I should explain what I believe triggered that 72% share. A flying saucer scare.I was on the air from 9 to noon. A fellow by the name of Ted Payne was doing news. He came into the announce booth to tell me there were three people in the lobby from the nearby air-force base. Ted wanted to put them on his very next newscast but thought what they had to say was so unbelievable he wanted to clear it with me first. He brought them in, three non-commissioned officers with something very odd in common. They all had a very serious sunburn on one side of their faces. They told me that the night before they had been driving in the desert with the top down on their car. Three flying objects suddenly appeared in the sky and hovered over them for a brief moment while shining incredibly bright beams of light down at them. All the cars’ electrical units failed. The engine stopped, the lights went out, the radio quit. Then, the flying objects were gone. In a moment the radio popped on as did the lights on the car. They started the car again with no problem. They went back to the base to report the incident and were dismissed. No such thing had happened. They were obviously all drunkThey said they woke up this morning with proof, the horrendous sunburn which they attributed to the light they had been bathed in for that brief moment the night before. Once again they were dismissed by the Air Force authorities so they decided to come to the station to tell their story.
I, of course, jumped at it. I went on the air with the men who repeated their story. One of them said he felt the flying objects were still around us, spying on us. When I said that maybe they were trying to contact us all three of them agreed that was a strong possibility. I said, okay, let’s give them a frequency on which to contact us. I knew that every radio station had sidebands, or something like that, and I told the audience that from this moment on we were making our sidebands available to the unidentified flying objects. I produced a kind of a Twilight Zone sounding invitation in three languages. Our receptionist spoke Spanish, our engineering department, a fellow named Otto spoke pretty good German and Tom Payne voiced this invitation offering the visitors the use of our frequency for any message to Earth. We will get it to the proper authorities. Then there was a minutes worth or static, which represented the open sidebands we were making available to our friends from space. We broadcast it every hour. And every hour, we could tell by our phones and the hordes of people suddenly visiting the City Dump that we had a hit on our hands. Now .... how to stretch it out without stretching the truth ... too much.
But, of course, before you do THAT, also read this paragraph:
I had memorized the collection of (Gordon) McLendon memos and programming notes which was referred to as the Policy Book...
It was mostly about shutting up and cleaning up.
Shutting up was easy to explain: If what you say doesn’t matter to the overall entertainment or information quality of your show, don’t say it. If it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter! Cleaning up was also easy to explain. But cleaning the clutter which had collected, mostly out of neglect, not caring, or not knowing was a different deal. I preferred the ‘not knowing’ interpretation mostly because one of the not knowers was me. I knew what that inviolable policy book said but I had no idea how to put it into any kind of action.
Neglect: The guys we had on the air were all pretty good but they were not talking to anyone specifically. The things they were saying were all kind of random, generalized adlibs which were as appropriate (?) at, say 9:30 AM, as they might have been at 9:30 PM. Neglecting the specific audience available at that particular time. Neglecting to relate what you are doing and saying to that particular group of people. Generalizing is sloppy radio.
Not caring: Not preparing what you are going to do and say ahead of time. Not bothering to prepare compelling, entertaining material specifically designed to establish a consistent connection with the people you want most to reach. Not caring about that consistent connection is a waste of both time and talent.
The ‘Not Knowing’ part was probably the biggest problem for me at the time because, as I suggested a moment ago, I was still so new at all of this that even though I knew what the book said, I simply didn’t know what it meant. I think I’d better re-state that ... I knew what it said, I simply didn’t know that I knew what it meant. The bottom line was and is, successful programming is that which elicits a positive emotional response rather than a cerebral one.
The truth is not in what you think is right but in what you feel is right. Trust yourself.We put all of these things into some kind of embryonic effect almost at once. And you could hear the difference almost at once.
Seems to me that the stunt would not have worked as well if the basics weren't there first.
Visit Chuck at the Chuck Blore Company, online at www.chuckblore.com and send him an e-mail at email@example.com. Thanks to Larry Shannon (firstname.lastname@example.org) for getting pros like Blore, Hall, Burkhart et al to put their experiences in writing.
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