Growing up I wanted to be a writer. So, from the time I could string a few sentences together I started writing short stories. Which I know because my mother kept everything so many of them are still in a box in my attic. One day I found out an actual published writer was coming to our small town in Texas so I insisted my parents take me so I could meet him. It was western writer Elmer Kelton by the way. After his presentation I walked up and asked him how to become a writer and I’ll never forget what he said to me, ‘Read everything you can get your hands on’. At the time that answer left me disappointed because I enjoyed writing and creating my own stories much more than reading the stories other people had created, but in time I came to understand what he meant. That same lesson can be applied to all of the new kinds of content we now need to create for radio. If we want to create better content that connects with our audience, we need to start by consuming lots of different kinds of content. Let’s go through a few of those kinds of content and look at what we should consume as inspiration.
Blogs are hit or miss when it comes to radio. Some groups do a GREAT job encouraging, incentivizing and rewarding their staff for regularly blogging with the goal of driving clicks and shares. Many other groups and individual stations sporadically blog while a handful never post blogs at all on their station websites unless they’re coming from an outside RSS feed. But, the best place to look for inspiration on blogging is outside our industry at companies whose entire business model is reliant on creating clickable, shareable blogs. Granted ours don’t have to be as long or even as professionally written. They just need to be in our talent’s voices with their own personality and style added into them. There’s also nothing wrong with using AI to write a first draft of a blog for us and then touching it up to localize and personalize it to fit our format and market.
Video is radio’s most under-utilized promotional and marketing tool. When I started trying to get radio to create more video content years ago there were very few radio studio furniture companies that made anything with sightlines and visual aesthetics for video in mind. Now, there are A LOT of them. There are a few tricks we use, monitor trenches, getting as much equipment out of the studio as possible and putting what’s left in racks under the furniture, being strategic about anything that goes anywhere in the studio and most importantly LOTS of lighting. But, there’s a mountain of examples we can look at now to take inspiration from. Especially with our main studios, but I believe even our production and backup studios, it just makes sense to make them as video friendly as they are audio friendly. Again though, the first step to creating incredible studios is to look at thousands of other studios and content creation areas other people have created and incorporate the best ideas from each one. While doing so we should also look at the different types of content others outside are industry are creating in those studios, making note of what works to get traction and what doesn’t, how long they are on which platforms, the editing tricks they use as well as their equipment choices.
Podcasts are a major point of emphasis for me when consulting radio stations. There’s a real love and hate relationship between radio and podcasting. Both sides kind of look down on the other which is ironic because they have a LOT in common. Many of the things successful podcasts do on every episode are ideas that came from radio. Now it’s our time to flip the script and look at some of the things podcasters are doing well that we can utilize to make our own podcasts more likely to go viral, attract subscribers and downloads so we can find another way to monetize a skillset that we already have. Don’t get me wrong, there are subtle differences between the two which I talk about in my eBook From Broadcast to Podcast: Applying Radio Rules to Podcasting. A few I’d recommend listening to are Smartless (great theme and premise, some of the best chemistry between talent I’ve ever heard), We Might Be Drunk (wheels-off sometimes with the two comics that host, but you’ll notice how they incorporate radio-style benchmarks throughout the show), Conan Needs a Friend (clearly defined roles, but wonderful chemistry and contributions from the other cast-members) and the Sarah Silverman Podcast (Essentially Sarah’s doing a combination of what Delilah and Dave Ramsey have done for years, having people call in for advise with a cut-to-the-chase and no-judgement style, but also funny since she’s a comic.)
Like I always say though, it all starts on-air. Some of the best shows I’ve worked with over the years are avid listeners of lots of other radio personalities and shows across various formats, in their own market and others. We should all do that with a discerning ear, listening for things they try that fall flat and the things they have success with. Then, building on those by adding our unique flavor and personality to it to make it our own.
Creating unique and original content daily that’s going to appeal to the masses is an incredibly tall task, especially on a local level with its own set of subtle differences. To do so, we HAVE to consume a wide-range of content. We don’t have the luxury of only watching, listening, reading and looking at things that we are personally interested in. That approach will always lead us to do internally focused shows instead of externally focused shows. We should think of our content consumption similarly to our nutritional consumption and find a balance that makes for a healthy on-air persona and show.
What do you think? Where do you look for inspiration. Comment below or email me at Andy@RadioStationConsultant.com.
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