So many of you are off doing a community service project with the holidays here. Good on you! There are a few different levels of projects like these. One is the actual raising of the item or money you’re asking listeners to donate. This is important, although it impacts a very small percentage of your audience. What moves them to give is first-person accounts of the cause you’re working on. Which is why it’s so important to talk with those affected by the cause, who most benefit from what you’re doing. Facts tell, stories sell. Those folks have stories and they can help you accomplish two important goals: move more listeners to give and show your humanity to those who don’t. Logan and Sadie, WINK-FM, Ft. Myers, FL are doing their annual Santa Paws where they ask listeners to donate a dog toy that will be given to animals at a local shelter. Here they are talking with the gal who runs the animal shelter, helping them do both items noted above.
Many shows will do their big community service project before the end of the year. It’s important to remember that you’re talking with two distinct groups of people when you do this: those who will give and those who won’t. The latter group is much bigger. Your goal is to impact the images of those listeners by showing them your heart and humanity. A yearly project for John and Tammy, KSON San Diego is their annual Food Fund where they ask listeners to donate canned goods to the local food bank. It’s a tenured and very successful project for them. Their fans always step up to help them reach their goal. But with a nod to the latter group of those who won’t or can’t give and with the objective of impacting how those folks view the show, John did a goofy song this year called Show Us Your Cans. It brought humor to the effort and helped the fundraiser operate on multiple levels emotionally. The song and full break are below.
If you talk about topics and make observations the typical listener might think, “How does he know what goes on in my house?” you are in a good spot to be tagged positively as relatable to the audience. This is why each show I work with plays in the sandbox of what the average listener might be doing right now when prepping. The AD Rowntree Show, KSHE, St. Louis knows that politics will somehow make its way to the Thanksgiving dinner. So that was the topic. They asked the audience who’ll first bring up politics, alienating everyone. When you are in the zone of relatabilty, that’s when most listeners will have fun. Here’s one call they received on the topic where a listener disguised his voice out of a fear of being heard by the person he was convinced would be the violator!
There are things that happen to cast members on a show that are indelibly memorable and highly connective. Having a baby is one of them. It’s so relatable to the audience and gives them a chance to cheer for that person. We searched for many ways to announce the pending birth of Annie’s third baby on Foxx and Annie, WCBS-FM, New York City. We felt the news to be large enough to do something bigger than just share it with the audience. The unique idea we landed on was asking the audience what celebrity they might know who’d do it for us. Our first pass was to get listeners involved in helping construct the ending. All along, though, we had the celebrity chosen. The program approached the iconic play-by-play guy for the Yankees, John Sterling, who gladly agreed. Our job each day is to take our relatable topics and do them in a unique way. This one’s an A+.
One of radio’s strengths is the relatabilty of its talent. When the audience leaves the show having a perception that you are just like them, a connection happens that fuels authenticity. We only hang out in life with people we have something in common with. That’s why it’s so important to share your life and do things which indicate you’re a regular person. George, Mo, and Erik, KILT-FM (The Bull), Houston excel at this. Mo thinks there should be a dress code when you go to certain places. Like your kid’s school or the Walmart. Once you present the topic and listeners nod their head in agreement, you’re connecting. Here’s a simple, yet powerful phone topic they did. Hear how they present it, then the listeners contributing because they see it, too. This is real and that’s why it works.
There tends to be two kinds of talent: those who have no filters and share everything in an effort to bond with their fans. And those who have lines they’ll go to but not cross in the kind of relationship they want with the audience. Which are you? Logan and Sadie, WINK-FM, Ft. Myers, FL just tested that. Part of Sadie’s character is that she recuses dogs. She’s talked many times over the years about Rascal, one of her toughest rescues. Rascal had many health issues and, in this last week, passed away. How honest and vulnerable can you be with the audience when things are sad in your life? Here’s Sadie sharing the news about Rascal with listeners. Hear, too, to how supportive and understanding Logan is in this conversation. Instead of trying to dominate it, he gave her space and slipped in when necessary. These kinds of breaks are quite powerful to build that connection with the audience.
Ain’t nothing better than when you can laugh at yourself. We have all asked seemingly innocent questions or done mindless things, only to find ourselves in quite the embarrassing situations. We are storytellers and this feature called The Oops Moment, done by Gregg and Fast Freddy, MIX 104.1, Boston, proves that. They have a platform to share their embarrassing moments, reminding the audience how human they are. Then they make the great pivot by inviting the audience to share theirs. They disarm fans to be vulnerable so everyone can have a solid laugh around real life content, at their own expense.
With Halloween a few short weeks away, this is one of my all-time favorite breaks. Halloween is a kid’s holiday, right? And it’s all about candy! Which is why John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego grabbed a cute kid of a co-worker (Emma) and had her read the ingredients of popular Halloween candy. They played the audio for a listener who had to guess which Halloween candy Emma was describing. You can hear audio of the execution of this fun idea below. If you do this idea, two keys to its success are finding the right kid. Also, don’t let them pre-read the ingredients before you record them. Hearing the kid stumble over the big words adds to its cuteness. If you find the right kid, record a bunch so you can do it a few times leading up to October 31.
Great shows place themselves in the middle of big stories. If Taylor Swift dating an NFL player is a huge topical story, I’ll always ask what are you doing with it. Your listeners want to be connected to the stories of the day from your perspective – that helps character development and will always improve your images of being relevant. Brian and Chrissy, WGNA, Albany have very deep market familiarity. They’ve been there a long time, know lots of people, and perfectly reflect the vibe of the community. When a young local girl was kidnapped, they were all over the story. When she was rescued, they inserted themselves in the story by finding her aunt and having her on so she could answer the questions they were curious about. Where other shows in town might have chatted about it, run TV audio, or (worse) done something more evergreen, these guys did the hard work of finding a relative who was impacted by the all of it and getting her on to tell the story. This so resonated, it was part of the story on ABC World News Tonight. If you’re a local show, be a local show like this!
With all the syndication in radio, it’s an asset if you’re local. But, what is being local? It’s certainly not giving out the temperature in various cities or referencing major thoroughfares when you do the traffic. Being local is knowing the stories driving your market at any given time or being involved in things that happen in town and using them as content to entertain your audience. Being local is only an advantage if you’re substantive with local topics and do them in a way that helps you connect with the audience. Humble Pie is an iconic Raleigh restaurant that, after thirty years, shocked its fans by closing. A significant part of the content strategy for Kyle, Bryan, and Sarah, WRAL-FM, Raleigh is to be local. That’s why this is such a terrific break. A few things to hear: listen to how quickly they get into it. Within 30 seconds you know the drama and the connection happens. Then, Sarah (who worked there) tells first-person stories about the place. If you don’t understand this break, they were exceptionally local. To earn images of being local, especially up against syndicated shows in the market, this one’s an A+.