This may be the most simple Frost Advisory you’ve ever read. But simplest doesn’t mean easiest.
I’ve learned that every bad radio station has three things in common:
- They take too long to do stuff
- The stuff they do isn’t very interesting or meaningful
- They take too long to do stuff
I reckon’ you see this played out in your radio station every day.
That meeting you just attended will inevitably result in doing more stuff.
That music meeting? You’ll play more stuff.
That promotions meetings? More stuff.
Our systems are set up to habitually add more stuff, but we almost never talk about taking stuff away. Like barnacles on a ship our radio station begins to slow to a one share. (That’s fewer people hearing our stuff that takes too long).
Here’s a question for you: Have you listened to your station’s online streaming lately?
Chances are, it pretty much blows.
Most of the time, I record station audio to use for coaching sessions. And it’s amazing how many stations promote how you can “take us to work with you” or “keep up with us with the app” when in reality, the signal crashes without any warning whatsoever. Or the app makes us jump through hoops, pushing multiple buttons or wading through “join our music team” come-ons, before we finally just get to what we want – the audio.
Your radio station didn’t create the music; the artists, composers, and producers did.
Your radio station didn’t distribute the music; the record company, the music store, or iTunes did.
If you base your station’s success on things that aren’t yours to begin with, you’re in for a bumpy ride unless you have no competitor.
“There are countless factories vying to sell generic products to the companies that own the customer relationship. Perhaps 90% (sometimes 100%) of the profit goes to companies that make the sale, not the ones who actually made the product.” Seth Godin
So, what does your station own?
Back in the heyday of Top 40 radio, there were a handful of stations that became the icons; the stations we wanted to work at, or at least have our station sound like.
One of the giants was KHJ in Los Angeles, a Drake-Chenault consulted station with the brilliant Ron Jacobs as its Program Director.
Jacobs had three primary rules:
“Here’s the story of a lovely lady…”
Those seven words from a TV show more than 40 years ago instantly trigger a song in our heads and a time in our lives.
The press release promotes it as “the biggest show HGTV has ever done,” and it is no wonder. It is the most familiar project they’ve ever done.
Every new thing, whether a TV show, a restaurant, or a new radio format (that’s us to most listeners), is faced with a fundamental challenge; how to create passion for something that is unfamiliar.
HGTV has solved that problem.
“The Brady Bunch house might be the most famous home in all of television. From its faded tan exterior to its kitschy interiors, it’s absolutely iconic. Now, HGTV is making it real. The network’s new series, A Very Brady Renovation, partners all six of the original Brady Bunch children with HGTV all-stars…”
My friend and associate John Frost and I have one huge pet peeve – when we walk into a client station and can’t hear it playing in the building.
When we ask why this is so (and we do), we get these really lame answers:
“People are working, and the music distracts them.”
“We want people doing their jobs, not just listening to the radio.”
“The people in the office can’t talk to each other if the station is on.”
And the one I found most insane – “You can hear it in the bathroom.” (Wow! Let’s all go in there!)
No one wants to walk into a shoe store that has no shoes. If I can’t hear your station in the lobby or in the hallway, apparently you don’t have one worth listening to.
They say it is easy to parent someone else’s kids. It’s not so easy to parent your own.
It’s a great privilege for me to be inside many of the most successful stations in the country throughout the year. One of my favorite sessions to do is what I call “Bring your Best” where we order Whataburgers and Yoo-hoos for the entire air staff and bring them together for one huge coaching session.
Sure, it’s a little awkward at first, (after all, no songwriter wants to hear you didn’t like his new song), but I’ve found it quickly transforms into a team of like-minded people working together on their craft. Frankly, some of the best times of our lives have been when we’re a part of a team effort for a singular purpose.
Stations that are only an assemblage of “Attributes” are just ducks quacking into a strong wind. You’ve heard these so-called “Positioning” claims: “50-Minute Music Hours,” “12 in a Row,” “Commercial-free hours,” etc.
What programmers fail to realize is that there’s no real Benefit to any of these claims, because we all know that at some point, we’re going to pay for these with an incomprehensibly long clot of commercials. And “commercial-free” isn’t true anyway if you run promos or recorded liners between songs, because SURPRISE!… those are thought of as COMMERCIALS for you.
I don’t mean to brag but… I once had a 64 share. I was the young, long-haired afternoon disc jockey on the Big Station in West Texas that had about 2/3 of all cows, chickens, and tumbleweeds listening.
To be honest, we didn’t have a lot of competition and we had the franchise elements – a huge 5,000 watt signal, Paul Harvey news, the farm report, and, e-gad, high school football.
In Florida where I live everyone is watching the Weather Channel. In bars, restaurants, in the next-door neighbors’ sun porch, Jim Cantore and Stephanie Abrams are more recognizable than the governor. (Is it still Jeb Bush?)
There is a lesson here.