The simple beauty of narration

Every once in a while there's a video on YouTube that tickles my creative side... something that's so well done that you have to call in your wife and say, "hey... watch this..."

It's a matter of making special moments in peoples lives.  It's about finding ways to make an impact on their day, their week... or if you're lucky... making an impact on their life.  This video made my week, and let me tell you why after you watch it:

This could be considered a short film. I love that John decided to narrated this video. It told a story -- a story that led the viewer to an experience. It evoked emotions like triumph, fear, insecurity and joy. And in the end, it also tied it together with closure that there's a time when the camera is on, and a time when the camera is off. The video will end, but the lives of the viewer will continue.

This video has inspired me in a few ways. Some people tell a story over the course of a few videos. Some people use the video blog to talk directly to the user, where the computer screen becomes an message carrier for intimate content. Pay attention that for half of the video he was recording from an iPhone, but you were wrapped up in the story and the quality was not as important. The message is what is important.

Sure, the Vlogbrothers are one of the biggest names on YouTube... but who's to say you can't tell a story through a video just as good? One of the beautiful parts of this medium is that it's designed to be an even playing field. It's not 4 major networks that select the order of what you see and when you see it. That type of media consumption is over with. Both video and audio directly distributed to the user is what's going to win in the future. You can be a part of that.

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Successful YouTube Video

Creativity is key when trying to create new content for YouTube.  SO here's my example of how to make a standard YouTube video:

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Keep Your Dirty TV Out Of My Internet

With major television networks giving preferential treatment towards moments that can be easily made into viral clips on-line, should content creators be worried the big guys are going to pollute their space?  Or is it even their space to begin with?

As Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O'Brien continue to dive deeper into YouTube, their subscriber numbers keep growing and growing.  Is there ever going to be a point where YouTube will look like Hulu -- where the main screen is just clips from network television shows?  The idea should scare you.  If major networks can take over YouTube, for example, they can effectively push out other content creators.  Imagine if they used their influence so that YouTube just became a streaming destination for show clips... scary.

One of the most popular YouTube channels comes from the Fine Brothers who gain popularity with the Kid React Channel.  The series have grown to elders and also popular YouTubers reacting to pop culture events.  In this one particular clip, they previewed a popular clip from Jimmy Fallon, but the discussion went deeper than the laughs.  They focused on the content itself:

I think the spirit of the internet is with the independent content creators.  When you push them to the side, creativity also takes a back seat.

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That’s Just A Theory… A YouTube Theory


Game-theoryIf you're not familiar with The Game Theorists, you should check them out.  Matthew Patrick is the kind of host that records voice over inside of his apartment closet with a blanket over his head.  He also has some very unique perspectives when it comes to theories about popular video games, their characters and their platforms.

A few months ago, one of his videos showed up in my 'recommended videos' YouTube feed, so I checked it out and I'm glad I did.  There's one video in particular that really stood out.  It's called, "Flappy Bird, PewDiePie, and Pasta Sauce" and it has a great perspective about YouTube and content creation.

You don't have to be a trend setter, but ask yourself this -- if you create content, where do you sit on that graph?

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Greetings From Fort Wayne

It's been quite a while since I've made a post, and I wanted to inform you of a new project I'll be working on in the near future.

Ryan_marconi_winners03Since I've moved to Fort Wayne to program WOWO Radio, we've won 2 AP Indiana awards, 4 Spectrum Awards including Station of the Year in Indiana, and even a Marconi Award from the National Association of Broadcasters as Medium Market Station of the Year.  Even personally, I've won best newscast from the Indiana Broadcasters Association and PD of the Year from Federated Media.  It's been an amazing few years here in Fort Wayne.

But even more important, I became a father to my wonderful son Emmett.  It made me realize that I want to blog more.  I want to make a difference in this industry by being a solution to why our medium isn't growing as fast as it could be.  There's a lot of things I need to do, and it all starts here.  So my wonderful wife allowed me to build a home studio and I plan to use it to make videos and podcasts available on this website.

If there's any topics you want me to cover, message me on here!  I would love to connect with you.

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The Apple VS Samsung rivalry

Coke VS Pepsi.  McDonalds VS Burger King.  We all love a good rivalry, especially when they take ads out against each other. So how can you not be interested in the rivalry between Apple and Samsung?  It's gone back and forth for the past year.  Don't forget before that billion dollar settlement -- Apple lost in court and still is losing in other countries where laws differ.  It was on the rebound that their lawsuit won big, do you think Samsung gave up?  Not a chance.  Let's rewind a few years at some more creative ways Samsung dug into Apple in the ad world: November 2011: The Telegraph -- "The advert mimics the Skoda and Audi adverts of a decade ago when the both cars were seen as uncool."  Watch the ad here: January 2012: Sydney Morning Herald -- "Buoyed by recent successes in court in its war with Apple, sparked after Apple claimed Samsung's Galaxy Tab "slavishly copied" the iPad, Samsung has become ever more confrontational in its advertising." July 2012:  The Guardian -- in the UK, "It said the order came from Judge Colin Birss in a ruling on 18 July following his 9 July ruling in which he said that Samsung did not infringe Apple's patents because the American company's device was "cool" but Samsung's "are not as cool" even while they were "very, very similar" viewed from the front." August 2012: CNET -- "After 21 hours of deliberation, a nine-person jury has sided with Apple on a majority of its patent infringement claims against Samsung Electronics. The jury also awarded Apple more than $1 billion in damages." So what happens now?  Samsung comes out with this web ad, which I think is brilliant and the whole reason for this blog post: So what can we learn about this ongoing battle? I can draw some similarities to radio when a new format tries to take on the big dog heritage station in the market. And generally speaking the station that's been on the scene the longest in the format has the easier time staying at the top of the ratings.  But don't tell that to the determined PD who wants to see his station succeed.  Maybe you were once that "Samsung" fighting an "Apple" in an uphill battle.  Or maybe you're currently fighting your way to the top.  Don't give up.  It's moving the needle for Samsung.  Maybe you just need to get more creative in your stance.
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Upgrade Yourself Like An HGTV Reality Show

If you're a radio personality, you can invest in yourself by upgrading your on-line presence.  But adding value doesn't have to be like an HGTV Reality Show.  You don't have to put on a tool belt and smash through dry wall.  You don't have to even be an expert.  You just have to be what your listeners expect you to be -- entertaining, accessible and understanding of what they want from you.  Let's look at what some radio stations are doing that can add value to you as a personality or as a station. In this first example, let's take national host Conan O'Brien.  His segment, "Clueless Gamer" is a great example of targeted comedy.  His late night show... on a cable network mind you... has always been geared to a younger generation.  While the traditional audiences are reaching for Letterman and Leno, Conan wedged himself in the audience that best gets his sense of humor.  Notice a few things about this segment.  He has a custom opener for the video, he distributes it via his special YouTube Channel and he's honest about his approach.  He's not pretending to be an expert at video games, but he is an expert at comedy -- the reason people watch his show to begin with.  It's entertaining in a way you wouldn't expect it to be.  Take notice: This is a less straight forward approach to reaching your audience on-line.  In fact I'm still inspired by RadioBDC -- the internet radio station that uses alternative music to reach a new type of audience with it's news content.  It's a great strategy.  Next week I plan to speak to Lisa Desisto, Chief Advertising Officer of The Boston Globe about the decision making process and what they hope to achieve with their newly developed radio station. Here's some ideas that may help you come up with unique content for your show or station:
  • The Free Beer and Hot Wings Show offers their most connected listeners the "Show Plus" where they post exclusive content like their show meetings.  It's a great why to include your listeners
  • The legendary WOWO in Fort Wayne has started to offer "All Your News In Under 90 Seconds" on their YouTube channel.  They're taking the content you expect from them and finding new ways in offering it
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon added a new way to connect with celebrities.  "Twitter Questions" gives more connection with his viewers to enable them to feel part of the show
  • Fox 11 in LA offered viewers direct access to a celebrity with a Google+ Hangout.  Anchor Maria Quiban took Iron Mike Tyson back to the "Social Media Desk" to chat with viewers on-line.  The Hangout was something she was already doing with viewers daily -- and this was a great idea to include special guests
  • The Dave Ryan Show may be one of the more socially active morning shows I've payed attention to.  You should be impressed with the quality of their local videos, but even more important is their audience eats them up.  His YouTube Channel towers around 3.79 million views, and that has to move the ratings needle on top of better connects with his audience
So how are you connecting with your audience?  IF you were the listener, ask yourself how you would connect with the show.  Is it hard to reach the host?  Is there any value in looking the show up on-line?  Is there any emotional payback or enjoyment when connecting with the show?  If the answer is no, maybe you're not putting the right content up on-line.  If you want to increase your value as a broadcaster, do things the HGTV way -- build something that other people will want.
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Investing in radio for content

Some time ago I had a discussion with Chris Miller (show some love).  I asked him what an entity like a magazine or a popular blog would do if they had the broadcast power of a radio station all to themselves -- and tried to circle it back with the idea that maybe the reason radio is so behind on creating compelling web content is because just like our print friends -- they wouldn't how to manage it properly... until now.   The Boston Globe has done something remarkable here.  What they did was invest IN RADIO to expand their content, reach and relevance.  Check it out -- go to and right on their homepage (on TOP of the website with prominent viability) you'll find the link to their stream for RadioBDC. It's located on the landing page and simple to get to their streaming player.  Once you're there things are smooth. It plays a pre-roll intro (or an ad) and goes straight to the music. I have a few thoughts on this.  First -- how great is it that an entity like a newspaper is investing in radio as another form of content?  It's another vehicle for them to spread and expose their content.  Second -- why does it have to be a newspaper that finds value in web content in the form of music?  Streaming is something we all do, but how little content do we actually prepare for our websites?  Third -- they're main content is alternative music.  They've found a niche in Boston that wasn't currently being filled and FILLED it -- all wrapped around their branding and message.  If you think about it, that's the core audience that would typically get their news and information off the internet, so it's extremely smart to target that demographic. I hate to say this, but maybe it will take a newspaper to show radio how to be successful and relevant in the future.  Don't get me wrong, this is just ONE publication that's trying this out.  But we all have the tools and the talent -- why aren't more broadcasters realizing the connections between what our listeners are doing while they're listening to our stations?  They're texting friends, working on a computer, interacting with other people, using social media and really connecting with the world.  How are you connecting if what you're doing on-line offers no extra value than what you're doing on-air?  And for future streams of revenue, their sellers have to be excited for an awesome tool of new ad revenue. <in my best infomercial voice> But wait... there's more!  </end voice>  They even created more content to eat up by documenting the process with a video.  Check it out here -- it's well worth the view. This big newspaper invested in radio as a new form of offering their readers (now listeners) exclusive content.  I think it's great that someone out there is investing more in radio -- even if it is a newspaper.  But we as broadcasters need to step it up and realize that we can offer more than music to reach our listeners.  We need to incorporate ourselves into their lives with Twitter, Facebook, videos, podcasts and yes -- even local content that interests a local listener. I ran an air-check on them for about a half hour this morning and didn't hear an ad -- just music and imaging pieces.  They did have news and sports updates at the top and bottom of the hour... along with a few talk breaks from jocks.  Notice the content is still focused on local happenings in the Boston area.  Here's an edited version of the air-check you can hear for yourself.  This was recorded between 8:35A and 9:05A on 8/14/12.  Just Push Play:  [audio:|titles=RadioBDC_talkbreaks]If anything, ask yourself this: if you offer NOTHING on-line... what do you think your listener will take away from their web experience with you?  AND if you do offer something, is it enough?
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Get with the times, man!

Are you a Mad Men fan?  Even if you take the storyline out of the equation, you have to admire a show that depicts a wild era of advertising.  In a way, you can watch the show and still get a lot of out of it from a broadcast standpoint -- even if it's something as simple as dealing with clients and their tendencies -- or maybe as someone who always thinks they know what's best. So what was the 60's really like in an ad agency?  I talked to author Andrew Cracknell who wrote about The Real Mad Men.  On the show, I could pick up some of the parallels to the 60s and today, including how late Sterling Cooper was to getting into the game from print to television ads: Just Push Play:  [audio:|titles=Andrew_Cracknell_MadMen_and_media] So given all the tools at radio's disposal -- and a lot of them being free -- why are we so late into the game?  All Access posted a story today saying that some radio is really lagging behind TV when it comes to social media: "...non-commercial stations were much more involved with social media, and larger market stations were more likely to be using social media." How can only 31.1% of news stations be incorporating social media into storytelling? I have to ask -- how is social media not part of storytelling anymore?  If you're not using your news station as a beacon of local material, you're really selling your station short.  There's a portal into your listeners lives, and it's called Facebook... or Twitter... or... you get the idea.  In the end, it should all come back to being personnel, and you've never had a better opportunity to be one-on-one with your listener.  If a station or cluster doesn't find enough value in investing time (or even small resources) into the social formula, it's going to be impossible to find a payoff for your labor. The one leveling factor is that a lot of other people are late to the game too. We're in a time where a lot of people are trying to understand web platforms -- all at the same time.  If the idea of creating, contributing and publishing content regularly scares you, then what were you doing before this point?  Ask yourself that.  And if you think you've created something special, are you using it in a way to contribute and build on your craft?  I'm not going to turn into a motivational speaker here, but you have a lot of talent that you may be focusing in the wrong areas.
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Bowie the marketer

Ziggy played guitar, but Bowie made him a star.  We often forget about the genius that goes behind making a great character.  But creation is just part of it.  You have the be able to market that creation and sell it to an audience that is passionate about it.  In walks David Bowie. At a very young age David Bowie was drawn to advertising.  It was one of his first jobs as a teen, and you can tell he took to the trade quickly.  Author Peter Doggett wrote about Bowie in the 1970's in his book The Man Who Sold The World -- which is much more of an appropriate title after you start to learn more about the marketing genius.  Peter said Bowie was the first true multi-media musician who knew the value of showmanship and art mixed with persona.  He learned he could sell himself to the world, and the best person to do that was himself.  In my interview with Peter we talked about what put Bowie in a class by himself: Just Push Play: [audio:|titles=Bowie the marketer]So how does that apply to bloggers, podcasters and radio personalities today?  I think the key is in the word personality.  You need to find a way to market yourself as a personality -- because if you don't do it, who will?  You need to find who your audience is, find out what they want and give it to them. I wouldn't recommend spandex and make-up though.  You're not going to pull it off like Bowie. Making great radio may be enough now, but it won't always be -- mostly because it's not where you're audience will always be.  Your audience is being fragmented into a million directions.  If your content is good, you need to transform yourself into offering it on other platforms where your audience currently is.  Bowie lived out his 'content' and transformed into multiple platforms -- and in many ways that's what is expected of you as a broadcaster.  You're expected to be a person who connects on an emotional level.  Right now there's no better platform to do that than expanding your operations on-line with platforms such as Facebook and Twitter -- and offering your content as it plays out in your life. Bowie realized he could sell himself.  The most successful personalities have too.  Have you?
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