Being Large To Be In Charge

Any show I work with gets the same question each December as we evaluate our year:  what do you remember about our year of shows?  What specific things did we do that stood out, moved the needle, advanced our strategy, and deepened our relationship with the audience?

I figure if they can recall it, it mattered to them and probably cut through with the audience.  Here’s some of what came up:

  • “When we developed an idea to send 50 lunches to first responders as a thanks for what they were doing because of Covid and our listeners helped us send 500.”
  • When the protests happened, and we wondered what life is like from the African-American perspective in America and a Black pastor came on and talked to us so compassionately we cried.”
  • “Adding that new funny feature at 8:15.”
  • “When I admitted to the audience I was getting a divorce.”
  • “Asking listeners to help us raise $50,000 to buy socks for homeless people in our town due to the cold winters and they donated $158,000 instead.”
  • “Understanding that Covid made people feel alone and we reminded them they weren’t alone with us in their lives.”
  • “Developing a relationship with the doctor coordinating our state’s Covid response so that she would feel comfortable coming on our show every week to update and calm our listeners.”
  • “One of our co-hosts taking a stand on the BLM movement and the audience reacting heavily about it on social media – some against, but most for.”
  • “Coming up with that new interview feature for social media that made more people aware of us.”
  • “Getting behind the campaign encouraging listeners to shop local during the holidays because we want to support ‘the little mom and pops’ who make our town what it is.”

What’s a common theme of the above?  They’re all big things.  And big is remembered.  By both talent and listeners.

In the twenty years I’ve coached shows in every sized market, no one has ever suggested something small that was a nuanced change about the program.  I ask this question each December to continue the teaching process.  To remind talent that yes, we have to get the little things correct.  But we also must differentiate ourselves with big things to stay top-of-mind, so listeners keep coming back for more.  Being large means you can be in charge.

My friend Jon Coleman wrote in a recent blog about how big things move the number to the left of the decimal point in ratings and smaller stuff changes the number on the right.  The shows I work with move the number on the left by doing things that get them noticed and create talk.  Read Coleman’s “How to Move the Ratings Needle” here.

Whether we’re asking the audience to join us in helping organizations in need or creating new, fun content to take listeners away from the stress of their world, being memorable without violating fit for your brand is always an advantage in a marketplace where radio is “safe”.  We need to spend more time developing these things, too.

Big stuff cuts through, being boldly different is remembered, and believing you can will create deeper authenticity.  And all of it makes for more passionate fans who will spend more time with the show.  This is what the personalities I work with spend time prepping on.  Because what we do with our content choices is completely in our control.  Groomed by curious talent who use that trait to come up with something to do with A-level topics that intrigue the audience.  That’s a powerful differentiator in an industry where we can easily be perceived as just like everyone else.

Chat with your premiere talent and ask what’s top-of-mind from their previous year of content.  See what you get.  Then focus them on doing bigger things that will positively impact their images and make more listeners return out of a fear of missing something.

I believe in talent’s ability to prove radio’s limitless power to create fans who are excited for what we do and to positively impact clients who trust us with their marketing and advertising dollars.

We get to make a great painting each day.  The epic content we place on that canvas gets us there.