7 Questions For Highly Effective [Radio] Programmers


Having been inspired by recent columns about Christian radio over on AllAccess.com, I penned my own. Mike Couchman (Program Director at 99.1 JOY-FM and Boost 101.9 in St. Louis, Mo) challenged us to change our radio game by killing all the radio clichés and then Amanda Hildabrand (Music Director and Morning Show Co-host at WCSG in Grand Rapids, MI) sent us running for the proverbial programming border by ditching the Taco Bell-style programming blandness. She nailed it with this line: “Don’t be so familiar that your listeners begin to be bored or annoyed with you.”

In that spirit, here are 7 Questions for Highly Effective Programmers to ask that might spark an idea to spice up your current program offerings:

  1. What leap of faith do you need to take next? In the book “LEAP: How to Thrive in a World Where Everything Can Be Copied”, IMD Professor of Management and Innovation Howard Yu argues, “No value proposition, no matter how unique, remains unchallenged. Good design and great ideas get copied regardless of patent laws and trade secrets. The only way to prosper under such conditions over long periods is to leap. Pioneers must move across knowledge disciplines, to leverage or create new knowledge on how a product or service is delivered.”
  2. If Tomorrow Never Comes…will she know how much you loved her? Do your listeners love you, or merely the songs you play? What unique content do you create for her that she loves so much she has to share with all her friends? I’m totally “borrowing” this idea from SiriusXM’s “The Garth Channel.” In-between songs, Garth Brooks shares stories about the songs and other artists. It’s uber-compelling. Why has no one approached a CCM legacy act like Steven Curtis Chapman or TobyMac to create an online station or app that revolves around their personality?
  3. What memorable experiences could you create for your listeners by partnering with new artists? Record labels are typically eager to provide access to up-and-coming artists. Take full advantage of this. (Cubicle concert in a listener’s office? Take them to the local children’s hospital and sing for the kids? Mini-concert in the Chick-fil-a drive-thru?)
  4. Would you be better off Ted? Could your station arrange a TEDx-style event and invite local pastors or speakers to deliver their best sermon in 18 minutes? Record it for a web series.
  5. All Politics Is Local. Is your radio station? Is “local” the goal? If so, what makes being local more compelling than literally everything else on the radio or Internet? Most people don’t watch local TV or read local newspapers. What about your local radio station makes it more compelling than a network? The answer to this is not trivial.
  6. What would it look like to be the best station in your market regardless of format? In a recent interview, K-LOVE CEO Mike Novak explained the secret to the Mighty K’s success is the vision to “just be the best radio network we can be, that just happens to be Christian.”
  7. Finally, and most importantly, ask WHO? Three years from now, what do you want to be true about your station? Be honest. If it’s completely clear how you’ll accomplish that, your vision isn’t big enough. You don’t have to, nor should you, do it all yourself. Define what success will look like and then find the people with the insights and experience to help you get there.

This article was originally published on AllAccess.com


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