Ten Seconds Or Less By Andy Meadows

Any show I coach has likely gotten tired of hearing me say how important it is to get into their content quickly. It’s advice so simple it sounds obvious. But, it’s one of the main reasons why some live and local shows struggle to compete with out-of-market syndicated shows despite their advantage of being able to cater their content to their market and interact with their local audience. Most syndicated shows, but certainly not all, crack the mic and get into whatever they’ve teased almost immediately. They’re far less likely to fill with unrelated or unnecessary banter at the top of a break before getting into their topic than local shows. The goal I set for all shows I coach, regardless of market size, is ten seconds or less. Here are some tips for how we can all consistently hit that goal.

Choose our topics ahead of time. The further in advance the better to guard against slow days content-wise. A good rule of thumb is to plan on having 80% of the show pre-planned a day in advance so we’re only having to prep for 20% of the show the day of. Then, if there’s tons of topical timely stuff that we can develop day of on any particular day we save some of that pre-planned stuff for another day. This also creates a little pressure on our content slot inventory which forces us to choose the strongest stuff, similar to why we only choose a limited number of heavy currents on a new music station to force us to only select the huge hits. Plus, it gives us the ability to develop our content and identify the hook to get into it. Hooks are mission critical for hitting that ten second goal. Shows that struggle with hooks tend to spend too much time justifying their content with a long explanation of why they’re talking about a topic.

Don’t do combo breaks for ANY reason. To keep the lights on, and transmitter, all radio stations make some concessions, sales driven features that don’t quite fit the format, way too many service elements that each go considerably longer than necessary and lots of small contests instead of focused and strategic major promotions. Balancing all of these things on a show that’s personality and content driven isn’t easy. But, one solution that never works is to turn content or feature/benchmark breaks into combo breaks where we cram multiple things (liner, weather, multi-teases, etc) into a single break. When we do that virtually none of it actually connects with listeners rendering it ineffective for everybody we’re trying to super-serve. A better idea is to pare down all of those other things as much as we can, then structure our clocks where we can do them all separately, and concisely, even if that means stopping an extra time or two per hour.

Finally, we have to value our listener’s time. Regardless of the size of the town we’re broadcasting in, people are busy. In small and medium markets there’s often a sense that people there are more laid back then in the big city so they don’t care if we go a little longer here or there, do internally focused content or straight up wing it where we crack the mic and see what happens. But, I grew up in a small town, still have lots of friends and family in small towns and I consult stations in all size markets. People in small towns have just as many demands on their time, they’re just different kinds of demands. Small towns allow people the opportunity to be involved in everything and many people take advantage of that. So, that small market listener still has kids to drop off somewhere, work to get to, errands to run and a whole laundry list of other things. Plus, while there may be less local radio competition there’s still all the same digital options available with the touch of a button. Waste their time and we’ll lose them.

What do you think? How quickly are you getting to your topics within breaks? Comment below or email me at Andy@RadioStationConsultant.com.

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