By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — I wrote this during the first big blizzard of the season – not the last — and much of the East got whacked. Weather has been increasingly extreme most everywhere in recent years, and brutal hurricanes and raging wildfires and heat waves and floods and droughts will continue. What the heck, we’re probably mathematically overdue for an earthquake too.
Even wackier than the weather: The news. And don’t expect things to “settle down.” Though less-erratic, the incoming administration will be no less-newsworthy. Notwithstanding longer-term optimism over vaccines, the pandemic’s worst days lie just ahead; and the injured economy is as-directly impactful on listeners’ day-to-day survival. Repairs on President Joe Biden’s To-Do list are matters that transcend political arm-wrestling. Watch infrastructure (translation: “jobs”).
Information staples matter more than ever.
On snowy mornings, The Flintstones would gather ‘round the AM radio, awaiting a fatherly voice to announce a list of school closings. Today, that’s a text message tree.
Smartphones have co-opted a half-dozen essentials – including audio – that once were radio franchises. Even before new-tech dashboards crowd-sourced real-time traffic information, it seemed like an ask to wait for “the 8s” for a report that was aging hearsay.
But people driving – who will continue to be AM/FM’s best TSL prospects – are busy. Even those not-driving are mentally busy. One of the trends already in motion that’s accelerated during the pandemic is voice replacing touch. And just as the listeners whose attention we want find it convenient to ASK devices for things, we can also train them to expect to hear WITHOUT asking.
Know what listeners need, and cause them to expect it from you, “throughout your busy day,” and they’ll keep coming back. And that’s the ballgame.
Think occasions, not duration-per.
There’s little we can do to keep someone sitting in a parked car with the key on Accessories.
Piles of ratings data demonstrate that the quickest way to grow Share is to get people-who-listen-to-us-most to listen even more. ‘Sounds like double-talk, but it’s not. Specific goal: Get so-called “First Preference” or “P1” listeners to come back more times per-day and per-week.
Steal this line, the on-hour ID we use at client stations: “You can get FAKE news anywhere. You get FOX News here! [call letters, dial position, timecheck]” then hit the network like a ton-O-bricks. High-five it. Despite the president damning FOX for reporting election results, it’s still where Sean lives, and it’s the sturdiest on-hour network radio newscast Conservatives will tolerate.
His political narrative will remain a franchise long after Trump.
BECAUSE he’s exiting! His tribe is dug-in, and Limbaugh/Hannity/FOX News stations can be a safe space for the like-minded and shouldn’t be subtle about imaging as such.
In next week’s column: Talk radio FAQ #1: Who will replace Rush?
Holland Cooke is a 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