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The Stuph File Program – Episode #0469

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0469.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

An Air Personality’s Perception of a PD

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I can’t resist passing this along. This is a hilarious job description for a program director. At the root of comedy is truth. Mix in some exaggeration, and presto! OF course, I love program directors. I was one once, and in the core of my soul, I still am. But you gotta admit, this is pretty funny. But I suspect it was originally conceived by an air personality.

The Man Who Makes it All Good

What do you tell friends who ask you what you do-really? Program Director, huh? Don’t the announcers just come on and say what they want? Not quite.

The Program Director is the person at a radio station responsible for “directing programming”.

Program directing usually begins at 10 a.m. when the “PD” (as he’s affectionately called) strolls in with a steaming Grande Mocha Cappuccino Latte which he actually got free through a station trade with a local coffee shop. Or, he traded some concert tickets for it.

Radio stations sometimes trade advertising for products or services. In this case, the PD is taking advantage of coffee trade set up by a former (sleazy) account executive a year ago. Everyone forgot about it, except the PD, who has keen skills like that.

At this point, the station probably owes Starbucks $2800 dollars in ads because the PD has been mooching on the trade and since the account executive that set up the deal was fired 6 months ago – nobody is keeping track.

“It’s all good,” says the PD.

Beware of Program Directors who use that phrase. Nothing is ever “all good” when somebody tells you it is – especially at a radio station. When a PD tells you “It’s all good,” he is really saying, “I’m ignoring the bad stuff because my latte is getting cold.” That’s not a bad thing. It keeps everyone positive and upbeat.

The Program Director is Like a Boat With Hats

Program Directors hire and fire the people on-the-air. Just like boats, the best day and worst day in a DJ’s life is the day he gets a new job from his Program Director and the day the DJ is canned and finally gets rid of the PD who hired him.

Most Program Directors can spot great talent. They have a sixth sense for it.

Unfortunately, once the talent is hired, most PDs also have another core skill: annoying the crap out of them over stupid, picky, meaningless issues which eventually force already unstable personalities to fantasize about a murder-suicide, involving (and starting with) the Program Director.

Sometimes the Program Director is also the Music Director. That’s called wearing two hats. Unfortunately, no one can afford two hats in the station’s budget line, which is where the record companies come in.

Record companies provide gifts to PDs like hats and other promotional materials including concert tickets, trips for listeners, t-shirts, etc. It used to be cash, cocaine, and hookers but government regulation kind of screwed that up. Thanks a lot, jerks!

Now, everything a Program Director receives has to be accounted for and disclosed. Why? Because the PD’s boss, the General Manager, wants to make sure he gets his cut.

Disclosure

I’m kidding. Disclosure occurs because the government doesn’t want the radio station doing any back room deals and promising to play crappy songs in return for anything of value.

Well, at least unless the public knows. In the good old days, radio had Payola (See “cash, cocaine, and hookers” above). That was great because the DJs and Program Directors were able to make a decent living by taking bribes and playing the record company’s crappy songs.

Governments finally stepped in and cleaned all that up. That’s why today, a DJ or PD can still make a decent living by taking a bribe and playing a song but ONLY if they disclose it to the listeners. Unfortunately, most radio companies frown on Payola and make employees sign a paper and swear to God they’re not taking any.

It seems the only folks who can legally take Payola anymore are the politicians who stepped in to clean up radio. Of course, they don’t call it Payola. They call it “campaign contributions”.

By the way: what’s the difference between a seedy record promoter and a lobbyist? You can trust the seedy record promoter. Wait, there is no difference.

There is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch

Anyway, back to the Program Director. Besides directing programming and maybe overseeing music, the PD has to go to lunch everyday – usually with the guy who does the afternoon show. It is embarrassing when the bill arrives because the PD is never sure whether to offer to pay the bill with another station trade or let the afternoon DJ pay with the money he made by illegally selling station stuff on eBay.

As you can see, being a PD is a day full of hard decisions.

Sometime in the afternoon, the Program Director might have to take a meeting. He will bring in a yellow legal pad and pen but seldom write anything down. This is because anyone with ideas will usually offer to “forward” the info to the PD.

Email has been a boon to the art of program directing. Plus, Program Directors agree they can delete more listener complaints faster now thanks to broadband.

At the end of the day, the Program Director hangs around long enough to make sure the General Manager leaves before he does. This paints the Program Director in a very positive light and suggests that he’s working himself to the bone. (This tactic also works in other professions.)

Other things you should know about the Program Director:

Sometimes he has to wear a third hat and do a show on-the-air. He will often use a pseudonym because the last thing the PD wants is for listeners to know that the idiot on the air is also the idiot who is doing the program directing.

Most Program Directors have offices with signed memorabilia from rock stars. Nothing says success like a framed jock strap with Kid Rock’s signature on it.

Oh yeah, and Program Directors do not look like Andy Travis from the old TV sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati.

 

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0468

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0468.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:


  • Dennis Palumbo, author & psychotherapist — Getting into a writer’s head
  • Ernie Smith, Tedium.com — disposable cameras
  • Stuart Nulman, Book Banter

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0467

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0467.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

☀️ Education’s Sun Shines Brightly With Burli

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Happy Wednesday! Here’s your “Boss Note” of the week!

To keep helping future journalists as they complete their program, Burli has opened scholarships with long time partner British Columbia Institute of Technology. Burli hopes to boost marketable technical skills as well as creativity and innovation in journalism.

Congratulations Gurneet Samra on winning the 2018 Annual Burli Software Inc Award. This award was initiated as Burli worked with BCIT to recognize novice journalists in training in their Broadcast and Online Journalism Program. It is designed to help newcomers to our industry get established as they enter this exciting field. Read: BURLI SOFTWARE AWARD AT BCIT

EDUCATION’S SUN SHINES BRIGHTLY WITH BURLI

More broadcast and journalism schools now adopt Burli technology into their curriculum. Professional newsrooms use it, so Burli has become a core skill needed by aspiring broadcasters around the world. The schools have signed on to Burli to prepare their grads for success in the marketplace. 

We think everyone – students, schools, broadcaster colleagues – and even audiences win when Burli is taught in campus labs and studios. See how we’ve done our best to make the system accessible to your broadcast program.

If you are looking for news tools to teach and share story content between the school lab and campus station for your college or university community, CLICK HERE FOR A SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL PRICING

Go after the life you want. Cheers!

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0466

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0466.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

6 Sure Fire Ways To Get Rid of On-Air Crutches

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Okay, so this is, like, an article about, ah, all those, um, bad, uh, habits or on-air crutches that Dj’s pick up, you know. Know what I mean? Fix these things and, like, you can be super-better at your, um, job and stuff. You know? Whatever.

All air personalities develop crutches. It may be repeating certain phrases (‘How you doin’ on a Thursday?”), running thoughts and sentences together or even just saying, “uh or um” all the time. Inserting “filler” words into conversation slows the pace and gets in the way of communication.

Those fillers happen when searching for the right word or waiting for the mouth to catch up with our thoughts. Soon they become ingrained and we don’t even hear ourselves using them. It becomes a habit.

And it’s a barrier for the listener. In fact, at times it can get so annoying she may hear nothing else.

On-air Crutches: Everyone Has Them

I can virtually guarantee that if you’re on the air, you have a crutch or two. You may know about it, or maybe not. Most of the time someone needs to point it out to you.

It’s a huge problem for most broadcasters. Kevin Olmstead, who became famous for winning over $2 million winner on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, points out that breaking up a statement with fillers causes a loss in confidence from your audience.

For example, read the following lines and compare how they sound:

We’re going to hunt down terrorists and bring them to justice, dead or alive!

And:

We’re going to, ah, hunt down terrorists, and, um, bring them to justice, uh, dead or alive.

Now imagine the President saying it at a nationwide address designed to inspire confidence in the administration. The first line sounds bold, powerful and focused. The second demonstrates less confidence, doesn’t it? It sounds tentative and lacks conviction.

Throw Away Those Crutches

It’s possible to overcome bad habits. First, you have to know they exist. Kim Welter, a member of Toastmasters and a former English teacher says,

 We seldom listen to ourselves, so we don’t know what the pattern might be,

That’s especially true for air personalities. Most dread the air check meeting. And many rarely, if ever, listen to their own show. This is where a program director or talent coach can help. If that’s not a possibility, start a new habit to air check yourself and pay specific attention to those little things that stand out as crutches.

Once they’re identified, go to work to overcome the bad habit.

Here’s how:

Change Your Posture

Changing the position in front of the microphone can make a big difference. If you normally sit down to perform, stand up. If you typically lean back, lean forward. Getting out of the comfort zone can sharpen performance because it forces the brain to be more alert.

When we get into habits and patterns, it’s easy to perform a decent break. That’s going on auto-pilot. Changing the posture can get you going down a different path.

Slow Down & Relax

Here’s an easy thing to improve: Relax. And slow down. This will also improve your vocal qualities. The fastest talker is not a powerful force. Filling each micro-second doesn’t win the biggest prize.

Practice relaxed and powerful conversation, both on and off the air. Replace crutches with silence. It will help you gather your thoughts and your voice will catch up with your brain (or vice-versa).

Speak as slowly as needed in order to maintain a thought without the crutch.

As you improve, pick up the tempo. But remember that momentum is more about keeping the break moving forward. It’s not about talking faster.

Pause Between Thoughts

Most crutches are defense mechanisms air personalities develop to fill time. One of the first lessons in radio was likely that dead air is a sin and you wouldn’t get to the promised land of ratings paradise unless you fill every second with sound.

It’s not true.

You actually don’t have to keep making noise in order to keep listener attention.

“Uh and um” occur when personalities feel (usually subconsciously) that they have to keep talking.  But pausing between sentences can actually add more drama and impact to presentation.

Pausing is an effective way to break the habit of using the same words over and over. Focus on one word that is a crutch, and every time you start to say it, just pause briefly. Collect your thoughts and move on without the word. This feels awkward at first, but it will break the habit.

It’s natural to try and fill all dead space. But it’s not awkward to the listener. It’s perfectly normal.

Prepare Better

Performing spontaneously is important, but too many personalities take that to an extreme. Plan the structure of each break and know what will be said before trying to say it. Visualize how the segment will flow.

If that doesn’t help break the habit, prep even further. Create bullet points to prompt you through the break. And if that doesn’t work, script the breaks until the habit is broken. There’s nothing wrong with writing out everything you say on the air. Some personalities actually sound more causal and spontaneous when reading from a script.

If that doesn’t work, voice-track until the crutch is gone. And force yourself to re-perform the break until you nail it without the crutch.

Work on Body Language

Sometimes habits recur when personalities perform with their head down, or their eyes closed or staring straight ahead at the microphone. Stop this practice. If you’re on a multi-personality show, make eye contact with co-hosts. If you don’t have a co-host, fake one.

Tune a television to a channel with talking heads, and make eye contact with them. Or buy a mannequin to sit across the console. Or mount a poster on the wall. Speaking directly and making eye contact helps eliminate distractions.

Focus

Breaks get off track when personalities try to do too many things at once. Chances are, this is the biggest problem. Even if the break is technically prepped, most air personalities don’t pay attention until a few seconds before the mic goes on.

Stop trying to multitask and focus on the next break. It will make a huge difference.

Be in the moment. If you’re thinking about the next segment, the next song, the next element…or worse, texting a friend…the habits will never get better. And they may become worse.

Conclusion

It takes discipline and attention to detail to get rid of bad habits, but you can do it! The result: You’ll come off as more confident, more prepared and more credible. You’ll also be more interesting.

Try it and let me know how it works for you. tracy@tjohnsonmediagroup.com

Thanks to The Blade for examples and help in creating this article. Click here.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0465

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0465.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0464

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0464.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:


  • Patrika Darbo, actress
  • Dennis Palumbo, author, Head Wounds
  • Stuart Nulman, Book Banter

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0463

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0463.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

5 Fast, Easy Ways to Improve Interview Skills

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Some personalities are naturally good interviewers. Others are horrible, and no matter how much they work at it, they just don’t seem to get it right. After all, just like in a relationship, you just can’t change the person more than 5 or 10%. But everyone can improve interview skills.

With a little time and attention, these skills can be a most useful weapon in the personality’s arsenal. And it’s not just skills that apply to guests on your show. When you improve interview skills, you’ll become better with phone callers and interacting with co-hosts.

5 Ways To Improve Interview Skills

There are many ways to make a guest appearance work. Follow these guidelines to grow your skills from boring to interesting:

Do Your Homework

Most personalities know their subject matter well enough, but too often preparation is generic. They haven’t gotten past the typical questions and answers.

Seriously: How many times have you heard a celebrity asked, “Who was your biggest influence?” Boring!!!!

Dig deeper to be truly prepared for the interview. That will improve your chances of getting a response that will make your audience sit up and take notice.

It’s easy research your material on the internet. Find out all you can about your guest. That familiarity will lead to a confidence and comfort zone when the interview is underway.

Larry King is one of the all-time great interviewers. His method was to force himself to think like a listener. All of his interviews were conducted from the audience’s perspective!

Get away from the “where are you going next” type questions. Nobody really cares. Instead, ask about their best and worst experiences on the road.

Here’s an example from Geoff & Dana at 93.7 The Breeze in Vero Beach. When they talked to Leann Rimes, Geoff did some research and found out that she doesn’t like to be tickled. This minor character trait turned into a charming and memorable moment on the air.

In the first part of the interview, she says hello and you can tell that she’s not excited about being on. But listen to how Geoff organically asks about tickling. She lights up, is suddenly interested and they have a discussion that Leann has never had on the air before.

This opens the door to a terrific interview segment.

Make Your Guest Comfortable

The more comfortable they are with your studio, your people and your environment, the better the interview will go.

So ask your guest to arrive early, if it’s an in-studio interview. It warms them up and makes them sound more involved in your show. This is a small detail that makes a big difference when conducting live interviews.

If your interview is via phone, try to get a few minutes with them in advance to establish a  relationship. Just a couple of minutes can make the difference between being distant and detached or closer and more intimate.

When the interview begins, relax. In fact, don’t think of it as an interview at all. Make it a conversation.

Conversations are far more compelling. They’re interesting. And more relatable.

Here’s the difference.

An interview usually flows like this:

You: Question
Guest: Answer
You: New Question
Guest: New Answer
You: New Question
Guest: New Answer

It’s stiff, almost scripted.

The personality asking questions is so focused on asking the next question they don’t actually hear the response. And they fail to pick up on verbal cues that can be the most interesting part of the conversation.

Meanwhile, the guest is so accustomed to answering the same questions, they often don’t really hear the question. They go into auto-pilot.

Change the interview into a conversation like this:

You: Question
Guest: Answer
You: Respond to the answer
Guest: Responds to your response
You: Respond to their response
Guest Responds to Your response

Do you see how this conversation flows naturally? It starts with the same question, but the performers allow exploration of the topic.

Embrace The Silence Gap

How many times have you heard an air personality ask a question, then just as the response gets interesting, they ask another question? Talent has a tendency to fill pauses with talk. But silence can be one of the most powerful tools for an interviewer.

Magicians Penn & Teller are brilliant entertainers highly skilled in the art of communication. They know how to delight the audience by framing their content (magic tricks) with personality. They call it the Silence Gap.

In a CBS TV interview, Lee Cowan asked them,

Does it ever get awkward for you not to talk? It’s awkward for me to do an interview with someone I know isn’t going to answer any questions!

Teller shrugged, then explained,

Not speaking is just about the most intimate thing that you can do.

Pausing, Cowan filled the silence gap:

Intimate in terms of …

Teller interrupted:

See? You felt like you had to speak. If we just stop, and look at each other, that gets intimate fast, and that’s what I feel when I’m on stage.

Many personalities miss magical moments because they feel a need to avoid “dead air”. It’s human nature to fill a silence gap, and if you don’t do fill it, your guest will. That’s when the best responses usually happen.

This extends to phone calls, too. The listener will tell you how they feel if you let them, but it won’t be the first thing that pops into their mind.

Know the Answers

A good lawyer doesn’t start a line of questioning if they don’t already know the answers. If you’ve done your homework, you should know what to expect. And if you know what to expect, you can construct the interview in a way that builds drama and expectation.

TV talk hosts use screeners for pre-interviews to make sure the conversation goes the way they want it. Based on the pre-interview, they can eliminate questions that will be less interesting! You may not be able to conduct a pre-interview, but you can improve your chances for success by imagining how the interview will go.

However, there’s a danger in knowing too much. Sometimes, personalities tend to  answer their own questions with a long, fact-filled question. One of the most common mistakes is leaving the guest with nothing more than a “yes or no” answer.

Make sure questions are brief, clear and lead to a longer, detailed response.

DeDe in the Morning on K104/Dallas is a great interviewer. When Deion Sanders was on with them, DeDe took on a topic most personalities would stay away from: Suicide. This led to a powerful, emotional segment with Deion revealing some heartfelt emotion.

This segment was one break in a series with Deion, but without a doubt the most powerful.

Encourage Deeper Engagement

In that segment, did you notice how the show allowed Deion to go deeper when he talked about his personal thoughts of suicide while at the top of his career? They didn’t get in the way or get uncomfortable with the conversation.

They not only practiced Penn & Teller’s Silence Gap technique, they encouraged Sanders to open up by going into some awkward and uncomfortable territory.

The station is hip-hop and R&B, and rarely talks religion, but when Deion shared his story about turning to Christianity, DeDe was in the moment. She went with it. That took courage. This can’t happen if you’re focused on your next question. It requires the confidence to listen and respond.

This was the surprising, left-turn moment. The unexpected twist made this an unforgettable moment for the show.

Stephen Colbert is known as a comedian, but has a gift of engaging his guests to get deeper with them. His tactic: First, ask a question they don’t expect, and show sympathy. Watch how Colbert interviewed Joe Biden on his late night TV show:

This takes courage, confidence and it takes some time to dig into the guest’s life.

Do some research and find out what your guest is really passionate about. Talk about something that excites them.

Conclusion

Good interviews are hard, but you can improve your performance with a little time and attention to these skills. Mastering these 5 techniques won’t make a bad interview great, but it will improve your chances of getting more value from those guests.

Join me for A Guide to Better Interviews, a free webinar at 1pm EDT on July 10. It’s free to attend, but advance registration is required. Sign up now here.

 

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0462

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0462.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:


  • Dr. John Huber, clinical forensic psychologist — psychopathic states
  • Dennis Hof, owner, Moonlite Bunny Ranch — winning a Nevada GOP nomination
  • Stuart Nulman, Book Banter

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

2018 Burli Software Award at BCIT

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Burli is pleased to sponsor BCIT‘s 2018 Burli Software Inc Award, given to Gurneet Samra. The Award is a recognition for novice journalists in training in BCIT’s Broadcast and Online Journalism Program, designed to help newcomers to our industry get established as they enter their chosen new field.

Gurneet has been one of the strongest students in her class throughout her entire time at BCIT. The Program Head, Connie Monk, had nothing but praise for her. “She was just delightful to have in class – good attitude and very professional. She was always very enthusiastic in radio, with strong skills using Burli”.

She was hired at Spice Radio before the end of her last term, and so was able to go on co-op to both have a job and finish earning her diploma at the same time. The word from Spice Radio is that Gurneet is hard working and keen with lots of initiative.

Congratulations Gurneet on a well deserved award, and good luck in the future!

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0461

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0461.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:


  • Phil Proctor, co-founder, The Firesign Theatre
  • Donald Walters, Postmaster, Ochopee Post Office
  • Steve Long, CEO, Phamous Pholks Furniture Art Pillows

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

How To Tell a Good Complaint From a Bad One

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It seemed like a never-ending battle with the audience. Our morning show was the legendary Jeff & Jer, who were pretty good at what they did as evidenced by their induction into the Radio Hall of Fame. But barely a day passed without a complaint. It drove us crazy.

Until we revised the station’s audience persona. This exercise was a catalyst that allowed us to transform a radio brand.

I’ll tell you the story, but if you expect the happy ending to be that complaints stop, you’ll be disappointed. The complaints never stopped. However, it did change the way I responded to complaints. And it helped me understand our audience much more intimately.

On Star 100.7/San Diego, our station’s values were to be a bright, fun, positive choice for adult women to escape from the real world. We did it with a sense of humor, larger-than-life personalities, high profile promotions and an overall station personality of goodness. It translated into tremendous success.

Jeff & Jer were the morning show, the engine that pulled the train. Our philosophy was to be Disneyland on the radio dial: a happy place where there are no problems, no worries and nothing bad ever happens. There are no bad days at Disneyland, and moms don’t have to worry about children being exposed to something that would embarrass the parents.

That didn’t mean we were prudes, but at it’s edgiest, the station was PG-13. We were sensitive to the role we played in listeners lives. We were far safer than most radio stations in the market, and more family-friendly than popular prime time television sitcoms like Friends or Seinfeld.

But listeners still complain.

Overcoming a Listener Complaint

We also had a policy to respond to every communication from every listener. Each phone call is returned and each email got a personal response.

So when I got an email, letter or phone call complaining that “I can’t listen to your station with my kids in the car”, a conversation followed. For a long time, I engaged the listener, challenging them on their position.

That’s always a mistake, by the way. The customer (listener) is always right in their opinion. And nothing you say can change that opinion.

Most of the time, their beef would be over something that we considered silly. For instance, the show had a recurring feature where they’d pick a letter from the alphabet, and Jerry would list the names for boobs that start with that letter. Here’s an example:

Okay, I guess it’s a little edgy to say “boobs” on the air, but in the context of how it’s presented, it’s really not something that would qualify as “dirty” or salacious.

So using sound programming judgement, we learned to tolerate complaints but didn’t take them seriously.

But everything changed when we conducted a research project using the OAR method (Observe, Ask, Research) of audience evaluation to better understand our listener. This is a fundamental step in the process of identifying traits when building an audience persona.

How We Transformed a Radio Brand

As we gathered more insight, we gained insight into the lives of our listener, and it revealed hidden values that we couldn’t (or at least hadn’t) recognized.

We knew that the women we targeted had kids and lived in the suburbs, but among the deeper things we learned in the project:

  • They worked full time because they had to, not because they wanted to.
  • Their family needed two incomes to pay their mortgage in San Diego’s expensive housing market.
  • Their kids were very involved in activities around school and the community.
  • They felt guilty for not spending enough time with their kids/family.
  • Most of them felt they had very little time for themselves.
  • They had a nagging feeling that someone else was raising their children and life was out of control.
  • Their #1 worry was that their kids would grow up with a strong morale background.
  • They trusted our station, and Jeff & Jer were a safe place for their kids-like Disneyland.

When we understood this about them, the reason for complaints became much clearer. When they’re rushing out the door in the morning, loading the kids in the SUV and going over homework in the car on the way to school, we were their soundtrack, friend, and to an extent, escape.

So no matter how fun or harmless the “boobs” feature was, it set off alarms in our listener’s heads. It was like a villain was on the loose at Disneyland. Even if it wasn’t “dirty”, it suddenly wasn’t as safe.

Armed with this insight, we made adjustments, but didn’t change programming or eliminate the feature. However, we were sensitive to the audience values that were violated from time to time. We changed in two ways.

Responding to Complaints

First, I learned to stop arguing with listeners when they complained, because it was clear what inspired their comments.

It wasn’t their fault! They trusted us, and we had to respect that trust. I realized that when listeners complained, their greatest concern was to make sure the relationship they trusted wasn’t changing. That their favorite radio station was still there for them. They really wanted to be heard. And it was my job to listen.

So the first remedy was to change how I responded to the audience. The second was to adjust how we presented content.

On-Air Sensitivity

When I shared the information with Jeff & Jer, the light came on, and they immediately said,

We have to stop doing things like that.

But that wasn’t the point. The content actually fit well with their character brand profiles. Changing the show’s content by eliminating material because of complaint would remove some traits that made up the rich and diverse personality mix.

They came up with a brilliant solution, demonstrating another reason they’re in the radio Hall of Fame.

Playing on the Disney theme, they reasoned that not every ride was for all kids.

So they started framing edgier segments differently. Instead of just presenting “Names for Boobs”, they set it up with an audio version of a “You Must Be This Tall to Ride” sign.

Here’s an example of what they might say:

Jeff: “Okay, we know you’re probably on your way to work or driving your kids to school, so if you have young kids in the car…you probably will need to turn the radio to another station in about 3 minutes, because Jerry is at it again…and some of you probably don’t want your kids to hear what he’s going to be doing next.”

In the background, Jerry’s complaining, “Come on, it’s not that bad. It’s nothing. It’s fun. They love it when we do this.”

The effect? Tune in. Suspense. Expectation. Mystery. Who’s going to tune out after a tease like this?

They had to hear what’s coming up.

The Lesson

This is a great example of how to use an audience persona. The information gathered doesn’t always lead to an immediate change in your brand or product, but the understanding that comes from the process has a profound impact on everything you do.

It affects how you write promos, create posts on social media, choose content and present material. It causes broadcasters to think through promotions differently and adjust communication with listeners through text messages and emails.

And, it may even alter how you relate to annoying complaints.

By the way, the adjustments didn’t stop, or even reduce, complaints. That wasn’t the goal. In fact, we want complaints. It means we’re creating emotional reactions and provoking a strong response. Listeners don’t complain about things taht don’t matter to them.

It did help us understand why they complained, though. And knowing that allowed us to respond appropriately.

Get An Audience Persona

If you haven’t built an audience persona yet, get started by watching this webinar on demand and downloading the templates to help build a deep persona profile.

If you need help, let me know and we can arrange to guide you through the process.

Photo credit: Freepik.com