Sunday, July 12, 2009

Being Broke Is A Temporary Situation...What Will You Do With Just 10%

I was recently introduced to the name Mike Todd. A quote attributed to him really got my juices flowing: "I've never been poor, only broke. Being poor is a frame of mind. Being broke is only a temporary situation".

Mike Todd invented the film process we call 70mm. He did it in 1951 and in 1952, developed Cinerama. It was 65mm of picture with 5mm of sound, including effects and music. It gave the Silver Screen an advantage it needed over small-screen Black & White (Monaural) television.

In 1957, Mike Todd became the third husband of the most glamorous actress of her time, Elizabeth Taylor. Interesting lifetime.

Now, what does this have to do with Radio?

The hard-nosed reality is that many stations now have only morning shows (usually the PD) followed by a cacophony of “bumping songs” between jingles, imagers and commercials the rest of the day. Yes, Radio is apparently “broke”—in many ways, including financially. But it isn’t “Poor”. It has the creativity and energy of its remaining people.

The one thing we cannot afford to do is nothing.

When your radio station is predictable 90% of the time, you’ve set the stage for Predictable Unpredictability. What you do with that 10% that is not routine makes all the difference. Therein lies the opportunity.

If you think of your station’s normal format as your Reality Base, then even the most overworked PD’s—even those programming two or more stations—can create than little something that makes the station(s) very special. The “mundane” and the “routine”
become perfect opportunities for “predictable unpredictability”.

It is our Reality Base for injecting something into the mix that is so outrageous it gets attention and begs the listener to wonder “what next”? That “what next” attitude creates Time-Spent-
Listening and THAT creates Average Quarter Hour Audience or, in the PPM markets, “Listener Engagement”.

It’s the RULES that make the EXCEPTIONS possible.

Opportunities for “breaking the rules” are everywhere: perhaps that billboard on the main thoroughfare is something that could become a conversation piece. Sell it to a client—the billboard and your station talking about it. Make it outrageous! Make it fun! Create Street Talk!

How about a local happening or event? Or a local celebrity? Put ‘em together with a client or two and let ‘er rip!

Dare I suggest something as wacky as what Dick Orkin created at Chicago’s WCFL in 1966? Whenever The Adventures Of Chickenman came on the radio, Chicago literally stopped
to get the latest scoop on The Wonderful Weekend Warrior Who Combats Crime And/Or Evil. Click here to learn more.

Factor in Twitter, Facebook and other Social Networking sites and you have yet another shot at the outrageous.

Whatever you choose to do, Do Something!

Radio may be broke, but it’ll never be poor—as long as we hire and allow creative people the privilege of Free Thought…at least for 10% of the time.

And in the words of Mike Todd, being “broke is only a temporary situation.”