Are You Connecting With Your Audience?

It is the day after one of the music awards shows and I’m listening to my local radio station when I am given a rundown of some of the winners. Unfortunately, I have no idea who they are talking about. But I know that some of my favorite artists, that I hear on this station, were part of the awards show. Why am I not hearing anything about them? Answer: because the wire stories only covered these other artists, and my morning team didn’t do any prep to see how the station’s artists fared.

When I was a PD, one of the best things I learned from our station consultant was to make “eye contact” with your listeners. In this article I hope to expand on the concept and explain how you, as an air personality, need to connect with your listeners. Is there a bond there? Or, are you just some distant voice coming out of the speaker? Are you a part of your listeners’ lives?

First you must distinguish who your target listener is. If your PD hasn’t done so yet, ask him or her to give you a profile of your typical listener. Know what kind of car she drives, where he works, how many kids she has, what kind of sports he likes, what pets she has, etc.. If your PD doesn’t know, then this would be a good thing to talk about at the next meeting! Together, have the whole air staff put together a profile of your typical listener. You know who he or she is from your phone calls, your remotes and e-mails. Type up the profile and hang it up in the studio so you can always “see” your typical listener. For more of a connection with that typical listener, give him or her a name. Be sure to share this information with the entire staff at the station from Sales to Promotions to the Receptionist.

Now that you know who you are talking to on a regular basis, make sure you talk about the things that he or she wants to hear. Remember the music awards show I mentioned earlier? Well, make sure you talk about the artists that your station plays. After all, isn’t that why people listen to your station? They are there because of the music you play. So if you’re an AC, don’t tell me about Nelly, Sugababes, Eminem and Bowling For Soup, just because they happen to be the ones mentioned in the wire story. Tell me about Celine Dion, Faith Hill, Phil Collins, Santana and Vanessa Carlton. Make the extra effort to research and find out how your station’s artists did. Talking about the things your listeners are interested in is important all the time, not just after awards shows. Do the research, the show prep, on a daily basis. Find out the hot subjects that your listeners are talking about.

Here are six other areas to think about when reviewing how you connect with your listeners:

1. Celebrity News. If you are the type to talk about celebrities and gossip (which is fine), just make sure you are talking about people that your audience knows. I once heard a female Country talent talk about a recent breakup of a rap artist making him available and how she was interested. Chances are her typical (remember - Country) listener had no idea who she was talking about. So what was the point of the bit? There was no connection made with the audience.

2. The Birthday List. If you don’t know someone on the celebrity birthday list or how to pronounce his or her name, don’t read it!. Chances are your listeners don’t know who he or she is either. And even if they do, they’ll be able to tell that you have no idea what you are talking about. Avoid mentioning his or her name and then saying, “I have no idea who this is or how to say their name, but they are having a birthday today.” Better yet, do some prep and find out who that person is. Ever run into that same problem when playing a new artist? Why get on the air and say, “I don’t know how to pronounce her name, but that was a great song.” Do the research, and don’t say the name until you are sure you know how to say it correctly.

3. Contests. If you are an AC station giving away tickets to a children’s show, like Dora The Explorer, Blue’s Clues or Veggie Tales, then make sure you know what those shows are about. Your listeners that have children and want to win those tickets know what those shows are. If you don’t know, do some show prep and find out.

4. Station Promotions and Remotes. Make sure that when you are doing a station promotion that it is something that is appropriate for your listeners. Often times a salesperson may have a client that wants to give something away that may not really fit your demo. Why would anyone try to win something they are not interested in? (It’s a failed promotion from the start) This is where giving the listener profile to the sales team could have help in a difficult situation. Just because it’s free, doesn’t make it good. Make sure your remotes are held at places that your listeners want to be.

5. Liners, Promos and Sweepers. Do your station’s liners, promos and sweepers connect with your audience? Does your station voice fit in with the overall sound of your station? Are your liners written with the typical listener in mind? Make sure that when you sell something with a liner, your audience knows what you are selling and that is of interest to him or her. If you use drops and soundbites in your promos and sweepers, are they of things that your audience will recognize or find humorous? It’s fine if not everybody knows what movie or TV show the drops are from, as long as they work in the context of the promo or sweeper. Make sure your station voice is appropriate for your listeners as well. After all, that voice is what sells your station to your listeners and is there to connect with them and keep them listening. |

6. Logos, TV Commercials and Advertising. This should be pretty self explanatory. If you are going to be selling yourself, do it in an appropriate way that keeps your target listener in mind. Can your listener tell what type of station you are from your logo and message? If not, you may be losing potential new listeners because they don’t know what you do or who you are.

Review your show and ask yourself, am I making a connection with my listener? I always recommend that you picture in your mind’s eye your typical listener listening to you and doing what he or she typically does. For example, working in AC, I always pictured a thirty five year old woman driving her mini-van to or from work or taking the kids to soccer practice. I would picture myself sitting in the passenger seat having a conversation with her. “Did you know Phil Collins is going to be doing a special concert...?”

Attention PDs of 80s and Retro formats, make sure your on-air talent connect with your listeners. Often talent on these stations may be young and out of touch with the music. If so, have your staff do research on the songs and artists that you play. I recently heard a young talent talk about the Pop duo called the Thompson Twins singing "Hold Me Now", (psst...there were three people in that group when they recorded that song). Also make sure your air talent know how to pronounce the artists and groups names. Your listeners know.