Standing Room Only: How the Predators Created a Juggernaut in Music City

June 12, 2017

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins won Lord Stanley’s Cup, but the story of the NHL season belongs to the Nashville Predators.


Music City is now also a hockey town. This year, they sold out all 41 regular season games. In fact, according to NHL.com the 703,000 fans in attendance served as an encore to 2015-2016, when they had 35 sellouts and drew 695,828 fans.

Following the passing of marketing and advertising icon Jack Trout, who was the master of positioning, it’s fitting that the Predators have just taken another step to bringing their long held position to life.

As you might have guessed, selling hockey in Nashville has not always been easy.

According to Forbes, a decade ago the franchise was exploring the possibility of giving up the dream and relocating to Canada.

A local ownership group stepped up and brought in President and CEO Sean Henry, who also runs Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville. Together they developed One Goal, which is both clear eyed and incredibly ambitious for the one time fledgling franchise.

According to Henry, “This team is the center of everything we do, to the point where our goal as a company is to make Bridgestone Arena the No. 1 sports and entertainment facility built around a Stanley Cup Champion Predators hockey team — that’s it.” Worth noting, iconic venues like Madison Square Garden with a hockey team of their own, aren’t simply watching the world go by.

In addition to the hockey games, Bridgestone Arena hosts another 150-175 sold out events each year including the CMT Awards, which this year had to be relocated to the Music City Center due to the hockey playoffs.

Bridgestone Arena also is in the midst of an unprecedented 12 year agreement with the SEC to host a men’s or women’s conference basketball tournament each year in Nashville.

Passionate fans are nothing new in Tennessee, but the team has done a nice job of embracing those storied traditions. In a recent interview with the Hockey News, Henry said, “I think it’s a really healthy mix of SEC football, SEC basketball, NASCAR and the passion of what we think of the European soccer fans.”

In fact, the Predators have made a connection with their fan base like no other market in the league. It doesn’t hurt when just outside the arena is Lower Broadway, a world class entertainment district that fans can enjoy before, during and after the games.

Yet, tying it all together was no small feat.

In another recent interview, Henry describes the work involved, “When I first got here, I felt we had to connect what happened in the bowl to the excitement outside the building,” Henry said. “It’s like you hit our curb, and this boring lull hit and we took the excitement out of you almost with our plaza and our concourse until the game started and it built back up. So we did our best to raise the energy level so we could build upon the excitement you’re coming in with.”

Not only did Henry reinvigorate the fans, but he also reinvigorated the employees. “For whatever reason, and it was not intentional I am sure, but you had the Hockey Operations Department in one silo, you had the Hockey Operations Business in another silo, and then you had Building or Event Operations in another silo,” Henry said. Henry added, “Breaking down those barriers did so many great things for people’s careers, how you work and how you feel about yourself, but more importantly, the business.”

Energized employees, energized fans, energized business. All skating towards the same goal: making Bridgestone Arena the No. 1 sports and entertainment venue in the United States centered around a Stanley Cup Champion Nashville Predators hockey team.

A similar opportunity exists for radio, but it starts with us as an industry realizing that reach is not a position to be filled in the minds of advertisers or listeners.

AM/FM radio is the #1 source of entertainment for employed persons in the car and at work.

Everybody loves a winner. If radio is #1, by definition, everything else from Facebook to Spotify to podcasts, even with Apple now releasing data, is just playing catch up.

We already occupy an amazing position with employed persons. If we only believed it enough to resist the urge to try and be everything to everyone, which forces radio into a preoccupation with reach; despite its proven inability to generate revenue growth.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thanks for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO


Keys to the Driverless Kingdom: Compelling Content + Top of Mind Awareness

May 15, 2017

When it comes to disruption, there are two sides of the coin: Risk and Opportunity.

While doom and gloom about the future has become a cottage industry, the driverless car represents a transformational opportunity for radio as we strive to achieve $20 billion in annual revenue by 2022 (#20×22).

In order to fully capture the opportunity of driverless cars, we must first understand that the future is already here.

Although cars will continue to have steering wheels and brake pedals for years to come, the ability to switch to auto pilot on the interstate exists today, as this entertaining 45 sec. video of a 70 year old behind the wheel of a Tesla demonstrates.


At the moment, Grandma is not seeing the opportunity, she is fearing for her life. However, as an industry, this seismic shift in commuting represents a billion dollar opportunity and radio is well positioned to cash in.

According to Business Insider, starting next year, driverless car shipments will experience significant annual growth.


Although this accelerated growth might seem hard to believe, if we look back, the iPhone adoption rate followed a similar growth curve. Even more remarkable considering that shortly after it debuted 10 years ago, we experienced the Great Recession.


Last month at TED2017 in Vancouver, Elon Musk announced that a driverless Tesla would go from LA to NYC before the end of the year and that within 2 years, drivers could fall asleep and wake up at their destination.

Companies including Uber, Ford, Waymo (Google) and Apple are investing billions to expedite the mainstream adoption of driverless cars, ride sharing and other mobility services.

Also worth noting: the 2020 Summer Olympics are in Tokyo, just 3 years away. During the games, the host city and Japanese automakers are planning to show the world a self driving city.

Own the Commute

As drivers increasingly become passengers, they will still commute in isolation, which means the companionship of radio will continue to be in demand.

More importantly, drivers will for the first time have the opportunity to respond and interact in a deeper way with their favorite DJ, something difficult to currently do while operating a vehicle.

Whether Dr. Johnny Fever is doing a live read for an advertiser or he’s asking people to rally around a sick child on social media, commuters will have an opportunity to lawfully and safely interact with your content and one another in real time.

This ability for stations to strengthen the connection with the audience (both with the brand and one another) along with deeper and more immediate interactions during drive time, creates the foundation for radio’s billion dollar growth.

To realize the full potential of driverless cars, Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA) becomes even more important.

Before starting their commute, is your target audience thinking of your brand first and most? Compelling content without Top of Mind Awareness is futile.

The challenge of the driverless world is also our challenge today. Radio’s best listeners, the heavy listening Nielsen P1s, spend 90% of their lives away from the radio.

Being part of their life away from the radio is already an essential component of success. With that in mind, here are three ways to generate Top of Mind Awareness and Own the Commute:

Facebook video to jump start the day. People start their day on their phones. A quick daily video by your morning show with a rundown of the show and a preview of the day is great way to generate TOMA.

Gas cards. Radio has been doing free gas giveaways for decades. It’s another great way to generate Top of Mind Awareness among commuters, but let’s innovate this promotion with a data driven strategy that maximizes the impact. Surprise & Delight individual Super-Fans and Amplifiers in your Hot Zips with gas cards.

Coffee and Carry Out. While a gas card fills up the SUV, what about the driver? Coffee for the commute will always be a staple of morning drive. In the afternoons, provide dinner to your best Super-Fans and Amplifier with a gift card from an advertiser.

Best of all, these moments are shared on social media and discussed via Word of Mouth, which is the most effective way to generate Top of Mind Awareness.

The full impact of driverless cars won’t be realized for many years to come, but there’s no time to wait. The fundamentals of the future are the fundamentals of today. Compelling content on-air. Top of Mind Awareness off-air.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thanks for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO


20 Years and $400 Billion Later: It’s Still Day 1

April 17, 2017

Amazon is now worth $420 billion with a stock price just below $900 per share, but for Jeff Bezos there’s no time to rest. It’s always Day 1 and this has been his unrelenting mantra for 20 years.

In his recent letter to shareholders, Bezos shared why it’s so important for Amazon to maintain a start up mentality.

“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”


According to Bezos (see full letter here), the best way to maintain this Day 1 vitality is “obsessive customer focus.”

For Amazon, there are many advantages to being customer-centric, but the best one is “customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied … Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.”

Bezos continues, “Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight.”

As a young Vince Vaughn said twenty years ago in the movie Swingers, “You always double down.”

The Desire to Delight Customers

Compare Amazon’s approach, which is even brought to life with the smile logo on the tail of Amazon Prime airplanes with the current state of passenger airline service.

As blogger Gary Leff told The New York Times, “There’s a lot of blame to go around, not the least of which is the overall culture of aviation where customer service issues have become law enforcement issues.”

This wasn’t always the case. Prior to the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, “the government controlled airfares and routes, and airlines vied to differentiate themselves with meals and leg room.” Over the last decade, airlines have unbundled services, making checked bags and meals, “pay-per-use options.”

Radio deregulated 20 years ago and in the time since, are we operating more like Amazon or the major airlines?

For the last 10 years, PPM markets have been engaged in longitudinal samples. Yet many stations still arbitrarily restrict winning (and listening) with their contest rules: “An individual may win a Contest or Sweepstakes only once per six (6) month period unless otherwise specifically stated.”

Taking it one step further, some in radio still refer to listeners who demonstrate brand loyalty by regularly playing along with station promotions, as “contest pigs.”

Even before the 1996 Telecom Act, it was difficult for a listener to get someone in the studio to answer the phone. Now on social media, when everyone gets to see in plain sight listeners being ignored by a station, how many questions and comments go unanswered?

The good news is that more and more stations are demonstrating Day 1 thinking. For example, embracing tools like Promosuite Next, which empowers the front desk to Surprise & Delight select listeners as they come in to pick up their prize. These listeners in turn are posting about the great experience with their favorite station even before they get back in their car.

Other clients are using our audience visualization and mapping tools to plan promotions and events that maximize the impact to both core listeners and advertisers.

Best of all, the benefits of providing enhanced customer service to Super-Fans and Amplifiers are self evident and when the necessary tools are provided to empower your team, it allows radio to consistently achieve Day 1 thinking.

From there, opportunities exist to expand Surprise and Delight efforts, which further drive marketing ROI by increasing listening occasions with Top of Mind Awareness.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thanks for reading and working to drive radio forward with Day 1 thinking.

Andrew Curran, President and COO


Drone Racing League: Fantasy Sport for the Real World

March 20, 2017

When you first hear about the Drone Racing League (DRL) and its $100,000 salaries, you have to double check to be sure you’re not reading an article in the Onion. However, as the facts come into focus, you start to wonder why you never heard of it before.


For starters, founder and CEO Nick Horbaczewski comes from Tough Mudder where he served as Chief Revenue Officer. If that sports background isn’t enough, investors include Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.

As a newly minted startup, last year DRL signed a broadcast deal with ESPN and secured a sponsorship with Bud Light. Overall, 28 million people watched the first season of races.

This year, Allianz Insurance has been secured as a global title sponsor and the second season is set to be broadcast by ESPN and Sky Sports into 75 countries. The upcoming season consists of six global tournaments starting in Miami and finishing in London.

This is for real.

According to Business Insider, “The drones reach speeds of up to 80 miles-per-hour … all the league’s pilots fly the same drones, made by DRL.” In fact, “16 pilots will compete in three of the first four races in Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Boston to accumulate league points. The top 12 will go through to the semi-final in Munich from which the top eight will compete in the London final.”

Traditionally, most sports leagues are focused on live events, but that’s not the current model for DRL. According to Horbaczewski, “We’re focused on post-produced content. It’s the most compelling way to see this.”

Meanwhile, CNBC reports that DRL pilots can earn $100,000 per year which allows them to focus on the league full time and potentially become modern equivalents of NASCAR drivers, which is having significant problems of its own with attendance and ratings.

The Connection to Radio

Reading a Sports Illustrated article from earlier this year (they’re as good at securing major PR placements as they are at sponsors), the opportunity for radio came into focus.

“Sports leagues are not companies. They’re ecosystems. In the center of it is this thing called your league. That’s really just the gravitational center, and you need to get an orbit around you, all of these other people. You somehow need to make it all happen at once. You need broadcasters, you need fans, you need athletes, you need sponsors, you need venues. You need to get everyone aligned and rotating around this idea every step of the way … No one of them is enough but all of them together in alignment creates a sport.”

If sports leagues aren’t confined to being companies, then in a similar way, there’s an opportunity to re-imagine radio.

Your station isn’t a frequency on the dial. It is an ecosystem. In the center of it is this thing called your brand. That’s really just the gravitational center, and you need to get an orbit around you, all of these other people. You somehow need to keep it happening all at once. You have a signal, personalities, music, listeners, sponsors, email club, website, mobile app, stream, social media platforms, live events, station vehicles, street teams, charitable fundraisers and contests. You need to get everyone aligned and rotating around the value proposition of the brand every step of the way … No one of them is enough but all of them together in alignment creates an ecosystem that can compete and win in a mobile world.

In our recent column about the Illusion of Infinite Choice, several thoughtful observers raised questions about whether station apps have enough Top of Mind Awareness and stickiness to make them one of the three apps that people consistently use on their mobile devices?

While there are a variety of perspectives to consider with that line of questioning, fundamentally radio has an opportunity to think bigger and more holistically. If stations are an ecosystem, the question becomes is each local brand strong and relevant enough that people are consistently making it a priority and seeking it out across platforms?

This would include engaging with a social media post from the station or even better, engaging with something posted by another listener, opening a station email, listening on-air or to the stream, spending money with an advertiser or attending a station event.

None of these elements are sufficient on their own, but together each one contributes to a thriving local ecosystem that has monetization opportunities throughout.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone at DMR/Interactive, thanks for reading and working to drive radio forward.

Andrew Curran, President and COO


Dreamforce 2013: Relationships the New Currency

December 2, 2013

What do Metallica, General Colin Powell, Stevie Wonder, Deepak Chopra, Jeff Immelt, Tony Robbins and President Clinton all have in common? In the last four years, each has spoken or performed at Dreamforce, the conference started by SalesForce.com in 2003 that has quickly transformed from a user conference to “THE cloud computing event” of the year.

Dreamforce ’13 wrapped up just two weeks ago in San Francisco and the insights generated during more than 1,250 sessions and keynotes are continuing to makes waves as people apply and share what they learned.

80 years ago, author Dashiell Hammett said. “The problem with putting two and two together is that sometimes you get four, and sometimes you get twenty-two.” That’s apparently one of the results from this year’s conference according to Martin Kihn, a research director with Gartner Research.

When asked by Salesforce.com to comment on the direction of digital marketing, Kihn shared these three perspectives. The world is moving from transactions to relationships. In fact, according to Scott Dorsey, co-founder of Exact Target, relationships themselves are becoming a “currency.”

Secondly, we’re moving from third party data, that is collected and aggregated by other organizations to first party data, which is user-level data collected directly from interactions with individual brands. This transition doesn’t mean that managing this data and effectively leveraging the available insights is going to be quick or easy, transformation rarely is.

In fact, for many station created databases, if you look beyond email addresses, there is limited accurate or available data. Yet insights abound when comparing a robust station database to otherwise anonymous Facebook fans or station text club members, which in turn creates the opportunity to further engage those who matter most to the ratings.

Thirdly, there’s an evolution from Obvious to Non-Obvious Sources of Data that can be used to draw unique insights to push the brand forward. Two such areas that have direct relevance to radio, which other brands are starting to look at more closely, involve weather and celebrity related events. Do you know what members of your audience seek out your station for one vs. the other? More importantly, how would you customize messages to them based on that knowledge?

Brands Helping Customers

Michael Lazerow, CMO for Salesforce Marketing Cloud builds on these themes with  the notion of service, specifically as it relates to helping the consumer. Of course, service elements (news, weather, traffic) are the cornerstones of drive time radio. In fact, Lazerow smartly mentions, “Companies have been doing that for hundreds of years. In the future companies will need to provide help when and how the customer wants it.”

A second point related to helping is that “customers will make tradeoffs, if they get something in return.” This goes back to the initial point regarding the power of relationships. When someone is connected to their favorite personality and your station is part of the fabric of their lives, they are  more likely to sit through a traffic update, 90% of which, has nothing to do with their commute.

As mobile usage continues to explode and the infinite dial extends to more and more platforms, what will  your station offer that makes your brand more relevant than platforms that are customizable and carry lower commercial loads?

If you saw 60 Minutes last night, you learned that Amazon.com is piloting a program that will use drones to deliver orders within an hour. Ford is providing dashboard service alerts and the ability to schedule an appointment with the click of a button. What makes all of this possible? Data.

According to Lazerow, “To deliver on this level of customer expectations, we need to get serious about data. Data drives relevancy. And relevancy drives business results … You need a unified view of your customers, with a data-built understanding of customer journeys and connections.”

Find out how DMR/Interactive generates data insights as part of every 360-degree Audience Engagement Program. Simply contact Andrew Curran, President  and COO at DMR/Interactive for more information.