I'm here today with Tony Richards, who is the owner and
founder of Hippie Radio, 94.5 FM here in Nashville.
I think the fastest growing radio station in this market.
Is that right?
That sounds good to me.
[LAUGH] Thank you for joining me today.
We're going to be talking about radio.
Can you tell us a little bit just to start off about how you got into radio in
the first place?
Yes I was 13 years old and
a friend of mine and I ran into another
kid whose father worked at Magnavox and he had a little radio station.
And I was like you have a radio station?
What? And I went over to his house and
they were broadcasting out of their bedroom.
It only got out maybe a mile or so, it probably wasn't really illegal or
a pirate station, but we called it that.
[LAUGH] But it was about the coolest thing I ever saw.
So I'm like, okay, this is for me it was about being on the air and
trying to get girls with it.
And when you're 13 that's what you do.
But it could have gone the other way.
We could have been the geeky guys that do the AV equipment in the classroom and
I was like, I don't want to be that guy.
I just want to be the cool end.
So yeah so pretty much ever since then when I was 13 I've been in broadcasting.
So, how did it develop from there?
Well it was actually there were a bunch of us got together and
we pooled our resources we mowed lawns and did everything we could to generate money
so that we could buy records and equipment and
turntables and build a transmitter and buy a car battery that ran the transmitter.
And they were about, I would say, 13 or
14 of us that came out of my basement that are all in broadcasting.
Wow. Television, engineers, audio people,
sales people, management.
All out of our basement.
And my father, I think let us do it, because he knew where we were.
[LAUGH] And we weren't really getting into trouble.
So, yeah, that's what we do.
Tell us a little bit about the history of Hippy Radio.
Well, Hippy Radio was an idea I came up
with back when consolidation of radio stations began.
There was apparently some research done by someone
who decided that nobody was spending any money on oldie radio stations,
advertisers weren't buying it, so they say.
And so most of the oldie stations in the United States went off the air.
They took them all off, and it was a few companies,
CBS in particular who actually had one of the biggest oldies stations
in the country WCBS FM in New York actually changed formats.
[CROSSTALK] What year was this?
I'd want to say this was around early 2000s.
Maybe 2005, 2004, somewhere in there.
Anyway, so all these oldies stations went off the air and I was just like,
what are they doing?
There's this whole format that just was missing on radio.
And so, a friend of mine was a researcher,
and she had done research for PBS television nationally and so
on Sunday nights I'm watching these Austin City Limits things and
all these cool programs that are on and I'm thinking about baby boomer's and
how it's a really fast growing demographic and how there were so many of them and
they were getting ready to head into retirement and had so much money.
And I was at a broadcasters event where a professor from,
I believe it was Penn State or something, came in and
she was talking about marketing to baby boomers in this demographic and
how there were no oldies stations around the US anymore.
And so I called this person I knew about research and I said so
is it the music that's the problem, or is it, in my world, it was the name.
Because if you were a baby boomer, number one, you were already kind of hip, okay.
You weren't your typical older a person.
And so when people say hey what's your favorite station,
they didn't really want to say, well oldies is my favorite station.
So they kind of had this thing about saying it,
Baby boomers don't want to be old.
No they don't.
And they don't, they were using terms like cool, and oldies, and fun, and
all these things.
And I thought, literally,
as this lady is talking, this professor, I'm like, It'd be radio.
This is a very specific time period that I think people immediately,
it can be cooler than the old list.
Yes. And so I actually just thought about it
and the person I was sitting next to actually got out of high school,
hopped in a van, went all over the country, did the whole hippie thing
Went to Woodstock and I'm starting to tell her about this.
She goes, my god, I would listen to that all day.
So we did some research and found out that 94% of the people and
this was national research, would listen to a radio station in hippy,
because I was getting a little push back when I was rolling it out and
people were saying, that's too liberal for me.
We're a pretty conservative town.
And I'm like, it's not about that.
we're just trying to take the fun part out of that era and put it on the radio again.
Right. And make this like the great WLAC
was back in the early seventies, when it was a big Top 40 AM station.
And WLS in Chicago and all those kind of stations.
So I just wanted to bring that back because I felt that that's what people
grew up with and I thought it would strike a chord with them and so far so good.
I'm a fan of your station, I listen to it a lot, I notice that your play list is
larger than a lot of play lists of terrestrial radio,
we'll talk about your streaming thing in a minute.
But you also have a bit piece of the charm of your station for me is the local angle.
You'll talk about local businesses.
You'll talk about people that I know from the community here.
And speak with them.
I'd like for you to say a bit about that local flavors were being combined
with a sort of nostalgic playlist.
Yeah, one thing we wanted to do, sort of this live and
local thing has really kind of gone away, and I actually ran a group of stations for
a long time, we had 17 radio stations, and We sort of always went against
this big corporate kind of dictate, where there's no fun promotions anymore.
There's no being out in the community, sort of the ground game.
And I still feel the business is what has changed, not the people.
I'm kind of a big fan of corny works.
I used to make fun of people who did lost dog reports on here, but
now I love it when I hear that.
Yeah. Because that's really what we do.
Yeah. A great example, got an email yesterday,
somebody got married over the weekend here in Nashville their
honey mooning on the beach in Florida Went through our streaming
email, media player and emailed us and said hey, I want to surprise her,
can you play the Beatles Here Comes the Sun that was our song at our wedding,
and here's a guy in Florida.
Why would we do one thing for two people that aren't here right now?
And play that for them, but that's kind of what you do.
Because a thousand people like me would be like, that's so sweet.
Exactly, I think if you can touch everybody a little some, it matters.
There's sort of two economies here in Nashville.
There's the regular economy and then there's this whole music economy.
And it's kind of it's own thing.
And I ran into a gentleman who created his own show called The Originals,
and his name is Even Stevens.
And I was introducing him about BMI and they said, I don't know if this guy.
His name is Even Stevens.
I'm like Eddie Rabbitt, I knew right away.
Because when I'm 13 or 14 I'm playing his Eddie Rabbitt songs and
I look Underneath the title and I see Even Stevens, that's a cool name.
And we kind of got to know each other, and
we played his program on Hippy on Sunday nights.
And I said look, here's the thing,
any musicians that are in our world of music, Hippy's world of music.
Let them know they have a friend here, any time they want to come by.
These are the people who sort of, in my opinion,
made the greatest music in the greatest period of time.
So even though I wasn't a hippy, and
I'm on the tail end of being a baby boomer, I sort of understood that world.
And I said these are people that are artists that have been forgotten,
that are ignored, are still writing, and making great music, and
nobody ever talks to them.
And if these classic rock stations all over the country or
the oldies stations all over the country would just pick up the phone,
these are wonderful people and they come in all the time.
Just grab a guitar, come on in, we'll talk to you.
If you're a local business and you have something going on, come on in,
we'll make room.
It's not a big pervasive thing because we're still music focused.
But if it's cool and it's local, we want to do it.
>> You mentioned earlier that the live and local angle, and I would love for you
to explain to our listeners how commercial radio stations sort of navigate this.
Well sometimes the programs are prerecorded and
sometimes they're live on the air.
And how do you handle that, like what was [CROSSTALK]
>> When you put on a radio station,
everybody wants to do their own show.
[LAUGH] Hey, I do this really cool show,
and all we do is instrumental songs.
And I do this really cool show and we're focusing on female artists.
Or I do this show and we focus on ukuleles, I mean they
just kind of come out of the woodwork, and you have to be a little careful.
So we want to give the ones that we believe our audience have
interest in that time.
And for example, Even Stevens show,
the originals, he collects original demos of hit songs.
So, whether it's Wake Up Little Susie, the husband and wife who wrote that,
singing it on the phone, he's got that recording.
>> I've heard that show, it's great.
>> Or these just really bizarre things, but
our audience finds incredibly interesting.
Sunday Night Vinyls is another show we created with Hubner, our afternoon jock.
We were kind of talking,
I was like wouldn't it be great to just play a record.
And so the first show we did, we had to first of all, find a turn table,
not easy to do.
A little easier now, but when we started a couple years ago,
we need a USB turn table, we gotta have the good one.
>> He did the show and he wanted to host it, and we invited our listeners, hey,
whoever's got a cool album and you want to play it, so
we involved them through social media.
Bring it in and you can introduce it.
Why did you buy this album?
What made you buy it?
>> I did one of those actually and I loved it.
>> Yeah, because we want to hear those stories.
I know what my first album was.
You know what your first album was.
You know what your first concert was.
And so he plays it and he does it, he drops the needle on the turn table, and
the song starts playing.
I'm like no, no, no.
I want to hear the needle go on the record.
I want to hear, so you'll notice there's a little bit of time so
that you can get that feeling for this.
But what if the record skips?
>> Right. >> It used to skip.
[LAUGH] We want it to skip if it skips.
Not all the time, but if it's a beat up album, we'll know it.
If you took care of your album, we'll know it.
If you played it a lot, we'll know it.
And that's sort of the charm of that show.
So they seem kind of out there but
they're really not to someone who appreciates this era of music.
>> There seems to be a common thread in a lot of what you're saying.
Whether it's the pops and scratches at the beginning of a record,
or it's the dedication to one couple in Florida, or
it's the I lost my dog and I'm calling in.
It's like a very personal touch.
Why do you think that resonates so much right now?
>> I think it resonates and I think it will always resonate.
And that's why we'll get the radio's sort of a dying medium,
we're over the top of the bell curve now, and
the newspapers are even further along down that bell curve than we are already.
The great thing about radio, and
this is why we're really evolving into an audio industry.
We are distributed on over any way we can get our out there,
hippie out there we want to.
But I think that the charm of it is this relationship.
And my best example is radio was going to die when the reel-to-reel came out,
and when the cassette deck came out, and when the 8-track came out, and when
the MP3 player came out, and the iPods, and the iPads, and on your mobile device.
And we're still here.
And the reason we are, and I believe the reason Hippy is creating this connection
with people that's different than most stations because
most stations aren't as passionate about it like they used to be.
>> Is because of that human connectedness.
And my example is let's say you even have 2,500 tunes on your iPod, your MP3 player,
or whatever, somewhere on your mobile device, wherever you have these songs.
Over time, you know what they are.
You can put them on shuffle, you can whatever.
It's just like they always come back.
And why do they come back?
And I believe the reason that people come back to the radio is
you don't always want to pick your own songs.
>> Right. >> In this world where we can pick and
choose whatever we want, wherever we want, I want somebody else to pick them.
And I'll sit through a bad song that I may not really love to get to a good one.
Or to play a game, a contest that I didn't really expect.
Or to hear something I wasn't ready for.
And it's because of the human element.
I still believe there's a connection with radio on America's front porch, and
I say that a lot.
And those days where they just sit on the front porch on a really
cool Nashville evening and listen to the radio.
>> So while it's great to program your own stuff, whether it's Pandora, or
any other streaming service, there's still a charm about having another human
being on the other end, a real human being.
>> Well, and in this case, you are the real human being, right?
You're the person who makes a lot of the programming choices.
Or the only guy who makes the- >> Well, yeah, for now.
I handed it off a few times, and
they've messed it up a little- >> [LAUGH]
>> So I take it back, so
I have what I call an intervention.
That's cool but no, we're not doing that.
[LAUGH] >> Right, so
how do you choose the songs that are going to be on your playlist?
>> Well, it's not rocket science.
And I'll be happy to give away my secret because most researchers in parameter,
they're like what are you doing?
I get a lot of my data from how records did.
Let's say a song like Convoy, which was a novelty record
that CW McCall did whenever year it was, or any other novelty record.
Aspry Stevens' Down the Street to the greatest rock and roll
songs ever done like Dream On or Sweet Emotion or Can't Get No Satisfaction.
A lot of times we're all on the charts at the same time, whether it was this goofy
what they would say bubble gum 1910 fruit gum company or Tony Orlando and Dawn.
Hey, you know what?
Deep Purple was on the charts at the same time, and so were these songs.
And these so called industry experts would come along and say you can't do
that stuff, it doesn't make sense, and that's exactly why we're doing it.
Those sold millions and millions and millions and millions of copies.
>> Right. >> Just because they're goofy songs
doesn't mean nobody ever wants to ever hear them ever again.
So what typically happens is, researchers come in, they research and
say hey, I'll give you a great example, there was a format out called jamming.
It was in the 80s, early 90s.
Some research company said hey, you know what?
Nobody ever plays Brick House any more by the Commodores.
And they don't play Al Green and these great, soulful tunes.
So they find out that these test really, really well.
Well the reason they test well is because people can't find them anymore and
they want to hear them.
So, what they would do is they'd play them every day and a half, so
they'd build this format called jamming.
They'd play the songs that tested well, they'd burn the crap out of them, and
then the format lives and then it dies in a year or two.
Because the very thing that made them special.
>> The inaccessibility or the- >> They played it way too much and
way too often, and people got sick of it.
So, we have several different rotations and philosophies we use here, but
if it sold well, and let's say it has 17 million views on YouTube.
I'll look at that.
If I see how many people stream it,
I can get a sense of what is working and what people want to hear.
And a lot of the ones are the same.
I can just tell you right now, Hotel California, Dream On, Sweet Motion,
Sweet Home Alabama, I mean these songs no matter how many tests you do.
>> [LAUGH] >> They are always in the top ten.
>> And you can't play them too much because people love them.
And there are other ones,
the weird ones, that I have in what I call a lunar rotation.
>> Like Green Team Rain?
>> That we play very rarely, but we play it.
The Single Song Contract is probably the most basic publishing agreement a songwriter can enter into. If a songwriter has written a song, and a publisher thinks it can be placed on an artist’s album, or perhaps in a film or TV program, the two parties can sign a single song agreement.
An example of this would be if a publisher thinks a specific song could be placed with an artist such as Celine Dion or Whitney Houston. Both publisher and songwriter can then work out the terms of this single song deal.
Under this contract, the songwriter usually assigns 50% (or in some cases, 100%) of the publishing rights of a song to the publisher for a certain period of time, usually between 12 and 24 months. If the publisher secures a placement with an artist during this period (it doesn’t necessarily have to be Celine or Whitney), then the publisher becomes a permanent copyright owner of the song. The contract could also stipulate whether the securing of a film or TV usage for the song (instead of a record placement) is sufficient for the publisher to retain a permancent copyright interest.
If after the 12-24 month period the publisher hasn’t placed the song, then the agreement is terminated, and all rights to the song revert back to the songwriter.
Sometimes a single song deal, if the song is placed, can lead to a full-fledged staff writer offer from the publisher. It is not uncommon for a songwriter to be offered a $20,000 deal (or much larger) if the publisher now believes that this songwriter is a potential “hitmaker.” But even if there is no further offer, it is often surprising how much money can be made from having just one song placed.
If the song becomes a major hit, of course, there will be tremendous royalties earned. But even if the song is not a hit, but is on a big-selling album, the income can be substantial. I once signed a single song deal with a writer, and placed the songs on the Pointer Sisters multi-platinum Breakout album back in 1984. Sixteen years later, royalties are still being generated on this song.
Single song contracts for placement in film and TV are becoming increasingly common. There are a growing number of independent publishers who specialize in placing songs in film and TV shows. In these cases, the songwriter would sign a single song deal with this publisher, with the specific purpose of placing the song in film and TV, not for a record placement. Often, the writer’s demo becomes a master that is also being pitched for the film and TV usage. The licensing of the demo is often included in this type of single song agreement.
In a deal geared toward film and TV placement, the publisher might insist on 100% of the publishing of the song (or 50% of the gross earnings), because this song might be considered obscure or less commercial, and therefore more difficult to place. In these instances, the songwriter still receives the writer’s share of income (the remaining 50%).
There is one other type of single song deal. This is when a song has already become a hit (or is on a hit album), and the writer is in need of immediate funds. Then, the writer can simply sell part or all of the publishing rights for a fair price based on the projected income of the song. Most major publishing companies are happy to purchase a hit song in this manner, since they know it is already a hit, with a guaranteed income.
This type of deal is the definite exception to the “single song” concept. What it usually comes down to is a publisher loving one song, and trying to make something happen that would transform this song into a valuable copyright.
Dale Kawashima is on Google+