"... If it isn’t, we don’t put it on the air. " - Lisa McKay, station manager of Curtis Media's WQDR, Raleigh/Durham (Large Market Radio Station of the Year)
WQDR's "Award Winners' Share Success Strategies" as told in February-March CMA Closeup Magazine to writer Brad Schmitt:
It’s all about connection to the audience and the three M’s: music, morning show and marketing.
Twice a year we run TV campaigns with 300 grps a week to talk about the radio station and to cement our relationship with current listeners as well as to get listeners from the AC (adult contemporary) and pop radio station.
We pre-produce a tremendous amount. We do a lot of re-purposing for the things we think are really good to recycle them later in the day.
We’ll tape artist interviews days in advance and run short segments in the morning show. We always look for something that’s a hot button for our listeners, whether it’s gas or money or experiences they can’t get anywhere else. everything we do is listener-focused. I think that, in a nutshell, is how we won.
(The internet has) given us a new revenue stream for selling ads and sponsorships on the Web page. But it all goes back to making your listeners feel connected and that they’re the stars.
Every last one of our personalities, even our part-time ones, is an administrator. Anytime anything happens that we find qDR-worthy, we’ll pop it up on our Facebook page.
Part of the station’s personality is being well-rounded. To connect with listeners, you need to connect with what’s important to them — and that’s children and homeless animals and people who have fallen into bad times. Whatever is local to the community needs to be addressed on the air.
We do a fundraiser for our children’s hospital (for just one example). We broadcast live all day and we put on a pretty large concert, which usually generates about $100,000 for this particular hospital. We’ve been doing it for 10 years. It’s a really big deal.
We also do our own Christmas wish program. It’s actually our Christmas present to each other. We never exchange gifts because we allow our listeners to nominate families in need. Then we post the information on the website, enough so that people can connect with them and either feel better that their life isn’t so bad or actually reach out and make a difference to somebody in a real way. A lot of times, it’s a family whose house burned down and they need a kitchen table. every radio station has a listener with an extra kitchen table, so it’s a really neat way for listeners to connect with each other through the station.
Even if the person can’t give anything, at least they can say a prayer for the kids. People want to make a difference, whether it’s with money or with their thoughts.