A visit to Disneyland or Disney World is great at any time of the year, but the experience is enhanced when realizing that it’s not for you. Disney is for kids on an adventure with family and friends. They call it the Happiest Place on Earth. Nothing bad happens on a visit to the Magic Kingdom.

It’s an ideal metaphor for how great personalities perform a radio show.

Be Like Disneyland

A vacation at Disneyland is special, as long as adults remember it’s about sharing a once-in-a-lifetime event. It’s an escape from reality for a few hours or days. Experiencing it through the eyes of a loved one is an amazing experience.

And that’s how it is in entertainment. Think of your show as Disneyland. Listeners are children. Personalities are adults. I know, it’s probably the only time they’ll be accused of that.

The show is Disneyland.

In this metaphor, air personalities are responsible for engaging, indulging, and spoiling the kids so they have a great time. Nothing else matters. Barriers must be eliminated.

Here’s how to do it:

Be Fully Engaged

When taking the kids to Disneyland, parents must be engaged. If mom and dad spend the day on the phone, texting, or checking social media, the kids are disappointed. They deserve undivided attention. That can be hard work. And patience. And focus.

At Disney, a parent can sneak a phone call to a colleague. Or check the score of a game on a mobile device. But you shouldn’t. Kids can feel when their parents don’t care. And listeners sense it on the radio. When personalities aren’t invested in the performance, the show loses connection. It only takes a minute to check email or text messages during commercial breaks.

When air personalities are distracted, it affects performance. And it affects cohosts. When a partner sees the host checking YouTube, they think it’s no big deal to text their boyfriend. Soon, everyone in the studio is doing something else. They’re disconnected. And it hurts the show. But it affects the experience. It takes attention away from what’s most important: Making sure the kids have the time of their lives.

Enhance the Experience

Imagine being at Disneyland with a child. Excitement builds before the first ride. Something amazing is going to happen. Parents tell stories to create anticipation. And no matter how many times they’ve been on Pirates of the Caribbean, they look forward to it each time because those moments are celebrated.

If the experience were not communicated with excitement, the visit would be less special. Enthusiasm is contagious. Imagine going on Splash Mountain and just saying, “Fun, huh? What do you want to do next?”. Wouldn’t this be better:

That was a great ride. I loved it when the log splashed and we got soaked. Let’s go again!

On your show, celebrate all of the attractions. That includes the features, contests, games, music, and even the news and information segments. Each is part of the listener’s experience.

The Downside of Disney

For adults, some things are kind of a drag.

  • It’s expensive.
  • Parking is a nightmare.
  • Kids get over-stimulated.
  • Standing in line is a drag.
  • Sometimes it’s really hot.
  • Adults get tired.

Even a few minutes at the Star Wars attraction is awesome. It’s worth waiting in line for two hours. Kids remember the magic, not the hassle. Ask what they thought of the day and they’ll go on and on about how cool it was. Ask an adult and they complain about the problems.

Radio has problems. Commercials suck. Playlists are small. Talent is restricted by a format clock. There are many distractions that make it less perfect. Don’t let it affect the listener experience.

Remember: it’s not about you.

Planning The Trip

Disney trips can be overwhelming. There’s too much to do. It’s overwhelming. So be all-in. Get a three-day pass and plan for the best possible visit. Figuring out how to spend time at the park is complicated. Choices must be made.

How does this relate to the radio? There are dozens of topics to talk about on the air. They may be strong topics, but there’s not enough time to do everything. Be selective. Plan each topic so each break is true “A” material.

Oh, and there’s nothing wrong with going on the best rides more than once. Recycle the best content. Sometimes it’s even better the second and third time.

Conclusion

When leaving Disney, kids will ask how soon they can come back. Isn’t that amazing? They can’t wait. But the next visit isn’t like the first because now they have expectations. The next visit must be better while also delivering what’s expected.

Listeners should look forward to every show. They demand better performance. Their favorite attractions (features) must be there, but they also need something new to surprise and delight them.

How will you thrill the “kids” tomorrow?

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