Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #305 – The Modified Q Format

This is what I hear a lot of the time nowadays: A jock stops down in the middle of two songs for no apparent reason.  Then he or she reads some idiotic story from the internet that most people saw five days ago, adding a C-minus punch line.  (Or the jock does some piece of trivia, or some “cheerful thought for the day”.)  Then they lurch forward into another song.

But back in the day, when radio had tons of forward momentum and much bigger ratings, there was this thing called the “Q” format.  It was somewhat the same as the Drake format, in that jocks talked over song intros (and at the end of a music sweep, the jock talked at the end of the last song, of course, and did some Content into a commercial break).  But the Q format was often thought of as screaming, hundred-mile-an-hour jocks cramming as much as they could into an intro before the vocal hit.

So over the next few years, it morphed into a modified Q format, where we were more conversational and real-sounding.  A song ended, the next song started, and we did a thought over the intro.  Easy-peasy.

And it MOVED.  “The big wheel kept on turning” (the music didn’t stop until we were going to a commercial break), and “Imaging” was more sparse than it is now, better produced, and brief – so it stood out more.

Guess what.  It still works.  And if you’re the “stop down and kill the momentum” station, you’d better hope that the modified Q format isn’t your competitor.

This is what can save radio today.  Podcasts aren’t the answer; they’re used in a different way.  (And with hundreds of thousands of podcasts available, the podcast ADDICT still only downloads about seven.)  Spotify can’t compete, because when you have Momentum plus Content, you have something they don’t.  And streaming (iTunes, Amazon music, Pandora, etc.) doesn’t comment on anything local, or tell me it’s going to hail tonight at 2am.

I would say “Let’s Make Radio Great Again,” but I don’t have orange hair and don’t want to build a wall around Spotify.  So let’s just try Momentum + Personality.

Tommy Kramer

Tommy has spent over 35 years as an air talent, programmer, operations manager and talent coach - working with over 300 stations in all formats. He publishes the Coaching Tip

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