Consistency counts

Forgive me on pulling on a similar thread to the last two posts to some degree (Boring is important and Sing for the Unsung)- but perhaps with a slightly different aspect. Building a product, (even before you start the whole ‘we are a brand’ discussion- more on that in another blog post perhaps!), takes a purity of thought, a nucleus of the concept and a refinement of the focus. The tighter that focus, the more chance of success because the more any user (listener/ viewer etc) can understand what you stand for, and ultimately “get” what you are about.

Radio stations are like new born babies…

Discipline is required. Consistency is key. Not just in an overall product sense, although that is vital, but in a more pragmatic, granular way- when it comes to the on air, on-stream, sampling of your product around the hour, any hour. You have to be consistent. This should be played out with imaging, music scheduling and content choices. Many is the time in my former jobs I have been monitoring station output and paid particular attention to the formatics and consistency around the clock hour. The music consistency in itself is an art form and whilst there are tools to enable this, you can’t just leave it to GSelector and walk away! An old boss and good friend of mine used to say that radio stations are like new born babies, they need looking after and if they were left on their own to exist they would suffer.

Spending time to monitor messaging, music and your positioning consistency around the hour is time well spent. How else can anyone know what you stand for? I spent a good amount of time when at the wheel of radio stations ensuring that in any given sweep of 15 mins or so, the output included the positioning statement of the station on air for a start, then musically and content-wise it backed up that position- subtly re-enforcing the position. I get that this sounds like a fairly mundane and process driven way to programme- and it is, but its also required sometimes to ensure you hit the right notes. Practically its about monitoring and attention to detail. For example, if you are a young focussed station or output, then having on air chat and content about gardening might not be the best, or a lengthy or unbalanced sweep of older focussed music- assuming not feature based or for thematic reasons.

I spend too much time planning background music…

When I have had this kind of discussion about music consistency it often strays into a discussion about the difference between consistency and light and shade. The argument being that if you are TOO consistent that you somehow become boring or monotone in your voice. Having light and shade within a format, flexing its nuance and demonstrating its breadth is the art of scheduling and programming. At the weekend I was creating a playlist for a family meal we were having (yep thats how I roll). I knew the mood I wanted to create and the vibe of the evening and so built a playlist with that in mind with highs and lows in terms of tempo, energy and genre to match the evening. It wasn’t all just the same style and type of song, but it all fit within the mood and theme of the evening. Light and shade. Whilst building it there were many songs which I absolutely loved and wanted to include, but they broke the mood and stepped outside of the boundary when placed within the playlist and in relation to other songs. There were also a few which during the evening (ever being the programmer), when I heard them play out “live” as it were, I thought actually didn’t really fit as well as I had imagined. The same old boss and friend from above also used to say that a programmer always reserves the right to change their mind. Monitoring matters!

After writing the bulk of this post I then read a great post from Matt Deegan which refers to consistency and how well crafted radio or music streams can become regular in peoples lives, “because they constantly, and consistently, deliver on a promise to listeners”. They do that only because they demonstrate their point, their focus, their purpose through a consistently executed product delivery. [Matt also very kindly refers to my earlier post, Boring is Important, for which I’m very grateful].

Of course this isn’t the only way you might programme an on air output and there are many more things you should be doing but in my experience this is an area which is often overlooked and neglected.

Just listen and you can literally hear it!

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Published by Dick Stone

Radio...its always been radio.

One thought on “Consistency counts

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