As opposed to the brilliant Herman Raucher coming-of-age book “The Summer Of ‘42”. If only because it doesn’t end with me becoming intimate with an alluring, older war widow neighbor. And I live in Scandia, Minnesota, not Nantucket.
Except for those elements, it’s exactly the same.
First, let’s reflect on what an interesting Spring this was.
Pause. Deep breath. Move on.
As some semblance of what is and what isn’t normal returns to our lives, we need to look into the near future and start ramping up plans for the summer.
It’s assumed that there will be more mingling and consequently sales appearances and remotes could return. This is an excellent guideline from a state association of farmers markets on how the set-ups should be handled.
There are actually some correlations between farmers markets and station remotes that make this something you should look at.
Since mid-March we have become the Masters of The Virtual. We’ve virtually done everything from hair cutting classes to proms and soon some graduations.
Right at the beginning of all this I lobbed out something about how a lot of weddings were being put on-hold and it would be cool to do a virtual wedding. A friend spent the last year locking down a resort in northern Minnesota, travel arrangements for a hundred relatives, photos…and that stuff, for her daughter’s wedding on Memorial Day weekend. It’s obviously on-hold and she’s “extremely disappointed”. One of the Entercom stations actually took it pretty far before “stuff got in the way” but they still plan to try and bring it back and take a shot at it.
Q in Memphis just did it and crushed it.
And you could sell it.
VBS and most other summer programs are going to be cancelled or done digitally and on Zoom or a similar platform. So, what if you created your own summer camp program?
You’d want a camp song. A camp logo. Counselors (your airstaff) And a FB or IG Live daily activity. Arts and crafts. Lawn games. A sing-a-long. A nature hike. And of course lunch time.
There are going to be entities that try to fill this void. You should be ahead of them on it. And if you have access to some artists, what about Bandcamp? Have some tutorials on guitar playing for people killing time in lockdown and who are interested in picking up where they left off with music lessons in 8th grade.
I’ve been really hounding (but not pounding)(yet) stations to watch social media and what they see from their front windows because our audience is doing all our research for us. Like…I’ve never seen so many people out biking in my entire life.
Get some bikes to give away.
People are road-tripping on weekends. Safely, but they’re getting out and driving an hour or two with the family to go and explore and hike and GET OUT. Good. They should. So what if you did a “Road Trip Travel Series” with all of the cool undiscovered and off-the-beaten path places that people could go and maybe stop and get some curbside grub? That’s been every Saturday for me since the beginning of May.
I also went and drove around “the lakes” in Minneapolis on a sunny Saturday. It was a mass of socially-distanced activity. Picnic’ing, walking, jogging, biking and lounging. And about every third person had a dog.
If there’s a park or path in your market where this is happening, what about setting up a hydration station and put out some bowls of water with a sign that says, “Courtesy of (Station) and (client)”. Have a promo person or DJ six feet away, greeting people and their pets. And every 15 or so minutes, swap out the bowls, refill from big breakroom style jugs and sanitize the used bowls.
This is also going to be the summer when your listeners get down and dirty. In their gardens. And that’s kind of a throwback to previous wars when our grandparents did Victory Gardens. It’s not just an opportunity to Zoom some gardening classes but also create a community garden with the airstaff that will grow produce for local food shelves. But check before you leap into this because only certain food charities will take produce.
Knowing that people are going to be “out” (safely and distanced) at every opportunity, maybe that’s your Summer umbrella: Get Out, And Stay Out. And the focus is all of the stuff above and more. Boating. Golfing. Backyard gatherings. Barbecues.
And then of course there are the Hallmark Holidays like Fathers Day and the 4th. A lot of the huggy squeezy stuff probably won’t be applicable, so maybe this is the time to circle back to frontline heroes and make that your hook for both dates: dad’s who are on the front lines and for the 4th, do a day of dedications that would be phoned-in in advance and aired.
We live in interesting times and that’s going to continue through the Summer.
I wrote something two months ago about how this is perhaps terrestrial Radio’s “finest hour” and I was right. The medium has stepped up in overwhelming fashion even while we go through our own dramas and constrictions. So maybe, possibly, this will be Radio’s finest summer. The audience needs us more than ever. It’s time to be there for them.