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Tuesday, June 12, 2012
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The Radio Industry Knowledge Gap

Anyone who thinks they have this digital thing figured out can quit reading now. You're wasting time here.

Within the group of people who I expect to bail are the "new experts," people who have been writing about how to attack the online arena for under five years. I come to this supposition by reading radio trade publications. Nearly all advice offered comes from experts who clearly don't understand what they write about.

"Advice offered by 'experts' in radio industry trade magazines is marginal at best, and misleading at worst." It would be a service to the radio industry if it were required that anyone writing about digital topics must possess a substantial amount of experience, either through bringing success to online entities or having controlled budgets of over a million dollars (in their claimed topic of expertise). Guessing, I'd put that short list of radio's qualified names to be at no more than ten.

Being involved with digital's multiple disciplines since 1997, and supervising over $2 million in online ad campaigns, I stumble over "doh" moments daily. Two of my most recent figure into the rest of this conversation: using Access for data base management, and trying to reach a "best case" scenario from social media.

Nearly every radio publication gives advice on using social media, apps, new online competition, and podcasts. None discusses a detailed "how" of making these pursuits beneficial, nor analyzing data, packaging it for client consumption, creating email response templates, or building a user profile by aggregating data points. Yet, if you read technical trades, you constantly see reference to building closer relationships through understanding users by interpretation of data.

Data gathering and analysis is a huge discipline. It's in radio news today because former top ESPN researcher Dr. Thomas Evans joined Umbel as Chief Research Officer. That Umbel is run by former Arbitron interactive (and Ando Media) exec Paul Krasinski should produce more radio industry heads nodding that something important is happening. However, I have doubt that even these two hold the power of persuading radio execs about this single point: data is radio's future. Continued industry chants of "reach and frequency" and "radio is local" hold a false belief of immortality for many.

Here are two items you may want to explore, or have people in your organization (who should understand these) spend time assessing.

1) Quit depending on radio industry social media gurus to direct your actions. Go to any of these Facebook sanctioned links for the scoop on how to best use their product. I suggest starting at

Other places to spend time are:

Most of the above will be over-the-head for people without a technical slant. But much of what's there will, at the least, give you an understanding of procedures required. You may then translate it all into man-hours needed. Your lightbulb moment will come at the realization that it's not nearly as easy as radio industry based writers make it appear.

From what I've been exposed to, there is no good advice at radio trades for using social media. Get outside of your comfort zone because that is where all true knowledge is dispensed.

2) Start spending time with Access, or other data management programs. Be forewarned: This is not a program you will comprehend in a couple of sittings, or months. Even using multiple tutorials, grasping the full power of how you can apply Access in a radio station/digital environment comes when you finally get your "lightbulb moment" in Access. This takes time, and occurs when you begin to see how to apply Access to your specific situation.

My suggested Access primer is here, but you can find others at YouTube. Or, you may use the Microsoft online Access video tutorial.

Radio people know radio. They don't know technology, or even come close to grasping the potential "technology" that lies at radio's doorstep. It's staggering to see the wide gap between what is done and what is possible in melding the radio industry with digital.

If you need proof of slow movement, look at how much technological advancement has occurred in radio since this year's conventions. Despite each convention highlighting the latest digital knowledge, we see no mention of new concepts in radio news today. And, again, please don't point to iHeartRadio. IMO: Radio promotes it in the same way it promoted HD Radio; eventually this app is going to become an anchor to radio's online growth.

(BTW: Facebook reports 2.1 million of its members using iHeartRadio, while awarding a 4.6 star overall rating. 77.1% of those voting gave it 5 stars. Spotify's 7.9 million Facebook users also awarded a 4.6 star overall rating, with 76.4% voting 5 star.)

The dichotomy of this new era is that radio industry personnel are caught between needing to spend time learning vs. spending time doing what used to be done at the station with the help of five people! It's not easy to educate yourself. But you can, over time - by using one of the links above (and below).

Advice offered by "experts" in radio industry trade magazines is marginal at best, and misleading at worst. There have been search engine optimization suggestions that are nothing more than time-wasted motions or costs, which are passed off as bona fide "do this and win." Don't fall for them.

If you want answers go to the source. Nearly every digital company has online educational videos, or videos you can find on YouTube.

It's time radio closed the knowledge gap on digital. Yes, it takes time. Yes, you cannot afford to let this opportunity slip by.

Also try:

Googe AdWords Help
Bing Support Center
Yahoo! Advertising Solutions
Google Checkout

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