by Tracy Johnson
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 guests and 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.
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 radio.
Think of a radio show as Disneyland.
Listeners are children.
Air 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 to ensure they have a great time. Nothing else matters. Barriers must be eliminated.
Here’s how to do it:
When taking the kids to Disneyland, parents must be engaged. If they spend the day on the phone, texting or checking social media, the kids are disappointed.
They deserve undivided attention. That can be hard work. It requires an investment in the experience.
Most personalities probably can multi-task while on the air. It only takes a minute to check email or text messages during commercial breaks. Maybe getting on social media during a song won’t cause personalities to lose concentration. 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.
It affects the experience. It takes attention away from what’s most important: Making sure guests have the time of their lives.
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.
Focus. Kids can feel when their parents don’t care. Listeners sense it on the radio. When personalities aren’t invested in the performance, the show loses connection.
Imagine being at Disneyland with a child. Excitement builds before the first ride. The expectation that something amazing is going to happen makes the experience richer. And that doesn’t happen without telling 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 saying, “Fun, huh? What do you want to do next?”. Great experiences happen when the excitement is celebrated.
That was a great ride. I loved it when the log splashed and we got soaked. Let’s go again!
On the air, music, promos, service information and contests are all attractions.
So are daily features that seem routine. Each is part of the listener’s experience. Every air talent’s primary job is to make the show exciting, starting with the everyday things many feel are routine.
For adults, some things at Disney are kind of a drag.
Five minutes at the Star Wars attraction is awesome. It’s totally worth 90 minutes waiting to get in. Kids remember the magic, not the hassle.
Ask what they thought of the day. They’ll go on and on about how cool Disneyland is.
But ask an adult, and the answer starts with complaining about the problems.
Radio has problems. Commercials suck. Playlists are small. Talent is restricted by a format clock. They’re distractions. Don’t let it affect the daily visit to Disneyland.
Remember: it’s not about you.
Disney trips can be overwhelming. There’s too much to do in a day. 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. But if you try to do everything, you’ll miss some highlights.
Everyone has to make choices. Choose the most important activities and don’t miss them.
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 every break is true “A” material.
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.
When leaving Disneyland, kids will ask how soon they can come back. Isn’t that amazing? They can’t wait to come back.
But the next visit isn’t like the first. There’s an expectation. The next visit needs to be better than the last. Yet it also has to deliver what’s expected.
Listeners should look forward to every show. They demand better and better performance.
All the favorite attractions (features) must be there, but listeners need something new to surprise and delight them.
How will you thrill the “kids” tomorrow?
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