Several times in these tips, I’ve referred to being on the air as like having a conversation with a friend. But of course, someone who’s just tuning into your show for the first time isn’t a friend – yet.
So if you want to pull that person toward you, follow these two guidelines religiously:
1. Never go so fast that you lose being conversational.
2. Never let the conversation go longer than it should.
It’s pretty obvious that people are tired of fast-talking deejays (particularly in the voice-tracking arena) who don’t sound engaged with us at all. And in coaching somewhere over 1700 people over the years, I’d guess that maybe – MAYBE – one percent of them have a good sense of “how much is too much.” (Hint: “too much” = a lot less than you might think.)
It’s our biggest mistake. It is also our greatest opportunity.
“We’re attracted to art when it stands for something we believe in, shows us a reflection of our own values, gives us a glimpse of our own inner face.” Roy Williams
We have unwittingly created a format that is disconnected from the world outside the radio station’s windows. We are a sports station that doesn’t root with the fans going to the game. We are an alternative rock station that doesn’t reflect the latest craze, the clubs and the crazies. We’re a country station that doesn’t sing about girls and guys and guitars.
There are two things that will make someone tune OUT fast:
1. Playing a song he or she doesn’t like.
This is why you should definitely want to do music research. The charts don’t say it all, because they’re too general. And what the label reps say is sometimes just a “quacking” noise.
My dear friend Randy Brown, an excellent programmer, put it best when he was accosted by a label rep for not playing a certain song. When Randy told him he didn’t think it fit his station, the rep said, “It’s just one song.” To which Randy replied, “Yes, but when it’s playing, it’s the ONLY song.”
I have a friend named Andy. (Not his real name). He is a disc jockey.
He does disc jockey things. You know, “This Day in History.” Trivia. Shows about favorite pizza. Where the sports teams are playing tonight.
Basically, Andy does the bag of tricks from his previous station. And the one before that. Because of that Andy doesn’t have to work very hard on his show. It sort of does itself.
The problem is our listeners don’t listen to us for that. His content not only DOESN’T add value (the very purpose of content), it is actually an interruption in meeting the expectation of the listeners.
We had to help Andy change the way he thought about his show.
The main challenge in bringing great Content to the table each day is that it takes a little work – something that it seems like the vast majority of air talents now see as more of a nuisance than anything else.
So what we get a lot of the time is the “kicker” story – one of those supposedly “amusing” stories like the “stupid criminal of the day” tripe, or innocuous, space-filling items like one I saw the day of this writing, “What your crush on Keanu Reeves actually means, according to science.”
This is the lamest form of show prep. Here’s why:
“Your July memories” pops up on my Facebook timeline.
“One year ago” pops up. Then “5 years ago.” Then “two months ago last Thursday.”
In radio we call this “recycling.” In social media vernacular it’s about keeping the conversation going. Facebook is all about engagement, so they create prefabricated milestones designed to prompt you to engage.
What do we want them to say?
There are many things to learn from great movies, TV shows, and books – all excellent examples of storytelling. And one of the simplest lessons came from the very first Star Wars movie (and continues today): the FIRST LINE sets the stage…
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”
Bam! In ONE line, you’ve justified everything that follows. And of course, each movie in the franchise then has the “crawl” that explains what’s happening at the precise time of that episode.
Garth was in town and there was no room at the inn.
My hotel reservation vaporized and it appeared as though I didn’t even have friends in low places. My pal Brian and I trudged along from city to city in our hotel treasure hunt until we uncovered the last room available.
Entering my room to unpack my case I noticed a desk for my computer and quickly realized there was no electric outlet to plug into. On hands and knees I discovered an outlet behind the dresser next to the desk. The only way for me to plug in my computer was to move the furniture.
The very reason the desk was there – to be a work station for my computer – was rendered useless because of the way the room had been designed.