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Hey! Did you know you can hear samples of almost everything we have?

by Michael Luskey

Take a bunch of radio folks and send them to the posh Summit Hotel - Bel Air in Los Angeles for a weekend and what do you have? A Beverly Hillbillies reunion casting call? Well, maybe. How about Dan O'day's PD GRAD SCHOOL! Once we all figured out who to tip and how much, it was time for school. What was waiting for us was a line up of top notch professionals ready to go with great information and captivating presentations.

For me , this was a good reminder to me as to why I love radio. It's people, and the opportunity to touch their lives, and PD GRAD SCHOOL is an great way to keep the fire burning. I believe radio is one of the most powerful mediums going, it's easily accessible, it's instantaneous, and has the ability to reach listeners emotionally. Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing, the season of life, when they first heard there favorite songs. From Hollywood ad whiz Chuck Blore to time management guru Harold Taylor, every session was geared to making us all better programmers. Without going into much detail, here were some of the highlights for me.

I really got a charge out of Chuck Blore, and it wasn't any one particular piece of information that he shared, just simply his enthusiasm and passions for radio. It's easy to get caught up in the nuts and bolts of programming and forget the emotional, the ethos of programming that draws and keep our listeners.

Doug Harris, creative consultant from Creative Animal International out of Houston brought us some of the most useful info as far as challenging us to stretch our creative imaginations. Doug highlighted that, "Good ideas can come from thinking within the box, better ideas come when thinking outside the box, and the greatest ideas come when thinking without a box!"

Larry Rosin of Edison Research presentation on "Radio In the New Media World" was excellent, especially concerning radio's use of the internet. With more and more people of all demos going on line, we need to be there big time! Don't be afraid of the internet, use it to your advantage. You can use your station to drive cume to your web site, and you can use your web site to drive cume to your station. I know cost can be a factor, but your radio station has got to have a presence on the web and that means streaming live audio! That's your product! It's got to be there.

Radio strategist and consultant Bill Moyes had great advice on the art of strategic planning. I was surprised by his statement that a lot of stations do not have a definable programming goal. Without going into all the details, set a goal and get after it!

Another great session was with three national programmers, Steve Goldstein of Sega, Rick Cummings of Ennis, and Jay Albright independent consultant. All three were concerned with the state of radio and merger fever, not that it is all bad. One area they were concerned with was the trend of 18 units per hour of commercials that most stations now run. Listeners don't mind commercials, but five or six in a row is a big concern among programmers. There is evidence that it is starting to turn away listeners. On a positive note for non-comms, commercial stations are becoming more and more aware of non-comms due to their increased ability to take a chunk out of the market. They attribute this to non-comms doing a better job of good radio and commercial radio's increase in commercial load.

Although this is a secular conference, the information shared would benefit any Christian station. It was a blessing to be able to fellowship with ten other programmers from Christian radio accounting for about 15% of the total attendees. Paul Anthony of WIBI shares "What I like about this conference is that everyone is on a level playing field. There's none of the ego or schmoozing that can be found at some other conferences. Plus you get input and info from pros making it happen in secular radio. Sometimes Christian radio gets self- absorbed and can lose its perspective."

I give the Dan O'Day PD GRAD SCHOOL a big thumbs up! It was good discussion of the art of doing quality radio. Among the formatics of what we do, let's not forget that if we're not connecting on an emotional level with our listeners, we will fail. And I see our job, our mission, with doing just that! Touching lives and presenting our formats in the best manner possible, that many would be exposed to the music we play, music filled with joy, hope, love and peace.