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.