by Tracy Johnson
Radio stations need listeners and fans. That’s obvious. The larger the fan base, the better. And if those fans are raving, passionate, loyal fanatics, stations can become virtually bulletproof from dramatic rating fluctuations. But there’s a problem. Most stations and personalities don’t act like those fans matter. Sure, we go through the motions and say the words, “Thank you for listening”, but more often than not listeners are ignored. Or treated like they’re an annoyance. Here’s a simple tip for radio success: Just being nice wins fans.
Just being nice isn’t hard. But it does take time and discipline. And more than a little patience.
Air personalities: When is the last time you went the extra mile to connect with a listener? Maybe it was a caller with a question. Or someone at a promotional event that wanted to chat about the show. Or a listener interested in winning a prize, but she didn’t understand how the contest works.
Everyone is busy. There are a million things to do. And those fans take up far more time than is convenient. That’s why most of us rush to get them off the telephone when they call. Or worse, the phone is not answered at all.
At appearances, we shake hands without establishing eye contact, often distracted with “more important” things to do. Or we hide in the back of the tent or van to avoid interacting at all.
Most personalities don’t talk to fans. and sometimes, they even speak poorly about them to other listeners. I’ve heard personalities laugh at prize pigs in front of other fans. What impression does that leave with the audience?
As a personality or programmer who depends on listeners for success, doesn’t it make sense to interact at every opportunity?
Disney is known as the Happiest Place on Earth. It is more than a positioning statement or a hollow marketing claim. It’s a commitment to customer service, and it’s ingrained in every employee from their first day of training.
A family was celebrating their child’s birthday with a character breakfast at one of the Disney resorts. But the family was late and missed their reservation. All later seatings were full. It wasn’t Disney’s fault, and they had a business to run.
So there they were, sitting outside of the breakfast. Looking sad. But Disney didn’t ignore them. An employee noticed.
She asked what was wrong, and got the story. Then she sprang into action.
Not only did they get in for breakfast, but they were also in a front-row table. And the birthday boy’s favorite character led the entire restaurant in singing Happy Birthday.
You might think this employee was a supervisor. But she wasn’t. She was a custodian. Her job was sweeping and dusting. But her responsibility was making magic for fans. She knew that serving the audience was the responsibility of every employee.
A radio personality’s audience will be passionate about the show and station when they feel someone cares about the relationship.
In the movie A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, Fred Rogers (played by Tom Hanks) shows what it means to nurture individual relationships. Mr. Rogers changed Lloyd Vogel’s life by being in the moment and taking an interest in his life. Vogel was the New York Times writer in the movie, played by Matthew Rhys.
In one scene, Rogers tells Lloyd, “You’re the most important person in the world to me because I’m talking to you right now.”
Wow. Just being nice turned a skeptical writer into a fan.
Imagine your radio show is a restaurant. That’s hard to do at first but hang with me for this metaphor.
The audience is the customer. The restaurant’s success depends on the customer having a great experience.
The goal is to get the customer to come back over and over. And tell their friends. In this regard, it’s really no different than how radio stations try to recruit and retain listeners.
Great restaurants go out of their way to make an impression at every touchpoint.
Successful restaurants know guests aren’t there just to eat. They come for an experience. And they recognize the value of each customer.
How about you? How can you make an impression to cause customers to come back because they feel special?
Most radio stations and personalities aren’t doing this. They cut corners, reduce budgets, and eliminate key ingredients in causing listeners to become fans.
Do what you can to make an impression. Start by slowing down and take a minute or two to engage listeners at every opportunity.
Just being nice to listeners can be a tremendous advantage.
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