Why Your Radio Station (and Your Show) Needs a Mission Statement

Why Your Radio Station (and Your Show) Needs a Mission Statement

by Tracy Johnson

Many who follow this site will see the headline and won’t click on this post. They think it’s a boring topic, and I get that. But it’s only boring because broadcasters make it boring. Few would argue the benefits of having a mission statement. But most of the time, these statements become purposeless, meaningless paragraphs filled with corporate mumbo jumbo that is almost impossible to act upon.

A mission statement should be a declaration of a brand’s vision. That goes for a radio station, a show on that station and even the personalities on that show. A good statement identifies what you do and who you are so everyone in the organization can understand what is expected.

It helps the whole team know where they fit.

A well-crafted statement also draws boundaries so everyone knows who you are not. It can be used to settle disputes without conflict. The document can be a powerful filter to keep a station and radio show on a success path without distraction.

When the mission is clearly defined, clarity follows. With clarity, a brand’s story emerges.

Your company should have one. Your station should have one. And your show should have one. Here are some ideas on how to get one.

Starting a Mission Statement

Here’s how to start finding the mission statement:

  • What does the station want to deliver every day? Is it humor? Providing an escape? Representing a local voice?
  • How do we want listeners to feel from listening? What mood are we trying to provide? Find the emotional definition, not the list of things the station does.
  • What is the role our station plays in the life of the listener?

These are hard questions and take time to discover. Make it a group brainstorming project. Then, armed with the results, craft a short, clear statement that summarizes the mission.

How To Craft An Effective Mission Statement

Developing a mission statement is going to drive you crazy. It’s hard to put into a concise statement.

Don’t take this part of the exercise lightly.

Here are some guidelines on how to find the words that fit:

Consistency

Make sure every word of the statement fits within the company’s mission. For example, a personality’s mission statement must fit into the show’s. The show must fit into the station. And the station must fit into the company’s vision. Everything must be in synch for it to work properly.

Length

Try to keep it short. A one-sentence statement is best. Some mission statements are 2-3 lines. That’s fine if necessary. But keep it as succinct as possible. Long, wordy mission statements are hard to memorize and communicate to the team.

Reason to Exist

The statement should describe the reason the brand exists and to better guide decisions about priorities, actions, and responsibilities. This is just one reason a great mission statement is so hard, and takes time. The process forces management to seriously consider the viability of the brand.

Choice of Words Matters

Avoid jargon and vague terms that don’t define a feeling. If nobody knows what it means, it’s impossible to apply when making decisions.

Inspiration

Ideally, a statement will be inspiring. The entire team should embrace it with pride and make them feel part of a purpose. Just repeating the statement should bring a small surge of adrenaline.

Mission Statement Example

One of my clients (a Hot AC) has the following mission statement:

(Station) is for adults who live a young, active lifestyle but don’t want to be challenged by extremes.

This is a powerful mission statement. It’s really simple. Just one line means everyone can memorize and internalize it. Yet it’s deep in interpretation and application. Each word positions who the station is for, and how it should behave.

The statement guides music decisions. Avoiding extremes means we will keep the music familiar and mainstream. It informs tempo and texture decisions. The station is for young, active lifestyles. In other words, everything should be fun and vibrant.

We can accept or reject promotion ideas based on whether they fit that active lifestyle component.

Notice it also allows the station to be broad and inclusive. It doesn’t impose demographic or geographic limits. There’s no mention of gender or age. It clearly defines a feeling.

A Morning Show’s Mission

The KRNB/Dallas morning show is hosted by Claudia Jordan. Her mission statement is a guiding force for what fits – and what doesn’t fit – her show. It is:

A misfit providing Guilty pleasures for people who want to think of themselves as good people with Gossip…Games…and Relationships.

Everything goes through this filter, which provides a clear guide for promotion, marketing and programming.

More Examples

In a study conducted by TopNonProfits.com, the average length of 50 solid mission statements they studied is just 15.3 words.

The average length for the very best statements (listed below) is 9.5 words. The shortest contains only two words (TED).

Side note: Some of these seem more like positioning statements or slogans than mission statements. Some brands may use them as both.

Here are some examples of those highly effective mission statements:

  • TED: Spreading Ideas. (2 words)
  • Smithsonian: The increase and diffusion of knowledge. (6 words)
  • USO lifts the spirits of America’s troops and their families. (9 words)
  • Livestrong: To inspire and empower people affected by cancer. (8)
  • Invisible Children: To bring a permanent end to LRA atrocities. (8)
  • The Humane Society: Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty. (4)
  • Wounded Warrior Project: To honor and empower wounded warriors. (6)
  • Oxfam: To create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social injustice. (10)
  • Best Friends Animal Society: A better world through kindness to animals. (7)
  • CARE: To serve individuals and families in the poorest communities in the world. (12)
  • The Nature Conservancy: To conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. (11)
  • JDRF: To find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research. (14)

See more examples of Mission Statements here

Another Option: The Word Cloud

This is a fun exercise to do with a radio show, especially if it’s been around awhile but has never defined a position.

Along with the mission, add a Word Cloud. A Word Cloud is an image composed of words used in a particular text or subject, in which the size of each word indicates its frequency or importance.

Here’s how to build your own. Ask everyone involved with the show write words or phrases that represent the show. Encourage them to write a lot, as many as possible. It doesn’t have to be formal. Just write them down.

Example: Local, funny, fun, amusing, hilarious,  believable , trustworthy, informative, good mood, positive, energetic, great chemistry, vulnerable, real, authentic, well prepared, intimate, community-minded, public service, drama, scandal, voyeur radio, engaging, consistent,

Then compile everything written into a single document. Don’t rank them. Just add all words (including duplicates) in the same document.

Now, go to wordclouds.com and enter the text in the document to their word cloud engine.

Customize the word cloud and print it. When finished, use it as a guide to help craft the mission statement.

If you really want to get creative, ask listeners to participate. You could do it on the air or in an online survey.

Mission Statement Case Study: Brant Hanson’s Welcome Kit

Contemporary Christian air personality Brant Hanson is one of America’s most dynamic air personalities, regardless of format.

At the center of his success is a keen understanding of who he is, who he’s for and what the show is all about.

Hanson even goes so far to promote and publish a guide for new listeners. He lays out the rules of the show, defining what to expect. This is a powerful mission statement of sorts. It position his personality brand and clearly defines what listeners should expect from him.

Read through his page. It’s full of personality, and will probably make you want to listen to the show, just to find out what it is all about.

Conclusion

Thinking about your station and show is hard. It’s not as much fun as jumping in to create content. But it’s an essential part of the process of building a brand that the audience can understand. Take the time to build the foundation of your brand first. It pays off.

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