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Monday Memo: UQ

| February 15, 2021

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — This might be the most common mistake I hear on talk radio:

    1. On-hour newscast ends…
    2. Over-produced, self-amused intro includes the phone number…
    3. If it doesn’t – or even if it does – the host then announces the call-in number (“…if you want to be a part of this extravaganza,” as Sean says).
    4. The host then talks, and talks – in ad-libbed paragraphs — lots of “I” and “me” – about topic du jour, thinking-aloud, until happening-upon a distilled call-in proposition, with that call-in number WAY in the rear-view mirror.
    5. Then spots.

Instead, to sound popular — opposite of “lonely,” something advertisers notice – take a couple callers before the stopset. How? This will be familiar HC lore to those who suffer my coaching…

Always-and-only announce the phone number immediately after posing the call-in proposition.

Doing so will reduce off-topic calls, and rambling callers who sound like the grandfather on “The Simpsons.” He’s thrilled to have ANYONE to talk with, and the voice on the radio just invited him. He’s memorized the phone number.

The local retailers your sales reps woo want to see real-life Homer and Marge pull into the parking lot. To engage them, simply re-arrange your show-open dance steps:

Try this – in this order, and you will LOVE – not like – LOVE the results.

  1. Make the-very-first-thing you say “the UQ,” a question that includes “YOU” and/or “YOUR.” Both if possible. Obsess on that. If you cannot quickly convey how it will benefit the listener to keep-listening, you haven’t yet distilled your proposition.
  2. THEN, give out the call-in number…slowly enough for the prized first-time-caller to remember it. Think winning lottery number.
  3. THEN say hello.
  4. THEN offer your take; the purpose of which is to make the phone ring. So solicit overtly, i.e., “Am I wrong?” or (magic words) “How do YOU feel?”
  5. Repeat call-in number.

THEN…if you must…play the long, over-produced, self-amused show open…during which your screener might already be busy if you followed these dance steps.

Red flag: “Pending legislation”


UQ example:

  • Every state has a hellish budget problem. They’re legalizing weed for tax revenue.
  • There’s pressure to do so in states with border states which have already legalized. Cannabis cash is flowing out-of-state; and there’s concern about impaired driving, and retail availability enabling proxy purchase for teens.
  • So, rather than reciting process (“pending legislation”), engage with consequence: “How do you feel the State of Wisconsin is wasting your tax dollars? [phone number].”
  • “Rather than finding X million dollars in new revenue, let’s cut X million in fat!” Invite listeners’ state spending beefs, like this:

In offering this technique, I risk the wrath of hosts who reckon that “talk radio” means I-talk-you-listen, a dubious proposition given that every media experience people now favor is interactive.

Stay safe.

Holland Cooke is the author of the E-book “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books (click the banner on this page). He is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet.  And HC hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America.  Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice