Alternative Contraband aims to cover all facets of the Alternative radio and records biz, so we headed to the corner office at one of Alternative radio’s now legendary stations, 107.7 The End to get a view on Alternative radio from upper management, who often see the business much differently than those in the trenches.
While it sure gives any Program Director added confidence to have an engaged and engaging General Manager. It’s even more important at the Alternative format because it takes some time to really understand the music of the format and the idiosyncracies of Alternative’s listeners.
Jack Hutchison, Entercom/Seattle Market Manager fits easily into the mold of those understanding GM’s. Jack has a great bedside manner, tremendous business acumen, an easy going personality and has been part of Alternative radio for well over a decade having managed Portland’s KNRK before making the trek up I-5 to become Entercom’s Grand Poobah in Seattle.
We asked Jack to give us his unique angle on the value of Alternative radio, what he expects of his Program Director’s and his proudest moments at The End. Dig in and share:
ALTERNATIVE CONTRABAND: With both rhythmic and mainstreamTop 40 so strong, they normally occupy two of the top three ranks 18-34. This makes it tough for alternative stations to be top 3 consistently and constantly. Is it true that if an Alternative station is not in the top 3 18-34 consistently that meeting revenue goals become near impossible? Or do you not even think 18-34 anymore with a mature product like KNDD?
JACK HUTCHISON: Meeting revenue goals should never be completely associated with ratings or rank. Alternative listeners are discerning consumers and are very hard to reach with traditional media like TV (they appointment watch), newspaper (they don’t read them), direct mail (they throw it away) and yellow pages (they don’t even know what the book looks like). KNDD not only has an inherent trust with these consumers, we engage with them multiple ways every day! So, meeting our revenue goals means getting out of the “radio game” and presenting comprehensive integrated campaigns for our advertisers. When we do that we get fantastic results…and meet our revenue goals.
As to your second question, the 18-34 audience will always be an important part of our target.
ALTERNATIVE CONTRABAND: You’ve been involved in Alternative radio in Portland (KNRK) and Seattle (KNDD) for over a decade and have seen the format mutate and come back home musically, is this largely a 25+ format now?
JACK HUTCHISON: Since we still break new music as a part of our core philosophy I don’t think we will ever look at ourselves as a 25+ format. The 18-24 year old audience still interacts with us in a very big way and we do not want to ignore them. I’m reminded of that whenever I attend one of our many listener music events. What I think is more important is how we present and package our product. Portland differs from Seattle in that regard as it should. Each market has its own nuances and KNRK and KNDD each have their own “stationality”. Lucky for me, I’ve been able to work with Mark Hamilton and Mike Kaplan…two great leaders in the format.
ALTERNATIVE CONTRABAND: Regarding e-mail databases, what are you doing to capitalize on those tens of thousands of listeners and the data they are willing to share? My view is that databases are a completely untapped revenue source that radio has yet to fully understand other than a weekly e-mail blast.
JACK HUTCHISON: We have a number of ways we are tapping into our databases to create revenue. Some of those are direct revenue streams and others are indirect. A good example of the indirect opportunity is the recent Jacobs Media tech poll that we have participated in since its inception. We are able to present data about Alternative listeners in general or KNDD specifically, to advertisers anxious to reach this elusive consumer. This research allows us to open up a dialogue with the client and point them in the right direction for maximizing success with their campaign.
ALTERNATIVE CONTRABAND: Jack, you really need to be on Twitter. So much info, so quickly. That said, are all these new tools distracting to doing great radio? Or are they a new essential tool to give radio a swiss army knife feel?
JACK HUTCHISON: Ha. You are right. I just signed up and look forward to following you! These new engagement tools are not a distraction at all. We are still learning how to best use them, but we are very excited about the deepening level of engagement this offers our talent and brands. I’m also glad to report that our company continues to invest in our knowledge and best practices with these newer technologies.
ALTERNATIVE CONTRABAND: With spot business being projected largely as flat the next few years, revenue growth can only come from increasing rates or having a robust non-spot plan. What non-spot initiatives are really moving the brand and revenue needle at The End? And since it is in your stable of stations, tell us about the KISW/Mens Room beer deal?
JACK HUTCHISON: First and foremost, digital continues to grow as a revenue source and we see it as an integral part of our revenue pie moving forward. We are also moving back into the event business since we have seen such good success with this area in the past few years.
Men’s Room Original Red beer is a phenomenal story that started with a conversation with a local brewery here in Seattle. Two years later, we have sold over 140,000 cases of Men’s Room Beer and have donated over $200,000 to The Fisher House, a non-profit that works with military families. We just went into retail with six-packs a few weeks ago and expect that will take us to a whole new level of success.
ALTERNATIVE CONTRABAND: In regards to The End, what are you most proud of?
JACK HUTCHISON: I am most proud of the incredibly talented and passionate team that we have at The End. They are a great group and work really hard to engage with our listeners in many, many ways every day. I also am really proud that after 20 years, The End is recognized as one of the very best in the format and so well respected here in Seattle amongst the advertising community.
ALTERNATIVE CONTRABAND: With so much going on today from ratings to monetizing digital to nationalizing radio to cutting costs etc…, are a Program Director and General Manager’s goals in sync anymore?
JACK HUTCHISON: They need to be. Has the business changed? You bet. Do we need to adapt? We sure do. But that’s no excuse not to have programming, sales and promotions all working as one team with one unified vision for the brand. Magic happens when the team is walking down the same path!
ALTERNATIVE CONTRABAND: What are the three most important factors you want from your PD’s?
JACK HUTCHISON: Passion, Focus and Creativity.
Thanks Jack. Alternative Contraband appreciates the dialogue.
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