The Benefits of Being Big

Can you imagine your radio station spending one week and raising over $8,000,000 to help a cause important to you?  What would it say to your fans, those on your team, and to your sales department about the power of local radio?

I provide talent coaching to the national public radio system in the Netherlands (NPO) and that happened in December with their annual fundraiser called The Glass House.  Three 3FM (their CHR) personalities are locked in a glass house in a public square and spend one week raising money for One Dutch, a charity working to find a cure for ALS.  One of the personalities, Wijnand Speelman (seen here on the right), has been personally affected by this disease – his grandfather died from it.  So, he spent the week with his fellow talent personalizing the cause, drawing listeners close, to help reach their total of over 7.5 million Euros, triple what they raised last year.  I reminded them that facts tell, and stories sell in the coaching leading up to the start of The Glass House.  When viewed as a story-telling event, you can see why this was so successful.  See their wrap-up video below or here.  You won’t understand it unless you speak Dutch, but I guarantee you will feel it.  That’s when the win happens.  (Do yourself a favor and watch the video to see how incredibly big this was.)  The head thinks and the heart feels – this event is all the feels.

Listeners don’t get small things.  When radio plays on the margins, it’s likely to be missed.  Those I work with know I like doing big, gigantic things.  As that’s heard and remembered.  When it comes to cause-oriented work, we have two goals:  raise whatever we’re looking for from active fans and (much more importantly) impact positively the images of the show with those who won’t.  Whether you’re doing a community-service project, giving out concert tickets, or running a narrative content story arc about a talent to define their character, be big.

Listeners are looking to join brands that do good in the community.  Hang out with other media for a minute and the world is an ugly, abusive place.  Positioning your radio show as the place for goodness, then rallying your listeners to do that, creates more loyalty.  Radio is an intimate medium, and this helps build relationships with listeners who want more of that intimacy in their daily lives.  That’s one of our superpowers.  Give listeners an opportunity to join your team in this way makes them feel better about you and it makes them feel better about themselves.  That’s when they transition from listeners to fans.

The benefit of being big and different:

  • Josie, Carlin, and Brent, Indie 88, Toronto did their seventh annual Socks for the Streets campaign, asking listeners to donate socks which are given to the homeless community.  This year 309,934 pairs of socks were donated.  Their seven-year total is close to 1.5 million.
  • Hawkeye and Michelle at KSCS, Dallas did their annual 10,000 For the Troops around Thanksgiving where they ask listeners to write a thank you card, which is then sent to a member of the military overseas, thanking them for what they do. This is a program we put on the show years ago.  This year they asked for 10,000 cards and got over 150,000.  For the price of a thank you card and stamp (I love the old school nature of this), a fan felt better about themselves.
  • Logan and Sadie, WINK-FM, Fort Myers, FL and AD and Chris, KSHE, St. Louis each did Santa Paws.  Sharing that Santa Claus takes care of kids Christmas Eve, our mission was to get toys for animals in local shelters.  Logan and Sadie’s event is tenured, and listeners sent them 6,262 dogs toys.  AD and Chris did it for the first time and raised close to 3000.
  • Karen, Johnny, and Anthony, WNEW-FM, New York and Karson and Kennedy, MIX 104.1, Boston do Toys for Girls and Boys. Each campaign lasted a few weeks.  Karen, Johnny, and Anthony, in their first effort, got 6,224 toys and Karson and Kennedy received from fans over 10,000.  Big and gigantic.

In every instance above, the items were sent to the station on purpose.  So that those who work in the building, and especially those who have the hard task of selling the airtime, see the power of radio and authentic, compassionate personalities.

As 2024 continues to unfold and we plan for growth, we can do a bunch of little things with our brands (cause and non-cause oriented) or we can commit to doing big things, which helps us be remembered.

Radio doesn’t have a listening problem as much as we have a top-of-mind awareness problem.

Do big, epic things with your content and we’ll solve that.