Tuesday, October 05, 2010

From Audience Killer to Great Radio in Two Steps

The well-intentioned representative from (insert name of local charity here) comes to your studio and wants to tell you in great detail how your listeners can help out or make a donation. Unfortunately, a lot of listeners didn’t hang around for the specifics because they were never motivated to participate in the first place.

An artist is your guest and usually wants to talk about their latest CD, upcoming show, or something else they have going on right now. Listeners, disappointed they didn’t something personal or ‘behind the scenes,’ drift away as you play and the artist talks about his previously unheard song.

Both of these are audience killers.

You can’t blame your local guests; they’re rarely professional communicators. They don’t know what to say to make people respond. You can’t blame the artist; they’re in the moment and often just trying to get through yet another radio interview from another jock that really isn’t prepared beyond a few basics.

But here’s the thing: you can turn each into compelling radio if you 1) control the agenda that 2) finds and focuses on the Emotional Center.

Your agenda for the local guest is to find the Emotional Center in the story and use it to make listeners WANT to participate. Listeners can figure out HOW later. But if you don’t get me to WANT, you surely won’t get me to HOW.

Here’s a real example: a hospice spokesperson appeared on a morning show and spent 3 minutes talking about the responsibilities, requirements and sign-up procedures are for becoming a volunteer but never once gave listeners a reason to WANT to do this.

Audience killer.

But imagine the listener reaction if the interview started with and stuck to an Emotional Center: perhaps how spokesperson witnessed the daughter of a terminal patient put her arm around a hospice volunteer and, with a smile and a tear, told the volunteer how much she’d meant to her dad these last weeks, how much her kindness was appreciated, and how she’d always be a member of their family.

Find and tell a story like this and you’ll have great radio and a line of volunteers.

Similarly, while an artist may want to talk about a single or a new CD or an upcoming show, you have the chance to make if far more of an event for listeners if you create an agenda that includes mystery, a look behind the scenes, or that engages the artist in a way that reveals the artist as a person behind the star - itself an Emotional Center.

That’s the agenda Steve Stewart, WTNR/Grand Rapids’ OM/AM host of Scrubs in the Morning used for his Tuesday morning interview with Toby Keith. They got around to the new music, but not before Toby was talking like the golf playing, football-loving guy next door. You can listen to it including a feature called the “30 Second Meet & Greet” where a listener gets to end the call with 30 seconds to ask or tell the guest whatever they want.

Have an Agenda/Emotional Center interview story to share?

1 comment:

James Rabe said...

I agree 100%! If you're not trying to help the non-profit, then do it for your show. A few years ago, when I worked in Fargo, I was very happy with the way we worked our sponsorship 'promos.'

The MS society lined up three people for me to interview...they all had compelling stories about how the society had made their lives better; helping one woman to realize her dream of starting a family; a husband that was lost and scared and found footing with the society and a woman that was scared to look in the mirror, afraid she wouldn't be able to smile that, eventually, started her own support group with the help of the society.

It was the first time I tried finding the emotional center...and I've never looked back. I get some grief from a current co-worker. He says, "You didn't talk much about the fundraiser!", but I figure you're right. We give them a reason to care (or just to listen, for cryin' out loud). If they want to help, they'll take the basic info we offer and use it.