Every year at this time, we make new year’s resolutions, most of which will soon be broken. While the process of taking stock of our lives and resolving to do better is a healthy one, I wanted to use this first post of the new year to share with you my list of professional resolutions I aim to tackle in 2017.
Of course, your list will look very different from mine, but the point is to make one before our harried, over-scheduled, multitasking lives careen out of control during what will most likely be a wild and crazy month.
So my following 10 items – or resolutions, if you like – may not have anything to do with you or your life. But perhaps in some way, they’ll stimulate you to think of things you wish to accomplish in 2017.
Here’s my list;
1. Leave the phone at home
This is a tough one for me, but for one weekend day (OK…or night) a month, I feel the growing need to do this. I recently attended a wedding and it dawned on me as we pulled out of the driveway that my phone was charging in the kitchen. Rather than go back and retrieve it, my wife encouraged me (OK, demanded) we just go to this joyous event without the accompaniment of my iPhone.
It turned out to be liberating, I talked to more people, didn’t stress about work, and I survived an evening without incessantly checking emails and sports scores. I want to do this again, at least once a month.
2. Spend time with my Amazon Echo
Yes, my kids bought it for me and I’ve had the chance to play with this fascinating voice command device over the holidays. We’ve blogged about this technology and the concept of a “digital butler.” Over the holidays, RAIN did just that, and their conclusion is that radio may be the big winner.
Now I want to test drive this device, see what it can do, and learn more about how we’ll be interacting with our gadgets and technology via voice down the road. This is perhaps the pathway for radio to re-establish itself on the home front. We’ve got to figure this thing out.
3. Stop the generational stereotyping
It’s so easy to get caught up in this, especially as it relates to Millennials. But the reality is that no generation enjoys being grouped and generalized. When we do this, we’re guilty of oversimplifying an entire generations. All Boomers didn’t smoke dope and protest the war, all Xers weren’t slackers, and all Millennials don’t feel a sense of entitlement.
It’s just not that simple, much as the experts and pundits would like us to believe. When we generalize generations, we do a disservice to those we’re attempting to understand. And we fall into traps and pitfalls that lead to marketing fails.
As our “Millennium Research Project” wraps up this quarter for PRPD, I’m especially wary of our analysis falling into this trap. It’s wrong-headed and does damage to our stakeholders…and our respondents.
4. Enjoy a “radio rainbow” day
If you’re an Ops Manager overseeing a five station cluster, skip this one. But for the rest of us, it’s easy to spend most of our waking hours monitoring our own stations and our closest competitors. It’s healthy to spend a day a month turning off your station and listening to radio outside your format sphere. For me, this means Country, Christian, Hot AC, Hip-Hop, and other formats well beyond the world of rock. It also means satellite radio, as well as radio streams from around the world. Every time I do this, I learn more about my own radio universe, and come up with ideas that can help the stations I represent.
5. Don’t fire up Gogo
If you’ve been on an airplane lately, you know that WiFi is available on most planes. And I’m one of their best customers. Like clockwork, the plane reaches 10,000 feet, I open my laptop, and log onto Gogo. The good news is that when I land, I’m caught up with email, the news, and other business. But the downsides are I’m not relaxed, and I haven’t used that precious solitary time on a plane to think, create, or just zone out. I used to do my best thinking in the stratosphere, but now that space is cluttered with email, client memos, and social media. So, one flight a month, no WiFi.
6. Think beyond the transmitter and tower
If you’re in radio, every day is a series of challenges, whether it’s promoting an event, developing a marketing solution for a client, coming up with novel ways to create new listening occasions, growing our talent, or simply serving the needs of the audience by delighting and entertaining them. So what if you had to accomplish these tasks without the aid of your terrestrial signal? What if you had to use your other assets – your social media pages, database, website, videos, podcasts, mobile app – to address these challenges?
This is where your imagination and creativity get mashed up with the new tools of the trade. Go beyond terrestrial solutions and solve these problems with the other tools on your digital Swiss Army knife. If your station doesn’t have well-developed resources in these areas, this is the year to address those deficits. And if you think of these assets as secondary – behind your air – you’re never going to truly consider digital solutions to today’s problems, as well as the challenges you are sure to face in the future. As a consultant, I have to do more of this. As someone who works inside a radio station, cluster, or company, so do you.
7. Make a commitment to youth
Find a way to devote some of your time at least quarterly to mentoring young people who have an interest in media. This might include speaking to high school or college classes, providing internships and then actually interacting with the interns, and working with your state broadcaster association on initiatives designed to entice Millennials and Gen Z kids to consider the radio business. I’m already doing a fair amount of this, but this is the year I participate in Dan Vallie’s National Radio Talent Institute. As a radio pro, this is something you can also do. And if you’re a broadcast company or foundation, you can sponsor a learning center in one of your markets.
8. Take a non-radio day
That’s right. Shut it off. Spend one day a month not listening to radio. Instead, spend that day online – streaming, exploring podcasts, watching web video, and cruising social media. Experience how the 8% of consumers (higher in various demographic groups) are entertaining and informing themselves without the aid of AM/FM radio.
Yes, we’re all tired of hearing trolls and naysayers tell us “No one listens to the radio anymore.” That’s simply not true. But there are people who no longer spend their days on the terrestrial radio playground. Find out how and why they do it, what they’re enjoying, and maybe most importantly, what they’re missing that your station can provide and market.
9. Go to a different conference or convention
I have found that for our two companies, this is one of the most beneficial things we’ve ever done. Since we started attending CES every year since 2009, we have derived so much from being in a very different and highly innovative, electric environment. Apparently, that message is resonating because a group of 10 radio corporate leaders are joining us later this week for our Jacobs CES CEO Tour in Las Vegas.
We are excited to help guide this initiative. Our appearance at last year’s Podcast Movement was another eye-opener, and it has led to an association with that conference’s organizers we’ll tell you about soon. Bottom line: venturing out into different worlds helps round us out, make new connections, and exposes us to people, concepts, and ideas we simply could never encounter at the usual radio event.
10. Play the cards you’re dealt
Think about every day as an adventure where you never know just what you’ll encounter. I liken it to waking up every morning, and seeing five cards on my nightstand. Some days, they’re great, other days they’re so-so, and there are times when they just plain suck. Play ‘em. Find a way to make them work, do the best with the hand you’ve been dealt, knowing that you can actually control much of whatever comes your way.
On social media and other forums, there is no shortage of whining, complaining, and grousing from people who feel victimized, taken advantage of, and even betrayed. Bad things do happen to good people. But the truly resourceful ones find ways to make the most out of their situations. Always remember: This too shall pass.
So that’s my punch list for 2017, most of which are reminders to me and others in our companies about how to face what is sure to be an unpredictable road ahead. For you, there are hopefully some ideas here about the paths and initiatives you might pursue. Or better yet, a little motivation for you to forge your own list that better serves your personal and professional needs.
Our blog celebrates its 12th anniversary next month, and we’ll continue to air out these and other issues.
Good luck in the new year.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.