Calling An Audible, Part I
October 16, 2012
I had a GM who I unintentionally could torment just by making adjustments to the game plan. This bothered him. A lot. He was very much a "once it's on paper, we're committed to it" dude.
Possibly the biggest heart attack I ever gave him was on a Friday evening in San Francisco when I was driving home and heard KMEL on the air with some great Prince ticket giveaway. We were doing movie tickets.
They were beating us and that just was not acceptable. So I called the PD, the indie, and then Jo Jo Wright who was on the air, and at 6:30p we changed our weekend contest from some instantly forgettable film to winning a CD and qualifying to see Prince in LA. A win? Maybe not, but in blackjack terms, I think we got a push.
In 2012, I will get 2012 versions of "But we can't just..." and "I don't have the..." and "If I did that..." excuses, to which I reply, "Sure you can." In fact, at one of the excuse-obsessed stations, I've printed "Sure You Can" and posted it on every visible flat surface in the offices and studio.
There has never been a great quarterback who did not master the ability to size up the opponent in an instant and if he needed to, change the game plan. And calling an audible in radio is simply surveying the market, the world, the vibe, the trending and making the decision to change your plan for that day to reflect or acknowledge it.
One of my favorite GMs asked me, "So you work with all of these great radio stations. What do the truly great ones have in common?" Dang. Good question. Well, great radio stations almost always:
Have a great receptionist. Jenny at KSFM. Laurie at KUBE in Seattle. Dena at Kiss in Charlotte. I could give you a hundred examples.
Have fun in the hallways. And you HEAR IT on the air. Conversely, when Summit sold V-103 in Baltimore to Granham, the new regime came in, instituted dress codes, took down all the gold records and artist swag and created policies for behavior in the halls. "This is a place of business..." I called Jerry Clifton and announced that the #1 station in the market would be out of the format in a year. And they were.
They're a family. They enjoy hanging out together AFTER work and share each other's high points and low points.
They're so woven into the community that when you listen to them, they don't even need to announce the city; you just "hear it." KMEL. WPGC. Power 96 in Miami. Jamz in Orlando. All are great examples. On the other hand, I went to one "C Company " station's website, and even looking under "contact us," I couldn't tell where they were. I had to Google the suburban mailing address to ID the market.
They're proactive. They don't wait for people or clients to bring them stuff. They're always on the lookout for something to take and turn into their content for the day or hour or week.
And ... they'll call audibles. They'll look at the game plan at 7a on a Thursday following, say, a Presidential debate where a large aviary creature was referred to, and realize that their inane Kardashian gossip segment is eclipsed by the story, and change the plan.
Next week: Part II