Thursday, June 30, 2011

George's Live Bear Trap + Two Quick Hits

Note:  I promised a guest article on BaD Radio and it's coming right up.
But this was too good not to post ASAP.


From time to time a host on The Little One will suffer a bear-trap moment live on the air, but they're rare.  George had one a few minutes ago in the Peter Gammons interview.

First, it sounded like Gammons was hitchhiking on the Interstate for the first part of the interview, and had ducked into a rest-stop men's room to conclude it.  This is not a priority interview for Gammons.  But that's not important now.

What's important is that George was asking a question about Josh Hamilton's theory that he can't hit during the day because he has blue eyes, an explanation that George called -- and I think I'm recalling this correctly -- "ridiculous."  Gammons proceeded to state that he himself suffers from light hypersensitivity with his own blue-green eyes, understands Hamilton's point, and was glad that Hamilton had addressed it. 

These Gammons interviews are proving to be rich sources of Muser mortification.

QUICK HIT #1:  I didn't hear the entire Hardline interview of Dirk, but what I heard was terrific.  Corby had a couple of Sturmesque Iliad-length questions, but overall it was great.  Question:  Has Dirk been doing interviews with other sports radio stations, and is he as good on those as he was with the Musers?

QUICK HIT #2:   Killer si; T.C. no

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Indulge Me: One More Article on Signals and Swapping

Y’all may be tired of Signal Talk, but Your Plainsman has a soft spot for the business,  technology, and economics of radio from way back, so I want to stay on this topic for at least one more post.
Commenter Anon E was kind enough to provide some thoughts on why a signal swap of 1310 with 93.3 was not a viable solution to the bad Ticket signal.    His/Her point on the necessity – and difficulty – of replacing revenue is sensible.  I’d like to explore it further and perhaps s/he will weigh in with further details:
(1)  How much revenue really needs to be replaced?   Let’s say The Ticket gets 93.3.  Big signal.  But the revenue from the station that used to come from 93.3’s previous tenant doesn’t disappear, does it? If we’re willing to say goodbye to 1310, we have freed up two more frequencies, not just one:   The Ticket’s current frequencies 1310 and 104.1.  (No point in broadcasting on both 93.3 and 104.1).  Now maybe those two frequencies combined don’t make up the whole $5 million that 93.3 used to bring in, but they will sell more than zero dollars.  So our $5 million target (from the now-deceased 93.3 format) is reduced to some degree.  How much?  Hard to know  (see below re thoughts on those freed-up signals), but not nothing.  Meaning that The Ticket on 93.3 doesn’t have to make up the whole loss of the $5 million it used to get from 93.3, unless the two new stations combined (or a single simulcast station, as The Ticket is now) just bill a piddling amount. 
It has to make up some lesser number.  Let’s say it has to make up $2 million.  Maybe that’s optimistic, maybe not, but let’s just say.  That’s asking the much-improved Ticket with a big-boy signal to do an additional 10% (of the assumed $20 million billings).  Anon E has said that better signal doesn’t necessarily equal bigger billings, especially when you’re already number 1 and pushing the envelope on rates, but wouldn’t some improvement be expected with much better coverage?  Which suggests the next question:

(2)  Would a better signal mean better ratings?  The foregoing (admittedly uninformed) speculation in some bump in revenue prompts a question on how ratings are measured.    Ratings presumably affect billing rates, at least up to a point (there will come a point at which advertisers will balk even with titanic ratings), so I’m wondering how ratings get measured.    Do ratings depend on how many people total listen to the station?   Suggesting that ratings should improve if more people can hear it, or hear it regularly.    Or are ratings only measured in core metro areas where some combination of The Ticket’s lousy signals get to most of DFW most of the time, so that pulling in additional listeners from most distant areas would not be expected to affect ratings?  If it’s the latter, then I can see why a better signal might not translate to better rates and Anon E’s point is bolstered.
(3)  What would be the effect of an improvement in ratings on The Ticket’s rates?   With The Ticket at the top of the heap in the most important demo, Anon E points out that The Ticket’s rates are already reflect that winner’s premium.  Have they bumped up against an invisible cap that would prevent them from asking even more even if it could demonstrate materially improved signal coverage (and more people listening to the station)?  Again, a “yes” answer would tend to support Anon E’s point.
(4)  What about the freed-up old Ticket signals?    Anon E sensibly asks what a proponent of signal switch would do to replace the revenue lost from 93.3.   How about imaginative, innovative programming on the two newly-free channels?  Something that people might actually want to listen to?   Of course, the signals are weak, so maybe one wouldn’t want to invest too much.  But those two frequencies now equal The Ticket, the Bigfoot of DFW radio.  It can be done.  And you have two stations to play with, you wouldn’t have to simulcast.
(5)   Attention, Gordon:  a hypothetical:   So I think:  If I started with two formats -- a proven Ticket formula and a vanilla rock station -- and I were offered 93.3, 104.1, and 1310, how would I allocate my properties among those frequencies?   Wouldn’t I give the gold-plated property the frequency that would exploit the talent?  Or would I take my award-winning station and give it two cobbled-together frequencies, neither of which is much good, so I could coddle my weak performer with a much better signal?
(6)  Does the Citadel deal open up more possibilities?    Anon E’s comment to the last post states:  “Who do you think needs that 96.7 signal more: #1 A 50 thousand watt flamethrower of a station that uses it as an auxiliary signal to the top biller in the market, a station BTW which faces no real ratings competition in the market, or #2 an underpowered, signal-map challenged station that has 2 other stations in it's format already on the fm band?”   If I am reading A.E. correctly, s/he is saying:  “Who needs 96.7 more:  WBAP-AM 820, or The Ticket?” 
Well, let’s think about that:  Citadel’s 96.7 FM, after service as “The Texas Twister” and “Platinum Oldies” format over the past few years, switched to simulcasting WBAP-AM 820 in March 2010.  So not a lot of goodwill built up with the FM signal for WBAP.  It's licensed to Flower Mound and the transmitter is located near where Montague, Cook, and Wise Counties intersect – a bit of a hike from DFW.  The “service contour” from the FCC website just barely reaches Plano and does not reach downtown.    

Even so:  The numbers do suggest that a 104.1 / 96.7 swap, keeping The Ticket at 1310 AM, would be a significant improvement over 104.1 as a simulcast partner.    96.7 is 90,000 watts – more than respectable compared with 104.1’s 6200 watts (source:  RadioLocator).
(7)  Does The Ticket like being a coverage underdog?   Does it want to be “The Little Ticket.” 
So:  Innarestin’ things for the Cumulo-Ticket Overlords to mull over as they continue their tireless efforts to serve the loyal P1 and leverage the unique talents of The Ticket. 
Look, I know my yammering on about signal swaps is na├»ve and I will welcome further instruction.  Stations swap signals frequently in the U.S., but I understand Anon E’s point that when you’re on top of the market, fiddling with signals may not be in the collective best interest of the company.   I guess I’m just sick of signal roulette as I travel around DFW, and losing the Ticket way before lesser stations start to fade, on a station that’s supposed to be the tops.
Again, my thanks to Anon E for solid information and some radio chops.
Check in in a few days for an incisive guest post
taking a fresh look at BaD radio. 
Somebody alert Christy!

Follow Your Plainsman on Twitter:  @Plainsman1310

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wherein the Nation Is Instructed (by Someone Who Seems to Know) -- Yes, It's Another Post About the Ticket's Signal!

I'm not the only one who gripes about The Ticket's signal.  Those gripes long predated this site, and hosts express their dismay at the fluttering coverage.  Some time ago I proposed that Cumulus swap the 104.1 and the 93.3 signals.  I wont' go into my reasoning or the statistics I had at the time, but you can see the original article here:

The Ticket's Lousy Signal -- and What to Do About It

And I mention the topic from time to time.  One of those times commenter Anon E wrote an email as to why that wasn't a viable plan.  In a recent post I mentioned his response and said that I needed to go look it up to refresh my recollection.  Turned out to be unnecessary, because he was kind enough to repeat his point from earlier.  It makes sense and best of all, it has some very good information about the radio marketplace.  I am reproducing it in its entirety below, with my thanks to Anon E for repeating his commentary.  (Corrected a typo or two, otherwise unedited.) 

I had some questions after I read it, but I'm going to save them for the next post, which I'll put up in a few days.    For now, I just want to showcase Anon E's information and analysis.  And thanks again, Anon E, I do appreciate you taking the time and trouble to bring us some of the inside baseball.


I can explain why it's not viable, and I'll try not to be grumpy while I do it.
The Ticket's average billing for the past few years has been in the 15-20million dollar range. i93 is probably billing this year around 5 million dollars. For the swap to make sense, they need a combination of billing on 93.3 and 1310 that combine to that 25mil total. The Ticket is one of the 2 or 3 highest billers in the market (beat by WBAP and/or KISS), they are already the #1 station with Men 25-54, etc, so JUST switching to FM doesn't necessarily equate to higher ratings, which SOMETIMES equals more revenue.

As is, the reason we have 2 other sports stations in town is because the other stations undercut their spot prices- both ESPN and the Fan offer to advertisers what can be perceived too be a better value in advertising. yes, the Ticket has higher ratings, but those spots come with a higher price tag. So to repeat, a switch to FM may mean slightly better ratings, but that doesn't necessarily translate to higher revenue.

And see above, you need to replace a format on 1310 with something that will replace the majority of i93's billing. If you guys think you know of a format that will bill 4 million dollars a year, let's hear what it is.


Follow Your Plainsman on Twitter:  @plainsman1310

Thursday, June 16, 2011

OPEN THREAD: The Little One's Mavs Parade and Celebration Coverage

I didn't get to hear much of it --

a little Musers/Gordo;

about two minutes of Norm who seemed to be in some distress, actually conceding that he needed a break;

about two minutes of BaD featuring some very astute commentary from Dan;

and a little bit of The Hardline which for some reason I don't remember.  Must have been working or something.

So I'd be grateful for reviews of all the shows, what you liked/disliked; how you reacted to the hosts' reactions to this amazing, historical, dramatic championship; technical aspects of the coverage; the hosts' substantive sportsy commentary.

Heck, I'll even take Mavs talk.

Did I Just Hear a Very Brief and Sneaky . . .

.  .  .  fart drop right after the end of the Peter Gammons interview this morning?  The hosts were kinda talking over it, but I could have sworn I heard one.  Anyone?

I know it's Mavs Parade Day, but first things first.

If I did hear correctly, it would seem to be evidence in support of my theory that The Musers (or maybe Fernando or Jeremy) do not like the Gammons interview.

Although they've been better lately.


Follow Your Plainsman on Twitter:  @Plainsman1310

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Maybe It's the Heat

No, not the Miami Heat -- I mean the North Texas summer heat.

I don't know what it is, but the 104.1 FM signal upon which I rely for my commute and downtown listening, if possible, is getting worse.  I used to be able to pull the station in from my workplace during the day, but at least in the morning I end up with that East Texas C&W station.  And it's noticeably worse on the AM and PM commute as well.

AP, were you the confessor who looked up the status of the 1310 AM signal upgrade on the FCC site?  I myself checked into it and must not have guessed the right links.   Any chance you (or anyone else) could update us on that?

I still see zero downside to a signal swap with 93.3 and considerable upside.  Maybe I'll nag you all about that again sometime soon.  The last time I raised this one of our grumpy commenters actually wrote a strong substantive comment  as to why a signal swap wasn't viable.  I didn't buy it, but it was thoughtful and had some good information.  I need to go back and check that. 

Enjoy the parade, everyone.

Follow Your Plainsman on Twitter:  @Plainsman1310

Monday, June 13, 2011

Post-Game 6 Quick Hits

(1)  The fact that the final final was in Miami probably has a lot to do with this, but I was disappointed in the post-game coverage.  Maybe I didn't listen long enough.  Please advise, Nation.

I like Norm H and Sean Bass a lot.  Norm's Cowboy post-game a must-hear no matter who his co-host is that particular season.  But when the game was over I told Mrs. Plainsman that I had to leave to get by the channel to see what The Little One was slinging.  I thought I would hear something like I heard when Mike R joined Diamond Talk after the defeat of the Yankees in the ALCS.

But Norm -- man, he brought me down, he just didn't seem into it at all.  The callers also brought things to a halt.  Sean was more animated, but the whole thing just wasn't jelling and I turned it off after about 45 minutes.  I thought we might hear some -- possibly alcohol-fueled?  nah -- celebratory Mike or Donovan or Gordon or George.  Something, anything to mark the uniqueness of the moment and bring the scene to the P1.  Followill?

Sure, they were there at the game, they wanted to go to the pressers and the locker room.  OK, I'd be doing the same.  Didn't do much for the the P1 who had to get up and go to a Monday job, though. 

As I say, the Miami locale meant that these guys probably didn't have a convenient radio home to go to.  But surely that could have been planned around.  I thought sure I'd at least hear NBA Bob's sonorous tones commenting expertly on what happened and sharing his excitement.  NBA Craig had to broadcast in a few hours, so his absence was understandable.

This morning I've been hearing what sounds like a "take that wich you" and "woooo" promo which may actually been what I was looking for.  Did the gang get up broadcasting later at night? 

PS:  As I'm listening to the Museres, I'm hearing sound of our heroes on the scene fromt he night before.  I assume that made it on the air in the wee hours?  OK -- guess I just wasn't able to hang in long enough.  Still think they should have had something for us for that first hour after the game. 

(2) Who designed those gawdawful caps?  Frankenstein?  Head-Injury Mike? 

Follow your Plainsman on Twitter:  @plainsman1310

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Triplets Separated at Birth -- NBA Finals Edition

Former NBA coach and finals broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy:

Genius late comic actor Phil Silvers

Genius late character actor Vince Schiavelli:

Follow your Plainsman on Twitter:  @plainsman1310

Friday, June 10, 2011

OPEN THREAD: Ticket Mavs Coverage

I'd especially like people to comment on BaD and Norm, since I don't get to hear either much at all lately.

The Musers are good as usual, Craig being one of the more knowledgeable NBA guys on the station.

But the real revelation, to me, has been The Hardline.  The show as a whole has been excellent for the past few months, but I think they're outdoing themselves during the playoffs.  Mike has been interested, engaged, vocal.  I heard Corby do an analysis the other day that bordered on erudition.  (I've gotta go get his Hacksaw Hamilton interview podcast.  Anyone got a quick link?)

I've also enjoyed "Just the Tip" (naughty handle, but clever).  Donovan seems to excite very different feelings among the Confessor Nation, but I like him a lot, and I especially like him when he's talking sports.  The mix of hosts has been good.   Haven't been up to hear any of the post-game, so thoughts on that also encouraged.

I get a kick out of the Ticket ads that portray the Little One as having negotiated for exclusive rights just to talk about the Mavericks.  A sly dig at themselves for having no worthwhile broadcast rights (the Nation seems almost unanimously to wish the Stars broadcasts would go elsewhere).

So:  Your Plainsman gives The Ticket high marks, both during the showgrams and pre/post game.  You?


Follow Your Plainsman on Twitter:  @Plainsman1310.  Thank you.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I Got a Coupla Problems . . . and A Major MTC Announcement

I feel terrible.

I try to post 2-3 times a week.  The Nation may have noticed that I'm not keeping up. 

I have two related problems.  The first is that my actual job job, as opposed to the job of promoting Responsible Ticket Journalism, has been very demanding the past three months.  I believe I've had one day off the last 75 days or so.   This means I don't get to listen to The Little One as much as I had been, or as much as I would like to.

The second one is that I don't have time to write much -- spare time is spent taking care of the sod house, visiting Mrs. Plainsman's family, eating.  And when I do, I go to my list of topics -- and, truth to tell, they're starting to look a little stale.  Not all of them, and I'll try to start cranking stuff out here again shortly, but you'll be able to tell -- I'll be doing some scraping, and I'll probably apologize when I do.

But I got to thinking --

This thing will be 2 on June 30.  Over 300 articles.  Basically from listening to two shows and some of the weekend stuff, hardly any BaD or Norm.  I'm grateful that traffic continues to grow, but I'm thinking you know, this site could use a good kick in the shorts.  I mean, how many articles on The Ticket's lousy signal can you tolerate?  How many ways are there to say that I wish The Hardline weren't so vulgar?   So I'm thinking I gotta keep the Faithful Confessor stimulated, entertained, informed. 

How can I improve my exposure to what the Nation is hearing and thinking? 

Well  .  .  .  one thing I gotta do, I gotta go where The Nation is going.

So, with extreme humility (for the very best of reasons, as you will see)  it is my honor to invite you to:

Follow me on Twitter:  @Plainsman1310

All cleaned up for my Twitter debut

This is actually a little embarrassing, because while I get the basic idea of Twitter, I know none of the lingo, I  know none of the # or acronyms or yfrogs.  And I don't understand half of what appear to be the very hippest of the tweets.   I'm trying to get up to speed and hope soon to be able to participate in the Tworld without soiling myself.  I'll probably do more receiving than tweeting, but if I get a follower or two I'll try to repay your patronage with the occasional piquant observation.

Maybe I'll even be allowed to join The 2300!!   (I told you I'm embarrassed.)

And, as honored as I am invite you to follow me on Twitter (jeez, that sounds so nakedly self-promotional), I am even more honored to report that my first follower -- he must have found me because the first thing I did was to follow as many Ticket guys as I could find -- is none other than @tweetgrubes himself, That Nice Young Michael Gruber.

Now I'll have even less time to write.

Friday, June 3, 2011

MEMO TO CTO: Stop Making Our Musers Uncomfortable!!

I have to admit, I don't entirely get it.  In fact, I don't get it at all.  But I'll bet there's a Confessor out there who does.

Junior Miller, George Dunham, a couple of the smoothest, smartest hosts of any kind on any kind of program I've ever heard.  Entirely deserving of their tippy-top ratings on the tippy-top station.

Michael Lombardi, Peter Gammons, also smart, also smooth, not scary, knowledgeable about things that The Musers are also very knowledgeable about.

And yet, the segments The Musers do with these guys are extremely awkward.   They're so awkward that they (Those Musers) acknowledge it on the air.  I've only heard them acknowledge it with Gammons, but the whole feel of the Lombardi interviews during football season is very similar.  (I'm throwing out the last Gammons interview, which had the additional awkwardness of an artificial delay caused by The Ticket's remote technology.  Forget that one -- they're all awkward.)

It can't be that The Musers are intimidated.  They interview Troy Aikman on a regular basis, and their star-turn interviews with other notable figures -- show-biz figures, other sports figures, celebs of all stripes -- don't sound nearly as awkward.  And what's to be intimidated about with Gammons and Lombardi?  They're sportswriters.  Gammons has been around for awhile, but he's less notable than other sports guys that they chat with without nearly the same stressful tone. 

Adding to my don't-getted-ness is what The Musers have said on a couple of occasions about the Gammons interviews.  They have said that Gammons merely "tolerates" them (in a joshing way, but they clearly wish to convey the thought that Gammons would rather be somewhere else at the time, broadcast-wise).   I forget the words the used the last time they were self-critiquing their Gammons chat, but it was similar in intendment.  What I don't get is that Gammons (and Lombardi), to my driving-to-work ears, sounds entirely happy to be talking to them.  He's responsive; he throws in additional interesting observations; he's in good spirits when he comes on the line.   Lombardi -- entirely lively during his interview segments.  I don't get the slightest tone of condescension or irritation from either one of those guys.

No.   It's The Musers themselves that render these interviews an agonizing listening experience. 

I refuse to believe that it's lack of preparedness.  Even though there do seem to be awkward pauses between answers and the next Muser question (even when they're in-studio), not being prepared is not a hallmark of The Musers.

So what is it?  Not intimidation; not lack of preparation.   Here's the only thing I can think of:

They hate being made to do these interviews.  It's almost like they're insulted by having to devote a segment to these big-deal national sportswriter guys. 

As with most of my speculations -- all of them, actually -- I have no idea if I'm within whiffing distance of the truth.  But I try to put myself in their place.  I'm thinking:  We talk about the Rangers.  We know more about them than Gammons does.  Nobody who listens to us cares much about anything baseball except the Rangers.   We are the highest-rated show on the highest-rated station.  What more does this guy bring?    Is the P1 clamoring for outsider commentary?   Is he going to bring in one additional listener, even though his puss is splashed all over our showgram's page on the website, in an image larger than any of ours?  

So it's not that they're intimidated or unprepared, or even that they dislike Gammons, who, as noted, is entirely pleasant.  It's that they resent the fact that the Cumulo-Ticket Overlords seem to think that the Muser showgram needs some national star-power and celebrity-talking-head pizazz.  Like it needs some class, ya know?  Hell, The frackin' Hardline doesn't get treated this way.

So -- I don't think it's so much that Gammons just tolerates The Musers, as they say.  I think it's that The Musers are hostile to the whole concept of having these hotshot national guys forced down their throats when their showgram is damned near perfect without them.   Now when I hear George call him "the great Peter Gammons," I'm starting to hear that as a moment of shared sarcasm.  Not because Gammons isn't "great," but because George doesn't in fact feel that his interview adds any noticeable quantum of greatness to the show.

So some CTO thinks getting a once-a-week Gammons or Lombardi interview would really snazz up The Musers.  The result, however, is eight minutes of misery for Our Guys.  Our Guys should not be miserable, so I call upon the CTO to call off these thrashings -- better still, schedule them with Norm, who would positively jubilate over being able to run his theories by these national guys. 

Hey, Gammons can't be cheap.  Save that dough and put up a billboard, why doncha?

Or put an extra hamster-wheel on the transmitter.