Economize and Monetize Your Assets

Experts offer tips on saving money, increasing revenue
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Want to save some money on some surprising office expenses? Avoid expensive FCC fines? Reimagine how your station reaches its audience? Move in to the world of mobile apps?

Just ask the experts.

Take office expenses, for instance: “How would you like to save up to 70 percent on your electric bill?” asks Paul Shulins, director of technical operations at Greater Media in Boston. It’s all in the studio and office lighting, he says.

“There are a lot of incentives from electric companies for changing out fluorescent and incandescent lights to LEDs,” some of them repaying the cost in as little as 18 months to two years.

And what about all those reams of paper and cartridges of expensive toner that go into the office printer? “We’re saving a ton of money with a new technology called Paper Cut,” Shulins says. Instead of automatically printing every page that’s sent to the printer — a surprising number of which never get picked up and used — the printers at Greater Media wait until employees walk up and swipe their IDs on a reader, and only then do they spit out the requested pages.

BE VIGILANT

Does your station habla Español? Watch out for what could be expensive fines for indecency that might once have slid past English-only FCC agents.

“The FCC is watching and listening to foreign languages more closely,” says Scott Goodwin, NAB’s associate general counsel for legal and regulatory affairs. According to Goodwin, the current chief of the Enforcement Bureau, Travis LeBlanc, “has made clear that he wants the commission to take a more active role in enforcing the rules.”

If the FCC makes good on its stated intention of requiring radio stations to put public files online, “stations will need to be more vigilant about the state of their political file,” Goodwin notes.

And keep an eye on those EAS tones (or even close copies) that overeager production directors and ad agencies try to slip into promos and spots — they’ve been a reliable source of FCC fines lately.

THE NEW FRONTIER

If your station’s “digital strategy” involves nothing more than some banner ads on your website, it’s time to revisit what you’re doing, says Paul Jacobs, VP/general manager of Jacobs Media and jacapps.

“We believe the days of banner ads are going away,” Jacobs says. Instead, the new frontier is ads that run within a station’s app — and can be activated by voice command. (Imagine a spot telling a listener/app user to “say coupon now” or “say directions now to find the nearest location.”)

Another area where stations can boost digital revenue, Jacobs says, is local guides. “Imagine a rock station with a local bar guide, with the bars paying to be included,” he says.

Jacobs acknowledges that the transition to these new forms isn’t always an easy one for established sales staffs or the agencies they sell to.

Within radio, “there’s an ongoing challenge in selling anything that isn’t a :60 or :30 spot with Nielsen numbers behind it,” Jacobs says, but outside radio, “ad dollars are moving to a much more definitive ROI model,” in which advertisers pay for the actual reach of their ads.

Want to think about even bigger changes in the way your managers think about radio? David Goldsmith, president of MetaMatrix Consulting, says owners shouldn’t get caught up in traditional concepts of what “radio” is.

CHANGING THE PARADAIGM

As an example, he points to digital media players, which existed in various not-so-successful forms until Apple launched iTunes.

“It wasn’t the digital players, it was the delivery service that changed everything. That was the newest iteration — you could suddenly download music immediately and that changed the paradigm,” Goldsmith says.

He’s still bullish on some forms of “radio,” especially podcasts.

“People are still in modalities where listening to radio is still viable,” he says. “Drivetimes are getting longer, and if people are on an airplane, they can’t stream video, at least not yet. But being stuck on ‘radio’ needs to be unlocked.”

Goldsmith will be the keynote speaker at an NAB Show session “45 Foolproof Ideas to Enrich Your Radio Station” to be held Tuesday, April 14 from 2:30–5 p.m. His topic: “Five Common Traits of Pragmatic Leaders.”

The session will also include presentations from Shulins (“Six Tech Tips to Work Smarter, Not Harder”), Jacobs (“Nine Mobile Apps That a Station Can Monetize”) and Goodwin and NAB colleague Justin Faulb (“10 Rapid Fire Do’s and Don’ts from a Legal Perspective”).

The session will also include input from the Radio Advertising Bureau’s John Potter (“Seven Ideas to Drive Radio’s Revenue Growth”) and Julie Koehn, president of WLEN(FM) in Adrian, Mich. (“Eight Ways to Monetize Your Community Service Efforts”).

Veteran broadcaster Scott Fybush is editor of NorthEast Radio Watch (www.fybush.com) and has written for Radio World since 1999.

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