(By Jeff McHugh) The FCC just eliminated the main studio rule, which stipulated that American radio and television stations must keep a main studio close to their city of license. Look for more local studios to close and for more layoffs among local programming staff in the coming year. Change will also create opportunity for talented performers. Here are some ideas to consider.
Music stations will lose the most listeners. Music playlists will likely become more nationalized and generic. With sound-alike stations already on the air from Honolulu to Houston, many listeners will spend more time with customized playlists from services like Spotify and Pandora. But personalities that bond emotionally with audiences through killer content will keep more of their audiences listening.
- Shows that are local and excellent will thrive. Being local is not a winning strategy by itself, but shows that match or surpass the entertainment value of syndicated competitors will score winning ratings. Every syndicated show is beatable. And, great local shows will excel in revenue because advertisers prefer local.
- Look for more regional syndication. Shows like Jon Boy and Billy are successful in ratings and more appealing to advertisers than a national show. Some companies will not be able to afford a local show, and regional will be the next best strategy. If you are part of a winning local show, talk to us about branching out to nearby stations that need ratings help in 2018.
- Quality content will win despite where it comes from. NPR’s excellent morning and afternoon drive shows continue to grow in the ratings. Local shows that get cut for syndication typically under-perform their stations. High-quality shows like Brooke and Jubal or Elvis Duran perform above or at-par with their station more often.
- Pre-production is the future. If you do 100% of your show live, consider that your 2018 audience wants podcasts of your show, which means recording and editing. It makes sense to record and edit parts of your show and make it PPM-friendly before it airs on FM. Plus, if you hope to roll your local show out to other stations, pre-production helps you adapt to different affiliate formats, time zones, and hourly song count requirements.
Jeff McHugh is known for developing remarkable talent for both morning and afternoon drive. He brings an uncommon mix of positivity, creativity, and strategy to the shows that he coaches. He is a member of the team at the Randy Lane Company.