(By Gary Begin) You need to produce benchmark features — really memorable items the audience can embrace and remember. Are you doing things that are predictable, mundane, or boring? Or, are you “branding” your features? Making it a part of your personality, and the station, sets you apart from the rest and helps get you remembered, and more importantly, written down!
Stations need to seriously rethink their on-air imaging. They are so forgettable. Everyone and his brother have big lasers and ballsy voices. As Nielsen diary keepers go across the dial, you think they’re going to remember the bells and whistles? Or, will they remember and write down a station that is entertaining, interesting, and funny; has drama and plays well with the listener? You be the judge.
Radio is in the memory business. Until PPM or some other methodology is realized full-time in all markets, getting diary keepers to write you in their diaries will largely depend on remembering your station’s name, frequency, or uniqueness. Something that singles you out and gets your station written down. This is not the time to be shy. Creating memorable experiences or features (like “The Five O’clock Funnies”), increases your chances over time of increasing diary entries.
Part of radio’s magic is the fact that we do things our listeners cannot do themselves. Our listeners don’t have traffic helicopters, news staffs, meteorologists, sports reporters, huge CD libraries. They don’t interview important people or give away great prizes. We get to do that. You know what they can do? They can turn the dial. So take material you or someone else has created and make it your own. Unique, memorable experiences are a large part of what gets you remembered, and more importantly, written down!
Great radio stations and personalities pull you along effortlessly. The listeners don’t lose their interest. That’s because there’s a great natural flow to the station. Flow is what helps build TSL and keeps you from suffering from listener fatigue. You want to build flow because it helps to make a show a series of discreet elements rather than separate, disjointed features.
Every time a personality says “Now it’s time for” or “We’ll be back after this,” you’re subconsciously telling the listener that whatever reason they came to you no longer exists. What you’re hearing is an exit. The real message is it’s OK to leave. The problem is you can’t come back unless you leave. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Don’t give your audience permission or a reason to leave. That makes for greater TSL and more opportunity for diary keepers to write down your station.
Do everything you can to get as much cume as possible from your target demo. This is especially important when running contests on-air. Contests are not about winning, they’re an excuse to enjoy the relationship you already have with your listeners. That means furnishing a reason for your listeners to stick around.
Every time you ask your listeners to so something, they ask themselves “Why?”; “What’s in it for me?”; “Is there something interesting to do?”; “Something fun and exciting?” If you can’t answer those questions, chances are your listeners can’t either. Whatever you do has to be worth listening to; if it isn’t, don’t put it on-the-air.
I’m a big believer in placing your exact frequency in all your station’s branding. After all, it is your name. We live in a digital world and your audience “gets it.” When searching through PD Advantage, it clearly shows most diary keepers write down the dial position more than slogans, format, or call letters combined. This may be because Arbitron encourages precision when writing down dial positions in the diaries. Why go against the grain. If your audience finds it easy to remember you that way, brand yourself in that manner so they’ll write down your station.
The one thing other stations in your market cannot duplicate are your personalities. The stronger your talent, the stronger your brand. Powerful personalities with great shows provide a unique experience for the listener, therefore generating more TSL and a greater opportunity to be written down.