CHICAGO With increased demands to do “more with less,” why should time be any different?
Programmers and salespeople alike are challenged to find new and unique ways to more fully monetize each waking hour. WLS(AM) has discovered previously untapped opportunities with the Audio Time Manager unit developed by Geoff Steadman and his team at 25-Seven Systems.
Unlike so many of the “incremental” improvements common to our industry, 25-Seven has been a “leapfrog” experience for WLS, taking the idea of time management to a new level.
While there are other time compression devices, the “old-generation” boxes primarily had one function: to squeeze the time of program content to allow the insertion of more commercial units.
25-Seven’s approach combines the best virtues of traditional time compression, with an intuitive, flexible, user-friendly interface that allows your radio station to make time stand still with two buttons: pause and play.
As a bona fide button-pusher, I will entrust it to those far more technologically savvy than I to describe the elegant algorithms and other wizardry that happens inside this magic box. From a user standpoint, I’m delighted to share some of the ways WLS has been able to put this device to work for fun, ratings and revenue.
Just push play
In the world of Arbitron diaries, top-of-mind recall is the name of the game. However this broadcast fundamental can be most challenging during breaking news coverage, particularly when carrying network or news pool content, or sharing with a TV partner, etc.
From spontaneous events such as impromptu media conferences to planned events such as the State of the Union address, stations typically had two choices: ignore station identification; or “stomp” over the existing audio to affirm to your listeners that they were listening to your station.
With 25-Seven, it’s a matter of hitting Pause at the end of a sentence or other natural break, dropping in your call letters and brief explanation, then hitting Play and rejoining the event without missing a beat.
Even in the burgeoning PPM world, identifying your station, while perhaps no longer necessary for Arbitron measurement, will be as important as ever to ensure “mental credit” for future tune-ins.
Every once in a while even the best producer can use a little help to “beat the clock.” 25-Seven helps us ensure a seamless sound.
For example, WLS News does live “whip-arounds” featuring our top local stories before joining the ABC Network at the top of the hour. While our news team is very clock conscious, sometimes a developing story requires evolving description.
If this causes us to run a bit long, no worries; 25-Seven will “hold” the network news until we hit Play for seamless integration.
This is particularly valuable when breaking national stories require developing status reports. We no longer have to cut a talk segment short to “hit a post,” but rather can now pause the network report until we are ready to play it.
Whether it’s several seconds or a couple minutes, this power gives us control over our content, and how we integrate it with content from other outside sources.
Perhaps one of the most exciting (and profitable!) uses has been in the realm of sports. 25-Seven has given us several opportunities during network play-by-play.
First, some networks are less sensitive than others to the need for “station identification” other than at the top of the hour. 25-Seven ensures you can drop in call letters, positioning statements, event program cross-plugs in and around commercial breaks without missing a beat. Hit Pause, insert your element and then resume by hitting Play.
Second, we have found that our popular pre-game/post-game host Chet Coppock can be a valuable addition during the game as well.
At the end of each quarter of football, and during period breaks during basketball, Chet is able to give a quick recap from a local perspective, while promoting ahead to his next post game, pre game, etc. — all by hitting Pause, then Play. While we have yet to fully exploit the sales advantages of this resource, we have proven that it can be done for fun and profit.
For those who may object to this technique on the grounds that it disrupts those who wish to listen to radio play-by-play while watching TV, let me share our findings.
First, more and more, PBP is tending to be an “either/or” phenomenon. Those who can watch on TV do. Those who are in a car or other place without television listen on radio.
Second, in these days of HD latency, station delays and the variances between satellite providers vs. cable among other factors, true multimedia synchronization has gone the way of crystal set radios.
Whether it is news, sports or simple time compression, 25-Seven has added more than just extra time to the WLS toolbox.
The ATM retails for $7,950.
Kipper McGee is a program director for WLS(AM).
For more information, contact 25-Seven at (888) 257-2578 or visitwww.25-seven.com.