My former boss and friend, Duncan Campbell– now riding supreme in ARN down under- used to say this. Make them care, then make them wait. It was a mantra when we talked about forward promotion and teasing ahead, something I have already posted about. I’m not going to rehash the same topic, but lets just looks at the first half of that phrase. Make them CARE. How do you do that?
Radio in particular has a great ability to create a bond with listeners. It’s a one to one medium where listeners feel like they know the hosts or presenters over time. It’s a personal medium which is like no other really. TV creates a bond but in a different way- it’s more of a many to many medium.
It takes more than that to make someone CARE. Scroll through social media and look at the comments in praise of Steve Wright on his leaving the afternoon show on Radio 2- they seem to care, but he has been a feature of their lives for 24 years so is it all down to tenure? It’s unlikely that it can just be put down to “years in the shift” when it comes to actually caring in all honesty. It could be just a change of habit rather than caring. That said, merely changing some habits can be very disturbing. Having changed a few stations and line-ups over the years and felt the level of feedback from time to time, habits can be very potent!
I used to talk about having the Three Ts- Timing, Talent and Tenure.
- Timing was all about being in the right place and the right content at the right time.
- Talent– pretty basic, but centred around the ability and skills of the person involved.
- Tenure– already mentioned this of course but the more you are there, the greater the “fixture” and the habit becomes which counts for a lot.
Does all that add up to caring? It maybe part of it, but I suspect it’s a bit more than that in reality. It certainly goes a long way. When you add in something personal from the presenter- no inward looking “all about me” content but instead relevant outward content which gives something of yourself- that makes a bit of a difference. Add that to the “Three Ts” and you might have a bit of something.
The truth is that its very easy to over-estimate how much people care. Ultimately it’s better to assume people don’t, or you might start believing your own hype and only talking to the congregation. People who do actually care won’t be put off by that approach, but the opposite isn’t true. Its easy to assume people care more than they do- I’ll wager most people do.
Radio has a supreme advantage of being a medium that you can easily consume whilst doing something else. You can’t read or watch TV whilst driving. The flip side of that advantage is that a listener’s focus can be directed elsewhere. They might be at work and concentrating on their job, they might be reading a book or article with the radio in the background. It is THERE but it isn’t in the foreground and being given the attention. Moving the attention from background to foreground takes effort and skill- but ultimately still can’t be continually maintained with ease.
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