Topics

high school football, gone?

Dominion Market Research <Ross@...>
 

Ross,
That is very interesting stuff. With all the sports we did back then I
remember the many carts for the SBC (sports broadcasters club). Seems there was
an entire rack or two for just local sports, Orioles, Redskins and UVa. Those were the days. As I believed, WJMA will no longer carry Orange Football or Virginia Tech
this fall. Fifty years for Orange football was a great run and maybe some
kind of record. It also appears that Louisa and Culpeper will loose their live
broadcasts on Friday. The station is trying to work out drop-in stories (on
Friday's) for fans on all area games from 7:30 - 10:30. Plan are not complete.

Clint
Estes
1977 -
Present
Clint,

Perhaps you can provide some more detail on this. I always thought high school football was an easy sell to advertisers and an audience builder. I don't know the thinking behind this decision, but it does seem odd. Have you had any feed back from school ADs or on the street?

It doesn't seem to me that drop-ins really satisfy either camp. It's an interruption for those who want only music and not very satisfying for those who want to hear the game. Does this mean that Culpeper, Louisa, Madison and Orange counties will have no high school sports coverage?

I can't imagine Friday night is a very high listening time. Niche programming could provide some nice revenue. But maybe that's old school thinking and not viable in today's radio market place.

Fifty years of high school play-by-play was a pretty good run. You guys sent it out in style last year with all the retrospective features.

Ross
--
Dominion Market Research-mailing services for Central Virginia
309 Madison Road
PO Box 791
Orange VA 22960-0464
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Mark Johnson
 

--- In WJMA@..., Dominion Market Research <Ross@m...>

I can't imagine Friday night is a very high listening time. Niche
programming could provide some nice revenue. But maybe that's old
school thinking and not viable in today's radio market place.
Very old school Ross, like before calculators.

Ya gotta take these factors into account:

A) Americans hate sports, especially rural folks, and especially
football.
B) NOBODY cares about a bunch of KIDS playin' sports, especially
their parents, grandparents etc.
C) The outrageous rights fees the school system charges are deal
breakers alone.
D) Local businesses generally refuse to support such efforts.*

Add it all up and it adds up.

Mark Johnson
81-84


*Back about 7-8 years ago I asked about being a sponsor for the OCHS
games. Nupe. Sorry. Sold out.

Seth Williamson <orthodox@...>
 

Very old school Ross, like before calculators. Ya gotta take these factors into account:
A) Americans hate sports, especially rural folks, and especially football.
B) NOBODY cares about a bunch of KIDS playin' sports, especially their parents, grandparents etc.
C) The outrageous rights fees the school system charges are deal breakers alone.
D) Local businesses generally refuse to support such efforts.*
Add it all up and it adds up.
As much as I hate to see high school football go, I feel compelled to add that the average radio station owner or stockholder isn't likely to abandon programming that promises the best revenue stream. In commercial radio, money absolutely rules all, and Arbitron numbers = money.

I haven't looked at the numbers on programs like this, but I would be surprised if station owners were obtusely and out of some perverse, masochistic motive opting for programming that netted them fewer listeners and fewer advertising dollars.

Not really intending to play devil's advocate here--just trying to inject what I think is a bit of melancholy realism into the discussion.

Seth Williamson
Daleville, VA

Mark Johnson
 

--- In WJMA@..., Seth Williamson <orthodox@n...> wrote:

I haven't looked at the numbers on programs like this, but I would
be
surprised if station owners were obtusely and out of some
perverse,
masochistic motive opting for programming that netted them fewer
listeners and fewer advertising dollars.
Seth,
My problem with this mindset is that it assumes that all business
owners know what they are doing, are asking the right questions, are
making the right moves etc.

In my business I don't intentionally do stuff that limits my profit
potential, but I'll bet you gold bars to dirt clods that I could do
better, and that some things I do are downright dumb.

Even a corporate power like WalMart makes bad decisions.

I doubt that KMart intentionally went broke.

In spite of degrees from Harvard, focus groups, and market research,
business people foul up.

Dumping high school football in a market this size just does not add
up. This is a small market. In order to be viable a local station
has to give listeners in the area a REASON to listen to them instead
of one of the bazillion other options.

There are really only two reasons to listen to one station over the
other. Content and signal strength.

Signal strength is not an issue with dozens of broadcast stations
plus the infinite options via satillite (via DishNet and for no
additional cost over my TV channels, I get 20-25 music channels) and
the Internet.

So we come down to content. Without local news, sports, public
service, and weather (and I mean real weather, not canned, updated
twice a day stuff, if there's a tornado warning tough luck) why
choose the "local" station?

This trend is all over. I was in Charlottesville yesterday and heard
a local newscast on WINA. It was either 4:30 or 5:00. The "newscast"
consisted of:

A: A remote on a traffic snafu on Barracks Road (not even a main
commuter artery) due to a cement truck overturning TWO AND A HALF
HOURS BEFORE.

B. A brief mention of a back road closing in Greene County due to
bridge repairs.

Wow! This is what we are getting from "Charlottesville's News
Leader"?

Mark Johnson
81-84

Seth Williamson <orthodox@...>
 

rmj142 wrote:

Dumping high school football in a market this size just does not add up. This is a small market. In order to be viable a local station has to give listeners in the area a REASON to listen to them instead of one of the bazillion other options.
Agreed. You may be right about this particular decision. I don't claim to know the economics of this programming option very well. I DO know that local football seemed to be popular when I myself was at WJMA (and at other small-market AMs).

There are really only two reasons to listen to one station over the other. Content and signal strength.
Signal strength is not an issue with dozens of broadcast stations plus the infinite options via satillite (via DishNet and for no additional cost over my TV channels, I get 20-25 music channels) and the Internet.
So we come down to content. Without local news, sports, public service, and weather (and I mean real weather, not canned, updated twice a day stuff, if there's a tornado warning tough luck) why choose the "local" station?
This trend is all over. I was in Charlottesville yesterday and heard a local newscast on WINA. It was either 4:30 or 5:00. The "newscast" consisted of:
A: A remote on a traffic snafu on Barracks Road (not even a main commuter artery) due to a cement truck overturning TWO AND A HALF HOURS BEFORE.
B. A brief mention of a back road closing in Greene County due to bridge repairs.
Wow! This is what we are getting from "Charlottesville's News Leader"?
Yeah, it sounds lame. I agree. The local AM talker in my market is WFIR. They've got Limbaugh and Hannity and Boortz and Savage and a badly paid local news staff. All in all, I don't think their local news effort is as lame as what you describe above from INA. But on the other hand, they do seem to concentrate on traffic accidents and traffic tie-ups. I think there is a certain demand for that kind of thing, but timeliness is everything.

It seems to me there should be some hard numbers here somewhere, and some reasoning extrapolated from those numbers, that would explain JMA's decision to dump local football. It may be sound reasoning, or it may be a stupid call.

With any block-programming decision, of course, it's not merely a matter of how big the potential audience is. There's the matter of what the format-breaking block does to core listeners in that daypart. If it attracts a completely different audience, a programmer might still consider it a bad move even if the replacement audience was of the same size or even bigger. Because you drive your core listeners away to some other station for that one night, and that might be a bad strategy, depending on what your market segmentation is.

On the other hand, the hard fact is that nighttime numbers are tiny for ALL radio formats compared to television. It's hard to imagine there's much of a nighttime audience at stake no matter WHAT the format is.


Seth Willimson
Daleville, VA

R Roberts <russroberts@...>
 

Have you read Ted Turner's recent article about media consolidation.
I'm sure it can be found on the Internet.

Among other things, he wrote of a train wreck in, I think, the Dakotas.
Tanker cars began leaking noxious fumes. Immediate public notification
of the danger was imperative. It's too bad the radio stations were no
help. It took him hours to get someone on the phones of the several
Clear Channel radio stations in the community.

He writes that the good of the public, the owners of the airwaves, has
disappeared. As we've written here before, the only thing that matters
now is the good of the corporation.

I'd like to hear what you all think about Turner's attack on big media.

Russ Roberts

-----Original Message-----
From: Seth Williamson [mailto:orthodox@...]
Sent: Wednesday, August 18, 2004 2:30 PM
To: WJMA@...
Subject: Re: [WJMA] Re: high school football, gone?


rmj142 wrote:

Dumping high school football in a market this size just does not add
up. This is a small market. In order to be viable a local station
has to give listeners in the area a REASON to listen to them instead
of one of the bazillion other options.
Agreed. You may be right about this particular decision. I don't claim

to know the economics of this programming option very well. I DO know
that local football seemed to be popular when I myself was at WJMA (and
at other small-market AMs).

There are really only two reasons to listen to one station over the
other. Content and signal strength.
Signal strength is not an issue with dozens of broadcast stations
plus the infinite options via satillite (via DishNet and for no
additional cost over my TV channels, I get 20-25 music channels) and
the Internet.
So we come down to content. Without local news, sports, public
service, and weather (and I mean real weather, not canned, updated
twice a day stuff, if there's a tornado warning tough luck) why
choose the "local" station?
This trend is all over. I was in Charlottesville yesterday and heard
a local newscast on WINA. It was either 4:30 or 5:00. The "newscast"
consisted of:
A: A remote on a traffic snafu on Barracks Road (not even a main
commuter artery) due to a cement truck overturning TWO AND A HALF
HOURS BEFORE.
B. A brief mention of a back road closing in Greene County due to
bridge repairs.
Wow! This is what we are getting from "Charlottesville's News
Leader"?
Yeah, it sounds lame. I agree. The local AM talker in my market is
WFIR. They've got Limbaugh and Hannity and Boortz and Savage and a
badly paid local news staff. All in all, I don't think their local news

effort is as lame as what you describe above from INA. But on the other

hand, they do seem to concentrate on traffic accidents and traffic
tie-ups. I think there is a certain demand for that kind of thing, but
timeliness is everything.

It seems to me there should be some hard numbers here somewhere, and
some reasoning extrapolated from those numbers, that would explain JMA's

decision to dump local football. It may be sound reasoning, or it may
be a stupid call.

With any block-programming decision, of course, it's not merely a matter

of how big the potential audience is. There's the matter of what the
format-breaking block does to core listeners in that daypart. If it
attracts a completely different audience, a programmer might still
consider it a bad move even if the replacement audience was of the same
size or even bigger. Because you drive your core listeners away to some

other station for that one night, and that might be a bad strategy,
depending on what your market segmentation is.

On the other hand, the hard fact is that nighttime numbers are tiny for
ALL radio formats compared to television. It's hard to imagine there's
much of a nighttime audience at stake no matter WHAT the format is.


Seth Willimson
Daleville, VA



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Seth Williamson <orthodox@...>
 

R Roberts wrote:

I'd like to hear what you all think about Turner's attack on big media.
He has a point in that specific case. But when an owner of a mega-corporation like this starts asking for the market to be reorganized or restructured, it's usually because he wants to make it harder for competitors, not easier. I haven't noticed that Turner has been notably subservient to local wishes in the past.


Seth Williamson
Daleville, VA

Ralph Graves
 

Seth:

Now you're starting to sound like me! I think there's something else going
on, though. Local sports, and especially the Sports Broadcaster's Club, always
provided a steady income stream for the station, so that's not the whole story.
Of course, under Digby's reign, the SBC got all screwed up, and I don't know
if it ever recovered.

I think in this case, the thought is more along the lines of not whether its
making any money, but is it making enough money. If they just run music, then
the station can be automated on Friday nights - no paid staff. For the
football games, you need a staff of three (that you have to pay for) plus the phone
connection.

Also, the SBC itself is fairly labor intensive to develop (although not to
maintain - from chats with Bill I got the impression there was a lot of rollover
once an advertiser got on board). Since Digby's time the thinking has been
that one advertiser paying $1,000 a month is much better than 10 paying $100 (a
la SBC). Of course, Digby blew off all of those $100 dollar accounts before
replacing them with the $1,000 ones, and in fact never did completely replace
that lost revenue.

Its already been noted that they've let a few sales people go. So now they're
cutting loose the programming that cost them salaries and have demanded the
most attention from the sales staff. It helps the station towards doing the
most with the minimum effort and staff.

What's gotten lost here, is one of the basic questions I asked (and continue
to ask) from way back when. What makes WJMA different from the Clear Channel
stations? If there's no real difference (either in programming, or audience
makeup), then why should I advertise on WJMA when I can get a package deal with
the Clear Channel stations?

The Sports Broadcasters Club may have been a little extra work, but it was a
solid revenue stream that brought in more money than the station paid out in
programming - and bought the good will of the community besides.

Ralph Graves

Seth Williamson <orthodox@...>
 

On Thu, 2004-08-19 at 06:09, @rgraves321 wrote:

What's gotten lost here, is one of the basic questions I asked (and
continue to ask) from way back when. What makes WJMA different from
the Clear Channel stations? If there's no real difference (either in
programming, or audience makeup), then why should I advertise on WJMA
when I can get a package deal with the Clear Channel stations?
Yeah--don't they call that the USP in business school, the unique
selling proposition? You've gotta have something to distinguish
yourself from the other guys.

Of course, it may be that your USP is nothing but cheaper CPM. That may
or may not be enough to make a living for you.

I continue to wonder how much "local-ness" is valued in media today. To
me, it makes a difference. I don't know how typical I am of other
people. I am probably not a typical media consumer--I haven't watched
television since 36 years ago today, for one thing.

I wonder about this question. In public radio they make a big deal
about core listeners being "citizens of the global village" and other
such phrases. I have a hard time imagining the typical public radio
listener as caring about high school football. But I may be wrong. At
any rate, that's a public radio audience and not commercial radio
audience that I am nowadays most familiar with.

Seth Williamson
Daleville, VA

R Roberts <russroberts@...>
 

If we are somewhat agreed that high school football may have a limited
audience and may not be profitable for a radio station to broadcast,
then it might be well to consider a narrowcast. I just read that high
speed Internet now has a reach of 50% of the U.S. population. Technical
issues aside, how about putting the Clint Estes Friday Football Show on
the web ... then not only Gramps in Unionville, but older cousin Billy
in Iraq could enjoy the game?

Make it an OCHS school project.

You want to pay for it? Sell the sponsorship to WJMA and Piedmont
Communications!

Russ Roberts

-----Original Message-----
From: Seth Williamson [mailto:orthodox@...]
Sent: Thursday, August 19, 2004 7:21 PM
To: WJMA@...
Subject: [WJMA] Re: high school football, gone?


On Thu, 2004-08-19 at 06:09, @rgraves321 wrote:

What's gotten lost here, is one of the basic questions I asked (and
continue to ask) from way back when. What makes WJMA different from
the Clear Channel stations? If there's no real difference (either in
programming, or audience makeup), then why should I advertise on WJMA
when I can get a package deal with the Clear Channel stations?
Yeah--don't they call that the USP in business school, the unique
selling proposition? You've gotta have something to distinguish
yourself from the other guys.

Of course, it may be that your USP is nothing but cheaper CPM. That may
or may not be enough to make a living for you.

I continue to wonder how much "local-ness" is valued in media today. To
me, it makes a difference. I don't know how typical I am of other
people. I am probably not a typical media consumer--I haven't watched
television since 36 years ago today, for one thing.

I wonder about this question. In public radio they make a big deal
about core listeners being "citizens of the global village" and other
such phrases. I have a hard time imagining the typical public radio
listener as caring about high school football. But I may be wrong. At
any rate, that's a public radio audience and not commercial radio
audience that I am nowadays most familiar with.

Seth Williamson
Daleville, VA




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Clint Estes
 

Thanks Ross,

After some discussion thre are two possibilities for the high school
football season. First are drop-in reports on WJMA and 105.5 (Louisa) 2 or 3
times per hour beginning about 7:45 until about 10:30. This would mean getting a
person at each game to call in with a score update and or highlights that Red
or I include in these updates. This option is running into trouble counting
on someone to call us at the station. The feeling was that theses "stringers"
would not be paid and there was concern on a bad weather nights (or other
reasons) they may decide not go to the game and we would have no information to
share. The second option seems to be better in that it would be a 10 minute
wrap show on Saturday mornings similar to the old DeVivi (sp?) high school
scoreboard. Both Red and I would be reporting.
Culpeper, Louisa and Orange will no longer have their games broadcast.
The station will also not broadcast Virginia Tech.

Clint
Estes
77 -
until

Clint Estes
 

Ross,
An answer to your question on feedback from ADs and on the street, I
have only spoken with the Orange AD and he was disappointed, but has so much to
worry about. On the street folks appear upset and do not understand. I have
had many approach me and I tell them to call and ask the station if my
explanation is not to their liking.

Clint
Estes

77-present

Clint Estes
 

Russ,
I have discussed the Internet option with the station and there was some
interest, but currently they have many irons in the fire with renovations and
the new stations. I could see a WJMA homepage with a link to the game(s).
They did not rule it out for the future depending on costs and other things.

Clint

Maybe Swap Shop can come back this way?????

Ralph Graves
 

In a message dated 8/21/04 10:38:20 AM, russroberts@... writes:


I just read that high speed Internet now has a reach of 50% of the U.S.
population.  Technical
issues aside, how about putting the Clint Estes Friday Football Show on
the web ... then not only Gramps in Unionville, but older cousin Billy
in Iraq could enjoy the game?
Maybe 50% of the country, but certainly not 50% of our listening area! I
think a significant part of the folks who would want to listen either don't have
an Internet connection at all, or would be loath to tie up thier one phone line
for several hours with a dicey dial-up connection. The digital divide is
quite real - especially outside of Charlottesville. The other recent statistic to
keep in mind is that 20% of those with Internet access are "reluctant users."
These are the folk who got it primarily for e-mail, but only check their
e-mail a few times a month.

Perhaps someday, when the county has broadband service.

Ralph Graves


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