The Way We’ve Always Done It Curse

Doing things exactly the same way for decade after decade has never been a great business plan for any radio group. But, it’s especially damaging right now as our industry goes through tectonic shifts in everything from how listeners consume radio to how advertisers choose to allocate their dollars. Within radio, and from a broader standpoint within our country, there are two distinct ideologies that are currently competing to decide our overall direction; those who want to move forward and those who want things to go back to the way they were. My goal has always been to strike a healthy balance of honoring the traditions of the past by continuing some of the things that have helped radio survive for over a hundred years while also fully embracing new technology that helps us do everything more effectively and efficiently. Here are a few ways to find that happy medium and avoid the ‘way we’ve always done it’ curse that’s actively killing stations and groups across the country.

Hold a minimum of one brainstorming session per quarter.

These work best when they are separated from logistics meetings and include the right balance of creatives and critiques. When possible, it’s also MUCH better to do them off-site so A) there are less interruptions and distractions and B) changing our daily routine and scenery will unlock our staff’s creativity. Shameless plug, it also helps to include a consultant who’s led these types of meetings countless times with countless combinations of personality types.

Change all the on-air clocks.

Start by adjusting where stopsets fall, how long they are and what determines the order in which spots are scheduled. Then tweak each show’s clocks. This serves a couple purposes. It shakes on-air talent out of their routine, and their rut, which again unlocks creativity but it also forces them to evaluate everything they are currently doing on air to determine whether it should be tweaked, cut or kept exactly the same (which is rarely the case).

Spend a little bit of money on cameras.

That way everything your staff does audio-wise is also captured simultaneously on video. This serves a whole host of purposes. It allows social live-streams at the touch of a button, makes capturing and editing reels much easier (especially if AI is used to edit them), and it encourages on-air talent to come to work daily prepared for creating video content. I intentionally used the words ‘a little bit’ because high quality, easy-to-use cameras are significantly cheaper than they were just a few years ago.

Evaluate how we choose our music.

We have to change how we determine which songs to play and which songs to not play. Programmers should get away from following what other stations play, regardless of how successful they’ve been historically, and instead follow the readily available data now that tells us exactly which songs are appealing to people and which ones are falling flat.

Adjust our sales and management strategies.

On the sales side we should always be asking ourselves internally whether we’re pricing things appropriately, packaging together effective solutions for advertisers that allow them to surround our listeners and simultaneously evaluating how we recruit and train our staffs. There are certainly traditional sales strategies that still apply. Identifying those and pairing them with new technology can be incredibly powerful tool for attracting local revenue. Upper-level management and ownership should also put in place a system for creating and tracking KPIs (key performance indicators) and use that to build an effective systems of rewards and repercussions to encourage over-performance and hold under-performers accountable.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s something to be said for the safety of routines, not reinventing the wheel every time we do a contest or promotion and we should never change something simply for the sake of change. However, as the competition all around us gets stronger by the day, now is not the time to be complacent, keep our head down and just continue business as usual hoping the tide turns back in our favor.

What do you think? How have you turned around a ‘way we’ve always done it’ culture? Comment below or email me at Andy@RadioStationConsultant.com.

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