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The Stuph File Program – Episode #0505

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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 #0505.



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

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription 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 #0504

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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 #0504.



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

Featured in this episode:


  • Dr. John Huber, clinical forensic psychologist — mental health & self deprecating humour
  • Mark Serritella, comedian
  • Stuart Nulman, Book Banter

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription 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 #0503

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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 #0503.



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

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription 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.

Casting a Radio Show: Why 3 Is The Perfect Number

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Casting a radio show is hard. Managers and programmers invest a lot of time and energy into finding the perfect mix of personalities to attract fans and deliver ratings. While there’s no single formula that works every time, I’ve found a cast of three personalities is the ideal balance.

Three is the right number for many things. There were Three Bears, Three Little Pigs, etc. It’s usually the number of verses in a lot of popular songs. The Beatles sang She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah. Try it with two or four “yeahs”. It just doesn’t work. Pay attention and you’ll discover the Rule of 3 everywhere.

But three is also the perfect number of voices when casting a radio show.

Casting A Radio Show: Why 3 is Just Right

Many stations wishing to increase personality see the value of a team show. Pairing a couple of personalities can add interest. But a powerful dynamic comes into play when a third voice is introduced.

It takes shows to areas that a duo just can’t get to. But when a fourth or fifth personality is added, it can be much harder for listeners to figure out what’s going on. It gets confusing for the audience.

This isn’t to suggest that a duo can’t win, or that more than three is a mistake. Not at all. But three is usually the magic number.

Applying The Concept In 3D

You’re probably thinking about stations that have built shows around the concept of Radio in 3D: Dick, Dork and Dear. They try to find personalities that fit those three character types. This approach works!

Dick: This personality type is an antagonist, sometimes cynical or sarcastic. The “dick” seems to always say things that cause a strong reaction with the other cast members and with the audience. He or she is outspoken, bold and often referenced as the one who “says the things I’m thinking but am afraid to say it”.

Dork: The dork is a nerd, or someone who just doesn’t fit in conventionally. They are usually charming in their own way, but just “weird” enough to create friction between the players. The dork embraces and exaggerates their inner nerd qualities to add more dimension to the ensemble.

Dear: The third piece of the puzzle adds heart and soul to the show. He or she is warm, empathetic, sensitive and the one most listeners would say “would be a good friend”.

Imagine a show with just two of those three personality types. Isn’t it clear how three personalities can play off one another in many more ways than two?

Generator-Reactor-Instigator

But there is another way the Rule of 3 applies to casting a radio show. Every human being tends to fall into a classification as a generator, reactor or instigator. Three character roles. Imagine that.

Generator: They’re usually the driver of the show, able to start a topic and set a tone for a break. Put a yellow pad in front of a generator and they’ll fill it with ideas in just a few minutes. They don’t always follow through on those ideas, but they can sure get them started.

Responder: Put that same yellow pad in front of a responder, and three hours later it’ll be filled with doodles. They have been provided nothing to cause a reaction. But throw an idea, thought, topic or phrase their way and they light up with an instant response.

Instigator: An instigator is like an audio sniper, lying in the weeds for a great line to advance a break to places it would never get to without them. They are the rocket fuel that stirs things up and brings out more character and personality in the Generator and Responder.

Of course, human beings are not one dimensional. It’s certainly possible for each of us to demonstrate traits of all three categories. But everyone is naturally stronger in one of the three. It’s like being right handed or left handed. It doesn’t mean you never use your other hand.

A great radio show needs all three. Put two generators on the show, and it’s going to be chaos. You’ll hear a ton of talking over one another and nobody paying attention to what is being said. But two responders on a show results in nothing happening because there’s no stimulus that causes a response. And don’t even think about trying two instigators. That’s the radio equivalent of filling a room with explosives, matches, gasoline and a toddler and hoping for the best. Boom!

What If There Are More Than 3 On The Show?

Some managers reading this are probably thinking, “Wait a minute. We have 5 voices on our show. Tracy’s saying we can trim the budget.”. Not quite.

If a show has more than three personalities on the air, the rule of three still applies to each segment. It’s up to the show’s host to manage the traffic.

The two main personalities should always be featured (host, co-host), with one additional (a third) personality involved as appropriate. But when a new personality enters the conversation, another should fade away. That applies to listeners participating as callers, too. When the caller comes on, they’re effectively a cohost.

When everyone has an open microphone, chaos and confusion soon follow, and that will cause tune out.

Conclusion

Of course, there are many ways to win. Stations can (and do) succeed with solo shows, duos and casts much larger than three. But I’ve found that, as in many areas, three is the magic number.

In my seminar Casting A Radio Show, I go into much more detail on all of these topics and much more. You’ll learn the best ways to build a show, manage the personalities and put your station in the best possible position to succeed quickly.

 

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0502

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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 #0502.



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

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription 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 #0501

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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 #0501.



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

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription 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 #0500

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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 #0500.



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

Featured in this episode:


  • Jed Allen, actor, Beverly Hills, 90210
  • Clint Masse, creator — Guinness World Record Snow Maze
  • Stuart Nulman, Book Banter

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription 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 #0499

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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 #0499.



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

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription 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 Biggest Cause of Listener Tune Out Is Confusion!

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As human beings, we all respond to simplicity, clarity and familiarity. When we can’t understand what’s happening, we run for cover. Confusion is stressful, and we avoid stress. This has profound implications for radio shows.

Personalities and programmers agonize over cracking the ratings code, constantly seeking to find a magic formula that launches their station to new heights. The quest usually includes endless tweaking of clocks, adjusting format execution and building in hooks designed to keep the audience listening longer.

But the key to ratings success isn’t quite so complicated. There are six things that cause listener tune out. Eliminate or reduce tune out, and ratings go up. And the most common reason listeners tune out is confusion. And that comes from three sources.

3 Ways to Reduce Listener Confusion

The problem with confusion is that most broadcasters don’t realize the content is confusing.

First, they don’t listen nearly as much as we think they do. Recent studies show the average length of tune in has dropped to 7-8 minutes per occasion.

But even declining TSL isn’t the biggest contributing factor.  Listeners aren’t paying nearly as much attention as we would like. Listening to the radio is mostly a background experience. They’re usually actively engaged in many other foreground activities that take up more of their attention.

And they constantly button-punch. They jump from one station to another. Many times, they don’t even know what station they’re listening to.

When visiting clients, I usually Uber to and from stations. Recently, on a 30 minute drive from the airport to a meeting, the driver had my client’s morning show on. After about 20 minutes, I asked what station she was listening to. She gave me the wrong answer. I asked about my client’s morning show (the one she was listening to) and she said,

yeah, they’re okay but I don’t listen to them much. I like this show a lot better.

Okay! The listener was confused. Now you may not think that’s a big deal because it’s a PPM market and if the driver had a meter, they’d get credit. But here’s the problem. When listeners can’t recall the station, the chance of getting them back for additional occasions is greatly reduced.

That’s why it’s so important to reduce confusion. Here are three ways to do it.

Reset The Scene

Since the audience constantly tunes in and out, reset the scene as often as possible. You can’t possibly do this too much. It doesn’t have to be a long reset, but it has to be clear.

That’s why television shows often begin a new episode with highlights from earlier shows. It reminds viewers of what has happened in the story so the viewer isn’t confused. Television does it, and that’s a foreground medium.

Mojo in the Morning has been a market leader in Detroit for decades. His show is well constructed and easy to understand. It’s loaded with benchmarks and features that help with recall.

Mojo realizes that reducing listener confusion is a primary key to TSL. He understands the importance of resetting topics in each break so listeners can follow what’s happening on the air. He says:

You cannot rehash enough what you are doing at a particular time. As tedious as it sounds, it’s important to consistently re-explain your regular benchmarks. Re-explain who the characters are. It’s especially important to re-introduce characters and benchmarks after summer and vacations for new cume as well as for those who may not have heard the show for awhile.

Manage The Microphones

Another common cause of tune out is when voices compete for attention on the air. Listeners have a hard time sorting out who’s talking, especially when personalities talk over one another.

In the studio, it doesn’t feel like a big deal, but it’s a very different environment than listening to the radio. In the studio, we can see one another. Secondary and tertiary voices enter the conversation and it’s easy to follow because we can see it.

When the conversation starts to get animated, we can sort out who is talking because we have eye contact. But listeners are blind. They can’t see you. It’s an entirely different experience.

So when personalities talk on top of one another or an unfamiliar voice enters the segment,  the audience is confused. And when they’re confused, they tune out.

That’s why it’s important for the show’s host to manage the on-air traffic flow.

At KISW/Seattle, BJ and Migs have an eight person cast. Shea manages the show’s flow by applying the Rule of 3 to reduce the potential of audience confusion. Shea says:

WE USE THE RULE OF THREE, WITH ONLY THREE PEOPLE ON MIC AT A TIME. PLAYERS ARE SIGNALED OR INVITED IN RATHER THAN HAVING AN OPEN MIC. WE ALWAYS NAME CHECK THE PLAYER THAT COMES INTO THE CONVERSATION. HAVING NO MORE THAN THREE PEOPLE ON MIC AT ONCE PREVENTS TALKING OVER EACH OTHER AND BECOMING A CIRCUS.

If you’re on a show with a large cast of characters, try it. And remember that when listeners are on the air, they become part of the cast. So introduce them.

Many personalities have been trained to go cold into phone calls, editing directly to the listener’s first comment. That saves a couple of seconds but the audience is confused. Who is this person? Why are they on the air? Where did they come from?

Unfamiliar Voices

We like what we know. That’s a universal truth. It’s why we go to the same coffee shops, take the same route to and from work and listen to the same songs. Familiar is comfortable. Unfamiliar is stressful.

This is true with radio personalities, too. Believe me, your audience is not nearly as familiar with air talent as we give them credit for. And that goes for the main personalities that have been on for years as well as secondary and tertiary voices.

Whether it’s a big or small crew, be sure to name tag the show often. This is easy to do, but we overlook it way too much. It’s repetitive and tedious. It’s also critically important.

I work with a show that has five characters, all males. Their personalities vary but it’s very hard for listeners to sort the voices. Even with name-tagging, it’s hard to keep track of who’s who especially with the three guys that aren’t primary names on the show brand.

So in addition to following the Rule of 3, we’re working on identifying roles and personality traits in dialogue.

In a meeting, they asked how long we needed to go out of our way to introduce each character. The answer: It never stops. Ever. For one thing, we must constantly introduce new listeners to the show. For another, 50% of existing listeners tune in for less than 2.5 minutes per day. They know little about you. Introducing personalities and character traits never ends.

Conclusion

Confusion is a real thing, and it happens far more frequently than you think. It’s the #1 reason for listener tune out. It adds stress to the listening experience.

When there’s too much stress, buttons are pushed. And when buttons are pushed, TSL is lost. And the great danger today is that distracted listeners are less likely to remember to come back.

These are just three common causes for confusion. There are others, but fix these first. It’s a fundamental key to winning the ratings battle.

 

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0498

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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 #0498.



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

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription 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 #0497

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 #0497.



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

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription 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 #0496

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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 #0496.



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

Featured in this episode:


  • Ivan Obolensky, author, Eye of the Moon
  • Jillian Clare, actress & producer, Pretty Broken
  • Ernie Smith, Tedium — history of the suggestion box

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription 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 #0495

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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 #0495.

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

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription 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.

Why I Love Air Personalities: And Why You Should, Too

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Man, I love air personalities. Working with air talent is one of the most rewarding and exciting things I’ve ever done, and I have had the privilege to meet and work with some of the most amazing personalities in the world. And most of them are among the most interesting people you could possibly meet.

As a talent coach working with hundreds of air personalities, it’s a privilege to sort through the challenges in so many formats and markets. It makes life interesting!

Here are 9 reasons I love air personalities.

They Throw Talent Fits

Talent is typically volatile and their personality causes them to be excitable, extreme and over-the-top.  When they throw a talent fit, it feels like the apocalypse is happening. There’s a ton of energy coming from a place of passion (and insecurity). It’s energizing. And it’s exhausting.

Then it’s over. It usually passes pretty quickly.

This is healthy. When air personalities are repressed and keep things bottled up, it’s like a volcano. When the pressure gets too high, they blow their top! It’s much easier to manage and better for everyone involved when it happens in shorter, less extreme outbursts.

If you’re a PD, manager or talent coach, take a deep breath. Let it out. Now step back and don’t over-react. Chances are it’ll be better tomorrow and you’ll laugh about it together.

If not, fix it then.

When They Discover Something New

When personalities find a new way to connect to their audience, it’s better than a new flavor of ice cream or a new toy.

It’s even more fun when it’s something they’ve been working on for awhile, and the light suddenly comes on. That’s when they run into your office and excitedly tell you that they “figured something out”. Then they proceed to explain their discovery. And you realize it’s exactly what you’ve been telling them for weeks. Almost word for word.

Don’t compete for credit. Everyone learns at their own pace and in their own time. When they discover it for themselves, it sticks! Don’t deflate that excitement by trying to take way their glory!

Their Ego…and Their Fear

Many programmers try to bring down the ego and minimize their fear. This is a mistake. Most air personalities can’t win without both ego and fear.

On Wall Street, traders say stocks are driven by greed and fear. Air talent is kind of like that.

Great personalities are driven by a deep desire to be popular and famous. They love being on the air because it attracts attention! It’s ego driven. That ego needs to be fed.

It also must be managed. When programming my stations, I felt that I spent at least half my time building up the confidence (ego) of my talent and the other half managing their fear.

Fear is a powerful force. A little of it is healthy. It keeps them inspired and motivated to perform. Sweaty palms can be a good thing. But when fear is out of control, personalties tend to freeze. Air talent overwhelmed with fear can’t perform.  This is when they need to be supported and understood.

Managing ego and fear take time and patience. The most important thing a PD can do is develop a trusted relationship. Do that, and difficult discussions from ego and fear are much easier.

Enthusiasm

Air personalities are naturally curious. When they become interested in something, there’s a childlike enthusiasm for it. Some call it immaturity. I call it a fun, youthful, charming and curious way of looking at the world.

And it’s contagious.

Jeff and Jer used to say (one the air):

You can only be young once, but you can be immature forever.

That’s pretty much it, right there.

Programmers and managers: Never, ever, ever suppress this trait. It’s like watching as child’s innocence taken away.

But you do need to direct it, focus it and help them channel it through their personality brand. Let them play. Just make sure they play in the yard!

Sensitivity

You already know air talent is sensitive because you’ve been in critique meetings with them. But when you understand them, it makes sense.

Great talent reveals their personal characteristics to listeners every single day. They fly without a net for 3-5 hours a day.mAnd the really good ones reveal things about their personal lives that causes them to be  vulnerable.

Then they pick up the phone, answer an email or check social media and someone is angry at them. Or disappointed. Thats hard. None of us like to be criticized, and when talent gets a complaint, it’s personal. That’s why they’re highly sensitive.

It’s a hard job.

Personalities need to know their talent coach/PD is a fan and has their back. And they’re already volatile and vulnerable folks.

Psychologists say it takes 9 compliments to offset one criticism. That’s why I recommend PD’s spend most of their time finding a good reason to praise talent. They thrive on positive feedback.

Testing Authority

I love air personalities because they challenge boundaries and guidelines. Constantly. A PD sets a talk break limit at 90 seconds, and in a week or two, they’re pushing two minutes. Set it for 2 minutes and it’s 2:30.

Tell them they have to play two songs between stop sets and you can guarantee one. Get into the stop set no later than 7:55, and they’ll be in around 7:57.

Look, they’re not deliberately violating the rules. They just don’t understand the rules. Or they do, but can’t figure out why it’s important. Or maybe they’re testing you to find out what will happen.

Somewhere deep down, you know that, don’t you?

Don’t take it personally. Push through it. Explain why your rules are important. If you can’t explain it, maybe the rules aren’t very good. Then, consistently restate the things that are important to the brand.

Work Ethic

Everyone thinks radio personalities are lazy.

After all, they only “work” 3-4 hours a day. Then they go home about the time most of us are firing up a second cup of coffee.

But a lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into a winning radio show, even when most don’t recognize it.

A morning show gets up at 3am, usually is fully engaged until 1 or 2pm, then constantly thinks about tomorrow’s show until they appear again the next day.

Then they do it all over again. This is a hard job. They’re always tired, and it’s not as easy as most folks think. Saying air talent is lazy is like saying an NFL player only works 16 days a year.

We may not fully understand it, but programmers should appreciate it.

Programming

I love when they give their feedback on programming. It shows they’re engaged in the brand. Their ideas aren’t always valid, but usually there’s genius in their input  that can make the entire station come alive.

But you have to nurture it. And most of the time, you have to ask for it.

One of the best tactics a PD can employ is asking the morning show talent their opinion on promotions, contests and major decisions. Showing that respect helps them buy in to the decision. And that can be the difference between just another contest or promotion and an amazing success.

And: The Escape

Isn’t it great that they can’t wait to get out of the station when the show’s over, but can’t wait to come back in the next day and perform all over again?

That’s contagious. I love it.

Conclusion

Personalities make radio come alive. In fact, they make it worthwhile. It wouldn’t be the same without these outrageous, extreme and unpredictable characters. Without them, what’s the point? It’s not really that fun without air talent, is it?

Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough true personalities. There are a lot of announcers. Announcers aren’t nearly as much fun to work with. They work shifts, but don’t perform shows.

If you’re a programmer, air talent holds the key to your future. So maybe it’s time to understand everything about them and become experts in coaching talent.

Maybe I love personalities because they are rare. Or maybe they’re rare because we don’t let them be who they are.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0494

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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 #0494.



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

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription 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.