Chugging a Bud and Seizing the Moment

You probably saw the video of the guy at game 6 of the 2019 World Series carrying two beers to his seats in the outfield when a home run hit him in the chest. (If not, you can see it here.)

He never went to put the beers down (probably because they cost $14 each). Almost immediately the short video was everywhere on the internet. The guy was awarded with a ball, and Budweiser came through with a ton of beer.  

Budweiser seized the moment and made a 15-second ad of it that appeared in game 7 of the World Series the very next night. It’s quite powerful to be in the moment and seize opportunities when they appear. 

Think about it. Doing all of this required someone at Budweiser seeing it happen, acting on the opportunity to tap into it (pun intended) that night, and mobilizing forces almost immediately to change lots of people’s schedules to create an ad that ran only once or twice. That’s impact. (Oreo did something similar during the blackout at the Super Bowl a couple years ago.)

One of radio’s great strengths is how nimble we can be. Something happens in the news or pop culture cycle, and we can immediately insert ourselves into it to get attention. 

So, ask yourself: how much content on your morning show is truly of-the-moment? Also, how fast acting are your people to create something from those moments that makes the content big (bigger) and distinctly theirs to create talk? (Need some of-the-moment content? Check out my Weekly Hot List.)

The very best morning shows are perishable. In other words, if you played what they did in a certain hour today in two weeks, it’d feel stale and old. That’s being super topical, and that’s good. Think about how much different this ad feels in game 7 (the very next night after it happened) than it would in a week or two. That’s what every show should sound like. 

Seizing the moment sometimes requires money. Oftentimes it requires innovation. And all the time it requires initiative. How much time do your personalities spend on seeing and seizing these moments so that fans have a fear (and expectation) of “missing out” if they don’t tune into your show for your funny and entertaining take? 


Need help getting your morning show to seize the moment? Let’s chat!

The One Common Bond with All Successful Shows – Funny Equals Money

Once when Jimmy Kimmel hosted the Oscars, he gave out a jet ski to the person winning an Oscar who gave the shortest acceptance speech. 

Jimmy is a radio guy, so he thinks like a radio guy. Starting his career as an intern with Mojo in Tucson and then as a cast member with Kevin and Bean on KROQ, Los Angeles, Jimmy knows to think silly and turn it into a big win. 

Of course, the purpose of giving out the jet ski wasn’t to give out a jet ski. It was to mock a commonly held view that the telecast goes on too long and, way more importantly, so those of us watching at home laughed out loud. It worked. 

Most people viewing the Oscars haven’t seen all the movies (or even heard of half of them), so Jimmy gave us something silly to connect with—and this connection became the most memorable part of the show. He made this about us, not about those in the theater. So as a result, people are talking about Jimmy Kimmel, too. More will watch him as a result. 

Personality-drive radio must have winning images. In fact, every successful radio show has a humor image. Most shows that don’t succeed usually fail or fall flat because they aren’t seen as fun by those who listen. Remember, funny equals money.

As you coach your high profile talent, ask them NOT what they have to give out or what topics they’ll talk about on the show. Ask how they’re doing all of that so it’s fun to hear by 100% of the audience that tunes in. 

Are you interested in working with a high-impact talent coach who can inspire your high-profile talent? Let’s chat.

It’s National Steve Reynolds Day (And Other Things You Don’t Care About)

Be honest, where is your enthusiasm and interest level on a scale of 1-10 knowing that it’s National Steve Reynolds Day? 

If you said it was resting comfortably at a zero, I’d get it. I’m Steve Reynolds and even I don’t care. And yet I listen to some personalities who think telling me that this is National Pest Control Week or today is National Doughnut Day is morning show content. It isn’t content, because it’s irrelevant to listeners’ lives. A close friend calls it “empty calories with no strategic purpose in a break.” I call it chatter that doesn’t matter. 

Great content is about the moment. Whatever is going on now—now in pop culture, or locally, or in the life of the talent—is what your audience craves and connects with. Look at Kimmel, Ellen, Corden, and Fallon. Their shows are highly relevant because they focus on what’s happening right now, and they share it from their unique perspective (with a whole lot fun). 

We need to stop telling the audience things like it’s National Hot Dog Day or that Betsy Ross sewed the flag on this date in 1783. I actually heard a show (not one I coach!) tell me it was National Chicken Day and then they proceeded to play the sound effect of a clucking chicken over everything they did for the next half hour. 

All of this is irrelevant and lazy as content, to be perfectly honest. We need to be better than that given all the entertainment choices for listeners. I still hear some shows read a laundry list of birthdays to the audience. Remember the only person who cares that little Ally Simpson is six today is Ally Simpson. And maybe her parents. Any efforts to endear yourself to them come at the significant sacrifice of everyone else, who shrug their shoulders hearing this and mentally zone out. Ditto the fact that Mel Gibson turns 67 today. No one cares. 

Reading listeners’ birthdays isn’t being local, either. Local is about what’s going on in your market and you doing something unique with it to say “I love living here and am connected to what’s going on in my town.” Offering up a list of birthdays of people who may or may not be listening is about as local as giving me the temperature in a local town when reading the weather (it isn’t) or reading a listener text and attributing it to a local area code (“someone in the 415 says…”). 

That’s LAZY!

Listen to your talent and challenge them to be strategic with their content: pop culture/whatever is in the news churn (the topic must fit your brand image), knowing what’s up in your market and tapping into that, and real time stories of experiences your talent have that position them as just like the audience. That’s great, strategic content for any audience. 

Each break on your show should be treated like it’s beachfront property. Erect on it only the very best buildings (in other words, content done well), and its value (your ratings) will go up. 


Need a talent coach who’ll help your morning team think strategically? Let’s chat.

Making Your Mess Your Message

Who’d have thought that a morning radio personality’s death would result in fans making a pilgrimage to his studios to leave notes, cards, and flowers? Yet, that’s what happened when Kidd Kraddick passed away unexpectedly in 2013. 

One would only need to peruse Facebook comments to know why. Consistently you read things like “I felt like I knew you, Kidd” and “every morning it was just you, your team, and me in the car on the way to work.” 

Kidd was one of the innovators of ensemble cast shows and was a pioneer in understanding that to win, talent had to share their life with the audience. Kidd easily surpassed the first threshold for any show to attain success and, dare I say, become iconic. Move the listener with your vulnerability and be so honest with them that they care about you. He knew that “making your mess your message” was the powerful way to cultivate an audience with an image of accessibility and likability. 

While I am sure there were facets to Kidd’s life we never knew (there are to us all), he, along with his very talented team, put it all out there so listeners could connect. 

An admission: I borrowed the title for this blog post from Robin Roberts, easily the most liked morning TV personality in America. She talks about making your mess your message in this interview. This should be required viewing for any show wishing to understand how to be successful. 

Robin says it’s not good enough to be a great storyteller unless you can tell your story. We know near everything she’s endured, and it endears us to her—we feel like we know her. That drives Good Morning America’s growth and success. 

I hear from managers who think listeners don’t want to know about the lives of the people on their morning show they wake up with. Bullshit. For the morning show to be successful, the team must be open, honest, and vulnerable about their lives. The listeners crave and demand it. That doesn’t mean everything can or should be shared, but it’s an imperative if you want the kinds of relationships Kidd had and Robin has. 

Take an assessment of your morning program in this regard. Listen to the team for two straight mornings and make an honest judgment. Listen to see if they’re honest and if they shared those stories of their lives which moved the average listener to leave the break caring about them as people. That’s when you become iconic. 


Need help getting your morning show team to open up and embrace vulnerability? Let’s chat.


Why Duke Always Wins and the Lesson for Morning Radio

I’m a big fan of the Blue Devils. 

Living 20 minutes from Duke University, I probably don’t have much of a choice, but I’m an honest to goodness fan of the team and especially Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Having met Coach K several times when I was on the air here in Raleigh, I know that he focuses every season on only one thing, and it has nothing to do with basketball. 

Coach K says he only works on making his team care about one another. He believes that elusive quality called “chemistry” is the X factor to success. He goes on to say that if he can get his team to trust and care about one another, they’ll win (and considering Duke has won five national championships, I think he’s right.). 

When I start working with a new morning show, I’m not only listening to what they say and do on the air, but also to what they say and do off the air. When I meet and talk with the team, my radar is up for the one thing I believe can most efficiently hinder their growth: dysfunction. If it exists, we can’t move on as a group and head in the same direction unless it’s cleared out of the arteries. 

With trust and communication, everyone works harder because they want everyone else to succeed, too. This is why I spend so much time talking and listening to my clients. The more I listen to them, the better I understand what drives them to succeed (and for everyone, that’s something different). And the better position I am in to solve any internal issues that will truly step in the way of growth, the better we all are.

I recently spent a day with a major market show I love working with. We spent a bulk of our time talking through and solving some dysfunction that had crept into the room. A greater appreciation for every cast member came from this conversation. While I can’t tell you who this is, I will make this bold prediction: they will own the ratings very soon because of it. 


Need help getting your morning show team back on track? Let’s chat.

Building Loyalty in a Disloyal World

This quote from a New York Times article captured me: 

“In an accelerated culture, our loyalties toward just about everything — laundry detergents, celebrities, even churches and spouses — transfer more readily than our grandparents could have imagined. Now we dispose of phone carriers and cash-back credit cards from one month to the next, forever in search of some better deal. Forget the staying power of an institution like Johnny Carson; when Jay Leno starts to feels a little stale, he is shifted to prime time, then shifted back to late night.” 

My take: We, as consumers, are less and less loyal to brands that don’t deliver a positive experience each and every moment. That includes morning radio, which is why we impress on shows how imperative it is to re-design their program to better play to an audience that’d rather text and tweet to communicate than do anything long-form (aka “a conversation”). 

Remember, evolution serves those best able to adapt.


Need help getting your morning talent to evolve—for the better? Let’s chat.

Convincing Talent to Change: The Old Inside/Outside Game

Trying to get a morning talent to change their show so it wins in PPM can be one of the hardest things. Giving up control is tough, which is why I use lots of analogies to pull them outside of radio to make my points. If delivered well, they’re tough points to refute and put you in the best possible position to get the morning talent to make strategic changes so ratings go up.

I talk with shows all the time about how, instead of being on the receiving end of PPM ratings in radio, we’ve been on the giving end of it in TV: each night as we sit on the sofa with the remote control, each one of us cruises up and down the channel guide in search of a show that captivates and entertains—one that makes us laugh or engages us. We make that decision in micro-seconds before pushing the button again. 

Same with the internet. Say a friend sends you a You Tube link saying it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever seen. We click on the link, immediately look at the clip length, and if it isn’t “the funniest thing we’ve ever seen,” we click away. 

I proffer to shows that if we treat TV and the internet that way, why should we believe listeners would treat us any differently? 

Point made. 


Need help getting your morning talent to change—for the better? Let’s chat.

Be FAIR to Be Great

When I work with a morning show team, I ask them to do one main thing: be FAIR in order to be GREAT:

F: Fun/Funny

A: Authentic

I: Innovative

R: Relatability


Listeners choose morning radio to have FUN. Listeners’ lives, especially now, suck (if I can be so bold). They use morning radio as their 30-minute daily escape from the BS of their day. No successful morning radio show in America wins without humor images. The more your show creates fun, the more listeners will want to be around you.


Authenticity drives everything in life. As people, we make no time for anything (brand or person) who isn’t the “real deal.” Consumers (listeners) can smell a phony a mile away. The more real, authentic, and vulnerable your morning talent are, the greater the chance they’ll connect with listeners.


Apple drives its core following of very passionate fans by being INNOVATIVE. Every year, they release innovative products that capture their followers. Innovation is crucial to keeping P1s happy. What new ideas/benchmarks has your show done to keep fans coming back to your station?


Finally, we gravitate in life to people just like us, which is why RELATABILITY is so critical to any show. Listeners know instinctively if the program is choosing content that interests them. Choosing content is like choosing music: only play the hits. The show should have a regular list of those pop culture and news stories listeners know of and care about to create their entertainment so the broadest coalition of listeners believes the show shares their interests.

Shows that work on being FAIR feed images imperative to building strong and positive images for an authentic and entertaining show that listeners will choose first when they wake up each and every morning.

Need help making your morning show FAIR in order to be GREAT? Let’s chat.

Where Did You Go, What Did You Do?

If I had a magic wand, I’d make many prep services disappear or rework what they offer morning radio.

With all due respect to my friends on that side of radio, too many shows use this input without ever developing the topics to share with listeners through their relevance to it.

For shows to be successful in defining who they are and what they’re all about as people (character development) so the audience can bond with them, they must have experiences in the community and in life so they have stories to tell.

My clients learn how to share stories of what they do in their communities and life on every call. This could be almost anything—attending a fundraiser to going shopping to doing laundry to taking their kids to a park.

Without talent getting out of the house, they can never gather these stories to share with their fans. So I always ask: where did you go and what did you do? Staying at home all weekend with the TV on and the blinds drawn makes for one rather boring personality. Getting involved in your community and in life generates interesting things to share with your audience.

Rick Jackson, who worked as a market manager in San Diego for Lincoln Financial, shared the secret sauce that turns average personalities into great ones (and it’s something Rick’s preached for the many years I’ve known him): personalities that cut through and are steps above everyone else gather wonderful stories and tell them well.

Stories stick. Being a master storyteller is way better than doing bits, stunts, and having clever one- liners. They might be good in the moment, but developing a bond with the audience through your experiences in life and the stories you tell cannot be beat. The great TV shows (reality, comedy, or drama) and the stellar radio personalities in our industry do this, which is why they win.

Rick goes on to say, “Great stories separate a great jock from a great personality. A great personality is the main dish in the entree and there aren’t many of those.” So for those talent who are married to your prep services, always ask how you can take an interesting item from what’s offered and personalize it so the audience can emotionally bond with you. So their reaction to the topic is not driven based solely on the topic alone, but on how it affected you.

Offer up few facts, figures, and survey results and get to your story very quickly, because inside stories are wonderful details along with twists, turns, conflict, and drama that will make you (and the topic) come alive.

If you’re a manager, ask your personalities: where did you go in the last several days and what did you do in life and the community to generate stories for your show so it shifts from being something potentially seen as generic and prep-service driven to a highly personal program.

Once done, your personalities rise above, connect with the audience, and become leverage into the station for more occasions of listening. One of our great strengths is the intimate relationship we have with those turning on the program. Accentuating and growing that element of your show leads to higher ratings and is an ongoing conversation worth having with the connected car and even more competition for listeners’ time just around the corner.

Need help learning how to become a master storyteller? Let’s chat.

Jurassic World – Why Talent Should Root for the Raptors

There’s a scene in “Jurassic World” where Chris Pratt comes upon a dying brontosaurus. Despite the fact this animal is all CGI, you’ll still push back tears. Likewise, throughout the movie, you’ll find yourself rooting for the raptors in this one.

While I won’t give away any plot twists, the reason for this is rather simple: this is a Steven Spielberg effort around a beloved and known movie franchise, and if this director knows anything, he certainly understands the value of well-defined characters. You can count the raptors in on that observation. This movie made $205-million its opening weekend and was so feared, no other movie debuted.

How does this apply to your personality-driven morning or afternoon show? While your show plot will drive its content choices, the characters you have on the program make that content sparkle and become memorable.

Shows must have a disparate group of people (even two) who are likable, yet different. Where the big win happens, which positively affects loyalty, is when your characters are grounded in honesty and the audience is moved to care about them.

Which brings us back to Pratt and those raptors. For those who’ve seen the movie, there is a human bond which happens between them which moves you to believe in all and even root for their success.

What do the characters on your show stand for? Who in your audience do they represent and speak for? Much more importantly, how much of their lives do they share with listeners so they’re moved to care about them?

There is a very distinct and definable bond between listeners of a radio station and its talent. You can only get so far talking about Caitlyn Jenner and Trump’s impeachment trial. The truly great talent who’ve crossed that magic line generate content so personal and genuine that the telling of those stories bond them further with the audience through this content which cannot be duplicated by anyone else in the market.

What percentage of your morning show’s content is dedicated to making me root for them, just like those raptors?

Need help creating a cast of characters that your audience will care about? Let’s chat.