Frost Advisory #349 – A Programming Lesson From Merle And His Camera Shop

It caught my eye.  That silver convertible with the gizmo that makes the top disappear into the trunk.  Kinda cool, thought a certain mid-life crisis male.

Then I saw a blue one of the same model, then a red one a few days later, then another silver one just like it.  All of a sudden I was seeing them everywhere.  They weren’t relevant until they were.

My friend Eddie needed to get a passport photo for a sudden trip.  He went online and found a place way on the other side of town.  It was quite a drive but he was running out of time.

On his way back to his house he drove past the small shopping center near his house.  He happened to look over and saw the sign in the window of the Merle’s Camera Shop that read, “Passport photos here.”  It had been there all the time but he hadn’t noticed.  It wasn’t relevant… until it was.

“It’s funny how our minds are attuned to filter out almost everything except what’s relevant to us.  We can be in a crowded ballroom buzzing with people and still hear our own name.  It gets our attention and pulls us in.

It’s a good lesson for radio talent.  If you’re talking about what’s relevant to the listener, you’ll draw them in.  If you’re talking about what’s irrelevant to the listener they’ll never hear you at all.  That’s why there are so few true personalities, they’re too busy talking about what’s trending instead of what they have in common with the listener.”
~Alan Mason

Here’s the problem.  Every programmer and air talent nod their heads in agreement that their radio station should be relevant, all the while airing another ubiquitous Impossible Question (“Belly button lint originated in which remote tribal village in the Amazon?”), another traffic report about traffic I’m not in, or another tidbit about what celebrity said what at the Grammy’s/Oscars/Golden Globes.

We throw a bunch of stuff at the wall without using the precise filter of relevance.

Start with the listener and work back.  What does she care about RIGHT NOW?

Take it from Merle.  It’s not relevant until it is.

John Frost

About John Frost

John has been a successful major market DJ and PD for such companies as CBS, Gannett, Cap Cities, Westinghouse, Multimedia, and Sandusky and publishes the Frost Advisory.

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