The Physics of Passion: Your Show and Loyal Fans

The Physics of Passion: Your Show and Loyal Fans

by Tracy Johnson

Every broadcaster says they want fans. Bold, loyal, passionate followers make up the bulk of your quarter-hours. But do you have the courage to recruit and lead a passionate fan base? Not to make it too technical, but the physics of passion come into play.

This is important for every brand, whether you’re selling coffee in the neighborhood shop or auto parts. But in radio, we rely on fans. At many stations, 90% of listening comes from just 10% of the total cume. Doesn’t it make sense that the key to ratings growth is converting more of those listeners into your fan base?

But that is difficult because it takes courage. Leading a fan base is a major responsibility. It should be one of those things that keep you up at night, obsessing over how to turn your audience into passionate fans.

The Physics of Passion: How Fans Are Made

The blog Passionate makes an excellent point about how challenging this can be. They call it the price of attracting fans.

You don’t really have passionate users until someone starts accusing them of “drinking the Kool Aid.” You might have happy users, even loyal users, but it’s the truly passionate that piss off others enough to motivate them to say something. Where there is passion, there is always anti-passion…or rather passion in the hate dimension.


Kool Aid & Passion

Man, that’s heavy, isn’t it? That’s why it takes courage. We all want to be more popular and have a loyal fan base that talks about us. But we also don’t want the criticism or negative comments that go with it. It’s uncomfortable to think about generating hate comments.

In radio, management is quick to say they are all about it. They want the passion. They want those loyal fans that drive quarter hours. Who wouldn’t?

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Then they suspend or fire morning shows that cause a few listeners or advertisers to complain. At the first hint of controversy, they backpedal. When anyone suggests they were offended, we apologize without regard for whether or not the offended party was even in the target demographic.

That’s not nurturing a passionate, loyal fan base. It’s preventing personalities from building loyalty that can be sustained.

The Price Of Having Loyal Fans

But it’s not just management. Every personality claims they want loyal fans, and lots of them.

But it comes with a price. And it’s hard to boldly lead that audience when some of the voices on the phone and the text in social media is negative and loud.

One of the shows I work with actually removed their strongest feature because of a handful of negative comments that considered their prank call feature “mean spirited”. Never mind the hundreds of comments that loved it and considered it the funniest thing on the air. But those detractors have loud voices, don’t they?

If you create passionate users, expect passionate detractors.

As long as you’re performing within the boundaries of your personality brand profile, you should welcome strong response, even if it’s negative. It means you’ve arrived. It’s a sign of success.

The Passionate blog goes on to suggest a concept that is foreign to many stations:

Remember folks, we aren’t going for user satisfaction. We aren’t going for happy. We’re going for all-out passion. And that comes with a price tag. Detractors. And they talk. For every passionate user evangelizing to everyone they meet, a Kool Aid Hunter will do his (or her) best to make sure everyone knows that your passionate users have lost their minds. That they’re victim of marketing hype

Apple has this problem. Their detractors call passionate users FanBoys. Apple is the world’s most valuable brand, with more cash on hand than the GDP of almost 100 countries.

The New York Yankees have it, too. So do the New England Patriots. And Starbucks.

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The most popular and well-loved companies, products and causes have the strongest opponents.


Do you have passionate fans? You’ll know when you do. The heat is turned up. When that happens, your resolve will be tested. That’s when you find out if you’re truly a meaningful personality brand.

Trying to please everyone by removing the reasons they hate you will result in death. And it’s a horrible, painful, boring death by falling into the Zone of Mediocrity. This is where you cater to everyone, but delight nobody.

Are you brave enough to have loyal fans?


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