Weekend Programming

Every Friday afternoon is the same everywhere. Your audience, plowing along on that dismal highway of life, spots an off ramp and for two days takes a detour. Their mindset changes along with their pace. Their priorities change. And as a radio station, you need to reflect that or appear hopelessly out of touch with the ambiance of the audience.
A quick reminder: “Ambiance” is the byproduct, the plutonium so-to-speak when you combine Attitude and Emotion. Great radio stations have ambiance.
I’ve always loved weekend contesting and themes because they allow listeners to divert from whatever they’ve been doing all week and be topical. Great weekends in Radio are all about being topical and addressing what everyone is murmuring about.
“Great” radio stations “get” so many things, including weekend themes. They understand that starting at 5 on Friday, ambiance =prize. You can take pretty much any prize, any download, any ticket, and massage it to fit what the listener is all about.
So when Pamela reaches out to me on a Wednesday and says “I have Katy Perry tickets this weekend, what should we do?” the first thing I would ask is: What’s trending with the Rihanna listeners right now?
It could be Labor Day, back to school, oppressive heat. Possibly a sports scandal. Maybe a celebrity wedding. Or a Disney cruise for you and the entire family!
Other good theme starters? Begin with the name of the prize. Imagine Dragons tickets morphed into imaging gone by a “power of positive thinking shrink” encouraging the audience to visualize, to imagine their tickets. Realization comes from visualization. Substance such as that. They also threw in some Medieval Times tickets so that the winners could see other imaginary dragons. A Free Ticket Weekend would have been just as exciting.
So if you don’t have live talent in your city on the weekend, don’t get caught up in the mindset of “We have to give stuff to people for them to like us.” No.” You just need to have some fun and relevant imaging and sound like the lifestyle of the listeners. Now THAT is a great weekend.
Another great opportunity to add spice and personality to your weekend is with Syndicated Programming. Besides enhancing your station with a national personality that you wouldn’t be able to hear otherwise, it creates a chance to steer away from the tight playlists airing on most stations all week. It is also a specialty program and thus your sales department can sell it as such and create revenue not otherwise realized by the station. A win-win for the programming and sales departments.
Let’s take a look at what’s available in the syndication marketplace. The list is just too long to be complete, so I’ll just highlight some of the more popular programs available for weekend programming.
Premiere Networks is the largest syndicator of radio programs in the country. They cover every conceivable format in all available dayparts. Here are some of their most popular music formatted shows: “American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest.” It’s a 4 hour program available 6:00am-12:00am local time. The most popular top-40 music with America’s longest running weekend countdown and a truly engaging host makes this show a listener favorite on Hot AC and CHR stations.
“Saturday Night Online Live with Romeo” is a uniquely interactive radio show hosted by radio veteran Tim ‘Romeo” Herbster. His show reaches listeners across multiple platforms—on-air, online and via social media—creating a complete experience that connects listeners, stars, and advertisers in a bang out Saturday Night party.
Superadio Network also has a wide variety of product available for weekends. They produce three country shows, two Latino shows (plus imaging and spot production), Nine Urban/Rhythmic shows, and two Hot AC shows. The most popular being “Retro Pop Reunion” hosted by Hot AC Talent Joe Cortese. It brings together the biggest hits of the video music era. The show is 2 hours long and airs either Saturday or Sunday 6AM-8PM local time.
United Stations Radio Network runs Radio Hall of Famer personality Dick Bartley. He hosts three separate shows on weekends, for Oldies or Classic Hits formatted radio stations. He’s been hosting America’s Classic Hits request radio show since 1982. Debuting as “Solid Gold Saturday Night,” the program has been known as “Rock & Roll’s Greatest Hits!” since 1991.
A weekly, four-hour countdown show presented in a fast passed, Top 40 style, “The Classic Countdown” features exclusive interview comments from the musicians, songwriters and producers who made the music. Bartley also hosts the “Sunday Night Countdown” on New York’s legendary WCBS-FM 101.1 which streams on wcbsfm.com every Sunday evening 8PM to Midnight Eastern time.
Another busy guy is WCBS-FM Morning Man Scott Shannon. He has a syndicated four-hour Classic Hits formatted show titled: “America’s Greatest Hits.” It currently runs on ten CBS Classic Hits stations plus additional affiliates and is syndicated by United Stations Radio Network.
There are literally hundreds of syndicated shows to fit any format that will increase ratings and ROI. This partial list has just scratched the surface of the product available. Take my advice; pick up one or two of these or other shows for YOUR station. You’ll be surprised how well they’ll sound and how much money you will make selling advertising time!

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