Sunday, July 24, 2011

Those Pirates are Scurvey Killers!

You pour your heart and soul into your radio station.  You obsess over every detail; the clock, categorizing every song, the tempo of the station, the jocks, imaging, sweepers, news, traffic, weather, promotions...and then, you turn your station over to a client who knows nothing about radio for the next :60 seconds!  Unless you and your Sales Staff have obsessed over this spot as much as you have the rest of your station, you're sunk!

"I want to voice the spot myself", "I'd like my kids in the commercial", "I want this music bed", "Here, I wrote the copy myself".  What, are you kidding?!  And yet, we let these Bozo's put this junk on our station because they're paying us.  "We need to hit this month's goal".  "My Sales Guy lives on commission and he's got a kid in college".  The Pirates have taken over the ship and we're all sinking!

The average listener makes up their mind to change stations in about two seconds.  Two Seconds and we're giving them sixty!  No matter how much your listener loves you, they're leaving as soon as the local heating guy comes on with his parrot and they might not come back.

It's time to grow a backbone and put a stop to this.  Listeners don't hate commercials they hate bad commercials.  Note how many people tune into the Super Bowl just for the commercials.  If you're not delivering a Super Bowl quality spot don't air it!  That rate today will not keep you in business tomorrow.  Demand more and you're listeners will love you even more for it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Power of a BHAG

Quick thought before I jump into my post; I watched a few minutes of the British Open this past weekend.  The incessant buzzing of helicopter noise reminded me very much of the infamous Vuvuzela from last year's Men's World Cup in South Africa - both annoying!

Proverbs 29:18 tells us "without a vision, the people perish;".  I have found this useful when casting a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG).  This term was first coined by James Collins and Jerry Porras:
A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.
—Collins and Porras, 1996
I find, at the appropriate time, a BHAG can unite an organization and help it accomplish the extraordinary.  I don't use this bullet often but, when I do I make sure my BHAG meets certain criteria.  Besides being compelling does the vision border on the impossible?  Is it bigger than any individual (people want to be part of something greater than themselves) could accomplish on their own?  Will the outcome produce something remarkable?

This year marks the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  On the K-LOVE Radio network we decided on a BHAG to commemorate the date.  "Imagine One Million people making a difference in someone's life in a single day".  One million people all going out on the very same day and selflessly doing something for someone else.  Taking a day that was meant for evil and turning it around to show love and kindness.  I can't wait to see what happens!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Are You Camera Worthy?

Anything worth watching is being recorded.  For whatever reason, we can no longer enjoy an experience and "be in the moment"; life is now consumed through a viewfinder.  This theorem was highlighted on my recent trip to New York City.  Of course, you could expect to have everyone aiming their cameras at all the usual targets; Times Square, Empire State Building and Bruno Mars performing at Rockefeller Center.  But, in our youtube society anything deemed slightly interesting is being recorded as well.  Dancers at the train station, a man spray painted silver pretending to be a robot, kids beating on empty paint cans like drums and even those creepers dressed like Sesame Street characters.  All these deemed worthy of society of consuming and sharing with others.

This brought me back to my early days of radio.  It was 1989 and we had just moved to Seattle.  I heard all the local radio stations would be out at the Evergreen State Fair performing their broadcast magic.  I couldn't wait to be dazzled!  I remember impatiently getting through traffic and finally being guided to my parking space.  I was then herded through the cramped entrance and had to quickly weave through the Carnis and Agricultural displays.  Finally, I had row!  Somewhere Handel's Messiah was ringing out.

At this moment I slowed, wanting to savor each one.  What new creative ideas would entice and delight my senses?  I couldn't wait to find out.  The first booth was fronted by a folding 6' table with a black table cloth.  On it were black and white photos of the "talent" that was nowhere to be found and an Enter to Win box for a trip to Ocean Shores.  In the rear of the booth sat two individuals.  They could have been empolyees or interns or even homeless people.  I'll never know because they never once engaged or even acknowledged me.  They just chatted with eachother while shoveling scones into their gaping pie holes.  Yikes, maybe it was the local AM station, surely the next one would be better.  Unfortunately, this scene was played out over and over again.  Nothing came anywhere close to my expectations and I went home bitterly disappointed in the industry I had glamorized.  At that moment I vowed to be different.

Fast-forward to this week.  I was on the phone speaking with a friend who works for a radio station in a market far, far away.  He was telling me that he was getting ready to go to a Festival and be at his station's booth with absolutely nothing going on.  Huh?  Nothing going on.  You mean I'm supposed to be enamored with you because you showed up and exposed me to your logo?  Sorry, instead you'll quickly be forgotten.  Worse yet, you'll disappoint current and potential new listeners.

Radio is entertainment!  It's engagement and community and emotion.  It's media.  If you're going out to do an event this Summer take a look at your booth.  Is there anything there that would cause me to stop, take my camera out and share what you've got going on?  If not, don't do it!  Start again and create an experience that's memorable.  You and your listeners will never regret it.