Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When did St. Jude become a ratings mutt?

KMPS PD Becky Brenner is no slouch. 

She has weathered the storm pretty good and has realigned KMPS closer to the soundscape of KKWF than ever before. But to blame a March ratings goof on doing the radiothon. First it's only a few days and if it's presented as a community builder, on-air, digital and on-line with imaging semantics, it usually is a win for the station and lifegroup, the organization raises more money from the market. This is what she told Country Aircheck: PD Becky Brenner tells Country Aircheck, "We expected a dip in March due to our St. Jude radiothon. It was good to see Week 4 of the month come back stronger, and we expect great things in April."

I will attach the past information on the presentation of this all-important charity event. If you try to do this like a remote or segment into normal programming, the meter won't move. This has to bring love, emotion, passion and baring of the soul to the community and the life group. I once heard a big Pennsylvania station trying to do the service and still touting 10-in-a-row. We had a staff at WCTO that lived for this event and when we hired a new talent, we schooled them on it. Ask Kris Stevens (at WKKT now) when he joined us, he didn't know how to do cause from his CMR in Jopin, He struggled with making it like a remote break instead of a live collusion.

Making St. Jude and other radiothon's happen in a tough economy for non-profits
With special event's coming in the New Year, like The St. Jude Radiothon, Children's Miracle Network and any cause event for your community, the only way to make it work is to image it. Build special imaging and create a format specifically for the event. One of the stupidest things to hear is, a Country station playing the usual 10-in-a-row, regular sweepers and normal programming and trying to squeeze in the special event cause programming. We applaud you if you already did this for your toy drive or Christmas specials and New Years programming.

Write and produce special beds with fronts, sweepers that sell the event, even promos. Drop everything else, I mean everything. Don't read liners for promotions, give away CD's or tickets and do anything to deviate from the special programming you are doing. This sounds so simple, but I have heard stations doing St. Jude and only breaking twice an hour to promote the event and trying to play 12 songs.

At Cat Country 96 in Allentown, PA we would shut down the music the last few hours and only air callers, patients and real people telling real stories during St. Jude and we had 50k hours with Partners in Hope. My last year in 2003 we did $365,000 in market 69. The ratings were always huge. We could only measure the month of Feb. in trends when we did it - And were were still #1 12+ and #1 25-54 with no direct format competitor. When we started in 1999, they figured we do 60k, we did 165k. It was about presentation and purpose.

Sure it takes more time and makes more work for the imaging director, but as I use to tell my imaging director's: "You know this job was dangerous when you took it".

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