I’ve been listening to a bunch of air-checks recently (see: Talent Session Summer Special) and based on what I’m hearing I want to share four ideas to improve your ratings. How will this improve your ratings? Listeners will find your show more valuable, more entertaining and worthy of more of their time each day and week.
Have a point.
I hear many talk hosts who know they need to talk about the big stories; Weiner, A-Rod, etc., but not enough are providing a unique insight, perspective or clear takeaway for the listener. Know what point you want to make before you dive into the story and find the facts, details, audio, and guests that best support your conclusion. Use every tool you can to paint the picture you want the listener to see. As a host, you are a trial attorney… and the listeners are the jury. What are you going to say to convince them you’re right?
Solo hosts are not alone.
As a solo host, a three or four-hour stretch can seem daunting. Trust me, I know. I cut my sports talk teeth in Philadelphia hosting a show every Sunday in direct competition with Eagles play-by-play. Even I wasn’t listening to what I was saying. However, I learned a couple of tricks along the way to make sure you’re never alone, even when the phones aren’t ringing.
- Talk to audio clips/direct quotes. This isn’t the same as “playing clips,” talking around sound or discussing what someone said. This is reacting to the sound in real-time and speaking directly to the newsmaker. You can yell at them, disagree with them, or even offer them advice.
- Talk with your listeners. Pull them into your confidence, address them (as a singular “you”), be there for them, hear them in your head reacting to what you’re saying and acknowledge their argument for them. Create lists of things your listeners should remember about what you’re saying. “Here are three things no one else will tell you about Alex Rodriguez…”
Much of this involves some acting on your part, fully utilizing your voice inflection and intonation, and it takes quite a bit of preparation. However, when done correctly, it will be very impactful.
Do not shy away from sharing the colorful details of stories or digging up additional information to add context. So often, hosts brush over the fine points of a story to get straight to their opinion and then spend the next two hours and fifty minutes repeating their point. Do your research, read source materials, gather audio that helps tell the story you want to tell, be descriptive, provocative and pull the listeners into the world YOU are creating.
This is an exercise in being 4-years-old again. Ask questions and seek answers. Ask why? Ask what’s missing? Be nosey. Do not take things at face value. Do not believe what someone else says about something – experience it for yourself. Believe your instincts and follow-up on them. Investigate. Probe. Discover. Uncover. Look at things differently. Test your hypothesis. Read between the lines. Look at what everyone else is taking for granted and look closer. Be present in life. Take better notes.
Hope it helps. Let me know how it goes for you.
CAUTION: For more predictable results, keep doing what you’re doing.
Too often, I hear employees (hosts, producers, board ops, etc) want more, expect more, and demand more, but are unwilling to change to get it. There’s an overwhelming sense of entitlement in our business from the newcomers to the veterans.
- I want more money, but I don’t want more work.
- I want to be on-air, but I won’t work weekends or holidays.
- I want full-time, but I can’t work Wednesdays.
- I want better ratings, but my show is perfect the way it is.
- I want a job, but I’m a veteran of the business so I won’t apply or audition.
Change starts with you.
I know a sales manager who has been in his same office for 13 years and needs more and better results. So he changed. He packed up his office and moved one office over to the left. Now he has a different perspective, a little different view out his window, and his sellers have to change too – or they’ll end up in the wrong office. He has a pep in his step, sales are trending up and now others are wondering if they can change offices too. As you change, the world will change around you.
On February 8, 2013 I made an announcement to my employees that left many of them and others I know scratching their heads. I announced my resignation. I said, “I am a believer in the brands, philosophies, purpose, and the people who breathe life and personality into our products. I believe we are positioned for success. I also recognize we have evolved greatly in the two years I’ve been here.
As organizations evolve, their leaders need to evolve as well. As I’ve considered where we are and the road ahead, it has become clear to me that the type of leadership needed to keep moving forward requires someone with different strengths and passions than mine. So, with mixed emotions, I have resigned my position.”
“Why would you do that?” the collective “they” asked.
I wanted change.
This Friday is my last day. I took action, but my change is just getting started. I’m going to create new routines, patterns, and behaviors to change the opportunities and experiences in my life. The family is going on a month-long RV trip, I’m going to start taking better care of me – physically, mentally, spiritually, I’m going to take on more household responsibilities, I’m going to write more, spend more time in nature and I’ll probably be a more active networker.
All these changes in my life will lead to more change in my life, new perspectives, and new opportunities. Change isn’t easy, it doesn’t reward those who wait around, but rewards those who trust. I have no idea what’s next for me, but I’m confident exciting, new opportunities are around the corner.
Are you trying to win the ratings and revenue war in 2011 with the same strategies, shows, segments, features, production, imaging, commercials, staff that you had in 2010? Why do you think that will it work now?
One of the challenges of radio stations, managers, producers and talent is to constantly evolve. The new year is always a good time to look at and evaluate what you’ve accomplished in the past year and set intentions for the coming year. Get in a room with your staff or show unit and talk about what you are doing.
One way to conduct your assessment is the strategic planning method known as “S.W.O.T.”
- Listen to audio from your show or station including show segments, production, commercials and updates.
- List out the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. List three or more in each category.
- Discuss ways to capitalize on strengths, improve on, minimize or eliminate your weaknesses, seize the opportunities and prepare for the threats – include everyone in the room.
- Create an action plan. Based on your S.W.O.T. exercise, what should you change, add, delete, prepare, create, and what’s missing?
- Before you leave give everyone in the room a responsibility or task with a deadline.
- Pick a day to follow-up with everyone and hold everyone accountable.
- Allow three to four hours minimum for this meeting to have maximum impact.
This is a great time to re-create or eliminate the old, tired bits, segments, promos, production, commercials and guests in order to evolve, energize your staff, get them to have ownership of what they do on a daily basis and create something new, fresh, and entertaining for your fans in 2011.
Weclome to the blog. Larry Gifford is a radio management consultant and talent coach. He is available for ongoing or project based consulting for U.S. and International radio groups, stations, and talent
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