by Tracy Johnson
A willingness, to go the extra mile is rare. Giving an extra 10% can be the difference between ordinary and special. It separates personalities from an acceptable break and one that stands out. But it’s the attention to detail that can turn the listener experience into something memorable.
The first 90% of your effort may result in good. Certainly acceptable. But it’s also common. Everyone is at that level. Going the extra mile is what sets you apart, because not many are willing to go there.
You can hear the extra 10% in hundreds of small ways. Here are 9 of the most common.
When’s the last time you listened to your show and really liked a lot of things, but didn’t quite love anything? It’s a solid “B” but doesn’t quite rate an “A”? It’s acceptable. It’s good enough. It gets a passing grade, but it’s not amazing. What could put you over the top and get to that elusive next level?
You’ve probably heard the effect of the extra 10% on stations you admire. Sometimes you aren’t able to put your finger on it, but it’s there.
It’s a perfect sound effect coming in at just the right time. A music bed that sets a mood to accent your story. An audio drop that may be out of context but is woven perfectly into a break.
It might be a slight pause-just one beat or two-that adds drama and impact. A rhetorical question that hangs in the air, allowing the listener to become emotionally involved. A change in vocal tone, pace or energy to communicate emotion.
Details are important. The difference is that last 10%. The difference between a B-minus and an A-plus is small. Great shows are good shows that become special because of the extras 10%.
Here are some ways that the extra 10% comes through:
When telling a story, adding the right details at the right moment, describing ordinary things in a way that makes them come alive.
Details make a story come alive. Of course, to find the right details requires you to really and truly know the story. And that means preparation.
Something as simple as mentioning relevant landmarks as part of ordinary banter makes a huge impact. In a weather forecast: “…and in (suburb) next to the AM/PM on Main Street, it’s 47 degrees at 7:08.” Here’s an example:
How many times do you hear a personality go into a phone call cold. The caller comes on without introduction or a point of reference. It’s awkward and rude. Just introducing them personalizes it and makes you sound warmer and more intimate. For example,
Laura says her five year old has a solution… Laura, what did Jason do?
Sounding like you actually listened to-and love-the song you just played sends a message that you’re just like the listener. So many times air talent sounds disconnected from what is happening around them.
Taking the time to find out what that artist is doing today (Twitter, Google) and relating something meaningful in a back-announce can make a connection to the audience.
Actually answering the phone is a simple thing, but most personalities don’t make it a priority. There’s nothing worse than a fan calling their favorite station and having no response. Busy signals are better. When you call a restaurant for a reservation and nobody answers, do you call back?
Responding to email, Facebook and Tweets isn’t a “should do”. It’s a must-do. Don’t start a relationship with the listener if you’re not going to maintain it. Listeners not only expect a response from you, they’re disappointed when you ignore them.
Virtually every topic can fit your show if you fit it to your personality and break structure properly. I love how this personality tied in a local story to an ordinary event like traffic:
Traffic is a mess on the 470 Freeway this morning. You think it has anything to do with the transit strike? More people on the roads because the buses aren’t running for the 9th day in a row.
Don’t just say the words. Sell it. Every time you open the microphone is an opportunity to make an impact, or not. Add your personality to everything including the liner cards and promos you have to do. For example:
Thanks for listening this morning in (neighborhood). Pete called in from the tech lab at the hospital on Grand…that’s just a couple of blocks from where we’ll be on Saturday… we’ll see you at Subway Sandwich Shop from noon-2…
Don’t be lazy. If all you’re going to do is say, “Here’s what’s coming up,” just leave the microphone off. Don’t bother. Treating each tease as content that contains an incentive to listen.
Adding detail, color and richness to content is a commitment. It’s a lot of little things that together mean a lot.
Make it a part of your show prep until it becomes a habit. This discipline will add great dimension to your personality and show.
Photo Credit: Freepik.com
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