I’m a firm believer that radio stations should man as many dayparts as their budgets will allow so they’re as live and local as possible. However, there are a lot of different definitions for what those often tossed around terms actually mean. Let’s go through some of the misconceptions of each along with a few alternatives.
- Being LOCAL doesn’t just mean talking about the weather and the area bake sale. ALTERNATIVE: Keep the weather short and to the point unless it’s severe (everyone gets the basic weather info on their phone or watch) and pre-record the interview with community/event staff off-air as both audio and video, then put the full video on the web/social and edit out the best audio to run on air driving traffic to the full video (Client/partner is happy because they have a link to share on social and it’s significantly more likely to appeal to a broader audience than a longwinded on-air interview).
- Being LOCAL isn’t an excuse to talk incessantly about ourselves, where we went the night before or where we’re going tonight. ALTERNATIVE: Name dropping local spots/businesses/people/events/etc is just as effective without getting too internal and into the minutia of how we spent our day/weekend (We should only do that if there’s a story there that’s likely to appeal to the masses if we exaggerate/embellish and aren’t married to the truth).
- Being LIVE isn’t just giving time checks and mentioning today’s ‘national days’ no one cares about. ALTERNATIVE: Live shows should be built around interaction and engagement with the audience through phone topics that get them to call, content breaks that drive them to another platform the station owns to see/hear more and interact through comments, and play-along daily contests.
- Being LIVE isn’t winging it with stream of consciousness style breaks that jump from topic to topic. ALTERNATIVE: Great shows go into every break with at least a good idea how they’re going to transition to the hook that gets them into the meat of the planned content and how they’re going to get out. Depending on their experience, skillset and how developed their on-air personas are they may improvise to varying degrees along the way. But, they NEVER crack the mic and just see what happens. They typically plan a combination of single topic breaks and jab/jab/punch style multi-topic breaks that fit under a broader umbrella. To the outside observer, some of those single topic breaks will sound like natural, organic conversations but behind the scenes they’re always at least somewhat orchestrated.
In my experience what most people mean when they tell their on air staff to be more live and local, whether they articulate it or not, is for them to interact/engage more with the audience and identify the things local people are talking about that day and incorporate them into their content.
Bottom line, we lose the edge of being live and local if we’re not strong enough to be competitive with syndicated shows, celebrity podcasts and everything else vying for our audience’s attention every day. That’s a tall order when we’re understaffed, forcing us to work harder and smarter than the competition until we can generate enough revenue to staff up. But, we’ll never get to that point if we’re filling time, doing shows that are more for us than the listeners and not doing anything that couldn’t be voicetracked. If that’s the case it’s likely someone’s looking at our name on a spreadsheet trying to figure out which out-of-market, syndicated show to replace us with and save a few bucks.
What do you think? Comment below or email me at Andy@RadioStationConsultant.com.
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