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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?"
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 job.

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-