The challenge when building clocks for the hours a music station has live and local on-air talent is balancing their entertainment elements (music, contests, features, benchmarks and content breaks) with all of the service elements, stationality stuff and of course all of the ads. In a perfect world, each hour would always have much more entertainment than information and ads. However, that’s easier said than done. Traditionally sales tends to have an easier time selling service elements then they do our content, which is maddening to programmers, but it’s mainly because its easier to explain to an advertiser what those service elements are. It’s an important balance to get right though. Ideally, we want our strongest personality’s voices to be associated with entertainment and fun and that’s hard to do if half (Or more) of their time spent talking each hour is spent delivering info that’s already available on everyone’s phone. The question I’ve been trying to answer lately is this, what if everything we did was an entertainment element? Is that even possible, and if so what would it look like?
Here's some ways to begin moving in that direction. With any service element delivered by one of our main personalities, we transition to more of a lighter, entertainment style read. That goes for news, sports, weather and even traffic. This style has been adopted by all of the 24-hour news networks after they realized that people won’t watch news 24/7 unless it’s entertaining (Also why it's hard to get straight forward journalism anymore, but that’s another subject for another blog). Obviously, the tone would need to shift whenever there’s anything we have to discuss where lives have been lost or we’re covering life-threatening weather. But other than that, we keep it light and conversational. For news and sports breaks it also helps to only focus on one story and push listeners to get all of the rest of the info on our website. It doesn’t really make sense to do single topic breaks everywhere else but then stop down and have one of those same personalities read a long list of info covering multiple topics/stories. Again, we want our voices associated with fun and entertainment.
What I call “stationality stuff” has a tendency to fill up clocks quickly as well. That consists of station and sponsor-related promos and live plugs/mentions. Most stations have worked to combat this by moving to either PromoSuite or VCreative Promo to schedule those live reads, or something similar developed in-house. That goes a long way to help manage it, as opposed to the old way of just telling the jocks to “hit this a couple times a shift”. However, another trick to making those a little more entertaining is to A) vary up the writing so we’re not just saying the exact same thing the recorded imaging and promos are saying and B) give the talent the leeway to improvise and personalize those plugs and mentions (If they aren’t good at that then we should coach them up on it or hire other on-air personalities.)
Finally, the advertisements. The thing that pays for everything else we do, yet we bundle them all-together in large clumps, warn listeners they’re coming and often just give into the fact that many of those listeners will tune out because of them. There are a couple ways we can address turning our ads into entertainment elements. First, we put A LOT more effort into writing and producing them. I suggest setting up a spot writing committee in-house that includes anyone with a talent for creative writing (Regardless of job title), divvying up the work, and utilizing that group to write paid and spec spots. Then use outside freelance writers to handle any overflow as well as outside voice talent to voice a significant amount of those commercials. Secondly, include sponsored content within breaks (:30 to :45 seconds of content :15 to :30 of ad). Thirdly, move toward stopping more often for shorter stopsets. This becomes a lot more viable when we write, voice and produce better, more entertaining ads. It also helps with forward pacing and makes it considerably more likely that the masses hear the bulk of our ads, which drastically impacts the results our clients get from their ad campaigns and therefore the likelihood that they’ll resign and spend more!
What do you think? What have you done to try and turn more of your on-air elements into entertainment elements? What’s worked and what hasn’t? Comment below or email me at Andy@RadioStationConsultant.com.
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