It would be difficult to find a boy who grew up in the Twin Cities in the 60’s and 70’s, who didn’t dream of becoming either Harmon Killebrew or Bert Blyleven. The Killer effortlessly swatting balls into the upper deck at the old Met.
Bert, an 18 year-old phenom from Holland via California who had veteran sluggers waving at his pitches in futile attempts to get some wood on the ball. Bert returned to the Twins after a sojourn around the majors and in between pranks in the dugout (he was the master of the flaming shoe: crawling under the bench and lighting a teammates shoe on fire) he returned in ’87 to help the team to their first World Series. He’s since gone on to broadcasting and is arguably the best, most knowledgeable and entertaining “color guy” in baseball telecasts.
There were three things that Bert Blyleven brought to the game of baseball that apply to a great air talent at a radio station.
When I look back at the best morning people I’ve worked with, they all had a passion for the medium. This wasn’t some “thing” they were going to tinker around in and then use it to spring board to something else. This was all they’d ever wanted to do. It was in their blood. They were lifers.
If this was you, then you need to find that inner Geek who came in and hung out and became addicted to Radio and filed carts and just wanted to be a part of this amazing thing that was happening.
Has Radio changed? Absolutely. And for us to get back to where we need to be, it’s going to require Geeks. Lifers. People who are in love with the medium. Discover or Recover your Inner Bert. Could you make more money filling out TPS Reports at Innatech? Sure. But why would you want to?
Great, successful ball clubs all have fun and cohesive clubhouses. The players show up and they work hard and they work their butts off, all the while having fun. Because they know that, like us, they have one of the greatest jobs in the world. Whatever team Bert was on had a great clubhouse atmosphere. Because lurking, behind the scenes, was Blyleven. Freezing jockstraps. Filling lockers with shaving cream. Setting shoes on fire.
Great radio stations have a Spanky McFarland. The person in charge of generating Fun in the hallways. As a Promotion Director, that was part of my unofficial job description; to make sure there was Fun in the hallways. Because, honestly, that translates on to the air. When you hear great, amazing radio stations, it’s very rare that there isn’t a Blyleven in their hallways.
And don’t give me the bullshit “We’re not allowed to have fun in the building” excuse. Then take it out of the building. KSFM in Sacramento, when it was PD’ed by Rick Thomas and Bob West, would quarterly have parties at their houses. Big, booze-drenched blowouts that ended with the staff being sober-cabbed home. That station was/is a juggernaut. And the Fun Factor can never, ever be over-stated.
But the key weapon in Bert’s Triple Threat? The curve. The breaking ball that just seemed to stop in mid-air and drop to the ground. It was a thing of Art. And that’s what a stunt is. It’s the curve in your pitch count. You set it up with a steady stream of fast balls and inside pitches. One after another.
What’s your fast ball? It’s the stuff you throw every day. The regular bits that are your steady diet of material that is fed to the audience, one after another. Until they are lulled into a pattern and then…WHAM…a big hanging curve.
Why? Because we can. And because it jars them back into consciousness and gets them back and focused on you. It gets their attention. Outdoor and database spam are just more messages that get lost in the cascade of messages and advertising that rain down on the masses every day.
Bert, if he was in Radio would never, ever let something like the Mayor going to jail pass him by. A former Disney star laps dances the world at an award show? Bert would throw a curve. I mean, c’mon, it’s a given. And IF nothing like a bus driver strike or a political convention or a televangelists’ wife assaulting a flight attendant is happening, then he’d just make something up and throw a curve anyway.
Because it’s the most effective pitch you have. And because Bert would. When in doubt, always ask, “What would Bert do?”
One thing Bert would do would be to immediately get Paige Nienaber into your budget for 2014. He helps over 100 radio stations across the US, Canada, India and Africa with promotions and marketing, not just for morning shows but for Sales and Programming. Reach out to him or check out his extensive client list and testimonials.