The other day, I was having to teach someone how to talk over a song intro. This is a modern phenomenon, apparently, because most people on the radio today never heard the Drake Format or the “Q” Format that revolutionized radio in the late sixties and early seventies.
Before those, jocks just talked whenever and wherever they wanted to, so you heard a song end, the jock blather for a few seconds (or longer), and then start another song, talking up to the vocal.
Bill Drake changed that. Jocks fit the song intro, instead of starting early. Momentum increased exponentially. The Q stations (KCBQ in San Diego first, others later) took it another step further. But jocks tended to lose contact with the pace of the song, doing every break in a high-powered delivery.
Stations like KNUS in Dallas, Y95 in Miami and others took it beyond that, maintaining the momentum, but also introducing a sensitivity to the pace and “vibe” of the song and matching it with the delivery.
Enough with the history lesson. Jocks today grew up hearing a song end, the talent talking for much too long, then another song starting. Momentum ceased to exist under the guise of “respecting the music,” primarily an Album Rock approach.
Stop – Start – Stop – Start. The definition of NO true momentum.
So back to the recent session. Continue reading
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.”
Just last month, an associate sent me this email:
Do you have any suggestions for how to correct a “Ron Radio” delivery? A client of mine in a small market sent their night jock’s audio to me. He is kind of a puker. It’s been forever since I’ve dealt with someone who pukes on the air. I was going to have him put a picture of his wife (or similar) in front of him to maybe make him more conversational. I remember you having a better way of having someone visualize speaking to another person.
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.
Despite all the zillions of VERY specific tips that I coach, the people I’ve worked with the longest know that I’m all about developing Personality on the air. The most important mentors in my career stressed that – particularly as “cookie cutter” formats became dominant – Personality was the sweet brown liquid inside the Coca-Cola can.
Just the other day, a guy I’ve worked with for several years took a foray into the world of creating a character voice to do his weather forecasts, and ran it several times during his show. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t ‘ready for prime time’ yet, either. Here’s part of what I wrote in our session recap:
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.
In talking to Program Directors and GMs over the years, I’ve heard a lot of discussion about why a show does or doesn’t really get the audience the people in charge think it should.
For example, they’ll go down their bullet-point lists of all the ingredients that a morning show should have – the capsule descriptions of what words describe each Talent, which one is the “starter” and which is the “reactor,” and (hopefully) the reason people will listen to them.
But if you stop there, you’re missing the center of the bulls-eye: Values.
What are the talent’s values? What are the station’s values? What do you STAND for?
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?
The buzz word today is “stories.” That’s a simplistic way of saying that personal experiences are more powerful and memorable than just “bits” or “items.”
And the best example I’ve ever seen of how stories should take shape is the TV show “Survivor.”
Remember back in school when you wanted that girl or boy to like you? I bet a specific name immediately pops to mind. (That’s for you, Marlene).
If I could just be taller, thinner, have prettier hair or clearer skin.
If I could just be smarter, run faster, or make the other kids laugh.
Then. Then maybe she’d love me.
There is an old joke about the expressive who said, “Enough about me! Let’s talk about you. How do you feel about me?”