(Mike McVay) You would be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t thrilled that 2020 is behind us. The words “Happy New Year” mean more to many of us this year as we move beyond a year of loss. The loss of family members and friends to the pandemic. The loss of income that impacted so many us so negatively. The loss of advertisers, who’ve lost their businesses and therefore will never be back as advertisers, is a real loss. The loss of audience and the loss of the time that the audience previously spent listening to the radio is a loss. It’s always easier to keep the audience you have than to attract an audience that you do not have.
A new year always starts with a blank slate and we have an opportunity to welcome 2021 by looking forward to the reopening of the world and specifically that of our communities. I’ve heard and read where some are pointing to VJ-Day as to what it will be like when the pandemic ends. There won’t be one specific day that we can point to and say “Pandemic Done.” Recovery will be a slow process, but it’s much like each day after the winter solstice. There is more sunshine every day once you pass that darkest day.
Get ready for it now. Deliver to your audience the news and information that will surely be desired by listeners as we reemerge into society. Be prepared to serve the community by delivering COVID-19 vaccination information. Make your audience aware where to register to add their name to that of those who wish to be vaccinated. What is the selection procedure and what steps need to be taken as one prepares to be vaccinated? What does life look like after a vaccination? Providing essential information to your audience will allow for a faster recovery of pre-COVID audience levels. Give your audience the information they want and need … even if it is repetitive … and deliver it daily.
People helping people. Listeners helping listeners. It remains important to assist one another with fund raising for those charities whose existence has been disrupted. The feeding of families, who have never experienced the need to wait in a food line, children without coats to keep them warm and caring for the homeless remains important. It’s hard to find a cluster of radio stations, in a market, that doesn’t execute some form of charitable event or promotion for the December Holiday’s. What about the other eleven months of the year? Your connection to the audience increases their desire to be connected to you.
Traffic on the roads will increase as more people return to the workplace and the number of employees who WFH (Work From Home) decreases. It’s highly unlikely that all businesses will bring employees back to their offices as WFH enables a percentage of businesses to exit expensive leases. Regardless, the increase in traffic means that service elements like traffic and weather reports will once again become important. Radios in use, that is over-the-air audio, will increase as individuals return to habits and activities that predated the pandemic.
Concerts, In-Person Events, Movie openings, Running Road Races, Festivals, Fairs and similar events, will return and/or see an increase in attendance. The consistent opening of indoor dining will excite many. Make that a part of the information that you deliver. A concert may be rescheduled for months and months away from today, but announcing the date and the fact that it has been scheduled or rescheduled, provides the audience with hope. We all need hope and something to look forward to for the future. Consider having your talent announce such events as they’re announced and announce those dates again closer to the event date. The addition of an Entertainment Update, while thought of as old and trite pre-pandemic, is now timely and appropriate.
The same goes for large churches, temples or mosques that have been worshiping virtually. When will they re-open? Announce that to your audience. Religious beliefs are at the center of many families and communities. It may be something that you would never mention during a normal show, but we lost whatever “normal” meant in March 2020. I am of the opinion that an age-old tradition, seldom celebrated these days, will return this summer or fall. That is the family reunion. It’s hard to ignore the awareness of life’s fragility when a pandemic has claimed so many. Bringing families & friends together is where you want to be with your radio station. Won’t it be nice to see those in-person that you’ve not seen for a year?
Can you imagine the excitement of an audience who hears information daily regarding the reopening of the nation? Can you imagine what a destination for listening it would make your station? Brighter days are ahead. Prepare for them. Your audience should never have to visit a search engine to find critical information. One word … Deliver.
Mike McVay is President of McVay Media and can be reached at [email protected]