Buzzwords at Morning Show Boot Camp

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After interacting with people exclusively on Zoom or Teams for the past yearMorning Show Boot Camp in Chicago was a refreshing in-person experience.

I moderated a session titled, The People and Stories Behind Some of Radios Greatest Shows.  Legendary consultant, Lee Abrams, stressed radio’s urgent need to get off auto-pilot and create a 360-degree experience. Air personalities must play a dominant role in creating, “theater of the mind.”

Radio One’s VP of Programming, Colby Tyner, noted that his former cohost, Wendy Williams, rose to multimedia fame with a relentless drive early in her career to learn everything radio, and to her professional and personal transparency on-air.

Rick Kaempfer shared behind-the-scenes producing experiences with Chicago radio icons Steve and Gary, Jonathan Brandmeier, and John Records Landecker. Check out Rick’s book The Radio Producer’s Handbook.

Themes that surfaced in multiple sessions included:

Talent Value
One overarching theme was the important role talent plays in keeping radio vital and competitive. However, in the Jacobs Media Air Talent Study, Fred Jacobs cited radio’s dilemma of not developing a talent bench.

  • It was disappointing that major industry executives stressed the increased value of talent, considering the competition with music streaming platforms; yet, there was no discussion about the value of coaching as a means of keeping talent relevant, fresh, and innovative.

The Bert Show’s, Bert Weiss led a panel conversation among top industry executives and talents regarding this question: Is it better to address divisive or inflammatory topics and risk offending or losing a segment of the audience, or simply not address it?

Music station shows are choosing to treat massive national stories, such as the Capitol riots and Black Lives Matter in one of three ways:

  1. Don’t mention it because listeners are coming to music stations to escape negative news.
  • That statement is largely true, BUT when a show does not acknowledge a story everyone is talking about, it will be perceived as inauthentic and out of touch.

2. Report the story factually, with no commentary from talent, to avoid inciting half the audience.

  • This is the appropriate treatment of divisive stories for new and developing shows that have not attained trusted personality brand status.

3. Trusted voices can discuss any topic.

  • Trusted voices have earned the right to express their feelings and views on any subject.

Song Count
At what point can successful shows begin reducing the song count in favor of more content? There are three factors to consider:

  1. The show has been on-air long enough to establish a trusted relationship with listeners through character development. Key indicators include market research, and strong phone, text, and social media response.
  2. The show is consistently creating A-level content equal to or greater than the quality of the music.
  3. The show is outperforming the average rank and/or share of the total station ratings. For example, your show is number two and your radio station is number four in the target audience.

Gender Inequality
The Women’s Forum and the Jacobs Media Air Talent Study made it clear that women do not have equal opportunity and advancement in radio.

  • It is especially important for female-targeted radio stations to have women in prominent on-air roles. Our industry needs more female leads like Dana Cortez, Ellen K, and Sarah Clark (Sarah & Vinnie).

If you have not attended Don Anthony’s Morning Show Boot Camp, put it on your list for next year. It’s an inspiring and creative group of upcoming and seasoned professionals who are networking, sharing experiences, and learning from each other.

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