The Radio Road Trip: Diary From a Client Visit
Updated: Feb 10
7:40 am: My plane arrives. The station owner picks nme up and briefs me about the city's attractions and topography. I punch up the radio and immediately start to flip through the station's competition. I listen for signal strength, clarity and sound. You can tell a station's potential by the sound of the signal. Yes, it's a big deal.
9:00 am: Coaching session with the afternoon drive personality who is also the country music director. We spend 45 minutes air checking his show. He's a great performer and I left behind three things for him to work on; including stressing the importance of listening back to his show and developing a willingness to self-critique.
9:45am: An extensive audit of the music system with the music director and program director. The time was filled with adding titles, resting titles, revisions, discussing what other stations do right and wrong, log editing rules, review of music system rules, sound codes, scheduling rules, and finally a discussion on the importance of clocks.
11:30am: I took the country and Top 40 PD out for lunch. It was a chance to hear the challenges they face on a day to day basis. Like many program directors, they are overloaded and manage to pull off small miracles to keep their stations sounding strong. Both do morning shows and have young children at home, but have mastered the ability to stay connected after hours. (Yes I had the Panang Curry bowl for Lunch)
2:00pm: Coaching session with the midday host. She's been in the position for close to 7 years and has picked up a few bad habits. What used to be "show prep" is now "content creation". Yes, I know - that's a cute catchy term coined by some radio consultant in Tuscaloosa, or Des Moines or Winnipeg. But the word "show prep" echoes homework; and there's a point where homework is done. Content creation is never done and is fluid right up until the moment it is presented on air, where it can be shaped again in a live broadcast. With that idea presented, we reviewed a show and I demonstrated how her material could be used beyond one solitary break.
3:00pm: Coaching session with the Top 40 PM drive host. Here's a performer who's show is all over the map. Really strong presentation but everyday there appears to be one truly hokey moment. We spent the hour discussing his work and by the end of the hour, he admitted a weakness: He has trouble shelving bits or walking away from breaks that are not ready for air. My favourite session so far because he was honest.
4:00pm: Meeting with the General Manager to summarize the day.
6:00pm: Dinner with General Manager, Sales managers and program directors.
9:00pm: Catch up on e-mails. Review the station's social media pages for the next day.
8:30am: (The Daily sales meeting) The sales team is motivated and is very excited about their prospects in the market. While other stations are seeing less revenue, theirs is increasing. This radio company invests in their people by bringing in sales professionals, radio consultants and talent coaches. (I am one of 5 people they are using this fiscal year) They have new websites lauching in 50 days. Most of the sales concerns center around clients shifting their money to social media streams like Facebook and Google. I asked them if they were interested in a digital media selling strategy that allowed their clients to be on the radio as well as the top media websites in town. When asked which sites those were, I said, "Yours." I then presented them with an integrated sales kit.
10:00 am: (Daily News meeting) Another interesting meeting involving social media. Most of the staff have been in the newsroom since the days of reel-to-reel and screaming BN Newswire printers. I only had 45 minutes to sell them on the benefits of branding their news with social media. After some initial pushback on social media, the meeting wound up going 90 minutes and we achieved 100% buy in on a social media strategy. It's amazing how much excitement is generated when you show them how to use insights and analytics. On air talent love the feeling of control and love to see results.
11:30am: Discussion with the promotions team and program directors about and external marketing campaign for the upcoming ratings book.
12:30 pm: Lunch meeting with the creative team and program directors. We set up a year long plan for imaging along with how to write imaging as a group. Like any great brainstorming meeting, it always starts by eliminating the word no from the meeting.
2:00pm: Coaching session with the weekend jocks. Revealing Saturday morning numbers in radio, especially in a medium market is always an eye opening experience. The stations have a higher cume in some quarter hours than the morning show.
3:30pm: Meet with management for future planning. We review budget targets and programming goals.
6:15pm: Staff dinner and overall radio discussion and group discussion about radio. How each station must focus on its product design, delivering what it promises, knowing the target audience, and how important each person is in the station’s big picture. We shared social media and on air success stories.
9:00 am - 11:00am: Morning show coaching sessions for the Country and Top 40 stations. Each one hour session featured role definition, conflict resolution, along with a review of showprep habits.
12 Noon: Leave for airport. Summarize trip in a report on the plane.