“He’s got such a great voice.”
We used to hear that a lot, but today, it’s virtually meaningless. In L.A. and New York, the big voices are doing tractor pull spots and horror movie spots, and you still hear the network TV guys doing that big, mighty “announcement” thing some, but be honest – doesn’t it just sound kind of cheesy?
The voice that gets the most work today is the midrange voice with great inflection. But even then, it’s not the old-school radio “emphatic” read; it’s more, as the great voice acting coach Marice Tobias says, “noticing” a word.
What do we say?
More people have been killed at schools so far in 2018 than have been killed while serving in the U.S. Military, so says the Washington Post.
Remember back when baseball and football games on TV were interrupted by some nut case running onto the field?
Then something changed. The folks in charge of the telecasts decided to quit pointing the cameras at them. The incidents stopped.
I don’t speak as a psychologist or counselor, as one from law enforcement, or even as a journalist. I speak as a broadcaster that understands that our stations have impact and a responsibility.
One word can change everything. If you’re going to be a truly good Talent, you have to actually think about the words that are coming out of your mouth. I work with people all the time on this.
For example, I heard this the other day:
“I want to hear from you RIGHT NOW. Can you think of a song that’s got something about automobiles in it?”
No. And even if I could, why should I call you? What’s in it for me?
You can’t treat listeners like employees. They’re not here to do your bidding. You’re here to do theirs, actually.
I heard someone play the violin this morning in church. I love the violin, but for a different reason than most. I love the violin because my mother played the violin.
“Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is if they are showing you the way.”
“Each person has a different set of biases and values and assumptions, and those world views are influenced by their parents, their schools, the places they live and the experiences they’ve had to date. Their world view is the lens they use to determine whether or not they’re going to believe a story.”
How does your station connect with the things your listeners love most?
I’ve written about this before, but recent listening to stations in three different formats, it begs being revisited.
Here’s the magic key to becoming someone out of the ordinary on the air: Avoid the Obvious.
Example: Years ago, doing a morning team show in Dallas with my wonderful partner Rick “The Beamer” Robertson, there was a massive wreck on I-35, one of the city’s main arteries. It turned out that a huge truck full of books was involved, and we knew we needed to talk about it. Immediately upon seeing the story, Rick said “set it up, then throw it to me.”
One of my favorite books as a kid was, “1001 Riddles for Children.” I still remember one of the riddles…
Riddle: “How many legs does a sheep have if you call a tail a leg?”
Answer: “Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one.”
The ratings arrive. They are down. Our impulse to react. DO SOMETHING!
Talking to a PD the other day about “the clock” on his station, I heard this vague explanation of how he didn’t want his jocks to talk over song intros because that’s not Content. Instead, he wanted Imaging pieces – some of them “dry” voice – to always play between songs because “you can’t do Content over these short intros today” and he wanted his air talent to stop down for Content.
But here’s the problem with that: to a large degree, Content is CONTACT.
In the heyday of Top 40 and Hot A/C, we knew that most of the time we could do SOMETHING besides just intro a song (like promote a contest opportunity coming up, or a station feature, promote another person on the air, give some sort of information, or do a quick quip), or that even if we WERE “just” introing a song, we could at least give the listener some sort of vibe about being engaged with the music.
Those words haunted me recently at a radio station. While they were spoken by a program director about the general manager those words could have once been spoken about me.
We only know what we know. Until the moment we say that we’re ready to learn, we’re stuck… with only the things in the rear view mirror as a reference.
“Everything I know I learned from someone else.”
Simply stated, strategy is about the big idea; why do we exist? What do we stand for? What difference are we making?
Maybe you haven’t thought about this in a while, but in moving back from five and a half years in Hawaii to my home town of Shreveport, Louisiana, I’m resetting the stations on my car radio. As a result, I’ve been listening to a lot of different stations recently. And I’m hearing a lot of things on music stations that I thought had been killed off a long time ago…
The “first in, last out” (FILO) thing where every break mandatorily starts with the name of the station, then also ends with the name of the station. (This was always ridiculous. Why do you want to sound like you somehow forgot that you said your name a few seconds ago? And why would you EVER put the name of your station right next to a commercial break? Think about it: You = commercials is not a good impression to lock into the listener’s brain.)
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
I’ve heard it said that there are no straight lines in nature. Every shoreline curves and winds. Every path is jagged and bumpy. Every landscape has heights and depths.
Over the years I’ve learned that radio stations go through seasons. Often we have the illusion of stability until we’re jolted by change.