A Case For A New Alternative

Alternative radio rivals KROQ-FM 106.7 and KYSR-FM 98.7 in Los Angeles split a 6.0 share in the Arbitron ratings. Both stations offer a steady diet of 1990s-era Modern Rock music.

But is this “Alternative” anymore? Where’s the new music?

On March 4, industry blog Ross On Radio looked at why the 1990s dominate Alternative radio. Many commented on the subject, including JakeAdams founder Adam R Jacobson, who notes:

“Many a programmer will tell you that Alternative is soft right now and there’s not a lot of product out there. But according to who? [It’s the] fortysomething programmers that can no longer program a true ‘alternative’ to the abundance of pop and Hip-Hop that most listeners 13-27 are listening to today . . . It’s time to hand Alternative music formats over to the next generation and come to grips with the realization that U2 and Stone Temple Pilots are to today’s college student what Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin are to today’s 40 year old male.”

That was just a little bit of what I had to say on the subject.

Stations like KYSR, KROQ and (especially so) WRFF-FM 104.5 in Philadelphia are relying on what is now “Modern Gold” to drive up ratings and keep the core happy.

This is dangerous; this is predictable.

Yet aside from MGMT, Silversun Pickups, Weezer, Vampire Weekend and Phoenix, what is “alternative” music today? What should an Alternative station play?

I must go back to the often misinterpreted “Year Arc” – something that Oldies/Classic Hits programmers have abused and fail to understand and something that Alternative programmers of today need to understand and grasp — before their stations become the Gen-X Classic Rocker.

What do I mean by “Gen-X Classic Rocker”?  I mean that no Alternative station should be playing anything but the very top-testing records released between 1992 and 2000. Period.

Why? Think of my target audience. I want to attract men and women between 14 and 34 years of age. Thus, my median listener is 24 years old and was born in 1986. Assuming most people start liking music around age 9 or 10, that puts us at 1996-97.

What does this mean? This means that the following records are Oldies to my core audience and must be played as if these are the sacred songs of one’s childhood – the foundations of the music they like today:

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS    Under The Bridge
PEARL JAM  Jeremy
NIRVANA  Come As You Are
PEARL JAM Evenflow

Ladies and gentlemen, the above songs came out when my typical listener was six or seven years old.

Other songs now considered “classics,” because my core audience was in elementary school, include:

STONE TEMPLE PILOTS  Plush
PEARL JAM Daughter
SMASHING PUMPKINS Today
OFFSPRING Self Esteem
NINE INCH NAILS Closer
GREEN DAY Basket Case
SOUNDGARDEN Black Hole Sun
SUBLIME What I Got
FOO FIGHTERS Everlong
BLUR Song 2
BEASTIE BOYS Intergalatic
CAKE Never There
BLINK-182 All The Small Things

How many programmer directors would be freaked out right about now?
Well, my friends – this is a reality check: All of these songs were released before the majority of my target audience graduated high school.

Alternative must become a “21st Century Format” and play nothing but 2000s and now. It must be more adventurous, embrace new music, and hark back to the days when radio was relevant because it connected with the audience. And, it should play currents in a meaningful rotation.

I experimented one recent evening with coming up with an Alternative format that could embrace its heritage while superserving today’s college-age student. Pick a market like Washington/Baltimore, Miami, New York, or Atlanta.

I came up with a current-focused format that was truly Alternative in nature. I also like what stations like KBZT/San Diego are doing at late-night hours, and have always admired the creativity of Jim Ladd. What if we were to combine the two concepts, while borrowing from Nick The Nightfly at Radio Monte Carlo – a champion of NuJazz, Chillout, Ambient, and Brazilian Pop?

The target age of my audience is 14-34, while appealing also to the 18-49 demographic. Hence, there are some Triple A currents and gold mixed in – also because of the East Coast nature of the audience and difference in what is familiar compared to West Coast stations and tastes.

Here’s what I came up with for my imaginary station –

101-7 The Pod Alternative Music Now.

20:00

TEMPER TRAP  Sweet Disposition   C
DANDY WARHOLS Bohemian Like You  G
VAMPIRE WEEKEND Cousins  C
BIG PINK Dominos  C
WEEZER I Want To  R
MUSE Starlight R
SPOON Don’t You Evah   R
– 4 min. break – SPOT
MGMT Time To Pretend R
GOSSIP Heavy Cross  C
TV ON THE RADIO Wolf Like Me  G
ONE ESKIMO Kandi  C
20:48    SET BREAK
JULIAN CASABLANCAS  Out Of The Blue  C
KILLERS Somebody Told Me G
SILVERSUN PICKUPS Panic Switch  R

21:00

KIDS OF 88     My House                            C-Add
MATISYAHU    One Day                            R
MUMFORD & SONS    Little Lion Man                        New-Test
R.E.M.    Losing My Religion                            G
ELLIE GOULDING    Starry Eyed                        C
PAUL OAKENFOLD f/CRAZY TOWN    Starry Eyed Surprise            G
TIESTO f/TEGAN & SARA    Feel It In My Bones                C
– 4 min. break – SPOT
FRANZ FERDINAND    No You Girls                        R
THE WHITE STRIPES    Seven-Nation Army                    G
PHOENIX    Lisztomania                            C
LINKIN PARK Feat. JAY Z    Numb/Encore                    C
21:46    SET BREAK
RISE AGAINST    Savior                                R
GREEN DAY    Boulevard Of Broken Dreams                    G
DAN BLACK    Symphonies                            C

Then, at 10pm, I went with a nighttime chillout show that doesn’t have to be 100 percent sedate and can even include some older songs with a hard edge that can fit texturally. I’m looking to an audience of late-night workers, students, a soundtrack for a romantic night and perhaps a savvy 30-something audience. Note the current material as well:

22:00   The Pod Lounge

RYUICHI SAKAMOTO Opus
ZERO 7 Swing
GABIN  Doo Uap
BEBEL GILBERTO The Real Thing
PETER GABRIEL More Than This
CORINNE BAILEY RAE The Blackest Lily
ROXY MUSIC Love Is The Drug
MASSIVE ATTACK Paradise Circus
MUSIQ SOULCHILD Silky Soul
– 3 min. break –
NOUVELLE VAGUE I Melt With You
OASIS Wonderwall
THE XX Crystalized

23:00

TRIBALISTAS Velha Infancia
CELLAR 55 With Or Without You
MIRIAM MAKEBA Pata Pata
CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG The Songs That We Sing
LADY ANTEBELLUM Need You Now
KATE BUSH Cloudbusting
GORILLAZ Stylo
MOBY South Side
SNOW PATROL Just Say Yes
– 3 min. break –
COLDPLAY Talk
TALKING HEADS Burning Down The House
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE Meet Me On The Equinox

We are in 2010 and at a crossroads with technology, and with music.

New blood, new ideas and new music are the key solutions to making Alternative music formats relevant to the 18-34 and 18-49 cell.

Jake Adams Gets A Tryout At WLYF/Miami

Adam R Jacobson, using the name “Jake Adams,” was the voice behind the mic for the 10am-3pm air shift on Lincoln Financial Media’s WLYF “101.5 Lite FM” in Miami on Sunday, January 17, 2010.

Adam was one of several candidates being considered for this highly desired air shift, which includes Saturdays. WLYF is interviewing and auditioning other worthy candidates over the next several weeks.

It appears that while Adam did a great job after not being on the air for more than a decade and never having been on the air at a No. 1-rated radio station in a top 15 Arbitron market, the station is looking for someone with a bit more experience – and less nerves!

How was the experience? Here’s Jake in his own words:

Being a radio personality on a station that has never appeared in the Arbitron ratings, or pretending to be a disc jockey as a seven-year-old destroying my mom’s cassette of “Take Me Home” by Cher, is NOTHING like actually getting behind the mic and putting on headphones in a radio station that’s the dominant No. 1 in the ratings.

My experience was everything I hoped it could be – even with the three big faux pas witnessed during my five-hour shift on 101.5 Lite FM.

The first hour went somewhat smoothly, even as I got used to the foreign equipment and “modern” technology – no cart machines or CD players or records to cue up anymore!

Then,  at 11am, things started to get bad. I went long on the weather, and the music bed ran out. I panicked, and hit the top-of-the-hour sounder early. I nearly stepped on the promo that leads in to the first song of the hour.

Then, at 11:08 or so, an unexpected pause of eight seconds occurred. Oh, crap! This was my cue on the computer software to come in and talk up a record with one of three revolving liners – but I was supposed to manually delete the pause from the automated playlist system. So after the dead air, Selena’s “I Could Fall In Love” began, I did my liner, and I steamed off some hot air for a few minutes as the head of programming and operations, Rob Sidney, came in to the studio to find out what had happened.

I was mad at myself, but like in a marathon one must solider on, refocus, and think of the finish line. I was at mile 6 of 26.2 and stumbled. Time for a Gatorade and positive thoughts.

From 11:30AM to about 2:30PM I thought I did pretty well. I was a bit unhappy with some of my wraps – breathing issues, running out of air on a lengthy promo read and other nit-picky, Virgo-like self-criticisms.

But I had hit my stride. Talking up Naked Eyes’ “Always Something There To Remind Me” was pure joy. I was in my bedroom – talking up records to my imaginary listeners. But I wasn’t – I was on the station with more than a 9 share in a top 20 market, with thousands of people listening to me.

Then, a problem. I had a 35-second liner to read, but it was between a cold fade for “As Long As You Love Me” by Backstreet Boys and a seven-second intro for Phil Collins’ “You Can’t Hurry Love.” Instead of talking over dead air and then cueing Phil with seven seconds to go in my wrap, I talked over the final 15 seconds of the BSB song. Because I cued the mic early and DELETED the break. I knew my mistake and had to eat it. Yuck.

Rob came in and wanted to know what the hell had happened. I was pissed off at myself, and again recovered strong enough to finish my first-ever five hour shift since 1994.

When Denny relieved me, my head was throbbing. I felt nauseated, knowing that I had seriously flubbed a couple of key things in my on-air audition.

But I was strong for three hours or so. It was an audition; mistakes happen. At least my headphones weren’t taken from me and I wasn’t shown the exit until the end of my shift.

My friends and family think I was the best air personality they’ve heard in a while. I give myself a B-.

Will I be the next “Radio Idol” in South Florida? Who knows. I’m just happy to have gotten the chance to do something I enjoy and share five hours of my weekend with thousands of people actually paying attention to what I have to say.

If I get the gig, it’ll be a dream come true. If I don’t, no big deal.

I had fun.  I just hope other air talents have fun behind the mic too.

Editor’s Note: Unscoped one-hour airchecks of Adam’s live on-air audition at 101.5 Lite FM are 8MB each and cannot be uploaded to JakeAdamsDotNet. If you’re interested in Adam for your radio station, send us a note at adam@jakeadams.net and we’ll be happy to talk to you about getting a file to your FTP server.

“Optimism Over Fear” – A Recipe For 2010

“Communicate aspirations, positive thoughts and optimism.”

That’s the key advice to marketers and advertising agency executive Luis Miguel Messianu, COO of South Florida-based agency Alma DDB, has to offer.

Speaking January 22 at a Versailles Breakfast Club event in Miami’s Little Havana, Messianu began his presentation by outlining the “lacks” of 2009.

Specifically, Messianu looks back at the last 12 months by pointing out:

* Lack of prosperity and Lack of Jobs

* Lack of credit and Lack of confidence

* Lack of loyalty

* Lack of compensation

Speaking of the anemic job market, Messianu notes that those out of work must pursue career reinvention or chase their “real dreams.”

Additionally, the Alma DDB head sees a confidence crisis – another unfortunate result of the 2008-09 economic downturn.

“If anything, this economic downturn has been an eye-opener and sending people back to basics,” Messianu says.

First, he believes a brand manager or CMO should be actively rebuilding loyalty, and points to the automotive industry as the first sector to actively tackle the challenge.

Hyundai grew its market share by 14 percent in 2009, he notes, and was the lone automotive company to see improved market share last year. It was also the only car maker to offer a return-your-vehicle-at-no-penalty program for those who lost their jobs in 2009.

That being said, the economic downturn has affected consumer behavior – to some extent, at least.

“The reality is we need to continue to live, and consumers need to consume. But what they consume will be different.”

Alma DDB client McDonald’s typically promoted convenience, “fast food” and its “breakfast on the go” concepts in its creative. As a Hispanic agency of record for the quick service restaurant since 1994, messaging created by Alma DDB has taken the approach that “it’s about the extra snooze because McDonald’s is putting together breakfast for you.”

Arriving at that approach to targeting Latino consumers came after Messianu realized that insights only go so far when examining customer behavior. “It is the way you interpret that observation that matters,” he says. “It’s about synergy … but it is also about relevance.”

Quoting Albert Einstein, Messianu pointed out that the greatest inventions come out of times of crisis, and that unconventional approaches can yield great ideas and actionable plans.

Getting to that point goes back to optimism, Messianu says.

“Change your outlook, and gain control of the situation,” he says. “We are in the business of optimism, and of creating dreams. Optimism allows for the creation of a better environment in which to nurture ideas.”

“We are in the business of optimism, and of creating dreams. Optimism allows for the creation of a better environment in which to nurture ideas.”

Messianu believes that the best advertising connects with what is happening in real life. To illustrate, he played several McDonald’s television commercials that clearly hit on several Latino touchpoints.

In one humorous spot for the Golden Arches, a group of Hispanic young men are in a car running on empty; the passengers are spotting the cheapest gas station by calling out the per-gallon price. Suddenly from the back seat someone calls out “one dollar,” and the car slams to a halt. However, it’s not $1 a gallon gas that has grabbed the guys’ attention. Instead, it’s a McDonald’s sign promoting a $1 Dollar Menu item. The spot ends with the nourished guys pushing the car to the nearest gas station.

Putting a spin on a depressing topic, the War in Iraq, another spot features a father and daughter at a train station enjoying Chicken McNuggets. With one McNugget left, the daughter saves it for her mom, who has just returned from the Persian Gulf and has disembarked an arriving train.

In a third spot – one that puts a spin on Latina empowerment – a woman in an office who frets of being laid off is promoted and awarded with a corner office. McDonald’s take-out is part of the congratulatory efforts from co-workers.

“These spots again speak to the fact that we are in the business of aspirations,” Messianu says.

And by aspiring to be positive and forward-thinking, cyncism and pessimism can be conquered in the months ahead.

Adam R Jacobson

The Marketing Of Mark Sanchez

Mark Sanchez may be able to do two things at once. He could help the Jets win and help them win over new fans. He may even be able to sell a few personal-seat licenses for Woody Johnson.

But how much time and effort should the Jets and Sanchez expend on wooing new fans, particularly in the Hispanic community?

In May 2009, New York Times NFL blogger Toni Monkovic interviewed Adam R Jacobson to discuss Latinos in professional football and how the Jets believe the best advertising is simply winning.

Read the full interview.

USA TODAY Talks To Adam Jacobson About Whoopi Goldberg’s Stint In Radio

In May 2006, USA TODAY talked to Adam R Jacobson – then the Management/Marketing/Sales Editor at Radio & Records – about the July 31 debut of Waking Up with Whoopi, a Clear Channel Radio syndicated program starring Whoopi Goldberg.

Today, the show is no more. Read Adam’s thoughts about Clear Channel’s decision to bring a television and film star to morning radio.

Adam Discusses The Exit Of ‘El Cucuy’ From SBS

On September 15, 2008, Renán Almendárez Coello – “El Cucuy de la Mañana” – aired his last show from SBS’ regional Mexican KLAX-FM 97.9 “La Raza” in Los Angeles.

In a statement released by the host, Almendárez said he will now focus on building his own radio network.

The Los Angeles Business Journal’s Joel Russell interviewed Jacobson to discuss Renan’s exit.

“Where you had one big host years ago, now you have three going for the same audience,” said Jacobson, then the associate editor at Hispanic Market Weekly newsletter in Miami. “Renan was the oldest of the three in terms of content and his ability to bring in new listeners.”

But El Cucuy was eclipsed by KSCA-FM’s “Piolin por la Manana” and Que Buena’s “Don Cheto.”

Read the entire article, courtesy of TheFreeLibrary.com.

DC’s Progressive Radio Station Adopts Latin Format

On January 14, 2005,  alternative rock fans were surprised when radio station WHFS in Washington, DC, changed formats. Infinity Broadcasting, a division of Viacom that today is known as CBS Radio, teamed with Spanish Broadcasting System in determining there was more money to be made in appealing to Hispanic listeners.

National Public Radio’s Neda Ulaby interviewed Adam R Jacobson about the switch of WHFS to WLZL and Tropical music, as “El Zol 99.1.”

Hear the interview in full.

Also read this archived Baltimore Sun article, courtesy of the Puerto Rico Herald, on WHFS’s format.

Satellite Radio: ‘The 8-Track Of The 21st Century?’

In May 2005, Sirius and XM Satellite Radio were attracting lots of media attention. Adam R Jacobson, then an editor at the respected trade journal Radio & Records, participated in a live hour-long interview with Wisconsin Public Radio’s Kathleen Dunn on the subject.

Much of the chatter about satellite radio came following a surprise October 2004 announcement from the self-proclaimed “King of all Media” – Howard Stern – that he would be stepping down from his WXRK-FM in New York-based syndicated morning show and moving to Sirius.

Jacobson was interview by numerous publications regarding Stern’s shift to satellite radio, including the Los Angeles Business Journal. ABC’s World News Tonight also interviewed Jacobson. Meanwhile, chatter about how satellite radio and MP3 players would drive listeners away from traditional AM and FM radio stations was a subject Jacobson discussed in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

And sometimes Jacobson will say things that will really get people talking. In May 2005, in a Seattle Times interview, he said the following:

“Satellite radio technology is the eight-track of the 21st century.”

He predicted XM and Sirius will be outmoded in 10 years as cars are decked out with wireless broadband technology.

Today, Howard Stern is still largely popular with those who subscribe to what is now “Sirius XM.” But his reign as the “King of All Media” has certainly ended as he tries to drum up media attention over a new contract at the satellite radio provider.

Is Sirius XM the “8-Track” of the 2000s? Thanks to online streaming initiatives and widespread availability, Jacobson now considers Sirius XM “the CD player of the 2010s.”

He adds, “Sirius XM must keep up with technological advancements each and every day. The poor audio compression is no more; stations that sounded like a 32kbps audio stream are no more. They’re better – but how much longer can they sustain the massive debt?”

from The Adam R Jacobson Multicultural Consultancy