A recent article in Radio World jumped out at me for a couple of reasons – it resonated with something I’ve been saying to PDs for years, and it was written by a former colleague and friend, Mark Lapidus.
The premise of “Are You Speaking In A Local Voice?” is that programmers need to get out of their radio stations on a periodic basis, stay home, and do nothing but listen to their own craftwork for a day.
Steve Goldstein preaches “Catch the flu” in his “Brilliant At the Basics” primer. You don’t need to tell the staff what you’re doing or where you’re going. Just stay home, stash the music and commercial logs in your backpack, grab a legal pad, put on a pot of coffee, and just listen to your radio station.
This is even more crucial in today’s environment where most PDs are performing double and triple duties, overseeing more than one station, hosting or voicetracking shows, and attending one meeting after another.
I remember as a PD back in the days when you simply oversaw just one brand that it was still difficult to spend quality time listening to your station. Middays were especially tough because those hours are typically filled with meetings. Yet in the PPM environment, this daypart is perhaps the most important block of hours of them all. It deserves your time, attention, thought, strategy, and creativity.
As Mark points out in his column, there’s a lot to hear throughout a day-long monitor – positioning, production, messaging, and local content/references. I would add that another productive activity would be to spend at least half of this listening time on your stream – a typically neglected platform despite its potential ability to “out-cume” the terrestrial signal. Listen to those commercials breaks, and count the number of times the stream simply disappears. What kind of listening experience are you creating for loyal consumers tuning you in on computers and mobile devices?
Mark recommends a quarterly monitor, and that strikes me as a good interval. He concludes with the statement that “To be a great program director, you’ve got to be a great listener.”
That’s one of the functions that makes for a good consultant, too. The time necessary to just listen, coupled with knowing how to address problems are the formulas for creating a successful brand.