Okay, you’ve got a story you want to tell. Great. Tell me the story… but leave half of it out.
Yes, I’m serious. Too much detail, unneeded side roads, too many words to express a thought, too much setup, more than one “punch line,” or “backing and filling” because you’re not very well-organized… those things make even the best story incredibly tedious, and not worth the Listener’s time.
To be a great talent, you have to develop discipline and get concise. Great storytellers hold people every step of the way, from beginning to end. And remember, you’re not paid by the word; you’re paid by the Connection.
(Yes, I’m sure there’s an exception you can think of, some show in your city that gets away with doling out overly long drivel and has high ratings in spite of it. But that’s not the norm, and their time is coming to an end. The world is getting used to 140 characters being all they have time to read. Listening habits will eventually reflect that, too.)
This week’s Frost Advisory is a departure from my regular thoughts on how to make your radio station really swell. Instead I’d like to take this moment during Thanksgiving week to encourage you in the important work you’re doing at your station.
I’m told that the word “encouragement” means literally to pour courage into. This word appears over 100 times in the New Testament.
Let’s make this one really simple:
With your Content, you can engage the brain, or you can engage the heart… or you can engage both. What you SHOULDN’T do is only engage the brain. That’s boring.
If you need help with this, get some coaching, do an aircheck session with your PD, or maybe swap ideas with some of the other people on the station. Because if you don’t understand how to do it… and do it well… you’re going to save a lot of time by NOT thinking that it’ll somehow just magically “come to you.”
It’s like that scene in “The Odd Couple” when the slob, Oscar Madison, tells his finicky roommate Felix Unger that he thought gravy just “came with the meat.” As Felix said, “No, it doesn’t. You have to MAKE it.” Sometimes we need help to make it.
As I write this week’s Frost Advisory the recount is still going on in Florida where I live. Well, we have to be famous for something other than alligators, octogenerians, and college football.
We’re less bad than the other guys.
In the last presidential election I heard “Haven’t we taken this ‘anyone can grow up and be president thing too far?'” Both major candidates had the lowest favorability ratings in history.
“I don’t like either one,” was a common refrain, “so I’m not going to vote.”
One of the biggest challenges these days (as always) is Content.
There are lots of questions that help you put it together – Is this top of mind? Does the listener actually care about it? Do you have anything to offer on this subject that’s unique, and not just what everyone else will do? Where are you going with it? Is there a chance that it could lead to listener feedback, or is just a one-off thing? … etc.
But these leave out what I consider to be the most logical question to ask yourself: Is this something you’d say at a barbecue to a person you just met?
If not, why are you saying it?
This will not only quickly cut to the chase as to whether it’s valid Content or not, it will also (hopefully) shape the LANGUAGE that you use, how you get to it, how you edit it, and most importantly, keep you from sounding like a disc jockey and more like a real person.
No one is enjoying hearing people read crap off a computer screen or someone’s stupid Facebook post on the air. Dig deeper if you want to be great.
(In case you missed them, here are Part 1 and Part 2.)
Remember when you first began to get curious about what was coming out of the radio?
He was a freshman in high school when he realized that he listened to the radio differently than most people. While his friends turned up the volume for the music he turned it UP when the disc jockey talked. He began to notice there were different kinds of personalities (“he’s the funny one”) and even talent levels (“he can talk really fast right up till they start singing,” long before he knew what hitting a post meant.) Even in his pre-pubescence he sensed that the voices booming in from Chicago were better than the ones from Buffalo Gap.
That 14-year-old John Frost didn’t know what he didn’t know. Then he began to realize that he didn’t know. Noel Burch described this process as “The Hierarchy of Competence.”
This is a follow-up to the “Less is More, and More is Too Much” tip from a couple of weeks ago…
Thirty seconds is a significant amount of time. Companies literally pay millions of dollars for ONE 30-second ad in the Super Bowl.
The latest research is showing that millions of Gen Xers and Millennials go to You Tube to see a video, and if doesn’t have a “Skip this ad” thing after just a few seconds, they won’t stick around to watch it at all. That’s the mentality we’re dealing with.
You owe it to the listener not to waste his or her time. You owe it yourself as a performer to develop the skill set of refining and editing what you do so you don’t waste words, repeat things, or take unnecessary “side roads.” Sixty seconds is a LONG time, and two minutes is an eternity.
Yes, of course, an occasional longer break is fine, but automatically thinking “you have two minutes” (or more) is wrong. You don’t… unless you EARN it. You want more TSL? Try not being tedious to listen to.
On last week’s show I shared how my cousin the surgeon has a coffee mug that reads, “Please do not confuse your Google search with my medical degree.”
He tells me more and more patients find a bit of information on the internet and think they know something. This, combined with our desire for simple answers often results in a “Can’t I just take a pill?” mindset.
Perhaps you’ve seen this at your radio station.
“Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”
I once worked for a company where the big boss, a brilliant thinker and dealmaker, would occasionally get in the weeds, presumably out of boredom. Idle hands, don’tcha know.