I assume a lot of us in sports media sales start our day’s the same way – by perusing industry news. I get daily emails from the RAB, Radio Ink and Talkers. I will typically click over to InsideRadio.com, as well, and we all know Jason Barrett will keep our in-boxes full, with all the latest happenings in sports radio.
Most days there is at least one tidbit I keep for a future sales meeting, or something I will email out to my team before they get their day started. Plus, I always like to see which of my former co-workers is on the move to the company they said they would never work for.
This week, the first article I read was a piece by Beau Philips titled “How to Unsuck Radio, in 10 Easy Steps.” (http://tinyurl.com/y7kz3z94). The first line of the article caught my attention as it asked a question every radio station manager should ask themselves often: “Is your radio station great, or just good enough?”
The premise of the article is that if you are striving to be great, you won’t settle for good and that broadcasters have a tendency to play it safe rather than take risks. A list then follows of ten things the author suggests radio does in order to be great.
It didn’t take long for me to realize it was an article that applies less to sports radio/spoken word than other formats. Listed first was “cut the clutter – start by reducing your spot load.” Translated – here sales team, make do with less.
Despite what you may have been told, spot loads and sponsorship interruptions are not the problem with our format – and I can prove it to you. What would you say if I told you there was a show doing 50 minute segments!? Or if I told you there was a show doing 12 to 15-minute commercial breaks at a time!? What if I also told you that despite not have a ratings success story, the show is typically near sell-out, at a high rate!?
I wouldn’t believe it either if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears, but I have. I referenced my time at KFNS in last week’s column and this week I want to tell you about The Morning After, which currently airs weekdays on the station in morning drive. To put it simply, the show breaks a lot of the “standard” rules of radio and they get away with it. Why? Because the content is so good, the listeners don’t care.
They don’t take regular breaks. They don’t stop good interviews because the clock says they have to. They don’t overly limit their inventory. They don’t do Mike Greenberg-esque teases. And it doesn’t matter. Advertisers fight to get in the show because the audience is super loyal. Everything is sponsored in the show: hours, segments, features, you name it. If the audience is dying to hear the content, they will sit through just about anything from a sponsorship standpoint. It all works because the programming itself is so well done that it overcomes any tactical shortcomings.
I have previously mentioned that if you’re in sports media sales and you make a pitch that isn’t bought, chances are it wasn’t a good enough idea. The same holds true on the programming side. It’s about the content. I realize the importance of all the intricacies of programming, but in the end, it simply comes down to the content. Great, compelling content can overcome a lot and have advertisers clamoring to be involved.
A lot can be learned from a show such as The Morning After, one that is willing to take risks, and in doing so, is proving that content really is king and is the only thing that can take you from good enough to great.