I have a friend named Andy. (Not his real name). He is a disc jockey.
He does disc jockey things. You know, “This Day in History.” Trivia. Shows about favorite pizza. Where the sports teams are playing tonight.
Basically, Andy does the bag of tricks from his previous station. And the one before that. Because of that Andy doesn’t have to work very hard on his show. It sort of does itself.
The problem is our listeners don’t listen to us for that. His content not only DOESN’T add value (the very purpose of content), it is actually an interruption in meeting the expectation of the listeners.
We had to help Andy change the way he thought about his show.
The main challenge in bringing great Content to the table each day is that it takes a little work – something that it seems like the vast majority of air talents now see as more of a nuisance than anything else.
So what we get a lot of the time is the “kicker” story – one of those supposedly “amusing” stories like the “stupid criminal of the day” tripe, or innocuous, space-filling items like one I saw the day of this writing, “What your crush on Keanu Reeves actually means, according to science.”
This is the lamest form of show prep. Here’s why:
“Your July memories” pops up on my Facebook timeline.
“One year ago” pops up. Then “5 years ago.” Then “two months ago last Thursday.”
In radio we call this “recycling.” In social media vernacular it’s about keeping the conversation going. Facebook is all about engagement, so they create prefabricated milestones designed to prompt you to engage.
What do we want them to say?
There are many things to learn from great movies, TV shows, and books – all excellent examples of storytelling. And one of the simplest lessons came from the very first Star Wars movie (and continues today): the FIRST LINE sets the stage…
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”
Bam! In ONE line, you’ve justified everything that follows. And of course, each movie in the franchise then has the “crawl” that explains what’s happening at the precise time of that episode.
Garth was in town and there was no room at the inn.
My hotel reservation vaporized and it appeared as though I didn’t even have friends in low places. My pal Brian and I trudged along from city to city in our hotel treasure hunt until we uncovered the last room available.
Entering my room to unpack my case I noticed a desk for my computer and quickly realized there was no electric outlet to plug into. On hands and knees I discovered an outlet behind the dresser next to the desk. The only way for me to plug in my computer was to move the furniture.
The very reason the desk was there – to be a work station for my computer – was rendered useless because of the way the room had been designed.
The voice tracker scenario isn’t going away any time soon. It’s the nature of the game in today’s radio world. And that’s not really good, because there are many weak things about having a voice-tracked show on the air.
The voice-tracking jock doesn’t know that a tornado is heading toward town. While he or she is doing a “partly sunny” forecast, a warehouse is in danger of losing its roof.
They can’t take phone calls. And since radio is about AUDIO, we get the lame “fix” of jocks reading social media posts on the air instead of having a person call. That leads to mostly boring Content, done in a pretty boring way, and losing the immediacy of someone replying to something you did last break – in their voice, not yours.
My recent birthday was spent in Section 122, Seat 13, at Wrigley Field on Chicago’s north side; nothing short of baseball heaven. But that’s not the story.
When the folks at Wrigley Field found out it was my birthday I was immediately ushered to Customer Service where I was ceremoniously awarded an “It’s my birthday” sticker while being serenaded with “Happy Birthday” by those charged with creating memories for fans. And they did.
And it didn’t stop there.
On last week’s show I yakked about Delta Airlines’ new campaign that invites Medallion members to reclaim their status “when life puts your travel on hold.” The campaign focuses on encouraging travel from previous frequent fliers because Delta knows they are twice as profitable as low fare travelers.
What can we radio folk learn from Delta’s campaign?
Heavy listeners deliver on average 4x the occasions and TSL as light listeners. Not all listeners (or airline passengers) are created equal, at least in Nielsen-think.
In a PPM world, losing even one high AQH panelist can mean losing thousands of cume and hundreds of average quarter horses. Losing even a handful of meters can drop your ratings like a rock. That can happen when your station doesn’t remain top of mind in a world of choice. Consider how easy it is to skip your favorite restaurant or miss your favorite TV show simply because life gets busy.
The last tip was about a challenge that skews mostly male – the “big” voice. So now, let’s talk about the female voice.
There are some incredible female voice actors and air talents, but the percentage of women who actually get coaching in radio that’s specific to their voices is staggeringly small.
Often, this is the result of today’s radio world. Like many of my friends, I started out doing all-nights, then moved to evenings, etc. where we had time to get our arms around what our voices were most capable of, and how to eliminate the less ear-friendly parts of our voices and deliveries by simply putting in the ten thousand hours that becoming really good at something requires.
This happens fairly regularly when I start working with someone who’s been blessed with a “big” voice.
Almost without fail, these guys have been told all their lives what wonderful voices they have, and it’s really hard for a lot of them, especially in smaller markets, to resist “using” that big chamber too much, or in the wrong way, or for the wrong reasons.