Industry Views

Monday Memo: April Fool!

By Holland Cooke

imPick a day, any day. At least one news item will have the little voice in your head hollering “TELL me you’re kidding!” After recent headlines, and as various plots thicken, that little voice might need a lozenge.

In olden times, DJs’ and hosts’ April 1 on-air shenanigans would amuse and/or upset listeners. Some of these gags cost jesters their jobs. Expect less of that today, as the local talent ranks have thinned. Maybe A.I. DJs will come up with something.

As cutbacks were cascading on April 1, 2008, my gallows humor headline was: “Farid himself now voice-tracking True Oldies, using on-air name Fred Soulman, as staff cuts force management on-air. The Mystery Oldie-of-the-Day winner gets 1,000 shares of Citadel stock or $1,000 cash, whichever is less. APRIL FOOL!”


Back to the future: Many surviving jocks and talkers and newscasters have something in common, what consultants call “word economy.” It’s never been more important than during these dizzying days, but it’s nothing new. All along, those who took only 7 seconds to make a point seemed to be more successful than those who took 17 seconds. When I was a DJ, I stole a line from WABC’s Dan Ingram, who intro’d the Elton John song, “Someone Shaved My Wife Tonight.”

If you’re spinning the hits, streams are spinning more of ‘em, without eight-unit stopsets. So keep it moving. Doing news? Listeners are wondering “What NEXT?” and if you’re telling them, succinctly, they’ll find you helpful and habit-forming. Hosting a talk show? Understand that every other media experience listeners favor is interactive. Busy caller traffic (something local advertisers notice) lets you own topic du jour.

And whether you’re a DJ, news person, or host: Every…single…minute…someone just got in the car. Reset frequently-enough that they’re up-to-speed.

But don’t take my word for it. Being April Fool’s Day, I’ll let these funsters (some immortal) demonstrate this word economy I preach:

“I saw a bank that said ‘24-hour banking,’ but I don’t have that much time.”

— Comedian Steven Wright, my Block Island neighbor

“When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.”

Rodney Dangerfield

“I was going to have cosmetic surgery until I noticed that the doctor’s office was full of portraits by Picasso.”

Rita Rudner

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”

Groucho Marx

“I hate housework. You make the beds, you do the dishes, and six months later, you have to start all over again.”

Joan Rivers

Holland Cooke ( is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of The Local Radio Advantage: Your 4-Week Tune-In Tune-Up,” and “Close Like Crazy: Local Direct Leads, Pitches & Specs That Earned the Benjamins” and “Confidential: Negotiation Checklist for Weekend Talk Radio.” Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke and connect on LinkedIn.