Charlie Cook On Air: Post Country Radio Seminar

Another Country Radio Seminar is behind us. I want to emphasize to everyone in Country Radio who did not attend this year or have never attended: please add the Seminar to your bucket list.

There are so many benefits to being in Nashville for the show.

Not only do you learn from industry leaders in both radio and records, you actually do rub shoulders with these people. I promise you do not need to know Clay Hunnicut to engage him in a conversation that will benefit your career and learning experience.

If you have a CRS name badge you are welcome into almost every event and conversation. Broadcasters and promotion people will draw you into the discussion. I have seen it happen. I have initiated it and I have benefited from it.

In my other life, as a CRB board member, I was the chair of the research committee. There are normally two research projects going on for the CRB. The first is the one that the attendees see as a presentation to the entire group.

This year my friends, Larry Rosin and Tom Webster, of Edison Research presented the results of their P2 project. I like that the agenda committee has begun allowing a follow-up panel that takes the research and puts it into usable language.

The second research project is for their internal use. This post seminar task is so the committee can better plan next year’s Seminar.

What I found when I chaired the committee, was that networking and entertainment were the top draws. Attendees loved that they met others in the business, but also that they were able to experience–in more intimate settings–some of the top talent and many newcomers.

This year attendees saw Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, Sara Evans, Kellie Pickler, Jake Owen, Eli Young Band, Hunter Hayes, Sunny Sweeny, David Nail, Luke Bryan, Alan Jackson, Faith Hill and many saw Jason Aldean at the Bridgestone Arena.  I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the No. 1 songs in that list.

Then each night they got to squeeze into a small, overheated room and see newcomers that will be stars in the format in years ahead. In those cases the room was cooled by Budweiser. There is nothing better than free music and free beer at midnight.

If you are a station owner and/or a General Manager you might think, “Why should I send my programming staff to Nashville for what amounts to a week’s vacation?”

Well, the Seminar is fun but what I described above takes place during lunches and after a full day of learning and panels.

This year, along with the Edison Research presentation that included actionable information that programmers could take back to their station and institute immediately, there was a panel on how to maximize your station’s ratings if you’re in a diary market.

There was a discussion on what diary market programmers can learn from PPM markets. Again, information that you could bring back to the station the following Monday.

I learned a great deal from consultant Steve Reynold’s presentation. In fact, I used a lot of his thinking for a morning show meeting Monday with a newly configured morning show at one of WV Radio’s stations. Spending an hour listening to Steve helped me make our morning show better and I believe this will translate into higher ratings and better rates.

Of course there were panels on Social Media. How much additional revenue can you expect from what you can learn at these panels? Unless of course you’re already full up on website sales?

Not enough sales information? Center for Sales Strategy’s Matt Sunshine led a couple of panels on how to maximize your relationship with clients. This was specific, actionable information.

There was a panel, always a favorite, on 90 promotional ideas in 50 minutes. These are more opportunities to maximize your sales effort.

This is just scratching the surface of what there was to do last week.

I did the shows. I did the networking. I did the panels. The visit to the Seminar is always the best week of the year for individuals and stations that participate.

Now for the issue most of us stumble on: cost. No way around it. The cost is going to be about $2000 a person (unless you share a room, the largest expense). Between travel and hotel you are going to rack up some expenses. The cost of the Seminar, $399.00 is the best deal going. Check around.

If you are an owner or GM and responsible for costs, that is a tough pill to swallow. If you are a broadcaster on your own, it is very difficult to budget. But like my mother, who used to save weekly in the Christmas Club at the bank, you should put aside $20 a week.

You will get your money back with your first visit.

Did I mention a lot of the beer was free?

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