10 Stages to a More Effective Radio Air Check and Critique Session

For Program Directors to be successful air talent coaches, it’s important to stop thinking in terms of the process as a critique, but rather as advice. It is critical to do the following:

1. Ascertain Vital Subjects— Take the time to get out of the station and listen to the cd of your talent’s shows. Listening in real time does not allow you to go back and hear breaks a second or third time. Once you’ve stopped listening to the cd, make a request list of the vital issues you’d like to address with that air personality.

2. Arrange Issues by Impression— Ask yourself this question: which one issue will ensure improvement in the air personality’s ratings beginning today? Start your coaching session with the items on the top of your list.

3. Choose one or two vital subject issues— Pick no more than two issues to work on in each advice session. Don’t bring a long laundry list of issues to the air check session involving minutia with what is really important. People have a hard enough time dealing with change overall. The more changes you ask for at one time, the less likely you’ll get any.

4. Identify Objectives— Radio Air Personalities perform on the air with good intentions. Sadly, as they say, the way to hell is paved with good intentions. We all can have good intentions and obtain bad results. One of the ways to understand why the air personality is performing in a way you wish to change is to prevent defensive behavior from your coaching session. Once you express understanding for your air talent’s good intentions it demonstrates you see them as well meaning people.

5. Search for “Big Picture” Perspective— How you present each coaching point will do the greatest to determine the success or failure to offer advice. Make sure you think this part of the process through very carefully before each coaching session. Try to find a way to direct your coaching points that establishes the big picture of building ratings, revenue, community good will, etc. One of the most common challenges Program Directors experience with air talent is too much material or words crammed into single sets. Outlining this issue from the perspective of the listeners and how challenging it is for them to comprehend unfocused sets makes it much easier to understand why improved editing matters.

6. Formulate Details— Transcribe at least one hour of the talent’s show, on paper, for each coaching session. Once you transcribe you’ve accomplished two things. First, you have indisputable evidence of what occurred on the air. Highly creative people, such as radio air talent, are always focused on the future. They have no clear sense of what happened in the past. The second thing you accomplish with transcription has to do with basic human emotion. When we comprehend words on paper, we need to use the part of our brains that’s rooted in logic. This helps avoid occurrences of emotional hijacking from happening as often as air check sessions.

7. Construct Your Example— Examine your transcriptions and choose several examples which support your coaching point. If you only bring one example you run the risk of being rebuffed with a response like, “Well, you just picked a bad break.” Collect any other data that supports your point. One of the big components of advice is the perception of your level of expertise.

8. Think Progression, Not Product— During your coaching sessions; think in terms of changing the talent’s progression, not their product. Concentrate on possibilities rather than solutions. When you change the procedure, the product follows. Learning over a lifetime occurs when we change how someone thinks. No one wishes to be told exactly how to do their job.

9. Presume Success— Approach every coaching session with the presumption that what you’ve asked the talent will happen on the air. Say to them things like, “I have total faith in your talent and abilities and know you’ll make this happen on your show.” This requires a leap of faith for programmers. But, people tend to rise or fall in an organization contingent upon how management treats them. If you treat people as though they cannot fail, they rarely do. If they’re treated as if they can never succeed, they never will.

10. Screen for Progress— After every coaching session make a sincere effort to find your talent doing something right. Too much criticism de-motivates people and will cause what I call “Creative Paralysis.” Suitable encouragement for progress and praise is your most powerful and cheapest motivational tool. Too many managers don’t take the time to use it. Taking the time to notice alone will help make you a more efficient radio air talent coach.

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11 Clever Ways to Promote your Podcast

If you’re used to sharing text and video, the world of podcasting can seem like a planet of its own, especially when it comes time to promoting a new show.
Don’t just wait for your target audience to find it through the search engines. You can’t rely on podcast directories either.

Taking extra time to promote your show can be well worth it because the audience for podcasts has been growing steadily during the last decade.
Edison Research, which studies consumer adoption of digital media, reports that three-quarters of Americans 12 to 24 and half of those 25 to 54 say they have listened to online radio or streamed audio content available only on the Internet in the last month.

Podcasting isn’t exactly cutting edge. So why the rise in popularity?
Because the old model of creating news for the masses isn’t working anymore. New media channels such as Internet radio are competing against traditional media companies for advertising revenue and audiences. Also many Internet shows give listeners information on topics that they might not find anywhere else, like how to create a self-sufficient homestead.

Videos require your attention in front of a screen. But you can listen to Internet radio while walking the dog, working out or driving.
If you’re podcasting, you’re probably already communicating with your target audience on a variety of other sites. That’s the best place to start. Here are 11 ideas on how to promote your new show.

1. Submit it to iTunes.
iTunes has eclipsed 1 billion podcast subscriptions. People can search the iTunes podcast directory and then opt to listen to your show.
If you’re just starting a podcast, create several episodes, an RSS feed for your show, tags and album artwork. Then go to FeedValidator.org and make sure it says “Your feed is valid” before submitting to iTunes.

2. Include the podcast in a Google profile.
This often overlooked resource, the Google profile, is available on all Google properties. While you’re busy creating content in various formats, it’s easy to forget that your Google profile is the perfect container for links to all that content.

3. Include show notes on Pinterest.
Show notes provide a quick summary of what a specific podcast episode includes. They should have a captivating title and copy that compels visitors to listen to the show. A simple image like this from the DollarsAndSenseShow.com can be pinned with the description harboring show notes and relevant keywords.

4. Put a link on other social media profiles.
LinkedIn lets you insert media links in your profile: The summary and project sections are ideal for featuring a podcast. On Facebook, link to your podcast and include show notes in a status update or a note. Don’t forget to share the podcast with your Facebook groups.

5. Interview a celebrity about a new book.
Authors look under every rock for ways to promote their new books. Ask for a celebrity or influencer for an interview and the person might opt to use your podcast interview to promote the book. Many of these big names have huge followings and share every video, podcast, article and blog post that features them, especially during book launches.

6. Post a YouTube video showing a recording of your podcast.
Create a two-minute video as you record a segment of your show in front of the microphone. Shoot several segments from the same podcast and assign those videos to a YouTube playlist. Why bother? Because each video can have its own description and keywords that will pull in more traffic.
Your current fans will love this “behind the scenes” look at how your show is produced. Be sure to lead your podcast subscribers to the videos.
Use Spreaker, a podcasting service that can be connected to your YouTube account. Spreaker will turn an audio podcast into a static image video for your YouTube channel.

7. Tap Amazon’s Author Central account for promotion.
Include a link to your podcast on your Amazon profile. Author Central lets you import tweets and recent blog posts. Those, too, can be promote your show. Readers who love your books might be excited to find your content available in formats other than text.

8. Trade promotion favors with other podcasters.
Find a podcaster who targets an audience similar to yours. Agree to promote each other’s shows. You can even interview each other.

9. Create a collage of photos.
Craft a collage of photos that explain quickly who you are, your guest and what the show is about.
Jim Palmer’s Stick Like Glue radio show created a collage for an interview with social media expert Amy Porterfield. This communicates quickly and far better than just one photo could exactly what listeners will learn. This image is perfect for social sharing.

10. Market a top 10 list of the best podcasts.
Let’s say your show features interviews with startup founders. Compile a list of the top 10 podcasts featuring startups and include your show. Pitch it to bloggers who write about startups and to the other podcasters on your list.

11. Pitch a story on earning money from podcasting.
Many hobbyists, regardless of how passionate they are about their topics, can’t turn their shows into revenue. If you can, that’s a business story you can invite a financial publication to cover.

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6 Reasons Radio Listeners IGNORE your Morning Show

You know the routine.

Your radio station introduces a new morning show and you sit back and wait for the magic to happen. And you wait…and you wait. Still, the audience doesn’t know them, doesn’t care about them, or knows them and still doesn’t care about them.

Why is this happening?
Six reasons:

Because they’re just not that good

It’s true. Radio managers are not famous for spotting and nurturing talent.
And a corollary: Being good is hard.
There’s a reason why Howard Stern was fired all the way to the top. There’s a reason why it’s a safer bet to plug in Ryan Seacrest than to take a chance on somebody nobody knows (for better or worse). There’s a reason why the freshest young voice with the most unique point of view prefers to launch a YouTube channel rather than work their way up the long, hard slog of the radio ladder.
Radio fans know what they like and what they don’t like, and everything else is likely to fall in the vast, bland, vanilla middle. And while that vast, bland, vanilla middle can be tweaked with a bit of coaching or a new producer, there’s an old saying: “You can’t polish a turd.”

Because they’re not meaningfully different in a crowded field

Guy’s name and Gal’s name in show title? Check.
Impeccable technical execution? Check.
Show producer/board op? Check.
What about plugging in all the radio morning show best practices? Check.

The problem with formulas for what makes a great morning show is that every station has access to the same formulas. And when every radio station is playing the same morning show game for the same audience at the same time using versions of the same bits, the audience will default to the show they’ve listened to longest, even if it’s not necessarily the best, because it takes a lot of time and effort to find the “best” and no time or effort at all to succumb to habit.

So why should I change my listening behavior that has served me well for years to sample your show?
Because listeners are barely exposed to them
It’s not only about how long a show has been on the air but also about how much exposure that show has had while it has been on.

I have a saying: Listeners don’t listen to your morning show today; they listen to every episode of your morning show they have ever heard – today.
In other words, listeners bring their relationships with the talent to each listening occasion. This is what makes strong morning shows so powerful: They have a longstanding relationship with their fans. It’s also why you can fly into a market and listen to the dominant morning show and have no clue as to why it’s so successful.

So when you envelop your show in music, or the host opens the mic to announce a song or do a live read or announce another contest winner or check the weather or emote some breezy phrase that dissipates into the radio ether within seven seconds, then the audience has less to know and fewer opportunities to know it.

Why bother?

Because they’re DJs and not humans
While there’s something comforting about a human voice on the radio, not every human voice appears to be actually human. I’m not talking about voice-tracking here, I’m talking about content.
Humans are beings with three dimensions – strengths and weaknesses, flaws, and blemishes. All on display.
When those dimensions are not on display in a movie, we call the character “shallow.” And nobody (willingly) makes friends with shallow beings (although we’re happy to laugh at their expense in reality TV).

Because management doesn’t want a great morning show, they want a cheap morning show to be great
Too often, we’re not aiming for greatness; we’re aiming for great cheapness.
Well, that’s not how Jimmy Fallon got the Tonight Show gig and that’s not how great radio talent is born. We fool ourselves into thinking that the cheap voice can be the better voice if only the audience catches on. And then we are disappointed when they never do.

This is not to say you always get what you pay for, but you certainly never get what you don’t pay for.
I recently ran into an old radio friend – a former morning host – now long out of the business. He was approached by a station in his market to do a weekend gig – live. And for this he would be paid what he described as “the kind of money I made just out of school.”

Either he will say “no,” or the station will get from him what it’s paying for, which is exactly what it wants and much less than it pretends it wants.

Because “liking them” and “listening to them” are two different things
Your new morning host may be a great guy and a model citizen, but if I’ve got 20 minutes of drive-time, I intend to spend it with the most compelling, entertaining, or informative morning show I can find, not with an audio Boy Scout.

Do you Always Leave Your Listeners Wanting More?

Listeners recycle your radio station an average of every 20 minutes. You always have a fresh audience joining your show. So you need something original to sample, demonstrating your ability to entertain. Always leave them wanting more.

Define your station before you promote yourself to others. It’s called “positioning.” How can we explain to others (promotion) what we do if we aren’t clear about it ourselves. Having a focus makes it much easier for the listeners to spread the word about you.

I understand we hate labeling things—it pigeonholes us. But in your audience’s ears it helps to define what we do. Besides, it’s better to pick a label than let your listeners hang one on you. Is your radio station Blues formatted? Is it Country? Rock? News/Talk? Jazz? AC? Oldies? Maybe a combination of those or something completely different. What else do you do well? Concentrate on your strengths and market those.

Part of promoting your station is knowing what your target audience does on a daily basis. What do they read? Where do they hang out? What websites are they browsing? Do you have a Twitter and Facebook page? Does your station have a website? Does it stream? Knowing an audience means figuring out who they are, what they want, where they are, and how much they are willing to spend.

Promotions are very basic things. You can embellish them as much as you like, after the basics are in place. Radio people sometimes find themselves developing full-blown, bells-and-whistles, flash-and-dazzle promotions, losing sight of the importance of simple things like first impressions, preparation, knowledge, and good humor.

You must be visible everywhere. You should strive to present a positive image, to establish and nurture relationships, and make each event enjoyable for everybody, whether they’re faithful listeners (P1s), strangers to the station, or format, or the clients themselves. We all know it takes being out there to make those numbers happen. What we ought to know is that we need to be out on the streets all the time! If a client event isn’t going on, find out what’s happening in the community and tap into that. It’s as simple as checking out the newspapers and calling the Chamber of Commerce.

The key to any successful promotion, whether you’re promoting your radio station or client event, is total preparation. Hook your call letters into existing events. Start simple. Get permission to have your station van parked at the entrance of a local ball park. Find out if there’s a need for an emcee for an event and offer the professional services of a popular air-personality.

Develop an entire line of logo items: caps, t-shirts, sweats, polo shirts, jackets, handbags, wallets, sun visors, etc., all sold at events to benefit local food banks. Approach event coordinators explaining that items sold don’t benefit the station financially; proceeds go to local food banks in the county where the event is being held. The chance for on-air support plus that all-important “warm & fuzzy” created by doing something for the community, opens doors.

Remember, take pictures at the event and include them on your website and include crowds. Thank the sponsor for the opportunity to be involved in their or your event, and express the desire to return. Always promote in keeping with the station’s sound. If it’s not right, walk-away!

Stand By Your Brand

Make one point.
Make it simple.

Make it something worth listening to.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Find out what people want and give it to them. A recipe for success! Unfortunately, most radio stations are anything but simple. In my travels as a consultant, it’s amazing the number of stations that make listeners jump through hoops to listen. Too much “clutter” in stop sets and too many positioners creates confusion for the listener. It’s a recipe for disaster.

We need to start thinking of our listeners as “customers.” The better we’re able to understand how our listeners “consume” our product, the better we’ll be able to market, package, and produce a product acceptable to the marketplace. In essence, programmers need to become brand managers of their radio stations.

We live in an over-communicated society. For a radio station to succeed in such a crowded environment, the station must create a position in the listener’s mind. That position must take into account not only its own strengths and weaknesses, but those of the competition as well. When we think of computers, most people think of IBM, but IBM didn’t invent the computer, Sperry-Rand did. IBM was the first company to build a computer position in the mind of the consumer. Radio needs to do the same thing. Build a position in the listener’s mind that you’re a station with instant top-of-mind awareness.

Two Types of Customers

Radio is unique in that it has two types of customers — listeners and advertisers. Most companies don’t suffer from that phenomenon. Their customers are their customers. Radio has to “sell” its product to listeners on a daily basis. As the marketplace becomes even more fragmented with iPods, Internet radio, mp3’s, CDs, satellite and now HD radio, it’s the “brands” that people remember — the thing that makes it comfortable for people to go out, buy, and listen to.

The radio dial is filled with more choices than ever before. Listeners are consuming our product on a daily basis. You’d better be able to stand out in the crowd! The primary reason to create a great product is to create great revenue. The better the product serves and entertains the target listener, the better the opportunity to increase ratings and revenue.

Building Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty is the Holy Grail for all brand marketers. It’s a lot of hard work to establish and maintain that relationship. There is a reward, and it’s given to radio stations that develop a successful consumer-product relationship with the listener. As programmers, we need to connect with people and develop a sense of satisfaction the listener can embrace. We need to know and understand listeners’ beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions of our station. We’re in the entertainment business; let’s capture their imagination. Be creative!

Entertainment Value

Most of the fun has gone out of the radio business. It’s become too homogenized, formulated, computerized, and centralized. Radio needs to bring back the art and fun radio once enjoyed. This all plays into building a brand:

1. To create a brand you must create a unique brand identity communicating your benefits.
2. Once the identity is established, you need to build awareness of that brand.
3. Create brand loyalty.

Brands live in a highly competitive world. A brand may stand apart, but rarely does it stand alone. Your brand needs to push against commonality, driving a wedge between itself and your competitors. You must become a category of one. Miller Brewing accomplished this by hitting on a unique brand concept: “Tastes Great, Less Filling.” Miller Lite found a way to appeal to the rational and emotional sides of beer drinkers at the same time: Only Miller Lite could claim to be lower in calories (rational) while offering the taste beer drinkers wanted (emotional). Your radio station needs to accomplish the very same thing.

Over-Simplify Your Message

The most effective approach to take in our over-communicated society is the over-simplified message. Less is more. We need to sharpen our message to cut through the clutter. Jettison the ambiguities, simplify the message, and then simplify it even more. That way, you’ll make a long-lasting, memorable impression. Do you really think listeners believe we’re playing “a better mix of music?” Better than what, my iPod?

Drop the things you can’t brag about. Instead, brag about what you do best and forget the rest. Cut the crap and focus on making your strengths stronger. Stop insulting your listener with meaningless phrases they don’t believe. Relate to your audience. Find out what your strengths are and master them. Doing so builds a solid reputation and a following. Become known for doing great work in some area rather than mediocre work in a lot of areas.

You Look Marvelous

It’s important to come up with a signature style. Producer Phil Spector was sought out in the 60s by the Beatles and Rolling Stones for his unique “Wall of Sound.” His track record included producing such hits as “Be My Baby” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” by creating a dense, complex, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink” type of sound. He mastered what he did and people wanted to work with him.
Come up with a strong theme. Do your best to be entertaining, thought-provoking, and memorable. Develop bits that the audience will enjoy and remember. This will become your signature that no one in your market will be able to copy. Listeners don’t know what they like, but like what they know. Brand yourself in a way the audience can relate and embrace, and any recipe for disaster will soon be the ingredient for success.

A Terrible Thing Happens When You Don’t Promote…Nothing!

Listeners recycle your radio station an average of every 20 minutes. You always have a fresh audience joining your show. So, you need something original to sample, demonstrating your ability to entertain. Always leave them wanting more.

Define your station before you promote yourself to others. It’s called “Positioning.” How can we explain to others (promotion) what we do if we aren’t clear about it ourselves. Having a focus makes it much easier for the listeners to spread the word about you.

I understand we hate labeling things—it pigeonholes us. But in your audience’s ears it helps to define what we do. Besides, it’s better to pick a label than let your listeners hang one on you. Is your radio station Blues formatted? Is it Country? Rock? News/Talk? Jazz? AC? Oldies? Maybe a combination of those or something completely different. What else do you do well? Concentrate on your strengths and market those.

Part of promoting your station is knowing what your target audience does on a daily basis. What do they read? Where do they hang out? What websites are they browsing? Do you have a Twitter and Facebook page? Does your station have a website? Does it stream? Knowing an audience means figuring out who they are, what they want, where they are, and how much are they willing to spend!

Promotions are very basic things. You can embellish them as much as you like, after the basics are in place. Radio people sometimes find themselves developing full-blown bells-and-whistles-flash-and-dazzle promotions, losing sight of the importance of simple things like first impressions, preparation, knowledge, and good-humor.

You must be visible everywhere. You should strive to present a positive image, to establish and nurture relationships, and make each event enjoyable for everybody, whether they’re faithful listeners (P1’s), strangers to the station or format, or the clients themselves. We all know it takes being out there to make those numbers happen. What we ought to know is that we need to be out on the streets all the time! If a client event isn’t going on, find out what’s happening in the community and tap into that. It’s as simple as checking out the newspapers and calling the Chamber of Commerce.

The key to any successful promotion, whether you’re promoting your radio station or client event, is total preparation! Hook your call letters into existing events. Start simple. Get permission to have your station van parked at the entrance of a local ball park. Find out if there’s a need for an emcee for an event and offer the professional services of a popular air-personality.

Develop an entire line of logo items: caps, t-shirts, sweats, polo shirts, jackets, handbags, wallets, sun visors, etc., all sold at events to benefit local food banks. Approach event coordinators explaining that items sold don’t benefit the station financially; proceeds go to local food banks in the country where the event is being held. The chance for on-air support plus that all-important “warm & fuzzy” created by doing something for the community, opens doors.

Remember, take pictures at the event and include them on your website and include crowds. Thank the sponsor for the opportunity to be involved in their or your event and express the desire to return. Always promote in keeping with the stations sound. If it’s not right, walk-away!

Defining your Radio Stations Unique Listening Proposition

Ask yourself: why should a listener in your target audience listen to YOUR Radio Station at any given moment vs the competition? You can extend that by saying vs anything else? Including turning off the radio.

List everything done on your Radio Station on a daily basis (on the air). I mean everything!
• We solicit phone calls
• We talk to listeners
• We sweep our quarter hours
• We ask trivia questions
Don’t just list features…Catalogue the things you do on your Radio Station performed repeatedly.
• We tease across all breaks
• We tease upcoming newscasts
• We provide weather checks
• We pound our station name into listeners heads
• We talk about the music
• We perform dedications
• We give showbiz news
• We plug the Radio Station website often
• We inform listeners how to contact the station
• We provide contest details
• We solicit listener criticism
• We mention the names of contest winners
• We inquire as to what listeners are doing
• We try to stump the sports or newscaster with sports trivia
• We provide artist information
• We mention listener birthdays
• We mention celebrity birthdays

When you “brainstorm” the answers come at the end of the session. It’s not the material on-top but the substance you must push for. Now, we’re going to examine the ways to take what you wrote down and proceed to make them larger than life for your audience.
If you start answering your on-air phone calls by saying—“Hi, who’s this?” This is NOT a unique listening proposition. It could be coming from any Radio Station in town. You must discover a way to answer your on-air phone calls that brands it as your Radio Station.

“Hi, what do your friends call you?” Sounds more like a private club. Brand it so it sounds original, real and relatable. Doesn’t need to be brilliant if it’s original, real and relatable. Just original!
How do you end your phone calls? Do you end them the same way as every other personality at the station, or did you create a unique and interesting method? NEVER DO—“What’s your favorite Radio Station?”

Time Checks—When you give the time, can you create a way that listeners know they’re listening to YOUR Radio Station? Can you whisper the calls? Work with a child to record your call letters. With all the big-balls imaging out there, what do you think will stand out?
If you give showbiz news, call it “Tabloid Trash.” Brand it on your own terms. Do custom jingles mentioning outskirt towns. Rotate them. Appears as if you’re including everybody. Obligate a staff member to compile a list of local pubs and bars. When someone calls, ask the caller “How’s everyone down at_______tonight or this afternoon?” Makes you sound “plugged-in.” This might be better used during an afternoon drive or evening show.

Have a list of area High School mascots in your listening area. This takes a lot more prep on the personalities part but how powerful is it when someone calls and asks, “Hey, how are the Cougars doing?” Your response can be “The Cougars are playing the Wildcats tonight. Who are you rooting for?”
Remember, preparing is caring. You’ll sound as if you know everything about your listeners. Understand what your audience does. When you promote the Radio Station website, give your listeners a reason to go see it. “To sign up for our contest “Beat the Toaster,” you must sign up on our website. “When we call your name at 7:20 every weekday morning, you’ll have ten minutes to call us back. We put the toast in and you must come up with the answer to our trivia question, before the toast pops up.” “Answer correctly and receive a $500 dollar gas card.”

It’s very relatable, fun, different. You listeners know what a toaster is. Extremely visual and completely ridiculous. If another station in your market plays “Beat the Toaster,” they’ll seem pretty foolish. To hear “Beat the Toaster” you can only be listening to ___________________.” It must seize the attention of your listeners. The more you can make a feature your own (Branding), the more you stand out from the crowd.
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