Kurtis Conner brought his comedy tour to Durham Performing Arts Center a couple of weeks ago, and Lloyd was very excited to go. A comedian you may have never heard of played to a packed house of nearly 3,000 people, most appearing under 30. Who would have thought that of all the subject matter he could cover in his set, one of Conner’s bits would be about…radio.
Conner began the bit talking about his love of music, which segued into a story of how he consumes music. Kurtis Conner told the audience he listens to the radio.
The audience booed. Seriously. And loudly.
It’s challenging enough trying to figure out how to get more Gen Zs to listen to radio. The fact that they booed the mention of the word radio is another problem entirely. But what came next will hopefully spark some brainstorming. 28-year-old YouTuber/Millionaire/Gen Z hero Kurtis Conner offered a full-throated defense of the medium you and I love.
“No, no, no…don’t boo me,” Conner begged. He explained how there’s just so much content to choose from and radio makes it easy. He doesn’t have to think about it, the station just plays the music he loves. Kurtis Conner claimed to listen to the radio every day and even name-checked his hometown P1 station. “There’s a station in Toronto that plays 70s, 80s, and 90s.” “That’s boom 97.3!,” I excitedly told Lloyd. “It’s called boom,” validated Conner.
I was excited because boom 97.3 is our client.
But even more intriguing to me was the way he positioned radio to his followers. We have discussed content overload and the Paradox of Choice in previous Tuesdays With Coleman blogs. The premise is the more choices a consumer is offered, the more anxiety results, thereby making us feel worse. By reducing the amount of choice, we can reduce consumer anxiety and make them feel better about their decision.
We have seen in research studies that “free” and “convenient” are two important reasons why listeners choose radio over other media. But what if there’s an opportunity to magnify the importance of its role in reducing anxiety? In a world where we now must choose among a seemingly endless array of entertainment options, should we be emphasizing radio’s strength of curation? Would it really resonate with Gen Zers like Kurtis Conner who find comfort in curation (and, apparently, 70s, 80s, and 90s hits?)
The only way to find out is to give it a shot, and it certainly would be interesting to conduct research to see if the image resonates.
One thing is for sure. A room full of thousands of Gen Zers booing at the mention of radio should make us uncomfortable.
A few weeks ago, my 18-year-old son Lloyd (he’ll be 19 next week) was in the car with me and he was (I know this will shock you if you’re the parent of a teen) watching a YouTube video. “Whatcha watching?” “Good Mythical Morning,” he replied. Good Mythical Morning is a daily YouTube show hosted by Rhett & Link, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. I peppered Lloyd with questions about the show, including why and how he watches. This led to a longer conversation later that day, which I’ll detail below.
Radio is unsurprisingly having a very challenging time reaching Generation Z, well explained in Fred Jacobs’ recent blog, “Radio Broadcasters Don’t Know Doodly-Squat About Gen Zs.” He’s right. But it better learn. As a A) media researcher; B) former radio program director; and C) parent of a Gen Z kid, I couldn’t really help but have an unofficial one-on-one interview with my son about it (insert Dr. Evil laugh).
Fun fact: I have a quirky connection to Rhett & Link, which I’ll share at the end of the blog.
Jay: Who are Rhett & Link?
Lloyd: They are a comedy duo on YouTube. They’re hilarious, and host Good Mythical Morning each day. They also own their own company, Mythical Entertainment.
Jay: Is Good Mythical Morning the only show they have?
Lloyd: No. There’s a show after the show, Good Mythical More. Rhett & Link have a podcast called Ear Biscuits. And then they have other channels and shows for other cast members, like Mythical Kitchen, a cooking show.
Jay: How many of these shows do you watch or listen to?
Lloyd: I watch Good Mythical Morning and Good Mythical More, I sometimes listen to Ear Biscuits, I listen to the AHot Dog Is A Sandwich podcast from Josh & Nicole, and I watch the Mythical Kitchen channel.
Jay: How often are you listening to these shows?
Lloyd: I watch Good Mythical Morning and Good Mythical More every weekday. The others are a little more random.
Jay: How long are they?
Lloyd: An episode of Good Mythical Morning and the after-show are about 20 minutes each.
Jay: 20 minutes is pretty quick. What kind of content are they doing?
Lloyd: It’s usually one topic per episode. Like the Shuffleboard game, where you have to guess the era a food came from. Or when they had on someone from the Swedish embassy, and you had to guess is this food Swedish or not? Is this game Swedish or not?
Jay: You said you watch every day. Why do you feel you need to watch it every single day?
Lloyd: I feel like they really care about the Mythical Beasts, which are the fans. They do surveys all the time, like the Mythical Census I just filled out a few days ago. It was about me and what I enjoy. Like, what’s your demographic? When did you start watching? How many Mythical Entertainment shows do you consume? Stuff like that.
Jay: A show that does research! Be still my beating heart. What other ways do they engage with listeners?
Lloyd: They love to do interactive things with the Beasts that influence what goes in the show. Like on Instagram, they’ll say something like, “Which food do you prefer?” Then on the next episode, they’ll reference which food the fans picked.
Jay: Do they often customize their content based on input from their fans?
Lloyd: About an hour ago, they posted on their Twitter “Are there any weird nicknames you call your grandparents and why?” So they’ll probably do that on an episode.
Jay: Anything else they do that’s unique for their fans?
Lloyd: The Mythical Society. You have to pay to be a member, and there are tiers. But every quarter you get a free collectible item. Like this quarter, you get a vinyl copy of them singing Brooks & Dunn in the year 3000.
Jay: (laughing) I’m looking at their website for that and it’s pretty amazing. There’s no chance you’d know who Brooks & Dunn are without Rhett & Link.
Lloyd: That’s true. Oh, they also have their own convention.
Lloyd: MythiCon. It’s going to be in Austin in October. I want to go but the cheapest tickets are $299, up to $649.
Jay: Oh, my goodness. In radio, that would be a Non-Traditional Revenue gold mine. What entertainment do you consume throughout the day?
Lloyd: I like YouTube, I really like having it on as background noise. You’re not going to know these channels, but Nexpo, Barely Sociable, Blame It On Jorge…these are Lost Media, conspiracy/internet mystery channels. I watch all those when they come out but they don’t come out as often as Rhett & Link. I also love commentary YouTubers such as Eddy Burback, Kurtis Conner, Drew Gooden, Danny Gonzalez. They’re comedy but they don’t do it every day. More like every few weeks.
Jay: When you listen to music, what do you listen to and how do you listen?
Lloyd: If I’m trying to relax or do art or study, I’ll listen to Lo-Fi Hip Hop beats. Or I’ll listen to my Liked Songs playlist. All on Spotify.
Jay: How often do you consume YouTube versus Spotify?
Lloyd: Probably three to four hours of YouTube, about an hour of Spotify.
Jay: Do you listen to any morning radio shows?
Jay: Why not?
Lloyd: I’m just not interested in them. I listen to Spotify, which has radio shows on it. From what I’ve found so far, nothing is on par with Rhett & Link. A lot of radio morning shows are topical and make you have to think about what’s going on in the world. Even if they’re comedic, they still talk about the news, and I don’t want to hear about that. I watch the news for that.
Jay: It sounds like when you’re seeking entertainment, you want an escape from reality.
Lloyd: Right. The news helps me get the information I need, but Rhett and Link help me get my mind off things.
Jay: Can you name any radio morning shows off the top of your head?
Lloyd: No…I know there are some on Sirius? Or the local stations…ummm…I can’t name them.
Jay: If radio wants to reach 19-year-olds, can it do it?
Lloyd: I don’t know. I mean, I listen to SiriusXM because the stations I listen to are very specific to what I like. And there aren’t that many options on the radio. I just don’t know what they could do to make me listen more because Spotify and Apple Music are so predominant in my generation. I have a friend whose radio in the car is broken. And they’re not getting it fixed because they can just listen to Spotify.
Jay: Have you seen any advertising for any radio stations? Could be billboards, TV, social media, Google ads, anything?
Lloyd: I saw one in New York for a radio station, but that’s literally the only one I ever remember seeing.
Jay: Do you remember which station that was for?
Lloyd: I don’t.
There’s lots to unpack in this single 20-minute interview. On the one hand, the prognosis for radio’s ability to reach Gen Z may seem out of reach. On the other hand, I see multiple insights that radio could use to refine content and better target the audience. Keep in mind, that it’s only one interview. I’d love to see audio brands (not just radio) invest in qualitative research to meaningfully explore the deeper “whys” behind Gen Z consumption.
I promised to tell you about my quirky connection to Rhett & Link.
In early 2007, when I was program director of 96rock (WBBB/Raleigh), we ran a contest for a listener to be our Grammy Awards correspondent. Listeners needed to send a video of themselves explaining why they should win. We picked a video submitted by a pair of guys most (including us) hadn’t heard of at the time. Those guys went to the show and snuck onto the red carpet (without credentials).
This is the video they submitted:
At the time, the program director in me was ticked that Rhett & Link didn’t even mention our station in the video. But the other part of me watched the “Project Lionel” bit in the video and knew they were superstars in the making. Who knew that 15 years later they would be making the one show my 18-year-old couldn’t miss?
How many times have you thought, “If we just had more money to spend on marketing, it would solve our problems”?
While marketing will probably never solve all your problems, in many cases (provided the brand/product/appeal are properly aligned) the right marketing can work wonders. We’ve recommended marketing campaigns as part of strategic research plans over the years, and plenty of radio stations have seen tangible results from utilizing other traditional media such as television, billboards and direct mail.
Many companies today are also finding success by marketing in a decidedly non-traditional way that sounds counter-intuitive: by “giving away” their product.
Meet Roger Wakefield, President of Texas Green Plumbing in Dallas.
When Roger’s business started slowing down a couple of years ago, he started a YouTube channel. He created videos that provide free plumbing advice (see this link to find more information about plumbing).
Roger knows that by giving away advice and establishing credibility with these small DIY things, he’s creating potential customers that will contact him when they need help with the big things.
It’s not unlike the reason we started our Tuesdays With Coleman blogs nearly three years ago. We’re happy to share tidbits on content, research and branding strategy and hope you’ll think of us when you need help with the big things, too.
What extra value can you give to your customers? What can you do to “pull back the curtain” of your audio brand for your listeners? What tips and advice can your sales teams provide to build credibility?
Outbound Marketing will always be necessary to build brand awareness. But think about how your Inbound Marketing–content creation, problem solving and loyalty building–can play a role in your overall brand strategy.
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve learned quite a bit about the current state of contemporary music. Among many other findings, this year’s study of the current tastes of 1,000 12- to 54-year-olds across the United States and Canada has indicated a rise in the appeal of Country, a slightly older lean to the best-testing titles and a downtrend for Pop, Hip Hop/R&B and Dance/Electronic. This week, we’ll focus on how the genres of the best-testing songs vary based upon consumers’ choice of platform. For example, the best testing genres among radio users look different than those of streaming users. Pandora fans look different than those consumers who prefer Spotify. Why do we find these differences so interesting? Because programmers are barraged with data from different sources every day. A song’s amazing number of streams on Spotify, for instance, might be used as an argument why it belongs on your radio station. Or the fact that “everyone” on Pandora is flocking to a particular style suggests that you should move your programming in that direction.
That’s why understanding the different profiles of consumers of these various platforms should matter to you. It should help you appreciate what all those stats being thrown at you really mean.
For starters, the best testing songs of people who use radio every day look a lot different than those of daily streamers. What’s the big difference? The Top 100 among daily radio listeners contains a large percentage of Pop and Country, and a smaller amount of Hip Hop/R&B. About a third (32%) of the Top 100 of Daily Radio Listeners is Pop and 29% Country, but only 19% Hip Hop/R&B. Daily Streaming Listeners, on the other hand, have much more Hip Hop/R&B (29%) and far less Country (only 15%).
Does that mean Daily Radio Listeners don’t like contemporary Hip Hop? No. It means when we look at Daily Radio Listeners as a group overall, they gravitate toward Pop and Country among contemporary genres. You are more likely to find interest in Pop or Country when you take a broad look at regular radio users.
We see other notable differences when we compare the Top 100 of Pandora, Spotify and YouTube fans. Consumers who prefer Pandora over other streaming services have a tremendous amount of Country in their Top 100—39%. They also have 26% Pop but significantly less Hip Hop/R&B at only 17%. Those who prefer Spotify go in the opposite direction. They have a very large percentage of Pop (39%) and a good amount of Hip Hop/R&B (26%)—but very little Country, only 9%. YouTube fans look very similar to Spotify fans.
The point is that people who prefer Pandora have much more Country in the songs they rate best; those who prefer Spotify and YouTube have more Pop and Hip Hop/R&B in their Top 100 songs. We sometimes tend to think of streaming users as homogeneous, but they are not. The profile of consumers who prefer different streaming services are distinct—and it is important to keep this in mind when we look at data coming from various sources. And that’s true of almost every different platform we analyzed.
Next week, we’ll dive into the political fray–to discover the respective taste differences between supporters of President Trump and Joe Biden. In an environment in which common ground and bipartisanship can be hard to find, can these two polarized groups find musical consensus?
Don’t miss next week’s Tuesdays With Coleman to find out.
This September, NBC will debut “A Little Late With Lilly Singh,” a new late-late-night talk show in what will be the former timeslot of “Last Call With Carson Daly.” NBC’s choice of host for this timeslot is a bold one for the network in a lot of ways. Lilly Singh will be the only woman with a late-night broadcast network show. She’s Canadian. She’s a young woman of color. She is also relatively unknown to the general TV-watching public. Lilly Singh earned her chops not on the stand-up comedy scene or as a bit player in sitcoms.
Ms. Singh is not the first person to build a career from that platform (we wouldn’t have Shawn Mendes without it), but it’s fair to say that she’s the first person to be plucked from YouTube by a major network and given her very own eponymous TV show right out of the gate. Say what you will about the 1:35am timeslot on NBC, it’s still part of a network with a lot of heritage and a good amount of prestige that relies on advertising for its success, so it doesn’t make its host choices lightly. She is one of the main reasons people are opting to purchase youtube views and growing in their own way. TV is looking for talent in new places and banking on that talent. Why can’t radio? When radio stations and syndicators look for on-air talent, they tend to look fairly inward. And that’s understandable on some level, because we all know radio isn’t like visual media. If your audience can see you, you work a lot with facial expressions and body language. Radio requires everything to be in the voice. It’s not a skill everyone has, for sure. It’s not always translatable from film or TV. Radio hosts also have to be able to think fast and be creative on the fly, read copy often with little notice and, in many cases, be willing to wake up at ungodly hours and make their way to the studio in all types of weather conditions. Great hosts are not always easy to find.
But why not… try?
I’m reminded of major films that took huge casting risks and ended up with something great. 2006 brought us the long-awaited film version of Dreamgirls—who knew Beyonce could act? Jennifer Hudson, at that point known primarily to the public as a runner-up on American Idol, even won an Oscar! Yalitza Aparicio, the star of recent Best Picture nominee Roma, was a schoolteacher. In a different part of the media universe, Megan Amram, a writer for some of my favorite sitcoms, got hired because of her clever and indie-popular Twitter feed. These people all had that something and were given a chance.
Now, I’m not completely naïve. I’m sure there was a lot of hard work that went into polishing the performances in Dreamgirls and Roma, and I’m sure Ms. Amram took a while to get comfortable in the Parks and Recreation writers’ room.
So why not apply some of the resources radio already uses into developing innovative and interesting on-air talent? Program directors coach their morning show hosts all the time, and I’m privileged to know some wonderful consultants out there whose careers are built on perfecting on-air charisma and chemistry.
There are already some successful stories of hosts plucked from other areas. D.L. Hughley comes to mind; his established career in comedy and TV hosting have served him well on his nationally syndicated morning show. And say what you will about Dr. Laura Schlessinger, but her ultimately extremely successful radio career started when she simply called into an LA-based talk show and impressed the host enough to get a gig. She was working as a biologist at the time, which reminds me that Janeane Garofalo’s character in The Truth About Cats and Dogs was a veterinarian-turned-radio-host (fictional, yes, but same idea).
So how about it, radio? We at Coleman Insights talk about Outside vs. Inside Thinking all the time, and this is one of those areas where radio can definitely go “outside.” There might be a comedian out there whose brand of humor is perfect for your afternoon drive audience. You might be looking for an additional cast member to balance your morning show whose ratings are good but whose perceptual images are lackluster, and you might find that person on local cable access. Or from a contest. Or from your local karaoke bar.
Or stations can find talent on YouTube. People like Lilly Singh, who are building a huge base of followers that you can tap into as future listeners to your station. Potential radio talent really is all around you, even if you might not realize it at first glance.
When you’re looking for your Next Big Thing, don’t just stick to the studio. Look further afield. Like NBC.
BRANDING, CONTENT & RESEARCH STRATEGY
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