Thursday, March 17, 2005

Never Lose A Listener

Talk radio personality consultant VALERIE GELLER claims to be "ALONE IN A ROOM, WRITING," working on the NEW CREATING POWERFUL RADIO BOOK, which is due out next Spring. It's actually very hard to visualize this gregarious people person in that position, so if you want to say HI and keep her from getting lonely: phone 1212 580-3385 or email She just sent out this missive to her many fans, including US...

Did you happen to notice the slogan "Never Lose A Listener" in a recent RCS marketing campaign? What a great ad. Really, there's been so much emphasis on developing and getting NEW listeners, that we also need to think about paying extra attention to keeping the audience we've already got onboard. With the amount of choices people have for their time and attention, listeners are easily distracted.

So how do you get a listener to listen LONGER? What happens when what is going on inside the mind of a listener gets better or more interesting or engaging than what is coming out of the speaker? What do you do? Exactly how do you, "Never Lose A Listener?" This is a KEY issue all over our planet. And the answers for keeping your audience, and getting them to listen longer, are pretty similar all over this earth, including client stations I've worked with in the past few months here in the United States, in Canada, England, Australia, Europe and Africa. And it's been a hot topic at several industry conferences I've presented at recently, including Canadian Music Week, Public Radio Programmers, The European NAB in Lisbon and the Radio and Records Talk Radio Seminar in Los Angeles.

Here are a few suggestions to never ever lose a listener: Create Powerful Radio. Tell the Truth. Never Be Boring. Make it relevant. If a listener gets bored, he or she "zones out. " Here's what happens when they go away: At the moment, what's going on in the mind of the listener is better or more interesting than what was coming through the speaker. When that happens, your listeners either leave the station mentally, or tune out physically, their attention goes elsewhere.

Think about it. Have you ever sat in your car, stuck in traffic waiting for the traffic report to come on? You WORK IN RADIO. You KNOW when that report is coming, so you wait. Or maybe you're waiting to hear a song title. You want to find out the CD or the artist, but somehow you zone out...the report came and went or the song title came and went, and YOU MISSED IT? WHY? Because it was boring. The presenter, host or announcer did NOT make it matter.

Pace and tempo do not equate ENERGY. Energy does not equate to MAKING IT MATTER. Storytelling makes it matter. A storyteller who CARES about what he or she is presenting makes it matter. This is NOT an acting job. If it MATTERS to the presenter, it'll matter more to the audience. Part of telling the truth is being authentic, and genuinely caring about what you are talking about on air.

When a listener leaves either mentally or physically and actually switches off the station, here is what is NOT happening. That listener is NOT engaged. He or she is BORED. ZONED OUT. Looking for another station or immersed in his or her own thoughts.

What makes a listener go away?. In paraphrasing Carol Archer's excellent Radio and Records column (March 11th issue) she asks: "Are your commercials causing a listener to tune out because the break is too long? Or is the offending spot simply bad - boring, noisy, off message, a bad format fit? Or God forbid, all of the above?"

The Powerful Radio Principles can offer your listeners what they want and what they need.

Here it is: They don't really care about YOU. In personality radio, many personalities get confused and think if they talk about themselves it will be interesting. But powerful radio is not about YOU, it's about the listener. The personal is universal, but the private tends to be boring. Your listeners want to be informed and entertained. They want new knowledge. They also want NOT to feel alone. They want to feel connected into an isolated world they find themselves in. A listener wants to feel at home with or comfortable with the person on air. They like to feel they "know" the presenter or host. Sometimes listeners like a little help in making up their minds, say, they are not completely certain of what they may think about a subject or topic, here they can get enough information or opinion or viewpoints to make up their minds. And in commercial radio, when the spots are effective, listeners say they like to learn about bargains, new products or services. And if a listener is having a down or despairing black moment, he or she wants to be inspired. We are lucky. Most people out there listening do not have exciting lives or careers. Because of this, listeners also desire "talkable topics." They want to be able to turn the radio off and have ideas and interesting new things to say to people.

Listeners also want vicarious experiences. They like to be taken on journeys they cannot get to on their own. Everybody loves to laugh. If you can make a listener laugh, it's like handing them a solid chunk of gold. Listeners also want to learn new things. (They also appreciate help with their "show prep" for dinner, just in case they don't have anything interesting to say to the people in their lives.) Give them stuff they can talk about. Listeners also want you to get ahead and lead them and give them ideas, things to think about. Finally, they want to feel good. If you can do that, you have that audience completely with you. And if you don't care, they don't care.

Make it matter!

Geller promises: "The new Creating Powerful Radio book will deepen the work begun in the first two Powerful Radio books, including new and specific methods and techniques to help broadcasters get to the next level of performance. Here you'll learn techniques to develop, grow and keep audiences for radio stations through personality, content and presentation. Product, Permanence and Promotion. How to engage. Never be boring.

"How to deeply target the core audience. (Did you know if you speak more visually, that's a powerful method to attract the MALE auduience as men tend to powerfully process informaton visually? If you are trying to attract a predominently female audience, how something affects feelings is very key in reaching reach women.)

"And don't be fooled by traditional demographics of age, race, and sex when targteting your audience. The new Creating Powerful Radio book will feature proven ideas that have lead stations worldwide to success, including sections on LifeStage Demographics (for more on LifeStage Demographics, go to . The new book will also expand on Powerful Radio Aircheck Techniques you may have read about in The Powerful Radio Workbook: The Prep, Performance & Post Production Planning. (Do you know if you are a Generator or a Reactor on air?) Just some of what's in the new book.

"While the new Creating Powerful Radio book will have a strong focus on programming and CONTENT, you'll learn new ideas and increase your expertise in other areas like promotion, marketing, sales and copywriting from contributors Maureen Bulley with Canada's Rogers Media (author of Write Good Copy Fast) and Creative Animal Doug Harris. And newly updated Producers and Creating Powerful Radio news sections.

"I'm excited about completing this new work and having it available to you. NOTE: If you would like to be on the waiting list for your copy, we will give your name to FOCAL press, and when it's published you will be notified. Again the scheduled pub. date is spring 2006"

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