Complaints Are Good…Usually

 In Blog

At the recent Morning Show Boot Camp in Chicago, one panel discussed how talent complaints are handled.

Cumulus OM Atlanta and VP of Contemporary Programming, Louie Diaz shared that he screens many Bert Show complaints by responding to them himself. It was also pointed out that most complainers can be diffused by simply thanking them for their feedback.

We are living in a PC-sensitive period where complaints can quickly blow up to the thousands on social media — just ask Kiss 108 Boston’s Matt Siegel. The highly polarized audience today is easily offended.

Management often overreacts or flips out over one or two random talent complaints. Air personalities often get reprimanded or cautioned to never let it happen again.

Conversely, there is truth to the idea that if a show isn’t receiving any complaints, it’s not connecting and creating audience reaction. That may be a bigger issue than complaints.

As managers, it’s important to know who the complaints are coming from and which ones to take seriously.

Irrelevant Complaints

There’s a segment of the population that loves to complain about anything. Their grievances are typically petty, random, and non-specific.

Most complaints are not coming from fans, they are generally coming from satellite P3 and P4 listeners. Also, be wary of aggressive competitors who launch complaints to get your station to react irrationally.

Handling Complaints

  1. Always listen to the audio so you can be 100% accurate in your assessment. The complainer may have misheard what was said or heard it on a competing show.
  2. Only share legitimate complaints with talent that could hurt their brand, ratings, or station revenue. For example, one of our past shows received 50+ emails and posts about repeated graphic language on a family-targeted station.
  3. In rare situations that blow up to hundreds or thousands of complaints, advise talent to address it on-air.
  4. Air personalities can effectively rally their fans by playing back on-air petty grievances or by reading social media posts.
  5. When talent responds to a complaint, the listener is not only appeased, but they are usually thrilled!
  6. The internet has sped up awareness and acceptance of many social issues. What was once considered funny is now offensive.

Photo by Nghia Le on Unsplash

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