(By Gary Berkowitz) When the pandemic first appeared, you may have read my column entitled, “Now What.” It talked about 4 important points that all programmers, regardless of format needed to look at as this life-changing pandemic spread around the world and into all of our communities. The 4 areas discussed in that article were:
- Provide hope for our listeners
- Provide hope for our advertisers
- Be Local. Important then, important now.
- The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow. Promote Positive
So, it’s been a few months since it all began, and a lot has changed. We went from winter to spring and now onto summer. We learned how to operate remotely and actually make it sound great! Have things changed? Absolutely, but things are improving. Life is getting better; people are going back to work and local business are re-opening. So, let’s look at the 4 points I discussed in the original article and see where we are with them today.
Provide hope for our listeners. In the early stages hope was in short supply. We all felt this strange feeling of isolation and hopelessness. But now things are changing. We’re most likely closer to a vaccine and most people are resuming normal lives.
For radio, one thing is for sure. We need to continue to provide hope to our listeners, but in a different way. This time, we need to sound “normal” (even if things are not totally normal). Present the “new normal.” For radio this means getting back to what we do best, removing much (if not all) of the language that reminds them of the start of all this. Expressions like “We’re all in this together” and “Wash your Hands” have run their course. Getting back to “Most Music for Your Workday” (for example) is what they want to hear today. If you still have any remnants of the dark imaging from the early days, eliminate it. That’s in the rear-view mirror for most listeners.
Provide hope for our advertisers. It is an old expression but getting their “cash registers” to ring is job one for radio. Programmers will be the best at helping them get their business back up and running. Creative local promotions have never been more important. Reminds me of the expression; “Price objections melt in the presence of a hot idea.”
Be Local. Important then, even more important now. Yes this is a worldwide pandemic, but people are most concerned how it impacts them locally. Which stores and services are open and operating. Will summer camps open? Will schools resume in September? Can we go out on a Saturday night? These are all local questions that our listeners will look to radio for answers.
The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow. Promote Positive. The answer is a resounding “Yes”. The sun did come back and it continues to get brighter as each day goes on. Who’s better at promoting positive than radio? Radio should promote that feeling. Yes, there will be some setback days with this virus, but our listeners are clearly making it known that when they put radio on, they want to feel good (great liner, huh?). Yes, they want and expect good news from radio.
A few other programming tips:
- If you started your morning show later than usual, get them back on early.
- In some cases, broadcasting from home has caused more talk than usual. Check your jocks breaks to ensure that they are tight and concise.
- For any adult driven format, at work is still essential. Make sure all the benefits of listening at work are covered.
- Make sure all pandemic imaging (from the early days) is taken out of your active system.
- And finally. Pandemic or not, the ratings roll on!