Now I have to admit it…
…when I saw this headline I did a little double take.
Now, I don’t want to offend anyone but as a fella who grew up in Texas, I found this headline as wacky as Seattleites voting for Folgers, Minnesotans voting for Cheez Whiz, or John Frost taking the award for the best looking guy in high school. (That actually happened by the way, but not because I was voted that but because I literally “took” the award).
Taco Bell? The favorite? What’s up with that?
Media observer Mark Ramsey suggests that familiarity IS preference. You can’t prefer something you don’t know, and few would dispute that Taco Bell is most familiar.
We all fall into habits, and one I’ve heard a LOT recently is an air talent rattling off the “basics” (name of the station, artist, maybe the song title, the time), then saying his or her name LAST as you “gird your loins” (or gather yourself) to do Content.
The problem with this (besides being lazy) is that the listener learns to recognize this on a subconscious level, so you’re – by definition – NOT doing the unexpected.
Look, we can have a conversation that flows naturally, or we can serve up an agenda of a habitual group of words. This choice is crucial.
And if it sounds in any way like you’re just in “autopilot” mode at the beginning of a break, that sameness from break to break does the opposite of piquing someone’s interest in what follows.
There’s a deeper view of this, too. Except for saying the name of the station the first thing out of your mouth (which I believe is essential – that “branding” thing), all the other elements should vary from break to break. Sameness breeds boredom. Mixing things up just a bit makes what you’re saying be more readily received by the listener (on an unconscious level) as NEW information. It’s science, and it’s the way God made us.
So get off your duff and work at this; it will actually make a difference. Radio is doing a great job right now of holding a gun to its head and saying “Stand back or I’ll shoot.”
We need every little advantage we can get.
Let’s have a little fun this week. Let’s play “You’re the assistant PD.”
Ask each person on the staff to write down the one thing they would change about your station. Then collect all the responses and oh so carefully place them in a special file.
I’m often thrust into a discussion about changing something that is fundamental to the station’s success, whether that be the music, an air personality or two, the station branding, or a promotional or marketing campaign. Just this week I was drawn into a discussion with someone that had a “new” music agenda. I suggested that we should have a “favorite” music agenda.
In a moment of revelation someone might be so bold as to ask, “what do the listeners think?”
Most air talents assume that if you’re on the air, you must have a good voice. But in reality, about half the people on the air in every format I hear have taken that for granted, and stunted their growth.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some pretty impressive voice actors that you hear on national commercials, station Imaging, and movie trailers every day. And universally, the ones who are the most successful have really studied what makes them unique, and how to fully use the vocal tools at hand.
Here’s what I mean…
What if I told you that you can increase your ratings 30% overnight? Admit it. You’d probably be curious, just like when Marie Osmond says she’s lost 50 pounds without exercise AND she eats chocolate cake every day!
People are drawn to black and white opinions because they are simple, not because they are true. Truth demands serious effort and thought.”
Actually, you might increase your ratings 30% overnight, but it’s not because of some magic pill or trick. It’s because Nielsen is changing they way they tabulate when you plug the gizmo in the thingamajig.
If you’re having trouble getting into Content, well, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. Every air talent either struggles with this at some point, or worse, doesn’t know yet that they’re struggling with it. : (
There’s lots of coaching available on this, including my own. We’ve all heard the “Headline first, then tell the rest of the story” thing, for example. And there’s tons of stuff about how to construct a story, how to physically lay out a story in just bullet points, etc., and what a great ending should be.
But here’s the problem: You don’t really know until you know. Human beings may become aware of things and intellectually understand them through reading and talking with people about them, but in the long run, we really only learn through experience – trial and error.
“We’ve been worrying about the wrong things,” said the top dog of a well known broadcast company. His reaction was to their focus on tactics rather than the things I was there to discuss; stuff like the station’s vision and purpose, and identity.
Jim is a Cubs’ fan.
Daniel plays the guitar. A Taylor.
Cindy works hard to support the arts in her community.
Here’s one of my primary tips for show prep – The 3 Questions. If you’ve read my “The 5 Subjects” tip, you already know the five categories of Content that will ALWAYS work (besides the obvious “station things” that will always be in the mix, like promoting events or features, etc.).
But “The 5 Subjects” should be filtered through these three questions before you put them on the air:
“Kindness seems like such a radical idea today.”
As negativity, finger pointing, and spit wad throwing reach new levels in politics, and in traditional and social media, we can sense a growing desire for a breath of fresh air.
Just this week Bloomberg news reported, “Freaked Out Americans Desperately Seek to Escape the News.”
I know people who have turned off certain TV cable news channels (me, included). I know radio stations that have turned off the TV news in their studio due to incessant negativity and turned on HGTV.
The movie “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is a smash hit, bringing in $4.1 million in just three weeks.
Director Morgan Neville said, “Mr. Rogers tried to teach us how to behave in a community and a society together, and the value of civility and the value of honoring this relationship with each other.
And we live in times that don’t honor that at all.”
If you think your radio station is only about songs and deejays and unfamiliar music, you’ll never understand how to connect with what people are feeling today.
Fred Rogers was a man who believed in inherent goodness and preached the idea that everyone was special, just the way they are.
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is “a much-needed emotional tonic for troubled times.”
Sounds like a good idea for a radio station, too.