Monday Memo: What's Really 'Official?' | TALKERS magazine : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”

Monday Memo: What’s Really ‘Official?’

| November 18, 2019

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Everything you say about your station on-air is intended to:

    • Cause listeners to notice that they’re listening in the first place! Diaries don’t measure what people listen to. “Unaided recall” methodology measures what they remember.  Even if you’re in a PPM market, on-air marketing has to cut through all the mental clutter that crowds a listener’s head during the day.  With so many new-tech audio competitors, brand recall is imperative.

  • Cause listeners to listen more. Promos don’t bring in new cume. They can’t. The only people who hear them are already listening. Promos should stretch existing cume into longer time-spent-listening, by telling people why and when they should listen. If yours is the Limbaugh/Hannity/Fox News affiliate, think in terms of adding occasions of listening, rather than attempting longer duration of listening per occasion.  Why: These stations deliver instant gratification by affirming the listener’s political predisposition.  Repetition is built-into the bumpersticker-quality narrative (i.e., “Democrats want open borders”).  And regardless of format, there’s dang little we can do to keep someone in-car listening with the key on Accessories once they’re pulled-into their parking space.  So tell ‘em why to come again.

Whatever you tell your listeners…

…about your station has to:

      • Make sense. Too often, promo copy speaks in radio-ese, rather than plain English, something we covered in a recent column. ICYMI:
      • Stick out. Promos are commercials for your station. Like a commercial for any product, you want your promo to grab attention, not just blend into all the blah blah blah that goes in one ear and out the other. So, as with copy you write for your advertisers, avoid clichés and claims in station promos.

 Don’t abuse the term “Official,” or seem officious.

I hear lots of radio in my travels. And I keep hearing stations pronounce themselves the “Official” station of something, when they’re not; or when there’s a better way to state the claim they’re making.

      • Example: I even hear stations pronounce themselves “your official traffic station.” Who confers that certification?  It just doesn’t ring true.
      • I heard one host pronounce his “The Show of Record.” Says who?  It sounds bellicose, like just another inflated product claim, the kind of hollow BS that causes consumers to be skeptical.
      • In both cases, the focus is inside-out. Instead of boastful claims, craft promo language that emphasizes what your audience gets from the station, rather than simply talking about what the station does.

Can you BE official? 

      • If you’re not the play-by-play station, but you still want to get in on the fun, you might hire the coach to voice an on-air feature. When I programmed WTOP, the NFL Redskins were on crosstown WMAL.  So we hired Coach Joe Gibbs to voice a daily vignette, and sold it for big bucks.
      • Can you take-ownership of an event? Negotiate to become “The Official Radio Station of” a prestigious golf tournament, concert, festival, or some other event in your area.  Trade for on-air promotion?  Next-best-thing if you cannot: As with The Joe Gibbs Show, we hired a golf pro to walk the course with a name pro, and chopped-it-into hole-by-hole sponsored shortform.

Bottom line: Unless you are actually and specifically the “official” station of something, don’t say you are.

Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet.  He is the author of the e-book “Holland Cooke: Greatest Hits” an instant download available exclusively from Talkers Books.  Click the ad banner on this page.  And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show on RT America.  Read HC’s Monday Memo each week at, and follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice