Last Sunday, I flew into Calgary to get ready for a week of focus groups with listeners in several Alberta cities. Once in the rental car, I started listening to radio at about 3:00 pm and didn't stop scanning around the AM and FM dials until my head hit the pillow at 11:00 pm.
Eight hours of intensive listening to all of the radio stations I could pull in from across the mountain west.
One station - and, I'm proud to say that it was a country station - stood out and I kept coming back to it: Today's Country: Country 105 FM Radio Calgary
Sunday afternoon and evening radio at every radio station but that one was nothing but segued songs followed by jingles and pre-produced sweepers followed by more songs, but no sense that the station knew that it was a very stormy Sunday afternoon in tornado season.
Meanwhile, Country 105 clearly had a live presence on the air (he could actually have been voice tracked for all I know), who was talking about what I was experiencing as I drove through sheets of rain, saw cars pulling off the highway because of the poor visibility and needed accurate weather and traffic information. He was telling the titles and artists of every song he played, talking about things going on town today and how they were being impacted by the scattered storms mixed with sunshine and sharing his perspective on all of it.
The rest of the radio I heard was doing segue serenade, which was the last thing I needed from the radio, since I had my Ipod with me, a CD player in the car and my MacBook Pro with internet access as I drove thanks to my Rogers/ATT/Sierra Wireless connection.
Hey, radio: you know it's true. We've gotten lazy. We've gained weight. We're out of shape. We're not in the best of health.
It's time to commit to getting back onto serving up a healthy diet of what listeners come to radio for beyond imaging and songs.
Each morning, just to make sure that I get all the vitamins I need, I take a multi-vitamin which contains all the minimum daily requirements for good health. It doesn't guarantee I'll stay healthy, but it sure improves my odds of doing so.
The formats and the people we put on our radio stations need to do the same thing, to be sure that every hour, every day, 24/7, we are offering a balanced menu of elements which will nurture a local relationship with our heaviest users, the people who come to us as night and on weekends (ultra core listeners, go give us more than two thirds of total hours!) by giving them what they expect when they turn on the radio, in every quarter hour.
Jaye's recommended dosage of crucial hourly requirements (take one each in order to enhance the realness and entertainment value of every quarter hour, and call me in the morning):
( ) Fresh weather update, if not a full forecast, at least a reference to what it's like outside right now
( ) Community involvement - what the station is doing to create community and make life better locally today
( ) Backsells of title and artist at least every other song without crutches and cliches by relating to the artists and music
( ) Teasing upcoming songs, artists and station benchmarks
( ) Music image-builder promo
( ) Real listener voices, talking about local places and how they use the station
( ) Topical content, what's the local buzz today?
( ) Personal relating, personality personna-building based on authenticity, not just standard DJ verbiage
( ) Freshly updated, creative, unique morning show (reason to listener tomorrow) promos (more than one to rotate, so I don't hear the same one hour after hour)
( ) Your superstar artists endorsing your station in fun, original ways
( ) Pop culture references to what's hot with your core listener right now
( ) Jingles and sweepers are a little like vitamins A & E. They are vital and most stations require them once or twice a quarter hour, but too much of them can do more harm than good.
Listen to your station late tonight, before the morning show starts at 4:30 am tomorrow, and on the weekend. Can you check off every one of those elements in every single hour?
It's called divisibility. If you don't deliver on the minimum daily requirements in every quarter hour of your broadcast day, you're going to increase your odds of your brands getting very sick.
Judging from what I heard last Sunday afternoon in Alberta, the vast majority of us are already in need of a doctor. And, SOON.
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