How To Localize Your Radio Station
by Tracy Johnson
There’s something special about great radio stations that are locked into their commuinities. Those from another place just don’t “get” it, but the locals can feel it. There’s a vibe that reflects the audience in a way that’s hard to quantify. And when you hear it, it’s magic. Being uniquely local is one of the four IZES of personality radio. And every radio station can do a better job in this area. This is how to localize your radio station.
Of course, saying you’re local and actually being local are very different things. If you’re just making the local claim, you’re wasting your time. And even if you are extremely local, that alone doesn’t overcome as boring station.
But when you hear a personality that is localized, it sounds easy. It’s natural. Almost effortless. But don’t be fooled. It’s the result of deep preparation. Some of it just takes time experiencing the local lifestyle, but you can speed up the process by following these steps to mastering localize.
Localize: Be Part of the City
When was the last time your air staff and promotion team went on a tour of the entire metro area? Not just the neighborhoods and social circles you run in, but the whole city?
There’s nothing that gets you in touch with your audience like sitting in a traffic jam during drive time or hanging out as workers start and end their day at the community’s biggest workplaces.
Reflect it in your show at the proper times like this:
Nellie and Dayna are trapped in their carpool, crawling on the 605. I’m feeling ya, girls. Hang in there…tell you what, might be better to pull off on the Woodruff Drive exit and hit up the Hideaway. A quick margarita will de-stress…and then, you’re back on the road when traffic’s cleared out.
This example also demonstrates another of the izes: Personalize. How about that?
Have you been to all the local landmarks? Not just the popular ones, but all of them? Even the small, hidden ones that only the locals know?
How about Dog Parks and playgrounds? Your audience spends a lot of their time in these places:
Cassandra and Tiffany checking in from Green Mountain Dog Park…trying to Get the energy out of their dogs before the rain comes in tonight. Looks like It’ll start raining in east county around 4, and tonight…we’re all going to be drenched. Toss in the umbrellas on the way to the Foo Fighters concert at the arena.
Have you taken a bike ride, jogged and hiked on the popular paths and trails? When you did, what did you notice that you can bring back to the air? When is the last time you rode public transportation in your city? What was it like? What are the people like?
Here’s another example of getting local…and really detailed in the process:
74 and sunshine…perfect day to be biking on the boardwalk. But then, everyone is thinking the same thing…so here’s my secret, private tip that nobody knows about…instead of the boardwalk, go the Riverdale preserve…but not the main trail. Go in the second entrance, and there’s a little path just south of the parking lot…it’s never crowded and best biking in the city!
You probably don’t shop where your audience does. You may go to the big malls and upscale clothing stores, but most of your listeners are at Walmart, thrift stores and flea markets.
When is the last time you went to the Farmer’s Market?
Feeling good, chomping on Gerald’s Goat Cheese from the North County Farmer’s market…I knew I should have gotten more. Love those guys.
And how about the neighborhood delis, restaurants and breakfast places? And the bars, coffee shops and convenience stores? Do you know where they are These are common experiences in your city. When you connect to your listeners through reference points like these,
Meet Key People
It takes awhile to build relationships, but that starts with making the effort to get to know leaders in the community.
Make an effort to meet local entertainment and TV celebrities. Reach out to sports personalities. Remember, you’re a local celebrity, too. Put yourself out there and become famous by those you associate with. Here’s an example of mentioning local traffic, a TV reporter and a local event, all over a song intro:
It’d be a good day to go home from work early because you’re “sick” because Katherine Taylor on Channel 4 says traffic is going to be a nightmare in about 45 minutes…hearing it’s because it’s half price rides night at the fair…
It may seem old fashioned, but there’s also value in getting to know local newspaper reporters. They know what’s happening in the community and can be a great resource. And don’t forget about the neighborhood newspapers and magazines. More and more, they’re looking for interesting stories and if you have a relationship, it could pay off with free publicity from time to time.
Pay attention to what’s happening in town at all times. There’s always a Convention or festival taking place. Their are concerts, sporting events and fairs. Charity events, street parties and fundraisers are happening all the time.
Know what’s happening with them and work mentions into your content. You’re not doing it to patronize them or promote it, but to connect with people who are participating.
I just heard from Lindsay…who’s just started the walkathon at Parkside Elementary tomorrow. She’s walking with her 6 year old daughter Kelsey in memory of her grandma Elsie…all to raise money for Alzheimer’s. Love you guys. And love what you’re doing. Thanks for having us on today.
Localize Starting Tomorrow
This is easy to do. It just takes time to gather the information and start our network. You can do it. Start by making a commitment to localize one break per hour. You’re not changing your content to “be local”. You’re localizing what you’re already planning to do.
Do this on a regular basis and your audience will come to understand that you live there, you care and you’re just like them.