Is Gluttony Keeping You From Being a Lean Clean Entertainment Machine?
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.
Is Gluttony One Of Your On-Air Sins?
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 building out each topic, there’s just not enough time to execute or present it properly. So even the best breaks are diluted.
When there are too many topics:
All content becomes weaker. There aren’t that many great topics each day. Of course, each topic doesn’t need to be relevant to the listener. It’s better to be relatable than relevant. Bu the more often we talk about things listeners care about, the better.
Listeners become confused because the show moves too quickly. A forward-moving show is desirable, but when topics shift quickly, listeners can’t keep up. This usually because the topic on the air isn’t developed or established. I hear this in news and entertainment features regularly when personalities comment on, or discuss, each story. . The result is confusion, and confusion causes tune out.
Prep is Shallow. Because show prep time is limited, too many topics means each topic gets less time in the creative process. As a result, content ends up as information and facts, rather than finding a strong emotional connection.
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 :
Some of the features aren’t well-known by the audience. When you ask about them, do they recall that you even do that feature? If they can’t remember it, or if it isn’t recognized, the feature is a waste of time.
You feel that a feature is in your way, more than a listening benefit. It could be that you’re just tired of the feature, but sometimes a locked-in feature isn’t working and you can feel it.
There are too many to fit as daily features, so you rotate them at the same time and air each once a week. Diluting the presence of features practically insures that none of them will ever become familiar.
Focusing on fewer features 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:
A break takes too long to set up, and doesn’t move along quickly. This usually resulting in listeners not being hooked. Listen to an air check and monitor it for extra chit-chat or meandering conversation with no focus. When it takes too long to get to the good part, listeners have lost interest and tuned out.
Not knowing when it’s over. The other major symptom of talk glut is when personalities try for one extra punchline or Pay Off. It can ruin an otherwise good break. It’s like ordering a second dessert! That first one was perfect, but a second slice of cheesecake makes you sick.
Detours and Dead Ends. This happens on both solo shows and team shows. Personalities often think of something unplanned during a break. And off they go, down the rabbit hole. Some detours can be terrific, but staying on a detour too long takes you further and further from the main road!
The Cure For Gluttony
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:
Be a Straight A Performer
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.
Having nothing but A-level content also enhances your brand image.
An amazing thing happens when dead wood is pruned from a radio show. It becomes noticeably better almost immediately! With listening patterns so short, put the best material out there every time the microphone is turned on.
Recycle The Best Topics
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? Recycling.
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 has 3 or 4 stories inside it. Maybe more. In the show prep process, focus on mining each topic to find interesting angles. Then develop those stories and present the content in fresh, unique ways multiple times.
This is one of the principles of building a Recycling strategy.
Plan Hooks & Exits
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 planing 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.
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