The Knightly News - July 2020

 

Sounds of Silence

2020. A year of undeniable challenge, change and stress. COVID-19, culture shifts, economic struggles and political division. In our industry, combine furloughs, layoffs, cuts and extra duties added to job descriptions. Today some of us have jobs, some of us don't. Although I'm currently part of the latter group, I and most of us have first-hand experience in both. Every one of us is part of the small Radio family. It’s a critical time for us to be attuned to how we do, and sometimes don’t, engage with our industry peers.

 

Those of us who are currently employed have an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life today. Upon leaving a job, many people are sorely missing the daily face-to-face human contact, friendships and relationships with their now former coworkers. COVID-19 has only compounded these feelings of being isolated, ostracized and cast aside. So if a person reaches out with a friendly hello, asks our opinion or inquires about a job opportunity, let's engage them by responding to their email, text or direct message. It only takes a couple extra seconds. They aren’t infected with some unemployment virus that can be transmitted to us electronically. By failing to reply, the unfortunate, unintended message we’re sending them is that they aren't important to us. I hear from many in this group that the silence and lack of response is dark and deflating. That’s not an image or reputation any of us wants for ourselves or our companies. There’s too much of this that goes on in our business and in reality it’s been going on long before COVID. So let's embrace the opportunity to change and have a positive impact on their day, with even a quick reply, that lets them know they’re relevant. 

 

For those of us who are now unemployed, we must realize that in the new world of 2020, our still employed friends, contacts and former co-workers may have many new, additional responsibilities with the same 24 hours in a day to get it all done. A reply back to us may might not be immediate. They could be challenged with figuring out how to reopen the station with new safety protocols. Maybe they, or an immediate family member, are dealing with a health crisis. Or they may be on a mandatory furlough vacation week and forgot to turn on auto-reply. If we've been frustrated by no responses, following up with annoyance and sarcasm is the exact opposite of what today's blog is about. 

 

We're a small, specialized group of believers and doers who share an unapologetic passion for Radio. This is our career, this is what we do, this is who we are. We are a family. For sure it's a stressful time in our business but we all have an opportunity to better communicate, lift and encourage each other. How we engage and treat one another translates to the vibe of how our brands engage and sound on-air. We all need more kindness and compassion in the world right now. Let’s do that by engaging with our industry peers and practicing the Golden Rule of treating others the way we want to be treated ourselves. 

 

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The Knightly News - June 2020

“It Doesn’t Fit Our Brand”…Yes, it Does!

 

Please don’t kid yourself that “it doesn’t fit our brand”.

 

The horror of the George Floyd killing, the peaceful protests and the hijacking of the narrative by destruction and looting needs to be playing a big part of our radio stations, specifically our morning and other high-profile daypart shows. Our audiences need us to be there.

 

Our radio brands have always been built on relationships. It’s hard to find even the smallest market where these events haven’t touched on a local level. We must be confident enough of ourselves to evolve to our listeners’ current wants, needs and desires of us for information, interchange and inspiration. When we signed up for radio, we became community leaders. Now is our time to lead.

 

On our morning and other high-profile daypart shows, our responsibility starts with team members talking about their feelings, views and beliefs of the events and the evolving situation. Dave Ryan of Minneapolis’ KDWB said his team members shared their thoughts then opened the phones for their listeners’ thoughts for the rest of the morning. Dave and his team let their show go where the listeners took it. Great advice. Here’s a list of possible things for your team to do…

 

  1. Each member shares and expresses their honest feelings on the events.

  2. Take calls from listeners allowing them the opportunity to express their feelings on air. Ask for different viewpoints.

  3. Play lots of audio of events on the air, the more local, the better. Get reaction to them.

  4. Get your Mayor on the phone for an interview.

  5. Interview the Governor.

  6. Interview your Senators.

  7. Get your local TV and newspaper reporters covering the story on the phone.

  8. Interview the head of the local NAACP.

  9. Interview the Police Chief.

  10. Interview any local movement leaders that have been organizing events.

  11. Interview a host from your Talk station clustermate.

  12. Start a GoFundMe page to pay for expenses of those locally impacted by these events.

  13. Interview a professor at your local or state university on police/minority relations.

  14. Interview a local psychologist to help us process our feelings on all of this.

  15. Rest your normal benchmarks. War of the Roses, Second Date Update, Prank Calls don’t feel right at the moment.

  16. Can’t fake it. Be prepared with facts, figures and HISTORY.

 

Please don’t kid yourself that it doesn’t fit your brand. This is a community event and discussion that can’t be ignored. Being part of the fabric of our cities, we must live in step with what the community is talking about. The good and the bad. Let’s make sure we aren’t cheating our listeners in giving them less of what they need and expect from us and our special community relationship with them. That’s our brand.

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The Knightly News - May 2020

Surprise...This is What's on Your Station! 

 

The worst place to listen to a radio station is in a radio station. Too many distractions. As "luck" would have it, many Brand Managers and Program Directors are now at home, so let's take advantage of this opportunity to better our stations. 

 

As PDs, we know what our stations need to be doing. But is it being executed the way we designed and envisioned? Now is the perfect time to put down our phones and close email to find out. Doesn't an artist paint on a canvas and then take five steps back to look at what he or she has created?

 

Pick a weekday in the next two weeks to do a listening day. If you're not already working from home, schedule a day to do it. Work ahead to clear your agenda so all you have to do is listen...but again, away from the distractions at the station. If your state doesn't have mandatory stay at home orders, listen as you walk your neighborhood or drive to a park. Listen both over-the-air and your stream. Hear your station's dayparts for a couple hours, then your competitors. Stop for lunch and dinner. Then pick up your listening again...mornings, middays, afternoons and nights. Type away on your computer. Chart positioning, content choices, length, music flow, production values, promos, stopsets, attitude, COVID-19 coverage.  Is it working the way you thought it was? Are your competitors doing what you thought they were? Maybe. Maybe not. What do you like about your station? What don't you like? What needs to be done differently or fine-tuned? What are your competitors doing that you like and can incorporate? 

 

Organize your to-do action list into As and Bs, then get working on it. Share your findings with your GM, VPP or OM. This will help make you accountable and will leave a positive impression! 

 

Let's take full advantage of our current stay at home status and invest it into making our stations great. Then commit to doing this exercise on a regular basis. I guarantee you will love what it does for you and your station!

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The Knightly News - April 2020

19 COVID-19 Topics

Big, global ideas are an important part of Radio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic but so are individual ideas you can use on the air today.  Below are some ideas to help you get your thought-process going.

 

  1. Your Mayor with your daily local update

  2. Your Senator or Congressperson on what the stimulus bills mean to us

  3. Governor on the state’s response

  4. Q & A with you, a doctor and listener calls

  5. Teacher on how online school is going and what parents can do to help

  6. Grocery spokesperson on keeping shelves stocked against panic buying

  7. Interview a person infected with or recovered from COVID-19 

  8. Movie reviewer (top 10 Netflix)

  9. Best Buy Geek Squad on setting up your home office

  10. Grilling expert-favorite recipes

  11. Most awesome, compassionate thing you’ve seen during the crisis

  12. DIY projects-Home Depot, Lowes spokesperson

  13. Car dealer-extending financial support to buyers, deferred payments, service department open

  14. Mental Health expert-tips on coping, watching too much TV news

  15. Your vet on crisis pet care

  16. Investment advisor on what to do now

  17. Calls from small business owners who are open, giving them each a live, conversational 60-second commercial

  18. Your 6-year old on what they’re doing

  19. Your 90-year old grandmother on how she’s doing

Focus an hour or a day on an individual topic.  Some will fizzle, others will rage on for hours.  Stay with the “hits”.  Recycle the best topics.  Get local experts.  Make listeners the stars by asking what they’re doing about each of these topics.  Hustle.  Work hard.  Spend more time than ever on prep, lining up guests and brainstorming additional topics.  Send out company-wide emails asking co-workers to help you brainstorm.  Post on social media asking your followers for ideas on what they would like you to bring to the air on your show.  Through others, get a view for needed content that is beyond your vision.  Keep in mind, experts, officials and listeners want and need to be on your air.

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The Knightly News - March 2020

​Life Changed Forever on 3/11

​​Remember the phrase “Life changed forever on 9/11”?  With the COVID-19 pandemic declaration, life changed more drastically on 3/11.

Perception is Reality

Doesn’t matter if we think the reaction is overblown.  Perception is always reality.  Look no further than the public panic buying at your grocery store.  Schools, restaurants and bars closed, sporting events cancelled, shelter-in-place orders declared, our 401K accounts trashed.  Our country, and world, effectively closed down like never before.  Disruption to individuals, families, businesses and our culture is magnified beyond measurement compared to 9/11.  Yes, this is serious.  A time for us to evolve our products once again to be in step with our listeners’ changed wants, needs and desires of us.

Content Choices

We’ve all seen plenty of online discussions about our content choices.  If we look at Radio history as our guide, the prior popular Morning Zoo concept evolved after 9/11.  Shows became less wacky, more balanced.  3/11 has and will require other evolutions of us too.  Right now, listeners want and need information about how to keep their families safe and functioning.  They need help separating fact from fiction.  Doesn’t mean we don’t laugh and talk about some of the ridiculous things we've done, seen and heard...we all need releases from the steady stream of bad news.  But the balance is much more informational now.  If you’re a morning show, hit your contacts list.  Lots of LOCAL angles … doctors, mayors, health officials, first responders, people who have been infected, elected state and federal representatives, business owners, artists, concert promoters.  These people want to speak to your audience and they have more credibility in their storytelling than us.  You should want them on your show because they and their information are what makes you more valuable to your listeners than the people on the other station.  Give your listeners what they want or they will be forced to go elsewhere to find it. 

Information Updates

Commit to hourly news updates across all formats.  Make sure to often promote the time listeners can hear and make appointments to tune in for those updates.  “Get updates at 15-past every hour and breaking news at once.”  No news department at your station or cluster?  Team with a local TV partner, offering them all that free exposure in exchange for an hourly update.  With lifestyles changed, Radio cume and TSL are disrupted and look a lot more like the holiday week between Christmas and New Year’s.  

Proper Positioning

Audit your standard positioning to make sure it all still makes sense.  Does some of the edgier stuff not fit right now?  Add creative virus sweepers that tap into the emotion and give hope.  

Music Movement

Review your active music library.  Are there titles with lyrics that don’t fit in this new reality?  Think about the library structure in general.  People are craving for things to get back to a routine that is familiar to them.  Think about making your library more familiar to be in-step with that.  CHR, Hot AC, Country and Active Rock, more recurrent and late gold.  Classic Hits and ACs, reintroducing some high-testing 70s.  Classic Rock, less early 90s, more 70s.  This can be a short-term tactic that can give a more familiar comfort to your listeners.

Yes, our lives changed forever on 3/11.  We’re in uncharted territory.  We all have a responsibility to keep the industry discussion going on how we should, and can, be confident enough of our products to evolve them to best serve our listeners’ current wants, needs and desires of us.  The more collaborative discussions we have the better we’ll all be for them.  It’s our moment to shine! 

 

CHUCK KNIGHT

MEDIA

© 2020 Chuck Knight Media