It is a common phrase and request… “Get the basics right”. Simple enough, but then what?
The answer many forget is you have to continue to get the basics right… consistently day in day out. It’s boring and not the bright new shiny thing, but it is a requirement, even a necessity of long term success. Getting the boring grunt of the basics consistently right is the difference between something built on a strong foundation or something teetering on collapse at every turn.
It is something true of successful stations or even people. Getting the basics done every time and to a level of quality that satisfies is the mark of success. Its time for another list… here are the four basics that the best always get right. (Of course there are more than four, but I stopped at four for dramatic effect!).
Getting the branding right. Radio is measured by someone remembering that they heard you and then reporting that they heard the right station. Don’t say your name enough and they won’t know who you are or remember what they are listening to. I’ve gone into stations many times and improved their ratings merely by getting them to just say the station name more often. Making sure that your station name is attached to hour clock structural items is also important- so not just “Weather” its “[Station name] Weather”. It all makes a difference when it come to remembering your station name when it comes to diary completion.
Say your name. If you are on the radio then say who you are. Humans listen and humans introduce themselves to each other normally. I know of a few people who said they felt weird saying their name too often and I understand that, but get used to it. They would say they said it at the start of the show or something and so didn’t need to do it again. That would be lovely and correct if everyone listened from the start to the end of any show, not joining or leaving at any point and they were diligently taking notes. Your mum might be and that’s about it. Imagine if you walked into a meeting room- you wouldn’t keep saying your name if you were that room full of people- however if every ten minutes or so you went into a new room with new people even with just a few of those originals in there, you would reintroduce yourself. Listeners come and go and re-enter your “room”, and so make them feel welcome and introduce yourself.
Respect the music. Obviously only valid for music stations! There are a few times when I’ve heard stations that are built on playing music, trample over the end of songs or fade them at a critical point. The very best stations in the world understand that if their main reason to exist is based around music, then you have to respect it when you play it.
Get the production right. Great stations have great production- that matches their brand image and the essence of their brand, but also (if they play music), complements their music offering. A station playing oldies and more mellow songs doesn’t need electronic or sync type FX on its production as if it were a CHR station. Production that is crafted so that the production doesn’t get in the way of the message is also something the very best manage to achieve. With music sweeps and hour formatics, the spirit and life of a station comes from the production around the hour. The best stations understand that and ensure it carries the station’s personality rather than just a fairly function station naming job.
What only four? You are right, there are many, many more but I stopped short of a cliche top 5 for dramatic effect. The important bit of any list of basics is they are not a fix and forget item.they need doing, completing and energy spent on them every day- that is what makes the difference between being good or great. Whether its peak time, middle of the night or overnights at the weekend, the very best knock out the basics whenever you listen.