“What are you NOT doing?,” my dad would say as he entered his teenage son’s room.
What I WAS doing was evident to him. Often nothing. He wanted to know the more important answer… that I WASN’T mowing the yard, that I WASN’T doing my homework, that I WASN’T, in his words, “making something of myself.”
An extremely well-known morning show host once said about his team show, “We just have a conversation. The listeners just eavesdrop.”
I know that’s what he honestly believed, but it’s an incomplete thought. However, since they were quite successful, a lot of people thought that was right. Here’s why it’s not:
The ratings arrive. Our emotions react. There is running up and down the hallways and gnashing of teeth!
I’ve heard some pretty wacky ways that people have reacted to ratings. Moving the deejays’ shifts around, playing music from another format, and implementing formatics that make the station sound less distinctive and more generic.
“I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP,” as Dave Barry would say.
Making programming decisions based solely upon ratings is like driving with a GPS that shows only where you’ve been.
If you want to make contact with the listener instantly, you don’t talk about yourself first.
For some reason, this concept that I’ve been teaching for over twenty years gives people problems. Because in real life, it’s natural to talk to a friend by starting with yourself (“I saw this movie the other night…”), we assume that this is the way radio conversations should begin.
But that’s not very effective, because (1) often – most of the time, actually – the reaction is “So? What does that have to do with Me?” And (2) real-life conversations are face-to-face. Radio isn’t.
It’s a thing in my family. We play cards and board games and stuff. Vacations are planned with that fierce evening competition in mind.
The problem with these games is that you only really know what is right before you.
You only know the card that has just been played, or the next move, but NOT what the eventual impact it will have on the outcome of the game.
Programming a station can sometimes feel that way.
It’s not exactly a news flash that most recorded interviews and phone calls are pretty much a big yawn. Here’s why:
Pressed for time, it’s easy to let things slide. With an artist interview, a lot of people think they’re sacrosanct – you shouldn’t edit them too severely, because the artist is deigning to speak to you from the mountain top.
But of course, the truth is that most musical artists are mediocre to terrible interviews, going through the motions because the label told them they need to do them, and they don’t know anything about radio.
So they speak to “the fans” or “the people out there” or “you guys” – plural terms that, by definition, can’t come across as one-on-one – or they treat the listeners like they’re just faceless members of a teeming throng that’s only there to fawn over them and buy tickets to the show.
Something remarkable happened 75 years ago that few find relevant today. Unless you are a history buff. Unless you had a parent or grandparent in the military. Unless your parents got married 9 days after D-Day (which mine did). Unless you were able to see the stories of D-Day through the lens of today.
That is exactly what The Atlantic offered its readers. They took images gathered 70+ years ago at Normandy and photographed the very same locations as they appear today. It’s stunning when you look through the lens of how things look today.
In the last tip, I wrote about baseball pitcher David Cone, who said, “I always believed pitchers need to be searchers, mound ‘investigators’ who determine the best pitch to throw, and the best way to throw it. Then (be able to) do that again and again.”
The first way to become an “investigator” is to get coaching. But if your Program Director isn’t very good at coaching (and sadly, some aren’t), or the station can’t or won’t spend money to get a qualified Talent Coach, there are still two things you can do on your own:
What if one simple change changed everything?
Weight loss. Self confidence.
Attitude. Growing relationships. Dwelling less on negative.
How can we get people to talk about us?
My friend Jim is a Cubs fan. He talks about the Cubs every time we’re together. The Cubs aren’t paying him to do this. In fact, the Cubs probably don’t know he is doing it.
He talks about the Cubs because they are inherently interesting.