Even The Best Features Get Stale

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(By Randy Lane) Spring is a great time to initiate change, clear out the cobwebs, refresh, and update. How about spring cleaning around your show’s features and benchmarks? It can be fun, inspirational, and productive.

Set a date and time, order in some food, and invite management, the show cast, and others (sales, call screeners, interns, etc.) who are familiar with the show, but are not part of the inner circle. Set some simple ground rules: no judging, encourage freewheeling, and all ideas get written down.

We recommend that radio shows and podcasts evaluate their regular features and benchmarks every six months by conducting a Content Mapping Exercise. The purpose of this exercise is to evaluate show features with a group brainstorming session.

Before the session, review Nielsen data for the quarter hours where the features air. Look at all research, social media, and anecdotal feedback from listeners about your features.

Content Mapping Guidelines

Let the brainstorming begin by rating each feature A, B, or C:

A-level features are the show’s most popular benchmarks that typically need little tweaking, and some are perfect as they are.
B-level features are good features that need improvement or freshening up in some way.
C-level features can be improved to become Bs, rested temporarily, or kicked to the curb permanently.

Ideas to Consider:
• Even A-level features can be rested temporarily to keep them fresh. Dave Ryan at KDWB Minneapolis routinely rests his long-running War of the Roses benchmark to prevent burnout and create demand for its return. The benchmarks with the most impact are two-part features like Roses and Second Date Update because they score two quarter-hours of listening.
• The most successful shows balance consistent listener expectations and unpredictability. A few (usually one to three) A-level benchmarks become memory hooks that a show is known for and creates high tune-ins.
• Additionally, A-level benchmarks are an effective way to own images that are important to your target audience, such as relationship content. Replay highly popular features in different hours at a specific time to expose it to more of your audience.
• Why not run all features at a fixed time position? Because the show will become predictable and eventually cause a loss of time spent listening. This is a recipe for creating a fill-in-the-blank show that will surely lead to a lack of innovative content. 

Fixed-time features must be home runs since people listen for short bursts at the same time daily, and many listeners will only hear that feature.
• Float B-level and new features at different times and days to maintain unpredictability. Floating new features helps familiarize it and you’ll often find a sweet spot to run it at a regular time if it becomes popular.

Ideally, the session ends with action points that include updates, tweaks, new features, and timelines. Before the excitement dies down, make sure the session is summarized and everyone involved gets a copy.

Randy Lane launched his media talent coaching and personal brand development company in 1996. He can be contacted by phone at 805-497-7177 or email at info@randylane.net.

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