When I’m talking with Radio friends about memorable audio experiences I’ll usually reference the moment I was in my Ryder truck with my dog, somewhere west of Sacramento on I-80 and as we cleared a summit…BOOM…I could hear KMEL in San Francisco. This was the station that I’d been hired away from Beasley in Charlotte to go and help defeat.
By the time we got to Vallejo I wanted to pull over, puke and turn around, and not necessarily in that order. They sounded like the Bay Area. It was not just what they said but how they said it. They clearly were a Bay Area radio station and that was pretty intimidating.
With all of the talk about “live and local” we have an opportunity to really step-it-up in that department. When Cox (rarely) hired anyone from the mainland for their Hawaii properties, they forbade them from hanging out in Waikiki, had them take Polynesian cultural classes and had them go and basically camp out where the locals were. Ditto with Power in Miami. When they (rarely) hired anyone from outside the market, they would give them “local culture” assignments to undertake in all of the various corners of that melting pot. And when you listened to Power they SOUNDED like Miami. They didn’t even need to do a legal ID. When Wild in SFO started to target the South Bay, Rick and Michael would take the airstaff for day trips to hang out, walk around, drink with the locals and party with the locals.
There are an increasing number of brands that you can listen to for an hour and literally have no idea where they are. So, there-in lies the opportunity.
This might be a good time to go back out an immerse yourself in the culture of your market. Remind yourself of all the nuances and vernacular so you can “sound local” without having to be heavy-handed and name off suburbs and neighborhoods. Thoughtthat’s never bad either. One of the C Company PD’s has written up a list of every community in the surveyed area and has posted it in the studio for the airstaff to refer to and try to work into their talk if the chance to do that naturally comes up.
Another station’s GM is taking the talent on sales calls as a way to reintroduce the advertising community to the live-and-local radio people in their market. People who are going to be there for charities and of course….appearances and endorsements.
It’s also an opportunity to reconnect on an emotional level. A robot can’t show emotion or evoke emotion. So now might be the time explore local agencies and charities that could use the support of a local broadcaster.
What features or promotions are there that you can add a local spin to?
KRTR in Honolulu had a feature called “Uncle Charlie Talk Story”. Every radio person who ever went to Hawaii for vacation and heard that would tell me “That’s the most unlistenable garbage I’ve ever heard. How is that allowed on the air?” And I’d say “You don’t live there. For locals, everybody has an uncle Charlie in their family tree. They just nailed it. The fact that you don’t get it means they’re doing their job”.
Got new talent coming in from outside the market? Dave Ryan brought in a cohost from Chicago and had the audience put together a list of ten things that she’d need to do to “get accepted” as a local. She needed to bring “bars” to a church basement luncheon. She needed to go to a meat raffle at a Legion. She needed to pad up and stand in the nets and let high school hockey players wail shots at her. She needed to go to Sex World and buy a toy. It was pretty amazing.
I think that Hurricane Katrina for a lot of broadcasters reminded them that we can be more than War Of The Roses. And I think with all of the changes that we’re experiencing, this might be a chance for a lot of broadcasters to rediscover the sounds of their communities.