Jay Nachlis recently celebrated 5 years at Coleman Insights, he admitted that "not every career move I've made was the best decision, but every one of them was important for different reasons. With every single one, I made lasting friendships, learned from mistakes, and got better." Which is why he ascended to VP of Media Research at Coleman Insights earlier this year. I had the opportunity to meet Jay at Podcast Movement earlier this year and found ourselves talking about Canadian radio, Buffalo, the Buffalo Bills, podcasting, and more Buffalo Bills.
In this episode, you will hear about Jay's early radio days working in Syracuse at the campus radio station, (WJPZ) going back to San Francisco to look for work, only to return to Syracuse at WYYY and rise to PD at the age of 24. We later get into his time in Buffalo, Detroit and a very important moment involving comedian Kurtis Connor, which Jay blogged about here.
We also spoke about the buzz in the room at Morning Show Bootcamp and Podcast Movement.
A thanks to the people who support the show each week and allow it arrive on your phones for free.
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Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:00:01
The sound off podcast. The podcast about broadcast with Matt Cundill starts now.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:10
Jay Nachlis and I met a few weeks ago at Podcast Movement. He was introduced, used to me by my fellow podcast super friend Jagen Detroit. Jay worked in radio from the early ninety S up until 2014, then transitioned to something else, which you'll hear about, and then hooked up with Coleman Insights, who consult radio groups and so much more. Now with Coleman Insights, I've sat through many of their research projects in the past, and they are excellent. Whether it was music trends or podcast downloads or brand building, I always circle that session on the event calendar. Now back to that conversation I was having with Jay at Podcast Movement. He mentioned his time in radio in Buffalo, and then of course, our conversation shifted to my favorite two subjects, which are the Buffalo Bills and radio. We'll probably talk more about the latter than the former. Jay Nachlis joins me from Raleigh, North Carolina. But his story starts back with his acceptance at Syracuse University.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:01:06
University? I went to school there from 90 to 93, December 93, and then I left for home in San Francisco and thought I was going to find a radio gig somewhere else. And then Syracuse called me back and I was there at 96.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:01:21
So we have a very similar pathway because I went to school in Nova Scotia, there was no radio elsewhere, and I wound up working in Nova Scotia.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:01:29
Yeah, it's funny how that happens. I mean, you're already there, right? I was doing part time at 184 FM in Syracuse, and then overnight gig became available in those two weeks after I graduated.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:01:40
And you were already working on campus too, right?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:01:42
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:01:43
Wjpz. You never forget your first, do you?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:01:47
You sure don't, especially that one. Like the group of people that were there and the infrastructure they had, and the fact that in their bylaws they had that it needed to be a CHR station because it was the hardest format to learn was pretty awesome. So it was a really neat experience.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:02
Okay, so I thought, oh, it's campus and it's the early ninety S. I was thinking that maybe it would be a lot of the records you can't get at Sunrise or Tower, and you'd be playing weird stuff like Jesus Jones and the Mission and all sorts of other stuff that hadn't necessarily charted.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:02:16
No, not so much. I was bringing Naughty by Nature to town. I'm slightly embarrassed to say that we played Michael Bolton on a college station.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:25
But that was the era. I mean, Janet Jackson, Escapade, there must have been a whole bunch of stuff like that.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:02:30
Absolutely. No, it was great. That kind of period in between 89 to 91, right. Was not the greatest for pop. A whole lot of milly vanilla and dino and sweet sensation and seduction. I mean, maybe you like that, but it was kind of a weird time for pop, but by the time we were doing that in the early to mid ninety s, there was a really good selection to choose from.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:51
Tell me about going back to San Francisco and not finding any work. Where did you look?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:02:56
Well, back then, like, I would send my tape and resume anywhere, and so I did. I mean anywhere. I sent it to consultants, I sent it to group heads, to PDS, whoever, and I got a call from a station in Buffalo first, actually, it was not Kiss, it would have been Star, but it was for like a part time gig. And then I got a call from Syracuse, and this woman who had been doing overnights was let go or left the station, and they said, do you want to come back and work overnights in Syracuse for $16,000 a year? Well, how can I pass that up?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:03:34
Which is also the same amount of money I was making in my first gig. If you converted over to Canadian money.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:03:40
Now, did you also work a paper route and work at a record store?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:03:44
I did the paper route when I was eight years old.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:03:49
My wife and I, before we were married, used to drive around in the winter in Syracuse to try and supplement that income. Sunday morning, as we woke up at four or five in the morning, and we got all of those newspapers in our little car, stash them in the back and would drive around delivering newspapers, and somehow we're still together.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:04:08
And the radio station you were working at was W-Y-Y yeah, except that was.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:04:12
A great company, New City, and we had other stations involved, so I helped launch Hot 179, which is still around. That was WH, so it flipped during the time I was there, but those were the two stations I work with.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:04:25
APD, and then eventually PD.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:04:27
Yeah, it was the classic overnights tonights to afternoons, music director to APD, and then left for San Francisco.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:04:36
So you're 24 years old and you're programming AC. So you've already started out campus and you're disappointed by the CHR, and now you're 24 and you're programming AC. At that age, I wanted to do the exciting music. This is not exciting music if you're 24.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:04:51
No, but at that time you got infatuated by the industry. The actual tracks you were playing weren't even that important. It was the fact that you got a chance to pick them and you got a chance to meet them right. And you went to the shows, and at that age, how can you beat that and go into lunches and dinners with record reps? And that's like living the dream in.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:05:13
Your by today's standards, we look at that and say, well, that's really young to be programming, but it probably isn't that crazy. And we should probably be doing more of that now in radio today, and that's letting younger people 24, 25 program radio stations. I know I was ready to program it and make a zillion mistakes. I didn't get my first programming gig until I was 36 years old. I think I probably would have been more effective doing it at a younger age than at an older age. But do you think that's a big mistake we make in radio and not letting younger people program 100%?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:05:44
And to take that a step further, the company that I mentioned a few minutes ago, New City, so this was in the early 90s. They allowed me in my early twenty s to go to research presentations, and I wasn't a program director yet, but they let me set into presentations of perceptuals in Syracuse. They even flew me to Bridgeport, Connecticut, which is where company headquarters were, and I got to participate there because they wanted me to learn, and they were giving me the opportunity. And I think they were the type of company that knew, like, this kid isn't eventually going to be he was not going to be in Syracuse his whole life, and they were okay with that. They're going to be able to train me and coach me and get as much as they could out of me while I was there, but they celebrate as much as anybody, more than anybody, when it was time for me to go and get my first kick. So the fact that I had that mentoring and coaching from them was so important. It was why I was able to become a program director as young as I did. And so I think it's really important. And you mentioned mistakes. I made plenty, but I also had general managers that allowed me to make the mistakes and sometimes were really tough on me when I made those mistakes, which ultimately makes it better.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:06:48
What did you see the first time you saw research being done for music auditorium and radio and perceptions? What were your takeaways from it? What made your eyes open?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:06:58
Yeah, it was the moment that I wanted I knew at some point in my career I would want to do what I do now. I thought it was so cool that they could take this data and somehow put it together in this magical mix and strategically tell you, here are the opportunities, here's what we're doing great, here's what we can do better. And that this all just came from a page of numbers on a spreadsheet, and their ability to explain it. And for me, anything I've ever done in radio, whether being on the air, which I've always loved, being a program director, which I loved, the stuff that I always liked the most, was the strategy part of it. And that's the thing that was the takeaway, right, was the ability to look at this and come up with a strategic plan. That's what I love.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:07:38
I remember my first musical auditorium session going in, seeing the listeners they're hearing the songs, they're answering the questions. There's paper and there's pencils. And actually it was someone I think, you know, Jeff Didler from Signal Insights, who way back then, in 1995, we were going through it all, and I saw what you saw. I couldn't believe that we could extrapolate all this information in order to make a better sounding radio station, but it works.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:08:05
I had a guy that was one of my mentors, Alan First, who was the program director in Syracuse. Allen came up with this idea when we flipped that station to 79, we did a stunt, and it was called Hooks 108. And he took an actual hook tape where you know how in the auditorium tests back in the day, they would go one, play the hook at two. He just ran like 800 hooks and he looped it all in a row, but he played sweepers in the middle. And then he'd say, on your way to work, you used to hear three or four songs. Now you hear 80 or 90 hooks 108.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:38
So that was well ahead of its time. When you think of the Quick Hits format, you brought something back in my mind about the songs, and that a couple of the songs in the auditorium test would be repeated just to measure fatigue and burn on the audience who are doing the testing.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:08:52
Yeah, that's right.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:54
Wow, that was a while ago. But I'm glad to know that this was sort of the foundation that was going to lead you into doing research. But you still did radio, and how did you ever get involved with working with Ryan Seacrest?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:09:05
So my program director at K 101 in 1996 was Casey Keating, and Casey hired Ryan, who was at the time working at Star 98 Seven in La. And was really very young. This was pre American Idol, and he had done like some stuff with e and kind of freelance type stuff here and there. But he was doing the show in La. And Casey brought him up to do afternoons at K 101. And it was never a great fit. Like, he's an La. Guy and he just fits so well in Los Angeles and never quite fit in K 101 for a number of reasons. Most notably, the format, it was more of an AC station and his show didn't really quite fit. What we were doing were more mainstream AC. But for that period, Casey left the station, I was still there, and so for a time, I was Ryan's program director.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:09:55
Did you head back out east to.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:09:57
Buffalo from San Francisco? I went to Buffalo in 1997 to program Alice at 92 Nine. Yes.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:03
Reengage my mind about what the Alice format was.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:10:07
Whether you call it modern AC or pop alternative, it was that time. Lilith Fair is always the two words I'll just use to describe the whole thing. Right. It was Sarah McLaughlin and Dave Matthews and Bare Naked Ladies and Matchbox 20 and all of those bands. And for the period between 97 and 99, there was plenty of product. But it fizzled out by 2000. And a lot of the stations, especially ones that were owned by CBS because we had been sold from American radio systems to CBS they started flipping them to jam. And all these stations, including mine.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:41
What about some of the music Transparent from the 1990s? We touched on the late Eighties, early Nineties with the Sweet Sensations and all sorts of bands that nobody can seem to recall. I do remember when we get to about 94 there's just Hooting the Blowfish and Top 40 is kind of Spin Doctors, Hooting the Blowfish and there's nothing really to talk about. It Gets Better, 96 ish and 97 and some boy bands come in and then eventually sort of onto the Alice. But does that really summarize what the 90s were?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:11:08
I think it does, yeah. I mean, there was some of that post scrunch period in the mid 90s as well. But that period of pop alternative was really great. But I think the issue was it was just too singular. Right. It's one sound. And so we look back on it today and just like jam and olives, you can't make a format out of one sound. It needed more texture, it needed more volume and it didn't have that. And that's why it ended up not lasting. Although a lot of the stuff that came out that time still tests now, it does really well.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:39
And I think this is kind of an important era here when you're programming in western New York in Buffalo from 97 right through until about 2000. This is really the end of radio owning music because it's not long after that that Napster comes in and a lot of things begin to really the Internet really begins to hemorrhage down on CD sales and radio as being the first place where we will discover new music.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:12:04
Right. No, that's a really good point. Everything started changing at that point.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:12:07
And where were you at the turn of the millennium?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:12:10
So after the station switched from Alice to Jam and oldies they gave me an opportunity to program it, actually. And I didn't want to do it because I just didn't want another format to fail in that building. And so I went to Detroit and programmed another station called Alice. Alice went to 6.7, so I went from Alice to Alice. Although the second Alice station was different in that it was really, in some ways, I think, ahead of its time because it was an adult hit station before the Jack thing exploded.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:12:44
And you're also working at Clear Channel, which is a growing company at that point. So 96 in radio there was a lot of deregulation and a company like Clear Channel began to buy up a bunch of signals. So tell me a little bit about working for Clear Channel in that era?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:12:58
Well, when I first took the job in Detroit, it was Am FM. And for those that don't remember, Am FM was a gigantic radio company, owned a lot of radio stations. And in fact, I remember that was a company that invested in bringing out programmers together to conferences and really being collaborative. And I really liked an F. It was a great company to work for. And I remember at one of those conferences, one of the heads got up and said, we're never going to be sold. We're too big to be sold. And then they got sold to Clear Channel. So to answer your question about Clear Channel, the challenges, I think, at that time was that they were really experimenting with voice tracking for the first time and putting prime shifts voice tracks, even in some larger markets. And I had to adapt and be a proponent of some of that stuff. And some of it I thought was really useful and agreed with and other stuff I really did not.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:13:50
How uncomfortable did it make you feel having conversations about voice tracking? Too talent?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:13:55
Really uncomfortable, because I think voice tracking is great when it serves certain purposes, like the fact that a jock doesn't have to work on a holiday because they can voice track. Great. Certain shifts where it makes sense, great. There are places for it, but then there are other. This was market at the time, I think Detroit was market seven. Maybe it was market ten. Pointes here's the top ten market. I didn't feel like Afternoon Drive should be voicetracked.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:14:22
You find it odd that 20 years later that there are stations who are still doing voice tracking poorly and probably fewer than doing them well.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:14:30
Yeah, I think that's true. But there have been plenty of instances where they're doing it really well as well and have learned how to do it well. But at the same time, it's a completely different skill, right. Being live on the air and putting out a show that's voice tracked, where you're trying to give the appearance of it being relaxed and live and that the listener doesn't really notice. That's a whole skill on its own.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:14:53
Yeah, when you hear it, you know it. I know their voice track, but they're doing it really well. And I, for one, I fall in the bucket of I'm voice tracking this and I'm doing it poorly. It's something, you're either good at it or you're not good at it. You know it or you don't.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:15:06
Yeah. You know how it is when you're a jock and over time you just become more confident, right. And so you become less scripted. Not because you're consciously feeling less scripted, you just become less scripted. Your tone becomes more relaxed, your confidence in going off of script and making little comments or even tapping the microphone. That's the kind of stuff that never comes to jocks. Early in their career because they're too nervous about what they're saying and how to get it out later in your career. That stuff comes really natural and you're completely confident in your own skin. If you can do that in voice tracking, then you can get away with it. The problem is so many are just trying to get the script down and they end up sounding so monotone, so stiff.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:15:52
That's exactly how I sounded when I voice tracks. It's hard. What was your favorite software to program music and why was it Selector?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:16:02
Believe it or not, my entire career, at every radio station I worked at, it was only Selector and it was version twelve, whatever. And I never did g selector while I was a PD or a music director. I always did the good old Dos version of Selector. Today I can still whip that out and put out a pretty strong music law. Although now on the research consultant side, when we're working with some of our clients and I go into their backups, I now see Music Master and Selector. And Music Master is a pretty cool program.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:16:32
So you're bringing back memories again of Dos. That version twelve of RCS was solid because you could do it really fast. It would do everything you wanted it to do. It just looked funny because of the Dos presentation. But I do remember I beta tested RCS 15 and it was clunky and slow and I was full of regret. Actually rolled a couple stations back from 15 to the Dos version of twelve, much to the dismay of many people.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:17:00
I think you make a great point 100%. Like the speed, the ease of use, so you can make fun of Dos as much as you want. But from a user functionality standpoint, which seems silly because you would think that something that's not a Windows program would be less functional. But I'm with you on that.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:17:15
I still go down to Longawkwaid, which is a music store here in Canada, and I go in and everything is still Dos. And I kind of admire them for it because it works, it is stable, it never crashes. When did it ever crash? It never crashed. It never frozen.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:17:29
Never? No. You know, that's a great point. No blue screen of death with Dos Selector?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:17:34
No. Maybe the computer would give out and the power supply would go, but it was never a blue screen of death. How did you get down to Raleigh?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:17:42
So, let's see. When I left Detroit, this was in 2003, I received a call from Mike Cartel and Phil Zachary, who were part of running Curtis Media here. Mike was the GM of 96 Rock and Phil was the president of Curtis Media and it's a local company in North Carolina. I'd never been to Raleigh, didn't know much about it at all. But I really liked the opportunity to go to a place where maybe I could be for more than two or three years, because the first early part of your career, it's like, what's the next step? Where am I going to go up? What market am I moving to? And I was starting to get to a point where I wanted to be somewhere I wanted to be for a long time with a company I wanted to be with for a long time. And going through that process, I thought Curtis Media and this area checked the boxes and really ended up doing so.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:18:29
We spent a long time there over ten years. So what did you do there?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:18:33
I was program director of 96 Rock, which is a mainstream rock station. And then in the early 2000 and Tens, the station shifted to become Radio 96 One, which was more of an adult hits station with a rock lean. And then after that, I left Radio for a while, but that's what I did at Curtis Media.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:18:53
So what happened exactly in that era between 2003 and 2011? Musically, I can't recall a single thing. Nobody else can either. That's why we have the hits of seems to be wound into the what exactly happened in that era musically?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:19:11
A lot of nickelback. Matt. That's what happened.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:19:13
Are you blaming me for that, by the way? Is that my fault?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:19:16
Well, no, not entirely. Only, like, 75%. That's fine. I tease my kid. I have a 19 year old who loves some of his favorite music is like Shine Down and Breaking Benjamin and Nickelback and Three Days Grace. Really? Because that's all I played for about eight years. Nobody wants to hear that anymore.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:19:35
You know, Nickelback's got a brand new song that just came out today, and it sounds exactly the way you think it would sound.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:19:43
I'm shocked. I went to a Nickelback show once when I was at 96 Rock, and all these people kept telling me, listen, no matter what you think about Nickelback, you're going to love them live. You've got to go see a Nickelback show. And in the middle of the show, Chad Kroger brings up, he gets a slingshot out and he puts a beer in it, and he slings the beer into the crowd, and somehow this beer stays upright the whole time and lands in this guy's hands who catches the beer. And I thought, people are really misunderstanding Nickelback. They're special.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:20:13
But you're a research guy, so you know the trends with this thing. So if I'm programming a radio station, whether it was in 2004 or even today, we know Nickelback is polarizing. How do you advise clients through Nickelback today? Whenever. Even back then, the band is very polarizing. They can fill the arena, yet they irritate radio listeners, but some people turn it up. I'm not quite sure how to deal with that.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:20:38
Yeah, but at that time they were mass appeal enough. They pop crossover. It was weird how the perception of Nickelback was much worse than the performance of the songs. There was a disconnect between the image and perception of the band and the way the songs perform. Those songs tested extremely well, which is why everyone ended up playing them, but nobody would admit to liking them.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:21:01
I see a band like Shine down. I really enjoy Shine Down, and they are the nicest band. And they come to your radio station and they shake hands and they meet all the listeners and they sign everything. And then they said to me and say, we need to speak with you. And I said, oh, it's going to be a problem. And I go into a room and I wonder what they're upset about. It maybe it's a set up or the guitar. Some listener told them to f off or something. No, Matt, we want to thank you for inviting us to the radio station today. Oh, okay. And I thought if more rock bands did that, I think rock would be a more viable format today. It would have more of a community and have a little bit of love. I can't remember the last time a rock band actually said thank you to radio at the Grammys or anywhere.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:21:42
This is what country does so well, right. The artists understand that that relationship with radio and that relationship with their fans is what builds loyalty and builds brands, and they do it so, so well. And I've always felt the same thing about rock. And I view Shine Down just like you as an example of a band that got it. I'll tell you a funny Shine Down story. Have you ever heard of the organization St Baldricks?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:22:05
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:22:06
So it's a charity that was founded on St. Patrick's Day in a bar, I think by a bunch of, like, New York cops. And the idea was that they wanted to raise money for childhood cancer research, but they said, we're going to do it in kind of a fun way. We're going to do it at a bar, and we're going to call it Saint Baldrix. Do it around St. Patrick's Day, and you're going to get your head shaved, you're going to go bald, st. Baldricks to raise money for research. So this organization grows. It becomes bigger and bigger, and they start one in Raleigh, and we're the sponsor of it. And Shiny was playing a show in Raleigh the same day as our St. Baldrick's thing. And so I say, hey, can we bring them by the bar to do a quick meet and greet and say hello? Absolutely. So it's really cool. Now, the mistake that I made was I never set up or made sure that special security was there and all of that. So the band comes, and it's not like anyone who's mobbing them or anything. The problem was there was this jerk that got drunk and just kept badgering them, giving them a hard time, right? And so they start walking away towards their bus and this guy's following them. And I remember Zach or one of the other members of the band literally gets into a fight with the guy, and people are screaming, and kids cancer events, they're, like, throwing down. And then later that night so the record rep is calling me, and she's crying. She's all upset. She's like, I'm so sorry about what happened. Like, no, I'm so sorry about what happened. And then that night at the show, it's almost like this. There was a strange thing in the air in Raleigh. The guitar player whipped around and nailed Zach in the face, started bleeding and gushing. And the recruit calls me again. She says, what's the closest emergency room to the Lincoln feature?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:23:46
In just a second, Jay transitions out of Radio and into something he's already adept at marketing and research. Also, more about his work and the work at Pullman Insights. We also talk about what he did when he heard an arena full of people boo, the fact that someone was a dedicated radio listener. All right, spoiler alert. You blogged about it, and you can connect with that on our episode page and get a transcript of this email@example.com.
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the Sound Off podcast with Matt Cundill.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:24:28
Tell me about when your time at Curtis came to an end because you went to go work for Carolina Learning Systems. I believe.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:24:36
Yes. It was one of those weird things that happened. There was a guy by the name of Scott who was the owner of a company. The franchise was called New Horizons still around. It's a computer learning company. And I used to do live spots for Scott on my show, in the afternoon show. And so Scott was a client. He become a friend. I had done these spots for, like, ten years, and Scott wanted a head of marketing for his company. And he said, have you ever thought about leaving Radio? And I said, yeah, sure. I'm being honest. And he made me a pitch for why I should come work with him. And I made the decision to leave Radio and give it a shot.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:25:13
So why were you comfortable to leave Radio? Because I know after doing it for so long, so many people are not comfortable doing it. Some people go to a therapist, and the therapist asks them, why can't you leave Radio? I mean, Tara Sloane, for instance, who just lost her job with hometown hockey, talked about the grief that goes with losing your job or leaving the business altogether. I had to go through it. I still dream three times a week. I dream about being in a radio station still. So why are you so prepared to move on?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:25:42
I thought I was prepared. The way you say it may have been. Exactly correct. I thought I was prepared because I thought to myself, look, if I get into a job like this, I'm getting into tech, I'm getting into marketing. And a lot of the stuff that I thought it was correct. I mean, being a program director, if you work in radio you have a lot more skills than you give yourself credit for. Radio people are terrible at that. They think that and they joke about the fact that, well, it's my only skill, it's all I can do. But you've got so many skills. You got sales and promotions and strategic mind and all of the stuff that goes into it. And so a lot of that is transferable. And I thought, well, I can learn the technology part, you can teach me the It business and I can bring this other stuff. And there was a lot more to learn than that. But to your point, I deeply missed the industry. And although there was some good to come out of the switch, I can tell you when the opportunity came back to get back into the radio industry, I was very happy to do so. And a day doesn't go by that I'm not thankful that I'm back in it because regardless of anything else, like I said, it's in your soul. It's too deep in your soul. Yeah.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:26:49
And you're so comfortable with the skills that you picked up, which included doing research from a very young age, computers, namely Atari and Das. And then here's a client who comes along and you're voicing the spots and you go and you do the jump. But you're also pretty good. I mean you've got a pretty good voice and you do a fair amount of voice over work as well. So you managed to take the microphone with you. So it wasn't going to be gone completely.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:27:13
Right? That's true. I was thinking about long term in a lot of different ways. So like, what am I going to be doing in 20 years? And of course there's uncertainty about what the radio industry is going to look like in 20 years. Nobody really knows what it's going to look like in 20 years. So my thinking at the time was that if I could transfer out of the radio industry into this it would make me the versatility is what it would give me, right? Heck, I could do marketing for a bank, I could do marketing for a sports team and in some respects that's true. But I look back on it now and I go, yeah, but I would never want to work for a bank.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:27:47
And then get picked up at Coleman Insights. So how did you come into contact with this where you get to work with radio stations again and bring all your skill set right to Coleman Insights?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:27:57
Mostly I was fortunate to be living in the place where they were headquartered.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:28:01
That's a big advantage.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:28:04
And so I was able to make some personal connections at the firm and over time just kind of make that networking, make those relationships with company that I admired my entire career, because Coleman was always around my entire career, although I'd never worked with them directly. I had just known their reputation and the work that they've done through others and through those connections. When something became available and they started hiring a layer of associate consultants, I applied.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:28:30
What were some of the early projects you worked on? And I'm asking this because here you are, you get to work with Coleman insights. I'm kind of wondering what those starter projects are.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:28:39
One of the coolest things was that everybody at Coleman was so willing to teach. And when you're new to you're coming from a radio background and not a research background. Even though I had a level of understanding of research, it wasn't from the research side. I was on the radio side. So there's a lot to learn from the research side in tools you're using in interpreting data and how to deliver the data, like layer after layer, that they have to teach you. And everybody was willing to teach, which I found incredible. And to answer your question, in the beginning as an associate consultant, it was always behind the scenes stuff for other senior consultants. Most of the stuff that I was doing was for John Boyne, and John has a lot of huge clients. And the really neat thing was that I got to work on projects for stations that I grew up listening to or even worked at. So, for example, KMel in San Francisco, which was down the hall from we've done projects for It's now, Star 103, but we did projects in my old station, K 101. We worked with V 100 in New York, and then we even went through the experience of doing a project for my old station in Detroit. So it always this weird full circle thing comes back on a fairly regular basis, and I have to laugh at it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:29:56
What are radio stations asking for these days? I think back 20 years, there was a lot of it was the music and the perception and are we too hard? Is this too soft? Is our morning show too blue? What are they asking for today?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:30:10
There's a lot of that same type of stuff. I mean, you want to know how deep your images are and what the opportunities are. The music tastes, certainly. Although we're going through a very strange period in contemporary music right now where things are fairly stagnant, it can change, and you have to be on top of those changes and seeing where things fit together. I mean, for example, 90s music is something that really wasn't compatible with a number of other eras for some time. And now you're seeing both the popularity of some of these 90s sounds and also being more compatible with other sounds. Rock is seeing that right where classic rock is doing some of the shift for a while. It's like, no, you can't play Led Zeppelin with Nirvana, or it's really risky to do. So now you start to see it becoming less risky. So you're learning about some of those things with music and how it plays in your market. You're learning about the images and the personalities and features, all that stuff you've always asked. And then there's more interest these days about media usage habits in themselves and how much time people are spending with podcasting or how they're using you on streaming and that kind of stuff and trending it and seeing how that shakes out.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:31:17
Yeah, I was thinking one of the questions we always used to have as well, when people leave our station, where are they going? We could see some of that in the ratings. Are they going to the other rock station, a classic rock station? But today, when you leave radio altogether, where are they going? Where are our listeners going? Do you have any sort of insight to where they're going? Is it more music? Is it a podcast or is it social media? I mean, it could be any one of those things.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:31:42
Yeah, there's not really a specific answer to that. But you're on point in that it's not just station to station. It's not just station to podcast. Today's listener, if you really think about how they're and I talked about this when we did a presentation at Morning Show Boot Camp a couple of weeks ago, I made exactly that point where we got to stop looking at each other as morning show versus morning show, like Radio Morning Show versus Radio Morning Show. Right. My kid listens to or watches a morning show on YouTube every single morning. And so when that consumer is thinking about what to listen to in the morning or throughout the day, where it used to be, I'm just going to go to this station or this station. To your point, maybe they do The Daily or there's a couple of other favorite podcasts that they like to listen to. Or there's Sirius XM and there are two favorite channels there, or the two or three podcasts they're thinking about. It preponderance of choices is pretty staggering.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:32:36
I kind of thought back in 2013 when these other audio formats began to infringe on radio, I thought maybe radio should get together and just support radio and get people to listen to the radio and teach them to flick between five and six stations in order to stay on the Medium and International Podcast Day. I see that's coming up and podcasters are all together. Do you think radio can get a little closer together to promote the Medium?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:33:01
I wish they would, because it does. It seems like every other medium is doing a better job of that. It's so important, and especially like in the blog that I wrote last week. There was a comedian in Canada, right, who lives in Toronto, Curtis Connor, and he recently played a show in Our Town. And my 19 year old son, who I mentioned earlier, is a huge fan of Curtis. And Curtis mentions during the show that he listens to radio. He talks about consuming news. He listens to radio. And the audience booze him, which I thought was bizarre. Like, what do you mean they're booing the word radio? Like, okay, if you ask Gen Z's, do you listen to radio? Sure. Do leslie and Radio. Yes. Are they ambivalent about radio? Sure, I get that. But, like, negative about radio. What's that all about? And I thought that was really strange. And he talked about his favorite station, Boom in Toronto, and he talked about why he loves Radio and some of the reasons why. And it was interesting because it was the opposite of this paradox of choice that we create anxiety with ourselves because we have so many choices and radio makes it easy. We're going to play this for you. We've curated it for you, and we're going to listen. And I thought that's something that radio really needs to think about promoting rather than just the fact that it's free. Yeah, that's great. Everyone knows that it's got a commercial problem, but radio is really good at creating entertainment for people and maybe needs to capitalize on that.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:23
So that's really strange that that happened. So the first thing that comes to mind is, here's a generation, they are booing a free product. Eric Samuels, when I worked at the Baron Edmonton, he was the program director, and I said, you know, this person's complaining about something. He goes, Isn't it amazing that they're complaining about something they get for free? And I had to think about that for a second. They picked up the phone to call. But here's a generation who's booing something that maybe they don't use. But the other thing that goes through my mind is that perhaps market specific, that Raleigh just doesn't have enough radio stations that is properly serving that demographic.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:34:59
That's an interesting point. Raleigh is an underrated market. It lost its last alternative station in the last year. So, I mean, there may be something to that, but I think there's also a need to kind of going back to your point about educating people about radio and making radio a giant PR campaign. How are you going to get younger listeners to listen to radio if you don't educate them and change their perceptions about radio, what radio offers and how to get it? Yeah.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:26
And you mentioned in that blog, by the way, that Boom is your client. And one of the things they are really good about is because everybody plays the music, but they'll play the music, and they'll make me feel like I'm listening to the music again for the first time, whether it's the behind the vinyl or the stories that they tell or the personalities. It could very simply be Stu Jeffries in the Morning, who a lot of Canadians watched on television with good rocking tonight. The station has this nice feel. I love the branding.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:35:53
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:54
Green makes me feel good. Green is their color at Boom. So, yeah, I think there's a lot that goes into a radio station. So I too, enjoy that station and.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:36:02
I think you make a really good point. And I think that it used to be it seems like and maybe this is when Ppm first came out and everyone over corrected and said, every talk break has got to be short. And what do you mean? You're talking about the music and giving us history and stuff. And now I think that it's coming back around a little bit. We recognize that content is really important and it doesn't need to be just relegated to AAA stations which kind of had this ownership of that position. But I think that opportunity to be this vessel for listeners of music and giving them that experience of not just listening to it, but why it's so great to listen to and making them feel, making them engaged, helping their mood, that is what they're looking for, but we're not always providing it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:36:47
Whenever a station goes away, like a WAAAF, I say to myself, those people who love and listen to that station, who listen to Mistress Carrie, they are not coming back. They are not coming back to radio at all. You completely disenfranchised people from ever coming back to the medium. And I know you mentioned station that went away in Raleigh, but I think sometimes these branding changes where we're just going to throw the format out, we're going to throw up the call letters and we're going to call it something completely new, does a lot more damage than it really does. Help your brand.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:37:18
We like to say that images are like icebergs. They're slow to develop, slow to erode. And when you have a brand like that, with years of heritage that's built up, sometimes it can be a bad thing because you can have some negative baggage. But at the same time, it just takes so long to build a brand and it can sometimes be really frustrating and tragic when a brand goes away. I mean, I remember growing up in San Francisco listening to K Fog, and that station was, in its day, so iconic and brought these huge shows to town and they had this Foghorn that was the audio signature. I joined the Fog Heads, which was the club, and they used to send me an actual CD in the mail for being a Fog Head. Even when I moved to Detroit, they were still sending me a CD, which you could argue now, maybe that wasn't the greatest ROI to be sending people in Detroit CDs, but the point is, they had such a deep connection to their listeners and it was a tough one, right? Because Ppm made that station really challenging because it couldn't keep up musically. And they did great in Diary, but moment by moment, it was really hard for them. But gosh, from a brand standpoint, I thought they did it as well as anybody back in the day.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:38:28
So I would ask you to write an essay about what you did this summer, but instead I'll just ask you, and we can put it on the podcast here, and that's tell me a little bit about Morning Show boot Camp, because a lot of people rave about it and what they get out of it, people paying attention. And it seems to be a very positive vibe in the room. So what did you see in here?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:38:47
I found it to be incredibly refreshing. I love the fact that it is completely focused on talent. I mean, you have program directors there as well, and people involved in that. But it's mostly talent, mostly Morning Show, although you have some from other day parts as well. But I just found it skewed a little bit young, which I loved. And there was an immense desire to learn. I mean, immense. And so when we did our presentation, sam Milkman and I did the urgency of branding, there was this line of people that just came up and talked to us that wanted to follow up and ask more questions. And then I got some emails afterwards, some connections on social, and that made me feel great about this talent in the industry that wants to make themselves better and make the medium better.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:39:34
Well, I'll tell you right now what my number one wish is for radio, and I'm writing this down. And that's at every radio company, whether you have one station or hundreds of stations, you need to have a director of Audio Innovation and Learning, because I love that I'm seeing neither at any radio station. So the fact that James Cridland had to stand up on a stage and tell people about the program to script and there was just way too many ooze and odds at Canadian Music Week. And when you tell me that there's radio talent that are so eager to learn means they're not being taught and possibly not getting enough feedback. And I think Fred Jacobs research has shown that there's quite a disconnect between management and talent, and they're itching for feedback and they're itching to learn. And I think that proves that what you just mentioned, I was really upset.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:40:21
Actually, when Fred showed that I was in his presentation. And there was that slide as the one that stuck with me, was the amount of talent that said that they get coached. Like, how many times do you get air checked? And the percentage of jocks that never get air checked, or once a month or once a year. That's terrible. And I understand that a lot of that comes from the fact that you have programmers that are overstretched and wearing a lot of hats, for sure, but coaching your talent, there's few things as important.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:40:47
Tell me about your time in Dallas. The podcast movement.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:40:50
Podcast movement is always fun. In the past, we've done presentations. We were at an early edition of Podcast Movement where we presented the results of a couple of studies that we did with Iheart, the Ben and Ashley I podcast, which is about the Bachelor and bachelorette Universe and business unusual with Barbara Corcoran from Shark Tank. And in that case we were doing what's called Immediate EKG Deep Dive Study, which is a content testing tool that we use where we're looking at content minute by minute and measuring it and then we're asking questions afterwards. Why did you rate it that way? So you can see that kind of up and down of the graphs as somebody likes something or doesn't like something. So we were able to present that there. And we've done presentations at Podcast Movement almost every year. This time was the first time in a while we didn't do a presentation. We were a sponsor, but this time it was really more about meeting people, doing the networking and taking it all in.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:41:43
And one of the things that you and I discussed over drinks. So 70% of our conversation revolves around the upcoming Buffalo Bill season, but the remaining 30% of the conversation. We talked about radio stations that you work with, but it's not just radio stations that you're working with anymore. You're going outside now into other areas.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:42:02
That's true. We have some work in streaming and I have some podcasting clients, and it's not just one is a network, for example, that's doing research on both the network themselves and on some specific shows, which is really great to see. That's the kind of thing that as we look at the data available to podcasters, I think there are a lot of radio companies that would kill for the amount of tools that are available in podcasting. Right. You can find out how many listeners you have and you can find out who's leaving and you're keeping per show. All that kind of stuff is out there. But where radio has gone and research is a deeper level to understand how listeners really feel about your talent and your personalities and how they feel about the shows and the whys behind it and more qualitative research behind it. And so I think that there's some of that desire now. We're starting to see it in podcasting as medium matures, which is great. So we're doing some work with the network, we're also doing some work with the hosting platform. So it's a natural progression from radio because there are audio brands. We still see ourselves in that audio universe, but it's exciting. I think there's a lot of upside, particularly in podcasting, to understand their listeners behaviors.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:43:14
Yeah, so podcasters are in basements small places. Often the staff are across the country and they have to send in their audio. It's not like a physical radio station in a market that gets well established. When we're trying to think about perceptions of a podcast, it's tough to reach out to certain listeners to try to get their feedback. And if it were about a podcast network, it's equally hard. How do we measure about, let's say, the Sound Off media company about what people think about it? Well, they probably don't think about it, but they're probably listening to the podcast anyway that we're producing. So it's a different form of work altogether than, say, radio.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:43:51
It's a very different form of work, particularly because, to your point, right, most podcasts aren't at a level on a national basis that you can just survey them the way that you do radio. You go into a market, radio station is hundreds of thousands of listeners in King. You know that you can go out there in the market and with an incidence rate of ten to 15%, you're going to be able to find people that listen to that radio station that you're studying, or at least radio stations within the universe that you want to talk to. You can't just take a podcast, go out and make calls because you spend a little too much money trying to find people listening to that podcast. And some of it in podcasting then is using databases and finding other ways to reach those people.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:44:33
Yeah, if you ask people what they listen to for a podcast, they'll say, I listened to Joe Rogan, I listened to something else that you have heard of, and then they're going to list off eight podcasts you have not heard of, right?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:44:44
Absolutely. But database is not the best way to go in a lot of research. We're not a huge fan of doing database research in many situations because you don't want to just preach to the choir, right? You want to find out who the ancillary people are that you can get to listen to more. But like I said, it's a little bit trickier in podcasting. But at the same time, there's an opportunity to go deeper than just a simple survey monkey survey, which serves its purpose and is great, but you want to go deeper than that to really find out about how to optimize your show and make it better.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:45:17
Now, you tell me, as I've got a survey monkey that I'm just about to put out. It might be Google Forms, I just haven't figured out how to work either of them yet.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:45:25
But you should be doing that, right? And I encourage every brand, every show. You can't do a big study all the time, certainly, but you need to be talking to your listeners on a regular basis. Like, for example, Starbucks. Every time that I play one of their goofy games on their app, they take the opportunity to ask me some questions and I think that's great. There's this interest in gathering information from your consumers on a regular basis. You should take it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:45:51
I'm feeling fatigued from some of those. Is that my age?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:45:54
No, there is too much of it. I don't disagree with that. And especially like, if it comes to your email, it's tough because Google or whatever email service they're using, they're filtering it out, they're putting it in promotions, it's going into the junk. You have to find some way to stick out. I would agree with that.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:46:11
What podcast app do you use to listen to podcasts?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:46:14
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:46:15
Just the one?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:46:16
Yeah, typically I do, and that tends to be just because when I'm streaming, I tend to be in the Spotify universe. I pay for the premium service, I'm already in there, and so I'm saving my favorites and it makes it easy for me, and so that tends to be where I listen to them.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:46:34
What show have you been following or subscribed to the Longest?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:46:38
The Longest? That's a good question. The one I've listened to the Longest is one of Todd Cochrane's shows, actually about podcasting. The shows that I'm listening to the most right now are Smarter and Fly on the Wall with David Spade and Dana Carvey.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:46:55
So I have Dynamic Audio insertion as being one of my biggest takeaways from podcast movement. What was your biggest takeaway?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:47:03
Honestly, I don't really have a big takeaway from that. What's yours?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:47:07
Just that the podcasting space needs to pay attention to programmatic and really make it so that the ads flowing seamlessly. So much of it is done so poorly. Different levels, not making a seamless transition to get people in and out of the ads. There was a little bit of a nice takeaway from Sounds profitable when it came to the difference between Announcer Red and Host Red ads. Host Red Ads, of course, continue to be very strong in that sense, and we have to tidy that up. And a lot of people say, oh, there's too many commercials in podcasting. But I mean, listen, every research project you've done for Radio that comes back, there's too many commercials for everything. But I'm not sure how to handle it. If you're a company like I heart, that will put those two podcasts that you mentioned, they promote those ad nauseum. They treat some podcasts like stop sets and they'll put three commercials in there and they will be promos. And that's a lot for the listener, I think, to digest. And I think that's how we get that perception of too many commercials. So again, it's a good thing that we're promoting podcasts. It's a bad thing because people do interpret those as commercials.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:48:09
I think you make a really good point, and I think that's something that Radio has struggled with for some time, for sure, with ad insertion. And like you said, the clunky experience going from the terrestrial feed into feed of spots and then going back in. That's something that is terrible sometimes to listen to. And you're right. The listening experience has got to be better. And then I would say also about the number of commercials. I think you make a great point, too, because that is a huge issue for radio. And if you think about that, like, the older you are, the more you've just been used to it your whole life, listening to a lot of commercials on radio. So maybe you're just sort of attuned to it. But if you're younger and you haven't had to deal with it, you've had the luxury of listening to a streaming service or Sirius XM or something where you don't have to have commercials to your point. Like, now you look at radio and it's like radio equals 16 minutes of commercials an hour. That's a problem. And podcasting does have to be very careful not to get into that box.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:49:08
I'll take one bold prediction. You can make it for podcasting or radio. Do you have one something that you see coming into 2023 that you go, that might be a thing.
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:49:19
I think that we're going to see some fresh new talent come around in the next year that's going to break into the radio industry that's going to break into podcasting. I think that YouTube is this massive trove of talent that has been kind of untapped. And there is a huge listener base for so many of these people that are making a living as comedians. They're making a living on doing a show on YouTube. And yeah, they're monetizing it there. But the problem is their brand isn't big enough. They're not en masse, so they don't have the reach of radio or the opportunity to get into big podcast network. And so I think that what you're going to see is some of these names that are kind of bubbling under with big followings are going to get much more big mass followings by hopping onto radio with podcasting, which basically means.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:50:12
To that crowd that you saw in Rally in your Face, right? Exactly. One more prediction. How will the Buffalo Bills do this year?
Jay Nachlis (Guest) 00:50:20
It's got to be the Super Bowl, right? Super bowl or bust.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:50:24
Go Bills. Thanks Jay!
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:50:25
The the Sound Off podcast. Written and hosted by Matt Cundill. Produced by Evan Surminski. Social Media by Courtney Krebsbach Another great creation from the the Soundoff media company. There's always firstname.lastname@example.org.