The first five days of any radio station are the important in its life cycle, which seems to be lost on quite a few people. You can either merge slowly and cautiously onto the freeway and slowly get gobbled up in the traffic, or you can audaciously blast down the ramp, weave through the traffic and leave everyone in your rearview mirror.
After a few months of “establishing our music position” and playing 10,000 songs in a row with no talent or commercials, you’re just another station.
When I know that someone is going to launch on a client, the most important thing that I stress is that they need to keep them off-balance and in boxing terms, don’t let them get their feet planted because it will then be 1000X more difficult to knock them down. And this is a fight and at the end someone will keep their job and someone won’t.
And balance and momentum (the most dangerous thing another radio station can ever EVER get) comes with promotional victories.
Every holiday, every concert and every local event and major news story is a battle. Something that we need to put in our win column.
A great example is the little liquor store out in my corner of extreme northeast Washington County, Minnesota annually gets a dry erase poster sized schedule for the Vikings season from one of the beer brands. It’s stuck on the wall next to the entrance to the stock room and every Monday or Tuesday, someone will use a marker to write in the score of the game the previous day. And put a little check next to the name and logo of the winning team.
By mid-October just a quick glance at it will give you an idea of who gets to keep their jobs and who doesn’t, come late December.
This isn’t an entirely bad idea but it’s not a concrete, unquestionable-after-reviewing decision on the field. You need to promise to be objective. Be honest with yourself. “Yeah, we both did group contests but they really had fun with theirs and ours was just wallpaper.”
Get a dry erase board, turn it sideways, stick it on the wall for everyone to see and write “Us” and “Them” at the top.
And then down the left side write in Fall contest, Halloween, Obligatory Food Drive, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Obigatory Toy Drive, Christmas, New Years Eve and New Years Day.
Also anything that might be specific to the market like baseball playoffs or to the demo like Highschool Football.
And then leave three spaces for the stuff we can’t plan for like hurricanes or a celebrity scandal or a major news story in the market like the mayor getting busted with a Cub Scout in lederhosen out at that Days Inn near the airport.
Place the check marks where you think they should after each of these is passed and you’ll get a pretty decent idea of how you did this Fall.
It was fun to be in a meeting with Clifton at some station. He’d sit there, half paying attention, with some 1970’s era little radio that was partially held together with a bumper sticker and just bop back between us and the competitor, breaking into the conversation by declaring “We’re winning” (we’re playing a hit or that AND the other station was in spots) or “They’re winning” which was pretty much the opposite of that.
If you have enough of those every-four-minute wins and the most checks on the board, then you will truly have a great reason to wake up with a headache on January 1st.