The thing that radio has the potential to do so well is the very thing we do so poorly. Right here. Right now.
In the aftermath of the Dallas tragedy I heard several radio stations in Texas capture that immediate intimacy.
Jeff and Rebecca at KCBI in Dallas shared their grief about the events that happened literally four blocks from their studios. I have stood in their studio and looked west out the very window that was their vantage point to a stunned city.
The remarkable Frank Reed at KLTY shared song lyrics that gave fresh context to the hope in the music we play.
The talented duos of Steve and Amy at Spirit 105.9 in Austin, and Carder and Rachelle at KSBJ in Houston opened their hearts and gave their listeners a way to be a good neighbor, the audio equivalent of carrying down a casserole and flowers across the street for a someone in need.
My talented friend Sterling Tarrant created a mosaic in sound of listeners and leaders, pastors and police with the lyrical epiphany, “When I look into the face of my enemy I see my brother.”
So, what’s my point?
It is admirable for our format to step to the plate in times of need. Often remarkable, as cited above. But we have the opportunity to have this kind of immediate intimacy every day, not just in reaction to a horrific event.
Too often we default to the routine ‘partly cloudy and 75’ stuff I saw on Facebook or something that sounds like a boring homework assignment with instructions to go to the station’s website.
The more immediate, the more intimate.
Your listener cares about…
…that ten mile back up on I-4 when she’s five miles into it and late for a big meeting…
…that hail storm coming in from the west when he’s trying to get home to put the cars in the garage…
…the rainout of the baseball game when the son has his hopes up and it’s his last season to play…
…their seat assignment, but only when boarding the plane.
The more immediate it is, the more intimate it becomes, because the more it matters. Right here. Right now.
If what you’re talking about is relevant, then it is just four blocks away… to somebody.
Maybe we should always sound like it.