Creating Topical Content That's Sticky By Andy Meadows

Sticky content is just what it sounds like, content that sticks with the listener. Things they go to work and tell their coworker, recount later to their friends and significant other, or even to the on-air talent themselves at a station event. It’s those ‘best of worthy moments’ that great shows create daily and far too many shows struggle to create weekly, monthly or ever. Usually when coaching talent on how to create more of those sticky moments we focus on developing stronger, appointment setting benchmarks and features. But, another main difference between those three categories of shows I’ve noticed lately is that the great shows identify the thing everyone is talking about that day and hit it early and often. 

Here's why that’s so important. One of radio’s big advantages over podcasting is the immediacy of it. When something major happens late in the day we can be on the radio discussing it the following morning (even sooner on stations manned at night). In contrast it takes most of the major, non-radio related podcasts a few days to turn something around and address that same major topic. Also, ignoring those topics is a missed opportunity to bond, interact and engage with our audience on something they likely have an opinion on. Great shows hit it early because they don’t waste their opening break or first hour and save the good stuff for the heavier listening hours. They set the tone for the show the second they start talking. Plus, they understand that there’s nothing wrong with bringing it back a couple times throughout the show, especially if they’re building that conversation through listener involvement or adding their own additional angles. I know some people complain about ESPN or the major news networks talking about the same thing all day, but there’s a reason why they do that. Initially their gut, and soon after their internal data, tells them which main story the audience cares about. They also understand that audiences turnover at an incredibly high rate now and if they’re not talking about that main topic within that limited window, they’ll likely go somewhere else for it. 

Unfortunately, on the radio there are a few misconceptions that can lead many team shows and solo talent to miss or ignore the thing everyone is talking about. Some simply don’t know their audience well enough to identify that day’s topic. Others can identify it but falsely assume their audience doesn’t come to them to hear about ‘those kind of things’. This approach makes talent sound like they're not in the know. It stems from either a belief that they shouldn’t talk about something that everyone else is talking about (flawed logic), a fear that they're not knowledgeable enough to even touch on it, or they think that particular topic is too controversial. But, in my experience, when we truly understand our audience and know how to deliver something through a well-developed on-air persona, nothing is off limits. 

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