by Tracy Johnson
You’ve probably heard the term gluttony in various contexts. Sometimes a particular personality type that keeps getting into bad situations are called a “glutton for punishment”.
Or you immediately think of a scene in the 1995 movie Seven, starring Brad Pitt. It’s disturbing, so I won’t post it, but look it up on YouTube if you’re a glutton for things like that.
Gluttony means to over-indulge or have a tendency to over-consume. It’s an extravagance. In other words, gluttony is too much of something.
Even too much of a good thing can hurt you. Too much ice cream isn’t good for you. Binge on pizza and you will be sick. Oversleep and you could become lethargic. Too much skiing can lead to frostbite. Too much baseball will…well, I haven’t found that it’s possible to have too much baseball. But that’s the exception.
In all things, balance is a virture. And that’s absolutely true on the air. That’s why I call gluttony is one of the 7 Deadly Sins of Radio Personalities, and it typically shows up in one of three areas.
When a radio personality becomes overwhelmed or bogged down with too much, there’s a problem. Here are examples of how it comes out on the air.
Personalities often think that to get more attention or win more listeners they must create more content. Or cover more topics. After all, if we cast a wider net, each listener has a better chance to hear something they like, right?
This belief leads personalities to gather more topics and more information. The result is a show that listeners have trouble sorting out. Nothing sticks.
When there are too many topics, each has less depth than it could. Even if you’re capable of developing each topic, there’s just not enough time to execute or present all of them. As a result, even the best breaks fall short of what they could be.
Three things happen when there are too many topics:
Another sign of gluttony is when a show has too many locked-in features.
Features are terrific, and are important building blocks that add consistency to a radio show. But if every break is pre-scheduled, the show can become predictable. And predictable is boring. And boring is another of the 7 Deadly Sins.
Do you have too many features? Here’s are some signs that you may need to trim it a bit :
Focusing on fewer features almost always leads to greater response. That’s at the heart of the Concentration of Force principle.
You knew this was coming, right?
Talk glut has nothing to do with the length of a break, but with efficiency of a break.
Symptoms that there may be too much talk include:
Fortunately, there’s a cure for radio gluttony, and you don’t have to count calories or go on a crash diet. It does demand objective evaluation and discipline, though. Here are three ways to treat it:
Get rid of all secondary content. There should never be a filler break or one that’s less than the show’s best effort.
Every break is an opportunity to earn another quarter hour of listening, and just one more quarter hour per day and one more day per week will Double Your Ratings.
An amazing thing happens when dead wood is pruned from a radio show. It becomes noticeably better immediately! With listening patterns so short, put the best material out every time the microphone is on.
Going with all “A” material means some good (but not great) ideas are left on the cutting room floor. All of those B and C topics don’t fit on the air. But there are a lot of breaks each day. How can they be filled?
I can’t tell you how many times I have been in meetings with talent that says, “Oh yeah, we talked about (the big story of the day). Did you hear it? We did it at 7:20”. Oops, missed it. But that means, to every listener that did not happen to tune in at that exact time, you didn’t mention it at all.
Develop fewer topics with multiple angles or entry points. Most every topic could be turned into 3 or 4 stories. Maybe more. In the show prep process, mine each topic for interesting angles. Then develop stories and present the content in fresh, unique ways multiple times.
This is one of the principles of building a Recycling strategy.
Just as the riskiest part of a plane ride is takeoff and landing, so it is with radio shows. But little time is devoted to planning hooks.
I coach personalities to invest 75-80% of their show prep time in developing the Hook and Pay Off for every segment. When there is a solid exit planned, and a great entry point is in place, the middle (Set Up and Dress Up) pretty much take care of themselves.
Obsess about the Hook and Pay Off in every break as a part of daily show prep. You’ll be amazed at how much better every segment becomes.
Gluttony is a Deadly Sin of Radio Personalities that prevents radio shows from being relevant.
Everything on the show may be good, but if there’s too much good and little great, the won’t get traction.
Fortunately, the cure is quick if you embrace the concept of less is more.
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