Our minds crave simplicity.
What are THOSE stations doing? Let’s do that!
We only know what we know. Nothing beyond that.
“WYSIATI… What you see is all there is.
“The confidence that individuals have in their beliefs depends mostly on the quality of the story they can tell about what they see, even if they see little…
You will often find that knowing little makes it easier to fit what you know into a coherent pattern.” Daniel Kahneman, “Thinking Fast and Slow”
We learn to talk by imitating our parents. It’s so instinctive that we hardly notice that Mommy is referring to herself in the third person (“Give it to Mommy”), inverting the perspective so the child learn will learn to say it correctly.
Your station’s tribe has a language.
Music is the language of your tribe.
But not in the way you may think.
“Before recording technology existed, you could not separate music from its social context.”David Byrne
It was an innocent enough question, I thought.
My friend Val and I were talking about life at his new job. “What has most surprised you?” I inquired.
He then began to cite some things that I couldn’t have predicted. He saw things through new eyes; a fresh perspective, not yet tainted by personalities, biases, and heuristics.
“The longer you’ve served where you are and the longer you’ve done what you are currently doing, the more difficult if will be for you to see your environments with the objectivity need to make the changes that need to be made. The shorter version: Time in erodes awareness of.”Andy Stanley, “Deep and Wide”
I know of a station that was excited to show to show off their promotional van’s new colorful logo design. After one such event I asked the promotions person if those at the event were aware of the station. She replied,
“No. They think I’m selling fish.”
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).
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?
“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…”
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.
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.
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.
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.