BRADENTON, Fla. — Numerous station owners, producers, syndicators, program hosts, etc. often complain to me about declining audiences and poor business. They already have given up on ratings and surveys as sales tools. However, from where I sit, they should look primarily at themselves. This past holiday week would be a good place to start.
There can’t be many bigger fans of Christmas music than I…the carols, the hymns and those very old holiday standards by the likes of Brenda Lee, Burl Ives, Eartha Kitt and numerous others whose names today are totally unfamiliar to the current generation. A good many music stations begin blending them into their programming a week or so before the holiday until they go full blast Christmas Eve and Day. They are a welcome and pleasant complement to holiday planning and activities. But I tuned into one on New Year’s Eve and they were still at it. There was Elvis singing, “Here Comes Santa Claus.” Why?
And many talk shows use snippets of these Christmas melodies to introduce program segments. That’s fine and appropriate. But what about the shows themselves? Some are labeled as “the best of…” but it turns out to be the previous Friday’s program. Was that “the best of?” I turned on a sports talk show on Christmas Day and the two experts were talking about the upcoming games. But these contests already had been played over the prior two days.
This is mind-boggling! Of course, there are solutions. Sure, they even may cost a bit of money. But in the long run, you won’t be chasing away listeners and hence losing business. And the answer is very obvious and simple. Plan ahead! If you don’t want to hire fill-in hosts or use pre-recorded shows, then from over the previous year’s programs, salvage and save a few recorded, undated hours on general topics.
Programming flaws such as these current holiday matters are just broad signs of incidents that can be heard over an entire year. Some examples: Commercials promoting limited-time price specials, but are aired for a number of days after the savings deadlines have expired. Barely articulate, regular talk show callers who call in so often that they sound as if they are on the staff of the show. And this makes the shows appear as if they are desparate for listeners to call. Program hosts who beat to death the same topic day after day after day. Commercial breaks with six or seven spots so that if you are dial surfing you won’t have the patience to stay tuned long enough to learn what program you are listening to.
So, please, don’t start crying and complaining about the state of affairs. These are self-inflicted wounds. With today’s ever-evolving technologies the listening public’s options are greater than they have ever been. If you want to stay in the game, then at least clean up your own act.
Al Herskovitz is president of H&H Communications and a TALKERS marketing consultant. He can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.