One of the hardest challenges shows face is how and when to talk about hard things, especially when the show brand is to be fun, positive and encouraging. And recent events have challenged shows in all formats to look at their comfort level. The coronavirus was easy by comparison — bad hair and banana bread. For the protests, many people want to put their microphone in the sand. But there are other options.
During the last two weeks, I have heard multiple shows say “That’s not what we do” or “We’re an oasis from the news.” Challenge that mindset. The best shows in all formats can talk about anything they are passionate about. The question is not if but how to have conversations that fit, for you and your station brand. The overall response when shows have an authentic, honest conversation has been overwhelmingly positive.
Courage, by definition, is choosing the right action at the potential expense of your own comfort. Something for you to ponder this week: How are you being courageous right now?
When you’re contemplating if or how to tackle what you perceive as a tough conversation, take a threefold approach.
- Values: Remind yourself, what are your station’s brand values? For Christian radio, values like hope, faith, unity, joy, grace, gratitude and love come to mind. And then, what are your core values? Personal values would add ideas like family, connection, justice, empathy, humor, courage.
Another question to add here, in the wake of the recent protests, is what might be my cultural blind spots? Do your own work.
- Message – what and to whom: What message would you want to convey, unfiltered? What do you want people to know/feel/do? And to whom are you speaking? If you tap into your core values, you will be able to take a stronger position, with less fear of repercussion. Concepts like unity, forgiveness and healing are universal, not divisive.
- Medium: How (not IF, but HOW) might you be able to spread your message within the boundaries of your show and brand?
Here’s a checklist, not exhaustive but a place to start:
- Music: Is there a music tie-in, a song or a special remix that makes a statement? (e.g. Bleed the Same) Is there an artist who has a helpful point of view?
- Personal connection: How do you personally connect to the news? Can you relate? One show I work with, the cohost’s family is black and experienced segregation and prejudice. When I asked if he had told that story, he said no. By the end of our meeting, their plan was to have his Uncle Herman on the show to tell his story.
* Localization: What is happening locally? What events/angles are unique to your area?
- Experts: Is there someone local — an educator, counselor, pastor, etc. — who can offer a perspective that you aren’t able to offer. Some shows feel more comfortable not having to be the “authority” voice on a topic.
- Listener interaction: Invite listeners to share first-hand experiences
- Listener check-in: Post a question on your Instagram story or Facebook – a poll to see how everyone is feeling. This will help you keep your finger on the pulse of your audience.
* Benchmark Tie-In: Does the show do something that can be redirected around the current news climate?
- Charity: What causes are appropriate to corral your audience toward?
- Digital: How do we use social and digital platforms?
You don’t know me well. But know that the themes of unity, love, courage and openness run deep in my heart. This topic isn’t going to go away, so I encourage you (I implore you) to deepen your connection with your audience by stepping out of your comfort zone and leaning in.
I am so curious your thoughts. Please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!
Founder & CEO, Angela Perelli Coaching.
Angela Perelli is award-winning former programmer for the iconic KIOI/San Francisco and groundbreaking KYSR (Star 98.7)/Los Angeles. As Program Director of Star 98.7, she managed some of the biggest personalities in the country — Jamie White & Danny Bonaduce; Ryan Seacrest & Lisa Foxx; Frosty, Heidi & Frank as well as VH-1’s Dr. Jenn Berman, MTV’s Mark Goodman and Richard Blade.
Seven years as VP/Talent Development at the Randy Lane Company laid the groundwork for the launch of Angela Perelli Coaching in 2014, including coaching Lisa & Eric on K-LOVE and Mike & Jeannie on Air1. Now she works with shows across the US and Canada, from market #2 to market #240, in all types of formats, including Jerry & Blanca and Johnny & Stacey on WGTS/Washington, D.C.
Angela loves to focus on the things she finds most rewarding — teaching, developing, collaborating and creating. Adding life coaching skills, Angela helps radio personalities find their voice, hone their story, and become so much better than before.