The Great Radio Reset
Matt goes solo this week with some ideas for the Great Radio Reset. With the pandemic coming to an end and radio stations looking to the future, we've assembled a list of things to think about. Some are some old ideas that should come to fruition, while others where born in the pandemic. As always your feedback is welcome.
Depending on where you live in North America, your local government has probably announced some re-opening plans. Actually, it’s pretty much everywhere except where I live because people here aren’t smart enough to play hide-and-seek from a virus and local government has far too much faith in people to exercise personal responsibility. The rest of this is for another podcast….
I think back to March of 2020 in a podcast episode I called, Hey Radio, this is it…. This was the big emergency you have been waiting for that was going to make you relevant once again. What radio was not counting on was the reduced morning drive numbers… and who knew that we would all be working from home? But we learned to… and when I had Tony Coles on the show, he talked about how his team launched Black Information Network in multiple cities – with talent working from home. And yes, a lot of what I am talking about today has come from previous episodes that are available if you just scroll backwards on your phone.
A few weeks ago I had Fred Jacobs from Jacobs media talk about listening during the pandemic, and I’m sure you have noticed this at your station too – some people listened less or stopped, but there was a contingent who listened more and longer. They listened for companionship and information and likely your station was there to help your community through these difficult times.
Here is what I am proposing to everyone in radio right now. It is time for the great Radio Reset. Right now, blow up everything you do, take everything learned over the last year and apply it to something great. You can even borrow a few of the ideas from our guests if you wish. Here are some things that I think you should consider for the great radio reset.
Personality. Lotsa Personality: This one is an easy one and comes straight from the Tech Survey. 2020 is the year where listeners began to gravitate to radio for personality more than music. So it is time to invest in a strategy for personalities on your station – what will they bring to the table each morning and what training and resources will you be offering them.
Can you please STOP trying to own every social platform? Instead, nail a few and get some participation trophies for the rest – or even better, don’t even bother. I know that a lot of companies have desired metrics that personalities have to hit each month, but you don’t win at social media with singles and doubles – you win with Home Runs… so it’s okay to strike out online.
Radio needs a new metrics system. And while it would be great to have an app on phones so data can be collected, the microphones on these devices aren’t meant to pick up passive listening, so already we will have skewed metrics. Radio needs to figure out a way to do some data collection that puts it on a level footing with digital, that does not fall prey to all the fraud that’s out there. I know what your saying – I just came across like the 7th grade gym teacher who told you to line up alphabetically by height. By the way, has anyone considered selling the station based on the value of what people are hearing? Just a thought. I’ve already ranted about this extensively in a previous episode.
Speaking of what people are hearing – did you check out Matty in the morning at Y108 in Boston last week? He’s trying to do a show but can’t because everyone is so enamoured with fake outrage. I know we like to think of ourselves as broadcasters but maybe your station doesn’t fit that anymore. Maybe your time would be better spent focusing on a niche instead… say like people who enjoyed cutting edge comedy and humour? You could have personalities that could provide that. You know, it’s okay not to be for everyone. You don’t have to cow-tow to every woke tweet or every call for equal time for both sides of an issue. You could just… do a show. If you can turn the comments off on Facebook, you should be able to do so for your station. By the way, I was thinking about playing that clip in this show, but I’ve decided you can go check it out on the episode page instead. By the way, Media is having some trust issues, but radio still carries its credibility. I know there are some loons out there who will use some quack Youtube page to verify their alleged truth. No matter what station you work at, maybe you should have an ombudsman on retainer to deal with truth issues externally. Radio has the trust of the people – can we protect it?
Stop focusing on local, and concentrate on being relevant: This was an idea put into my mind from Pat Holiday in 2015, and I think we should really stop with the local nonsense. Instead of saying, you’re going to be local, why not try being relevant instead? Every time a PD asks a performer to be local, you get a mention about something going on somewhere that no one cares about, and the personality does this because they were told to be local. But what if you asked the personality to be relevant instead? What kind of show do you get? And by the way, do you who cares about you being local? Ed in sales and the person Ed is selling to. That’s it. The rest of us want to hear something relevant.
Here’s a fun idea: consider becoming a guest on as many podcasts as you can. That fit of course. So one of the first persons I met on my podcast adventures back in 2016 was Jessica Rhodes who is the owner of interview connections. It was a six figure business in year two and it is taking in a few million a year now. I thought to myself – who needs help finding guests for a podcast? Also – why can’t people who want to be on podcasts find guests. Well it’s a thing and There is an entire industry dedicated to guesting on podcasts. Now you don’t need to register for Jessica’s services, you just need to pitch yourself to be on them. You’re already in the audience industry – it is a great way to forward your brand. By the way, I want to have Jessica back on the show in the coming months… she’s awesome.
I have a few more to go – I just need to put a little money in my pocket but here’s another idea… how about sponsoring a podcast? If you don’t work for Rogers, Corus, Audecy Stingray or iHeart, you might not have access to podcast company sponsorships… so getting on board a local popdcast in your market might be a good way to connect. More ideas ahead….
Also, another one for personalities and programmers a like… maybe the personalities on your station should not be employees. I’ve had Sheri Lynch on Twice and she has provided the blue print for personalities breaking out on their own and turning the radio shows and brands into a business.
Be ready for the good times. Summer is coming, concerts are coming back, and it’s very possible we experience a social boom. One that is not online but in-person. There’s going to be concert tickets to give away and radio is still the best way to connect everyone to experiences. Even the idea of giving away passport photos so people who let their passports lapse would get people excited.
Finally, I cannot take credit for this, but Seth Resler, who is the digital dot connector, got me thinking about re-opening this week with the Hashtag Scavenger hunt. I’ve posted a link to it in the show notes of the episode. And it’s just the kind of thing radio needs to be thinking about right now. I’ve also added in a few other notable watches that will help you re-boot the way you think about radio and how you are going to do things better than you did in the Before times. You know, radio really wasn’t that good in the before times… but it has yet another chance to be great.
And that’s it – 10 ideas for the great radio reset – I hope that this becomes a big panel discussion in the future. I know when I started this podcast, radio couldn’t even discuss what they done that was innovative in the last 6 months – but we have a long list now. Thanks for listening and support the share by sharing everything on social media, and sending me money.
Here are the links that I promised to list in the episode:
As promised, a clip from Matty in the Morning at Kiss 108 Boston quitting on air. He has since returned.