Eight slide projectors flashed fullcolor images of the Woodstock generation -- 10 years later -- while their "market profile" rumbled forth in a voice-over like Orson Welles.
The 25-to-34 demographic! A $261 billion market! "and", boomed the voice, "75 percent of them have not established a brand preference."
The RKO Radio Network presentation lasted about nine minutes. A 40-ish woman from an AM station in Illinois rose slowly as the lights went up, blinking.
"Gosh," she said. She hadn't been to Woodstock, but she knew about marketing "lifestyles."
In the 1980s, they say, every "lifestyle" will find its way onto a local radio station. It is one of the industry's biggest buzzwords, and it played a big role in the National Radio Broadcasters Association's sixth annual convention this week at the Washington Hilton.
In the high-tech, high-pitch exhibit hall, an estimated 3,000 conventiongoers have been browsing for three days, assaulted by praises for such things as Mutual's soon-to-be-constructed satellite system ("Now all you have is the 5-kilohertz monaural line, right?" said a Mutual rep. "With the satellite you'll have 15-kilohertz quality, and five different channels.") Or AM stereo, seen as a possible savior of AM's nationwide ratings losses to FM.
Or lifestyles themselves, which the browsers found they could pick right off the shelf in as many different models as the myraid speakers that trumpeted them.
You could get them wholesale -- an entire station format on tape, including music, "personality" voices and custom-made "Station I.D. Imagery" (Formerly known as jingles). The lifestyle of your choosing -- with names like "Contempo," 'Country Living," "Beautifully Yours," "Z-Rock" -- which can be played for days at a time by a single computerized automation system, with just a lone announcer on call for weather and traffic reports.
Bob Concie of BPI, a Bellevue, Wash.-based supplier of automated formats ("Personality-announced, Semi-Announced, and Unannounced) told a story that may contain the future of radio: "A station manager driving across the country heard one of our announcers on a local station one day and drove 30 miles out of his way, off the interstate, intending to hire the announcer on the spot for his own station because he thought he was so good."
But when he got to the station and asked for The Undiscovered Talent, Concie said, he was directed to the tape machine. The announcer worked for BPI, several thousand miles away.
You could also get lifestyles retail, in the form of weekly or daily specialized programs sold by syndicators, or in the form of lifestyle-oriented news, features and music specials through a network -- as in NBC Radio's "The Source," a young-adult news and feature service -- and the new RKO Radio Newwork's "Lifesound" features.
Also at the convention, which ends today is Golden Egg. It began in January 1979 with a weekly three hours of disco called "Stepping Out" (heard locally on WDON-AM), and plans to enter the new year with two new syndicated music shows -- "The Great American Musical," which Golden Egg's Buck Buchanan said comprises two hours of Broadway and movie music, and "rockin' Out," which Buchanan called "your basic kick-a -- rock 'n' roll."
Golden Egg was selling its lifestyle with the help of a mime, two Washington Redskinettes and a seven-foot goose who handed out buttons and chocolate egs. But most of the other exhibitors -- ranging from computer record-keeping companies to format consultants to FM transmitter manufacturers -- shunned the hocus-pocus for more traditional hospitality.
Signs on most floors of the hotel led would-be affiliates to the hospitality suites manned by the networks (ABC, NBC, Mutual), or would-be clients to the Associated Press and format consultants like Drake-Chenualt and Burkhart-Abrams and to beautiful-music suppliers like the Chicago-based FM 100 Plan, or the New jersey-based Greater Media Services Inc., parent company of Silver Spring's WGAY-AM/FM, which produces its own "Beautiful Hits" in London several times a vear.
The ratings people were there: Arbitron, the industry leader: Washington-based Media Statistics; and newcomer Ram Research Co. of San Diego.
So were the paid staff members of the NRBA itself: all 4 1/2 of them. "This is an operation of mostly volunteers," said NRBA exective vice president Aba Voron, "and these 1,400 broadcasters are organizing and planning the convention because they want to. They're not trying to build an empire or something.
"And that degree of interest and dedication makes up for the lack of other things -- like a big budget," said Voron, mentioning that NRBA directors pay their own travel expenses.
Much of the time spent at the convention by NRBA station owners and managers --most of whom are from medium to small markets -- took place at more than 30 workshops and panel discussions held under such headings as: Promotion ("The Major Market Promotion Jungle"); Engineering ("Getting the Most From Your Tape Machine"); and sales, Management and Programming ("Beautiful Music: Where Is It Headed?").
Lee Abrams, the Atlanta format consultant, was asked about "Modal programming" at a panel discussion of radio in the '80s. Its has to do with increasing listener loyalty by limiting the kind of music. "The bottom line is purity," said Abrams. "If you're going to be a rock station, that means getting right down to it. When people want rock, they tune you in. Period." g
Yesterday's sessions ended with a big presentation on radio deregulation -- the Big Story among radio executives ever since the FCC proposed it this summer, and also the topic of Tuesday luncheon speaker Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz).
Between Goldwater's talk and the afternoon deregulation presentation, two name tagged broadcasters passed each other on the escalator. "Going to the deregulation thing?" asked the one headed down. The other shook his head, pointing up. "I'm going to talk to the goose. I think I can use him."