Tuesday, 26 July 2011

"And You Can Tell Everybody..."

We all love a good ‘list’. Lists help us to define and order the world we live in, giving us a sense of what's good or bad. In an over-communicated world, lists are a kind of a cultural shorthand.

So I always enjoy it when any radio station does a list of any kind. Sometimes, a classic idea just keeps on working.

And when you can tie in a TV partner too, it works that much better by providing additional marketing and promotion for the radio station along the way.

With all that in mind, Absolute 80s and VH1 are teaming up to bring you “Your Song of the 80s”. Pick your favourite from a pre-determined list of 60, and then on the pre-determined bank holiday (Monday 29th August), both radio and TV will “count ‘em down”.

I mention this not only because I like ‘lists’ on the radio, but when I hear the promo, it reminded me of the classic ‘montage technique’; get as many songs as you can in to represent what you’re trying to communicate – in this case, great 80s songs.

So take a listen to the promo, and see how many great 80s songs you can spot. I counted 13, but there may be more!!

Your Song of the 80s (mp3)

Disclosure: I produce and present a weekly show, with Dan McGrath, on a Saturday morning from 9am on Absolute 80s called 'Cafe 80s'. You can listen here

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Listeners Top 10 Criticisms of Morning Shows

What are the Top 10 things listeners don’t like about Morning / Breakfast shows?

I’m sure we could all come up with a pretty decent list of our own, but the good news is we don’t have to! Last week I was invited to attend the ‘Lokalrundfunktage’ 2011 in Nuremberg. It’s a gathering of the great and good of German radio, particularly hosted for the radio industry in the state of Bavaria, which has around 12.5 Million inhabitants.

The conference is a fantastic opportunity to get under the skin of what’s happening in German radio, and there’s loads going on... including the exciting launch of national DAB+ multiplexes.

There were the requisite speeches from politicians and industry leaders, and of course a sprinkling of interesting sessions.

One which caught my eye was a session on ‘personality radio’, and the importance of it / what it means to the German market etc. The session was kicked off with a great contextual presentation from Christoph Pöschl, from the German media research and consulting company, Brand Support. They’ve done lots of analysis of Morning Shows, and have a great research perspective on what works and what doesn’t.

So, here’s the Listeners Top 10 Criticisms of Morning Shows in Germany. (I’ve added some thoughts below each one)

1. Uninteresting Topics
Nothing annoys listeners more than topics and themes that are just plain boring! If you’re going to do topic, please make it interesting for the listener!!

2. Uninteresting Conversations
We’ve all heard those ‘talky bits’ that don’t go anywhere, and the hosts are just chatting for the sake of it. Feel free to do them, but the listeners are going to go elsewhere!

3. Hosts that talk too much
We all can think of hosts that can’t ‘put a sock in it’ from time to time. Give the listeners a break. Don’t keep going on and on, and on and on....

4. Promotions and competition that aren’t entertaining
Next time you’re sitting in that S&P meeting and the idea seems a bit dull, don’t agree to it. Give it another 10 minutes of creativity. If your competition is boring and flat, listeners will tune away.

5. Too many commercials
Not a problem in public radio, but in commercial radio PD’s need to just keep an eye on the total durations of ads. Different markets have different tolerance levels, but we all know when we’ve reached “too many”!

6. Too much self-promotion
Promoting your own station is fine, but don’t do too much of it so it starts to annoy your listeners, particularly in the morning show. The primary job there is to entertain listeners, not to continuously cross-promote all your other stuff.

7. Non-relevant content that doesn’t touch the listener
We know that creating relevant content that really connects emotionally with listeners is the most powerful way of getting people to listen. Audiences can quickly detect when something is there just for the sake of it. Do stuff that matters to you, and matters to your listeners, and that they can connect with.

8. Too little music variety
Listeners continuously tell us they like a bit of variety in the morning. If you have the right personality on the air, it’s probably the one place you can push the boat out a bit. Don’t be afraid... listeners like variety!!

9. Too little music
I always think that more time, money, resources and effort have gone into producing a brilliant 3 minute pop song, than have gone into producing any link... so don’t skimp on the music. Listeners love the songs. Some hosts think they “get in the way of the content”. Wrong. They’re part of the content of the show.

10. Too much repetition of the same songs
Morning shows are probably the most habitual listen for any radio consumer. So ensuring that the rotations are correct, and that the ‘mix’ is right in the morning is vital.

So there we have it... Listeners Top 10 Criticisms of Morning Shows in Germany. But I think it’s a pretty universal list, and is shows listeners around the world are remarkably similar. The same issues crop up in every market I have worked in.

The good news is we can do something about it. If we know what listeners don’t like, we try to ensure that we do the opposite... right?

If you work in radio station, think of your own morning show. Does it do any of these things on the list? Once you know what listeners don’t like, it’s far easier to do stuff they do like!

**Thanks to Christoph Pöschl from Brand Support for sharing his presentation. If you want more info from him direct, I’m sure he’d be happy to talk to you.