The new year is a time for reflection, thinking ahead, and adjusting. It’s a time for fresh starts and new beginnings. We’re here to help. Mike Shepard, Andy Meadows, and I have compiled a short list of resolutions and recommendations for 2023. Of course, personality resolutions from last year are still valid. Keep working on those!

Think big. It’s better to reach too high and fall short than to set small goals and achieve them. What can make a meaningful difference to your year?

But be realistic. Identify resolutions that can make a meaningful difference and focus on it like a cheetah chasing down a gazelle on the Serengeti!

Recommendations and Resolutions For 2023: Don’t PIS Yourself

Mike Shepard has the best advice for all broadcasters and personalities: Don’t PIS (Play It Safe) Yourself.

We’ve played it safe for far too long, overly cautious to avoid mistakes and overreacting to a few listener complaints. It’s time to take risks and create attention. The radio industry has devolved into a wasteland because of the disincentive for content creators to experiment.

Stop being paralyzed by the fear of:

What if it doesn’t work?

Instead, imagine the gains if it does work. What if you are the only station or personality willing to innovate?

At Cox Media’s Y100/San Antonio, Frito and Katy constantly challenge themselves to put a creative stamp on each idea, which has helped them stand out in a dial filled with sameness.

We wish for all broadcasters to commit to a defined structure with a system of incentives to create fresh ideas that encourage the brainpower of each employee.

Two cautions:

First, don’t throw new ideas on the air just because they’re new. All ideas must be vetted, and a strategy for success must be in place.

Second, focus on one thing at a time. Build a long-term plan, but pour resources into each fresh idea. In other words, don’t try to do everything at once.

Develop Personalities

Maybe the best resolution for broadcasters is to commit to developing personalities. How long will it take to realize that the music format alone may compete against other radio stations but you’re losing the battle for the audience? Personalities are the difference-makers.

Do it in stages, but start now:

It’s A Show, Not A Shift: Change the emphasis from working an air shift to performing a show. This isn’t a factory job filling slots. It’s a creative job in the entertainment business.

Raise Personality Profiles: Personalities need a much greater presence to attract a distracted audience that spends little time with radio stations.

Be Tight, Not Short: Short and Tight are different. Stop focusing on the length of talk segments. Focus on quality, entertainment value, and, most of all, efficiency.

Create a Hit: Great shows are usually built around a key, familiar feature that acts as the rocket fuel that unleashes talent. This has been a primary driver of Bonneville’s Big Bay Mornings. The KMVQ/San Francisco morning show has grown to the #1 position in the market with features delivered by amazing personalities in an innovative, comfortable structure.

Think Outside

All resolutions and recommendations should start with an external focus, and that’s a challenge for most businesses (not just radio brands). We all think internally rather than focusing on how listeners use the station.

This year, get outside the box and hear your station the way listeners hear it.

Beasley’s WROR/Boston morning show featuring Bob Bronson and LBF enjoyed a great year at the top of the rating heap, but 2023 is primed to be even better after an eye-opening project in December. The duo spent an entire morning experiencing life in Boston and listening to their show (and competitors) like an actual listener. Getting an outside perspective resulted in a brilliant list of adjustments and ideas they will be implementing.

A similar approach could lead to valuable adjustments for your show in the new year. For instance:

There’s no room for low-hanging fruit content. It doesn’t cut through and wastes segments. That may be the only time a listener hears you that day. Get rid of the list of weird holidays, today in history, horoscopes, and celebrity birthdays.

You’ve probably noticed the shift in TV news and sports coverage from reporting facts to conversation and opinion. Innovative broadcasters realize the value of content curation. Personalities must invest more time (show prep) to develop content instead of just regurgitating the most recent survey or list distributed by a prep service.  If appropriately used, show prep services are excellent, but the content must be curated into ideas.

And finally, embrace radio’s strengths. The radio audience is aging. That’s okay. There’s life beyond 25-54 and a ton of money to be harvested by targeting disenfranchised demographics most likely to listen to the radio. Flood Communications KKPR/Tri-Cities (Nebraska) has created a unique brand and debuted at #1 in the market in many of their target demographics in 2022, increasing revenue by more than 50%. We will launch three similar stations in other markets in early 2023. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about the format and opportunity.

Conclusion

These resolutions and recommendations consider the realities of operating stations in a challenging industry facing economic headwinds. Notice that we resisted the recommendation to reduce the commercials and avoid the outdated methodology of rating services. Stations need to play The Ratings Game, but broadcasters have responded to a severe storm by battening down the hatches and stifling creativity. Meanwhile, the storm is increasing in intensity.

Take an intelligent risk on hiring great talent, developing a sound strategy for success, and allowing creative freedom with guidance to grow and flourish. Radio can still be a great business, but it requires imagination and courage to innovate and grow. Let us help you make 2023 a great year.

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