What You Need To Know About Importance of Live & Local

What You Need To Know About Importance of Live & Local

by Tracy Johnson

In the never-ending dialogue surrounding the perfect formula for winning radio, the concept of live & local is always looming. It almost always ranks right behind, “How much should we talk?” and “Where should we schedule the stop sets”? And some stations even run promos to tell the audience that they’re live & local.

Guess what? If you have to run promos to prove it, chances are you don’t sound nearly local enough to matter.

Managers who are paying a live & local staff brag about being local. Managers who import voice tracked personalities brag that they sound better. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? What works? What doesn’t?

The secret to life is balance, and the answer to the live and local question has many variables.

Live & Local or Good & Not Local?

But what’s the impact? Do listeners care? What is the big deal if they’re talking about the local events? I’ve heard a lot of stations that are all live & local but you’d never know it. They sound as distant as a voice-tracked show piped in from the outside.

And I’ve heard shows that ooze the local flavor. They’re immersed in the market. They relate to the audience in ways that outsiders couldn’t.

What’s the difference? It’s the ability of the talent, the equity of the show with the audience and where their listener relationship in the product life-cycle.

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Local is important. Connecting with a community of listeners and becoming  “one of them” is charming, endearing and forms a strong bond.

But by itself, it’s just not enough. Live doesn’t matter. Entertaining does.

The Hierarchy of Awesomeness

How important is it? Well, let’s put it into perspective with the Hierarchy of Ultimate Awesomeness.

Local is good.

But local and entertaining is better. Entertainment is far more important than simply reading a list of things happening in your market.

Entertaining wins over local every time. It is a broad term, and rightfully so. Entertaining can encompass a multitude of styles and personality types. It’s a matter of being engaging, charming and interesting.

But if it’s a tie, entertaining and local will  win.

Local, Entertaining and Relatable

Local, entertaining and relatable is better still. It’s really good. Relatable air talent that truly connects with audiences make them feel like friends. Convince them that you’re “one of them” and they accept you, whether you happen to be local or not.

The Grand Prize

What if we add funny? Local, entertaining, relatable and funny is king. This is the whole package. Make them laugh and they love you. Entertain them and they like you. Just be local and they are proud, but kind of yawn.

Funny is by far the most important aspect listeners recite when describing what they want from air personalities. If you can make them laugh, you’ll keep them coming back.

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But, I’d still rather have Entertaining and relatable and funny than local and either one of the three.


The Hierarchy of Awesomeness

Being local is great. The single most important thing you can do on the air: Relate to your target audience persona.

A very close second: Be Funny. In many cases, this may actually be #1.

Third: Entertain your audience. Though if you achieve the two items above, this is probably set.

And fourth: Be Local


Strive for all four attributes. They’re all desirable. But at the end of the day, local is the least important. It falls behind being relatable, funny and entertaining. And it’s a distant #4.

However, local is a great tie-breaker. Take equally interesting, relatable and funny shows and the local one should win.

But a show that builds it’s reputation primarily on being local will lose to the one that makes them laugh-every time.

Author: Tracy Johnson

Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.

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