They’ve been called the Seven Words of Death for any organization.
The first cousin to “We’ve never done it that way before” is “that doesn’t sound like us.”
I heard one general manager actually admit that he didn’t want to do a certain programming initiative because it would sound better than anything on his station. Needless to say he got his wish; his station didn’t get better.
John Maxwell identified several reasons people use to resist change. These three are the ones I encounter most at radio stations:
- Routine makes people comfortable. Since many people are habit prone anything that threatens their habits, they resist.
- People are simply satisfied with the old ways and don’t want to change.
- People resist change when they are threatened with the loss of something that is valuable to them.
It’s one thing when you see fear of change from disc jockey who is lazy and simply wants to repeat the schtick from his previous gig (and format), it’s another thing altogether when you see fear of change from the leader.
We all know of radio stations that sound basically the same as they did ten years ago, seeing their success through the rear view mirror. They believe they are successful because of the list of things they have done.. They forget that once those things were innovative and distinctive. They are the sitting ducks when new competition arrives.
“If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution. Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post.”
~G. K. Chesterton
Leaders, what is something your station has never done that is distinctive and would help build a bond between you and your listeners?
Go do that.
Last week, I did a “refresher” tip about the two most important basic ingredients – sounding real, and making sure you’re ALWAYS talking about something that’s relevant to the Listener’s life.
This time around, I want to deal with formatic basics, using a specific example: repeating things in the same ORDER over and over again.
I hear this all the time – the jock opens up with the name of the station, the artist, then the song title. Next break, name of the station, artist, then title – just like the last break. (This can happen with anything. Always giving a time check or your name last, repeatedly saying “Good morning” break after break, etc.)
So here’s the deal: You want to think like a baseball pitcher. Never throw exactly the same pitch twice in a row. Even if a pitcher has a 100-mile-an-hour fastball, about the second or third time he throws it at the same velocity in the same location, a major league batter is gonna send it toward the general area of Jupiter.
I DO believe that you should always say the name of the station first – it puts the “label” right out front, and you might as well get in the practice you’ll need to tell Echo or Siri to play it from now on, anyway – but even then, your inflection and pace should differ every time. (A great way to accomplish this is to simply match the tempo or emotional vibe of the song you’re talking over or coming out of. From there, you can change gears if you need to, but this will start you off right in the pocket.) Then you add to that PURPOSELY switching around the order of things, or just the NUMBER of things you do, and you’ve got it.
In the bigger picture, every time you fall into habits – which will automatically take away at least a small element of surprise – you’re just treading water. Brain mapping technology shows that even just a TINY difference makes it received as NEW information. That’s what makes the brain NOTICE it, instead of becoming numb to it.
You know the story.
108 years without a World Series championship. The lovable losers. The “Friendly Confines” of a ballpark named after a chewing gum magnate. “Let’s Play Two” and “Holy Cow!”
When the Chicago Cubs recently received their World Series rings they did something remarkable. Instead of inviting the typical three piece suit sponsors and local aldermen, the Cubs invited just regular ole fans to award their rings.
There was “the father whose kids all have Cub-themed names. A cancer survivor. A season ticket holder who saved the paper after Ernie Banks’ debut and later got him to sign it.
Calling it ‘the memory of a lifetime,’ president of baseball operations Crane Kenney said involving the fans in the ceremony was the team’s way of saying thank you for never giving up, despite the Cubs giving them ample opportunity to do so.”
~USA Today Sports
The winners were selected from more than 1,500 video nominations on Twitter using the #CubsRingBearer hashtag, which was shared more than 10,000 times overall.
How does your station make your fans feel like stars? How do you give them an experience they’ll share with their friends?
All those times you’ve had an artist in the studio have you ever considered inviting your station’s biggest fans to sit right there next to you? #onceinalifetime
Of those dozens of concerts your station sponsors every year, have you ever considered choosing one of your biggest fans to introduce the band? Or to sit on stage? Or on the front row? Or the video board? Or be on the post-concert show?
Have you considered inviting your most viral social media fans to join you in a pre-concert all-you-can-tweet seats so they can share about their special experience with thousands of their friends?
I reckon that 108 years of not winning gives you plenty of time to think about how to really appreciate your fans.
In Sports, there’s a thing called “paralysis by analysis.” It refers to your mind getting too cluttered to allow you to perform well.
In radio, whether you’re a new talent trying to find your way, or a veteran talent trying to update your skills to stay viable, it’s really easy to get too many thoughts in your head. (In my coaching, each session almost always boils down to just one main thing, then MAYBE one other little thought to just let percolate until the next time we talk. But no more than that.)
So let’s give you a shot in the arm today by getting back to the two biggest “basics”…
- The strength of your Content will determine how relevant you are.
If what you’re talking about isn’t something that’s relevant to my life and interests, then as a listener, I’m not going to pay much attention to what you have to say. As a matter of fact, I may just hit the button and move on to something else, not even remembering who you are or what station I just heard.
- Your coming across as a real person instead of just “a disc jockey” will determine how engaging you are.
“Personality” isn’t usually about inventing some false front or alter ego. It’s about selecting the best VERSION of yourself to put on the air, so hopefully, I’ll want to come back and hear you again, or listen longer. This involves some upper level voice acting skills and quite a few specific techniques. It rarely ever just comes naturally.
If you really cultivate these two most important basic areas, your ceiling is unlimited.
Last time we talked about your messaging, now let’s do some music cleaning. It’s easy to “set it and forget it” when it comes to your music, so let’s get back in there and take a look at how we have everything set up. Here are a few simple things you can do that can make a huge difference.