When scanning the radio dial it doesn’t take long to hear something you already know.
“It’s Friday.” Well, thank you very much for that valuable insight. “It’s Labor Day weekend!” Well, I’m certainly glad that I was listening to your station at this particular moment or I would have never known!
Telling your listeners something they already know IS NOT compelling content. Filling time with words that have no purpose other than filling time is not a way to connect to your listeners.
Flying recently I heard the flight attendant announce, “We know you have a choice of airlines.” Well, there’s a news bulletin. THEY know that I have a choice of airlines.
Here’s a little something that happened in a recent session with a great morning team in Austin. I always try to do video sessions, and during this one, they were on location somewhere.
As we talked, I could see people behind them looking in the window. The people were just curious, wonder what they were doing, and what the two of them were like.
And that’s what happens every time someone tunes in, too.
It’s kind of like a remark that Garry Shandling made to Jerry Seinfeld in a “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” episode when they talked about seeing Robin Williams for the first time: “You don’t remember what he SAID so much as you remember what he WAS.”
So think about who YOU are, to the listener. Are you just another person “broad stroke” over-performing, larger than life – but not in a good way? Or are you someone I can identify with, who’s entertaining, but also surprisingly down to earth and someone I’d like to hang out with?
What you project is a choice. Choose wisely, because Shandling was right.
I confess. I wanted to call this “The Power of Discipline” but I knew no one would read it.
When teenage athletes are interviewed during the Olympics they seem more mature than their years. There is a reason for that. They’ve been disciplined in their athletic workouts since they were six years old. Discipline with consistent coaching leads to maturity in both athletics and in programming.
There is no format that is as uninteresting when done poorly and no format as remarkable when done well.
Our format can either be “nice Christian people saying nice Christian things to nice Christian people,” or it can be the purposeful design of emotions, stories and songs that reflect the most important relationships and events in people’s lives. Remarkable radio stations happen when we focus on the elements that are transformational. But that takes discipline.
One of the prime ingredients in all truly great talents is that they connect with the listener on a daily basis.
And one of the keys in getting to that place is:
Stop TRYING to be noticed.
Instead of constantly trying for punch lines, or “talking points” that just get the same five people to call in with the same types of reactions we always hear, the ‘Real Deal’ is to just be part of the listener’s life each day. Talk about things that we all have in common, then put your individual spin on it.
Think about this… the more you try to be noticed, the more it’s just about YOU. But the more you just try to be part of something that we share together, the more it’s about US.
And that’s what gets ratings. If you build your show around having something going on that I can relate to each day, I’ll come back – over and over again.
It was an hour that never existed.
We changed our clocks from 2am to 3am. Rod Serling might say, “Imagine if you will that one hour never existed. No babies were born. No one died. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!”
That hour doesn’t matter.
Here’s a short, but really powerful tip.
Give a subject two segments (in Talk radio), MAX. If it doesn’t “catch fire” by then, give up and move along to something else.
The same principle is true in Music Radio – give a subject two tries, and if there’s no usable reaction, punt. If it hasn’t “happened” by then, you’re just firing bullets into a dead body. This is both boring and desperate-sounding.
This is why I always over-prepped each day. Just having “enough” to cover a show might not actually BE enough on a given day. And as you know, it’s impossible to predict when something might inexplicably fail to connect with the listener. (Although, now that I think about it, this could simply be because there’s not an Emotion at its core. Might want to think about that, too.)
All media is in the business of getting people’s attention. Yes, even your radio station. Tune-ins. Clicks. Time spent listening.
One way is to SHOCK people. This is now the norm with the BREAKING NEWS graphics on our 2-hour news channels.
The other way is to take the time to build trust.
The problem with “shocking” is that it eventually loses its impact. And shocking eventually loses trust.
To the listener, it’s all about Discovery.
As long as I’m discovering something (if it’s relevant to my life and interests), we’re good. When that stops, it’s “See ya.”
So you have to avoid repetition, and you have to always be moving forward.
This is why, as a coach, I can zero in on what a show needs quickly, because I’m always looking for the answers to two questions:
“What did we learn?”
And “What did we learn about you?”
Both of those things are essential.
Recently I was with a well-known leadership guru who shared his organization’s mantra for creating a culture of excellence. He distilled everything down to what he described as three basic ideas.
- Make it better
- Make it better
- Make it better
He stressed that it is more than just a pithy way of emphasizing his organization’s desire for improvement. It was their way of empowering every person in the organization to look for tangible ways to make their part of the process, from idea to execution, better today than it was yesterday.
No, this isn’t about “dumbing it down.” It’s about not making it more complicated than today’s attention span will accept.
Today’s listener doesn’t read much. (No patience.) And we’re a nation of channel flippers. Fads come and go at warp speed. A lot of “relationships” between supposed “soulmates” last only a few months.
So if you’re going to get in sync with today’s “short attention span theater,” you need to keep things simple. The old “stop by each one of their 6 locations to pick up your card” contest is D.O.A. in today’s world. People have lives. They’re busy.