WHY IS "EVERYONE" WAITING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO DO IT?
work with and listen to about two dozen radio stations. Thus, I am
fortunate to be a part of quite a few very constructive planning,
action timetable creation, brainstorming and goal-setting sessions
months later, I return to those stations expecting to hear
excitement, positive change and creativity on the air. Only, more
often than I'd like, to be disappointed.
I recently helped
a station create some exciting new jingles that cost us $5,000 to
produce. Expensive, for the market size, but everyone who heard them
thought they were worth it. Then, a month after the jingles were
delivered, I visited the market and didn't hear a single jingle on
the air in four hours of listening!
situation, following listener advisory panels that I moderated the
station management team agreed that a 'no repeat workday guarantee'
would be just what the listeners ordered.
Three weeks later,
I checked in with the PD only to find out that were still
"working out details" on implementation of the tactic. He
wasn't sure when he could get it on the air.
I decided to write
this item instead of either SCREAMING or FIRING SOMEONE, both of
which I could easily do right now.
Speaking as a
middle manager in one of America's larger radio companies, I wonder
why it is that so few of our employees seem to see the sense of
urgency in the opportunity in front of us. This is one of those high
risk, high reward times that comes along only occasionally in every
lifetime. Big changes are occurring; big demands are being placed on
us. Big opportunity is ahead for those who are committed to rise to
In radio today,
there are - simply put - two situations: overwhelmed and unemployed.
No question; many of us wish there was a THIRD option, but given the
available choices, it seems that the wise selection is obvious.
I am not picking
on anyone specific here, but I definitely see this as a general
problem that many, many managers are talking to one another about.
The bigger our corporations become, the more layers of bureaucracy
there are and the more like characters in Dilbert many of us are becoming.
We can't allow
that to happen to us. One broadcast paradigm has not shifted: radio
is still the fast-moving, high-competitive, low loyalty business is
has always been.
Thus, someone -
our GMs, VPs, PDs, MDs, sellers and air personalities - has got to
recognize the right thing to do and DO it, or we ALL pay the price.
Our owners are
paying too much for our radio stations to allow us to become slower
in our reaction times, complacent in our now-larger companies. We
still only get seven or eight percent of the ad dollars and fewer
than one fifth of the population is using radio in the average
Justice concerns notwithstanding, our stations don't have a monopoly
on anything and certainly NOT on our users' TIME. And, none of us can
afford to act as if we do. The companies we work for are worth more
than ever. That just means that we have a lot more to lose should we
fail to please our listeners and media buyers.
THUS: when are we
going to stop making excuses? There can always be a "good
reason" why you couldn't do something. But, the people who
manage to find a way in spite of all those good reasons are the
winners. The ones with good reasons why they couldn't do something
get left in high achievers' wake.
What can you do to
minimize irritants NOW? Maybe the processing equipment isn't perfect.
The spot load is too high. You're overworked. The listeners don't
know those things. What can you do right now to make a difference
they can HEAR?
think" needs to be replaced with "I am sure." If you
don't know, find out. Don't guess. If you don't know what moves the
meter among the many things you're being called upon to do, ask someone.
For example, what
is REALLY important is there must be a clear definition of your
position statement. Do you demonstrate what the words you say to
describe your station to listeners MEAN to them, in terms they might
use themselves? Do you have a user's guide to the radio station that
is built to increase daily occasions of listening? Can you hear
everything important that your station is about in a random half-hour
of listening? Can this be executed flawlessly, every time, by even
your weakest part-timer?
Ask part time,
weekend and overnight talent if they understand precisely what the
formatics need to be for your station to recruit listeners. If they
don't know exactly what to do, that is not their fault. It is yours.
Set up an easy-to-understand sound hour. When your liner says
"new music," play new music. When a liner stages
"variety," play variety. When a jingle says "fun,"
precede it with something creative and FUN.
Have the specific
elements mapped out "bigger than life" in the control room
so that it's easy and simple to do the format correctly. Make it
difficult to do the wrong thing.
Your goal should
be to ALWAYS have a better song on the air than the competition. On a
routine basis, take several hours of each station's music that aired
during the exact same time frame and refer to your research. How many
times did our songs perform better than their songs?
If we are not
hitting a 75% or better mark, then we should retool our library until
it does! These are the basics of counter programming. When do they
play their secondary tracks? Powers? Recurrents, etc? How about us?
We should always be playing the better song, category for category,
song by song.
Do the same exercise with current contest promos. Are you BIGGER, simpler to win, easier to play than THEY are? Is there an uncomplicated reason to listen built in? If not, what can you do to change that, immediately?
stuff" coming on the air constantly. The stations that sizzle
are constantly fresh and NEW. Never let the NEWNESS wear off your
sound. This requires daily updating and rewriting of fresh,
time-dated production imagery. It's not easy. But, it can be FUN.
Specialize in SURPRISE. I cannot think of a better way to spend money
than on the on-sir product and imaging is crucial.
elements are important and prioritize. Nothing moves the ratings
faster than SIZZLE of HOT, FRESH and NEW unexpected, creative,
well-produced FUN. Listeners know when you are faking it. And,
speaking as "your" programming manager, I can too. So,
please don't wait for me to discover it: DO IT. Develop
non-negotiable standards for yourself and your coworkers. There is no
person who is more impatient with the status quo than me. So, now
that you know that (if you didn't already), use me as a resource.
Together, we both can be agents of growth.
But, I can't do your job for you. And, making exciting radio is your job.