“I can’t break 100 anymore,” I confessed to a golf professional that sees dozens of my like very day. “That means,” he responded immediately, “that you’re not striking the ball solidly.” This guy hadn’t even seen me swing the club and he already diagnosed my problem.
That’s called experience. He’s seen it before. He knows what causes it. He knows how to fix it.
They are some of the brightest broadcasters I work with. Each a hard worker and devoted to the station’s mission. Not a rotten egg among ’em.
“I’ve got an idea,” I said. Frankly, it was one of the best I’ve ever had. Big idea! Game changing idea. I tossed it out there.
The room was quiet. No one even risked looking up from their paperwork. Then one brave soul broke the awkward silence by saying, “We’re too busy to do anything that big.” Heads nodded in agreement.
They were too busy to be great.
Hasn’t it been a fascinating thing to watch? The news coverage. The politicians, the celebrities, the average America Joe sharing what Billy Graham meant to them. In a media world of bickering and partisan politics, we’ve hit hit the pause button to reflect on a man whose life transcended those things.
His daughter, Ruth Bell Graham, said, “Everybody has a Billy Graham story.”
I know I do. It was at a Billy Graham crusade in Irving, Texas, that 14-year-old John Frost publicly dedicated his life to Christ. It was decades later than I would learn that was the very first event at Texas Stadium. I learned that from his grandson, Tullian Tchividjian, who had become my pastor.
His message was simple.
When you listen to your station what do you hear?
Do you hear one song, then another, then another interspersed with talk? Or do you hear music and friendly conversation that can be life changing?
Do you hear the same songs over and over and over? Or do you hear stories that inspire and help tune out the negative noise?
A better question might be, “what do you choose to hear?”
Of all the things I get asked about, the search for Content comes up far more often than anything else. First of all, you have to look for it, but it’s really all around you. Prep sheets are great for lining bird cages, but real Content can easily be distilled into two lanes:
- What’s already on the listener’s mind – TOP of mind, not just something he/she “has a passing interest in” – filtered THROUGH your observations, experiences, and opinions.
- Things the listener may NEED to know, but might not have heard about yet.
Anything that you have to “reach” for, you should automatically reject. Let everyone ELSE do trivial, typical, or obscure stuff, while you make great contact every at-bat. (Obligatory baseball reference is for my partner John Frost. Go Yankees.)
With the natural flow of stuff that you have to promote (station stuff, events, web features, etc.) and Contests, that’s really all you need. The creative “difference” factors don’t lie in finding “off the beaten path” things to talk about; they’re in HOW you weigh in on and share the things the listener cares most about.
This makes your prep process SO easy.
The Far Side caption read, “What we say to dogs.” The cartoon showed a man pointing to his dog saying, “Okay, Ginger! I’ve had it! You stay out of the garbage! Understand, Ginger? Stay out of the garbage, or else!”
The caption on the second panel read, “What they hear”; “Blah blah Ginger blah blah blah blah blah blah…”
They say we are exposed to over 3,000 advertising messages every day. You likely only remember a handful of them, if that. Our brains are neurologically wired to filter out everything that doesn’t helps us “survive and thrive.”
This is my 400th Frost Advisory. It really is a lot of trouble, you know. Sometimes it’s a real pain.
I’ve written this blog diligently every week for almost eight years. That’s longer than I’ve held any one job.
I’ve written on airplanes, in hotels, and restaurants. I’ve written in ballparks and boat docks and during hurricanes.
I’ve even written a few on mission trips in a third world country.
“I never know what I think about something until I read what I’ve written on it.”
We can view our format one of two ways.
It’s either a bunch of songs that people don’t know by artists they’ve never heard of…
…it’s songs and stories about the most important things in our lives.
Examples of the former litter the landscape but they aren’t very memorable.
I’m often asked, “Which is more important? Creativity or discipline?”
The answer is “yes.”
I was 21 when I was first bestowed with the title Program Director. I obviously didn’t know much about programming at that age, but I had the lowest voice on the air staff, had my own car, and laughed at the boss’ jokes.
In the decades since, I’ve coached a few air talent, trained a couple of program directors, and taught up to a few general managers that thought they could program a radio station.
Over the years I’ve found that ones quickest to learn were the ones with one of two things in their background; music or acting.
Reckon’ you’ve heard this before.
Everyone’s favorite radio station is the station that plays their favorite music. That’s the easy part.
Most GMs and PDs nod their heads in response to the question “would you like to grow your audience?,” much like being asked if you’d like to have whiter teeth, or if you wish Trump would stop Tweeting.
I’ve found that few programmers really comprehend the conundrum of attracting new listeners while playing songs they simply don’t know.
One can’t prefer something one isn’t familiar with
Or put the other way, “familiarity is preference,” as Mark Ramsey says.
So, what’s the solution?