For many broadcasters the thought of reading a lost dog announcement, or the cancellation of a junior cricket match on the air seems boring and ‘unsexy’.
It sounds small. It sounds suburban.
And if you’re in a capital city, or a large regional market, then from a rational perspective it is relevant to so few people, therefore surely it must alienate the majority of listeners? And on that basis it should be avoided.
Of course this presumes that people listen to radio rationally. Which they don’t, in fact the opposite is true.
Listeners choose a station emotionally: because of how the brand resonates, or how the Breakfast show relates, or with some formats due to the connectivity to their formative years through the music.
Radio is emotional. And this is precisely why ‘thinking small’ is so powerful. It’s almost counter-intuitive, however the bigger the market, the smaller you should sound.
Let’s consider the rational position for a moment.
Clearly a lost dog in Sandgate is unlikely to be found by a listener in Beenleigh. Obviously a junior cricket match cancelled in Frankston is of no consequence to a listener in Williamstown. And a burst water main in North Wollongong is irrelevant to a listener in Kiama.
However, emotionally, what each of these things provide is an opportunity to show the listener that you are a part of their lives, you are experiencing the same things they do, you’re involved in the same city in which they are.
A city that in reality is not a massive collection of concrete structures, but rather a collection of villages where human beings have an emotional need to feel included and connected.
The great radio talents have an ability to ensure that irrespective of the size of the market in which they broadcast ‘thinking small’, and doing so in an entertaining and creative way, has a place on the air.
And the great radio programmers have the ability to encourage and nurture it.
Dan Bradley is Executive Director of Kaizen Media; an international media, management and marketing company.
You can contact Dan here.