Wednesday, October 3, 2007

'Read This NOW' !!

What do you think of the title of this week’s Ezine?
“Read This Now”.
Do you think it’s maybe a little bit pushy?
Possibly a wee bit rude?
Can’t say I blame you.
Who do I think I am anyway, telling you what to do??

Funny how, on the radio, we can sometimes come across as pushy and rude with our listeners though, isn’t it?
‘How so’, you ask?
Well, let’s take a look at some of the words and phrases we use and how they can be interpreted by our audience.

Phrases like:
“Stay right there” and
“Don’t move” and
“Make sure to be here”.

Let us for a moment take an example from your life.
Imagine you have arranged with your friend to meet up for a coffee and a chat. You haven’t seen each other in a while and the arrangement was made three weeks ago.
You are excited to meet up again and the morning of your meeting you decide to send your friend a text message.
Your text reads :
“Coffee. Today. 4pm.U better show up”.
I bet when your friend receives that text he/she won’t be too impressed.
Comes across slightly arrogant, don’t you think?
We know that what you were trying to do was show your friend that you are excited about the meeting and that you want to show this, but the wording you chose conveys a different message.
If you wrote:
“Looking forward to coffee 2day”, it would be seen in a completely different light.

Now, walk into the on air studio with me again, where we see the presenter in the middle of a gig. Coming up in fifteen minutes is the ‘Top5at5’.
Naturally, the presenter will want to alert the listener to this fact. It’s a big feature. An important bench mark.
So, the words used are:
“The ‘Top5at5’ is on the way. You better be here for that. Make sure you don’t miss it”.
Well, if the purpose of the link is to order the listener about, then sure. By all means. But, if the aim of the link is to persuade and invite the listener to stay with your station until 5PM, then definitely not.
Speaking like this is ordering the listener about.
It’s telling them what to do.
It’s bullying, of a sort.
“Don’t miss it”, “Be here” are not invitations, they are orders.

The fact that it’s fairly apparent that they are orders means we all recognise them and that we have all, at one stage or another, used them.
Maybe they are crutches, maybe they are used as a bridge. Whatever they are used for does nothing to change the fact that they are orders.

“You do as I say”, “I’m telling you what to do”. That’s what comes across.
“You better be here at 5PM, or there’ll be trouble”!!!!

It simply does not work.
It’s the exact same as the hostile text reminder to your friend.
Your friend will probably show up for coffee and maybe be a little annoyed with you.
Your listener, however, probably will not show up.
And the harder you try, the further you push them away.

There are so many better and effective ways of reminding your listener.
Nice ways. Subtle ways. Friendly ways.
You can use the old Hook and Tease:
“Madonna was number one on yesterday’s Top5at5 but there’s another song getting more votes tonight…..they’ll battle it out at five o’clock…….”,
“I wonder will your favourite song be on tonight’s Top5at5”?
“So far Robbie Williams’ new song is the big vote getter on the Top5at5 Would you like him to be number one? You can vote for your song on……..”.

It’s the same message: ”Top5at5 on the way in fifteen minutes”, but a different manner.

You are now including your listener in the conversation, rather than ordering them about.
We all love to be included, don’t we?
So will your listener.

By the way, the title at the top of this article should have read:
“You might enjoy reading this article”.
Nice. Don’t you think?

To find out more about ‘Speaking To Your Listener’, contact

Have a great week,

Passionate About Radio.

Leave The Best 'til Last.

If you have been receiving this Ezine regularly for the past few months, you will know by now that I spend a lot of my time listening to radio stations around the world.
OK, first of all you might say it’s time for me to get a life (!)…….fair enough.
But the one reason I listen so much is so I can hear what all of the great (and not so great) presenters are doing on air.
I may spend an unhealthy amount of time doing this. You don’t need to. But I would suggest that you listen to at least one ‘out of market show’ per week, if you can.
One thing will always strike you.

This week, I was listening with one main point in mind.
I wanted to discover how presenters end their links.

To me, the end of a link is just about the most important part.
The last words out of your mouth will be the ones that your listeners remember the most.

It’s a basic premise that you will come across in other parts of your life.

For example:
You go to see your favourite band play live in concert.
The show starts off with a bang – literally. Fireworks, an amazing entrance and the atmosphere is electric.
The band play some of your favourite songs.
Then, halfway through the show, they decide to experiment a little by playing some new songs off their upcoming album. You don’t know these songs and the show slumps a little for you.
Near the end, though, they get back into their popular tunes.
Then the show ends.
Hey, hang on a minute – they didn’t play their biggest hit! They didn’t play the one song that they are known for. Their massive, worldwide number one. The song everybody associates them with. How come? What’s going on?
Cue, the encore.
Out come your heroes who blow you away with that song. The one you have been waiting for. Wow!! What a show.
You leave the concert enthralled. That last song was brilliant. The opening was good too. The bit in the middle? You’ve pretty much forgotten about it now because the ending was so good.
That’s why performers leave their best song until last. That’s what will be fresh in your mind after the show. That’s what you will take away with you.

Leave the best for last.

Musicians know this.

So do comedians.
You don’t put the punchline at the start of a joke do you? You don’t put it in the middle, right?
At the end. That’s where it goes.
Now, that might seem pretty basic to you.

So, why is it that a lot of radio presenters work really hard on the start and middle of a link and end poorly?
This week I heard a guy in Adelaide Australia doing a great piece on a local event in that market. It appears there was a sporting event taking place there and he wanted to put his own ‘spin’ on it.
So he began his link with a Station ID, a name check and then into the link.
He related it to his listener, he involved the listener in the link by naming some local area that they would recognise, he spoke about an athlete from the area that the listener would also know and he generally brought the link alive.
It was 3D instead of 2D.
Then, right at the end of the link he said,
“So there you go, that’s sounds great and …eh, maybe you could go down there and eh……em……have some fun with that. I probably will if I can get the time and maybe you should too……em……if you have nothing else going on this weekend. You could do worse…….”.
End of Link!!
The last words out of his mouth were, “You could do worse…..”
That’s what he left his listener with.

He lost me. He totally lost all credibility in his link by ending with such an un-focused approach.
All of his good work was ruined by “eh” and “em” and his unsure attitude.
I know why this happened.
Do you?
He hadn’t prepped his out. That’s all.
He was so involved in getting the facts about the event just right, that he neglected the out.
He presumed that it would all fit in at the end and run smoothly for him.
He’s like the band playing live in concert……..without giving the encore.

Place yourself back at that gig.
The band come onstage again for their encore and proceed to play another new song that you have never heard before. Then they leave and the houselights go on.
Your lasting impression of the show changes.

When your ‘out’ is strong, you leave the listener with a feeling of confidence. They know you are in control.
You can ruin a great link and destroy all the work you put into it by finishing weakly.

Work on the ‘out’. Right it down if you need to. But know what it is. Always.
If you lose your way during a link, or forget where it’s meant to lead to, or just have a mental blank (it happens), then your strong ‘out’ will rescue you. Always.
It’s always there to back you up.
When you finish a link with a strong and confident ‘out’ it will make up for any short comings the rest of the link may have had.
And it will enhance a great link.

Have a brilliant Week.


To find out more about “Leaving the Best For Last” contact :

Passionate About Radio.

'Same ole Same ole' !!

If you were around in the Golden age of Cliché radio (the early 1980’s), then you will remember some of the great clichés used by radio presenters back then.
I’m not talking solely about certain phrases they used or ‘cool’ words, although there were plenty of them, (yes indeedy)!
Rather, I mean the whole persona that certain presenters on certain stations tried to put across to their listener.
For some reason it seemed totally acceptable for radio DJ’s in those days to portray themselves as completely separate from their audience.
The bigger the presenters’ profile, the more they tried to distance themselves from the listeners’ lives.
Listen to some old airchecks from that era and you will hear on-air talent yapping on about how they are friends of the stars. How they drive to work in their latest model BMW and how they have so much money that they don’t know what to do with it all.
They really enjoyed this image of being wealthy, international socialites, who knew all of the important people,went to all of the important places and owned all of the trendy labels.
The classic cliché is of the Radio 1 DJ finishing his show, getting into a helicopter and flying back to the 100 acre farm in Shropshire for dinner with Nik Kershaw
They really loved to portray this image and actively encouraged it both on and off air.
Meanwhile, their listeners were going to work on the bus in the rain, sitting in an office for eight hours, going home on the bus, having some dinner and watching TV until bedtime.

These days, if you were to even attempt that, you’d be laughed off the dial. There is no way a current day listener would put up with that attitude on the air.

Why was it acceptable then and not acceptable now?

Obviously a huge reason is the de-mystifying of the media.
Back then radio and TV presenters were real celebrities. They could actually influence public opinion by what they said or didn’t say. Their words held weight. They really did have a public platform.
Then along came commercial radio and satellite TV and suddenly the public had a choice between listening to a presenter who raved about his amazing life while spewing opinions and presenters who asked the listener’s about THEIR lives.
Presenters sounded like them.
The more choice the listener was given, the more selective they became in their listening habits.

The poor old Cliché jock was on the way out.

This is why I feel it is now essential to learn how to sound like your listener.
By that I mean, know your listener.
Know where they live, what they do for fun, how they spend their spare time, how they get to work, how many kids they have, how much money they have to spend, where they buy their sandwiches, what kind of car they drive, what makes them laugh, what annoys them, who their favourite movie star is. Whether they like concerts, if they rent videos, where they eat out, what they drink,if they like travelling abroad, if they have Sky TV or NTL, if they like football (if so which team), what makes them angry, are they political, do they care about the environment, do they pay for amenities, are they in any clubs, is there a train service near their home, do they go to the chipper, have they got an umbrella for the rain, do they buy books……..and on and on and on !

Why ask all of these questions?
Because when you know these things, then you can talk about these things on air.
When you talk about these things on air, you are talking about their lives.
When you are talking about their lives you are being one of them.
When you are one of them, you are accepted more.
You are the same.
You and your listener. You are now the same.

Part of human nature is being attracted to people who look and sound the same as us.

You can now have a two way relationship with your listener.
Radio is just like any other relationship. Both parties have to be actively and equally involved.

You can use this powerful tool to speak to your listener on a one-to-one basis and not from high up on a pedestal (mate).
Do you think the cliché DJ’s, with their money in the bank, their helicopter on the landing pad and their massive estate in the countryside would now sound the same as their listener?
Definitely not.
Nowadays, they would be run off the air.

Sounding the same as your listener is a compliment to them. You are telling them that you know them, you recognise them and you are just like them. That you like them
I’m your pal. You can trust me. Let’s have some fun on air today because we like hanging out together.

Same old Same old.

To find out more about sounding the ‘same’ as your listener, contact :

Have a great show……I hope the helicopter arrives on time for you !!!

'Jocks Away' !!

I was asked a question this week:
“Do I need to sound like a ‘Jock’ to succeed on the radio”?

Well, what IS a ‘jock’?
What do you think about when you hear that word?
Personally, I hear a guy stuck in the mid 80’s, putting on his best ‘radio’ voice and talking in cliché’s.
(Now, when I say ‘guy’ I am also talking about female presenters here. It’s just a little cumbersome to always have to write him/her, he/she all the time. I’m sure the ladies here understand).

“Yes indeed……”, “Great to have you along……”, “Alrighty then……..”.
Yep, stuck in the 80’s, when those types of sayings were more acceptable.

But guess what?
It’s not the 80’s anymore.
Cassette tapes are gone.
The Rubik’s Cubes were binned a long time ago.
Kajagoogoo are working in B&Q.
Nobody wears drainpipe trousers and white socks (at least I hope not )!.
Times change. People move on.
So what’s the deal with ‘Jocks’ still on the airwaves?

These days radio is in a transition period.
You will hear people say that the days of radio listening are gone.
Radio is on the downward slope. We hear all about the iPod destroying radio forever.
Guess what?
I totally disagree.
In fact, I believe the opposite.

I see the next few years as the start of another Golden Age in radio.
Radio broadcasting has always been about communicating.
One-on-one communication between the presenter and the listener.
Over the past twenty years or so, we have turned our backs on that idea.
Stations all over the world have been churning out their
‘9/10/11 Hits In A Row‘ philosophy.
How instantly recognisable are these sayings to you ? :
More Music Less Talk.
The Most Music Allowed By Law.
More Hits Back To Back.
Pretty familiar, I’d say.

That’s because, up until now, it was the best way for radio stations to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
“More Hits In A Row – Guaranteed”.
That was a legitimate boast and a great selling point for a radio station back then.
If a listener wanted to hear non-stop music, the radio really was just about the only place they could get it.
Fast forward to 2007.
There you are playing eleven songs this hour while your competitor plays only ten. You win right ? You’ve played more music. You get the listeners, right?
Well, no.
Not now.
Not anymore. Maybe back in 1986 you would have won.
But not now.
Why ?
Because no matter how many hits you play, the new kid on the block (the iPod) will always play more.
You can’t beat the iPod for music.
With the iPod I can hear as many songs as I like in a row and they’re ALL my favourites. I don’t need to wait for the DJ to play it for me.
So the radio station could boast about playing 150 songs an hour (!), it doesn’t matter.
It can’t compete.

So, how is this a Golden Age for radio?
It’s a new Golden Age because Talk is coming back.
Not Talk Radio.
Just Talk.
Speaking .
Being yourself on air. The ‘real’ you. An identifiable person with a real personality.
Now we can get back to what radio is all about.
Communicating. Entertaining.
This is done through the spoken word.
Through the presenter.

Radio’s role to the listener now is much freer than back in the 80’s. The formats are still in place, but PD’s are beginning to realise that in order to stand out from iPod’s we need to be more for the listener. We need to give more.
You will now hear presenters flexing their creative muscles more on air.
Presenters are now being given the chance to stretch themselves, to use their talents fully and not just read a liner card ahead of twelve songs in a row.
Will the ‘Jock’ survive this?
I don’t think so.
Unless the Jock can re-brand himself into an actual person with an actual and recognisable personality, then he’ll wither away and die.

The radio listener will demand more. More entertainment is what they will want.
Their iPod can’t provide that. It is an inanimate object. It can’t relate to you, nor you to it.
It has no personality.

You do.

The Jock has had a good run at things.
Now it’s time for the entertainers to step in.

To find out more about how to be a radio ‘entertainer’, get in touch anytime:

BmacMedia Expert On Air Coaching.