A Strategic Checklist For 'M'orning Shows
June 9, 2015
When I took on my first PD role, I thought I had all the answers. In fact I made it known to anyone who would listen that I had all the answers. That's never a smart approach, as I learned. I analyzed everything. I focused on every little detail with the same level of intensity. I spent hours worrying about everything. I was totally immersed and involved in everything. No detail was too small for me. It was exhausting! Not to mention it didn't result in as much success as I wanted. It was only when a boss of mine took me aside and explained that success really came down to focus…focusing on the areas that will - with your time and effort - deliver the biggest return. You need to prioritize; all things are not equal. He explained that in radio a PD should be focused on the 3M's Music, Mornings & Marketing. He said, "Unless you win one of those areas you have no chance of succeeding." If you can win in two of those areas then you're likely to be at the helm of a good radio station. If you dominate all three you will be number one. I took his advice and focused on those three foundational areas and life got a little less exhausting, and a lot more successful. Of course you can't dismiss everything else you have to do, but you prioritize the 3 M's and you delegate responsibility in the other areas. It seems so simplistic. It is. But it remains as true today as it did back then.
It is useful - regardless of the size or performance of your station - to regularly review your progress in these 3 crucial areas. Critically monitor your product to ensure you're maximizing the opportunities you have at your disposal and identifying areas of vulnerability so that you can protect yourself from an attack.
Let's look at one of the M's -- mornings. Here is a checklist you can use to review how well your morning show is doing.
Strategic questions to consider asking yourself (in no particular order)...
- How distinctive is the show? Be honest. Is it really that different?
- Is the content memorable? Or is it just an "in the moment" experience?
- Is it more interesting and fun than the competitors in your competitive set?
- Is the show easy to understand? How would you describe the show plot?
- Is there an emotional range to the show? Light and shade? Ups & downs?
- Are the players really interesting? Do they have a sense of purpose and something to say?
- Are the players on the show sharing pieces of themselves?
- Is it clear what the players on the show really care about?
- How well does the show reflect the lifestyle of the core?
- Are there story arcs? Does the content require me to return to the show tomorrow?
- Is the show fun to listen to? There will be lots of laughter if it is!
- Does the show do interesting things with the biggest topics of the day?
- Is the core involved in the creation of the content? A sense of participation?
And some things to keep an eye on...
- Is there a balance of content? Across the show? Across a week of shows?
- Monitor for show drifts… role changes, bad crafting, off target content, inside jokes
- The show not reflecting the biggest topics of the day for the core
- A lack of structure to the show's prep routine? Is there even a prep routine?
- Has the show become predictable? Predictable in content selection and content treatment?
- Is the show executing the utilities efficiently and frequently?
Forming the questions isn't the difficult part. It's likely you could form much better and more strategic questions for your situation than these general ones. The point isn't that these are the best questions to ask but that you should stop and ask some performance questions for your show regularly. The only way to progress is to objectively and honestly evaluate your show's current performance. Take the time to critically listen over the course of not just a day but a series of days. Experience the show as your listener would; just listen don't rationalize why things happen. Then score the show against your set questions. How does it hold up? How can you improve where you are? Set yourself and the show some priorities.
If the 3 M's are the most important foundations for success, investing time into enhancing your performance in these areas means you are directly impacting your station's chance of success. Use the strategic checklist approach for each of the 3 M's individually. You'll be amazed at the opportunities that you'll hear and the steps you can take to make your station more successful.
The advice to me all those years ago was simple; Focus your efforts and your time on the areas that will garner the greatest returns and delegate responsibility for - or ignore - everything else. Focus is paramount to success.