NERW Special Coverage: NYMRAD Holiday Party 2012

By CLARK SMIDT

Clark Smidt, Broadcast Advisor has participated from the Boston market since 1970.

The annual NYMRAD Holiday Party, one of the great New York City radio & advertising traditions, celebrated at a new venue – the Rooftop Lounge on The Empire Hotel, Lincoln Center.  Great views, plenty of room, outdoor terrace, flowing bar and excellent food.  The visit was personally special for me, having grown up in Manhattan with my high school just across the street.

On the Empire Hotel rooftop

The monitoring trip down on the sunny Friday morning suddenly changed from FM music stations when checking for my first traffic report.  The news of Connecticut’s devastating Sandy Hill grammar school shooting started with one wounded, only to quickly escalate into the unbelievable horror and numerous casualties.  WCBS-AM did the best job, connecting with co-owned WTIC-AM, Hartford. CBS radio and WBZ-AM hit simulcast mode with CBS-TV’s special report.  Coverage swept over music. “Radio was Right There!” free and available to everyone on millions of wireless receivers.  So important.  So essential.  And, such an unthinkable tragedy.

Naturally, the holiday party was absent of news personnel and top execs who were back calling shots from headquarters.  But, NYMRAD Executive Director Debbie Beagan’s event still offered excellent hospitality for a great crowd of sales, advertising and research people who stimulate radio’s pulse, everyday.

Since I've been participating at broadcast holiday parties since the ‘70s, please accept some general statements, rather than specific quotes.  The conversational survey with attendees addressed getting A’s in radio:  Attitude, Atmosphere, Ahead to 2013 and Attention to specific areas that generate success.  Here’s the buzz:

Attitude is upbeat, especially in a room of believers; give it an 8.  Atmosphere is positive with a bit caution but with renewed energy; also an 8.  The election created a pause from local sales, but December and the next year are looking good.  There’s a lot of optimism Ahead for 2013, scoring a 9.  And, Attention to specifics gets a 10 for actionable ideas making radio essential and excel.

Local direct must connect directly with business owners.

Radio has to wake up, be more aggressive, make more calls and tell it’s success story

More effort applied to customer presentation with focus on the consumer.

Radio must be first in the ad process, not the add on.  When advertisers come to radio at the end, they miss the boat.  Radio is the channel to start momentum and set the tone.

The priority is strong local programming.  Product and talent is everything!

We’ve seen many changes over the years, some good, many suck.

Make music on radio stand out with strong personality, presentation and prove superiority against internet music delivery.

Tell the story.  Make sure you have great on-air.  Immediate information.   Cross platform.

It’s got to be local and it’s got to be great.

An interesting comment from a Fortune magazine exec:  We used to sell $100,000 pages in print; now we’re charging $20k for the same space on digital.

AROUND THE ROOM.   Experienced Boston-NYC vet Crystal VP/Sales Elisa Hart has seen many changes and knows the necessity of adjustment and clear messaging.  It’s still a matter of the basics. 

Arbitron’s Sr. AE Brandon Kane is very pleased with the appointment of CEO Steve Creamer and the direction of the company.  “In-bedded” ARB Rep Sarah Oiddle explained her unique client service  for Univision, one of the major companies having this assignment.  There was talk on both sides about releasing basic 12+ share numbers for all surveys, all markets and all stations, regardless of being a subscriber.  Benefits are publicity for radio and on-going credibility for the faster, frequent trends.

CBS NYC research director Doug Catalanello stressed the importance of knowing cluster formats’ audience demands and the buying power of Alpha Boomers.  Marjorie Hall CBS VP Strategic Partnerships advances business having a handle on the new radio priority of cross media connections.

ESPN’s Vinny DiMarco is delighted with sports radio expansion on radio and the potential of his new affiliates, including Entercom’s WEEI-AM, Boston.

NYMRAD executive director Debbie Beagan

New Jersey was well represented by Greater Media, with GSM Matt DeVoti and Strategic Sales Director Howard Rosenblatt telling the advantages of reaching a huge suburban population.  LSM Michael Norman offered an update on added business from the devastation to the NJ shore.

Emmis reps Jamie Meintanas, Steve Delusant and Marc Anastasia immediately brought up the importance of radio being available on smart phones, which is CEO Jeff Smulyan’s call to the industry.  Everybody has them – it’s the new transistor sister.

Ed Franke, Marketing at WPLJ Cumulus offered a spirited conversation about the presentation of music on radio vs. Pandora like services.  Make music on radio stand out.  Still no announcement on the new Cumulus FM format.  Those asked favored an alterative rocker for the New York metro.

Clear Channel was basking in the glory of the “12 12 12” Concert.  It’s all about surrounding the audience with a combination of media.

Salem touted it’s niche programming that’s separate from the pack and the popularity of Christian music and talk formats.  DOS Steve Viehmeyer thinks Phil Boyce is a genius and LSM Nick Brino from WMCA AM 570 “The Answer”, concurs on the success of unique programming.

Univision Radio New York had the largest group in attendance with Sales Mgr. Donovon Welsh talking up specialty formats and VP/GM Felix Perez saying radio must focus on getting the rates up!

NEW SERVICESCMO George Cerneat and Director/Community Engagement Alexandra Moe, explained DC based AudioNow: an advanced phone dial up for any station, anywhere, with unlimited callers able to connect.  And, long time NYC broadcaster Steve Warren is the enthusiastic Executive Producer of ChinAMerica:  the web-based English presentation of Chinese hit music.  The rotation might offer two from column A and one from column B.

The NYMRAD Holiday Party:  Good talk, positive cheer and optimistic about radio’s increased opportunity.  A great event worth the drive, especially with manageable traffic and free parking.

Opinions expressed are solely those of the author. Reach Clark Smidt at [email protected]

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