By Kathy Carr
Howie Carr Radio Network
It’s a new world and many stations now have only one or two non-syndicated shows. But that doesn’t mean the remaining talent shouldn’t be out doing “the old meet ‘n’ greet,” not just with the advertisers, but with the listeners.
Sadly, even before COVID, in many markets it seemed like the talent had vanished into the Witness Protection Program, broadcasting from what Dick Cheney used to call a “secure undisclosed location.”
This is not a positive trend if local broadcasting is to remain viable going forward. Isn’t the mission of a local – or in our case regional – show to cover a certain geographical area?
And covering an area includes being on the ground.
Just this spring and summer alone, our network will visit 10 different parts of the region to get in front of the listeners via remote broadcasts – at restaurants including 110 Grill and Evviva Trattoria, auto dealerships, seaside inns, and even an arcade. Listeners drive long distances to watch the shows live. Some have come from as far as Ohio. (Pictured at right are Howie Carr and Grace Curley at a recent restaurant remote.)
Restaurants can often be the best venue for these events. They need the exposure and so do we.
After the government-imposed lockdowns and the resulting devastation that has taken place since February 2020, we need to support the hospitality industry, because they support us.
I never bought into the line “it takes a village,” but I do understand that I won’t be successful if our clients aren’t.
We are fortunate that we don’t have a corporate promotion department (maybe even outside the market) dictating to us what we can and cannot do. Without all those layers of middle management, we can turn events around quickly.
It is still a treat to meet a listener and have him say, “I still remember when your first child was born.” Or “Do you remember me? I was at one of your ‘Night of Crime’ shows five years ago.”
But the biggest thrill is when a listener says, “You know I’ve always thought of advertising, but never called.”
Future advertisers may be fans, but they can be unsure about the size, the reach, or the demographics of your audience. A good remote is an advertisement, not just for your host, but for the reach of your own show.
If a local businessman sees a big crowd somewhere, with listeners of all stripes approaching the hosts during breaks for selfies or autographs, the potential advertiser begins to understand that reports of radio’s demise are greatly exaggerated.
By the way, don’t let the talent tell you he can’t be bothered. No talent is too big to blow off remotes. Remember the late Rush Limbaugh’s “Rush to Excellence” tours when he was starting out? He was on the road almost every weekend, doing… remotes.
Again, times have changed and remotes are not as easy to pull off as they once were. The old “street teams” of college interns may be gone. In many markets, engineers are few and far between (if that).
But you can still get them done. A few tips: make sure you have something – anything – to give away. Everybody likes free stuff. We also raffle off prizes that include a in studio visit which we usually sell tickets to.
Have post cards (they’re cheap and easy to autograph). If you’re in a non-PPM market, you might even consider small magnets with your station’s call letters. (They tend to go up on refrigerators or tool boxes, reminding diary-keepers of their favorite hosts/stations.)
Bottom line: Staying connected to your listeners is good business for both you and your client.
I also encourage you to use all the methods we have today to promote a remote. Whether it be segments, texts, promos or social media, just get out there and don’t let the listener forget you.
Because once they do, you’re all done.
Kathy Carr is President of HCRN that syndicates The Howie Carr Show and The Grace Curley Show. To contact her, she can be reached at Kathycarr@Howiecarrshow.com.