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?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This Is Really A Short Blog Because...

A lot of people have the same attention span as a goldfish - about 9 seconds.

No, really.

This makes me want to think about promos and imaging, talent breaks and newscasts, all content on air and online.

Are they attracting and retaining listeners’ attention? Would they be better and more powerful if they were more concise in the same way that a tablespoon of orange juice concentrate is more powerful than a tablespoon of orange juice because the water is removed?

Lead with your point. Add only what increases the entertainment value, engages me and/or stimulates my interest. Evolve, don’t repeat. Include a lot more feelings and a lot fewer facts. Make me want something first; I can figure out how to get it later. Be relevant. Make me see myself in your content. Surprise me. Be emotional, passionate even. Be a personality in 9 seconds.

Still got your attention?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Business Advice from an 18th Century Potter

I was recently re-reading Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae” and the story of 18th century potter Josiah Wedgwood. The business advice Godin suggested Wedgwood might have given to his less successful brother and fellow potter seemed so appropriate for radio that I couldn’t resist adapting a few:

• Create special, unique programming elements that are so compelling that people will seek them out and talk about them.

• Train your staff to perform in ways that are unique to your station.

• Have and live up to the highest quality standards in all you do.

• Since everything you do is top quality, prominently attach your name to your work.

• Display your product at every opportunity keeping both the display and product fresh.

• Regularly generate unique, premium content on a large scale.

• Program and market to heavy users while avoiding niche pressures.

Don’t these seven ideas form an appropriate check list for what PPM says are hallmarks of successful stations: compelling and timely content, repeatedly doing what works, and generating reasons for listeners to return often?