Thu. Jul 19th, 2018

Welcoming New Listeners

“You always get a kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.”—Joe DiMaggio on Opening Day

Baseball season is underway. Opening Day is practically a national holiday for baseball fans. It should be anyway. So as a baseball fan (Go Cubs!) I was excited to get on the couch and catch some programming on MLB Network to get me up to speed and ready for the day’s openers.

I tuned in for a bit before 9am and instead of a preview of Opening Day, I saw what appeared to be a repeat of Wednesday’s “Intentional Talk” program (It apparently was live which may be worse.) While the hosts were giving their predictions for the season, it certainly lacked the urgency and excitement you would expect from a show on the MLB Network on Opening Day. But I waited through it for the next show, hoping to find what I was looking for.

Intentional Talk ends (Thank God!!) and MLB Central follows. Finally a show to whip us from ballpark to ballpark to get us ready for Opening Day. Instead, the show dragged out of the gate. This was my first time watching morning programming on Opening Day, and I don’t think I’m alone.

Instead of providing the excitement of Opening Day, they spent the first part of the show literally talking “Inside Baseball” stuff about the MLB Central program. I had no idea what they were talking about except that apparently Matt Vasgersian used to be on the show but he’s not anymore. One of the hosts, Mark DeRosa, I recognized from his playing days with the Cubs. They talked about the red carpet-like set and more inside jokes that I don’t get about the talent on the channel–including something about Vasgersian and A-Rod.

I am not writing this as a critique of the MLB Network. It’s an important lesson for sports radio program directors, producers, and hosts. Here are the important items to be aware of:

  1. Understand that on certain days of the sports calendar new listeners will be checking out your local sports station (Opening Day, March Madness, kickoff of college football season, kickoff of NFL season, etc.) for the first time.
  2. Make your show(s) welcoming to new listeners. Let them know who the hosts are, avoid inside jokes, explain any regular segments and make it easy to understand how the show works.
  3. Match the excitement level of your fans. Hosts, imaging, audio, guests, callers all have to feed the interest of people who are tuning in on that day and add to the excitement and uniqueness of that day or days.

Without any advertising, marketing, contests, or gimmicks, people who don’t regularly listen to your station are sampling your programming. This is every PD’s dream!! So don’t blow a great opportunity. Welcome new listeners with open arms. It’s Opening Day—hope springs eternal for every baseball team. If you play your cards right, hope may spring eternal for your station and its spring ratings book.

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