Happy New Year, everyone!
It’s the first week of January. Have you made a New Year’s resolution yet? If so, take a look in the mirror. Snap a few selfies. This is probably one of the only two weeks you’ll stick to it.
Why are we obsessed with self-improvement this time of year? I think it has less to do with the new year and more to do with the one that has just ended. December rolls around and we all start to think about who we are or where life has taken us, and to the detriment of our mental health, so many of us (self very much included here) think about what we aren’t or what we haven’t done. In a way, New Year’s resolutions are our way of shouting out to the universe “here are my problems!”.
Another year of your show has passed. Just like in your personal life, now is a good time to take stock of your professional life. You don’t have to be creative or overly reflective. A lot of the same resolutions from your personal life will work as you create goals for your show in the new year.
Let’s start with everyone’s favorite resolution – losing weight. A few different studies I’ve come across in preparing this column have suggested that as much as 20% of Americans will make this their goal for 2018. So let’s make it work for your show.
In the entertainment world, “fat” is anything that isn’t entertaining. Some of it is necessary to get us where we need to go. Too much of it can ruin a good thing. Think about the casino planet scene in The Last Jedi. Pure fat. Nothing of consequence happens and as a result, we stop caring about Fin, an otherwise cool character in the Star Wars universe.
So how do we “lose weight” and cut the fat in sports radio? It’s simple. Get to the point faster! Are you looking for calls? Start your segment with your question, then follow it up immediately with the phone number and/or Twitter handle.
You can also cut fat by making your opinion obvious. Don’t hide it in an effort to put “both sides of the argument” out there. You don’t have to be stand-offish on everything, but be clear about where you stand. How pointless is a segment that either takes too long to get to what you want or leaves the listener unsure of what the host’s opinion is?
Another popular New Year’s resolution is making smarter financial decisions. Doing this in any talk format can be tricky. Let me be perfectly clear, “protecting your money” and playing it safe on air is not a smart financial decision. It makes you boring and thus expendable.
Make smarter financial decisions by getting involved with the sales strategy of your show. Ask to visit weekly sales meetings occasionally. Make yourself available to meet with sales reps and even their clients. Make sure the people who control the amount of money coming into the station know who you are and what you do well. If those people respect you and like you, they will have respect for the show.
It’s not just about growing the number of endorsement deals that you get. This strategy will also help those same people understand why you work the way you do. Businesses that get the show and value you as a partner are more likely to give money to sponsor your big ideas like taking the show on the road or providing major promotional backing.
Finally, let’s talk about a resolution that I am adopting this year. It’s something I wish I had put a focus on sooner. This year, I want to be a better family member. That means being a more supportive partner for my wife and a more attentive dad for my daughter and son.
It’s easy to make this resolution work on your show. Be a better partner. If you’re part of a team, figure out how to bring your partners’ ideas to fruition. Take note about what works in segments that makes your partner’s star shine a little brighter than your own and remember that any win for the show is a win for you.
Also, take time to be a mentor in 2018. As a community, our goal for the sports format shouldn’t just be for it to survive. It should be for the definition of what sports radio can be to evolve and thrive. So, when you recognize talent nurture it. If you’re a PD, offer to air check your part-timers or producers that have their eye on becoming a host. It can only work out well for you. If you’re a successful host, make time to answer questions interns, producers, or even listeners have that may not get answered in their daily interactions with you or the show.
The radio industry, sports radio in particular, can be a better version of itself in 2018. You don’t personally have to make a resolution for your show or professional life for the year. You should make time to think about what is and isn’t working for you. Take stock and be willing to make changes. Yes they can be scary, but change is necessary for growth and improvement and growth and improvement is the end goal of every New Year’s resolution.