Eight Points of Relevance: A Performance Check List
Above and beyond the mechanics, there is the magic of radio. Here
are a few ways to make sure it happens, prioritized in order of their
importance to the radio station and to the listener:
- Thought provocation. Unless
and until someone says something that sparks my imagination, I'm
simply not listening. Because radio is a shared activity-I'm
doing something else while I'm listening-I'm perfectly
capable of hearing you speak and not paying one bit of attention.
As announcers our first challenge is to create some combination of
meaning, choice of language and tonality that will briefly capture
and refocus the listener's attention. This requires that we
constantly search for new material and new, interesting ways to present
the same information; that we make comments which are thought provoking
in some way.
- Relativity. In business we're constantly
advised to put the customer at the center of our universe, yet we don't
always do this on the radio. This is good advice-we should take
it. Beyond playing great music, everything we say should relate clearly
and beneficially to our listener's life or else we run the risk
of becoming marginal or even unnecessary. Every time you do a voice
break, focus 100% on one listener and ask yourself, "How is what
I'm about to say going to relate positively and add value to this
person's life?" Put more bluntly, "Why shouldn't
my listener turn off the radio and just play his CD's?"
- Listener involvement. Always look for
ways to engage and activate your listener. Make sure you regularly recommend
that he/she go to the website for interesting or useful information,
call the station, send email comments to you, attend an event, make
a donation (if this is a noncom), or simply think about a matter. The
alternative- the listener in a state of passive disengagement-
is never in our best interest.
- Personality. What makes you stand out
as an individual? Your sense of humor, your beliefs and values, your
interests, your experience? Make sure you share yourself on the air-
never in an “all about me” manner but in some way that demonstrates
your three-dimensional nature. The way you handle points one and two
above are all a function of your unique person-ality. So let's
hear who you are...briefly and provocatively.
- Station identification. Remember that
we have new listeners all the time. Not just people moving into the
area, but people whose tastes are changing and who are sampling our
kind of music more and more. We want to be their home for music, their
companion, their authority, their habitual daily parking place. You
can teach them who we are by consistently rotating the primary identifiers:
the frequency, the call letters, the web URL, and the positioning statement.
If you have a show name, use it. But please don't use it in place
of these primary tools.
- Station promotion. Just like a product
has a brand, the radio station has a brand. Ours stands for quality,
consistency, integrity, and musicality. There are also more exciting
elements to place on top of that solid foundation: on-air happenings,
special programming, special guests, interesting pieces or features
coming up in the next daypart, and anything happening in the community
or world at large that we can attach to in a meaningful way. This is
the sales part of the announcer's role. You are here to sell,
in a cool and classy way, our musical experience and everything it entails.
- Forward momentum. Always be on the lookout
for something good in your program that's just 15-20 minutes away
and promote it. Promoting music many hours in advance doesn't
net the returns you hope for unless it's something unusual such
as a world premiere. It's much easier and more effective to keep
listeners by extending the listening that they're already doing.
The key to this is regular, short-term, upbeat forward promotion.
- Data delivery. Of course the artist's
names, the songs, the performers, etc. need to be announced. but if
that's all we're here for our time on the planet as presenters
is short-lived. The new generation of radios displays all this data.
So we need announcers to do what only human beings can do: make interesting,
unusual, and memorable connections with information, and create lasting
relationships with other humans. That's the real nature of the
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To recap, here is the order of importance: thought provocation leads
the way because until you capture someone's attention, they're
not listening. Relativity- because until you make your comments
matter, who cares? Involvement- because an interested, engaged,
aware, involved listener is the station's best friend and advocate.
Personality- because that's how you build relationships
with listeners, by extending your personality. Station identification-
because believe it or not, many people don';t know for certain
what they're listening to. Promotion- because we need
to keep our brand and list of benefits fresh in the listener's
mind. Forward momentum- because it is in our best interest to
extend time-spent-listening. And data delivery- because people
do want to know what was played and who played it.
All there is to it-