Monday, October 20, 2008

Traits of Market Icons

by Mike O'Malley

This weekend I was part of the reunion of New York City country radio broadcasters (starting from my left are the killer former WYNY staff: Bill Rock, Shelli Sonstein, Dan Daniel, Randy Davis and Jim Kerr).

I’m not big on reunions – I’d rather talk about the future than the past – but this one was something special because it was a chance to see again some great talent and friends that I had the privilege of working with for 5 years.

On the commute home I thought about what it takes to be a market icon as so many of the talent at this gathering were:

• Consistently delivering a show that has strong horizontal attraction; that is, that has an audience that tunes in everyday, not just a few times a week or month, but 4-5 times a week because they want to. While the reasons why listeners tune in on a daily basis may be different with each talent, the best have the ability to leverage their strengths to command a daily following.

• The ability to attract new listeners over the years, not just hold on to an aging core, by evolving, staying relevant and fresh, and communicating in ‘today’s’ style

• The art of self-revelation done in a way that draws people to them rather than repelling them by being self-absorbed.

• An outgoing personality that initiates relationships with listeners

• Thoroughly understanding your listeners and how and why they use you and your station

• Being well-versed in things that their listeners care about and being able to communicate that interest in the same way that two friends would

• Being passionate about and a proponent of their format and station - whichever one they were working in at the time

• Being accessible, touchable, and humble, and maintaining a sense of ‘every man’ despite being larger than life at times

• Having a sense of humor about life

• Loving what they do and letting it show

Market icons work hard at their craft on and off the air. Are you up to the challenge? Do you have more observations about icons in your market you’d like to share?

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