Around the Dial: Broadcast & Media News Today

News about media and the regulatory environment both inside and beyond Canada's borders.

Broadcasters Shaken and Stirred At OAB Convention

Close to 300 professionals attending the Ontario Association of Broadcasters conference and awards program at the Toronto Airport Marriott were at times praised, cajoled and even scolded by a bandwidth of speakers imported and otherwise at the one-day event on Thursday.

Radio needs to shift from cruise control and better address audiences and advertisers was the big takeaway to be gleaned from the fast-paced, well organized Connection 2016 event.

To date, the medium has not undergone the traumas the newspaper industry is facing with double-digit declines in readership and ad revenues, and its mobility gives it an advantage over the increasingly crowded space television channels reside in -- but the tools employed to sell the medium need to be smartly updated.

"It's no longer about selling inventory, but about providing solution-based programs to advertisers," is how consultant and veteran broadcaster Liz Janik summed up the central message delivered by experts who spoke at well-attended sessions over an eight-hour period.

“There’s a growing disconnect between ratings and revenue,” Corus executive Troy Reeb advised at the final session of the day.  “We have a revenue problem,” he added, "not an audience problem."

He and several other broadcast owners and executives pitched the need to improve communications between the medium and ad agencies at a well-attended Town Hall finale late in the afternoon.

To this end, former Rogers exec Paul Ski and newly installed Radio Connect executive director Sarah Garvie have been working on collecting research that can be used to refresh radio's image as an old-school medium by ad agencies and retail clients. Radio Connect is a newly minted advocacy arm working under the Canadian Association of Broadcasters umbrella.

Garvie was particularly inspired in selling the proposition that radio's reach, immediacy and cost-effectiveness prove it can be an effective buy in a space that has seen a growing drain of dollars going to online platforms. They all agreed that pitching clients today requires using a tech-savvy toolbox of delivery systems that include radio spots strapped to social media and messaging campaigns.

The sessions weren't all rah-rah-rah, however. A mid-afternoon presentation by Jeff Vidler from Audience Insights shook the audience with a series of unvarnished jabs about what millennials think about radio today.

The good news is they are listening, by degree.

The reality is they are bored with the chatter, uninspired by the delivery, turned off by playlist repetition, and annoyed by the sameness of formats found on FM dial.

The panel, broken into two parts, started with a video presentation with a sample group of millennials discussing their media consumption, and this followed with the panel appearing on stage for a Q&A.

None of the sample group owns a radio; less than half own a TV; most wake up to the sound of their mobile phone alarms, not a bedside radio alarm; the majority first turn to social media rather than a radio to find their curated news-of-the-day; and all stated a desire that FM radio offer an eclectic selection of music rather than niche-formatted playlists.  In fact, the overriding message to music departments is curate like Spotify playlists, or set blocks of time for programs that mix up musical genres, and have DJs who can provide perspective and knowledgeable debate about the music and trending topics of the day.

Add to this: Keep the cackling to a minimum, avoid the trash heap of Kardashian-styled celebrity gossip, and better engage with millennial audiences by researching their interests using trending topics on social media that include Snapchat and Instagram.

Only one of the panellists admitted to purchasing music, and only one acknowledged subscribing to a pay streaming service. YouTube was high on the list for music discovery, and for ripping tracks. Using search features to find specific tracks wasn't top of mind, but using streaming playlists for discovery was.

Shazam is another online resource, cited for curating offline playlists.

OAB Awards

As previously announced, OAB Board nominated Hall of Fame honours to the late Blackburn Radio Chair and OAB Director, Richard Costley-White, who died from cancer in 2015, and Golden anniversary broadcast executive Chuck McCoy.

The former's induction was accepted by widow Caitlin (Adamson) on his behalf and on behalf of the Blackburn family. McCoy, holding back tears, asked his surviving younger brother, Jeff Vidler, to stand with him in accepting his award on behalf of their older brother, Gary Russell (born Norman Vidler), who passed away in January of this year.

Award Winners

Large Market -- Newcap Radio FM Boom 97.3 Toronto, for Stu Jeffries' $1,000 Make-A-Wish Minute.

Honourable mention:  Jazz FM, Toronto for Holiday Heroes instrument drive.

Small Market -- Blackburn Radio K 106 for the (Tragically Hip campaign), That Night in Sarnia.

Honourable mention: Bayshore Broadcasting 104.9 the Beach, Grand Bend, ON, for Everyone is Welcome Children's Celebration.

Best Station Promotion, Large Market -- Corus Radio Jump! 106.9 Ottawa, for Live Free, a contest that offered bills, rent and expenses paid for a year.


Bell True Patriot Love Fund renewed through 2020

Just in time for Remembrance Day, the Bell Let's Talk campaign and the True Patriot Love Foundation have extended their joint Bell True Patriot Love Fund through 2020.

The four-year extension and additional $1M endowment will continue to fund community mental health programs for Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans and their families. So far there have been more than 60 programs funded to date in military communities across Canada, with Bell hiring 100 veterans through the Military Employment Transition (MET) program since 2014.

Bell Media is also sponsoring the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto and will remain the presenting sponsor of the annual True Patriot Love Toronto Tribute Dinner, the largest fundraising event in support of Canada's military, through the life of the extension. 

"Bell Let's Talk is very pleased to partner with True Patriot Love to continue our support for the mental health of those who serve our country in Canada's military and the families that support them," said George Cope, president and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada, in a statement. "Military families face unique challenges when it comes to accessing mental health services, and we are proud of the role the Bell True Patriot Love Fund has played and will continue to play in providing specialized programs to them."

Since 2013, the Bell True Patriot Love Fund has distributed $1 million in grants to 61 mental health programs delivered through Military Family Resource Centres and other groups in Canadian communities.  

In 2016, 13 more organizations delivering specialized services ranging from animal and music therapy programs to family and couples counseling and trauma support will receive Bell True Patriot Love Fund grants.

"Bell True Patriot Love Fund recipients are all making a real difference in the lives of Canadian military members and their families and we congratulate them on their commitment and passion," said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let's Talk. "We look forward to supporting many more such community groups as they provide mental health programs for military families in every region of Canada. Visit for more information.

Winnipeg's 99.1 Fresh Radio drops Shae and Dilworth

-- Corus Entertainment has dumped 99.1 Fresh Radio morning hosts Vicki Shae and Sean Dilworth.

Shae, a former Power 97 morning co-host, hosted Fresh Mornings since early 2015.

Peterborough's talkSPORTS radio - EXTRA 90.5 FM - offers one-way ticket to Canada for celebs:

-- The impending presidency of Donald Trump has led to a flood of celebrities declaring their intention to flee to Canada. EXTRA 90.5 FM wants to help.

"We're offering any celebrity wanting to leave the USA a first class - one way flight to Canada. We will also provide free lodging in Peterborough, Ontario and free tickets to see the Peterborough Petes," says Rob Mise, General Manager of EXTRA 90.5.


Pandora, Tunein and AccuRadio launch Harmonic Audio Network, a streaming radio ad network for advertisers - RAIN

Trump win clouds the possibility of AT&T-Time Warner Deal - The Globe & Mail

CFRC appoints Friolet-O'Neil Executive Director: -  Milkman Unlimited





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