This Time It Should Be Personal
July 29, 2011
So you're talking about the debt ceiling debate, and you're doing what talk radio does and picking sides and talking about who's winning and who's losing and who's to blame. You're taking about the Tea Party hardliners and the President and giving the play-by-play. But one thing missing from some of the talk I've been hearing is this:
What does this all mean for me?
That's the important part, and if you aren't talking about the issue from that angle, you're missing an important connection with your listeners. If a deal isn't reached by Tuesday, what will it mean to them? Why is this important to them if they're not into the inside-the-beltway intrigue? How will it impact everyday life? What will happen to interest rates, Social Security checks, jobs? Forget about the political fallout or the bond rating; What are the practical elements of this thing? What will the average person be dealing with after a default, or a deal, that he or she isn't dealing with beforehand?
I'm hearing about Boehner trying to get votes from the freshmen, about Reid ready to shoot the House bill down, about the White House strategies. But those topics appeal to the hardcore political junkies. The rest of America just wants the bottom line: Will bills rise or not, will jobs dry up or remain steady, will essential services go dark or muddle through, will Social Security checks stop coming or what? For some reason, talk radio tends not to focus on that, preferring to talk about the finger-pointing and muse about what this will mean for political futures and the next election. That's the easy part. But there's a real fear and anger among the public, most of whom only see politicians unable to just get a deal, any deal, done. For them -- and that's the largest portion of your potential audience -- it's just a looming, murkily-defined problem called "default" that their elected officials aren't solving. By all means, talk about the strategies, talk about the playbooks, talk about the politics, but don't forget to bring this down to a personal level for your listeners.
And that's advice I'd give on every topic. The political back-and-forth is entertaining on one level, but it's always a good idea to boil everything down to answer the question "why should I care?" Or "what does this mean for me?" How will whatever it is you're talking about make a difference, ultimately, in my life? That's where talk radio can make a critical connection with its audience. If listeners know you'll explain how the big stories will affect their everyday existence, they'll come to you every time a big controversy hits the headlines.
You can't go wrong by making the news personal to the people who listen to you.
There are, of course, other things to talk about besides the pending economic whatever-it-is, and that other stuff can be found all ready for you at All Access News-Talk-Sports' show prep column Talk Topics, which is here, and on Twitter at @talktopics. Also at All Access this week, you'll find "10 Questions With..." Ken "Spanky" Moskowitz, who left his longtime post as Image/Creative Director at KTAR in Phoenix to launch the "Data Doctors" show into syndication, and you'll get the best radio and music industry coverage at Net News, with the top stories tweeted at @allaccess. And, unrelated to All Access, you can follow me on Twitter at @pmsimon, read my stuff at Nerdist.com, and check out my personal website at pmsimon.com.
I'm going to go now and devote my weekend to in-depth analysis of the most pressing issues facing the nation right now, namely who the Eagles will sign in free agency and whether the Phillies will find a right-handed bat before the trading deadline. We'll reconvene next week.