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[Table] IAmA VP of Programming for a large, American radio corporation. I oversee the content (including DJs, music, etc) that many of you hear on your local radio stations. I'm familiar with all things radio/the music industry and I'm one of the guys that gets blamed for "ruining radio". AMA.

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Date: 2012-06-28
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Honestly, your (and those like you) decisions weigh a large part in my move away from radio, as in the past several years I have watched my local stations slowly degrade into either nothing but the top 40s played on loop all day, or meh alt rock all day. I'm not the only one though, listeners on the local rock stations especially have been listening to their own music, phones, CDs, etc. Do you listen to the radio, or if not, what do you listen to? Where do you get your music? Do you enjoy most of the music you are having the stations play, or are you just following the charts? 1) The Top40 format is generally targeted toward Women 18-34 years old. So, if you don't fit into that life-group, you're not likely to be interested in a lot of the music we play on those stations. Of course, Top 40 attempts to reach a broader audience as well including Men and most target teens/college students at night....Women 18-34 are our bread and butter there. These women are generally very busy. Often they're trying to balance career, kids, appointments, etc. They're in the car a lot but for relatively short periods of time. In order to keep their interest, we try to keep things very fast paced content-wise. We're also doing our best to make sure that as soon as they turn on our station, they're going to hear a very popular hit song. We don't waste time with a lot of "filler" on these stations. Thus, most of the music you'll hear is relatively new - released within the last two years or so. The DJs keep their breaks quick. We know we don't have a lot of time to reel in these women. 2) I do listen to radio. But, if I'm being honest, I listen primarily because it's my job. I do enjoy it and some stations I genuinely love. With streaming becoming more and more common, I love that I can listen to my favorite stations all of the country without having to actually be in the market. If I'm listening to music purely for recreational purposes, though, I tend to gravitate to Spotify and NPR. I also like Pandora and it's introduced me to a lot of "under the radar" artists that I would normally not have heard of - even with the record companies constantly shoving new music down my throat. 3) I like some of the music we play - I absolutely hate other songs that we play. But, it's not about my opinion. We do a lot of music research within our company. We test songs with focus groups, we do random call out (where you'll get a call from a survey company, asking your opinions on certain songs), we conduct online research. Most of the music you hear on the air is more the result of that testing than being any sort of indicator of the Programmer's taste in music. It truly is a case of, more often than not, this music is what people in that target demo have said that they want to hear. Believe me, it drives us nuts too. Every time I've done a music test for a Rock station and year after year find "Man In The Box" by Alice In Chains and "Teen Spirit" by Nirvana at the top of the Most Popular list, I want to bang my head against the wall. Oh...and "Sweet Home Alabama" too. For Christ's sake, people...expand your horizons!
But, it's not about my opinion. We do a lot of music research within our company. We test songs with focus groups, we do random call out, we conduct online research. Yep. You and I actually agree quite a bit on this. I've addressed that in a few other answers but, basically, we're on the same page.
Annndddd... here's exactly where "you ruined radio". Playlist by committee. It absolutely assures the most bland product short of Muzak. Who knows, it might work for ratings. It doesn't work for me. The thing about music research, though, that's unfortunate is that it started with the best of intentions. If you think about why we started doing it in the first place...we were just trying to make radio better.
That's what a good DJ has over Pandora: Expertise. Knowledge. A filter, if you will. If you replace that with some shit formulated by market research you take your biggest asset and shoot it in the head. How are you going to find something interesting that I haven't heard if the way you pick your play list is put me in a focus group and ask me what I've heard? So, off we went. And then we went so far down the rabbit hole we can't see the light out anymore. We're trying to build a ladder now.
So throw out "it's not about my opinion". Make it about your opinion. If I wanted to hear my opinion extracted by focus group and regurgitated to me via your play list I'd just go on Youtube and skip the commercials. Hopefully, on the way up, we'll find a way to balance the two: to satisfy the listeners that want to be exposed to new music and the casual listener who just wants to hear the damn Nicki Minaj song for the five billionth time.
Oh...and "Sweet Home Alabama" too. For Christ's sake, people...expand your horizons! Yep. This presents a dilemma for us as well. If you think you're sick of those songs, imagine the poor DJ who has to listen to them non-stop. So, it's not really us playing STP over and over because we think they're awesome (we generally have nothing against them, of course) but it's because in the last music test, "Interstate Love Song" tested in the Top 5, which makes it a Power Gold song - which means it plays A LOT.
Your answer for one makes a lot of sense. I definitely dont fit that demographic (although if I tune in its mainly passing the station going to another). So for Alt and Rock, its mainly the individual station directors and such themselves choosing all the music? I used to love listening to the local rock station, lots of good punk, rock, and alt rock, but now its 90% indie rock crap and everyone i've talked to who listened to the station in the past doesnt like it anymore. Amusingly, they still have good bands playing at their shows, even though most of the year they dont even get much radio play. And do you see traditional radio surviving 5 years from now? 10? A lot of times, yes...the local PD/MD makes the call on what goes into the playlist. As their boss, I might see them spinning a certain song too much or not enough and intervene. But, for the most part, as long as they're not doing anything really crazy (going all Slayer all the time or something), I'm personally more likely to just let them do their thing. As long as the ratings are acceptable, I don't micromanage. The same can't be said, unfortunately, for some of my counterparts in the industry. I think radio right now has to make some very important and difficult decisions. We need to evolve away from being over-the-air product. We need to develop our online content and essentially become an "entertainment brand" for each local market. This is going to be incredibly difficult as we've done very little to prepare for this. Radio, honestly, has been very slow to react to new competition. It's not unlike what the music industry did when Napster happened. Their arrogance really hurt them in the face of new competition. Unfortunately, we're doing the same thing. While we're not presently as bad off as, say, the print industry. We're definitely the next to fall if we don't do something to intrigue our listeners quick. Clear Channel is making inroads here.
since you mentioned it, what are your favorite stations? Radio shows? (links to streams?) What you're decribing on that particular station sounds like the tell-tale signs of poor ratings and someone like me having to step in and reel-in the PD. Or, sad to say, that PD or MD that played the music you like got fired because of bad ratings and has been replaced by someone more conservative. It's sort of hard to pick favorites. I mentioned them before, I have always loved KROQ - they are just a legendary Alt station have managed to survive when others have fallen by the wayside. Also, on the straight-Rock side WEBN is a great station. For Top 40, I like B96 in Chicago. I'll try to think of more and edit this post when I do!
Hah, I knew a guy who would LOVE to hear the whole Head East album during the night show. Of course, it's because he was the drummer... Steve Huston? I've met Steve Huston! Don't know why I'm excited about that. But he did seem like a swell enough guy.
Sometimes as many as 5 new songs per week. Whoa! Slow down there! Ha! It' actually kind of a lot, believe it or not. When you consider how much new music released per week (not really that much when you really look into it) - adding 20 songs per month is pretty good.
How do you feel about TuneIn? I used it for a while but, to be honest, as far as apps are concerned, I tend to use iHeartRadio more often. TuneIn is cool, though, because you can find stations there that aren't on the iHeartRadio app. Like, tons more. So, I still have it on my phone.
Very interesting to read, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! Happy to do it!
Why should I listen to my radio if I can listen to my iPod in the car? This is exactly what scares the shit out of us. We are also very concerned about Pandora moving into cars. Just making streaming, in general, available in cars is a frightening prospect. After all, if you could listen to KROQ in Los Angeles while you're in Bloomington, Illinois - why would you listen to the local Rock station there?
Hopefully, the answer is local content. The primary consensus in the business right now is that we need to provide a local reason for you to tune in. Thing is, local weather and sports isn't going to cut it. We need to provide compelling local talent that are plugged in to the community. Guys and girls that are just as entertaining as Stern once was, for example.
Unfortunately, our budgets have dwindled to next to nothing and we've failed to groom strong local talent, especially in smaller markets. So, we just don't have the bullpen that we used to.
So, to answer your question. Right now...we have no idea.
I wish you luck, but NPR gets the majority of my radio time. However, in doing so, we've actually ignored the younger demos far too much. We are now seeing an entire generation that has lost interest in radio.
I'm from LA and even KROQ gets really annoying. Every single day for like the past decade, without fail they'll play the same Offspring songs every couple hours. I actually prefer the smaller stations that have more variety.
Btw, please tell me you weren't responsible for stations playing the Black Eyed Peas all the time.
Why not find new talent by cycling newer DJs in the late weekday hours? What is your target life-group at 11:30pm on a Tuesday night? Many stations do this. I know I generally encourage our PDs to allow new talent to work these shifts to allow them to get their feet wet...screw up while not screwing up our primary ratings. So, it does happen.
If it's not happening where you live, it's probably because the station you're listening to doesn't have the budget for additional part-time talent.
How do you recruit test subjects for these kinds of polls. Don't you realize that if you're asking "dedicated radio listeners" you're probably creating some terrible feedback loop where "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" are always at the top because these people literally don't know of the other songs from these artists? (Let alone other artists) I used to have a boss that was always quick to remind me "certain songs don't test well because nobody tests them". That advice has always stuck with me when I conduct research.
Mainstream Top 40 (Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Usher): Women 18-34 with a primary target of Women 18-24.
Rhythmic Top 40 (Usher, Rihanna, Young Jeezy): Persons 18-34 with a primary target of Urban Men & Women 18-24.
Hot Adult Contemporary (Matchbox 20, Maroon 5, Nickelback): Persons 25-54 with a primary target of Women 25-35.
Adult Contemporary (Kelly Clarkson, Train, Colbie Caillat): Persons 25-54 with a primary target of Men & Women 40-54.
Adult Album Alternative (Alabama Shakes, John Mayer, Florence + The Machine): Persons 25-54 with a primary target of Men & Women 25-45.
Active Rock (Linkin Park, Godsmack, Offspring, Volbeat): Men 18-34.
Alternative Rock (Grouplove, Black Keys, Fun., Imagine Dragons): Persons 18-34, with a primary target of Persons 18-25.
Urban (Kanye West, Trey Songz, Cas$h Out, Wale): Black Persons 18-34.
Urban Adult Contemporary (John Legend, Jill Scott, Robin Thicke, Mary J Blige): Black Adults 25-54, with a primary target of Black Women 25-45.
Country (Kenny Chesney, Dierks Bentley, Carrie Underwood, Eric Church): Adults 25-54.
There are various offshoots of these primary formats as well. The aforementioned "Jack" (Adults 25-54) is a good example of that. So, while these are broad terms...that's generally what we're working with in any given market (plus that Latino stations, Gospel, NPR, etc).
So, that we know who we're targeting, we'll also look toward who has the most money in the target demo. We're narrow them into lifegroups. Who are advertisers most interested in reaching? How can we create a station that reaches these people so our advertisers will be successful? Once we have a list of attributes that we're looking for...we then recruit people who best meet this criteria.
This can be a long and tedious process of going through applicants. We also have to entice these applicants to spend time with us. Often, we'll offer cash for their time, put them up in a nice hotel for the weekend, etc.
Then, we'll conduct the test. It can be kind of grueling. Respondants are placed in a room and are played hooks of songs and asked to rate them. Questions are such: "Do you like this song?" "Hate this song?" "Are you sick of this song?" "Does this song make you happy? Sad?" "Do you want to hear this song MORE or LESS?" - that kind of thing.
They rate the songs, we take the research back to the office and some dork like me runs the numbers and returns the results to the market in question. Ta Da! Music library!
a "War Eagle" to you too sir! Awwww crap!!! Now we're sworn enemies and such as clearly outlined in the Alabama constitution. I think I'm supposed to slap you with a glove or something and then a duel is mandated by law. No, wait...I have a better idea. Let's just let our football teams have an annual brawl! We'll call it the... doesn't make any sense...the red clay bowl...wait...that's stupid. The...oh, hell I dunno! Fuggit!! SABAN!!! ;)
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Has there been any (broader) interest in EDM stations (Trance, House, Techno, Breaks, D&B, DubStep)? What about jam bands (Phish, Moe, String Cheese Incident, Yonder)? In both cases, we've found that these audiences don't generally listen to the radio.
With relation to the jam bands, for example, I've started specialty features on stations that I've programmed that cater to this audience. Basically, the shows attract a very loyal...but very small following.
The same can be said for Metal shows, EDM shows, Alt Country, etc.
So, on my stations, I encourage our PDs to include this sort of thing in their programming but, unfortunately, we do have to relegate it to night-time hours, outside of prime-time because the general public doesn't seem to show much interest in it.
As an example, I programmed a Classic Rock station that did a Grateful Dead feature at 6pm every night. The few deadheads that did listen to the station still hated the feature because we didn't go deep enough ("you didn't play 'Sugar Mag' from the Fillmore on November 6th, 1978, played the version from Meadlowlands on July 5th, 1985. That blows.")...and the "regular" listeners tuned in and kinda said "What the fuck is this hippie shit?" and left.
It's a double edge sword and more often than not, we can't please everyone no matter how hard we try.
Do you see similar format pressure in Spanish-language radio? On the rare occasions I hit scan on the radio (only because my ipod isn't running) I find a much greater range of music on the Spanish-language stations than the English ones. It seems to me like they have fewer syndicated shows and more local content. Is this accurate? Actually, here's a funny fact about most Spanish language radio in the states. Most of us in top-brass Programming positions don't speak Spanish. We have no idea what the hell is being played on those stations. We try to recruit very talented bi-lingual programmers who have a good understanding of the target demo and we sort of just set them free. So, Spanish-language radio today is really kind of like what free-form FM radio used to be like in America during the 70s. The jocks and the PDs are doing whatever they want with very little supervision from guys like me.
That having been said, I don't directly oversee any of our Spanish language properties. But, I can tell you that a colleague of mine once confided to me, "Shit, dude...they could be playing Spanish Nazi chants on those damn stations and I'd have no freakin' idea." It's not his fault. the Spanish-language stations just kinda got thrown at him as an additional responsibility...but he couldn't oversee them if he wanted to. He doesn't speak Spanish. It's crazy.
Now, there are obvious exceptions. Univision, for example, does nothing but Spanish language radio for the most part...they do speak the language and they know what they're doing. I'm referring only to Spanish-language stations operated by other companies that don't specialize in that format.
Are my "fellow listeners" willing to listen to a 'good' format just as easily as a crappy one? What if, rather than grabbing a truly random sampling for a focus group, the sampling were folks with a more refined palette? Has it been done? Did the experiment tank when exposed to my "fellow listener" at large? Well, I'm not sure I understand what you mean. We do try to focus on a specific "target" when we do the focus groups. But we have to try to cast the broadest net possible. If we get too "niche" on any one of our stations, we're going to alienate a huge chunk of the population.
Basically, everybody believes that what they and their friends listen to is what everybody listens to. That's just usually not the case at all.
Ask any club DJ that has drunken patrons coming up to him/her asking for a certain song: "Dude! Everybody wants to hear it!!" don't.
It isn't the radio industry doing it; it's the media copyright holders (MPIAA/RIAA). Yep. What he said.
That's really interesting. I can definitely see a huge difference between some stations (which I now guess must be owned by Unavision or some similar company) being just as tightly formatted as a top 40 station and others that are closer to college radio, but in Spanish. I guess this leads me to another question. From your earlier replies, it is obvious that the (English language) radio market has been sliced and diced into demographic parcels and analyzed to death. Yet, on the other hand, Spanish language radio seems like a viable market and you guys know very little about it. What motivates you to know so much about one segment of the listening public and so little about another? I think radio in general is very tuned in to the Spanish language market. In fact, some companies have made it a priority. Companies like the aforementioned Unavision have been formed specifically around the format. With my company, though, it hasn't been a priority simply because in most of our markets, the Spanish-speaking population either doesn't represent that large of a percentage of the overall population or the market is already saturated by companies like Unavision and we just don't have the resources to effectively mount an attack against them. It's a matter of knowing our strengths and weaknesses. I will tell you this, that market continues to grow, I have seriously considered buying some Rosetta Stone Learn Spanish Now courses...just to make it an option for me. Besides, I've always wanted to learn to speak Spanish anyway.
I don't want to hear unfunny people with even shittier fake personalities talking to each other about completely unrelated to me things at 8AM in the morning while on my drive to work. This is always a tough situation because, more often than not, audiences tend to be split on this sort of thing. Some just want to hear music. Others love the wacky, crazy morning show. In some markets, they especially want the local connection that a local morning show provides. The quality of the talent, of course, is incumbent on the DJs themselves and what sort of coaching (if any) they're getting from their local program director. The shows you're listening to could just be clueless. I do think that there are some good syndicated morning shows out there. Kidd Kraddick does a pretty good job, for example, of creating a fun, fast paced morning show. There are many others, he just comes to mind off the top of my head. Back to your point,'ll probably notice that in a lot of markets, one Top 40 for example might have the long-winded talks-a-lot morning show...while their competition counters that program with a "more music in the morning" program. So, we're aware that the verdict is split on these kinds of programs.
Can you tell me more about radio consultants hired by record labels? From the music industry side, these are often described as shady characters who travel around dispensing bags of cash to PDs and GMs in exchange for airplay. Is there any accuracy to this? Ahhh yes....the "indies" as they were called - meaning that they were "indie promoters", hired by the labels to dispense cash and prizes to stations in exchange for adds and spins on stations. I knew them well.
Foremost, I feel I should say that this practice no longer occurs. It died thanks to Elliot Spitzer and his investigations into payola/plugola. But, it did exist for a long time. However, I think that the media (as we often do) blew it out of proportion as to what was actually happening. It wasn't quite a nefarious as most were lead to believe.
In a nutshell, in the 90s and early 2000s, radio saw our promotions budgets slashed all to hell. Primarily this was because most of us were owned and operated by Wall St firms that didn't really care about things like audience retention and were more obsessed with the bottom line. This led to cuts in things like promotions budgets. All of the cool prizes we used to give away like cars, round trip tickets to Amsterdam, etc. - all were suddenly gone.
The record industry saw this and ceased on it. They knew we needed help, they had money and a lot of shitty bands to promote. But thanks to the payola laws that were in effect from way back in the 60s, they couldn't just show up with a briefcase full of cash and CDs in hand.
So, they hired these "indies" to be the middlemen. Essentially, these guys had huge budgets and would "consult" your station. They would call you up once per week and ask you what you needed.
"I need t-shirts to give away at the big Rock Fest." "No problem! Add this Shit Band and we'll have one million t-shirts printed. Play it in heavy rotation, we'll give you five million t-shirts!" "Awesome! Thanks!!"
Usually, most stations would just take the minimum amount of shirts and add the song. They would then only play it in "lunar" rotation (only during the overnight hours; most listeners never heard it).
Eventually, some programmers got greedy and realized that when they said that they needed 20 laptops to give away as part of a promotion (and all they had to do was add 2 records by Shit Band 1 and Shit Band 2)...those laptops would show up at the station and because all of this was sort of under the one would notice if that PD just took ONE of those laptops for himself.
When they didn't get caught taking the laptop, they started to ask for more personal stuff.
Now, keep in mind that the real problem here was that many of these radio employees had seen their salaries cut. Bonuses were non existent for their DJs. A lot of times, the PDs were taking the extra kick backs not to line their own pockets but to reward a poor, starving DJ in market 230 (out in the sticks) that could barely pay their light bill. This doesn't excuse the practice but it wasn't always about being a douche.
Now, on the music industry side of things, everything got really fucked up. A&R reps were signing terrible bands left and right. They sucked at picking talent. This was the only way radio was going to even consider giving these awful bands airplay. So, more money got filtered into these programs. The Indies were making bank. The stations were thrilled and had cool prizes to give away (and a free laptop for themselves every now and again). Everybody knew that this was happening. I was on several calls wherein a PD would ask for money for a certain promotion and our COO would simply say "get the money from the labels". No one was in the dark.
Suddenly, though, the bands that were getting buried in overnight rotation started getting bills from the record company for "promotional consideration". They wondered, understandably, "WTF?! My record stiffed! Why am I getting these huge bills for promotion!?' They investigated it. Other artists that wouldn't participate in the practice (usually big name artists like U2 and Don Henley, who were both big whistleblowers of this practice) - began to cry foul. Their records weren't getting played in favor of bands that fished out money for the spins.
Congress got involved, Spitzer launched an investigation and the shit hit the fan. Everybody started pointed fingers at everybody. It was ridiculous. The record industry and radio industry suddenly hated each other. It was some nasty shit. A lot of people got fired on all sides.
If you've noticed that a lot of your local radio stations no longer give away big-ass prizes and trips and such...this is why.
That was just a brief recap of that nonsense. Feel free to ask more specific questions. I was in the thick of all that when it went down.
I listen to radio sometimes when I'm on road trips and it actually kind of makes me feel bad now to hear how lame some of the prizes are on radio contests once you get outside of major markets. It's hard for callers to get too excited about winning a $5 gift certificate to the local Goodwill. I kid you not, I once worked at a station where the jock got frustrated and said "you people will call for anything." He then proceeded to (completely straight-faced) give away the office's supply of toilet paper. People called like crazy to win a roll of Charmin. It was hilarious...and sad.
Is this how Hoobastank got radio play? I think you're definitely on the right track as to where things are going. As the major labels become less relevant and have less of an impact over what the general public considers 'mainstream' music, this will free radio to go back to the days when we selected new music.
The dynamic of radio has completely changed from, say in the 1950s. In the early days of Rock radio, guys like Wolfman Jack and Alan Freed, introduced their listeners to new music THEY thought was cool. Nothing more, nothing less. They did a fun show on top of it.
Now, the tables have turned. The DJs are no longer truly in charge of what they play on the air. It is done by a Music Director and a Program Director who, alongside a guy like me, helps them determine their playlists based on focus groups and lots and lots of research. So, now the (no offense) less educated public has, in fact, become in charge of the playlist.
They have no vested interest in listening to new music. That's not to say that they're not interested in it. It's just that they're busy, for the most part. The majority of radio listeners are not music geeks. They're just casual people that will listen to whatever is on the air at any given moment. They're not bad people...they're just probably not the best people to be considered the "tastemakers" for their respective markets.
So, now it's as if the audience is picking the music - instead of the real music fans (the DJs, MDs and PDs). The audience's taste is dictated by the marketing the music industry does. It's gone weird.
Why is it that radio stations can play only "singles" that have been officially released by an artist? Why can't they play other cuts from an album? Always wondered that. Thanks. We can actually play whatever we want. More and more often these days, we're stepping out on a limb and picking the singles for the labels. A good example of that would be Fun.'s new single "Some Nights".
Collectively, we were all getting sick of "We Are Young", so some stations, including those that I oversee, started playing "Some Nights" in addition to the official single. Listener reaction to it has been good, the label picked up on it and made it the official second single.
This happens quite a bit actually. Generally, the labels will pick the first single and then once we get our hands on the albums themselves, we'll generally be the ones to pick the remaining singles. In this case, we tend to control that process.
I've had instances where a label would come to me with a CD and a certain impact track. Upon listening to the album, I've told them that I'd rather play a different song. In one case, a label stopped production on a music video and changed gears - creating an entirely new vid based solely on my feedback. There were a lot of calls with the VPs of Promotion and A&R at that label repeatedly asking me "you're absolutely SURE that this is the better choice?" I told them yes and, it turned out, I was right! The song I chose became a hit. They eventually released the initial impact track as the third or fourth single and it stiffed. So, I kinda helped to save that artist's career!
So, we can play whatever we want. A lot of times, though, if everybody else in the country is playing a certain song and we don't have any influence on the label side, we'll have no choice but to play the most familiar track.
Any chance you could tell us what artist? this is awesome I really wish I could because I'm pretty proud it...I might. We'll hold off though until the AMA comes nears a close. I wanted to stay 'stealth' on this because radio can be a very close knit club (everybody knows everybody). I could piss off some people depending on the questions asked and the dirt level unlocked. This story in particular would "give me away" pretty readily. So, I'm not trying to be evasive...but lemme see what else gets asked here.
I noticed that when jumping from station to station....they seem to play the same songs at almost the exact same time. Absolutely.
When I'm developing a station one of the first things that I look for is when my competition "breaks". When they are playing commercials, I want to be playing music.
That being said, I don't want to be competing with my sister stations. So, we'll try to coordinate that all of the stations we own in the market, all go to commercials at the same time. So...that's why you'll often hear commercials at the same time...
But I just realized that this isn't what you asked at all...ha!
So, on to that - no. That's truly is just a coincidence. In fact, I cringe when that happens.
But if you run commercials on all of your sister stations at the same time, won't a large segment of listeners skip through your stations and land on a competitor that tries to counter your commercial breaks? You're vulnerable to your competitors using your own strategy against you. Yep. It's a risk and it kinda depends on the market where we do this. You'd be surprised, though, how many competitors don't pay attention to this.
I probably should have given a little more backstory regarding the strategy with this.
Song 1 - Power Song...Audience Loves It Song 2 - New Song...Some of the audience is excited to hear it. Others don't know it. Song 3 - Power Old Song...Everybody knows it. Pretty much likes it. Song 4 - Medium New Song...Most people know it. Some don't like it. Song 5 - Out Of the Box Song...Pretty much nobody knows this.
I'm going to listen to their station and try to find weak spots. In the case of the hypothetical clock above - it would be Song 4 and 5 being played back to back. I'm going to put my commercials here.
This way, when someone inevitably leaves me to go check out the other station, they're going to hear some unfamiliar song...or a song that a good chunk of the audience isn't sure about.
They may stick with it for a little while - but I know that they play these two songs back to back. So, I'm betting that when the next one comes on, they're coming back to me.
Out of my commercials, we always play one of our best testing songs. So, the chances are good that they're going to land on that and stick with me....well, until I play a song they don't like and they go scanning again.
Interesting....I figured the stations were 'all in' on the commercial break thing. Which is annoying for the listener (and one of the reasons why I pretty much listen to pod casts when driving). Thanks for answering my question and giving insight into commercial breaks! No problem!
Last updated: 2012-07-02 23:41 UTC
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[Table] IamA Running Specialty Store Owner AMA about sneakers or running!

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Date: 2013-11-21
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What's your opinion on minimalist running shoes and toe shoes? I think it's great for some people but not for everybody. The important thing is to get into it very gradually and be smart about it. Sometimes we will have an inexperienced runner come into the store saying that he just read "Born To Run" and he wants to know what I think. For him, that might not be the best idea.
A lot of runners will do barefoot running, or minimalist running (in shoes like the Nike Free, or NB Minimus) for just a couple miles a week for a while, and gradually build it up. Be smart in your approach and listen to your body.
Edit: One of my elite employees just chimed in and said that the guys on his team will often cool down barefoot on the turf fields after workouts, or walk around in some minimal shoes to help build the muscles in their feet.
Brand that runners use that they shouldn't? It is more specific to the runner. Individuals who have never run in a minimal or lightweight shoe should stay away from what the masses consider to be a "barefoot shoe." One of the biggest issues is runners using footwear that is not the correct level of stablity, or pronation control. It is ESSENTIAL that runners get fit for the correct shoe by a professional.
Always use non-cotton's in both socks and apparel to reduce friction, eliminate blistering, and wick sweat away from the skin. The use of cotton socks and apparel is one of the most common mistakes I see my customers making.
It is ESSENTIAL that runners get fit for the correct shoe by a professional. What's your response to the research coming out that suggests getting the "correct" shoe for oveundeneutral pronation has very little to no impact on injury rates? I would love to see a specific study that you are referring to, but in my experience I've seen firsthand the difference proper shoes can make. People will often call up the store and thank us, or come in a few weeks later when they realize the difference that their fitted shoes have made in their training.
Here is one. A few things that jumped out at me about this study. One, the number of people selected who were neutral runners vs. supinators vs. overpronators is not at all indicative of what the actual population's ratio is like. Second, it looks like they have adjusted for body mass index, but that doesn't seem fair considering that someone with a higher BMI is more likely to be an overpronator. And thirdly, I don't see any results that were conducted that measured how people reacted to being in stability shoes. Finally, it seems like they left out a lot of information, although I didn't click beyond that initial page, like age, running background, what shoes people were wearing, etc.
There have been numerous studies conducted to show the exact opposite of what they're claiming. So my take is that an individual should try for themselves. If you're in a neutral shoe and you keep getting hurt, then try a stability shoe. If suddenly your healthy (what I see all the time), then I think ignore what one study says and use your own empirical evidence to support your beliefs.
Hey! Glad to see a shoe expert on here. I wanted to know what brand of shoe has the most grip on the soles that are also lightweight? Looking for some gripy shoes for my athletic life! What activities are you using the shoes for? Are you running on trails and looking for a high-traction shoe? Are you working out in the gym and require something with alot of lateral support/grip?
If you are a trail runner, looking for a high traction shoe the Saucony Peregrine and Brooks Pure Grit are great options. Both are super lightweight and provide superior traction to traditional road-running footwear.
Let me know what activity and I would be happy to advise you.
Well, I'm getting sick of my white sole shoes and I'm planning to get new shoes that are more for trails and rugged roads... That and I'm clumsy on wet floors. If you want lightweight + high-traction trail shoes, check out the models I mentioned previously as well as the Inov8 trail-roc series. All three are among the lightest trail shoes available and provide great grip off road but can perform on a variety of surfaces!
Let me know if you need anything else!
Shoe companies over the years have released some pretty gimmicky shoes saying they improve performance, make you run faster, jump higher, etc. I'm reminded of the original Nike Shock "boing" commercials, and now there's the Adidas Springblade. Where do you see the direction of unusual styles going in the future? And if you were to own a major shoe company, how would you improve upon the basic design of a shoe based on your experience? I remember those Nike Shox commercial and remember being pained every time I saw someone running in that heavy/inflexible excuse for a running shoe. That shoe, along with some of these other "gimmicky" shoes, are made to appeal to the masses who want the "latest and greatest" or something different than a traditional running shoe. I see these types of footwear as working for someone who is doing a variety of activities at the gym or using them as a casual shoe... for anyone looking to run some miles, I would be hesitant in expecting much from them. I see these types as shoes as being big-sellers to the masses in the national chain sporting goods stores, but they do not always have a place on a highly technical running-only shoe wall.
I believe that most every footwear brand has come a long way in the past few years in making footwear for all types of runners/walkers. Footwear is no longer clunky heeled, inflexible, and heavy. Shoes now come in a variety of shapes (for different foot types), cushioning levels, heel to forefoot drops, and levels of flexibility. I truly believe that anyone should be able to walk into a specialty run shop and walk out with a shoe that they LOVE! With that being said, there are a few shoe models that I think combine the best of all worlds at a very fair price point... I like to think of them as my shoe wall's All Stars!
I'm nearly 40, pretty fit, and have started running again after a five year lapse. I took the proper steps to get fitted at a running store, so I feel OK on the shoe end, but I keep having recurring ankle and knee issues. Am I just too old to run again? I would never tell someone they are "too old" to ever run... if done properly, running can be a life-long activity! Ankle and knee pains are not uncommon when beginning after a long lay-off, but they are not to always be expected either. Have you ever tried a compression brace for those joints? Compression will help to reduce swelling and pain in the affected joint and will not reduce your mobility while on the run! BRD Sports and CEP Compression make some great knee and ankle compression braces. Additionally, thera-band and Bosu ball exercises are great for strengthening the stabilizing muscles that work with those joints. Check out this great link: Link to
I can run around 3 - 4 miles but would LOVE to train for a half marathon (or more). See #1, and any additional advice? Thanks! 3-4 miles is a great start. If you have soft surfaces nearby, they are great for reducing the amount of shock your body endures on the run. Be sure to increase your mileage slowly and remember to be patient... a half marathon will be an option in no time!
What shoe would you recommend to a overweight newbie that wants to start jogging? The first recommendation I would make is to go to your local running store to get properly fitted. There is an array of foot types and gaits, so it is best to have an expert check you out.
But here is my professional "safe" answer without seeing your feet when you walk/run: get in a moderately supportive shoe. Typically when you're carrying a few extra pounds your arches will have the tendency to collapse, and you'll want the support. That's the majority, but there are many exceptions. So a shoe like the Brooks Adrenaline, or the Asics 2000-2 will be a great fit. If you have a stiff arch, and your ankle/foot does not collapse when you walk, then you'd want a neutral shoe. If you think this may be you, let me know and we can figure this out!
Thanks man, that's sound advice! Sure thing! Good luck and listen to your body! It is most important to know the difference between when your body is saying it is sore versus injured.
Why did New Balance stop putting arch support in their shoes? Did they start manufacturing arch supports to sell separately, or what? They used to be great shoes, and now they are flat garbage. I am visibly pissed, as I trusted them for a long time, just to get gaffed. Is there a specific New Balance model that you were wearing that failed to work? I have a theory as to why you're facing this problem, but if you can check this for me, then I think we could figure this out.
Not sure, usually my shoes are way down there, and if they are good, so am I. If they are bad, I throw them out. I have high arches so that's part of the problem. Would 860 be right? Not really hip to much outside of my field. What's the name of your shop, will you have web presence? The NB 860 probably wouldn't be the best shoe for you if you have high arches and a neutral gait (I don't know this without seeing you). I'd consider the NB 880, which is a fantastic shoe and something that one of my right hand employees swears by.
I am currently the manager at The Sneaker Factory-Basking Ridge, but will be opening up my own store The Sneaker Factory-Florham Park. We have two other locations in Millburn and Long Branch [all 4 are in NJ].
Our e-commerce site is which gives out $10 vouchers towards future purchases in exchange for the donation of your old shoes. We take those old broken down shoes that you have no use for and donate them to our partners at Soles4Souls or the MORE Foundation Group. You can ship them to us for free. Please check us out!
I bookmarked your site. Will contact when I get back from trip in mid-Dec. Nice site, well-constructed. Didn't have time to look hard, but will upon return. Thanks for the IAMA. You care. It shows. Thanks for checking out our site. I think you will see a unique value proposition, as well as some great options to assure you have the right shoe for your foot type. Let us know if we can assist you after you check it out!
I run in the Mizuno Wave Runner 16s right now. Really like them. But my friends have been telling me to switch to the Asics Gel. How do these shoes compare? If you love the Wave Riders and they're working for you, then I would suggest to keep wearing them. The ultimate goal is for your shoes to keep you healthy, and if they're doing their job, then why take the risk?
They're neutral shoes, and the Asics Gel Cumulus and Asics Gel Nimbus would be the most comparable. My footwear buyer has terribly flat and wide feet, and even though the Wave Rider is a great shoe, for someone like him, the Asics Gel Forte would be a much better fit.
What do you think of kids who are getting into running at younger ages? Girls On The Run starts at age 8, and my 7-yo's classmate has already done his first triathlon. I think it's great. Any special advice for the littlest guys and girls? The only reason it makes me nervous is because I hope it keeps the sport fun for the kids. If parents are forcing it on them, then it takes out the intrinsic motivation that is so uniquely part of the sport, and necessary in the top competitors.
I think the key is to keep things light. It's great to be running, but I don't think a heavy training regiment is needed. A couple miles a day is more than enough. Keep it simple!
There is such overwhelming selection and choice, I can't help but wonder if these things are just gimmicks / sales ploys. Short answer: We have been using our "Factory Fit" system since 1978 and do not have any "fit machines" in the shops. I can't say whether the machines are highly accurate or not, but we are quite happy with our results!
So I have super mega retarded pinky toes which you can see here and other than chopping them off (which I have half considered!) what running shoes would you suggest for me to accommodate my little ones? The problem is that it can be painful (even in the widest running shoes I can find) and after a month/200-250km I start to get 2 matching holes on either side of my shoes! Have you seen this problem in runners before? Are there any magical products that can help me out? Know of any dodgy surgeons who could fix this up for me?! I do not know of any podiatrists in Thailand, but would recommend trying to see a foot specialist who also specializes in dealing with runners, as we tend to need special care for our feet! I run in a little bit of everything... I like to be able to experience the ride of most of the shoes I have on my wall so I can speak to the product. My current running shoe crush is the Adidas Energy Boost and the Saucony Cortana 3... both are so lightweight and responsive with a great fit for my high arch!
Oh and why so many people get blister with X socks, etc...? all the socks I have work perfectly for me (all kind of socks) and I never have that problem... Some people wear cotton socks or socks that fit improperly... or their shoes fit improperly. Anytime moisture and friction meet on the foot the individual is open to blisters. You are one of the lucky ones!
Have run in Nike Structure for years now and always love them. Perfect for my mild pronation, but the update from 15 to 16 is terrible! I only seem to get about half the mileage that i used to from them and i find that the support degrades super quick. I have also tried the brooks adrenaline as an alternative but don't find them comfortable. What are some alternatives? Do you agree that it was a 'downgrade' from 15 to 16? For me, the 16 sold through much better than the 15. The shoe is quite soft, which probably accounts for it breaking down a bit quickly. The Adrenaline, though comparable in what it does for the foot, is def much more rigid and firm. Check out the Saucony Guide 7... I think you will be impressed!
I am just getting into running (side roads, etc...) and starting out was OK for me but now my left knee hurts after running a short time. It seems like the pain is in the lower part of the knee. This only seems to be a problem with my left knee, the pain lasts for about a day or so and then goes away until I start to run again. So is that a shoe issue or how my feet are landing when I run? It is probably an issue with the combination of your shoe and the way your foot strikes the ground. Are you a heel striker, an over-pronator, running on pavement, crowned roads? These all attribute to different pains and the shoes should match your needs.
You could have a knee tracking issue, or runners knee, but that is an online diagnosis/guess and the best advice would be to take your shoes, feet, and achy knees into a local running shop and ask their advice. Have them watch you walk and run and let them look at the wear on your shoes... this should help greatly!
Also, you can look into getting a compression knee wrap from 110% Compression. This helps with a variety of knee issues, provides some support, and helps reduce the inflammation in the joint.
Thanks for the AMA! What racing flats would you recommend for someone who has been training injury-free in Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11s for several years? In your opinion, how fast should someone be before they worry about racing in shoes other than their trainers? I think that the Brooks Racer ST 5 would be a good fit for you if you want a little support but have the benefit of a light weight racer. I don't think there is any time requirement to wear flats. If your time is important to you, and not just finishing healthy, then I think it is a great idea.
A few years later, someone told me to go to a run I g store for an analysis. The associate there told me to take my shoes off and walk. He asked what kind of running shoes I wore. I told him. He said, "I'll bet you get shin splints." Turns out I over-pronate. He got me Brooks Beast and my shin splints went away practically overnight. If I were to ask you a question, it would be how often should I get new shoes. Right now, I run around 15-20 miles per week. Also, I really want to try a shoe that I can use a Nike+ device with, but hesitate to leave the Brooks family. Any suggestions? The Brooks Beast is a very high cushioned and maximum supportive shoe, it is going to last quite a bit of time as the dense foam will not break down as quickly. I call the Beast a "400-450 mile shoe." My math is not strong, but that leads me to believe you can expect to get around 6 months from that shoe at 20 mpw. Amphipod makes a great accessory that you can velcro on top of the shoes laces. It can hold the Nike + chip and can than work for any shoe. Look into that accessory and I think you will be VERY happy!
How did you get into running a specialty shop? What obstacles did you find and what advice would you give to someone thinking about doing the same in the future? My best advice to you would be to express interest in working at your local running shop. It was at my first job, at a local shop, that I was able to make connections with our reps and learn about the different opportunities within the running industry... tech rep, sales rep, design team, etc.
Learn the product, be passionate about every shoe fitting, and spend the time to reach out to your reps and make contacts in the industry. You will quickly learn what direction you want to take your career... retail or brand based side.
I have worked on both sides as the industry, having spent 5 years as a tech rep for two major brands and now having spent 3 years running the store I am at. I love both sides of the industry, but really enjoy the customer interactions and meeting new people daily at the shop. Spend some time in your local shop, ask if they need any weekend or summer help, learn the product, and be passionate.
Hi, Joe! I'm an elliptical runner that's looking to make the transition to the great outdoors. I used the elliptical to correct a gait issue of only running on my toes. I'm pretty sure I've converted to a forefoot strike. Any shoe suggestions to keep me more grounded? My assumption is that you were wearing your shoes out in the forefoot, primarily? If that is the case a shoe that is built with more heel should help get you more towards the midfoot or heel. For a neutral runner a Brooks Glycerin/Ghost or Asics Nimbus/Cumulus. For a stability wearer the Asics Kayano/2000 or Brooks Adrenaline/Trance. These are just a few examples of the dozens that are built with a traditional heel to forefoot platform. What shoe were you running in previously when you had the issue?
The longest race I've done so far is a half-marathon, so I haven't had to worry about carrying any food/gels with me yet. I'm starting to train for a marathon soon, so what do you recommend for someone new to refueling while running? The best advice is to try the nutrition on your long runs, to see what your body prefers. Go to your LRS and purchase a few gu's (be sure to check those with and without caffeine) and try them every 45 minutes on a long run. Get some gu or clif chomps (if the idea of a gu does not appeal to you and you don't mind chewing while running), and see how your body takes to those. Ask the advice of the LRS salesman and see what they recommend... do not every try anything new on race day. Good luck!
Sorry, what's LRS? Local running store? Yup, thats it!
Gotta say it... those 13.1 and 26.2 stickers drive me crazy. Do you think you should be required to list your time next to the sticker if you want to put one of those on your car? I think it's great if anyone set a goal and accomplished it. For some, they maybe want to advertise the fact that they achieved what they set out to do, complete a marathon. Some people run marathons to compete and others to exercise. But I am not going to look down on anyone else's marathon unless my name is Emmanuel Mutai.
What's your best advice for cold weather running gear? Sorry if you've already answered. Just skimmed the other 128 comments. Cold weather running gear. You have come to the right place as the winter is, strangely, my fav time of year to run!
I would recommend a good pair of running tights. Sugoi, Brooks, Saucony, etc all make a great lightly fleece lined running tight that is great for most any temperature. Sugoi makes a tight called the Sub-Zero, which is one of my favorites.
A windproof jacket/shell is essential. It can be thin as you will prob wear a light long sleeve tech tee underneath to keep your skin dry. The windproof shell will keep the wind from cutting through your top and making you cold. Look into The Gore Mythos jacket!
Feetures makes some great wool-blend socks in their Elite line. MErino wool makes feet happy in cold weather!
I've been running with the vibrams for a while and the've been helping a ton. I recently, however got a stress fracture. Any other shoes you recommend instead? The vibrams are a zero drop (flat from heel to forefoot shoe) but do not offer much (if anything) by way of protection from the ground. If you like the minimal transition and smooth ride of the Vibrams but would like a bit more dampening, or shock absorbtion, it is best to stick in a zero drop or low drop shoe that has some foam under the foot. Check these out: Saucony Virrata and Brooks Pure Drift. Both are true running shoes that are built on a zero drop platform but have some foam under the foot to provide some protection for your joints and muscles.
Thanks for the advice. Do you think i would decrease my chances of getting a stress fracture again by getting the shoes you recommended? I definitely do. Since there is essentially no shock absorption in the Vibrams, it relies on your body (i.e-your bones) to take the brunt of the pressure. Where was the fracture?
For now, rest up until you're healed. Take some calcium and get into a shoe with a little more to it and I think you'll be good to go.
Thank you so much for your response. I used to play soccer, or as a friend of mine liked to say, I did some soccering :). The thing with soccer cleats, or football boots if you're British, is that they are designed to compress the bones of your foot to protect it as you strike the ball. So I taught myself to pull shoe laces very hard. I think it became a habit. The reason I say that, is that I'm planning to give the PureCadence another try once my ankle heels completely, and make an effort not to pull the laces too hard, especially on my left foot. (Maybe trust a little more that the burrito upper will hug my foot more so I don't have to tighten those laces so much) Please let me know your opinion. Do you think it is worth giving the shoe another try or do you think I should avoid the risk? I def think it is worth another shot, let that midfoot strap hold the foot in place and take it easy on the laces. The Cadence, or Pure Series as a whole, tend to be a snugger fit... and do not have a ton of volume height-wise. It just may be that it does not work for your foot if you have a very high instep.
Give it a shot.
If I can run completely fine in my Vibrams, what are the shoe mechanics I need to find in a traditional running shoe if I want to switch? You would want to look for a minimal drop shoe, or a shoe that is built on a flat platform. A shoe like the Saucony Virrata and Brooks Pure Drift are both zero drop shoes that will allow your foot to perform as if it were barefoot but with the needed cushioning to protect your bones and muscles! Give 'em a test ride!
I started running in Kinvaras, should I change to a different shoe as I ramp up my weekly mileage? Are there any shoes that have the same drop but better cushioning? I think it depends, how are the Kinvaras working out for you? If you're running a good amount of mileage then one of the reasons I think you should consider changing your shoes is because the life expectancy of the Kinvara is ~300 miles, which is on the shorter end. But it's a fantastic shoe and can bring so many quality miles to your training, so if you're enjoying it than I don't necessarily see a reason to change.
It seems drop is directly related to the amount of cushioning and support in most every shoe. But if there is one shoe I'd recommend you trying it is the Saucony Cortana, which is a premium neutral cushioned shoe. It has a 4mm drop as well, but will last a bit longer and have just a little more support. It is very comfortable and one of the first shoes in this category that I will bring a customer.
To some this may seem lame, but it is my dream job to work in a running store. I love running, and I geek out over shoes so I think it would be a perfect fit for me. But I also think its a very specific career choice with not a lot of employment opportunities. so how should I go about getting a job at a running store? The tricky part of working at a running store is that it is heavily based on looking into it at the right place and right time. We don't put ads out in the newspaper or on craigslist when we need an employee. Instead, we look to friends of the store and local running community and just get some recommendations from the people we already know. Most stores are pretty small and only have a few employees, so it's hard to break in. My suggestion is to stop by a few different stores nearby and express your interest. Even if they don't need you currently, give them your information and let them know that you're interested if something ever opens up.
It is a great industry to work in and you get to meet a lot of people that are very passionate about running and are thankful for your assistance in helping them stay healthy. Everyday is a treat.
I love my kinvaras, they are the best shoe I have ever run in. Unfortunately I find them a little too minimal to do all my runs in, big volume weeks leave me feeling sore. Is there a shoe similar to the kinvara (low drop) but slightly more padded and supportive? Let me introduce you to the Saucony Cortanas! Link to
By the way, I have enjoyed this AMA waaayyy too much, thank you for your passion, it is refreshing. Thanks... I have enjoyed it, myself!
Why are not many options for a trail stability shoe? The only ones I could find were the trail versions of the Adrenaline GTS. Saucony makes a Guide Trail option.
Asics makes a GT 2000 2 Trail option.
Both are trail makeups of some of the most popular stability shoes on the market.
Any idea when the Kinvara 5 is coming out? My 4s are wearing down, but if the 5 is coming soon I know I can wait it out a bit. The Kinvara 5 will be released 5/1/14.
I wear New Balance 860s because they are the successors of the shoes a running shop recommended years ago. I bought some Walsh PBs on a whim to run up Ben Nevis and do some trail running. I like that they're light and flexible, but I also find they lack support on the inner side of my foot. Is that just psychological because I'm used to the support in the road shoe, or do I need that support? The 860 is a structured road running shoe, it is certainly more built up and rigid than your trail shoes. If you feel you are lacking support on the medial side of the shoe, that is probably correct as the shoe does not offer the structure of the 860. When running on the roads, I would recommend sticking with a stability shoe.
I bought some nice running shoes about 8 years ago, and didn't use them much. I just started running again, and someone told me that shoes can deteriorate and that I should buy new ones. True, or is that just something shoe stores say to sell more shoes? I have heard people say this before, but I don't personally subscribe to this. Imagine that your shoe has cushioning made up of tiny little air bubbles that compress when you step on them. You have to allow them to decompress, and that's why switching off shoes from one day to another extends the life of a shoe. After time though, the little air bubbles will get worn in and pop. That's what causes a shoe to get shot, and what we say when a shoe is dead. So you should be good! But if you notice yourself feeling the ground a bit too much when you run, then it is time to change things up.
I just won a free pair of New Balance running shoes -- any model -- in an auction. I've been wearing Brooks Ravennas for the last few months and liked them. Wide, flat feet. Any NB suggestion? For obvious reasons, cost is not a concern. The Ravenna is a lighter weight/lightly supportive training shoe. The comparable NB model would be either the 860 or the 870. Both are Moderately supportive... the 870 being a lightweight trainer, like the Ravenna and the 860 being a bit higher cushioned and less flexible.
If you wanted something a bit higher cushioned and more supportive (if you do have very low arches) look into the NB 1260 in a 2E width. Premium cushioned with a large block of support built into the medial side.
LMK if you have any other quesitons.
What is your opinions on these Hoka One Ones? As a person prone to injuries such as shin splints I think they would be good for me but I am very confused as to what model I should buy, I run frequently on roads and trails. I have heard people who swear by Hoka's. I would be making something up if I gave you advice on which model to purchase, as I have never run in a Hoka nor do I sell them at my store. I think they have a place in the market, but I am unsure as to which direction I am going to go with them right now. My advice, as it has been to many others, go to a local store and get fit for the proper shoe... all you need to bring is an open mind and your feet, they will take care of the rest!
Hi Joe! Thanks for answering all these questions. I do light to moderate workouts at the gym a couple times a week (things like elliptical, bike, or Zumba). When I've been working out for a little while, I find that my toes start to tingle, and will eventually go numb. Is there something wrong with the way I'm working out, or something wrong with my sneakers? It is very possible (and likely) that this is a result of a fit issue with your shoes. Perhaps the footwear you are wearing does not accomodate your foot height or width or the laces are coming across a nerve on the top of the foot. I would certainly not think it is with the type of workout, but an issue with the fit or type of shoe you are wearing. Bring the shoe to your local run shop and have them take a look, I think you will find an easy answer!
What is a good sock for a women with fasciitis,any thoughts ? Feetures makes a sleeve for plantar problems. It's definitely worth checking out to lend you a little extra support. You could also try sleeping with a strassburg sock to keep your foot dorsiflex. I would also make sure that your shoes are correct in terms of support (a common theme of this AMA), because there is a reason your plantar is hurting and this is a common cause (also tight achilles or calf).
Is it true that running increases sexual endurance? We have a large forum of people who can answer that one! I believe studies have been shown to show that it does in some folks where others would argue the opposite. I've found I feel great during and after a run, and I believe that when people feel good about themselves they perform better in every facet of life!
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[Table] IAmA: I make $5,000+ per month with Google's Adsense program - AMAA

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Date: 2012-04-16
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I have $500, I'm also a web developer with all the skills required to do this. I still don't see how you can make money off them? Would the plan be to buy up 1 to start, customise it maybe give it a refresh, fiddle with the SEO then leave it for a month and try to see returns of the $500? Or would it be considerably less? Would the ROI be $500 over 3 months? Whats your usual ROI? For the sites I sell on Flippa (quality, aged, established traffic/earnings) You can expect to buy the site for 30x monthly earnings.
How Do you buy a website that has already got an owner? Is there a website market? Do you approach them? You can email them and offer to buy there website.
Thanks for the fast reply, so the ROI is fairly low... I don't see how you can make money this way without somehow getting 30x more traffic to offset the bad earnings. What's the usual strategy when you buy one of these things? Tweak the ad placement/units, mess around with layouts, tweak SEO.
A 2.5 year return on investment isn't bad at all.
I am not sure why you got downvoted, but I think this will be interesting! If I were to get into something like this, how would I start? Thanks If you have $500-$1000 to jump in with, I'd suggest buying some site so that you throw yourself into the deep end. Start looking through sites at Since they are established websites for sale, they will be disclosing EVERYTHING. Earnings, traffic, how they get the traffic, etc. These are great examples to get you in the mindset of a web entrepreneur.
I've visited Flippa many times, most of the sites that claim to be making money with the classic "I'm focusing on other projects which is why I want to sell" seem like complete BS to me. Aren't the only people making money the guys selling the sites? Not true at all. I actually sold off my inventory of 40+ sites because I'm literally too busy with other projects. The people who bought my websites are now enjoying the cash-flow that I used to have.
Also, there's pretty much no such thing as a "Set/Forget" website that makes you money. Everything needs some level of maintenance, and every site has the potential to stop making money overnight if google changes it's logarithm.
I'm not very familiar with all of this but it does look interesting. Can you break down what exactly it is you're doing? How are you earning money from this? So you buy up websites, place ads on the sites, and get money from the traffic? Am I getting this right? Spot on!
I looked briefly at one of your links and you said that you work around 40-50 hours a week. My hours fluctuate considerably. Some weeks are 10, some weeks are 50.
Is this something I could do on my spare time if I just wanted a little supplemental income? Can I just do 1-3 websites and monitor them occasionally? Is it a situation where unless you spend a lot of time and money on it, you won't see results? I started my business part time while I was a full-time student with another part-time job. You can easily start up with 10 hours a week. Just depends on how big you want to go with it.
Will you be my dad? I'm probably the same age as you but I think we can make it work. That depends. How hot is your mom? And do I get to have sex with her?
Another internet marketer here - congrats on your success bro. :) I never mess around with search or anything SEO related because I feel like it's too unreliable to rely on Google's (constantly changing) SEO algorithm. Just last month, thousands of people lost their entire income through that BMR debacle. Do you think you'll be able to keep up your income forever? SEO can be unreliable if you are trying to cheat the system. I pretty much follow Google's golden rule of creating quality content for the user, and they have had my back so far with every update.
Can I have $200? What are you going to do to earn it?
Do you have a background in graphic/web design? What niches did you find that pay the best and what the worst? How much traffic do you get a month? How do you market the site and generate traffic? SEO, social media, PPC, etc? Approximately how many hours do you put into the site a week and how long has the site been around? Do you need any additional help? If so would you be open to a possible partnership? No, I actually studied Construction Management in college. - Best paying is like forex, mortgages, foreclosures, mesothilioma (sp?) etc. Worst are education, kids stuff, etc. But it doesn't matter what the niche is, you can still make money in any. And the higher-paying niches have MUCH more competition. - I get over a million visits a month. - SEO, Social Media, no PPC. The sites I buy, I do no marketing since they are already getting traffic. - My main site has been around 6 years. I probably put 10-30 hours a week into it. - Not interested in partnerships. I've got a few employees but don't need anymore.
I own ...there must be a way to monitize that. Any thoughts? Probably sell it. I'm sure someone will pay a small fortune for it..
I make around $450-$500 a month off two sports forums. Forums are better to get more user generated content. It's usually lower quality, but you get it for free. Forums are also typically harder to monetize because forum browsers know not to click on the adsense units.
Are forums or blogs better for adsense earning? Should I concentrate on bringing in more posters to the forum, or more readers to the blog? Blogs can be tough because you have to do ALL the writing, however you can have higher quality content and probably more clicks since blog readers aren't quite as internet savvy as the interactive forum users.
Fuck dude, did I read that right? One hundred thousand pages of unique content? How much content constitutes a page, on average? Are we talking several hundred word articles? I can hardly think of any sites that approach that size, except social networking sites or forums. Did you create or something? Reddit probably has several million pages of content. Many of the pages are forum threads. Not all the highest quality content.
If I were to buy a site from flippa, for example one of yours (to make things easy), what happens after I 'win' the bid? I get the domainname, the site, the hosting? Do I just need to replace your adsense-ID (and/or others) with mine, or do I have to place them manually? Exactly. You can just replace the adsense ID with yours. You'll have to get your own hosting account, but that is relatively easy. I don't currently have any sites for sale though.
Be sure to look through Flippa for a while to get a feel for what is out there. There's a lot of junk, so it might take a while to find a diamond in the rough.
I'm kinda hesitant about buying one in the first place, I kinda read these horror stories about G banning these sites after the transfer was complete. Just make sure you aren't buying some crappy site. Look for history of traffic/earnings.
How can you tell if they post legit traffic and earnings information? They could pad their stats a lot or a little, or the info could be legit -- but inflated because the owner buys traffic through Adwords, etc. You can ask for access to their Google Analytics account. You can't fake that.
Is that what you usually do when buying a site? Can you describe your due diligence when purchasing? I researched site flipping, domaining, affiliate marketing etc etc ad nauseum a few years ago, but I didn't want to just throw my money away. There's a lot of devil in the details. Also, use,,, to verify that their site actually gets traffic.
Would you mind to give detailed practical tips to earn a 10th of what you earn? I understand the whole process might be complex, but I am sure there are certain tricks or considerations you could share. Finding a nice niche is the main thing as it appear... What cms do you use? -Where do you host your websites? vps, dedicated server? -Do you consider it "easy" to make a couple hundred a month? I am a computer science student, and I feel comfortable with administering servers, cms and programming. I've been thinking for a long time to start some useful website that could bring me some earnings, and I have a couple of ideas. But when I search for something like what I want to create, it seems everything is already invented, and I am late. One of my "brightest" idea, was to copy the concept of some rather simple foreign website which I liked and create the "spanish" version. What kind of website do you recommend? (forum, social website, a kind of wiki) I prefer Wordpress for sites where I'm writing the content. - You can use any host. If you aren't a high traffic site, then anything will do. - It really depends how you spend your time. - Forums are easy to set up, and once you have a userbase established, they typically grow over time. You don't have to do all the content for forums as well.
People actually click the advertisements on websites? What the hell..... Seriously! Just watch some internet newb surf the net. Literally ask them to google something, and stand behind them silently as they try to figure it out.
What's the advantage to doing this rather than say, buying domains that are typos of other major sites and putting a shit load of ads on them? You aren't really creating any value in the internet by doing that.
My Adsense account has been disabled due to "false clicks" or however they put it. I never clicked on ads myself, and asked for proof, but they have never responded nor have they ever reinstated my account. Have you ever had this issue, and if so, how did you solve it? Create a corporation, get an EIN and use that to sign up again. Or sign up as a friend/relative.
Where do you find outsourcers to write content for your lessor properties? Do you do any SEO at all to your sites or just hope for the best by having great content? Are you a BHW regular at all? I find contractors through ODesk. Some are crap, but sometimes you do find a diamond in the rough. I also don't do much content creation at all.
I do basic SEO things, but other than that I hope for the best with great content.
Don't know what BHW is.
How do you feel about flash game portals? I've owned one for a few years, only spent 2 days making it, and haven't advertised it since. It's only making $5-10 a month, but I've been thinking about upgrading it lately and advertising again. Worth it? Tips? Don't have much experience, but I know that flash games portals typically have low-quality traffic. Unless you are seeing huge traffic numbers, the traffic probably isn't worth a terrible amount.
Did you buy any cool "toys" with your earnings? 2000 BMW M5.
And the rest just sex toys.
I know the best way of getting into it is to jump head first, but what all is required for the maintenance? I'm sorry i'm totally ignorant to how this works but is it programming (more so what language i think it would be html?)? Or do you just alter the info of the website. I've answered this several other places. I'll probably add an FAQ to the body of the post.
Do people ever buy specialty retail sites on Flippa? Or would they only be interested on autonomous ones (drop shipping, etc)? What is the value rate on such sites? All types of sites are sold on flippa. No idea what the value rate is for those.
Can a brotha get a loan? Try or if you are seriously interested in getting a hard money personal loan.
Did you just make this to piss off $500 a month guy? Hahaha, yes, that is what inspired me to do this today. Although I'm not making it up.
How to best estimate what to pay for a website? I found some abandoned websites that I would like to buy, both without analytics and without adsense, but with great content. How to decide what to offer the current owner? Use,,,, etc. to estimate traffic then go from there.
So do you just sit at home and make a shit ton of money? please teach me? It is my full time job. Read this thread - there's a lot of info I and others have been sharing.
What is adsense? Google "Adsense"
I apologize if someone has asked this already, but how many unique visitors do you get a month on your main site? Over a million.
I'm going to manage an affiliate program soon. Do you know of any good books with email templates? I'm looking for ideas for contacting potential affiliates. Any information on managing affiliates would be great. I'm in NV also. I don't read any books. Too short of an attention span. When you contact potential affiliates, make sure that you are offering them value and have a customized email. I get emails for affiliate programs all the time and just ignore them because they are either recycled letters or don't fit my site at all.
NV rocks for business!
I've been interested in creating a site about something I am interested in. The only problem is that since I am interested in it, I've found many online resources that pretty much suffice. Is it worth making an online resource (for say, a hobby/sport) when there might already be some decent but not prevalent info out there? Definitely, especially if you can do it better than the other sites. There are 10 google positions on the first page, so even if you have competition, you can still nudge your way in. Also, there are billions of search terms that people use to find different stuff...
Hopefully I didn't get here too late. I could put about $3000 towards a site. How much traffic do you think an average $3000 site would generate and how much would you expect to make monthly doing the things you've suggested in this thread? If you bought a quality site for $3000, you could probably be looking at a starting cash flow of ~$100 a month. You could probably increase it, but there are too many variables so it really depends on what you buy.
What about if you made a domain that was the same as another other than the extension? Ie. "" exists but sucks balls and is out of date. Would "" still be a good idea? You'd probably run into some legality issues there. I'd start with a different name and then try to blow them out of the water. Will take time though.
All right, I'll bite. I'm a graphic/web designer with far more coding experience than I'd like, and in that same vein I've ended up spending a good chunk of my time on SEO/staring at traffic graphics. How easy would it be for me to buy a site, flip it, and start earning money? Given that you already have the skills, pretty good. My strategy was never to buy/flip. It was always to buy/hold, but eventually I decided to change that strategy to just holding onto one site.
Is there any particular industry I should be looking at for this venture? Or is it just "pick whichever site looks promising?" This wouldn't be something I'd want to focus on full-time, but I'm a freelance designer so I would be able to allot hours to work on it between projects as needed. What does typical maintenance work look like for you? Pick something that looks promising, and also something that interests you at least somewhat.
What do you have to learn in order to start out doing this. Like, which books, websites should one read/study? I just jumped in head first. Learned along the way.
I never read books. Just figure stuff out as you go along - Googling things works best.
Could you explain what affiliate links are? For example, a link to a product on amazon with my Affiliate ID on it. If you click it, and then buy that product, I get a commission.
Could you please draw and post an image of how you have your google ads placed around / inside the content. Also, what link color schemes do you find works best? Color schemes that match the site are best. I typically put my adsense units in the top left, above or in the middle of the content.
I have an established (10 years) useful user-generated content site that gets ok traffic (1500 uniques a day) but only generates 800-1000 a month between AdSense and TextLinkAds. I've had no luck whatsoever with Affiliate programs, very few clicks and no sales at all, with thousands of views. Any advice to increase my earnings? Take a look at the FAQ. I don't give personalized advice. I've already answered questions like this all throughout the thread.
Are you, by chance, a local mom? Hahaha, nope. I see those scammy biz opp ads all the time too. Freaking gives making money on the internet a bad name.
Can you give an estimated "$/pageview" on some of the sites you've had ? :) All over the board. Sometimes a fraction of a cent, sometimes 10 cents.
Do you need to live in NV to have an S-Corp in NV? You should be a resident or else it might look suspicious.
Wait, isn't it against the Adsense TOS to say how much you've made? Already answered this a dozen times.
Do you actually make/work on/improve sites you own (other than your blog) to make money or just buy sites that are already making money? Yes, I work on my own site.
Spare change? Can you do a dance for me?
How do you actually make money though? Sorry i just wasn't sure by what you wrote on your blog/ Google "Adsense"
Are you a single mom that earns $5,000 a day from Google? Stay at home mom.
So every once in a while someone comes along and says "hurr durr guys I make X thousand dollars / month off ads". "Invest Y thousand dollars and get 50% return within months!" How full of shit is this on a scale of bullshit to horseshit? I don't see where I said anything about investing...
I didn't say you did. I'm not sure I understand what you are asking then.
Other than buying a site, are there other significant costs involved in getting started right away? Time!
How do you get a website to the top of the google results? SEO.
Can I get my friend to write me a script or code for this? Not sure if troll Or just extremely lazy.
Would I be able to sell my site, for anything? Getting tired of the game. It has a sponsorship from the creators of the game for weekly tournament prizes if that increases the value. Check the FAQ. I don't offer personalized advice. You could try listing it on Flippa.
Alright, well are the sites that claim to value it accurate at all? Hit or miss. Sometimes they get lucky and happen to be correct, but otherwise are pretty outlandish.
These are almost as bad as the "what you need, when you need it" spam sites. Thanks for polluting the Internet with your shitty web sites. That is not at all what I do. I actually run a very helpful online community. My success is partly attributed to the fact that my site is extremely helpful for people.
You may be able to fool some people with that description, but it's a load of crap. These sites are, in your own words, "hands-off" and "auto-pilot". I'm willing to bet the content of most of those sites have changed very little, if at all, over the years. How does that make it low content?
Have you ever thought of of shoring yourself and your employees to increase profit, there is some great talent out there in parts of the world where the average wage is significantly lower than the US. I've used some overseas contractors with limited success. I do business primarily in the US, so going overseas would just complicate things in terms of taxes.
He got downvoted because he's a parasite. It is SEO at its basest, simply there to make ad revenue. Microsites provide nothing of value. I don't have any microsites. Thanks though.
Um, you might want to watch out. It's against the TOS to post your adsense earnings, and with those exact figures it's fairly easy for them to trace it back to you.. Last thing you'd want is your adsense account blocked because of this :) Do some more research. You can't post more details like the click-through rates, etc. It is perfectly fine to share your total earning dollar amounts.
As a 14 year old, AdSense is also my main source of income. I'm pretty sure they don't want us to disclose how much we make, but it's great that someone my age can make money on the internet. I get it through YouTube, personally, but it still pays with AdSense. Nice man! Its great to see kids doing something productive! Don't let it get to your head though. Stay in school. Enjoy your young age.
I don't mean to be a party pooper, but 3 friends of mine were making $20-30k/mo on adsense per month, one day Google changed their rules and they are now ruined. Just be prepared, don't count on this success for life, and save money. Thanks, but Adsense only accounts for about 20% of my income. I'm also not doing anything sketchy or against the rules, so I'm not too worried about it.
Looks good man. I was making $2k a month up until 2 months ago when my adsense got banned. Some guys who I had a bad business deal with decided to sit there for hours and click my ads over and over. This turned into google thinking that I was cheating the system and banning me :( Sucks! Try signing up again under a different EIN.
How do you build sites with user generated content. Perhaps give us an example, real or made up. The tools you liked are good for proving and tweaking, but making something that generates its own content seems difficult, and key to the process.
I'm currently making ~$400 in a small niche where I have the #1 position. Any advice on scaling (general advice) in an attempt to get rich like a playyaaaaaaaaa. Rank #1 for more keywords! Go broader.
Congrats srnc! I'm very pleased for you. I wish I was pulling in that kind of revenue. I have a site that does about $10 a day with a .23 click rate. If I could get that up to 5% I'd (theoretically) be doing $200 a day. But I've tried everything and it's just not an Adsense type of site I guess.. The only advice I have is to move your adsense unit around, try different sizes and different colors.
Man, I have tried everything, including compete site redesign. This is a site I developed myself, so changing look and feel isn't easy.... I just don't think it's an Adsense site.... Might not be. Try some CPA offers or affiliate promotions?
I think you broke Google's Terms of Service by telling us all this. Nope. Look more closely. You can't share some of the finer details... clicks, impressions, CTR, CPM, etc.
In before the next dot-com bubble bursts. Hurry! Why do you think I'm selling everything?
there was spam, now there is googleadsense, and a labyrinthine expanse of well-indexed garbage websites that clutter the google results. Using google now is like wading through a septic tank filled with liquid waste and floating shit so that parasites like 'srnc' can have their little payday. Not at all true. My main site is an authority site because it has been providing quality content to visitors for years.
'Quality content' produced by others, for you to exploit and parasitize. Someone is a little jealous!
Is reddit exploiting and parasitizing the content you create for them?
Sorry mate, you've already described your modus operandi in how you acquire these websites and set them up as cashcows/google clutter. There is no real contribution that you make, or any added value to be found in your net activities. You're basically the equivalent of a spam-sheister. Again, jealousy/ignorance coming through. You have no idea what I do and are just upset that I make more than you do.
Money for nothin' and chicks for free. False on both counts.
Nice try, google ad. = . = I can't imagine that Google is trying to spam Reddit...
I make you zero money by blocking ads. Ask me how! Oh fuck you, just use adblock plus. Thanks. Glad that not many people have that. However my affiliate links which make the bulk of my money are never blocked by your addon! Muhuhahahaha.
Commenting to come back later cause im stuck at work, and want to learn how to make 5 grand a month doing this shit. Cool. Be sure to read through this thread. Already answered a LOT of questions.
Keep working at it. Join us at the 4-5 figure daily profit club. It's pretty damn nice. Think more affiliate related stuff for expansion. Thanks man! I want to hit 1M/year soon.
Could you go into more detail concerning the SEO work. This seems like the most important and time consuming aspect of making a website get the traffic it needs. I just do basic SEO stuff with my main site. Keywords in the title, fresh content linked to from the home page, etc.
Last updated: 2012-04-20 22:59 UTC
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