(By Jeff McHugh) Question: If your show is on the air from 6:00 to 10:00 a.m., what time does your morning show start? Answer: Your show starts whenever your listener tunes in.
A number of shows believe their show starts with the first content segment of the day. Just after 6:00 a.m. they sort of warm up, say good morning to the co-hosts, maybe a show theme song…but they plan little entertainment for the listener.
Imagine that at that moment a major radio executive happened to tune in. Would they consider you for nationwide syndication and a million-dollar contract? Would you want them to hear the first content segment of the day or one of your later segments?
Skip the warm-up segment. The first segment of the day should be as good as all the other segments. Say good morning to your co-hosts in the hallway instead, edit the theme song to a quick jingle, and bring your “A” game at 6:05 a.m.
Your show is 6:00-10:00 a.m. But think about how your audience hears it. A daily listener hops into their SUV at 6:00, drops kids at daycare at 6:15, and arrives at work at 6:20. Their version of your show is from 6:00-6:20 every day.
Like that imaginary radio executive, your A+ content will never be heard by your 6:00 a.m. listener unless you air it during their version of your show.
It is true that for most shows, audience numbers are small early and grow as the morning goes on, but that is not always the case. For some shows, the first part of the show is the biggest of the day.
In either case, your show will reach peak ratings faster if you treat every quarter hour of your show with equal priority. Consider how these daily tune-ups might elevate your first 15 minutes.
Float A+ features – Airing your strongest benchmark in your most-listened-to quarter-hours is a smart strategy, but it is unwise to air it only at that time. People dislike hearing the same thing every day. Grow the ratings in the first minutes of your show by occasionally rolling your heavy artillery into that time slot.
Phone topics do work early – “We cannot get phones to ring in the first hour,” hosts often tell us. We say, “Hmmm, well what if we try a two-week campaign of consistent killer topic ideas right at 6:00 every day?”
Counter-program your competition – Record and analyze what your biggest competitor is airing between 6:00 and 6:15. Are they doing a weak warm-up/chit-chat segment to start their show? Good, here is your chance to attack them every day with a great interactive contest, storytelling, or a favorite benchmark.
Tease early, tease often – Even shows that are excellent at building TSL with consistent, detailed teases for upcoming content sometimes do not tease well in the first hour of the show. If you are still getting organized after the show is rolling, come in early and get your teases written out and sharpened.
Recycling works – Replaying a great segment from a previous show is a win, no matter when you air it. Rotate previously aired segments into the first segment of your show occasionally and yesterday’s hot topics will often reignite the phones.
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.