Trip Report #3 – The Convention Floor

What. A. Day. We were  in meetings, roundtables, and seminars from 9 AM to 6 PM, with not a dull moment inbetween.

Where to start?

Highlights for Lucas:

Well, today I sat in on a session about student management, run by Bob Long of WSTB, a high school station. He recommends exactly what I felt when I was GM: you gotta have a structure, communication, and meeting agendas. It seems obvious and silly, but having done meetings without them, I can vouch for how much of a difference it makes. Plus, you gotta keep people encouraged with positive rewards, they work a lot better than reprimands.

I also sat in on a promotions session. Boy am I jealous of those stations with deeper pockets! But here was a fun idea: Station Ping Pong Balls! How did we not think of this at what some might call the party school of Illinois? At least in legend. It’s really key to use any Uni resources you can: press offices for the school might work with you. Make those partnerships, guys back home!

We also had a fairly interesting presentation by Skip Pizzi of the National Association of Broadcasters, about going between streaming and traditional radio. Streaming broadcasting is rapidly growing, but still is nowhere near the listenership levels and revenue of traditional radio. It’s partly due to the cost of listeners… it can cost at least 3 times as much to get streaming listeners currently, but that’s changing. Skip doesn’t see ‘traditional’ radio disappearing, and I agree with him in the short term. But in the long term? Streaming radio will be the only radio in 50 years. We’ll see if I’m still around then. I might have to redact myself. But online radio does have it’s advantages, and we at WIDB know this! We know exactly how many people visit the site, and…well, we’re working on listener stats.

(Edit on Oct 31st: I gotta redact myself a little there. I just have to hold out hope that traditional radio will pull itself out of the rut it’s in right now. There’s something so magical about the ethereal way it works. If we treat the spectrum as it should be – in service, in real art…. it will stay. But will we do it?)

But the best part for me? Today I met a bunch of the CBI leaders today. Candy Walton, previous president who allowed me to conduct my research there was very cordial. I also met with Charles Bailey and Jennifer Waits who I cited in the proposal for my study. Waits is now a writer for a number of publications, and has a side project, Spinning Indie, about independent music and radio. She found some of our stories about WIDB really interesting! We also met one of our nearby neighbors, Sharon Scott, who is the Advisor for WRVU, who recently had their frequency sold out from under them by their sponsoring Universities. Having seen the University oppose us going on air in the past, it was a really interesting discussion. I’ve talked so much today, my mouth is still dry.

Highlights for Eric:

I too went to the management session with Lucas so I won’t really touch on that one. However, for most of the day we had split up to cover more ground so we can bring back more ideas to the station. Most of what I went to dealt with news and marketing, obviously two of the things we are trying to figure out ourselves.

The main news session I went to dealt with covering “breaking news” and it was taught by a student from WSOU as well as a reporter from a news radio station in New York who was very informative. The main things I learned were to keep news casts brief and make/keep contacts because you will never know when they will be helpful. As a radio station we still have a huge role in news, which is really empowering especially given what we have been trying to accomplish recently.

I also sat through a session that dealt with building underwriting for a radio station. This deals with advertisers and how to market yourselves to get folks to invest with your product (either by buying ad space or otherwise). It was all informative and gave good pointers on how to start (or in our case restart) gaining revenue for the station.

Lucas and I also went to an interesting session about dealing with school administration. It was geared more towards print media but we learned that being firm but courteous can go a long way. But that is pretty much my highlights, I have pages of notes and a few doodles to refer back to when we get back to the real world. So far it has been a great time and totally worth going broke for. Check out the pictures and keep coming back for more daily updates from the road. But until then stay classy San Diego Carbondale (and whoever else reads this).