By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — First things first: If your station will air the first Biden-Trump debate tomorrow night, your promo should offer that “If you’ll be in the car tonight…” because anyone who’s near TV will watch, rather than listen, as candidates present themselves for side-by-side comparison.
And here’s the analogy no consultant can resist: Your station is on the debate stage, constantly. Your product stands side-by-side with other listening options that go way-beyond other AM/FM stations. As listeners judge you, how do you compare?
Pulling into the parking lot at the market, I left the key on accessories to catch the score of the Mets game on WCBS. The spot that played between innings began, “The baseball season is back!” That was on August 30. On WCBS. New York. A station that wants me to depend on them to know the very latest.
Then this past week, WPRO’s apparent Alexa stream cover-up spot – for the biggest advertiser in the Providence media market – touted a “Labor Day only!” offer. Some of radio’s most formidable digital competitors are robotic; though, by comparison, our robots often seem asleep-at-the-wheel.
Station streams have always seemed neglected. Cover-ups have been sloppy, spots inserted were dated or repetitive, or PSAs (which sends the wrong message); and dead air or double audio are commonplace. Even before consolidation burdened station management with more-to-monitor than they can manage, the on-air signal fed monitors in the building. Consultants, listening afar, were more cognizant of the stream that was treated like an adjunct.
Back to the future: Alexa makes audio grazing a voice vote. If I tell her “shuffle Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young,” music starts. The one request nobody has likely voiced: “Alexa: Please play 6 commercials.” Which is why we fuss to make spots we produce for local advertisers as engaging and informative and relevant and useful as possible.
Tomorrow night, one candidate will try to position the other as too old; and the other will emphasize his experience. Our medium began reporting that Warren G. Harding had won the presidential election 100 years ago. Let’s leverage our experience since to Make Radio Great Again.
Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of the E-book “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books (click the banner on this page). And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America. Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke