by Tracy Johnson
Sometimes you have to wonder if people ever think about what they’re saying. Seriously. At a family gathering, a 7 year old’s birthday was ruined by his aunt, and it reminds me of many radio stations.
Here’s the conversation I overheard:
60-something year old Aunt: Hey, Jackson, you have a birthday coming up, don’t you?
7-year-old Jackson: Yep, I’m going to be 7!
Aunt: Do you like Legos?
Jackson: (all excited) YES!
Aunt: Do you know what I’m getting you for your birthday?
Jackson: (thinks about it, then cautiously) LEGOS?
Aunt: NO. Not Legos. You’ll just have to wait and see.
Jackson’s face dropped. He was disappointed, confused and kind of angry. This is how your listeners feel when you lead them along without paying off their expectations. And we do it all the time.
Do you disappoint listeners by building expectations only to let them down? Probably. Here’s how most stations burst their bubbles.Click to tweet
We ask our audience if they like a lot of music. They say yes. Then we promote how much music we play. They tune in with high expectations only to hear us cram 8-minute stop sets down their throat.
We tell them we’re commercial-free, while we bury the details that it’s only in certain hours. They tune in and hear commercials. In fact, they even hear commercials for the radio station (promos) during the commercial free times. Oops.
We tell them to keep listening because something good will happen at 7:15, but at 7:23 we haven’t gotten around to it yet. The personalities and maybe even the PD high-five, thinking we got another quarter hour from the audience. Maybe this time, but they won’t believe you the next time you have a “present”.
We promote that we have a fun, friendly morning show that starts at 6 each day, but when they tune in at 6:05, we aren’t there yet. And then around 6:10 when they come on, we just go through the motions and talk about what we watched on TV last night or spend 3 minutes talking about what we’re going to talk about later today.
We tell them that if they become a member of our loyalty clubs, they will earn points and collect rewards, but when they have a million points, they find out they can only use the points to enter a sweepstakes.
Why do we do this to them? At this rate, we’re never going to be their favorite Aunt.
Spoiler alert: the aunt had bought him a really cool book ABOUT Legos. But by the time Jackson gets it, he’ll probably have decided that she isn’t worth his time.
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