10 Questions with ... Bob Crittenden
August 19, 2013
1. Brief history/synopsis....where you were born & raised, schools, & current family
I was born in Marietta, GA, where I attended high school. I went to college at the University of Tennessee, and got my start in radio in Knoxville.
After I graduated from UT, I returned "home" to the greater Atlanta area and worked in Christian radio there before moving to Birmingham, AL, then to Montgomery. I have been married for almost 23 years to my wife, Beth, and I have two children - our daughter, AnnaBeth, will be a college freshman in the fall and our son, Eric, will be entering his sophomore year of high school.
2. What was it that made you "catch the bug" for radio? When did you realize that it was what you wanted to do for a living?
I was fascinated by entertainment and radio throughout my early years, but I never really considered it as a profession until the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, when I began to listen to the local Christian radio station - I had never heard contemporary Christian music, and I was hooked. I went back to school, changed my major to broadcasting, and eventually went to work for that station.
3. What's the most successful type of on-air break you've ever been part of?
I really, really enjoy on-location broadcasting. I put this into practice when I broadcast on-location for the first time from the exhibit hall at National Religious Broadcasters in Dallas. I've been back each year since. After the first year's success, I expanded the convention coverage to include more guests. Now, in addition to NRB, my endeavors include the International Christian Retail Show - this year's ICRS in St. Louis continues the tradition.
4. With the advent of "instant everything".....what do you do to show prep?
Staying informed is key. I have to be talking about what people are talking about, and, quite often, to challenge listeners to think Biblically about current headlines. I try to relate popular cultural references in my on-air comments. I spend a lot of time on the Internet, scanning not only news and information sites, but utilizing social media, especially Twitter, to see what's trending and what items are prevalent in the conversation.
5. What would you categorize as your greatest personal challenge in radio? What are you doing to overcome that?
It's a constant struggle to make sure that what I'm saying is making a mark - that my content is clear and concise. I think there is a tendency to say too much, explain too much, become way too wordy in my delivery. Clock-watching can be helpful - you have to be constantly aware of the clock and maybe even go back and think through what has just been said. Self-evaluation is very helpful.
6. Who are 3 people that you look to as mentors/leaders? What is it about them that grabs & keeps your attention?
I'll stick with the high-profile leader category - I have been blessed to meet, interview, and listen to some wonderful communicators: I particularly appreciate the way that Ron Hutchcraft is able to relate a story in a relatively short period of time.
On the mainstream radio side, even though he routinely pushes the envelope, I am intrigued by sports talk host Jim Rome - he is very emphatic, clear in his delivery, and has an excellent combination of humor and factual content.
Although I do not listen to his radio show, I'm a big fan of Ryan Seacrest...he seems to be very much in the know, engages very well, and is great on stage.
7. What do you believe is the single greatest factor in building audience share/cume? Why do you believe it's that important?
Promotion of what's to come and cross-promotion of dayparts are strategies that can be used on-air to draw attention to other elements of your programming. When you have a format that has so much to give its audience, we have to be intent on sharing what we have to offer. Regarding external promotion, community involvement, such as being present at events and relating personally to people can build a powerful relationship with our audience and potential audience. If you have elements of your programming that you can share on social media, you can leverage those sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, to tell your story.
8. Most successful station promotion ever?
Wow! There are a number that come to mind. Effective contests can not only give our listeners an opportunity to participate and connect with us, but create a buzz with our audience. I really want to get people talking!! One of the contests we did was a "Favorite or Funniest Wedding Day Memory (or Mishap)", in which listeners submitted their stories online and qualified for a grand prize of registration and lodging for a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember. Another one asked listeners to share why they would like to win a "Girls' Night Out" with Chonda Pierce. We really got some funny and touching stories. Contests involving listener stories seem to resonate very well.
9. How do you combat the iPod/satellite/online option listeners have today? What are the steps to compete?
We have to recognize that we're no longer a radio station or radio network, we are truly a media center - even an entertainment or information center. So, we have to have our web presence together, including live streaming. And, we have to utilize social media to let people know what they can access through us. I will include a guest's Twitter name in a Tweet, and those then can be tweeted to that guest's followers, so you get that message spread. We have listeners everywhere via the Internet, so we have to recognize that our audience can literally be anyone.
10. Radio 101....in 101 words or less, how would you guide/instruct/advise a radio programmer/air talent who wants to get better at their craft?
We have to strive toward excellence - that includes a certain determination to communicate well and to get better. We have to make sure that we're clear and concise in our delivery and be constantly be evaluating ourselves - what we say, the way we say it. We really have to sound like we WANT to be on the air, coming across personable and relatable. Ultimately, we have to connect with our audience, to make those listeners feel like we're part of their world, instead of sitting on the sidelines while we do our thing.