An Interview With Dave Charles (Part 2)

AN INTERVIEW WITH DAVE CHARLES – PART 2

Last month, we began an interview with Dave Charles, the New Media and B2B consultant at ByrnesMedia. The following is part 2 of that interview.

ByrnesMedia: What are the key things that radio can do to be more appealing?

DC: Radio must find and develop new personalities. Personalities that are relevant to your demos. Look for people with character and personality plus. You may find some on the many social media sites. Radio is over produced. I’d look to get more listeners on air to briefly talk about things. These would have far more appealing than the station voice saying “THE BEST HITS EVER’. First of all, nobody says things like that about music. My friends say ‘Have you heard the new Pink song, she’s so hot?”’ Stations could benefit from having their listeners promote their station in a much more natural way. Take that concept to your brainstorming session and try it. It’s all about balance. Try cutting out your contrived station imaging by one half. Add natural listener liners and see how that feels. What’s the big story of the day? The Leafs lose 7 in a row. Get on the street or get on the phone and get listener comments. Use this to reflect that your station is on the same wavelength as your audience. It also mirrors how Twitter and Facebook relates. The advantage of social media is the natural engagement. Radio has lost that.

ByrnesMedia: Tell us about some of the best ways for radio to present a strong local image in the communities it serves?

DC: Get your brand on everything that has relevance in your community. Stations must be seen as part of their community. For example, every year, every city has a United Way drive. Have your station lead the charge by updating the running total at the end of every News report. Thank those people and businesses that have contributed to the United Way cause. Radio needs to do a better job at weaving in local information into their talk segments. My favourite is to promote annually ‘THE BEST OF YOUR CITY’. Sales must be involved as this opens up many selling opportunities. Who has the Best Pizza, Best Hair Cut, Best Fish and Chips, Best Customer Service. Best ‘CAN DO’ attitude. You promote the best three in each category and give them framed plaques from the station. Every business winner displays these in front of their store and is proud to participate. It’s one of the best local image promotions a station can do. CJXX presents the BEST of Kamloops! These are the ultimate People’s Choice Awards. Vote now.

ByrnesMedia: ‘Content is king’. How can radio build on this to attract new listeners?

DC: Radio must define and demonstrate its content value everyday. For instance, “If you missed our morning News with Ed Mason, you missed that City Hall is fining pet owners for dogs who are not tagged’. For music stations, promote your station’s new music and that your station is streaming 24/7 on the internet so you can listen while you work. Content is king means you must promote those shows and features that you believe have the most information and entertainment value to your listeners.

ByrnesMedia: What advice would you give General Managers and Sale Managers who are being impacted by the economy and soft sales?

DC: Sell radio’s benefits. Radio is a very affordable media which achieves great reach and frequency. Radio is locally relevant to your consumer. Look for examples of success stories that really define radio’s value in a soft economy. Remember, for every economic down-turn there’s an up-turn. Companies that continue to advertise in a soft economy will benefit. Encourage businesses to promote targeted specials to get customers in store. Target these specials in your advertising campaigns. Creative radio spots will create traffic. “Metro Food stores offer the ultimate ham and bread special for today only. Get a loaf of whole grain or white bread and 10 slices of premium ham for just $ 1.99.” If you get the bodies in the store, there is a good chance customers will shop for more than just bread and ham. Demonstrate radio’s real power – getting bodies in stores with reach and frequency.

ByrnesMedia: What role should a consultant play in a radio station?

DC: A consultant should remain objective and hear a station through fresh ears. A good consultant must be a resource for a station. Many PD’s are multi-tasking and run short on time to catch up on everything. ByrnesMedia.com is a good resource for our client stations. Our monthly client newsletters are well received by our clients and associates. We network widely to bring information that today’s radio can use to evolve and improve.

Consultants should be accessible to most of the radio station. The days of consultants hiding in hotel rooms should be well and truly over. This creates a climate of fear and uncertainty; not a good thing to do for station morale. As a consultant of experience, I enjoy meeting the team and having access to them. If you’re transparent and open, you’ll learn so much more about the station. Many of the junior staffers I’ve met over the years have gone on to be industry leaders like Jim Johnston of Corus Radio Vancouver.

ByrnesMedia: Talk about your new role at ByrnesMedia in B2B consulting and New Media.

DC: B2B means ‘business to business’. Chris Byrnes and I believe that all businesses are measured by revenue performance. So, my focus will be on looking for ways to improve sales performance. I also believe in NTR revenues. NTR is non traditional revenue. These are events, sales seminars, business functions like ‘Financial Fitness Forums’ where the stations sponsor guest speakers to help businesses supercharge their approach to the ever changing business environment. There are no magic quick fixes. The world economy has been rocked. I hope to pass on tips and new ways to resolve old business challenges. My pet peeve is lack of rate integrity. Most stations in tough economies drop rates. By doing so, you devalue the worth of your creative and your ability to get results. I’d rather add bonus spots to a campaign to gain traction instead of lowering rates. B2B will involve a new and comprehensive way to improve local sales and marketing through station client seminars – more on this in coming weeks.

ByrnesMedia: How can radio prepare better for the presence of digital media?

DC: Radio must stay true to the following. Be hyper-local, super-immediate and interactive with its listeners. Every station needs to get out amongst its community and make real contact. Ask listeners and customers how things are going. What’s changing in their world? How are they using social media? What do they want more from radio to make it more relevant to their lives? Greg Nisbet of Mediazoic has suggested radio use a Facebook Fan Page to make contact and build a new group of listeners as well as using Twitter for more local information happening right now. Greg has put together an important article on radio’s usage of new media that is included in this newsletter.

ByrnesMedia: What should stations do to keep things fresh for their teams and their listeners?

DC: We are creatures of habit. We are mostly lazy by nature. Once we have a routine, we get locked into it. We stop allowing new ideas to filter into our day. This to me is where the creativity and lack of freshness happens. For your team, call for instant brain storms. Get them into your meeting room and set up a challenge. Get lots of ideas. Mark all of them down. Circle the ones that have merit and instantly reward the person that came up with that idea. This exercise can recharge a work environment like no other. Rather than pushing out your ideas and concepts, ask for team input. Do that on a random basis every week, but do it at different times to create the buzz. For listeners, get out to where they are. I love to catch listeners coming out of concerts and sporting events. I’d have a live mike set up to capture the energy and mood of the event. Take these listener comments and wild tracks back to production and use the best of them to go between songs to add real energy and localism to your station. Don’t get listeners to say the typical listener bits like ‘Hi this is Sheila and I always listen to JILL FM because I like their music’. That’s not what you want to achieve. This sounds contrived and fake. Listener voices should add flavour and colour to your station. If they sound real, they’ll automatically add a local and human vibe to you station that the traditional ‘BIG VOICED’ promo voice can’t. Try this tactic. You’ll love how it sounds. But remember; use them as spice to add flavour to your sound. No more than two per hour.

ByrnesMedia: What are some of the best examples of new media for stations to focus on that will add real value for time spent sampling.

DC: Your station must get into Twitter. Get every talent to do this for real local contact with their listeners. It’s immediate and relevant showprep. Set up a Facebook Fan Page for your station and talents. For fun sampling check out Squidoo.com and StumbleUpon.com. Blogger.com is one of my personal favourites. There’s real value to doing personality station blogs, but your talent must make a regular commitment to keeping it fresh with regular entries 4 days a week. Get ready for Greg Nisbet’s article – a great new media specialist exclusive to ByrnesMedia.