Monday, February 18, 2008

BmacMedia Workshop DVD is ready for purchase !
Yes, it's the must-have Easter gift for all the family. Watch as your (non-radio) relatives and friends marvel at non-stop Shop Talk.
OK, maybe just buying it for yourself would be a better idea.
This DVD is four hours in length and was recorded in the Guinness Storehouse (hic) Dublin on November 24th 2007.
It's available through BmacMedia in Ireland:
Or for the UK, Europe and the rest of this lovely planet, through BlueRevolution in London:
Plus, when you make your purchase you will receive lots of other lovely FREE radio goodies too. Maybe even a chocolate bar*
*Warning - no actual chocolate bars available.
Watch out for upcoming Workshops: March 29th 2008 Dundalk Ireland and coming in May we'll be off to Limerick with 2FM / Atlantic 252 guest presenter Dusty Rhodes.
End of blog post.

Friday, February 15, 2008

'Six Steps' (as featured in 'The Radio Magazine' UK).

We’ve spoken many times in the past about how being on the radio is part of a continuous relationship between you and the listener.
The different ways you can effect or influence their day, their mood, and their outlook at that moment.
A lot of time is spent analysing how we do this. How we go about developing that relationship each and every time we go on air.
Whether we’re on a five-day shift during the week, weekends only or even overnights.
Each of us has that relationship with our listener.
Like any two-way relationship in ‘regular life’, it needs to be worked on and it needs us to pay proper attention to it.

I just finished reading a book called “Made To Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath (great names – could be on the radio)!
In this book, the authors list the ways in which people remember an idea or a concept.
When I put the book down, I realised we can use all that they were saying in the on-air studio.
That happens a lot. Anything to do with social learning can be brought right back into the field of radio.
We are people relating to people, right?
Doesn’t it make sense to find out as much as we can about how people behave and think and learn and bond?

My theory on radio is simple (a bit like myself): speak to the listener as you would a friend or family member.
That’s why I always recommend dropping the clichés in a link. You don’t use them in normal conversation, so why do so suddenly on the radio? It doesn’t make sense and it makes you sound unnatural.
Nowadays, the emphasis is being put on presenters sounding more ‘real’. Doesn’t matter what your format is, you can sound real and actually connect with the words you use. Yes, even on a CHR with fifteen-second links.

If you don’t have time to read this book, let me outline the main ideas for you.
These guys reckon that there are six factors in forming an idea. Most of these, I feel, we already use on air without even realising it.
They are…(drum roll please):

#1: Simplicity.
Ah, simplicity. How simple!
What is it we call this?
Yup, ‘One Element Per Link’.
We’re already using simplicity in our links when we self-edit. When we stick with the golden formula of finding one main element in the link and staying with it. When we do this, we sound focussed and help the listener to hear our words and understand our message, instead of rambling on and becoming distracted.
Simplicity. It’s a beautiful thing.

#2: Credibility.
I like this one because when you are credible, you are trusted.
Trust is crucial to any relationship, right?
When your listener trusts you, it also means they will forgive you. So, if you screw up a link or say something that they might not like, they will forgive you because they trust you. To them, you are fundamentally credible. You are believable. This also means that you sound ‘real’. You don’t come across as a jock crankin’ out the tunes!
You are a person they like and enjoy being with.
That’s credibility.

When you are credible and trusted, then you can get away with being unexpected. There’s that old expression, “predictably unpredictable”. That’s what we’re talking about here. You are being allowed shock occasionally and step away from your usual persona.
Not only does the listener allow it, they even enjoy it. It keeps them guessing. It adds spice to the relationship. If you are normally a wacky/funny presenter who is known for making listeners laugh, you can get away with one day coming across as the complete opposite. Imagine ‘Mister Crazy’ becoming ‘Mister Morose’ for an entire shift. That would be unexpected and your credibility would allow it to happen.

You might feel that this is similar to ‘credible’, but it is slightly different. To my mind, ‘concreteness’ on air means, knowing what you are talking about and not fooling your listener. If you are speaking about an event or a song or if you are giving a fact about anything, you should have you facts right.
Fair enough, you can’t know everything. In that case, just being honest is always best. But if you are putting it out there that what you are saying is fact, then it has to be. That’s being concrete. That’s what adds to your credibility. If you’re caught out on a lie while on air, you have just done your relationship damage.

We could write a book on this one…oh hang on, there’ve been a few, haven’t there?
Everything we do and say comes down to emotion.
“How does that make me feel”?
That’s the crux of our life. How does something make us feel?
Human beings are forever thinking about how events make us feel.
Do I feel happy, sad, annoyed…how do I feel?
You have the ability to tap into people’s emotions with the words you use on air. You can say “I hate all red haired people” and you will have completely outraged red haired people and the general listener as well with your comment. Why do something like that? Well, it depends on your act. The point being, you have the ability to alter a person’s emotion. That’s a pretty amazing statement to take in, when you think about it. Use that one wisely!!

#6: Narrative Potential.
In other words: ‘Story Telling’.
Nothing communicates better than a story.
We devoted a whole Ezine to story telling last year. It’s the best way to get your point across.
Comedians know this. Not too many comedians come onstage and tell gag after gag after gag. They lead up to the punch line with a story. The story is what brings the emotion, the credibility, the unexpectedness, and the concreteness to the joke. The punch line brings the simplicity.

There you go. All six parts coming together at the end…just like a great story!

Maybe try using one of the six factors listed when you are on the air.
See how it feels. What way can you use one or all of them in a show?
Play around with them and get used to them. They are naturally programmed into your brain, so it really shouldn’t be too difficult. All six of those factors are part of basic socialisation and are already hard wired into our thinking.
That means, if you are aware of them automatically, then so is your listener (unless you broadcast to a dog kennel).

‘Humans relating to other humans’.
That’s what radio presentation is all about.
It’s fairly simple when you strip it all back.

In my opinion.


To discover more about ‘Speaking Like a Real Person’, contact:

Passionate About Radio.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Five Links.

As a radio person, you will have noticed by now that you listen to the radio in a very different way to non-radio people.
The non- radio person may tune into a station and stay there because they like the music, or enjoy the talk, or just through pure habit.
I’m sure you’ve been sitting in someone else’s car when they turn the radio on.
They listen to songs all the way through and tend not to change the station much. Or, horror of all horrors, they change station when the presenter starts talking! What’s that all about!?
Radio people, although most of the time we’re not aware of it, will channel hop like crazy. Preset buttons are always being pressed as we search out the next link. That’s right, we’re generally not looking for music, we’re looking for links and promos and the nuts and bolts that make each station either great – or not so great!
I think most presenters do this.
I guess we’re just trying to find out what the ‘other guys’ are doing and whether they have any new ideas.
I know, personally, I’m a compulsive station flipper.
In my car, I have one of those frequency changers attached to the steering column, so I can keep my hands on the wheel and still flip around. Lovely.
Here’s how my routine begins.
Get in the car, start it up and put on the radio. Then it’s a rapid flick through the first six presets to see what’s going on. Then the next six. After that it’s back to the original six to see if anything has happened in the fifteen seconds I have been away!
Aha! Someone is coming to the end of a song. I’ll hang around here for a bit just in case there’s a link. Invariably, there is one and I’m off.
This continues until the link is over and then I’ll scan around for another upcoming link from somewhere else. Never once waiting to hear a full song (unless I’m in the mood).
Do you do something similar?
OK, I’ll admit when I’m working with the radio on, I will stick to one station that I have decided to monitor, but that’s different. In the car, it’s general listening and done only as a radio person would do it!

I have been doing a lot of driving this past week and, therefore, listening a lot too.
I now present for you, the five links I reacted to most over the past seven days…drum roll please!

Link 1:

This involved a presenter coming out of an ad break. The break was rounded out with a station jingle. No problems there. I expected a song and was just about to flick stations when…the DJ spoke!
The jingle went along the lines of (sing along if you wish): “Billy Bland in the afternoon on XYZ Radio”.
The presenter’s link was: “Yes indeed, this is Billy Bland on XYZ Radio and here’s the latest from Kylie Minogue”.
Did he not hear the jingle?
The jingle announced his name and the station ID. Just to make sure you heard it the first time, he repeated it. How very thoughtful…and totally unnecessary.

Link 2:

I liked this one. Going into an ad break the presenter said, “In the next fifteen minutes we’ll play a song from a lady who likes walking around town in her bra…and it’s not Amy Winehouse”.
The first person I thought of was Amy Winehouse. Who else could it be? I flicked around a while and came back after about ten minutes to find out. He got me!
OK, it might not be the greatest Hook and Tease in the history of the Universe, but it was quick, to the point and served it’s purpose – getting the listener back. The good ole Tension and Release was doing it’s magic.
By the way, it was Madonna.
Pretty obvious really, but effective nonetheless.

Link 3:

Coming out of Bryan Adams ‘Everything I do’, the presenter opened the link in a nice sultry, soothing voice and said “What a beautiful track that is…”
To some, it may be a beautiful track (song?).
The point being, hasn’t it become a bit of a cliché that whenever we play a slow ballad or love song, we always come out of it by behaving very sincerely and saying what a “beautiful track” that was? You nearly know it’s going to happen before it happens.
What are we saying here? Are we trying to convince the listener that it’s not a load of rubbish? If it’s a beautiful song for me, then I don’t need to be told. If I have no real opinion on it’s beauty, then do I need to hear someone tell me that it’s beautiful? Why not just leave it be?
That song spent five thousand weeks at number one – it’s a very popular song. Do we need convincing and if so, why?

Link 4:

This one made me scream at the radio. I really thought we had moved on from this, but no, apparently not.
The presenter went looking for requests and said at the end, “You know the number by now…and if you don’t – shame on you”!
Then he finished his link – without giving the number! (Excuse all of the exclamation marks, but sometimes I need to use them)! (!).
You know the number by now. It’s one of the oldest and most tired clichés of the lot and here was a professional on a national station using it.
Maybe I don’t know the number by now. Maybe it’s my first time listening to you. Maybe you should just give me the number and then I’ll know it.

Link 5:

Start of a show. I was turning on a roundabout at the time and nearly veered the car onto the grass verge when this one struck.
It was Wednesday afternoon when I heard this link. I wouldn’t have known this but for the fact that the presenter told me.
He then told me the time and hoped I was enjoying myself. Actually, here is the link as I remember it:
“Two twenty five and I certainly hope your enjoying this Wednesday afternoon”.
I don’t mean to sound cynical, because I know we all do the best with what we have available to us at any particular time. However, this is basic stuff. The very fact that the person has been hired to be on air mid-afternoon on a weekday should indicate that he has learned enough about presenting to know not to fall into this bottomless hole of bad links.
If you analyse what he has just said, basically he’s saying that he hopes we’re enjoying this Wednesday afternoon. Well, what about last Wednesday afternoon, or the one before that? Would he like to hear about those? Don’t they matter too?
If you are going to mention the day, then have a really long think about why.
I have a funny feeling that most of your listeners have a rough idea what day of the week it is. Why stop at the day? Let’s give the date and year too – “It’s Monday, December 10th 2007 at twenty one and a half minutes past the hour of nine o’clock”!!

There you go, just my thoughts on random links heard in the car over the past week.
Like you, I hear an awful lot of really entertaining and well thought out radio too. Most of the ones highlighted above are just reminders of the basics – both good and bad.
We still do them. All of us. When we break one bad habit you can be sure another one will try and come along to replace it.
It’s just a case of being aware.
Be aware of the clichés and the traps. Trying to avoid them can be difficult, but it’s your profession. Sometimes it’s hard work getting it right.
Put in the hard work and you will sound focussed and in control.
Avoid the hard work and you’ll get away with it for a while…but that’s about all.

I need to do less driving!

Have a great week.