The Top 5 Mistakes New Shows Make

The Top 5 Mistakes New Shows Make

by Tracy Johnson

It’s a new year! A time for new beginnings and fresh starts. Some stations are launching new morning shows, and many personalities have begun a new career phase. The early days of a new show are critical. First impressions matter. That’s why personalities should plan ahead to avoid the 5 mistakes new shows make.

Here’s a summary of the 5 mistakes. There is a common theme that runs through all five mistakes. See if you can identify it.

Coming On Too Strong

Most personalities want to make a major impact quickly. They’re full of ideas and ready to start dominating the market.

Whoa! Slow down.

In most cases, listeners don’t know anything about you. There’s no relationship. The existing audience obviously liked (or at least didn’t dislike) what was on before. And that has changed. So slow down and respect the listening environment.

Personalities cannot possibly become loved without first being liked. And they won’t be liked until the audience gets to know them.

And that takes time. I call it the Personality Success Path, five stages of growth from Introduction to Familiarity to Growth to Like to Love.  Every personality passes through each stage as they “romance” the listener.

It’s an impossible jump from Introduction to Love. It takes time. But coming on too strong in the Introduction stage often repels listeners, causing shows to never make it past Stage 2 (Familiarity).

Failing To Embrace The Listening Environment

Other than close friends and family, not a single listener is tuned to the station because of a brand new show. They are there for other listening benefits. It could be music, information, a promotion, or to be put into a mood. Or maybe it’s because of long-ago formed habits.

This creates a tremendous opportunity.

The best way to win the affection of another person is to identify things they like and demonstrate you love them, too. Do this on the air by showing that you love the format. Connect your personality to the station brand and all elements surrounding talk breaks with personality and enthusiasm.

And it’s not hard! Just follow these guidelines to add color to every break.

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Making Assumptions

Most broadcasters assume listeners listen to the radio more than they do. In reality, they spend very little time with any station. Radio is just not important to most listeners.

I was discussing this with Jonathan Weir and Ayla Brown, the morning show on Boston’s WKLB. The show has been on for a little over a year and sounds great. But while the ratings are solid, the audience still considers them a new show.

Ayla summarized it perfectly:

I get what you’re saying. I listen to several stations each day in my 18 minute commute. That 18 minutes is my only impression of those shows. As a result, I couldn’t tell you a thing about any of them.

That’s a common experience. Assuming they pay more attention causes shows to gain traction.

Poor Preparation

I’m not talking about show prep. This is about preparing to perform to attract potential fans.

Before turning on the mic for the first time, every show should have a detailed, thorough plan that includes:

  • A clear understanding of the target audience and their qualities. An Audience Persona exercise will reveal a clear snapshot.
  • Management’s vision for the show. Communicate expectations early to avoid problems later.
  • For multi-personality shows, define roles and tasks. Who is the host? Who is the cohost? Many shows never talk about this, often resulting in a chaotic show that is hard to digest.
  • A Character Brand profile. Personalities can’t possibly succeed without finding their “voice”. That is much easier with a character profile.

Not Providing A Reason To Listen

Everyone wants to be a loved market institution with a large, loyal fan base.

But listeners don’t magically fall in love with radio hosts. They must first be attracted to the show so they can experience the personalities.

Simply put, listeners need a reason to tune in, come back, and remember the show. Personalities need a major, fusion-force feature.

Just as Carpool Karaoke made James Corden famous, one great feature is a powerful tool in gaining traction.

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Audiences are first attracted by what you do. They fall in love with who you are. But they’ll never get to know who you are unless you attract them with what you do.

Conclusion

There are more opportunities for talented radio personalities than ever before. But it’s also harder to build a winning radio show. It takes persistence, commitment, and time.

Now, what’s the common thread that runs through each of the 5 mistakes? Planning. Most stations are in a rush to just get started. I understand that. But taking a week or two to build a game plan with a clear strategy for success makes it possible to grow much faster than rushing the show on the air.

Take some time to avoid these 5 mistakes new shows make. It can accelerate growth and improve results significantly.

 

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