by Tracy Johnson
We love listeners, and we hope they love us. And if we ask the right way, and really listen to their answers, they can provide a ton of insight for creating more compelling radio shows. On the other hand, listener comments can also suck the life out of you. They’re just too…honest.
Many stations can no longer afford research. Others put up an online survey and ask their fans to answer a few questions. But sometimes, a good old fashioned conversation with real listeners reveals insight.
Here are some things that came from those kinds of conversations.
I hear DJs say stuff just for the sake of saying stuff. I don’t understand that. Saying something like, “Hey, thanks for listening on your ride home from work” or “Just one more day ’til Friday and then it’s the weekend” just make no sense. Why do they do that? If you’re going to talk, okay. But give me information or make me laugh. Otherwise, a radio DJ is just an annoying person who interrupts my mood. That’s what sends me to Spotify.
Isn’t it interesting they didn’t say they hated talk? They can’t stand pointless talk or generic comments that add nothing to the listening experience.
I love when radio announcers talk about things I can use, make me laugh or make me think. Don’t just tell me what the weather is like right now. That’s what the window is for. I know what it’s like now. I need to know how to dress for work tomorrow so I can plan my outfit. If it doesn’t make me say, “I need to remember that” or “I have to tell my friend or mom or boyfriend that”, just be quiet.
This adds some pressure, doesn’t it? Entertaining listeners is not about passing on information or data. It’s about turning those facts into compelling, interesting stories the listener can repeat. I call it turning topics into entertainment.
Don’t tell me you just posted something on Facebook or Instagram and I should go look it up. It’s the most annoying thing ever. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find anything on Facebook? Plus, I’m in my car and can’t go look now. Then by the time I get to work, I either forget about it or go to the page, and it’s not there anymore. It’s a waste of time.
This is a very interesting statement. We spend so much time promoting our social media presence, but listeners look at it as a waste of their time. They can’t do anything with it. Maybe we should focus more on using social media to feed our on-air presence instead of vice-versa.
Do things I can participate in. I love to share my opinion but they never announce the phone number or they do it so fast I can’t hear it. I would call or text or be in an online poll for things like, “Would you rather give up wine or bread forever?” Run the poll for awhile and then share the votes on the air. I like to know if I’m like other people.
Generally, radio shows are good about asking for participation and allowing the audience to interact. But maybe we aren’t inviting them clearly enough or often enough. And perhaps there are other ways to solicit input in exclusive polls and surveys. How about a daily poll on the website that is promoted on the air? This could be highly effective for news, sports or entertainment news segments.
The radio is just background for me. I don’t think it’s ever changed. You should do something on the air while i’m on the way to work that makes me turn it on when I get there. Like a secret or something that you advertise only for those listening in the morning. Like “tune in at 10:30 to hear something secret that is only for those that listened in the morning.”
This is a little vague, but there’s an intriguing, underlying point. We need to do more to turn the listening experience into something more interesting than just being on in the background.
Listener comments will drive you nuts. Trying to address each complaint or suggestion is a sure path to screwing up your show. But there’s also keen insight that can shine a light on problems or opportunities you may not know exist.
Thanks to Jeff Dauler for sharing some of these listener comments.
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