“A cable channel with nothing but weather?”
I remember the initial reaction after being accustomed to weather occupying no more than three minutes on the local TV news. Now we can hardly imagine life without a 24 hour cable channel, particularly when a hurricane is approaching.
We can learn a lot from The Weather Channel.
There’s a famous story that David Letterman tells about Johnny Carson. One night on The Tonight Show, fairly early in his career, the young Letterman was a guest. And he and Carson got on one of those rolls where everything each of them said was funnier than the last thing. The audience was in stitches laughing at each line, and finally Carson broke into the “patter” he had used as a magician when he was young – the absurdity of which resulted in uproarious laughter that led perfectly into a commercial break.
During the break, with the set darkened, Carson, who was a mentor to Dave, leaned over and said, “You’ll use everything you’ve ever known.”
Truly great air talents know this, and it’s a really interesting parameter to work on as a coach. But the key is IF you can figure out exactly what the “fuse” is to light that “nugget” up.
Often, I see air talents with a good concept, but no idea of how it might work. Using something just because you have that bullet in the chamber doesn’t mean that you can just fire it indiscriminately.
Think “What would facilitate this?” Because it has to make sense in the flow of the conversation, or it’ll sound awkward.
So, what did you think?
Key findings included playing songs people know, playing songs people love, and creating an environment that helps listeners feel good (particularly important in appealing to new listeners).
Those of us attending CMB’s Momentum in Orlando last week were enlightened by researcher Alan Burns’ findings on how to make a CCM station more attractive to new listeners.
After donuts and decaf, a discussion of these findings featured really smart folks like SOS’ Scott Herrold, Salem’s Mike Blakemore, and Alan Mason, who swooned the ladies with his manly voice..
“Oh, my,” I overheard from one sitting next to me, “he must have been in radio.”
Over decades of radio, including working with literally hundreds of stations in all different formats, I’ve found that there’s one thing every truly great station has, and the ones that aren’t great don’t have: Everybody cares.
In a station where everybody cares, no sloppy Production is done (or left for someone else to do), attention to detail is a “given,” and bad or uncooperative attitudes are simply not tolerated. You find high-profile, high-level talent, but no prima donnas. Everyone is clear on what the Strategy of the station is, and that strategy is carried out on every level, from the person answering the phones to the General Manager.
That may sound pretty obvious, but if it’s so “obvious,” why don’t more stations have it?
Being a lifelong learner is a great gift, as reflected in Coach John Wooden’s famous quote.
“Each of us is becoming, becoming something better or something worse. And we become what we teach and what we learn.”
I have an idea.
If you’re one of the hundreds of Christian radio/music pros to descend on CMB’s Momentum this week in Orlando, open yourself up to learning. The great irony is that the higher one is in the organizational chart the less inclined toward a learning spirit – just when they need it the most.
“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.
If you have a dog, you know this to be true: most dogs lie around waiting for something to happen, then – and usually ONLY then – they get up off their duffs and JOIN you.
Dogs are eager to participate, but they’re not usually self-starters. My best friend’s two dogs lie around on the bed until one of us goes into the kitchen, or outside, then they LEAP off the bed, ready to join in on the sandwich I’m making, or if I go outside, run out the door with me to do whatever they think I want to do (which apparently is bark at squirrels).
Senator John McCain died over the weekend. Many in our format will not even mention it. Too political, don’tcha know.
Let’s face it. There is a tension between being culturally relevant and sharing the news of the day that may push a hot button. In this day of political correctness and social media, is there ANYTHING that isn’t controversial?
Yes, Senator John McCain played in the political sandbox. He was famous for being a maverick to those in his own political party and for crossing the aisle to work with those with opposing viewpoints. Either is fodder for spitwad throwing on Twitter.
Meghan McCain posted a remarkable note about her father.
I’m really saying this a lot in sessions these days: “Do something today that you haven’t done before.”
My friend Don Godman is one of the people I hit with that thought recently. And the first attempt he sent me was really quite good, except for one fatal flaw:
Coming out of the weather guy doing the forecast, Don said, “It’s really hot – 99 – and it’s supposed to be even hotter…” then we heard the sound of a refrigerator door opening and the unmistakable ‘hum’ of it, as he added “In fact, I’m just gonna do the rest of the show from this freezer. Awww… that feels so good…”
Really cute. It caught the ear, surprised us, and his inflection was perfect. So GO! Right there!
What’s the best thing you’ve done on the air recently?
It’s a question I often ask air talent I work with, and one that always results in a long pause.
First, it makes people think about what they’ve done on the air recently (few do), and second, it makes them evaluate those things in the context of everything else they’ve done (most never do).
I’m privileged to work with some of the best morning teams in the format; Kevin and Taylor, Scott and Sam, Ellis and Tyler, and Steve and Amy. Each has worked together for at least ten years, some twenty, and at multiple radio stations together.
I’ve told them that their greatest strength is their greatest weakness. Their strength is that they are well-schooled in their individual roles, they know each other’s hot buttons, and they know what elements tend to do well. Their weakness? It’s real easy to do last week’s show, last month’s show, last year’s show.
As we continue to hear the buzz word “stories,” it seems to me that people are talking more, but not necessarily being all that interesting. Every movie is edited. Every book is edited (usually multiple times). Highlights are watched more than actual games. Top 10 lists are the vogue, not Top 100 lists. Stand-up comics start with a good 10 minutes, not a 90-minute HBO special.
The cardinal sin in radio is wasting people’s time. And from a coaching standpoint, believe this: if you can’t do a short break, you can’t do a long break. Most people tend to wander around, stagger into “related” thoughts that can easily take us off the main road into the forest somewhere, and instead of taking the First Exit – the first place where there’s a “reveal” of some sort or where the subject resolves – they keep trying to top themselves or fire more bullets into a dead body.