Start at the End

Years ago, one month out of the first anniversary of the Boston bombings, I decided to engage the two shows I work with in that city around what our programs will sound like that day.  I received back, as is sometimes the case, silence.  When I was on the air, I was the king of never planning.  I usually worried about large milestone shows like this the day before.  We don’t have that luxury any longer because of the competition for listeners’ attention.

I engaged both rooms in an exercise instructive to help develop our content.  Instead of brainstorming certain pieces of content (what phone topic can we do, who can we interview, etc.), I asked everyone this question:  if a listener tunes in that day, what do you want them to feel after the break is over?  What happens at the end of the content?  If we know that, we can work backwards to craft great breaks.

That focus – what emotion do we want the audience to experience listening to us – changed the conversation.  Because one of the many great things about radio is that we determine how our customer feels when they take delivery of the product!

I cynically suggested to the Boston teams that we re-live that day, angering people.  Or maybe offer that they be weary of folks on the streets with backpacks, frightening listeners.  Both were obviously rejected.  I again asked the question: what feeling do we want listeners to have when we’re done?

Then the answer in both rooms:  “We want them to feel ‘Boston Strong’.”  Yup…everything after that got easy.

With the milestone twentieth anniversary of 9/11 approaching, I ask you the same question.  What content will you do, and what emotion are you going for the week of September 11th to be where listeners are?

Some shows will grab all that low-hanging fruit:  let’s ask people where they were when they heard?  Let’s talk to someone who was on a plane that day!  Maybe re-run audio from TV!  All of that is twenty-year old content.  Is that good enough for your fans?

Every show I work with was engaged on this a month ago.  Each has a game plan for unique, local content, all in our efforts to make our fans feel the right emotion so we connect with them, and they remember us.  Because we figured the feeling first.

This proves that to start at the end is quite helpful in crafting the right content for days like this.

What’s your ending?

Start with that, and you’ll be epic the week of 9/11.