An Interview with Jeff England- Vice President at Hubbard Radio [VIDEO]

Charlie Cadbury sits down with Jeff England, Vice President at Hubbard Radio to explore the world of smart speakers and how they can be used in the radio industry.

Speakers: Jeff England, Vice President, Hubbard Radio; Charles Cadbury, CEO, Say It Now; Norbert Horvath, CTO, Say It Now

Read the transcript of the video here:

Charlie Cadbury 0:12
So look, it’s it’s Monday, we’re in Chicago, with Jeff England of Hubbard radio. It’d be nice to get to know you a little bit more. If you could explain a little bit about your, your day to day, what’s what do you do.

Jeff England 0:25
I’m the Vice President, market manager for Hubbard radio, which entails 1019, the mix, one of our radio stations, 97, one, the drive another station, and she 100.3, our third station, as well as our digital ad agency. 2016 digital. So, in essence, I’m the general manager of all those of those four businesses, which means day to day as much as I plan and try to have a schedule, I never know what’s going to happen. I’m involved in sales, programming, promotions, marketing, HR, at times, finance, legal, etc. So it’s a pretty crazy schedule sometimes, and I never truly know what I’m going to be doing day to day.

Charlie Cadbury 1:10
And so it seems like you could have a chief firefighter

Jeff England 1:14
Yeah, putting out fires or I like to put finding solutions.

Charlie Cadbury 1:20
And and what’s prepared you for this or what we wanted to do before you entered this industry? And what what kind of experience have you had

Jeff England 1:26
prior to radio, I was a salesperson for glass housewares manufacturer, which I don’t know really prepared me for this. Aside from being an outside sales, in which I spent a lot of time driving and listening to the radio in the car, which was another impetus for me to get into this business.

Charlie Cadbury 1:44
And of your life, you know, what’s, what’s radio was audio meant to.

Jeff England 1:48
I’ve always listened to the radio, I am going to date myself. But I vividly remember getting a clock radio for Christmas one year. And I was enamoured with the technology of the day, because I could go to bed listening to my favourite radio station on a timer. And I could wake up when the alarm went off, it turned my favourite radio station back on which that station was wn CI in Columbus, Ohio. So I listened to radio a lot. And then as a young person throughout my life, I’ve spent a lot of time driving and sales and listen to the radio a lot. Then as well prior to getting into the business. So it’s always been important to me, and I think audios always been important to people as humans, we that’s how we communicate.

Charlie Cadbury 2:35
And something that for me, that’s the first time I’ve heard of a smart radio. Yes, yes. Um, it was What’s your relationship with the smart speakers that you that you’ve seen today?

Jeff England 2:47
Well, we create our own commands for each of our radio stations. And we promote and endorse to our listeners that hey, if you’re listening at home, you know, ask Alexa, play 97, one to drive. So we have commands and things set up so that we activate listening. And fortunately, a lot of the research we’ve seen recently has shown that there are fewer actual radios am FM radios in homes, but there are a lot more of these devices. So it’s another avenue for us to be heard in the home, as opposed to just in a car, which has traditionally been the domain of radio.

Norbert Horvath 3:24
And do you think that your insights of your audience has grown since you have been using the smart speakers?

Jeff England 3:31
I don’t know we get we don’t really get any feedback. It’s, you know, our broadcast signals the same on the speaker as it is on the radio. So at this point, I don’t know that we’re getting a lot of demographic information from

Charlie Cadbury 3:46
it. And and, you know, if you if you aren’t how important is the new these other data points for you in terms of understanding your audience?

Jeff England 3:55
Well, it’s it’s critical. on two levels. It’s critical to us as as marketers, and as programmers, we want to make sure we’re pleasing the demographic that we’ve we’ve set out to and then secondarily, it’s great information for our advertisers and our clients to be able to say, hey, we’re, we’re reaching the people we promised you and we’re reaching them this many times, and you’re getting some interaction from your commercials, etc. So that’d be very valuable.

Norbert Horvath 4:23
In 2021. D, the biggest segment or the fastest segment to grow was digital. Audio. I think it was by 57%. Very, very large. Do you find that you are getting enough input inside to fully capture this growth?

Jeff England 4:41
Yeah, a lot of it I think is fueled. I’ll just take myself for an example. I live in the suburbs. I commute by train. Some days I drive some days when I’m in the car, obviously, I listen to the radio. It’s in my car. When I commute. I’m on a train, and you can’t play or not supposed to play your radio at full volume. So I put in the near button. And each of our station has its own app. So I can listen to our stations on the app. And I think that’s driving a lot of the digital folks are using their personal devices, cell phones so much that that’s driving a lot of the increased usage, if you

Norbert Horvath 5:19
can, or you want to share, what where’s the slider between broadcast and app,

Jeff England 5:24
it varies, which is interesting to me, it varies a bit from 10% to as high as 30 or 40%. At times, and we look at that monthly. It’s, it’s tending to be more on the 20 to 40% range than the 10% range these days. And again, I think the pandemic and people’s lives being disrupted, and not being in their cars as much as has driven some of that as well.

Charlie Cadbury 5:50
And now we’re looking at what was best practice for audio advertising, asking people to kind of cast your mind back and you remember the first radio ads that sticks out? You know,

Jeff England 6:02
I don’t know that I remember the first ads. But I remember the trend was to be loud and make outrageous claims. i There were so many automotive commercials where people were yelling at you about the deal that you had to come down this Saturday and get this deal. Fortunately, that’s gone. And I think we’re much more thoughtful and how we produce commercials and the ads are better written. They’re more engaging, and they engage you on an intellectual level, not a cerebral level, or a level where they’re just blasting you with a message.

Norbert Horvath 6:37
What’s your take on the concept of the jingle?

Jeff England 6:40
It works. There were so many jingles. You think over your time growing up that you’ve heard if you hear him today, some of them haven’t been used in 10 or 20 years. If you hear them, you still remember them.

Norbert Horvath 6:51
Did you ever sing alone.

Jeff England 6:54
I remember, I still remember an advertiser in Atlanta that started there. And they’re now now nationwide Longhorn steaks. And they had this kitschy country song about long horn stakes. And I’m talking about long horn and I couldn’t get it out of your head, and they did a great job with it. And their business grew immensely.

Charlie Cadbury 7:16
So what we’re hearing is, you know, if you’re if you’re able to inspire someone to fire up their vocal cords, right in the real world, which is where we all are right by it. And if that point of inspiration can come from the ad, whether you then sing the jingle telephone, something outrageous, or you then either kind of talk back to the device that you’re listening on, right? And that’s where you can really increase that kind of retention. And then on your side, you understand what’s what’s going on with it.

Jeff England 7:42
But I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Roy Williams, The Wizard of ads, and I love his commercials, you can you can go to any market in the country in here when his commercials and you know, it’s his, that it came from his company. Because they are. He’s such a great wordsmith. And he’s able to hook you with humour, and surprise and delight. All in one commercial.

Charlie Cadbury 8:03
Amazing. I’ve not heard of The Wizard of ads, but I will definitely look now looking, you know, looking forward to kind of the the growth of the industry. What’s what’s what’s your view is are you in a good place you bullish about the future?

Jeff England 8:16
Yeah, yeah, I think the industry, obviously, we took a big step backwards through the pandemic, listening levels went down, ad spend went down, that’s slowly recovering, we’d like it to go faster than it is, but it is recovering, we’re going in the right direction. For our business. I think again, if you have compelling, entertaining people that can communicate on your radio stations, you’re going to attract more listeners, you’re going to keep the ones you have. And I think that’s something that’s critical to the future. For people, if we’re going to continue to grow, it used to be you can be a great radio host. You’re awesome. Now you have to be a great radio host. And you have to be good on video. And you have to know how to use social media and you have to be great in person. Because we need all those touch points for those people to build their brand and also build our radio stations brands.

Norbert Horvath 9:13
Interesting to say that where do you see in this Omni, Omni view of capacity and talent within your organisation? Where do you see the role of the Creator and podcasting?

Jeff England 9:25
Podcasting is very interesting. To me. It’s a very narrow audience. That’s people are obviously very much into the whatever the content is, or the topic. But there’s very few podcasts I’ve seen are broad enough or big enough on their own, to be commercially viable. But I read it was 800,000 as I think it’s a million now. People are actually podcasting. I also read that less than 1% of them are actually commercially viable, meaning they’re transacting money and even if smaller percentages actually profiting or making money. So, you know, it’s a it’s a great business for listeners, because you can find anything you want to hear about. It’s there. But as far as a commercial transaction, I, you know, I don’t know that it’s, it’s not that strong yet.

Charlie Cadbury 10:19
And what are the channels that you see the most growth? And what’s Where do you see the most growth for

Jeff England 10:26
our radio business continues to grow again, incrementally, our digital agency businesses is growing gangbusters, which is true of everyone, most businesses have now started using more digital marketing, it’s efficient, it’s less cost, etc. So that business has been booming, and we’re doing well there. But I think people are starting to come back to audio and radio, because we still need branding, you still need a familiar brand. When someone sees your ad on online or a pop up ad or a video or something, they still need to be familiar with your brand and radio can create that brand.

Charlie Cadbury 11:09
It was a little bit about having to develop and grow on more channels. So you know, developing kind of a social media strategy beyond just kind of the presenters, you know, presenting on radio, what’s what’s your, your view on? Or how do you think about developing new channels?

Jeff England 11:26
Most of the, you’re talking about audio or

Charlie Cadbury 11:29
I suppose, if you if he if you said you started to use social media to kind of engage as a broadcast also had to be good on video, right? This was the leading piece, as you know, would be looking at sort of smart speakers and that as a new channel of engagement. How do you how do you think about when to start to prioritise developing those?

Jeff England 11:47
Well, we want to be where the listeners are. And if they’re spending more time watching videos, or they’re spending more time on Instagram, or Facebook or tick tock, we need to be there. And we need our people to be there. We need our brand to be there. And and it’s even it’s the home run, if you will, if we can bring clients in and we’re all there. And we’re capturing more eyeballs and ears that way. So I don’t know that we prioritise we look at what’s best for the demographic we serve and where they are. Some of our stations may be may have more listeners on Facebook, some may have more on Instagram, Tik Tok, what we go wherever they are

Charlie Cadbury 12:27
fantastic. Now that we would obviously champion in looking forward into the future industry. So if you are a new entrant if you work as a college leaver today looking to kind of get a career in this industry, what would your advice be to those?

Jeff England 12:41
Well, I would say the two the two biggest areas, staff numbers of people, we have our sales in programming. And most people want to be on air and want to be a talent. There’s a multitude of places you can get training. I know Illinois Media School here in Chicago does a great job of giving you hands on training and skills, so that you can go on and be a production person and on air talent, different things in that regard. So that’s available and say, you know, go do it, if that’s what you want to do. In sales. I mean, we look for great salespeople who can talk and, and sell a multitude of products, because as we said, we’ve got radio, and we’ve got the full gamut of digital products. So I think there’s great opportunity there, reach out to whoever, whatever context, you can find it radio stations, or digital agencies, etc, and, and ask for a job.

Norbert Horvath 13:44
So talking about the future of radio, and right now on smart speakers, you use the Smart speaker to start to stream and that you listen. Do you see looking into the future a more interactive form of radio with smart speakers? And then what would it look like?

Jeff England 13:58
Well, I would I would hope so I don’t know the future. I wish I could tell you. But I think that would be great if we had more interactivity. And we could have a two way conversation. That’s that’s always been a challenge with mass media is it tends to be one direction as sending something out. And we try to cater to and crafted to the target audience. But we don’t know until we do research. And that’s always done outside of the actual product.

Norbert Horvath 14:26
Right. And with regards to advertisers, do you share data with your advertisers?

Jeff England 14:31
Sure, sure. For example, on our apps, we do get feedback. We have people register to be part of the listener club on our app. So we do get some data that way. But it’s not real time streaming, it’s they can vote on songs. They can we record their or their time listening. They can win prizes, tickets to shows etc. That way, but that’s really the only way we can interact with him right now is through the app.

Charlie Cadbury 14:57
Awesome. I just think Closing this out if people want to know a little bit more about Hubbard radio or to listen to one of your stations, where do you recommend people? Well, to to get a flavour

Jeff England 15:09
I have three children and I have three radio stations and I learned a long time ago you have to mention all of them. So, one on one nine, the MCS 97 One the drive and she 100.3 and they’re available on our apps anywhere in the country.

Charlie Cadbury 15:23
Amazing. Lovely, thank you so much for time. Thank you