Welcoming Listeners Back From Social Distancing 


(By Loyd Ford) Welcoming listeners back from social distancing is coming.  We’re not there yet, but it is surely coming and radio should be about anticipating what is next.  This isn’t about politics or deciding when it happens. Radio isn’t involved in those things. But we better be involved in thinking about how this feels, the potential for habit changes and how our local radio station(s) should be best positioned to have empathy, encourage, connect, inform and entertain our own target audience as they return to life that may “not be as normal” as it used to be.

  • Be concerned to spend a lot more time with your music if you are a music station. Crisis, emotion and forced habit change can truly make people more open to choice changes.  You need for your product to be in top shape. This isn’t a normal spring and summer. You can lose more than you think.
  • Put more thought into the experience of coming in contact with your radio station.  This means more than your show prep.  It means giving more than the normal amount of thought to your sound hour.   I mean that you should pay special attention to each hour on your station and what your messaging sounds like in terms of fatigue, variety and how your station makes the listener feel.  This isn’t a great time to “paint by numbers.”
  • Carefully choose but do think about how to engage listeners in a public manner.  People will be cautious, but they will want to connect and potentially celebrate.  Some radio teams will make missteps here and some will carefully select how to do this correctly and benefit from making good choices.  Pay close attention to local data and also to the way listeners and local leaders are embracing the return to the new normal.
  • Do all you can to support local clients and business.  This is a very serious time for radio.  So much focus is placed on consumers, but radio has several different types of users.  Supporting local businesses and business in general will be critical for potentially many months.  Spend time thinking about how you can support local business with a much more significant focus on how to help than in the past.  Radio has great opportunity here, but we must really focus on what makes local radio great to fully take advantage.

This is a great time to attempt to reinvent how you do business and completely freshen your approach to listeners, clients and community.  Reinventing may actually be necessary.   Things as simple as a remote broadcast should be intensely looked at for what the value, experience and opportunities are provided by what doing remotes should look like post-Coronavirus.

We like to think that radio listeners will simply return to their former habits, but this period of time could offer significant disruptions.  Some radio brands could be in for a rude awakening. If you are responsible for reconnecting your radio station to local audience as they return to their lives, the more attention you pay now to what listeners feel and what things are actually important to these listeners, the more beneficial it can be for your brand.

Loyd Ford consults radio stations, coaches personalities, and provides behavioral and strategic programming to radio with RPC. Reach him anytime. 864.448.4169 or [email protected]



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