As the pandemic looms, and sadly surges in some states, it continues to impact every aspect of our lives. Since Covid-19 hit the US depression rates are three times higher than normal, illegal drug use is up 36%, alcohol sales have risen 32% and there are 34% more divorce filings compared to the same time last year. Plus, while job numbers are beginning to bounce back there are still 32 million Americans receiving unemployment benefits. On top of the pandemic we’re also dealing with record wildfire and hurricane seasons and the Dallas Cowboys are a dumpster-fire, something that probably effects disgruntled Cowboys superfans like myself more than others but I thought it was worth mentioning.
That’s why it’s more important than ever for us to keep it positive on-air and create good vibes whenever we can. Here are a few ideas on ways to stay positive on-air.
What’s Got You Smiling phone topic segment or feature. The on-air talent starts off the break by mentioning something good that happened to them recently and throwing it to the phones with the simple question, ‘What’s got you smiling today?’ The segment could also be called ‘One good thing,’ similar to the dining table game that many families play where they go around the table saying one good thing that happened to them that day.
Brag A Little phone topic segment or feature. Another variation would be to have the air talent talk about something they are proud of and then solicit listeners to call in and tell them something great about their spouse, their job, their city, their neighborhood, etc.
Pay It Forward contest. Without warning or pre-promotion do something nice for a handful of loyal listeners and encourage them to pay it forward, keeping track of their progress and other listeners who take the initiative completely on their own on-air/web/social, sharing examples of kind deeds throughout, then rewarding one listener with a grand prize at the end of the contest.
Highlighting bright spots whenever and wherever we can is another general thing we can all do to lift listener spirits. That could include shout outs to health-care workers and first responders, uplifting stories from artists, and forward focusing features and contests.
Outside of the on-air talent we should also lean more positive with our station imaging. New rounds of imaging should focus on touting our strengths more with less shots at our competitor’s weaknesses for now and steering away from anything that disparages commercials in a time where every ad dollar is mission critical. Don’t get me wrong I’m not advocating nixing all of the funny, self-deprecating, or light-hearted on-air and imaging shots at the state of our country or current events. Quite the opposite, I think there’s certainly a place for comedy right now as long as it’s tasteful, done strategically to fit the format/demo and, most importantly, actually funny. Musically it also couldn’t hurt to be especially mindful of tempos and mood for the time being.
I’ve always been a proponent of staying positive during drive time because the last thing somebody wants to hear on their way to and from a job they don’t like is someone complaining about what they perceive as a dream job. Negativity can be especially harmful in formats where the music tends to be more positive and upbeat. But, in our current climate, keeping it more positive across the board would be a smart programming strategy in all formats.
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