by Tracy Johnson
As an avid baseball fan, I take every opportunity to connect my favorite sport with radio. There are more connections than you might think. But what does baseball, the three run home run and your radio station have in common? A lot. Seriously. And not just because I’m looking for the connections.
Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver of the Baltimore Orioles was one of baseball’s great characters. He was once asked the key to his legendary success. He became famous for this response,
Sometimes it’s the small things. But mostly, baseball is all about good pitching and the three run homer.
A three run home run changes everything. It can overcome a lot of errors. The three run home run turns a 2-2 tie into a 5-2 lead. It transforms a team that’s trailing 5-3 into winning 6-5. And it can be the difference between a tight, 1-1 pitching duel and a secure 4-1 lead.
A three run home run energizes the crowd, activates fans and changes fortunes.
And a three run home run can overcome mistakes and errors for the rest of the game.
Radio shows need 3-run homers. It’s what is remembered. Entertainment is “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow”. It’s disposable. The hot story this morning is forgotten tomorrow. the entertainment world revolves around “What have you done for me lately?”.
Just being good is not good enough. Being consistent is important, but it doesn’t make you memorable. It doesn’t move the needle.
Radio stations need to recruit and activate an avid, passionate and loyal fan base that love what we do. And they love home runs. But we can’t just hope for a home run to happen.
Many radio stations become masters of the mundane. We obsess over details that may be useful, but not transformational. We need more three run home runs.
Don’t get me wrong. Details are important. Programmers need to make sure the music is on target, format clocks adjusted and music beds just right. Those are important fundamentals, to be sure.
Personalities should take care to hit stop sets at the proper time and prepare for each break in the show. These are good things, too.
But as important as they might be, those details don’t attract attention. They allow you to compete, but don’t change the outcome of the game. They’re not three run homers.
Home runs happen when we create memorable moments on the air.
Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week is a three run home run. The cable network almost always shows up in the top 5 every year. And they’ve been doing it for 31 years. Hallmark has a three run homer with their Christmas movies, which now are extended to Christmas in July.
For radio, a three-run homer can be an over-the-top promotion that you become known for. It’s changing lives one person at a time the way WCIC/Peoria did with their Been Tipped Over campaign. The station activated their audience to make an impact with waitresses across their listening area.
It’s The Bert Show taking kids to Disney World each year as part of Bert’s Big Adventure. The promotion changes lives. It’s Jeff and Jer taking a phone call and turning it into a multi-year connection with the community through Becky’s House, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse.
It’s turbo-charging a station’s format to reflect a major event that fits the brand, the way a Classic Rock station may go to all Rolling Stones programming for a day or a weekend when the band is playing in their city.
Another example is focusing ticket giveaways on one time slot on one day, then branding and promoting it as a special event like Timberlake Tuesday, rather than stretching the giveaways over a week or two.
Or it could be simply finding a One Thing feature and executing it with precision and passion day after day to turn it into a must-listen moment.
Maybe your home run happens each day when developing a segment into a significant moment that is memorable and shareable. Or branding one segment a day that sticks with a listener and inspires them to talk about the show. It’s being passionate to not rest until you prepared a segment to have the potential of being a can’t miss moment every day.
When that happens, the three run homer resonates far beyond the station’s reach. It extends into communities.
In baseball, three run home runs overcome mistakes. Walks and errors are quickly forgotten when a slugger steps up and changes the game. It’s the same for radio.
Baseball is a wonderful thing. It’s even better when you can apply baseball principles to reach your communities with your message.
Execute the small things, and train your team to hit a three run homer.
Set aside time each day for both.
Sometimes it’s the small things. Sometimes it’s the three-run homer.
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