Tuesday, November 14, 2006

THE VIDEO BLOG

THE VIDEO BLOG

Back in the late 90's, XM was just an idea. We had a skeleton staff that was growing by the day, but we were not yet on the air. One of the challenges was to tell the story of the programming mission. There was no shortage of those who viewed XM as an "audio service", a generic array of white bread channels that would have all the soul of ......an audio service.

In reality, NOTHING was further from the truth. We envisioned XM to be an organic, living, breathing collection of channels, each with a different identity and culture. The XM "sound" was not something that you would hear on every channel, but the XM SOUND was the aggregate of each channel sounding different with the result being a rainbow of different approaches that as a whole had a unique, revolutionary and distinct "sound". The eccentric Fine Tuning being 180 degrees from the A.D.D. 20 on 20, and that when you put it all together, there was THE XM SOUND. Some channels were to have DJ interacting Nationally with an army of listeners...others DJ free, relying on heady production and non stop music. In previous blog entries I addressed the Bootcamps we had to liberate myself and everyone who touched the programming from clichés and assumptions. At first you'd tend to "assume" that all channels needed DJ's. Wrong. The appeal of some channels is that it's all music without interruptions. On other channels, the DJ is a critical partner to the music offering an intelligent narration....other channels a DJ adds to the authenticity as in the 50's or 60's where we work to re-live the way Top 40 sounded in those eras. The point is that the XM SOUND is based on every channel having it's own Point of View and playbook resulting in a diverse collection of styles, yet all tied together to the platform had a distinct feel and vibe.

Expressing this both internally and externally wasn't easy. There had never been anything like XM before, so we needed to illustrate the plan.

Several months ago, Bob Lefsetz the master of gonzo bloggerism, visited XM. While hanging out in my office he asked what this big chart with circles was all about and I explained it was a way to graphically illustrate the diversity of XM and how channels fit into different cultural zones. He then said "OK, lets hear the rap". So---I pulled out the chart and ran through it. If you read Bob's blogs you'll note that he thinks XM Programming is great but that no-one knows about it, and was adamant that I video the thing and get it out there. SO---I did.

Our staff will probably throw up if they have to see this again as it's become one of MY clichés, but if you would like to see a video of the famous "Circles" presentation, click XM DIVERSITY under Multimedia on this blog site. .

The interesting thing is that while the roots of this presentation are 7 years old, it's still the anchor of what we do on the air. Do we deliver? Not always. Do we try? Yes. Some channels are dead on it...others close...and others, not so, but we have over 160 channels and it's not easy to get ALL of them firing on all cylinders at once...but we will get there as long as we BALANCE XM as a business and XM as an electronic media art form.

We have the talent here...it's all about executing to the high standards we preach, evolving, but staying on plan.

Take a look at the video ..... (Click XM Diversity under Multimedia)

10 Comments:

At 1:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lee,

I have been an XM subcriber from the beginning. Your video explanation was the first I have heard of the strategy for programming. I would like to see the same diagram with the channels listed in the quadrants. Is that available for viewing anywhere?

I want to say that though there are more channels of music there is now less diversity than some years ago. For example, no world music channel, no latin jazz, no unsigned channel.

I feel very strongly that getting rid of Luna was a mistake. There are no other channels that play that music. Once in a great while there will be a latin jazz tune on 70, 72, or 94. The quality of the music on Luna is just so excellent.

I truly hope that there are plans to bring back Luna.

Thanks,

David

 
At 11:02 AM, Blogger Jason said...

Hey,

You got to tell us where all the country channels would go on your chart. I bet they would cover at least three of the four. Also, some country channels probably have listers for more than one quadrant.
X country in particualr probably has listeners from all over the chart!

Keep up the blog. Its been fascinating!

 
At 2:17 PM, Blogger Dan Clarke said...

Lee:

First the good:
LOVE the new ad campaign. It's awesome.

Now the bad:
Why did XM kill UPOP for the Holidays and leave Sunny? I thought the channels worked well last year. I'm not sure why UPOP gets the boot when we have 2 CHR stations (MIX -- which i know is CC and Flight 26)...I like Bruce Kelly!!

I'd love to hear the rational for that one!

(Still with 4 XM subs )

 
At 7:48 PM, Blogger Dan Clarke said...

Oops, I meant Ted Kelly, not Bruce Kelly. My bad! Got my ex-80s channel DJs mixed up

 
At 12:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the reasons some channels ran jockless was to save money. I assume that's why there's no midday host on Soul Street (Whoever heard of a real radio station with an autopilot midday show?), or only occasional airshifts on The Village and Real Jazz, channels that really need 24/7 hosting to add context to the music.

I can see no jocks for jukeboxes like Top Tracks and wallpaper formats like Chill, but for genres that cry out for serious listening? Sorry, your explanation just doesn't wash. I continue to blame the beancounters.

 
At 1:20 PM, Anonymous lightningclap said...

I'm a Lefsetz reader who hasn't picked up on XM yet, mostly because of the variety of public radio stations in my area(though I've been following its development and content).

The way this chart is designed is brilliant- this perfectly describes the way I would look at the real audience of listeners. In that I see myself in one zone, my in-laws and my kids in others. I found myself nodding in agreement throughout.

As a public radio programmer for about 30 years, a couple of things really struck me. APPALING: This has always been one gauge of whether I think a terrestrial public station is providing enough variety. If I turn it on, and really don't like what I hear at that moment, then they're serving more than my personal taste.

AUTHENTIC: This applies to those of us that have been doing reggae radio for years w/o a trace of fake Jamaican-isms. If you're white & nerdy, be yourself! That's keepin' it real...

Great stuff.

 
At 1:21 PM, Anonymous lightningclap said...

I'm a Lefsetz reader who hasn't picked up on XM yet, mostly because of the variety of public radio stations in my area(though I've been following its development and content).

The way this chart is designed is brilliant- this perfectly describes the way I would look at the real audience of listeners. In that I see myself in one zone, my in-laws and my kids in others. I found myself nodding in agreement throughout.

As a public radio programmer for about 30 years, a couple of things really struck me. APPALING: This has always been one gauge of whether I think a terrestrial public station is providing enough variety. If I turn it on, and really don't like what I hear at that moment, then they're serving more than my personal taste.

AUTHENTIC: This applies to those of us that have been doing reggae radio for years w/o a trace of fake Jamaican-isms. If you're white & nerdy, be yourself! That's keepin' it real...

Great stuff.

 
At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An interesting video presentation. I guess I personally fall anywhere on your chart but the lower left. I'm part of the digital generation; I do downloads, but I still have about 2000 LPs; so I'm definitely part of the analog generation. I like XMU; I've bought several CDs I heard there. I like The Loft & Deep Tracks. I like XMPR. I like 60s, 70s & 80s. When I really want "comfort" music, I turn to your competitor and "Classic Vinyl". I liked Fine Tuning better before the HD playlist cutback. I like XM14, XM70, XM71, XM73, XM110 and from time-to-time the Met Channel over at Sirius.

My big problem? Too much channel changing. Don't get me wrong, its great to have so many choices, but I sometimes feel as if I'm missing something great on other channels while I'm listening to something great on a particular channel.

One thing I've noticed when listening to my own very diverse music collection on shuffle (sort of Fine Tuning on steroids): moving from one genre to another is more exciting than listening to a bunch of songs from a single genre. Not sure exactly how that fits in to XM's programming philosophy...

Timothy Stockman

 
At 7:25 PM, Anonymous Tyler Wells said...

Lee,

I don't have XM, I have been a Sirius fan for 2 years. This is the first time I've replied to one of your blogs. I just wanted to say that I am glad you have shared XM's music programming insights with the community. The clip was extremely interesting, I can only hope that one day Sirius connects with the online community in the way you have.

-Tyler

 
At 11:10 AM, Blogger Brian said...

All I know is...

I miss Heidi Selexa... :(

 

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