You vs the Audience

 In Blog

Dan Vallie (Vallie, Richards, Donovan Consulting and National Radio Talent System) taught me to get out of my own head and to think from the perspective of clients as a consultant. The most successful radio shows and podcasts think from the perspective of the audience.

Jeff McHugh starts with a surprising story about a Rock superstar to illustrate this point. Check out the excellent examples of content that may be fun for you but not for your audience.

Randy Lane

What if what you love about your show is different than what the audience loves? Here’s a true story to consider.

One day, an announcer on non-commercial KBOO here in Portland was soliciting for contributions to support their eclectic playlist, promising that KBOO “will never, ever play ‘Stairway To Heaven.”

A listener driving through town, immediately pulled to the side of the road, called in and donated money. The listener said that he wanted to financially support the station’s commitment to never playing that popular Led Zeppelin song.

The listener was Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin.

Despite what fans want, Robert Plant and other famous musicians are so over their hit songs that they will not play them again. Mr. Plant has refused a Led Zeppelin reunion tour for years. Last June, he played songs from his new album (not Zeppelin) and sold 3,417 tickets at his show in Santa Barbara.

On the exact same day, Fleetwood Mac did a show with all their hit songs in London and sold 31,675 tickets. Do you think Stevie Nicks is any less tired of “Rhiannon” than Robert is of “Stairway?”

For broadcasters and podcasters, what is fun to perform in the studio is often not so fun for the audience. And, what is right for the audience is often not the most enjoyable for the person behind the mic. For example,

Live calls. The spontaneity can be exciting for on-air hosts, but the truth is that most callers are not trained performers and a recorded, edited call is usually better.

Interviews. It feels prestigious to have famous guests, but even celebrities can be awful, as proven by the interview with “Friends” star Matt LeBlanc last week on the Kyle and Jackie O Show in Sydney.

Recycling content. Most listeners love it when you replay a hilarious on-air moment; replays are indeed less fun for the host than opening the mic and doing something new.

Charities. It feels good to use your show to help find homes for shelter pets, for example, but most good-cause on-air segments are not entertaining, or effective.

Giveaways. It is thrilling to hear a prize winner scream. But unless a contest is a fun game that commuters can play along with, most giveaways don’t matter much.

Debates.  Sparring over a difference in opinion can be great fun in the studio, but unless augmented with great story examples, heated back-and-forth gets tiresome quickly.

Of course, Robert Plant is free to do concerts to please himself because he’s a mega star multi-millionaire who has made it. Until you reach that point, it is important to focus your efforts exclusively on giving the people what they want, when they want it, as often as they want it.

PS: Here is audio of Robert Plant telling the story of donating to KBOO. Funny stuff.

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