Current Issue:

Current Issue

On The Cover:
Cumulus Chairman Jeff Marcus

Click here to subscribe to Radio Ink.

Radio Ink Writers

Former San Diego GM Has Words of Internet Wisdom for Old Friends

February 23, 2011

Tracy Johnson has been hired to  provide Group Brand Manager services to LMSD (Local Media San Diego). That includes participating in the oversight of programming, promotional, and digital development efforts, and will have responsibility for bridging the gap between the on-air and on-line initiatives for the LMSD properties. The former GM of KFBM says Radio is way behind the curve when it comes to taking advantage of the Internet.

Tell us about the new gig. What will you be doing?
I'll be working with 91X, Z90 and Magic 92.5 in developing their brands.  Specifically, I'll work with the programming, promotions, marketing and digital teams  to develop their strategies on the air, in the community and digitally.

You are in a very unique position having been a GM. What's your view on how GMs are incorporating the Internet into their stations?
It's finally beginning to take on more of a priority, but as an industry we are way behind the audience.  Most station web sites are little more than a promotional brochure and add little value to the brand or the audience's lives.  We have to not only earn the attention of the audience, but extend those relationships on multiple platforms.  And, we have to do a better job of understanding and selling the digital assets rather than packaging it as value added to traditional buyers or selling it to our terrestrial advertisers.

What are the biggest mistakes they are making?
Undervaluing the power of the influence that the stations offer, the value of the relationship with station fans and the promotional power of the media.  We have incredible reach, and a unique opportunity to create deeper relationships by investing in online resources and connecting them creatively.  We fail to leverage compelling personalities into multi-media stars that lead audience communities online based on common interests.  That may not have anything with what they do on the air, but is related to the values and interests of the audience. 

How can they generate more revenue from the Internet?
We need digital sellers talking to digital buyers about digital budgets rather than relying on our spot sales teams talking to media buyers who are more interested in getting a free weekend promotion for their 30 and 60 second buys.

What are the top 3 challenges GM's face in terms of the Internet passing them by?
1)  Understanding that websites, podcasts, online video, social media, etc. are not strategies.  Those are delivery vehicles.  They should be used to support a broader strategy.
2)  Resources need to be committed to attract, develop and grow an online presence...both financial and people resources!
3)  Stop fearing cannibalization of the over the air product.  Broadcasters fear losing listeners to digital sources yet fail to create personalized options, specialized versions of their core on-air brand and other special programming options.  We are still worshipping at the Arbitron altar, and need to place more priority on the value of the relationship with the listener, and how we can play a larger role in their life.  That relationship, when managed properly, has tremendous long-term financial benefit, and we need to cultivate that more aggressively and effectively.

What's the biggest difference in working for an Internet company compared to radio?
The attitude toward the future, though that is beginning to change.  Triton is providing outstanding tools and resources to media companies and the growth is incredible.  It's exciting, it's fast-paced and it's optimistic.   Comparatively, radio has been depressed for a few years and has lost a lot of its' collective confidence.  In many ways, broadcasters are overwhelmed and have been desperately trying to protect the past.  It's starting to turn around, and with the right approach, I'm confident that we'll see some of that swagger return.

Johnson, who formerly held the position of Vice President and General Manager of KFBM AM/FM in San Diego from 1998-2007, left to become Chief Operating Officer of M2O Media and eventually became the Executive Vice President of Audience Engagement for Triton Media where he oversaw partnerships with over 700 radio, television, and print properties. Johnson has over 25 years of programming experience and has written three books on a variety of radio content topics.

 E-Mail Tracy HERE


(2/24/2011 12:20:14 PM)
“What are the top 3 challenges GM's face in terms of the Internet passing them by?
1) Understanding that websites, podcasts, online video, social media, etc. are not strategies. Those are delivery vehicles. They should be used to support a broader strategy...”

Radio will never die, but the likelihood of it coming out of a stick on a hilltop for much longer is purely and simply a pipedream. The true challenge is to find ways to sell the melded vehicles profitably—and that is a tall order given the razor-thin margins choking the life out of the industry as we speak.

- Will Baumann

Add a Comment | View All Comments


Send This Story To A Friend