“Everyone’s favorite radio station is the station that plays their favorite music.”
I cleverly put this sentence in quotes because it is the first thing I say when talking to a new station. After more than two decades in our format I can honestly say that NO ONE understands this fully at the beginning of the journey. However, all understand it later. If they are successful.
Why does this matter?
It matters because people love what is familiar, and what is familiar is what we love. And we work in a format that plays mostly unfamiliar music to the very people we’re trying to attract.
A few weeks ago we went to our first live concert in more than two years. Gosh, it was fun to be experiencing live music again.
The group is from Russia. Most of them don’t speak a word of English. Over 2,000 people packed the auditorium to hear them… a group that had NEVER had a hit record and hardly spoke the language.
What’s the deal?
If you want to get to know someone ask them about them.
If you want to build a relationship with someone ask them to tell you their story.
A successful radio station is one that builds a relationship with its listeners. The station understands who they are, what they care about, what connects them to others.
It’s called common ground.
It’s the basis of every affiliation in our lives. It starts with family. Then age and gender. It then branches out to school; then class (who was your first grade teacher?); then school groups. (I was a Thespian, don’t’cha know!) Then friendships develop.
It’s not common sense to warn someone about using common sense. But that IS the point.
Successful principles of business, leadership, programming, or ministry aren’t common. They are the exception. Think about it.
Otherwise, all businesses would be successful, there would be no leadership challenges, churches would be full every week, all radio stations would have high ratings and we’d all have dated the prettiest girl in town.
Successful principles are the exception, not the common. There are 11,000 business books published each year. I looked it up. If these principles were merely common sense there would not be the demand for these lessons learned. A few years ago I had the privilege of being in studio when Bill Hybels interviewed former GE CEO Jack Welch for Willow Creek’s leadership summit. Nothing Jack said was common sense. It was deeper than that.
Christmas decorations are up in Home Depot, so I reckon’ I can go there, too.
Even though we’re yet to October, I’m already having conversations with program directors about this upcoming Christmas season. Call it Year #2 of Christmas with COVID.
Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse than last year, this Christmas season is extra noisy with the situation in Afghanistan and the chaos on the southern border.
But even in this unusual season Christmas can bring out the best in us. More people are tuning to your station than at any other time of the year. I know of a few stations that top a million listeners per week and numerous others that reach the top five. This was once considered unimaginable for a niche format playing mostly unfamiliar music.
Out of the mouth of babes.
It is an expression often connected to the perspective of someone with little or no knowledge of the inner workings.
I recently spent time with an industry pro. He’s been a major market morning man for decades at big stations you’ve heard of. He’s a Christian guy, a PK even, but has never worked in Christian radio. My colleagues and I are doing our best to nudge him to apply his immense talent in our format. Then, out of the mouth of babes…
“Your format thinks too small,” he blurts out.
“Tell me more,” we inquire.
“If your station can be what you say – transformative in someone’s life – then why do you spend 99% of your time focusing on the nuts and bolts, the songs, the artists, the deejays, the features – the stuff any radio station can do. Why don’t you focus on what is most meaningful?” he says from an outsider’s perspective.