Giving Your Show a First Listen

I was recently asked by a company to give fresh ears to one of their shows to see if it was a program I wanted to work with. I wasn’t too familiar with the program and did some due diligence. I thought you might also benefit from what I do to help your show.

I listened to four hours of the show, across three different days, in every hour of the program. I never judge a show from one day of listening. I like to hear each hour to see if there’s a consistency in what they do and how they do it.

Fresh ears on a show are always good. I hear things some closer to the show don’t. I also don’t walk in with any bias (good or bad) and can evaluate the program as a “first time listener”, much like real listeners are hearing the program.

Here are eight things I am listening for if this is my first pass with a potential client:

  1. Can I tell what the show is all about? Hang out with me for a minute and you know I believe each show must have a plot, much like a TV show. This must be grounded in the truth of the talent and reflective of who they are. And it’s something that cannot be duplicated in the market. Being real is not a plot (every show is real to its audience). “Smart guys, stupid show” is.
  2. Is each member of the cast well-defined? Character development is very important – I want to get to know each person, which compels their honesty against their perspective in the topics being chosen for the show. They also must share their life – or at least the parts that position them as just like the audience. It’s in this you get connection. This is how you move fans to care about the program. Once listeners care about the talent, they will care about the show.
  3. If there are two people of the same sex, are they noticeably different? If not, they’re just two male or female voices – you must noticeably separate their personas for them to have impact.
  4. Do they have defined on-air roles? Tom Brady is always the quarterback and Rob Gronkowski is always a tight end. Does the audience know how each person fits into the structure of the team?
  5. How relevant is the content for the audience? Are the topics they’re choosing right for the demo? I’ve discussed relevancy before in Planet Reynolds. Be on the biggest, best topics of the day for the greatest level of accessibility by the broadest audience in your demo.
  6. Does the audience consistently feel something at the end of each break? Emotion makes everything memorable. Interesting people have a passion and convey that in how they do their content.
  7. Did the show do anything with their content that couldn’t really be done by anyone else? Everyone tends to be on the same topics. It’s in our power with great prep to do things with that content that create an image of innovation and difference. These create a singular identity that makes fans come back again.
  8. Are there fun, unique benchmarks on the show that would positively impact behavior that compels me to return each morning at the same time? Radio wins come from getting fans to come back again. Great benchmark features get a show known for something, add positive images, and gives you additional occasions from those most likely to give them to you – your P1s.

Get fresh ears on your show and use these as guideposts to hear them differently. The assessments made will lead to strategic conversations with your talent that will help everyone’s efforts.

Now it’s time for the back part of the due diligence with the show I referenced above. Will they be open to hearing all these items as a first time listener would, too? If both the show and I say yes, we have a match to take off like a rocket to grow the program.

Be strategic. Be fun. Be interesting. Be relevant. Be real. Be different.

Then you’ll be epic.