Make My Day, Steal This Blog

This blog isn’t for you.  I’ll explain why after I tell you how I met my friend Lori Lewis, radio’s social media guru.

“We define our image every day by how we make people feel.”  I didn’t say that.  Lori Lewis did.  I was a fan and read everything Lori wrote because I always learned something from her.  Joel Denver had asked me to present at one of his Worldwide Radio Summits and I wanted to include her quote in my talk.  I did and credited her because she said it, I didn’t.

Several people took screenshots of the slide and texted it to her.  By the end of the day, she’d emailed a thanks and we’ve been friends since.  When putting the presentation together, I decided if I couldn’t be the smart person who said it, the second best thing was to be a smart person who quoted the smart person.

This blog isn’t for you because you probably don’t steal other people’s work.  But, someone has stolen from Lori Lewis recently and she’s rightfully pissed off.  She wrote a piece for Inside Radio on this then posted about it on Facebook to much reaction.

I’ve been stolen from, too.  By a handful of people over the years.  I almost always hear about it.

Which brings me to a blog I co-wrote about Yacht Rock for Coleman Insights a year ago.  One of the takeaways I shared was how important it is to legally protect your intellectual property.  Lori has her IP, I have mine.  It’s what fuels our work because it’s what we believe and it’s also our livelihood.  But that doesn’t mean people can’t steal the stuff any of us have worked hard to create and present it as theirs.  One of the best things Jon Coleman taught me when I started my company was to protect my stuff legally.  So, I do.  In the past when others took the things I worked hard to create and passed it off as theirs, the lawyers said it was a violation.  I’m not one to wither from that, so I placed tough phone calls to tell those people that that © is real.

I bet lawyers work for the radio company you work for, right?  Snicker at that and then put them to work.  If you come up with something all yours, get trademarks for all of it to protect yourself.

As I was finding my on-air style when I was young, a caring PD named a bunch of successful personalities to listen to so I could hear how they did it.  He then said, “To copy one is plagiarism, to copy six is research.  Do your research.”  We all borrow ideas from other shows.  There’s nothing wrong with that, until you take someone’s actual content and present it as yours.  Good broadcasters are always listening to other shows for inspiration.  Continue to do that.

But if you plagiarize content and do it verbatim without permission or accreditation, you’re stealing.  I know of shows that take callers from others podcasts and use them on their show with the same phone topic.  Some programs have the same trivia feature.  Show A works hard on their questions and Show B listens to A’s posted version and takes (pilfers) their questions.  I am aware of one show only hours away from another who does something worse.  They’re both major markets a few hours apart in a big southern state so let’s call them Show D and Show H.  Both have the same dating feature.  Show D does the original, Show H transcribes the back-and-forth word for word, records it, and presents it as their own weeks later.  Don’t believe me?  I have the receipts (audio proving it).

You don’t do this, I bet, so get those lawyers working to protect your stuff.  That’s my main message to you.  What can be service marked?  Well, I am not an attorney (sorry, mom) so dial up those lawyers who always seem to say no and run those things you developed by them and let them tell you what can and can’t be legally protected.

Please know, I am not angry.  My effort here has been to do two things:  remind you to get service marks on the things you do that you truly own (your intellectual property) and to inspire you, and all of us in the business, to make your show a true reflection of you, not someone else.

We learned when we were young that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  In Steve speak, I’ve added to that:  imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but taking someone else’s intellectual property without permission or attribution is unethical and a shitty thing to do.

Protect yourself.

The Power and Peril of Paying Attention

Many of us know someone in radio who’s met Taylor Swift.  They gush about how nice she is.  Some reference a handwritten note they’ve received from her, with something personal inside, after the visit.

You’ll get no cynicism from me.  Taylor’s a smart marketer who understands her two customer bases:  her fans and those of us who play her songs and talk about her in our content breaks.  She pays attention to us, so we pay attention to her.

Reflecting on this, I ponder how much radio’s talent is paying attention to radio’s constituencies and if they derive power from it.

We are so conditioned to never hear back from anyone.  With all this technology, the power of a human touch still reigns supreme in developing a relationship with a brand.  I recently changed car companies.  The brand I was driving ignored me and made it very difficult to talk to an actual human being.  The new company won my loyalty because they paid attention to me.

Pay attention to the fans of your show.  How much time do you spend replying to listeners who interact with your program in any way (even on social media)?  It’s time consuming, but the upside is immense.  A show recently used the derisive term I hate for a listener who’s always looking to win a prize.  She gives us many quarter hours and can decide, if she got a meter, whether you’re in first or fifth place.  This isn’t about giving listeners prizes to win their affection.  It’s about paying attention to them, which is even more powerful.

Pay attention to your listeners and they’ll serve you the power of positive chatter and more listening.  I’ve been on market visits where I’ve seen talent, when out for dinner, pay attention to listeners who recognize them.  Those folks leave bigger fans and, like Taylor, gush about the talent.

Pay attention to those on your show and the rest of the airstaff.  Every success comes from having a positive culture.  If you’re emotionally connected to your team and the airstaff, they will help you move everything to a win.

Pay attention to your co-workers.  Do you manage up and down in the building regularly?  Do you spend time with the other people at the station to show appreciation and make them feel valued?  These people can help make your show more successful.  That engineer you talk to about his weekend?  I bet he’d fix a piece of equipment faster.  That salesperson who’s anniversary you celebrate?  It’ll be easier to say no to a promotion she wants that won’t fit.  These folks can help you power through tough times because you pay attention to them.

Pay attention to clients.  Do you have an active relationship with the biggest local clients of your radio station?  With respect to the hard-working folks in the sales department, you’re the star of the station to the clients.  Do you have a relationship with those people who trust your brand with their marketing dollars?  Do you pay attention to them?  Visit them at their store?  Know when their birthdays are and send a card?  Regularly thanking them for believing in your show and the station with their money is a difference maker.  Doing simple things like this makes you quite powerful in the building.  And it’ll shield you when ratings and revenue are down, and your market manager must make hard decisions.

We are an intimate medium.  Folks feel like they know us.  Return that favor by paying attention to them.  Paying attention gives you a superpower to craft your future because more people will believe in you and are on your side because you do that for them.  There’s great peril, too, if you don’t.

Maybe there’s a 2024 resolution here that elevates you to epic in how you grow your brand.

Three P’s to Perfect Personalities

Over the years, I’ve heard hundreds of shows do thousands of breaks.  Most of us never really explore what we like about a break.  As a young program director, I relied much more on that it felt right.

Well, feelings aren’t going to make you a success.  Strategy and tactics will.  Judging content against a strategy is the ultimate test.  Does it fit the show’s plot?  Does it affirm positive imagery for the show that leads to a brand image?  Is it of the length and vibe that would resonate with the demo?

My friends at Coleman Insights talk about the Three T’s of Content.  It’s excellent and I’m jealous I didn’t think of it.  They get full credit for Topic (are you on the right topics), Treatment (what are you doing with that stellar content, so you own it), and Tone (how do you want the audience to feel after they hear it).

But structure of the above matters, too.  Once you’ve figured out the three T’s, think about how to present it all.  So, with a nod of respect to Coleman, here are Steve’s Three P’s of Perfection in executing a great content break:

  • Promotion.  I often hear at the top of many breaks gab that is self-promotion.  What the show is giving away, where we’ll be this weekend with tickets, what we just posted on Facebook, why you should look at our Instagram feed, how we’ll have an hour of commercial-free music at 9:00.  Don’t get me wrong.  Promoting benefits of the station is important. The question is how much time will you give it before listeners lose interest?  I’ll regularly hear minutes of this, and fear the audience is shrugging its shoulders.  I wonder if any promotion is more effective at the end of a break, after you’ve engaged the audience with entertaining content.  Remember, if Tom Cruise is on Kimmel, they’ll do content for all of the audience before they promote his new film to those interested in hearing it.
  • Process.  These are the big, long setups many shows do.  The appetizer to get to the entrée.  No, again.  Minimize the foreplay.  Figure out how to navigate this in a couple of sentences because few of us like process stuff.
  • Protein.  This is the content portion of the break and the most valuable of the P’s.  The details that make your story come alive, the caller with her story, the interviewee being asked a probing question, the first query in a trivia game.  Fans come for content.  Getting to what I affectionately refer to as “the moment you’ve all be waiting for” quickly satiates almost all of your audience around the reason they tuned in, for content that interests them.  Measured in seconds, the longer it takes to get to this most important P, the protein – content is why they’re there – the less peril you have in listeners losing interest.

Promotion.  Process.  Protein.  The Three P’s.

Don’t believe me?  Go watch a YouTube video and tick off the amount of time at the beginning of self-promotion and process when all you want is to see them blow up that thing with the firecrackers or start reviewing the gadget.  Watch how itchy you get for the protein.  The more time they spend on self-promotion and process, the quicker you will zone out. I promise.

Listen to each break on your show and judge them the same.  Around the Three P’s that will make your personalities epically perfect.

The Lamest Question to Create Compelling Content

Taylor Swift is dating an NFL player.  What can we do with that?

Our last Planet Reynolds touched on the importance of innovating with fresh ideas, so your fans don’t get bored.  This time let’s touch on how to do that.

The quickest way to thwart the brainstorming process is to ask the above:  what can we do with that?  That question brings pressure to the topic and brains racing.  Ask a group of creatives “what can we do with Taylor Swift dating an NFL player” and I guarantee you’ll leave with, “Let’s open the phones and ask the audience if they think it’ll last.”  L-A-M-E.  Your phones will ring, but it’s a weak treatment to the Hot Topic.

I like to have Pitch Meetings with the shows I work with.  Everyone goes off, creates an idea or two around the topic in their own time and own way, then pitches them at the team in the next meeting, where we can only make it better by adding to it so it’s more vibrant.  Kinda like how SNL writes its skits or Kimmel’s folks offer ideas.

How do I create my ideas?  What works for me?  I go for a walk.  It’s highly unlikely a great idea will come sitting at a desk or in a conference room or staring at a computer screen.  So, I grab one of the dogs (Sam on the left, Willow on the right below) and head into the park by my house for a stroll amongst the trees and nature.  Zero distractions, no phone, only the birds chirping and leaves blowing so my brain is cleared out.

I read a Stanford survey about creativity a few weeks ago and it affirmed the value of going for a walk to open your brain to get more creative.  When I do that, solutions to problems appear and better ideas than yes/no questions pop in my head.

High performing talent are deeply curious people.  They read a lot around the topics of the day and that inquisitiveness stimulates their creativity.

While on a morning walk last week thinking about Taylor, I wondered what it would sound like if a musically inclined person on a show pre-wrote and recorded the song Taylor will release when she breaks up with the NFL player, as many of her songs start.  Or to ask ChatGPT to write Taylor and Travis love poems and have a cute kid read them on the air.  Maybe those are good ideas, and maybe not.  But it’s what hit me on a walk in the woods and are better than a phone topic seeking a one-word answer.

My point is that if your show is little more than benchmarks, phone topics, and conversations amongst the cast, there is limited growth in that strategy.  It’s our creativity (in ways that fit the show) that keep your fans intrigued.  To do that, a walk works for me.  What works for you?

There is much competing for the attention of our fans.  What’s your game plan to prevent yours from straying?

Wonderment then a nice long walk (for Steve) = better ideas that will help you stand out.

And when you stand out and do something different, you become a one-of-a-kind, epic radio show fans crave to come back to.

Why My iPhone Bores Me in August, But Excites Me in September

I’m reminded each September why I go from being blasé about my iPhone to loving it again. Apple knows we bore easily so they update the software every September when they introduce new devices. And voila, the phone in my pocket does all new things which makes me play with it more.

What’s to learn from this for your talent?

I often ask personalities the same question: what new features or things have you added to your program so your audience doesn’t get bored, and you create an opportunity across the street? We’re in the relationships business, developing a bond with listeners to breed loyalty. One of the most efficient ways to lose that relationship is to never do anything new. Think of your significant other. If you never brought anything new to that relationship, the other person might lose interest. It’s that ethos we need our talent to bring their shows.

New features and ideas are not getting rid of the benchmarks or features that work. It’s using the same core content choices (pop culture, local stuff, stories in your life that define your character) and doing something never done before so your fans stay fascinated, and you remain “can’t miss”.

My iPhone does the same things I’ve always expected, but each September it does new stuff that reengages me and makes me love it all over again. For your show, it’s all about the treatment of the highly familiar content you’re already doing.

Let’s learn from Apple. Take an inventory of what your show does. The things that make listeners loyal because they come for you and your content. Review what works and fits and what might not. Then develop new ideas and, in your brainstorming, figure what could be fresh, so they don’t stray. Remember, the nightly talk shows hosts are always doing new stuff, so fans keep tuning in. That’s gotta be us, too.

Don’t be so predictable listeners get bored with what you’re doing.

Everything evolves. Staying still isn’t an option if you wanna stay relevant and in growth mode. In the face of all that competition for attention, that’s the move that’s epic.

The Greatest Story Never Told

A few weeks ago, when the Titan submarine story was all over the news, I got a late-night text from an anchor of a show I work with.

The show had befriended a local professor a year earlier who’d gone into space. Intrigued by the story, they talked with him on the program and found out he liked adventurous experiences which he brought into his classroom for discussion with students. They were going to do another break on the lost submarine and the anchor texted the professor to see if he’d ever been in a sub, wondering if he could offer something into the discussion no one on the show could.

The professor asked the talent to call him immediately. The professor shared that he was due to be on the actual Titan voyage that went missing and proved it by sending a picture of the sub on a boat ready to launch at the dock without him. He was uncomfortable with the language in the agreement and his instincts told him to bail from the trip.

If you’re thinking “wow” right now and getting chills, you’re not alone.

He wouldn’t come on the show because he knew it had blown up and everyone had perished, but that news hadn’t been released to America yet and he wanted to be respectful.

Why am I sharing this story? Because I want you to see how this show preps its daily content. Instead of a generic survey or bland phone topic, this show was so deeply curious about the biggest topic of the moment that they tried to figure out how to become the rabbit hole for listeners. Their efforts were to create a break around the topic no one else could.

If you’re a manager, listen to your entire morning show tomorrow and rate it against the funny graphic my friend Kris Rochester did to the left.  Where does your show fall on every break on the Steve Reynolds Content Tracker 3000? Is your show doing birthdays, this date in history, surveys and lists or some other equally bland and generic content? Or are you on top shelf content that makes you relevant?

More specifically, how hard are you prepping to be about the moment? About what’s going on right now? And not in a way that only shares the information or story readily available to everyone in every place they look.  How relevant are you? Relevance is an image that keeps fans returning to the show.

Despite the professor not coming on that show (yet), our team there is always thinking: what is the conversation the audience is having right now and how do we join it in a way no one else can? This show does that around every hot topic (nationally and locally) which makes me immensely proud and a reason they’re pulling a 16-share A25-54.

Take a random hour of your show tomorrow and re-air it in three weeks. On the re-air, listen to hear if the content feels stale. If it does, then it really worked on the day it was originally offered.

Being epic is about being in the moment.  Is the content you’re hearing bland, boring, generic, or evergreen? Or is your show about today’s topics, being done in a way that reflects the curiosity of your personalities so you continue to build a unique product that can’t be duplicated across the street?

HBO and the Perils of Change

Last Monday, I fired up the HBO Max app on my Apple TV to catch the finale of Succession and groaned.

HBO Max (formerly known as HBO Go formerly known as HBO) is rebranding again and they told me that to further engage their content (for $19.99 a month) I needed to download their new app called Max.  There was a heavy sigh because I don’t have the patience to do that and find these moves perilous.  I had no choice so I signed into the app store (what’s my password again?), downloaded the new app, had to reauthorize its use with my TV provider, and then enter a six-digit code on another device to make it work.  That’s lots of work to watch a TV show.  Prayers were said and the app worked.  But the process made me wish HBO were owned by Waystar Royco, with Kendall as CEO, because I know he wouldn’t make it so hard.

We can talk in another Planet Reynolds about the constant re-branding by HBO.  I’d always thought that the value of HBO’s programming over the years was in those three letters H-B-and-O and am not really sure what “Max” means.  But that’s for another time.  What I’m reminded is that change is fraught with peril.  Which is why I sighed again getting an email from them, suggesting I “find my way around the app to find everything.”  I have no time to learn a new app.  They’re making me work for it.  And no one likes that.

Change at your radio station, and more specifically, change on your morning show is a high wire act.  Some shows tell me they want to move their benchmarks around to “keep them fresh” or “let a different audience hear them”.  I always push back on that.  Because listeners/consumers/all humans hate change.  We sometimes have ideas with layers and nuance and make the audience work for it, which they won’t.  It’s easier to tune out, then to figure it out.  That’s for all of us when we are faced with change in anything.

We crave familiarity and routine when we wake up.  That good predictability and structure makes it easy to listen.

Think about it like this:  when you get out of bed each morning, you do the same thing in the same order every day.  I get up, I head to the bathroom, let the dogs out, then turn on the coffee, etcetera.  When you leave your house, you take the same exact route to work every day, despite being able to get to the studios dozens of ways from your home.  That routine wakes you up.  Predictability, familiarity, and structure!

I am looking at new cars.  The biggest downside in my decision?  I’ll need to learn where all the buttons are to do everything again.  It’ll be frustrating and is a vote to not do it because it’s taxiing and unnerving.  Change rattles us.  Which is why we keep gravitating back to what we know, even if it ain’t the best.  I know where to find my content on the (now defunct) HBO Max app.  I don’t on their new one.  Why did they make that change and why is it on me to learn it?

Benchmarks and known, familiar talent bring that to your listeners.  If done well, that’s another familiar item in the routine of your fans.  That structure plays in your favor.  Same for content – I have launched many shows over the years and my advice is always the same.  The audience pushes back at change so our ratings might go down.  So, play familiar music, choose the most familiar topics, and tell stories to introduce yourself to the audience so that that familiarity transfers to you.  For tenured shows, follow the same path and play inside that known topic which brings good unpredictability to the dynamic.

HBO Max, or whatever they’re calling themselves now, and their new app, makes it harder on those of us to find their content.  Thanks for the email, Max, suggesting I spend time learning your new app.  While that won’t happen, I guarantee when I fire it up next, looking for a show or movie I want to watch, there’ll be lots of profanity in the house, and the dogs will run and hide, as I endlessly scroll looking for it, because HBO changed things.

We know what we like and always seek what’s familiar.  Be careful before you thrust change into listeners’ lives.  Unless you’re patient, it could work against you and create an opportunity for a competitor to seize your spot.

Play to becoming familiar. Known, trusted brands tend to own the category and be epic.

The Failure Re-Frame

There can be only one number one. Everyone else is on the journey there.

You won’t be surprised if I share that most every talent tie their self-worth to their ratings. That’s their validation they’re funny, smart, talented, and accepted by the audience.

I can relate. That’s what I did when on-air. If the ratings went up, I was worthy. And if they didn’t, well…

We all know there isn’t a direct line from the radio you do to the growth in the ratings. There are tons of variables, some out of your control.  Some shows I’ve worked with took years to break through.  Keeping them centered on that journey is job #1.

I look at it differently as a talent coach. Part of our job in coaching creative people is managing them when things don’t go well, as they invariably do. A bad break, a few less-than-stellar shows, or a handful of trends that don’t meet expectations might be seen by talent as a failure. Pretty bold use of the F-word, don’t you think?

Which is why the video below captured me.

Giannis Antetokounmpo plays for the #1 seeded Milwaukee Bucks, who were believed by many to win the NBA Championship this year. Well, it didn’t work out because they were defeated by the #8 seeded Miami Heat.

When asked last week at a press conference if this season was a “failure”, here’s Giannis’s reply. Everything, he said, is a step to success.

So, when things don’t go your way, how about this “failure re-frame” to keep everyone focused and positive? Everything we’re doing is a step to the win if you have a strong culture, a talented team, and a smart strategy. Keeping them focused on taking those steps to success and not on the ratings will help get you there faster. And keep you at success longer.

I’ve never heard a more eloquent and appropriate reframe of “failure” into the true purpose of the mission to become important in listeners’ lives.

This video might be the best two minutes of your day to help manage your team of high performers to becoming epic players for your brand.


Five Brand Takeaways from Sometimes When We Touch

This blog was originally written for and appeared on the Coleman Insights website.  Visit them here.

I love love songs. Let me control the music when we’re together, and it’s likely the ride will be with the Carpenters, Barry Manilow, Dan Fogelberg, Bread, and Ambrosia. Younger Steve might have been embarrassed to admit this. Today’s Steve owns it and will show you all the kitschy music he sings along with in the car. Which brings me to a call I had with the show I work with at WINK-FM in Fort Myers, FL.

Logan, the morning co-host, was sharing that he remained in the good graces of his wife because he had just taken her to another Air Supply show. They both adore the group. This led to a discussion of Soft Rock, which Logan knows I enjoy. Logan recommended I watch “Sometimes When We Touch”, a documentary about the history of Soft Rock and how it morphed into another of my musical passions, Yacht Rock (of which many know I am highly opinionated), on Paramount+. I watched it that night.

“Sometimes When We Touch” is shown in three parts: the reign, ruin, and resurrection of Soft Rock. It was completely engaging, fun, and a great escape.

Here’s what rang true as I smiled and sang throughout all three parts and how they pertain to radio:

  • BE THE CANDY, NOT THE ENTRÉE. The entrée is serious. Candy is fun. It’s lighthearted. It’s a guilty diversion. “Sometimes When We Touch” is total candy with zero “nutritional value.” It’s not designed to make you think too hard. It’s meant to be a diversion. When I saw the Eagles recently on their MeHotel California tour, Don Henley tells the audience they’ll give us a three- hour vacation from the stresses of the real world with hit after hit we can sing along with. That’s exactly what they did. No one left in a bad mood. Be the candy, not the entrée. If you’re a music station, unless you’re compelled to cover something that dictates being serious, handle everything else with humor, mischievousness, curiosity, and fun. Be the candy. That’s the X factor of radio.
  • DON’T ABANDON YOUR POSITION. Everything is cyclical. Something that may go out of fashion comes back. It inevitably happens to every brand. You may be the shiny new object one day and then competitors try and take your position. One of the best pieces of advice I got from Jon Coleman in the early years of my company was to know my position in the marketplace and to not bend wit the winds. Abandon your position and it may never come back to you. Turns out soft rock had more staying power than anyone expected, but the brand was always true to itself.
  • AUTHENTICITY IS POWERFUL. Speaking of being true to oneself, there’s the enduring power of authenticity. Dan Hill tells the story in the show of how he wrote “Sometimes When We Touch”. He was dating an older woman who rejected him, and he wrote her this immensely honest love song to express his feelings. He told her his truth through his song. She said he was too sensitive. It became by far his biggest hit. After it topped the charts she wanted him back, but it was too late. Always, always, always tell the audience the truth. Great brands and talent do, and the audience knows if you aren’t.
  • PROTECT YOUR IP. I knew we’d eventually get to Yacht Rock and it happened. That was the greatest point of curiosity for me. Who came up with the term? How? And why the hell didn’t they trademark it so they could become zillionaires?? J.D. Ryzer and Hunter Stair created the term “Yacht Rock” with their YouTube series of the same name. They’d surely be rich…had they trademarked it. But they didn’t, which is heartbreakingly detailed in the series. Thinking about how to protect your brand is so important. We come up with ideas that turn into morning show features or community service programs, for example. One of my processes at that point is asking, “Have we secured a service mark for it? Do we have the YouTube channel? Maybe bought the website domain?” Because if not, someone could steal our intellectual property. If you develop something unique to your brand, own it not only in execution, but own it legally.
  • EARN YOUR LISTENERS’ TRUST. I posted about “Sometimes When We Touch” on Facebook because I am passionate about the music and its evolution. I wanted to share my find with my people. Jay Nachlis from Coleman and other friends in my network watched it because they trust my opinion, much like I trusted Logan’s. And then they tell their friends, who tell their friends. Isn’t that how you find new streaming TV shows? Aren’t you more apt to trust a friend’s recommendation than an ad? In radio, we worry so much about engaging with listeners tactically – but if they trust you, you have them for so much more than a promotion. Talent builds trust with the audience so when they’re endorsing a product, talking about the radio station, or doing content in their unique way, listeners who trust them will endorse you to their network of friends (aka “future listeners”). Talent = Trust. Work hard on that part of your brand.

Great brands make you feel something. Tap into “Sometimes When We Touch” for some Soft Rock inspiration.

Now, who’s ready to set sail with Captain Steve? The SS Reynolds leaves the dock promptly at 7:00pm. On board entertainment is Christopher Cross and Seals and Crofts! Night two? Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins!

A New Year, A New Tier



TO:  Radio’s Great Personalities (You!)

FR:  Steve Reynolds, Talent Coach (Me!)

DT:  January 1, 2023

RE:  A New Year, A New Tier


Welcome back to the grind.  I hope your break was relaxing and you had great time off to decompress, recharge, and not think even once about radio.  For those of you who keep the early hours (my fellow morning folks), I hope you slept in past 6:00am.

Radio stations and personality-driven shows, like the one you do, are living, breathing organisms.  We must adapt and evolve to stay relevant.  I have five challenges for things that could markedly change you and your show:

  1. Do something for your team. Reset and review your show strategy.  What’s your show about?  What’s its plot?  Review character development traits.  Redesign how you’ll prep to get even better story-based, real life content from everyone.  Where is the best content?  How can you be more local?  What are the important images to earn?  You’ll never go wrong engaging everyone on your team, including the key people at the radio station, on your show strategy.  The strategy is what makes you win.  It’s never a bad thing to communicate the core strategy to the key people you need help from to succeed.
  2. Do something for your ratings. While none of us can directly manipulate the ratings, review everything to see what could be refreshed.  The content you do and how you do it is in your control.  What ideas or features are old and tired?  What new things can you bring fans where they won’t take you for granted?  Nix all content that can be done by any show at any time. Where are the upgrades in your features and content so the audience doesn’t cheat on you by checking out another show?  Generic and evergreen content end up being lame and indistinct.  What new things can you bring your show and digital assets to deepen your relationship with listeners when they engage you there?  Become more relevant by doing content that is more personal, more pop culture, or more local.
  3. Do something for your community. My last blog was about knowing your show’s cause (Be the Beacon).  If you know yours, plan on doing something big around it in the first quarter.  We don’t do many big things in radio any longer.  Remind listeners, remind co-workers, and, most importantly, remind yourself the power you have to move the audience to do something big to help people in your hometown.  If you can’t find time to give back to your community, then it isn’t your community.
  4. Do something for your station. Reaffirm your attitude of gratitude.  Say thank you to those you work with all over the station.  Scare the shit out them by showing appreciation for not only what they do for the cluster, but for what they do for you and your show.  This is a leadership move.  Elevate your leadership.  It’s always a good move acknowledging the hard work and contributions they make helping the radio station succeed.  Don’t do this via text or email (decent, but low effort).  Don’t do it in person (they’ll think you’re from Mars and feel pressure to return the compliment, and that’s not the reason you’re doing it).  Write a short note, put it in an envelope, and leave it on their desk.  Why this way?  Well, no one writes notes any longer, so you’ll stand out.  Second, a handwritten note says you mean it.  Those you write will beam with pride for themselves, the station, and especially you.  I bet the next time you’re skittish on a sales promotion or need some piece of equipment fixed in the studio, it’ll be easier.  It’s also a bad ass leadership move.  Get some inexpensive notecards from Amazon, commit to writing them over the next few weeks, and go be a bad ass.
  5. Do something for yourself. Our brains need nourishment.  Because of the intensity of this industry, we need balance in our life so we don’t burnout.  What non-radio thing intrigues or interests you?  Go explore it.  Feed your brain by taking a course on it at a local university or community college.  That’ll make you a more interesting person to be around.  Not to get a degree, but because the balance will serve and invigorate you.  I work with a talent who always wanted to become an auctioneer.  Guess what he did last year?  He took classes and became one.  He’s an even better talent today because he fed his brain.  If no topic comes readily to mind, take a course in marketing to see if best practices can help your show or career.  Or a course in psychiatry or leadership to learn how to form more positive teams and communicate better with people.  I live in Raleigh, NC.  Within thirty minutes of my house lives North Carolina State University, Duke, and UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as a ton of smaller schools.  I regularly ask myself why I’m not enrolled in a class or two around a subject that’ll feed my brain.  This is the year I do it – do me a favor and stay on me so I remain honest to this one?

Don’t fear change or growth – go get uncomfortable to do that.  Embrace that journey.

What we don’t have enough of in life is people who’ll root for us.  I’m rooting for you.  Even if I compete against you at another station in your market or I’ve never met you.  I’m hoping you grow as a person and radio professional because I hope that you would do that for me.  Because, despite its faults, radio continues to be good to me and a good way to make a living and change communities by the power of personalities like you.

If no one’s told you lately, you bring value to what we do in this industry.  It’s a new year so go move up a tier.  There’s no better time than now to move to epic with the suggestions above.

Be in touch and let me know how they work out for you.