Monday Memo: Is Your Show the Dog? Or the Tail?

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Lots of response to last week’s “Weekend Warriors, Renegotiate.” SOME stations were horrified by what I’m telling their brokered ask-the-expert hosts. SMART stations already offer the win-win template I outlined. ICYMI:

 FMs are scrambling. AMs? Ugh.

As if AM wasn’t already suffering listener demographics, technical interference, caricature programming, and too little local content, now comes the proposal to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. From November through February – when local sunrise would come between 8:00 am and 9:00 am – later pattern and power change times would cripple full-time stations. Daytimers would be utterly screwed if smart ones with translators hadn’t already rebranded as FMs (as have so many full-time AMs).

Music radio? Not yet an oxymoron. But the-sentence-never-spoken is “Alexa, play six commercials.” As for FM talk: public radio is having a field day; but commercial talkers simply migrating the shouting match from AM is triage.

Yet even as Time Spent Listening erodes, Cume is still there. So give a message adequate frequency, and broadcast radio is still a real efficient way to tell something to a lot of people. Make what you tell them an invitation, an offer.

Ride the horse in the direction he’s facing

We think of The Golden Age of Television as when Milton Berle doubled TV sales, and reservoir levels dropped at 9:00 pm on Tuesday nights because SO many people waited until the end of his “Texaco Star Theater” to hit the loo. But TV’s true heyday is now, with more work for writers, actors, and producers than ever before. Streaming shows run-away with Emmys now. And local stations are coping as networks lure viewers to Peacock and other end-runs.

Similarly, with on-demand audio so hot, AM/FM radio competes in a broad arena now referred to as Audio. And NPR wrote the success template for broadcast/podcast synergy.

Make live radio — and on-demand digital content — conveyor belts to each other

Attorneys/financial planners/others brokering Saturday/Sunday airtime: Your live show is only heard by those who happen-by in real-time.

  • Thus the negotiation deal terms I recommended in last week’s column.
  • And why all your other marketing should promote your weekend show. When your business mails anything to anybody, stuff a refrigerator magnet in the envelope.

Aircheck every call you air, for several reasons:

  • With a trove of pre-recorded calls, you can recycle previous live calls, to get-the-ball-rolling, and steer the conversation into your lane. And you’ll always sound popular.
  • With all we do to make your weekend show “appointment listening,” you don’t want to disappear when you’re on vacation. Tip: When you assemble the show that airs in your absence, do include the appropriate disclaimer, but avoid the “Best of” cliché; and rather than repeatedly saying “Don’t’ call,” let the board op thank those who do call (off-air); or if calls ring-through to voicemail, use it to collect callbacks.
  • Repurpose calls into topical FAQ podcasts, to-which you Tweet links, and promote on-air and to your email database, and in a stuffer in those envelopes.

Calculus for the live show: Call count (quantity) X caller questions’ relevance to the host’s business (quality) = hosts’ Return On Investment. Because weekend warriors brokering time are not career broadcasters to-whom fundamental technique is already second-nature, I outline some best practices in a video you can see when you click “Weekends!” in the menu atop

Holland Cooke is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is author of the E-book “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available exclusively from Talkers books and “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download here.