Announcers ‘A to Z’ 2010

Dave Charles – ByrnesMedia

Always prepare relevant to your audience demographic and psychographic. Psychographic means how your audience feels about the things you talk about. Is it relevant to their lifestyle? How will they emotionally respond to what you say and how you say it?

Beware of trends and fads and how they affect the behaviour of your listeners. Shift happens and talent needs to be aware of these changes. An example of this is how Twitter is now hotter and faster than emails. Twitter broke the Haitian earthquake story before traditional news networks could get there.

Convergence is a reality in our new media world. Devices like the iPhone now offer, in addition to email, text, Twitter and Facebook connection, a chance to order many apps that helps you to have everything you need on one platform. Be sure to call ByrnesMedia for your Radio Station iPhone app today and promote it properly. EG ‘Take your home town FM station with you when you travel’. There are over 220,000 apps available and some good ones for free.

Deliver immediacy. With new media information from sources like Twitter, it’s important that you update your audience. If you don’t, you’ll lose your ‘preferred source’ status.

Evaluate what listeners are interested in. Read widely. Look for sites that talk about what really matters to listeners. Tap into this and filter your showprep through these various lifestyle filters. Check out the ByrnesMedia website for new and fresh information at

Find a better way and fresher approach to do the basics. In Australia, Mike Perso, one of Austereo’s top personalities, would incorporate listeners into doing basics like time and weather and finish up the bit by adding a local element from the listener’s area of the city. EG ‘what’s happening at your place today?’ Most successful shows today are locally focused.

Good means great. For you to remain relevant and viable to your audience, you need to keep five words in mind always. INFORM, ENTERTAIN, IMMEDIATE, LOCAL and ENGAGE. Being good in all of these areas will assure you of success.  Each of these five words has many variations.  Some talents are better at information than entertainment.  Know your strengths and be the best in the areas you specialize in. Being immediate is stronger than being local. Twitter has made this our new reality. 

Heart and soul. The best talents who achieve great ratings time after time project amazing heart and soul. Add conviction to that and you’ve got a winner. The audience knows if you are into it. Reality TV and the internet have changed this forever.  

Interactive is best. Create a dialogue with your listeners. Give them a chance to be a part of your show topics and discussions. This ranks up there along with immediacy as something listeners desire. Most of us form our opinions by consensus. We compare our thoughts against those of others. How often are you swayed by great comments or taken on a new perspective because you’ve listened to another opinion?

Just do it! Nike said this in their ad campaign first. For radio it means ‘take a stand on something’ that separates you from the pack. Be brave and bold. Be proactive. The great and late Tom Rivers of 1050 CHUM glory days used to sign off his show by saying ‘Lead, follow or get out of the way’.

Keep it simple. Larry King is the king of simple. He doesn’t talk much. But what he says and how he says it cuts through. Don’t be afraid to make your point simply and directly. Your audience will remember what you said.

Leverage opportunities. Jaymz Bee, morning personality, is thinking about running for Mayor of Toronto. His campaign is all about the things that make Toronto great and how to make the big city better. He used Twitter, Facebook and a website to gather thoughts and information from his listeners. He said that he wants to put the party back into politics. He’s naming his new party ‘The Cocktail Party’. So along with the serious issues of finding out how to make Toronto better, he’s also having lots of fun with it.

Minute by minute. Your audience’s lives are more complex than ever. Everything is moving faster and faster. Trying to keep pace in a rapidly evolving new media and digital world is stressful enough for most but more particularly for older demo stations. Announcers need to think more minute by minute in planning their breaks to make sure that every break counts. Don’t hook too far ahead. Pay off on information and entertainment as soon as you can. Do the twenty minute test. Turn your station on at any time on any show for twenty minutes. Assess the content, information and entertainment during that time. Now do the same with your nearest competitor and see how you stack up. I use this method to determine if a station is on strategy. You can use the same method to evaluate your relevance and content value.  

Now you must know your audience. It’s a good idea to find out the hot topics with your listeners and make sure you’re giving them enough information to keep them coming back for more.

Opportunities.  Most of the great shows exploit new opportunities. Get into the habit of brainstorming new ideas that add freshness to your show. Most opportunities are lost because they weren’t properly explored. PD’s need to find 15 minutes to do ‘instant brainstorms’ to look for new opportunities to expand each and every show. Brainstorms are used by all major companies to develop new software and concepts for their consumers. Your show is part of what your listeners can choose from. The best ones get the attention and ratings deserved based on the quality of the content and entertainment.  

Play back your show. If you don’t listen to your show on a regular basis you’ll never evolve it. I recommend you do that with your PD. Also, do that with people you respect. Every now and then it’s a good idea to get a fresh perspective.

Questions? To achieve a great interview, it’s all about asking great questions. Read Larry King’s book, ‘How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere. The Secret of Good Communication.’ This is the best book you’ll ever read on the art of doing great interviews.

Restate and replay. Many times you’ll have a great moment on your show that is often missed by your audience. Don’t hesitate to replay a good bit back later on in your show. Be sure you hook it and set it up properly with a specific time to hear it.

Seize the moment. Most days it’s hard to find an event or cause that’s worth expanding on. The new thinking on ‘seize the moment’ is that it doesn’t have to be a big event – it can be small but personal. What new media does so well is that it’s ‘personal communications’. Be sure that you look for something that’s real and of general interest to your audience. EG. Finding a wallet in the back of a taxi. Put the taxi driver on the air describing the wallet. Identify the person and have them call the station. When the person calls you, put them on the air. That’s a small example of seizing the moment.

Tease and hook. TSL now means second by second tuning in the world of PPM. Keep this in mind when you hook and tease your bits.  Make sure you pay off A.S.A.P.

Utilize all available free resources. Three of the best showprep resources are the Internet, Twitter and Facebook. But never underestimate the power of getting out and experiencing things. I highly recommend you experience your city. Keep your eyes open for characters and things that are great ways to find out the hot topics. Mine was always the local cab company. I had five drivers I would call on a random basis for the hot topics. Don’t forget that ByrnesMedia offers one of the best showprep services in North America. It’s not free, but it’s a very worthwhile investment.

Vibe. Winning shows have the right vibe. Vibe is an attitude that needs to come from the head through the heart. It’s the very essence of your style and performance. A winning personality also has swagger and confidence to deliver a show with real spark and appeal.

Will to succeed and carve out your share of the audience. The best advice given to me was by Greg Smith of ESP Media Australia. He said, you must think about every show as if you were running for election. Make sure your always on topic and relevant to the needs of your audience. I now share this sage advice with you. 

Xtra effort is the norm rather than the exception. The most successful shows all have that xtra gear that propels the show into greatness. Xtra results come from talent that meets with your PD to review, refine and rebuild a better show for the next day. If you’re not getting regular direction, find another station that will give you the right direction.

Yesterday once more. Shows that live in the past usually fade away into the ozone. The exception is an oldies trivia show. Most of us love factoids and bits of trivia we can attached to our favourite old songs. BOOM FM, Toronto has framed oldies from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s as Toronto GREATEST HITS. For announcers, be in the now. Keep your show in the present and moving forward to the future. Think of it this way; right now you’re playing someone’s favourite song. You may not like it, but someone does. So play it and respect it.

Zone. Find the zone for your talent in context with your show and daypart. Are you in the zone with your show and talent? When you are in the zone, you are on form to do great radio.