The Secret to Becoming a Great Storyteller

Ira Glass is one of the greatest storytellers on radio. Ever. He wasn’t always great. Watch this. Take heart. It may encourage you as he discusses his own journey and even plays and critiques his own work from his 8th year on a national show.

Your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you … a lot of people never get past that phase. They quit.

Everybody goes through that. The most important thing you could possibly do is a lot of work. Don’t quit.

The Fine Print

Yesterday, United Airlines had a passenger forcibly removed from a flight to make room for a crew member. The passenger bought a ticket, was seated, and then was removed when he refused to “volunteer” his seat. The video of the bloodied and screaming passenger has now gone viral.

Of course, United is within their legal right to do it. It’s in the fine print.

What if instead of doing something just because we can, (it’s in the fine print!) we empower every manager and front line team member to delight customers no matter what? In the case of United Airlines, it’s really quite simple – when a flight is overbooked, keep raising the offer amount until enough people volunteer to give up their seats. Don’t annoy your customers or do anything you don’t want to be live streamed and go viral on social media. Period.

Welcome to 2017. Where every bad action by company has an equal and opposite reaction. Live on social media.

Stop Fundraising

Fundraising is about you. Your non-profit needs funds, so you fundraise. The time to invite someone to make an emotional decision to support your non-profit is not when you need the money. That’s transactional and way too late to make the case for long-term support.

Your radio station/non-profit is NOT the cause. It’s the conduit to a cause (solving a problem in the world).

What would happen if we truly, 24/7/365, were sold out to the cause and passionately invited others to join us in real tangible ways? What if, instead of fundraising, we invite people to join a cause bigger than ourselves … we cause-raise? We’d create advocates that are as passionate about our cause as we are and, likely, they’d join us in raising whatever support was necessary.

Video Aided and Abetted The Radio Star

If you make something worth hearing or seeing, congratulations that’s a good start.
But it’s only 50% of the work. The other half is finding an audience. When you create compelling content, curate it in a way & place people can find it. (Hint: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram.)

Do: Create YouTube playlist for recurring segments.
Don’t: Post full audio of a show on YouTube.

Do: Facebook Live backstage at a concert.
Don’t: Facebook Live a remote from Verizon.

Pro-tip: If you’re not familiar with Power 105.1 NYC’s The Breakfast Club, check out their YouTube page. It’s a Masterclass is how to leverage video to reach a larger audience.

A Better Choice

Streaming music channels on the internet or TV are a better choice if you are looking for a safe (predictable), commercial free playlist at your next house party.

However, if you are looking for more than songs overlayed with trivia, something that isn’t predictable but will surprise you, make you laugh (and sometimes cry), make you feel something … radio is the better choice, every time.

Pleading Ignorance

We’re all much too busy to know everything (most things).

When you are introducing a song on the radio or, say crafting a fundraising appeal, it may be the 270th time you’ve done so but for many listeners it’s the first time they are hearing it. Take your time to give context, don’t assume listeners know the the artist or cause for which you are so passionate about. Tell me what makes it so special, why you/others like it, and give me an invitation to respond.

Is This Anything?

Behind the cityscape of New York City there is an amateur performer or group waiting for their big moment.

The curtain rises … circus music plays.

The act has 15 to 30 seconds to leave an impression with their stunt.

The curtain closes.

Then, David Letterman and his band leader Paul Shaffer discuss whether the performance was “something”, or perhaps “nothing”.

“Is This Anything?” is one of the most memorable segments from the old Late Show with David Letterman.

It’s also a good illustration for those of us in the media. Ever time you turn on the mic or the camera light goes on, each member of the audience is deciding whether or not what you have to say is something or nothing.

Make it something. Every time. Be memorable.

The Purpose Problem

Your listeners/fans/donors have a purpose problem. We all do.

Steve Jobs understood this fact better than most. “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?”, Jobs, now-famously, inquired of Pepsi executive John Sculley in a successful attempt to lure him to head marketing for Apple.

Sometimes, we distract ourselves with just about anything in front of us (work, school, Facebook, general busyness, etc.). But the purpose problem lingers.

In our marketing, if we are not appealing to people’s deep-felt need for purpose (change the world), we are failing. For example, we all want to be better parents. Show how your radio station or product can help with that. Think benefits (Facetime with your kids when you are away), not features (the iPhone 7 has a 12MB camera).

President Today

You’re elected President [of the United States, or maybe, your current company]… what would you do first? Second? Third?
Okay, so you’re not President yet, but what’s stopping you from championing those things which you would theoretically address if you were President?
Presidents are much too busy having meetings, getting briefings, attending formal dinners. They don’t have time to deal with the problems of which you so clearly see a solution.

As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

If you are pained by a particular situation, perhaps you should do something about it?

Only 7 Seconds to Live

What if you only had 7 seconds to capture my attention.

That’s all you have on the radio, according to pop music producers, to “hook” a listener before they change the channel.

Make your first 7 seconds count. Make them compelling. Every. Time.