Blogging: It's The Fourth Most Important Thing A Radio DJ Can Do
April 21, 2015
On the list of duties for today's on-air talent, blogging should rank near the top. In fact, if I were sitting in a program director's chair right now, I would be reluctant to hire somebody without blogging experience.
Here's the list of duties for today's jocks as I see it:
1. Your On-Air Show
You were hired, first and foremost, to create great content for the station's airwaves. Audio content is your business' core competency, and it should be yours as well.
Having said that, this does not take as much time and effort as it used to. Like just about every other job in America, technology has made it easier to be a jock. You can pre-record breaks, air phone calls without splicing tape, prep for a show using the Internet, and you no longer need to find a six-minute song for your bathroom breaks. Today's jocks are expected to produce more than the jocks of 30 years ago because the technology allows them to produce more.
2. Whatever You're Pulling Double-Duty As
Unfortunately, at most stations, "produce more" means "filling a second role." Fewer people than ever are exclusively on-air talent. Most are also program directors, music directors, promotion directors, or working in the production studio. You could argue that this is an economic reality of our industry, but I'm going to argue that it's a problem.
Because the skillsets for these different roles aren't very closely related. The skills it takes to be a great jock are not the same skills it takes to be a great music director. So when stations hire, they have to make a decision: Do we find a great music director who's a good jock or a great jock who's a good music director? I think radio stations should aim for greatness in both roles, and that often requires hiring two separate people.
But back to reality...
Whatever your second role is, that's your other top priority. (It may in fact be #1, with your on-air shift at #2). The station won't run without you filling this role, and ratings and revenue are probably directly impacted by it, so it belongs at the top of your list.
(If you are lucky enough to have one of the rare exclusively on-air jobs in this industry, blogging is actually the third most important thing you can do.)
3. Promotional Appearances
Promotional appearances bring in revenue, and your radio station is a business, after all. So this is high on the list. In the long run, I think blogging can actually have a bigger impact on ratings and revenue, but in the short run, I'll make your sales staff happy and give the edge to the appearances.
Blogging should be the central component of every radio station's online strategy. Why? Because the most effective way for radio stations to drive traffic to their website is to use a Content Marketing strategy, and radio stations can generate revenue and increase their ratings if they can get listeners to their website. Not surprisingly, a Content Marketing strategy requires creating a lot of content, and that means blogging.
Unfortunately, when many radio professionals hear the words "online strategy," the first thing that comes to mind is streaming audio, not blogging. Radio broadcasters have spent their lives making money by playing songs on the air and sticking commercials in between them. So when they talk about the internet, the first thing they say is, "Hey! We could play songs and stick commercials in between them on the web, too!"
This mentality vastly underestimates the power of the Internet. There are lots of reasons why the web has been a game-changer for media companies, but here's the one I want to emphasize for radio stations:
You are no longer limited to producing just audio content.
You can -- and should be -- producing content in the form of text, photographs, and video, even if audio is your primary format. Today, every media company must be a multi-media company. To stay competitive, The New York Times must produce videos, CNN must produce podcasts, and radio stations must blog.
"What about social media? Search engine optimization? Pay-per-click advertising? Can't we use these tools to drive traffic to our website?"
Yes, these can all be effective, but only if you have lots of content on your website first. Otherwise, it's like advertising your radio station on billboards but forgetting to broadcast anything over the air.
"Okay, so maybe blogging is important, but why should the jocks do it?"
Because unless your station can afford to hire people just to blog, the DJs are better equipped to fill this role than anybody else in the building. Blogging requires a skillset that overlaps a lot with being an on-air personality. In both cases, you're creating content. Sure, one requires speaking and the other writing, and those can be very different. But think about all the similarities: You have to identify topics that are interesting to the target audience, you have to present topics in an interesting way, you need an efficient word economy, etc. Hosting an airshift and blogging have much more in common than, for example, hosting an airshift and being a music director do.
"Okay, so I need to blog. But I've never done that before. How do I learn?"