Each week I scan the country looking for a segment of audio that jumps out. For this week, I’ve selected a six minute piece of audio from Colin Cowherd’s program. What I enjoyed about this particular content was that it was delivered on a Monday when it would be easy to ignore everything else in sports because the NFL warrants the majority of our attention.
But, the political debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on Sunday night also captivated the nation. So did college football and the MLB Playoffs. That makes it a challenge when laying out your rundown on Monday and deciding which topics to explore, and when to present them during the show.
You could deliver three hours of NFL topics and ignore the other items (package them in an update or benchmark/feature) and most programmers wouldn’t find fault with your approach. Most would probably say “you can’t beat the NFL drum enough”. But when other subjects are presented well and delivered in short fashion at the back end of an hour, the secondary or third topic in a show can keep an entire show sounding complete. It tells the audience that you’re well rounded, aware of other big stories, and you never give away a segment.
In this particular piece of audio, Colin dives immediately into the content and starts with a hot button subject – the political debate. Although the majority of the segment is built around Charlie Strong and the Texas Longhorns, if you’re trying to hook an audience to sit through a five minute break, you’re better served teasing a reaction to the debate than a conversation about Charlie Strong. It offers more drama, and personal connection, and will appeal to a larger audience. You don’t need to spend the entire next segment on the political debate just because you teased it. Just pay off what you promised to the audience and move on.
Along those lines, Colin spent the first 1:10 of the segment on the debate and never presented it in a way that would divide his audience. Not many hosts employ that strategy. Human nature is to express how we feel when discussing a topic. We do it throughout each show when covering sports topics. But political conversations can take a fan of your show and cause them to pledge their allegiance to someone else. Therein lies the risk of exploring sensitive content.
What I appreciated about Colin’s approach was that he recognized the importance of the topic, skimmed the surface, and spun it in a way that was relatable to everyone. He didn’t leverage his platform and the story to further his political agenda, and instead used the political headline as bait to pull people in, and then pivoted off of it by connecting it to a bigger discussion on Charlie Strong and his performance at Texas.
As a New Yorker with stronger interest in the NFL, MLB Playoffs and political debate, if I had heard that a conversation was coming up about Charlie Strong and the Longhorns, I’d probably have tuned out. But because he addressed a larger national story right out of the gate, and framed it in a way that tied nicely to the Strong story, I wound up engaged and giving him six minutes of my time. In this PPM ratings world we operate in, that would’ve been enough listening time to generate a quarter hour of ratings credit. Click below to hear the audio.