You’re Lying to Your Audience! And You Better Stop Before They Give Up on You

This is an actual comment from a client station’s (CHR) Facebook page:

It’s a simple comment but there are dozens of responses to it.

Here are some of mine:

  • For decades, we’ve been promoting to “Call and request a song”. When listeners actually do, we tell them we’ll play it for them. Sometimes we say “yeah, I’ll try and get that on”. They hear us tell them, “Yes, they will play my song. I matter. I count. They listened to me.” When they don’t hear it, they are disappointed. Historically, this has not been a major problem. Today, in a world of instant gratification, personalization and the world revolving around “me”, they are not just disappointed. They are angry.
  • Most personalities don’t actually lie to the audience, but we have a way of stating it so that we are technically correct, but practically dishonest. This doesn’t work anymore.
  • If we, as broadcasters, believe in authenticity we need to either not offer a request line (call it a suggestion line, comment line, whatever) or be honest when they call. They may not be happy when you tell them that Led Zeppelin just doesn’t fit on your AC station, but at least there is an authentic, open and honest dialogue.
  • Those people who call… the active listeners who take the time to contact you… are priceless. They are your FANS. You’ve begun a conversation with them and you’ve let them down. How many times will this happen before you’re not as special anymore? Their Slacker station, or Pandora station, or their personal music device doesn’t lie to them.
  • Even worse, many stations invite listeners to call, text , email or comment… and that input is ignored. Nobody answers the phone (or there’s a busy signal or it goes to a recorded message) or the comment does not become a dialogue (or there’s an auto-response). If our advantage over technology is connectivity on a human, emotional level… what are we doing to our audience’s expectations.

How can we turn this around?

How about asking listeners to suggest songs, and honestly telling them that we’ll select ___ number of suggestions and play them, and promise that “when we do, we’ll let you know so you can tell your friends.” Even better, announce that this song/artist/feature/segment was suggested by (name). Make them a star! Instead of posting their disappointment on Facebook, maybe they’ll be posting on their wall the time to listen to hear them in their 15 minutes of fame!

How about setting up a mini-studio in high traffic areas (or even at your weekend events) and recording listeners introducing their favourite songs. They can’t be much worse than a lot of the voice-tracked weekend talent I hear. Get their email address and send them a message when you’re going to play it on the air so they can listen and tell their friends. Even better, follow that up by sending an Mp3 of their “moment”… with the song attached… as heard on the air.

It’s not enough to say that we are “real.” It’s time that we demonstrate our authenticity.

There are dozens of ideas like this… what are yours?

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