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  • Writer's pictureMatt Cundill

Radio Lessons from The Bachelor

Updated: Dec 11, 2019

Yes. That’s right. The Bachelor.

cundill bachelor

I completely understand if you want to turn your nose up at this show and critique its narrow artistic contribution to society. The first thing you need to figure out is why people watch this show. If you are caught up in how cheesy and hokey the show is, I’ll help you: The show is about choices and opportunity; the audience playing along at home about who they would choose. You always hear how “contests” should be fun for the listener to “play along” with? Well this one is. The Bachelor “Franchise” is full of broadcast lessons. Let’s start there:

It recognized it was a Franchise and Brand

The Bachelor started out 15 years ago this month and has run 22 seasons. It’s franchise stable includes or have included “The Bachelorette”, “Bachelor in Paradise”, and the often mocked “The Bachelor Winter Games”. Like any franchise, it goes through ups and downs and in order to evolve, it tries new things and alters the formula from time to time. The “Face of the Franchise” is Chris Harrison whose style is clearly ringmaster to the circus around him. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and even mocks the fact that the show annually features the “most exciting conclusion in Bachelor history”. Chris appears to be everyone’s friend throughout the show; isn't that what you are hoping for in a good morning show host?

It Stepped Outside the Box and Tried Uncomfortable

The most recent edition that cluttered your social media feed featured Bachelor Arie who got together with Becca, and then changed his mind in the weeks after the show concluded and bee-lined back to Lauren. (One of 4 Laurens on this season’s show) ABC was there with two cameras to record the brutal car-wreck break up on aired it unedited Monday night in a space that was normally reserved for tying up loose ends and wishing everybody well. ABC coughed up an additional two hours of airtime on Tuesday night to dissect the Monday night cringe worthy affair and managed to leave us on a hopeful note announcing that Becca will be the Bachelorette in May. (Always leave the viewer asking what’s next, right?) It should be pointed out that most of that was done on Live TV veered from the script at times and featured one of next season’s contestants walking a horse onto the set. Nothing like rolling the dice!

It Embraces Social Media

The show was (and still is) largely based on keeping a secret while the show airs. Yes, some of this stuff inevitably gets out but the show manages to produce around it. Each episode is a Twitter event with #BachelorNation comprised of its fans, contestants and former contestants participating full-bore. I suspect that many contestants are now vying for a place on the show to bolster their social media followings. (Something being a part of a radio station can also do) Platforms like Instagram stories have allowed viewers to follow and look into contestants’ lives every day.

It Establishes Characters

This is something you should be doing every day and every break on air. About 15 contestants get to appear on multiple episodes. There is 47 minutes of show time. That doesn’t leave much time to get characters established but they manage to do it. Every year someone is the villain, (This year it was San Diego fitness instructor Crystal) and you can’t have a good story without a villain. There is also Analeisse who was painted as anxiety-ridden with her childhood bumper car trauma. You might not recall the name Kendall Long but you would if I said taxidermist. What are you known for? Who are you? Are you revealing that to your audience often? If this TV can do it in 47 minutes on air time per week, what can you do in a 3 hour radio show?

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Reacting to the Moment

This is not from the Bachelor franchise but from a distant subsidiary of the franchise. Hubbard Broadcasting’s Minneapolis radio station MyTalk 107.1 has a Bachelor/Bachelorette strategy that includes a post-show podcast amongst other on air and online components. With hometown Becca being at the center of the Bachelor shit storm, it sprang into action and had a billboard erected to capture the moment. The billboard found its way onto the show. I’m no advertising genius but I think that billboard just paid for itself.

Can your station do that? Can you get a billboard up for tomorrow morning if you needed to? How about a TV ad? A bus board? An online video? Today is a good day to clear to the path and prepare for that moment.

The Bachelorette starts May 28th. I won’t be watching as much because poor Becca has already been through enough. Okay, I might have a peek.


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