by Tracy Johnson
The late Nick Michaels was a master of station branding and production. His promos were brilliant. His positioning pieces caused listeners to feel the essence of the radio station. Emotional, pointed content punctuated his promos.
Following my Promo Power seminar, programming legend Todd Wallace sent vintage examples from his days leading KFYI/Phoenix.
Here are some examples:
Aren’t they amazing?
Promo mastery starts with identifying a concept to be communicated. That was Nick’s secret sauce. He then crafted a promo to communicate that vision.
The most important step was turning his vision into art. That starts with the promo copy. Nick’s promos were never too long or too busy. They moved forward but weren’t rushed.
A single message allows each promo to breathe. Note how these promos aren’t long. But they are powerful. Every word contributes to a simple, clear message.
Production is important to cause the words to come alive. Notice how the audio effects complement the message. It never competed for attention. The finished product was never overproduced.
Michaels’ promos are legendary in rock radio as well as news/talk. Listen to this promo for WDRV/Chicago, introduced by Nick himself.
Doesn’t this capture the essence of being a fan of WDRV?
It doesn’t tell listeners what to do and isn’t filled with hype. It tastefully points to the artists and music.
The effect is powerful.
Before writing promos that connect to emotions, stations must have a clear sense of what is offered.
Every station has a value proposition to communicate. So what value does your station deliver?
Once the value proposition is identified, the goal is to communicate the feeling, not just shout a positioning statement.
Stations can’t win a feeling by proclaiming “The station that picks you up and makes you feel good”.
Nick Michaels would never record a promo like that.
Here’s an example of a promo for a news talk station, KPRC in Houston. The station’s value proposition is being the voice of the community.
This promo aired a few days after a natural disaster.
Listen and identify how it sells the station’s benefits emotionally.
This promo positions the station and sells:
Nick doesn’t claim news updates every 20 minutes. There’s no bragging that when news breaks out they break in. Or traffic and weather together.
This promo makes listeners feel a connection to their community through KPRC.
There’s no call to action, but it is a great example of building an image.
Nick’s material is timeless. Many of these promos could air today – or be easily updated – and sound as relevant and fresh as the day they were crafted.
Today’s programmers can learn from Nick Michaels’ example. Pour your heart into creative elements that will make the audience actually feel something.
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