shows and high school games and parades and the rest is unexpected. We’re well over a million views on FB Live, and it’s growing. This week, our FB Live show of 1 Million Cups was a huge success also.
The problem for you radio people is – even if I do invest in the infrastructure to Facebook Live successfully, how do I sell it?
Now for that, I don’t have a specific answer. FB Live, you see, doesn’t let you play music. And if you’re a radio station, even a talk station, music is probably integral to what you do on the radio. When you come back from breaks, you usually play a little music to set the tone for the talk that is to come. When you head out to a commercial set, maybe you play a little Rolling Stones “Satisfaction” just to keep the energy high.
I know I do that, or at least I used to. It pains me now to rely solely on myself to set the mood and not the Grateful Dead. There’s these things called “copyrights,” and Facebook Live protects them vigorously. I respect that. But there’s a little disconnect in that we as radio operators already pay for the right to play the music. The average Schmo who just plays music on his Facebook Live video does not make an initial payment to play that music. At some point, we’re all gonna have to get together to perhaps give radio stations a special dispensation to be able to play music on FB Live that we’re already paying to play on the radio.
Another challenge with trying to “monetize” Facebook Live is that they don’t let you play video commercials. What I sense is happening is that FB, like everyone else, is trying to figure out how to monetize the billions of moments of video appear on their timelines… and in the meantime they’re just not gonna let people play commercial spots in their feeds.
It’s a little disconcerting. FB doesn’t really have a way, like youtube kind of does, to let you monetize your content through them… but they don’t want you to go out and monetize your content outside of them.
It’s a huge dilemma for people who regularly post content on FB Live – how do you monetize your content?
But as radio operators, we do have a singular advantage, especially if you’re a talk station. You can have your hosts look at the camera old school style and just hawk a product. It’s how Jack Benne did it as he turned from radio to television. It’s how Jack Parr did it. Now, it’s probably gonna be how Jim Dedelow does it, and as Bozo would say – hey, that’s me.
You see, wasn’t I right? A lot of what happens in My Radio Life is boring and not really appropriate for a blog that you write at 4:22 in the morning and certainly not fit for you to wake up on a Saturday morning and read. It’s not juicy or sexy, or even funny. It’s about technology taking over a medium that hasn’t really changed all that much in a hundred years.
And now radio is changing in a hurry… if you let it. I have all sorts of ideas on how to accelerate that change. But my involvement with accelerating the change of radio comes with a price. It’s the same price I have to pay when delving into Facebook Live head first.
I have to raise money somehow. To expand on our success in Facebook Live, I have to go out and tell our story to local businesses and get them to write checks to us to sponsor our content on Facebook Live. That’s how the world works. But in the meantime, as I do this mild marketing, it takes me away from developing innovative products that could perhaps keep WJOB relevant in an age when a lot of local radio stations aren’t relevant at all any more.
What this all leads up to is that I got a brochure. Rick Baltenzberger at Miss Print in Munster is finishing the design on it. He called me yesterday during my nap.
“Jim, I’m here with my designer, Jamie, looking at your brochure. There isn’t much to it. Is there more you want to say on it?”
Evidently, when real marketing people put together a brochure, they put a lot of words on it. I designed this brochure to basically just say – “Dude, we have Facebook Live. Sponsor it. You won’t be sorry.” There’s a chart on it about our growth in total viewing numbers, and there’s a map of the radio coverage area. And there’s a photo of me sitting there looking all dapper in our brand spanking new studios at Purdue.
But there’s not a lot of words. You either get Facebook Live or you don’t. And me sitting there blabbing to you about how it’s the future and the present isn’t gonna make either of us any money.
So I’m Keeping it Simple, you Silly, Stupid Ass – KISSSA. We’re starting our foray into “mild marketing.” I plan on Baltenzberger finishing the brochure next week and then sometime in June I’m gonna go old school and walk into businesses and see if they’ll let me tell my story of how Facebook Live is taking over radio and everything else… and that we’re the pioneers in it. We have the equipment, the students and recent grads, the studios, the drive. We’re IT in terms of Facebook Live. If you want to be part of it, do it now. Because I’ll most likely raise prices as soon as I possibly can.
Another 1500 words. Hydrate today. It’s gonna be hot.