Sun. May 19th, 2019

Time To Clear Out The Clutter

“Listen to an hour of most sports radio stations in the country and there’s just too much clutter.”

I know that a lot of people have made New Year’s resolutions. If you’re a sports radio PD, I’m going to make one for you. Get rid of the clutter.

Yes, there’s clutter on your desk and in your office. Get rid of it or if you need it, file it away.

What I’m really talking about is getting rid of the clutter on your radio station. Listen to an hour of most sports radio stations in the country and there’s just too much clutter.

What I call clutter falls into four categories:

TRAFFIC REPORTS

Traffic are an even bigger tune-out than 5-10 years ago with traffic apps like WAZE or Google Maps. Plus, people are not listening to your station for traffic reports and the reports are not on a regular time schedule like the all-news station on the 1s or 8s typically. It’s a great indicator to the listener that you will be in a commercial break for awhile. Great time for listeners to check out your competition. 

Image result for waze traffic

GUESTS

Guests can be great additions to your shows, but they can also be a drag on your show or even a brick wall that stops the show’s momentum. For too many shows there are guests on because we’ve always had guests on sports radio shows. This is the worst reason to do anything…”because we’ve always done it this way.”

Hosts, producers, and PDs should always be critical of guests and guest targets. Why are we having this guest on? Is this the best guest we can have to talk about this story? Is today the best day to be talking to this person?

This takes special skill on the part of the show producer. I’d call it a nimbleness or flexibility to go along with great people skills. It means the producer will have to be great at booking AND un-booking guests. In fact, a great producer will have to cancel guests while making the guests feel ok with it. Making them understand it. 

CALLERS

Like guests, a great caller can really add to a show and a crappy caller can really make the show sound weak. Too often I have heard radio executives talk about a host who “doesn’t like to take calls.” When I hear that I don’t entirely believe it. My thought when I hear that quote is ‘the calls aren’t well screened.’ 

Image result for call screener

Every caller needs to be: 

  • On Topic: Talking about a big topic of the day that has been broached by a host. 
  • Unique: Not the same opinion with the same take as another caller
  • Clear: Clean audio quality, radio down, caller can hear you clearly and you can hear the caller. 
  • Ready: Sometimes callers are on hold for 10-20-even 30 minutes. The producer/call screener needs to regularly check in with callers to make sure they’re still there and ready to go. 

Just because someone can dial ten digits doesn’t give them the right to be on your station. I don’t care if they listen 24/7 and come to all your events. They have to be good programming to get on the air. No exceptions. Your call screener has to be comfortable telling callers that they aren’t getting on the show. Clear your station of bad callers. 

SPORTS UPDATES

This is a controversial one. I have heard people make good arguments on both sides of this. The update conversations started in earnest when Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio stopped having updates and instead did their own updates at the top of the hour.

On the pro-update side there’s a thought that a sports anchor will update the listener on the sports news, sound bytes, and highlights of the day. The anti-update argument says that it’s just another interruption from your talk shows. 

Similar to traffic reports, the technology we have today makes sports updates less important. This is not to take anything away from the excellent update anchors out there. I’ve worked with many great professional anchors, but in 2019 updates are part of the “clutter” you should be looking at on your station. Even more so on stations where the producer is also your update anchor. This will allow the producer to focus on the show instead of worrying about the next update. 

In conclusion, I ask you to look at the clutter on your station and clean it up. Your 2019 listeners will thank you!