Don't Complicate What's Easy ... It's Radio
January 5, 2016
Trying to stay fresh and stay ahead of the game is a constant struggle. It's a new year with some of the same old issues and new ones lurking just ahead. I love the conversations with PDs and personalities after the holidays because they are full of energy as they tackle their jobs. It's all about hitting the internal reset button.
I know some people are more challenged than others when it comes to change, so as things evolve around the station, try and go with the flow. Whether the new direction works or not, you will have learned something.
How I Learned To Deal With Change
When I was growing up, my mother had a way of getting me to try new things to eat. She would always point out there were several ways to prepare a particular food. For example, I was not too fond of cole slaw, but as part of our agreement, I tried three different versions to see if I liked any of them. Sure enough, I enjoyed the creamy version. My mom would use the same approach to trying new things in general. Her thing was to be open to change, adapt and grow. I guess that's where I got my ideas for radio and the ways to move forward.
Keeping An Open Mind
I have always loved a brain that thinks on a multitude of levels. The game of radio is a matter of connecting the dots between life and radio. Learning how to transition between the two and communicate on and off the air in an entertaining and efficient manner. Conveying a thought or an attitude in the fewest words is a lot of work, but fun.
Air-Personalities Can Be Challenging
Programming a group of individuals trying to communicate to the best of their ability is a daily challenge. Having been a personality and a PD has allowed me to always remember the delicate balance for the recipe of on-air success.
Using New and Old Media To Stay Tuned-In
The modern day entertainment centers are smartphones and tablets; both are becoming the most important communication devices in the world. However, I always remind personalities to go to a bookstore or library at least once a week.
Holding a book, magazine, or newspaper in your hands is a form of escapism that allows your brain to slow down enough to absorb and think. It is amazing how many new ideas will pop into your head while reading a printed publication. I have this theory that although multi-tasking can come in handy, it distracts our brains from the pleasure of thinking. Reading information online can sometimes be compared with slamming down a burger while driving as opposed to sitting down and enjoying a meal. Savoring the printed word can help you pinpoint your search for topical insight or juicy music information. Remember, it takes a lot of work to be brief on the air.
Remember What It's Like To Be A Listener
Regardless of the format or age target, listeners like to see themselves as hip and in the know. Based on your target demo, every day you wake up it's a chance to research and make sure you are relevant to your audience. I am talking about the kind of research that comes from getting out of the bubble and having non-radio friends and acquaintances to mingle with. If you have a family or whoever you are dating, make friends with the kids of the family and listen to what they talk about. It's also a good way to stay abreast of social media.
Whether it's programming or performing on the air, the job is to stay in touch with the audience. There is a scene from one of my all-time favorite movies, "Caddy Shack," starring Rodney Dangerfield and a host of comedic acting crazies. It is the scene when Chevy Chase blindfolds himself and hits a shot over the water onto the green. He does it in an effort to teach his caddy about being one with the ball. I am telling you have to be your audience.
Everything Is Branding
I recently attended the Nielsen Audio Client Conference and heard Arnold Worldwide Global Creative Officer Jim Elliott give a presentation on brand building that speaks to staying fresh and building the brand. His company works with Jack Daniels, Carnival Cruise Lines and Progressive Insurance.
* Great works and builds business. It is born from a brilliant human insight. An undeniable and extremely relevant human truth. The result of which becomes something totally new and unique. An idea and work that is increasingly brave. Work that takes the industry to the next level. Work that disrupts breaks established patterns to help us see things in a different way. It stops people in their tracks. It moves people. It motivates people. It changes their behavior. It gets people talking. It inspires, captivates, fascinates and activates. It finds its way into the cultural conversation. It informs and defines culture. It is destined to become famous. Oh, and it works. It builds business and transforms human behavior, big time."
* There's a shift from talking at the world to making people talk. Today's consumer can either be a watchdog, a critic, a brand or product-killer, or ambassador/evangelist. Don't think of it as an ad; think of it as a story engine. How do we get Carson Daly and Jimmy Fallon talking about something that was done on the radio?
What Elliott said applies to every aspect of a radio station. So, while you are re-setting for the year ahead, I want you to think about what you can do to make your show or whatever department you're in just a little bit better. If you are an air personality, talk to and not at the audience. It is never about the number of words coming out of your mouth, it's about the quality and the way you say them.
I want OMs and PDs to remember that at the end of the day, it's all about the music and the overall presentation. It won't always go your way in manager meetings or with the brass, but do the best you can to direct the ship. I know commercial radio is about advertising, but I have never heard of a listener wanting to listen to a station for the commercials.