It's Remotely Possible
June 4, 2013
One of the few perks left in this business for radio personalities are paid appearances and remotes. You would think the level of expertise for performing these duties would increase as a jock advances through the ranks of stations and market size. However, I have found it not to be true. Come to think of it, no PD ever instructed me on the art of shaking hands, kissing babies, and reporting in 60 seconds on the wonders of a client's retail wares. I have talked to many announcers and the "Throw them in the water" approach is too often still applied to this important area. Some PDs do instruct on the subject, but for the jocks left to learn on their own, it can be a costly lesson.
Regardless of the market size, to different degrees personalities need guidance on how to do an appearance or remote, paid or non-paid. Let me tell you about a jock at a station I programmed who decided he knew best and it cost him a longtime remote with a retail clothier. He made the mistake of thinking this particular client was his friend and during remotes he would spend most of the time talking to him and occasionally chatting with customers willing to approach for an autograph.
I had been preaching to the jocks the importance of not sitting back waiting for listeners to walk up and say hi. This client had been doing a couple of remotes a month for years and only wanted this personality. It has always been my policy to let an advertiser have whoever they wanted for a paid remote -- unless there was a scheduling problem. But I did always insist to a sales person to have their client select a second choice in case the original pick became ill at the last minute or was on vacation.
The afternoon jock was sick one Saturday and the other personality who was the client's second choice performed so well, the advertiser eventually dropped the afternoon jock in favor of the other guy. As I had instructed all my jocks, this personality walked up to people and shook hands, engaged the audience, held little contests to giveaway CDs, and did his callbacks with energy, sometimes incorporating the crowd on the calls. What I am about to list will serve as a reminder for many and a possible guideline for others.
Checklist of Things of Do for Appearances and Remotes
Get to your appearance or remote at least 30 minutes prior to the beginning; this means the time promoted for the hours you are to be on location, not 30 minutes prior to the first call-back. If anything has to be set up like a tent or a table and you are by yourself, get there an hour ahead of time.
Hopefully a salesperson, promotions person, or preferably both are on hand to make sure you have all the up-to-the-minute talking points for your 60-second call-back reports. If by yourself, politely double-check to make sure you know what to talk about.
Write out three scripts to read from for your call-backs and rotate during the remote.
Most call backs are recorded, but clients don't always know this. Yes, you are live, but recorded live. Just make sure the client cannot see you when recording. When the actual times for airing your recorded breaks come up, lip sync in front of everyone, but off to the side as if they are live. Live call-ins can lead to huge problems and generally not done, but are sometimes necessary, so be careful. (Your PD may have different ideas in this area.)
The jock or board op in the studio is not your personal production person; have a stopwatch or use the clock function on your smart phone to time things out. If you can't do things in one take, do clean pickups so the studio can edit easily.
Some of those shopping will approach you and some won't. Go right up to people, smile and let them know why you are there. Depending on the number of people, spend a little time but keep moving and connect with as many people as possible. Meanwhile, keep track of when your call-ins are to occur and the times they air. Do not wait until the last minute, unless your PD says otherwise, call to record at least 15 minutes prior to the actual airing.
Wear a station jersey or jacket and if your station does not put the names of their jocks on apparel; spend a couple of dollars and get your name stitched on your personal station wear. People will be aware of who you are when they walk up to you. In worse-case scenarios, if your station does not have station apparel, see if programming will provide a laminated card with the station logo and your name that can be pinned to something you will wear.
If you have prizes to give away, don't just hand them out; either have a drawing box with registrations to hand out (with or without a promotions person) or play simple contests for people to win; like announcing to folks the person with the following four numbers in the serial number of their one dollar bill will win ... or any sort of easy-to-win sort of thing.
You are only at your appearance for a brief window of time, two to three hours, so eat before you get there. However, if you have to eat while there, do it out of sight. There's nothing cool about stuffing your mouth while talking to fans. And it should go without saying ... do not drink alcohol, even if it is a pre-concert event, from a club, or at a state fair.
Do not discuss station business in front of fans or in earshot of a client. If the client has a complaint concerning the remote, hopefully a salesperson is on hand or let the promotions person handle it. If you are alone, try to call the salesperson, sales manager or PD, and let them talk to this person. Most important, if it's just you, just listen; do not offer a solution to anything out of your control. But when you get back to the station leave a detailed note of what happened or e-mail the sales person.
This is not on the list but very important, no personal cellphone calls during your remote. Now, jocks go out and make that extra money!