By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Forgive the alliteration! I couldn’t resist. But seriously…
- Social Media keeps reminding us that talk radio can be relevant and popular, if we let people talk, rather than succumbing to the I-talk-you-listen format caricature. People now expect to participate in their media.
- Evidence? As the president’s budget was released, Facebook and Twitter predictably exploded. Some had praise for Trump’s proposed social program cuts and Defense pump-up. Those posts seem far outnumbered by protests, many as creative as they were provocative.
- Example: As “Meals on Wheels” cuts prompted outrage, some Tweeters who did-the-math reckoned that – based on travel and security expense – Trump could spare the eldercare program if he could “skip ONE weekend at Mar-a-Lago” or if the First Lady would “spend 6 nights in Washington” rather than fortress Trump Tower.
Which got me to thinking…
- Every president’s Budget is a wish list, a gesture. Congressional Republicans are already howling, and not just about pet projects. And Trump’s lifelong M.O. is RE-negotiation; so figure he’s already shooting for half-a-loaf.
- But when the arm-wrestling is over, there will be pain. So expect what President Bush Sr. called “a thousand points of light.” I’m told by someone who sure would know that meetings are already underway in corporate C-suites. Bill Gates type do-gooders and big brand companies are planning to white-knight painful cuts.
- Some of the best Super Bowl commercials were 27 seconds of “I’d like to teach the world to sing” style feel-good messages, followed by 3 seconds of a logo…NO pitch. Marketing wise men and women preach that “People don’t buy WHAT you do. They buy WHO you are and WHY you do it.”
Can radio help?
- When the cuts come, what if you commit unsold inventory, under the umbrella of a theme like “WXXX Cares.” Avails may be scarce on Friday, but “Make It Happen Mondays” might offer unsold avails to:
- local companies’ messages in support of safety net efforts; and/or
- tell the story of a different do-gooder each week, inviting small donations (i.e., $1.02 if you’re 102FM) via GoFundMe or PayPal.
- No matter how many non-profits and for-profits you share the halo with, you’ll be telling listeners that your station is good people. And with most broadcast hours now robotic, anything we can do to humanize the station is a plus.
Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke; and meet HC at Talkers 2017 in New York on June 2.