Welcome to the debut of The Insighters! This column will feature one more weekly questions about radio goings-on. Sometimes, they’ll be deep and thoughtful, sometimes light and fluffy and occasionally just silly. We’ve assembled a panel of smart people in various areas of the industry to give us their take on these questions. In order to allow our panel to give us their true take on the issues of the day, we are protecting their anonymity, but our panel has been carefully vetted to include only those with true insight to provide. (See what we did there?) So with no further ado, let’s get to this week’s premiere of The Insighters.
WABC/New York has been hanging around a one-share with an extremely upper-end audience. With Imus exiting in March, what would you do to revitalize the station, and more importantly, the talk format in New York?
Medium market talent: Be local – a New York version of New Jersey 101.5 (WXKW/Trenton). Try to have the station talent reflect the city itself: a mix of ages, races, and religions on the air. The city is diverse, but you wouldn’t know it listening to 770.
Small market programmer: I agree – to an extent. I get so tired of people who scream “local” but forget about being good. If all things are equal, then yes, the more local talent or station will win hands down – I truly believe that. However, if everything is equal except Station A has a meh local talker and Station B has a flame-throwing talk show that’s syndicated, Station A is in trouble.
Major market engineer: They’re already fairly local after losing Rush and Hannity, (but) it’s not working. The only way they survive is by the weekend colon blow programming with moderate billing during the week. WCBS, WINS, and WFAN (AM) still have a purpose for some time to come. WOR has bought a few years with Rush and Hannity, but WABC is in rough shape. With Cumulus most likely not going to do something like bidding for the Mets, WABC is in serious condition among the big AM NYC signals.
Large market talent: They need to bring a lightning-rod type hire to the airwaves. Someone they groom, or a name like Chris Christie or Bloomberg, or someone of that level.
Major market talent: I’d bring back the Hot Talk format! It worked great in Dallas, with a local morning and mid-day show, followed by Tom Leykis. It was edgy and fun. The morning show had porn star interviews and helped launch several local comedians to fame, too. It brought the younger demo back to talk radio.
Large market engineer: Is it truly possible to bring a failed AM back from the ashes?
With Facebook de-emphasizing pages in users’ news feeds, how would you go about getting your listeners engaged in your programming online?
National equipment vendor: Honestly, if we all applied the same best practices to social media that we do to on-air content, we win. It’s the same principles applied to a different space. Anytime you post something that shows that a human is writing and responding (you know, like what you do on the air) you’re posting something that just might cut through.
Large market mixshow host: Radio has always won with listener engagement. It’s time to get the listeners to promote the station through engagement! Have jocks do a live FB broadcast Q&A on their individual pages. Bring listeners on screen in window sharing mode. A stunt is always better with real-time interaction. Market the station through product placement or brief mentions. Localism and relatability to your listeners and viewers are critical. Blunt advertising causes tune-outs.
Stations seem to try too hard with social media. No one wants to see repetitive memes and celebrity blogs. Let’s face it. If I do a food challenge, I’ll trump the monthly views on a station page. It’s not really too hard to be creative.
National equipment vendor: Not only that, but you’re actively engaging and putting a human voice to the brand. Hooking up an RSS feed is like doing bad liner radio. “Now with more music variety and at least 10 songs in a row of the valley’s best hits and yesterday’s favorites.”
National industry observer: A local LPFM does a weekend specialty show with an hour of Beatles music and stories, but (the host is) really doing two shows for that hour: one on the radio and a whole conversation on FB Live. It’s mostly with the host’s friends list, but the amount of engagement even with that limited audience is pretty impressive from week to week. I’d like to see bigger stations doing more of that.
National digital executive: Video, video, video and sponsored posts. I’m also a big believer in putting someone at a station in charge of social who gets it. I do not get YouTube, so therefore I’d be rubbish at trying to drive subscribers, but a guy I work with does (get YouTube)! That kid who works weekends is a Snapchat genius; give him Snapchat. Also, don’t be afraid to walk from social networks that just don’t work for you. That’s actually the beauty of it: try something, (and) if it doesn’t work after a while…move on!
Medium market OM: Depends on the format. If you have a talk/sports format, Facebook Live has been a fantastic extra feature – listeners want to be a part of the show. Hit the platforms with poll questions, contests and use your app to push content.
Large market mixshow host: Heather Collins from Mix 94.1 (KMXB/Las Vegas), is, without question, the queen of social media interaction. I switched to TMobile due to her online endorsement.
If you’d like to join the fun of The Insighters, we’d love to hear from you. Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us a little about yourself.