As you’re reading this, Hurricane Ida has made landfall on the Gulf Coast as an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane. Having lived in Florida for 25 years, I’m well aware of the life-altering impact of major storms coming ashore. Floridians can quickly transform into amateur meteorologists binge watching The Weather Channel. It’s never a good thing when you see Jim Cantore standing in your front yard.
We can learn a lot from The Weather Channel…
The power of winning moments. While it’s important to minimize things that result in listeners tuning away, playing defense isn’t the same as winning. The Weather Channel uses graphics, camera angles (literally), on the scene reporters, and live action video to keep viewers coming back for what Mr. and Mrs. Nielsen would call ‘listening occasions.’ We all want to know WHAT’S THE LATEST?
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We don’t broadcast in a vacuum. Turn on the radio or the TV (or any audio streaming service), and maybe the first thing you’ll notice is how LOUD things are nowadays.
Screaming commercials, “big voice” ANNOUNCEMENTS, local commercials where some car dealership’s relative who’s never had any coaching bleats out the ad copy, commercials or promos that seem twice as loud as the TV show… Sports announcers screaming at you because the crowd noise around them apparently makes them forget that they have a microphone – it’s just an assault on the senses sometimes.
Here’s how you avoid being part of that noise monsoon: Turn down the volume. Be emotionally invested, and trust that being enough. Yes, you want to be ‘animated’ in what you say, but “energy” is overbilled. To be truly heard, you should cultivate an ear-friendly delivery.
More expression, less volume.
Last week Fox televised a Major League Baseball game that was played in the proverbial middle of nowhere – a cornfield in Iowa. And get this, it was the most watched regular season game in 16 years.
So what’s the deal? Was its success simply nostalgia for a movie made 30 years ago?
In a sport that these days can seem more about exit velocity, spin rates, and animated strike zones, this ballgame in a cornfield at the Field of Dreams went the other direction.
Baseball with a small b
This game, like the movie before it, was a storybook about the average Joe (shoeless, no less) and second chances, discovering your purpose, and the opportunity to live a dream even if only for one inning.
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“You know, we just don’t recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they’re happening.”Doc “Moonlight” Graham
In the course of a “reboot” for a station, the first tactic is often to limit the length of breaks, and/or limit how many “Content” breaks there are in the hour.
The reaction is almost always the same: the air talent gripes about being “held back” or “not being given the time I need” to do Content.
I wish every air talent had taken a creative writing course in school, and/or written a LOT of commercials. It’s really important to learn about story construction – how to pull the listener in quickly, how a story moves from one point to another, how to be concise, and how to provide an ending that takes us somewhere, instead of just some lame “moral of the story” wrap-up or obvious punch line.
And it’s equally important to be able to fit something over a song intro, where you only have a few seconds.
The bottom line is that skill in constructing and telling a story + having time restrictions = expertise in written or spoken word. Sounding relaxed, but being as brief as possible, can quickly make everyone ELSE sound like they can’t shut up. That’s a huge advantage for you!
“Off air,” the TV schedule indicated. “No programming scheduled at this time” the box on the lower left read. It was 7:30 PM. Prime time, I think they call it.
I recently attended a major league baseball game where the concession stands on the third base side were all closed. If you wanted to give them your money there was no one there to take it, presumably the very reason they were there in the first place.
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