When you do something on the air that makes the listener think “Me too,” you hit the jackpot. Memories and shared experiences aren’t just about what happened and when it happened. They’re about the Emotions that people feel when they go (or went) through them.
This is why “interesting” isn’t the same as “relevant.”
When you tap into Emotions, you gain DEPTH.
Most of the subpar shows are just about things, data, facts, and “fluff” srories. These are almost always boring. But when an emotion is called up, people “lean in” with their ears.
Emotions are the goal of everything that we do.
“But what do I talk about?” a struggling air talent asks while clutching the front page of the local newspaper or “This Day in History” with the dreaded celebrity birthdays.
“Burl Ives would have been 111 today.” (I really heard this!)
Air talent have to be reminded that their content needs to add value to the station’s music design. Non-music elements will either push listeners away or bring them closer. It’s not filler, it has to add value.
Here are some ideas:
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One of the main arguments against radio today is that “people would rather watch TV.” Or stare at a computer, tablet, or cell phone screen. For our purposes, let’s just use TV as an example.
I watch an NBA game, and BETWEEN TWO FREE THROWS (!) they run a commercial. (The game itself, of course, is shrunk down so that my 70-inch screen might just as well be the 24-inch screen I had in 1988.) This is SO invasive. Announcers in every sport talk right up to the moment a pass or pitch is thrown.
And baseball has been so ruined by TV directors that you see a pitcher, then – in the middle of his windup – they change cameras to show the batter, then another switch is flipped and you see a player field the ball. They could all be from separate games, and you wouldn’t even know it.
And NFL games? Don’t even start.
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A couple of weeks ago I began a conversation I entitled “It’s Better Than Just Being Good.”
Over the years I’ve learned that there are basically three different levels of discussions about programming.
There are conversations about being competent, and conversations about incremental improvements.
But those two topics are not necessarily transformative.
I recently eavesdropped on some focus groups for a radio station that is viewed as elite in our format. You would know of them. The listeners didn’t talk about the station the way we do – the nuts and bolts, the songs and deejays, liners and promotions. No, they talked about how the station fits into their life.
“It’s like being in the same room with my friends.”
“I can talk to my kids about this.”
“I’m in a better mood when I get home.”
In other words, the value of listening to a station is viewed on how it relates and transforms their lives. Better mood. An escape from the negative. How it connects with the conversations I have with those I love.
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If you’ve worked with me or read any significant amount of my stuff, you know that a lot of what I coach comes from the acting world. Although he only lived to be 50 years old, Roy London has been a heavy influence on me.
A fine actor himself, over the last fifteen years of his life, Mr. London became one of the premier acting teachers in Hollywood, a profound influence on the likes of Sharon Stone, Jeff Goldblum, Hank Azaria, Geena Davis, and Garry Shandling, just to name a few.
One of London’s main tenets is “It’s all about Love. Every choice comes from trying to connect with Love.”
Man, that is spot-on. While some radio talents have had success being negative and snarky, the ones that most people hold dear are the ones who are consciously trying to connect on a human level. And Love is the highest of human values. Continue reading →