Dan Ingram died a few days ago. If you’re not familiar with him, suffice it to say that to a ton of people, he was the Michael Jordan of radio. Primarily known for his work in New York on WABC and WCBS, maybe this Wikipedia quote says it best:
Ingram was one of the most highly regarded DJs from his era. He was noted for his quick wit and ability to convey a humorous or satiric idea with quick pacing and an economy of words, a skill which rendered him uniquely suited to, and successful within, modern personality-driven music radio.
Yes, the style was a little different then, but he was FUN, and you never knew what he’d say next. So with Dan Ingram in mind…
The call comes in. “Let me speak to the manager!” There is only one thing this conversation can be about.
Someone isn’t happy.
As I became interested in broadcasting as a teenager I became hooked on a local Dallas TV show called, “Let Me Speak to the Manager,” a behind the scenes look at how TV was programmed.
The show was unique in that it actually aired complaints from viewers, unheard of back in the day. They even discussed stuff that aired on the other TV stations and networks. Egad!
In fact, I can remember being told NOT to talk about ANYTHING on TV (you know like the presidential election, World Series, or Super Bowl) for fear that our listeners would turn off the radio that very moment and turn on their TV. I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP, as Dave Barry would say.
In my travels I run across many different kinds of programmers, managers, and air talent.
Some have many years of experience; others have one year of experience many times.
A lot of air talents are not even aware of talent coaching. They have aircheck sessions with the PD – maybe – and that’s about it. I don’t know every talent coach working these days, but most of the ones I do know concentrate on Content – the search for it, the storytelling skill set, how to dig inside yourself and reveal things that (hopefully) the listener can identify with.
And that’s fine. That’s the “big picture stuff,” and it matters. If you’re fortunate enough to work with a Valerie Geller or Randy Lane, for instance, there’s no doubt that you will get better, and understand a lot of things you probably never “got” before.
But there’s something else that plays a huge factor in being the Full Package, and that’s simply being a good disc jockey.
He’s a bum!
Why didn’t he take out the pitcher?
This guy can’t hit!
Why didn’t he leave the pitcher in?
The wacky sports fan always knows what his team shoulda done! The Monday morning quarterback is always right. It helps when you know the outcome of the game on Sunday.
Read the blog comments after a 4-game losing streak. Ouch!
Read the blogs after a 10-game losing streak! Ouch! Ouch!
“Every time we lose a game I’ve either left the pitcher in too long or taken him out too early.”
A wacky sports fan always values the recent over the long term. They comment on THAT at bat, THAT bad pitch, THAT bumble by the fielder.
I reckon’ we can expect that kind of second guessing from the bleachers, but it is far more serious when it comes from the programmer or manager’s office.
With all the conversations going on in radio circles about the uses of social media, there’s a giant, Grand Canyon-sized difference being overlooked. Let’s just use Facebook as the best example, simply because it’s the most-utilized social media platform.
As of this writing, there are about 225 million people in the United States using Facebook.
But there are over 323 million people in this country, and well over 90% of them listen to radio for a significant amount of time every single day. So radio has somewhere between sixty-five to ninety million more people using it every single day than Facebook does.
I’ve talked a lot about how random postings on Facebook don’t make for compelling radio Content; quite the opposite, usually. And this is why: because they’re used in totally different ways.
I hear there are more “religious” radio stations in the United States than any other format category. Unfortunately those religious stations combined have fewer listeners than any other. The reason for that is quite simple.
A radio station cannot grow its audience unless it is designed to grow its audience. To grow a station one must think beyond songs and deejays and sweepers. One must think strategically. Eh, gad!
A strategy is a plan that incorporates big picture concepts such as:
Why does the radio station exist?
Who are our listeners? What do they desire and expect from our station?
No matter how many songs in a row you play or “commercial-free zones” your station may promote, radio is still at its core about the CONNECTION between you and the Listener.
A great Consultant can help you map out a Strategy, but the essence of Coaching is about how many ways there are to carry out that strategy. And when it comes to engaging the listener, and making that person want to listen longer or more often, sometimes the little things matter more than the big things.
Here’s an example, from morning team Tom & Ana on Contemporary Christian station Spirit 105.3 in Seattle:
Common ground. We talk a lot about it in our little format, and that’s a good thing.
Who’s your target demo? How many kids? What’s their favorite TV show? Where do they go on summer vacation?
All good stuff we need to embrace.
“To move an audience, especially a diverse audience, from where they are to where you want them to be requires common ground. If you want me to follow you on a journey, you have to come get me. The journey must begin where I am, not where you are or where you think I should be.”
But there is a common ground that we seldom consider and about which few books are written.
The power of NOW.