The old saying is “Content is King.” And there’s no doubt that Content HAS to be relevant and memorable to make people want to listen to you more today, or again tomorrow.
But Content isn’t “King”, PERFORMANCE is. If you sound like a game show host, or have that “disc jockey delivery”, you’re becoming a Deejaysaurus Rex, an extinct species.
So a lot of the work I do, after simplifying the search for Content down to reflecting on what the listener actually CARES about each day, is just about Performance (read that as “Delivery”).
Here’s an easy guideline to follow: Is what you just said on the air something you’d say to your best friend? Because if you talked to your best buddy like an “announcer”, he’d probably just look at you like “What is the matter with you?”
You want to project just enough so you “penetrate the mix”, meaning that someone can hear you in the car, with traffic around them. But any more than that, you’re a cartoon. I call this “Real plus ten percent.” But an overwhelming majority of air talents are “Real plus fifty percent.” I can spot those people in ONE break on an aircheck or a live “listen”. And so can the listener.
It only takes one minute. That’s the premise behind the “One Minute Manager” series of books from my friend Ken Blanchard who shares the concepts of one-minute goals, one-minute praisings, and one-minute reprimands.
A few years ago I learned another lesson from Ken that was just as simple and profound.
My friend Joe Battaglia and I had the privilege of spending several days in San Diego to help Ken Blanchard develop the national radio campaign for “Lead Like Jesus.” As we brainstormed ideas, Ken shared his experience of training the staff of the recently opened Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres baseball club. They began with the end in mind.
What do we want fans to say when they are leaving the ballpark?
The Social Media/Digital Content tidal wave. It seems like the entire radio world seems to be dwelling on this now, but frankly, without a lot of progress. There’s a lot of activity, but not much in the way of results.
Here’s why: Facebook (and all social media) is what people do to kill time; but radio is what people use as a companion while they’re actually DOING something. (And for purposes of this discussion, let’s not even talk about podcasts. Their rate of success is minimal, and they’re not even going to begin being monetized to any successful degree for another decade.)
But here’s what DOES work, in my opinion: SHOW ME MORE THAN WHAT I HEARD (on the air).
Your station’s biggest fans spend less than 10% of their waking hours with your station. How’s that for perspective? And most of that time is when doing something else; driving to work, listening at work, picking up the kids at school.
When was the last time you had a conversation about your station’s programming that revolved around their lives in the real world
Beyond music rotations,
beyond liners and sweepers,
beyond your next big Christian music concert,
beyond things inside your building.
The great brands (and stations) go beyond the nuts and bolts of design and reach into their listeners’ lives. Starbucks is now famous for setting out to became “the third place” in people’s lives, after home and work.
“We want to provide all the comforts of your home and office. You can sit in a nice chair, talk on your phone, look out the window, surf the web… oh, and drink coffee too,” said a Starbucks’ manager.
“Apple, Starbucks, Harley Davidson… all of these have done everything they can to understand the wants and needs of their customer, while delivering them at a human, interactive level.”
The National Football League may not be what you’d think of in designing a great radio station – but it’s an excellent example of what CAN happen.
The “old” NFL was grind-it-out, three yards and a cloud of dust, run the ball most of the time, pass when you had to, cautious. In a word, BORING.
The new NFL is “let it fly” quarterbacks who’ll throw in ANY down-and-distance situation, “go for the ball” defensive backs, “sack the quarterback” pass rushing linemen, trick plays. Pinball-fast pace.
Man, there’s a lot of “Foghorn Leghorn” loudmouths on the radio these days – especially in Sports and Talk formats, but they’re honking away at full blast in other formats, too.
You do know you have a microphone, right? And the mic is the Listener’s EAR, so there’s really no need to shout into it.
Turn on the Game Show Network sometime and watch “The $25,000 Pyramid” and you’ll see the great Dick Clark. Dick was really the first “veejay” doing American Bandstand, became known as “America’s oldest teenager,” did countless other things (his New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcasts were legendary), and was a terrific guest, if you ever had the chance to get him on your show.
On last week’s show I shared five nifty lessons on programming we can learn from staring at The Weather Channel for three straight days. In my effort to squeeze one more quarter hour of reading from you I reckon’ I better come up with a few more to deliver on last week’s Waffle House tease (that’s Fear of Missing Out, don’tcha know).
In a coaching session this week, it occurred to me that most talents today might not have been as fortunate as I was in terms of who influenced them. The names might not mean much to you, but I started off working for a wonderful P. D. named Larry Ryan in Shreveport, my home town, whose mantra was “Do something! Any idiot can intro songs.” That gave me permission to try – and equally important – permission to fail.
Then I worked for radio pioneer Gordon McLendon (who, with Todd Storz, INVENTED Top 40). Gordon was all about Creativity, too, and P. D. Michael Spears taught me tight, concise formatics to harness that creativity.
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.