If you’re involved in the sound of a radio station you will know that some things matter more than most. Presenters of course are essential but so too is the everyday stuff like promos, meetings, managing people, creative chats, news briefings and such like. There are always things to do and the list of jobs is never ending. There are some pet hates that wind me up. Meetings because someone wants a meeting! I always ask this question. Why am I here, what am I here to do, will my absence make any difference? If not, don’t go, decline if possible although this can be difficult if someone up the ladder is demanding you’re there. There is no bigger waste of time than to attend a meeting you don’t need to be at.
Another area of frustration are presenters who say things like….. (example) here is a bit of Abba. What bit? The start, the end, just the middle or what? Makes no sense! Then there are those who insist on telling me they’ll be back after this…. What, where are you going? I’m going nowhere, why are you going? Have I got to wait or is this not part of your programme anymore? Even more annoying are those that say, back after the news. Most presenters say this because their brain has slipped into auto-mode, we are all guilty of it. How many times have we driven from A to B and can’t remember actually driving the journey. We just automatically jumped in the car and turned up where expected.
Make no mistake, the greatest programmers focus on the tiny stuff. The stuff most people dismiss as irrelevant, not of any importance. If it goes on the air, it is important! In commercial radio, I have lost count of the number of times I have seen a PD let a poor audience losing commercial go out time and time again without demanding it is replaced. They take the attitude that sales are sales and programmes are programmes. That is not my department they shout. This is where a great leader steps in, they have to know and support anyone who brings to their attention something that just isn’t right, no matter what.
One of those small but important things that interest me right now is the way a radio station goes into the news, often the hourly ID, something I’ve talked about before on a previous blog. This is interesting because it is so varied. BBC Radio 2 lead into their news with a reminder of how you can listen. On line, on digital, on FM etc. Some others, such as Free Radio prefer to highlight where you can listen, in your home, on the move and where you work etc…. this is (station). It is perhaps more emotionally engaging. Some others prefer to highlight a particular part of their output…. The home of (presenter name) and then their standard intro.. Global have from Global’s newsroom but there are many more. BBC Essex run ‘Essex and proud, this is BBC Essex. An interesting alternative provided those listening believe Essex is something to be proud about! I’m sure it is! Heart FM in Bristol go for on FM, online, on your mobile and on digital radio, this is Heart… However, before it was networked and rebranded, it used to say: …from the world’s best city, complete news and information, Bristol’s GWR FM. Which was more engaging do you think? I understand BBC Stoke used to say… BBC Stoke, news with personality. Wow, personality, that is so in the mind of the listener.
The question is whether or not you think the most used phrase on your station does the job you want it to do. Do you want to use this to promote something other than the news or just make sure listeners are reminded where they can tune in. I think people know how to tune in, they already do, but telling them they have other options while out of home or in the car is useful. Running a huge station promotion sweeper can hijack the news intro too much and it only works if you really are doing something special. Not that many are, not that many are as excited about it as the station believe they are.
Bottom line: The news intro is very, very important. This is the one promo point that listeners hear every hour of the day. Think about how it works and what you want listeners to be reminded about. If in doubt keep it simple, but I would always lean towards using it to promote something you are best know for. If it’s news, so be it, but surely you have more than that to offer listeners? There is no right or wrong answer by the way, just different styles but you have to get it right.