My friend and associate John Frost says I’m the only one he knows who can talk for an hour about editing, so I’ll try to keep this short: Keep things short.
Condense. The fewer words you can use, the easier it is to follow. You don’t have to feel restricted, but as you put a break together, throw out words that aren’t really necessary. That makes what you leave in stand out more.
Think about it; very few long quotes ever get cited by anyone. It’s usually the short, most direct one that gets remembered and repeated.
Note for Talk Radio: this does apply. It’s amazing how short, impactful sentences get the best response. Longer, wordier diatribes tend to get more placid response… or the same person who called yesterday with the same type of comment he’s making today. Three short sentences get better reaction than one sentence three times as long.
I don’t like asking questions, but here are two that you should ask yourself, whether you’re an air talent, Programmer, or GM:
- What do you have that I can’t get everywhere else?
In the current era of “cookie cutter” formats, this is crucial. If all you are is a corporate playlist and people reading liners and crap from the internet, the answer to that question is “nothing.”
- What do you have that I can’t get ANYWHERE else?
And remember, it has to be relevant. Just being “different” isn’t enough.
The answers to these two questions will decide your future. There are too many entertainment alternatives available today for you to expect people to waste their time listening to boring radio. Do SOMETHING… rather than do nothing.
So in a nutshell, here’s the biggest thing about Content:
You will not matter to anyone unless you talk about something that matters to that person.
I know – this sounds so simple, so the question is, “Why do so many stations fill the air with things that don’t matter to the listener?”
My theory is that they just don’t know yet what the whole purpose of radio is. Or they’re ego-driven, which is the wrong road.
Let’s be clear – nobody cares about what you want, or what the board of directors’ goals are. They care only about what you do that entertains them, or informs them about something they might need to know, but maybe they haven’t heard yet.
There are basically two styles – Inside out, or Outside in.
“Inside out” shows are first fueled by the people in the Control Room thinking “What interests us will interest the Listener.” Maybe, but these shows are often asleep at the wheel in terms of welcoming in new listeners.
“Outside in” shows are a bit more interactive in terms of listener participation (getting more phone calls, social media response, etc.), but you’d better make sure that you engage people emotionally. As a listener, a “topic” that doesn’t touch my life is a waste of my time.
Either philosophy can work, but either type can fail, too. The key? Content choices, of course. It might help you to remember that merely “interesting” is never the same as Compelling.
It’s probably only natural to not want to be coached. But the air talents I’ve encountered who feel that way (at first) are usually the ones who just don’t see past trying to be funny, or think that “trending” in social media is a goal. (It’s not. Connecting with the Listener is.) And those things will come as a byproduct of your skills improving.
I’ve always seen coaching – at least the way I do it – as being like an acting coach working with actors, and most of the things I teach come from an acting or writing background, in addition to decades of radio experience. We start with the radio stuff – how to do the “basics” (giving the station’s name, artist info, time, etc.), then, when that’s really solid and varied, it’s all about the Art. Continue reading