TALK TO YOUR LISTENERS-NOT ABOUT THEM: Like you (unlike 'Denise'), your listeners are breathing, thinking, active human beings. Listening to a lot of radio, you'd think they were ornaments on an end table as many refer to them as 'people' (i.e.: "wow, we had a lot of people at our event Saturday" or "thanks to all the people calling in"). That's what I mean by talking about your listeners, as if they're not actually part of the conversation. How about, "hey, great to see you at the..." or "lots of you calling in...". Think "you/we/us" vs. "they/them/that". A lot of us were trained to put a photo of a target listener in front of us and talk to them- that's actually not a bad visual. The way you connect and engage is to bring them into your show and not keep them at arm's length. Just this morning, as I was about to publish this, I saw a video of Valerie Geller, author of "Beyond Powerful Radio", talking about this very thing with Mark Ramsey and it's absolutely worth taking ten minutes to check it out.
TELL STORIES vs. READING COPY: I've no doubt driven many jocks batty by reminding them to "stop reading the forecast- just tell 'em the weather". You're thinking, "the weather- really? Not very big-picture" but, it's a good example of typical, generic radio-speak to which many of us can relate.
Almost every station does the weather and most of the time it's, "partly cloudy/mostly sunny/30% chance of", right? National Weather Service meteorological terminology. Can you imagine getting up in the morning and asking your spouse "what's it gonna be like today?" and hearing "well, dear- it'll be partly to mostly sunny with a 40% chance of rain and a high in the low to mid 70s". They'd probably say, "looks like it could rain but it'll be 75". A cool example of this was on a spring break, my friend Bruce Peckover and I drove to South Florida...we're on the beach, all sun, Y100 rockin' on the radio, and Don Cox comes on over this six second intro and says, "Y100 Weather...great today, better tomorrow. It's 84 at Y100". No NWS phrasing, no attempt to sound official. He told the story and, if you were listening, you got it. This applies to any content- promos, music info, contests...engage them by turning somebody else's (liner writer) words into something they can conceptualize and understand.
Anybody can open a mic and read words-use your special gifts and personality to develop your on-air character and tell the story.
GET PERSONAL: Quite often, we hear "hi to Sue, listening to us at work today" and if we're being totally honest, about 95% of the time, it's made up...right? Why not keep a copy of your station's loyal listener database in your studio and, a couple of times an hour, do actual personal shout-outs BUT say their first name, last name and where they work/where they're from. Yes, saying an actual listeners whole name and workplace! Why? There thousands of "Sues" listening but only one "Sue Daniels working at PNC Bank". If you're voicetracking, it doesn't matter if they're actually listening the precise time you do it- it's the fact you're confirming that other real listeners are tuning in (making the same great choice as your other listeners) and you're truly grateful that they listen. And, on the off chance that somebody who knows them hears it, that's an added bonus when they say, "hey, Sue- they said HI to you on XXXX!". This is great social proof, further cementing the bond with your audience.
Admittedly, this is pretty fundamental and basic (as was Part One) but if we Programmers aren't teaching our talent more than what to do but how to do it, we won't really hear it come out of the speakers. When CBS Radio's Dan Mason announced his thoughts on I.D.ing the music recently, I shared some ways on how to actually do it effectively so you'd have some direction and so your audience would hear it and appreciate you for connecting the dots for them.
Radio is the most intimate form of show business...does your show live up to that? Are you ordinary or engaging, entertaining and memorable every day? Do your listeners think, "he/she is like me" when they tune in or is it all the same old noise to them? Please don't allow a 'Denise' to replace you because she can say what you say, just cheaper.
Please feel free to add your comments or suggestions- we're all in this together.
Thanks and KEEP ROCKIN'!