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Holland Cooke Media Radio/Newspaper Synergies

www.HollandCooke.com ● 401-330-6868 ● talkradio@hollandcooke.com


© 2009

Times-being-what-they-are, radio needs ideas.

So my friend Lindsay Wood Davis and I are co-presenting at a number of state broadcasters’ associations this year. There’s no
denying what he’s telling attendees: “newspapers are in a literal death-spiral.” I chuckle-along with the audience every time I hear
him deadpan “Let’s get together in their moment of weakness and, as an industry, hold a pillow down over their face, OK?”

Or…
Might we help each other?

“The New York Times just won FIVE Pulitzer


prizes. I read about it online at Google News.”
Jay Leno

As the population grew 23% in the last two decades, newspaper circulation dropped 20% (while craigslist.com diverted $7 BILLION
in what-used-to-be Classified revenue). Actual readership is up...online. But digital dimes aren't piling-up as-fast-as hard-copy
dollars disappeared. Lindsay calls newspapers’ now-failed business model “a simple but powerful formula, one we couldn’t beat:”

• 50% of their revenue came from display (“that’s the part we’ve competed with”); and

• 50% came from Classifieds. “First came Auto-Trader, then eBay and finally, the coup de grace, Craigslist. Today, in some
markets revenues in the classifieds are down as much 60-70% from decades past.”

And we know how radio got-where-we-are:

• Big companies over-paid during consolidation. Few industries exemplify what’s wrong with our economy better than radio.
Like homeowners being foreclosed out of unaffordable mortgages, radio’s mega-owners are struggling with untenable debt.

• The only way they can keep paying is to compromise the product. Just as iPod came along, music stations tortured listeners
with too many commercials. Employees who created the local non-music content that made radio special? Gone, in one-
bloodbath-after-another.

• Stations’ advertising lifeblood traditionally flowed from local retailers (hurt by big box stores and E-commerce) and car dealers
(ouch). Now, recession.

“What if everything had started online…then paper came


along? You don’t need to be online, it’s portable, you can
tear-something-out-of-it, you can write on it...”
“The Tipping Point,” “Blink,” and “Outliers” author Malcom Gladwell, speaking at NAB’s 2009 convention.

Ask the same thing about radio. What if AM/FM broadcasting were just now being introduced? It’s FREE! There’s nothing to
download or synch-up, the station does all the work. To use a couple buzzwords en vogue, radio is “mobile” and “wireless.”

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Glass-half-empty: Radio and newspapers are mature.
Glass-half-full: Both are “incumbent.”
Both media (HAD BETTER) put content assets on the Internet, since that is where, increasingly, consumers graze for information
and entertainment. Radio and newspaper are already battling-for-bookmarks with the likes of cnn.com, espn.com, and
weather.com, so it will take cume + circulation to compete for wired and wireless use.

And those three examples are line-extensions of their respective cable channels. Pure-play Internet “publications” like politico.com
get lots of traffic from Talk Radio listeners, and their columnists are on cable shows right alongside pundits from major news
magazines and other legacy old media. Both 2008 national political conventions, and The Super Bowl, credentialed bloggers.

40,000 new blogs are created every day! But who in your market knows they’re there if you don’t tell your cume, and/or the
newspaper tells its circulation. Mathematically “and” is more than “or.”

Something else newspapers and radio have in common: On its own, neither can afford to produce enough local content to remain
conspicuously useful. Something radio brings-to-the-party: research-documented ability to drive Internet traffic.

Newspaper and radio complement each other.


As one election night demonstrated, newspapers are tangible, radio is
immediate.

Both sell advertising accordingly. Newspapers can print coupons. Radio gets
closer-to-the-cash-register than any other marketing medium.

A dozen years ago, when “the World Wide Web” was the new, new thing,
newspaper did Internet better than radio. Sites were pages of text and
graphics, which newspapers were already doing, and stations still don’t.

Then came streaming. Advantage radio, since we were already making audio, and newspapers weren’t (and still tend not to do so
real well). Radio’s content creators are talkers, newspaper’s are writers. Thus a career path I’ve been recommending to
unemployed radio news people: Your skill set could quickly improve a newspaper site’s audio assets.

Fast-forward to present day:

• 82% of USA homes have broadband, and it’s eating-into local TV and the cable systems that deliver it. 500 channels and
nothing-to-watch? Hit Hulu or YouTube. Radio and newspapers need to be more aggressive about video content, a core
competence to neither.

• To the rescue? Readers and listeners! “Web 2.0” interactivity. How can radio + newspaper = User-Generated Content?
Hypothetical: While the station broadcasts a game, can the listener interact with the newspaper reporter in the stadium?
Perhaps that newspaper reporter also appears regularly on the station’s morning show, and plugs that fact in his/her column.
Opportunities like this are worth brainstorming.

I’m encouraging experimentation, but what I’m about to tell you is not theoretical.
I speak from significant experience. Before I hung out my consulting shingle (January 1, 1995), I spent 3 years as Vice President
of a new media unit at Gannett. Based on my experience repurposing USA Today reporters and columnists to audio, I can offer
you two fundamentals, the first-of-which you will discover quickly when you work with newspaper talent:

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1. There are four kinds of people writing for a newspaper:

a) Those who want to help the radio station,


b) Those who don't,
c) Those who "can talk,"
d) Those who can't.

Ideally, you will find some who are (a) AND (c), AND happen to report on things relevant to your target listener.

2. Even among those who "can talk," you DON'T want "to turn them into radio reporters," for two reasons:

a) No matter HOW well they can talk, they'll still sound entry level at best, compared to station talent around them. Think
how many years you and I invested in honing our sound and technique, learning to edit and other tools-of-the-trade.

b) Their weakness is their strength: They're newspaper reporters. They're not on your air because they can talk. They're
there because they have equity as local bylines, and information you otherwise wouldn’t get.

Accordingly, the best way for the radio station to use newspaper reporters is as sources.

• Debrief them. “MARK, HOW DID THE ACCUSED MURDERER REACT WHEN HIS PARENTS ENTERED THE COURTROOM?”

• The most we should ask, in production terms, is raw sound, if they record an entire event or interview. Here in the digital age,
it's drag-and-drop, audio by Email and on thumb drives. We might simply ask the newspaper reporter to help us by flagging a
key passage, i.e., "listen about 6 minutes in, when Franken refers to being Jewish."

Move there?
Consider relocating station news talent to the newspaper. Working alongside
reporters there is more conducive to relationship-building than being an off-
site voice-on-the-phone asking-for-things.

Your chances of getting-dibs-on audio a reporter has gathered is better if you


buttonhole him/her at the coffee machine you share, than if you’re a-voice-
on-the-phone that he/she was told to cooperate with, asking to have audio
Emailed. And debriefing reporters will go better in-person, and sound better
on-air than a phone interview.

Your-being-there is better exposure for the newspaper too. Saying that you’re “LIVE FROM THE HERALD NEWSROOM” as often as
you will reinforces that the paper is newsgathering central.

Based on a couple such projects I’ve been involved with, three tips:

• DON’T build a soundproof radio studio, off in the corner. Work among them, and let listeners hear a busy ambient
background. Sound like you are where you say you are.

• Buddy-up with the newspaper’s online desk. Radio has more in common with its immediacy.

• Bring bagels or donuts. They’re REPORTERS. And your station might have a trade. The newspaper probably doesn’t.

Now about Advertising Sales…

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1 + 1 = 3? Paul: YOU COULD WIN ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS
‘First time I visited client WDAY/Fargo, I asked for a tour at *INSTANT* CASH -- RIGHT NOW -- FROM THE
the co-owned Forum newspaper. PROOF I’m a nerd: I asked FORUM AND WDAY!
to see the press…and the mighty Mannheim didn’t disappoint. Tracy: JUST LOOK FOR THE LITTLE GREEN "TAB-
ON," STUCK TO THE FRONT PAGE OF THE
This gargantuan contraption is a deafening symphony,
FORUM. ONCE A WEEK, IT'LL BE A *WDAY*
thousands and thousands of moving parts; yet the press itself TAB-ON.
is just one part of the newspaper’s “transmitter.” After the
Paul: BE SURE TO SAVE *ALL* YOUR WDAY TAB-
presses roll, trucks burn rubber, paperboys load up, and ONS! BECAUSE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING, AT
today’s Forum finds its way to street corner boxes and 615, 715, AND 815, WE WILL ANNOUNCE A WDAY
convenience store newsstands...an effort radio could never TAB-ON SERIAL NUMBER.
duplicate, but should try to hitch-hike. Tracy: IF YOU HEAR THE SERIAL NUMBER ON
*YOUR* WDAY TAB-ON, YOU'LL HAVE NINE-
In addition to display advertising within the paper, The Forum MINUTES-AND-SEVENTY-SECONDS TO CALL-IN-
sticks-something-on-page-one, as your local newspaper AND-WIN ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS *INSTANT*
CASH!
might also do. Here’s a promotion I scripted, so the
newspaper and radio station could swap precious real estate. SFX: Tympani roll
Paul: AND HERE'S THIS HOUR'S WDAY TAB-ON
SERIAL NUMBER! ________________
THAT'S ___________________.
Tracy: IF THAT'S THE NUMBER ON *YOUR*
WDAY TAB-ON YOU'VE GOT, CALL RIGHT NOW!
[phone number, twice].
Paul: AND EVEN IF THAT'S NOT YOUR SERIAL
NUMBER, SAVE *ALL* YOUR WDAY TAB-ONS.
WE COULD ANNOUNCE YOUR NUMBER
TOMORROW MORNING AT THIS SAME TIME.
Tracy: AND YOU COULD STILL WIN ONE OF ONE
HUNDRED SECOND PRIZES FROM EXTREME
PITA. OR OUR GRAND PRIZE, A FIVE
*THOUSAND* DOLLAR FURNITURE SHOPPING
SPREE AT CONLIN'S. NO PURCHASE
NECESSARY, COMPLETE CONTEST RULES AT
WDAY DOT COM.

Seek exposure on the newspaper’s web site.


Why: Its traffic likely dwarfs your station site’s traffic.
If you have audio content to contribute, that’s one-less-thing the short-staffed newspaper has to produce.
The most-valuable audio content you can expose there? “CLICK TO LISTEN LIVE TO WXXX NEWSRADIO.” ;)

Maybe none of this will fly in your market.


No matter how opportune, these tactics might not be in the cards, if you-and-the-newspaper just can’t play nice. In many markets,
there is generations-old Hatfields-and-McCoys-type animus. Or maybe The Big City Daily just doesn’t “get it.” Hey, you tried.

Plan B: In many markets, suburban dailies or weeklies ring-around The Big City Daily. Some will be in important Arbitron Zips.

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Aim higher than local?
HONEST, the following is not a shameless consultant plug – although, full disclosure -- I did some work for The Wall Street Journal
Radio Network several years ago, and we’re pals. But I recommended their wares beforehand, and we continue to snap-‘em-up in
any market where they’re available and I have a client station.

• This brand is a rock, and the product is rock-solid. Listeners “get it,” and local advertisers will feel like VIP’s if you spiff ‘em a
subscription to The Wall Street Journal.

• WSJ and Dow Jones-branded shortform updates give you a sponsorable, specific benefit to invite and re-invite tune-in
“THROUGHOUT YOUR BUSY DAY.”

• The longform (one or two-hour) Wall Street Journal This Morning, anchored by Gordon Deal, is NOT-just-for rich folk and CNBC
junkies, and it feeds early-enough to be the warm-up for your local morning show. And with stations now under such pressure
to reduce expenses yet-further, and music stations flipping to Talk, this two-hour show can, itself, be a station’s morning show.

BEWARE! The most-diabolical newspaper-vs.-radio scheme I’ve ever seen.


Year after year, every radio station in the market has been a willing accomplice, when The Providence Journal asks readers which
local radio station morning show is tops in Rhode Island.

• Listeners can vote as-often-as-they-want, and, OF COURSE, the only acceptable ballot is the-one-you-tear-out-of the
newspaper (no photocopies).

• OF COURSE there’s a charity involved, so stations will look like The Grinch if they sit-this one out. Every morning show
campaigns ad nauseam.

• And, OF COURSE, this contest occurs each year during the newspaper’s “ratings sweep,” the Audit Bureau of Circulation period.
So stations’ morning shows are artificially inflating circulation numbers the paper will use to sell against radio.

Unfortunately, radio cannot turn-the-tables, since there’s only one newspaper. But if you think radio is challenged lately,
newspapers are in much deeper doo-doo. Your local paper would be smart to brainstorm with you.

Best regards,

Even just several years ago, “Internet NTR” seemed forward-thinking…


…provocative theoretical ideas at the RAB convention. Soon, stations were selling-out on-air spot inventory, yet missing budget.
Then adding inventory, and still missing budget. Then, the economy tanked. Stations got Internet revenue goals, dictated by
Corporate…which wasn’t as-specific about how to attain those goals. I can get you started, with 22 pages of ideas for growing
revenue and audience online. For an instant download, click “Sales” at www.HollandCooke.com and look for this…