Dealing With The Themes of Life
January 11, 2011
Let's start at the beginning...
Hearing is passive; listening requires active engagement. You must notice and be able to reflect back when you truly listen. At best, Arbitron measures hearing, which is why using PPM to further limit engagement is crazy.
Your basic job as an air talent is fairly simply explained: to provide a sense of human companionship, to inform and instruct during civic emergencies (which are, hopefully, rare), to relate and provide relevant content ... and to entertain.
But you, as an individual talent, will never stand apart from the crowd -- you will never be irreplaceable -- if that's all you provide.
Your job is also to inspire and engage. Your job is to deal with the Themes of Life. So, how do you prepare to be remarkable?
You can't prepare for a job you don't understand, and you can't focus content if you don't know your target. I might write a brilliant piece on theoretical mathematics, but it wouldn't get many readers on AllAccess.
A generation has grown up believing that show prep is subscribing to a joke service, or a Morning Show bit exchange. Nothing could be further from the truth, so today's conversation will center on the best way to find content that can be emotionally impactful.
When Rush Limbaugh and Oprah prepare for their programs, they don't use a one-size-fits-all preparation service. They're not in the passive-hearing business.
Rush looks for material that he can use ideologically to enflame and enrage his listeners. He wants to be partisan. He's trying to piss off Democrats. The stories he weaves are consistent with the themes his listeners love. That's how he inspires. That's how he is noticed. That's how he connects emotionally.
Oprah's preparation couldn't be more different. She's looking for the transformative, the redemptive, the heart-tugging stories that resonate with her predominantly female followers. She uses the negative, the horrific, the spiritual to make moral points and inspire her fans to action.
Both are extraordinary talents who have learned to convert casual listeners into impassioned evangelists by the millions. This is your goal. Next week: Beginning the process of finding and shaping content that your listeners will love...