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The Stuph File Program – Episode #0534

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0534.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:




If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0533

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0533.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:




If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0532

0

Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0532.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:



If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

Talk On The Radio: How Much Is Too Much?

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Finding the right combination of talk content on a music station is a non-scientific task. Break length and music count are issues nearly every programmer wrestles with from time to time.

Yet, it’s one of the most important decisions to be made.

One of the first questions from virtually every client is:

How much music should the morning show play?

This is almost always followed by:

How long should breaks be?

There’s no standard answer to these questions. That’s like asking how long a song should be, or the ideal length of a movie. Or how many pages should be in the book?

The real answer: It depends! And there are many factors to consider. But I’ll provide a guideline after discussing the variables.

Break Length Variables

When working with talent, knowing when to tighten or loosen the leash to allow them to run free is difficult.

It is true, however, that air talent on music stations must earn the right to more talk. This privilege is not a bonus granted by the PD or GM. It’s an invitation from the audience, and is earned over time. When content becomes more of an attraction that music, increase the talk and reduce the music. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Here are 6 factors to help you figure out the right mix for your station.

Don’t Obsess About Talk Break Length

First, understand that the length of the break isn’t nearly as important as the pace of the break. Forward momentum is key to listener retention.

In sports, Major League Baseball has obsessed over shortening games. Baseball officials are applying pressure on teams, umpires and players to “speed up” the games.

The emphasis is on the wrong syllable.

Taking all of the “downtime” out of baseball shortens the average game time by 7-8 minutes. In a three hour game, does 7-8 minutes matter?

This isn’t really about length. It’s about the pace, momentum and energy of the game.

Making the game more exciting should be the goal. In radio, we often do the same thing. We’re worried about length, when our emphasis should be on the listener experience. When content is engaging and moving forward, longer breaks are more tolerable. But as soon as it slows, we enter the danger zone. In this regard, length is irrelevant.

Tight And Short Are Not The Same Thing

There’s a big difference between executing a tight performance and length of talk in a break.

Being tight is eliminating needless words and streamlining focus. Don’t tighten a break in order to shorten it. Tighten it to improve the pace of the break, provide focus and make it easier to understand.

Shorter is simply, well, shorter. And shorter isn’t always better.

In other words:

Tight and short are not the same.

For programmers coaching talent, this is important. Choose words very carefully. A comment like, “I love this because it was short” is deflating, with misplaced emphasis on an aspect that carries limited impact. It’s stifling to creative personalities.

Compare that to a comment like,

I love that break because it was tight. It was focused. It moved forward.

Audience’s aren’t screaming for shorter talk segments. They are excited for content that inspires them.

But every programmer wants guidelines. The right answer for you depends on the strength of your show.

Here’s a starting point.

6 Tips on Break Length

The most important consideration for how much talk is the right amount of talk is the stage your brand is in with your audience in the Personality Success Path.

Stage 1: Introduction

New show,  or shows in a new market, on a new station, or on a station that’s just changed format, play more music! Use the popularity of the songs as an introduction to personality.

Try for 10-12 songs per hour. If that’s not possible because of commercial load or information features, think about editing songs to increase the music count.

On the air, focus mostly on the basics. Sell the position, the station and introduce a few key features.

Inject personality into every element by ize-ing each talk opportunity. That’s adding relatable content that helps you localize, energize, supersize and personalize material. The more a personality is able to connect with the basics, the faster she will gain traction through this stage.

Get more details on how to do it in my seminar on demand My Solo Show Can Beat Your Team Show.

Stage 2: Familiarity

As a show becomes more familiar, increase talk break length incrementally.

If the station is establishing a music image, or is in a tight, direct format battle with a strong competitor, don’t let a competitor gain an advantage because of too much talk. Still, as familiarity increases, likability will follow. And audience tolerance increases.

Usually 8 songs an hour is required to gain a meaningful music advantage.

This may vary depending on the station’s history and presence in the market, but if quantity of music is a meaningful position, make sure the show is competitive.

Stage 3: Growth

As personalities grow into Stage 3, they become part of listener habits. Take advantage of this growing strength. In this stage, talent is gaining momentum and could experience rapid growth if managed properly.

If ratings are equal to the station’s overall share, it may be an opportunity to take a leadership position by relaxing restrictions more, particularly if research indicates positive perceptual momentum.

Gradually remove songs over time, increasing personality content. This is the best time to increase the number of breaks in the clock, but keep the talk break length fairly consistent. Drop one song at a time, gradually reducing music count.

Be sure to monitor ratings response and research the audience for perceptual changes in the show/station.

Stage 4: Like

As the show outperforms the station, it’s clear that the audience really likes the personalities. Now is the time to evolve toward less music/more personality aggressively.

Be careful to avoid doing it suddenly, but move quickly. By giving listeners more of what they tune in for, the ratings snowball will likely continue.

Relaxing the music count to as few as 4 songs could be appropriate here. That’s one tune per quarter-hour, which is enough to maintain a music presence.

Stage 5: Love

As the audience truly falls in love with the personalities, go all the way. You have potential for media domination. There’s no point in playing fewer than four songs an hour. Drop them all.

If preference and ratings are significantly above the station (20-25%), drop the music entirely.

It doesn’t make sense to play less than four songs an hour. That’s not enough to hold a music listener and it gets in the way of those coming for personalities.

This is the time to transition and become a personality-driven talk show.

Get Details on the 5 Stages of Growth With My Personality Success Path Here

Adjusting Break Length

When making any programming change, do so gradually. Small changes are less shocking as a large change. Removing one song at a time insures a smoother transition for talent and the audience.

I mentioned editing songs a couple of times. This is an effective method of increasing personality while maintaining song count. If you can remove 45 seconds from each song, you save 7.5 minutes every 10 songs! That’s huge. Add personality and still play the same number of songs? Yes, please. If the songs are edited properly, it won’t be noticed. For details on how to do it right, go here.

Regardless of song count, maintain a high personality presence and use each opportunity in the format clock. Use song intros to relate to listeners. Talk into and out of stop sets. A frequent presence on the show adds more time for listeners to get to know the talent. And familiarity always comes before falling in love.

That’s part of Romancing The Listener.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the perfect break length depends on many variables. But this rule of thumb should guide all decisions:

Each break should be as long as it needs to be and no longer. And it should be as short as it can be, but no shorter.

Finally, don’t overthink it.

Seth Godin nails it:

“Too long.” You’re going to hear that more and more often. The movie, the book, the meeting, the memo…few people will tell you that they ran short. Shorter, though, doesn’t mean less responsibility, less insight or less power. It means less fluff and less hiding.

When in doubt, leave it out. When a friend sends you a video on YouTube, what’s the first thing you look at? How long is it? Do I have time for this? Is it worth my time? Listeners ask themselves the same question about radio shows.

Is it worth their time? It is if it’s tight. And tighter execution almost always results in shorter breaks.

Do More Music Morning Shows Work?

Tracy Johnson’s Audience Magnet Blueprint eBook (free)

The Science Behind Why Listeners Reject Talk

Radio Personality Success Path: The Five Stages of Growth

Tracy Johnson’s Audience Magnet Course

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0531

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0531.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:



If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0530

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0530.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:


  • Rip Taylor, comic
  • Larry Alex Taunton, freelance columnist — Is Tom Brady overrated?
  • John Paitakes, author, 50 Years Working in Criminal Justice— College entrance exam rigging



If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0529

0

Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0529.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:



If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0528

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0528.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:



If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

5 Stages Of Personality Growth

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In 30-plus years of training, managing and coaching radio personalities, there are three key things that have never changed. And will never change. It’s my 3 Secrets of Becoming an On-Air Superstar. And yes, I’ll reveal the secrets below. But today, I want to focus on a single, most fundamental secret.

It’s Secret #1: The 5 Stages of your Personality Success Path.

You will turn up the volume on your personality brand when you earn the freedom to go deeper with your audience. There’s not a single personality reading this that doesn’t want that freedom. But you have to earn it, and it happens step by step through 5 Stages.

The 5 Stages of Personality Growth

There are 5 stages in the life cycle of every great personality. Everyone on the air goes through Stage 1, but not everyone makes it to Stage 5.

Introduction is when you’re brand new. They don’t even know your name, or really even care. In this stage, your goal should be to show that you love the same things they do.

Familiarity is when they may recognize your name but they don’t know anything about you yet. This is a critical phase…it’s still not the right time to talk about yourself that much…but you may want to introduce a feature here

Growth. This is when it gets exciting. They’re starting to know you and like the things you do on the air. They like the station better when you’re on. This is when you start promoting those features aggressively.

Like. The like phase is when you can introduce more personal stories into the show. They’re starting to recognize your character traits and know whey they like it when you’re on.

Love. And this is the ultimate goal. In this stage, it’s more about who you are than what you do. They choose the station because of you. This is where you want to be.

Performing In the 5 Stages

You have to know where you stand in the relationship with your audience, and perform accordingly. Personalities don’t become popular all at once. They grow popular over time. It’s a process that can be accelerated. But it cannot be rushed.

You can’t start out at Stage 5. And if you perform show like you’re in Stage 4 or 5 when you’re in stage 1 or 2, you lose!

One reason personalities fail is they don’t understand where they are in their success path. They think they’re in the love stage because they’ve been on a long time, but they’re really just in Stage 2 because they have never had an impact.

Your behavior must be based on how your audience sees you. Not how you would LIKE to be seen. If you come on too strong in Stage 1 or 2, you’ll run the audience off. They will hate you, and think you’re self absorbed.

Similarly, if you’re in Stage 4 or 5, but the PD is making you play too much music, you’re also preventing the audience from rewarding you.

Earning Your Freedom

And that’s the issue, isn’t it? You want to earn freedom on the air, but you probably think this is impossible because the PD puts up barriers.It seems like a chicken or the egg thing. You feel like you can’t reach the next stage because you don’t aren’t allowed time to perform,

You have to earn that freedom. And here’s the good news. You earn it from listeners. They demand more of you. And it starts by being great in every break now.

I know that at some stations, management just wants you there to play the commercials, execute the format and not get in the way. They don’t support personality. And they won’t get what I’m talking about here. Maybe you’ve tried to do some different things and been yelled at. They told you to just stick to the basics. I get it. It’s a balance.

But don’t let those barriers become an obstacle to growth. As you impact listeners, your power will grow. You’ll become a primary reason for tune-in.

This is what makes management afraid of you, by the way. They are afraid of losing you. Because when you become a meaningful personality that leads an audience fan base, you have power.

I know it can be frustrating to want to do more than you’re permitted. Every great personality wants to do more than they’re allowed. It’s universal. Personalities with 5-minute limits think they need 7. Those with a 3 minute window think they’d be better with 5. And those that only have 30 seconds know for a fact they’d be great if they had 3 minutes. Maybe you can’t control your break length. But you can control what goes into your breaks.

You Gotta Prepare

So prepare a great break-every break-based on the opportunity you’re provided. Now here’s the ironic part. The smaller the canvas on which you paint, the longer it takes to prepare. Seriously.

Ronald Reagan was asked to deliver a speech for charity. Before accepting, he asked how long the speech would be, because he wasn’t sure he had time. “What difference does it make how long?”, he was asked. “Well, he said…if you want me to talk for an hour, I’m ready to go now. But if it’s just 10 minutes, I need a couple of weeks to prepare.”

You may not be able to do everything you want to do, but you will learn to stretch the boundaries. And when you do, the canvas becomes larger, unlocking more creativity.

But here’s the thing: If you try and do it all at once, yeah, you’re going to get in trouble. And not only that, you won’t be able to do it well. Remember that this is a process.

You have to do it in synch with the 5 stages of growth.

How To Earn It

As you find your character voice and start growing through the five stages of growth, you’ll be amazed at the response from the audience…and your boss.

I once worked with a personality that was on in a time of day where ALL we wanted was the music to stand out. And the DJ’s job was to just make it sound good.

But he never gave up. He kept learning. He made the station better by projecting personality into every single segment while pointing listeners to the music and the station. He did it while doing what I wanted.

It wasn’t long before we realized that this guy was an great audience magnet. The better he got, the more freedom he earned. And the greater the bond with the audience. Soon, we moved him to afternoons. Then to mornings.That DJ?

He’s Dave Smiley. And he’s killing it with a 6-person morning show at WZPL in Indianapolis…#1 in the market for more than a decade.

You may not be able to do everything you want right now, but as you grow through the five stages, you will stretch the canvas. And when you do, you’ll unlock creativity you never knew you had.

Secrets 2 and 3

The other two secrets? #2 is that you have to know who you are and find your personal character voice. This is how your audience will get to know you so they can fall in love with you.

And the third secret is you absolutely must stop thinking of yourself as a radio announcer and become a storyteller that has a radio show. Mastering this skill will change everything.

I’ll write about those secrets later. But for now, focus on your Personality Success Path. That’s where your journey to becoming an on-air superstar begins.

Get More Details

I’m going into detail on all three secrets in my new, free webinar The Audience Magnet Blueprint. You can get access here.

And if you come to the webinar, I’ll give you a free copy of the Audience Magnet Blueprint eBook and a downloadable infographic of the 5 Stages of Personality Growth, with a lot more depth and information on how to behave in each stage.

This can be life-changing for radio personalities. It’s the difference between being stuck in a DJ or announcer job and getting on a career path to being a wildly successful personality. Don’t you owe it to yourself to get on that Personality Success Path and unlock you potential?

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0527

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0527.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:


  • Ruta Lee, legendary Hollywood actress
  • Rahsaan Patterson, singer, Heroes & Gods



If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0526

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0526.

To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:



If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0525

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0525.

To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:



If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0524

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0524.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:




If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0523

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0523.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:




If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0522

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0522.



To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:




If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.