We’ve all been guilty of it. Falling into the ‘That was…”, ‘This is…” trap to use as filler content either because we were too busy to prep or we’re still adjusting to a new format/demo and we simply don’t know what to talk about yet. Scrambling thirty seconds before the song ends and googling the artist to see if there’s a nugget of recent news to spice it up a bit.
But, this default mode of announcing the tunes does virtually nothing for the listener. Unless you’re on a AAA or independent music station, they’re familiar with 99% of what you’re playing anyway and if they’re not it’s prominently displayed on most of the platforms they’re listening on now. Literally every second is mission critical now, so finding faster ways to come out of/into songs leaves more room for the things that really do move the needle, teases, hooks, content, engagement, local info and outs. For example, if we’re coming out of the new Justin Bieber tune we don’t need to say ‘That was Justin Bieber featuring Daniel Caeser and Giveon with Peaches.’ If we say anything at all it could just be ‘Bieber Peaches’. Across just Spotify and Youtube that song had over 70 million plays last week alone. I’m pretty confident they know it.
I know we’ve all had a PD/OM/GM who thinks the main thing people want to hear from on-air talent outside of mornings is who’s singing the song they just heard, but they’re wrong. That’s a dated philosophy that’s mainly used to shorten up long-winded talk breaks. The creative challenge today’s air talent face is how to be compelling, interactive and interesting within the shortest amount of time possible. A good exercise to do that is to prepare for a whole show as if we were going to have to execute the entire shift without knowing any of the songs on the log, relying entirely on pre-prepared content, features, benchmarks and the handful of stationality stuff we have to hit. Then, find simple ways to incorporate the song info into that without it getting in the way.
The fundamental question is this, are we announcers or on-air personalities? If we’re content to be announcers than by all means we should continue dedicating the bulk of the words we say into mics every day to the music, weather and whatever liners are scheduled. If we truly are on-air personalities, then we should prepare so much content that it’s a struggle to figure out where to fit those other things in.
What do you think? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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