In interviewing the Radio Ad Bureau’s CEO, Erica Farber, my worlds collided: it’s a podcast, but about radio, the medium I grew up in and started my career in. Certainly radio IS about community, but it was still surprising to discover zero degrees of separation with Erica and two important people from my past: my dad and my first female boss, Joan Gerberding as well as a recent Insider Interviews guest and radio aficionado, Carl Fremont!
Erica and I took the conversation from the evolution of radio to the present, to how it’s defined today – audio? is digital radio still radio? – to its challenges, success stories, and current career opportunities.
What is radio today?
It’s broadcasting, but Radio is also available on any platform: If you want to hear it on your smart speaker…If you’re sitting in front of your computer or in your automobile. It’s multi-platform and available in any form and full of diverse content. It is a companion. It is a trusted source of information, news and entertainment. It’s available 24 seven. And there’s no cost to access it.
The ways everything is audio-focused today – with sound and voice;
The power of personalities;
Why Theater of the Mind is still key to listener engagement/conversion;
How radio served — and recovered from — the Pandemic;
I’ve never been so proud to say I work in radio as I have since March 2020. No one knew what to do…But radio rose to the occasion and stations did what they do best: they put their arms around their communities, consoled listeners and brought some humor and information. …They said to businesses that were open, ‘let us help you communicate to the market your protocols’. How can we raise money to feed or clothe people, to help people keep their homes? We have example after example of retailers who said that if it wasn’t for local radio they would have lost their business.
The role of the RAB as a nonprofit trade association;
Overcoming the digital divide and big brand success stories; (Reference: P&G and Radio)
Tom Webster, SVP of Edison Research, describes his job as “telling the stories of numbers.” He definitely make numbers come alive, and he’s a great storyteller overall. So you’re generally okay with Tom as your guest if you didn’t discuss podcast topics in advance.
My industry acquaintance may be self-effacing, but he has a steel trap mind for the insights Edison regularly uncovers about all things audio, and he shared quite a few in our ad hoc but fascinating conversation for Insider Interviews.
The custom market research company helmed by Larry Rosin may be best known as the sole providers of exit polling data during U.S. elections, but Tom is best known for his big research reveals on webinars (now Zoom presentations) or at conferences. Research junkies lean in to hear which platform has the biggest “share of ear” and how differently are consumers engaging with Alexa. Basically, he’s the go-to guy for sharing and interpreting our evolving involvement with radio, podcasting, voice…even IoT and our social media habits.
As Tom describes it, “I make sure that the data that we collect on behalf of our clients is understood contextualized, put into action and valued, and that people come back for more.” Here’s what’s “more” about Tom and a topline of our discussion: Little known fact? Tom likes words as well as numbers. This former English Lit professor is also the principal author of some widely cited studies and the co-author of The Infinite Dial, America’s longest-running research series on digital media consumption, and The Mobile Commerce Revolution.
In Episode 16, Tom shares some insider scoop from Edison’s audio research – and his considered POV on the current state of radio broadcasting and the growth of podcasting (including some tips that can help you grow your own podcast).
[00:01 – 03:25] Opening Segment
More about Tom Webster, his role in Edison Research and a moving from academia to a marketing career
[03:26 – 17:20] The Insider Scoop on Audio Research
About Edison Research’s broader offerings – like that exit poll and vote count data – and Tom’s area of focus: Audio
More insider scoop from Tom WebsterVoice vs. Audio
The growth of “smart speakers.”
Where are we – if anywhere — with an FM chip for mobile phones?
The general state of radio
The uptake on podcasting (Joe Rogan notwithstanding)
Tom talks about some Edison partnerships (and E.B. held back “insider” jokes about her old boss, John Rosso of Triton Digital!)
[17:21 – 25:40] Diverse Voices
The diversity in podcast listeners and podcast content
Growing your podcast in today’s competitive market:
Having a distinct voice
Showing your unique, distinct point of view
How Tom is sharing HIS unique POV, via his own newsletter I Hear Things
And reach out to be considered for an episode — or suggest questions or a guest — or to have your own bespoke podcast series produced and/or hosted by E.B. Moss, please reach out at email@example.com. I’m “hear” for you!
Michael Smith joined National Public Radio as chief marketing officer at a time when the nation — and the world — had just entered crisis mode. In addition to adapting to his new job he’s needed to shift the company’s marketing message, outreach and the very stance the brand has taken over the past years. Part of that shift was motivated by more digital audio listening given more at-home workers during our pandemic. The parallel motivation was to amplify more multicultural voices and drive greater diversity within the halls of the company itself.
In Episode 15, Michael shares his observations, his approach and some insider scoop from his winged-back chair in New Jersey. For example, he explains how different audiences respond to NPR’s content. Michael tells us that “among regular users when we look at people of color versus white listeners, their satisfaction levels are actually higher. So it’s an exciting thing in the sense that if we can get more people to know that we’re there and to get us into their consideration set, when they come, I think they’re going to love it.”
Michael had primarily been focused on network video, developing strategies to reach younger and more diverse audiences on streaming platforms for Cooking Channel, and Food Network — where he and I worked together during the last big crisis for the country, 9/11! He has quickly learned to apply his know-how to linear radio and on demand audio.
“When they start to know some of these shows where there are young, diverse hosts, a Sam Sanders or [they get to know the] hosts of Pop Culture Happy Hour, that creates so much more engagement than when they just see the three block letters, NPR.”
The fast 35-minute discussion includes suggestions all brands can appreciate from a world-class marketer like Michael Smith. We talked about:
The challenges most media companies are facing right now
How to move from linear to on demand streaming digital platforms
Balancing linear, podcasting and the NPR One app
How has Coronavirus Daily evolved as a show…and the ongoing need for that content?
How NPR itself has evolved since its origins in the 60s, and why its signature audio style is intentionally like a mental “exhale”
Working with the sponsorship team, NPM
Michael’s optimism — and any pessimism — for the future.
Back in January I had the good fortune to get seated next to someone I’ve long admired — Carl Fremont — on our return flight from CES. If you’ve been to CES you know it’s non-stop learning about what’s trending. And my non-stop flight next to Carl made for even more learning as we recapped what we’d each just experienced, and then he was kind enough to share his own projections for the future of the media and advertising industry. I immediately understood why Quigley-Simpson had made Carl CEO just months before. So, for this episode of Insider Interviews I asked him to share a lot of those thoughts so more people outside of row 8 could benefit from his insights.
Carl has held senior roles in the media/marketing industry for decades, and explained how his longest tenure – 16 years with Lester Wunderman – gave him skills that are still applicable today. Hear how the former Chief Digital Officer for MEC and Chief Media Officer for Digitas describes direct marketing and performance marketing, and the importance of brands optimizing every channel possible – including how to capitalize on eCommerce.
Long an advocate of supporting women and diversity in the industry, Carl discusses how this transformative time is also a time to embrace change in order to evolve and benefit business. He shares a moving story of his own diverse background and how a discovery of his father’s past dovetails with his own unique hobby tied to vintage radios.
We are all fortunate that Carl loves sharing knowledge, and listeners will benefit from priceless marketing and advertising advice. And yes, I found an opportunity or two to sing to him….
Please listen – and share – Carl Fremont’s thoughts on advertising trends, common brand pitfalls and diversity including:
Is “direct marketing” different from DTC?
How the pandemic accelerated the emergence of alternative channels for businesses
Creating a harmonious consumer experience
What you can do to speed up purchasing path
Authenticity: How to build it and what it truly means
Mistakes brands make and how you can avoid them
The pros and cons of third-party eCommerce platforms
Considerations for building your own eCommerce platform
The holistic approach to promoting your brand
What omnichannel really means
Influencers: Does scale matter here?
Diverse creative staff to reflect diverse consumers
As we crave connection during these isolating times, Sree Sreenivasan has stepped up to bring people around the world together, sometimes several times a day. While almost 80 straight days in a row of recording his Global COVID-19 show drove his family to furlough him from his own home during livestreaming hours, this social and digital media expert, known by many as “@Sree”, has an expanded family of connections that faithfully gather round for a dose of positivity.
And every Sunday, they tune-in again for his New York Times “readalong,” now five years running, with his own scintillating and scholarly guests perusing the paper and op-eds alongside him. So, that’s 80 days in a row and literally twice on Sunday. Did I mention his 21 years of conducting Social Media Weekend gatherings to educate on the latest tools and tactics? How about his frequent appearances on radio, or CNBC as a tech-expert?
Hear why this the former chief digital officer for The Metropolitan Museum of Art is now focused on the art of generous content both altruistically and, candidly, as a business development vehicle for his digital marketing and virtual event business. Less generous, perhaps, in his opinion of social ISSUES, Sree’s stories – from adjusting to new countries and his quirky love of comic strip Calvin and Hobbes to how he adopted new communication tactics to connect people through every crisis of the past two decades – are equally passionate. The throughline is also his ardent belief in journalistic integrity, veracity and humanism.
We joke about how his livestreams and social sharing are the perfect outlet for a man who likes to talk, but with Sree, people want to listen. He’s learned the art of that, too.
Listen to the inaugural Marshall Loeb visiting professor at Stonybrook University, and former Columbia University journalism professor, Sree Sreenivasan, and you’ll hear why.
We also discuss:
His humble and sometimes humiliating path to acculturating to America
The evolution and promise of his Global COVID-19 Show
How reading the New York Times out loud on Facebook Live become bigger than he could have imagined
How he competes with – or defers to his wife, Roopa
How that love for Calvin and Hobbes has played a role in his life
The world of comic books and graphic novels is serious fun.Meaning, both serious and fun. From a serious shift in the revenue model as paper product has gone digital and the edutainment factor of non-fiction hand-drawn histories, to the wildly wicked fantasies spawned by Barbarella type heroines to fictionalized lives of heroes among us.Darren G. Davis, president of one of the leading producers of both the serious and the fun books, TidalWave Productions, made a spontaneous appearance for Episode 8 of Insider Interviews with E.B. Moss – who was actually his former boss at the start of his career in entertainment, and now counts herself as a friend to the seriously funny founder!
In an office surrounded by framed super heroes, acquired during his days at DC Comics, and signed comic book covers from his biographical spins on everyone from Hillary Clinton to Barbara Walters, Davis both reminisced about our days at E! and his path forward from there, dished the dirt, and shared breaking news of stranger than fiction comics to come. Hint: Thought you’d heard the last of Stormy Daniels?….
Davis described the evolution of some of the iconic titles he’s created or developed over the past 20 years, including the top-selling “10th Muse” for Image Comics, and the niche he carved out in the fiction world via successful collaborations with iconic larger than life real characters ranging from William Shatner (Star Trek) and Adam West (Batman), to Vincent Price, William Nolan (Logan’s Run), Roger Corman, and now even the infamous Tiger King!
Listen for some of these moments, but it’s a breezy 35-minutes and you’ll want to hear all the fairly unfiltered anecdotes of this side of the content business:
03:45 Leveraging an E! internship to a network ad sales career to marketing “B” movies (including his first encounter with Leprechaun the movie, which made its way years later into a comic book) to repping artists — and how it all came together to create a new career;
08:00: From the muse of Olivia Newton John to learning to love the WWF
09:30: The difference between a comic book and a graphic novel
:11:40: Phone messages from Batman and making misadventures for Adam West
13:00: How Julie Newmar ended up back in time as Catwoman meets super-secret spy
15:25: How to wear multiple hats and learn to pivot as a manager
17:10: How to calm the tempest of Stormy Daniels’ angry manager (or lawyer) and wind up as friends – and business partners
20:25: Turing women ranging from Condoleezza, and Sarah to Hillary and Stormy into a female force series (Hint: listen here for the breaking news!) to showcase the positivity in what they’ve accomplished – and the inspiration for it from the master, Stan Lee;
23:15: The origins and value of comic books as educational – and taking a non-partisan stance, even when drawing on Obama to Bush;
27:25: How Nook and Google and other platforms fill in the pages of lost print ads
29:00: A not so serious discussion of fantasy super powers
30:20 A serious discussion of celebrations and creations during COVID times
33:00: The evolution of a “best worst idea”… twice
And…best ending ever? Davis pays tribute to Moss as SuperMentor.
PS: You heard this here first, too: He promises to put me in a comic some day!