Thursday, 6 November 2008

The 10 Essential Elements of Great Radio

At NAB in London the other week, I presented a session along with Ivan Antala, PD of Radio Expres - the number 1 station in Slovakia, which was called ‘Back to the Roots’. The presentation was all about not forgetting the fundamentals in the rush to embrace new technology. Revisiting the basics is always a good thing to do from time to time, so with that in mind we put together ‘The 10 Essential Elements of Great Radio’. Here’s a summary of the handout that was distributed during the session.

1. Great On-Air Talent
• Employ the best morning show talent you can afford
• Develop the real characters within your talent and some fun comedy characters
• Make sure you have talent on your station that shapes public opinion

2. Imaginative Music Programming
• Keep the music fresh and the listeners interested with special ‘themed weekends’
• Sprinkle the output with fun and engaging daily music features
• Highlight and reinforce your stations core sound / core artists with exclusive previews and premieres

3. Creative Promotions
• Run promotions that listeners want to get involved with and are interested in listening to… even if they don’t take part!
• Create promotions that your listeners want to tell their friends and family about
• Extend the promotion into other media and find suitable partners to maximise your impact

4. Listener Focused
• Closely define your target audience and be absolutely focused on delivering radio for them
• Get to know as much as possible about your target listeners. By truly understanding them, you can create the radio they want
• Care passionately about your listeners. Be your listener’s best friend!

5. Be Local
• Make your station an essential part of everyday life in your area. Deliver great local news and information. Being really local is immensely powerful
• Champion the area you broadcast to! Your station should be the Number 1 cheerleader for all the places it broadcasts to. Your station loves living there!
• Reflect local issues and concerns and even take on local causes being the focal point of any campaigning

6. Outstanding Benchmarks
• Create benchmarks that listeners want to come back to you for time and time again. Make unmissable radio!
• Develop some specific ‘listener appointments’ at key times across different dayparts
• Become famous for a specific benchmark, so that listeners say “I love that station, because they do… insert your own brilliant benchmark here!”

7. Be Consistent
• We live in a complicated and unpredictable world. Give listeners what they want and expect from your radio station, and they’ll trust and rely on you
• Resist the temptation to change things for the sake of change
• Brand building takes time. Be patient!

8. Be Surprising
• Consistency doesn’t have to be boring! Don’t give listeners the chance to get bored with your station or allow them to feel you are mundane
• Regularly do something different or give familiar content a little ‘spike’ or twist
• Occasionally, you should do something that makes your listeners turn up the radio to make sure they heard it correctly!

9. Be Unique
• The world is full of ‘sound-a-like’ radio stations. Make yours stand out from the crowd
• Encourage unique presenters that having something to say. Your talent should differentiate you every time
• Create radio that hasn’t been heard before in your market with new shows, features and promotions

10. Power of Emotion
• Radio is brilliant at conveying the full range of human emotions. Encourage your presenters to explore this on air. Don’t let them be boring!
• Allow listeners to show sadness or anger as well as happiness and joy
• ‘Contrast’ provides a far more interesting dynamic to your station. Use it and your station will stand out from the crowd
Of course, we could have compiled the 20 Essential Elements of Great Radio if there had been time to deliver them! What would be the next 10 be then? Hmmmm.... Suggestions welcome!

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