It’s funny what sticks in our minds. We can remember an unkind word from Marlene Breedlove in the fifth grade but have a harder time recalling something nice said last week.
The guys in the white lab coats say there is a reason for this. I’m told that a negative experience is immediately stored in our brain’s long term memory, while a positive experience needs to rattle around for more than twelve seconds before checking in to that part of the brain.
The reason for this dates back to the prehistoric days at the rock quarry so that Fred and Barney would know when a tarantula was about to sneak up on them!
“Fight or flight” is the plot of any well-written cartoon, don’tchaknow! We remember the negative stuff and we want to immediately kill the tarantula!
This is programming tip #200. Yee haw! I’ve written one of these every week for almost four years! Neato! Nifty!
That, my friends, is an example of inside thinking. Nobody really cares that this is programming tip #200 except me. And even I don’t think it’s as important as whether my Golden Retriever puppy has been taken for a walk recently.
Inside thinking is the default of every station, because we’re all inside!
A television station in my town has marketing campaign based on their 25 years on the air. It includes various notables of their network congratulating them and lauding that they are “the best station in town!” One network celebrity (whose initials are Jimmy Fallon) says, “it’s the best station in town, and the best station in any town.” I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP, as Dave Barry would say.
Almost every discussion about programming follows a paint by numbers trajectory.
Music! Paint that section!
Personalities? Color in another!
Station imaging? Draw in that section over there.
Just this week I’ve heard these statements:
“That station is too Christian.”
“That station isn’t Christian enough.”
Diagnosis by quota, interpreted like a programming P&L, drives both statements.
Every radio station has two groups of listeners. The first group is the those that listen NOW.
The second group is those who will listen THEN.
When THEN arrives your station will have many, many more listeners than it does now. Unless you consider only those you have NOW.
The gravitational pull for every radio station, business, or ministry is to be FOR the people you have NOW. You start to filter through “Oh, we’ve got to keep the people happy.”
Coaching air talent is one of the most challenging aspects of being a program director.
Firstly, most PDs have received little coaching on their own air work during their career. There is a frightening amount of “throw ’em in, hope they can swim” as we give people a microphone that connects to a gazillion megawatt transmitter to communicate the Gospel message to the masses.
Secondly, even fewer PDs get any training in how to be a really swell PD. But that’s a Frost Advisory for another time. (See #89 – Other Than the Title What Makes You Think He is the Program Director?)
Someone once said, “if you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”
Okay then, here are some tools:*
I’ve heard that when trying out a new pen for the first time 97% of people will write their own name.
In life we search for things that are familiar. At the ballpark we see people wearing our team’s colors. At a new restaurant we first look for the “Favorites”. A political candidate stirs our emotions by tapping into things we already believe.
They say the origin of the word Familiar comes from the phrase ‘of family’.
“…we learn how to love, and who to love, from our family… In fact, our unconscious acts like a GPS unit to seek a ‘familiar’ love that we’ve had in our family.” Daniel Tomasulo, Ph.D.
How ironic then for the “family” format to be so unfamiliar!
Several years ago I helped launch a Christian music station in Indianapolis for a mainstream broadcaster. Because most of the air staff was imported from the other stations in the building we ended up only one person with any Christian radio experience.
That didn’t seem to be a big deal to us at the time until we began to encounter the all-to-familiar Christian radio speed bumps named Halloween and Harry Potter.
“How do we talk about THIS?”, they would ask, freshly aware of the unsuspecting backlash to a Santa appearance at Dunkin’ Donuts.
Those three little words are the centerpiece of a remarkable image campaign during the Olympics by Proctor and Gamble. They help emotionally connect relatively obscure sporting events to something everyone can identify with.
“A mom’s love of a young child who is an athlete is a universal emotion. These commercials create positive feelings. When consumers think about the brand, the feelings will transfer over.” – Karen Machleit, head of the Marketing Department, University of Cincinnati
A brand built on beliefs and values will transcend the individual elements of the brand.
The Contemporary Christian radio format can touch a deep place in the heart, and yet, too often its presentation is unimaginative and formal. There is nothing so brilliant that can’t be made utterly ineffective through an analytical presentation. I’ve known stations that were so unspectacular that not even the staff listened when they didn’t have to.
What can we learn from this campaign?
At its best our format is more than just music and quacking dee jays. It can be the largest church in town and a gathering point for the tribe (which author Seth Godin describes as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea”).
Transforming your station from a passive medium (we talk about anything we want and you HAVE to listen) to an active one (“all of us talk about the same thing at the same time”) involves two specific techniques your air talent need to understand.
Facebook is ten years old, perhaps you’ve heard. Log in and you’ve probably seen something like this:
Here’s my Facebook movie. Find yours at…
Our radio stations can learn a thing or two from this campaign.
Facebook’s birthday isn’t about Facebook. It’s about you.
Roy Williams says…
“We buy what we buy to remind ourselves – and tell the world around us – who we are… We’re attracted to reflections of ourselves.”
Something to consider – hundreds of millions of movies have been created without anyone even being asked to. Facebook simply made it easy for you to see what your friends were doing.