Mon. Aug 13th, 2018

Throwing Stuff Against The Wall

As I type this, we are still a few hours away from the NCAA Tournament Selection Show. The show was moved this year from its traditional home on CBS to TBS, which last year became the TV home of the Final Four.

I live in Raleigh, NC. We are right in the heart of the most college basketball obsessed state in the most college basketball obsessed conference in the country. People here have very strong opinions on college hoops and the way it is presented.

Most of the opinions I have heard about the proposed changes coming to the Tournament Selection Show are negative. Admittedly, some of them are really stupid. For instance, I cannot see the justification for releasing the field of 68 alphabetically before releasing the seedings.

But credit where it is due. The Tournament Selection Show is stale. The College Football Playoff Selection Show on ESPN each December is stale too. Let’s not write off potential changes to a format that is kind of irrelevant in the age of the smart phone.

I bring all of this up to get into the double-edged sword that is a self-audit. It is never a bad thing to sit back and take stock of what is and isn’t working for your show, but you have to do it in a smart way. Perhaps there is a benchmark that you have soured on. It doesn’t make sense to force yourself to crank out material you’re no longer passionate about. That will come through on air and be felt by the listeners.

You have to be very conscious of the listeners when doing a self-audit. You may not be excited about doing a daily trivia question, but if it keeps the phones ringing are you sure you can afford to lose it?

Never be afraid to try new things or jettison bits or clocks you’ve used because “we’ve always used them.” If those things aren’t working, they aren’t working. Innovation and adaptability aren’t just important for the sports format. They are important qualities for media in general.

These field reveal shows no longer have the impact they once did, so why not make a few changes? Turner has the luxury of being the only company that can reveal the brackets, so they have the ability to throw a lot against the wall to see what sticks. Maybe by the time you read this we’ll all be laughing about what a terrible idea it was to bring in a studio audience for the tournament reveal, but then again, what if it adds to the fun atmosphere of the event?

I am as guilty of this as anyone. Sometimes we let nerves dictate how we react to proposed change. We spend so much time thinking about what could go wrong if we make changes that we never stop to consider why change might be needed.

New is always scary at first. But being unpredictable, even to the listeners that have been with you for years is what keeps you relevant in this crowded media landscape. So ask friends or co-workers you trust their opinions. Ask loyal listeners that you have developed relationships with. Those people can tell you what feels stale to them or what your show feels like it is missing.

Will they always be right? Of course not, but don’t assume they are wrong just because you may not agree. You can’t grow as a broadcaster if you come to the studio knowing what you are going to do at the same time each day, so come in ready to throw some stuff at the wall to find out what sticks. If it doesn’t work, you’ll know it and you can move on, but what if it does work? Maybe approach changes and suggestions with that attitude for a while and see how it works out for you.

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