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Terry's Thoughts

About the blog

All opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

Those opinions are based on professional radio experiences and knowledge gained over 35 years in the local radio industry in Ireland and UK.

How to Get The Best From Your Presentation Team

Uncategorised Posted on Mon, November 25, 2019 14:59:00

Radio jocks (sorry! Radio presenters) are interesting people and I don’t mean only when they are on the air. I would suggest that ‘interesting’ is an essential requirement when they are behind the mic. If they are not then you might just have a problem or three. Let me explain, good radio jocks tend to be egotistical, self-absorbed, confident, opinionated, arrogant, clever and… talented!

A good programmer must be able to recognise that talent when he hears it and the best way to find good presenters is to listen to other radio stations, advertise within the industry, and listen to recommendations from other programmers and so on. Most importantly you must know that your ability to recognise talent is just the starting point in the whole process. It is developing that talent that is vital to your stations success. I never like to assume things but for the purposes of this article I am going to assume that you have a fully functional presentation team and they all have talent in varying degrees. The question is how do you move them forward from where they are now? How do you get them to progress from where they are now? How do you make them better than they are now?

Never Finished

I have spent many years working out how to get the best out of presentation teams and realise now that any process that achieves this is an ongoing one. There is no hard and fast rule how to make your team perform better but there are certain things you must establish in your own mind and one of them is that it is a job that is never, ever finished.

Presenters, like any other employee should have a path of personal growth and development within the station. That’s your job as Station Manager. Presenters need to be moved forward, they need to learn new skills and they need to get better at what they do. You should know, as a manager that if they get better at what they do, if they learn new skills, then your station performance is likely to improve too and that can only be a good thing for you and your presenters. It‘s the proverbial Win/Win situation.

Regular Meetings

I suggest a well defined coaching process that is based on mutually agreed objectives is the way forward. It’s a fairly simple process in the form of a one-to-one meeting with each presenter on your station. In that meeting you both listen back to an hour of a recent show, identify three or four things that were done well and three things that were not so good. You then get agreement from your presenter on these points and set three agreed objectives to be achieved by the time you have your next meeting.

You should continue the process weekly setting new objectives every time. Of course, you as Station Manager have full control over these objectives and make certain that they are in line with your own objectives for the overall station output. It is also good to be clear with your presenters and explain fully what you are trying to achieve, not just for them individually but for the station. In smaller stations there are lots of volunteer presenters and that means lots of meetings. Probably impossible to carry them all out weekly. So I suggest you carry out weekly meetings with your daytime team and schedule monthly or bi-monthly meeting with other presenters. You may have a senior presenter who could carry out some coaching on your behalf. This would be a good way of developing a senior presenter who may wish to become a good Programme Manager in the future.

Opportunities

There are other benefits of having such a system in place too. You, as manager, have the ability to know, understand and agree all aspects of each show and have input on how you wish individual shows to sound before its broadcast. It is also an opportunity to discuss and resolve any issues the presenter may have while doing his job and provides both of you with the chance to discuss new opportunities and develop show ideas.

That’s what I mean by building a product. I am not certain that managers in smaller radio stations have such a process in place, nor do they realise that such a process is vital to the overall success of the station. I am aware of the fact that running a small radio station is a difficult job. But managers spending most of their time dealing with other issues while the product they produce and the team that produces it gets no attention at all. This is simply not on and is a big mistake.

I have said it before and I will say it again. What comes out of those speakers is your product. That is why you exist! The quality of that product determines your success!

You need to make sure your product is right and you need to be certain it is right all the time. Ignore it at your peril.

Manage or Fail

There is another issue that I come across all the time that needs to be said. It seems to me that radio station managers are too protective of their stations. That is a good thing but I notice that this form of protection is killing the product. There seems to be a fear (unfounded, in my view) that if you delegate any of the major functions of your station to another you are losing control of it.

No, you are not losing control, you areactually gaining control. The role of station manager is simply that… You need to manage and to do so you must delegate. If you feel you can ‘do everything’ you are wrong… Unless you have godlike attributes.

If you continue to do so then expect failure. Not because you didn’t try but because you didn’t delegate. As a trial, I suggest you delegate the process of coaching your part time presenters to your most senior presenter on the station. Get him to set up the process, run it and provide monthly reports to you on how all part time presenters are developing under his guidance.

Your managerial position means you should use the skills of others to get what you want. If you appoint someone to help you to build a good product and they succeed, they do so only because you made that decision. If you appoint a salesperson and they bring in loads of money, they do so only because you made that decision.

Delegate

Be honest with yourself and put your trust in people who can do some jobs better than you and give them credit when they succeed. Your success comes when your station becomes successful because of the decisions you’ve made and that credit for that lies solely … with you!



Your Position In Your Listeners Mind

Uncategorised Posted on Mon, October 07, 2019 19:29:23

Quite a while back I looked in detail at the process of positioning your radio station in your listeners mind and this week I want to look at how you can manage the positioning process. Positioning is all about the conscious management of how your station is perceived by listeners in the area you broadcast to. I believe that most radio people understand positioning, they just don’t realise that they understand it. They haven’t yet realised that a lot of what they do to get listeners to listen is part of the process of… Positioning!

So what is ‘positioning’? Radio station positioning establishes the competitive reason for the listener selection of your station versus that of your competitors and the unique position you intend to occupy in their mind. In other words, it identifies why listeners should care about us in the first place.

Of course, as a manager, a programmer, or a licensee you have an overall business plan that guides you over the term of the licence (you do have a plan, don’t you?) Part of that plan will include strategies defined by you to achieve everything you want to achieve. Your plan may change over time and that ok, not having a plan at all is not ok.

Part of the plan

One of those strategies in your plan should be all about positioning your station. If you do not have a strategy for this then it is something you should put in place right now. Having a ‘positioning’ strategy as part of your overall management plan for your radio station means you wish to have an active role in forming a favourable opinion in your listeners’ minds about your station. People will not listen to you simply because you want them to. You have to tell them you have a product, you have to tell them about the product and you must do everything you can to get them to buy into the product.

Radio everywhere, big or small, is a product and it must be thought of that way if it’s to succeed. The only difference is we have two types of customers, listeners and advertisers. It is simple and I challenge anyone to deny the fact that if you have plenty of both the station will be a huge success… agreed?

Three statements that will make you a very happy person are when your customers and listeners say:

I listen to Community radio because I like the local news and information…

I listen to Community Radio because I like the music they play…

I advertise on Community Radio because I get new customers through my door…

Cluttered and Confused

Thanks to the web, I can listen to lots of radio stations and get a good feel for how those stations are performing. The overriding feeling I get is one of lots of clutter on air and mixed messages about the product. The end result is that I don’t get a clear picture in my head about the station, I’m left undecided and somewhat confused. Now…if that is how I feel, I wonder what local listeners think?

Endearing? Irritating?

Community radio stations need to get away from the idea that it is ok to have loads of stuff on air every hour. Filling the station with all sorts of features and shows is not the way forward.

Community radio is like any other radio station regardless of what industry sector it is in and the same rules apply across the board. Community Radio has got to stop thinking that you can do what you like and the listeners will stay with you just because you are a Community Station. They will not. They expect good quality local radio and they will not listen for long if they don’t get it. Yes, it is that simple.

One eminent journalist writing in a national newspaper referred to the first ten minutes of listening to his community radio station in Kent as ‘endearing’. He also went on to say that after ten minutes ‘endearing’ quickly became ‘irritating’. This is very accurate. The lesson is simple. You must get your product right and then position it correctly in your listeners mind. Do not expect the word ‘Community’ in your title or imaging to keep listeners listening if your output is poor.

Keep It Simple

Position your station in a way that is easy to listen to (not easy listening). If you ‘love to be local’ that incorporate that in your call sign on air, your imaging, in the way you answer the phone, on your car stickers and so on.

If you do road shows, then make sure you promote your position there too. Get rid of the clutter, all those different messages you have. Focus on just one clear and easily understandable message that tells listeners who you are and what you do. Your station must clearly define and develop a strong, clear, simple position that is easily understood. Only change things if you know they’re not working.

Your station must tell its listener what its ’position’ is and use every facet of the stations output to get ‘the station position’ fixed in the listeners mind. Too many stations fail because the image the listener gets is left to chance and you cannot afford to do that. I repeat, people will not listen to you just because you are a community station. You product has to be right too.

Document your position regarding music, news and presentation style and make certain it is clearly understood by every member of the team who works in or with the station at all levels. Act on those policies and be rigid in their implementation. Consider ‘the station position’ in the listeners mind before you implement any new features or changes to general station output.

Positioning Exercise

Try this exercise in positioning a specific part of your station output. I would like you to consider specifically why some stations play a music bed under the national and local news whenever they are broadcast. Please note that I am not saying it is a good or a bad programming element. I am simply asking why it is done.

1 Does it make the station sound better?

2 Does it make listeners listen to the News?

3 Does it add to the news bulletin as a product in itself?

4 Are you trying to cover inadequacies in the news delivery?

5 Are you trying to cover inadequacies in the news content?

What you are doing here is questioning what you do and how it is perceived by the listener. If you wish to establish a position in the listeners mind that information you supply is clear accurate and easily understood then I suggest that a music bed under the news works against establishing that ‘position’.

One of the major guiding factors when building a radio station format (product) is the conscious decision to be clear FIRST on what ‘position’ you want that radio station to be in ‘in the listeners mind’.

In radio station terms, you should consider ‘position’ when deciding on music played / weekend format / station ids/ promos / news / staff hired/road-shows/station liners used/ and so on. If it did not fit with where you want the station to be ‘in the listeners mind’ you simply do not do it.

Finally, when considering position of the station in the listeners mind, it is worth remembering that is the small programming decisions, not just the big ones that secure your stations position in your listeners mind.



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