Be Local: No doubt the biggest opportunity for radio is that it's LOCAL. While most of the new media, cable networks, broadcast networks and nearly all the web is national or even world wide most of the audience's world lies in their local area. We all know this, but in the end we do little to capitalize on it.
We used to at least cover the local news, but now that is even in the backseat or not on the air at all for many stations. Much of our programming has become networked through syndication and our music playlists are tailored to national trends. It's resulted in one of the biggest complaints we get about terrestrial radio - it's the same everywhere.
Even if you have syndicated personalities like Bob and Tom you can work to make them at least seem local. Working them into your local segments through production, making them part of your promotions and imaging with a hometown spin can help. But, you have to back up that morning show with strong local personalities in the other dayparts.
You also have to give your local talent the room and coaching to build a local presence. If all they do is read the positioning, backsell a song, ramble through a liner and billboard you might as well voice track it from another market.
The key to making it happen is in designing the station to have room for the talent shine. Then you have to back it up with careful coaching and making sure they are well prepared for every opportunity. They also have to build themselves into the community both on and off air.
The stations I work with that do the best job in building their personalities into local fixtures put a lot of effort into working with the talent. Most of the PDs meet nearly daily with every jock and take 15 minutes to see what they are building into their shows. The staff knows what is the most important thing in the audience's world and also what is the most important thing going on at the station that day. These are the basic building blocks to making their show pop.
Spending 45 minutes with the other dayparts (outside of mornings) most days is a simple task and one that clearly pays off.
You also have lots of avenues to be local in your imaging and promotions. How many times do we jump on an AC/DC concert in another market and forget to look for ways to make it local? While the prize may be in Chicago why can't there be a local angle to doing it in Madison?
We also have to make sure we are present at as many local events as possible. Entertaining the local audience in our backyard has to be a top priority.
Being local is really central to all the next 3 or 4 opportunities we'll cover in this series, that's why it's FIRST ON THE LIST. Make it your top priority and you will have the foundation for a new world for radio as the biggest and perhaps the last local media in your community.