A couple of years ago one of the PD’s that I consult reached out and asked me for something that would juice a little noise about the morning show, tr: do something that would get people going into work and asking their coworkers “Did you hear what happened on (morning show ) today?”
You really can’t beat a show that has set the bar so high that the audience feels that if they miss JUST one morning, they may have missed something exciting.
So I took a bit that has been basically 300 and 0 at the plate, re-tooled it and presented it. “What’s the pay off? What’s the out?” this guy asked me. I explained that there wasn’t either of those and that sometimes in life there isn’t a payoff and that the next morning the show would just return to business as normal as if nothing unusual had occurred. Said consultant wanted them to get on the air and admit that it was a bit. That’s when I suggested to the PD that we might just not want to do anything rather than do something that over-the-top stupid. He agreed.
I asked Ellen Miska to prom. She never returned my call. That was it. There was no “out” or “pay off”. (I ended up attending with a hot young woman who is now a world famous flight attendant. Long story. And there was no pay off after the really expensive dinner I bought either.)
We’re heading into the Season Of Begging. The time of year where we’ll all have our hands out and asking for money, food and toys. With this kind of stuff, you WANT a pay off.
Most of our charitable campaigns have a Beginning (the solicit), a Middle (the collection) and no End. We are left to trust that somehow the cans of food end up on someone’s table.
Rick Thomas with CBS in NY taught me a GREAT term: “tangible”. Is our toy drive “tangible”? Do I know who or where these are going?
Is there…a payoff.
Most Thanksgiving food drives have a beginning and middle but lack a tangible conclusion. I think 97.9 The Boxx in Houston nailed it with The Hunger Hotline. You tipped or alerted the station to someone you knew who was having a particularly difficult time and The Boxx took the bounty that was collected via a fairly traditional drive, divided it up into about 200 bags, and on the day before Thanksgiving the airstaff personally delivered the food to surprised and emotional listeners.
People who have worked with me for any length of time know of my respect and admiration for the Red Cross and how easy they are to work with and how grateful they are for what we do. Actually, they’re about as difficult as it gets and will never ever let you know how much you helped raise or who it went to.
Following Hurricane Charlie, Magic in Colorado Springs filled several semitrucks with bottled water and with a local TV news crew following and reporting, they drove and delivered them to the Ft. Myers area. That’s a payoff.
After Katrina, the stations I consult drove/road 118 trucks of water to the stricken area. Except Kiss in Seattle that brought school supplies, KDWB in Minneapolis that brought new, clean underwear and Newcap in Edmonton that transported literally hundreds of thousands of teddy bears to kids living in shelters in the Houston area.
Water and the other things are physical, you can see them, touch them and in the case of TV news coverage, you can film them.
Like KDWB when they went out the morning after Moore, Oklahoma got devastated by a tornado, filled five trucks (they were hoping for just one) and the airstaff drove it to the town and handed it out to people who were in sweltering heat and without water because the local water department was flattened.
Again, beginning, middle and the payoff. They also got over 20 minutes in TV coverage as compared to another station I was doing that got ZIP because their consultant wanted them to focus on their appt. time features and pound the Red Cross code. “This feels like a one day news event” he advised….as TV choppers showed rescuers digging for bodies in a collapsed school.
Rick Thomas probably pulled off the Muther Of All Tangibility™ when Wild in San Francisco flew a 737 twice to LA bringing bottled water that they had collected, and with the help of Power 106, got it out to San Bernadino to people living in parks after the LA earthquake. In the Bay Area, I listened to the midday talent, Renee Taylor, handing out water to sobbing people. That’s tangible. That’s a payoff. And that’s freaking amazing Radio.